Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Doers and Waiters

"It will be interesting to see what happens."

"No one can predict what will come."

"The publishing industry is changing."

"Let's wait and see."

I've seen these comments, and variations of them, quite a bit lately, all over the interwebs.

People seem to believe things are getting shaken up. And the overwhelming majority of them respond to this call to action by waiting around to see what happens.

This is a trait of human nature. No one wants to be the first to do anything. Because it's scary being first. You could be wrong. You could look foolish. You could make a mistake. You could lose money, or burn bridges, or destroy your reputation.

Look at agent Andrew Wiley. He published ebook versions of his clients' books, presumably because Random House wouldn't negotiate higher royalty rates. In response, RH stopped dealing with Wiley. Yesterday, Wiley announced they'd come to an agreement, and RH would once again be the publisher.

Wiley acted, and on the surface, it looks like Wiley caved in and lost.

That's why most people wait. They watch, and wait, and watch, and make comments about those who are actually DOING something. Some support the doers. Some belittle the doers.

But the actual doers are few and far between.

While I understand how difficult it is for people to take chances, I also have to wonder how these waiters view themselves.

Don't they know that waiting around doesn't make you successful? That the rich, the famous, the ones that society remembers and reveres, are the doers?

In the case of the current publishing climate, most of my professional peers, and all of the Big 6 NY publishers, are playing the waiting game. Rather than jumping into these scary new waters, they're at most dipping a toe in.

No chance taking. No commitment. Just waiting until they can be sure.

But there's a problem with waiting around to be sure. By the time you are sure, it might be too late.

I believe that if you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough. Sitting around and letting other people decide the fate of something important to you makes zero sense.

Sure, it's scary and risky to put your money where your mouth is, and to back up your opinions with action.

But history is written by those who do. Not those who wait to see what happens.

Wiley did it. For a month. I wish he'd stuck to his guns, but I applaud him for at least giving it a try.

What about you? What have you tried lately? What have you failed at lately?

As Meister Eckhart said, “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”

76 comments:

Summer Ross said...

In the last month I have submitted three pieces of writing to markets. 1) got rejected 2) got accepted, and 3) I'm still waiting for status.

Now its not perfect but I'm doing something about what I want.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Very motivational post, Joe!

But, you motivated me several weeks ago to do something. I started a blog and I'm going to put a novel up on Kindle. I haven't published a novel before, so it's a leap. Hopefully, it'll do well. I found a cover artist last week, and I hope to have the book on Kindle in October.

Krista D. Ball said...

I submitted and/or sold works to e-publishers, traditional publishers, magazines, ezines, and self-published.

In this entire debate about traditional publishing houses, people seem to think that it's either the Big 6 or self-publishing on the Kindle. There is a freaking huge playing field in between those two.

Summer Ross - Doing something about what you want is always important. Crucial even. :)

The Confused Dad said...

WSJ article on e-readers. The writer seems to agree with you, Joe.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703447004575449953277291226.html?mod=WSJ_PersonalFinance_PF4

JA Marlow said...

Of course the details of the deal haven't been revealed, but here is a Galleycat article citing an anonymous source suggesting that Wylie did get the big thing they were holding out for, and that was higher ebook royalties:

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/random_house/anonymous_source_reveals_new_ebook_rights_structure_at_random_house_171770.asp

Time will tell if this is actually true.

JA Marlow said...

Let's try a shorter URL: http://bit.ly/cnCNIF

Hehe

rex kusler said...

I've been at this six months (indie on Amazon, been writing forever), and tried a lot of different prices, especially lately. What I have found, from my trials, and looking at others--is that the lower your price--the more books you'll sell. I'm a nobody, but I'm pretty confident by now, I could write four novels per year, sell 32,000 each at 99-cents over 3 years. That's $44,800 per year at the 35% royalty rate. If I tried to price them all at $3--I'm not so sure. My next release will be priced at $3.29, but if it doesn't get up--the price will get down.

L.J. Sellers said...

I'm not waiting! I'm taking charge of my novel publishing career with a plan to become financially and contractually independent—by focusing e-books. I'm halfway there.

