Friday, April 15, 2011

Are You Dense?

What the hell is wrong with you?

I'm talking to you. The writers who are still thoughtlessly defending legacy publishing.

Unless you're making over a million dollars a year with the Big 6, continuing down the legacy path is a crazy bad idea.

I see the same tired, lame arguments, over and over again. They include:

It's hard to make decent money self-pubbing.

Guess what? It's even harder to make decent money by legacy publishing. Legacy publishing requires a lot of waiting, and a lot of luck. If you're lucky enough to get an agent AND lucky enough to sell the book AND lucky enough that the publisher doesn't screw it up, you'll have a 1 out of 10 chance at earning out your advance. Maybe.

With self-pubbing, you WILL earn money. It may not be a lot at first, but ebooks are forever, and forever is a long time to accrue sales.

Only Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking make good money self-pubbing.

First of all, anyone who spouts this nonsense is a lazy researcher, because it's a simple Google search to find dozens of authors making good money.

Second of all, this statement could just as well be: Only Stephen King and James Patterson make good money legacy publishing.

If you had to take a shot to try to emulate my career, or try to emulate Stephen King's career, you have a much higher likelihood of success by doing it my way.

The majority of self-pubbed books don't sell many copies.

Neither do the majority of legacy published books.

Here's the simple math. If your book sucks, you'll never get a legacy deal, but you'll sell at least a few copies by self-pubbing.

If your book is awesome, you'll be giving up 70% royalties for 14.9% royalties.

Either way, you make more going indie.

Publishers are essential.

No, they're not. Editing and good covers are essential, and these can be procured for set costs. They aren't worth the 52.5% a publisher takes, forever.

Print is still dominant.

And the T-Rex was still the apex predator for a short time after the meteor hit. Then they all died.

While ebooks may not be an extinction level event, they will become the most popular way to read books.

The gatekeepers are necessary.

I agree. But I don't call these gatekeepers "agents" or "publishers."

I call them "readers."

With all the self-published crap out there, it will be impossible to find anything good.

There are billions of websites on the internet, the majority of them crap. Yet somehow you managed to find my blog.

We live in a world where it is easy to find things that are interesting to us. That won't ever change.

Publishers know quality. They know what sells.

Sure they do. Which is why Snooki got a big push and bombed, and Trapped was rejected by my publisher and is currently in the Top 100. Which means I owe First Book another $500.

If it gets into the top 20, I'll add another $500 on top of that.

The only way I can be validated as a writer is if I'm accepted by the legacy industry.

This is called Stockholm Syndrome. Sales are a much better, and more realistic, form of validation.

If I self-publish, then agents or editors won't want me.

Lazy research again. Agents and editors are actively looking at self-pub success stories, then snapping those authors and books up.

I'll only try to self-publish once I'm guaranteed it is a better move than legacy publishing.

Thanks for making me laugh by using "guarantee" and "publishing" in the same sentence. When you come back to reality, I hope you figure out that each day you don't self-publish is a day you could have earned money but didn't.

That's the bottom line, gang. Every minute of every day, there are new writers jumping on the self-pub bandwagon, beginning to make money.

Every minute you waste is a minute gone forever.

And forever is a long time.

601 comments:

1 – 200 of 601   Newer›   Newest»
MeiLin Miranda said...

No one's in this game to make wads of dough, at least the pros. Just about every writer I know with a legacy book contract--and I know some good writers--has a day job. We all know that with even the best books it's a crap shoot, depending on that lucky break as much as craft. But DIY means that you are responsible for your own luck, not a marketing department that may or may not care about your book. YOU care about your book more than anyone else. Take responsibility for it.

Joshua James said...

Joe, can I ask you opinion of bookbaby?

www.bookbaby.com

I got an email forwarded to me. Seems they'll take a fee and format your book for you, load it on the platforms ... I know you do that yourself (or hire folks) but the conversion to different platforms can be intimidating ... so be nice to hear your thoughts on the above.

thanks man ...

Megg Jensen said...

Bwahahahaha! Awesome post Joe! You've inspired so many of us. The girls at DarkSide Publishing are going to our first book signing tomorrow in Bolingbrook. We wouldn't be there without you. No, we'd still be at home pandering to agents hoping they'd love us.

Well, in just a few months DarkSide's four authors have sold nearly 1,000 books. WOOT!

Megg Jensen

Selena Blake said...

As always, Joe, well said. Yes, I think there is luck involved in doing well in self publishing. But guess what, folks, there's luck involved if you want to be successful in traditional publishing too.

There's a heck of a lot of hard work in each. It doesn't have to be an either or thing. You can embrace both, if you want. But denying the possibility of self publishing is like sticking your head in the sand.

The money in my bank account is the best form of validation I can think of.

Cathryn Grant said...

I published my first novel at the end of December 2010. I've already deposited two checks, one from Amazon, and one from my POD supplier.

Thanks Joe. Thanks Zoe. Thanks Karen. Thanks Selena. Those are just the few who influenced me before I published ....

I'm addicted to this blog (and the comments), can you think about posting daily?

Ellen Fisher said...

I'm not actively seeking a trad publishing contract, but I do have to say I can understand people who want to keep a foot in both worlds. The recent business with B&N, where they acknowledged messing around with the rankings in order to kick erotica authors out of the PubIt bestseller list, does not inspire confidence in me. I've seen my self-pubbing income drop substantially this month, due to factors beyond my control, and I'm not thrilled about it (though I am in this for the long term, and hope it'll all shake out in the end).

That's not to say that trad publishing is always a winning hand either (look at Dorchester). I'm just saying that I'm not sure I'd categorize folks who are trying to hedge their bets as "stupid" or even "dense," but rather "cautious." Could be that caution will cost them, but perhaps it depends *shrugs*.

Megalith said...

My favorite line:

Print is still dominant.

And the T-Rex was still the apex predator for a short time after the meteor hit. Then they all died.


It's fascinating to watch the changes in the publishing world. When I started reviewing, there were very few self-published authors I'd read, but I've seen dramatic improvement in the quality of the writing and presentation of self published books over the past few years. There are plenty of good, undiscovered authors out there, and if they'll take this advice, they can get noticed and enjoy some success.

Tom Keller said...

Joshua,

Not to speak out of turn, it is Joe's blog after all, but did you check out "52 Novels"? He has a link to it on his blog and they do formatting.

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

That was great! Love it Joe!

eBook Magic said...

Another trend I am noticing is authors who have contracts with traditional publishers are questioning whether or not e-authors are good enough to publish ebooks. Some even have the nerve to tell them they shouldn't publish because they haven't put in the time or can't possibly provide a quality product without a publisher.

Or the traditional authors use their ebook sales as proof that self publishing would not be viable. Of course ebook sales would be low if the publisher is selling the ebook for the same price as the book or has it priced at $9.99 and higher.

Margaret Yang said...

Speaking as a reader, I just bought a nook yesterday. A year ago, I thought I'd never want one, ever.

Things change.

Loaded up six books so far, all of them indie. I'm not against buying a legacy ebook, but the ones I very much wanted to buy right now just happened to be indie books.

Things change again.

Marie Simas said...

No one's in this game to make wads of dough, at least the pros.

Nope.

I'm officially in this game to make wads of dough.

Imogen Rose said...

Good post!

eBook Magic said...

Another trend I am noticing is authors who have contracts with traditional publishers are questioning whether or not e-authors are good enough to publish ebooks. Some even have the nerve to tell them they shouldn't publish because they haven't put in the time or can't possibly provide a quality product without a publisher.

Or the traditional authors use their ebook sales as proof that self publishing would not be viable. Of course ebook sales would be low if the publisher is selling the ebook for the same price as the book or has it priced at $9.99 and higher.

Bridget McKenna said...

A wonderful nutshell full of delicious publishing wisdom, Joe. You've already made a believer out of me, and if the dense aren't jumping on board, maybe a few of them will at least stop trying to unconvince the rest of us.

Courtney Cantrell said...

Joe, I love this. You tell it like it is, and you do it in a succinct way that I appreciate. The T-Rex image make me chuckle (and we all remember things better when we're having a good time, right?) ; )

18 months ago, I was still very much in the legacy publishing mindset. Then people started telling me about Kindle. Then people started telling me about self-pubbed authors on Kindle.

My first novel came out on Kindle last week. Bam.

Thanks, Joe, for letting writers like me know that this can work and work well -- and work better than our legacy dreams.

Ella Schwartz said...

While I agree with everything you state here, I have to question... how will anyone find me? Sure, Barry Eisler has a loyal fan base - and I have no doubt his fans will follow him to the self-pubbed wold? But what about me? An unknown, unpublished author. Why would anyone pick my book over a known entity on Amazon? I can have the best cover and best book description ever, but until I get my name out there, nobody is going to want to buy my book. I am trying real hard, building a platform, social media, etc.... I suppose this will take time just like anything else.

But I do agree with you, I just think people who want to go the self-pub route need to understand it's a load of work and it will take a lot of time.

But I agree with you Joe, and I love all your posts!!!

Erik said...

Every post I read here makes feel more confident that I made the correct decision to self-publish. Thanks for being my Xanax (unlimited refills)!

Mister Snitch! said...

"What the hell is wrong with you?
"


How much time have you got?

evilphilip said...

"The only way I can be validated as a writer is if I'm accepted by the legacy industry."

I don't know about the rest of you, but the only way I can be validated as a writer is if my books outsell my Mom's and my Sister's.

Anonymous said...

Does e-book publishing work for children's books? Not young adult being bought by adults. But younger adult and middle grade being chosen by kids? How do you reach this market through e-publishing? I'm just not sure the market I'm writing to are going to be on Amazon searching for e-books.

Anthony Izzo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
evilphilip said...

"No one's in this game to make wads of dough, at least the pros."

I respectfully disagree. I'm outselling the $10,000.00 advance offered by Science Fiction/Fantasy publisher Angry Robot now with one short story. (Over the 24 months it would take for a print book to go from Accepted to Published.)

I think that means I am in this for the money since I'm beating what is being offered by a legitimate print publisher.

Ellen Fisher said...

"I'm officially in this game to make wads of dough."

Me too. I have four kids, and the first is approaching college age. Wads of dough are something I very much wish to acquire:-).

"Another trend I am noticing is authors who have contracts with traditional publishers are questioning whether or not e-authors are good enough to publish ebooks."

Nothing new there, I'm afraid. I've been e-publishing since 2003, and I've heard variants on this theme the whole time. You get used to it after a while:-).

"I have to question... how will anyone find me?... I suppose this will take time just like anything else."

Yes, it takes time, but people generally find you (though I'm sure there are exceptions, and some brilliant authors toil away in obscurity). Keep working at it.

Christinekling said...

Joe, You did make me feel like you were talking directly to me. While I'm not one of the defenders of the status quo, I have been sitting on the fence so long my butt hurts.

