Monday, December 23, 2013

Editor's Notes #2: The Reader Doesn't Care

I've been stalking the Goodreads forums lately, and having a wonderful time of it. Granted, I'm sure there are other great writers' sites out there, but I've found the discussions on GR to be stimulating, sometimes very uncomfortable, and always informative.

One of my favorite threads lately has been going 'round and 'round about self-published authors (SPAs), their problems, and how to get readers to buy their books. I could write a year's worth of blog posts based on any one of those threads, but the SPA thread has me captivated.

This week's topic deals with the not-ready-for-prime-time books out there that are damaging the reputation of those SPAs whose work is as good as—or better than, in some cases—that published by the Big Five. Specifically, we'll talk about excuses given for poor work.

The writers I like to call "premature publishers" (because "author" doesn't really fit their abilities) are the ones who are typically in a rush to get their books published because they want the world to see the results of their hard work. There's no time to wait. That book has to get out there because the world needs them!

The problem lies in the fact that the reader expects a published book to be finished. Completed. Done. As close to "perfect" as possible.

"Finished" to the premature publishers means "I'm done writing." Period.

Having an idea and getting it written on paper (real or virtual) is a wonderful start, but it is exactly that: a start. As S.K. Anthony stated in our second Coffee Chat, after the first draft is written, that's when the real work begins. Revisions, tweaks, overhauls—whatever name you call them, it boils down to the same thing: making your work the best it can be.

One of the things I find frustrating is when an author becomes defensive after receiving a bad review. If someone gives a one-star review based on something dumb, like "I've always hated that color of yellow on a book cover," or "I can't believe someone kicked a kitten in this book!" then yes, the author has every right to be indignant about that review. However, many new authors seem unable to deal with bad reviews that mention editing, immature writing habits or style, plot holes, or pretty much anything that doesn't include the words "OMG I loved it!"

Some of the authors I've conversed with on GR are quick to tell others they learned a lot more from the negative reviews than the positive ones, though they would always prefer good reviews over bad. But it seems those who learn from criticism (even when it's not constructively phrased) are in the minority. Many premature publishers are full of excuses—overflowing with them, really—as to why their book has uncorrected issues.

Guess what? The reader doesn't care what kind of problems you had. Whether your book was offered as a freebie or purchased for whatever amount, the reader has every right to expect it to be complete and polished. Someone (known only as Tura) on the SPA thread on Goodreads put it perfectly:
I think a good thing to remember is the reader does not care. Yes, just writing a book is an achievement, but it doesn't mean everyone has to praise you. So forget the excuses people use when they complain reviews are harsh:
*"It's my first attempt." The reader does not care.
*"I had a really hard time while writing, for one reason or another." The reader does not care.
*"I wrote from my own experience." Well, so did many others. The reader does not care.
*"My family and friends all loved it." The reader . . . And so on. 
The unknown reader has a million books to choose from, and will go to whatever pleases her/him. You can't really argue anyone into liking your book; you can only show it to them. 
I don't expect every book I pick up to be an instant classic. Nor do I expect every book to have the same level of writing skill. What I do expect is readability and cohesiveness, not excuses.

I've heard many writers talk about the expenses of publishing. Writing costs nothing as long as you have a pencil and paper. Publishing has its costs, though. Content editing. Cover design. Proofreading. Printing. This is all part of the package from the moment the first word hits the page. 

Think of it in terms of purchasing a home. You have the money to buy a house. Do you have the money to live in it? You'll need basic tools, money for utilities, furniture, and groceries. You may need a lawnmower. You need money for taxes. You need more than just the price of a building.

To simplify further, let's say you have the money for the down payment, but no way of paying closing costs. What do you do? You continue to save, cutting expenses for months or even years in order to set the money aside. You don't tell the Realtor he should still give you the house because you've always wanted one, or because you're having another child and need the extra room, or because you've been saving and saving and you just can't wait any longer. 

