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.

Update on the Writer's Corner

Hi Gang,

This morning, I was looking ahead at my writing schedule, and although I'm glad to be busy, the forecast is looking pretty relentless.

I'm normally working on two (occasionally three) books at different stages at the same time, and now JC and I working on two different series of shorter fiction as well.

I'm going to end the "Wednesday Writer's Corner," but I will continue to keep posting general thoughts and nuts-and-bolts advice here when I have time and when the spirit moves me.  I've been dying to write a post on the proper use of an apostrophe for some time now as I've noticed this seems to be getting by-passed in the American education system.

But I'll just be getting these posts up as time allows.

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:

The Wednesday Writer’s Corner: The Cost and Benefits of Conventions

JC and I often get asked why we don’t attend more SF/Fantasy conventions.  We used to do Norwescon whenever we could, along with our more local Orycon in the Portland area. We know writers who do up to ten conventions a year, hoping to promote themselves and their books.  There are several types of conventions that writers tend to target. 

Those who want to do serious book promotion tend to aim for something like Worldcon or DragonCon, because those conventions draw thousands of people (fans).  The idea is to get yourself up in front of a filled room while doing a panel—and hopefully more than one.  You display your books and talk about them to make your work known to new readers.

The World Fantasy Convention is a business con.  We did one in 2003 in Washington D.C. We also had a blast taking Saturday off to visit a few of the Smithsonian’s museums.  There aren’t many fans at this convention.  Rather, the hotel is teeming with editors, publishers, agents, and writers who all want to make “connections.”  For some writers, this might be the only chance out of a year to physically be in the same space with their agents or editors. These conventions tend to be staged in large (expensive) cities.

The Wednesday’s Writer’s Corner: Marketing

Let me start off by saying that when it comes “How to market a book,” I haven’t got the first clue.

Why is that, you ask?

Because marketing in the traditional publishing industry is not aimed at letting “readers” know that a book is about to be released, it’s about the marketing department at a New York publisher trying to figure out every conceivable way to get the book-buying representatives at brick and mortar stores like Barnes & Noble to order as many copies of a book as possible.

The publisher makes up a big glossy catalog, and in the catalog, right beside the cover image for an upcoming book, they include all the fabulous sales points to tempt the book-buying representatives.  For Blood Memories, they wrote things about sales figures on the Noble Dead Saga and other enticing facts to prove to the representatives that the book would sell, and it would make money, and so they should order lots of copies.

Ghosts of Memories

Here's a "sneak peak" at the new cover.  There may be a few small changes in the final version, but this is basically ready for viewing.

The Wednesday’s Writer’s Corner: Do I Really Have to Live on a Can of Campbell’s Soup a Day?

In the late 1980s, I’d only been married to JC for a few years.  We had a daughter, and I was working full time as a pre-kindergarten teacher at a big corporate daycare center called Children’s World.

JC and I had so many similar interests, and I think on some level, we’d both always wondered about the possibility of writing down all the stories in our heads.  Something about the two of us being married and living together began to push that possibility forward. 

In my opinion, it takes years of practice to become good at almost anything, whether it’s cooking, playing the piano, or writing fiction.  The key is practice.  Lots and lots and lots of practice.  However, I didn’t know that back then.  Like many hopeful young writers, I thought there must be a “code” or a “secret key” that other published writers could tell me or give to me, and then I too would be part of the fabulous published writers’ club.