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.

602 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 400 of 602   Newer›   Newest»
Robin Sullivan said...

Anonymous said...A (perhaps) outdated sense of loyalty. My agent and my editor helped establish my brand and made me a bestseller.

Anon - go self-published pay your agent to be a publicist and your editor to continue to edit (You can even give her/him a % of sales if it makes you feel better). You'll make more money which will them to make more money.

Robin | Write2Publish

Erik said...

@ Mark Taylor

I don't think you need to wait to until your book is finished to start a blog, web site, etc. Creating a brand and building an audience definitely takes time, and by starting now, you'll have that many more readers waiting to buy your book.

I just started blogging. I blog every day. It's not always about writing, but I hope that it's always entertaining. I'm slowly building an audience, but I wish I had started months ago.

So get your name out there now--don't wait. You'll set yourself up w/ a running start instead of getting off the blocks pulling a parachute and wearing lead Nikes.

Jada Temple said...

As always, a great post Joe. People can have their opinion about waiting on a traditional publisher all they want, but why not build your brand until you get to that point if that's what one wants? I am going the self-pub route, I have waited three years to get published and was able to get one short story self-published, but that's cool. I was appreciative of it. However, I had to wait a whole year to be able to publish it myself! So now with the e-book boom, I am going to publish it myself along with other stories and finally my own book.

I also started a blog to discuss the thriller genre. I am just getting started, but people here who need their book reviewed can get it done so by me at http://thrillerinkspot.com

Jada

Kelley said...

Obviously I agree with you. I too got my hand bit.

But I do have a shameful confession--I'd still love to have my book in a bookstore.

Yes. I KNOW. But since I was a kid, it's been a part of the dream. Only a part, but still a part.

They still exist today, bookstores, and there's still just one way to get your book on that front table.

So I won't get to walk into a bookstore and see my book sitting there. Not without relinquishing my e-rights and control.

I've accepted it, but it still hurts. And a part of me wishes it would change. Today. That I could have my book in print in bookstores, and e-pub it myself.

You got to see your book in a bookstore, Joe. So did Barry. So will Amanda. And maybe it never meant as much to you. Maybe it did. But it's a strong desire in many authors, and I think I'm not alone in that.

But anyway, that's my shameful purple elephant and what held me back as long as it did.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Jada - wow - small world - long time no see - I hoped the seminars of mine you've come to have been helpful.

Robin | Write2Publish

nwrann said...

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.

Corporations have never been loyal to anything but the $$. That's why they are created. That's why they exist. Corporations are not people.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Kelley - you are not alone in that feeling - don't be ashamed. It is what it is.

Times change - many people like film over digital photography - but even the last Kodachrome film processor closed its doors.

Robin | Write2Publish

nwrann said...

@Kelley wrote, But I do have a shameful confession--I'd still love to have my book in a bookstore.

Like I said wrote earlier: Buy a couple copies of your own book through POD, bring them into your local book store and put them on the shelf, take a picture, and walk away. You can even go back to visit them if you like.

p.s. If your bookstore is privately, locally owned, talk to the owner and see if they'll carry your book (supplied by you, maybe for free at first, maybe on consignment).

Carradee said...

Or perhaps you don't want to say who you are because we could look at your Kindle ranking

Or they're just trying to avoid getting targeted in a flame war? I've had other readers of a story come after me for giving a requested line-by-line critique of a writer's work. I don't blame Anonymous for their caution.

Self-publishing appealed to me even before it was feasible. I've joined indie publishing ranks for one book, and I'm working on 3 other novels and 2 novelettes in that series.

However, to refer back to Jessica on the "name recognition" thing, legacy publishing can provide name recognition to an audience beyond the indie publishing audience. Believe it or not, Joe, I've encountered a fair number of even self-publishers of e-books who haven't a clue where you are. Or who Amanda Hocking is.

Probably a good 90% of my friends—most of whom write, themselves—have never read an e-book, and the ones who have are because I started them on it.

A fair number of people don't know how to research, or even understand the concept of working online. A former employer asked me this week if I'd found a job. I said I was freelancing and had steady clients. She reacted as if I'd told her I was unemployed and unable to find work.

As much as I enjoy the creative control inherent in indie publishing, I'm not averse to legacy publishing myself, if only for the potential to expand my audience. Is it a pay cut? Yes. Would I accept legacy publishing contracts for all my books? No. (At least, not unless something significant changes.)

Do I think I should hold out for a million dollar advance if I do try legacy publishing? No. First, the taxes are atrocious. (Okay, so that one's tongue-in-cheek. Sort of.) Second, I'd feel guilty if my advance didn't earn out—though I do recognize that such an advance would allow me to do a lot of promo. Third, the money isn't the most important thing to me. I'd rather first focus what negotiation clout I gain on other clauses.

But then, by the time I've built up enough of a self-publishing audience to have that clout I need, I expect that legacy publishing will have made some changes. So I'm keeping an eye on it and not making any snap judgements about what I'll require in a contract until I see what a boilerplate will be. I'm expecting less favorable to authors than they even are now, but I might be wrong. I once had a coworker comment that I still expect business to make sense, and he was right.

I understand the frustration with those people who condone legacy publishing and condemn indie publishing without proper facts. (See my above tale on what a former employer said about my freelancing.)

But some people have investigated both sides, considered their goals, and determined that legacy publishing will work better to accomplish their goals. How are those ones "dense"?

(Note: tried to post this yesterday, but Blogger kept giving me a 400 error.)

Coolkayaker1 said...

Anyone ever hear of Kathryn Stockett? Debut novel The Help, 2008. Sold over one million copies each year, two years running. Excellent book, by the way. So, if she made one dollar per book (likely made more), she has made over 2 million dollars off the one book so far. But wait...it's still selling. It's not over yet...it's still a bestseller. But wait again, it's not over even yet: it's being made into a movie. Yes, Hollywood wants it...it's hotter than cast iron poker. So, debut novelist, 2008 release, is going to sell warehouses more of her book when the movie tie-in edition comes to play.

There are so many more examples it's mind-boggling. Matterhorn, war book, being optioned for film now, already a bestseller (and high praise), debut author.

Of course, Steig Larssen continues to rack up the sales, with nearly 1.9 million Hornets Nest books sold in 2010 ALONE for the one book of his trilogy ALONE. If only he were a love to see the freshly minted trucks backing up to his door.

To imply that all traditional publishers give an author is formatting and cover art is patently foolish. They give superb authors access to interviews (see Stockett's website for her interviews with everyone from Time magazine to Katie Couric) and print and video ads and Hollywood.

Will every new author be like these? No. Will every new self-published author be like Konrath? NO!

Here's the March 2011 website with some 2010 numbers. That ought to inspire new authors not yet backlisted by the traditional publishers to give it a whirl.

davidgaughran said...

I don't get the hostility that some traditionally-published authors show towards the self-published, that seems to increase with every self-publishing 'good news' story.

Surely, every time self-publishing takes another step forward, becomes a more viable option for everyone, that, at the very least, gives the traditionally-published author more leverage in their next negotiations?

Win-win for everyone.

Walter Knight said...

We all want to be rich and famous, but I will settle for a life-style changing successful selling book.

I only earn about $2,000 a month on my books, and a big NY publisher would sneer at my success. But, my budget is almost balanced now, and I am going on two vacations. Even the wife is happy, most of the time.

Self publishig, or publishing through a small press if you need the help, is the only option for most of us who are not celebrities.

Cheers.

Jodie Renner Editing said...

Great post, Joe! For those choosing the self-publishing route, it's a very good idea to hire a good freelance fiction manuscript editor to bring your manuscript up to publish-ready and discerning-reader-ready standards. That way, we'll keep the quality of writing high for self-publishing as well!

Jon F. Merz said...

Just to chime in here with some of my experiences...

I tarted doing this five days before the end of January of this year. To date, I have made $12,000 on my ebook sales. February was $3200, March was $4700 and April is on-track to outsell both the previous months.

And as nice as I think those numbers & sales increases are, I'm aiming for much higher. And the thing is, it's *possible!*

Here's the crazy thing. In January, I had my latest novel come out traditionally and in the intervening weeks, while my ebook sales have continued to climb, my print sales have continued to dwindle. Each week, they drop a little bit more. And I know that book is getting near the end of its earning lifespan. Sad.

Another wonderful thing about indie is this: real-time quantifiable intelligence.

Example: I put a tweet out on Twitter with a link shortened by bit.ly (the only shortening service I used because they offer real-time click through analysis) and I can see if that tweet results in sales over on Amazon or the Nook sites.

That's for my indie stuff. For my traditionally published book, I have no way of knowing if my tweet is producing a sale other than if I guess at the sales rank change and think it might have sold something.

Big companies pay tons for this sort of hardcore intel, and yet using the internet, we can get it for free. That's huge. It allows me the flexibility to adapt and change accordingly. Maybe that tweet didn't work very well, but the next one will. You can get input from fans bout a cover design and change it accordingly. You have real-time interaction and feedback with them. And you can chart exactly which activities are producing sales for you.

One final note: in February I tweeted constantly about my ebooks for sale and posted continuously on Facebook about them. A half dozen tweets a day wasn't unusual.

In March, I pulled my postings on Facebook for the most part. My sales increased.

For April, I winnowed the number of tweets about my ebooks (aside from this past Monday when I hit a wall and needed to blast through it) and my sales have *still* increased.

Joe's talked before about your books needing to find an audience. I very much believe that is what starts the inertia toward selling gobs and gobs of copies.

Interesting times, interesting times...

Coral Russell said...

@Robin Sullivan - CNN Money predicted 24 months and the publishing industry would be completely changed yesterday.

@JM - thanks for bit.ly !

Robin Sullivan said...

LJon F. Merz said...Another wonderful thing about indie is this: real-time quantifiable intelligence.

Oh yes!! Anyone in marketing will tell you important knowing this data is - when published traditionally you only have Amazon ranks to look - and when a statement comes only quartlyer or twice a year....it makes planning oh so much harder.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Robin Sullivan said...

Coral Russell said...
@Robin Sullivan - CNN Money predicted 24 months and the publishing industry would be completely changed yesterday.


Yeah I read that article - very interesting.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Jada Temple said...

@Robin Hello to you, too! I can honestly say that ALL of your seminars have helped me. Not only did they open my eyes to writing and publishing, but you have definitely helped me learn the business. I missed your last seminar, but will attend the next one. Thanks for everything and please keep in touch at thrillerinkspot.com or e-mail at thrillerinkspot@gmail.com! Congrats to Michael's writing career, too!

T.J. Dotson said...

@Robin Sullivan 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 !

Yes, Robin! This is what convinced me to stop wasting time and start working on books on my own. I've worked in publishing. I saw with my own eyes the number of Authors who make a living wage, just writing. When I visit places like this Blog and Kindle Boards, the number of Authors I see who claim they are making a living wage, seems MUCH HIGHER when compared to what I saw in Traditional Publishing. I wish someone would do a survey or some type of study. Because its not just the Konrath's and Hockings that are making $$$. Just a Visit to Kindle Boards Writers Cafe will show you that.

Raymond Birdsell said...

Is anyone else having issues with Blogger eating their comments?

Leon Ardkin said...

As usual, good post Konrath. I like it when you present the facts whoever ox is gored.

Released my first kindle book, Anon X, less than a month ago and sales is trickling but encouraging.I especially like the comment from Robert Burton Robinson. That's very encouraging. Thanks a lot.

Cathryn Grant said...

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

There's a chance, small but definite, that you could win the lottery ... someone does on a regular basis. Unfortunately, winning the lottery isn't a business model.

Suburban Noir

kmfields said...

@J.T. Dunsemere:

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.

This is a great point.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe!

Thanks to a ton of motivation from you, I have just published a new ebook of 34 short stories titled: "Stories from the Edges--A LongShortStories Collection."

Keep on hammering, my friend!

Wayne C. Long

Stephen Knight said...

It's funny, I couldn't sell The Gathering Dead to anyone. But I publish it on Kindle, start selling 80 copies a day, and now folks are emailing me, hey, can I take a look at your book?