The Realtor doesn't care about any of those things. If you can't pay, he will find another buyer.

The reader can be thought of in the same way. If you can't produce an adequate product, he'll find another author. I've heard writers talk about eating Ramen noodles, red beans & rice, and peanut butter sandwiches for months so they could save, dollar by dollar, for editing and a decent-quality cover. If you're self-publishing, there's no rush to get your book out there other than your own urgency to get people to read it. You're following no deadline but your own. 

Count the cost. The full cost, from soup to nuts. Save for it and pay for it before hitting that "publish" button. The reader doesn't care what you couldn't do. He only cares about what you did. Why give something other than your best?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Coffee Chat 2.0 with Author S.K. Anthony: Revisions

If you haven't gotten around to reading the first Coffee Chat with S.K. Anthony, I'd suggest you take a moment to do so before even attempting to follow the conversation in this one. It's not easy to keep up with us on a good day; no sense starting off behind the curve.

I'm so thankful to have Stephen King back with me again today. We'll just refer to her as S.K. for ease and clarity, just in case the "other" Stephen King decides to show up. For the record, I did ask him, but he doesn't have a special coffee cup to match ours, and frankly, I think he was a little intimidated at the idea of trying to keep up with two overly-caffeinated women. Either way, S.K. is here and I'm glad she's still willing to talk to me.

ER: So what's been happening since our last interview? I'm asking this as if I don't know, because you and I both know we talk to each other almost every day . . . but for the purposes of Coffee Chat, we can pretend we only talk here on Easy Reader. We'll have to keep that a secret, though, so remind me not to type it in later.

SKA: Okay, if I don't forget to remember, I will remind you to take that bit out. Since the last time we talked . . . let's see, I drank more coffee, I tickled the kids, and I worked on some revisions. I'm so glad no one gets to see my first drafts. Goodness me . . . I'm so talented at making lots of mistakes the first time around that I'm even in awe of myself. What can I say? I'm that good at being bad. What have you been up to? And surprise me; tell me something I don't already know . . . GO!

ER: No pressure, no pressure. I think you already know I drank more coffee, so I can't use that one. My eighteen-year-old son (Mr. Green Eggs and Ham himself) is the only kid within reach, so I'm not going to risk tickling him. I did some edits this week for a horror story and scared myself. I now have an occasional facial tic and keep seeing odd movements out of my peripheral vision. I can't imagine how much more scared I would have been, had I been reading it straight up and not for edits.

SKA: I think it would be a fun experiment for you to tickle Mr. Green Eggs and Ham (great post, that one!). [laughing] A facial tic . . . scary books would do that to me, also, but then I would have wine and probably forget all about it. Speaking of, imagine if we had "Wine Chats." I'll bet it would like Coffee Chats but on steroids. Oh, my.

ER: I also received a really cool prologue for a new book and edited it by mistake. (Sorry, Stephen. Not my fault. It looked ready.) So I suppose I could use the excuse that I was trying out the Wine Chat all on my own.

SKA: Skipping ahead and having all the fun on your own with the wine. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

ER: [applying diversionary tactics] So let's get down to business! Because I'm fairly sure that was our original intent . . .

How's the new book coming? Do you have Static on the brain these days?

SKA: Okay, so the book. Yes, my hair is very Einstein-like. Not because of intelligence, contrary to my kids' popular belief, but thanks to all the Static-ness going on. The first draft has been read through by Mildred Loudermilk and she left a lot of notes for me. Now the real fun begins!

ER: Well, I already started having fun, so you have some catching up to do.

What's your first step after finishing the first draft? Obviously, you read through it, but do you look for certain things during that first time through, or do you just read it to see if it flows?

SKA: After finishing my first draft, I do a happy dance and I smile. Then I sit and cringe because that's when the real work starts for me. I like to revise a lot, so I focus on different aspects each time. The first time I'm writing I go for the general idea and the characters' journeys. Second time, I focus on the big plot, more detailed descriptions, and character voices. The third time, I try to make sure I have things explained well, and that I have the humor splashed around along with the emotional moments.