Today, on my blog I addressed the question, Is print the new vanity press?
http://writeonthewater.com/

Change is hard, man.

Anthony Izzo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daryl Sedore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kekoa Lake said...

Someone in this thread is going to accuse Joe of pontificating to his base again. No matter how often he says it, his message is understated when compared to the ubiquitous influence of the legacy actors (agents, publishers, cohorts in other media).

I think Joe can't say this enough. Although, he was brutal and unrelenting with his dangerous logic today. What set you off, big guy?

Happy Vertical Friday,
Kekoa Lake

evilphilip said...

Food for thought:

Ebook sales pass another milestone

"Ebooks have become the single bestselling category in American publishing for the first time, according to new data released yesterday.

The latest report from the Association of American Publishers, compiling sales data from US publishing houses, shows that total ebook sales in February were $90.3m (£55.2m). This makes digital books the largest single format in the US for the first time ever, the AAP said, overtaking paperbacks at $81.2m. In January, ebooks were the second-largest category, behind paperbacks."

Anthony Izzo said...

As someone who has done the legacy publishing thing and now gone indie, I value the creative control most of all. Poor sales with a legacy publisher can take you out of the game. If your book doesn't earn out, you may never get another contract. Each electronic book you publish is another shot at more sales and more readers. To paraphrase Joe, e-books have a shelf life of forever.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Yes, you have to be patient with the sales of your ebooks. As Joe says, forever is a long time.

For example, I have a cozy mystery, Sweet Ginger Poison, that ranked around 80,000-100,000 for many months. Then I changed the cover and improved the description. Nothing happened---for a while.

In January, the rank was hovering around 40,000. Then it began to rise. Finally, it rose BIG-TIME. As I post this comment, it is ranked 180. That's right---not 180,000. 180!!! Check out this snapshot of a chart from Amazon's Author Central.

Sweet Ginger Poison is on multiple bestseller lists, including the #11 spot on Women Sleuths and #15 on the Mysteries list.

So what changed? I really don't know. But I think all it takes is for a few readers to really enjoy your book and start spreading the word. So you just have to be patient. If enough people find your book to be entertaining, eventually you'll start selling some books. Hang in there.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Anon, I released my first YA novel this week: The Elemental Odyssey

I'll be chronicling my efforts and results with it in the coming months, including sales numbers, etc.

My blog: Adventures in ePublishing

jtplayer said...

A better question to ask is:

Why do you care?

It's a free country man, let people pursue their career in the manner they choose.

Just because it ain't right for you doesn't make it wrong for someone else.

This whole us vs them nonsense is lame. IMO.

Daryl Sedore said...

I jumped on September 2010 and never looked back. Sales are already at the place where I don't work outside the house and they're rising every month.

Too bad over half the traditional publishing readers of this post will scoff at it and do nothing.

I have little faith in that cult of people.

Anonymous said...

JA, it's clear you're making lots of $ self-publishing but it's an error to make a broad brush conclusion that "traditional/legacy" publishing is automatically wrong or stupid. The benefits are print (with distribution momentum and push), library shelf space, bookstore shelf space, editing, cover design, validation, reviews (PW, Kirkus etc.), book signings, etc. That and all the other things that come with a publisher is clearly worth something, not even counting the advance and downstream royalties. Many people and almost all big authors have concluded that this is the way to go. I don't think anyone can say they're wrong. And certainly no one can say that it's not their decision to make.

Daryl Sedore said...

@jtplayer

What is up with you? Come on. Why the attitude? You seem to always be looking for confrontation.

This topic has been Joe's theme for a long time. If it is not your thing, then read other blogs. I always read your comments from afar but thought I'd say something this time about your toxic attitude.

Chill dude. Take it or leave it, self-publishing will be the way and legacy is not just in serious trouble, they're sinking fast.

Come back in two years and re-read your comments. I assure you, you will be embarrassed.

jtplayer said...

"Too bad over half the traditional publishing readers of this post will scoff at it and do nothing."

Why is that "too bad"?

If they're doing what they choose to do, for whatever reasons they have, why would you even care?

jtplayer said...

"Come back in two years and re-read your comments. I assure you, you will be embarrassed"

Nice try Daryl, but no sale. There's nothing "toxic" about what I posted.

kiara said...

Nuff said Joe. http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/15/technology/ebooks_beat_paperbacks/index.htm

Joe Konrath said...

A better question to ask is:

Why do you care?


And yet, here you are.

Sorta ruins your argument.

jtplayer said...

"You seem to always be looking for confrontation."

You've obviously confused me with someone else.

Maybe you should chill on the assumptions.

I'm sharing my opinions, as are you, there's absolutely no reason to judge or denigrate that.

Geoff said...

And this is why I posted this blog earlier in the week.

http://creatinglifegm.blogspot.com/2011/04/sotsogw-day-1-konrath-hocking.html

Cheers Joe.

jtplayer said...

I don't have an "argument" Joe. I simply asked a legitimate question.

To quote Daryl...chill dude.

I read and participate in this blog for the same reason I do others; to learn, to share, and to be entertained.

Merrill Heath said...

@Daryl Sedore

I just jumped over and read through your web site. Very interesting. Love the new covers, BTW.

I also thought you brought up a great point about all the "social networking" we writers do, that so often we're networking with other writers, not necessarily readers in our target market.

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

Rebecca Stroud said...

Although I read all your posts, Joe, I especially loved this one. Very succinct and to the point...and I agree with every one of them.

For the record, I am old enough (read: cynical) to know that I may never hit "best-selling status" with my self-published works. Yet, be that as it may, I relish the "controlling freedom" (oxymoron?) I have in what I write, when I write, etc. That, to me, is worth the trip.

Sure, I may remain an "unknown" for a long time to come. But, then again, Oprah - who is such an animal lover - may 'discover' my stories any day. But the bottom line is that I am publishing NOW...not two-three years later, if then.

As for wads of dough: Think I better keep praying for that Oprah-moment. In the meantime, I'm good with my tortoise plodding along...

Rebecca Stroud
A Three-Dog Night
Zellwood: A Dog Story

Joe Konrath said...

This is why I still allow anonymous posts. Because every so often someone engages in intelligent debate.

JA, it's clear you're making lots of $ self-publishing but it's an error to make a broad brush conclusion that "traditional /legacy" publishing is automatically wrong or stupid.

Legacy only wrong and stupid if you're making less than a million bucks a year.

The benefits are print (with distribution momentum and push)

A dying market. Ebooks are now outselling print. Do you want to give a legacy publisher 52.5% for ebooks when print is a subsidiary right?

library shelf space,

I'm on OverDrive now. http://overdriveblogs.com/distribution/2011/04/13/embracing-overdrive-ja-konrath/

bookstore shelf space,

That's like buying real estate on a sinking island.

editing, cover design,

Fixed costs, not worth paying 52.5% in royalties.

validation,

Ack! Sorry, just spit Red Bull on my monitor.

reviews (PW, Kirkus etc.)

LOL. How many books have you bought because you read a great Kirkus review?

Contrast that to Amazon reviews. I now have 8 books with more than 100 reviews each.

I think I'm okay in the review dept.

book signings

Double ack! You do know who I am, right?

That and all the other things that come with a publisher is clearly worth something,

Actually, no, they aren't.

not even counting the advance and downstream royalties.

An advance is a loan that costs too much to repay.

And royalties? Hell, I just got $25k in royalties.

It would have been $200k if I had those rights back.

Many people and almost all big authors have concluded that this is the way to go.

Yeah. And lots of people joined the Tea Party too. That doesn't mean it's a smart way to think.

I don't think anyone can say they're wrong. And certainly no one can say that it's not their decision to make.

I can. And I did. And I'll continue to do so.

But thanks for playing.

Anonymous said...

I love the argument that e-books are forever. You know what's not forever? Me!

David A. Todd said...

Joe:

On a writers e-mail loop I'm on, someone bemoaned having found numerous typos in a legacy publisher book they bought. An editor on the loop replied, "…the rising incidence of typos is inevitable as revenues and time allotted for the final proofing stage decline, I'm afraid. The final proof is usually the last in a long line of missed deadlines, and all involved often have their hands tied. Those with responsibility for quality control before print often have their hands tied because of scheduling, lack of competent freelance proofers, or even incomplete collating of those proof edits in-house (if there were an uncommonly high number, some always get missed)." Next day a long time writer replied, "About 20 years ago I saw a drastic change: Publishers eliminated many of those positions, citing smaller profits. Today the responsibility [for final editing] is on writers. The most I get from a CBA or ABA publisher is what I call a broad-brush editor, who makes a general edit. After I respond, I receive the copyedited manuscript. Sometimes that version is the print proofs, but usually, I receive one final time to catch typos and punctuation errors-and there are always a few."

So let's see: The author has to do most of the marketing, build his own platform, and do the bulk of the editing. What exactly is it that legacy publishers bring to the table?

DAT
My e-short story: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004NNVDR4

Daryl Sedore said...

@Merrill Heath,

I appreciate you taking the time to examine the blog. Thanks for your thoughts on the covers. It really is all about working it until you have something that works for you. That translates into sales which has the effect Joe talks about in this post: validation.

Thanks again and talk soon.

Jessica said...

I made over $1,100 self-publishing two novellas at $0.99 and $1.99 price points last month alone. However, I have removed them from sale after accepting a publishing contract from Permuted Press (they approached me; I didn't submit to them). I'm taking a hit financially on what I COULD be making on the books. BUT my goal at the moment isn't money, it's name recognition, and Permuted opens that door for me. Call it a strategic signing of a traditional publishing contract. Since it's worked so well for me, I'm planning to continue to self-publish future works on Amazon and B&N; that money just looks entirely too good, and with my name more out there than it is now, I'll be able to hopefully capitalize on that and continue my self-publishing venture.

MeiLin Miranda said...

@Marie @evilphilip @Ellen let me clarify: We don't go in *expecting* to make wads of dough. Any pro knows this is not investment banking. Do we WANT to make wads of dough? Sure, we all do!

Belinda said...

Once again, Joe, you make some very fine points. Especially about Snookie. You keep me convinced. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not crazy for being independent.

Aaron Polson said...

I'm thrilled to have gone Indie, plain and simple.

Will I be retiring soon? Ever?

Doubtful, but it feels right to get my books in readers hands. The reader is the only gatekeeper I care to please. Thanks for being a powerful voice.

Julie Kramer said...

My favorite line of your blog is "Forever is a long time to accrue sales."

Mister Snitch! said...

"And lots of people joined the Tea Party too. That doesn't mean it's a smart way to think."

Unfortunate you chose to bring politics into this. Doubly unfortunate that you blithely assume your POV is the only legitimate one.

That's not 'a smart way to think', either, as a writer OR a human being.

Blake Crouch said...

"A better question to ask is:

Why do you care?"

