Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You Should Self-Publish

One of the traits I value most about myself is my ability to change my mind about something as more data becomes available.

Well, the data is in. And I'm reversing one of my long-held beliefs about writing.

For many years, I said DO NOT SELF-PUBLISH.

I had many good reasons to support this belief.

1. Self-publishing was expensive
2. The final product was over priced and inferior
3. Self-pubbed were impossible to distribute
4. Most self-pubbed books weren't returnable
5. Chances were, the reason you had to self pub was because your writing wasn't good enough
6. Most POD houses were scams

I had ample evidence to support my opinion. Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors and Absolute Write all had detailed tales of authors being screwed. I'd done enough local signings with self-pubbed authors to see how epic their failures were. I was a judge for several self-pub contests for Writer's Digest, and saw firsthand the dreck being released.

Yep, I was pretty confident that traditional publishing was the only game in town.

Then, in 2009, I became aware of the Kindle.

Even though I began to experience some success self-publishing my ebooks, I still believed in traditional publishing. For all of its flaws, signing with a Big 6 house was still the best way to make the most money and reach the most readers.

So now it's December 2010, and I'm selling 1000 ebooks a day, and I'm ready to change my mind on the matter.

Two close friends of mine have books on submission, waiting for the Big 6 to make offers. They've been waiting for a few months, and will probably have to wait a few months more.

Even being conservative in my estimates, these writers have lost thousands of dollars, and will continue to lose money every single day their books are on submission, rather than on Amazon.

Selling 1000 ebooks a month equals $24,000 a year. Being on submission for 6 months is a loss of $12,000, and then waiting 18 more months for the book to be published is a loss of another $36,000.

Even if they got a nice advance, say $100,000, they'd still be losing money hand over fist.

Let's compare:

Self-Pubbing
Two years of extra sales (the submission time and the time to publication) = $48,000
Three years of sales beyond that @ $24k per year = $72,000
Total five year earnings for self pubbing = $120,000

Traditional Pubbing
Advance = $100,000. But the agent takes $15k, and the advance is broken up into three payments of $57,000 each over three years
Five years of sales = $0 (a $100,000 advance, in today's market, with bookstores closing all around and ebook royalties at 17.5%, will never earn out)
Total five year earnings = $85,000

1000 ebook sales a month for a $2.99 self-pubbed ebook is a very conservative number--I have ebooks regularly selling 2000 or 3000 a month.

But I've NEVER had a $5.99 ebook sell 1000 copies a month, and that's what a traditional publisher will price their ebooks at. Each $5.99 ebook that sells will earn the author $1.05, and they'll sell considerably fewer (as many as ten times fewer, according to my numbers) than the $2.99 ebook earning them $2.04.

Yes, there will be paper sales, but my best selling paper book, Afraid, didn't even earn me $25k in print royalties, and it has a hardcover, trade paper, and two mass market releases on three continents.

I'm also very concerned that many print publishers, in the next few years, are going to go bankrupt. I'd hate to wait 18 months for my book to come out, then have it canceled. And if it is canceled, what happens to the rights? Do they get tangled up in some lengthy court battle? Do I ever get my erights back?

And how about after the five year period? Chances are high, five years from now, that ebooks will be the dominant format. Do I want to be locked into a contract making 17.5% on every sale when I could have been making 70%?

Let's say publishers wise up and begin selling ebooks for $2.99. That would mean authors only get 52 cents from each sale, or 1/4 of what they could make on their own. That's $6k a year in royalties, rather than $24k.

If that went on for ten years, an author who signed with a publisher would make $60,000. An author who self-pubbed and sold the same amount of ebooks would make $240,000.

Yes, traditional publishers offer editing and cover art. But is editing and cover art worth you losing $18,000 a year, every year, forever?

Even if we assume print will remain competitive, I can trot out the royalties I've earned on my Jack Daniels books over the last seven years. With six JD books, including ebook sales, I've made over $300,000.

I'm on track to make over $200,000 on ebook sales in 2011, and have made over $100,000 this year. So I can earn more in two years on my own than I could in seven years with a traditional publisher. Hell, I earned more this month than I got as an advance for Afraid ($20k for Afraid, $22k for this December self-pubbing.)

If I look at the poor royalty rates publishers offer, the changing, volatile marketplace, the long time to publication, and then add in the multitude of mistakes publishers continue to make (like high ebook prices), I'd be hard pressed to think of ANY reason to sign a book deal.

Unless it's for a huge sum of money. If that happens, take the money and assume you'll never get your rights back or make another cent off of that book.

Years ago, publishers used to grow authors. When authors reached a certain number of books in print, the publisher would have a huge marketing campaign to break the author out into the mainstream and hit the bestseller lists. That's how a lot of NYT bestsellers got there.

These days, you can grow yourself. You can put out books quicker than the Big 6, earn more money, reach more readers, and have more control over the entire process.

But don't take my word for it. Go to Kindleboards.com and look at all the self-pubbed authors selling like crazy. Go to Amazon.com and look at the bestseller lists, which are full of indie authors (who are competing with huge bestselling authors, and in many cases making more money than those bestsellers.) Crunch the numbers yourself, and try to find a scenario where you'd actually do better in the long term by signing with the Big 6.

I'll now take some questions.

Q: But Joe, I've got a self-pubbed ebook on Kindle, and I've only sold 6 copies. Wouldn't I sell more through a publisher?

A: I've seen evidence that the return rates on print books are over 70%. If your book is selling poorly on Kindle, what makes you think you'll sell well having two copies, spine out, in a bookstore that will soon go out of business?

And do you think you'll sell more ebooks through a publisher when they list it at $9.99 and only pay you 17.5%?

If your sales are poor, change the cover art, change the description, rewrite the book, write more books, change genres, etc. There are a lot of ways to improve sales, because you have control.

You have no control once you sign over your rights to a publisher.

Q: Print is still the dominant form of media. Don't you think you're putting all your eggs in the ebook basket?

A: Not at all. Most of my self-pubbed ebooks are available in print, through Createspace. This December, I've earned over $2300 on them.

Q: You're such a hypocrite. You've got several print deals.

A: I signed those deals before I came to this conclusion. I highly doubt I'll ever sign another print deal.

Q: But I need the traditional publishing gatekeepers in order to know my book is good enough. Aren't you concerned a whole bunch of wannabes will flood the Kindle with self-pubbed crapola?

A: Decades ago, pulp writers learned to write while on the job. Early books by many of the greatest mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, and romance writers, weren't very good. But getting paid allow those writers to improve, and become the masters we now revere.

If you write crap, it probably won't sell very well. But you can learn from it and get better. You can rewrite and revise your early work to improve it. With self-publishing, readers become the gatekeepers, and if you work hard, keep an open mind, and learn from your mistakes, you'll improve as a writer.

Q: But what about editing and formatting and cover art?

A: See my sidebar for the folks I use to make my cover art and format my ebooks and print books.

As for editing, I'll be candid here. My last four print releases, all done my major houses, required very little editing. That's because I have writing peers who help me vet my manuscripts.

Join a writers group, or make friends with a writer in your genre and trade manuscripts.

Q: But I want to be traditionally published so my books are in bookstores, and so I can join professional writer organizations like HWA, SFWA, RWA, MWA, ITW, NinC, the Author's Guild, so I can get nominated for awards, and so I can get professional reviews in newspapers and Kirkus, PW, Booklist, and so my books get into libraries, and so I can sell to foreign countries and sell audio rights and get movie deals.

A: Years ago, self-pubbing was called "vanity publishing" because it existed to appeal to the writer's ego.

Joining organizations, winning awards, getting into newspapers, and seeing your books in bookstores and libraries all seems like it caters directly to a writer's vanity.

As a writer, I could give a shit what the New York Times thinks of my latest, or if MWA gives me an Edgar award, or if I'm on a shelf in the Podunk Public Library. Those are all ego strokes.

I care about money, and reaching readers, and none of these things are necessary to make money or reach readers.

As for foreign, audio, and movie rights, watch what happens over the next few years. Print is no longer a prerequisite.

Q: You're doing well because you have a platform in traditional publishing.

A: Will this assumption ever die? I'm not saying every self-pubbed writer will sell as well as I do. But there are many writers selling just as well, or better, and many of them never had a print deal. I'm sure my backlist helps. I'm also sure a backlist isn't needed to succeed.

Q: You're a bitter, angry man, your mediocre success has turned you into an insufferable egomaniac, and your bashing the publishing industry is petty and misguided.

A: I'm guessing you work for the publishing industry. Better get that resume up on Monster.com ASAP.

Q: But what if your ebook predictions are wrong? What if the bubble bursts? Do you think any publisher in the world would ever offer you another contract? I'd much rather stick with a multi-million dollar company who has had a hundred years of experience. Publishers are too smart, and there is too much money involved, for them to fail.

A: I'm sure a lot of people felt the same way about Enron, Delta, Chrysler, General Motors, Northwest Airlines, Montgomery Wards, Kmart, Delta, the Tribune Group, Pacific Gas and Electric, etc.

Bankruptcy happens to big companies all the time. And technology changes how media is distributed and sold.

I wouldn't want to be associated with any company who still supported Betamax, VHS, 8 tracks, cassette tapes, vinyl records, 35mm film, analog televisions, CRT monitors, dot matrix printers, etc.

I don't doubt that print will always exist.

I also don't doubt that digital will dominate print, just as it has dominated music, TV, film, communications, etc.

If you want to stick with the old guard, that's up to you. I wish you much success.

In the meantime, I'll be self-pubbing, making money.

448 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 400 of 448   Newer›   Newest»
jtplayer said...

Re: "In a nutshell: yes. Sales equals good."
-------------

You forgot to add, IMO.

Joe Konrath said...

Want to garner the respect of the self-publishing community?

No, I don't.

Pay it forward.

LOL. Apparently you don't read my blog.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Konrath,

I'm not here to waste my time with you. We all know you're too busy naval-gazing ("I can't help that people think I'm a hero" hahahaha) to listen to anyone else. You can't admit you made a mistake when you insisted on tearing down the self-publishing trailblazers, even though it's obvious to everyone who bothers to look.

Deny all you want. Your toadies will keep licking your boots, and you'll keep claiming you can't help that people see you as a hero (even though a simple "well, thanks, but so-and-so was a great example to me" would go a long way).

However, your conscientious readers will read these comments, do their research, and see for themselves. The Internet never forgets.

I haven't removed any comments. But we can all thank Blogger for their awful new spam filter which we can't turn off.

Nice try. I have a Blogger account. The spam filter doesn't allow comments to be posted, like mine were, then remove them. They are kept in a queue for approval or deletion and never displayed. But hey, I'm sure someone will believe you. Someone always does :)

Anonymous said...

Pay it forward.

LOL. Apparently you don't read my blog.

Oh yes, yes I do. You don't do anything that won't make you a buck. As you so often say, free content is about gaining an audience so you can make sales.

I meant treat your readers with respect. I know that's a foreign concept (your fan mail is such a burden, I've heard), but perhaps you could show a little blog love to a newbie author? Not someone who licks your boots; someone you've never even spoken to, whose work you admire. Give it a try, Mr. Grinch. Maybe your heart can grow three sizes today.

Anonymous said...

Holy grandiose narcissism, Batman!

You'd know.

I get it now. You're pissed I'm doing well, when you think you had this idea years ago and should be getting all the credit.

Mmm, afraid not, but good try! I'm not one of the trailblazers or visionaries. If I were, I would not have followed your blog and taken your advice for as long as I did.

But I admire those who did change the system. I admire those who stuck it out. And yes, I'd like them to get the credit. It is rightfully theirs, after all.

That's just lame.

Really? It's lame to acknowledge and thank all the people before you who blazed a trail so you could succeed? Alrighty then.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm not here to waste my time with you.

And yet here you are.

You can't admit you made a mistake when you insisted on tearing down the self-publishing trailblazers

Who are these trailblazers I've torn down? Can you show me some example of my terrible ways?

Didn't think so. Because I don't tear down people.

Also, I don't know any self-pubbing trailblazers that paved the way for me. Boyd Morrison was up on Kindle before I was, and I asked him how to do it because fans of mine wanted to read my early stuff on Kindle. That's the extent of me following anyone's example.

Nice try. I have a Blogger account.

Congrats. So do I. And mine eats comments.

If I ever remove a post, I explain why I'm doing so, and I chastize the poster and explain why. I haven't removed any posts today.

Am I a hero? Nah.

Have I been called a hero?

Dozens of times. Along with guru, pioneer, etc.

I'm showing a lot of authors that it is possible to succeed. It's what I've been doing since I began this blog.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon said: "...rather than the johnny-come-latelies who see a way to make a quick buck"

What in the world is wrong with someone wanting to make a quick buck? Your derision for profit is confusing to me. Unless you're a fringe author writing in a genre/style no one wants to read? Are you one of those artists who wants to be a visionary, but no one currently wants to read your vision, so you aren't successful? I'm not bashing here. I truly would like to know why you dislike a "quick buck".

I for one love profit. The profit motive is great! Profit enables artists of all kinds to produce more art!

wannabuy said...

JT,
I don't get your point. Of course sales prove an author is good. The final test is always the market. :)

Your attitude points out the #1 problem with the big publishers. Their staff wants to determine what people read. Thus... the "Long tail of retail" will be proven.

I've found a dozen new authors I *love* and will buy their next work. :) I've found a dozen more that I'll buy 'if the reviews are good.'

JT, why will you never acknowledge there is quality coming out in Indie/small publisher ebooks? Your posts are always putting it down. Why?

There is a reason ereaders of all types are selling so well. People love them! Man did the market change this holiday season. Merry Christmas for Indie authors. :)

Neil

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon, there is a long-standing bug with blogspot that frequently erases comments from blogs. I've personally experienced it on at least two other blogs (Jude Hardin's and strongscenes). I posted the same comment on Jude's blog 5 times and it didn't stick. I waited several hours and tried again, and it finally worked.

Instead of making unfounded attacks on Joe's honor, why don't you do a little research? Go search on Bing/Google for "vanishing blog comments" or something like that.

For someone who endlessly prattles that Joe's fans should research his history, you sure suffer from an inability to research.

Anonymous said...

What in the world is wrong with someone wanting to make a quick buck?

Not a thing. I myself make my living from writing. The point I'm trying to make is that Joe considers himself a god amongst self-publishers because newbies look to him for advice. He's only been doing this for a year. Before that, he wasn't even plugged into the self-publishing market. All he does is spout numbers that not even he can explain.