Where were you guys months ago?

Not that I'm bitter to be making some money, of course. ;)

Jada Temple said...

@Kelley

Yes, absolutely we still want to see our name in "paper" print. However, like Robin said, "Times change - many people like film over digital photography - but even the last Kodachrome film processor closed its doors."

I say to that to not put all of your eggs in one basket. There are some people out there still without computers, but many have cell phones with e-readers such as Kindle, Nook, .pdf, etc.

Much success to you in your writing career!

Jada
http://thrillerinkspot.com

M.P. McDonald said...

I so agree with the validation comment. I blogged about it a few months ago about how, at the time, 2000 sales was a lot of validation to my way of thinking. That was 2000 people plunking down money for *my* book.

Eloheim and Veronica said...

I have been thinking about the comments of "I don't have the money to self-publish." I have never queried agents/publishers, but I know many of you have.

There MUST be a significant cost associated with all of that. To get 500 rejection letters you had to send out at least 500 letters!

I would imagine the cost is, at minimum, $.50 a letter. It might even be $1.00 a letter just to get them out the door.

That adds up fast and it doesn't include your time writing the letter, figuring out who to send it to, and actually doing assembly and mailing.

You're going to spend time and money either way. With the self-publishing path, the time and money all feels like an investment in ME.

When I consider sending out query letters, it feels more like gambling.


Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

Things I have learned about self-publishing (so far)

Jodie Renner Editing said...

These are exciting times for writers and readers! And as a freelance fiction editor, I'm getting busier and busier, and the quality of writing in novels I'm asked to check over before e-publishing is getting higher and higher!

Dee said...

Queries are e-mail now. The cost associated with sending them out is mostly emotional.

Bob Mayer said...

As far as the loyalty and the agent paying a mortgage. A nice concept. I know a traditional author who constantly says how much she loves her editor, her publisher, her agent, etc. Except they also carried her when she couldn't deliver for SIX years on a book under contract. I'd be loyal too if I was carried like that. Because where was the author's loyalty to her contract while that was going on?
Listen, we're all in different situations. I had dinner last night a bunch of friends, three of whom have been #1 NYT bestsellers and of course they're quite happy with their publishers and their situation. They make buckets of money. Great for them.
They are the rare exception rather than the rule in traditional publishing. The midlist is the key. Traditional publishers can't support it any more, the retail outlets are dying, and the book is the future. And the numbers just aren't looking good for midlist. Additionally, frankly, midlist authors are treated with very little loyalty by people in traditional publishing. They'll drop your contract in a heartbeat the minute your numbers don't add up, no matter what the reason.
I do wonder, though, why people post anonymously. If someone is so happy with their agent, publisher, et al, then put it out there.

Anonymous said...

One thing I've noticed is when downloading samples from traditionally published authors, I find, that in a lot of cases, their samples, aren't enticing enough for me to buy their books, but when I download the samples of some indies, their samples read better than traditionally published books, and I end up buying them.

This, from my experience, is showing me that the gatekeepers of traditional publishing have horrible taste. And, since I didn't have any options before, because they owned the field, I didn't realize how bad the taste of the agents, editors, and other decision makers on what to publish was/is. Or even, how mediocre a lot of the traditionally published authors works are.

--burble

--burble

Selena Kitt said...

We interrupt this post to inform you that Blake Crouch's RUN is making a "run" for the top 100... it's at 128 now (up from 200-something yesterday). Since I know so many here love to watch a book hit the top 100 (me too :) I thought I'd share...

Plus...

I don't plug other books very often. I don't say I like books when I really don't like them.

I LOVE THIS BOOK! If you like thrillers, it's a wild, breathless ride. I could not put it down.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

;)

Joe Konrath said...

If someone is so happy with their agent, publisher, et al, then put it out there.

This is a universal blog phenomenon.

People tend to agree with the original poster, in this case me.

If you go to other blogs that tout legacy publishing, there is an overwhelming number of similar comments supporting the author, though the author says things that are flat out incorrect.

Going anonymous is one way to point out errors without getting jumped on.

But on this blog, I don't make errors. And anyone owning their legacy numbers will risk getting a mean dose of reality when I crunch their numbers and tell them how much $$$ they're losing.

Eloheim and Veronica said...

@Dee
"Queries are e-mail now. The cost associated with sending them out is mostly emotional."

The cost is even higher then. Money is everywhere. Everybody has some. Money is very common.

Emotional well-being, now that's something not everyone has. What's the price of putting that on the line?

I'm not trying to convince anyone. I'm just recommitting to the path I have decided to take by looking at it from lots of different angles.

Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

Things I have learned about self-publishing (so far)

Indie Author X said...

Six months ago, I laughed at the suggestion to self publish when I had something to publish. Now, my mind has done a total 180. I have a long way to go, and a lot of writing to do, before I feel that I have a product worth selling but when the time comes, I think blogs like this and indie authors (best seller or niche author) have convinced me to be independent. I even changed my blogspot name ;)

Dee said...

Bottom line, self-publishing is a small business. A lot of your success will depend on how well you can build that business. But people have to want your product. No amount of promotion will make people buy something they don't want. Or ten things they don't want.

Some people will simply put out what they're passionate about. Other talented writers will figure out what people want to read in a very mercenary fashion, and fill that need. John Scalzi did that with Old Man's War on the traditional side. He roamed the book store aisles and discovered out that military sci-fi was outselling other sci-fi titles.

On the self-pub side, a good writer can find an uncrowded genre where it might be easier to place in the top 20 and build a fan base that way.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Robin Sullivan - Nice ranking graph !! congratz - where in authors central do you find that?

From the Author Central menu bar, select "Sales Info." Select one of your books from the drop down list at the top left of the page, and the sales info for that book will display. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the Kindle Store sales chart for that book.

The chart for Sweet Ginger Poison looks even more dramatic over the one-month time frame. See the chart.

This is really a great tool. Everyone should be using it to see a sales history of their Kindle books. Just go to Amazon Author Central and set up your free account.

Shéa MacLeod said...

@Dee
"Queries are e-mail now. The cost associated with sending them out is mostly emotional."

This is, of course, true. Most agents, etc. now take queries by email. However, there are still quite a few who require you to POST the actual sample pages.

I had an agent interested in my work, but she wanted the pages posted. I spent £10 (about $15) printing off the pages and sending them via special delivery so they wouldn't take 2 weeks to get from where I was on holiday in the Lake District to where she was working in LA. A month later I got a form rejection via email.

So,yeah, there is actual monetary cost involved. Though as Veronica said, emotional cost is MUCH higher.

kathleen shoop said...

My God, I love you. Don't tell my husband. Wouldn't want to upset the apple cart over here!!!! Seriously, these are the exact arguments that go through my mind as I am set to publish on May 1. But the inner dialogue is complete bullshit as you point out! I know that or I wouldn't be indie publishing.

I am so excited to finally be in the game, to be able to show there is a market for my work, that being told "it's great, but I don't know how to sell it," is not good enough for me.

I know my book will sell and what I want are READERS. They are completely discounted as valuable sources of information in the publishing world...but they are the ones who actually buy. Yes, I love my fellow writers, but they aren't the ONLY readers. And boy, can I attest to the condescending "go ahead and self-pub if you want to sell 10 copies to your family," line of crap. I can't wait to let my work speak for itself...here goes!

kshoop.com
The Last Letter May 1, 2011

Walter Golden said...

It is a new world out there.

Dee said...

"So,yeah, there is actual monetary cost involved. Though as Veronica said, emotional cost is MUCH higher."

If people can't handle the emotional toll from a form rejection letter, they're certainly not prepared for one star reviews, plummeting sales, and outright rejection from readers. Develop a thick skin or risk bleeding to death from a thousand cuts.

kathleen shoop said...

@kelly, my local independent bookstore Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont will carry my indie published book! All I had to do was ask. It's true, my Barnes and Noble won't carry it since they can't return the books if no one buys them (as is no one will buy them! Please!)...so they say. They wouldn't even let me offer them on consignment, but it's their loss. I'll get the word out in other ways and meanwhile I'm grateful to Mystery Lovers!

kshoop.com
The Last Letter May 1, 2011

Robin Sullivan said...

Selena Kitt said...
Selina Kitt said...We interrupt this post to inform you that Blake Crouch's RUN is making a "run" for the top 100... it's at 128 now (up from 200-something yesterday). Since I know so many here love to watch a book hit the top 100 (me too :) I thought I'd share...

Thanks Selina - time to do some gifting (already own it myself)!

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Robin Sullivan said...

Robert Burton Robinson said...
From the Author Central menu bar, select "Sales Info." Select one of your books from the drop down list at the top left of the page, and the sales info for that book will display. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the Kindle Store sales chart for that book.


Thanks Robert - I use Titlez for ranking graphs as well but always interested in finding new tools.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Karen Cantwell said...

The gatekeepers are necessary. I agree. But I don't call these gatekeepers "agents" or "publishers."
I call them "readers."


Righto. After reading this blog just a year ago now, I got to work and formatted my novel. I published on June 15th, 2010. As of today's date, I've sold over 30,000 Kindle copies alone, but ever better than that, I now have readers. People email me or post on my FB Fan page, telling me how much they love my book and asking me when the next one will be out. There's my validation, thank you very much!

As always, thank you, Joe.

Raymond Birdsell said...

Joe, etc.

I would like to enter a new definition of “irony” into the lexicon.

My 2 year old daughter is going through a period of 6+ months where she has literally slept no more than 2 or 3 hours at a time.

Many nights she has ended up in bed with me and my wife because we are just too exhausted to get up one more time to rock and soothe.

On Thursday night she FINALLY had a good night and slept about 7 hours straight through – I’m surprised you didn’t see the celebration of fireworks we set off from where you live.

The irony of course is instead of spending the night in peaceful slumber, catching up some much needed sleep – I was downstairs on my laptop at 3:00am.

And it is entirely your fault.

Thursday evening I hit the SUBMIT button on my first self-publishing effort, a humorous short story about our month long battle with an uninvited “houseguest”.

I’m a 42 year old father of three with a full-time job and all the other usual responsibilities - and I literally could not sleep as the ideas and possibilities danced through my head.

It felt like I was 4 years old and waiting on Santa again.

I have read your blog for about six months now – going back and re-reading all the old posts – your Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, etc., etc.

It has been said multiple times on your blog that you certainly were not the first person to trumpet the benefits of self-publishing.

I think people might be hard-pressed however to argue that you have not been the BEST advocate.

While I am of course tempering my expectations – after all it is simply one short story – so far – I feel like I finally have “skin” in the game.

It is an invigorating feeling to be “published” after 25 years of just thinking about it.

So thank you so much for all the great information and a great place to come and hang out for different viewpoints, information, opinions, etc.

It has been fascinating reading the past few months – and as you have repeatedly said – we are just getting started.

Doing the math - I have to sell about 1,000 copies of this short story in order to replace our dishwasher that our critter ATE. If I reach that goal - I will gladly donate $100 to the First Book cause.

Thanks again,

Raymond

Ratticus: A True Tale from Critter Corner

author Scott Nicholson said...

LOL. Are we still having this debate? Is this even a debate anymore?

Jason said...

I just don't understand why authors who are sending query letter after query letter don't publish their books for Kindle/Nook in the meantime. They can still query if they really want to while starting to make money now.

It just doesn't have to be an either/or. If you really want to see your book on the shelf in a bookstore or library then keep going for traditional publishing. But at the same time publish the work as an ebook yourself. What have you got to lose?

An author's goal should be to be read. Period. The method shouldn't matter. Validation should come from sales, not from a blessing by the almighty Big 6.

Anyhow, these days an author's chances of finding an agent and getting traditionally published are better if they have strong indie ebook sales. Ebook sales are the new query letters!

Looking forward to finishing my first ebook, about an old western ghoul who kills with his ancient ragged hangman's noose. Called I'm a Frayed Knot...

Alisha said...

