Thursday, August 04, 2011

Same Tired Arguments

Misquoting me makes you sound stupid. So does taking what I say out of context, putting words in my mouth, and drawing false conclusions based on things I've said.

That out of the way, I keep seeing the same poor, tired arguments and examples repeated over and over around the Internet. Either folks are writing about self-publishing for the very first time, and naturally falling into the lazy trap of not thinking clearly, or they're purposely trying to disguise failed ideas as something new, like intelligent design and creationism. (Just to be clear--intelligent design is no different than creationism, and creationism is flat-out wrong. Period.)

Here are some outright falsehoods that continue to perpetuate.

Ebooks hurt the eyes.

E-ink technology is passive, just like staring at a piece of paper. There is no eye strain.

I'll never give up print books because I love them too much.

It's always painful to embrace a new technology. But everyone eventually does, and winds up liking it. That's why it gets embraced, and why we no longer read on scrolls.

You can only succeed with ebooks if you have a built-in platform.

There have been too many success stories of people without built-in platforms. If you can't find them, you aren't looking. Try Kindleboards.com.

So much self-pubbed crap will be published, you won't be able to find the good stuff.

Debunked that here.

Low prices devalue books.

The value of a book is how much money it earns, not its cover price. Low priced ebooks sell more copies and make more money.

You can't publish something of quality without a publisher.

Too many examples say otherwise. Go find some.

Konrath is a hypocrite who once said self-pub is bad.

Prior to 2007, self-pubbing was a bad idea. The Kindle changed that, and I changed my mind. I tend to change my mind as new information comes in.

Konrath and Eisler are hypocrites who said they're self publishers, and then they signed with Amazon.

I signed with Amazon for two books, out of 36 I've self-published. Barry signed for one, and has self-pubbed four. We're both still self-publishing. Besides, we've covered, ad nauseum, why Amazon is not a legacy publisher.

Konrath is paying his agent 15% for all of his self-pubbed work.

No, I'm trying it out with one title to see how it works. I'd love to pay someone 15% to manage the business end. We'll see what happens.

Konrath had to self-pub because his sales were lousy.

I've had eight books published by the Big 6. Contrary to some poor reporting, all have earned out their advances, and I kept getting offers up until I stopped submitting. All of my books are still in print. Yet I've made much more money, faster, by self-pubbing.

Self-pubbed books aren't edited.

They are if you hire an editor.

Konrath's legacy sales are the reason is self-pubbed sales are so good.

The opposite is true. My legacy pubbed books are getting a boost from my self-pubbed books, as evidenced by my sales. I sell far more self-pub than legacy pub.

Konrath is intentionally controversial because he wants the attention.

The point of this blog is to help authors, not to sell books. For the past year I've avoided interviews and most speaking engagements. I don't want attention. But I'm not afraid to speak up if I think it will help authors.

Many publishers, agents, booksellers, and even authors, don't want to hear my message, and criticize it, and me. None of their arguments hold any water. They're frightened of the future, and want someone to blame for it, and for their own problems.

Piracy will hurt ebook sales.

No, it won't. And since that blog post, I've been pirated many more times, and my sales have gone up.

Ebooks will never fully replace print.

No one is saying they will. But they're already outselling print, and will continue to be the dominant form of media for quite some time. That said, print will be around forever. There are billions of books on the planet, and they aren't going anywhere (though I do say otherwise in my novel Timecaster.) While the midlist will cease to exist in print, major bestsellers and niche publishers (including self publishers) will still use print, and can still make money from it.

After all, you can go to Best Buy and get Metallica's latest on vinyl. This is, however, for a very small percentage of users, not the general masses.

Publishers are necessary.

I’ve never born witness to a greater comedy of errors than the multitude of mistakes publishers have made in regard to ebooks. Windowing, high prices, the agency model, low royalties, title grabs–it’s embarrassing and an insult to both writers and book buyers. The fact that I’ve been able to make so much more money once I was freed from the constraints of the “experts” shows how little the experts can do for an author. And let’s be honest here–it is all about what a publisher can do for an author. We are the content providers. You need us. We do not need you.

Am I missing any bad arguments? I'm sure I forgot a few.

The bottom line is that it's safer to dismiss me and my comments on a superficial level because analyzing them closer could cause nightmares for those who rely on the publishing industry to earn a living.

What I say isn't Gospel. It is my opinion based on my experience. (If you want to check how ahead of the game I've been on this topic, here's a post from 2009.)

I don't say things without thinking them through and having evidence and logic to back my beliefs up. I'm deliberate. If I'm unsure of something, I experiment and then share the results.
That's what everyone should be doing. Keeping an open mind. Experimenting. Tracking sales and stats and figures. Trying new things. Sharing their results.

Publishing used to be intensely private. No one knew what anyone else was earning or selling. I'm proud to see that trend shifting, with authors more open about their numbers than they've ever been before. The more information we can share, the more we can learn.

Ebooks are the future, the future is happening right now, and self-publishing is a viable way to make money. Anyone who says anything else has an agenda, and they're flat-out wrong. Period.

260 comments:

1 – 200 of 260   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

I just want to say that while intelligent design and creationism may be equal under the eyes of the law and equally unfit for the classroom, they are reflections of an institutionalized dogma and in no way reflect the nature of things. As it happens, the dichotomy between religion and science is a false one, perpetuated by the unthinking and the politically-minded.

Sean McCartney said...

Good post Joe. Just wondering what type of promotion you think will be going on in the ebook world? As a YA author with only 3 books on Kindle it seems that parents, guardians, whatever, need to know the books are there. Any thoughts? I just can't see doing nothing when you are very unknown.

Sean

Anonymous said...

I am the previously established Anon and I would like to add that you misrepresent the love of paper. The switch from scrolls to traditional print is not at all the same as print to digital. Flipping pages is by all accounts more efficient that unraveling parchment, but there are some cons as well as pros to the print-digital switch. When I read, there's a certain aesthetic that simply is not present with ebooks. This is the same reason I proofread my writing in hardcopies as opposed to on the computer -- not because of the eye pain with the monitors, but because it's easier to scribble down notes and annotations. Your perspective here is tinted by your market -- I could read "The Perennial Philosophy" on Kindle, but I don't wanna type out annotations on it.

Marie Simas said...

Joe, I came early to the shitstorm this time!

Paul Salvette said...

The paradigm shift to eBooks has been great, not just as a writer, but as a reader as well. It's so much more convenient to not have to keep stacks of books around, plus it's a lot cheaper to have an eBook library.

I hate the argument that people like to have books around to show their friends. What kind of a pretentious ass buys books to impress their peers with no intention of actually reading them.

My only gripe about self-publishing eBooks is that formatting standards are poor. Crazy font sizes, unintentional page breaks, etc. Of course, the traditional publishing community is just as guilty.

I'm working on some tutorials over at my place on eBook formatting to try and help out self-publishers with the nerd stuff. Hope they are useful for someone.

Joe Konrath said...

When I read, there's a certain aesthetic that simply is not present with ebooks.

Read my post about destination and journey value.

The story is in your head, not on the page. The aesthetic is nostalgia, nothing more.

As for annotations--it'll get easier. The Kindle bookmarking features (which can be shared) is becoming more popular.

Joe Konrath said...

Just wondering what type of promotion you think will be going on in the ebook world?

I think gatekeepers in the form of readers and reviewers will arise, helping signal out worthy titles. Then it'll just be a matter of accruing fans and keeping them posted.

V. Furnas said...

Joe,
As usual always you are willing to jump on out there...and that is why we love you. Preach it brother!

Lizzy Ford said...

Mr. K:

The most important pieces of advise I ever heard about self-pubishing came from you: 1- have a professional cover done; 2- hire an editor; 3- don't write crap; 4- stop reading your blog and WRITE, FOOLS! Thank you for the advice, and for being a broken record; I need the reminder to stay on course. Thus far, I've gone from selling 30-40 books in April to 1686 in July. Still climbing this month so far. And you know what? The numbers don't lie: your advice is what any good author should be doing. Thanks!

Rebecca Knight said...

I, too, think that sharing info and stats between authors is incredibly empowering. There used to be a monopoly, and authors couldn't publicly share their information for fear of being "blacklisted" by publishers.

Indie publishing is like our union :). We can do what we want, and more importantly, share information to empower everyone.

I, myself, am at about 4000 e-book sales since publishing a couple of months ago. I would never have known my sales at this point if I were traditionally published, and wouldn't be able to share this with other authors.

Knowledge is power. We gain control once we gain information on how this business works.

Thanks for sharing the wealth, Joe :).

Gary Ponzo said...

I read virtually every post on this blog, but don't contribute unless I feel compelled to speak up.

A little over a year ago, my literary agent was on the phone trying to convince me to self-publish my first novel by myself. (He's a prince.) He'd run into a bunch of closed doors and the economy wasn't helping. He recommended I read Joe's blog. I did. If it weren't for the open and honest way Joe spoke about his sales figures and the manner in which he portrayed the future of ebooks, I would've never gone down the Indie road. My novel would be sitting at the bottom of my desk drawer collecting dust.

Instead, over a thousand readers are downloading a copy of my first novel each month, the same goes for the second book in the series as well. None of this would have happened had I not listened to Joe's advice on the importance of a clean manuscript and a professional looking book cover.

I know Joe doesn't do this for accolades, but he's even in the acknowledgment page of my second novel--because without him there would be no second novel.

So spin it however you wish--Indies are unprofessional, unedited, slobs with bad grammar, who slipped past the gatekeepers while they were too busy having 3 martini lunches. For those who think along those lines you haven't read any of J.A. Konrath's novels, have you?

I think I speak for hundreds of Indie writers who got the courage to self-publish because of Joe's blog.

Thanks.

EnsignExpendable said...

Reading stories off of scrolls would be great. If people started publishing great books and printing them on scrolls I would be buying. I can't talk for anyone else though so you're probably still better off publishing electronically.

Plus with words in electronic form I can easily transfer them onto a scroll if they are worthy.

Ty Johnston said...

Scrolls? I'm a little out of practice, but my calligraphy used to be pretty good. Thanks for the idea, Joe! You've just given me another market!

That library in Alexandria is still open, right?

Joshua Simcox said...

Before my daily stop at Joe's blog this evening, I also spent a few moments visiting the websites of several other favorite authors: Scott Nicholson, Preston and Child, Robert McCammon, and Dean Koontz.

Interestingly enough, not a single one of those other authors criticized me for my spiritual beliefs or childishly berated anyone with an opinion that slightly deviated from their own.

It pains me to write this because I genuinely enjoy Joe's novels. But at this point, I can no longer tolerate being labeled an "idiot" simply because I choose to believe in a higher power.

This blog was once a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement to me, and I miss the days when it was something other than a showcase for Joe's arrogance and a platform for beating readers bloody with forcefully stated opinions.

I'm sure I'll finish the half dozen or so Konrath novels I've already purchased for my Kindle, and I'm sure I'll be reasonably entertained by each of them.

Will I spend another dime on Joe afterward? I'll have to think carefully about that.

(Well, at least after "Stirred" :))

--Joshua Simcox

Jennifer said...

Change is hard, and people resist.

For example: When the Kindle first came out, I thought I'd hate it. I'm a confirmed bibliophile, been toting boxes of books across US state and international lines for years. I made the nostalgia argument for paper. Then I received a Kindle as a present. I was hooked. I'm even eyeballing the large Kindle.