Because writers are in this thing together....go to any writing conference and it's instantly obvious. The vast majority of writers who have traditional deals are getting bent over a barrel. That's hard to see, when it is so obvious that for most writers with real talent, traditional publishing, in the current climate, with the current dogshit royalty rate, is a bad road. If you need validation, get a hug from Mommy. I would rather have creative control and fair compensation for my work.

Sarra Cannon said...

bookstore shelf space

That's like buying real estate on a sinking island.


I just got back from Borders. The store near me is closing in 3 days and all books are marked down 80-90%. I was happy to get $200 worth of books for less than $30, but I wouldn't want to be those authors who rely on shelf space at bookstores.

At this point, I don't feel there is anything a legacy publisher could offer me that would be worth anything. Especially not at the cost of my own creative freedom.

Oh and the comment about Stockholm Syndrome? Made me love you even more, Joe.

Sarra Cannon

jtplayer said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response Blake.

Too bad other folks didn't see it as a legitimate question.

jtplayer said...

Agreed Mister Snitch.

Better watch out though, you'll catch a lot of shit around here for expressing such opinions.

Anonymous said...

" it is so obvious that for most writers with real talent, traditional publishing, in the current climate, with the current dogshit royalty rate, is a bad road."

It's their road to choose or take. Your opinion that it's "bad" doesn't make it so. Remember, traditional publishing gets the author into the print distribution world. The publisher typically invests tens of thousands of dollars just for the first print run, not to mention the downstream TP and MM runs.

You, apparently, are happy limiting yourself to digital (plus whatever limited POD sales you can get on your own). Others see a real value in maximizing the print side of the equation, both in terms of $ and exposure.

As far as the "royalty rate" goes, mine is currently 30% off the top of all ebooks sold, plus a future escalation clause. True, 30 isn't 70, but then again, I have print income that I would have forsaken to go solely digital.

Nick Cole said...

Just got my first E-novel up a week ago and the experience has been everything I wanted it to be. I hired Rob Siders and Carl Graves as per Joe and the counsel of many more.
My agent had a book of mine for five years. Nothing. This week I sold 20 copies of a little book he rejected last year. I'm totally pumped. This is what I've wanted all along. The creative control. The editorial and design aspects not being overriden by some Mega Corp who can intimidate you into whatever they want. All of it was what I have to admit I fantasized the 'book-making' process would be. For years I ignored what I'd heard many writers who'd 'made it' say, "The first book will break your heart." I was looking forward to that? This process has not broken my heart and its been really fun. New baby fun! Finally, the fact that someone can, love it or hate it, read my work. That's all I wanted. I'm breaking up with my agent and putting the book he's been holding for five years out in June. Thanks all I've been lurking and reading posts for two months now. I've enjoyed hearing the truth from each of you.

Shéa MacLeod said...

Thanks, Joe, for another great post. Since discovering your blog about a month ago, I've totally changed my own goals and dreams for my writing . It's the kick in the cheeks I needed to take responsibility for my own career and get myself off the query-go-round.

Sarah Woodbury said...

Thank you again, Joe!

I've been doing this for all of three months and when my payments come in July for April sales (for 5 books legacy publishing rejected) I already know I'll cover our mortgage.

And I'm one of (literally) thousands of indie authors who can say the same.

Wow.

Silver Bowen said...

Joe, let me just take a moment to thank you for all the information you are putting out. I first stumbled on your blog a week or so ago. Because of you, I have been staying up late (and waking up early) reading, exploring, and learning all over the web. I am fired up to write again, and for the first time in twenty years; I have hope that I can find an audience for my work. Such an exciting time we live in. And such an amazing group of authors commenting, too. Thank you all.

http://bit.ly/es5Onx

JPK said...

Hey, Legacy Publishers! You can't see the forest for the trees. The reams and reams of trees.

Sebastian Dark said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say most authors who decide to self publish don't know the effort that marketing will require.

For Joe, the effort of online marketing pales in comparison to what he did when he didn't have ebooks out. For a lot of other authors, who I'd say are happy to let their publishers focus on marketing and selling, the time sink of marketing is a very daunting beast.

And Joe's lucky that he has a platform in the form of this blog. You can't deny that this blog is driving sales. Some people might say that he's only selling lots because of his traditional background, but I'd say he's selling lots because of the visibility of this blog.

Sebastian

Michelle Muto said...

Thanks, Joe. I'm tired of reading, "I don't want to be published - I want to be published well. I forgot who had a list of why some writers consider self-publishing 'tasteless,' but maybe another poster knows the link to the original web site and the comments there.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I just haven't seen anyone address this--what about something like multicultural literary (or even lit/commecial) fiction?

Do you think the paradigm is the same, or does self-pubbing only work, right now, for genre fiction? Crime, thrillers, YA parnormal. House of Skin, which as short fiction is a hard sell anyway, only really took off after you asked people to buy it.

On the one hand, so called book club fiction should work as e-books, because a lot of book clubbers are former career turned stay at home moms who have the means to buy e-readers. But they're also the kind of people who seem most likely to say "I love the feel of a book." So I'm just trying to figure out how this is trending for non-genre fiction. Any thoughts? Anyone??

Lee Rogers said...

validation,
Ack! Sorry, just spit Red Bull on my monitor.


Yes, it seems to be a biggie. Rachelle Gardner's blog recently asked: "Why are you pursuing traditional publishing" (sure some of you saw it), and 'validation' was a big theme. Pursuit of traditional fame is a strong incentive it seems; yet I would have thought that readers are the ultimate validators.

Joshua James said...

Hey Tom,

I do know 52 novels, I'm simply curious as to the other one, which also puts your work up for on on all the sites in addition to formatting ...

Mister Snitch! said...

jtplayer said...
Agreed Mister Snitch.

Better watch out though, you'll catch a lot of shit around here for expressing such opinions.


To be clear: Didn't say •I• was a member of the Tea Party. But I didn't say I wasn't, either.

However, if the cost of admission to this forum is fealty to a certain political POV, that certainly speaks to the limits of the participants. (As writers AND human beings.)

So we'll see, jtplayer, just what I 'catch' from this. Maybe I won't pass the litmus test due to 'incorrect' views, and should just move along. Sincere thanks for the warning in that regard.

Anthea said...

"You, apparently, are happy limiting yourself to digital (plus whatever limited POD sales you can get on your own). Others see a real value in maximizing the print side of the equation, both in terms of $ and exposure."

Dean Wesley Smith has a great series of posts on self publishing, including this one on using POD to get his own books on bookstore shelves: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=3887

He also talks about sending out catalogues, and pursuing both print and electronic distribution streams.

E. Miguel said...

Legacy publishing could still play a role, but I think they have to remove their heads from their asses first. But I doubt that will ever happen, since they've become just like the record industry. Editors want to be the editor that discovered that next author who happens to be like some other popular high selling author so they can get that raise and corner office. Add to that, they don't want to take a risk on a new business model which could make everyone happy.

So that leaves us with self publishing, that's the new business model. That is OUR business model. Of which, they'll try to demean any chance they get. The Big 6 know that they're slowly dieing because they don't want to adapt.

ThatstuffIwrite

Jacqvern said...

I do think you're a little harsh in your article. It might have an opposite effect.


Quote: "The gatekeepers are necessary.

I agree. But I don't call these gatekeepers "agents" or "publishers."

I call them "readers." "

I loved this point, the best of all, I completely agree to that :D

Mister Snitch! said...

Sebastian Dark said...
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say most authors who decide to self publish don't know the effort that marketing will require.


True, Sebastian. In fact, I'd say that writing the book is only about half the total work involved.

Ender Chadwick said...

The Big 6 are the new Vanity Presses! You've convinced me to self-pub Joe, funny how logic and evidence can do that.
I can't wait to get my first MS polished and edited and get my career started.
Thank you for being you.

Mark Taylor said...

I'm a relatively new reader of your blog, and (unpublished writer), but you've already convinced me to aim towards self-publishing my current WIP.

I'm months away from finishing and my genre is epic fantasy. Are there worthwhile things I can do in the interim that will help my eventual launch on Kindle, Nook , et al? Besides finishing?

Does having a blog/web site really matter before I have a single book for sale? Many industry experts espouse this and I have one, but not sure how to judge effectiveness.

Ellen O'Connell said...

For those who wonder about low ebook sales of books put out by legacy publishers, maybe it's not all price, although that's surely a big factor. See Kristine Rusch's recent blog post on ebook royalties.

This is the first time I've tried to do a link in one of these comments, so in case I mess it up, for copy and paste, it's:

http://kriswrites.com/2011/04/13/the-business-rusch-royalty-statements/

nwrann said...

You, apparently, are happy limiting yourself to digital

LMAO at "limiting".

you know what's limiting? A print run of 1,000 or 10,000 is limiting. You know what isn't? UNLIMITED digital sales. Or even less limited, bittorrent downloads:check it out here: 340,000 readers in a week:
Thttp://oreil.ly/esooiU

nwrann said...

@joshua

I've used Filmbaby.com for selling one of my movies and they're a pretty standup company so I would bet that whatever they say they'll do with bookbaby.com, they'll do well.

I'll be checking them out to see if they provide what I need.

Blake Crouch said...

"It's their road to choose or take. Your opinion that it's "bad" doesn't make it so."

I've had 4 novels published in hardcover with St. Martin's Press. It isn't my opinion that makes it so, it's my experience, and the experiences of countless writer friends of mine who've had the same or worse.

"Remember, traditional publishing gets the author into the print distribution world. The publisher typically invests tens of thousands of dollars just for the first print run, not to mention the downstream TP and MM runs."

So what? They print books, which have maybe 3 weeks to take off, and if they don't the chains return them. And guess what happens most of the time?

"You, apparently, are happy limiting yourself to digital (plus whatever limited POD sales you can get on your own)."

I sold more ebooks last month than all of my hardcover sales combined in 8 years. How is that limiting myself? I would call it being aware of how people read in 2011, and doing everything I can to get my work in front of them in their preferred format. $26.95 hardcovers are not the way. Neither are $12.99 ebooks.

"Others see a real value in maximizing the print side of the equation, both in terms of $ and exposure."

If no one buys your print book because your publisher doesn't spring for co-op, doesn't give you a push, prices your book too high, and fucks up in any number of other ways, then you don't get exposure and you lose. And again, that is normally what happens. Being published traditionally is only a great thing if you succeed. Most don’t. Before that was just the breaks. Now there’s a better way.

"As far as the "royalty rate" goes, mine is currently 30% off the top of all ebooks sold, plus a future escalation clause. True, 30 isn't 70, but then again, I have print income that I would have forsaken to go solely digital."

Considering (a) the talent and time it took you to conceptualize and create your book, and (b) the microscopic investment that it will take your publisher to turn it into an ebook (costs me about $1K), you're going to anonymously post on this blog that you believe your publisher is entitled to 70% of the sales? Really?

Daniel said...

