SPOTLIGHT: Rob McClellan

Welcome to SPOTLIGHT! Each Tuesday I’ll be posting a quick interview with an awesome person you need to know. This week, Rob McClellan from ThirdScribe swings by to answer some questions.

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1. For those that don’t know, can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
I am the founder of ThirdScribe, a book social network. We launched in 2014 with a focus on quality services to all members of the book world (readers, writers, and publishers) and have been steadily growing ever since. Currently, we provide 274 author websites and support just under a thousand members.

Each year we make a major software push to the platform and this year, our TS 4.0 update builds on all we’ve learned so far and broadens our platform immensely, with expanded promotional tools for authors and advanced library management tools for Readers. It’s pretty amazing and we’re really excited about it.

2. What inspires you from day to day?
Largely my wife and children, who are, quite frankly, inspiring. But, also, the writers. Their relentless dedication and boundless creativity is pretty fantastic, and I feel that we at ThirdScribe need to be on our “A” game to match it.

At the heart of my work with ThirdScribe, though, is books. Books are very special to me personally. I’ve always taken great comfort and solace being around them. Many people find peace through exercise or nature or church, but for me it’s always been books, either reading them or being around them. When I’m really feeling stressed, I tend to make my way to a bookstore and wander through the stacks. I built ThirdScribe to capture that feeling online as much as I could, so we focus on browsing, design, and, of course, no advertising to disrupt it all.

3. Is there significance in the way you go about your work?
Significance? I don’t know, that seems like a very strong word for what I do.

More than anything, I guess, is that I focus on looking after people. Authors tend to need a lot of help, especially when just getting started. And, increasingly, readers need some assistance as well. And, the more I help, the more I learn about what the book community really needs. It’s labor intensive, and a bit boutique, but I’ve found it’s the best way to gain some trust and really understand what our members are going through – not just with our service, but in general.

And, the more I learn, the more we improve the function, features, and design of ThirdScribe.

4. Can you describe your process for us?
Help as much as I can, be open to the feedback and lessons that generates, and do my best to incorporate all of that into the next round of improvements.

5. How has that process changed over the years?
Quite a bit, actually. It took a while to learn to be open and to accept that members might not use the system we designed the same way we intended. I’ll freely admit that I struggled with that for the first year.

But, it was unrealistic to expect that all of our users would follow the “ideal” we had. We spent a good bit of TS 3.0 adapting to the lessons we learned and building in much more flexibility into our tool suite so members could tailor it to meet their own particular needs and methods.

And, in some cases we were flat wrong. We zigged and the world zagged. We misread things. And, naturally, at first you want to push back against that and say “hey, don’t you understand all of this perfection I’ve worked on?” but the reality is, it wasn’t perfect. You have to put that pride aside sometimes and face what’s going on, and then decide to either change or not.

We’ve made a lot of changes since we launched three years ago, to the system, myself, my expectations, and my methods. As you work on something, building it slowly for this long, you look towards a balance. Balance to work, to family, and to yourself. Oh, yes, it’s been a learning experience on many fronts.

6. Where can people go to find more about you?
You can always find me at Thirdscribe.com or over on my personal site, underwatersamurai.com.

About Alan V. Nelson

Alan V. Nelson is a writer living in North Carolina. Through the use of fiction and non-fiction, his mission is to encourage hope and healing in others. When he isn't writing, reading, taking pictures, or on a long walk, he can be found enjoying good chai and conversation at a local coffee shop. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram @alanvnelson

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