Saturday, November 20, 2010

Industry Insider: PW's Barbara Vey

Please welcome Barbara Vey - the lovely lady behind the Behind Her Book blog at Publisher's Weekly!

We asked Barbara a LOT of questions - here are her answers and she assures us if you have more questions feel free to ask! She's also sent some lovely pictures - Take it away, Barbara!

The number one question I always get asked is “How did you get your job?” My answer, “Totally by accident.” A few years ago I attended an Authors At Sea Cruise. I was an avid reader and the thought of being on a ship with over 30 authors who couldn’t go anywhere was overwhelming. I read at least one book by every author who was attending so I would know something about them.

Enjoying a bevvy and a book
While at breakfast one day, I noticed a woman alone and asked her to join me and author Marjorie Liu. She said her name was Karen Holt from Publishers Weekly. Well, since I was a reader, I thought Publishers Weekly was the name of a publisher, so I told her to sit down and I would tell her everything I thought was wrong with publishing from a readers point of view. Karen ended up writing an article on it for PW and I even got my picture in the magazine. A few months later she emailed me and said they were starting something new with PW and they wanted me to write a blog on Women’s Fiction since I read so much. My answer...”I’m a reader, not a writer. Send books.” Well, after several phone calls and my son explaining what a blog was, I offered to do it for 3 months, just to try it out. In March, it will be my 4 year anniversary.

First Keynote Address: Emerald City Con

How do I choose who is featured on the blog? I have regular people as readers who write book blurbs for the blog instead of reviewers. I offer the books I receive and the readers pick the one’s they want to read and write about. The only rule is that they have to take at least one book of an author they’ve never read or a genre they’ve never tried.

What do I think of category romance in general? I think that there are books out there for everyone. My neighbor only reads category romance. She swears by it and because she’s such a fan, she talks about it to all her friends and relatives and now they all read it. As for me, I read a little of everything because I really like variety in my reading.

What’s my number one beef in Romance and what’s my favorite element about the genre? I hate that people always feel like they have to defend romance. If everyone would just act like it’s the best out there, others will wonder what they’ve been missing and see how cool it really is. My favorite element is the happily ever after. At this point in my life, I want everything to end that way.

Do I enjoy other genres? Yes, I love mysteries, thrillers, paranormals, historicals, science fiction and if they have romance in them, all the better. I just am not a big fan of horror or non-fiction.

Barbara and Debbie Macomber celebrating
the Ritas - in the same outfit.
Who is my favorite author? This is impossible to answer. I like so many for very different reasons and I love discovering new ones like Meljean Brooks’ The Iron first steampunk.

What do I think readers can do to see more of the kind of books they love? Buy the books. Nothing says I love the book than buying it. There were times I got a book from the library and liked it so much I went out and bought it so I could read it over and over.

Does reading romance ever feel like work and what’s my favorite non-reading escape? Reading romance has always felt like a guilty pleasure. I’m never without several books at my fingertips and I love it quiet with a beverage. I can’t imagine ever thinking of reading as work. My other escape is going to the movies. I love to see great movies on the big screen and I almost went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter, but I’m in the middle of a good book and I didn’t want to stop.

Barbara and Ken Follett
Do I favor romance that is a total break from my reality or stories that are more relatable? Personally, I like the break from reality. I lean toward historicals and paranormals for that reason. I don’t want anything that relates to my real life. Boring.

What emerging trends in romance do I see? Well, it doesn’t look like paranormals are going away any time soon. I see them everywhere and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Readers are asking for more humor in their stories and I think that as times get a little tougher for people, they look for humor to get them through.

As for my travels next year, I’m still working on my schedule. I will definitely be at RWA, RT and San Diego Comic Con. I’ve been asked to speak to the Detroit RWA group in May. I’m hoping to go to the Book Expo America and hoping to hit a lot of smaller conferences that I’ve never been to before. I’ll have to wait to see who invites me.

Barbara and Bruce Campbell from Burn Notice

I’d have to say my favorite conference was my first RWA in Dallas a few years ago. I only had been writing my blog a few months and I was so blown away by all the amazing authors there. I was in total fan girl mode as I ended up sending home over 5 boxes of books.