Now I'm changing my bound book collection to beloved/special hardbacks and reference books ONLY. Think of all the space I'll save (and time spent dusting)! I travel every month - my carry-on is so much lighter. I love the built in dictionary. The list of pros goes on. There are some cons, but I'm betting that e-formats will continue to improve.

We are all creatures of habit, but being open to change can bring some wonderful things. That's what I take away from your blog and this post.

Barry said...

Great post. And now you have something to link to when you come across these zombie arguments again... and again... and again...

It's always odd to read a post by a newbie who thinks he's offering something fresh and insightful, but that's in fact full of debunked notions that are already cliches to people who follow the topic. Adrian Zackheim, president of a Penguin imprint, wrote one yesterday (loved your response, which I see you've borrowed from here). Thought mine was okay, too. I don't think Zackheim will respond -- as you note, he'd be forced to apply evidence to his beliefs, and that would be an uncomfortable collision.

http://www.portfolioimprint.com/2011/08/the-myth-of-self-publishing/comment-page-1/#vmix_media_id=89388851

Another one, for anyone who's curious about how durable these zombie cliches can be, was Jonathan Rauch last month, writing a blog post on the blogosphere that made me wonder whether he was trying to parody something from a decade ago. But it turns out he was serious.

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/07/reply-to-that-ninny-alex-massie.html

There are a lot of reasons people cling to myths (ironically, Zackheim entitled his piece "The Myth of Self-Publishing). Some of it is sloppy thinking. Some of it is just "where you stand is determined by where you sit" bias (this probably explains Zackheim's views). Some of it is the eternal fear of change.

As I said in response to a Guardian piece that argued self-published books are all unedited and bad:

I'm not a historian, but I have a feeling that in every revolution, as a certain class loses its erstwhile power and privileges, there will be people who fear the loss of that class will lead to an erosion of structure, of standards, even of civilization itself. The vernacular bible? But how will lay people approach God without priests to interpret and intermediate? The Gutenberg press? But now anyone can have access to books and ideas, even people without the education or breeding to appreciate them! Woman's suffrage? Democracy itself? I could go on. The "but you can only be properly edited by someone employed at a legacy publisher" is but the latest such meme. Like its forebears, it, too, will eventually be extinguished by overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to make room for new such memes that spring not from evidence and logic, but rather from an innate fear of change.

http://letters.salon.com/books/feature/2011/06/21/ebooks_john_locke/view/?show=all

evilphilip said...

I love eBooks and the Kindle has been very kind to me, but there are still things you can do in print you can't do as an eBook.

Andrew E.C. Gaska's novel, Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes can't be done as an eBook.

It can only be done in print. That may change in the future, but for now you aren't going to find anything like that with eink.

James English said...

Ebooks may be the future, but a future will there will ONLY be ebooks is still far away. The vast majority of people in the U.S. (not to mention the world) are not using ebooks yet, and many will not do so for a long time. When they do become more widely adopted, many (if not most) people will continue to read both ways.

There are some types of books that can't be reproduced as ebooks. To use two obvious examples, board books for infants are typically used as chewing toys, and you can't do a popup book through a screen.

There are a lot of people out there who collect books as objects. Some purchase books just for the binding, and don't care what they are about. Many people just enjoy the heft and smell and feel of books. That may be nostalgic, but there's nothing wrong with that, and nostalgia can be a powerful thing.

Future generations may move away from print books altogether, but a good portion of readers who learned to read out of print books (just about everyone alive today) will have to pass away before the format completely fades away. Even if printing of books stopped tomorrow, there would still be a lifetime of reading left via libraries and used book stores.

We shouldn't really be talking about the wholesale replacement of one medium with another. That will happen (as it does with all media), but very slowly, and probably not in any of our lifetimes. The real issue here is that anti-ebook folks are acting as if that is going to happen, and are worried about it. They are being unrealistic in thinking that print books are going away, just as may ebook proponents are being unrealistic in thinking the same thing.

Alain Gomez said...

Paper vs. ebook is a matter of taste. We have millions of note taking apps and yet post its still sell. Plus, believe it or not, some people still don't have the internet.

The scroll argument is very nice and gimmicky-sounding but hardly relevant. Scrolls are not easily mass produced. Books are.

The physical aspect of writing something down helps people to memorize things. Same goes for reading. As someone with a photographic memory, memorizing what part of a book a key term came from helped me to remember it.

I'm all for ebooks. They have unlocked new doors for me as both a reader and a writer. But I'm also practical enough to realize that they are not the be all, end all of publishing.

rdlecoeur said...

Scientists, who seem to have too much time on their overpaid hands, have discovered that the brains of peoples who live further away from the equator are bigger than that of peoples that live around the equator. (BBC news)

If you look at all the trouble spots on the globe, it is self evident that Equatorialists are all nutters and Eskimos are really clever continuing to live in a land that tries to kill you daily and where there isn't much food and you couldn't grow any, anyway.

Expect a new documentary on the Nat. Geographic channel:

Are Polar Bears cleverer than monkeys?

A scientist from Texas, the caring state, today put a chimpanzee in a cage with a Polar Bear.
After a few moments eyeing each other up, the monkey sh*t himself. The polar bear was so outraged at the monkeys lack of hygiene that he growled fiercely. The monkey jumped high, hung from the top of the cage just out of reach and laughed at the bear. Now enraged at the insult, the polar bear lunged for the monkey, slipped on the sh*t and knocked himself out.
The monkey danced triumphant on the bears' belly, asked for a laptop and wrote a romance novel about vampire baboons before lunch and uploaded it to kindle.
By mid afternoon the monkey had sold 50,000 copies @ 99c, had offers from 2 literary agents and an offer from Hollywood.
When interviewed on the plane back to the Arctic the bear growled,” shit happens.”

Archangel said...

@joshua simcox

"not a single one of those other authors criticized me for my spiritual beliefs ... I can no longer tolerate being labeled an "idiot" simply because I choose to believe in a higher power...I miss the days when it was something other than a showcase for Joe's arrogance and a platform for beating readers bloody with forcefully stated opinions."

Joe can speak for himself of course, and I think it merits saying, as a devout person, I've never seen ANY attack here on anyone's belief in higher power... other than protesting high utility bills. Seriously Joshua.

greatoneliners said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonas Saul said...

@GaryPonzo

I completely agree with you. I was submitting to literary agents last summer and getting requests for partials and fulls, but had to wait months to hear anything from them. In that time I found Joe's blog and began researching this wave of indie work hitting Kindle Direct.

Now here I am, selling thousands a month and already living off the income my 14 self-pubbed titles are generating.

About this post: Too many people believe their own bullshit. They spew it on and on and can't get past what Joe has clearly said here about the "Same Tired Arguments".

I call it the "bullring". A ring of people sitting around bullshitting each other.

Thanks Joe,

Jonas Saul

Kathleenshoop said...

Hi Joe,
Thanks for the information--especially the links you included. I have followed your self-pubbing advice nearly to the letter. I have purchased some marketing packages knowing that I'm much slower to get something published than you! So...since May 1, I've sold 11,463 kindle books, about 200 nook books, about 3 smashwords, and approx. 1000 paperbacks. I know luck is an important component in my sales, but after all it took to get to this point, I can say I am very pleased with this progress! Thanks for all you've done to guide new self-pubbers!
Sorry for typos--writing on phone.
Kathleen Shoop
The Last Letter

Sean McCartney said...

Kathleenshoop mentioned marketing packages...what kind? I am always interested in that sort of thing. Great sales for such a short period of time.

Sean

Donna K. Weaver said...

Really good post. I've got a writer friend who is very much opposed to self publishing and has been rather vocal about it on her blog. It will be interesting to see if the experience of folks like you get her to change her mind.

billie said...

Amen. Thanks for the reminder!!

Christopher Wills said...

Hi Joe you're right. Ref new technology watch this film it says it all (only a couple of minutes) It is very funny - you don't need sound read the subtitles;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHX-SjgQvQ&feature=youtu.be

Keep up the good work

Phil Hall said...

Dammit, Joe! You're right on the money again! I swear, I should just repost everything you ever write...would save me lots of time. ;)

Kathleenshoop said...

@Sean
I bought advertising with MJ Rose--six weeks worth of ads that ran off and on over the first 2 1/2 months of my release. I've also purchased numerous kindle ads with Steve Windwalker (kindlenationdaily)--about one ad or sponsorship per month. Both MJ and Steve are magicians with their targeting of readers and helping shape the ads. No question the money is well spent. So far with every ad run I get pushed further up the bestseller lists and fall less once the ad is over. I've been fluctuating between 140 and 188 on the overall kindle list the last few weeks--without any active ads running. I know there are many factors involved in successful sales but I think Steve and MJ are key to my strong start. Hopefully it continues!

J L said...

I can certainly attest to your change of heart regarding e-publishing. As a newbie author in 2007, you advised me to ditch my small press publisher and aim for one of the Big Guys because that's where all the action was.

Times have changed but one thing remains the same: each author has to make a choice about his/her work. There isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy, and there never was. The Big Guys wanted us to think there was, but really, the options have always been there. Now they're just more obvious.

David Gaughran said...

Good post, Joe, and timely too. You may get tired of banging the same drum, but you need to keep doing it.

Thanks,

Dave

Darlene Underdahl said...

Can't add anything to that.

We agree on Creationism.

I gave BASIC BLACK (Scott Doornbosch) a good Amazon review. It was a great book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Sean McCartney said...

@Kathleenshoop
Thanks for the info. Do you think that type of marketing would work with a YA book? I ask because the book buyer (parents) would usually see the book in a store and get it for their kids. Just wondering your thoughts. Thanks.

Sean

Stephen Knight said...

If anyone's interested in some numbers, here are mine through June.

I'm no Konrath, Crouch, Locke, or Hocking, but the overall trend self-publishing has been a lot more successful than the years I've spent trying it the other way.

And I'm STILL waiting for a response on some queries from 2008...

Joe Konrath said...

But at this point, I can no longer tolerate being labeled an "idiot" simply because I choose to believe in a higher power.

Let's set the record straight. I'm 100% fine with other people's beliefs. If faith makes you happy, or gives you comfort, good for you. And I mean that.

But once that faith (which, by its very definition, is belief in something without any proof) goes from being personal and private to being forced on others (like in public schools by teachers), I'm no longer fine with that.

Children needs to be taught facts, not beliefs. Facts require the scientific method, not personal feelings.

Belief is God is fine. But religion, in its many flavors, is responsible for more ignorance and misery than anything else in history. Taking beliefs as facts, then forcing others to agree (and hating those that don't) has caused untold slaughter.

My best friend is a Christian. He knows, after all the debate, it ultimately comes down to faith, and you can't defend faith with facts or logic. I don't think he's an idiot. But he'll never win that argument.

Unless, of course, we both die and he sends me a telegram from heaven. :)

Joe Konrath said...

The scroll argument is very nice and gimmicky-sounding but hardly relevant. Scrolls are not easily mass produced. Books are.

Books are not easily copied and delivered. Ebooks are.

I'm also practical enough to realize that they are not the be all, end all of publishing.

I agree. We'll have print forever. And I should have listed this as a meme in the article. "Ebooks will replace print" isn't true. They'll outsell print (which they are now), but print will be around for a while.

