Monday, February 28, 2011

Guest Post by Blake Crouch

Today's guest post if from my frequent collaborator Blake Crouch, about how legacy published authors must come to grips with self-publishing...

Here's Blake:

So I finished a novel back in August that I’d been writing for a year and a half between other projects. I thought it was probably the best thing I’d written, the closest I’d ever come to fully realizing the initial idea. My writer friends who I swap manuscripts with agreed. Even my lovely wife, who can’t deal with my SERIAL stuff, loved it. My agent loved it, and we went through several edits and took it out in October to a number of publishing houses.

“You’re losing money, Blake, every single day RUN is not for sale.”


Around December, Joe started making a point of telling me this every time we talked on the phone, emailed, or Skyped. I thought maybe he was right.


I had a great December selling ebooks.


January came close to doubling that.


“Blake, this is the best thing you’ve ever written. You know that novels sell better than short stories. Why are you sitting on this?”


Now, every time Joe said this, it was like a gut punch. Because I knew he was right. I knew the potential monthly income I was turning my back on, the new readers I was missing out on.


We’re in the Wild West of ebooks, and my best work was on the sidelines. We hadn’t had any offers on RUN, but had gotten very close with a couple of dream editors. It’s always been a tough market, but with Borders going under and the ebook-induced turmoil, it’s harder now than ever.


So I released RUN myself this past Saturday, for the following reasons, and many more:


1. It’s my best book. A lot of my work has a horror bent, and this certainly does, but it’s far and away the most commercial thing I’ve written. It has the most potential to earn me new fans, and now I have a substantial backlist for them to dive into if they dig it.


2. As I’ve blogged about here before, I need more novels. My novels far outsell my short story collections, single stories, and novellas. This was an opportunity to add a fourth novel to my catalog.


3. For the first time in my writing career, I can support myself solely through writing. Releasing RUN has the potential to launch me to the next level, and the window for doing that is open and here.


4. Numerous ebooks, already released, have been picked up after the fact by publishers. See Michael J. Sullivan, H.P. Mallory, the Encore crowd, etc. If numbers are strong, it can help an agent make an argument for the sale and negotiate a better advance.


5. Ebook royalty rate: 25%. This royalty rate is so completely biased in favor of publishers, it’s not even funny. The ebook rights to my catalog are far and away the most valuable thing I own.

To give a publisher the exclusive license to my e-rights when I have no control over pricing, and in light of that 25% royalty rate, is a terrifying proposition. This all adds up to my suspicion that, even if an offer were to come, I would have a very difficult time parting with those rights if the offer wasn’t stellar and life-changing money.


6. No one knows yet what the selling trajectory of an ebook is, although we do know that it doesn’t follow the traditional arc of sliding into coop and needing to sell huge in those first 6 weeks to stay alive. Konrath is a prime example. All of his titles have been his greatest sellers at different points in time, and at different price points. But if a book is never available, you can never find that sweet spot where it works for you. Your old books sell your new books, and vice-versa, and the more books you have available, the more you will sell, and the more you sell, the more you sell.


7. I don’t know what the future of RUN will be. Will I always control the e-rights? Will I ultimately sell them? Hard to say. But I know that having it available right now is a great weight lifted off my shoulders, because there is no longer any benefit to sitting on good work, and waiting for a “Yes.”

Joe sez: Not only is RUN the best novel Blake has written, it's the best thriller I've ever read. That's not an exaggeration. RUN is powerful, moving, frightening, exhilarating, and the end will reduce you to tears.

I considered it my duty, as a friend of Blake's, to nag him to self-publish RUN, but he wanted a big traditional publishing deal. And guess what? I understood his thinking. RUN should have gotten a big traditional publishing deal. Blake should have been offered six-figures for RUN, months ago. It has "blockbuster" written all over it.

But the current publishing climate is awful. Publishers aren't buying as much, and they aren't paying as much. And every day Blake waited, the legacy publishing climate got worse, the self-publishing climate got better, and he missed out on making money.

How much money?

Let's be conservative and say RUN sells 20 copies a day. If he'd self-pubbed it nine months ago, like I told him to, He'd have $10k in his pocket right now. Ouch.

Double-ouch because 20 a day is a low estimate. I sell 90 copies a day of Endurance, and it isn't even my best selling ebook. If I'd waited nine months to publish Endurance, I'd have missed out on about $49,000.

That's what I mean by, "Ebooks will earn money forever, but you should start forever right now, not tomorrow."

It could be that RUN does really well as an ebook, which might spark some publisher interest. But if it is doing that well, Blake would be foolish to sell the rights. A 25% ebook royalty is really 14.9% after everyone takes their share. If ebooks are the future, why would any author choose 14.9% over 70%?

I encourage all of my blog readers to pick up RUN. It's terrific.

I also encourage all of my blog readers with a book on submission to rethink their priorities. I know you want a big book deal. I felt the same way, not so long ago.

But that was before I was selling 800 ebooks a day. Right now I'm earning $1 a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Big book deal? No thanks.

Blake sez: It’s so annoying when Joe’s right.

If you’ve benefited from any of my posts here, I would humbly ask that you check out RUN, available for $2.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.


Here’s the pitch:

For fans of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris...

Picture this: A landscape of American genocide...


5 d a y s a g o

A rash of bizarre murders swept the country…

Senseless. Brutal. Seemingly unconnected.

A cop walked into a nursing home and unloaded his weapons on elderly and staff alike.

A mass of school shootings.

Prison riots of unprecedented brutality.

Mind-boggling acts of violence in every state.


4 d a y s a g o

The murders increased ten-fold…


3 d a y s a g o

The President addressed the nation and begged for calm and peace…


2 d a y s a g o

The killers began to mobilize…


Y e s t e r d a y

All the power went out…


T o n i g h t

They’re reading the names of those to be killed on the Emergency Broadcast System. You are listening over the battery-powered radio on your kitchen table, and they’ve just read yours.

Your name is Jack Colclough. You have a wife, a daughter, and a young son. You live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. People are coming to your house to kill you and your family. You don’t know why, but you don’t have time to think about that any more.

You only have time to….

R U N

134 comments:

Ruth Harris said...

This is an absolutely sensational pitch! Who could resist? Not I, for sure! TradPub's loss, Blake's gain...both in $$$ and an big expanded readership.

Blake, in the year & a half it took you to write RUN, did you work on it every day? every week? What I'm really asking is, how did you maintain the voice & the plot trajectory?

AnneMarie Novark said...

Whoa!!! Awesome pitch!!! And awesome post. Love the numbers, Joe.

Good luck, Blake!!!

Anne Marie
A Match Made In Texas

Susan Schreyer said...

Fabulous pitch. Had my hands sweating by the time I was done! I'd wish you good luck with your book, but you obviously don't need it!

Your point #7 really hit home with me. I just released my second e-book and before one could even buy it on Amazon, sales spiked in the first. Gotta love it!

Jon F. Merz said...

Congrats Blake - going to grab a copy.

Joe - I know you were waiting to see results from my latest attempts at the ebook thing before running my guest post. I just literally posted this blog entry: http://bit.ly/i5GpA7

Ronnie said...

4. Numerous ebooks, already released, have been picked up after the fact by publishers. See Michael J. Sullivan, H.P. Mallory, the Encore crowd, etc. If numbers are strong, it can help an agent make an argument for the sale and negotiate a better advance.

This is interesting. The implication of this is that you're still shooting for a traditional contract, which seems to go against the purpose of this blog.

