Bringing Readers & Writers Together: An Interview With Darcia Helle

Welcome to Open Blog Week, a celebration of moving my blog to a new space!  To keep tabs on what’s happening, be sure to subscribe via the handy RSS link on the top of this page, by email over on the sidebar, or bookmark us. You can also keep up on new posts and happenings by following me on Twitter.

To get this week off to a good start, I interviewed Darcia Helle, mystery/suspense author and co-creator of the BestsellerBound forum. She also recently served as editor of the BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology, Volume 1. I asked her about the anthology and the forum, getting to the stories behind the creation of both. What I learned is that Darcia and her two forum co-creators have a higher purpose – to help merge the sometimes oddly disparate worlds of readers and writers.

When and how did the BestsellerBound forum come to be?

I decided to self-publish in 2009. Being completely naive to the emerging indie world, I assumed that I could interact freely in various readers groups and on message boards. I quickly realized how wrong that assumption was. At that time, I could not find one readers group that was author-friendly. I was not allowed to even mention that I was a writer. I’m an avid reader and enjoy discussing books I’ve read, as well as issues such as plot development, reader preferences, etc. In these groups, I could talk about everyone’s books but my own. And I could not mention – ever – that I write novels. The whole thing was surreal. Everyone else discussed their jobs and what they did with their day. My ‘job’ and what I did with my day evolved around writing. Writing is, quite obviously, related to reading. But if I said that, I would be severely chastised or even banned from these groups.

Writers groups were the opposite. We were allowed to talk all we wanted about our writing but no one spoke about what they read or any issues that concerned readers. Those groups all centered on self-promotion and marketing techniques. I wanted a place where readers and writers could freely interact, learn from one another, network and become friends.

I had been tossing around the idea of putting together a group of my own but, at that time, I didn’t know many indie authors and I couldn’t discuss it in reader groups. I had recently met Stacy Juba on Goodreads and we’d quickly become friends. I suggested the idea to her and she was all for it. I started putting the message board together and Stacy helped me tremendously with feedback. We decided to include one more moderator. We both were just getting to know Maria Savva through Facebook and Twitter. I sent her an email, telling her about the board, and fortunately, she agreed to join us!

The BestsellerBound name came from Stacy and the board officially opened in August of last year. While the project was incredibly time-consuming to put together, it is the best time I’ve ever spent. In the past year, I’ve made some of the best friends I could ever hope to have.

 

What inspired you to put together an anthology?

We have an incredibly talented bunch of authors. I read their work and I’m astonished that most of them remain relatively unknown. Short stories don’t take a lot of time to write and many of us write them without any clear idea of where to publish them. With ebooks being so popular and relatively easy to put together, I thought that a BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology would be a great way to introduce ourselves to readers.

We’d always intended the anthology to be free, which is a testament to the giving nature of all the authors involved. Getting the anthology free on Amazon for Kindle isn’t an easy thing. Amazon will only allow publishers to list free work, not authors. So we either have to wait months for Smashwords to (hopefully) distribute it to Amazon or I need to list it myself for 99 cents (the minimum) and get a lot of people to click the link on the book’s page reporting it as cheaper elsewhere. I’m leaning toward listing it myself.

What genres/styles are represented in the BsB Anthology?

I think there is a taste of almost everything in the first volume. We’ve got mainstream, fantasy, thriller, romance, historical and more! We’ve got authors who write dark fiction, others who write light fiction. Each style is a little different, representing a lot of unique talent.

This is volume 1. Are there more volumes coming?

Yes! I’m really excited about the participation we’ve gotten. Volume 2 is in the works. As long as we have authors willing to write and share their stories, I’ll continue putting out the anthologies.

What are the goals of the BsB forum? Where do you see the project going in the future?

BestsellerBound has already exceeded my highest expectations. I started out with a hope to get people together and talking. I wound up with an amazing group of friends.

One thing I’d love to see is more reader (non-writer) participation. We have a lot of indie author participation but I don’t want readers to think that’s all the group is about. We welcome anyone with a love of words.

As for other directions, I’m not sure. I’m enjoying the way the group has evolved and I’m open to all sorts of possibilities.

Aside from being involved in the BsB forum, what other projects do you have cooking?

I always have more projects than time! I’m in the final editing stage of my seventh book – Into The Light. I hope to have that one published and available to the world in a few weeks. I’ve begun putting together ideas for promotion and marketing for that title. (For the record, I do not like promotion and marketing!) I’ve started on my next novel, which will be the third book in my Michael Sykora series. I’m always working on features and various content for my blog. And I’ve also been redesigning and adding new content to my website.

* * *

The BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology, Volume 1, is a free download at Smashwords, and is available in almost any format you could desire, including Kindle.

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, take a few minutes to check out the BestsellerBound forum and contribute to its growth as a safe haven for word lovers to mingle freely.

Last but not least, you can find out what’s going on with Darcia and her forthcoming novel at her website or blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to Darcia for joining us!

Now that we’ve done a little reading, let’s discuss: Do you think a gap exists between readers and writers? If so, what do you think contributes to it? What would you do to bridge that gap?

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