Interview with Deena Rae and Linda Leon
1. Who are you and what is your background?
a) My name is Deena Rae, Digital Director of The Book Connection and Founder of E-BookBuilders. I grew up surrounded by printers and publishing professionals in the great state of Texas. My dad was a computer technician back when computer were first getting implemented into the national newspapers and my mother over the course of 40 years, went from a typesetter into all aspects of getting fiction, non-fiction, academic and children’s titles published. When she worked for Arte Publico Press, I would help her transcribe manuscripts and various other duties to get a manuscript ready for publication. She is now the owner of The Book Connection, a publishing consulting firm and 3 years ago asked me learn as much as I could about converting printed manuscripts to e-books and to start the digital division for e-publishing. That morphed into E-BookBuilders.
2. What do you do for authors and publishers?
a) I started out just formatting books into both mobi and epub for uploading to online retailers but soon expanded to advising my clients on marketing, social media, and really anything even loosely beneficial to authors. A lot of my clients had been traditionally published previously and didn’t know all the ways being an indie differs – indies have complete creative control but they are also responsible for lining up the publishing team of editor, interior layout, digital conversion, marketing, public relations, cover designer, social media helpers, keeping their own accounting records and everything in between.
3. When you are not championing indie authors and publishers what occupies your time?
a) In the summer the kids and I spend every weekend with my god-daughter usually at the pool cooling off. The rest of the year we have a family movie night where at least one of us is mad because of what gets watched – the littlest one likes girly Disney movies and the two older kiddos are boys so they don’t really like all the princess stuff – but we do it as a family and whoever complains gets pelted with pillows and tickled. Then there is my reading – I always have my Kindle and if we are on our monthly road-trip there is an audiobook in the cd player.
4. There was a shift in your blogging style and online interaction about 2 years ago, why?
a) When I first started E-BookBuilders, I had just come from a corporate environment that I had been in for 20 years where I had to be business-like and professional. I was still in that mindset in dealing with the pubic and clients but it wasn’t really how or who I am. It wasn’t until my best-friend passed away and I wrote a completely off-topic blog post about my grief and how I was dealing with it that I said goodbye to the stilted style I had adopted for business and let “me” come through. Then I started the podcast and well things just exploded from there.
5. Out of everything you have accomplished what are you most thankful for?
a) The absolutely amazing authors that have turned from clients to friends. Indie authors are some of the most open-hearted and open-minded people you could ever hope to meet. They are usually willing to help anyone and can always be depended on for advice or clarification. I can’t tell you the number of times I have put out a call to some of them for information and got immediate responses.
6. Name 4 things most people do not know about you.
a) I am over the age of 30 and I have a security blanket – it goes with me anytime I am going to be away from my house overnight.
b) Of my three kids, each one is 8 years younger than the proceeding one – they span in ages 20, 12 and 4 – and none of them were planned.
c) I have a research addiction, once I start researching something I can’t seem to stop easily. This works out great for finding out particulars of an issue but plays havoc with my sleep schedule.
d) I listen to all types of music but my favorites are Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Lisa Marie Presley.
7. On your podcasts and everywhere online you refer to your children by nicknames, why is that?
a) I have had a couple of internet and real-life stalkers and I want to shield my kids as much as possible. Besides that, I do call my children Alphonso (Prince of Spain), Bubba (the Texas terrorist) and Wee Bossy Baby in real life and the nicknames suit them.
8. Why did you write this book?
a) I started out just putting an example book together for prospective author and publishing clients but thought that just having gibberish as the text probably wasn’t the best way to go. Then I thought maybe I would include a few blog posts that I had written to help those prospective clients when they were making decisions about how to publish. So I guess you could say that ‘Navigating the World of E-Book Publishing’ is 2 years in the making. These were blog posts that I wrote either after a change in retailer specifications, coming across misinformation online, if I had to do research to answer a client’s query or if something irritated me as a reader and buyer of e-books.
