News, commentary, and fiction by Barb Hendee, co-author of the Noble Dead saga (www.NobleDead.org); author of the Mist-Torn Witches series, the Vampire Memories series, and more.

How Much Control Does the Writer Have?

Recently, a writer friend of mine received a barrage of angry hate mail because her publisher (for reasons I've still not garnered) decided not to put out an e-version of her book until three weeks after the trade paper edition was released.

Upon hearing snippets of a few of these emails, fully blaming the writer for the situation, I actually wasn't surprised by some of the awful things my friend was called.

It seems that a number of readers are under the impression that a writer has absolute and full control of every aspect of the publication of his or her book.

I just wanted to chat about this.  If the writer is going through a traditional publisher, this is how much control he or she has:

Question: How much control does the writer have regarding the book's cover?

Answer: None.

Question: How much control does the writer have over the book's format (i.e. whether it comes out in mass market, trade paper, or hard cover)?

Answer: None

Question:  How much control does the writer have over pricing (either e-book or hard copy)?

Answer: None.

Question:  If the e-edition has formatting errors that make the book difficult to read, how much control did the writer have over this issue?

Answer: None.

However, the writer always seems to be the one who weathers people either sending flaming emails or having someone write an enraged post on Amazon due to some issue outside the writer's control.  If you want to see one of these, check out the reviews for Traitor to the Blood over on Amazon.  A woman trashed this book because she claimed JC and I were greedy and wanted more money, so we'd made the decision to move to hard cover.  Trust me, we were just as surprised by the move to hard cover as everyone else.

Anyway, I think 99% of readers and fans are awesome, supportive, fair- minded people.  I just think everyone should think twice before firing off an abusive email or review slamming a writer for issues completely outside his or her control.