Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Read an E-Book Week: Interview with Rita Toews

Interview with Rita Toews, Co-Founder of Read an Ebook Week

By: Dawn Colclasure

Rita’s bio: Rita Y. Toews is a Canadian author living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, with her husband and obligatory author's cat.
She has written three children's e-books, KELLY’S BABY BROTHER, CHRISTMAS STARS and THE BULLY. CHRISTMAS STARS was voted one of the best e-books for 2002, and KELLY’S BABY BROTHER won an award of excellence. As well, she has co-authored several novels with Hungarian author, Alex Domokos. THE PRICE OF FREEDOM, Domokos' biography, won a Clara Award and an Eppie Award and is available in audio. PROMETHEUS, a future fiction novel, was on the McNally Robinson best-seller list for two weeks. Their e-book, MASQUERADE, has been published by a Canadian print publisher.

Q: What is your background as a writer?

I've wanted to write since I was young but never really did anything about it until I had launched my family. I found university writing classes gave me the confidence to begin submitting articles to periodicals and newspapers. From there I graduated to children's stories and novels.

Q: Have you published any Ebooks? If so, what kind and where can we find them?

Yes, I've published several e-books. Along with my co-author we've done 3 novels with Hard Shell Word Factory - two, THE PRICE OF FREEDOM and PROMETHEUS, are available now, and THE CENTURION will be available soon. Our mystery book, MASQUERADE, is in e-book format with Books Unbound E-Publishing, as is my children's book CHRISTMAS STARS. MASQUERADE was also picked up by a print publisher and released as BODY TRAFFIC. Writers' Exchange has published a collection of our short stories entitled TEN CHOCOLATES FROM THE BOX in e-book format, as well as my children's story KELLY’S BABY BROTHER.

My children's e-book on bullying, THE BULLY, is available free from my website http://www.thebullybook.com Demand from teachers for THE BULLY in print was so great that it was published as THE BULLY: A DISCUSSION AND ACTIVITY STORY.

Q: Are you a BIG Ebook reader? How do you find the time to read Ebooks? What are some of your favorites?

Time! That's the big factor in reading, isn't it? I'd love to read more but where does one find the time? I have e-books on my Hie e-book reader as well as my Palm. I tend to lean toward the mysteries, or thrillers. Wayne Arnold's PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY from Books Unbound was a great read. When I'm in the mood for a good laugh I'll look to Darrell Bain's humor books.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Read an Ebook Week? Why did you create it?

I think e-books initially got a bum rap. The print publishers weren't happy to see e-books gain ground and it was difficult for individual authors and small presses to make an impact on their own. I felt that a united effort, supported by readers who wanted to read books from independent sources rather those dictated by large presses, was needed. Enter Read An E-Book Week. This week gives writers and publishers of electronic literature a chance to "toot their horn" so to speak. Read An E-Book Week is registered with Chase's Calendar of events so it opens doors to the media who are looking for stories to cover. For example, libraries have become receptive to e-books and welcome a display during this week.

Q: Has Read an Ebook Week gotten a lot of press? Any special notice? How do you promote it?

It has gotten some press. I'm approached each year for an interview regarding the week. I usually appear on our local television station and I put together a display for our library. This year has been difficult because I've been away on book tour when I should be promoting the event.

Each year I provide banners that are available for authors and publishers to display on their websites. Those can be found at

Q: Which do you think is better for an Ebook writer: Publishing it themselves, using something like Lulu.com or going through an Ebook publisher? Why?

I think an e-book publisher is the best bet for an author. A writer cannot, and should not, try to edit their own material. It's impossible. The eye reads what the brain tells it is there. I've had no experience with Lulu.com.

Q: In your opinion, what makes for a popular Ebook?

Certain genres have caught on in e-books. But even if an author doesn't write in the hot genres there is still the possibility of a best-seller. Promotion is key.

Q: Do you feel that free Ebooks really do bring more traffic to a person's Web site? How can they promote their free Ebook?

Oh yes! A free e-book brings a lot of traffic to an author's site. Make sure the Web page is coded properly in the header with the word "free". A good Web page is one that is saturated with your key words which should include the words 'free', 'e-books' and the words of your specific genre. To promote your books you do need a good Website. Learn basic HTML - it's not hard. A Website doesn't have to be expensive. I did mine using free web creation tools and a free hosting service. If an author wants pointers just get in touch with me. I'll be happy to share my expertise.

Q: How can writing parents squeeze in the time to write their own Ebooks?

That is very difficult - but it can be done. I've known writers who set aside an hour very early in the morning or in the late evening that they dedicate to their writing.

Q: Any final comments about Read an Ebook Week or for writers of Ebooks?

I encourage writers to grab a hold of this week and use it to their benefit. It was created specifically for you! Approach your local media well in advance of the week and open with - "The first full week of March is Read An E-Book Week. As an e-book author I would........" Offer to appear on TV. Offer an interview. Offer to do an information session on e-books at your library, or offer to do a reading. Take advantage of the opportunity to promote yourself and e-books in general.

Originally printed in the March, 2006 issue of the Burning the Midnight Oil Book Zine.

Currently reading: Dreams of Darkness by Elizabeth K. Burton
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  • At 11:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    great interview! And I am going to see that bully book!

  • At 11:56 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thanks, Nancy. :) I hope that book is useful to you.


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