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Interview with Fantasy Author Hank Quense

Fantasy Author Hank Quense

Award-winning author Hank Quense lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife Pat. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. He writes humorous fantasy and scifi stories. On occasion, he also writes an article on fiction writing or book marketing but says that writing nonfiction is like work while writing fiction is fun. A member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, he refuses to write serious genre fiction saying there is enough of that on the front page of any daily newspaper and on the evening TV news.

His latest work is a Shakespearean spoof called Falstaff’s Big Gamble. It combines the characters and plots from two of Shakespeare’s greatest plays; Othello and Hamlet. http://strangeworldsonline.com/FBG-main.html

I met Hank through the Writers of the Weird critique group, and I decided to pick his brain about writing in general and self-publishing in particular. He was kind enough to answer my questions, and I am happy to share them with you. After the Q&A, you can find a few links into Hank’s writing world, and I highly recommend that you check his works and advice.

Q: How and when did you get started as a writer?
A: I’ve always been good at writing and on my 50th birthday, I decided I needed a second career because it was only a matter of time until my employer told me to take a hike. I decided on fiction writing as my second career (despite the fact I knew next to nothing about fiction writing. Ignorance is bliss)

Q: How do you usually find your ideas?
A: My story ideas always start with a character. Since I write humor and satire, these characters tend to be bizarre. Actually, a single story idea is pretty useless. A short story needs at least 5 good ideas and a novel requires dozens of good ideas.
After I get an initial idea, I try to figure out where and when it takes place (the setting) and the character’s plot problem. After that, I don’t do anything is until I get a satisfactory ending. If I can’t get one, the story idea goes into cold storage until an ending shows up. Sometimes, several stored ideas merge into a story.

Q: Did you ever get any rejections?
A: Are you kidding me? I stopped counting after my short stories had racked up a few hundred rejections.

Q: How and why did you decide to go the self-publishing route?
A: My first two books were published by a small indie house. That experience turned me off from publishing houses and I decided to do it myself and save myself a pile of agita.

Q: What was your very first published novel and how did that success impact the rest of your career?
A: My first published book, Fool’s Gold, was actually a novella, not a novel. I’d say it was the lack of success that impacted my career and my publishing decisions. The publisher offered no help for marketing or even advice. Periodically, she sent out flaming emails to all her authors, telling us to get off our butts and go sell more books. (She kept almost all the money from book sales)

Q: What are the major challenges that you faced in your writing career, in general?
A: I still face the same major challenge: I am famously unknown.

Q: Can you point the major issues that are faced by the self-published writers, in particular?
A: Self-publishing a book is a complicated process and most people who want to self-publish have no idea about how to start. This makes them susceptable to scam artists. They also often buy services from legitimate businesses that they don’t need. This is due to their lack of expertise.
This situation has prompted me to write a series of Self-publishing guides. These are almost ready.

Q: Being self-published you do not benefit from the sales & marketing machine of a publisher; how do you market your work and what sales channels worked best for you?
A: Apparently, I market my work poorly. If by sales channels you mean where are most of my books sold, that’ll be Kindle and Smashwords. As to marketing, I’ve done the usual stuff on social media such as blog posts, interviews and whatever. I’m trying to come up with alternatives. I’m looking for stuff that actually works rather than wastes my time.

Q: How many revisions do you usually go through with your work? Do you find it easy to let a manuscript go to be published?
A: I revise until I realize that If I edit the story one more time I’ll throw up. By then I hate the characters, I hate the plot, I hate the whole damned book. So no, I find it very easy to send the hated book out.

Q: How much importance do you put on the online writer’s platform in today’s social media world?
A: Not much. I think the social media stuff is vastly over-rated. It also sucks up huge gobs of time that can be better spent in a number of ways. I don’t think that social media is effective unless you’re willing to spend four or more hours a day on the Internet and I’m not willing to do that.

Q: What is your advice for new writers?
A: Know the ending before you start writing the first draft.

Hank, thank you for your candid answers and helpful hints. Good luck with your next project!

 

To check Hank’s works, use the links below:
http://strangeworldsonline.com
Hank Quense’s Amazon page
Hank’s Blog
Fiction Writing Guides

 
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Iulian Ionescu

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