Writing tends to be something solitary, so I was intrigued by the idea of a group that exists for horsy books, having myself been a member of writing groups that I felt had nothing very much to do with how I actually worked, let alone thought. Today, we talk about what the website is for, and how it came about. Come back tomorrow for part two of the interview, which talks about the writing process and how being in a group affects it.
Another good reason for coming back tomorrow is that Horseback Reads are kindly doing a freebie of one of their author's books to coincide with part 2, so don't miss out!
And on with the questions....
JB: What made you decide to start up your website? (or what made you decide to join in once you were invited?)
Mara: Tudor sent out an e-mail to all of us at once with this amazing idea, and I didn’t even have to think about it. I said yes immediately, because I wanted to be involved with these talented authors. Also, deep down as a reader, I’ve wanted a website like this where I could find great horse books. I just never knew I’d be a part of it!
Barbara: Last year someone suggested to me that we writers of equestrian fiction needed a central website. No one seemed interested. This summer I approached Tudor with the idea and she loved it. She took on the task of creating the website, while I did support graphics.
Kate: I received Tudor’s email and immediately thought ‘What a great idea!’ I had already reached out to some of the group members individually (or they had reached out to me) after reading and enjoying each other’s work, so it was a no-brainer for me to get more involved.
Kim: I was so thrilled to be invited to be in the group. I think my immediate response to the idea was “Heck, ya, I’m in!” While Tudor has done the bulk of the work setting up and promoting the site, it’s nice in that we each can chip in using our connections or skills.
Maggie: Having seen another multi-author web site fail to get off the ground, I was a little skeptical at first. But I have been happily proved wrong. This group is dedicated and focused (and fun) and I’m thrilled to be a part of it, and I love being able help out with a few simple graphics as well.
Natalie: I’d been playing with a similar idea for a long time. I just never felt like I had the time to coordinate with other writers and make it happen. I’m really grateful that Tudor stepped up to the plate and organized such a wonderful stable of writers!
Tudor: It just seemed like the logical next step from all of us talking and sharing and helping each other. There were often times in the past where we would send an email to this group, asking for advice or feedback. And, I think we were often recommending each other’s work to our readers. This makes everything much easier – if a reader wants a recommendation, we can just send them to the site. And we email each other most days – sometimes just to vent, share, or laugh, in addition to getting advice.
JB: Why do you think it will be good for your readers?
Mara: Horseback Reads provides readers a place to find new content and connect not just with one author, but seven. It gives them ready options to pick up another book when previously they’d have to go sifting through Amazon or Goodreads to look for the good stuff.
Barbara: It’s a smart solution in the Internet Age. We’re all in one place and readers don’t have to go searching for us or miss one of us.
Kate: It’s a one-stop shop for people looking for equestrian reads. Just today, someone in a horse-centric Facebook group posted “Any recommendations for good horsey reads?” I’m always a bit shy about leaping in there and blowing my own trumpet, so it was a great opportunity for me to say “Go check out Horseback Reads! We have piles of books suitable for all ages, and some are free!” I immediately got great feedback from people, so hopefully they checked out the site and found it helpful.
Kim: I’m always wishing I could write faster … readers are always asking for the next book. I feel the same way about authors I like to read. This way we can all point readers to a place where they can learn about other great authors writing horse books and read descriptions, samples, and freebies to see if they want to try a new author.
Maggie: Echoing Kim … When you don’t have a new release coming up right away, it’s far more positive to be able to point readers at Horseback Reads rather than telling them they will “just have to be patient!”
Natalie: Readers look to their favorite authors for book recommendations. Horseback Reads brings together writers who share my goals as an equestrian author, so my readers now have an easy source for new books they’ll love.
Tudor: I echo what everyone else has said, and would like to emphasize, we can be shy / feel awkward about pushing our own books, and we can sometimes be really busy and it can be hard to send a reader a link to somebody else’s book. This way the information is all there and we feel happy providing it because we’re boosting other people up – not just ourselves.
JB: What plans / hopes do you have for the website?
Mara: We’re so new, but we’re bursting with ideas and chattering about them almost every day. Already we’ve started to implement some of those ideas – a book club, for starters – and my hope is that we’ll continue to draw readers in with these activities. Maybe, eventually, we’ll even start publishing together.
Barbara: I hope we’ll be able to reach beyond the Internet, into the barns and horse show where there are, sadly, still many riders who don’t realize the great books they’re missing.
Kate: I would love for us to become a destination site for people looking for good reads. We are still finding our feet, but there is already heaps of great information on the site and plenty of books to choose from. I think the strength of the website is the group atmosphere, so the more things that we can do in collaboration, the stronger we will become.
Kim: I’m really excited about our blog. I just contributed a post and I really enjoyed writing it. I love that we can write about writing, horses, or the combination of the two. I hope we can all find the time to write more blogs and offer readers a glimpse inside our daily lives.
Maggie: Barb nailed it – reaching beyond the web and finding readers where they’re more likely to hang out, i.e. the barn, at clinics, and shows. On the one hand, we’re lucky because we all write for a targeted group of readers – horse people of various ages – but it’s also limiting because most of them have extraordinarily busy lives and what reading time they have is often devoted to non-fiction, about horses of course. I think that, given time, Horseback Reads will provide them an easy way to find our fiction.
Natalie: I’m hopeful we can take this brand out into the real world. We can begin with engaging our readers online, but I don’t think it should end there. I want to get out to the barns and hang out by the arena and talk horse books with people!
Tudor: I hope we can keep having fun. I’ve already met so many new readers and the book club is a good example – we, in no way, planned that ahead of time. It was more like “hey, we could do this – right? Couldn’t we?” and nobody said “no” so we did. Sometimes you have those ideas on your own, and you’re not sure how sound they are. If you get seven other people saying “Great idea! I’m in!” chances are it’s got legs.
Thank you very much, Horseback Reads. Come back tomorrow for part two, where I ask the authors about how they write, and how the group has changed what they do.