JR: I am here today with author Brian Rathbone, creator of the World of Godsland fantasy series.
JR: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your books.
BR: Thanks for interviewing me, and hello to all of your readers. I’m a farm boy and horseman turned fantasy author. I took the logical step of becoming a computer geek and Internet guru along the way. I’ve always had a story to tell, and when I finally got the chance, I couldn’t type fast enough. The World of Godsland fantasy series is the product of dreams, goals, and a lot of hard work. It’s been worth it. Call of the Herald is the first book in The Dawning of Power trilogy, and it’s available free for almost all ereaders. Details and links to the free ebook and audiobook can be found here http://brianrathbone.com/free-fantasy-ebook.html I’m hard at work on the next installment in the series, and I look forward to getting it on the shelves.
JR: I love hard working authors. I never have to beg for a manuscript.
JR: We have had extensive talk about this subject but I can never get over it. Are you surprised about the rise of the e-books and the seeming lack of effort by huge retailers to adapt quick enough? I mean Borders stores are closing everywhere and Barnes and Noble can’t give their stores away.
BR: In some ways I’m surprised it took as long as it did. I started selling ebooks in 2008, and on Mobipocket alone, I found consistent sales. Smartphones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, all at reasonable prices and available to the masses are what have fanned the flames. Not to mention the fact that people who buy ereaders tend to read faster and read more books. Indie authors and small publishers have found that they can compete equally for virtual shelf space, even if they cannot compete for shelf space in the stores. I think that perhaps the book mega-retailers must adapt or perish. Some are adapting better and faster than others.
JR: You are freaking me out. Without mega-retailers I am screwed.
JR: What do you foresee as the future in this industry?
BR: I see a future where connected communities of readers will decide what sells. I see a world where the ebook market is a proving ground for print. I don’t see a world without bookstores, but I do see a world with smarter bookstores. The days of tearing off covers and pulping books need to be behind us. I think bookstores of the future may only stock one of each title they wish to display, and will possibly print and bind their own books on site. Ereaders will be cheap. Ebooks will be cheap. Paper books will cost more and will still sell.
JR: Now you are making me feel a little better. Quit playing with my emotions.
JR: You have a very impressive track record as self promoting yourself better then most authors in the industry. What advice would you a writer trying to break into the industry?
BR: Get started building your audience now! If you plan to publish in the future, now is the time to start building your platform. Find an outlet and establish your voice. One of the reasons it’s great to start before your book is done is that you have nothing to sell, and you won’t be tempted to say, “Buy my book!” Position yourself in a way that you are providing a valuable service that helps people. I connect with readers, writers, and fantasy fans on Twitter and provide news on the publishing industry and other related tidbits. It doesn’t hurt to be nice to people. Also, present yourself as professionally as possible. Even if you are still a rookie, try to look as professional as you possibly can. Be social and reach out, but do by being a real person, and don’t try to automate your social media or buy followers. With an hour a day investment, you can build your audience over time, and the longer you do it, the easier it becomes.
JR: Great advice. Every new author should hang these steps on their walls.
JR: I see that authors are kind of banding together to help each other out in different areas where they might be lacking. How has this come about? This is really surprising to see in such a closed knit community and seems to have sprung about over the past couple years.
BR: Publishing is a tough road from any angle. Going it alone is often impossible. With Twitter and Goodreads and similar sites bringing together large networks of readers and writers, the possibility of working together becomes a natural progression. Once writers realize that other writers are not their competition, but instead are their allies and sometimes their readers, it becomes obvious. By sharing audiences, indie authors can greatly expand their reach. I recommend that every speculative fiction writer get on Twitter and engage those I follow. You don’t have to go find spec fic readers and writers; I’ve already found them for you. If you write another genre, find someone in your genre who is popular on Twitter and look at who they follow. I’m @brianrathbone on Twitter.
JR: Tell me what is the most frustrating part of being an author? Some have told me rejection, but I personally think it has to be losing your sanity. Authors are a different breed.
BR: Sanity is overrated and sleep is under-available. For me, the most frustrating part is time management. I should probably be writing my next book right now, or replying to fan mail (yay!), or maybe paying attention to my wife. Maybe I should be doing marketing and promotion work, or maybe I should be resting up for my day job. The best solution I have found is to just suck it and up and get it all done.
JR: Do you struggle with writer’s block or have problems staring at a blank page. If so, how do you overcome these issues?
BR: Sometimes I get stuck, but I generally have an idea of where I’m going when I start writing, so it’s not that I lack direction or inspiration, but sometimes I can’t figure out how to get from point A to point C, and I get stymied. Now I just skip to point C and come back to it later. I used to get stuck trying to find the right words or a clever turn of phrase. My solution was to give myself permission to write terrible first drafts. My advice is to write like no one else will ever see it, and then be meticulous and creative in your editing. I find that this process gets easier for each new book I write.
JR: Do you foresee publishers ever becoming obsolete, or will the surge of e-book publishing will just distribute the wealth a little more evenly?
BR: I don’t see the need for publishers going away any time soon, but publishers will need to adapt to remain viable in the changing marketplace. Publishers unable to establish comprehensive distribution of ebooks, should not, in my opinion, buy ebook rights. While the statisticians will tell you that Amazon has the largest share of the ebook market, what they are not telling you is that indie authors are selling gobs of ebooks on other platforms like Kobo, Sony, B&N, iBooks, iTunes, and even Android. If the only platform a publisher is targeting is Amazon, then they are leaving out a lot of potential customers. Keep in mind that someone with a B&N Nook is not going to shop for ebooks at Amazon.
While this shift allows independents to play on a level field, the social nature of the market will still favor books that people like and most likely have nice looking covers and not a lot of errors in them. If everyone writes great books, has great covers, has them edited, and markets them well, then the wealth (among authors) might become more equal, but that seems unlikely. There will always be someone who writes a better story and then sells it better than anyone before them. At the same time, some writers just want to be writers, and though they may have to become more marketing oriented, they don’t have to become publishers. Digital publishers will do just fine. Create a single distribution and reporting point for ebooks, audiobooks, and print, and authors will line up to get their work published to a comprehensive global marketplace. Publishers will still bring resources to bear and can take on the financial risk involved with publishing in any medium. I plan to work with publishers in the future and I also plan to self-publish more of my works. The two approaches can do a lot to compliment one another.
JR: Who has inspired you or your work?
BR: I’ve been inspired by many: authors like David Eddings and Terry Brooks, some great teachers and mentors, and my family. Those who know me best can find things from my life in my books.
JR: Some of the best writers of all time, depending on who you ask.
JR: Where do you see yourself moving in the future?
BR: I look forward to a future as a full-time writer, speaker, and teacher.
JR: Your turn to be the interviewer. I give you one question to ask me. Use it wisely.
BR: What tips, techniques, or practices do you think have helped you connect with the most readers?
JR: I always try to make sure that all my authors and myself to always carry ourselves like regular guys. Some people try to hard to have an almost rock star approach to how they carry themselves. Also, all book covers stand out from others in the genre because that is the first step to a book sale. Finally, simply getting out in the public as much as possible to talk with readers. That is really the most important practice in my mind.
The one thing I would change about the publishing industry is… book returns and pulping.
The best approach to the Libyan crisis is…Too late.
If I were a nuclear physicist, I would develop a chemical inhibitor that insulates the radioactive particles and renders them inert to stop the nuclear meltdown inJapan. If only I were a nuclear physicist.
People say you remind them of… Kris Kringle in his younger years.
Lindsey Lohan should… probably take a deep breath and try to be still.
My biggest fear is…leading a mediocre life.