Amy Miles said...

I just wanted to say thank you for your website. If gave me the info and encouragement I needed to now be a published author on Amazon. My new book, Defiance Rising, just went live and I'm super excited to see how it does. Thanks again for your blog, and willingness to "tell it how it is."

Selena Kitt said...

The story is paramount.

Everything else is just a delivery system.

Once upon a time, we only had verbal stories. Anyone could get up and tell a story. But if the story was good, and the storyteller fine, people would come back to listen again and again. They would ask for new stories of this fine storyteller.

And so it was.

Until one day we had a print revolution. (Okay a lot of stuff happened in between there, but this is my story, so sue me...) And not long in the scheme of things after that, the "publisher" was born.

The publisher decided who the good storytellers were and distributed their stories to the masses. Only certain people that the publisher deemed good enough could now tell people a story. Since they had the only good way of delivering stories to the public, the publishers made the people believe that the only good stories were the stories that were being published.

But the publishers lied.

And then one day, another revolution came along--the electronic revolution. Somehow along the way, the exclusive distribution of the story was taken out of the publisher's hands.

Now anyone could get up and tell a story. And if the story was good, and the storyteller fine, people would come back to listen again and again. They would ask for new stories of this fine storyteller.

And so it is.

The story is paramount.

Kelley said...

I've heard these arguments a million times as well, so I can't even imagine how many times you must have heard them. I've been reading your blog for a while now, pouring over old posts, and you (and Amanda Hocking who I heard about from you and several others) are the reason I had the cajones to try self-pubbing in the first place with my YA GLITTERING ASHES. I'm just starting out, and I'm starting a little slow, but I'm excited and can't thank you (and other pioneers) enough for bringing out the truth about the infinite ebook shelf capabilities of self-pubbing.

PJ Lincoln said...

Belief in God is a matter of faith. I would agree with you, Joe, that much evil has been done in the name of religion. As a former agnostic, I also understand many of the arguments against Christianity.

Both sides can argue and, in the end, nothing is resolved. An athiest can no more prove that God doesn't exist than I can prove he does exist. All I know is what I feel in my heart and my heart tells me that Christ was and is who he claimed to be. That's the bottom line.

Nancy Beck said...

Ebooks hurt the eyes.
E-ink technology is passive, just like staring at a piece of paper. There is no eye strain.

Not only that, but you can increase/decrease the font size, which is why a lot of senior citizens are embracing the technology. Altho I’m not there yet (my niece and nephew might think otherwise ;-)), I like that part, too. No, I don’t yet have a standalone ereader, but I do have the PC apps, and I can increase the font on that for my tired, somewhat ancient eyes.

Ebooks will never fully replace print.
No one is saying they will. But they're already outselling print, and will continue to be the dominant form of media for quite some time.

From everything I’ve read, B&N is already reconfiguring their stores, putting more emphasis on the Nook, with less and less on print books (plus they have other stuff, like calendars, etc.). But I agree; what reader wouldn’t go ::squee!:: to get a hardback (let’s say) signed by their favorite author?

@Marie Simas - you are TOO funny. :-)

Joe Konrath said...

An athiest can no more prove that God doesn't exist than I can prove he does exist.

True, PJ. But the burden of proof falls on the person claiming experience. When witnesses are called in a trial, it's the ones who saw something, not the ones who didn't see anything.

Things can be proven to exists. They're proven all the time. But nothing can be proven not to exists.

My heart tells me to only believe in things that are provable. I like being able to back up everything I know with facts and logic. I also know I can't argue with faith. If you believe something without facts to back it up, I'll never convince you that I'm right, just like you'll never convince me you're right because you feel God exists.

But I didn't mention ID because I wanted to open up a religious discussion. I wanted to show how faulty thinking can disguise itself as a "new" idea, when in fact it was an "old" idea. You can't teach faith in public schools. Separation of church and state is one of the very best things about the USA.

PJ Lincoln said...

Totally agree, Joe. Christianity, nor any other religion, should be taught in public school. That's why we have churches.

With respect to what you said about your blog not selling books, I guess I was a little surprised at that statement. Your blog is how I discovered you and ultimately bought several of your books. Could you expand on that thought?

Kathleen Dienne said...

The price argument keeps happening because there are two different factors, and they conflict - long term exposure and short term income.

My newest novella is priced at 2.99 (because that's what my regular publisher charges for the same length and it's what my readers are used to paying for that length). If I price it at 99 cents, I need to sell 300 of them to make a hundred bucks. At 2.99, I don't even need to sell fifty.

Sure, it's worth it if I can sell the 300 - all those lovely new readers, /swoon.

My discomfort with the 99 cent price point is in part driven by the fact that most of the self-pub people at my present level, charging 99 cents, sell more copies than I do but not so much more as to make more money than I do.

With that said, I'm going to be experimenting when I have an actual backlist to play with. I have been wrong before. Most recently I was wrong when I said self-pubbing a novella would be too much work.

Joe Konrath said...

With respect to what you said about your blog not selling books, I guess I was a little surprised at that statement. Your blog is how I discovered you and ultimately bought several of your books. Could you expand on that thought?

It was poor phrasing on my part.

The purpose of this blog is to help authors. The vast majority of my readers don't care about the publishing world. You don't see many blog posts by me that are about blatant self-promotion or selling my titles. Most of the posts are about the business, not about me shucking my wares.

If some people buy my stuff as a result of this blog, I'll happily take it and be grateful. But I don't do A Newbie's Guide to sell books.

Jay Noel said...

Thanks for what you do, Joe.

Joe Konrath said...

But I don't do A Newbie's Guide to sell books.

I'll take that a step further and say I don't do A Newbie's Guide to make money. I get enough traffic here that I could make some decent $$$ with Google Ads on my blog. I don't do it. Also, the Newbie's Guide ebook is free on my website.

I do this blog to share and exchange information, and I'm lucky it has attracted such a big following.

Dustin Wood said...

Great post, Joe. I saw Barry's twitter post on the "Myth" article and read the comments you guys posted there.

What's happening in the publishing world is technological darwinism. The more efficient and better designed products/ideas will, in the end, survive. Those that are inefficient, will fall away. They probably won't completely fall away (the dodo didn't go extinct until the 17th century, after all), but the one better suited to adapt to a new environment will thrive.

I believe the same thing will happen to the publishing world. Those publishers who decide to lower price points for ebooks, increase ebook royalty rates, and adapt, will thrive in the changing market place. Those that do not - well, I hope they've bought up a good amount of land with pulp wood on it.

And on a side note, while I do attend church, I'm not a creationist. I prefer what Hitchens said about intelligent design: "...there isn't anything intelligent about it."

Thanks for the great site and the inspiration, Joe. I'm releasing a short story, a novella and a novel in the next month or so.

Smuggy Smith's First Year said...

My first book will be finished this month. Of course I want to publish it. I've done a lot of research on traditional pub and ebook. My conclusion is this: If you are related to a famous person known to the publishing elite in New York and/or routinely go to cocktail parties with publisher and agents - go traditional pub. If you've done something to get massive news coverage on cable (Casey Anthony) - go traditional pub. Everyone else will be better off to e-pub their first book.
Does this mean success? I don't know yet. My guess is that our time is better spent polishing our work than worrying about it.

Walter Knight said...

I am not giving up my scrolls no matter what you say. You can pry my scrolls from my cold dead fingers.

Milton said...

The idea that the Kindle killed bookstores is not true. The Kindle killed the paperback book. Working at Borders during the liquidation and before, I have seen the sales of mass market flatline. If you want an example of what ebooks have truly hurt, try mass market. Ebooks do not have an overwhelming effect on numerous forms of books, such as photographic or coffee table, textbooks with heavy graphics, etc. All big bookstores (including B&N) are in trouble because bestsellers are available at WalMart for much less, and because there is no market for paperbacks any more.

frankpalardy said...

You're right about ebooks winning out, but financially it's not so clear. I never bought many books because it seemed a bit wasteful. I'll be buying more ebooks but that's probably odd. People who did buy hardcovers seem to like shopping and having things. Some of those people will not be buying many ebooks. This happened in music and DVDs where people used to build up a collection. Now with netflix that's pretty much dead. With ebooks much of it depends on Amazon. If Bezos hadn't been in charge Kindle wouldn't have happened. This is a company that is even more tightfisted than walmart. I noticed in their contract they leave the option to censor without explanation. Yes, publishers censor but there were always small ones that did otherwise. It's always been the case that most writers didn't make much money and often relied on other income like teaching. ebooks make it easier to publish, but very few will do well financially. It will likely be more of the same in this way.

Summer said...

Count me among those who have been motivated enough by Joe's honesty and willingness to tell it like it is. Motivated enough to stop procrastinating and start writing.

I don't care if I earn 10 cents or 10 million dollars - the feedback I am getting from readers has been life-changing. Readers that I would have NEVER reached if I let the "gatekeepers" have their say.

Thank you Joe.

Please keep doing what you are doing - and don't let any of the naysayers slow you down - ever!!

frankpalardy said...

I think you are right Milton. ebooks have not caught on with textbooks either.

KR Jacobsen said...

Great post as usual, Joe.

I agree that paper books aren't going away any time soon, and that I'm actually still buying them. In fact, I just bought a handful of hardcovers last week, though I admit I got most of them as remainders (and saved a lot of money that way).

Despite that, the industry is changing, and has already changed, and these tired arguments are just that. I'm surprised, actually, to find how people still sling them, as witnessed by the post you and Barry (and others) commented on yesterday.

I don't know if it's denial or they honestly don't see it, but some of these folks are in for a rude awakening.

Mark D. Evans said...

You just had to bring God into it, didn't you? LOL.

Great post, setting the record straight on a number of occasions.

The haters are certainly audacious, aren't they? I've been reading and consuming information about the big indie-pub argument for months now, and still wouldn't be so bold as to make blanket statements about either means of publishing on my blog.

I've been taking my time, letting all the info sink in, and only now am starting to lean toward indie publishing as the path to try. Why? Because it takes time to make yourself understand that the reasons to publish traditionally are all superficial.

Hunter F. Goss said...

@Barry Eisler - -

The last paragraph of your comment that begins: “I’m not a historian, but. . . ” makes a very good point and leads me back to something I’ve thought ever since I discovered self/indie publishing.

That class that’s had power and privilege in publishing for so long is alarmed because publishing’s new model is transferring control of the product from middlemen (maybe what you call ‘gatekeepers’) to the producers - - that is, the writers. Along with the loss of control, we’re seeing a dismantling of all sorts of artificial barriers that have existed between readers and writers.

I think these developments mean that readers will ultimately be more likely to find books they want to read and writers will find out how to make the best use of unfettered access to markets. And what’s really interesting is that the adventure is just beginning.

This is just my opinion, based on my experience business. But I have a hard time seeing how the new model of publishing is anything but a win-win for both readers and writers.

Karl El-Koura said...

Joe,

I really enjoy your posts. I like that you're very open with your thoughts, experiments, and numbers; your posts have inspired countless writers to try out self-publishing. One day you may be referred to as the father of the indie publishing revolution. I especially like that you knock down silly beliefs borne of fear or ignorance or malice. I'd like to take a page from your book and point out what I perceive as a flaw in your thinking on religion. (Because you said you weren't planning on starting a religious discussion, I accept that and won't address any of your other comments on religion).

