1 September 2012

HNS London 2012 Conference - Andrea Conell

Today's Conference Guest
HNS Indie Review 
Co-ordinating Editor-in-chief

I’m flattered to have been invited by Helen - I’m really small potatoes compared to the writers and other staff who are involved in the HNS. I’ve been reviewing books for the Historical Novels Review since 2003 - always enjoying the job - and when the position of editor for the self-publishing side of the HNS opened up in 2009, I was eager to accept a greater challenge. For the first two years I was sole editor; the number of submissions was low and I could easily keep up with the workload of vetting novels and corresponding with authors and reviewers. In the past two years, however, the business of self-publishing has boomed; weekly queries became daily queries, which became multiple queries almost every day. Books were piling up and I would have needed to quit my day job to keep up with it all!

Three years ago the self-publishing field was just a trickle in the market, and to be quite honest, most of the books were rejected at that time. I especially remember getting excited about a huge hardback tome with an inviting cover, but when I began reading, what a disappointment! It was a rambling stream-of-consciousness train wreck of a book. It made no sense at all. No plot at all. So, at that time, the pertinent lesson I took about self-published books was “don’t be fooled by pretty packaging.”

After maternity leave in 2011, we searched for two reviews editors, one from each side of the pond, to take over the vetting of books and some of the correspondence. I kept the administrative aspects of the job and gave Helen Hollick and Steve Donoghue the fun task - vetting the books! The volume of submissions is steadily increasing to this day and the pertinent lesson I’m learning about self-published books now is “don’t be fooled by good content without an appealing package.” In other words, the quality of the content has risen, but the packaging remains substandard in many cases. When Helen came on board as UK Indie Reviews Editor, she gave us incentive and inspiration to rethink the goals of the Indie publication, and we hope that the improved Indie Reviews pleases our readers and authors.

Since I have been steeped in Indie HF for almost three years now, I have chosen that focus for my personal review blog, The Queen's Quill Review (credit for the name needs to be given to a good friend). I am quite selective in the type of historical fiction I accept. I want to enjoy reading, so the topics have to be of interest. I can tell by an author’s initial correspondence - many times - if the book will be well written or edited (at all!). I do not choose books that have questionable content or those from authors who solicit money for their “baby”: “I’m writing this generation’s great novel,” one so-called author wrote, “will you help financially support this endeavor?” When I looked over the e-book, I found a poorly written, grammatically incorrect “story.” Absolutely unreadable--THAT is the “dark” side of self-publishing. On the other hand, I have worked with many talented authors whose books should be on the Barnes and Noble bookshelves, but haven’t even been picked up by a major publisher yet.

My goal with  The Queen's Quill Review is to promote excellent Indie writing as much as I can with fair, respectful reviews of print books (I still prefer reading paper to a Kindle screen). My blog also works with the IndieBrag website to identify and recommend quality Indie fiction.  Editing, reviewing, and blogging is a lot of work, but I can’t think of any work that’s more enjoyable.

Andrea's HNS Banquet Guests

Honestly, I’ve been trying for weeks to come up with some brilliant dinner party guest list and nothing is quite clever enough to post…and I especially don’t want to make a fool of myself before HNS London 2012…

Helen: so I am going to step in here for you Andrea - how about your fellow HNS members who will be sharing a table with you at the HNS Banquet?

 Helen Hollick and Publishing Director of
SilverWood Books  Helen Hart
The two Helens
(with Bernard Cornwell)

Self Published author Richard Denning

Writer & Tweeter Jules Frusher

Graphics Designer Cathy Helms

and her husband Ray

who often poses for Helen Hollick's 
Sea Witch covers and trailers
(as in Bring It Close!)
Cathy's friend Evelyn Scott
two mystery guests
 no idea who is going to take the other two seats!

To submit your Indie Historical Novel to the HNS for Review  you will find 
Full Details Here


  1. So grateful for the work you both do on behalf of quality independent historical fiction!!

  2. I so enjoyed getting to know Andrea a little in this interview. Thanks Andrea, and thank you Helen, The Indefatigable!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Not sure if the above comment which I've removed is genuine or not - it came into the spam box & is anonymous so it possibly isn't .... I've reposted the message below but not the added website link ... which very probably has something nasty behind it.
    Sorry Anonymous if you are genuine - but I don't permit anonymous links on my blog!
    AnonymousSeptember 13, 2012

    Original message:
    "Нola! I've been following your website for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!" followed by "check out my website" and its link.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.