Paul Skelding said...

Great post as always Joe.

@ JA, I was just thinking the same thing. It would make a lot of strategic sense to do what he did if his goal all along was higher royalty rates for his authors (and hence more money for him). I'm willing to bet he got it.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

I put my first self-publishing out. Submitted a collection of short stories to Kindle.

And because Joe is forging the way, and I'm agreeing. Why do we need gatekeepers?

simon said...

On my very newbie blog I have said that in times to come, you may well be remembered as the "father of self-publishing."
Your math, and your blogs caused me to jump.

Thanks - now I feel like I am getting somewhere.

"Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory."
- Alan Alda

Ty Johnston said...

That very feeling of "doing" and "taking chances" is a big reason I uploaded another short story collection to Amazon tonight. It should be available in a couple of days.

I mean, geez, even if the whole digital market drops flat tomorrow, what have I lost? A few hours of my time uploading some already published short stories (in which the rights have reverted to me).

Declan Burke said...

Seems to me that if I was Joe Konrath, making a bomb out of selling my e-books while the publishing world dithers, I'd be warning other writers off doing the same, lest they scarf some of my potential market. Kudos, sir.

I published a novel to Kindle (and other e-readers) last year, it's called CRIME ALWAYS PAYS and it was the second of a two-book deal that got dropped when Houghton Mifflin merged with Harcourt and my editor lost out in the reshuffle. It hasn't set the world alight, nor tills ringing, obviously, but it felt good to do it. Nice to be on (or near) the vanguard of something, for a change.

I think the tipping point for e-books is coming, but it'll take time. And that's no harm, I think. As with anything else worthwhile in life, it's better that it comes good than fast.

Plus, it means JA Konrath will be a millionaire by the time it all goes mainstream.

Cheers, Dec

Brian Drake said...

I dived in as well, and am currently promoting my latest (the second) e-book on my own blog and trying to line up guest posts on others. I will have another one on Kindle by November. I'm also continuing to submit to paper publishers. I have a friend that's making decent money with her Kindle books, so there's no reason not to try it, and I don't understand the haters. Why do they care what we do?

Prof. Hex said...

My short story collection will soon be available on Kindle and I have Joe to thank for the push. His example got me motivated. Thanks Joe!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif said...

You're dead on here, Joe. You can either be a doer or a rubbernecker. But you won't get far by just watching.

Back in 2003, I decided to take the plunge and take some huge risks. I quit my job and dedicated myself to writing full time. I took another huge risk and self-published my first novel, Whale Song.

Whale Song is now not only a national bestseller and an Amazon bestseller, it's had a lot of movie interest, it's used as mandatory reading at a women's shleter in Georgia, it's used in a NATO school in Europe for novel study as well as some Canadian and US schools, and it was recently endorsed by actress Jodelle Ferland, from Eclipse fame.

And all because I went out on a limb and did something that many thought was "wrong". So many people told me self-publishing would "ruin" me as an author, that no one would take me seriously. I was constantly being told that I'd never get picked up by a traditional publisher and that no agent would touch me.

But I'm a doer. I never let other people's perceptions get in my way. I WAS picked up by a traditional publisher and a very respected New York agent took me on. He's now pitching three of my novels and is very supportive of everything I do, including publishing my own ebooks. Every risk I took has paid off. Every obstacle people told me I'd have has been overcome.

As soon as Amazon opened its Kindle Store to Canadian authors a few months ago, I jumped in with both feet. I now have 5 Kindle ebooks out and another coming out on September 27th. While I'm not selling at the level you are, Joe, I've seen a steady increase in sales each month.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those that do and those that don't. In other words, those that do and those that just think about doing. Life's too short to just think of doing anything. If you have a passion, follow it; life's too short not to. As Nike says, "Just do it!"

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Canadian suspense author
www.cherylktardif.com

Nicole MacDonald said...

I'm working on the 'doing' side of it - damm hard too!

bowerbird said...

joe-

thanks once again for
letting authors know
that the time to act
is now now now now.

