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

The Wednesday Writer’s Corner: Can you give me some tips on how to get a novel published?

I have a “contact” email address attached to this website, and the question above is by far the most common email I receive.  In fact, most of the emails I receive are from hopeful writers looking for advice on how to get published.

This is not an easy question to answer, and in truth, it took me years to sort of figure all this out.  However, keep in mind that at this point in my life, I’ve been working with the same publisher and the same literary agency since 2001, and so the process for publishing has been a different for me over the last eleven years then it would be for someone trying to break in.  But . . . I don’t think things have changed that much.  I do have friends who’ve recently landed their first agent and sold their first novel project.

The basics are:
Complete a publishable novel.  Get the book finished and polished.

Write a 4-5 page novel synopsis.

Get yourself an agent.

Have the agent shop the novel. 

The Wednesday Writer's Corner Takes a Week Off

Hi folks!  I'm doing some cooking and prepping for Thanksgiving dinner, so I'm going to take a holiday from the Wednesday Writer's Corner this week.

Tune in again next Wednesday.

Happy Turkey Day!

Going “Indie”: Are traditional writers really lazy?

For those who pay attention to Internet blog debates, the whole flame war between “indie” writers and traditionally published is getting heated—and in my opinion, somewhat ridiculous.

For those of you just coming into the room here, a number of writers are both practicing and loudly (and I do mean loudly) proposing that we all ditch our agents, ditch our publishers, and independently publish our own books—focusing mainly on electronic sales.  The great upside of this is that places like Amazon (Kindle), Apple (iPad) and B&N (Nook) keep only 30% of the take, and the writer gets 70% of the take.  This is a MUCH larger cut for the writer than a traditional publisher pays.

A traditional New York publisher pays between 8% and 15% percent royalties—depending on book format—and as I covered earlier this week, your agent will also take 15% of what you earn because most writers working with a New York publisher have agents.

Okay, so 70% versus 8 to 15% is fabulous . . . well, if anyone knows your book actually exists.

Those Lazy Traditional Writers

The main accusation from the folks who take the “indie” path is that traditional writers are lazy.  I don’t care much for name calling in general, but this one really bothers me.

Powell's Authorfest Recap

All went well, and we caught up with some friends in the spare moments. A few photos were snapped along the way, so if curious, drop by the Noble Dead Saga's official Facebook page to check those out.

The photos are courtesy of authors Louise Marley and Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Book Signing: Powell’s Authorfest

The Wednesday Writer’s Corner: Finances for the Self-Employed

Okay to start, I don’t personally know many writers who are like me and JC in the sense that writing novels constitutes 100% of their income—and in all honesty, I’m not sure I would recommend it.  Most of the professional writers I know have a spouse/partner with a full time job, or the writer has a job and manages to finish a book a year around the cracks of time.

But JC and I are both full time writers.

Depending on both the publishing industry and sales to the general public, this can be a tenuous way to live.  Self-employed people are also in charge of their own health insurance and their own retirement, so think about this carefully as you’re making career plans. But for today, I’m just going to talk about how the money breaks down for a full time writer (who is working with a publisher).

The Wednesday’s Writer Corner: The Stages of Getting a Novel Ready for Publication

Back when JC and I sold DHAMPIR, we were so blissfully ignorant about what was going to happen next, that we didn’t even realize just how many stages actually “were” going to happen next.  I’ll probably talk about negotiations and contracts in a future post, but that really is a different topic, so I’m going to sort of jump over that.  The only thing I need to mention is that writer is typically paid an “advance against royalties”—sort of like a loan against how much your book will earn.  A typical first advance from a New York publisher is around $6,000.  Half of that is paid upon signing the contract and the other half upon “Delivery and Acceptance,” and I’ll chat about that in a minute.  Do note that the signing check won’t arrive until between six weeks and two months after you sign the contract—or at least that’s how it works for us.

So, here are the steps a typical novel takes to reach publication.

S3B1: Between Their Worlds

It’s finally here… the back cover summary for the beginning of Series 3 of the Noble Dead Saga. Visit and select “Books” from the site’s main menu and then select “Series 3, Book 1, Between Their Worlds” in the right-hand menu on that page.

That is the last info about the book that can be released, as we all wait until January 3rd, 2012, when the book appears on the shelves. Pre-orders are available at all online venues. Links to some of those are available within the book’s information on our site. Magiere, Leesil and Chap are back!


We've got the comments function turned off at my website--for a number of reasons--but these same posts show up on my Facebook page, and the comments function is available there if people feel like chatting.  Just click on the link below.


News Options: Facebook Linkage

facebookNews linkage options for readers and other visitors have received a small update; look to the sidebar of our site(s). If you already chose your preferred method to receive our updates, you do not need to make any changes. More such convenience tweaks (and expansion of options) are planned for the near future. Stay tuned.

Writing to the Market: “Should I write what I like or what I think will get me published?”

This is a very tricky question that has caused many writers anguish and stress because the answer is complicated—if there is an answer.

My general feeling is that if you try to force yourself to write novels you don’t care about, readers won’t care about them either.  So, here are thoughts on this issue . . .