I check on facts (dates/timeline/repetition), and from there on, I fix and delete, fix and delete, and fix . . . as much as I can until my wine runs out. Then I send it off to one CP [critique partner] and revise again while hubby gets me more wine—

ER: Good man you've got there.

SKA: —and then I send it to my other CP & revise again while I chat with you. Then it goes to one or two betas and I revise again.

[ER runs off to refill coffee, exhausted from hearing all about the labor of others.]

SKA: Then I have a CP give it another go before I kill myself, and then if I can't do anything else to it, I send it to you so you can do your thing. [Breathes for just a moment.] Yeah . . . that's what I do.

ER: And you know I have to ask: If you read it out loud, do you read each character's dialogue in a different voice? 'Cause I would.

SKA: [laughing again] I "hear" the voices and make up my face according to who is talking and what is being said when I write it. When I'm reading out loud toward the end of the revisions, I actually try (really hard) not to make different voices, because I want to make sure the words themselves work to imply the tone I mean to imply. I'm not sure how to explain that, but I think you'll understand.

ER: I do. If you're able to use the right words, you can eliminate a lot of dialogue tags or adverbs. When McCoy from Star Trek delivers his, "I'm a doctor, not a magician/juggler/garbageman!" line, if it were written in a book, we don't need "he shouted" added to the end. Nor would we need to add any adverbs to clarify. The words themselves show the frustration.

SKA: Every reader has their way of approaching a book and the way the characters sound to them. If I talk to myself as if I'm them [the characters], of course I would think it sounds right, but if I try to speak straight up, I'm more aware of anything that sounds "off."

ER: So let's focus on the revisions for a moment. Unless you want me to do some of my character voices for you, of course. [Begins singing like Mary Poppins, since that's the only accent that works easily. Stops abruptly upon realizing people are home.]

You get asked to read a lot of books/manuscripts for review/advice, it seems. Of the books you find . . . um . . . let's say "lacking" in some way, can you point your finger to a lack of revisions as a running theme? What jumps out at you?

SKA: At the moment, "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" jumps out at me . . . you mentioned Mary Poppins . . . so anyway . . .

Yes, I do beta read a fair amount of manuscripts, but that's before they're published, so revisions would, of course, be lacking. In regards to published books that are also lacking something . . . it's hard to say. I feel like the problem might be revisions, but that's probably because that's my process. For the author, that might just be how they want their stories told, and I'm the one who just didn't connect. Since I can't outline for the life of me—I know how, but I just don't feel free enough to keep writing with a detailed outline; I rather pants around—but if they [other authors] outline and this is their story, I can't say they're wrong. Just that it wasn't for me.

ER: I almost followed that. I do get it, though: you're making allowances for personal writing styles. But what brings the extra "polish," so to speak?

SKA: The biggest mistake I think we can all make is to rush. Yes, we have a deadline. But you know what? At the end of the day, it's better to push back the dates and make sure everything's as good as you can get it, rather than to screw yourself over. Letting your manuscript sit for awhile and then going back to it with a fresh mind helps a lot as well. And I'm not saying I know much about this—I'm still learning—but it's what works for me. 

ER: I think you know more than you realize. When I first read Kinetic, my first thought was that it didn't have the feel of a first-time author. All those revisions pay off. It shouldn't take twenty years to produce a novel, but it shouldn't only take twenty days, either. The reader will notice.

SKA: I know that to the best of my current ability, I gave Kinetic my all, and I'm proud of what I wrote. My sixth-grade teacher once told our class to make sure we were proud of anything that carries our name, and that advice has always stayed with me (I'm sure Stephen King would appreciate that). Maybe I'll look back at it a few years down the road and want to shoot myself, but I will always be able to say confidently that I gave it everything I had. And at the end of the day that's what readers deserve. 