-bowerbird

p.s. wylie did not lose,
i'm absolutely convinced.
he got exactly what he
wanted, and that means
he can let random house
save face with their big
fancy pronouncements.
he's going to the bank,
and i hear him laughing.

Joe Konrath said...

In my opinion, Wylie did lose.

If he was simply holding out for a higher royalty, all he did was sign a treaty with Kaiser Wilhelm at the dawn of World War I.

I understand why he did it. When Random House stopped negotiating with him, Wylie was hurting his clients. And what I've read about the higher royalty rate Wylie may or may not have gotten doesn't compare to 70% an author could get on her own.

But Wylie missed a chance here to lead the charge, and bring his clients into the 21st century. Instead, he jumped back into bed with powers I believe are doomed to fail.

Joe Konrath said...

Looks like there are a lot of doers who read this blog.

Meanwhile, the watchers are silently fuming because I turned off anonymous posting. :)

Tim Myers said...

Hey Joe,

Great blog!

I've taken heat for putting my unpublished work on Kindle. Someone even wrote and called me greedy, since I have three deals going with Penguin, St. Martin's, and Kensington. I don't see it that way. There's a demand out there; I can see it in my backlist, and now growing, my original fiction that couldn't find a home before. The smartest thing I ever did was have the rights reverted to me from the majors for my first 15 novels.

I love all of my children, traditional and electronic. I want to tell stories, and it's wonderful having a venue to finally share the rest of them with the world.

I'm thrilled to have my book deals AND participate in the Eworld!

Best,

Tim Myers
www.timmyers.net

Jude Hardin said...

A couple of days ago Robert Gregory Browne articulated beautifully what a good editor can do for a book.

http://www.murderati.com/blog/2010/8/25/digging-deep.html

I had a similar experience with Pat Gussin at Oceanview. You can't buy that level of commitment, and it's not something you're going to get from peer review.

Granted, not all editors are created equal, but if someone is happy with their current situation and having some success with it, why would they want to bail?

Joe Konrath said...

it's not something you're going to get from peer review.

That would depend on who your peers are, wouldn't it?

I've met Ben. I'm also friends with a few of his authors.

I see these author's manuscripts before Ben does. By the time Ben gets them, they're very closed to being finished.

Amy said...

A-men, brother!
You don't get anywhere sitting on your hands, waiting to see "what the others are going to do". But I guess it's that old herd instinct.

Hey, Bob jumped over that cliff--let's just follow him!

Of course they don't see that wise little Bob managed to land a ledge that holds only one, as all the others cascade over the cliff straight into the chasm below.

I'd rather be the first than somewhere in the mushy middle, or heaven's forbid, last.

Those of us out there may take a few hits, but we're learning to navigate the environment, and frankly, you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.

And for me, the learning is the most important part. The success is just gravy.

Jude Hardin said...

That would depend on who your peers are, wouldn't it?

Don't get me wrong. I think beta reads and peer reviews are great. Invaluable, really. But they're not a replacement for professional editing. Editing is a full time job, and it comes with a unique set of skills. Every writer would benefit from peer review and a great editor, IMO.

Ellen Fisher said...

I agree with you there, Jude. A great editor is a wonderful thing. But the fact is that we don't all GET great editors. New authors who sign with a traditional publisher can wind up working with an assistant editor fresh out of college. Like a lot of things, I think, it depends. When you work with a publisher, you may get a wonderful editor, or you may get a poor one who doesn't get your book and wants to cut it to pieces and recreate it along lines of her own. Hiring your own editors at least means you can fire them if you don't think they're doing a good job.

HLArledge said...

But history is written by those who do.

Joe,

I've had several shorty stories published over the years. Now, I'm polishing the final draft of my first novel.

Following your lead—as well as Cheryl's success described in comments—I've decided to self-publish through Amazon and/or FastPencil, but I've got to ask...

If you were just starting out today, would you bypass traditional publishing?

Bonnie Vanak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bonnie Vanak said...

Great blog post. Deleted my previous comment b/c I had to add something.

Most writers aren't rubberneckers, because every time we send something out and it either gets published or rejected, we're taking a chance. Taking a chance on rejection, sales, financial success. It's like that with any artistic endeavor. You create something and take a chance it will be met with praise or be called utter dreck.

