Recently, I met T.J. MacKay, the brilliant, savvy blonde and very vivacious lady behind the new on-line magazine, InD’Tale. The magazine is for readers and indie authors, blending industry information with behind-the-scenes looks at the writing life. Her passion for those folks who forge the road less traveled with their literary vision and are now paving it with their talent, is unparalleled. Her emphasis on romance is just the tip of the iceberg. For Mothers Day, here is an interview with a lady who just gave birth to a magazine every author should read.
Rebecca: InD’Tale is a great play on words. Why the focus on Indie Authors?
T.J.: When Indie was just starting to boom, there was no really credible platform in the industry for all the talented authors. I wanted to provide the singular place where they could learn some of the tricks of the trade and be celebrated through interviews and reviews.
Rebecca: To follow up on the word play, is there such a thing as an Indie Reader?
T.J.: Almost everyone could be considered an â€œIndie Readers.â€ I donâ€™t think readers give a hoot whether a book has a publishers stamp on it or not – they just want a really good, well-crafted story.
Rebecca: Tell me about two articles in upcoming issues – one for authors and one for readers.
T.J.: Mark Coker of Smashwords.com – one of the first to celebrate indie authors – just signed on to be a re-occurring contributor. He has an article on the way in June. We are finishing up a great three part series on screenwriting by one of Hollywood’s newest talents. For readers (as well as authors) we have a behind the scenes look at an industry photo shoot that takes us step by step through the process of creating amazing book covers We do an in-depth feature interview on a favorite best selling author each month. This is done in a personal, conversational style so readers can really get to know the author … oh goodness, I could go on and on!
Rebecca: You specifically talk to USA Today and NYT bestsellers for your in-depth interviews. Why?
T.J.: The feature interview is a 7 – 8 page layout, so the highlighted author needs to have the experience and credentials to be able to help teach those who are working to achieve that same level of success.
Rebecca: Do you know the requirements for an indie author to hit those lists so we can try really hard?
T.J.: The NY Times requires sales in multiple venues, which – when traditional was the only way to go – seemed fair and reasonable. Now that Indie is such a huge portion of the industry, however, itâ€™s become quite a conundrum for them. Indie authors are making money but it is from one or two distributors (almost always Amazon) which doesnâ€™t qualify them. I asked the Vice-President of Amazon about it and he said, â€œUntil we can convince New York to change their policy, authors may be faced with a choice: get rich or get on the list.â€ I think this will eventually change.
Rebecca: How do you choose the books you’ll review?
T.J.: As of right now, we review all books that are submitted and qualify. You can see our guidelines on the website. We review between 80 – 100 books a month and are working two months out right now.
Rebecca: Who are your reviewers?
T.J.: Currently, we have 24 reviewers. All have professional credentials and are strictly screened and trained. Professional reviews require a reviewer to set aside their personal views and look at a book from a strictly objective point of view. We have very specific guidelines that must be adhered to in order to maintain consistency and credibility. I also randomly read some of the books that are being reviewed to make sure that standard stays consistent.
Rebecca: Your emphasis is romance. Will you review other genres?
T.J.: Actually our emphasis is NOT just on romance. We review almost all genres and require only that there be a romantic thread within the story.
Rebecca: Are you or have you ever been an author? You are pretty darn passionate about books.
T.J.: Actually, Iâ€™m just pretty darn passionate about people and books! I doubt I’ll ever write a book. I was a journalist and my passion is in helping incredible authors become successful. Iâ€™m also an avid reader. I read an average of 5 to 6 books a week just to keep up!
Rebecca: What else do we need to know abut the TJ MacKay brand and the way you want to bring readers and authors together?
TJ: The most important thing to know about me is how deeply and sincerely I want to help talented authors find success and readers find the books that will spark their love of reading. It truly is a passion. Only those who have felt that drive to write, no matter what it is they write, can honestly understand how deeply that desire can run. Every single thing we do at InDâ€™tale is for that one purpose.