Monday, October 29, 2012

Interview with The e-reader House creator Alan Rhodes

Do you ever wonder as a writer, how am I ever going to get the word out about this beautiful book I’ve written?  As a person in general do you ever wonder, is there any decency, kindness or generosity left in the world?  Well, today’s guest offers an answer to both of those questions.  I am extremely grateful to introduce you to Alan Rhodes, creator of The e-reader House page on Facebook.  This page is geared toward promoting and motivating writers, as well as creating a buzz with readers.  Just to reinforce that I am not blowing smoke up your britches, this is a direct quote from the page:
“A home for independent authors and independently minded readers. Please be assured you are actively encouraged to post your books, reviews, etc. A chance to find the hidden gems in the e-book world.”
As of today, the page currently has 1,444 likes but deserves far more.  Alan thank you for being here today, can you share with us why you felt the need to generate such a marvelous page?
I moved to Norway some months back to be with Egle. We had met when I was editing her book – The life and death of Benjamin Brash. Getting her book out had started me looking at the changes in the publishing industry and The e-reader House grew out of seeing the changes and the need for  the newer authors to find a way to be noticed when they come up against the big marketing budgets of books linked to films, TV, celebrities etc.
I have a background in internet business having founded and run an on-line e-learning resource for social care workers in the UK so I just fancied getting involved with the whole e-reading and e-publishing world.
I’m always impressed by people who see a need and fill it, as you did.  When you first began The e-reader House, did you have an agenda in mind or were you doing this purely out of the kindness of your heart? 
I wish I could claim it as pure altruism but it’s not. I’ve always tried to work in a way that offers a gain to others through my work as well as to me and it’s the same with The e-reader House. I would like to see it grow to a point where it’s a win-win-win, a win for authors  - in the information provided and the exposure the page gives them, a win for readers – in highlighting some excellent but lesser-known authors and books and a win for me – in that through a quarterly e-magazine, The Book of Bits, and eventually through the book links being part of affiliate programs, I can hopefully produce a small income from The e-reader House.
We all have to survive and I don’t feel that lessons the generosity of what you do in anyway.  In fact, I think people would be surprised how much time and energy it takes to undergo such a task.  You not only add clever posts to your page regularly but you also organize an author’s list (which must hold 100’s of authors) and an “author services” list (which currently holds at least 14 resources).  Could you give us an idea how much time you spend daily preparing The e-reader House?
I probably spend 5-6 hours a day – searching out stories, posting stories, responding to messages, preparing The Book of Bits, etc. My favourite part of the page is The Author List which now has about 180 authors on it. We start each day on the page with a post about 6 of these authors and through the day I post a book from each of the six complete with links to Amazon, Amazon.co.uk, Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.
I apologize for not taking the time to count the list on my own.  It is a rather sizeable collection of names and now to know there are actually 180, impresses me thoroughly.  What has been the most surprising thing you have learned in creating this page?
The most surprising, and most pleasing, part is the degree to which I have developed friendships with a number of the people who regularly visit and post to the page. Particularly having moved to Norway, knowing no-one apart from Egle, these on-line friends have become important to me.
I can completely relate to that.  Are you an author, and if so do you have any publications you would like to share with us?
No and Yes. No in the sense that I have no ability as a fiction writer at all. I greatly admire all the authors and their ability to create and sustain a story through 300-400 pages. I know I don’t have that in me. However, Yes in that I have always been what I call a good ‘technical’ writer. For the e-learning company I mentioned earlier I wrote a lot of the learning materials linked either to management and business or to social care issues. I now use that ability in areas such as The Book of Bits. We produced the first edition in August (www.amazon.com/dp/B0091U15Y0 UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0091U15Y0 ) and I wrote a number of ‘Bits’ for it linking management and business issues to writing and publishing.  The next edition, The Christmas Special, is due out on 1st December and we currently have about 12-15 authors contributing to it and again I’ll write a few hopefully helpful ‘Bits’
I think I can speak for fiction writers in saying that technical writing is difficult for most of us, so we applaud your abilities.  Besides helping promote many writers, your page is full of useful and sometimes witty posts.  Do you ever struggle with finding things to add to your page?
Yes – I have a number of sources I search every day and my home feed brings me info from well over a 1000 other Facebook pages but yes it can be a struggle. Saturday and Sunday are the hardest days as the main ‘news’ sources I use tend not to post on those days. Every day we post the story about the 6 authors and then we post one each of their books and 1 Author Service so that makes 8 posts. Most days I try to post 4-6 other stories – a couple about the whole writing/publishing world, a couple about the indie world and a couple of photos/cartoons. Finding these 4-6 is what takes the time.
Wow, that is impressive.  The more details I found out about The e-reader House the more I appreciate it.  What is your personal/professional opinion on what makes a book successful?
To me the true ‘success’ with a book is that the writer got it from their head onto the page in front of the reader. As I’ve said I greatly admire that skill, so ‘success’ to me isn’t limited purely to those books that sell. I genuinely see every one of the authors on our Author Listing as successes.
If we go further to define the success of a book as being about sales then the basics, a good story with interesting characters that is well written, skillfully edited and carefully proofread and formatted, all need to be there but then there is the nebulous area of its ‘discoverability’ – that can be a bit of luck, a bit of good or imaginative marketing, a bit of growing your links in the industry and a lot of stamina and patience – even the so-called overnight successes tend to come after years of hard slog.
I agree wholeheartedly!  As an avid reader, what is your personal favorite book and have you found any “gems” through The e-reader House?
I can’t say I have a favourite as such – it tends to be whatever I’ve just read. If pushed to pick one book it would probably be either Egle’s  The life and death of Benjamin Brash or Nelson Mandela’s  Long Walk to Freedom. The former because I admire the story, her imagination and her ability to bring that to the page in her third language. The latter because I admire the man’s ability to move from years of suffering to a position of reconciliation rather than revenge – I think that is the very best of humanity.
Gems via The e-reader House  - 2 books I read in order to review that I particularly liked were Wendy Steele’s Destiny of Angels and Kathy Bennett’s A Deadly Blessing – I hope both these 2 authors get the recognition their books deserve. A third author I would mention is Stuart Laing and his Robert Young of Newbiggin novels. I’m not a big fan of historical novels but the quality of Stuart’s writing stands out. If you like historical crime novels he is one you should definitely have a look at.
I haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of those books, but I will certainly add them to my “to read” list.  If you could say anything to writers &/or readers alike, what would you say?
To writers – Thank you and please keep at it. Getting your book to be a success in terms of sales is a marathon not a sprint.
To readers – Please look beyond the books that the big publishers push in front of you all the time, there are some really good writers out there waiting to be found.
To both – please don’t let the ‘free’ books and cheap price of many e-books lead you to undervalue all the hard work that goes into a book.
Well said.  Alan, thank you so much for your time and for creating The e-reader House.  It truly is a wonderful generosity and sacrifice. 
 

 

2 comments:

  1. What a wonderfully stimulating interview ... Alan Rhodes certainly works very hard to inform us everyday of what's going on in the Big Bad Publishing World ... thank you The e-reader House ... you are a star n x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree Ngaire. Thank you for taking the time to read the interview and for giving Alan the props he deserves. :)

      Delete