"But once that faith (which, by its very definition, is belief in something without any proof)"

As a writer, you know the importance of using words carefully, and you know the difference between the words "proof" and "evidence." No one with any intellectual honesty has any faith without evidence. Christians, to take the example you're using, have plenty of evidence: almost two thousand years ago, a man claimed to be the Son of the living God. According to certain people who knew Him, He performed great miracles, culminating in the greatest miracle of all: He died, but returned to life three days later. Christians have the evidence He left behind in the form of a Church of witnesses who were willing to die for their beliefs, a Church that has survived and thrived for two thousand years. There's also the powerful evidence anyone can have (and millions of people have had, and have left records of their experiences) of a personal encounter with this living God.

I can prove, granted a few basic assumptions, that 2 and 2 make 4. But I can't prove that the world really exists, or that tomorrow I won't wake up and find I've turned into a giant bug, or that my family and friends really love me. It's just that all the evidence is stacked in favour of the world really existing, that tomorrow I'll wake up and still be me, and that my family and friends do love me.

You try to be a very intentional and deliberate person. Please don't use words (proof and evidence) carelessly, and please don't cut yourself from discussions on faith because you want to base your beliefs on facts, logic, and evidence … everyone wants to base their beliefs on facts, logic, and evidence! It may be faulty logic, the facts may be poor and the evidence suspect, but that's something that can be discussed and argued, isn't it?

Nik Holman said...

As always, your publishing wisdom shines though. But stick to the publishing. The theology stuff just makes you sound like an asshole to your fans.

Joe Konrath said...

You just had to bring God into it, didn't you? LOL.

A theist would say God was already into it, because God is in everything. :)

Kathleenshoop said...

@Sean
I would contact MJ--I'm sure she knows where to place your book for your audience. I think that's what works so well with her ads. She doesn't pressure at all but would advise and when you were ready she'd be there! The kindle ads might be good too because I would think kids share their amazon/kindle accounts with their parents so parents could purchase kindle books for their kids when they see your ad.

Joe Konrath said...

No one with any intellectual honesty has any faith without evidence.

If the evidence can stand up to the scientific method, it is called proof.

If the evidence is based on feelings or beliefs, it is faith. Feeling that the bible is true does not make it so. That doesn't mean your feelings aren't real. But it doesn't mean miracles are real, either.

Nancy Beck said...

If the evidence can stand up to the scientific method, it is called proof.
If the evidence is based on feelings or beliefs, it is faith. Feeling that the bible is true does not make it so. That doesn't mean your feelings aren't real. But it doesn't mean miracles are real, either.


Joe,

Are you sure you're not a clone of my husband? LOL, you sound just like him. :-)

rictheturtleryan said...

Well with your comment on creationism you may have lost a couple of regular blog readers. I find it much easier to believe than evolution. I do not have to prove it. I just have to believe it. Evolution requires me to believe a lot of accidents made a finished product. When Darwin "created" an experiment to prove his theory, he disproved it as far as I am concerned. I like the odds much better if I am wrong than if you are. If I am wrong I have just lived a good life and tried to help people. If you are wrong it is not so simple. Having been dead once already I realize that neither of us can prove we are right. So my goal is to just get along in life. Hating something or someone for what they believe only hurts yourself in the long run, cause the other person is probably going happily along with their life and could care less what someone else thinks. Have read your blog a lot and was considering trying one of your books, but now I figure they probably push values I do not care to listen to. Will probably still read your blog though. Have a nice day....

Darley said...

The publishing industry has been resistant to change for a long time. Now with the success many are having with self-publishing they need to rethink how they do business. And fast.

It's kind of funny to see the publishing industry get turned upside down, right before our eyes.

Joe Konrath said...

Let's try to curtail the religious comments and discussion. This blog isn't the place for it. I've explained why I used that analogy (cloaking bad arguments with other bad arguments), and I'd prefer we stick to publishing as the topic.

Anyone who wants to debate religion can head on over to The Seculr Web, where people smarter than me have been disputing faith-based arguments for decades.

If you have faith, I'm happy for you, and hope it brings you peace. If you want to prove that your faith is justified, do it at the website I mentioned above.

Jude Hardin said...

Because it takes time to make yourself understand that the reasons to publish traditionally are all superficial.

It just depends on your goals. Publishing is a crap shoot either way you go. Based on my experience, you have to sell about one book a day to be ranked in the top 20,000 on Amazon. That means that of the 1,000,000 or so ebooks available there, 980,000 are selling less than that. At that rate, it will take a self-published author YEARS to make enough to cover even the most meager advance from a publisher.

What works for one writer might not work for another. Publishing is not one size fits all.

Joe Konrath said...

That means that of the 1,000,000 or so ebooks available there, 980,000 are selling less than that.

That's based on things remaining exactly the same.

All sales fluctuate, and the more you publish, the more sales you'll have. My guess is the cream will rise to the top. How long it will take to do so is unknown, but there are things that can be done to improve odds.

No one disputes there's a lot of crap being self-published. But if you don't write crap, and continue to treat this as a profession, I like your odds.

Anonymous said...

Joe:

You know that evolution hasn't actually been proved by the scientific method, right? It's the best theory we have (and one that I agree with, by the way), but evolution at this point is still technically a hypothesis according to mainstream science.

Although, there are people like Dawkins - the Pope of Atheism - who like to write books about the evidence for evolution, which simply goes to show that it's disputed territory (or else you wouldn't need to devote a full book to it, and no one would care to buy it). He wants to be the one to "prove" evolution. Just like Jesus had to rise from the dead to prove himself to his followers, Dawkins must prove this to justify his position as head of the religion of Atheism.

I was going to add a few links, but then I'm sure (if you cared) you could rebut my links with links from Dawkins and his apostles, and this isn't really the point of your post. (Good post though.)

- Z

Alicia {ProtoDoom} said...

They don't directly correlate, but it is really similar to the impact on the music industry. It's not just that music is available digitally, now there are so many tools to create music that musicians no longer have to go into a crazy studio and sling big bucks just to record.

Lots of noise and fury, and as it's matured...the big labels still exist. And there are smaller indie musicians who are able to make a living connecting directly to their fans.

Instead of payola and magazines being the gatekeepers, you have endless music blogs, set up by people who just love music. It's not like there is any less of a tsunami of crap in music, although it seems like people are way more likely to check out an indie album than book. For the record, I was part owner of a very small indie label for a number of years, so I have my own set of biases.

As for book vs ebook reader, I love both. I had a Rocket eBook, back in the day, and never bought a single book (too pricey), relying on Project Gutenburg and Baen's free ebooks. Then my SIL hooked me up with her library, and I would read library books on my phone (miserable, but a lifesaver when I was trapped in FL for several weeks) and computer (meh). Then earlier this year, I got a Nook as a gift, and it's the best thing EVER. It has completely changed my reading habits. I still love picking up a book to check them out, but my casual reading is all on my Nook.

I'm at the beach this week, and I loaded up w/ lovely beach trash, and instead of having to have a separate bag just for my books, I just have to bring one reader.

Downside, I can't share them when I'm done (no one else has a nook, and they are mostly library books anyways) or have someone read one while I read another.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - my bad. Posted that before reading your comment about stopping the silly off-topic discussions.

- Z

Rex Kusler said...

Everything is a mixed bag. When you are first handed the bag, you imagine the wonderful things it must contain. After looking inside you find a half eaten baloney sandwich. But since you're hungry--you go ahead and eat it.

Joe Konrath said...

but evolution at this point is still technically a hypothesis according to mainstream science.

Actually, evolution is a theory and a fact. Hypothesis is speculative. Evolution is corroborated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_as_theory_and_fact

If you want to slip into solipsism, then nothing is entirely provable. But enough evidence exists to support evolution that anyone who claims to be a scientist or understand science can't help but accept it as fact.

Eloheim and Veronica said...

Hi Joe,
I'm so glad you said this:
I'll take that a step further and say I don't do A Newbie's Guide to make money. I get enough traffic here that I could make some decent $$$ with Google Ads on my blog. I don't do it. Also, the Newbie's Guide ebook is free on my website.

Every time the "you blog to make money" argument pops up, I think, "But he isn't running any ads on this site!"

I have ad block so I couldn't be 100% sure I had that right which is why I never brought it up.

I was just reminded of a fantastic benefit of print that hasn't been addressed. I had a blind date the other night. I got a nice long look at his bookcases and that told me all sorts of wonderful information about him. :)

Yes, I did show him my Kindle :P

Veronica

Sariah S. Wilson said...

Joe, my recent favorite misrepresentation on you was someone recently showing a video from last October where you claimed you were making $X, and in June 2011 you claimed you were making $Y, AND THE NUMBERS DIDN'T MATCH!!!! Um, maybe that's 'cause you're making more money now? Because sales have increased? That one had me laughing for a while. :)

E.C. Belikov said...

Nik Holman said...

"As always, your publishing wisdom shines though. But stick to the publishing. The theology stuff just makes you sound like an asshole to your fans."

I agree with the first statement. I have to disagree with the 2nd and 3rd sentences though. I've just gained yet another level of respect for Joe.

And @ Selena Kitt, your statement was wonderfully worded. Truth wrapped in poetry.

Joe Konrath said...

Reminder to self: don't use religious analogies in public.

As for people thinking I'm an asshole, you should modify it to: "An asshole who is right a whole lot."

Erica Sloane - Author said...

I've been published by the "experts" before. Having given that up, I can't foresee going back. Ever. I'm selling too many self-pubbed books and making too much money to consider handing that over to someone else for...well, for what?

I've turned down requests from people wanting to talk about publishing my work again. It hasn't happened too many times, but just enough to know that the "they need us - we don't need them" argument is the absolute truth, and they're well aware of it. Or, they should be, anyway.

Great post, Joe.

Robert Carraher said...

Joe is so right on all points, but I'd like to address one that is near and dear to my....eyes, and another that just seems so obvious. First, I am legally blind, but still have some limited, way up close vision. Over the past two years my reading ahd decreased significantly from around 1500 pages a week to around 400-500 because of the eye strain involved in reading paper books (as well as a couple other physical factors) I received a Kindle and am now able to read for 8-10 hours straight with NO eye strain. The other factors are that the same disease that took my sight leaves me with an arthiritis like condition in my hands as well as a muscle weakness on my right side and a Kindle is so damn light that it takes no effort to hold, or turn pages. A "Real" book is heavy enough to tire me, hurts my thumbs to keep it open, and takes two hands to turn the pages.

Okay, Piracy. Not only are there no reliable numbers that can say for sure what revenue is lost to Piracy, and Joe has done the experiments showing that it hasn't hurt sales or profits, but there are reliable numbers to say what shop lifting costs, and they are significant dollars. Further more, if it makes you feel better, a eBook Pirate has to be somewhat smart and technically savy to Pirate an eBook, or any software. Any village idiot can shop lift, so even if it's a problem, you should feel better that at least it is smart people Pirating your eBook, and not Village idiots stealing your paper....;-)

David Gaughran said...

The only way to ensure you don't fall into the trap of faulty thinking is to challenge your assumptions.

Read widely. Engage with the opposing argument. Don't build straw men. Don't conduct ad hominem attacks. To do otherwise is to imprison yourself within rhetorical walls, with windows that only allow you to see how you want the world to be rather than how it actually is.