Can you give us reasons why you'd want to sign on with a big publisher?

K.L. Dillon said...

The pitch did it for me. Wow. Just purchased it for the kindle. Great stuff, Blake. I think I could understand why anyone would want to have the urge to go the traditional publishing route just because better chance of exposure, but in the long run self-pubbing gives you the absolute best chance to reach more readers because your book is taken off the shelf after six months or so, instead, it stays on Amazon, B & N, etc. Good stuff.

K.L. Dillon

kevinlyledillon.blogspot.com

Jude Hardin said...

I bought RUN a couple of days ago, started reading it yesterday. Great stuff! I'm astounded this didn't sell traditionally. I have a feeling those editors who passed are going to be sorry.

I've seen you promote on Facebook, Kindle Boards, and here, Blake, but what else are you doing to get the word out?

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

WOW. That book sounds amazing. I mostly read YA, but I will be adding that to the 'to-read' list right after I leave this post.

Many congrats on the new book, Blake, and I hope it sells more than you could ever imagine! I have a feeling you'll be sticking with epub after this!

Karly
www.karlykirkpatrick.com
www.darksidepublishing.com

Joe Konrath said...

Hi Jon--

I'd like to run your guest post, and also reprint your current blog post, in one long before and after post.

Please send me jpgs of the Lawson cover, and the old and new Parallax covers.

And congrats! :)

Anonymous said...

Blake, I hope you make a fortune on it.

I'm a big fan of good covers that that one totally rocks. I'm jealous, big time.

Kindling your book now is smart because it may increase publisher interest. Agents are trolling the bestseller Kindle books and marketing them to publishers. What most people don't know, however, is that we are already well into that cycle. Many .99 wonders have been presented to publishers through agents only to be rejected because they really weren't very good books even though they sold in quantity. Publishers have been burned by taking time to look at books that in the end weren't worthy. Their resistance to good-selling eBooks is increasing. The mindset is, It may sell good at .99 or 2.99, but will it sell in HC for $25 or TP at $13.95? To do this, the book will need to be commercial. Most books don't meet that criteria.

You might want to consider raising the price to $4.95 or higher. If it sells well AT THAT PRICE, it's now competing with traditionally published titles. Publishers will be a lot more interested if that happens.

Nikki's Wild said...

Run was so good. I loved it. Definitely an amazing thrill ride.

wannabuy said...

"But the current publishing climate is awful. Publishers aren't buying as much, and they aren't paying as much. "

I assume the glacial process of publishing is now even slower? Or is that like tree rings, something of significance long after the fact?

@Jude:"I'm astounded this didn't sell traditionally. I have a feeling those editors who passed are going to be sorry."
While no one bats 1000; yet publishing has to do better than their current record to survive.

Let us suppose they bat 300. In other words, sign on 30% of the books that should be published. That leaves 70% entirely to the ebook market. Once authors wise up to that... we'll be past the tipping point. ;)

Neil

Chryse said...

OMG, Blake, I just read the sample and had to hit the Buy button. I haven't done that very often here (only one other time), but this is incredible writing. I can't wait to read the rest! And good luck. Those legacy pubbers don't know what they're missing.

~Chryse
http://www.thisdarkmagic.weebly.com

wannabuy said...

@Anon:"You might want to consider raising the price to $4.95 or higher"

And scare off everyone who hasn't tried Blake's prior books? That advice would only work if Blake was already in the top 100!

Neil

Merrill Heath said...

Wannabuy said: Let us suppose they bat 300. In other words, sign on 30% of the books that should be published. That leaves 70% entirely to the ebook market.

Trad publishers aren't anywhere near the point of publishing 30% of the books that should be published.

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

Vern said...

Trad publishers aren't anywhere near the point of publishing 30% of the books that should be published.

Really?

From what I can tell, only about 2% of the books written today deserve to be published. 99.9% of the self pubbed books should never see the light of day, including most of the best selling ebooks. Garbage is still garbage no matter who publishes it.

Jon F. Merz said...

Thanks Joe - just emailed you.

Kendall Swan said...

Blake-just clicked for my copy. I look forward to reading it.

Re: price- start low and go higher later. If it's that good, then people won't mind a higher than 2.99 price tag. I'm thinking 4.99 or 5.99, not 12.99.

There are some great blurbs on the description plus the cool cover. Get the ranking high quickly and then raise the price. I bet it will stay pretty high if it's a quality commercial read.

Lots of posts this week, Joe. Thanks!

Kendall Swan
NAKED Cheerleader and Other Stories

Jon F. Merz said...

@Vern - says who? You? That's the same stale mentality that NYC has been afflicted with for years. And as I wrote earlier today on my blog, it should always be about the reader NOT some supposed expert tastemaker.

The fact is this: the most important people in the writer-reader equation are just that - the writer and the reader. Everyone else is just filler middlemen. When times were different, then the role of agents and editors might have certainly been a powerful factor. But it's not that way anymore, and frankly, it shouldn't be.

If I write something so incredibly insane, and yet it finds an audience, then does that mean it didn't deserve to be published? Perhaps in the narrow viewpoint you espoused.

But take Twilight. Sure as hell ain't my cup o' tea and the old traditional author in me hated that book and its success because the writing (I thought) was crap. BUT (and it's a big ol' Sir Mixalot But) she found her audience and they bought the holy bejeezuz out of that series. And on that level, I can only applaud her for finding her audience.

I know there are plenty of self-pubbed books out there that might be labeled "garbage" and what have you, but if they find an audience and they sell, then what's the problem? If people don't like it, they'll go read something else.

J. E. Medrick said...

Blake, your cover is Amazing!! (Capital 'A'!)

Nine months you waited to self-pub it... I guess that really makes it your baby, huh? Your crazy, murderous baby...

J. E. Medrick, author of Shackled

Livia said...

Great post, Blake. And yay for Albuquerque, New Mexico! I grew up there. I'm curious, if you don't mind me asking, about how you broached the subject with your agent. I imagine that your agent had already put work into reading and submitting the manuscript, and I assume he/she would have preferred to pursue traditional publishing because if you self publish, your agent wouldn't get compensated for that work. Was this a tough topic to bring up, or am I seeing difficulties where there aren't any?

Kendall Swan said...

We just had our local RWA mtg this week. I got chastised for not making any editor/agent appts for our upcoming local conference.

I truly love my writer friends there but it was like deer in the headlights when I asked them why I would need to pitch. I can just ask myself for permission to publish something and readers either will or won't buy it. Done.

I got more pity looks and shaking of heads.

I've told them all to come here and read this blog, that the numbers don't lie.

Point is, I can understand why some might "try" self pubbing but only as a means for the big6 contract. The training runs very deep.

Kendall Swan
NAKED Cheerleader and Other Stories

Jude Hardin said...

Let us suppose they bat 300. In other words, sign on 30% of the books that should be published.

There are lots of reasons a publisher might pass on a manuscript. Sometimes it has nothing to do with how good or bad the book is.

For example, there might be a glut of apocalyptic thrillers coming in right now. An editor might have the money and the room on his list for one, and he might have to choose that one from a hundred agented submissions. That leaves 99 good books without contracts. It has nothing to do with publishers batting 300 or whatever. It's just the dynamics of the business.

Fortunately for those 99 authors, though, there's now a viable way for them to publish the books themselves--if they choose to go that route. It's still tough to sell books (most will never sell anywhere near twenty a day), but at least those titles have a chance now.