Joe: This morning I tweeted the following:

"Prediction: Print will be a subsidiary right by the end of 2012."

I'm guessing you don't think I'm being too optimistic on that.

I've been following a lot of fiction writing blogs, and I keeps seeing a lot of hand-wringing over getting an agent and a pub contract. These poor authors are waiting on a train that may never come in, and it often has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of their book. I have posted comments about self-publishing, but effectively get shouted down every time.

Today I saw the most ridiculous argument against self publishing ever: "It's too easy."

The rest of the argument went something like this: Going the "hard" road of getting an agent and a publisher makes your book better and, [I kid you not] "builds your character." [Oh, barf.]

That kind of inane argument just leaves me shaking my head.

As others have pointed out, self-publishing may not be for everyone, but I certainly hope wanting to "build character" isn't the reason.

Joseph said...

So Joe, seriously, are you advising us to self-publish or to wage a LARP-style assault on the Big Six publishing houses in NYC? Because I have Calibre in one hand and my foam Excaliber in the other hand, and I am confused!

Nicholas La Salla said...

First off, God bless you for writing this post.

I have had pretty good success so far -- my book's been out for about a month and a half, all told, and sold 28 copies, no returns and a 5 star review.

I am not raking in the dough. I have just barely made over $10 thus far.

But that's $10 more than I made before. Only $4,990 more to go to earn more than my advance money for the same book from a traditional publisher.

Sales are going to go up -- it's inevitable in the long run. Eventually, those who read my book will tell others.

But as far as making loads of cash? Even as much as would earn out that advance?

I don't know how long it would have taken. WotC had poor sales with the other books they released, judging by how quick they disappeared from bookshelves (with the exception of the Tems' exceptional Man on the Ceiling). Therefore, I don't know if I ever would have even been given the opportunity to sell through my advance, had they chosen to publish One More Day to begin with.

I'm beyond excited to see where this journey is headed, though.

Thank you Joe for giving me the awareness that this new, more confident self publishing world existed.

Nick
One More Day: A Modern Ghost Story

Dee said...

If the publishers go away, aren't they just going to be replaced by a new breed of publisher--the E-publisher?

To be successful (make a living) as a self-publisher, one has to write a high volume of books, 3-4 a year, design, publish, monitor, market, promote, and deal with accounting. That could be 60-80 hours a week. Amanda Hocking said 40 without the writing. And that's without a day job, parenting time, and all the other stuff that comes up in life. Unless you're mainlining Red Bull and Adderall, this is not going to be for the average writer. It's going to be for the driven entrepreneur.

Gayle Sliva said...

I think there is this belief that if you are a good enough writer, you should let someone else decide that you are good enough to be published. I say that if you know you are a good writer, stop wasting time and publish your work yourself. Plus there are cases in which some authors may not be great writers, but they have valuable information to pass on. I just read an ebook filled with typos on a subject that answered all of my questions, and appreciated that the book was available through inexpensive means.

Joe Konrath said...

Unfortunate you chose to bring politics into this. Doubly unfortunate that you blithely assume your POV is the only legitimate one.

All POVs are legitiamte.

That doesn't mean they're all correct, or even logical.

Mine is logical and correct.

The Tea Party is a perfect example of how a movement can be followed without any common sense to support it.

Organized religion is another example.

So now I've brought both religion AND politics into it.

Joe Konrath said...

As far as the "royalty rate" goes, mine is currently 30% off the top of all ebooks sold, plus a future escalation clause.

Ouch.

No wonder you're posting anonymously.

Bob Mayer said...

Am I the only who sees PW's report on 202% increase of REPORTED ebook sales (no one is reporting mine) while 43% decrease in hardcover and 41% decrease in mass market in first two months of this year as significant?

Anonymous said...

Stop helping the people who aren't into it, and stop helping the publishers get their act together.

The longer they both stay the way they are, the better it is for those that adapt to self-publishing.

-burble

Anonymous said...

"I am not raking in the dough. I have just barely made over $10 thus far. But that's $10 more than I made before. Only $4,990 more to go to earn more than my advance money for the same book from a traditional publisher."

I think that $5000 advance number is a bit of a myth. Some debut authors get 5k, others 20k, and still others 250k.

And $10 in almost two months? I think this book would make a good case study for a cover change. Get a good cover, do the same amount of promotion, and see if sales skyrocket. I bet they do.

Joe Konrath said...

Am I the only who sees PW's report on 202% increase of REPORTED ebook sales (no one is reporting mine) while 43% decrease in hardcover and 41% decrease in mass market in first two months of this year as significant?

It's not only significant, it's probably inaccurate. I'm betting the numbers are even wider.

Legacy publishers aren't just whistling past the graveyard. They're whistling past a graveyard that is sprouting flesh-eating zombies like dandelions.

Why would ANYONE want to sign with a company that controls ebook rights when ebook rights are the biggest seller?

Anonymous said...

Blake, you apparently didn't have a good experience with your trad publisher and by contrast are now making good money on Kindle. I'm happy that you're making a living and finding a good readership base.

I don't agree, however, that your experiences translate to everyone, or that a traditional publisher doesn't have a good value to offer an author. My experiences have been much different than yours. That value is not disappearing simply because the ebook slice of the pie is getting larger.

Joe Konrath said...

I don't agree, however, that your experiences translate to everyone, or that a traditional publisher doesn't have a good value to offer an author.

Have you ever been to a writing convention? Have you ever spoken with your peers?

Blake's experience is much more common that NYT bestsellerdom is.

My experiences have been much different than yours. That value is not disappearing simply because the ebook slice of the pie is getting larger.

While I'm happy you haven't gotten screwed yet, I'm not sure why you don't reveal your name. Someone who has had a good legacy publishing experience, and can show numbers to back it up, is the perfect counter-argument to what I'm preaching.

Hiding anonymously isn't the way to prove a point. It's hard to treat you as a real person with real experience.

Or perhaps you don't want to say who you are because we could look at your Kindle ranking, which I'm guessing is poor because your publisher has priced your ebooks too high in a misguided attempt to protect paper sales (which, incidentally, is not in your best interest at all)

Douglas Dorow said...

Last spring, when I learned that Amazon was changing rates for self publishers, the light bulb turned on. I was just starting to work on my query letter. I decided for the same marketing effort, as an indie I would have more control, get to market faster and have a chance at larger earnings, earlier.

My book has been vetted by my critique group, I hired someone to do the cover and the book is with an editor I hired. The Ninth District will be published by June.

I couldn't be more excited about writing and am diving into my next two books.

I want readers, not a publisher.

Katie Klein said...

Am I dense? Not anymore.

I released my second YA (young adult) novel for Nook/Kindle on March 14th. In one month, I've sold 435 copies.

I've been hovering between the #2,000-5,000 ranking on Amazon for the last week, sales are increasing every day, and I'm currently ranked on the Kindle/Children's/Love and Romance bestseller list.

This, with a novel that was rejected by 75 agents last year.

I have no fan base (but, based on the great reviews, it's building!) and I'm not even priced that low.

Cross my Heart lists for $3.99.

Best Decision I Ever Made.

http://katiekleinwrites.blogspot.com/

Tara Maya said...

Ender Chadwick said...
The Big 6 are the new Vanity Presses!

This thought occurred to me as well. When the people serious about making a career out of writing choose self-publishing and those who just want to see their name on a shiny cover go to legacy publishing, the old paradigm is turned upside down.

Tara Maya

The Unfinished Song: Initiate - only $.99
The Unfinished Song: Taboo

Anonymous said...

"Hiding anonymously isn't the way to prove a point. It's hard to treat you as a real person with real experience."

There's no "hiding" involved. I just don't like the limelight.

"Or perhaps you don't want to say who you are because we could look at your Kindle ranking, which I'm guessing is poor because your publisher has priced your ebooks too high in a misguided attempt to protect paper sales (which, incidentally, is not in your best interest at all)"

My kindle sales aren't too bad.. My cut in March was about $15K.

Lots of self-pubbers are making $. I'm happy for them. It's a new game in town. Many are playing and winning. The fact that there's a new game, however, doesn't mean the old one is history, obsolete or or no value. I like to have my books printed by an off-set printer. I like to feel them in my hands. I like to walk into a store and see them on the shelves. But that's just me. Other people have other values. We're all different.

john-holton said...

I have a friend who died before she ever saw her book in print. Had she self-published, she would have seen her book and perhaps would have enjoyed some of the proceeds. You don't need to convince me.

Selena Kitt said...

If they're doing what they choose to do, for whatever reasons they have, why would you even care?

Ummm let me think...

Why would Joe continue to write a blog like this? Exposure? Well, most of the people who come here are writers interested in some way in the self-publishing phenomenon, so his exposure is limited in that regard.

And those writers, well, those would be his direct competition. Which would mean that Joe is looking to bolster his competition!? *gasp* That would mean that Joe isn't a self-serving a$$! Can that possibly be? :)

Why does he care?

Because he cares!

Writers should care. They should be helping each other, cooperating, not trying to compete and drag each other down. I hear the "there are only so many spots at the top" comments too often. Yep, that's true, but you don't have to be at the top to be doing well in self-publishing. A "midlist" self-publisher is going to do FAR better for him/herself than a midlist legacy publisher.

And I'm not surprised Joe and Blake and others like them advise against going with legacy. Corporate publishing has done everything for them they're going to do.

For those who haven't exploited that arena (amanda hocking) it doesn't hurt too badly to get a foot in both worlds. While you can. As long as you play it smart.

But if you've gone swimming in shark-infested waters and have had more than one limb bitten off and nearly bled to death... and you have the option of surfing bigger waves right next door in a body of water with no (or at least fewer :) sharks... well, as Joe asks - "Are you dense?"

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know how many kindle books there are available? What the ranking goes up to? I don't know how to find that info. Thanx in advance.

Darren Kirby said...

No one's in this game to make wads of dough, at least the pros.

Nope.

I'm officially in this game to make wads of dough.


Add me to the list of selfish indie authors who want to make a wad of dough too!

Rose Pressey said...

I self-published about two weeks ago. Best decision I've made in a long time.


How to Date a Werewolf Me and My Ghoulfriends

Blake Crouch said...

"I don't agree, however, that your experiences translate to everyone, or that a traditional publisher doesn't have a good value to offer an author. My experiences have been much different than yours. That value is not disappearing simply because the ebook slice of the pie is getting larger."

Did I say it translates to everyone?

What has your experience been? If you're not prepared to share that at least anonymously, then why do you even bother to come on this blog?

Amber J. Gardner said...

I just have one question.

What about those who can't afford an e-reader? What about them?

I'm all for both traditional and e-publishing, but when I think of traditional publishing dying out and being replaced solely with e-books, I keep wondering about the college students or just plain average broke person (like me) who wants to read a book. Or maybe wants to buy one before getting on a plane at the airport, but can't cause bookstores and books don't exist anymore.