The changes in publishing this year fascinate as well as bother me. It's like we are on the verge of a new era, but at the same time, traditional publishers are still holding onto the old model. But the old model is like a Model T, it's not keeping up with the highway speeds anymore and publishers are struggling. It's heartbreaking what is happening with Dorchester. I wrote 7 historicals for them and they published my first book when no one else would touch an Egyptian-set historical. I've also discovered several fantastic authors through them.

I'll always be a print book person simply because that's my preference. Yet I'm like a little kid at Christmas when it comes to the new ereaders, the iPad and the advances in the Kindle and what it means for ebooks and breaking away from the traditional venue of publishing.

Mark Asher said...

@Raven: "And because Joe is forging the way, and I'm agreeing. Why do we need gatekeepers?"

Writers don't necessarily, but they sure helpful to readers. Just go to Smashwords and see what the percentage is of drek to good writing.

And writers do at least need another set of eyes to go over their work, whether it's an editor at a publishing house or a colleague.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I see these author's manuscripts before Ben does. By the time Ben gets them, they're very closed to being finished.

I haven't seen any of Ben's authors manuscripts, but I'm sure this is sometimes true. For myself, my books are as close to being a polished final as I can make them before I turn them into my editor.

But in this particular case, the first draft I turned in was not as polished as I would have liked it to be. I was feeling a bit lethargic and a little lost when I wrote it and a pow-wow and a lot of email exchanges with Ben really helped me find my way through the next draft, which involved significant restructuring and character work.

Could this be done by a peer? Of course it could, if that peer is willing to be honest in his or her criticism. My friend Toni Causey is a perfect example of a peer who doesn't hesitate to pull punches, if needed, and offers concise, well thought-out advice on a manuscript.

But in my case it was my editor who helped me get out of the weeds and for that I'm grateful. Ben is a great editor.

Thanks, Jude for the nod to Murderati.

Muriel Lede said...

People prefer the certainty of failure by default to the risk of success. To them, there is something comforting in certainty, even certainty of failure. As you said, this is human nature. Sheeple.

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Just wanted you to know that I highlighted you on my blog today: http://bit.ly/d80qF6

Thanks for such great information!

-Debbie

Rob Gregory Browne said...

As for ebooks themselves, I think what we're seeing is very encouraging, and I liken it to what has happened in the music industry.

Thanks to modern technology and the Internet, what used to require a recording contract and huge expenses in a studio can now be done for a fraction of the cost. Any band or musician who wants to can record a song or album at home, then instantly post it to iTunes or a number of websites and make his/her music available to the public.

The problem you run into is that the market is so saturated with home-brewed music now—which ranges from truly awful to amazingly good—that it's often a long, hard process to find something worth listening too.

It's already difficult ENOUGH to find a good book to read, and once the market becomes saturated with home-brewed ebooks, how much more difficult will it be?

Am I suggesting that we don't e-publish our books? No. But I do have to wonder how the average reader will navigate the sea of shit to find something that truly strikes them as worth reading.

I realize we have that problem already with both books and music (and even with movies and television), but we can't deny that the publishing industry does do a certain amount of "gatekeeping" that serves the public.

Do they always get it right? No. Do they turn away perfectly good books? Yes. But I also think that the publisher's "seal of approval" is usually (not always) something of a guarantee that what you're about to read reaches a certain minimum level of professionalism—even if it's not your particular cup of tea.

There's something reassuring in knowing that it's extremely difficult for a writer to get a book deal. Why? Because it most often means he WORKED HIS ASS OFF to reach that level of professionalism.

Now the publishing industry can be cruel and heartless sometimes, but the sad truth is that most people DON'T get published because their writing just isn't THERE yet.

Self-published books have a bad reputation for a very good reason. Anyone who denies this is kidding himself. Yes, there are sometimes real gems out there, but this is not usually the case. And most of the successful ebooks either come from publishers, established authors with a backlist and a name, or from new authors who give their books away for a low cost or for free.