Deadly by the Dozen

Pocket-47 Book Trailer

wannabuy said...

@Merril Heath:"Trad publishers aren't anywhere near the point of publishing 30% of the books that should be published"

Only makes my point that readers will defect to ebooks all that more pertinent. ;)

Neil

Jordan Marshall said...

Sounds like a great book, I'm putting it on my to-buy list. I have no doubt you'll be back here in a month or two saying that Joe was right about your sales. The price-point seems right, maybe even a little low since you already have an established readership.

I price my stuff from $.099 to $2.99 because nobody knows who I am yet. I even give away one of my books for free. So far that seems to be working, but it was definitely a gamble.

J. Noel said...

Damnity damn damn, that books sounds incredible.

I'm glad Blake listened to Joe. We are in the Wild West of publishing, but the simple fact is coming to the surface...

If you right a fantastic book that people will buy, time is money!

wannabuy said...

@Vern:" 99.9% of the self pubbed books should never see the light of day, including most of the best selling ebooks."

The old system was broken not because they published too much but rather too little. I'm unable to even fathom why you are making that statement as there simply are not enough titles in the genres I love to read. 75% of what is worth reading is already Indie/small-pub.

Neil

Jon F. Merz said...

BTW, just saw that AT&T stores will now start selling the Kindle on March 6th I think. More readers!

Burritoclock said...

I've keep meaning to get on of Blake Crouch's books for months now. Looks like today's the day!

Chris Eboch said...

This blog was a major factor in my decision to start self-publishing, after 12 traditionally published books. The time issue is a major factor. I'm supposed to spend 3 to 6 months writing a book, and then wait up to a year to even hear back from editors?? -- and that's with an agent! I can't run a business that way.

And by the way, when I told my agent I thought I should self-publish the romantic suspense he'd just read and liked, he agreed with me, because he sees that the publishing industry is broken. There are risks involved, but that's true with tradition publishing... and the rest of life.

Chris Eboch, writing romantic suspense as Kris Bock.

Blake Crouch said...

@Ruth - thank you! There were some pretty lengthy breaks in the writing of this one. In terms of sustaining voice and plot, I would just have to give myself a day or two to get back into the flow of things.

Blake Crouch said...

@Ronnie - "Can you give us reasons why you'd want to sign on with a big publisher?"

Because I do believe there are still wonderful publishers out there who can get the word out far more effectively than I can. Under the right terms, I would be open to partnering up with one to reach a wider audience and do things I can't on my own.

Blake Crouch said...

@Jude
"I've seen you promote on Facebook, Kindle Boards, and here, Blake, but what else are you doing to get the word out?"

I have a group of over a hundred folks who are active on all social media platforms. They're essentially my ARC list. I sent out 110 ARCs in various e-reader files over the weekend. These people are amazing and starting March 1, will be helping me to get out the word.

Merrill Heath said...

@Vern:" 99.9% of the self pubbed books should never see the light of day, including most of the best selling ebooks."

This may (or may not) be true. We're talking about something here that is very subjective. But that wasn't my point. My point (which I probably should have stated) was simply that the number of fiction titles published each year by the trad publishers (assuming we're talking about fiction here) is a fraction of a percentage of the fiction books written - most of which never get seen by anyone or end up in a slush pile at various publishing houses. Even if we determine that what should be published is based solely on marketability (which is not a judgment on quality), purely from a numbers perspective there is no way the trad publishers are publishing near 30% of what should be published.

Merrill Heath
Shameless self-promotion

Merrill Heath said...

I will add that what is self-pubbed is a small percentage of the books written each year.

Merrill

Anonymous said...

"Garbage is still garbage no matter who publishes it."

Yep, and now self-publishers can publish garbage right along with the traditional publishers.

Ain't it great?

Dawn said...

AWESOME pitch...on my 'to buy' list for sure. Good luck.

Blake-do you think there's something psychologically stamped in writers for traditional publishing, even though the current model is flawed at best?

Is it because of the time before POD and e-books when self-publishing was a really bad idea and many [not all, but many] self-pubbed books were cringe- worthy? [I was an arts and entertainment editor at a newspaper and received my fair share of those].

I'm finishing up what my writer's group suggests is pretty darn good novel and what's the first thing I'm thinking? Query agents, send it out, send it out--yet I know from the Konrath posts that this business model is on shaky ground at best...
...so WHY am I still gravitating toward it? Is it habit? Maybe the silly fantasy of screaming fans at book signings? Anyone else or is it just me?

GREAT pitch. Best wishes Blake. I hope you laugh all the way to the bank.

Just curious.

Netanyahu said...

When I went to the Kindle store and searched on "Run", I scrolled through several pages without finding the book. When I searched on "Blake Crouch", again I had to scroll through several pages before I found the book. As the book begins to sell better, will searches bring it up more prominantly?

Christina said...

I am so buying this book- what a fantastic pitch. I will study it and learn from it. :-)

Even though I don't read a lot of thrillers, this one sounds so intriguing, that I'd happily pay a few bucks more for it.

Best of luck, even though I don't think you need it. This book should sell itself!

Blake Crouch said...

@Netanyahu

Yes, the book only went live two days ago, and it takes sometimes a week to become easily search-able, for the "customers also bought" to show up and to hit bestseller lists.

Joe Konrath said...

Under the right terms, I would be open to partnering up with one to reach a wider audience and do things I can't on my own.

I've outsold all of my traditional publishers, so your "wider audience" argument would only apply to a huge bestseller. The chances or a legacy publisher buying a book and turning it into a huge bestseller are so remote that they aren't worth holding out for.

Joe Konrath said...

From what I can tell, only about 2% of the books written today deserve to be published. 99.9% of the self pubbed books should never see the light of day, including most of the best selling ebooks.

Wow! You amaze me!

I read, at most, a book a week. But somehow you've managed to read all 700,000 self-pubbed ebooks on Amazon, plus the hundreds of thousands of traditionally published books! You put Harriet Klausner to shame!

Either that, or you like making incorrect blanket statements based on subjective bias and very little data.

But I'm still holding out hope you're a Super Reader...

Steve said...

Blake, good on you. I need to hone my advertising skills. One thing I've decided to do is reduce my first novel from $2.99 to $.99.

Joe has had good success, but he has a name.

My sales haven't amounted to much, but I'll keep working on it.

Prophecy of the Medallion, Kindle

Prophecy of the Medallion, Nook

Blake Crouch said...

"I've outsold all of my traditional publishers, so your "wider audience" argument would only apply to a huge bestseller. The chances or a legacy publisher buying a book and turning it into a huge bestseller are so remote that they aren't worth holding out for."

This is exactly why I'm NOT holding out any longer. But I will never shut the door to a great offer - ;)

@Livia

No, it wasn't tough to bring up, once my realization reached a critical mass that there was simply no benefit in continuing to sit on this book. My agent is very smart and is well aware of what I've been doing on the ebook front and thought this move made sense.

John Ling said...

I'm finishing up what my writer's group suggests is pretty darn good novel and what's the first thing I'm thinking? Query agents, send it out, send it out--yet I know from the Konrath posts that this business model is on shaky ground at best...
...so WHY am I still gravitating toward it? Is it habit? Maybe the silly fantasy of screaming fans at book signings? Anyone else or is it just me?


By and large, it's the fantasy that someone else will do the hard yards and make our money for us.