ER: Well, we're out of coffee, so the rest will have to wait until after the holidays. We'll be seeing you in a couple weeks!

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 

You can find me here. I'm always here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Editor's Notes #1: WHY, Writers, WHY?

I need to rant a little. Or perhaps a lot. This may sound harsh, but this is what's going through my brain right now.

Not for the first time, I found myself reading a book description that was so poorly written, I wanted to grab the author, shake her, and scream, "THIS is where you're supposed to sell me on the idea that your book is worth reading, and you can't even write a description of it without errors?"

One hundred fifty words. That's all you need for a book description. One. Hundred. Fifty. Words.

If a writer is incapable of writing less than two hundred words in a readable manner, then there is nothing—NOTHING—that will convince me to read 70,000 more words penned by that same writer. In the case of this particular book description, only 20,000 more, but even ten more words would have put me over the edge.

Okay . . . perhaps my overwhelming sense of curiosity would convince me. For research purposes, you see. After all, what if the author didn't have time to write the (all-important) book description and asked her sibling/cousin/neighbor/babysitter to do it? Maybe someone on Fiverr did it for $5.00 to help pay the rent. I don't know.

Flash forward in time . . .

I have now downloaded the book, free of charge. I have read all of four pages of it and have decided that I can't go on. To clarify: I can go on living; I just can't go on reading. Honestly, two pages were enough, but I wanted to give it a fair shot by reading at least ten percent of the book. I couldn't make it that far, and didn't see any reason why I should force myself to do so.

[Note: I had to pause here for chocolate. That book bothered me in a big way.]

As I lurk and often participate on various Goodreads threads, I'm pleasantly encouraged by the number of authors who actively seek out advice from others (and follow it!) so they can improve their writing. Whether it's a work in progress or a book that's getting not-so-great ratings for whatever reason, they genuinely want to know how to make it better . . . and how to keep the same thing from happening next time.

Conversely, I'm astounded at the number of people who are on Goodreads who have access to these same threads but who don't take advantage of them. If I were an author and I saw a thread titled, "Why don't more people read self-published authors?" or "What's the best way for self-pub authors to get more readers?" my first thought would be to go to those threads and see what kind of advice I could glean, free of charge. There are discussions about editors, book covers, marketing plans, where to self-publish, dos and don'ts . . . you name it, these people have covered it thoroughly. A tremendous AND FREE resource is right there, available with one click.

A writer can put his or her heart and soul into a story—and it can be a wonderful, clever story—but if a reader can't get past the errors that are easily fixable, the story will never be discovered. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Coffee Chat with Author S.K. Anthony

ER: Today's interview is with author S.K. Anthony, whose debut novel, Kinetic (The Luminaries) hit the shelves a few months ago. Our mutual love of coffee drew us together, and my life hasn't been the same since our first online chat.

I have many burning questions for her, so this particular interview may end up being a series of events. We'll have to see how much she can handle before she changes her email address, adopts a fake name, and unfriends me on Facebook.

SKA: As long as you keep the coffee coming, I'll keep showing up. Otherwise, prepare to be ignored.

ER: While I'm on the topic of fake names, let's talk about yours. I understand you write under a pseudonym, but don't you think using the name "Stephen King" will be confusing to readers? Some might see it as a shameless way to get instant book sales.

SKA: Congratulations. You are the first clever person to realize my scheme. Luckily, I had an answer prepared in case anyone questioned my motives: I'm doing it for Stephen King's fans. You see, Stephen and I are pretty much the same—but just the opposite—so if they wanted to read more of his work . . . in a much different light . . . they can buy my book.

Speaking of my book, Kinetic is now available on Amazon! Look it up: Stephen King Anthony . . . S.K. Anthony for short.

ER: S.K. Anthony sure beats when you were considering using the name Mildred Loudermilk. I'm glad someone talked you down from that ledge. Not that there's anything wrong with the Mildred Loudermilks of this world . . .