Challenge your assumptions regularly. These are the foundations of every argument you advance, every theory you have on the world.

Those that want to preserve the status quo, have a vested interest in keeping things just as they are: a long chain of middlemen between you and the reader, each collecting a slice of the pie leaving little for the writer.

Those days are over. We can publish ourselves and sell direct to readers, or give a small slice to a retailer who will serve customers across the globe and handle the money. Nobody else needs to get a slice.

A lot of people are being cut out of the action so they are bound to make a lot of noise. Their livelihood depends on it. And as Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."

Treat your opponents with respect. Engage their arguments. But don't necessarily expect the same treatment in return. They will seek to shift the argument away from reason, because they can't win on that ground. They will attack you. They will misrepresent your arguments. They will quote you out of context. They will make appeals to emotion instead of logic.

This is all sleight of hand. They seek to provoke you, to knock you off your stride, so you lose focus. Don't fall for this gambit. Stick to your guns. Continue to argue in a reasoned manner. Continue to engage their argument and you will defeat it.

Christopher Taylor said...

I'll always love books better than e-books for a host of reasons, and books are not going the way of the papyrus scroll in any way, shape or form.

I suspect they will become more luxury items, specialty sales with most of the "print" sales going to e-books but please. Books aren't going anywhere, as you said later.

Yes, there will be an increase of lousy stuff in e-books because its so easy to do and there is no editorial barrier to publication. That won't really matter though, there's already a zillion books out there so competition and being lost in the crowd isn't an issue.

Joe Konrath said...

@David - While everything you said is true, those who engage in faulty thinking really believe they're right.

It's one of Joe's Laws that people would rather defend their beliefs to the death than entertain the prospect they could be wrong. The ability to keep an open mind, and to change it as new facts present themselves, is a very rare trait.

Faulty thinking is the norm. Our society is overrun with those who try to make the world fit their preconceived notions, rather than try to understand how the world works and fit themselves into it.

Those gatekeepers who are losing their power truly believe they are entitled to that power. They reassure each other that they're doing the smart, sensible thing. They really believe they'll prevail.

Eisler calls it a royalty mentality. I agree. Feudalism is rampant in the publishing world, and editors really think they're doing good and helping the author serfs, and they're shocked any would try to leave the kingdom.

What amazes me is some authors subscribe to this bullshit. A lot of them are Brits, which is interesting. They truly feel that publishers are taking care of them, and have their best interests in mind. It seriously reminds me of the Vichy French, and I guess it is endemic in human nature.

They're in for a rude awakening when the system collapses.

David H. Burton said...

(Just to be clear--intelligent design is no different than creationism, and creationism is flat-out wrong. Period.)

You just made me love this blog all the more! Cheers!

Aimless Writer said...

I said it..I love the paper book so much I can't imagine....
Then I got my hubby a kindle for his birthday because he loves to read and I couldn't think of anything else he wanted or needed.
He took it but wasn't sure. He gave it a try and was hooked. He travels a lot for business so he loved the ease of buying and bringing multiple books. He loved it so much he got me one.
Now I can't imagine being without it.
You don't know, till you know.
Following you since your article in Writer's Digest on how you got published and you've always made sense. I agree. Kindle has changed everything.
I'm an ebook maniac now!
;)

Jerry said...

You, sir, are my hero. Beer is on me, anytime.

Michael A. Boyadjian said...

In my opinion, the sharing of information between authors is one of the more significant factors in the spread of self-publishing.

If it wasn't for all of the information at hand, I would never have been able to weigh my options properly. I may not have even taken the self-publishing route, which would have likely resulted in a swift end to my time as a writer.

Information is knowledge, knowledge is power.

My two cents.

Alain Gomez said...

Books are not easily copied and delivered. Ebooks are.

The difference between the creation process of an animal skin scroll and a paperback book is huge.

A paperback book is easy to make these days and we have the infrastructure to deliver them. An ebook is easiER.

Plus, an ebook is not a direct replacement. It requires an electronic device in order to read. So, in that sense, it is self-limiting.

Sam said...

This just caught my eye on Amazon-- some scam artist has titled his book "The Help," and it's selling well despite all 1-star reviews.

Crap can flourish, at least in the short term-- I hope Amazon snuffs this one out.

Jon Olson said...

The Oracle speaks.

Jon Olson
The Petoskey Stone
The Ride Home

Ellen O'Connell said...

Jude said, "Based on my experience, you have to sell about one book a day to be ranked in the top 20,000 on Amazon. * * * At that rate, it will take a self-published author YEARS to make enough to cover even the most meager advance from a publisher."

First of all, I have a short story that rides in the 20,000 range a lot, and it averages over 3 sales per day, roughly 100 a month.

But after that, your assumption made me do a little math in part because lately on another forum there's been a big to do about RWA and its not accepting indies as published. Since I have no RWA desires I didn't know that and was surprised to learn that a traditional deal with a $1,000 advance makes one a professional writer according to RWA, but 10, 20, 100 times that as an indie doesn't.

So I did some math based on your one book a day theory. At $2.99, one book a day would yield the author $60 a month, which is $720 a year, so in 18 months that book that only sold one copy a day would yield $1,080, more than "the most meager advance from a publisher." For that matter, some of the small pubs aren't paying advances at all.

Now consider someone with 6 books all doing only that well, or with 20.... I'm not saying that's my ambition (I think Dean Wesley Smith calls that "bouncing along the bottom"), just pointing out that there's still a comparison to be made with traditional publishing and that the one a day book would make that $1,080 before the traditional pub got it out.

Admittedly the math changes and looks ugly if the price is $.99. While I'm one of those who doesn't believe in $.99 for a full length novel, I also have to admit my short story at $.99 is going to contribute enough to the bottom line in a year to have been worth doing - 10 of them? Hmm.

Joshua Simcox said...

@Archangel

If you have a different interpretation of Joe's comments regarding religion, that's fine, and I'll offer no further argument. Obviously, I had a different interpretation of his commentary, some of which left a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm entitled to feel that way.

However, I do appreciate that Joe took the time to clarify his points, and now that I truly understand his views, I feel much better about the whole thing.

Quite honestly, I expected little more than scorn or ridicule from him. However, Joe choose not to take that route, and I appreciate it.

--Joshua Simcox

asrai said...

I've always laughed at people who say they love the smell of paperbooks. NO, you don't. They smell like dust and must. People do associate that smell with the pleasure of reading.

As for the ease of printing paper books vs. ebook distribution, it's like mail verus E-mail. Of course, I can send a letter in the mail but it's faster for all invovled if I e-mail it.

Or if you could fax it. I always laugh at buisness looking for employees who give a fax number. No one has a fax machine at home. Get an e-mail address.

And of course, you can still write a book with a pen and paper, but it's so much harder to edit, re-write, send and reprint.

Renee Pinzon said...

Joe,

I found you on my Kindle. I received my Kindle as a gift in December 2010. I was so excited! I could shop for ebooks in any genre I wanted, at any time of the day or night. But additionally I was surprised to find that I could subscribe to blogs. So I went shopping for something that sounded interesting to try out on my new Kindle. I stumbled onto your blog A Newbie's Guide To Publishing, and subscribed thinking "hey it's only a buck a month so I'll try it once".

It's a year and a half later, and every post you put up still arrives on my Kindle. I devour them all. You have reawakened my writing and put the responsibility of success squarely in my own lap, which is where it should have been all along.

I rarely comment since I have much more fun just reading the "shitstorm" as Marie Simas calls it (Love you Marie! You kick ass).

So I am wondering how many Kindle subscribers you have. You sometimes refer to how many hits you get on the blog, but how many subscribers, specifically on Kindle, do you have? I can't be in a tiny minority, can I?


Renee

Selena Kitt said...

Paper vs. ebook is a matter of taste. We have millions of note taking apps and yet post its still sell. Plus, believe it or not, some people still don't have the internet.

My insurance agent still uses white out. And he has one of those metal address books that open and close with the letters of the alphabet on the side and the sliding tab. He calls it his "Blackberry."

Some dogs are just too old. :)

Alisha said...

Kick ass post, Joe! I still have the awesome banner you made for me and proudly display it! Funny how some people want to hate, isn't it? I know another author who likes to say that my books suck so I had to self pub, though I had six books at three small presses before I made the indie leap. Now I make money and have hit best sellers' lists and sell thousands more books and the haters still just want to hate. Weird ain't it?

Sean McCartney said...

@Kathleenshoop Thank you so much. I will look into it.

Sean

Selena Kitt said...

I received a Kindle and am now able to read for 8-10 hours straight with NO eye strain.

Robert, I think that is so awesome.

The Kindle has made reading for my dyslexic daughter a joy instead of a job. I will be forever grateful for that.

For all the arguments *against* there are just as many *for* this e-revolution... :)

Anonymous said...

"Just to be clear--intelligent design is no different than creationism, and creationism is flat-out wrong. Period."

Lost a fan.

raf said...

My legacy pubbed books are getting a boost from my self-pubbed books, as evidenced by my sales. I sell far more self-pub than legacy pub.

Hi Joe, I had a question on this point. Even if your self-pubs are boosting your legacies, isn't possible that name recognition played a part there?

I know there are plenty of top-selling self-pubbed authors with no legacy history, but I'm still uncertain that means that a publisher's marketing and publicity resources don't make a substantial difference.

Thanks for this post.

Joe Konrath said...

Lost a fan.

So much for Christians turning the other cheek.

Anonymous said...

Why God Did Not Create the Universe by Stephen Hawking

Joshua Simcox said...

Joe says:

"Let's try to curtail the religious comments and discussion. This blog isn't the place for it."

I agree, and I feel at least partially responsible for sparking the religious debates that have occurred as a result of Joe's post.

For that I apologize. It honestly wasn't my intention.

My point was simply that I don't want one of my favorite authors labeling me as ignorant simply because I choose to be spiritual.

Now that Joe has taken the time to clarify his points (without being childish or mean-spirited), I no longer feel that this is the case.

--Joshua Simcox

Christopher Wills said...

Karl, I respect your beliefs whatever they are but any atheist with a bit of philosophy could point out holes and logical flaws in your arguments. I suggest you read some philosophy about religion as it will enable you to argue from a much stronger position.

josephinewade said...

@Joe
**As for people thinking I'm an asshole, you should modify it to: "An asshole who is right a whole lot."**

Now I know your wife wouldn't necessarily call you an asshole, but I was curious if she would agree with this statement?

Joe Konrath said...

Now I know your wife wouldn't necessarily call you an asshole, but I was curious if she would agree with this statement?

Yes. It infuriates her that I'm right all the time.

Also, on occasion, she's called me an asshole. :)

josephinewade said...

LOL
Give her my sympathies.

Josie

Eloheim and Veronica said...

The "lost a fan" comment reminded me of something that seems to come up a lot around here.

Joe says something. People like it = FAN!

Joe says something. People don't like it = NOT fan.

Do I have to like everything that Joe says and every position he takes to still value reading his blog and/or books?

No, I don't.

Agree to disagree and get back to the exchange of ideas.

Silver Bowen said...

I would like to propose a new term for the feudalist/royalist/old guard/legacy/defenders-of-the faith. And no, not Faith, faith. Nothing religious to see here. Stockholm Syndrome has been used, quite often, and not just by yours truly. So, following that example, how about - Legacy Syndrome? Or anybody got a better one?