All that said, I'm actually intrigued and excited by this new phase in publishing. I've thought of ways I can jump in and do some Kindle etc. books myself. But I admit I'm something of a "waiter" on this. Not because I'm afraid of the new market. But because I'm too busy "doing" something else at the moment and my time is limited.

I'll certainly be interested to see how it all shakes out.

Jacqueline Vick said...

My take on Mr. Wiley is that he accomplished what he set out to do--he forced the publishers hand and got what he wanted in the first place. I applaud him for lighting a fire under RH. I can't imagine he wanted the headache of publishing (my opinion only, of course) since agenting is his forte. He had to take extreme action to get them to pay attention, and it worked.

Jason said...

Rex said: "My next release will be priced at $3.29, but if it doesn't get up--the price will get down."

Just MHO, but I wouldn't go any higher than $2.99 if I were you. Something about that 3 dollar threshold...to my brain, $2.99 sounds like much less of a risk and much less of a hit to my wallet. Even though it's just a matter of 30 little cents.

And you'll still get that 70% royalty rate from Amazon.

Rob Gregory Browne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Gregory Browne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Gregory Browne said...

My apologies for the dupes. Blogger told me it didn't publish the first pass because it was "too long." Then, after splitting it into two posts, I discovered that my original pass HAD made it through...

Al.X. Ross said...

Lately I tried nothing, I've been doing. (Or not doing.)

I've been writing.

What I failed doing lately:

I've not been rewriting/revising my last manuscript for two days now.

About risk taking:

The profit will be as great as the risk taken.

Brian Drake said...

Joe, You mention in the post that if we haven't failed, we're not learning; I would agree, or at least add "making mistakes" to the thought. I'm discovering that my "peer readers" and I are not catching every error or typo and a few end up getting into "print", and this morning I had to make a few corrections and re-upload to Kindle. I need invest in a real editor, but the only one I know of who is worth the time is also expensive. I guess this is one of the perils of being an "indie" author.

Karen Cantwell said...

Here's what I don't understand: why does everyone say that they're "going out on a limb" by self publishing on Kindle? That assumes there is some risk. Where's the risk? I NEVER saw it as anything but an amazing opportunity. Now I have readers! I didn't before.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Karen,
You're right! But, there is some risk. I'm spending $400 on the cover art, and $500-1800 on editing. No small amount for me.

LK Rigel said...

Yes, editors cost money. This is one of many reasons to go with the 2.99 price at a minimum.

Editing, covers, marketing, etc, etc cost money. As they should.

As a reader, when I see a .99 price, it doesn't necessarily mean auto-not-buy, but it does make me wonder if the thing is going to be worth my time to read.

It's a brave new world. I wonder that Wylie got every writer to go along with him. Did he have the final say? It seems strange to me that not one of them said no.

HL Arledge said...

Beyond cost, for new authors, I suspect the biggest risk—real or imagined—is that once you're self-published and fail, publishers will have no interest in your wares.

Tuppshar Press said...

The key is learning from your mistakes and not giving up. It's not closing your mind to something new simply because it's different from the way you want to think. We started as a POD small press, and did pretty well. We put some books on Kindle thinking that it might bring in a little extra money. Now Kindle is the mainstay of our business and POD is done for a little extra money.

There is another point, too: once you are "established" then risk-taking tends to diminish simply because everything you do has bigger consequences. So Wylie had to juggle not only the new world of ebooks but also his place in the old world of traditional publishing. To lose Random House meant more to him than it would to most of us here.

Of course, this is, by the way, why newer companies and individuals tend to be more successful in a new industry (think Microsoft vs. IBM in the 1970's and 1980's). They can take more risks, and reap the much larger rewards, without necessarily betting the whole farm on it.

It will be interesting to see what happens. We intend to continue making money on it.

Meerkatdon said...

Did Wiley "lose"? Presumably, they got a better deal out of Random House for their authors. If they hadn't acted, RH certainly would not have negotiated a better deal all on their own.

So even when you "lose," you can still win by being a doer rather than a waiter.

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> But Wylie missed a chance
> here to lead the charge,
> and bring his clients into
> the 21st century.

but that wasn't "what he wanted".
he was seeking higher e-royalties;
and that's precisely what he got...