SKA: Well, this is awkward . . . I only considered using Mildred Loudermilk because it's one of my real names. I do suppose it's a good thing I didn't go for it; now I can keep my anonymity intact. I will say, though, that I stand by it. I think it's a very strong name that demands attention, and I might consider using it for my future band. How does The Loudermilks sound?

ER: What inspired the first stirrings of ideas for Kinetic? And did I really give you all your best ideas, or did you come up with any on your own?

SKA: The first stirrings of Kinetic? Probably a coffee stirrer. On coffee, anyone can save the world . . . and by "anyone," I mean Annie Fox. Also, of course you gave me the best ideas, but I was smart about it. I wanted to make sure you didn't sue me for copyrights and such, so I wrote it directly from your mind before we met. Whatcha think about the Mildred Loudermilks of the world now, huh? We kan be zmarts!

So let me flip this around . . .

How did you come up with all your magnificent ideas for Kinetic? You know, before I stole them.

ER: I was toying with the idea of writing my autobiography, but I didn't think anyone would believe me—especially people who knew me personally. So I wrote out a rough outline and read it silently every night for weeks, hoping that someone, somewhere would "catch" my brain waves.

SKA: I had my wave net waiting . . .

ER: Exactly. And the first words you wrote were . . .?

SKA: "If I gave myself some time, I know I wouldn't have been able to control myself."

ER: Not so coincidentally, the very words I would have written.

I want to know how many rewrites you estimate you went through before you showed it to a critique partner.

SKA: Seven or eight, I think.

ER: Did he/she like it?

SKA: She said she liked it and gave me a bunch of notes. 

ER: Were you prepared to tell her she was full of it if she said anything negative?

SKA: I'd begged her to read it and break my heart. I told her I didn't want praises because that wouldn't help me fix issues; I gave her full permission to rip it apart.

ER: Did you feel broken enough by the time she was done, or did you still feel good, and therefore tell her she needed to re-read it?

SKA: Nah, funny enough, I never felt offended or that she was wrong. Even with the things she misunderstood, it clearly showed that I hadn't explained them enough. The things she did point out? If I agreed with it, I changed it; if I didn't agree, I made sure I fixed the details so they could showcase what I meant.

ER: In Kinetic, the characters have some pretty amazing powers. [Note: accurate to my biographical details so far . . .] Other than the superpower stuff, do your characters say or do things you'd never do in real life?

SKA: Yes, I'm a chicken. I wouldn't be running into the line of fire like they do.

ER: When you're writing controversial scenes, do you have a voice in the back of your mind that says, "Remember, your boss/neighbor/friend/pastor is going to see this and think you're a drug addict/pervert/big meanie"?

SKA: Yes! Kinetic was darker, actually. I deleted a lot of things, and in the end, I'm happy I did. Looking back now they were stupid. 

ER: How do you make that voice shut up?

SKA: I give it wine.

ER: Is it hard to get rid of things you've written? Put another way, have you ever had to sacrifice something cool for the sake of the story?

SKA: It's so odd . . . I find it difficult to sacrifice things I like but I have no problem hitting that "delete" button. I have a matter-of-fact way of looking at it: if it doesn't help or work, it has to go. I should say I copy/paste and hope I can use the ideas in the future, but I've also just deleted a lot. 

ER: Besides, it's not like I'm—I mean, you're—going to write only one book.

SKA: Exactly! I had already started Kevin's [book 2] last year, but I made changes to Kinetic that would come across here, so I had to delete stuff. Then I got close to 40k words and I got another idea—and out of that, I barely kept 7k. The rest is all new.

ER: Does it even resemble the original idea at all?

SKA: [laughs] Barely. I tell you, I like to delete. Ahem, YOU like to delete. By the way, take it easy on the deletions. My brain can hardly keep up with your changes, Lynda.