Joe...can you please make a freaking banner for all of us indies to post on our blogs and websites that says, "I listen to Joe! Indie Writers Rule!" or something equally juvenile but TRUE! I swear to God, if I ever meet you in person I will kiss your face AND buy you a beer! You're my indie rock star inspiration! You changed my life! I was making shit at 3 small presses. I only have one novella and one full length released as an Indie author but they are making fast, good money. I'm getting back all the rights on my other books and have six books now sitting on my laptop, ready for final editing and cover art. I love you! And the T Rex thing made me laugh out loud! Joe Rules!!!!!

Michael McClung said...

Here's the thing that hasn't been talked about yet: Those Who Are Not Bix 6, or small press publishers.

Many of them do it out of love for their particular genre, and have been scraping by financially for years if not decades. I wonder if the new paradigm will lift them up or if it's more likely to destroy them.

Ditto periodicals- I would hate to see The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, or Analog, or Ellery Queen's fold.

Look, traditional publishing kicked me in the teeth. I've shared my story before, so I won't bore anybody here with that. Joe Konrath maybe didn't save my life, but he definitely kicked my writing career in the ass, for which I will forever be grateful.

All I'm saying is there are those in the traditional publishing wolrd who *have* kept the faith, and sometimes it's about more than money.

I've just put up a book of short stories on Amazon, but I'll still be submitting stories to those markets where I think they fit.

One thing I will never, ever do again, though, is let anyone touch a novel-length work of mine.

RobynBradley said...

AMEN. (Not sure if this was mentioned in the gzillion comments before mine, but ever think of running for president, Joe? Bet you could whip the country into shape with your tell-it-like-it-is ways.) :)

RobynBradley said...

Okay -- I've had a chance to read all the comments (doesn't look like anyone has nominated you for president). The comments are almost as entertaining and insightful as your blog post -- almost! Awesome stuff, everyone! :)

Joe Konrath said...

LMAO, Alisha.

Here's your banner:

http://www.jakonrath.com/wwjad.jpg

Anyone who wants to use it for whatever they'd like, feel free...

Rob Cornell said...

Curse you, Selena. I already had enough to read, but I had to go and buy Blake's book! Sounds awesome.

And if anyone here likes humorous yet hard-boiled mysteries, my latest just hit Amazon today. I call it 72,000 words of hard-boiled karaoke noir. Yes, I said karaoke noir.

The title is Last Call

Rob Cornell said...

@nwrann

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.

Pretty limited. Don't really want to get into gory details. Would be interested in any ideas you have, though.

Luis Vila said...

I've always wanted a kick start into getting my book published and I think article did the trick.

I definitely believe the industry is going to change. Slowly, but surely. We just have to be patient

Rai Aren said...

Love the banner, Joe! Too funny!

I too, find your advice super-helpful. It's shown me the way to greater success in my writing career. The archaeology adventure novel I co-authored, Secret of the Sands, is selling better than ever. The new second edition has been on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US & UK for nearly four months now - what a great feeling! I am deeply thankful for each & every reader who votes with their $$ to get a copy of our book, that they will spend a few hours of their valuable time to give it a read. It's incredibly rewarding. I would never have had that had I not gone indie.

The advice you have shared here has freed me, boosted my confidence, and helped me to focus my time more productively. I will never again query anyone for representation (came close a few times) or publication. It's a huge weight (& time suck) that has been lifted off my shoulders. That time will now be spent honing my craft, creating new works, and expanding my readership. In every step of the way I have carefully, painstakingly, and lovingly devoted my full attention and maximum available resources. I'm always learning. Plus, what we all really want is readers, to entertain our audience, all the rest is just stepping stones to get to that point.

I've also had a long road to get to where things are now. I will echo the statements made a number of times in your blog, by you and the commenters - it has been tons of hard work, but lucky for me, I actually love it. I've met the nicest, coolest people during this journey and I am creatively fulfilled. It's very true that you need to look at it as being self-employed (which I welcome whole-heartedly, btw). Just to get the book up & running took working with 4 different people who were our editors, plus graphic designers for the covers, website, & marketing materials, plus print & ebook formatters. I've also worked very hard to build a good sized online platform. It's been a labor of love & I'm very proud of it all. I've had great collaborative experiences. I love the creative process, enjoy editing, and love working with artists on designs. Having control, including over pricing, release dates, etc. is heavenly!

I thought I'd share something else: I read this quote in an article about the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg:

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said to Sheryl, "Go where there is growth. Where there's fast growth, that's what creates opportunities." She took his advice and now adds: "Going to things you really believe in, whether they seem obvious or not, is the most important thing."

This is exactly what is happening with the ebook market and as most of us scribes will attest, we are working on what we really believe in, with all of our hearts and souls. Bodes well for all of our futures!

I'm currently mentoring another author, who has tremendous potential & writes fantastic books, along this path and have encouraged this person to devour the posts in this blog. I enjoy sharing what I know, and look forward to the day when this person is a roaring success, which I have no doubt will happen, because of talent, focus & always asking WWJAD? ;)

Thanks so much Joe for all that you do!! :)

Rai Aren, co-author of the award-winning mystery novel Secret of the Sands - only $2.99 on kindle!

Rai Aren said...

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."


Congratulations Robin!! That must be a wonderful feeling. This is a new beginning for you & your family. You & Michael have worked hard and skillfully achieved success on your own terms through talent, focus & dedication, and are now enjoy the freedom and rewards of that - very, very inspiring!

Wishing you, Michael & all of the authors here, continued & growing success... :)

Rai

Marie Simas said...

I have only one book written under this pen name, released in September, 2010.

I don't promote much.  As of today, my book is #1 in the Kindle essay category in the UK. NUMBER 1! And I'm #3 overall (paperback and Kindle).

Sales have been slowly climbing, slowly, slowly...

I'm releasing another series of humor essays next month. Just proving that you can rise in the rankings-- with only one book, with no promotion, no name recognition, and with no platform.

By the way, I write in a few different genres (with other pen names) and I make a fucking grip.

Joe is right. Hell, write under a pen name if you are still chasing the big 6.  You have nothing to lose. Don't be a pussy.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Joe, but personally, if I'd never published with a big 6 publisher, I would've always felt like I didn't reach my goal, and I was never quite good enough.

Self publishing is definitely the way of the future (or at least the way of right now), and I've made almost as much money off my self published books as I did off my published books, soon to be more, but without the experience of being published and accomplishing something only a tiny fraction of writers have accomplished, self publishing would've always felt like I came in second place.

Personally I know of several self published writers who are still shooting for a publisher for this same reason, so the draw is still there for a lot of those people who dreamed of being published novelists.

Dave Zeltserman said...

I thought I'd put my 2 cents in. As far as film deals go, it's not impossible to get a book optioned without a publishing deal, as I know since I got Outsourced optioned before I got a publishing deal for it, but it does make things a lot harder and you have to jump through a lot more hoops. Same thing is true with foreign rights deals--it's possible to sell foreign rights for an unpublished book, but it's so much easier to sell the rights when a book deal is in place. Film is a crapshoot and can take forever to happen, but the money can be significant. Money can also be pretty good with foreign rights.

The one big wildcard in all this is the iPad. I think Apple has sold something like 16 million of them (and countingQ), and while iPad owners can install the Kindle app, the iPad owners I've talked to just buy from the iBookstore -- and these are smart people but they didn't realize the Kindle app was an option for them. I have no idea if these iPad owners are typical or not, but if they are, the iPad is going to keep publishers fat and happy for a long time, at least if the iBookstore continues to push mostly bestellers and mainstream books.

Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense for writers to look at all options--there are definitely positives to being published given the right deal, just as there can be benefits for retaining your rights and doing it yourself.

T.J. Dotson said...

However, to refer back to Jessica on the "name recognition" thing, legacy publishing can provide name recognition to an audience beyond the indie publishing audience. Believe it or not, Joe, I've encountered a fair number of even self-publishers of e-books who haven't a clue where you are. Or who Amanda Hocking is.

Being published by a brick-and-mortar corporation doesn't guarantee name recognition.

I can name several published authors (who I know in real life) who's names most people wouldn't know either.

Also history reminder, Joe was traditionally published before he self-published. More people know who he is now, after he took his career into his own hands and self-pubbed.

I'm still confused by the people who don't see the key to getting traditionally published, is going to be to self-publish first. This isn't an either/or scenario, you can do both.

Jenni Holbrook-Talty said...

I read the blog then read the comments and had a million thoughts and things I wanted to say, of course I got to the end and all I could think of was...why wouldn't an author self-publish with the way things are currently.

My friends who have been published for years are complaining their print runs are getting smaller, shrinking distribution and their advances are being reduced, not to mention the crappy royalty rate for eBooks, which are without a doubt a popular way to read books.

I have other friends who are getting their first contracts and am amazed at some of the advances---1200-5k. Yes, yes, yes, I know, many more getting more, but really, if your not established, you're not getting much.

Then add in the promotion...i know authors who are spending more than their advance on promotion. But they have to because they have to hit the magic numbers so they can get picked up for second book...

OK -- I'm honestly not saying traditional publishing is bad. Hell, if I got Amanda's deal, I'd probably say yes. Right now, if what Bob Mayer or Barry Eisler walked away from, I'd probably say yes...I don't know. But the reality is that self-publishing is a VIABLE option for today's author and there is nothing wrong with it.

Coral Russell said...

I had a comment on my blog about DRM and I wondered why books were so different from the other art forms.

Indie music and movies don't have the frowned upon level that self-publish/Indie-publish does. Could be for several reasons. Just thought that was interesting.

PJ Jones said...

Hey, awesome article and so true. The only positive with the traditional pub is the grammar gets kinda thoroughly edited - 'cause I ain't no good at grammer!

AllureVanSanz said...

I feel a little lost sometimes because of the changes in the industry. I finally received a reputable agent a year ago. I went on submission and quickly heard "I like it but not sure if we could market it" "Not sure if this trend has caught on wide enough to make the project worthwhile"...among many other frustrating "loved it but--" rejections. Now the field of editors we can go to is narrowing. But instead of hoping for "the call", I'm almost afraid to get an offer, and oddly, not at all afraid of rejections.

I have to wonder if I'm wasting time going for something that isn't going to do me any favors financially. It's not about vanity for me. I want to do what I love, and I want to make money at it. I don't need to hold a book, I just need to take my daughter to Disney World before she's too old to get that shine in her eyes when she sees one of those people in the Disney suits. LOL

A wish on a leaf released in the wind--just putting this worry out there to get rid of it before getting back to work on my next indie.

If you do get through all 270 comments to mine, thank you for the plain speak.

Best,
Allure

Tara Maya said...

It's not about vanity for me. I want to do what I love, and I want to make money at it. I don't need to hold a book, I just need to take my daughter to Disney World before she's too old to get that shine in her eyes when she sees one of those people in the Disney suits.

I know how you feel. Right before I decided to go indie, I was still in submission with my novel, and actually decided to turn down an offer (albeit not of Eisler ilk) because I felt at this point I would do better going indie. The decision terrified me. I've been growing more and more grateful I made that decision ever since.

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

Alisha said...

OMG! I love the banner, Joe! PERFECT!!! I laughed so hard and then I put it up on my website.

Check it out. On my Home Page.

www.alishapaige.com

You should make matching bracelets to pass out at confereces just like the rubber WWJD bracelets!

Thanks so much!

Suzan Harden said...

@Rob Cornell and anyone else on a tight budget,

www.paint.net for cover design. It's free (but please make a small donation if you can). Spend a few hours learning how to use it. Or hire the kid next door who's a wizard at Photoshop for pizza money.

www.istockphoto.com I bought a vampire chocolate bunny picture for roughly $8 for full cover rights. Hell, I was amazed I found a vampire chocolate bunny picture.

www.ninacordoba.com Formatting instructions on her blog, though again, I would respectfully ask that you buy one of her books.

Editing--trade with writer friends. Lots of free websites dedicated to this. I'd offer but I make Marines and newbie writers cry.

Best wishes on your journey!


@Joe--Love the banner! It's on my blog. Can honestly say I already practice WWJAD.