> Instead,
> he jumped back into bed
> with powers I believe are
> doomed to fail.

agents are "doomed to fail" too.
they will go extinct immediately
after the publishers they serve...

wylie is an old man, and most of
the authors who were involved in
this stunt are dead, so this wasn't
"a charge into the 21st century",
but an old-fashioned 20th-century
power-play 'tween good ol' boys.

random house quietly gave what
amazon promised wylie -- 90%? --
thus avoiding a public precedent
that woulda hastened their death.

they simply could not afford to
have all their backlist stampede,
so they _had_ to cave in to wylie.

better to pay a fair royalty than
to lose the client entirely, right?

-bowerbird

Karen Cantwell said...

"Beyond cost, for new authors, I suspect the biggest risk—real or imagined—is that once you're self-published and fail, publishers will have no interest in your wares."

Understood, but isn't that the same if you're published with a traditional publisher?

Rebecca Stroud said...

I am a doer simply waiting until I can figure out the Kindle formatting. With that said, I don't understand the hesitancy to leap into the e-book market vs. the interminable - again - waiting for validation from traditional publishers...if it ever comes at all.

Admittedly, my work has already seen print (newspaper column). Yet I've always done my own editing and my own marketing.

I do understand that some need/want the professionals to view their work as worthy but, IMO, some of what is deemed so is total crap.

So why not go for the gusto? If you're an accomplished writer, you should be excited at the prospects. Something I've never been when looking down that long, long tunnel that starts with finding an agent to seeing my book in print.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Rebecca, I think you can simply upload a file to the Amazon Kindle website and it will be formatted for you. Otherwise you can get the free Mobi reader/converter software and do it that way.

And I agree, if you're an accomplished fiction writer, you probably should go for it. But, unfortunately, I think that most of those who do aren't quite ready for primetime.

The reason it's so difficult to get published traditionally is not because publisher's hate new writers. They LOVE them. But because so many who try are not yet there in terms of writing ability.

Yes, there are always exceptions, both negative and positive, traditionally published and self-published, but for the most part those who are self-publishing are people who aren't willing to go through the long, difficult process of getting published.

In a way, I don't blame them. And I know that some of them will be great.

But I'm afraid most of them won't be. And I urge those who are considering it to carefully look at your work, get objective opinions and make it REALLY shine before you jump into Kindle.

A.R.Williams said...

Good post. And you're right.

I know in the future I will self-publish some work.

-Right now I'm gathering more sources, boosting my knowledge of things I'm not sure about.

-Linking to sources of information that I will need later.

-Studying the quality of different e-Books: finding what works and what doesn't

-Learning about creating my own company in order to self-publish my work

-Thinking about creating a trademark for my company and finding what it takes to trademark it

-And the biggie: Writing stories and shipping them :) (go figure ;))

-Need to find more links on tax information and stuff like that

Unfortunately, there are some ideas that I can jump on and haven't. Self-doubt, creeping in the way.

Found this quote, or rather refound this quote that reminded me of something and now you, post here: Someones talking to me. I need to stop thinking and jump, but here's the quote:

"All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it's impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer."

~~Machiavelli"

Gretchen Galway said...

Your call to action was just the song I needed to hear this morning. I'm an unknown writer with four finished manuscripts turning my sights away from the NY6 and agents and $2K advances (which never really tempted me) to the real opportunities in eBooks.

It's got me terrified and excited--but I know that either way, whether I end up with an agent and a contract or posted on Amazon at the end of the year, thinking of myself as the publisher of my own work is making me a better writer. The thought that I am appealing directly to readers--not the gatekeepers--is liberating.

So much is about fear, you know?

I may end up with a traditional contract (out of fear or optimism, I don't know), but I'm not going to beg for it. If I develop a readership over the years ahead, and capture the attention of print pubs, it will because I made it happen, not because the fairy godmother finally waved her manicured fingers at me.

Thanks for the inspiration. Your blog is fantastic.

Zoe Winters said...