Jude Hardin said...

@Ellen

You can nitpick the numbers, but the point I was making was that the overwhelming majority of books--self-published and traditional--don't make any money. That being the case, a bird in the hand sometimes makes more sense than two in the bush. In other words, take the advance and get the best deal you can on royalties and hope your book is one of the few that doesn't tank.

Adam Pepper said...

I think Zackheim is right when he makes this statement:

"Despite the hype, the fundamental rules of publishing have not really changed very much. Now, as before, the greatest challenge facing a new writer is to find readers, not to finish and print a book."

What he fails to do is make a convincing argument as to why a legacy publishing deal increases those chances for a writer.

I've been reading Joe's blog since he started it. And I only recently decided to make the move to self publish. There are a variety of reasons for my decision, but the crux of it is right there. I've come to believe that a new author doesnt need a publisher or an agent, what they need is an audience. Connect with an audience and people will want to do business with you.

Marilyn Peake said...

Fantastic post! It really does amaze me that so many writers continue to cling to old beliefs, e.g. that they aren’t "real" writers and won’t make "real" money unless they sign with a literary agent and a Big Six publishing house. Maybe that used to be true, but it isn’t true now. Times have changed. I’ve recently noticed a great deal of joy and enthusiasm among self-published authors ... as well as a friendly, welcoming attitude on the blogs of even the most successful self-published authors who actually communicate, like you do, with commenters on their blog. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that self-published authors aren’t included in conversations on many blogs of traditionally-published authors. I’ve also seen several authors in the past few years go from elation over signing with an agent and a Big Six publishing house to basic unhappiness and worry a few months after their dream came true and their books were published. I’ve also noticed a great deal of anger on the part of some traditionally-published authors toward self-publishing, when I would have expected graciousness and kindness toward other authors not quite so fortunate to have had their level of success or simply deciding to try a different path than the one they chose. Observing all this, I decided to self-publish several novels and short stories, and am delighted that I did!

Alisha said...

I'm a Christian, Joe. I'm STILL a fan. I understand the point you were making but you know when you talk about religion or politics, people are going to start foaming at the mouth. I think you get mislabeled as an asshole because you come off as extremely arrogant but it isn't without reason. You ARE right all the time and your witty blogs make me spew coffee!!! If you're an asshole, you're a smart, helpful asshole who I'd buy a beer anytime. WWJAD? Coolest!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I truly support Joe. He's inspired me to do ebooks. But then the book politics can be debated afterwards.

W. Dean said...

JK wrote: “But religion, in its many flavors, is responsible for more ignorance and misery than anything else in history.”

Maybe that’s an old idea in a new disguise too. Much the same used to be said about the Devil (and is still said about guns), as if peace and love would reign without them. Both beliefs are hopeful ones, but assume that people are good by default, only made bad by something else.

That opens the possibility that the belief that religion causes misery is just a crutch for irreligious people in the same way that believing in God and blaming the Devil are said to be a crutch for religious folk. I mean modern people like to believe that religion (and guns) cause all problems because believing it offers hope that evil can be overcome.

W. Dean said...

D. Wood wrote: “...technological darwinism. The more efficient and better designed products/ideas will, in the end, survive.”

This is common misinterpretation of Darwinism. Evolution doesn’t make things better. It selects changes that accumulate over time. Evolution doesn’t care (i.e., select out) efficient things; they only appear so in retrospect.

The same goes for e-publishing. It’s a boon for some, no doubt, but it seems a bit much to assert that e-books are superior just because they’re winning, especially when the win comes by way of technological innovation (i.e., a distribution system). Besides, the bad side and some unforseen consequences may yet come to pass.

C. Wills wrote: “...a bit of philosophy could point out holes and logical flaws in your arguments.”

Really? I’d be curious to know what flaws, since his key distinction between evidence and proof is a common one. Proof is reserved for mathematics, evidence for inductive arguments. Even bad hypotheses have supporting evidence.

Karl El-Koura said...

I respect your beliefs whatever they are but any atheist with a bit of philosophy could point out holes and logical flaws in your arguments.

Christopher, I didn't make any arguments save two: evidence and proof aren't the same thing, and Christians don't have any proof, but they sure do have a heap-load of evidence. Now you may think their evidence is good, and you may think it bad; my post was asking Joe to use those two words carefully (or deliberately, as he would say), and also to not assume that all those with faith believe because they are seeking comfort in a cold universe, whatever the evidence, but that some may be basing their beliefs on evidence (which, again, you may think is poor or unreliable evidence).

[the] distinction between evidence and proof is a common one.

I wish it were more common, W.!

Christopher Hopper said...

Joe's brilliant. He even gets people ranting about politics and religion when he's just trying to make a self-pub point. ch:

puravida said...

If people are not to embrace technology, just ask the poor people who worked for Borders, who begged the company to start their own book selling website. What did Borders do? They hired AMAZON to handle the details for them. The rest is history.

There is such a small window of opportunity to sieze the moment and go with it. People can still try to hold onto the premise that publishers hold the cards. They too will end up like Borders.




Happier Than A Billionaire

A.G. Claymore said...

eBooks already have a strong niche and it continues to grow month after month.
For those who feel Joe is being arrogant about creationism, keep in mind that he has the right to state his beliefs. If he had come down on the other side of the fence, I doubt that anyone would be calling him arrogant.
Removing him from your reading list because you don't agree with his beleifs is arrogant.

Joe Konrath said...

That opens the possibility that the belief that religion causes misery is just a crutch for irreligious people

I don't believe in evil. I do believe that people are selfish and prone to corruption, and organized religion allows for a few to control many, which doesn't often turn out well.

Surely you're not saying people have never been killed because of which God they believed in, or persecuted because of their religious beliefs. Surely you're not saying wars have been fought, and people killed, due to passages in religious texts that zealots psychotically interpreted.

Christopher Taylor said...

Just to be clear--intelligent design is no different than creationism, and creationism is flat-out wrong. Period.

Stick to writing fiction if you aren't willing to do even the slightest bit of research on a topic before pontificating on it. Sheesh.

A.G. Claymore said...

Certainly not, Joe.

But surely you can acknowledge that ALL institutions are open to corruption and misuse.
Many religions have started with the best of intentions but end up co-opted by others who see a quick road to power or influence.
The same can be said for governments, charities, companies...

The crusades were launched because the church was at loggerheads with the Feudal lords and needed a way to keep them busy elsewhere.

How many wars have been fought in recent years to liberate the citizens of oil rich countries?

Souls, tithes or oil, one thing is constant - any institution can be used by those who seek control.

Religion in schools? Does that still happen down there? I remember prayers in school thirty five years ago on the East Coast but they stopped it long ago in Canada.

Church and state are supposed to be separate. Schools are state. End of story.

Joe Konrath said...

Stick to writing fiction if you aren't willing to do even the slightest bit of research on a topic before pontificating on it

Let's please get off the topic of religion.

Let's also assume I never say anything without a lot of proof to back up my words.

I can allow for the possibility that God could exist.

I can't allow anything based on faith to be mistaken for science. Creationism is based faith. It has no business in a scientific debate, has no business being taught in public schools, and every single statement made by creationists has been soundly refuted.

If you want to believe in God, that's your business. I truly hope it brings you peace. But if you want to dispute evolution, you're keeping your mind closed.

To put it bluntly: if God exists, he doesn't need the poorly drawn explanations put forth by creationists to prove he created the universe. He just did it, no explanation necessary. And if that's what you want to believe, good for you.

But don't try to argue the point. You'll lose.

Joe Konrath said...

The same can be said for governments, charities, companies...

I have as much respect for those institutions as I do for religion. :)

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efpjE_wg_1M

For those of you who believe evolution is a theory and who also believe creationism and ID aren't the same...

(Sorry, Joe, but some people need to know the facts before they go accusing you of sticking to fiction).

Linsey Lanier said...

"The value of a book is how much money it earns, not its cover price. Low priced ebooks sell more copies and make more money." Good one, Joe. Bolsters my courage as I step out into this crazy new world.

Thank you for standing up for authors!

Linsey Lanier, Someone Else’s Daughter

Rebecca Forster said...

J-loved most of that post, shrugged at some, disagreed with very little. I think those of us who spent years traditionally publishing understand books are business. I love to write. When I'm done writing, I know I need to get people to read what I write. Proud of my backlist, but truly excited about the new work I control myself. PS Can't wait to check out your cover artist.

DVshooter said...

Joe

Mongo fears change...reading through your past blog posts, and the ongoing criticism you've gotten for your views from the traditional community, I'd like to think you'd be immune to it all by now.

Borders has officially gone under and while anyone who loves books and writing should be saddened by this (always loved walking around Borders) it's the first (of what will probably be many more) example that only proves your criticisms of the industry's shortcomings in the face of a changing market are right.

Pop a cold one, smile and continue to enjoy your sales.

Dave

Rex Kusler said...

Going it alone is tough. And here's proof of that. This was originally twice as long and contained a few phrases that were better off deleted. After I saw the chopped-down version I was impressed. This was edited by the Kindle blog editors--or maybe somebody else:

http://www.kindlepost.com/2011/08/ashes-to-dust.html

jenniferlaurens said...

"GO GO GO Joseph you know what they say! Come on now Joseph you'll make it some day, Sha-la-la Joseph you're doing fine, you and your books are ahead of your time."

-kinda from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Came to mind as I read your post ;)

evilphilip said...

"They're in for a rude awakening when the system collapses."

Except the system isn't collapsing. Yes, like every big business in this economy books and book publishing has taken a hit like everyone else, but sales are still up.

"AAP Publishers Report Strong Growth in Year-to-Year, Year-End Book Sales

$11.67 Billion Sales Mark +3.6 Percent Increase vs Calendar Year 2009,

December Sales Rise +2.4 Percent;

E-book Sales Continue to Break Records with +164.4 Percent Gains for 2010"


You have to remember that the big publishers have as much to gain from the growth of the eBook as everyone else.

Plus, we know there is still a plethora of authors who throw 100% of their weight and faith behind traditional publishing.

The foundation might seem a little shakey, but the house of cards isn't going to fold any time soon.

Joe, you seem to pride yourself on being intelligent, but you aren't paying attention to what the Big 6 is really doing... which is making ungodly sums of money off $9.99 ebooks and shifting their business from bookstores to big box stores.

They might be in a house of cards, but they have a few people left out there who are digging one hell of a moat around it.

PJ Lincoln said...

Anyone or any religious organization that espouses hate is not Christian, IMO. Christ taught love and forgiveness...

Being a Christian has very little to do with any church or organized religion. It has everything to do with your relationship with God through Christ.

David Gaughran said...

@evilphilip

That's a fair point, but many of the seismic changes we are seeing take place right now will take a little while before they affect the bottom line.

Some publishers are handling change reasonably well, and are seeing a huge portion of their sales, especially frontlist, now in digital. Others are well behind the curve.

The problem with having any kind of discussion like this is that we don't have any accurate picture of our industry.

The only regular snapshot we get are the AAP figures, and they only track print data for 82 houses and e-book data for 16 houses. They don't track most small pubishers or e-publishers, and they don't take any account, obviously, of self-publishers.

We have no idea what percentage of the market self-publishers have captured. None at all.

We hear indications from larger publishers that the rise in e-sales is not offsetting the loss in print. But again, we have no clear picture.

The only people that really know the size of the market are retailers like Amazon, and they don't share that data with anyone. In any event, they only know the data for their own sales.

Even if all the retailers suddenly started posting hard data, it wouldn't cover all the sales that publishers and self-publishers make through their own sites.

At least in print we have Neilsen Bookscan which is estimated to cover around 70% of the print market, but there is no equivalent for e-data.

The BISG report is supposed to be out this month (well, it was supposed to be out in June, then July, so we'll see), which will give us a far fuller picture of the industry, taking data from around 2,000 publishers, but as far as I am aware, it will only have data for 2008, 2009, and 2010. So in one sense, it's already out of date. And, of course, it won't include self-publishers.

The early indications are that the overall revenue for the publishing industry grew across those three years. However, that doesn't tell us much. Are the larger publishers growing their revenue? Or are they being eroded by hordes of tiny publishers who are moving faster and pricing cheaper? We simply don't know.

We can be sure that large publishers are making a hell of a lot of money off e-books. But is it enough to offset the massive drops in hardback and mass market paperback over the last few years? I'm doubtful.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

Anonymous said...

Joe:

You know that evolution hasn't actually been proved by the scientific method, right? It's the best theory we have (and one that I agree with, by the way), but evolution at this point is still technically a hypothesis according to mainstream science.


Geez. This is so wrong that it's hard to know where to begin. You obviously have no clue about mainstream science and you don't understand the words theory, hypothesis, and proof as they are used by scientists.

Speaking as a scientist, a hypothesis is a proposed explanation for an observed phenomenon. A hypothesis must be testable--which neither creationism nor ID is--and falsifiable, which again neither creationism nor ID is.

A theory presents the best current understanding of the phenomenon. When a hypothesis has undergone so much testing without being falsified, it is accepted as a theory, which means that scientists have almost zero doubt that it is true. It may be incomplete and it may be extended and expanded eventually, but scientists accept it as true for the time being. Evolution is a theory, as is (for example) atomic theory and the germ theory of disease. No scientist has any real doubt about the truth of an idea that has reached the level of theory. Evolution, incidentally, is also a fact in the sense that it has actually been observed while occurring, including (yes) one species evolving into another.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

Joe Konrath said...

No one with any intellectual honesty has any faith without evidence.

If the evidence can stand up to the scientific method, it is called proof.

If the evidence is based on feelings or beliefs, it is faith. Feeling that the bible is true does not make it so. That doesn't mean your feelings aren't real. But it doesn't mean miracles are real, either.


Joe is not a scientist, but he gets it almost right here. Science doesn't deal in "proof". We deal in evidence, which we call data. Scientists never accept anything as proven. Even the best established theories are not considered proven, because just one piece of evidence that falsifies that theory is sufficient to destroy the theory.

In talking to non-scientists about what the words theory and fact mean, I use the example of sunrise. If you ask people whether it's a fact that the sun rose this morning, they'll correctly answer yes. If you ask people if it's a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow, nearly all of them will say that yes, that is also a fact. But it's not a fact because it has not yet occurred and has not been observed. It's a theory, or more precisely a prediction based on Sunrise Theory. Incidentally, Evolution Theory is as well tested and as certain to be true as Sunrise Theory.

antares said...

Completely off topic, began reading The List today. Outstanding! May raise my standards for thrillers. This book sets the bar very high.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, you seem to pride yourself on being intelligent, but you aren't paying attention to what the Big 6 is really doing... which is making ungodly sums of money off $9.99 ebooks and shifting their business from bookstores to big box stores.

You're being myopic. Look further ahead.

Borders is gone. They were responsible for as much as 20% of book sales. Last I heard, the profit margin for the Big 6 was in single digits. Now take away 20% of their income. And Borders won't be the first.

Once the Big 6 start earning the majority of their income through digital, authors aren't going to put up with it. If all a publisher does is put your ebooks on Amazon, why do you need a publisher? Why not keep 70% for yourself instead of the 14.9% they offer?

The loss of print won't crumble the Big 6. It's the loss of authors that will. Advances are down, new acquisitions are down, royalties are late, authors are being dropped left and right.

In the meantime, Amazon is signing authors left and right.

Game over.

Joe Konrath said...

But it's not a fact because it has not yet occurred and has not been observed.

That's why I'm an empiricist.

When I was a kid, I had an argument with some friends because I insisted potential energy doesn't exist. I was approaching a scientific principle from a philosophical angle, and they didn't understand what I meant. We can assume there is energy in objects, but until that energy is released, we can't prove it, any more than we can prove the sun will rise tomorrow.

I was Catholic for 18 years. To me, God was potential energy. But whereas you can turn potential energy into kinetic energy by knocking a book off a shelf, I saw no such proof for God, and stopped believing.

David Gaughran said...

@Joe & Philip

And of course, publishers are still locked into publishing schedules that were decided in 2010 and 2009.

We won't see the effects of their restricted bandwidth for a year or so.

Self-publishers and progressive outfits like Thomas & Mercer are perfectly poised to fill the gap.

kathleen shoop said...

@david G.
"Self-publishers and progressive outfits like Thomas & Mercer are perfectly poised to fill the gap."

I'm starting to feel real lucky...

Stephen Knight said...

@David Gaughran,

You know you're wrong about everything...the fine folks on AW say so. ;)

@Joe,

Next time, use politics as a comparison. I'm sure a discussion re: the merits of the Dems vs. the GOP will be SO much more civilized...

Knight's Landing

Ian Martin said...

I like the way you take a swipe at the Creationists. Provocative. It shows you don’t mind alienating a whole lot of readers. As I understand it, the US is teeming with Christian fundamentalists who hold some very weird beliefs. Like the notion that the earth was created some time in history AFTER the dog became domesticated. A lot of these people might now refuse to buy any more of your books. You’re not an atheist, are you? From your irreverent sense of humour I suspect you are, but better keep quiet about it or you might end up as shunned (and poor) as I am.

Joe Konrath said...

It shows you don’t mind alienating a whole lot of readers.

This blog is for writers, not readers. My readers don't know me, and don't care about my beliefs. They just want to be entertained with good books.

The vast majority in the US believe in God, but only a minority believe the earth is 6000 years old.

evilphilip said...

The problem with having any kind of discussion like this is that we don't have any accurate picture of our industry.

We do know that if you take away digital sales of books in 2010 that the same number of physical books was sold in 2010 as in 2009.

That means significant profit to the Big 6 publishers since eBook sales were ON TOP of print sales instead of cutting into eBook sales (as Amazon is keen to represent to push the sale of the Kindle product).

With physical sales remaining steady, you aren't going to see those authors at the top looking to break away on their own and self publish any time soon.

Even J.K. Rowling is giving a cut of her eBook sales to her publisher as an incentive for them to keep her books in print.

It is those authors you need to look at as the agents of change. They are still the authors we "want" to read.

Like it or not most self published books are not up to the quality of the books published by the Big 6 and readers know that.

For their to be any really significant long term change the "best" authors need to lead the way and they aren't doing that.

That doesn't mean there isn't money to be made. Joe makes ungodly sums of money and I made a pretty decent amount of money myself considering how few products I have on the Kindle, but I'm not seeing the kind of doom and gloom happening in the real world as you see Joe talking about on this blog.

evilphilip said...

"Borders is gone. They were responsible for as much as 20% of book sales. Last I heard, the profit margin for the Big 6 was in single digits. Now take away 20% of their income. And Borders won't be the first."

I respectfully disagree. If Borders was doing that well, why did they go out of business?

I haven't set foot in a physical book store since Amazon offered Amazon Prime free shipping and I know I can't be the only one.

The closing of a physical book store chain (or all of the physical book store chains) doesn't necessarily mean a loss of revenue to the Big 6.

Not when there is both the quiet eBook revolution happening (iPad, Kindle, nook, Android tablet, etc.) and the rise of huge online retailers like Amazon.

Around here we purchase most of our entertainment products online... movies, books, video games.

I never shop for that stuff in a store and I really don't know that many people who do.

Readers will shift to Amazon or Barnes & Noble's online storefronts if their local Borders closed -- and the store probably wouldn't have closed if people were going there anyway.

It is too early to tell how the closing of one chain with only 400 outlets nationwide will impact the overall business of publishing.

Joe Konrath said...

It is too early to tell how the closing of one chain with only 400 outlets nationwide will impact the overall business of publishing.

It's not too early at all.

Loss of Borders means fewer sales. That means smaller print runs. That means less money for advances. That means fewer books released. That means fewer sales.

As ebooks take up the slack, authors won't have any reason to sign with publishers anymore. I caught flak for saying I'd give 15% to my agent to help publish my ebooks. What authors is going to give a publisher 52.5% for doing the same thing and not anything print-related?

Watch. More and more publishers will begin to drop print releases--especially midlist--to do ebook-only releases. Then authors will flee in droves.

Anonymous said...

I live in what could be called a college town. Borders is closing here. I just said my good byes to their helpful staff. We have one independent bookstore and the owner is going to retire within ten years. That is it. Barnes and Noble probably won't expand here. I get any solid books from Target, BJs and Amazon. With the exception of Amazon the others are a watered down selection. The number of authors available for available space is completely disproportionate.

The choice for publishers would be to start their own bookstores again or fight for online space at Amazon B&N and the like or cut back to very few authors.

How can people miss the writing on the wall?

--Josephine Wade who doesn't want to fight the wordpress/blogger war today.

Philip Nelson said...

I agree that forcing religion on folks is evil, but the controversy over teaching Intelligent Design in schools is a smokescreen.

The real issue is separation of powers. People should have the right to decide at the local or state levels what is taught in their schools. It isn't the business of the federal government to decide that.

The question is really this: do people have the right to teach in their schools something with which I disagree?

For me, the answer is yes. Centralization of political power into fewer and fewer hands is a far greater danger than some rural locality deciding to teach something to which I object.

Archangel said...

for most big 6 published authors, borders closing is devastating, not only because its over 400 outlets serving large populations that will have closed, but also because of returns. The returns will be huge, and depending on each authors deal with big 6, the returns (as did about t12 years ago when b and n unloaded nearly their entire stock, only then to reorder most again a month later but did the returns at an accounting juncture for authors wherein we saw an entire pay period of negative +Zero on our royalty payments for an entire six month period, (as big 6 pays only 2x year, which itself is wrong). This was devastating to authors who eke the money from royalty check to royalty check. I think my royalty statement at that time was minus12k, meaning I owed my publisher money. Borders closings will create negative plus returns for many many authors. It is an absurd and antiquated system that authors have railed against for decades: the issue of on consignment /returns w bookstores.

On another topic of big 6 moving to 'enhance' books with ebook extras. Look for this occurring, and using 'strengthsfinder' as the model, except rather than author hosting website and private services, publisher will do so, 'for' author, freeing author, theoretically, to write.

Archangel said...

strengthsfinder is a print on paper book, that has a code in the back that can be used one time only to log into website giving testing results, additional white papers, forum etc. This model of print on paper and ebook sequel to print book, plus 'enhancements' such as valuable info online in locked code entry, plus site set up to upsell and also sell other products, is one way big 6 is moving

Joe Konrath said...