However, the self-publishers who made ebooks possible within a business model, who persisted against traditional publishers and set the example, are much more likely to provide good guidance. I have much more respect for those who had the belief and integrity to stick with self-publishing until it became profitable than those (like Joe) who jumped on and yelled loudest after it was established.

And please, stop speculating about who I am. My identity and my argument are separate, thank you.

Anonymous said...

For someone who endlessly prattles that Joe's fans should research his history, you sure suffer from an inability to research.

For someone who claims to think independently, you sure are quick to believe Joe. I do know about that bug, and it's a running joke among computer geeks how many bloggers use that excuse when unpleasant comments "disappear." Were you one of those people who believed him when he said self publishing was a waste of time? Oops.

pathunstrom said...

It didn't post, but those of us with email feeds go it, Anon:

"That's right folks, Joe Konrath did it alone! All the previous self-publishers who were on Kindle before him, who invented the Kindle, who made Amazon realize the Kindle was a good idea in the first place, all pale in comparison!"

You really think the kindle was invented and pushed because of self-publishers? When the kindle released, it came out after other somewhat successful e-readers in an attempt to tap what was a potential market. The move to 70% royalties had absolutely NOTHING to do with 'indie's demanding it' it had everything to do with Amazon making an incentive for indie's to price their books at the level that Amazon felt was 'correct.' It was pure economics, and nothing to do with 'demand' of producers.

Robin Sullivan said...

@jtplayer said...
Re: "But there is no doubt that if enough people are willing to open their wallets there is "value" and therefore validity can be had by thosands of people willing to pay for something you created."
--------------

Gonna have to disagree with that Robin. Unless the purchaser knows your work, they are taking a chance on you. And until they actually read your ebook, the notion of "value" is irrelevant.


For some products that may be so but we are talkingabout ebooks all of which come with the ability to "sample first". If a book is sheer junk you won't be able to get past the first chapter without coming to that conclusion. Now when all is said and done you might not like the ending, or where the story went but you have a pretty good idea of the "quality" of the writing from the sample.

Robin Sullivan said...

Let me make another point about sales being a validation point. You don't reach sales of substantial quantities (such as several thousdand a month) without being spread by word-of-mouth. People are buying the books because they were recommended by their brother, mother, friend, co-worker etc.

Jude Hardin said...

My identity and my argument are separate, thank you.

Your grip on reality and your argument seem to be separate as well.

Derek J. Canyon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@pathunstrom

You really think the kindle was invented and pushed because of self-publishers? When the kindle released, it came out after other somewhat successful e-readers in an attempt to tap what was a potential market.

True. And why did those e-readers come out? Because people were searching for a better distribution method than traditional publishing. And who was searching for that? Self-publishers. Considering the backlash against ebooks by traditional publishers, I hardly think we can ascribe ebook development to them.

I was privy to the original ePub development concept. It was all about independents and self-publishers. It was a dream to allow indies and self-pubs equal footing. (All this is also available from our good friend Google.)

The move to 70% royalties had absolutely NOTHING to do with 'indie's demanding it' it had everything to do with Amazon making an incentive for indie's to price their books at the level that Amazon felt was 'correct.' It was pure economics, and nothing to do with 'demand' of producers.

Never said otherwise. Your memory (and Joe's) only goes back to Amazon. This has been a long time coming, and indies and self-pubs instigated these changes. The changes are developing on their own now (which is great), but it doesn't change the fact that it would never have happened without independents and self-publishers pushing the boundaries.

Derek J. Canyon said...

anon said: "...but perhaps [Joe]could show a little blog love to a newbie author?"

Joe has done that when he offered a plug to anyone who bought his Draculas book. Yeah, you had to buy a copy of Draculas for $2.99. So what? He didn't have to make that offer.

I know you'll complain that he charged $3 for that plug. So? He scratches your back and you scratch his. I'm sure that all those people who participated got a lot more benefit than Joe did.

$3 for a plug on a blog with 3000+ followers is a heck of a good advertising deal. Unfortunately, I missed out on that and I was very disappointed. I need to watch Kindle Boards closer. Hopefully, Joe will make another such offer in the future and I'll be able to get on it.

Otherwise, Joe has made it pretty clear that he'll often plug other authors who sell over 1000 copies of their books. That's a great goal for all us newbs to have. And, once we reach it, maybe Joe will give us a little plug that can boost our sales and make us a quick buck.

Joe is under no obligation to plug every new self-pubber. I've only sold 79 copies of my Dead Dwarves Don't Dance scifi novel. I don't expect Joe to plug it on his blog. It's not in Joe's current genres of horror or thriller. Why should he plug a low-sales ebook not related to his work?

(Of course, you might have noticed that I plugged my own book up there in the last paragraph. Hah! I bet Joe won't delete it. So, in fact, Joe does give us "nobodies" a chance to plug our work.)

If he did start plugging a few "nobodies", would you complain that he wasn't plugging the "right" nobodies.

Anonymous said...

Your grip on reality and your argument seem to be separate as well.

Cute and clever! Thanks for adding the discussion with an unfounded ad hominem attack, Jude! That's got to be an Ivy league education right there.

Joe Konrath said...

All he does is spout numbers that not even he can explain.

Examples?

I'm also still waiting for those examples where I treated writers badly.

You seem to be trying to make a point, but you aren't using anything to back your point up.

I have much more respect for those who had the belief and integrity to stick with self-publishing until it became profitable

I have ZERO respect for authors who willingly boarded a sinking ship.

Lucky for them, the ship isn't skinking anymore. But that isn't forsight--it's LUCK.

If they were no Kindle or Amazon, self-pubbing would still be a mistake, and traditional publishing would still be the only way to go.

But, happily, the Kindle and Amazon have made self publishing viable.

Anonymous said...

Anon, just curious, are you Mark York?

Different Anon

Anonymous said...

Joe has done that when he offered a plug to anyone who bought his Draculas book.

That's hardly paying it forward. I think you'll notice that I said specifically he never did anything without something in return, even though he never gives credit to anyone who came before him. His comments above prove that without argument.

If he did start plugging a few "nobodies", would you complain that he wasn't plugging the "right" nobodies.

I doubt we'll ever know the answer to that question, so it's hardly relevant.

jtplayer said...

wannabuy,

I'm merely expressing my own personal viewpoints based on my life experience.

I've never said there isn't quality coming out in Indie/small publisher ebooks. Those are your words. Likewise, I'm not "always"putting them down. Again, that's your opinion.

And if sales means quality for you, or good, or "good enough" for prime time, then terrific. It doesn't for me. And my opinion is no more or less valid than yours. Got it?

As I stated earlier, I have sampled many of the ebooks written by members here, books that are currently selling well, books that are pointed to as an example of the new paradigm.

And I don't get it.

Many of the ones I've sampled are not good. IMO. And it's apparent to me why they are not in print by a major/indie publisher. I'm sure the people who have purchased those books, and actually read them (as opposed to cramming their virtual libraries with untold numbers of cheap/freebie books, to be read at a later date) enjoy them

Now I fully admit I have not purchased and read the entire book, in each and every case, as the sample has sucked so hard I had no desire to spend any more time with it.

Also, I do not own a KIndle. I sample books on Kindle for my iphone, imac and PC. I've considered buying one, but at this time I still prefer paper books.

This isn't about right and wrong, in my mind. It's about personal taste and preference. And none of this is set in stone, even though many of you want to believe it is.

Anonymous said...

I'm also still waiting for those examples where I treated writers badly.

Your blog "ate" that comment. Ask pathunstrom to forward it to you.

I have ZERO respect for authors who willingly boarded a sinking ship.

And I have ZERO respect for authors who think they are at the bleeding edge of a movement that aforesaid authors believed was a sinking ship a year ago. What's your point?

Lucky for them, the ship isn't skinking anymore. But that isn't forsight--it's LUCK.

Simply because you are lucky, doesn't mean all writers are. Some of us do have "forsight" (sic) and are plugged into new developments. Ever heard of ePub before last year? No? Those of us who had open minds and were actively looking for alternatives to big publishing instead of knuckling under had. There's over a decade of history there.

New developments in any industry do not just happen with luck. It is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I shouldn't even have to say it.

Jude Hardin said...

ad hominem

Hehe. I figured it was you. Now we know. Grow a pair and show your face and maybe I'll add to your "discussion," i.e. maniacal rant.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon said: “However, the self-publishers who made ebooks possible within a business model, who persisted against traditional publishers and set the example, are much more likely to provide good guidance”

Okay, give us links. Give us actual links of existing blogs where those individuals are currently giving advice and data that is helpful and motivating.

You’re the one trying to make a point here. So make it. Give us links. Not names. Not URLs. Do a bit of research, figure out how to add a link to a comment, and give us a clickable list.

If you truly wanted to give those trailblazing self-pubbers their proper due, you’d give us clickable links to make it easy for everyone to find them.

Anonymous said...

Hehe. I figured it was you. Now we know. Grow a pair and show your face and maybe I'll add to your "discussion," i.e. maniacal rant.

You did?! Wow, you're a genius. Truly. You recognize bits. Are you the Chosen One from the Matrix?

I can guarantee that whoever who think I am, I'm not. You've never even heard of me. But feel free to name names. I'd love to meet others who have recognized your ad hominem attacks for what they are.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon said: “And please, stop speculating about who I am. My identity and my argument are separate, thank you.”

Please stop telling me what I can speculate about.

You can speculate about Joe’s truthfulness and honor, but I can’t speculate abotu your writing genre? I refuse to comply with your request.

Jude Hardin said...

I think you'll notice that I said specifically he never did anything without something in return...

Bullshit, man. Joe has helped more writers than anyone I know of. Take your medication. Really.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon: “Were you one of those people who believed him when he said self publishing was a waste of time? Oops.”

Please stop speculating about when I started reading Joe’s blog.

For full disclosure, I’ll tell you: I did not start reading Joe’s blog until around August. I find it very motivating and inspirational. He publicly gives us newbie authors hope. Please provide us with links to your trailblazers’ blogs doing the same thing.

Christy Pinheiro said...

Hehe. I figured it was you. Now we know. Grow a pair and show your face and maybe I'll add to your "discussion," i.e. maniacal rant.

Wow Jude--- I'm liking this new ballsy attitude. Maybe that's added confidence when you get a publishing deal?

This has evolved into a giant flame thread, unfortunately. I don't see anyone "licking Joe's boots"-- but I thank him for giving writers a working roadmap to independence. It certainly worked for me.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon: “I do know about that bug, and it's a running joke among computer geeks how many bloggers use that excuse when unpleasant comments "disappear."

I think it’s a pretty good joke that commenters use the bug as an excuse not to provide supporting information for their arguments.

"Oh, I have proof, but the comment got eaten/deleted and I’m not going to recomment it because my fingers hurt."

Jude Hardin said...

Wow Jude--- I'm liking this new ballsy attitude. Maybe that's added confidence when you get a publishing deal?

No, that was The Bad Jude talking. My personality and my other personality are separate, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think it’s a pretty good joke that commenters use the bug as an excuse not to provide supporting information for their arguments.

Seriously? I'd say that's a fairly good reason. Besides, as I said, pathunstrom has a copy. If you care that much, maybe you can ask him nicely and he'll post the full text. Or you can read your own RSS feed.

Anonymous said...

Okay, give us links. Give us actual links of existing blogs where those individuals are currently giving advice and data that is helpful and motivating.

*cough* Lazy *cough*

Here you go. Try not to harass them; I have nothing to do with them.

Anonymous said...

Self Publishing Review (Pst, it's a link, like others I provided. You can click it.)

Anonymous said...

Go Publish Yourself (Also a link.)

Anonymous said...

Writers Write (Yep. Another link.)

Anonymous said...

Suite 101 (Comparatively new, but with good info. Also a link.)

There's a start. I also recommend subscribing to tech forums, because technology and publishing is blurring.

Anonymous said...

This has evolved into a giant flame thread, unfortunately.

Do you expect anything else when someone disagrees with The Gospel According to Joe? I certainly don't :)

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon, thanks for the links. I'll go check them out after work.

As for your deleted comments. I don't actually care enough to go ask another commenter to send me your posts that you don't have the energy to repost. I guess you're too lazy to put it back up here. It's not my job to solve your technical problems.

Anonymous said...

I guess you're too lazy to put it back up here. It's not my job to solve your technical problems.

I've tried to keep a history of my comments, because I'm one person holding out in a flame war. (Well, that's not fair...JT is taking his share, too, and do VERY well.) I didn't archive that one comment. You'll just have to do without :)

And if you can honestly call me lazy after all I've posted (and reposted), you haven't been paying attention. Or maybe you're deluded! (You are a self publisher after all. *wink*)

jtplayer said...

I don't fault Joe or anyone else for changing their position, viewpoints, opinions, etc. on any issue or topic. Life evolves and hopefully so do we. And Joe is very upfront in his postings here, if a bit, shall we say, "opinionated". But that's ok, as I and many others here are equally opinionated.

But I can't help but see the irony here:

From Joe's blog post:

"As a writer, I could give a shit...if I'm on a shelf in the Podunk Public Library. Those are all ego strokes."

From Joe's Wikipedia entry:

"In 2006, Konrath mailed out close to 7000 letters to libraries across the United States with fellow mystery author Julia Spencer-Fleming, touting their books to librarians."

My how times change. Or should I say, my how making money hand over fist changes our perspective.

Ellen Fisher said...

"My how times change. Or should I say, my how making money hand over fist changes our perspective."

In 2006, Joe was focused on selling print books, and a large purchaser of those is libraries. Now he's focused on selling ebooks, which means selling more directly to readers. I really don't see a conflict here, just a change in focus. Either way, it seems like his intention has ALWAYS been to make money hand over fist:-).

pathunstrom said...

"Do you expect anything else when someone disagrees with The Gospel According to Joe? I certainly don't :)"

Odd how it's the gospel according to Joe. The research papers I mentioned in my first post were written off of conclusions I drew from what the industry was saying. Check Publishers' Weekly. Check Writer. Check the trade journals. No one is saying it directly, but things are changing faster than ever. This is reality, not gospel.

In addition to this, you commented that I, and Joe, can't see before Amazon. The truth is actually the opposite in my case (And very likely Joe's as I am pretty sure he's had a hand in the industry much longer than I.). My interest in ebooks started when I'd first learned of their existence. The problem is the format was terrible, the devices prohibitively expensive, and the ability to find such works almost impossible.