What about them? Just a question I don't ever see being asked.

Alastair Mayer said...

"No one's in this game to make wads of dough, at least the pros."

Well, the whole 401(k)/Social Security thing isn't working out for me -- I'm in this game as part of my retirement plan.

Of course if I were really after wads of dough, I'd probably be writing in a more popular genre than science fiction.

Anonymous said...

Can't afford an e-reader? E-publish a book to make the money tobuy one!

Craig Hansen said...

Thanks for the inspirational truth-telling, Joe. It's always needed. :) Did you see the Publisher's Weekly thing declaring eBooks are now the dominant, top-selling format, ahead of mass market, trade paper, and hardcover? And that's just among the top 18 houses reporting figures, not including indies or small press.

Anonymous said...

"Did I say it translates to everyone? "

The way I read your comment, yes, you pretty much said that. Your conclusion was that trad is bad for all sane people and indie is good, largely based on your personal experiences and everyone you know.

The switch has worked well for you. I mean it when I say I'm happy for you. My only point is that someone is not necessarily "dense" simply because they take a different path. Your path is getting you where you want to go. Mine is doing the same for me.

Kate Madison, YA author said...

@Anon 3:26
Why do you assume Joe only goes digital? Read some more postings.

@Joshua
Telemachus Press does everything-- they do John Locke's books. And there was another one I heard about but I can't quite remember the name- pretty bat books or something-- they are on twitter, I remember that.

@Dee insert 'writer' for 'self-publisher' and your statement is more accurate.

Kate Madison

Alastair Mayer said...

(Adding to my above comment)

On the other hand I haven't entirely given up on traditional publishing. This month I have a story in front of nearly 30,000 readers thanks to Analog magazine.

(Of course if all 30,000 had bought an ecopy at 99 cents I'd have pocketed a lot more money -- but maybe they'll go looking for my other stuff on Amazon or Pubit or Smashwords.)

Another Anon said...

If anon took home $15,000 in March from e-book sales alone, he/she did better than all but a handful of indie authors. And probably at a much higher price point. Plus there's print, audio, etc.

Anonymous said...

First time reading this blog.

I love the information, but hate the aggression. I wonder if all the posts are like this.

T.J. Dotson said...

I'm no newbie to publishing. While not published myself, my previous career put me in daily contact with Editors, Publishers, Agents, and Authors. I made quite a few published friends in that career.

The number of writers who have to work a day job (teaching, office clerk..etc..) or who can't afford health care is staggering!

Why anyone wouldn't want to use power of the web (and e-books) to better their lives is mind-boggling. Its not like the traditional route provides any real stability. It doesn't now and it never has.

nwrann said...

Anonymous said:"Did I say it translates to everyone? "

The way I read your comment, yes, you pretty much said that. Your conclusion was that trad is bad for all sane people and indie is good,


Not everyone is a "sane" person, therefore Blake's comment did NOT apply to everyone. I think to clarify, Blake should have stated "trad is bad for all sane people not making $1mil+ from legacy publishing." That would have probably been accurate.

Selena Kitt said...

What about those who can't afford an e-reader? What about them?

Libraries aren't going anywhere. And I still predict Print On Demand kiosks will overtake bookstores and even shelves in places like Wal-Mart etc. You'll still be able to get your print - you'll just be ordering it from a computer database in the store. Or from home and picking it up in the store. Or from home and having it shipped to you via Amazon et al.

And more and more people will start reading e-books on their cell phones in lieu of e-readers.

And eventually there will be low-income ereader programs (like they are low-income cell phone programs now - remember when someone with a cell phone was an anomaly? Now it's the other way around...)

My experiences have been much different than yours. That value is not disappearing simply because the ebook slice of the pie is getting larger.

I'm afraid it is. It's shrinking with every bit of marketshare ebooks take up in place of print. Corporate publishing cannot compete with the sort of overhead they're looking at. Your $9.99 legacy ebook can't compete with John Locke's $0.99 one. That's reality, not perspective.

Joe Konrath said...

My kindle sales aren't too bad.. My cut in March was about $15K.

That's incredible!

Almost as incredible as a legacy publisher keeping you updated with month by month Kindle sales!

Do I sound a bit skeptical?

I know lots of legacy published authors, and only a select handful get their Kindle sales reported to them immediately. The rest of us have to wait until our royalty statements, three months after the reporting period ends. Which means you'd know your March sales in October of this year.

If you made $15k on a single Kindle title by a legacy publisher, that means you sold over 5000 $9.99 ebooks (or more if it is priced lower)--which is enough to get you into the Top 100. Which I know, because I've done it five times.

That means you're a bestseller.

If you're a bestseller, you could have sold far more ebooks, and made far more money, if you'd self- pubbed. Even if you've gotten a large advance, in the long run you're going to be out some major bucks.

Elizabeth Ann West said...

I left "ad-revenue" non-fiction publishing sites for a site that lets me sell my work for either use, unique, or full rights for 65% of the price I set. I spent 4 years making a very decent living writing non-fiction articles for public relation firms, websites, blogs, and even a few printed newsletters.

Why on earth would I accept anything less by writing fiction? Joe and friends convinced me that publishing traditionally was a waste of time and effort with not just the royalty rate, but the lag time in getting the product to market.

I read ebooks voraciously, yet I do not own an ereader. Why? Because I want a color Kindle. My net book though works just fine, and Nook works with Wine.

Joe, I feel for you in your frustration. My husband and I go through this every time we try to explain open source over proprietary software. I even tried Mac for a year (I hated it, but that is another story). I am so happy to be back owning a dual-booted Toshiba. I can't remember the last time I booted into Windows. But it falls on deaf ears. Why pay for Word when OpenOffice.org is free? Why buy iTunes when Grooveshark will let you make playlists of any song you want to stream?

Some people just like the hard way. My guess is they are the youngest child in their families.... :)

Joe Konrath said...

First time reading this blog.

I love the information, but hate the aggression. I wonder if all the posts are like this.


Not at all. Usually I'm grinding an axe. :P

This blog post was a response to some moronic comments on another writing forum. I can understand publishers defending the legacy system. But writers? Especially unpublished writers?

They need a wake up call. And I'm happy to provide one, like I've been doing for over two years.

Jude Hardin said...

It doesn't have to be an either or thing. You can embrace both, if you want.

I agree, Selena. I'll be dipping my feet into the indie waters as soon as my formatting comes back, but I also signed with a top agent this week who will try to sell my next book traditionally. I figure I can continue to self-pub novellas and short stories while maintaining a chance at the big time with novels through my agent. Best of both worlds.

Legacy is only wrong and stupid if you're making less than a million bucks a year.

The chance of making $1,000,000 a year is almost nil in traditional publishing, and it's almost nil in indie publishing. Most of us will never make anywhere near that kind of money, either way.

I'm still happy I took the deal with Oceanview, though, because if I had self-published Pocket-47, I never would have gotten a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, and I never would have garnered interest from four major film production companies in the last two weeks, and I never would have signed with the GREAT agent I signed with this week.

I wouldn't call any of that stupid. I would call it trying to build a career.

nwrann said...

What about those who can't afford an e-reader? What about them?

If you buy 10 paperbacks in a year you could have paid for a kindle PLUS 10-20 e-books.

If you're a college student and you buy 1-2 textbooks per semester you could have bought a kindle. (and most textbooks will be available in e-format within a year)

Natalie Wright said...

David Todd metioned decrease in quality from legacy publishers - thank you for saying it like it is. Dramtic decrease in quality over last few years - typos, inconsitencies, repetitions, etc.
I'm a newbie and a few years ago was convinced that I needed a legacy publisher for sales and best QUALITY.
Then I started to talk to "published" authors and learned that I'd better pony up the cash for my own freelance editor BEFORE I even submitted. So what's the pub house for?
Then I talked to "published" authors that said I'd need to pony up my cash for marketing too 'cause they weren't going to do that either. So what's the pub house for?
I have spent days scouring your blog as well as Amanda Hocking's and I am now convinced that in the long run, I am stupid if I don't learn how to be my own publisher.
Thanks again for your information and inspiration.
BTW, I don't even own an e-reader yet but ordered one the other day just so I can finish reading TEQUILA! You rock.

Alastair Mayer said...

"My net book though works just fine, and Nook works with Wine."

The irony is that the Nook's native OS is Android (based on Linux), and Kindle's is Linux itself. But can you get Nook or Kindle reader software for Linux? Of course not.

But then they probably figure that Linux users are smart enough to figure out a way to read ebooks without their help, and they'd be right. ;-)

A.C. Nixon said...

I'm speaking strictly as a reader here. Why should I purchase a traditionally published, or book from an e-publisher that is over priced? Why should I pay over $5.00 for a short novella when I have the ability to by quality stories with high ratings from the likes of Tina Folsom or Ellen Fisher and the many others out there like them?

Most of us are price conscious, and I for one refuse to pay a higher or same price for an e-book than a DTB. For my favorite authors I will spend the money, but for the others a sale is lost, and the big six don't care.

Writers suffer when their e-books are priced incorrectly. Writers suffer when we just go to the library or used book store because we as consumers refuse to support corporate greed.

Most electronic reader owners are prolific readers, and I don't understand the hubris of publishing companies alienating us.

Is there a place for traditional publishing? Of course- if that's your choice, but it in no way lessens or depreciates the talent of those that go it alone.

Anonymous said...

"Why anyone wouldn't want to use power of the web (and e-books) to better their lives is mind-boggling. Its not like the traditional route provides any real stability. It doesn't now and it never has."

Why would anyone think the odds are *better* with self-publishing? Yes, most can't support themselves publishing the traditional way. But even more people won't be able to support themselves the e-publishing way.

It won't be a way to make a living for most. It'll be a way to make some extra money. A hobby that has the potential to pay off.

Ellen Fisher said...

"I'm still happy I took the deal with Oceanview, though, because if I had self-published Pocket-47, I never would have gotten a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, and I never would have garnered interest from four major film production companies in the last two weeks, and I never would have signed with the GREAT agent I signed with this week."

No guarantee that's so, Jude. I will admit you wouldn't get a starred review in PW had you self-pubbed, but self-pubbed authors have gotten film options and really good agents. It's possible for these things to happen, regardless of which road you choose.

Very happy to hear you're doing so well, though. Congrats!

"But even more people won't be able to support themselves the e-publishing way."

Not sure what you're basing that on, Anon. There are a growing list of indies who are making enough to support themselves (and I'm not on that list this month, thanks to the number B&N did on my sales, but I'll table that rant for now:-). Also, going the indie route means you start earning NOW, and not two years from now. That can really make a difference.

Jude Hardin said...

I would like to add that, even though I argue with Joe sometimes, he is one of the most generous authors on the planet. I have certainly benefited from his wisdom and encouragement through the years (as have scores of other writers), and he greatly helped me get my foot in the door of the agency I signed with this week.