Next year in my blog I’ll be celebrating my 4th anniversary with a weeklong party covering all the genres and giving away hundreds of prizes. I hope to do more Drive By Videos that have become so popular and my Cub Reporter program will feature even more conferences written up by the authors attending when I can’t make it. In fall, I’ll be announcing a new program I’m starting for kids that I’m very excited about.

Whew! That was a lot of talking. Thanks so much for having me here today and even though I’ve talked your ears off, if there’s any other question you have, please ask it and I’ll stop by during the day to answer them.



  1. Thanks so much for joining us today Barbara! Your conference schedule sounds crazy but like so much fun...and I can totally relate to the fan girl mode! Have a wonderful time and we'll look forward to hearing about your new program next fall.

  2. Hi Mira,

    My schedule is crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Can't wait to see what adventures await me in 2011!

  3. I always find your comments so insightful, Barbara! Loved hearing you speak.

    I especially like the idea that if we'd quit defending romance others would wonder what they are missing!

    I think you're right on with that!


  4. Hi Susan,

    Thanks for the kind words on my first attempt on speaking in public. I had a great time. Romance is what the cool kids are reading. :)

  5. Excellent post Barbara. Like you, I'm never without a in my purse, car. My friends give me a hard time but reading romance is my passion and so is sharing it with others.

  6. Marilyn, it's even worse now that I have a Kindle. I'm reading several books at one time. Not complaining...just the facts.

  7. You are the envy of so many avid readers/bloggers. You've taken your opportunity and flown with it, and I am so glad you have succeeded! Keep up the great work.

  8. Love to see you hold the banner high for readers. May you celebrate many more anniversaries!

  9. I loved this blog, Barbara - especially the story of how you accidentally landed your blogging position at PW. Using regular readers to showcase books is a refreshing idea. I enjoy your blog very much.

  10. Lynne, I know I've been blessed with this "job" and I really want to pay it forward.

    Blythe, thanks for the kind words Blythe and I've got great things planned for my March anniversary party. Stay tuned!

    Vicky, I know my readers are thrilled to be asked to read the amazing books out there and have discovered many authors that way.

  11. You are the queen of readers for sure, Barbara. I have never seen anyone who could engage readers and authors in the same moment, but you do that everywhere you go. Thanks for all that you do to promote books.

  12. Dianna, "Queen of Readers"...I like that. :) As for promoting books, I think of it more as sharing the love.

  13. Wow, you did a great job answering those questions. As always, it was fun reading your answers. You're such an enthusiastic promoter of romance and great reads everywhere. Please know that you and your efforts are much appreciated. :)

    Have a great day, Barbara!

  14. Good blog interview here. You write your responses just like you'd say them live and in person, that's how real you are. Your enthusiasm for sharing books and suggesting authors is infectious, and I was influenced to do the same. I'm grateful that you've led me into the publishing world, and greater enjoyment of the reading I love.

  15. Great interview, Barbara! I really like the idea having readers choose a book to blurb from an author they have never read before. And I'm with you on the HEA! That is my favorite element of romances!

  16. Carol, thanks, it's great being appreciated.

    Joysann, my very first fan! Nobody writes better blurbs than you and I can always rely on you to make conferences great fun!

    Kelly, the readers are never disappointed when they try a new authors. It's more like they're sorry they haven't been more adventurous before.

  17. Barbara I love your blog! I live vicariously through you. lol And I've discovered so many great new books and authors through you too! Your recommendations are always right on the money!

  18. Hey Barbara, I know, I know, I'm late to the party :) I've been hanging out at writing retreat sans internet and slipped away to McDonald's today so I could catch up. Low and behold, my favorite blogger was out and about. Still love that story about how you started with PW. It was obviously meant to be!
    Still hoping to see you at M & M in 2011!

  19. Sheila E, thanks for being a faithful reader of my blog. It means a lot to me.

    Debbie, I will definitely be at M&M in 2011...wouldn't miss it!!

    Thanks for having me at the Pink Heart Society!

  20. Barbara, I left a comment earlier and it disappeared!

    Thanks for being with us - and thanks for the pics! You get to meet some cool people!