Amazon changed all of that from a pipe dream into a marketable business. If Sony's marketplace had been aimed better, they'd be the name we all thank. If the epub movement had managed to organize enough to leverage combined presence we'd all be thanking that movement. The issue is none of this happened. Amazon and Kindle made epublishing mainstream, and they started in 2007 when ebooks were a mere half a percent of the overall book market. It can be assumed that if no major marketers had picked up ebooks as a viable format that it's still be there, barely rising enough to be noteworthy parts of business.

Anonymous said...

I don't fault Joe or anyone else for changing their position, viewpoints, opinions, etc. on any issue or topic. Life evolves and hopefully so do we.

Completely agree. My issue with Joe is different than JT's, but we agree on this. Writers need to change, must change.

I simply have a problem with Joe's arrogance before he adopted self-publishing, and his arrogance as "leader" of e-publishing afterward. Okay, I guess I mainly have a problem with his arrogance :)

But what can you do? I hope this conversation will lead others to realize that Mt. Konrad is actually a blind fish in a big pond.

Those links work. You will find play of mind on those sites about what's coming, not just taking advantage of what is.

Truthfully? Kindle is going to meet it's match with iPad when Apple realizes their potential in the book market. That isn't luck speaking, it's foresight. And you heard it here first! But not from Joe.

Anonymous said...

Odd how it's the gospel according to Joe. The research papers I mentioned in my first post were written off of conclusions I drew from what the industry was saying.

You seem to be the exception here. From what I've seen, you keep tabs on the industry and draw your own conclusions. I have no issue with that.

I certainly don't consider it the gospel according to Joe. That was a sarcastic reference to those who take Joe's blog posts as gospel, as the Alpha and Omega of e-publishing. And he does nothing to change that perception. Hence my irritation.

jtplayer said...

Agreed Ellen.

But Joe often frames his comments in such a way that you'd never guess there was a "change of direction", so to speak.

In other words, he has a tendency to state opinions as fact, leaving little room for such nuance.

There obviously was a time not long ago when Joe valued those "Podunk" Public Libraries, and his comment about such in his blog post feels somewhat disingenuous to me.

Of course, this is merely my opinion. As I've said before, YMMV.

Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Joe has helped more writers than anyone I know of. Take your medication. Really.

That's a terrifying statement. You don't know a lot of people, I take it? It must be your charming personality. My mother taught 30 years of gradeschoolers to read and write...has Joe superseded her then too? She'll be devastated.

(continued)

Anonymous said...

I'm mentally imbalanced because you can't comprehend a world where JAK is wrong? Wow.

Sorry, I just can't take you seriously. Every time I see your name, Hey Jude starts running through my head. And then you reinforce it with mindless blather. You're probably a great writer, but your blog debate skills are painful.

Anonymous said...

More on Amazon censorship:

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/12/30/0426212/Amazon-Censorship-Expands

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon said: "Or maybe you're deluded! (You are a self publisher after all. *wink*)"

Of course I'm deluded! ;) In 3 months of my self-pub "career" I've spent $2,366.18 in expenses. In that same time I've earned $183.91 off book sales. I have a profit of -$2182.27. Ack!

But, every $ in sales is another spoonful of remedy for my delusion. Someday, I hope to cure my delusion by getting out the red.

I hope it's not deluded to hope to be free of my delusion. ;)

Anonymous said...

But, every $ in sales is another spoonful of remedy for my delusion. Someday, I hope to cure my delusion by getting out the red.

And you will, I have no doubt. E-publishing is the wave of the future. Don't tie yourself to a specific device, though. eReaders will come and go; the concept is here to stay.

My reference to delusions was a snarky rejoinder to Konrath's insistence on calling self-publishers deluded until last year. I don't think self-publishers are deluded. And if they are, I'm as delusional as the rest :)

John Ling said...

There was no magic bullet that hit this year and made 2011 the sudden golden opportunity, whereas in 2009 self-publishing was vile and despicable.

Incorrect. The Kindle wasn't even being shipped to many countries back in 2009, and the pool of international users was much, much smaller. Based on that fact alone, the leap forward in 2010 was astronomical, even explosive.

John Kremer has compiled a list of successful self-publishing stories going back years.

And what was once a niche is now going mainstream. Why are you being so sour about it? Shouldn't you be happy? Or are you being an insufferable elitist and claiming ownership for something you are aching to keep a niche?

Tara Maya said...

Technology was the game changer.

Bingo.

B&N reported that beginning over Christmas they began more ebooks than print books.

Tara
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

John Ling said...

I'm mentally imbalanced because you can't comprehend a world where JAK is wrong? Wow.

No, you're mentally unbalanced because the very topic of this post is Joe explaining how he was wrong about self-publishing and how he has come to embrace it. Read it again, please.

Anonymous said...

Why are you being so sour about it? Shouldn't you be happy? Or are you being an insufferable elitist and claiming ownership for something you are aching to keep a niche?

I'm thrilled! I have no problem with e-publishing and self-publishing and the rest. If it isn't clear yet, the problem I have is with Mr. Konrath's behavior.

I want people to know who the leaders were that made this advance possible. It bothers me to see loud, obnoxious, arrogant sorts take credit for something they were insulting a year ago.

I make my living as a writer. I am indebted to those leaders of the self-pub and epub movements, though most have no idea who I am. I am NOT indebted to Joe Konrath, who used his considerable platform and force of personality to fight against these changes, but now who wants to be considered the vanguard and spokesman.

I have named names and linked links to those whom I consider the true visionaries. There are many who faded into obscurity during the fight as well, thanks to the likes of Mr. Konrath.

But they've won. The self-published authors who believed when everyone told them they were less, they were lazy, they were stupid and foolish and delusional are the true heroes. My hat is off to them, and to any who continue to push the boundaries of the safe and financially stable "norm."

John Ling said...

That's a terrifying statement. You don't know a lot of people, I take it? It must be your charming personality. My mother taught 30 years of gradeschoolers to read and write...has Joe superseded her then too? She'll be devastated.

If you can provide a list of kids who have grown up to become successful and fulfilled writers by virtue of your mother's teaching, then we can compare notes. But even then, anything you say will be impossible to verify, since you have chosen to be a black hole with no identity. Your mother could be a mass murderer for all we know. Or, more humbly, she could be a goat.

Anonymous said...

No, you're mentally unbalanced because the very topic of this post is Joe explaining how he was wrong about self-publishing and how he has come to embrace it. Read it again, please.

Wow. No offense, dude, but you are dense. Of course he's come to embrace it! Now that everyone else did the hard work of making it possible. Some writers believed and were in it for the long haul. That is not Mr. Konrath. Instead, he made fun of self-publishers, calling them delusional. He still does. He still believes the only model is his model.

And not once has he given a nod to those who made it possible for him to be where he is, nor does he have a clue where he's going. He's on the roller-coaster; the others designed the roller-coaster. Is that simple enough for you?

John Ling said...

I have named names and linked links to those whom I consider the true visionaries. There are many who faded into obscurity during the fight as well, thanks to the likes of Mr. Konrath.

If you want to buttress your points, please post up specific examples of how Joe has insulted and debased the visionaries you mentioned. Has he attacked them by name? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Your mother could be a mass murderer for all we know. Or, more humbly, she could be a goat.

Tsk. When all else fails, attack a person's parentage. That'll take the attention off the real issue, where you're hopelessly clueless.

I'm done replying to you, sir. You've just proven yourself an illiterate boob, and I don't engage with your kind. I expect Joe Konrath is proud to have you on his side.

Moses Siregar III said...

Every time I see your name, Hey Jude starts running through my head.

You too? I'll bet he gets that a lot.

John Ling said...

And not once has he given a nod to those who made it possible for him to be where he is, nor does he have a clue where he's going. He's on the roller-coaster; the others designed the roller-coaster. Is that simple enough for you?

These so-called visionaries you speak of don't even acknowledge Guttenberg for inventing the printing press. Or thank the Chinese for inventing paper. Or thank Tim Berners-Lee for the inventing the World Wide Web, which makes the bulk of self-publishing possible.

It's a truly silly argument you're perpetuating, and it holds no water.

Moses Siregar III said...

And not once has he given a nod to those who made it possible for him to be where he is ...

I remember him talking about the person or persons who suggested he should put his works up for Kindle. It might've been Boyd Morrison--I don't remember who it was.

John Ling said...

Tsk. When all else fails, attack a person's parentage. That'll take the attention off the real issue, where you're hopelessly clueless.

Or a person's lack of parentage. You're the one who chose to be an anonymous black hole, after all.

Anonymous said...

It might've been Boyd Morrison--I don't remember who it was.

You are correct! I take your point and amend my statement. He did give one person credit, although if HIS Kindle experiment had failed, I'm sure Konrath would have blogged how the Kindle was a waste of time and insulted that friend for suggesting something so delusional.

Anonymous said...

You're the one who chose to be an anonymous black hole, after all.

Because, after all, that's the issue we're debating and it is completely relevant. That completely justifies attacking a person's parentage. What was I thinking?

Joe is busting with pride right now, I know it!

Rebecca Stroud said...

Geez, I have a headache...with this debate, I think a lot of you ought to be in politics.

In any case, my take on this whole shebang is very simple: If you want to go traditional, go. Personally, I don't have the mental makeup for it as I am extremely averse to waiting. Hell, if I have an 8AM doctor's appointment, I'm watching the clock before dawn...

On the flip side: If you want to self-publish, do it. Hire those you need to polish your work or learn the ropes yourself.

To me, the most difficult aspect of going this route is the marketing. Yet, like so many here say, some dreck rises to the top and some cream sinks no matter what you do. Again, it all boils down to individual likes/dislikes.

And as far as Joe being a hero or a hypocrite, he is neither. He just found a better way to do what I assume all of us are trying to do. I.e., a job we love (write) while earning a decent living doing that (as in, "Yes, I can quit that damn day job!"). So he changed his mind. Good for him. And, honestly, I don't care if he did or didn't. It all comes down to what works for you now regardless of how you felt a year - or even a month - ago. Why all the angst?

Rebecca Stroud
Devil's Moon

The Animal Advocate

Moses Siregar III said...

if HIS Kindle experiment had failed, I'm sure Konrath would have ... insulted that friend for suggesting something so delusional.

I've never seen Joe insult a friend. The publishing industry? Yeah. A friend or even an individual? Not that I can remember.

Joe's been attacked so often over the last year that I think he's hardened a bit (I sure as hell would) and so can I understand people reacting argumentatively to some of the strong statements he makes, but if there were no other reason I'm in Joe's corner (and there are many), this would be enough for me:

He's taken the risks, suffered the slings and arrows, to put himself out there and let other writers know that they can now walk out of the dungeon and into freedom. He very genuinely cares about other writers and he's got a great heart around this sort of thing. Sure he benefits at the same time, but I don't have a problem with win/win for both Joe and everyone else. I still want to see the guy make a million in one year, and he probably will if his good karma from helping so many writers comes through.

How many people have decided to indie publish because of his blog? Lots, and some of them are doing incredibly well. For that, Joe will always be the man.

Moses Siregar III said...

A friend or even an individual? Not that I can remember.

... unless the person attacked him first, I should've said. I've never seen him pick a fight with an individual.

HPMallory said...

Fantastic post Joe! I agree with everything you said and it really is making me second guess the traditional mode of publishing.

As an indie who just signed with a well known agent, I have yet to see what the traditional route will offer me, if anything.

But, one thing I can rely on is the fact that I strongly believe I don't need a traditional publishing deal at all.

I have reached a level of success that has absolutely amazed me.

I'm an indie author and I'm now on the Kindle Bestseller list and in December I sold over 20,000 books.

If that isn't an example of the fact that self publishing can allow you to reach unimaginable heights, I don't know what is.

Three years ago when I was sitting on my books after NY had rejected them, I never would have imagined I'd be writing this blog post now.

Joe, you are 100% right and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your advice and help.

Anonymous said...

He's taken the risks, suffered the slings and arrows, to put himself out there and let other writers know that they can now walk out of the dungeon and into freedom.

And this is where we disagree. He took no risks at all. He used a system that others risked things for to publish books that no one else would publish. Where is the risk? Where is he doing anything different than you, or me, or any other e-published author. He stood to lose nothing. He stood to gain everything.

(continued)

Anonymous said...

The people who truly risked and suffered slings and arrows (including from Joe himself) were the people who believed in self-publishing and e-publishing when it wasn't financial stable, when it wasn't a sure thing, when people said they were (Joe's words) delusional.

You've hit the heart of my issue. Joe is not "the man." He stepped on the collective "man" on his way here.

Tara Maya said...

Derek: What in the world is wrong with someone wanting to make a quick buck?...I for one love profit. The profit motive is great! Profit enables artists of all kinds to produce more art!

Indeed.

If I can make a reasonable amount of money writing, it means I can write full time. Otherwise, my ability to write will continue to be squeezed into slivers of my day. As long as self-publishing was about "art over profit", about a hobby rather than a career, then it was not a viable option for those of us who are not independently wealthy. My dream is to pay my mortgage with my royalties.

Tara
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

Anonymous said...

Dear Self-Pubbed Stalwarts Who Made All This Possible: That you would hold yourself out as the leaders for all that's happening now is beyond laughable. Here is the truth. Your past behavior (deluded, ego-maniacal, desperate for validation) STILL BLEMISHES what is happening today, and I would venture that far more traditionally published writers would be on this Kindle, Nook, etc. bandwagon if you hadn't so thoroughly embarrassed yourselves back in the day and equated self-publishing with your constant, whiny raving. The only thing your responsible for is the stigma that is finally, slowly being lifted off self-publishing. That is all.

Ellen O'Connell said...

I don't know about anyone else, but I wish Joe would start deleting comments. Passionate discussion is one thing. Useless bickering and insults are quite another.

As to ebook pioneers and credit due. In 1999 I had a Rocket Ebook. I loved the device, still have it and it still works. There was a budding ebook industry back then and I for one was pretty enthused. But what happened (IMO) is that the big pubs shut it down in exactly the way they've tried again - very limited book availability and prices higher than paper counterparts.

They succeeded back then and failed now. Why? Amazon. Speaking strictly as a reader, after the Rocket was orphaned, I refused to have anything to do with ebooks - until Kindle. And what made the difference then wasn't that it was a superior device; it was that Amazon was behind it. After watching for 6 months and seeing the book catalog grow and seeing reasonable prices on ebooks, I jumped in, and so did a lot of others.

So the big pubs tried to shut things down again with high prices and limited availability. They failed this time, not IMO because Amazon is so big but because they were so disdainful of ebooks that they let Amazon get a big jump on them. AND because Amazon let us indies have a place at the table and for a lot of readers that means a reasonably priced alternative to the overpriced big pub books.

I don't know about anyone else but when I first got my Kindle I bought a lot of favorite authors. Since the $13-16 pricing? Nada. Not one. And I still read them, free from the library. So I've switched to buying from the indies and the reasonable, and buyers like me are rocking the indie world.

Do I have fond thoughts about the ebook pioneers? Yes, tinged with a lot of regret for what didn't happen back then. But watching Joe's changing opinion is like watching what's happened in the indie world in general, and as for heroes and who I love. I heart Amazon.

John Ling said...

So let's get this straight, Anon.

Your narrative is as follows: Joe Konrath used to be a uneducated brute living in the darkest cave. Then a group of wise and well-travelled visionaries came along and gifted him the skill of creating fire. He then maliciously turned on his masters, committed blasphemy, appropriated the gift of fire for himself, then went out into the world and installed himself as the new wise man.

Symbolically speaking, is that the position you're adopting?

Anonymous said...

The only thing your responsible for is the stigma that is finally, slowly being lifted off self-publishing. That is all.

Oh, now that's funny. On a blog that now purports to support e-publishing, you are using that old line? Here's a secret for you: people still say that self-publishing is a career killer, that it's only done by losers and whiners and people who can't be published traditionally. That stigma is still in full force, my anonymous friend. But if you post this on a traditional publishing blog, you'll get a lot of back slaps!

I'm curious. If it wasn't the self-publishing visionaries and their independent mindset that encouraged the development of e-publishing, who was it? Where did all these wonderful ideas come from? (I promise to laugh if you say Joe Konrath.)

Moses Siregar III said...

The people who truly risked and suffered slings and arrows (including from Joe himself) were the people who believed in self-publishing and e-publishing when it wasn't financial stable, when it wasn't a sure thing, when people said they were (Joe's words) delusional.

Well yeah, I can see why being called delusional would piss someone off. I think his focus has always been on trying to help other writers. At that time, he felt that self-publishing was a bad move and he wanted people to know that.

And for the most part, self-publishing wasn't the best move a couple of years ago (unless you were really a visionary).

So he broke some eggs (in this case egos) with his bluster to make an omelet (the omelet is that he looks out for other writers) and now those broken eggs have come full circle to say F.U. to Joe.

Those comments are the type of abuse he's risked for putting himself out there. But that's what he seems to do: Speak loudly, take some shots on the chin for it, then down a couple more shots of tequila and go back to trying to help writers make a living while doing his Joe thing.

I respect the man a lot. Long may he do his thing.

Anonymous said...

So he broke some eggs (in this case egos) with his bluster to make an omelet (the omelet is that he looks out for other writers) and now those broken eggs have come full circle to say F.U. to Joe.

That's perfectly okay with you? Then I have nothing more to say to you. If you are the type who feels the ends justify the means, all I can say is, I'm sorry. In this digital world, people still count. At least some of us think so.

John Ling said...

In this digital world, people still count. At least some of us think so.

And this coming from an anonymous digital black hole.

Anonymous said...

From Anon 3:43

"I'm curious. If it wasn't the self-publishing visionaries and their independent mindset that encouraged the development of e-publishing, who was it? Where did all these wonderful ideas come from? (I promise to laugh if you say Joe Konrath.)"

It's the technology, stupid.

Anonymous said...

Those comments are the type of abuse he's risked for putting himself out there.

No. These comments are the type of abuse he risked when he broke those eggs you are so callous of. Other eggs were watching, and now they've hatched.

Anonymous said...

It's the technology, stupid.

And we all know that technology just grows on trees for the picking, right? There is never any impetus for developing new technology, correct?

And you call me stupid? Babies come from mommies' tummies, too :)

Moses Siregar III said...

That's perfectly okay with you? Then I have nothing more to say to you. If you are the type who feels the ends justify the means, all I can say is, I'm sorry. In this digital world, people still count. At least some of us think so.

I agree, people are always the most important thing. But I'd guess that if you met Joe at a bar and talked about all of this, he'd have a sense of humor about it and things would get smoothed out. Joe's not a bad guy.

John Ling said...

No. These comments are the type of abuse he risked when he broke those eggs you are so callous of. Other eggs were watching, and now they've hatched.

Incorrect. These comments are the product of one deluded mind; one anonymous black hole masquerading as many. Unless, of course, every hatchling has the misfortune of bearing the exact same name: Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

"And you call me stupid? Babies come from mommies' tummies, too :)"

Are you completely ignorant of pop culture references? And do you honestly believe that Amazon and other big corps. developed the Kindle and the Nook in response to a massive audience who demanded self-published books to read? Or better yet, they saw the writing on the wall from you self-publishing Gods. Get real. Delusion much?

John Ling said...

And we all know that technology just grows on trees for the picking, right? There is never any impetus for developing new technology, correct?

Okay. You invented electronic-ink technology, and hence, you are directly responsible for the Kindle. Happy?

Tara Maya said...

And we all know that technology just grows on trees for the picking, right? There is never any impetus for developing new technology, correct?

The impetus is that the inventors and producers of the new tech want to make money. I think they had in mind selling Big 6 books to readers, same as always, except format. I really don't think they had in mind indie authors, sorry. That's just lucky for us.

Tara Maya

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

Anonymous said...

I agree, people are always the most important thing. But I'd guess that if you met Joe at a bar and talked about all of this, he'd have a sense of humor about it and things would get smoothed out. Joe's not a bad guy.

Perhaps so. But I didn't meet him in a bar, I met him on his blog. Here (and other places online), he is a bad guy. If his true personality has to be appreciated in person, that's just another reason why he should not be the spokesman for online publishing.

John Ling said...

And do you honestly believe that Amazon and other big corps. developed the Kindle and the Nook in response to a massive audience who demanded self-published books to read?

Of course not. The technology was developed as an alternative to print publishing, indie and non-indie. Period. Don't be so daft.

pathunstrom said...

"The impetus is that the inventors and producers of the new tech want to make money. I think they had in mind selling Big 6 books to readers, same as always, except format. I really don't think they had in mind indie authors, sorry. That's just lucky for us."

Tara,I think you've hit the real point on the nose. See Sony's E-Reader, one of the earlier dedicated readers on the market, that sold, primarily, big 6 books. Amazon's Kindle is more due to the fact that some execs saw a business opportunity on one of the last forms of entertainment that hadn't gone digital in a serious form and took the plunge.

That it made indie publishing viable (And marketable, and profitable) was just icing on the cake that their increased royalty rates intended to take advantage of by encouraging the pricing of their ebooks into the range Amazon considered 'optimal sales range'. Smart business, for sure.

John Ling said...

If his true personality has to be appreciated in person, that's just another reason why he should not be the spokesman for online publishing.

Then hold a poll and elect a new spokesman, why don't you?

Anonymous said...

The impetus is that the inventors and producers of the new tech want to make money. I think they had in mind selling Big 6 books to readers, same as always, except format. I really don't think they had in mind indie authors, sorry. That's just lucky for us.

That would make sense, except that the first Kindle books published weren't Big 6 books. They were public domain and indie authors. The Big 6 dug in their heels over ebooks from the very beginning. If Amazon had relied on the support and interest of the Big 6, they would have scrapped the Kindle before it was started.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm mentally imbalanced because you can't comprehend a world where JAK is wrong?

If you had been paying attention to this blog for, oh, the past five years or so, you would know how inane that statement is. I disagree with Joe all the time, and I even put my name on my posts. I know that's hard for you to imagine, actually owning up to your arguments. How sad it must be to be an ADBH (John Ling is my new hero).

Anonymous said...

See Sony's E-Reader, one of the earlier dedicated readers on the market, that sold, primarily, big 6 books.

Yes. Now go back further. Where did Sony get the idea? There's some great history on the subject at Wikipedia. Pay special attention to the third paragraph under History.

Anonymous said...

How sad it must be to be an ADBH (John Ling is my new hero).

You're just jealous because he got to the classy goat-mother comment first :)

Anonymous said...

It just drives you nuts, doesn't it, Jude and John, that you have no idea who I am? You are so obsessed with it that you can't talk about anything else.

Unless you can come up with something that adds to the conversation, Jude (doubtful), I'm done with you too. You and John have a nice commuication-impaired life, mmkay?

John Ling said...

There, there. I was only channelling Herb Benedict. =)

pathunstrom said...

Anon: You mean the paragraph about how the ebook market was fractured and some authors had the idea to put up unaccepted works as ebooks just to get them in front of people?

So, the very people you're trying to boast as 'risk takers' really took the exact risks Joe took: starting with older works that either had already sold and were his again, or books that DIDN'T sell, they sold them directly.

I don't see a difference between the two events except time. And that correlation is not enough to prove causation, which is what you're arguing.

John Ling said...

It just drives you nuts, doesn't it, Jude and John, that you have no idea who I am? You are so obsessed with it that you can't talk about anything else.

You're like a salesman selling what you claim is a genuine product while wearing a Donald Duck mask. Of course we are tickled.

Unless you can come up with something that adds to the conversation, Jude (doubtful), I'm done with you too. You and John have a nice commuication-impaired life, mmkay?

Perhaps you could try a Mickey Mouse mask the next time around? You *might* get through better to us communication-impaired types.

Jude Hardin said...

You hear that, John? ADBH is done with us.

That's like a blister telling me it's done with my foot. I'm probably not going to miss it all that much.

Anonymous said...

So, the very people you're trying to boast as 'risk takers' really took the exact risks Joe took: starting with older works that either had already sold and were his again, or books that DIDN'T sell, they sold them directly.

They took much greater risks. They didn't just post their books, they helped develop the technology to do so. Many of those authors were also developers. SoftBook Press (I'd provide a link, but the company is now sadly defunct; however, Wikipedia documents their existence) created the first eBook standard. They were primarily an indie book publisher who wanted to distribute their authors. They had a vision. Proof of their risk and sacrifice is the very fact that they are no longer in existence.

Which is why it stuns me that Joe is a "hero" and "the man" and all his predecessors are delusional losers.

Tara Maya said...

That would make sense, except that the first Kindle books published weren't Big 6 books. They were public domain and indie authors. The Big 6 dug in their heels over ebooks from the very beginning. If Amazon had relied on the support and interest of the Big 6, they would have scrapped the Kindle before it was started.

I don't deny that indies rushed in where the Big 6 were too stupid to tread. But I still doubt that any company involved in the mass production of ereaders thought to themselves, "Hey, this way I can read some dude who sent out 300 queries to agents and couldn't interest any of them." I think they thought, "Hey, I can use this to sell J.K. Rowlings without paying for warehousing."

When the Big 6 insisted on selling paper rather than content, Amazon gave the incentive to authors to market directly. The larger royalty rate is a necessary incentive to most mainstream authors, because now we have to assume much of the financial risk of investing in an unproven title.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence



Tara Maya

Tara Maya said...

They had a vision. Proof of their risk and sacrifice is the very fact that they are no longer in existence.

Which is why it stuns me that Joe is a "hero" and "the man" and all his predecessors are delusional losers.


I actually do get what you are saying. At the same time... if they are no longer in existence, then they are losers, aren't they? So maybe that's not the best way to make your point.

Tara Maya

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

Anonymous said...

@Tara

True, Amazon was driven by the idea of profit. But you aren't going back far enough. That's just the last couple years. This movement has been going on for over a decade. And it was driven by independents. If those independents hadn't tried it first, the Kindle wouldn't even exist. They were the test bed. Please see my links above for documentation.

Anonymous said...

...if they are no longer in existence, then they are losers, aren't they?

Whoa. Wait a minute. I'm going to clarify before I jump on that, because you don't seem like the type to call people losers out of hand.

Are you saying that because the company was acquired and the open source standard they developed (the basis for the future ePub) was superseded, that makes them losers? Do we have a different definition of "loser"?

John Ling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pathunstrom said...

You're still insisting that because softbook came before Kindle, Kindle exists because of softbook. You have no evidence of that, and the number of other people in the game over the last 40 years makes me think that not only is there no evidence, but it's inherently wrong.

Further case, if softbooks HADN'T been acquired with their primary competition that the open format your touting would be less likely to have come into being. Business has driven everything you're touting to 'visionaries' because self interest is what drives most revolutions. To put it another way (and quote one of my favorite shows.) 'I imagine every man who's ever had a statue made of him is some sort of a son of a bitch or another.'

John Ling said...

...they helped develop the technology to do so.

Joe never claimed to be the one who developed the technology, nor did he claim to be the first to use it. He is, however, among the first to use it viably and successfully.

Which is why it stuns me that Joe is a "hero" and "the man" and all his predecessors are delusional losers.

SoftBook Press is defunct. Joe is not.

They had a vision. Proof of their risk and sacrifice is the very fact that they are no longer in existence.

They are no longer in existence because they failed to make money. Vision and risk and sacrifice has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

You're still insisting that because softbook came before Kindle, Kindle exists because of softbook. You have no evidence of that

Actually, yes I do. There's a direct line from OEB (SoftBook) to ePub to mobius (Kindle). In fact, if you look at the mobius standard, there are still OEB artifacts in it.

Business has driven everything you're touting to 'visionaries' because self interest is what drives most revolutions.

I'm not naive enough to argue that business isn't what is pushing e-publishing to the fore today. You misunderstand. I'm saying that visionaries are responsible for creating and preserving the idea of e-publishing until the truly practical business sorts (like Joe) take notice of them. Cars went through the same process, as do all new technologies.

John Ling said...

I'm not naive enough to argue that business isn't what is pushing e-publishing to the fore today. You misunderstand. I'm saying that visionaries are responsible for creating and preserving the idea of e-publishing until the truly practical business sorts (like Joe) take notice of them. Cars went through the same process, as do all new technologies.

Yep. And you hate practical business sorts like Joe because...?

Tara Maya said...

Are you saying that because the company was acquired and the open source standard they developed (the basis for the future ePub) was superseded, that makes them losers?

No, if that's the case, I wouldn't use the word 'loser.' Actually, I don't even consider a failed business venture or unsold book to make one a loser, if one keeps trying.

But I had a friend who successfully self-published a book. Shortly afterward, she was attacked by someone who had been self-pubbed for a long time, but with no financial success. The attack was basically jealousy that someone who had come lately to self-publishing had more success and was now seen as a example by others. The jealous one was angry people took advice from the person who had financial success. The jealous one ranted and raved a lot.

So... you're right, I don't like to call people "losers." But that kind of behavior didn't come across as very professional. It just showed that just because someone did something first, they didn't necessarily do it best.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

John Ling said...

That's like a blister telling me it's done with my foot. I'm probably not going to miss it all that much.

Classic one, Jude! =)

Anonymous said...

No, if that's the case, I wouldn't use the word 'loser.' Actually, I don't even consider a failed business venture or unsold book to make one a loser, if one keeps trying.

That's good to hear. Loser isn't one of my favorite words :)

It just showed that just because someone did something first, they didn't necessarily do it best.

But they did. That's the point. Their standard went on to become mobius, the Kindle standard. Their standard is the one every single e-reader on the market is based on.

Everything that has happened to Joe happened because his independent predecessors took risks and followed their visions. He should thank them (or at the very least be aware of them), not dismiss them out of hand.

pathunstrom said...

"Actually, yes I do. There's a direct line from OEB (SoftBook) to ePub to mobius (Kindle). In fact, if you look at the mobius standard, there are still OEB artifacts in it."

Alright, let me use another example, since this argument always makes me laugh. The books I'm working on are roleplaying games. The mechanics for one of them resembles the world's largest RPG. I have players roll 20 sided dice, and they pick abilities off of a list based on selections they make at character creation. Except in the general sense of all ideas develop from somewhere, would you say I owe the company that produces said game much in the way of thanks? Or, because it is my design, and my product, is it my work I'm selling and therefore need thank no one, except my readers?

John Ling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Ling said...

No, if that's the case, I wouldn't use the word 'loser.' Actually, I don't even consider a failed business venture or unsold book to make one a loser, if one keeps trying.

You're only a loser if you behave like one. Namely, whining and sobbing and venting on other people's blogs about what happened years and years ago.

You'd be better off knuckling down and doing something with your life. Then maybe, just maybe, you wouldn't be so ashamed that you'd have to hide behind the moniker of Anonymous.

Joe Konrath said...

Let's try to keep it civil. Konrath's Law may soon go into effect.

Konrath's Law: If a comment thread goes over 300, I usually wind up turning off anonymous posting because people aren't being civil anymore.

Still waiting for examples of me dissing individual writers, among other examples of things I've been accused of.

But there won't be examples.

Anonymous said...

Except in the general sense of all ideas develop from somewhere, would you say I owe the company that produces said game much in the way of thanks? Or, because it is my design, and my product, is it my work I'm selling and therefore need thank no one, except my readers?

Rather than answer those questions directly, let me ask you a couple questions:

Before the d20 system became popular, would you consider it appropriate to frequent blogs where dedicated D&D fans hang out and bash the d20 system?

And then, after d20 becomes the standard, you proclaim yourself the foremost d20 system developer ever and never acknowledge D&D at all. In fact, you publicly deny that D&D had anything to do with the system, and you say things like "users of the original d20 system are delusional, because mine's the best."

Anonymous said...

Actually Joe, I think the conversation has taken a turn for the better. We're discussing the history of e-publications. The only people being rude are Jude and John, and turning off anonymous commenting won't stop them.

Anonymous said...

If you want to block Anonymous commenting, that's fine. I've only continued here because people seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Excepting the above-mentioned individuals, it's been civil and a good experience for me at least.

Anonymous said...

The link to my examples refuses to post, sorry. I've tried multiple times. Here's the address to cut and paste:

http://www.backwordbooks.com/2009/07/29/response-to-bestselling-author-ja-konraths-foggy-portrait-of-the-confident-writer/

Tara Maya said...

Their standard went on to become mobius, the Kindle standard. Their standard is the one every single e-reader on the market is based on.

That's actually really interesting and I didn't know it.

Why not just say that, without the personal attacks? I don't get it. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar and all that.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

pathunstrom said...

Rather than answer those questions directly, let me ask you a couple questions:

Nice avoidance maneuver, but I'll bite.

Before the d20 system became popular, would you consider it appropriate to frequent blogs where dedicated D&D fans hang out and bash the d20 system?

Actually early on in the 'd20 movement' I was a dedicated fan of the system, probably to a fault. The system, when compared to others of its day, was a major improvement for the heroic fantasy gaming genre.

And then, after d20 becomes the standard, you proclaim yourself the foremost d20 system developer ever and never acknowledge D&D at all. In fact, you publicly deny that D&D had anything to do with the system, and you say things like "users of the original d20 system are delusional, because mine's the best."

By the time D20 became the standard, like Joe, I realized I was wrong. The D20 system, while an improvement, was not very good over all with many problems. In fact, the weaknesses of the D20 system taught me more about game design than the studying the games I felt were good.

The new incarnation of D&D (Under the Game System License.) is massively improved over the Open Gaming License product, which is nice, and was great for me, since it was a fantasy game I could really enjoy again. It's also only made the problems with the Open Gaming License product that much more evident, to the point that I can only assume delusion much of the time for people who clung to that system.

As for my system, I don't expect to be the 'best ever' because one of the things I learned from the OGL was simple: you can't do everything. So my games are focused, aimed at niche markets, kind of like how the fiction world works.

John Ling said...

That's good to hear. Loser isn't one of my favorite words :)

It's no one's favourite word. But you just have to harden up and rise above it. For instance, I'm betting there were more than a few people who thought Joe was a loser way back when he was struggling to get his first book out. But guess what? He knuckled down and made something of himself.

As for you, you quite clearly have a grudge against Joe, and you are pulling up all the stops to hurt him. Witness your opening salvo of quotes from 2009. No one in their right mind would take so much time to dig them up, rearrange them out of context, and then go on a lengthy and tedious attack.

That's quite literally insane and smacks of 'loser' more than anything.

Joe Konrath said...

http://www.backwordbooks.com/2009/07/29/response-to-bestselling-author-ja-konraths-foggy-portrait-of-the-confident-writer/


Man, I hope everyone reading this thread checks out this link. It shows my infinite patience and common sense.

This is me being vile? Seriously? Everything I said was 100% correct, and stated politely.

But if memory serves, Lee Goldberg made some comments in this thread as well, agreeing with me and pointing out that poor arguments being leveled my way. Why were his comments removed?

Anonymous said...

Nice avoidance maneuver, but I'll bite.

Just adapting your example so it's closer to reality and letting you answer your own questions :)

It is a hypothetical situation. Your experiences with D&D are only relevant to make a point. If you had spent a great deal of time insulting the d20 system, and then you had become the major proponent of d20s (but continually called users of the d20 system deluded if they didn't use it your way) you would have an accurate hypothetical situation to Jo versus the self-pubbers.

Anonymous said...

Man, I hope everyone reading this thread checks out this link. It shows my infinite patience and common sense.

Ah, the Joe Konrath we all know and love. How about you let people determine that for themselves? You can kiss yourself in the mirror while they read ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm done here. My link posted, I had a great conversation with some really smart people, and my day is up.

Joe, I may think you're an arrogant asshole, but some of your commenters are really very nice people. They can come to my blog any time and we'll have a grand old debate.

Jude and John can stay here and bully other anons ;)

pathunstrom said...

Anon: you are just focusing on things backwards.

I liked the D20 system(Trad publishing.) at the outset, and through much of its rise. I realized I was wrong, and that there was much to be desired in the system, and started trying other ways (Self pubbing.). I'm now an indie designer myself, really becoming the thing I used to point to as wrong. (Calling self-pubbers delusional.).

Your parable isn't there.

Now, if you could kindly answer the question I asked in your own words?

John Ling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Konrath said...

I've only continued here because people seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.

Now I'm going to say the meanest thing I've said in this thread.

They're interested in what you have to say the same way people are interested in rubbernecking at a car accident.

You're not making any points at all. You are, however, being rude. Much ruder than I've ever been when dealing with people I disagree with.

I've let it go, because I think everyone's opinion is valid, even if they're wrong. I also like disagreement and open discussion on this blog, and when people disagree with me, it makes everything more interesting.

But your argument just plain sucks. Just like the arguments form all the self-pubbers on that backwords blog had sucky arguments.

That doesn't make you, or them, bad people. And my advice to them, to you, and to all writers, is based on my experience.

Self-publishing was a damn poor business model in 2009, and I was right saying so. Sometimes the truth hurts.

In 2010, self-pubbing has none of the costs, risks, or stigma that it did a year ago, and the potential to make money has been proven by me and many, many others.

In fact, in that thread, I actually tell all those jumping on me to try Self-pubbing on Kindle. Turns out I was right. Again. Go fig.

I never tried to be a poster boy for anything. I've only done what I've always done: blogged about my career to tell other authors what works and what doesn't.

If I hurt you, or your self-pubbed friends, by saying I thought your business model was poor, you need to get a thicker skin. Because that business model WAS poor.

Get over it. Life is too short to expend so much energy being negative.

Joe Konrath said...

You can kiss yourself in the mirror while they read ;)

You can kiss something else. :)

bowerbird said...

jtplayer said:
> Some of you really need to
> lose your fixation with
> anonymous posters.
> If a point is valid,
> it makes no difference
> how it's presented. IMO.

i agree.

and if a point is _not_ valid,
it makes no difference either,
we're gonna bash it regardless.

but you must admit that
the irony is rather funny
when someone who chooses
to remain anonymous then
wants us to give them credit.

especially when they want
to point to something they
said in the past few years.

i've been talking about how
cyberspace would let artists
sidestep the intermediaries
and connect directly to fans
since the middle of the '80s.

(that's the _1980s_, folks,
when some of you weren't
even hatched yet... really.)

but the idea was just an idea
until artists and fans decided
they would _make_it_happen_.

if you want to credit anyone,
credit jeff bezos, my friend...

-bowerbird

Anonymous said...

Anon: you are just focusing on things backwards.

No, I think you're insisting that your reality with d20 systems match the hypothetical situation I gave you too closely. But that's the danger of hypotheticals, I guess.

Now, if you could kindly answer the question I asked in your own words?

Because you asked nicely and you've been civil throughout, certainly.

Except in the general sense of all ideas develop from somewhere, would you say I owe the company that produces said game much in the way of thanks? Or, because it is my design, and my product, is it my work I'm selling and therefore need thank no one, except my readers?

I'd say you owed them your respect. Perhaps not outright thanks, but I'd think less of you if you treated members or adherents of that company poorly.

I'd also say that it would nice to acknowledge the roots of your system. You did that without pause when you presented your questions: "The books I'm working on are roleplaying games. The mechanics for one of them resembles the world's largest RPG." That's what I would expect.

It's natural for people to say things like "I'm using this, which evolved from this" unless it is expected that the reader knows where the system came from. Based on our discussion today, I'd say it's fairly obvious most people don't know where Kindle publication comes from.

I hope that answers your question. See you around!

John Ling said...

but you must admit that the irony is rather funny when someone who chooses to remain anonymous then wants us to give them credit.

It is indeed.

if you want to credit anyone, credit jeff bezos, my friend...

He is probably off flaming Jeff Bezos' personal email as we speak.

Anonymous said...

You can kiss something else. :)

No thanks. You're not my type, and I'd hate to give you false hopes :)

John Ling said...

It's natural for people to say things like "I'm using this, which evolved from this" unless it is expected that the reader knows where the system came from. Based on our discussion today, I'd say it's fairly obvious most people don't know where Kindle publication comes from.

Right. So I'm going to say what comes naturally to me, 'I'm reading a book, which evolved from Arabic binders who imported the art of paper manufacturing from the Chinese, who in turn were actually inspired by the classic European papyrus scripts, which in turn was, believe it or not, inspired by old Mesopotamian stone tablets.'

Um, no. Regular people will just skip all that and say, 'This is a book. It's about a heroine named Jack Daniels...'

Zoe Winters said...

@Jude

I like the "bad Jude", you should let him out more often.

Zoe Winters said...

@Joe

Your blog appears to have eaten my last comment, so I'm going to try to reconstruct it here. Perhaps the universe is telling me to keep my mouth shut, but I really can't.

I like you, I do. But, seriously???? You say that those who thought they could make a living self-publishing in 2009 were delusional.

When I started self-publishing on Kindle in 2008, I did it because I believed eventually I could make a living self-publishing. That's not delusion. That's seeing a pattern and a trend and a change and opportunity coming up.

I wasn't a little nitwit without a modicum of business sense. I saw what was coming. And I saw it before you did. Yes, you're making more money than me, and Amanda Hocking started later than me and she is too. And congrats to both of you, really.

Even though both of you are selling more than me, I'm still making a living. If I'd waited for you to put your stamp of approval on self-publishing as a career choice, that would have been rather silly and I would have missed a lot of time to start building a foundation and platform.

It's really okay to admit if you're wrong about something. Nobody is right about everything. I've said and done many stupid things and things I wish I hadn't said. And who knows? In five minutes, this very well may be one of them. ;)

But, it's silly to act like you're right about everything and to reframe every argument so that you have a loophole where you can say you "weren't wrong at the time."

Of course you were wrong at the time. 2009 isn't magically different from 2010. (I'm also pretty sure Selena Kitt was making a living in 2009). And careers take TIME and many books to build for most authors. Indie or trad-pubbed.

And people were making a living self-publishing back when they were doing it in print. Just because you can't separate vanity publishing from true self-publishing, doesn't mean you've discovered a brand new phenomenon (independent authors making a living.)

You are a huge inspiration to a lot of people, Joe, at many times, to me included, but you aren't Columbus.

Most of the people who could have made a living at this in 2009, were hanging back in the wings afraid to take a step out and do it. But even so, there were likely a few people who were. Not everybody announces their income to the world. Mainly because all it does is attract a lot of angry people.

But to act like any of us who saw the shift and anticipated the wave were just delusional and then just "happened to get lucky" later when you decided to pronounce indies can now make a living at this... well, it's a little bit insulting.

And if you're getting a lot of backlash right now, that might be why. It's not necessarily that people are jealous and bitter about your success.

bowerbird said...

first of all, zoe, i know you from
jon noring's listserve, so i know
how far back you go... really...
(when did you first post there?)

but let's not misconstrue joe
and his message, ok?

i have said, numerous times,
that joe is _no_ pioneer. and
he's never disagreed with me.
he is making no false claims...

his interest is _getting_paid._

that's not a very noble interest,
perhaps, but it is a _real_ one...

and even as recently as 2009,
it wasn't all _that_ possible to
_get_paid_ by self-publishing.
not without following the line
practiced by _dan_poynter..._

(talk about self-pub pioneers!
but of course his model was
print-based. until recently!)

indeed, it was only with the
advent of the 70% "royalty"
that self-publishing is viable;
and that's a 2010 advance...

so i think this tracing of
joe's development shows
he's been quite consistent,
and true to his intentions...

in 2009, it _was_ delusional
to think that you could profit
from self-publishing. it was.

in 2010, it is not delusional.

and joe has been _generous_
(and, in my view, a _hero_)
for _sharing_ that good news.

it's really that simple.

***

as for giving people "credit",
the people who have only
stepped up in recent years
are already way too late...

michael hart started doing
electronic-books in 1971,
with his "project gutenberg".

and anyone who read
"the network nation"
back in the mid-1980s
could see the writing
was already on the wall.

and given how napster
changed the mentality
of the entire world on
digital content distribution,
e-books were easy to see.

(back in the mid-1980s,
i thought e-books would
lead the digital revolution,
simply because their
bandwidth needs were
less severe than music.
i failed to see that the
colleges would have
huge fiber bandwidth
and kids who love music,
maybe more than books.)

-bowerbird

Zoe Winters said...

@Moses,


I gotta give some props to Zoe Winters (and who else? Karen McQuestion? Boyd Morrison? Selena Kitt? Michael J and Robin Sullivan?) for being a visionary on this issue. Girlfriend saw the potential early on and that's another reason she deserves congratulations, IMO. She's one of the people who saw the future before the other 99% did and started working toward an indie ebook future early on.


Thank you for the props. I did see the opportunity coming, but... I still hate the word "visionary", It makes me sound like I'm somehow "special," and I'm not. I just saw an opportunity and started laying down track to capitalize on it. Others have come before me, some of them a lot smarter than me, and some of them have made their own livings and this merges into my reply to Bowerbird which is...

Amazon did not INVENT self-publishing. It didn't even invent digital self-publishing. Before the Amazon Kindle option there was Ellora's Cave which was originally a way for an author to self-publish her own stuff AND publish others. She started an imprint, she published herself and some other authors. She started up an entire website and distributed straight from there. Then way back in the before time with print books, Connie Shelton self-published and was a success with her Charlie Parker mystery series.

And EVEN at 35% I would be making a living right now because I don't charge 99 cents for ebooks anymore. Charging what I'm charging now, I'd still be making a decent living, especially for my area of the country.

And if you want to change the argument around to "Well you weren't making a living in 2009", nope. But that's not because it was "2009", It's because most small businesses take 2-3 years to turn a profit, period.

No, it wasn't delusional to think you could make a living self-publishing in 2009, it just wasn't trendy. And it was a little bit harder. But maybe that's a wash, too, since now everybody is doing it. It's probably harder to get noticed on Kindle than it was when I started.

wannabuy said...

JT,

Fair enough on sales. As to definition of good or value, I'll leave that to the individual reader. What I want is more 'fresh thought' in the books available. Thus, I want authors to sell and not have to be 'independently wealthy' to be an author. :)

But here is a bit where the old pbook system just sucked:
A mere 4 to 6 weeks on the shelf to prove its 'value' or 'commercial goodness.' Now if an excellent book 'slow rolls' it will be available to its audience.

Too many times I wanted to purchase a book that didn't sell well enough for survive on the shelf. :( Hence why so many of us found Amazon... and so on to the Kindle. :)

Ebooks
Advantage: readers, authors, small publishers

Disadvantage: chain bookstores.

To be decided: Big publishers.

Anon:
E-readers sold 14 to 15 million units in 2010. It isn't quite mainstream, but there is no more reason to describe the genesis of a Nook/Kindle than that of a folio.

Browerbird: I agree that 'project Gutenberg' and Napster deserve the foresight credit. Every one else is a 'Johny come lately.' ;) (Not quite, but when do you stop?) Heck, the original Star Trek has ereaders (or where those tablets?).

Neil

Douglas Dorow said...

Glad I decided to come back and read more of the comments. Thanks, Jude. You made me LOL :)

Joe and many of those who comment share great advice and opinions. And they entertain. You can decide which advice to take and apply. And you can change your mind, that is, everyone but you Joe. Anon believes you can't share your opinions or change your mind.

Me, I've decided to independently publish once my final edits are done. Why? Because on kindle I get my story out to readers and a great return at 70%.

I'll keep following this blog to read the followers opinions and to be entertained.

Thanks

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe Konrath said: In 2010, self-pubbing has none of the costs, risks, or stigma that it did a year ago, and the potential to make money has been proven by me and many, many others.

The "cost" aspect is actually the same between 2009 and 2010 - free for DTP $39 for POD setup. This really has not changed.

The "stigma" is still present - it may be getting "better" but there are many who are convinced that anyone who self publishes does so because they "couldn't make it" in the traditional world. This is one advantage that someone like Joe has over newbies without a record - he was "vetted" at one time so he'll get more of a "pass" from the skeptics than those who have never been professionally published.

What has changed...the revenue side. 70% royalties now instead of 35% and the adoption of ereader technology which means there are more sales on ebooks then in 2009.

And yes, the ability to make money at this has been proven by a larger and larger number of peopole.

Michael was self-publishingin 2009 and not dillisuional, but also not making a living wage then. He definitely does now. I was doing a lecture a few weeks back and the changes in income potentialin just 6 months is significant - we have reached a tipping point where the rules have changed and I think it is good that Joe is alerting new authors to the possibilities.

Douglas Dorow said...

Joe, I was going to thank you for inventing the Internet , but found out that was Gore.

But thank you for inventing the kindle and epublishing. What's next?

wannabuy said...

Borders 'delayed' paying vendors.

Go to your favorite financial web site (link on my ebookcomments.blogspot.com).

Neil

Robin Sullivan said...

I'm surprised no one brought this up...Book publishers see their role as gatekeepers shrink

KevinMc said...

@JT
Good is hard to define. You're absolutely right that some works we regard as classics today were overlooked in their day.

That said, he didn't say "good" - he said "good enough". As in, good enough to garner an audience, good enough to earn an income. If you're selling a thousand ebooks of your self-published novel a month, it's probably "good enough" that it should be considered a professional work in the same general class as traditionally published books.

That's how I read it, anyway.

It's not about trying to compare one book as being better or worse than another - that's all about taste. It's about the concept that quality books rise, and crappy ones sink. If your work is selling well, then that is pretty obviously evidence that it meets some level of quality. If it didn't, it wouldn't sell.

bowerbird said...

zoe said:
> Amazon did not
> INVENT self-publishing.
> It didn't even invent
> digital self-publishing.

um, i never said that it did.
did you read what i wrote?

what amazon _did_ do was
bring about a critical mass
of consumers ready to buy
electronic-books, and that
has made all the difference.

and it didn't happen when
amazon started the kindle,
it only happened this year.

and look, for the past 15
or 20 or 25 years, i had to
pooh-pooh all the people
who would level the "yes,
but how will authors make
any money off this thing?"
charge as a damn hammer.

"i'm more concerned with
the authors who want to
make _art_, not _money_,"
i would reply. and meant it.

and crap, i consider it to be
an extremely mixed blessing
that authors can now make
a decent profit from e-books,
because now the sphere will
be over-run by opportunists.

but i believe it is very vital to
recognize the transition here.

and that's why konrath rocks.
he's the canary i've awaited.
the one who would _start_
singing when there got to be
enough oxygen in the mine...

and sure, maybe there was
the occasional _exception_
who could make some money
in previous years. our dear
mr. poynter has been doing
that for _decades_ already...

but now _anyone_ can do it.

anyone at all... even someone
who doesn't do any "hype" or
follow a formula or do much of
anything except upload books.

the freedom train has arrived...

and believe me, it has nothing
-- _nothing,_ in the slightest --
to do with actions by mike cane,
henry baum, or any of the other
blowhards mentioned earlier...


> And if you want to
> change the argument
> around to "Well you
> weren't making a living
> in 2009", nope. But that's
> not because it was "2009",
> It's because
> most small businesses take
> 2-3 years to turn a profit,
> period.

you're seriously deluded. still!

if you had started your business
in 2005, you wouldn't be making
any serious money until 2010...

if you had started your business
in 2002, you wouldn't be making
any serious money until 2010...

if you had started your business
in 1999, you wouldn't be making
any serious money until 2010...

if you had started your business
in 2010, you would have started
making serious money in 2010...

and the reason is totally clear...

there was no serious money in
e-books until amazon in 2010...

yes, there _were_ exceptions...
don't bother trumpeting them,
since they were _exceptions_...

now the exceptions are the rule.

since amazon got critical mass.

meaning now there's a _bunch_
of serious money in e-books...

now, in 2010. post critical mass.

before this, you didn't even have
"a business". it was just a hobby,
a hobby that is now paying off...

hey, ruminate on your foresight
if you like, but if amazon hadn't
come along with the kindle when
it did, you wouldn't be here now.

(i should also give some credit
to apple. they only decided to
get in the e-book game because
amazon had made it successful,
so i wouldn't give apple _that_
much credit, _except_ the fact
that they offered 70% right off,
which forced amazon to match,
which ended up being the thing
that lit the fuse on the bomb.)

-bowerbird

KevinMc said...

I'll add this, too:

Joe, you were wrong in 2009. Probably in 2008 too. The folks (like Zoe) who saw this coming then, and went to self-pub then, were right. Even then.

Not because you could make a living on self-pub then.

But because they saw the pattern forming and could guess where things were headed.

Put it another way: how much money are you losing per year on every book you handed to trad pub in 2008 and 2009? How much MORE overall would you earn from those books if you had self-published them then? If the best method is the one earning the most money, then even in 2008-09, the math says the best method was self-pub. In hindsight.

I thought that blog reply was very polite, very reasonable, and - in the 20-20 hindsight we have now - completely wrong.

*shrug*

Oops. ;) No one gets everything right every time. You've already proven you're better than 90% of the crowd though, by being willing to step forward and learn. Heck, isn't that what we're all trying to do, here? :)

evilphilip said...

". Yes, you're making more money than me, and Amanda Hocking started later than me and she is too."

You aren't making the kind of money they are because you have only written ONE book.

Given your talent, I'm sure when you have as many books available as those two authors that you will see sales figures that rival their own.

James Blake said...

Excellent mark

Chris Northern said...

I threw books away because the gatekeepers rejected them. Many books. Work that will now never be read by anyone and make me not a cent. This will never happen again. The Last King's Amulet and The Key To The Grave are both doing well enough for now, and I am confident they will do better as I add more works to my list.

I*will*never*forgive* the publishers for rejecting perfectly good work, for making me believe it wasn't 'good enough' when that was never true.

Zoe Winters said...

Bowerbird,

Yes, a lot of factors have come together to make it "easier" to make money self-publishing. That doesn't mean that nobody made a living self-publishing before 2009. To say anyone who did was "deluded" for thinking it was possible is nonsense. Most people don't start businesses like they are playing the lottery. Some reasonable belief in profit is usually a part of the process.

Also, you are conflating "self-publishing" with "digital publishing". People were creating businesses to self-publish and doing it successfully before ebooks. And even with ebooks they were still doing it before Amazon... i.e. the founder of Ellora's Cave.

Also Again, I'm pretty sure Selena Kitt was making a living selling ebooks in 2009. She's been in this for awhile.

The only real difference between 2009 and now that you can point me to with regards to Amazon is the 70% royalty, but again if that hadn't happened, it wouldn't make a difference to whether I would be making a living. It would just be a "smaller" living. But it's still money and the growth still would have started happening. Just more gradually.

If I'd decided to self-publish in 2002 I don't know when I would have made a living. But saying it wouldn't be until 2010 would require you to have magical fortune telling abilities that I don't believe you possess.

MJ Rose saw the early possibilities of ebooks and self-published in digital VERY early... I think back in 2001. Romance readers have been early adopters in ebooks right from the start.

If I'd started in 2002, I could have STILL found a way to make a living self-publishing (as many have over the years). (Actually I take that back, I wouldn't have published anything I wrote back in 2002, but if we assumed in this alternate reality I'd been writing a long time and 2002 was equivalent to 2008 for me, alrighty.) Just because it's "easier" now, doesn't make it delusional otherwise.

And I might "not" have made a living. But, even with all the opportunity now, I could have not been making a living. There is no guarantee any given individual can make a living doing any given thing. But saying someone is deluded for thinking they can do something before a certain arbitrarily selected time is just odd.

It really didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out ebooks were going to hit big once the Kindle existed(and that was before 2009).

One doesn't have to be a psychic and know the exact way everything is going to play out to know there is a high probability of opportunity and money to be made.

Starting as soon as you see the opportunity/potential is the smart thing to do. Waiting until the whole road is mapped out for you isn't necessarily as wise. The latter is like the people who rushed out to California for a gold rush that was almost over by the time they got there.

So no, people who plan ahead are not deluded. However, it is clear our views on this topic will never line up so I'm happy to agree to disagree at this point. In the grand scheme it doesn't really matter what either of us think about a hypothetical alternate reality that will never exist. It's absolutely untestable.

Zoe Winters said...

Thanks, evilphilip. That's both true and untrue. I have titles self-published under another name that count as part of my income. And Kept, Claimed, and Mated, though all part of the Blood Lust anthology, sell separately as well. Plus I have the indie guide. So that works more strongly for me than just having one title in the catalog. It's more entry points. But I do *hope* that adding more titles will help. And you're right, though, that there is a "need some backlist" issue here! :)

Jon VanZile said...

Anon,

Your whole point—"Joe should be give credit to the pioneers"—is kind of ridiculous. That's not really how technological innovation works. In the real world, innovation tends to happen in bursts, with similar inventions and major developments happening at around the same time in multiple places, often independent of one another. Innovation and progress are highly dependent on external conditions.

That's not to say that other people didn't have these ideas first, or that the people who ultimately prevailed were the most "deserving" of their success. It's just the nature of the beast.

Examples?

The telephone was invented virtually simultaneously by Graham Bell and Grey, but Bell got the patent by virtue of good timing was Ma Bell went on to dominate the industry for about 100 years.

The first heart catheterization was performed by a guy named Werner Forssmann, who was promptly fired for experimenting on himself. Today, Andreas Gruentzig is considered the father of modern angioplasty.

The first graphic interface was developed by poor doomed Xerox Labs, but when was the last time you used a Xerox operating system? Apple and later Microsoft took the idea and ran with it.

So here's my point: so what? A few other people have been working in ebooks and self-publishing for decades. And your point is exactly? I'd bet my house on this simple fact: when the "history" of the ebook of revolution is written, Konrath will be featured prominently as one of the guys who successfully pushed it into mainstream. consciousness.

Karen McQuestion said...

@ Chris Northern, I have a friend who threw out several floppy disks--mystery novels that his agent couldn't sell. His current books are doing awesome as e-books and he wishes he still had the others. I know how sick he feels right now, so I can imagine your regret and pain. I'm so sorry. Sometimes non-writers feel like "they're only words on a page, you can make more," and that's true to a certain extent, but we're not making widgets here. There's an emotional investment and untold hours of work in each book. And of course we're always hoping to connect with readers and make some money.

I think a lot of us were made to feel our work wasn't good enough, when in fact the agents and editors weren't sure how they would sell it.

I'm not bitter, but it does feel good to see how things have turned around. Now I'm turning down agents because I don't feel I need them. I sure never thought I'd see that happen.

Steve said...

My eyes hurt from reading all of the comments. The back and forth is often better than a soap opera. Joe's a kinder man than most to let it conitnue.

Nothing to add, but have a Happy New Year.

Steve in Germany

Joe Konrath said...

if you had started your business
in 1999, you wouldn't be making
any serious money until 2010...


And that, in a nutshell, is my entire point.

Last year, in December, I made $1650 on self publishing.

That was nice, but hardly making a living.

Now there is plenty of opportunity to make a living. In fact, the likelihood of making serious money self-publishing has passed, for the first time, the likelihood of making a living with traditional publishing.

Which is why I've changed my mind and said: you should self-publish.

This doesn't mean I was wrong before. It means the game has changed, and I've changed with it.

jtplayer said...

Re: "I*will*never*forgive* the publishers for rejecting perfectly good work, for making me believe it wasn't 'good enough' when that was never true."
----------------

Nobody can "make" you believe anything. That's on you pal. So someone didn't want to do business with you. Get over it. It's just business.

Likewise, throwing your work away because somebody doesn't like it is plain foolish. IMO. Perhaps you should gain a little more confidence in yourself before blaming others for your actions.

As for being "good enough", well that's a point that's been debated here many times, and I've already weighed in with my opinion. Just because you can put your rejected work on Amazon through DTP does not make it good enough. And it certainly does not make those publishers or agents who rejected it wrong either. They did what they felt compelled to do. Nothing more or less.

The sense of entitlement that many writers feel is astounding to me. It is not your God given right to have a publishing deal. Quit crying about how unfairly you've been treated. Now that the playing field is level, put up or shut up...and let the market decide.

Raymond said...

While the back and forth in all the comments has been both entertaining and informative - I would just like to weigh in and say how inspiring this article was as well. Whether that inspiration should be attributed to the "pioneers" of the past or Joe's well formed thoughts could continue to be debated ad naseum, but that does not detract from the end result. I have long thought to myself that "next year" I will finally make time to sit down and write that novel careening around my head. This post inspired me to finally put that first foot forward - so to speak. I am going to chronicle my attempt at writing, publishing, and marketing a new novel - from scratch. I'll post progress, excerpts, and of course results and lessons learned. Should be a fun experiment. Thanks again to ALL for the inspiration - and Joe - LOVE the books - keep them coming!

wannabuy said...

I'm surprised no comments on Borders not paying the publishers... I believe very relevant.

JT,

As you pointed out it was just business that the publishers put to print less than half the 'good' books! You might not like the new works, but for me the new ebooks are exciting.

That is the beauty of books: variety. And you just do not have variety with a 4 to 6 week shelf life. In the 1998+ pbook market there has been no chance to 'slow roll' a new classic. it was sell well or off the shelf.

Now an 'undiscovered treasure' will have a chance to be discovered. For readers that is the greatest advance.

Neil

jtplayer said...

Neil,

I'm aware that Borders is hurting bad. I'm not surprised by the most recent news. It's a shame really, but life and business evolves, and like my beloved record shops, I can see a day where brick & mortar bookstores are a rare thing.

As far as the ebooks go, I never said I "don't like" the new works. I've never actually read an entire ebook all the way through. It's just that I love my paper books, and I've literally got 100+ lined up on the shelf waiting to be read.

Whenever I sample an ebook, I do it on my iphone, imac or PC. Not the most convenient way to read a book. I've flirted with getting an ereader, but ultimately I just can't get into it. I have no use for it or desire to own one.

Funny thing is, over the last few years at various gift giving times, I've tried to interest my kids and other family in a Kindle as a potential gift. Consistently they've all said no, they wouldn't use the thing. Even my family members who are casual readers, who you'd think would be a perfect match for such a device, say they prefer paper books. I realize that's purely anecdotal, but it's been my experience.

In the end Neil I say do what feels right for you, as a reader, as a writer. It's all good. Really, it is.

Happy New Year to all.

Moses Siregar III said...

if you had started your business
in 1999, you wouldn't be making
any serious money until 2010...

Joe said: "And that, in a nutshell, is my entire point."


I agree and I think some straw man positions have been projected onto you here.

We might all be able to agree that in the past traditional publishing was a smarter financial move than self-publishing, and then at some point self-publishing became an equal or better option for authors.

So at some point Joe changed his mind, as did a small army of other writers. He changed his mind a bit later than some, but earlier than most.

Who saw the new world first isn't so important. We're standing on the Santa Maria arguing over hurt feelings when we could be writing, reading, or swimming at the beach. We've got a new world to colonize ... with our books.

This is one of the greatest revolutions in the history of publishing, and all of us doofuses are leading the way. Have fun storming the castle!

wannabuy said...

@JT, It's just that I love my paper books, and I've literally got 100+ lined up on the shelf waiting to be read. How I wish I had the space for bookcases! Enjoy the reads.

Ereaders are not for everyone. That is a given. But for access to the latest works, they are needed. I can understand you not enjoying ebooks via Iphone or other LCD screen. I can only take so many hours in a day of LCD reading (e.g., work).

Interesting how your in a group who doesn't want an ereader. I was shocked at who at work was getting them for Christmas. Many were individuals who read only 6 to 12 books a year.

But we're still at the early adopter phase.

As to Borders, yea... it has been downhill pretty much since 1998 when Costco became serious about selling books. While a shame and not exactly a surprise, it is significant.

Borders must still be 10% of the book market (Retail is ~50% 'big box'.) B&N is quoted as 20% of the pbook market... We will soon see a significant number of customers 'up in the air.' I expect them to 'land' at alternate stores almost by market share.

But sad... Not really (not after firing their long term store staff). The #1 beneficiary in my area of LA will be the Indie book stores. I'll root for mom and pop any day. :) Ebooks will benefit to the tune of about a 10% 'pop' in monthly sales.

You'll have pbook stores for decades. Sadly, about 400 physical book stores need to close in 2010.

But there is a reason the stock BGP is down 25% today... not paying vendors is a bad sign.

Neil

wannabuy said...

@Moses This is one of the greatest revolutions in the history of publishing, and all of us doofuses are leading the way. Have fun storming the castle!
ROTFL.

But now that the wall is down they'll defend with taunts. ;)

Neil

wannabuy said...

@Moses This is one of the greatest revolutions in the history of publishing, and all of us doofuses are leading the way. Have fun storming the castle!
ROTFL.

But now that the wall is down they'll defend with taunts. ;)

Neil

author Scott Nicholson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
author Scott Nicholson said...

I was one of the early posters, way up there a shatzstorm or two ago. When I saw a lot of hater tweets, I figured I'd just stay away. But I like to play devil's advocate, too--one of my sins.

Working in comics the last couple of years, where indie is not only respectable but almost the only way to pursue your own vision, I made a nice, natural (but still dubious) transition into indie e-books. I love it, readers have been kind, and I am more comfortable in my creative skin than I've ever been.

BUT...there's nothing like the passion of people who love a book and ferry it through the process into the hands of many readers. From agent to editor to sales staff to distributor to bookstore clerk, there's a bit of value-added magic to the whole process. Those people are worthy of admiration. It's an incredibly difficult business, fragile and subjective, serving up boxes of dreams. Just about any corporate business would pay better, so there must be something that draws people to this joyful act of communication and sharing.

Now, I'm not saying I necessarily want to share my money over it, since that's between me and my reader, but I've gained even greater respect for the industry than I did while I was invested in the traditional system. And I'd do it all again if the terms were right--because I don't think anyone can project out eternal expansion of e-book sales over the course of copyright.

That would be as short-sighted as those writers in 1990 who thought midlist paperbacks would continue to sell 100,000 copies, or collectors of signed, limited editions thinking books of any kind always appreciate in value. The only thing I am banking on is change, and what was true yesterday won't be true tomorrow, and anyone who doesn't change their minds according to new evidence will stop learning and growing.

I think all these numbers and sales and dollars have created mass insanity. I rarely hear anyone talking about the simple joy of creating and sharing anymore.

Blessings in the new year,
Scott Nicholson

evilphilip said...

" Now that the playing field is level, put up or shut up...and let the market decide."

One of the most common conversations around here is about the idea that no matter how successful you are (ie, Joe) that there are a handful of people who are saying you still are not a success because your work wasn't vetted by the gatekeepers.


Perosonally, I love that kind of thinking. It keeps people from becoming your competition.

Robin Sullivan said...

@author Scott Nicholson said: I think all these numbers and sales and dollars have created mass insanity. I rarely hear anyone talking about the simple joy of creating and sharing anymore.

I wouldn't jump to that conclusion- this post is about $'s and how to make them with the least amount of effort (traditional or self-published) but I don't think anyone becomes a writer to get rich. To that end, the $ of this has been the focus. Publishing has been a nortoriously low-paying and slow paying profession. People write because "they must write". The reality is if they are able to "make a living" from writing they would be able to write more because they would not have to balance their day jobs.

For the first time we are seeing some traction toward the goal of full time wrtiting and that will lead to the ability to write and share.

evilphilip said...

"Working in comics the last couple of years, where indie is not only respectable but almost the only way to pursue your own vision, I made a nice, natural (but still dubious) transition into indie e-books."

It is worth mentioning that comic books as an artform are going to suffer the same fate as the music industry -- digital comic book piracy is going to kill the market well before the major players get smart and start offering their product as a digital download.

Marvel has a digital comic book service that is vastly inferior to pirate comic books (and costs too much on top of that) and most comic books are not available in a digital format at all.

The comic book market imploded once back in the 90's due to high costs. I see it imploding again in the 2010's due to the piracy of eComics.

Helen Hanson said...

@Zoe

Writers as a group have always been very submissive.

Made me laugh. It's that what the conventional logic dictates?

It's been a lively discussion since I last checked.

I'll make one observation about the indie writers of yesteryear. While the money-making model prior to 2010 wasn't ideal, indie writers hacked a path through the jungle to serve their purposes. Now that the market is more favorable, they still own the rights to those works.

Luck or planning, the rights to their titles are now a more valuable asset.

Happy New Year to all!

John Ling said...

So here's my point: so what? A few other people have been working in ebooks and self-publishing for decades. And your point is exactly? I'd bet my house on this simple fact: when the "history" of the ebook of revolution is written, Konrath will be featured prominently as one of the guys who successfully pushed it into mainstream. consciousness.

Which is the truth.

Kevin Michaels said...

Excellent post Joe - I had gone back and forth about going the traditional route vs. e-publishing, and recently made the decision to leap into the future, forgo the traditional route of rejections from agents and publishing companies concerned more about their own bottom line, and get my work out there for an audience (because that is one of the goals of writing, right - putting your words in front of readers). Your blog and your posts have definitely been a realistic inspiration.

My only concern about self-publishing/e-publishing is the marketing of the book. I'm drawing up a business plan and putting together a series of targeted press releases to newspapers, radio, and book clubs, but I'm worried that as a relatively unknown writer (having published about 50 shirt stories so far), attracting an audience is going to be difficult. I'm happy with my book cover and the description, and I'm more than willing to get out there and push the hell out of the titles (and follow it up with two more books currently in the pipeline), but I'm curious and interested in success stories others have found in marketing their own work.

No matter what, I think it's an exciting time to be a writer. Thanks again Joe!

Kevin Michaels said...

BTW - should have been 50 short stories....50 "shirt" stories reads like something from a Dry Cleaning Digest.
KM


Highlights the importance of editing and reviewing your work.

michaelradcliffe said...

Great post! Seeing your success is an inspiration to continue self publishing. I've published one book, The Guardian's Apprentice, through Amazon and Smashwords and it was so incredibly easy I couldn't believe it!

So far I'm selling, on average, a whopping 14 books a month - is that a ton of money? Nope, but hey, it buys a tank of gas every now and then and it beats getting rejected over and over!

And the coolest thing ever - to have one of your kids say "Wow Dad - I saw your book on Amazon." :)

John Ling said...

We might all be able to agree that in the past traditional publishing was a smarter financial move than self-publishing, and then at some point self-publishing became an equal or better option for authors.

I originally self-published my first novel via print-on-demand in 2001, and let me just say that it was not a positive experience. The quality of the finished product was awful, bookstores wouldn't stock my work, I couldn't get reviewed, et cetera. There roadblocks aplenty that made self-publishing grossly unappealing. And, of course, there came the taunts from folks who wouldn't give me a chance simply because I hadn't been vetted by the gatekeepers.

For my next book, I went the traditional publishing route. However, it presented its own share of complications. The lack of control irked me, for one thing. But I braved it anyway because, at the very least, it offered me the opportunity to do book signings and appear on TV.

Now, there are indie writers who will look back on the past with rose-tinted glasses and go, 'It was a fantastic adventure. Incredible. We paved our own way. We enjoyed it.' If that has been your experience with self-publishing, I'm happy for you. But it has most certainly not been my mine. I now look back on it for what it was -- one big heartache. And between the two evils, it made more sense to opt for the lesser evil -- traditional publishing.

But that was then, and this is now, and I'm just happy that things have come full circle. I'm now getting ready to try self-publishing again.

J. Viser said...

Joe,

I have been following your blog for close to a year now and purchased three of your books, including Newbies' Guide to Publishing. One of the reasons I keep following and continue to recommend your blog and books is because you are not afraid to change your mind when the facts warrant it.

Thanks to your help, I have self-published my own novel, Lie Merchants, and made it available for sale the weekend before Thanksgiving. I sold 4 ebooks in November and 12 in December with zero advertising. Those are very small numbers, but they are going in the right direction and now I can focus on marketing Lie Merchants.

I recall just nine months ago you were telling people like me to go the traditional route, which I did attempt. But, you are right, agents and publishers are excruciatingly slow. Also, as a first-time novelist, I know I represent a big risk for a Big 6 publisher. All that said, I am impressed that you changed your mind as new information came available. That increases your credibility and value of your guidance.

I know that my writing is not as polished as yours and other people following this blog, but I know I won't get any better if I don't continue to write. And, by getting my first ebook out there, it can earn a few dollars while I work on my second (and third) ebooks.

As it turns out, I discovered I didn't need my ego to be stroked by an agent or inking a deal with a big house. Apparently, my ego is quite large enough already, so I've been told! There was something highly satisfying about getting my ebook up and selling. Maybe it is instant gratification, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the warm feeling from seeing my ebook on Amazon.com came from taking the project to completion. There is no more public of a display of achievement than putting your novel on Kindle.

Once I received the email that Lie Merchants was published, I took my wife and kids out to dinner for an impromptu "launch party" at Chili's. We had a great time and I didn't need a fancy reception at a NY club.

And, it has motivated me to write more. I know my second and third ebooks in the works will be better than Lie Merchants. But just having my first ebook out there makes me want to keep feeding that addiction!

Cheers to Amanda Hocking, what a great story. I won't try to dissect what makes her works successful, I will simply just watch with amazement and encouragement from here!

In the meantime, I will continue to write what I know and what is fun for me. If there's a market out there for action-adventure-spiritual stories, I know I have a better chance of finding it now than I would if I had to pursue the traditional route.

Thank you again, Joe and keep the books (ebooks) coming!

Many thanks,

James Viser
www.LieMerchants.com

Selena Kitt said...

"Anyone in 2009 who thought they could make a living at this was misguided. But times change."

Now now... I made a living at this in 2009. Not as good a living as I made in 2010, granted, but it was a living! :)

@Moses, I'm trying to figure out where I fit on your list, as I don't write paranormal romances (for the most part...)

Lizzy Ford said...

It appears to this newbie that the most important thing to keep in mind if you choose to epublish is to view your 'hobby' as a entrepreneur would his/her start-up company. Whether you sell 1 ebook a day or 100, it seems like the author's approach will ultimately determine his/her success. It's not just a book - it's a business.

It also seems that - seeing as how those of us who've never been published by the trad'l publishing house - will have a much harder climb than those who've had the national exposure and built a fanbase, however small.

This has vexed me - how to improve my odds of selling a book when I've not had much exposure. I'm thinking that the best way is to offer as many free ebooks as I can afford. If anyone has any inkling as to whether this is a sound plan or ludicrous, I'd be happy to hear your opinions. Thus far, I've seen 300 downloads in 6 days of the first free ebooks I've released via smashwords (Mind Cafe, being the most popular.)

I don't know if it'll work, but I'd be happy for any opinions on how to maximize exposure!

Robin Sullivan said...

Kevin Michaels said...
My only concern about self-publishing/e-publishing is the marketing of the book....


Kevin, to be honest, these days, I don't see that this varies much between trad and self. If you noted all the self-imposed activities Joe did when he was trad published, you'll see that regardless of who publishes promotion by the author will be the fuel for the fire.

I "think" (and those in the trad world please corerct me if I'm wrong). The trad marketing is really focused on pushing the DTB versions - getting in stores, getting buy-in. Hoping to eliminate the returns etc. All of which as an indie really won't apply to you since your sales will be at online outlets.

So...The "other stuff" that you mentioned would be the same if trad or self. Comments?

Selena Kitt said...

"Did self-publishers put pressure on Amazon to allow indies to publish on the Kindle, or what?"

----------

No - indies could publish through Amazon's Mobipocket before Kindle DTP came along.

But it was Kindle that brought ereaders and ereading to the mainstream, no doubt about that.

Joe Konrath said...

Now now... I made a living at this in 2009. Not as good a living as I made in 2010, granted, but it was a living!

We already know you're exceptional, Selena. :)

I've said before: don't base your career on an exception.

You managed to make some money. So did some non-fic authors like Christie.

Others perhaps broke even, or made a small amount.

But the majority?

The anon poster (I know who she is--I've got Statcounter and can track ISP geographic locations) and the other self-pubbers in the thread on that Bakcwords blog where I was supposedly so vile could have shut me up back then quite easily: by sharing their numbers.

I've always been transparent about my sales, which is one reason so many people visit this blog.

If they had made tens of thousands of dollars, or sold thousands of books, they for sure would have brought that up. And I would have been forced to rethink my position, if a whole group of these "trailblazers" was making big $$$.

But they weren't. Because self-pubbing in 2009 was a terrible business model.

Luckily, the model DID become lucrative, via Kindle.

That didn't make those folks correct. It made them lucky.

Just like I got lucky. My self-pubbing on Kindle, I've said many times, was a happy accident, and I never expected to make a living at it.

But who gives a shit who started what?

This blog has chronicled my journey as a professional writer, and I've shared what has worked and what hasn't.

For the past 20 months, I've been showing writers something that works. The reason I'm being called the mouthpiece for this movement is because I'm making money, and sharing numbers, and figuring all this out in a public forum.

If that angers people, I think I'll still somehow manage to sleep okay at night. And I still won't be able to respond to all the writers who thank me via email.

John Ling said...

But they weren't. Because self-pubbing in 2009 was a terrible business model.

The operative word here being 'business model'. It's akin to visiting a psychic. If you visit enough, there's bound to be one or two who make an 'accurate' assessment of the state of your life. But that has nothing to do with the effectiveness of visiting a psychic -- it's just plain dumb luck.

Prior to 2010, many, many self-published writers crashed and burned, and they did so in numbers that were hugely disproportionate to the few who did succeed via self-publishing.

Contrast that with authors who did manage to get traditionally published -- even the worst performers got into bookstore chains and were reviewed by the mainstream press.

So this is exactly what Joe was referring to -- the odds. He was advocating a business model based on better odds. And he still is.

Moses Siregar III said...

@Moses, I'm trying to figure out where I fit on your list, as I don't write paranormal romances (for the most part...)

I could've mentioned erotic fiction as well (your category), but I didn't want to corrupt any young minds :P

Brad Warner said...

I haven't read any of the other comments. But I have read the original post twice. I'm a published author with 4 print books out and 2 more on the way (my own blog is hardcorezen.blogspot.com). I make shitty money. So this is very interesting to me.

However, it doesn't have much practical "how to" type information. I'll be researching this myself. But I'd appreciate a post on that aspect.

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe Konrath said: But they weren't. Because self-pubbing in 2009 was a terrible business model.


Actually the "model" wasn't the problem it was the "market" that was still in its infancy. A classic "Crossing the Chasm" situation if you've read that book before. The Chasm has been crossed and the market is now viable.

Joe Konrath said...

I haven't read any of the other comments.

You didn't miss anything, Brad.

But I'd appreciate a post on that aspect.

Go back to April 2009 and read my blog entries that pertain to ebooks. It details everything I've done and learned, and will give you ample info on how to get started e-publishing.

Much success to you.

Joe Konrath said...

Actually the "model" wasn't the problem it was the "market" that was still in its infancy

But are we sure we aren't talking about two different markets?

Self-pubbing in print, even with Createspace, still was a poor model because even though bookstores could order the books (which cost more than traditional trade paperbacks but paid smaller royalties, even with the Pro Plan), these books weren't regularly stocked in bookstores.

That meant browsers in Borders or B&N wouldn't be aware those self-pubbed books existed. Sure, they could sell on Amazon, but Amazon was only 15% of the book market.

But with ebooks, self-pubbed authors can reach about 100% of the market.

The model did change. And I've found that my ebook sales are fueling my print sales, and some of my Createspace books are actually getting into brick and mortar stores.

bowerbird said...

zoe said:
> you are conflating
> "self-publishing" with
> "digital publishing".

yes, and for _very_ good reason.

digital publishing is what makes
self-publishing a viable business.

self-publishers who printed had
the albatross of variable costs
around their neck. it sunk them.

when production and distribution
cost an arm and a leg, you won't
make money selling your soul...

the magic of digital content is
that production and distribution
are suddenly virtually cost-free.
digital authors can make money.


> People were creating
> businesses to self-publish
> and doing it successfully
> before ebooks.

honey, didn't i already point
to dan poynter up above? yes,
i did... i have been following
self-publishing for 3 decades.

so you really don't need to be
giving me any history lessons.
i was there. paying attention.

and yes, people _did_ create
businesses to self-publish,
precisely because you needed
to be that _serious_ about it
if you wanted to make money.

now kids upload their file to
amazon, and receive a check.

some of them pay absolutely
nothing -- zero! -- up-front.

that's the difference between
before and after critical mass.


> And even with ebooks
> they were still doing it
> before Amazon... i.e. the
> founder of Ellora's Cave.

ok, show me how many kids
made money off ellora's cave.


> Also Again, I'm pretty sure
> Selena Kitt was making a living
> selling ebooks in 2009.
> She's been in this for awhile.

are you saying that selena is
_not_ an exception? because i
said not to trumpet exceptions.
exceptions are just exceptions.


> The only real difference
> between 2009 and now
> that you can point me to
> with regards to Amazon
> is the 70% royalty

you're not reading very well.

it is the _critical_mass_ of
paying customers that has
made a difference in 2010.

and nobody knew when that
critical mass would activate.

_everyone_ knew that it would
come about _eventually_, but
nobody knew _exactly_ when.

way back in 1985, i knew that
it would happen _eventually_,
and i've been paying very close
attention ever since then to see
exactly when it would go boom.

2010 is the year it went boom...


> again if that hadn't happened,
> it wouldn't make a difference
> to whether I would be
> making a living.

oh please... the critical mass
has made _all_ the difference.


> It would just be
> a "smaller" living.

much smaller. _much_ smaller.


> But it's still money and
> the growth still would have
> started happening.
> Just more gradually.

much more gradually. _much_...

or, to put it in other words,
you are deluded. seriously... :+)


> If I'd decided to self-publish
> in 2002 I don't know when
> I would have made a living.

i do.

unless you were an exception,
you would've started making
serious money here in 2010...


> saying it wouldn't be
> until 2010 would
> require you to have
> magical fortune telling abilities
> I don't believe you possess.

well, i actually _do_ have some
magical fortune telling abilities.

but they aren't necessary for me
to know that non-exceptions
wouldn't make serious money
from self-publishing until there
was a critical mass of buyers...

that's just good common sense.

(continued below...)

-bowerbird

bowerbird said...

(...continued from above)

zoe said:
> MJ Rose saw
> the early possibilities of
> ebooks and self-published
> in digital VERY early...
> I think back in 2001.

m.j. was an ad agency huckster.

who did a snow-job on people,
convincing them of her success.

her snow-job made her money,
not her puny paltry e-book sales.


> Romance readers have been
> early adopters in ebooks
> right from the start.

yes, they were the exception...

and thus harlequin is smart now.


> Just because it's "easier" now,
> doesn't make it
> delusional otherwise.

it _is_ delusional to think _you_
(a generic you, not the zoe you)
can do something successfully
when only a tiny percentage of
the people who try can succeed.

even if you're one of the people
who falls in the tiny percentage,
it _is_ delusional to say you will.

it was delusional to think that
a person could make big money
by playing professional sports
-- _until_ t.v. money came in.

did you know that bart starr --
a hall-of-fame quarterback --
still worked at a regular job,
and not just in the off-season?


> saying someone is deluded
> for thinking they can
> do something before
> a certain arbitrarily selected
> time is just odd.

i didn't pick 2010 "arbitrarily"...

i have been patiently looking for
the right signs for 25 years now,
waiting for konrath the canary
to start singing his little song...


> It really didn't take
> a rocket scientist
> to figure out ebooks
> were going to hit big
> once the Kindle existed
> (and that was before 2009).

right. but there are anonymous
commenters here who want to
put konrath on the rack because
he won't bow to their foresight.

where were _they_ in 1985?

-bowerbird

Ellen Fisher said...

"ok, show me how many kids
made money off ellora's cave."

Quite a few writers made significant money off EC. However, most of them weren't self-publishing, but e-publishing (and for a while their print books got wide distribution in bookstores, too). The exception was the owner of the company, who wrote under a different name and was one of the stars, saleswise. But we're talking about erotic romance here. Until the Kindle came along, that seemed to be the best genre to write if you wanted to make money in e-publishing.

Bobbie Crawford-McCoy (Nurture Your BOOKS) said...

Joe, I have followed your literary career for several years and I personally believe that your move to self-publishing, though a bit risky at the time, was probably one of THE smartest moves that you could have made in your writing career. You have no doubt inspired thousands of writers and authors to self-publish and be proud to do so; as they should be.

I can't wait to see what the future has in store for existing and upcoming self-published authors; I believe that they have a very bright future ahead. Traditional publishers, as I had predicted more than a year ago, won't be able to stay afloat if they can't offer a successful self-publishing company to authors who want one.

It really boils down to dollars and cents; why would an author give away 75-80 percent of their book royalties by going the traditional route, when they could have creative control over their work, own the rights and keep the majority of their book royalties?? All of a sudden, self publishing doesn’t seem so bad...

I would like to personally thank you for now being a strong, positive advocate for self-published authors, the world over.

Ty Johnston said...

Holy monkey farts, what difference does it make who did what when first?

The first self publisher? Gutenberg.

No, no. Too late. How about Homer? Or maybe some Babylonian poet? Or a caveman who picked up a piece of coal and scratched something on a rock?

Angela Perry said...

I've been debating about commenting on the drama in this thread for a couple days now. I promised myself I wouldn't get involved in any more online flame wars...so I won't.

Instead, I'll stick with pointing out a glaring factual error in the Anon's comments that's bugging me:

Kindle uses the .mobi format, not a "mobius" format. A mobius is one of those cool little strips of paper that curve around on themselves so they create an infinite plane.

Whew. Glad to get that off my chest :) Isn't it funny what little things can bug you?

Jonas Lau said...

Joe,
I have finished my first novel. It is a young adult fantasy novel called Solerra, the Lost Woman. I am writing the second book in the series now. Do you have an editor you would recommend? I am really considering self-publishing. I want to thank you for your advice.

Sibel Hodge said...

A fantastic blog, as always.

Imagine if twenty years ago, someone had said that we would be reading ebooks. What? Shock horror! I couldn't possibly read a book on a computer or a tiny little hand-held device thingy! But now look at the ebook industry - it's gone from strength to strength. That's technological progress, and it can only serve readers and authors alike.

I can see in the near future that there will probably only be one bookshop in each town, still struggling to hang on. It's thanks to ereaders and publishers/sellers (Amazon etc.) with innovative foresight that have made the indie revolution how it is today.

Rather than having the big publishing houses publish what they think will sell big, now we have more opportunities for authors to get their work out there, and for readers to have the ultimate choice in what they want to read.

Congrats Joe, you really are an inspiration!

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