Those of you who buy Pocket-47 will see his name on the acknowledgments page.

Joe, you rock, man. Sincerely.

Merrill Heath said...

Anon said: Why would anyone think the odds are *better* with self-publishing? Yes, most can't support themselves publishing the traditional way. But even more people won't be able to support themselves the e-publishing way.

It won't be a way to make a living for most. It'll be a way to make some extra money. A hobby that has the potential to pay off.


At least there is the POTENTIAL to pay off. If it's never published it never even has the potential to pay off.

I hear so many aspiring writers talk about considering trad publishing like it's a real option. For most it's not. The percentage of submitted manuscripts that get published each year is miniscule.

For most aspiring authors there really isn't a choice to go trad or to self-publish. Their only option is to self-publish.

Merrill Heath
Consequences

Jude Hardin said...

I will admit you wouldn't get a starred review in PW had you self-pubbed, but self-pubbed authors have gotten film options and really good agents.

I meant that those other things (especially the interest from the film companies) largely stemmed from the PW review.

Very happy to hear you're doing so well, though. Congrats!

Thanks!

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, you rock, man. Sincerely.

Thanks, Jude. Congrats on the agent! I hear it's a good one.

Jude Hardin said...

Congrats on the agent!

Thanks!

I hear it's a good one.

You know it. :)

Ellen Fisher said...

"I meant that those other things (especially the interest from the film companies) largely stemmed from the PW review."

Sure, I get that. I'm just saying that if you'd indie published and your book was already blazing up the Amazon charts (as of course it would be!), all these things might have come to you anyway. Hard to say, one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

"Not sure what you're basing that on, Anon. There are a growing list of indies who are making enough to support themselves."

Only a certain number of readers (shrinking) with a certain amount of time to read or a certain allotment of books they will read. But the number of people self-publishing will grow exponentially. Many more duds for sure, but also a few that catch on.

There will be a constant stream of new, cheap books and few will stay on the lists for long, constantly bouncing around, which means income could fluctuate wildly. An author's best chance is to develop a loyal fan base and constantly feed them. Stop feeding the beast, and the beast dies.

Ender Chadwick said...

Anon said..."It won't be a way to make a living for most. It'll be a way to make some extra money. A hobby that has the potential to pay off."

I'm not sure I see anything wrong with that. Not everyone is going to make millions, or even be able to pay the bills with their writing. But this way it's in the individuals hands, they at least have a chance.

And personally, I would be happy to make enough off my writing to support my reading habit. Which, the bill for that habit has decreased since I started buying mostly eBooks, so I view this as an easily attainable goal.

Selena Kitt said...

Sure, I get that. I'm just saying that if you'd indie published and your book was already blazing up the Amazon charts (as of course it would be!), all these things might have come to you anyway. Hard to say, one way or the other.

Oh, Ellen, hush. Let Jude be happy about his legacy contract while he still has to be in it. ;)

(btw, girlie, I'm with ya on the BN debacle... *sigh*)

Congrats on the agent and the movie interest, Jude. Awesome!

Only a certain number of readers (shrinking) with a certain amount of time to read or a certain allotment of books they will read.

I'd be surprised if that number didn't grow, statistically, this year, for the first time in a long time. E-readers seem to have spurred quite a renewed interest in reading. I know, anecdotally, most people who have purchased an e-reader are reading way, way more than they have in years.

Joe Konrath said...

Only a certain number of readers (shrinking) with a certain amount of time to read or a certain allotment of books they will read.

It's the shrinking reader base I fear, since ereader sales have slowed, and there has been overwhelming proof that those with ereaders buy fewer books and read less.

Oh... wait a sec...

davidgaughran said...

Joe,

I felt like you were talking to me there. I guess I wasn't the only one.

Good job.

Dave

Jude Hardin said...

Congrats on the agent and the movie interest, Jude. Awesome!

Thanks, Selena!

Joe Konrath said...

First and last warning from Joe:

I'm close to turning off anonymous posting again because I have a writing deadline and can't keep popping back in here to correct all the stupid.

If you are at home, eating your big bowl of stupid, please don't anonymously share your stupid with the rest of us. I've had my fill.

Instead, try to post something smart.

Even better, post under your name. Then you can share as much stupid as you like.

Accountability is like a drug. Try it out. You'll get hooked.

Shelby Cross said...

I self-published a series of four erotica stories almost exactly one month ago. In one month, I've sold almost six hundred copies of my stories. I have no idea if this is good or bad, but I'm happy.

At the same time, I have a manuscript I'm querying to agents right now, and I'm hoping to go that route, too. Why? Because I'm corny, that's why.

I'm the kind of person who stills walks into a bookstore and thinks, "maybe my name will be on one of these bookshelves someday." I look at the books sitting in the aisle in in the supermarket and I think, "someday, will a shopping-mom be standing in this aisle, skimming over my book, and maybe deciding to read it?" There is still something VERY appealing in having your book come out in print and distributed to stores all over the country--at least to me, and writers like me. It's a dream that's very hard to shake.

Publishing is about making money, true. But that's like saying breaking a record, any record, is all about getting into the Guinness book and becoming famous. To some it is, but to others, it's about accomplishing a goal that's always been a lifelong dream.

And @johnholton: I'm so sorry.

carl brookins said...

Image, Joe, IMAGE. There are so many authors out there who don't want to be associated with an author who once boogied around the sales room and threw his advertising coasters at anyone who came into range (remember?) If image is what you want (along with sales of your Important novels) your way is the wrong way. Maybe.
On the other hand, if having a viable, money making career producing books a lot of people want to read, well....there you go.

Joe Konrath said...

There are so many authors out there who don't want to be associated with an author who once boogied around the sales room and threw his advertising coasters at anyone who came into range (remember?)

I remember.

I'm still in print. They aren't.

You know what the best image is? Not giving a damn about what anyone thinks of you. That's been me from day one.

I can only lead the horses to water, Carl. I can't make them drink. :)

Michael said...

Joe, I have to agree with you.

Every day, self-publishing is looking more and more promising for writers--and aspiring writers.

Selena Kitt said...

There are so many authors out there who don't want to be associated with an author who once boogied around the sales room and threw his advertising coasters at anyone who came into range (remember?)

OMG that is the best image, evah! ;)

I.L. Wolf said...

The internet has turned everyone into readers. People who may not have read much before may be more inclined to try ereaders, they are comfortable with technology.

Another thing this revolution has going for it is the wide-open field for diversity. The gatekeepers have opinions about what people want to read, of course, but they also make assumptions about who reads. There are huge swaths of people they've ignored for years.

Elizabeth Ann West said...

For those of us who understand the genius behind self-publishing, you will this amusing.

PaperbackWriter, aka Lynn Viehl, published a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek script of an operator taking 911 calls from self-published writers.

For those of us who can laugh at ourselves: http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com/2011/04/self-publishing-911.html

I laughed so hard at this, and it reminded me why self-publishing isn't for everyone. Only the smart authors ;)

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

I literary laughed out loud. Snooki. I was reading a blog recently, like traditional vs self published, or something. I thought of Snooki's book (by the way, I didn't even know who the hell what was a month ago.)A line from that blog and I'll quote, "traditional publishing sets the standard for quality,"
Really? I thought. Snooki? Well thanks but no thanks.
I've known a couple of writers get small press deals over the last few years and suddenly act like I was a leper (being self published an all.) I saw one of the contracts because I also got an offer from one of those press'. They wanted everything, forever,and for nothing and basicly wasn't going to do anything to market it, that I couldn't do myself.
After about a year, no sales, bursted egos, and the Hawking/Eisler thing, they started taking to me again.
Great post Joe. The times they are a changin. I think it's a very good time to be a writer.

Anonymous said...

Legacy-published author here. Making plenty of money. Although you've convinced me that I could make even more money doing the self-pubbed, e-book route (esp. since my e-sales were stupendous this last year, even though the books were way over-priced), you know what stops me from fleeing my publisher?

A (perhaps) outdated sense of loyalty.

My agent and my editor helped establish my brand and made me a bestseller. Their advice and their editorial guidance has been worth more than gold. I think of them as friends. I would feel like an ungrateful heel if I dumped them now. Yes, I'm probably sacrificing future income. But I can't help feeling that we've been a team so long, it would be wrong to abandon them simply to make a bigger wad of cash. I feel that way especially about my agent. She's got a mortgage to pay and her retirement to fund, and I feel responsible for her future as well. In a way, I feel like one of those old-fashioned employers who'll keep the factory open just because I can't let down those who've worked long and hard for me.

I admit, I'm able to say this only because I already make a comfortable writing income and don't worry about my own retirement. I also know you're right, Joe, that I could make more on my own. I'm just saying that, for some of us, divorcing our agent and editor is just so painful, it isn't worth the extra income.

jtplayer said...

"I also know you're right, Joe, that I could make more on my own. I'm just saying that, for some of us, divorcing our agent and editor is just so painful, it isn't worth the extra income."

Thanks for providing some insight from a different perspective.

Money can be a powerful motivator. But so can lots of other things that don't necessarily translate to money. Sometimes, that simple truth gets lost around here.

Merrill Heath said...

Anon said: My agent and my editor helped establish my brand and made me a bestseller. Their advice and their editorial guidance has been worth more than gold. I think of them as friends. I would feel like an ungrateful heel if I dumped them now. Yes, I'm probably sacrificing future income. But I can't help feeling that we've been a team so long, it would be wrong to abandon them simply to make a bigger wad of cash.

Good for you, Anon. But I hope you realize your situation is the exception, not the norm.

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

J.M.Cornwell said...

I always get a big kick out of it when wannabe authors say the only way to be validated is through traditional publishing. I've been traditionally published and I still have my day job. Get a club. I did earn out my advance, which is something, and I didn't find that out until a year later when the publisher finally sent my quarterly earnings, four quarters later. I made a little money, but not enough to quit my job. I think I have a shot with my self-pubbed novel, but I'll keep my day job, keep writing and I'll get a lot closer this way than with the same novel the publishers thought they couldn't sell.

nwrann said...

Anonymous wrote: A (perhaps) outdated sense of loyalty.

I have a ton of respect for you and the loyalty that you have. I don't think loyalty is or should be outdated.

But I do have a few things to say about that:

You mention your agent and editor in your post, I understand your loyalty to them. But you don't mention your publisher. I imagine that your loyalty doesn't run quite so deep. I also think that if your agent could get you a better deal at a different publisher she would jump at the chance, loyalty to the publisher be damned... she's got a mortgage to pay.

If your agent and editor were as loyal to you and knew that you could/should be making more money self-publishing couldn't they be selfless and recommend that you go that route? Mortgages be damned, they want what's best for you.

and finally, why don't you take them with you. Agents make money when you make money. If you make more money I'm sure your agent would be HAPPY to make more money. Get her involved in the evolving self-pub world (there's plenty to do) and give her a cut. Same with your editor. Bring them with you.