9. What is the most important advice you could give an aspiring author?
a) Where to start and how can I possibly narrow it down to one thing? Aside from the standard “write, write, write” advice I have to say I think it’s never too soon to start building an online presence as an aspiring author. When you are writing your book or even thinking about writing your book, call yourself a newbie writer or aspiring author, start interacting with people online in the publishing and writing communities. You will get people who want to sell you something but you will also find there are many people that just want to help. These are the people that will rejoice in your triumphs and commiserate in your stumbles. They will give you encouragement and a kick in the pants when you need either one. Plus they will be the foundation of your fan-base when you do finally make the leap from aspiring author to published author.
10. Do you consider yourself an expert on e-publishing?
a) Oh heavens no, and I tend to distrust anyone who claims to be an expert in e-publishing at this point (usually they are a jackwagon with an inflated ego). There are so many aspects of indie publishing right now, it’s hard for one person to be an expert on all the different areas of publishing. Besides that, indie and e-publishing at this moment is like the Wild West – things are changing on a daily basis. Standard practices from 3 years ago are now considered wrong, what used to work for ranking and promotion now is frowned upon. As more people get into the world of e-publishing things change and improve. I am simply someone with a publishing AND reading background who has been lucky enough to love what I do, love the people I work with and have the time research some of the most important areas of indie publishing now.
11. What do you think are the most beneficial social media portals to use as an author?
a) The new darling of social media (with the added bonus of SEO) is Google+ so I do recommend that as well as a blog or website (under your name not your book’s title), Twitter and of course the standby of Facebook Pages. (Facebook is getting a bit big for their britches and I know that a lot of people are getting irritated that statuses and posts don’t show up for everyone all the time since FB is trying to push their ‘sponsored’ posts but I am hoping that Facebook realizes they are pissing more people off for the sake of their bottom line.)
12. Who would most benefit from your book?
a) Everyone! Seriously, anyone who is contemplating entering the indie publishing world, has just typed ‘The End’ on their first draft or has had multiple books published. There is a little of something for everyone in the book. It’s short and is broken into easily understandable sections. I talk about social media, covers, paragraphs, images, author pages, even book descriptions – it’s a hodge-podge of information. Of course after releasing this book and everything I have learned during that process I am going to have enough material for a volume II. Besides that, I am easily accessible online so if there is something that didn’t make it into this book, all anyone has to do is contact me and I will give them my advice or research it and let them know.
About Deena Rae
E-BookBuilders is the online alias of Deena Rae. She was born and raised in Texas — home of bluebonnets, boots, beef and big hair — into a family that was in the printing and publishing industries. Her father was a computer programmer for major newspapers when the equipment took up whole rooms and mother has been a publisher for almost 30 years — trying, unsuccessfully, to bring her into the family business. She is a second-generation genetically perfected super-nerd.
She was happily living her life, having three third-generation genetically perfected super-nerds herself, but then through a series of events (unfortunate and fortunate), she officially joined The Book Connection — her mother’s publishing and packaging company — as the Digital Director, to create the e-publishing division in 2011. Her computer skills, willingness to help authors, love of literature, no-nonsense attitude and quick wit has helped shepherd many authors through the maze of digital publishing.
Through her work with E-BookBuilders, Deena Rae has been able to meet authors and writers from all over the world and in every genre imaginable. She has a biting wit, obscure sense of humor, awareness of the absurd, and a love of literature all which led to the creation of Bluebonnets, Bagpipes and Books, the #NSFW publishing discussion podcast she produces and hosts with Janet Wrenn and Peter Burnett. Her no-nonsense attitude makes for some hilarious discussions and plenty of “Oh my God, did she really just say that?” moments. Sometimes it is as if there is no filter between her brain and her mouth. But if she likes you she tries to be nice — sometimes. Deena also has the safe-for-everyone author interview show, B3’s Bookworm. You can find her most hours of everyday attached to her computer either researching, tweeting on her 6 accounts, posting on her different Face-book timelines and pages, coding e-books for her fabulous friends/clients or with her nose buried in her Kindle reading.