Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Calling all Fan Gals!

First, a little housekeeping/public service announcement:
I've heard from one reader who got a copy of Enchanted, Inc. with the last twenty or so pages missing. That makes me worry that there could be a problem with the latest print run. If you get a book with pages missing, blank or in the wrong place, take it back to the store where you got it so you can get a new copy with all the right pages and so the store can notify the publisher that there's a problem with the print run (and this applies to all books, not just mine). If it is one of my books, you can let me know, as well, and I will pass that on to the publisher, but you'll still need to take the book back to the store if you want to read the whole thing. And if you happen to be in a bookstore and want to check out the copies on the shelf, please alert a bookseller if the book has a missing ending, and let me know, too.

Incidentally, do you know how to tell which printing your copy of a book is from? Here's a nifty trick:
On the copyright page, down near the bottom, there's a number countdown that goes: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. If it goes all the way down to 1, that's a book from the first printing. On the second printing, it stops at 2. Third printing, it stops at 3. And so forth. These numbers may be in different places on the copyright page, depending on the publisher, so you may have to look for them. With Enchanted, Inc., the other way to tell you have a first printing copy is that it doesn't have an author photo on the bio page. It was omitted in a production "oversight," but subsequent printings have the photo.

So, there's your "business of publishing" fun fact of the day.

This weekend is FenCon, and I got my listing of panels yesterday. I'm really excited to actually be on a panel with Alan Dean Foster, one of my writing heroes. Fortunately, it's at the end of the conference, so maybe by then I'll have gotten over the squeeing fangirlishness and be able to breathe and talk like a reasonable human being and professional semi-peer. The panel is on series and how you decide when/how to end a series. It's kind of funny that I'll be there talking about my angst of where to go next with my little series that has two books in print and two more on the way alongside someone like him. I read my first Flinx book when I was nine -- and it was the third in the series -- and the series is still going strong. One thing he did do was wrap up the initial primary story arc in the first three books, then after a long gap and some standalone adventures he picked the series up again with a different main problem facing our hero, but with elements from the initial story coming into play. That's one way he's managed to keep the series going for more than thirty years.

I'm also in the same autographing session with Alan Dean Foster and Jim Butcher, so I'd better work up some comedy material for entertaining the people waiting in line to see them. I also need to decide which of my Alan Dean Foster books I should bring with me to get autographed. If I brought them all -- pretty much nearly everything he's written -- the poor man would get writer's cramp. I think I'll have to bring that first one I read, then maybe Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which is a bit of an oddity (and I have a first edition). Maybe some of the more recent hardcovers (which I got from Ballantine -- one of the perks of my job).

There's one panel I'll be on where I'd like to get some input from you fan-type folks. It's "Cruse, flirt, pickup and other social sexual strategies," aimed at discussing how these things should (or do) occur at a con, and how to get phone numbers rather than restraining orders. I suspect this was in part inspired by the infamous groping incident at WorldCon. I've followed some of the online debate about it, and was shocked to see just how many female fans talked about not seeing that kind of behavior as too unusual. Maybe it's just my industrial strength personal space bubble or the fact that I've mostly been at cons as a guest speaker, but I haven't dealt with anything too bad. I've been leered at by a big name who didn't seem to be able to make eye contact when talking to women (if you know what I mean), and I've had a drink or two spilled on me by someone trying to get a little too close for easy conversation. I'm more likely to run into the social skills deficient guys who seem to think that "Hi!" means "I'm crazy about you! Please follow me everywhere I go!" but they're mostly harmless. Slightly more annoying are the ones who seem to think that attempting to carry on a conversation and get to know them as perhaps a precursor to beginning something more means I want to go to bed with them immediately -- and they'd be doing me a huge favor in obliging me. That's actually more likely to happen to me at general writing conferences, but it's always fan-type guys who also go to sf cons who do it.

So, fan gals, any experiences you'd like to share or opinions you'd like to make known? Here's your chance to have me as a spokesperson for you. Names will be omitted, of course. You can comment in the blog or e-mail me at shanna@shannaswendson.com. I can jabber about my own opinions all night long, but it would be nice to be able to back it up by polling my peeps, so to speak.

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