I agree, we all have responsibilities, desires and goals that go beyond making a ton of dough. Personally, I want to write stories, get them out there and have people read them. Sending out dozens of queries and waiting years for that to happen doesn't cut it with me.

nwrann said...

I always get a big kick out of it when wannabe authors say the only way to be validated is through traditional publishing

I get a kick out of that too.

My other favorite is: "I want to see my book on the book store shelves"

Well if that's what you want, do some print on demand, order 10 books, bring them into the store, put them on the shelf in the section that it belongs, take a picture and walk away. Done. Validated. Write your next book.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm just saying that, for some of us, divorcing our agent and editor is just so painful, it isn't worth the extra income.

I understand. I really do.

But if you weren't making your legacy publisher a buttload of money, they'd drop you faster than corn through a goose.

They might feel bad about doing it. But this is a business, and there isn't any writer who continues to get big advances based on how much they are liked. If you don't make money, you get dropped.

Now since you are making decent money, there's no reason for you to leave your publisher, unless the bad stuff (touring, low royalties, deadlines) begins to outweigh the good stuff (the money, your personal friendships.)

That doesn't mean you can't dip your toe into the self-pubbing waters with a short story.

Besides, I think your agent is doing fine. :)

Donald Wells said...

Joe said:
If you are at home, eating your big bowl of stupid, please don't anonymously share your stupid with the rest of us. I've had my fill.

LMAO

J.T. Dunsmere said...

Joe, you are a natural born teacher thanks for sharing so much killer info - with and without the Gingerbread Boy.

Shelby, your dream of seeing your book on a bookstore shelf is definitely a motivator but unfortunately the reality is much different. Unless you are one of the chosen authors with a coop deal that buys you the front shelf or an end cap, one maybe two copies of your book will be sandwiched spine out under the wrong category, possibly in the correct alphabetical sequence, as Blake said, for 3 weeks until it's returned.

The truth is that the chain bookstores aren't there to sell books, they are there to sell shelf space to the big 6, much like Von's does to Kellogs.

T.J. Dotson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Murcer said...

I'm on board! I just published my first ebook three weeks ago,and have sold 246 books in three weeks.

If I would have waited for the traditional boat to sail, I'd be still working on some messed-up query letter, trying to wowed the socks off someone who can't write, but tells me if I can!

...and I'm in it for the long haul, and for the wad, too.

Oh yeah. Next one will be out next month. Try that in the traditional realm

LA Burton said...

God I love Joe!!!

Jason said...

Don't have an e-reader yet? No problem. You can buy ebooks in PDF format from Smashwords and read them on any computer.

That's how I read Origin and The List way back in the olden days before Joe went Kindle. He offered them free on his web site and I snatched them up and read them on my work computer during lunch. And I took many a long lunch since I got so engrossed in those books.

Do you have a smartphone? Download the free Kindle/Nook apps and then you can buy and read all the ebooks you want on your phone.

Plus, ereaders really will come down in price over the next couple years so you WILL be able to afford one soon.

I held out for a long time over price...but then my wife bought me a $150 Nook for my bday pretty much to just shut me up. I love it. It was well worth the money. Funny thing is...she loves reading on it too. I had to make her try it by putting a new ebook from one of her fav authors on it. Which was a mistake on my part since she snags it from me whenever she can.

We've always been big library book borrowers, and now we can borrow ebooks for the Nook which is great. BUT...I'm actually buying books now, and I've never done that before. Because seriously, who can't afford a $2.99 ebook once in a while?

nwrann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megg Jensen said...

One more comment on validation: I was a freelance journalist for six years. The first couple times I saw my name in print I squeed! I even framed a couple articles (huge dork, I know).

Talk about validation! I could write! I was being PAID (and paid well) to write!

Then, after a while, it grew old. Yahoo, my name was in print. Then I had to go write an article about baby poop. Whoopee.

One of the reasons I realized epubbing was a good option for me was because I could finally write what I wanted and make money while doing it. I'm making more than I did as a journalist.

And guess what? I don't need the validation that I'm good. I know I don't suck and the rest is personal opinion. Someone doesn't like my book because it's too fast? Too bad - it's a fast-paced book, I wrote it that way.

People, you need to validate yourself. Writers, myself included to this day, spend too much time worrying about what everyone else thinks rather than worrying about their craft.

Need validation? Have a beta reader look over your novel and tell you what's crap. Then fix it. Go to conferences. Network with other writers. Read voraciously.

Validate yourself through hard work.

Megg Jensen

Lundeen Literary said...

Anonymous 1:58 pm asked:
"Does e-book publishing work for children's books? Not young adult being bought by adults. But younger adult and middle grade being chosen by kids? How do you reach this market through e-publishing? I'm just not sure the market I'm writing to are going to be on Amazon searching for e-books."

There are some ereaders being made and marketed for kids. There may or may not be a lot of titles for the younger kids yet, but I'd say that getting in NOW would be a good idea. If you're in the store longer than the others, you have a greater chance of building reviews, etc. before the boom hits.


Bob Mayer said:

"Am I the only who sees PW's report on 202% increase of REPORTED ebook sales (no one is reporting mine) while 43% decrease in hardcover and 41% decrease in mass market in first two months of this year as significant?"

No, Bob. You're not. :) I read those numbers and was floored… and I've been keeping on top of this thing called the ebook revolution. I expected huge, but not THAT huge and in such a short time. It's only going to keep growing...

Joe Sez:
"Why would ANYONE want to sign with a company that controls ebook rights when ebook rights are the biggest seller?"

Because they don't know better. It's unfortunate, but some people don't have any concept of how big ebook rights are. Heck, some of the other blogs which focus on querying, etc. seem to be blissfully ignorant about how much is changing. And these are the people who are considered "in touch" because they're on the web.

Jenna
@lundeenliterary

Lundeen Literary said...

Another Anon said...
"If anon took home $15,000 in March from e-book sales alone, he/she did better than all but a handful of indie authors. And probably at a much higher price point. Plus there's print, audio, etc."

That anon was talking about payment from his/her publisher, which pays out quarterly or every six months. No NY publisher moves fast enough to pay for March's sales by April 15th. Even Amazon doesn't do that fast. Then, the money has to go through the agent as well. This goes for the reporting systems as well - the publisher literally can't get the numbers to the author that fast, so this is for the last reporting period of their numbers.

Let's assume sales of their ebook are $9.99, and use Joe's post-agent estimate of 14.9%, or rather $1.49 per sale to the author. For a $15,000 take, that's about 10,067 copies. Yes, impressive. One of my friends did that in the 1st 3 months of this year - very good numbers. If we assume that this author got paid quarterly, that's 3355 copies per month, but lots of NY pays every 6 months. On that schedule, that's 1678 copies per month, or just shy of 60 copies per day. Anon didn't mention how many books he/she has available on ebooks, so if that's 3 titles, then that's an average of 20 copies per title per day. I know PLENTY of authors selling that well in ebooks.

60/day is still great. The money is still great. That's $2500/month which is just above poverty level for a small family. Not including other sales. I'd still be happy with those funds. But please remember that Anon is most likely discussing a NY contract, which pays out very differently and on a far altered schedule than the numbers we typically see on this blog.

Jenna
www.lundeenliterary.com

Lundeen Literary said...

@Joshua

I do what Telemachus does, and can help with uploading as well. I've been helping quite a few folks with that, and am working on a cheat sheet for people to use when uploading.

Bookbaby's fees do add up, and it leaves you on their reporting timeline. If you're going to pay the fees anyhow, much better to have it under your control as much as possible. That leaves you more flexibility for price changes, etc.

Also, this means YOU get the email from Amazon, Nook, etc. when there's a problem with your file, not someone else. Telephone game isn't good to play when your livelihood is at stake.

Jenna
lundeenliterary @ gmail.com

Rob Cornell said...

I just uploaded my second novel. Should show up on the usual sites withing a day or two. This book actually garnered some interest from a small press. I had to think long and hard about what to do, but decided another self-pubbed novel could only help with sales on the one I already have up.

Here's my dilemma. I have this new novel I just finished. I'm debating whether to try snagging an agent with it and going trad, or putting it up indie as well. I know the more books I have up, the better the sales for the others. But unlike some of the indie publishers, I can't afford the professional covers, formatting, and editing. I have to do those things "in house." Lucky for me, my wife has some design experience. But the rest is all up to me. Formatting isn't too bad, but I wouldn't mind a professional editor taking a look.

I suppose all this is a long way of asking what writers with limited budgets should do? Still self-publish until the income allows investment into the professional details? Or try to use traditional publishing as a launching pad? Or is there some other option I'm not aware of.

Lars Pergou said...

Joe's oft stated enticement that "ebooks are forever" is probably underestimated in importance by many ebook skeptics.

The biggest bookshop (A&R) in my town is closing. Few others are worth visiting and will die.

When online buying becomes the dominant fiction retailing base, authors will want to have control over those rights because the playing field then becomes, arguably, level - except for existing big names of course. Mid-listers have nothing to lose; new names (Hocking et al) can still cover themselves in glory.

Whether ebooks or PODs, you don't want control in someone else's hands when the final curtain drops on the bookshops.

The lure of the big advance still stands, but unless you have to pay off the gambling debts, even that may need some serious thought.

nwrann said...

@Rob Cornell,

How limited is your budget? I guarantee that you can get everything done nice and professional looking, and the only thing it'll cost you is time.

Coolkayaker1 said...

Joe. You already shot your load. You'll never be Stephanie Meyer.

You'll never be Sara Gruen. Or Dan Brown. Or any other author that has had a truckload of cash back up to their castle within the past five years.

A new author out there might be the next name brand author.

New author: go for it. There's a chance, small but definite, that you'll make an absolute insane shitload in traditional publishing.

Anonymous said...

"That's $2500/month which is just above poverty level for a small family."

You've overcomplicated it. The $15K (give or take $1K) is my royalty cut from one month;s sales. Obviously $ is not in hand yet.

Gayle Carline said...

Joe,
In keeping with this post and all the comments, I expected to see you commenting on today's Murderati. Check it out - http://www.murderati.com/blog/2011/4/15/neil-nyren-is-back-the-5th-annual-state-of-the-industry-inte.html

Gayle (Just-Another-Crazy-Self-Pubbed-Author) Carline

nwrann said...

@anon, your publisher sends you sales reports within 15 days after the end of the month? What about returns? What publisher is this? I have an ms to send them. For real.

T.J. Dotson said...

@anon My agent and my editor helped establish my brand and made me a bestseller. Their advice and their editorial guidance has been worth more than gold. I think of them as friends. I would feel like an ungrateful heel if I dumped them now

There's nothing that says you can't e-publish and traditionally publish at the same time. In fact you might be doing your Agent and Editor a favor by doing so. If there's a dip in paper book market, you are all set to go in the e-market. You could view it as sort of an insurance for yourself, Editor, and Agent.