Very true. I'm a proud "doer" for almost the past 2 years now. Even if there are road blocks, there is a level of self-confidence you gain from "doing" that you can't gain from "watching."

I'm going to do my thing and people who don't like it can sit around and stew about it. If I don't reach the level of success I want, then it was still worth it to try.

Like you, I don't get this sitting around and waiting thing. When I first went indie, I had people around me saying the same things... "Oh, I don't think that's right for me... but good luck." "I'm just going to sit and watch what you do..." etc.

Now a lot of those same people are in my inbox saying: "Zoe, how do I format for Kindle?" "Zoe, I've decided to take the plunge and go indie... what do you think about...?" And on and on.

I'm not saying anything against those who waited this long. Everybody has their reasons for stuff. But it seems to me the writing on the wall about where publishing is going is pretty clear by now.

Get your butt on Kindle at a reasonable price point. There is no clearer way to say it. That is where the money will be in five years for most. I will take the risk and say that and if I'm wrong, people can say neener neener. It won't be the first time someone has called me an idiot.

But if I'm right... and people sit around and wait and wait... well they'll be like the old people sitting around saying: "If I had invested in Microsoft in the beginning, I'd be a very rich man right now."

Zoe Winters said...

Looks like there are a lot of doers who read this blog.

Meanwhile, the watchers are silently fuming because I turned off anonymous posting. :)


LMAO!!!

Jack H. H. King said...

Joe,

Waiting can be smart, in a format war.

Microsoft jumped into every market late, then dominated. Apple waited to get into phones, and waited longer to get into tablets. Google waited too. Lindsay Lohan is waiting to get into porn, but we all know it’s inevitable.

If Kindle didn’t exist, but all the other formats did, would you still think rushing into ebooks would be a good business model? For 2010? How well are you selling on iPad?

New York and Amazon are at war. They have always been at war. It’s a classic Pimp Fight. This competition is good for everyone. Do you want New York to lie down and take it? Do you want every author in the world to go indie? Today?

Are you lonely, Joe? Being the only midlist-turned-indie genre whore making 200K off Kindle? Would you feel better if a million of your peers joined you at the top?

Technology is still the bottleneck. Let the corporations keep their balls tucked in. Indie authors can stake out a bigger share of the gold rush.

But I agree that failure is awesome. I already failed twice today. Once, trying to drink a glass of water. Twice, trying to have sex with my wife. (She’s slippery.) But I’m on my feet again. I Will Have Gyro Pizza For Dinner.

- Jack

Heidi C. Vlach said...

This is a very true post. Whenever I'm told that my writing is too unusual to be marketable, I'm tempted to ask where we'd be right now if Columbus had done the sensible thing and stayed put in Europe.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Joe, you couldn't be more spot on with how you are documenting this. I appreciate your transparency with your own numbers, and I really like the insider's approach you bring to the table. I have the hardcopies of your books on the shelf in my office. They are right next to my Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen novels. Stong crime writers with unique voices and excellent literary qualities, all of you.

And you've seen both sides, and I appreciate your posts.

I sell a few books here and there on Kindle, and I don't even have a reader. My wife and I are getting them this year for Christmas. You can be sure that I'll drop by and stock my library when we do...

DP

My Blog

Ms Kitty said...

I've learned more from the blogs in six months than in the previous 3 years of reading the writer magazines.

I 'went Kindle' with my first novel the first week in August. I was scared spitless looking at that "Publish" button - but I thought - If Joe, Zoe & Karen can do it - why not give it a shot?

Today I bought the cover art for my second novel. I've never been so thrilled to sit down a the pc and write.

Zoe Winters said...

Congrats, Ms. Kitty! Good luck! :)

Debbi Mack said...

Whenever I'm told that my writing is too unusual to be marketable, I'm tempted to ask where we'd be right now if Columbus had done the sensible thing and stayed put in Europe.

Ha! Love it.

Henry said...

I love the hungry atmosphere of this blog. Joe's energy and can-do attitude really gives me a rush to get my own act together and actually do something.

Edie Ramer said...

I'm joining the list of doers. My book Cattitude is on Smashwords and today I uploaded it onto Kindle. I feel empowered. I'm taking control of my own career.

