Self-published author,

THERESA RAGAN has 3 million reasons to celebrate

“Self publishing is not a competition or a race. Take a deep breath and do one thing at a time. Nobody can do it all at once. Stay positive. Believe in yourself. You can do it!”

  I knew I love writing, even if I’m never going to have a reader, I’m never going to quit

Theresa Ragan (TR Ragan) has sold more than three million books since her debut self-published novel appeared in 2011. Looking back at her life, she told the Sacramento Bee newspaper recently, “I did so many things. I have no way of knowing how readers found me, because I did everything,” she said, referring to all the costs and risks she took as a self-publisher, and it was worth it. Her latest Sawyer Brook thriller series, ‘Don’t Make a Sound’, published by Thomas & Mercer has hit the bookshelves and is on Amazon platform since June 1, 2020.  Strong women, spellbinding suspense, and delayed justice are the hallmarks of a Ragan thriller.


Ragan's life itself is an extraordinary story of an ordinary American woman. She has come a long way. Her writings include thrillers and suspense reads including the Lizzy Gardner series (Abducted, Dead Weight, A Dark Mind, Obsessed, Almost Dead, and Evil Never Dies), Jessie Cole series (Her Last Day, Deadly Recall, Deranged, and Buried Deep) and the Faith McMann trilogy (Furious, Outrage, and Wrath). Theresa who worked as a legal secretary got married to Joe and have four children and lives in Sacramento, California.


A little about 'Don’t Make a Sound'

A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journals’ bestselling author, Ragan is currently working on her next Sawyer Brook series ‘Out of her Mind’, which is expected in stores by November this year.  Brooks, the main protagonist in her thriller series – is a crime reporter, who returns home for her grandmother's funeral and faces her past, a town she thought, she would never see again. Sawyer and her family have a sad and twisted past. This book focuses on Sawyer's personal story and her past which is plagued by a traumatic childhood. She now struggles to gain control of her rage, her paranoia, and her life.


With very few characters, the story revolves around Brook's hometown, River Rock, where she was abandoned by her two elder sisters and where she was subjected to unspeakable abuses of her family, the disappearance of her childhood best friend and a series of murders, especially teenage girls in her hometown – remained secret and unsolved. While Brook kept her distance from the town she grew up in, she is now back, hoping to find answers as to what happened to these girls.


What will she discover? When another girl is slain in a familiar grisly fashion, Brook is determined to put an end to the crimes. Pulled back into the horrors of her family's history, Brook must now reconcile with her estranged sisters, who both have shattering memories of their own. As Brook's investigation into these sexual crimes proceeds it leads to River Rock’s darkest corners. This is more dangerous—what she knows of the past or what she has yet to discover? This complex and compelling pursuit to find the murderer holds the readers’ heart-stopping attention from page one until Brook uncovers the dark family secrets with twists and turns and the spine-chilling climax where cold justice has been served. This is the main structure of the story. Some of the main themes in the story are rape, pedophilia, sexual abuse, torture – adds a cathartic tone to the story.

Theresa Ragan

A writer's journey A tale less told

To start with, Theresa Ragan was not a born writer. She was a legal secretary in the Sacramento area in California in US. Like every other ordinary soul, Ragan just knew, a good book helped her escape to another place and time. For a while, she did not think about the laundry or the chores and the rigors of daily life until she read the last page. “I knew I wanted to write my own novel,” she told Sacramento Bee newspaper in an interview.  But like most young girls she too might have ignored that feeling for a while, but Ragan began writing that day.


The first book she tried writing was a time travel romance. It was exactly like the one she had finished reading. She took five years to finish that novel with four kids at home. She skipped her power naps, continued writing late into nights, and even early mornings. Finally, she had her first book in hand. She was rejected by a string of established publishers. She quickly realized that time travel romance won’t sell. She tried different genres. By this time there was a growing interest in romantic suspense. Ragan joined the Romance Writers of America group and participated in different author groups. She did not feel encouraged. She quit writing for nearly six months and that was horrible, she said. “That was worse than rejections. That was a life-changer for me because I knew I would never give up. I knew I love writing, even if I’m never going to have a reader, I’m never going to quit,” she told the Sacramento Bee.

  Suddenly something clicked in my brain. When I was re-reading what I’d written, I knew it wasn’t about the serial killer, it was about my protagonist

An opportunity comes knocking Something clicked

Just when Ragan felt dejected after being refused an audience by publishing firms,  Romance Writers of America had an opportunity called the Golden Heart Contest for unpublished writers. The finalists of that competition were to get their manuscript sent to an editor’s desk. Ragan finaled six times, nothing published. That’s when Ragan came across Lisa Gardner, an author who had transitioned from writing romance to thrillers. Ragan had also read thrillers and enjoyed them too. She decided to give it a try.


Her research kept awake all night ⁠— studying serial killers was very disturbing for her. After writing her first 100 pages, Ragan took a break and went back to her romance novel. When she came back to write the 100 pages again, she was hooked to the thriller. “Suddenly something clicked in my brain. When I was re-reading what I’d written, I knew it wasn’t about the serial killer, it was about my protagonist,” she told the Sacramento Bee. Soon Ragan was to have a kid and she was still unpublished. That was when she came across an author who had self-published her works and found an audience. She too like Ragan hadn’t been picked up by one of the main publishing companies.


Is it a good idea to self-publish? Of course !

In March 2011, Ragan self-published one of her earlier time travels romance books through platform. Ragan found readers and they found her. “The first review I got,” she said, “I thought for sure was one of my sisters!”


From here, Ragan realized that she was required to self-publish her catalogue. She published “Abducted,” the first of her thrillers in June 2011. By 2012 spring, she was approached by several publishers. Ragan chose Thomas & Mercer and Amazon Publishing’s imprint for thrillers, mysteries, and true crime.