Alisha said...

Forgot to add...for those of you who aren't DENSE, here is a great place to promo Indie Books for free, talk shop with other Indie authors and connect with readers without all the stupid rules and restrictions.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Worldwide_Indie_Novelists/

wannabuy said...

@Robin:"Then why are the big-six publishers putting in non-compete clauses that LIMIT how often you can put out a new book? "

To succeed, an author has a *far* better chance with 3+ good ebooks out there. The big6 are killing the author's brand/career with the non-compete.

If going with the big6 isn't for the money, it is vanity publishing.


Neil

Mike Faricy Author said...

Joe, Thanks for the constant drumbeat, its great to hear. There is so much to do being an indie it can be overwheling. But anything is better that waiting 12-18 months for ink on paper, that's if you could find an agent/publisher remotely interested. Keep tapping keys!

Lanie Jordan said...

I'm getting ready to self-publish my first non-free-read story, so I've been trying to read everything I can--which, of course, includes your blog. I've been reading it for a few months now, but this is my first time commenting.

I'd already decided to self-publish before I read any of your posts, but it definitely helped cement the idea for me. I'm not going in with any expectations of making a lot of money (though I'd absolutely love to, of course), but I won't make a dime if I don't try, right? My book doesn't do me any good sitting on my harddrive.

So, thanks for the blog! It's definitely helped to inspire this soon-to-be-indie author. :)

Robin Sullivan said...

Jason said...
Anyhow, these days an author's chances of finding an agent and getting traditionally published are better if they have strong indie ebook sales. Ebook sales are the new query letters!


I totally agree. I'm always surprised when I hear somoene was asked by an agent to remove their books from sale while it is being shopped - I've never understood what the logic in that is.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Andrew said...

Question - what is the best way to cultivate fans? Twitter? Facebook? Your own forums?

Shéa MacLeod said...

Joe said: "Here's your banner:

http://www.jakonrath.com/wwjad.jpg

Anyone who wants to use it for whatever they'd like, feel free..."

I am such a geek. I totally did it! hahaha

Rob Cornell said...

Added the banner to my website with a link back here. Good stuff.

http://www.rob-cornell.com

Kim Richardson said...

Ah...Mr. Joe. You made my morning! As a newbie, i'm looking for the best advice i can find - advice that make sense to me. And yours does.
Love your blog :)
Kim

Kelley said...

@Robin, Nwran, Jada, & Kathleen,

*blushing*

Thanks, guys.

I'm in the process of putting together a print edition. And yeah, I will definitely follow up w indie bookstores and libraries.

Times are changing, and it is what it is. It still makes me a little sad, tho. Eh.

(And um, when I get that print edition, I will definitely sneak it into a bookstore and get a picture. Front table, center spot. *snort*)

Kelley said...

Got my banner. Sa-weet.

Robin Sullivan said...

Luis Vila said...I definitely believe the industry is going to change. Slowly, but surely. We just have to be patient

For my 2 cents...I think "slowly but surely" ship sailed. Since Nov 2010 I've seen the world change at lightspeed.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Robin Sullivan said...

Rai Aren said...Congratulations Robin!! That must be a wonderful feeling. This is a new beginning for you & your family. You & Michael have worked hard and skillfully achieved success on your own terms through talent, focus & dedication, and are now enjoy the freedom and rewards of that - very, very inspiring!

Thank you Rai Aren - I predict many others will find similar results. Opportunity, talent, hard work, perseverence = the win.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Wishing you, Michael & all of the authors here, continued & growing success... :)

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

Karen Cantwell said...

Righto. After reading this blog just a year ago now, I got to work and formatted my novel. I published on June 15th, 2010. As of today's date, I've sold over 30,000 Kindle copies alone, but ever better than that, I now have readers. People email me or post on my FB Fan page, telling me how much they love my book and asking me when the next one will be out. There's my validation, thank you very much!


I have to stop reading this blog. I just bought the first in your series, and you're about the 50th new-to-me author I've bought since I got my Kindle 3 months ago. At $0.99, it's not a question of cost; it's a question of when I'm ever going to have time to read all this good stuff I keep buying.

--
Robert Bruce Thompson
thompson@ttgnet.com

Anonymous said...

Coming in anonymously here for reasons that will soon be obvious, although many of you would recognize my name. I've had good success in epublishing over the last year and am contemplating going the traditional route. Why?

I was recently approached by a publisher to buy the rights to a couple of my ebooks. I had a nice phone conversation with the editor, explained how much money I was making daily, did a little bit of the math with her and said, "It would have to do better than those numbers extrapolated over a few years to make sense, and I would have to be able to keep publishing my other ebooks."

The number that came back was not insulting. I would have agreed in an instant a year ago. Now, I'm still hesitant. Of course I had no trouble finding an interested agent, so I'm cautiously moving forward with negotiations. I can already tell you that e-royalty offers are improving, albeit not enough.

I'm about 75% sure that I'd make more money going solo than signing this offer. However, this number dips to 50/50 when I imagine a synergy between a limited sale of a couple of my most marketable books combined with my ability to write quickly and well and add more books to my shelf. Given that, a Big Six contract could be a hedge.

What I mean by a hedge is that I'm not convinced that things will go this way forever. Amazon could slash royalties to 20% tomorrow, for example, and the equation would suddenly look very different.

And if ebooks continue to soar--as I expect they will--I'll have done the equivalent of putting 1/3 of my portfolio in bonds just as the S&P was going into a major bull market. There are worst mistakes to make than that.

BTW, the money on the table is not Amanda Hocking money, by any stretch, but it's enough to pay all cash for a house.

J.T. Dunsmere said...

@Selena Kitt
We interrupt this post to inform you that Blake Crouch's RUN is making a "run" for the top 100...

I read RUN three weeks ago and I'm still scared. It's destined to become one of the all time dystopian apocalyptic classics, right up there with Matheson's I AM LEGEND. Can't believe that Miramax hasn't bought the rights yet because it's going to be a huge movie.

Anonymous said...

Robin Sullivan said...
Jason said...
Anyhow, these days an author's chances of finding an agent and getting traditionally published are better if they have strong indie ebook sales. Ebook sales are the new query letters!

I totally agree. I'm always surprised when I hear somoene was asked by an agent to remove their books from sale while it is being shopped - I've never understood what the logic in that is.


This request was made of me by my agent and I bucked and kicked a bit. He consulted his fellow agents (at a very good agency) and they came back agreeing with him, that the novel should not be sold as an indie ebook while being shopped because if it failed to sell well, that could scare off potential buyers, and because, if it did sell well, that would cannabilize potential readers of the print version.

I'm not saying I agree with this logic, I'm just reporting.

Another Anon said...

"What I mean by a hedge is that I'm not convinced that things will go this way forever. Amazon could slash royalties to 20% tomorrow, for example, and the equation would suddenly look very different."

This is wise counsel. The weaker the traditional publisher gets, the stronger Amazon's position gets, and the more leverage they have to do what they want. When they control over 50% of the book market, why would they continue to offer a 70% royalty? If they back it down to 35% again and traditional publishers reach parity with that, e-publishers could be at a distinct disadvantage.

And if Amazon creates a premium listing section that most writers couldn't afford, or creates a separate category for indie writers ... big problems.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

I'm not saying I agree with this logic, I'm just reporting.

Well, of course they'd say that, wouldn't they? Once one realizes that publishers, agents, and bookstores all consider ebooks--and particularly self-published ones--to be a deadly threat, everything makes sense. All of them are doing everything they can to kill ebooks, because they understand that ebooks are going to kill all of them.

Also, on a related note, am I the only one that's noticed that ebooks have a much larger than 29.5% market share, probably over 50% already? All of the numbers we saw in that AAP report are dollars, not units. People buy and read units, and it seems likely given those dollar figures that ebooks are already outselling all print combined in units. And that's with only a minority of people using ereader hardware and ereader apps as of now, albeit most high-volume readers have already made the shift.

I don't see bookstores or publishers surviving much longer. I think B&N will be out of the print book business and bankrupt within a year, spinning off the Nookstore as the only survivor. Without bookstores, big publishers are pretty much doomed. They can't survive on selling just 100 or 200 titles in Costco and WalMart and airport shops. And when there are no longer any publishers or bookstores to speak of, agents are superfluous.

Everyone comments about how the shift to ebooks is happening much faster than expected. But they ignore the fact that we're still on the toe of what will probably be an exponential curve, so the rate of change is continuing to accelerate.

--
Robert Bruce Thompson
thompson@ttgnet.com

Selena Kitt said...

If they back it down to 35% again and traditional publishers reach parity with that, e-publishers could be at a distinct disadvantage.

I was making more at the 35% rate than I am now, because I was paid on LIST price, and Amazon discounted my books on their own. I imagine if they go back to this, the market will adjust.

And if Amazon creates a premium listing section that most writers couldn't afford, or creates a separate category for indie writers ... big problems.

Not necessarily. Barnes and Noble does this (separates "Pubit" authors). They have also taken certain books (i.e erotica and erotic romance) off their sidebar bestseller list - and some of us are still making $1000 a day over there.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

This is wise counsel. The weaker the traditional publisher gets, the stronger Amazon's position gets, and the more leverage they have to do what they want. When they control over 50% of the book market, why would they continue to offer a 70% royalty? If they back it down to 35% again and traditional publishers reach parity with that, e-publishers could be at a distinct disadvantage.

I'm sure Amazon would love to cut the royalty rate, but there are some pretty compelling competitive reasons they can't do so. Amazon is just one of many sources for ebooks, and their market share is falling, not rising. If I were publishing on Amazon and they cut royalties dramatically, I'd simply remove my book from Amazon and leave it up on B&N, Smashwords, etc. Amazon has some degree of customer lock-in with their proprietary DRM'd format, but the Kindle will happily read .MOBI ebooks sold by anyone. That means giving up DRM, of course, but more and more indie authors are realizing that DRM is their enemy, not their friend.

--
Robert Bruce Thompson
thompson@ttgnet.com

Stephen Knight said...

@Robert Bruce Thompson

Oh, never underestimate the corporation's desire to survive. They'll figure something out, for sure.

Though I'd love to be in a boardroom when someone recommends the publisher give back 35% royalties to the authors. And if that person were to go hog wild and recommend a 70% payback, well... the bloodletting would be remarkable, I'm sure.

City of the Damned
Hackett's War
The Gathering Dead

Anonymous said...

@RBT: "People buy and read units ..."

People buy them. There is no evidence they read them. In fact there's lots of anecdotal evidence that many people are buying way more books than they can read. You just discovered 50 NEW readers and bought a ton of new books and don't know when you'll have the time to read them.

Many people who've had e-readers for under a year have far more books on their devices than they intend to read. Eventually that backlog could slow the rate of purchases. I think it's likely that in 2012, when saturation reaches 50%, we will see a slowdown.

And e-readers cannot reach 100% of the market. The fastest growing populations are the elderly and groups that don't traditionally read as much. The elderly will be the slowest to adopt the new technology if they ever do. The other populations... who can say?

If brick and mortar stores go away altogether and publishers fold, then yes, e-readers can reach past 65-75%, but only because the overall pie will have shrunk.

Christy Pinheiro said...

The elderly will be the slowest to adopt the new technology if they ever do.

Where did you get this information? I hear exactly the opposite, because tablets and e-readers turn every book into a large-print edition, and that's what older readers want.

Anonymous said...

The fastest growing populations are the elderly and groups that don't traditionally read as much. The elderly will be the slowest to adopt the new technology if they ever do.

Uh, you got it all wrong on the elderly. My parents (90 + years old) are living in a retirement community, and they all read like there's no tomorrow. We can't keep my mom in large print books (yes, the kindle is on it's way), and all her friends are reading 4-5 books a week. When you get old and can't get out of the house much there's two choices -- TV and books. Every retirement community I've been to has a library, bookroom, book share program.

Anna

Joe Konrath said...

Coming in anonymously here for reasons that will soon be obvious, although many of you would recognize my name. I've had good success in epublishing over the last year and am contemplating going the traditional route. Why?