ER: You're so obedient to my brain wavy-ness. How about if I allow you to choose the title? After all, your name . . . one of your names . . . is going to be on the front.

SKA: Oh, can I? Can I?

ER: Unless you want me to call it Telepathic: Mildred Speaks

SKA: Hang on, I think I feel the brain waves doing something to me; it's almost electrifying and white-noise-ish. I am at a standstill . . . hold on . . .

I think: STATIC.

ER: That was my second choice, I swear!

SKA: I'll bet! So, dear Annie Fox . . . I mean, Lynda . . . does Static (The Luminaries #2) work for you?

ER: Yes, indeed, it does.

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. Her band, The Loudermilks, will be posting videos to YouTube at a future date.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Author Interview with Stephen Fender

Believe it or not, this is still my blog; I just happen to have a lot to say about Stephen Fender lately. Contrary to rumor, he has not instigated a hostile (or friendly) takeover. He has his own blog, and it's nicer than mine, so if anyone is going to seize anything, I'm going over there and taking his, as soon as I figure out how to change the photo of him to a photo of me. But that's not why I've brought you here today.

Today, I'm happy to tell you a little more about Stephen Fender. Stephen is the author of The Kestrel Saga, a space military science fiction series, and has published three books in the series so far: The Army of Light, Icarus, and now Second Earth, which was released on December 1st. All are available through Amazon, in print form as well as electronic.

ER: Give us a brief rundown of the series.
SF: To be brief, the series follows Shawn Kestrel as he searches for his former commanding officer, Admiral William Graves. Along for the ride is William's beautiful but enigmatic daughter, Melissa. In the process of finding the whereabouts of William, Shawn and Melissa stumble upon a well-guarded secret the government has been trying desperately to keep under wraps.

ER: Tell us a little bit about when you caught the writing bug.
SF: I think it started when I joined the journalism staff for my high school newspaper. When I was offered the opinion page, I don't think I ever looked back.

ER: As a child, did you have a favorite book or genre, and did that influence your writing today?
SF: I've been a big fan of science fiction since I was a small boy. Growing up with amazing shows like Star Trek, Doctor Who, and The Twilight Zone, I was always enamored with other worlds and alien points of view.

ER: What cemented your decision to publish? Was it a natural progression for you, a life-altering Big Deal, or did you flip a coin?
SF: Well, I think it was from the family and friends' reviews of my work. The old "Hey, you should put this out there. I think people will buy it."  I recall being nervous about putting it out there, but considering I'd already pseudo-published some fan fiction work a few years earlier, I was only a bit hesitant. I think once I started getting positive reviews, it cemented the fact that I would continue to publish this series.

ER: So, the pseudo-published fan fiction . . . have you ever entertained the idea of going back and rewriting that someday, or do you just consider it to have been good practice?
SF: As far as the fan fiction is concerned, I found myself going back to it a few weeks ago. It'd been over a year since I'd done anything with that, and it was fun to get back into it. It was a lot like re-watching your favorite TV show from when you were a child. It's still on my plate, as I had committed myself to writing a series of four novels. Book 3 is halfway done, so I may finish it at some point. As far as practice, I found that it was extremely helpful. I'd recommend it [fan fic] to anyone who wants to pursue writing as a career. It's a good way to break your personal ice, considering you probably know enough about the established story to create your own interpretation.

ER: What type of atmosphere do you prefer when writing? Do you need peace and quiet? An empty house?
SF: When it comes to atmosphere, I've found that I can write just about anywhere. The first three novels of The Kestrel Saga were written while I commuted on a ferry to and from work. It's much like trying to write a novel while riding a city bus. You get the screaming children, the people who talk entirely too loud on their cell phones, and the rowdy football fans heading to and from the stadium. If you can write in a place like that, I'd think you can write anywhere. Lately I've been looking for more solitude, but since it's fleeting, I shrug it off and write wherever I can find the time.