Joe, I don't think I'd have done this if I hadn't been reading your blogs. Zoe's been a huge help to me, too.

M.J.A. Ware said...

In my experience the trailblazers sometimes don't make it (think Donner party). However, by the time the trail is worn, it's (often) too late.
In business, timing is everything. Look at ePets.com or Apple's Newton.

If smashwords.com started 5 years ago, they'd have closed ship long ago. Now, with a lot of hard work, and a little luck, their timing might be just right.

Sandra Patterson said...

Surely the waiter brings the menu? I suppose it gives them something to do ...

Kay Richardson said...

I've been accepted for every piece of writing I've ever submitted. NOT. Oh well. Loving the blog

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Yes, Joe, thanks to you, I am a doer. And it is paying off for me big-time at Kindle Store!

A subject that I don't believe you have addressed on your blog is Google Editions. Do you plan to participate? Do you think Google going to set off a price war with Amazon? Is Amazon going to change their royalty structure as a result of Google Editions? What are the pros and cons of signing up with them?

Gary Ponzo said...

Question: Where does all the animosity toward self-publishing come from? Readers? No. Writers? Yes. Why not let the readers decide whether a book is good or not? Isn't that the ideal situation. If a book is bad, it won't sell, right? If it's good, it still might not sell, but at least it was given an opportunity.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Whenever I'm told that my writing is too unusual to be marketable, I'm tempted to ask where we'd be right now if Columbus had done the sensible thing and stayed put in Europe.

This might not be the best analogy. North America was "discovered" by the Vikings (although I think the indigenous people of the time might feel differently). Columbus, after running out of food and supplies, landed in and explored the Caribbean, and the reason for his "mission" was very much a commercial one--economic trade.

That said, your point is well taken. Those who never give up--despite being told they have no hope--are the ones who often make it in the world.

Rebecca Stroud said...

Thanks, Rob, for the advice. However, I keep reading that I must format in HTML and, on that one, I am lost...But I will persevere and - hopefully - have the book up on Kindle by my birthday next month. Then comes the marketing marathon.....I can't wait.

thanks mom said...

@Rebecca

All you need to do is export your doc file to html file. That way you don't lose any formatting.

Rik said...

Things I'm doing to challenge the old order of doing things:

1. I give my poetry away for free on my website - which makes my peers think I'm a bit touched in the head.

2. I don't understand why copyright protections have to be so excessively long. So last year I decided to use creative commons licences for my poems (details here), including giving people the right to make money out of my poems (not all of them, mind, just the ones that were finished more than 15 years ago) without having to pay me, or even tell me - as long as they remember to do the attribution thing.

You gotta take risks in this Brave New World, innit!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

5% of people control 95% of the world. Not because they are rich or famous or powerful. Because they decide to DO something.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Gary said: Question: Where does all the animosity toward self-publishing come from? Readers? No. Writers? Yes.

The animosity comes from writers who feel they've worked hard to break into an extremely difficult business only to have the market flooded by people who can't be bothered to learn their craft and actually pay their dues. Most who self-publish do it because they couldn't break into traditional publishing.

That is their right, of course, but it also dilutes the value of legitimately published books, because—if we're all being completely honest here—most of the self-published stuff is pure dreck.

If a reader is consistently burned when he or she takes a chance and reads a new author (who, unknown to him or her is self-pubbed), then that reader is less likely to take those chances and will stick with the established authors he/she usually reads.

It's hard enough getting them to read outside their comfort zone. And flooding the market with crap doesn't help matters much.

You asked.

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

I've decided to be a 'doer' as of late. I was tired of sitting around and waiting for things to happen in the publishing world. I'm excited to jump on the bandwagon and I've never been so happy with my writing as I am right now. My first ebook will be out later this fall. Awesome and inspirational post, Joe!

72 steps with kunda said...

wow. what a great blog. I agree with you on E-books. I just had my first book published, Cue The Rocky Music and the kindle is certain to grow in the future. Looking forward to your interview with David Morrell.

Keep Punchin'!

Mike Kunda