Okay, I'll take your points one by one, and try to help you better understand the choice you're considering.


I was recently approached by a publisher to buy the rights to a couple of my ebooks. I had a nice phone conversation with the editor, explained how much money I was making daily, did a little bit of the math with her and said, "It would have to do better than those numbers extrapolated over a few years to make sense, and I would have to be able to keep publishing my other ebooks."

Keep in mind that right now, at this very moment, ebooks are outselling print. And that gap will widen considerably in the upcoming months and years.

That means you are essentially selling your erights as the main rights, and you won't make the same as you would on your own because:

1. You make better royalties as an indie.

2. You control the price. You won't sell as many at $9.99 as you will at $2.99. And your publisher will price higher than you do.

The number that came back was not insulting. I would have agreed in an instant a year ago. Now, I'm still hesitant. Of course I had no trouble finding an interested agent, so I'm cautiously moving forward with negotiations. I can already tell you that e-royalty offers are improving, albeit not enough.

They'll eventually get to 50%. But even so, 50% forever isn't as good as 70% forever.

I'm about 75% sure that I'd make more money going solo than signing this offer. However, this number dips to 50/50 when I imagine a synergy between a limited sale of a couple of my most marketable books combined with my ability to write quickly and well and add more books to my shelf. Given that, a Big Six contract could be a hedge.

I have seven Big 6 books in print, and an eighth coming out (I signed that deal before making money with ebooks.)

They are NOT a hedge. They are costing me hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Joe Konrath said...

What I mean by a hedge is that I'm not convinced that things will go this way forever. Amazon could slash royalties to 20% tomorrow, for example, and the equation would suddenly look very different.

If Amazon slashes royalties, they won't do it for only indies. They'll do it across the board, for publishers as well. Then you'll be making even less than the 20% Amazon offers.

And if ebooks continue to soar--as I expect they will--I'll have done the equivalent of putting 1/3 of my portfolio in bonds just as the S&P was going into a major bull market. There are worst mistakes to make than that.

No. You'll put 1/3 of your portfolio into something with terrible returns and zero advantage.

Print sales are drying up. Bookstores are disappearing. And working with a publisher, for many different reasons, is a giant headache.

You'd be buying real estate on an island that is sinking and a government who has no idea what to do about it.

BTW, the money on the table is not Amanda Hocking money, by any stretch, but it's enough to pay all cash for a house.

If you need the cash for a house, and it is money that will change your life, that's something to seriously consider.

But this will ultimately be a house loan, and it will have a lot of interest attached to it. You will lose money in the long term. Probably many times the amount of the advance.

If you want to email me to talk more, I'm around. It sounds like you're already aware you'd make more money on your own, so you gotta figure out what draws you to this deal. Is it the big lump sum up front? Is it the prestige and allure of a print deal? Is it legitimacy? Vanity? Nostalgia?

My first 3 book deal earned me $110,000, which, at the time, was enough to buy a house. It took six years to earn out that advance.

I just made $110,000 in two months on my own.

There is no way I'd sign with a publisher again. The risk is too high.

Anonymous said...

"Uh, you got it all wrong on the elderly. My parents (90 + years old) are living in a retirement community, and they all read like there's no tomorrow. We can't keep my mom in large print books (yes, the kindle is on it's way), and all her friends are reading 4-5 books a week. When you get old and can't get out of the house much there's two choices -- TV and books. Every retirement community I've been to has a library, bookroom, book share program."

I didn't say they don't read. They read more than the average person. By a mile. But if they adopt this new tech faster or as fast as younger people, it'll be the first time in tech history for that to be true. Several people I know over the age of 60 just got their first cell phone this year. Two were gifted Kindles. One likes it, while the other decided she preferred print. Many seniors are just now discovering the internet in a big way, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll adopt e-readers at the same time.

Dee said...

Joe, do you really think Amazon won't EVER change their royalty structure? What if they changed it to 50% and publishers matched that? It wasn't 70% before? B&N could match that and make more money (if they're still around).

David Gaughran said...

One thing to remember here is that the AAP figures only include trade-published e-books.

They do not include self-published e-books.

When you add those in, e-book market share is much bigger.

Dee said...

Total books sales on all platforms, in all categories, hit $805.7 Million for January 2011. This was a slight drop from January 2010′s $821.5M sales (-1.9%). These are net numbers. It would be interesting to see how much self-published books netted over the same period to see if this could account for the drop in numbers.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, do you really think Amazon won't EVER change their royalty structure?

The reason Amazon gives us 70% is because they also give publishers 70%.
It's the agency model.

If Amazon were to drop indie royalties to 50%, they'd also drop publishers to 50%. Then if you had ebooks with a legacy publisher, you'd be making 25% of 50%, or 12.5%. Plus agent fees.

Get it?

Amazon isn't going to give a better or worse royalty rate to any of its suppliers, whether they are Big 6 or indie. But Big 6 takes a cut of your royalties.

Robert Bidinotto said...

Having already been burned by a publisher who had my agent and me jumping through hoops for months to nail down a "sure-thing" book deal -- only to pull the plug after I'd delivered everything they asked -- I need no further encouragement to self-publish.

My first novel, HUNTER: A Thriller, will be out by summer, and you, Joe, will be in the "acknowledgments" for steering me toward this unprecedented opportunity. Muchas gratias.

D. Nathan Hilliard said...

Thanks for this blog post. It just reminded me of the stories I've been waiting for well over a year to see print. I guess if they're good enough to get accepted and disappeared down a hole into a publishers waiting queue, then they're good enough to go ahead and put up myself so at least people can read them.

Anonymous said...

Anon with contract offer again. First, let me thank you for your comments, and for everything. It's in large part because of this blog that I'm facing this rather fortunate problem. Of course, I know how to write a damn good story, but that had never been enough in the past.

Anon: And if ebooks continue to soar--as I expect they will--I'll have done the equivalent of putting 1/3 of my portfolio in bonds just as the S&P was going into a major bull market. There are worst mistakes to make than that.

Joe: No. You'll put 1/3 of your portfolio into something with terrible returns and zero advantage.


I think you're probably right. I also sold my Amazon stock when the market cap was 2.5B because I read an analysis saying that it was insane that Amazon had a tenth the sales of B&N or Borders but was valued the same. Big mistake.

On the other hand, I also sold my AOL when it was riding high. Not such a bad mistake. The end result of my investments is that I have played it more conservatively than most and avoided both the booms and the busts. I have a gut feeling that writers are going to do better now than they ever have before, but it's all so new that I don't feel I can count on that. I'm willing to sell the rights to a couple of my best properties while maintaining my right to independently produce more of the same.

My first 3 book deal earned me $110,000, which, at the time, was enough to buy a house. It took six years to earn out that advance.

The money on the table is a lot more than 110K. Even so, I still might not sign. There is, however, a number that is good enough and if the final negotations reach that number, I'll take it.

I suspect every writer has a number. Amanda Hocking took $2,000,000. I'll bet even Joe, Barry, or Blake would take an offer of $20,000,000. What is my number? I'm still working that offer.

One thing is for sure. It's a lot more than the $5,000 I would have settled on a year ago. I wouldn't have felt like I had a choice. I'm grateful to be a writer during a time when I have options.

wannabuy said...

@Robin:"For my 2 cents...I think "slowly but surely" ship sailed. Since Nov 2010 I've seen the world change at lightspeed. "

SS "Slowly but Surely" was capsized by the wake of the SS ebook back then. February's numbers were dramatic. The 'economy of scale' of the industry shifted between December 2010 and January 2011.

There are still reasons to publish (vs. DTP). But anyone getting a less than $20k offer should walk. Heck, anyone with less than 3 ebooks out there is missing their audience as Joe has pointed out.

The path is now e-book success and a publisher offer; the other way around just doesn't seem to be working anymore.

Watch those non-compete clauses...

Neil

Josie Wade said...

@Anonymous

Is your book deal for a single book or multiple books?

D. Nathan Hilliard said...

The fastest growing populations are the elderly and groups that don't traditionally read as much. The elderly will be the slowest to adopt the new technology if they ever do

Actually, everybody I know who owns a kindle is over forty. The only two young people I know who read ebooks use their phones...and I'm pretty confident they don't read as much as somebody who has bought a dedicated ereader.

Jon Mac said...

I especially like the bit about the "readers" being the gatekeepers. Right on!

Bob Mayer said...

My wife had an interesting comment when I told her about self-publishing some more of my backlist. She said I wasn't self-publishing, I was re-publishing books that had already been through the "vetting" process, been edited, hit bestseller lists, etc. If publishers had had any loyalty to me, they'd be pushing those books. All they cared about was numbers. Which is fine with me as I get the rights back.

I'm seeing an inverse sales record: traditional publishers shoot your book out and hope for velocity that first week. Usually, with some exceptions, your sales will never reach the level of that first week when the publisher is pushing it (because they stop pushing pretty damn quick). Then the sales trail off.

Doing it myself, I see decent numbers on launch, then the numbers climb. And climb. And climb. Because I'm pushing all the time and pushing and promoting grows and multiplies.

I've had editors at trad houses tell me they can barely promote their frontlist, forget about backlist.

Anonymous said...

@Josie - Multiple books. I'm aware of the risk this entails. There's a nice chunk of money on the table, but all I have to do is look at my Amazon royalty statements to know there's already a nice chunk of money on the table.

I have a number I'd jump at and a number that would elicit a yawn. The offer is closer to the jump than the yawn, but still, it's not an easy decision.

msthriller said...

I just published Burn Out two weeks ago today (after many near misses with agents and publishers). So far I have sold over 100 ebooks. But what is amazing to me is that I have just about that many PRE-sales for the paperback version - which won't be available until after May 1st. Are those good numbers for a first novel? I'm not sure - I don't have anything to compare it to. It sure feels good though.

Josie Wade said...

@Anonymous
How far apart are your two numbers? What will you do if the number falls in-between?

Plus the numbers are one thing, the restrictions on your work are another.

It sounds exciting and I can only imagine how nice it is to think about accepting and having your financial burden lifted in a kind of sure way. It's kind of heady and it seems like all you've been wanting, but that's the thing about the daydream and the reality there is so much to consider. When you first thought about getting a book deal you probably never even realized the potential of e-book publishing and now it's like comparing gemstones -- the flaws, the cut, clarity, and of course how it looks and feels on you.

I don't envy your dilemma (too much ;) ).

Selena Kitt said...

I don't envy your dilemma (too much ;) ).

Me neither. Honestly.

I guess the way I'd have to make this call is a) the cash. is it enough? or close to enough? and b) is the risk worth it?

Hard to know the last for sure. But as others have pointed out here, if you've never been published by legacy before, you could use that system to create a larger fan base than you have in ebook before (if) corporate publishing collapses or changes forever.

To me, this seems all corporate publishing is good for now. Getting a foot planted in both worlds before things fall apart, to reach more readers, who will be the ultimate gatekeepers.

The bigger your fan base, the bigger your brand, the more stable your future as an author in either world, right?

Anonymous said...

@Josie - Yes, I think you've got a good handle on my situation.

I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life either way. If I walk, I'll survive. Yesterday, I sold 1,000 books and collected $500 in royalties. If I sell out, I'll get a big chunk of change, lose more than half my daily income, but I'll have another book by summer and another by the end of the year. That daily royalty can be replaced. Nobody is offering to buy my imagination, my computer, or my fingers.

Mary Ann said...

I'm a longtime lurker. And I've been prodded to come out of the shadows. It's possible that I'm atypical but -- I'm an elderly person with a cellphone, a twitter account, a couple of blogs, a Kindle, and a firm intention to finish writing my paranormal and self-publish it.

I am also an avid reader. I probably go through a dozen books a week.

We old folks are certainly not all technophobes.

Josie Wade said...

Nobody is offering to buy my imagination, my computer, or my fingers.****

LOL. No, but that would make a great premise for a book.
God, help us if they could download our imaginations then we'd have no bargaining power.

Ok, I'm getting punchy so it must be late.

Good luck with your book deal.

Joe Konrath said...

Yesterday, I sold 1,000 books and collected $500 in royalties. If I sell out, I'll get a big chunk of change, lose more than half my daily income, but I'll have another book by summer and another by the end of the year.

This is where you need an agent to vet the contract.

Is there a non compete clause? First option clause?

Can you keep the book live until theirs is ready, or do you have to remove it immediately?

How many books is this for? What is their release schedule?

Can you use these characters in works you self publish?

Is this world rights?

Lots to consider...

Letisha said...

Hey Joe,

Not sure if you or any of your readers are interested in selling rights to their titles, but if they are they should check out Sparkabook. It's free to join and list rights also offers the advantage of becoming a part of an online publishing community. Check it out!

www.sparkabook.com

N. L. Earnshaw said...

OK I'm going for flagrant self promotion, not of my books, haven't written any, but of the 140+ books I am promoting through my site indieebooks.blogspot.com.
(at no charge to the writers)

I am just one of many sites where readers are coming to find self published books.

With 5000+ pageviews in the last 3 weeks I can assure you the readers are there.

Why do I do this? Am I making money? Yep if you count the whopping 30 cents I have made since putting in the Amazon affiliate links. The writers get their usual royalties and I get crumbs. That is how it should be anyway.

I am a reader and a fan of the creative community. Good luck to all of you, I for one want to see this indie revolution succeed.

Lead the way Joe !

Sidney said...

@Letisha Wow, have you picked the wrong room. May as well walk into a hospital nursery and announce you're buying babies.

Romana Grimm said...

Good question, Joe :-)

I hope I'm not, although it's way more difficult in other countries. In Germany ebooks haven't turned the tables yet so I decided to offer my work on smashwords et al. The double tax agreement is a pain but one I'm determined to conquer ... eventually. ;-)

And yes, I completely agree that these are exciting times for writers. If someone wants to hold on to their legacy deals, let them. That way there'll be more room for indies who want to do their own thing *g*

Cheers,
Romana

http://romanagrimm.de.tl/HOME.htm

Rachel Morgan said...

I am SOOO keen on self-publishing. I just wish it was easier to do in this country (South Africa). It seems a lot easier when you're a US resident! I know it's not impossible for a non-US resident to e-publish to Amazon and Smashwords, it's just a lot more admin.

Glynn James said...

Nice post, as ever. Well, you convinced me. I've been mostly lurking and watching this blog, but as of today I officially joined the ranks of the indies and put my first book out.

It was like saying goodbye to my daughter at the school gate, on her first day at school! O_O
(so I just go now? and come back later?)

Rob Cornell said...

@msthriller

I just published Burn Out two weeks ago today (after many near misses with agents and publishers). So far I have sold over 100 ebooks. But what is amazing to me is that I have just about that many PRE-sales for the paperback version - which won't be available until after May 1st. Are those good numbers for a first novel? I'm not sure - I don't have anything to compare it to. It sure feels good though.

I posted my first novel (which also had some near misses from agents) back in November. You've already outsold me. I'm hoping my second novel I just published will help bring up sales overall. And I'll have a third up early next month. Hopefully I'll catch up. :)

But as Joe has said many times, so much of this is luck. I'm hoping if I keep feeding the beast, my sales will take off. After all, I have gotten 5-star reviews from complete strangers on both novels now. So it seems I have an audience out there. I just have to find them.

James Scott Bell said...

I moderated a panel a couple of nights ago, which had an agent, an acquisitions editor for a traditional house, a graphics guy, an entrepreneur and a self-pub company rep. I was repping the writer, who right now has a traditional deal and is releasing some new (and soon some backlist) titles. The auditorium was packed.

It was interesting to hear the editor say, If e-pubbing is what you want to do, do it. His house is doing what all the houses are doing: trying to chart a new course. He admits it's gradual, but thinks that's a positive over the long term.

The agent issued the most warnings about "stars in your eyes." They were good warnings. This can't be a loosely thought out process, which is why the entrepreneur was ultimately most helpful. Got to think in small business terms (which is how any writer should think anyway: how you bring value to market, etc.)

It's the gold rush. The traditional publishers are milking cows and churning butter in Ohio. And people still need milk and butter. But authors are lighting out for California. Some will find a rich vein, others will end up being that crazy old coot still looking for a strike, and there will be gradients in between.

Sort of like publishing has always been.

Josie Wade said...

@Rob Cornell

I looked at your blog, book covers, and your sample writing you've got all the goods there. The only thing I might suggest is on your cover for Red Run the tag line - a thriller or mystery or however you want to market your books. The cover is a little ambiguous, but I like it. I'd also do this on your blog -- identify yourself as the type of writer you are and who your market is aimed at.

Other than that I'd say it's just a waiting game. -- hang in there. Hope that helps.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

Josie Wade said...

@Rob Cornell

I looked at your blog, book covers, and your sample writing you've got all the goods there. The only thing I might suggest is on your cover for Red Run the tag line - a thriller or mystery or however you want to market your books. The cover is a little ambiguous, but I like it. I'd also do this on your blog -- identify yourself as the type of writer you are and who your market is aimed at.

Other than that I'd say it's just a waiting game. -- hang in there. Hope that helps.


I think Rob needs to price the first full novel in his series at $0.99. He has some $0.99 titles up, but they're short stories, and few will pay $0.99 for a single short story by a writer unknown to them. Similarly, with his novels priced at $2.99, Rob is competing with lots of good novels at $0.99 and lots more novels by better-known authors at $2.99. If I'm going to pay $2.99 for a novel, it'll probably be by one of those many authors here from whom I've sampled full novels at $0.99. I mean, I still haven't bought all of Joe's stuff, and I already know there's no risk to buying one of his for $2.99 sight unseen.

--
Robert Bruce Thompson

David said...

@Rob: I read the sample for Red Run and really like it. Tight writing.

Anonymous said...

James Scott Bell,

I'm excited to see you here. Your books on writing are fantastic and have helped me tremendously over the years as I've taught myself how to write.

Anonymous said...

Joe, thank you SO much for your valuable information that you so kindly share with all of us. I cannot tell you the excitement I have found in reading your blog for hours and hours! It literally has made me so excited about my future and endless possibilities.

I spent HOURS reading your blog! :)

I have a question. Next month, I am e publishing my first e book! YAY :) Extremely excited. I was wondering how the payment works. Do you get a check in the mail? Or do they credit your pay pal account? How does this work?

Thanks so much again!

-A :)

Rob Cornell said...

Josie, Robert, and David:

Thanks all for the input and kind words. Much appreciated. I plan on having the next novel in my series put up this summer. I'll probably drop the price of the first one then. I have had RED RUN at 99 cents before, it bumped my sales a little, but not much. When I put it back to $2.99 I still got about the same about of sales.

I do have to say my newest got 4 sales the first day it was available on Kindle, and 3 the first day on Smashwords. Hopefully that trend continues. :) (I do need to stop checking my sales so often, though. I'm driving myself crazy.)

Anonymous said...

@Rob,

I was just wondering how payment works when you make a sale? Do you set up a paypal account with amazon? Or does amazon write you a check? How dies this work? Congrats! Thanks!

-A :)

Todd Lombardo said...

Question for you guys - a lot of self-publishing success stories I have seen are serialized fiction - e.g. a crime-fighting character back for more, or vampires, etc.

What happens when your writing is fiction that is not serialized but standalone books? Do you see self-publishing attractive for that scenario as well?

Thanks,
Todd

nwrann said...

@Robert Bruce Thompson wrote "Rob is competing with lots of good novels at $0.99 and lots more novels by better-known authors at $2.99."

Regardless of what price he sets for his books he'll be competing with "better-known" authors. Either "compete" is not the right word to use or price is no longer a selling point.

When there are so many books out there at .99 and 2.99 I don't think the books are competing against each other. Now they're competing against songs, redbox rentals and candybars.

Competition among authors was a real thing when a new hardback costs $24.95 and the reader buys one per week. Then there's a concern of "should I buy the new Anne Rice or should I buy the new Stephen King, which one is better?" that's competition. I don't think many people out there are fretting over paying $2.99 for "Unknown Author A" or "Guy I Saw On Blog B".

In my opinion, the competing factor isn't money, it's time and quality. (unless you price at higher than $2.99)

Dee said...

That's exactly right, nwrann. Sifting through is going to be the challenge in a universe populated by nothing but ultracheap books.

ezbeanz said...

Another interesting read. :)

K.C. May said...

I'm not making oodles, but I am selling over 2000 books per month as an indie, and I started in July 2010 with a single book. That's some decent pocket change -- enough to pay for the business side of things like cover art, web site and editing. "They" say that the average self-published book sells 100 copies in its lifetime. I don't think that's true anymore. Everyone I know who puts effort into writing good stories and prices them well is finding success far above that.

C. Pinheiro said...

"They" say that the average self-published book sells 100 copies in its lifetime. I don't think that's true anymore.

It's still true, because there will always be books like this:

Birth Control is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and also Robbing God of Priesthood Children!!

By the way, there is not a single lower-case letter in the entire book.

nwrann said...

@C. Pinheiro

I may have to rethink my stance that e-publishing and self-publishing won't lower the overall quality of books/literature

Tara Maya said...

Wow, I didn't even know there was an Amazon ranking of #10,092,383 in Books.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate Now on Smashwords
The Unfinished Song: TabooNow on Smashwords

John D said...

By the way, there is not a single lower-case letter in the entire book.

That's why the book costs $138, caps are expensive. I'm sure the e-book version will be only half that price, as virtual caps are less expensive than ink caps on paper.

Anonymous said...

I think my earlier comment was clipped, so here goes. The Big Six seem nuts not to embrace SP. No more wasted time or putting money into new authors who may or may not catch on with the public. Why not let the prospective authors take on the costs of their launches, and sit back and wait and see who emerges as the winner of the moment. That would be the time to dangle a legacy contract in front of the obvious moneymakers. Perhaps advances for the lucky few will actually increase.
Meanwhile, at least everyone has a chance to break in ,which they did not before, and it seems to me that the agents and publishers who survive will be able to turn this very much to their advantage. I've read that some of the best-seller authors have already backed publishers into giving a larger percentage of the money from ebooks to the authors. Imagine that. I think the survivors and the Deep Pockets will come out of this very nicely, as always.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Todd Lombardo - What happens when your writing is fiction that is not serialized but standalone books? Do you see self-publishing attractive for that scenario as well?

Todd, my suspense series books help sell each other, but it's my single cozy mystery that's going crazy right now---selling 200 copies a day.

So in my experience, yes, a stand-alone book can do very well. ;)

Anonymous said...

"They" say that the average self-published book sells 100 copies in its lifetime. I don't think that's true anymore. Everyone I know who puts effort into writing good stories and prices them well is finding success far above that."

There are over 750,000 e-books on Amazon. Someone ranked over 100,000 may not be selling more than a handful of books. Certainly less than a hundred I would think, which means there could be hundreds of thousands of people not selling even a hundred books.

The people polling each other for sales figures (that is, those who say "all my friends are doing really, really well at this") are a self-selected lot and probably represent a tiny fraction of self-published authors. There are people right here who haven't made enough after several months to get their first check cut from Amazon.

Kendall Swan said...

@Anon 2:56
Yes, a lot of people aren't going to make money much money self publishing. But that's even more true of traditional publishing.
The stereotype of the broke writer is a stereotype for a reason. But at least now, there is a greater chance for financial success than ever before.

Kendall Swan
NAKED Adventures- 26 Erotic Short Stories

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@anonymous - The people polling each other for sales figures (that is, those who say "all my friends are doing really, really well at this") are a self-selected lot and probably represent a tiny fraction of self-published authors. There are people right here who haven't made enough after several months to get their first check cut from Amazon.

I've been there. In June 2009, I uploaded six books to the Kindle Store. By this time last year, I was selling 25-50 books PER MONTH. This month alone, I will sell over 8,000 books. It's mind-blowing!

Some people have instant success. Most don't. I certainly didn't. But if you follow Joe's rules: a good book, a good cover and a good description, and you make some effort to promote your book, it should eventually start to catch on.

R.M. Prioleau said...

Joe, for your third point, are you saying you're using the 70% royalty rate? I thought I read somewhere in older entries of your blog about using the 35% rate instead in case Amazon discounts your book so you can still keep your entire royalty, regardless?

I just released my first book a little over a week ago and I'm using a lot of the advice you've given in your blogs to help me. I want to make sure I'm doing it all right. :)

Merrill Heath said...

@Robert Burton Robinson

How many books do you have for sale?

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Merrill Heath - How many books do you have for sale?

I have a four-book suspense series, a cozy mystery, a mystery, and a short story collection in the Kindle Store. Right now, the bulk of my sales are coming from the cozy mystery, Sweet Ginger Poison.

Here is a picture of my current Kindle sales for the month as 3:45 p.m. on April 19.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, a lot of people aren't going to make money much money self publishing. But that's even more true of traditional publishing."

Yes and no. With traditional publishing you don't have to pay to publish. Most of those who self-publish have to pay something, and some are paying several hundred dollars. Some others several thousand.

Look at how much Createspace charges for many of their services. You know there are people sinking some major dough into that. I mean $500 for a Kirkus review?! WTF? Hundreds more for junk e-mail PR releases? If somebody sells 1000 copies at 99 cents, and spent more than $300 to publish, they've basically subsidized people to read their books.

Anonymous said...

@Robert: You're very generous with your sales information. I don't think I'm alone when I say we all appreciate that. Thank you.

L. David Hesler said...

Great post, Joe!

Any time an artist or creator can cut out the middle man and be directly involved in the business of getting content to the consumers, it's a no-brainer.

I've only been in the indie publishing movement for a few months. Have I made a ton of money? No way. But in my efforts to make a name for myself AND get my work out there, have I made fans and friends? You bet.

Even better is the knowledge that I have a place to put my work. My novel is about to go live and I'm not worried about the process of waiting for SOMETHING to happen. I drive my own sales with my own writing. It's that simple. And that's how it works for all of us.

Connor Dix said...

I've only gotten a few sales and one good 5-star review on Amazon with only being published for a little over a month and I'm super happy. I got my Kindle for Christmas and when I saw the possibilities and self-pubbers out there I couldn't wait to dust off my book and get it out there. I'd rather have it out there on my own terms, since it's something I enjoy so much.

Anonymous said...

@Robert: How are your paperbacks doing? You think it's worth even doing print?

Robert Burton Robinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Anonymous (4:03 p.m.) - You're very generous with your sales information. I don't think I'm alone when I say we all appreciate that. Thank you.

You're more than welcome. I hope nobody sees it as bragging. In the past, Joe and others have shared their sales data on this blog, and it was very encouraging to me. Just paying it forward. :)

Robert Burton Robinson said...

How are your paperbacks doing? You think it's worth even doing print?

I know that some folks are doing very well with print, but so far I am not. Before the Kindle and CreateSpace came along I used to sell a few dozen paperbacks per month via Lightning Source. Now with CreateSpace I don't even sell that many. But it's not a problem with CreateSpace. Ebooks have just gotten so popular.

Another issue is that my newer books are around 37,000-40,000 words. (A couple of my early books are above 60K). They make for an easy read on a Kindle---or even a smartphone.

For my next book I was considering going Kindle-only, but my wife reminded that we need paperbacks for friends and family members who don't yet read ebooks. So I guess I'll continue to make them available even if they're not selling very well. ;)

Lee Rogers said...

When J.S. Bell turns up, you sort of know things are getting real serious in ebook publishing.

Merrill Heath said...

Anon said: @Robert: You're very generous with your sales information. I don't think I'm alone when I say we all appreciate that. Thank you.

Ditto. Congrats, Robert. It looks like things are going well. I hope it continues for you.

Merrill Heath
Novels by Merrill Heath

Basil Sands said...

#JS Bell

made me feel a bit more validated ;-)

Anonymous said...

@Robert, Thanks for posting your e book sales! I am excited to publish my e book next month! I am just wondering-how does amazon pay indie writers their royalties? I noticed it was a two week period statement. Is it through a paypal account ? Or does amazon write you a check and send you it in the mail?

Thanks you!
-a

Basil Sands said...

# amazon payments

They're paid straight to a bank account. I don't believe they even work with PayPal.

Less hiding from the IRS that way I guess.

Tara Maya said...

Robert Burton Robinson,

Thanks for sharing that data with us.

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

Eloheim and Veronica said...

On my website, I'm selling as many paperbacks as I am ebooks.

On Amazon, I am having the same results. I am selling almost exactly the same number of ebooks as paperbacks.

My genre is spirituality so that may have something to do with it.

I am signed up with Lighting Source. I joined http://www.ibpa-online.org/benefits/LightningSource.aspx to get 50% discounts on LSI uploads and deeper quantity discounts on book purchases.

Selling books from my site means I make a nice amount of cash per book, but it doesn't do anything for my Amazon ranking. It is fun though! I mailed off 9 just this morning.

Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

Things I have learned about self-publishing (so far)

Tara Maya said...

With traditional publishing you don't have to pay to publish. Most of those who self-publish have to pay something, and some are paying several hundred dollars. Some others several thousand.

When I was still chasing trad publishing, I flew to attend a conference in NY to pitch to agents. I could have self-published the book for less than just the plane ticket.

But even more to the point is the opportunity cost of NOT self-publishing. If the industry had been such that I could have started publishing five years ago, I would have written many more books by now. I foolishly let myself become discouraged and stop writing new books.

Tara Maya

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

Kathleen shoop said...

Nickolas la salla (sorry if name is spelled wrong--typing on phone) just bought your book! Looks great!

Kshoop.com
The Last Letter-- May 1 2011

Eloheim and Veronica said...

I should have mentioned that the cost of setting a paperback up was much more than the cost of setting up the ebook.

$200.00 interior formatting
$100.00 ish back cover/spine design and layout
$37.50 - submit title to LSI
$30.00 - order proof from LSI
$12.00 - annual title fee LSI

I think that was it.

So, $400 or so more to have the title available as a paperback in addition to ebook.

I know that many of my paperback customers would have bought the ebook if I didn't have the paperback available. But, not all of them would have.

People are buying multiple copies so they can give the book as a gift.

Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

Things I have learned about self-publishing (so far)

Stephen Knight said...

Some more numbers, if anyone is interested:

I have two novels, one novella, and two shorts up. Everything sells, some more than others, but one of the novels--The Gathering Dead--is red-hot smokin', by my standards.

It officially went on sale on 3/20/2011 (though curiously, I have one sale as of 3/19) and in its first week, it sold 20 units.

Next week, 56.

Week after that, 168.

Currently, it's standing tall at 681 for April, and it's at #20 on the horror list. As soon as I can eliminate Konrath, Crouch, and that Carpenter guy, I know it'll have a shot at #5, at least. :)

It's currently at the 99 cent price people love, and the updraft is causing movement with the other titles as well.

Don't let anyone tell you there's no chance at making money in this game. You won't be able to go out and buy a Gulfstream jet, but you just might be able to pay your mortgage every now and then. Unless you have a big note, like me!

Stephen Knight
City of the Damned
The Gathering Dead
Hackett's War

Anonymous said...

It just boggles my mind that one can move 5000 units of something every month and still be well under the poverty level. And writers are cool with this! No, ecstatic. You'd have to have three books selling 60,000 copies each (that's 180,000 books), and still only make what a newly minted teacher in California makes. @$2.99, half those sales would yield $180,000. Are writers so sure they wouldn't do half as well at $2.99?

Stephen Knight said...

"It just boggles my mind that one can move 5000 units of something every month and still be well under the poverty level. And writers are cool with this! No, ecstatic. You'd have to have three books selling 60,000 copies each (that's 180,000 books), and still only make what a newly minted teacher in California makes. @$2.99, half those sales would yield $180,000. Are writers so sure they wouldn't do half as well at $2.99?"

I love Anonymous posts...

I can answer only for myself, and that is I'm reluctant to upset the balance right this moment. Will I price The Gathering Dead at $2.99? Yes, I will; when, I'm not sure yet. I think it's prudent to see if I climb higher on the lists before I do something precipitous. Don't want to upset the apple cart, because I've got a bad back from a helicopter crash and it hurts to bend over.

Plus, I have more titles outbound, and once they're ready and posted for sale, I'll have more latitude to play with prices.

So do you have any skin in the game? What titles do you have out, and what are their price points?

Stephen Knight
City of the Damned
The Gathering Dead
Hackett's War

T.J. Dotson said...

With traditional publishing you don't have to pay to publish. Most of those who self-publish have to pay something, and some are paying several hundred dollars. Some others several thousand

A publishing (or music) contract isn't free money. Its a loan.

Publishing ones own books, is a business investment. Its risky, but you keep more of the reward and don't owe anyone anything.

Neither one is any better than the other. But I think what Joe (and others)are trying to point out is that today's writer has options. You don't have to sit around and wait, you can take action and try to steer your career.

$400 - $1000 bucks to launch a new business? That's chump-change.

nwrann said...

Since we're getting into the "mind boggling" here's what boggles my mind:

When people make the decision to self-publish and then throw things out there like this:

"But as Joe has said many times, so much of this is luck."

or

the need to play the price game so that readers "find" your work amongst all of the other .99 and $2.99 cheap-finds.

It seems like writers put all their faith in the fates. Like "Oh! I'm going to put out my new book on May 3rd because the wind will be blowing my direction and the moon will be pink".

Why don't self publishing writers make an effort to find their readers rather than have their readers find them?

Joe's .99 experiment, no offense, was tainted because he has a huge forum here. His name is mentioned in nearly every blog or article written about self-publishing for the last month (or more). When he put up that The List was .99 that challenge went out to TONS of readers, that started snapping it up to make it a success. Same thing with Trapped. Joe has FOUND readers for his books, they don't just stumble across his stuff because it's .99.

Joe's books don't sell well because of luck. I bet he could take his worst selling book, price it at .99, declare that he will donate $500 if it makes it to the top 100 and IT WILL MAKE IT. Not because of luck, but because he has an audience that he knows how to reach.

so why don't writers work at finding their readers and reaching their audience instead of hoping for a leprechaun to kiss them?

Rob Cornell said...

@nwrann

so why don't writers work at finding their readers and reaching their audience...

Because if it were that simple, everyone would do it. :)

Believe me, I promote my work on Twitter and FB. I post announcements on the Amazon forums. I could probably stand to spend more time on Kindle Boards, but I'm either writing or hanging with my kids. So time is limited.

The only sure thing in making sales is word-of-mouth. But it's like starting a fire in a strong wind. Getting those first sparks to catch and burn is the trickiest part. Once you got the fire roaring, you can burn the whole forest down if you want. :)

nwrann said...

@Rob Cornell

The only sure thing in making sales is word-of-mouth. But it's like starting a fire in a strong wind.

You're right, but that's a hell of a lot better than hoping for luck.

It seems like most writers are trying to start a fire in a strong wind without matches or a lighter and wishing for a flame. And then they wonder why nobody buys their book.

"If you build it they will come" only works with mystical baseball fields.

Christina Garner said...

As a filmmaker, I remember when the Canon XL1 camera came out and everyone thought they were a director. Soon, a glut of crap made it hard to get noticed. But guess what? Cream rises to the top. It did then and it will now in regards to self-pubbing.

Jon Mac said...

@Christina Garner - Yep, I agree. Same thing is going on now too with the HD SLR cameras. Eventually it is the skill and hard work that pays off. The new tools that technology offers (whether it is a high quality inexpensive camera or a computer and an ebook reader) just give opportunity to those with the will and desire to persist.

Werner said...

@ Anber

If you can't afford a Kindle, you can get the app for your PC or Mac for free.

http://www.indie-ebooks.com/2011/04/can%e2%80%99t-afford-a-kindle-or-nook/

Eric said...

@ Anber
@Werner

Another totally FREE software for e-book reading, converting and syncing is caliber. Well worth your time to check out.

http://calibre-ebook.com/

Basil Sands said...

Regarding cream rising to the top, I agree. Eventually a lot of the crap that is out there will start to die off as those writers realize how hard it is to write something coherent that audiences really like. A lot of the hype will simmer down, and those with really quality product still be standing when the cardboard facades have long fallen down.

Nature will take its course and the best will rise. Which is good, because Leprachaun kisses have a nasty cabbage and ale aftertaste that's hard to wash off.

www.basilsands.com

Just a Writer said...

I'm writing from Bangkok. I stopped into a bookstore at their mall and it was cool to see three of my books in the store. That is the advantage of going with a trad publisher.

And yet, with ebooks, I can reach a far wider audience but never experience the thrill of seeing your book in Thailand, Mongolia, or Sweden. That is also an excellent way to advertise your books. And yet, as cool as it is, selling 10 books a year in a Bangkok bookstore is no way to make a living.

nwrann said...

Anybody check out the Amazon.uk Kindle top 100? There are very few e-books priced over £2.

Good luck trying to be an indie in that market and competing on price.

David Gaughran said...

Hi all,

If anyone is interested in the European market, I have blogged about that today, covering the market share of e-books there, the factors restricting growth, why Amazon is not as dominant as in the US, and the additional challenges facing European self-publishers, and those publishing in non-UK markets.

For those that don't want to read the whole thing (it's about 1500 words), here are some quick takeaways:

1. E-book market share is about 5% in the UK and Germany, very low in Spain and Italy, but growing everywhere.

2. Sales tax on e-books in Europe is huge, over 20% in many cases, but very low on print books.

3. Kobo and Apple are making big moves.

4. European self-publishers face additional barriers to entry to the US market.

(CONTINUED IN NEXT POST)

David Gaughran said...

(CONTINUED FROM LAST POST)

5. Small publishers and self-publishers have restricted access to distribution channels.

6. European publishers are being investigated for price-fixing.

7. The Agency Agreement could be deemed illegal in the UK very soon.

8. Amazon only pays 70% royalties for sales to UK readers, 35% for sales to customers in all other European countries.

You can read the whole thing on my blog, but I want to place a health warning on the figures in the post. European numbers are much harder to come by and are less reliable, for example, e-reader market share is often determined by small-sample self-reported customer surveys, e-book market share is often announced by publishers associations without accompanying data. I am happy to correct any of the information in the post if any errors or omissions are brought to my attention in the comments or by email.

Full post here:

http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/you-can-go-your-own-way-european-publishers-double-down-on-americas-mistakes/

Dave

Romana Grimm said...

@Dave: Very interesting post. Im from Germany and find it extremely annoying that ebooks are taxed with 19% instead of 7%. I also didn't know that Amazon slashes royalties to 35% instead of 70% - how's that fair to authors? If they used paypal to forward earnings they wouldn't have to pay for wiring into foreign bank accounts. And even then it is downright *stealing* to keep half of the authors royalties. :-( (Smashwords only costs me 10% extra for paypal, and that's what everybody else has to pay too if they sell there. That darned double tax agreement is another case altogether, but one I can understand.)

Is anyone else as pissed as I am right now?

David Gaughran said...

Hi Romana,

I could get worked up by it, but I try and focus my anger on things I can change.

Look at it another way, if it helps. Amazon used to pay 35% on everything across the board. They then extended a preferred royalty rate of 70% on US sales under certain conditions (including price points). They have since rolled this out to Canada and the UK. There is talk of it going international. Patience!

The VAT situation is more frustrating to me because my customers will have to be an additional 20% sales tax on my books, raising the minimum level I can sell short stories at. It also means that my stuff will be different prices in different countries, which messes with marketing.

And yes, it's silly that Amazon can only pay us by cheque. I live in Sweden, and if I was to take a US cheque to the bank, it could end up costing me more than the value of the cheque to lodge it! Luckily, I have an Irish bank account also, and it's only a small fee there. But if I was Swedish, I wouldn't be able to self-publish. Stupid.

Dave

Josie Wade said...

@ David Gaughran (I'm sure I butchered the spelling but my iPad doesn't allow for easy maneuvering)

Thank you so much for the informative article. I was just wondering about Amazon UK market when you posted the link.

@Romana Grimm
I like the cover to your book. Where did you get your cover done?
Also the background picture on your blog is cool -- very atmospheric.

Romana Grimm said...

"@Romana Grimm
I like the cover to your book. Where did you get your cover done?"


Hey Josie, thanks for asking! The cover is a joint venture of myself and an author friend. She has the knowledge of photoshop and I supplied the drawing of the heart and the cherry tree branches. We're both no professionals, but between 11 authors and two people with talent we were able t realize it rather quickly. :-)

The background of my blog was supplied by blogspot, and I love it too :-)

Btw, and I know that it's shameless, my anthology (a project to help people in Japan) is live now and can be ordered. Unfortunately, because of book price control, my friends and I had to restrict distribution to the epubli store. Still, if anyone would like to support the Red Cross Organisation (even though the book is in German) I'd be very happy. The ebook costs roughly 4,30$ (2,99€). 80% go to the publisher, and therefore to the Red Cross. Thanks for taking a peek, and perhaps spreading the word to any German speaking friends :-)

http://www.epubli.de/shop/buch/Faltherzen-Romana-Grimm/7070

If you want to visit us on facebook, just enter "Faltherzen" into the search and I'll be happy to answer any and all question you might have.

Cheers,
Romana

Anonymous said...

Today's post on my blog is about the 99 cent vs. 2.99 pricing controversy.

http://annamurrayauthor.blogspot.com/

Joe, will you be providing an update on your experiment?

Rebecca Stroud said...

@Rob Cornell - Thank you for pointing out that although some of us "promote" as much as possible, sales are still not stratospheric (or even close).

And, I agree, that time can become very limited...as in sometimes "real life" gets in the way. I.e., I have done very little writing, let alone promotion, recently because I've had one family issue upon another (you know, those shoes that keep dropping?). So, therefore, my career has taken a - hopefully - temporary backseat to the priorities of my loved ones.

Anyway - and again, hopefully - I'll be back in the game soon and with a vengeance. However, it will still seem like starting from scratch....losing momentum and all that. But that's the way the ball bounces and I just have to bounce with it.

Rebecca Stroud
Devil's Moon
A Three-Dog Night
Zellwood: A Dog Story
The Animal Advocate

Transient Drifter said...

Having just read the section in "Newbies Guide to Publishing" that talks about POD being a rubbish thing to do, I'm quite amused to see how things have changed since '06. Just makes me laugh :)

nwrann said...

I recently mentioned how self-pubbed authors need to do more promotion, need to FIND their readers, rather than sit back and HOPE for LUCK and the 99 cent bargain shoppers. (btw, if you're "promoting" on FB and Twitter, what are you doing to gain more followers?) And I just stumbled across Dean Wesley Smith's blog where he says the same thing:

This series of blogs is a MUST READ: as DWS writes: "Most indie writers just take a few old short stories, maybe a novel or two, toss them up on Kindle and sit back and watch the numbers every day. And then, for the most part, are disappointed. Let me simply say: Duh!"

You can find the blog here: www.deanwesleysmith.com

Moses Siregar III said...

I think it's fascinating that Robert Burton Robinson is on pace to sell around 6,000 copies of an ebook (at 99 cents) that only has three Amazon reviews. More evidence that reviews matter only so much.

James A. Owen said...

New writers are always going to have to find their own path, and it's a little bit different for everyone; but established writers also need to realize there are more paths than whichever one they're currently on. Unless contracts or other obligations prevent their doing so, I don't see any reason why a currently-published author couldn't also release one or more works as ebooks.

Like other authors, I often speak at schools and conferences. However, most readers aren't aware that in the presentation, which I've been doing for several years, I barely talk about my novels at all. Instead, I deliver a presentation that's basically a motivational talk aimed at Middle-Schoolers and above. I average one engagement a month, with clusters of them in the Spring and Fall. It goes over well enough that a lot of librarians and teachers have asked for the presentation to be put into a book.

My manager didn't think a nonfic book from a fantasy author - which was mostly transcribed from a recorded presentation, and was edited and expanded in less than a week - was even worth presenting to my publishers. Several other publishers had expressed interest in it, but none could schedule releasing it in less than two years - years during which copies could be sold at every school venue I spoke at.

Because of my pre-novelist history in comics and graphic novels, I already had a publishing imprint, my own isbn's, and a working knowledge of how Things Ought To Work. And the way Joe has been doing things made a lot of sense to me, so a couple of weeks ago I finally released it as an ebook.

The title is DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS: A Meditation on Art, Destiny, and the Power of Choice. We're selling the pdf version on my websites, and it just went live with Nook and Kindle editions about ten days ago. The reviews the book has already gotten have been humbling and gratifying, and it's affecting people in exactly the way I hoped it would.

It has also sold around one-tenth as many copies as the ebook of HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS has (since whenever it was my publisher released that version - I can't recall offhand). In under three weeks.

(It isn't hurting the recognition factor that at Goodreads and Amazon and B&N.com, it gets listed alongside my novels; has "Dragon" in the title; and resembles my other books, which I both illustrated and co-designed, but still. Three weeks.)

I priced DotD at $4.99 based on some very unscientific reasons: one, five bucks is, to me, what an impulse buy price would be (and used to be at paperback racks and newsstands), and is still sort of a mental threshold. Five bucks is my "hey, I can give it a shot" price; the other reason is that at that price, I make about half again as much per sale as I get in royalties for a hardcover - so mentally, I'm thinking that around half is 'my' pay and half is income for my imprint.

I may or may not do a print edition, either through Coppervale Press or with another publisher - we'll see how it goes. And in terms of overall strategies, I certainly can't fault what Amanda Hocking is doing in getting a traditional deal - and the visibility it can bring her work, in venues she isn't in now - while she keeps her engine going with what she's already running so well. I would not have the career I have now without my publisher - but none of the publishers I know would have been able to release this book in less than a couple of years.

A book that is professionally designed, with a cover by an award-winning artist, written by an author with very respectable sales and visibility.

A book that made money for me yesterday. And today. And will tomorrow.

That's something to think about - and I have. And announcing DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS won't be the last time I make an announcement about a new book from my own imprint. Far from it.

Marie Simas said...

Trololololo

I just wanted to be the 400th comment

Mark said...

"I recently mentioned how self-pubbed authors need to do more promotion, need to FIND their readers, rather than sit back and HOPE for LUCK and the 99 cent bargain shoppers. (btw, if you're "promoting" on FB and Twitter, what are you doing to gain more followers?) And I just stumbled across Dean Wesley Smith's blog where he says the same thing:"

Dean confuses me. He often says indie writers do too much promotion and instead should simply get busy writing the next book.

So what is it? Use social media to promote or just write more?

Jesse said...

What the hell. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. And I'm tired of the bloody dance that leads me to nowhere except frustration. Thanks for blazing the trail, Joe. Time for me to get on it and get to it!

Question--do you utilize reading groups at all in the "write/rewriting" stage? I've heard arguments for and against the Alpha Reader to help avoid the pitfalls that "they" say Indie Authors fall prey to. What are your thoughts on that sort of breeding ground?

Basil Sands said...

@Transient Drifter - yeah...ain't it amazing how perspectives change as the tide moves.

@ Jesse - As far as writing groups, I never have anyone in on the Alpha phase. That's where the story is created, and I think that for it to be my story it has to come from my head. Once a draft is done, then it is honing and sharpening time. That's where a group of Beta readers comes in. Bouncing it off them, correcting errors in both technical and story-flow areas, etc.

To take a phrase from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

Basil
www.basilsands.com

David Gaughran said...

I agree with Basil. Save the outside eyes until your story is in good shape, you know, that first time that you think it's ready. Then, and only then, release the hounds.

A good beta is worth their weight in smoked ham.

Romana Grimm said...

@Basil: I couldn't agree more. That's the way I do this as well.

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