ER: Do you play the Star Trek theme song when you're writing battle scenes? And do you have a playlist (mental or physical) that helps to put you in the right frame of mind for writing?
SF: I don't have a playlist in my mind—a musical one, anyway. I tend to think of epic scenes from movies, like the battle scenes in The Last of the Mohicans.

[ER pauses for two hours to run off and watch The Last of the Mohicans before continuing to type.]

SF: If I need to draw inspiration in the form of banter, I tend to think of movies like Lethal Weapon. Basically, the concept of every scene in my book has been played out in a movie somewhere. I think it's that way for almost anyone who writes a book, whether they know it or not. I draw upon the creations of others, sort of like standing on the shoulders of giants, and inject my own story into memorable scenes from various motion pictures.

ER: Have you ever had a terrific scene in your head with no possible way to adequately describe it so others can "see" it as you do?
SF: I don't think I've ever not been able to describe a scene to my readers. Sometimes I can falter on specific details of my own imagination, however. Usually it's like, "I know what I want to describe, but it hasn't been invented yet. How do I cross that bridge? I'm not an engineer or a designer." That's usually when I turn to Internet research. Chances are, someone has gotten close to what I want in the form of artwork. I blend their image with my imagination, and the scene is born.

ER: Who is the first person to ever read your work? Were you nervous about having someone read it in case they hated it, or did you choose someone safe who would be supportive no matter what?
SF: My wife has always been my first reader. She's my sounding board. Since she knows me, then I trust that she knows where I'm coming from in relation to certain scenes or characters. Her honesty, while sometimes brutal, is gloriously helpful.

ER: Do you use beta readers, and if so, how did you find people whose opinion you'd trust?
SF: The only beta readers I've gotten so far are family and the very closest of friends. I trust their opinions implicitly. Having said that, now that more of my work is out there and I have a fan base, I may begin to pull from my own readers for upcoming titles . . . if they're interested.

ER: How many times would you estimate you end up reading through your manuscript before you decide it's as good as you're going to get it on your own?
SF: I give it at least two reads before I make my editor suffer through all my missed mistakes.

ER: When people find out you're an author, do they treat you differently? Ask what your "real" job is? Fawn over you and ask for free books? Try to sell you their "sure thing" idea for your next book?
SF: When I tell people I'm an author, they have always assumed it's my primary job. Their next question is, "What have you written?" which is followed by, "Can I get it on Amazon?"

ER: Has anyone you know ever seen themselves in one of your characters, and been flattered (or accused you of maligning their character)?
SF: I'm not sure if people can see parts of themselves. At least, they've never told me so. I would hope that they do, if even just a little. As far as my characters are concerned, I've already put people I know in my novels; they just don't know it.

ER: Has self-publishing been a big learning curve for you, or fairly simple?
SF: Self-publishing has definitely been a learning curve. I'm constantly learning something new about owning my own business. 

ER: Where do you see your writing headed? I know you have a few books in the works right now, so this would be the place to get us psyched about those.
SF: I have a new novel planned which falls outside of this series. It deals with an alternate version of history and the events leading up to World War II. I'm hoping to have it done by mid-2014, but we'll see. I've also got a few more novels planned for The Kestrel Saga, both in terms of continuing the story as well as a few prequel-types.

ER: Do you have plans for novels outside your favorite genre, or does it all keep coming back to science fiction for you? 
SF: I don't plan on going outside of science fiction at this point. It's what I love to write. 

ER: What's the one question you wish an interviewer would ask, but they never do?
SF: Most interviewers never ask about my hobbies outside of writing. I have a few, but I can't currently think of them without placing them in some sort of science fiction setting. 

ER: Do you ever wish your editor would go back to calling you Mr. Fender and finally give you the respect you deserve?
SF: I like my editor just the way she is, and I'm glad she's still calling me anything . . . just as long as she keeps calling. 

You can find Stephen Fender at his website:
He's also on Twitter @StephenAFender
Amazon author page: