March 14, 2008

The Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff Interview, Part 6

Well, we've reached the final segment of Maya's interview. It's been great to hear her perspective, so I'm glad she had a chance to drop by Constructing Stories. If you haven't yet, please check out the previous segments of the interview (one, two, three, four, and five). And, if you're a writer and would like to be interviewed on Constructing Stories, please send e-mail to me at

Today, Maya talks about what she's working on and the present state of the publishing industry.

JS: So, after all we've talked about, what’s next for Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff? What projects are you working on and where will we see your name next?

MKB: Well, immediately will be Books Two and Three of the Mer Cycle (Taminy and The Crystal Rose). Beyond that, I have a novelette in the eZine, Helix and I'll have one coming up in Analog Magazine in the future, as well. I'm afraid the next novel I get in print will not have my name on it. It may be a Star Wars novel or an epic fantasy or ... who knows?

Most of my writing these days is freelance ghostwriting or editing so while I'm usually juggling several novels, a memoir or two, and some editing jobs, they're mostly other people's projects.

My husband and I will also be music guests of honor for Duckon SF convention in Chicago in June. We have three CDs out and available through CDBaby and iTunes, and at science fiction conventions everywhere.

The CDs are Retro Rocket Science, Manhattan Sleeps, and Aliens Ate My Homework.

JS: Are there any questions that you wish an interviewer would ask, even though they never do? If so, what is it, and what might your answer to it be?

MKB: Wow, that's a toughie. Well, they could ask "Tell me, Maya, what do you wish publishers knew?"

I wish publishers knew that they can't "only sell bestsellers" (as one publishing executive was quoted as saying) because there's no formula for a bestseller. Bestsellers can't be predicted. Just look at Harry Potter. And I don’t think they can reverse engineer success by looking at sales figures. For one thing, there are two sets of figures involved: How much did they put into the book, compared to how much they got out of it? Instead of looking at numbers, they need to talk to readers and find out why they bought a particular book, and if it was a good read and if so, why did they think so?

What causes a person to pick up a book (cover art, cover copy, blurbs, word of mouth) varies. And what happens after they buy the book also varies. I've bought any number of books by popular authors that I found barely readable. I bought them, but ended up not reading them, or reading them but not enjoying them much. Yet I continue to see them on bookshelves. Conversely, I've found amazing books by authors who seem to have disappeared from sight, despite the fact that their books are critically acclaimed and have even won awards. The last time I went to a bookstore I searched high and low to find even one of five books by different authors that had been nominated for awards, or whose other work I had enjoyed. Not one could I find. Yet I saw multiple copies of books in my Bought It Never Read it box. I get ads for those BINR books in my email, even.

If I can't find the book I want, I'll buy what's available. I'll fall for the idea that if there are twenty copies of author X's book on the shelf it must be a decent book. That doesn't mean it is a decent book. It just means it was available and my first choices weren't but by golly, I was going to come home with a new mystery to read!

I also wish publishers knew that they don't need to spend millions advertising Dean Koontz's next novel, or JK Rowling's or .... All they need to do is have Amazon drop us an email saying the book is available, and put a display in the major bookstores. The authors who need the advertising bucks are the ones who aren't getting them right now. The authors who may have just written a bestseller that will never even go into its second printing because there was no budget for promoting it.

Okay, I'll step down off my soapbox now...

JS: I think we all know a lot of writers that feel that way. Where can readers discover more about you and what you’re working on?

MKB: They can go to my website or, if they'd like to read some of my short fiction, they can go to my page at Author's Den. All of my books can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s online, or special ordered from a bookstore. I also have a story (A Cruel and Unusual Punishment) in the science fiction anthology Infinite Space, Infinite God and another short story in the Best of Jim Baen’s Universe, 2006. Those are also available from all the usual suspects.

It has been a pleasure having Maya drop by and take the time to give us her perspective. I love the insights housed in this interview, and I hope you've found it beneficial as well. As a writer and a reader, I highly recommend Maya's work, so please support her writing by purchasing one of her novels or support us both by checking out Infinite Space, Infinite God!

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