Many writers are scared stiff about their prospects in the publishing world, and they just hope against hope that a publisher will step in, take them by the hand and kindly shepherd them through this inscrutable maze.

It's a fantasy, yes, but one many cling on to because it seems easier than the alternative -- actually embarking on the road of self-education, self-initiative and self-esteem.

Tara Maya said...

I know a couple writers who have "half" self-published. That is, they self-publish, but do it half-heartedly in some way -- change their name, use a mss they would never submit to an agent, don't bother do get a good cover, don't charge for it, don't advertise it, and basically don't treat it professionally. Then they complain that they didn't sell any books and this proves it doesn't work.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate (UK)
The Unfinished Song: Initiate (US)

Tara Maya said...

Steve, have you considered getting a professional cover?

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate (UK)
The Unfinished Song: Initiate (US)

Livia said...

Thanks Blake. Useful to know. At this point, I'm still planning on querying my novel (I'm unpublished in fiction). My ideal scenario would be to get an agent that would be willing to take me on for foreign/audio/other rights only, but I'm not sure if agents take on new writers on those terms. It seems like a different thing if you were already working with that agent, and decided to go indie. I'd be interested in knowing people's thoughts on the matter.

Joe Konrath said...

Not to hijack a thread, but my Encore publicist set up a Goodreads gig for me, where I answer questions for a week.

It's here:

http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/44468.Q_A_with_J_A_Konrath

Spread the word.

Gary Ponzo said...

I thought the pitch for my novel, A Touch of Deceit,--"FBI Agent Nick Bracco recruits his Mafia cousin to track down a terrorist," was a great pitch.
But after reading Blake's blurb, I'm embarrassed.
I'm also going to get this book as soon as I'm done with this post.
Great job, Blake.

Lee Goldberg said...

Congratulations, Blake. The book sounds terrific (just bought a copy) and the cover is fantastic.

Lee

Merrill Heath said...

John said: Many writers are scared stiff about their prospects in the publishing world, and they just hope against hope that a publisher will step in, take them by the hand and kindly shepherd them through this inscrutable maze.

A lot of authors also view ebook publishing as a very intimidating technical hurdle. My cousin has written a very good book and she's currently in the "query process." We've talked several times about self-publishing and her comments are: "I don't know anything about computers. I wouldn't know how to begin to format a book for e-publishing. I don't know anything about graphics software or how to create a cover. And I'm not active in Internet networking and all that stuff."

I've told her that she can hire people to format the book and design a cover and "all that."

She's considering it...but she's still very intimidated by the whole idea.

Blake Crouch said...

Thanks, Lee! I think Jeroen knocked this one clear out of the park. It's far and away my favorite cover he's done for me.

anyone who's interested in seeing more of his work or hiring him, check out:

http://jeroentenberge.com/

jeroen ten berge said...

Thanks for the compliment Lee (and J.E. Medrick).

It was by far the most complicated and time consuming cover I've done to date, but it is one I'm quite chuffed about.

Vivi Anna said...

The book sounds awesome. Going to go buy it right now and tell my mom to get it, she loves thrillers like this.

J. Viser said...

Wow!

Great pitch - I feel like running (away)! I plan on buying a copy today.

Getting started now is certainly good advice. I put my first novel, LIE MERCHANTS, up for sale the week before Thanksgiving. Since then, I have sold 38 copies to strangers (okay, two were family). All but three of those sales have been through the Kindle Store with the rest coming from B&N.

I have done zero paid advertising, but have been fairly aggressive in blogging on commenting on stories that are relevant to the storyline.

So far, I have priced the ebook at $2.99, per Joe's advice. I have obtained a few favorable reviews on Amazon.com from people I do not know.

I am thinking that by now, the folks who bought in November and December are starting to finish their read. Hopefully, that will bring more positive reviews.

To date, I've made about $58 in royalties, which admittedly is not alot, but that's more than I would have made if the manuscript was still sitting on an agent's desk. More importantly, readers have given me feedback on what they like and could do better. I am taking that feedback and incorporating it into the sequel I am writing now.

I do need to get a better cover, as the dark oranges and blacks don't show up very well on a black and white Kindle screen. I've got an email into Joe-recommended Carl Graves. He's busy, but his work is top-notch and I am patient.

Based on the guest post by Victorine Lieske, I am going to drop the price of LIE MERCHANTS to 99 cents in March and see what happens to sales. Since releasing LIE MERCHANTS in late November, I have sold an average of 10 copies per month at $2.99, which means I need to sell about 30 per month at $0.99 to "breakeven." I don't plan to make any other changes to the ebook, unless Carl Graves gets to my cover first!

By self-publishing I am making a few dollars while learning how to make my next novel better. Seems like a good deal to me.

Thanks again, Joe for this forum.

www.LieMerchants.com

Selena Kitt said...

I had the privilege of reading this book in advance and have already left my review on Amazon. Those of you who have already purchased it, kudos! Those of you who haven't.... must. Seriously MUST. This book rocked my world. I won't say I like a book just because it's someone I know - go look at my Draculas review, for example. But this book? OMG!!!!! I literally could NOT put it down. Blake outdid himself with this one, and I'm going to predict his selling in very big numbers after the word spreads about "RUN." If he wants a contract, I imagine he'll get one. Sky's the limit.

Thank god you listened to Joe. :)

Anonymous said...

Blake, you mention that you worked with your agent on Run before you decided to self-publish it. Will you pay your agent a commission on sales, or is the agent out of the picture for this book because he/she didn't sell it?

batesy said...

Hey, Joe, I don't mean to be a pain-in-the-arse but can you link Blake's cover to his Amazon page?

I have a dozen browser windows open at any given time so when I read your blog I usually just click on the cover image to sample form Amazon.

Impulse!

Cheers.

Oh, yeah, nice cover, Blake. you guys are really kicking along with the cover thing lately.

Rebecca Stroud said...

Blake: Absolutely fabulous pitch! This is my kind of book, to be sure.

And to those who still want/need to seek the blessings of trad publishers so are, therefore, skittish about going indie, all I have to say is to be careful what you wish for...

Rebecca Stroud
A Three-Dog Night

John Ling said...

A lot of authors also view ebook publishing as a very intimidating technical hurdle. My cousin has written a very good book and she's currently in the "query process." We've talked several times about self-publishing and her comments are: "I don't know anything about computers. I wouldn't know how to begin to format a book for e-publishing. I don't know anything about graphics software or how to create a cover. And I'm not active in Internet networking and all that stuff."

I agree with you, Merrill. It's often a lack of tech savvy that deters people rather than the actual merits or demerits of actually self-publishing.

Does your cousin own an e-reader, by the way? Is she into e-books?

Cheers.

Merrill Heath said...

John said: I agree with you, Merrill. It's often a lack of tech savvy that deters people rather than the actual merits or demerits of actually self-publishing.

Does your cousin own an e-reader, by the way? Is she into e-books?


Uh...no.

Blake Crouch said...

"Blake, you mention that you worked with your agent on Run before you decided to self-publish it. Will you pay your agent a commission on sales, or is the agent out of the picture for this book because he/she didn't sell it?"

By no means is my agent out of the picture on this book. We're exploring ways to partner up on the ebook venture, because let's face it, it's daunting and a ton of work to do all the production, marketing, promo on your own. A great agent is invaluable, and I want to find ways to utilize all that they can bring to the table. Too early to go into more specifics at this time, but perhaps good fodder for another blog post down the road

Joe Konrath said...

but can you link Blake's cover to his Amazon page

Blakes' got links to Amazon in the entry. I usually have the cover link, but in this case when you click on the cover it gets bigger, showing more detail, which I thought was a good thing so readers could see it clearer.

John Ling said...

Merrill, no wonder she's reluctant. E-books probably don't even register on her radar. But I'm sure you're working really, really hard to remedy that!

Livia said...

" A great agent is invaluable, and I want to find ways to utilize all that they can bring to the table. Too early to go into more specifics at this time, but perhaps good fodder for another blog post down the road"

I'd be interested in hearing about this after you figure it out. So far, all I've seen on this topic are either hints from agents about new models without specifics yet, or writers saying that agents are out to cheat writers out of all their money by offering services that writers can do themselves.

Robin Sullivan said...

Another great post - and I wish you nothing but success with RUN. Yesterday, I was lecturing on various paths to publication, a lecture I've given many times in the past but I had to completely redo my materials in the section for those that want traditional publishing. It is mirrored in my blog post: Forget the Query-go_Round, start out by indie publishing.

The ONLY deals I've run across recently (last few months) have been from people who are selling well self-published. Many agents and a few publishers are watching the top rated Amazon lists and cherry picking authors from them.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Steven Savile said...

Fascinating blog, Blake... and right in the middle of a dilemma I've been discussing with my agent and a couple of good friends - I've got a novel on submission with the usual suspects, which like you I believe is the best thing I've ever done, by some distance... it's been out there for almost 12 months. I never would have considered it a viable option to self-pub it, but on Feb 1 I started a Kindle Experiment of my own as a basically unknown name (media writer for the likes of Dr Who, Torchwood, Primeval, etc) and as of now, pretty much this minute, my ebooks are about to break into the 4 figure sales inside 28, with next to no promotion from me and suddenly those 12 months of that novel out languishing... is beginning to jar with my businessman sensibilities. So thanks for sharing and MUCH success with Run.

Robin Sullivan said...

wannabuy said...
I assume the glacial process of publishing is now even slower?


Actually, What I've seen is they are fast-tracking projects picked up from previously self-published authors. Michael doesn't even have a contract in hand yet the covers, editing, and ARC's are aldready done so they can hit the fall catalogue. He'll have three books put out in consequitive months (Nov, Dec, Jan)

D.B. Henson, signed her agent January 1 and her book is hitting the street in July.

When they find something they like...that has momentum...they move much quicker than they typically have.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Blake Crouch said...

@Robin

I know you know this, but just to clarify for everyone else....that is so not the norm. My first novel took....wait for it, 32 months to come out. 12-18 months is standard.

@Steven

It's a tough call, man. I probably wouldn't have done it, if I didn't have the last half year of growing sales as a test, and if the publishing market wasn't so abysmal at the moment. Good luck with your decision.

Robin Sullivan said...

Steve said...
Blake, good on you. I need to hone my advertising skills. One thing I've decided to do is reduce my first novel from $2.99 to $.99.


While price is a component in marketing - it is not a "marketing plan". I would urge you to dig a little deeper than just racing to the bottom and you'll be more succesful.

- Get bloggers talking about your book(s)

- Network where readers hang out (Goodreads & Shelfari)

- Do a GoodReads book giveaway.

All of the above take more effort than presing the save button on DTP for $0.99 but you can't forgo these things and expect to stand out from all the thosands of others who ARE doing those things and are also $0.99.

Jut my 2 cents....

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Robin Sullivan said...

Livia said... I'm still planning on querying my novel (I'm unpublished in fiction). My ideal scenario would be to get an agent that would be willing to take me on for foreign/audio/other rights only, but I'm not sure if agents take on new writers on those terms. It seems like a different thing if you were already working with that agent, and decided to go indie. I'd be interested in knowing people's thoughts on the matter.

When Michael was self-published there were many foreign publishers that approached him for rights so we had to an agent "just for that". So yes id does happen - but not "out of the blue". You have to make some sales to catch the eye of the foreign scouts first.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Coral Russell said...

Wow! That book blurb was too much! And it's set in NM near where I live. All right, I'm hooked... Wish you all kinds of success!

msthriller said...

I am really enjoying the book Blake. I am already halfway through it. As usual, Jeroen did an awesome job on the cover. I think you have a bestseller on your hands. Congrats.

Robin Sullivan said...

Blake Crouch said... @Robin...I know you know this, but just to clarify for everyone else....that is so not the norm. My first novel took....wait for it, 32 months to come out. 12-18 months is standard.

Precisely...that's my point. Which is if Michael would have gone the "old way" - submitting first he would have been treated as most new authors are - which quite frankly isn't very good.

But...because he has a following, and traction. They are capitalizing on that and either bumped someone else out of the production schedule, or made some room for him. I think you'll get "better treatment" for a work that has proven itself then something that's never seen the light of day.

To that end btw...Joe posted awhile ago where the women who was offered $400,000 would get it over 3 years...but because Orbit is releasing in Nov, Dec, Jan, he'll have 100% of advance in just 9 months after signing and 66% on the day of signing because the books are 'all done'.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Shelia A. Huggins said...

Your pitch was awesome. It made me realize two things: 1)I MUST buy your book, and 2)I need to change the pitch for my book. It's going to sell tons of books for you.

www.peelingcheek.wordpress.com

Blake Crouch said...

thanks, Sheila, I almost did this blog entry on pitches/product descriptions, which are equally as important as covers, but it didn't seem juicy enough...

bowerbird said...

blake said:
> I thought it was probably
> the best thing I’d written

so some of your stuff is
better than the rest of it?

wow. imagine that. ;+)

-bowerbird

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> “Blake, this is the best thing
> you’ve ever written."

and even joe agrees. wow. ;+)

-bowerbird

wannabuy said...

@Robin"When they find something they like...that has momentum...they move much quicker than they typically have."

Interesting... But what about non-Amazon top 100? No wonder everyone is pricing at $0.99! ;)

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

so some of your stuff is
better than the rest of it?


He's young.

Edmond Royal said...

I love the blog, love the community taking back power from big publishing, and expect to love Blake's latest book (which I just bought on Kindle).

Anonymous said...

OMG I just read in the books section of HuffingtonPost.com that the Kindle may be free by November (for Amazon Prime members). Check it out. Amazon Prime is not available in my country, but I may wait 'til it is before I get a Kindle as I read e-books on my Android phone all the time. This is cool news! I'm posting anonymouse because I'm at work, btw. Love the blog!

JD Rhoades said...

For the first time in my writing career, I can support myself solely through writing.

That's the dream, man.
Congratulations!

And good luck with RUN. Cover's awesome, pitch is awesome...go forth and conquer.

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> He's young.

_and_ he has big balls.

he's also good-looking...

plus, from all that i can tell,
it seems like he's gonna have
a bestselling book on his hands
very soon now. a huge one...

just don't ruin the momentum on
the thing, kid, and you'll do fine.

so, that's my "strong opinion",
folks, a big bestseller for blake.

and you know i'm never wrong.

-bowerbird

Steven Savile said...

Blake - yeah, specifically I don't feel that the platform is quite there yet for the 'leap' but, man, it's more of a 'wrestle' than it ought to be in terms of decision. And you can't help but feel that a lot of traditional publishers are just shooting themselves in the feet at the moment.

no-bull-steve said...

Congrats and best of luck Blake!

I know this is off topic to this particular thread, but relevant to our ongoing pricing discussion...

Did anyone notice that zero books in Kindle's Top 25 are over $10, and only 1 in the Top 50 are above $10. Sounds like the customer is speaking. One wonders when Big Publishing will listen...

Mike Fook said...

What is peculiar is the title... RUN.

Same as the bestseller from Michael Brent Collings.

How did that figure into the plan for killing it on Amazon Kindle? Should we all copy the other titles that are crushing it on Kindle, so we can get some easy "search by title" traffic to our books?

I have to look into that - seems like a brilliant idea.

Maybe I'll call my next one, The Hunt for Red October - because sales must be dying out for the original...

BTW, your pitch got me all chickenskins.

Anonymous said...

I've been following your excellent blog posts recently with a great deal of interest, but I feel obligated to tell my story so that those who are reading through these replies get a more accurate idea of what their options are in publishing. I know you're a huge supporter of self-epublishing, Joe, but hear me out:

I've never been published before. Three months ago I got a major deal (i.e. almost seven figures) for three books, from a major NYC publisher. It sold a week after we went on submission. However, in the interest of experimentation, I also submitted (under a completely different pseudonym) a manuscript that I had previously gotten a reputable agent for but failed to sell. This manuscript is, in my opinion, just as good as the one that sold for big legacy money. After all, it was good enough to attract a well-known agent. Since I've been reading your advice, I decided to try self-publishing this manuscript on my own, through Kindle, to see for myself which option worked better for me. I uploaded it three months ago (same time frame as when the other one sold) and did what you suggested: good book (I think), pretty cover, low price (99 cents), and good succinct product description. I did minimal marketing, posting here and there (under my pseudonym) on Kindleboards and on a few other forums.

So far, I have sold 12 copies of the e-book. Meanwhile, I've received a huge check from NY (mid-six figures) for my book that sold. (I've also already earned back my advance because of several large foreign deals, so I will be getting royalties right away.) Now, we could *assume* that if I decided to self-publish my book that sold, I would eventually make as much on it as NY has given me. But somehow, seeing the sales numbers of my e-book and my lack of marketing talent, I have to admit I feel some doubts. (And we can also assume that my self-published e-book will pick up steam a year down the road. That, I can't say for sure, but I feel like I'll need to do some marketing and spend money to promote it.)

I'm just trying to look at both options fairly and practically, with the closest thing to an accurate experiment that I could think of.

Joe, I agree that the e-book revolution is clearly under way and that to ignore it is, frankly, idiotic. This is especially true for deals that don't have big advances behind them. That's why I've taken your advice to heart and am going to see what happens to my e-book. But I have to admit that legacy publishing doesn't seem as dire YET as you make it out to be, and you might be misleading your readers a little by painting the e-book world out to be too much of a paradise while saying that signing with legacy publishing is a big mistake. Just like how it's dangerous to see legacy publishing as the only way to make it as a writer, it's also dangerous to make people believe that the only way they'll make it is by self-epublishing their work. I can't say what the future will bring when everything becomes e-books, but I know that the promotion my publisher's giving to my debut will be substantial, something that can establish my name so that if I do want to go for self-publishing after my contract is over, I'll have a following and fans. I can't see anything bad about my current experience with legacy publishing. They've treated me with nothing but enthusiasm and respect--they're not the bad guys. Yes, it's true that big deals are rare. But major deals for debut authors pop up easily a dozen times a year, and it's equally rare for indie authors to make it big. In short, it might be good to remind people to keep an open mind about legacy vs. epublishing, at least for now, because a new writer never knows if he might be the one who gets that big NY deal, earns out his advance early, and gets marketing support to make a name for himself.

Anonymous said...

Btw, I do want to add a huge congratulations to Blake for RUN. It sounds fantastic and I'll be purchasing a copy for my own Kindle.

Ellen Fisher said...

"Three months ago I got a major deal (i.e. almost seven figures) for three books, from a major NYC publisher."

And that is genuinely awesome for you. But how many new authors do you suppose get that kind of offer in a year? My guess is almost none. This makes it an apples-and-oranges sort of comparison. Personally, if I were offered a million dollar advance, I'd take it. But is anyone going to offer me one? It's profoundly unlikely.

"But major deals for debut authors pop up easily a dozen times a year, and it's equally rare for indie authors to make it big."

You think? Well, I can't say how often new authors get offers of this magnitude. It probably depends on a lot of things, including genre. But there's a long list of indie authors who are making a decent amount of sales every month already, and the number will likely keep climbing, given the increasing sales of e-readers. I consider it far more likely that I'll manage to make a living wage as an indie, than that I'll get a million-dollar advance for the romances I write.

"a new writer never knows if he might be the one who gets that big NY deal, earns out his advance early, and gets marketing support to make a name for himself."

To me, this sounds kind of like hoping that I might win the lottery, but to each her own. Again, it's possible for a new writer to get a huge advance, but how likely is it? I think it's significantly less likely than the chance of making a living wage as an indie, but I could certainly be wrong *shrugs*.

On the topic of the original post: Blake, I bought this damn book, and now I can't quit reading it. We had to have frozen pizza tonight, because Mommy refused to quit reading long enough to actually cook. This is really a good book!

John Ling said...

Anonymous, would you care to introduce yourself so we know who you are? Thanks. =)

Sarah said...

See, what Anonymous said niggles at the back of my mind, and then Ellen comes in with the voice of reason . . .

My agent has tried to sell 3 different books to legacy publishing over the last 3 years. No contract. I took your advice, Joe, and plunged into indie pubbing last month. But it's hard to see how to get from selling 2 copies of a book a day, to 10, then 20, or 100. It feels as out of reach as the idea of getting a legacy contract as proved to be. It's like I'm trading one impossible dream for another . . .

www.sarahwoodbury.com

wannabuy said...

Blake,
You made a sale. Not off what I read, but when I mentioned your book's description at lunch today, I realized I HAD to buy it!

Neil

Anonymous said...

Ellen: Oh, I absolutely agree--the indie market is going through a revolution, as I mentioned in my original reply, and I don't doubt that it'll continue to grow. I'm not arguing that; I'm trying it myself. I just wanted to help writers keep both options in mind as both are still viable ways of making a name for yourself. I'm no good at marketing at all, and that's probably evident in how poorly my e-book is doing. I'm thinking of ways to change that. And yes, I know that my experience is probably unusual (I don't mean to sound rude or arrogant at all, btw, as I don't think I'm any more special than the next author), but it's my experience, and well, *shrug* if it happened for me, I just wanted to share with others that it can happen for them. What I'm trying to say is that it's not always a mistake to sign with a traditional publisher, and it's not always a great idea to self-publish. Sometimes you have to tailor it to your own situation.

John: Very sorry for my anonymous status. I would prefer to stay anonymous, although I know it might make people doubt what I've said. But this way I can speak more honestly about my experience and thoughts.

bowerbird said...

no no no no no no no!

don't introduce yourself!

not yet! this is a _great_
double-blind test for us.

the possibility of collecting
data like this is _very_ rare.

so keep yourself anonymous!

joe will be able to grab some
identifying information on you
that will enable him to verify
that you are the same person
when you later step forward
and identify yourself fully...

for now, though, let us allow
the experiment to proceed...

oh, and do _not_ promote
the other book. just let it be
found by the public at large,
or not, as the case might be.

do absolutely nothing at all!

we can identify it later, and
_then_ push it, if need be,
but let's give the people a
fair and fighting chance first.

so do nothing! not until your
paper-book has come and
gone from the bookstores,
and dropped off any lists...
and then we can compare...

if your e-book needs a push
at that time, a bunch of us can
help to give whatever it needs.
we'll lift it to _top_ the charts.
we ain't gonna let a new york
tree-killer get an edge on us!
you'll get paid for that e-book.

also let's see if the gang here
can identify the paper book
which the publisher bought.
we know it got a big deal,
and it's from a new author,
so we have that head start.

oh gee, this will be _fun_...

so much fun! thank you!

-bowerbird

Livia said...

I agree with bowerbird -- a great experiment! But I think you *should* try to promote the book in a natural way -- just don't do anything artificial like tell people on this blog or something -- stay anonymous. And we can see :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Joe, I'm not sure if you saw my blog post about you. Just a heads up, and thanks.

http://bit.ly/f4MgOp

Michael Sincere

bowerbird said...

and meanwhile, hey, all you
writers who have _not_ been
offered a 7-figure contract
from a new york publisher,
jump in the self-pub pool...

heck, even _jon_f._merz_ is
paddling around here happy,
$3000 richer than last month.
(minus however much that joe
charged him for the consult.)

the water's _fine_, and there
is room in here for everyone...

-bowerbird

Ellen Fisher said...

"But it's hard to see how to get from selling 2 copies of a book a day, to 10, then 20, or 100. It feels as out of reach as the idea of getting a legacy contract as proved to be. It's like I'm trading one impossible dream for another . . ."

It's not. It does, however, take patience. In February 2010, my first month of indie publishing, I sold 27 books. This February I sold 14,000. Of course, I have a lot of titles up, but some people manage to do as well or better with just a few titles, or even with one. It's not a million dollars, but if I can keep it up, it adds up to a decent amount.

John Ling said...

And that is genuinely awesome for you. But how many new authors do you suppose get that kind of offer in a year? My guess is almost none. This makes it an apples-and-oranges sort of comparison. Personally, if I were offered a million dollar advance, I'd take it. But is anyone going to offer me one? It's profoundly unlikely.

I have worked in publishing, and this is what I have observed first-hand -- the average advance for a first novel is around the region of $5000. This occupies about 60% of the acquisitions I have witnessed.

Every now and then, however, you do observe first-time authors breaking through and netting five-figure advances. This is about 30%.

Very very rarely, though, do you get the stars who net six figures and beyond. This is about 10%.

Anonymous said...

Well, it was not a seven figure contract. I'm not Obama and I didn't make that kind of headline. Shrug. Just trying to be genuine and offer an alternate point of view.

and thank you, batesy, I am a man, but maybe my typing is coming across feminine .. Thank you, though.

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

Oh, ok, Anon... my apologies.

I feel better now that I was way off the mark.

Cheers

John Ling said...

John: Very sorry for my anonymous status. I would prefer to stay anonymous, although I know it might make people doubt what I've said. But this way I can speak more honestly about my experience and thoughts.

No worries. I'm just asking out of curiosity. I was formerly in that industry, you see. =)

KevinMc said...

Just finished "Run" myself. In a way, it reminds me of Stephen King's "Cellular" - except "Run" is better written, with stronger characters and a tighter, more believable story.

My opinion. But I'm not kidding, either. ;)

If you like that sort of book - the edgy suspense-thriller-adventure novel, this one WILL knock your socks off. I read all 80,000 words in two sittings, and only broke it up that much because it was 3AM and I needed sleep!

I'll be posting a review on Amazon and on my blog shortly, Blake - superb job on this one.

Ellen Fisher said...

I agree with KevinMc. I spent all evening glued to my Kindle, reading this. I haven't been this into a book in quite some time. It's terrific.

And hey, Blake, it's already up to #866 in the Kindle store. That's a great start!

James Harden said...

Wow. That has blockbuster written all over it. And not just blockbuster... ball busting blockbuster. I got a visceral adrenal gland response from reading that pitch. Hot damn.

Steve Umstead said...

The blurb is awesome, I now know I have to go back and modify mine. I'd have bought the book based on that alone, but something about the cover caught my eye. Sweet Land Rover there, looks just like my 2000 Disco II (although mine has a few less bloodstains). Sold!

Blake Crouch said...

To everyone who has stopped by to post kind words and good wishes about RUN, it's deeply appreciated.

Joe Agliozzo said...

Is there a place for an ebook publisher that can:

1. create and test various cover designs to find the one that sells the best;
2. help test and revise sample chapters to maximize conversion (sale) of full ebook;
3. split test pricing levels to determine best price to maximize revenue, single book and overall portfolio;
4. create facebook and social media promotions as well as SEO and SEM efforts to drive sampling and sales.

I know a lot of authors that frequent this site and kindleboards are saavy about many of these concepts but I also think there are a lot of writers who want to write, rather than focus on being the best at the above types of tasks.

if there were a service like this available, would authors rather pay fees or revenue share - say 20% of gross for example.

Thanks for any feedback!

Nicholas La Salla said...

What an awesome product description. Joe, you and Blake friggin' rock. There's no two ways about it. ;-) I hope "Run" is a huge success.

I know I'll be picking up a copy...

- Nick
One More Day

Selena Kitt said...

I'm getting more obsessed with checking Run's ranking than my own!

Steve said...

@Tara. I've considered a new cover.

@Robin. Thanks for the advice.

Sorry for the late post, but It's now morning in Germany.

Neal Kristopher said...

I'm very excited about this book, Blake! I read it last night and it's absolutely thrilling. Fun, creative and totally nasty. Naturally, I've posted my 5/5 review on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads and Reviews Of Unusual Size I hope it gets a good response from the other ARC review crew, I loved it.

I'm releasing my first novel this summer, with a second planned in September and I can't wait to see how it goes. It's amazing reading everyone's comments here and how their books are doing.

And this is total nepotism here, but if anyone is looking for a cover designer, my buddies over at
Deeply Dapper design some nice covers for reasonable, "Broke-ass Self-Pubbed Author" rates. They did mine and I love the result.

Neal Kristopher

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin Sullivan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin Sullivan said...

wannabuy said... @Robin said..."When they find something they like...that has momentum...they move much quicker than they typically have."

Interesting... But what about non-Amazon top 100? No wonder everyone is pricing at $0.99! ;)


Michael's never been in the top 100 - the closest he ever got was 102 and only for a few hours. When they picked him up and made their accelerated plans he was only selling 1,000 books a month over 5 titles (he has since gone on to 11,000 a month over 5 titles) but they didn't know that when they made the offer. And he doesn't sell at $0.99 his books are $4.95 and the latest is $6.95.

H.P. and D.B. both were $0.99 top 100's though.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Joe Konrath said...

Should we all copy the other titles that are crushing it on Kindle, so we can get some easy "search by title" traffic to our books?

Stop being silly.

Many titles have been used multiple times. "Run" was a Patrick Dempsy movie from many years ago--a good one, too.

"Trapped", which my publisher forced upon me, was a Kevin Bacon movie, and the name of several other books.

I wrote Origin 12 years ago, and since then several others have used the title.

Titles get reused. That's life. Get over it.

Kris said...

Yeah, I actually had a harder time finding it on Amazon because of how many others shared the title. Ended up having to search for Blake's name.

Worth it though!

scott neumyer said...

You had me at "Thomas Harris..." SOLD!

Scott Neumyer
Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town

Lundeen Literary said...

Blake, that's got to be some of the best description copy I've ever read. O_O

I can't wait to read it! (C'mon, Paycheck!!!!) Glad you finally saw the light of Joe. ;)

Jenna
@lundeenliterary
ebook and cover designer - think you can't afford a pro cover? Email me! We'll work something out!
lundeenliterary@gmail.com

Jason said...

Wow, I agree that is one hell of a pitch. Can't wait to read this Blake. Looks like my TBR Nook pile is going to take a back seat to this!

Blake Crouch said...

Dear Anon: Would you consider emailing me a link to your Amazon book? I would be curious to check out your presentation, cover, product description....it's possible if any of these are lacking that could explain poor sales. I will absolutely keep your identity confidential and not post anything about your Amazon book other than my initial impression of your presentation (is it professional, engaging, etc.).
you can email me at blakecrouch1@yahoo.com.

bowerbird said...

blake said:
> Would you consider
> emailing me a link
> to your Amazon book?

no! don't do it, anonymous!

keep your identity hidden...
and your e-book unidentified.

_totally_. to _everyone_.

your e-book will be found.

sooner or later, and most
definitely it will _eventually_.
(we will make it a bestseller,
then, if it's humanly possible.
so you will not lack for sales,
or profit. you _will_ be paid.)

but for now, keep silent!

and keep it unidentified!

you might need to price it
at $.99, if it's not already,
but that's the _only_ thing
that you should do. really!

keep this experiment pure!

-bowerbird

Sarra said...

This book sounds AMAZING. I just bought it for my Kindle, can't wait to read it.

Livia said...

>no! don't do it, anonymous!

>keep your identity hidden...
>and your e-book unidentified.

While I do agree that an experiment is fun, keep in mind that everything Anonymous is *not* doing to help sell his book is costing him real money. I wouldn't feel very comfortable asking him to forego hundreds or thousands of dollars in potential sales a month to satisfy our curiosity.

And I don't think improving his cover copy/cover (if it needs improving, maybe it doesn't) would taint the experiment. The idea is to see whether a well done self pubbed ebook can do as well as a traditional pubbed book. There's nothing interesting about an experiment in which the self pubbed ebook does worse because it had an unappealing cover.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Blake .. I appreciate the offer and although I may keep up the anonymous status for a while longer just for safety, I'm grateful for the offer and may take you up on it. I'll do as bowerbird mentioned for now and keep it all under wraps. I don't mind potentially losing some money. Again, I want to congratulate you on your release of RUN. I've already picked up my copy.

I also want to apologize again for my first post because in reading it again I realize I came across like an arrogant ass in my attempt to balance the two sides of publishing. Not my intention or personality at all and I'm sorry if I might've insulted anyone ..

bowerbird said...

livia said:
> While I do agree that
> an experiment is fun

well, yes, it _is_ fun...

but it's so much more,
on top of that, as well.

it's a rare opportunity
to be able to do a test
like this particular one.

there aren't many deals
for "close-to-7-figures"
happening these days,
and most certainly not
with a first-time author.

and this one is eager --
not just willing, but eager
-- to do the experiment,
to the point that he has
set up the thing himself.

this is 100 times better
than any test that joe
could set up, and we
have seen how valuable
his experiments can be.

so let's not squander this.

especially just to satisfy
a desire to know a secret.


> keep in mind that
> everything Anonymous
> is *not* doing to
> help sell his book is
> costing him real money.

oh please. there's no way
we can _know_ if that is a
truth or a shibboleth unless
we put it to an acid test...

besides, our "anonymous"
just signed a huge deal with
a corporate publisher, so
he ain't hurtin' for money.


> I wouldn't feel very
> comfortable asking him
> to forego hundreds or
> thousands of dollars
> in potential sales a month
> to satisfy our curiosity.

he won't lose any sales...

not over the long run...

because if the general public
does not find this book itself,
we will introduce it to them,
at the end of the experiment.
(which might run a few years,
so you'll have to be patient.)

but by the year 2020, he will
have matched sales either way,
so it won't make any difference.

and that's where all of you
self-promotion promoters
get it wrong. in the long run,
_none_ of the considerable
time and energy that you
spend doing self-promotion
makes one bit of difference.

the book will sell the _same_
number of copies, _eventually,_
whether you promote it or not.

i can't "prove" that to you now.

but i have observed situations
that are exactly like this one,
and that's how it always ends,
with self-promotion being a
big waste of time and energy.
(and often money as well.)

any particular book _will_ sell
as many copies as it _should_,
and ain't nothing you can do
that's ever gonna change that.


> And I don't think improving
> his cover copy/cover
> (if it needs improving,
> maybe it doesn't) would
> taint the experiment.

i agree, it probably wouldn't.
if he decides to do that, fine.

but keep the identity secret,
because if you let it out, even
to some "trusted individual",
you'll always have to wonder
whether it went elsewhere,
and how far it went if it did,
and what the ramifications are.

so crap, who needs that bother?


> There's nothing interesting
> about an experiment in which
> the self pubbed ebook does
> worse because it had
> an unappealing cover.

in the long run, word-of-mouth
is the thing that sells the book.
it's the only thing that will sell a
book in tomorrow's digital world.

(although "word-of-mouth" will
become so supercharged that
you might not recognize it, but
that's what it'll be, underneath.)

your cover does not matter,
no matter how "unappealing".

you can believe that, or not,
and i know you probably won't,
because all of your "evidence"
says that a cover does matter,
but that's because all of your
"evidence" is short-term and
unreflective of the world that
will be the cyberspace future.

indeed, i hope this book has
an ugly cover, so you will see
that it makes no difference...

if it's a good book, and we do
believe that it is, because its
author got signed to a big deal,
then that's all that will matter...

and ya'll need to _learn_ that...

so let the experiment proceed.

-bowerbird

Livia said...

Bowerbird - I don't think we actually disagree that much. Just on the details of what parameters and variables would be interesting to test in an experiment like this and our risk tolerance. Apologies if my earlier comment was rude.

And since we meandered onto the subject of self-promotion, Zoe Winters does an interesting experiment on that dimension, with one pen name that she promotes a lot, and another pen name that just posts books. Take a look at the results here. They're interesting.
http://zoewinters.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/no-shortcut-to-awesome-what-ive-learned-so-far/

Anonymous - I don't think you came across as arrogant at all, and I'm very glad that you posted your story. I think the more stories that we have out there, the better an idea we can have a landscape. Best of luck with both your publishing ventures.

bowerbird said...

livia said:
> Apologies if my
> earlier comment was rude.

it wasn't even close to "rude".

(if you were trying to be rude,
you better notch it up... a lot.
i've learned to have thick skin.)

you expressed your opinion.

just like i express mine... :+)

(well, not _exactly_ like i do,
and thank goodness for that!,
but the concept was the same.)

there are a lot of topics here
that must be discussed frankly.

no time to stand on ceremony...

-bowerbird

Joyceann Wycoff said...

I haven't read King, Koontz or Harris for years and don't have a Kindle or any other reader ... but the pitch got me and I'm now going to read this on my iPhone. Too amazing.

Hosted BES said...

That's a marvelous pitch. Loved your post! Cheers!

Narcus Blakeston said...

FYI, on Amazon UK neither Run or Break You have cover images or a TOC (there is TOC location references in the html so presumably there should be one).

It's not a problem for me, I got the covers from the artist's site, and I never really saw the point of a TOC for single story ebooks, but you might want to fix them yourself.


http://marcusblakeston.wordpress.com