Full-time fantasy author Seth Ring was able to join us this past week for a Q&A session to meet with students and answer questions about being a writer, building community, and to share insider knowledge about traditional and indie publishing methods. Seth has been publishing since 2018 and in 2021, he became a full-time writer. Now, with 25 books published and more on the way, Seth reflects on what he has learned, the communities he’s helped to build, and the sense of hope that is central to his works.
Seth is a Lit-RPG (Literary role playing game) fantasy author, drawing his stylistic and thematic design from conventions of game theory to shape his world-building and plots. He was initially drawn to this genre because he read a bad Lit-RPG novel and realized – “I can do a better job than this.” Seth leverages his base in Lit-RPG fantasy to expand into various other genres including traditional fantasy, horror, and western (as well as upcoming forays into Regency romance and utopian thriller) drawing inspiration from stories he read as a child that helped him learn to both escape and navigate the world. Seth describes his writing and publishing journey as initially “so much harder than he thought it would be” stating that there was a huge learning curve but that having a firm understanding of what you want, determining “where am I actually trying to go?,” is critical to creating an writing identity that is fulfilling. Whether you are mainly focused on commercial sustainability or artistic expression, Seth reassuringly asserts that “there are a million different ways to become an author.” Seth balances his ideals of writing between practical considerations and artistic sincerity, describing the reality of writing as a career occurring along a “sliding scale of money to craft” because there comes a time when a writer realizes “I wish I could eat this manuscript but I can’t.”
There are pros and cons to publishing on either side of the industry, with traditional publishers being outsold by Indie publishers but Indie publishers won’t put you in a bookstore. Seth cites the internet as a cause for the shifting industry which has “radically changed distribution but introduces some risk.” The internet is rife with pirating and AI copy-cats, but Seth isn’t worried about it mostly because even if someone reads stolen or plagiarized content, if they like it, they will most likely find their way to the source (ie Seth). In fact, this is how Seth gained his top three Patrons on his Patreon, so for Seth “Pirating is not necessarily a net loss because I’m going to keep writing better books.” He also encouraged writers to not be discouraged by the difficulties of modern day publishing, only to keep pressing on and continue writing because the “worst think you can do as a writer is to stop writing.”
Seth also emphasized that establishing a platform for engagement (like Patreon) is a key resource to building your reputation as an author and establishing a community. While Seth admits that there is an element of luck to growing an online community, he’s also found that consistency, time, and content strategy can make a big impact. For Seth, while the internet does pose some risk, the benefits are worth it because the internet offers a unique way for readers to “engage with the people who wrote the books we love.” This engagement is not only key to Seth’s strategy, but also influences to some extent the works he creates. On a practical level, Seth feels responsible for “carrying those stories forward,” creating a consistent experience for his fans by communicating with them about when to expect updates and new releases. However, on an artistic level, Seth says he has a “strong sense of ownership over all of his stories” and that a “story doesn’t have to go the way they want it to go.” In this way, Seth has built a fan-base of recurring readers, even though some may not always like his works—they keep coming back. Seth recognizes this pattern of readerly interest as something that ebbs and flows; “people enjoy something in a season of their life, not all are going to stay forever, but if they are engaging in a constructive way that’s great.” Ultimately, Seth says if something sticks with the reader after picking up one of his works, he considers it a success because “people need connection” and he feels “I can provide something at least” to help foster those connections.
It is the hope and courage drawn from connections—between characters, their worlds, or even the divine—that are at the core of Seth’s work. Some of Seth’s inspiration for writing is drawn from his own experiences with loneliness and isolation in which stories and the characters in them were his “first gateways to connection” and that “stories have tremendous power to reshape the narrative to what we tell ourselves.” For Seth, stories and later writing itelf were a way out of dark places, offering Seth a means to process the world and find hope and courage to continue moving into the future. His books now carry this purpose forward with the intention that “when we start allowing for connection in our perspective, hope naturally follows.”
Want to read Seth’s work? He recommends starting with Battle Mage Farmer: Book 1 Domestication that he describes as a really fun story and a good introduction to his style of storytelling.
You can read his books by purchasing them on his site (https://sethring.com/ ) or from alternate vendors like Amazon, or by borrowing them from the Lancaster Public Library System. You can even become a Patron (https://www.patreon.com/SethRing ) and get fast access to new chapters as they are released. You can interact with Seth and other fans on Discord (https://discord.com/invite/ygz8wfCECR ), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/mrsethring/ ), YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/@SethRingWrites ), or even email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org