Thomas & Mercer wanted a sequel to her first thriller. As she had begun her journey in self-publishing, her first year with the publisher was gruelling. Thomas & Mercer was young and Ragan had a lot of tours and speaking engagements. Now there wasn’t even time to write. Ragan’s book sales have just passed 350,000, all on her own. In June of this year, she turned in her 16th thriller and passed 3 million books sold. “I still pinch myself every day. It’s truly a dream come true,” Ragan said in an interview. Ragan is today grateful for the time she spent working through the process and for her success. She told a news daily that she was able to spend her kids’ childhoods, and now her kids are ages 27 to 39. Its a different life as a successful author. In her interview with Sacramento Bee she reminisced her past, “Good thing I didn’t get published.” Today Ragan aims to finish writing two thrillers a year. She also does a lot of speaking, videos, blogging, marketing herself to other bloggers; after 20 years of writing.


  “Nothing is going to sell your book better than word of mouth. There are so many writers willing to help by sharing information and real data. That’s why your product, your book, needs to be the absolute best it can be”


How do you self publish a book?

Hunting for an idea


For the first three months, Ragan was learning everything she could. She spent hours reading blogs and soaking in all the information she could find on the internet and around her. She suggests you do the same. Becoming an independent author has been a life-changing experience for Ragan. She says, “After writing for twenty years, I was able to find an audience for my books. If you want to succeed, you must work hard. Never stop learning and growing. Self-publishing should never be thought of as a get-rich quick scheme. It’s a platform that allows me and you to put our work out there and hopefully find an audience. Again, there are no guarantees.


 In Ragan’s own words


Once you finish writing your first book. Use your instincts. Whether you’re trying to decide where or when to advertise or what to price your book, the ultimate decision is yours. Nobody knows your product like you do. If ten people tell you not to go FREE, you should try it for yourself before you decide. You’ll never know if something will work until you experiment and try it yourself. There is no one-step process to self-publishing. I know plenty of successful Indie authors who have never spent a dime on advertising, or who never priced their book for $.99, or free for that matter. Every writer will have his or her own journey. When it comes to self-publishing, what do you have to lose? Maybe you won't sell hundreds or even a dozen books right away. There are no guarantees in this business. You need to be patient. If you're passionate about writing, write another book while you let readers discover your first book. Nobody is going to believe in your stories more than YOU. Once your book has been released it's time to celebrate! It’s also time to think about what you can do to get exposure and promote you and your book. Don’t forget to put aside time every day to write your next book.


Book Trailer from August 2011


1) Write a great book


2) Find Beta Readers. Beta readers consist of anyone who is willing to read your book and let you know if your story is working. They can give you feedback on character development or continuity. I have family and friends who are willing to read my book and everyone tends to find something to fix, even if it’s a missing word or two. Read Belinda Pollard - What Makes a Good Beta Reader?


3) Hire an editor. This could be a developmental editor, line editor and/or proofreader. See the list of editors and proofreaders at the bottom of this page. Send him or her an email and get a quote to find out when you can get your book scheduled.


Editors, Proofreaders, Copy Editors Ragan contacted in the US


The Write Touch

Trish Milburn Editing Services

iProofread and More - affordable proofreading and editing - Alicia Street

Freelance Editor, Pat Thomas

Victory Editing

JM Madden offers a list of editors for indie authors


Alan Rinzler: Consulting Editor


4) Hire a cover artist. See the list at the bottom of this page. There are many cover designers out there. This list is just to help you get started.


5) Hire a formatter. See list at the bottom of this page. You will send the formatter a word document and they will format your novella, short story, or novel for Smashwords, Amazon KDP, Nook, Kobo, iTunes and Sony, depending on what you ask for.


6) What are the best self publishing companies?


7) Register at AMAZON (KDP) by going to KDP.AMAZON.COM and upload the prc file that your formatter sends you. KDP = Kindle Direct Publishing


8) Register at NOOKPRESS.COM (Barnes & Noble) to upload the epub file that your formatter sends you.


9) Register at SMASHWORDS.COM and upload the word doc file that your formatter sends you.


10) Register at KOBOWRITINGLIFE.COM and upload the ePub file that your formatter sends you.


11) To upload directly to iTunes you must have a Apple MAC. You will need an Apple ID and then you will need to sign up at iTunes Connect. If you do not own a MAC, you can hire Author E.M.S. to upload your file for you.


12) Once you have published, you can copyright your book for a fee at the US Copyright Office.


14) You can buy ISBN’s from Bowker (Identifier Services). I let Barnes and Noble and Amazon assign my book an ASIN #. When I use CreateSpace for my print on demand books, I use their FREE ISBN.


15) If you want a print book, it's free if you do it yourself. Register at Use CreateSpace to help you with book covers, formatting, and editing for a fee, or you can go to the site, register for free, download a FREE template and then copy and paste your manuscript into the template one chapter at a time. CreateSpace will provide you with a FREE ISBN number.


16) Start a newsletter. Subscribe to a few newsletters to find out which newsletter service you prefer. A newsletter is something I did not do right away, but I wish I had. A newsletter is one of the best ways to reach readers and let your fans know when your next book is available. Get started as soon as possible. Sign up for mine here.


17) SOCIAL MEDIA. Start a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest Account


18) Make a FREE website using Blogger or WordPress. Talk about whatever makes you happy.


19) Once I began making money, I used Pixel of Ink, The Frugal eReaders, and Eye on Romance and Just Romantic Suspense to advertise. Now I also use Bookbub and Booksends.


More help with creating a print book:




#Createspace Ins and Outs Explained by Bob Sanchez


#Joe Konrath's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing  Read the archives, read everything.








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