Brian Drake said...

This topic is hard not to jump in on. I was thinking about my "road to publishing" earlier this week. I certainly gave the traditional approach everything I had, for ten or fifteen years, and ended up with nothing but one heck of an education.

I now have three e-titles out. My sales for April, after a brisk Jan-Feb-March, have stalled; no matter. I'm releasing two more books in June and July, and have, I think, four or five more books fully outlined and ready to type.

Getting to the point where my e-books provide a second decent income (I have no plans to quit the day job) is going to be a long haul, but I've accomplished more as a writer in the last three months than I did in the last fifteen years. If I had stayed with the traditional route, I would still be knocking on doors. But instead I have three books out, I've made a few bucks, and I have more coming. I've sold enough, and have enough reviews, to know that the audience is out there, and it's only a matter of time before even more folks find me.

I honestly do not think I would have the same opportunities I have now had I gone the traditional route.

Back in the '90s there was a lot of talk that reading was going away; people weren't buying as many books, they were watching television and playing video games instead, etc.; now, with e-readers, it seems like people are reading more and more, and that's being lost in this argument. We are seeing a resurgence of reading thanks to this new technology, and that is a good thing.

If somebody wants to go traditional, that is their choice; if somebody wants to go indie, same thing; so why are we spending all this time clashing? If a somebody buys their book maybe they'll buy mine to, and the other way around. How do we all not win one way or another?

Instead of arguing we should be helping each other. That's one thing the indie community does very well, by the way, and something traditional authors should invest in instead of trying to cut us down because we've chosen another path.

But that would be too easy. The path of least resistance is to attack the person with the new idea.

Cy Mathews said...

On the ebooks and young readers issue, the NYT had an article on the topic back in Feb: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/05/books/05ebooks.html

This suggests the market for childrens/YA ebooks is going to be just as big as it is currently is for adult titles. Not sure how indy writers will fare though.

Great blog, by the way!

Troy Kirby, Author said...

E-publishing is still the wild west, as the internet was 20 years ago.

Amazon was basically Jeff Bezo's garage and I'm sure a lot of business guys told him it wasn't worth it.

And look how correct they were.

dmedley said...

I've been so busy writing and doing the query thing that I've only recently poked my head out of the ground and looked around. I stumbled upon your blog and, wow, what an eye opener.

One thing that I've noticed perusing various writing related forums the last couple of weeks is how vehemently some defend the legacy publishing paradigm; almost to the point of being shrill. It's as if some are personally offended at the prospect of success outside of the legacy paradigm.

Anyway, your blog is indeed an exciting oasis of wonderful information. Thank you so much.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe. You already shot your load. You'll never be Stephanie Meyer.

One movie deal, and I'll get that dumptruck full of cash.

In the meantime, I'll have to make due with my measly $68k a month.

But thanks for taking an interest in my load, even though that's pretty creepy.

Keira Lea said...

Joe, you rock. The authors who have told their stories on your blog rock. After writing for myself for many years, I was frustrated. Agents would bite, I would rewrite, and the rejection email would follow. I ended up throwing my own work on the slush pile because I didn't know what else to do with it. After sitting on one of my novels for six years, I found your blog. I listened to you, wiped the butt print off my novel, and polished it. It's on Amazon and B&N now. I'm so proud. And I'm writing again.

Blake Crouch said...

"New author: go for it. There's a chance, small but definite, that you'll make an absolute insane shitload in traditional publishing."

Wow. The most stunningly bad advice I've seen on this blog's comment section, possibly ever. And that's saying something.

Kimberly Steele said...

@coolkayaker Yikes, if you're going to compare Joe to legacy authors, at least choose some better authors, for instance Neil Gaiman or J.K. Rowling! I don't know if Joe chooses to transport his cash in the back of a truck or if he owns a castle, but I highly doubt he is crying into a bowl of instant oatmeal every night for lack of money.

I am a relatively "new" author who built a large fan base from scratch by releasing my first novel, Forever Fifteen, as a free audiobook. Joe's blog, the whole Dorchester debacle, and the Borders and B&N meltdowns have convinced me to abandon traditional publishing altogether, though it was originally my plan to go traditional and aim for an agent with my second novel, River's Heart.

Now that I actually have fans, there's NO WAY IN HADES that I would put a traditional publisher between myself and the fans I love. Are you kidding? I've had movie interest and an option for my first book and another director interested in River's Heart. River's Heart is not even finished yet.

Do I think that I could have been eventually signed to a traditional publisher? Sure. Could I have made that publisher money? Yes, I am one of those lucky people that knows the secret of writing addictive books.

The real question: Do I have the time to chase down an already overworked agent with a giant slush pile?

No, I do not.

Do I care whether some literary snob or bitter legacy author pooh-poohs my efforts because I go direct to the people who make me happiest (my fan base)?

No, I do not.

I don't need to prove to a legacy dinosaur that I can write. My fans already prove to me that I can write as will the fans of any good author.

New authors, if you want to build a reputation, go indie. There's a huge chance that you'll build a giant fan base of people who love your writing.

Eric Christopherson said...

I've got a book making the rounds in NY as we speak, but Joe and his recent blog visitors have shot down most of my original rationale for seeking a trad deal. My best remaining argument is the following ...

Within the next few years the Big Six will go belly up, or they'll simply downsize, lose (and/or toss) their midlist. (I see the latter as much more likely.) So what happens to the best and brightest of those agents, editors, publicists, sales people, etc.? Some will stay put; others will eventually figure out a way to fit in better, in the new, digitally dominated book industry. They'll find, and we'll help them find, ways to work for us that we haven't imagined yet, or have barely begun to envision. So if I'm in the club, so to speak, if these people know my name, my work, it'll probably be much easier to hook up with them, to exploit their institutional knowledge and skills when they become available to indies.

Do I want an "in" with some of the best talent now in NY? Do I want 'em working with me or for me? Yep. Am I willing to give up long term revenue from one book in exchange? Depends on how much, depends on the deal.

Anonymous said...

I don't think loyalty is or should be outdated.

Loyalty is outdated. There is no publicly traded company that gives a shit about anyone (or anything) more than the bottom line. That's a fact.

Case in point-- my husband is an executive in a large, publicly-traded company. They just did job cuts, and one of their decisions was to split off a poorly performing division so it could file for bankruptcy.

They filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday afternoon, (just before Friday, which was payday) and never told the employees. The employees came to work and the store was padlocked with notice out front. No paychecks, no job.

The point: think about yourself, your own future, and your own kids. The big publishers aren't worried about you.

Joe Konrath said...

Wow. The most stunningly bad advice I've seen on this blog's comment section, possibly ever. And that's saying something.

I love it when people give advice when they have no experience at all, no skin in the game, and no data to back up their opinions.

Without that, this blog wouldn't be nearly as interesting.

Coral Russell said...

Since my Dad is a superintendent at a school district that is going to provide Kindles to all of the High School students and a lot of campus's (I know of IN) that are asking all students to carry netbooks, it is a pretty safe bet that YA books will do well as eBooks in the future. My 10 year old is already asking me for a Kindle, but that's because she thinks the books appear there like magic... She doesn't quite understand that money is exchanged. :-)

Universities are talking interactive textbooks already...

Murr Brewster said...

This is great. I love your gatekeepers=readers comment. That's what I'm counting on. Now to continue to whore myself out there on my little blog platform...

Anonymous said...

Ok completely dumb newbie question. If you aleady have ebooks out,why do you need an agent?? Is it to try and market yourself to a traditional publisher?

Just looked at the comments today and before and just wondered why do you need an agent?

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

I was recently at a small fantasy con where there were many authors in legacy pubilshing and when I would speak to them about selling 11,000 books in a single month they thought I was insane.

The February AAP numbers (which highly under-reports digital sales as it only has data from 16 publishers puts the ebook at 29.5% of total trade sales. It's accellerating faster than even I expected.

Robin | Write2Publish

Bev Morley said...

I so love to read Joe's no bullshit answers to fraidy cat writers non-questions. It is so refreshing.

Robin Sullivan said...

Mister Snitch! said...
"What the hell is wrong with you?"

How much time have you got?


Thanks for that - Loved it. Joe also loved your "publishing" and "Guarantee" comment - that was priceless.

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

@Robert Burton Robinson - Nice ranking graph !! congratz - where in authors central do you find that?

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

@Kira - Great article - but I had problems with the link. Here it is for others Why Barnes & Noble should go from bookstore to Nookstore

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

For most of our 30+ years together I've been the sole bread winner of my family. I made a good living (six-figures), I was happy to support my husband's Michael J. Sullivan writing career even if he never made a dime because I LOVE HIS STORIES.

We'll it's been six-months now that Michael's income has been beating my salary (sometimes by a factor of 2x) so Friday was the last day at my day job.

Yes an indie mostly e-book author can make a living wage - and then some. How many traditionally published writers still have their day jobs?

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

Bob Mayer said...
Am I the only who sees PW's report on 202% increase of REPORTED ebook sales (no one is reporting mine) while 43% decrease in hardcover and 41% decrease in mass market in first two months of this year as significant?


Not at all - I blogged on it immediately ebooks are now 29.5% of trade market - it is ASTONDING!

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

I think that $5000 advance number is a bit of a myth. Some debut authors get 5k, others 20k, and still others 250k.

For debut authors - it's not a myth see the author surveys that have been done on this. I'll push it to $5,000 - $10,000 and be generous but I've seen a TON of self-published authors that make this in 1 - 3 months. It's not just the Lockes, Hockings, and Konraths that are doing well !

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

Katie Klein said...
Cross my Heart lists for $3.99.


Katie, I'm glad to see people doing well with a higher price point. J.R. Rain just recently became the first self-pubber on the Top 100 to beat the $2.99 price ($3.99 as well). While $0.99 / $2.99 works well for those that do get on the Top 100 - if everyone else is at $0.99 we're not going to make living wages.

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

If anon took home $15,000 in March from e-book sales alone, he/she did better than all but a handful of indie authors. And probably at a much higher price point.

When I see that number I go...OUCH because he's loosing a TON of money. If Anon can do that well with traditional he should be doing his next self-published. Reader loyalty is big for sales of next works - ride the positioning that traditional gave you and make a bigger cut per book.

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

Anonymous said... An author's best chance is to develop a loyal fan base and constantly feed them. Stop feeding the beast, and the beast dies.

Couldn't agree more. Then why are the big-six publishers putting in non-compete clauses that LIMIT how often you can put out a new book?

As an indie - I can put out multiple books a year - I also don't have to wait for the next "season" catalog and wait 12 - 15 months from signing to being on the market.

Robin | Write2Publish

Robin Sullivan said...

@Elizabeth - thanks fort he 911 post - I was very entertained.

Robin | Write2Publish

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