People should have the right to decide at the local or state levels what is taught in their schools. It isn't the business of the federal government to decide that.

I disagree 100%.

School is so children can learn real facts, not so they can be taught fairy tales, racism, religion, or anything else a community majority might ascribe to.

So some small town can suddenly start teaching children that the Holocaust didn't happen because they vote it didn't? No way.

Philip Nelson said...

Joe,

Forcing people to act good is evil.

But if you believe forcing folks to act good is good, then who gets to decide what's good? It's the same as forcing religion on folks.

Joe Konrath said...

Forcing people to act good is evil.

But if you believe forcing folks to act good is good, then who gets to decide what's good? It's the same as forcing religion on folks.


We already force people to act good. It's called law. When laws are broken, those are called crimes, and criminals are dealt with.

Schools are meant to teach. Education and science are not about public opinion. A community church that wants to teach religion is fine. It's voluntary.

But schools are public, paid for by tax dollars. If a bunch of local yahoos think that they can start teaching whatever they want, they need to be stopped, or they can do it in the private sector. That isn't evil. That's preventing evil.

Justin Dennis said...

Joe,

I agree with you %100. Ebooks are gaining in popularity and self-publishing makes more sense than traditional publishing (to me). I've spent a lot, a lot, a lot of time reading through your blog (doing exactly what you warned not to do--spending time reading your blog rather than writing).

But I've found your blog to be incredibly insightful, accurate, and honest.

I'm an aspiring author and I'll be going the self-publishing route; I just wanted to say thank you for maintaining this blog and giving me some hope for the prospect of self-publishing.

Keep it up, Joe.

Philip Nelson said...

Joe,

Punishing people for doing evil to others isn't the same thing as forcing them to do good to others.

But yes, public schools get money from the federal government, who thus can attach strings to it. Not a good thing, but if it's what the people want, they ought to have it.

Joe Konrath said...

Punishing people for doing evil to others isn't the same thing as forcing them to do good to others.

A separation of church and state is essential in a free society. The Bill of Rights isn't optional for state or local government. If you consider forcing the Bill of Rights on people the same thing as forcing them to do good, then we really have nothing else to debate.

wannabuy said...

"I'll never give up print books because I love them too much."

I love that argument. Mostly as 60% of the people who have bought ereaders in 2011 (that I know) said that to me in prior years. Its sad and funny how eyesight changes, bookstore closings, and authors being dropped by publishers have forced the transition.

Then they start noticing $2.99 ebooks in the "Customers who also bought" recommendations. ;)

Lightsaber

Phantomimic said...

I had a question Joe. You have provided a list of writers that are successfully selling e-books with their sales increasing, and others have posted comments on your blogs about how well they are doing. My question is: how representative of the average writer is this situation? What percentage of all writers does this group of successful writers represent? I recall reading that out of the thousands of published authors on Smashwords less than 0.5% are making $50,000 or more a year, and I understand the situation is not that different on Amazon. Don't you think the data indicates that the majority of writers will not be able to quit their day jobs and live of their writing alone?

Philip Nelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip Nelson said...

Sorry for the deletion: bad formatting.

Anyhow:

The Bill of Rights isn't optional for state or local government.

I refer you to the twelfth article of the Bill of Rights:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The federal government was supposed to have a short list of things it could do, while states and localities were supposed to have a short list of things they couldn't do. The Framers knew history, and knew what centralization of power meant. This was one of the built-in safeguards.

The Bill of Rights in no way prohibits states or localities from determining what will be taught in their schools. Rather, it confirms they do have that right.

Sean McCartney said...

Joe you mentioned Amazon is signing authors left and right. How does one get to be signed?

Sean

Eloheim and Veronica said...

@Sean

I'm pretty sure the way to get signed with Amazon is to sell a shit load of books yourself first.

That gets Amazon's attention and then they help you sell a whole lot more.

Joe Konrath said...

Don't you think the data indicates that the majority of writers will not be able to quit their day jobs and live of their writing alone?

That's the wrong question the ask.

The question is: how many writers prior to ebooks could quit their day jobs and live of their writing alone?

Answer: not many. Out of the hundreds of writers I know, less than ten percent can make it without supplementary income. If I discount bestsellers, the number is much smaller--I just happen to know a lot of bestsellers.

I'd wager that more writers can make more money self-pubbing that legacy-pubbing.

Joe Konrath said...

I refer you to the twelfth article of the Bill of Rights

I refer you to Everson v. Board of Education.

Jeanne Miller said...

Couldn't reach you through contact form. I'm promoting your blog on my new site and wondered if I may have your permission to use one of your pictures? Right now I'm using The Newbies Guide book thumbnail instead of your pretty face. :)

I don't want to post the site here as it will look spammy...but it is a site promoting ebooks and your newbie guide is also being promoted on the site. So..may I? Use your pic?

wannabuy said...

@Joe:"I'd wager that more writers can make more money self-pubbing that legacy-pubbing."

In particular if one is picked up *after* proven success. I'd imagine that helps the negotiating process.

Neil

Sean McCartney said...

@Eloheim and Veronica

Point well taken.

Sean

W. Dean said...

“...and organized religion allows for a few to control many...”

In keeping with what I suggested earlier, there are no shepherds without sheep. You can’t organize and manipulate people without people willing to organize and be manipulated. Put in Aristotle’s less cynical terms, man is a political animal: it’s in our nature to organize. It’s also in our nature to be, as you put it, selfish and corruptible.

So what is it about religious organizations that makes them uniquely susceptible among human organizations? Nothing but the widespread–and false–belief that we can be rid of religion and thus of it’s supposed evils. Which brings me to the next point:


“Surely you're not saying people have never been killed because of which God they believed in...”

I’m saying “religion kills” is a truism (like “politics kills”) because everyone has religious beliefs, whether they recognize them as such or not. There’s no class of beliefs called “religious beliefs” that some have and some don’t.

Everyone’s fundamental beliefs–everyone’s values–are religious insofar as they’re things people choose to have faith in. You probably believe, for example, that people should be treated equally. So do I. But neither of us can prove it; we just choose to believe that it’s right. Contrary to what certain people seem to believe about the status of their beliefs, this means we have religious beliefs too.

W. Dean said...

RBT,

“A hypothesis must be testable...and falsifiable...”

Verifiability and falsifiability used to be criteria for scientific theories (necessary and sufficient conditions), now they’re heuristics (rules of thumb) for the scientific theories. Both were downgraded because even theories known to be bogus are verifiable and falsifiable; e.g., “The Moon is made of green cheese” satisfies both criteria, even though it’s nonsense.

The bigger problem for falsifiability is Darwinian evolution. Contrary to what you suggested, it’s not falsifiable either on most interpretations of “falsifiable.” Just try to think up evidence that would contradict the theory (falsify it).

“...just one piece of evidence that falsifies that theory is sufficient to destroy the theory...”

Not really. The two biggest theories in physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity, contain observations that inconsistent with the physical universe implied by the other. Yet physicists haven’t jettisoned them.

Joe Konrath said...

You probably believe, for example, that people should be treated equally.

Social experiments done with children show that it is natural for humans to cooperate and treat one another fairly. I only bring this up because I think we're both skirting around the fact that much of behavior is genetic.

So what is it about religious organizations that makes them uniquely susceptible among human organizations?

When someone isn't certain about something, they look to others to see what they're doing.

Religion is insidious because it preys on fears and weaknesses, and the power hungry who claim they know answers can use that to control others. There have been terrible things done in the name of God. If God, and holy books, weren't part of the equation, terrible things would still be done, no doubt. But they'd be harder to justify, and harder for lunatics to attain power.

Selena Kitt said...

A separation of church and state is essential in a free society.

When my oldest kids were in kindergarten, we were living in a very religious neighborhood in Michigan. We aren't religious (I'm spiritual, not religious) and when my son brought home a picture of the state of Michigan with a poem about "How God Made Michigan" (by putting his hand down onto the earth... ya know, we're the hand-shaped state...) I just couldn't let it slide. I had to go in and say something to the principal. My son's teacher was older than God and had been there even longer... she had been passing out that ditto since forever. But because I took it to the principal and cited the separation of church and state, it was taken off her list. And then I had an entire school full of religious people and their kids who thought we were close-minded and crazy... *sigh*

We homeschool now.

There's nothing wrong with religion or believing in some sort of higher power. But there is something wrong with believing that your view is the only "correct" view.

Quick, Joe - throw up a monkey video. I think it's apropos... ;)

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

W. Dean said...

Verifiability and falsifiability used to be criteria for scientific theories (necessary and sufficient conditions), now they’re heuristics (rules of thumb) for the scientific theories. Both were downgraded because even theories known to be bogus are verifiable and falsifiable; e.g., “The Moon is made of green cheese” satisfies both criteria, even though it’s nonsense.


By definition, there is no such thing as "a theory known to be bogus". (Well, except perhaps so-called String "Theory" which cannot be tested, and so is not really a theory at all.) A theory results from a hypothesis that has been subjected to repeated tests and observations in an attempt to falsify it. There is no magic moment when that hypothesis becomes a theory; it's a matter of consensus among scientists, first among those in the field, and later (and just as importantly) among scientists outside the field. That is why, for example, Anthropogenic Global Warming remains a hypothesis; too many respected scientists reject it on the basis of inadequate data supporting it, not to mention considerable data that conflict with it.

The bigger problem for falsifiability is Darwinian evolution. Contrary to what you suggested, it’s not falsifiable either on most interpretations of “falsifiable.” Just try to think up evidence that would contradict the theory (falsify it).

Eh? I will quote TalkOrigins.org:

"There are many conceivable lines of evidence that could falsify evolution. For example:

* a static fossil record;
* true chimeras, that is, organisms that combined parts from several different and diverse lineages (such as mermaids and centaurs) and which are not explained by lateral gene transfer, which transfers relatively small amounts of DNA between lineages, or symbiosis, where two whole organisms come together;
* a mechanism that would prevent mutations from accumulating;
* observations of organisms being created."

“...just one piece of evidence that falsifies that theory is sufficient to destroy the theory...”

Not really. The two biggest theories in physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity, contain observations that inconsistent with the physical universe implied by the other. Yet physicists haven’t jettisoned them.


Because no data has yet been observed that falsifies either theory. Two theories need not be completely consistent with each other to both qualify as theories. Most theories are regularly extended and expanded as new data come to light. Quite often, apparent inconsistencies are resolved by those new data.

David Gaughran said...

Darwin himself addressed this in "On The Origin Of Species."

He said:

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

Joe Konrath said...

But there is something wrong with believing that your view is the only "correct" view.

I know what you're saying, but this could easily be interpreted as supporting the opposition.

How about: "There is something wrong when you force your unsubstantiated, unscientific beliefs on people claiming them as truths, especially in a public school."

Tracy Sharp said...

I friggin' love this blog :)

Philip Nelson said...

I refer you to Everson v. Board of Education.

Takes a lawyer to twist "Congress shall make no law" into "Congress and state legislatures shall make no law."

If the Constitution needs to be changed, do it right and amend it. Interpreting things that aren't there into the Constitution is exceedingly dangerous, however noble the cause.

Karl El-Koura said...

Let's also assume I never say anything without a lot of proof to back up my words.

I believe you meant evidence to back up your words, not proof, Joe. (Sorry, couldn't resist).

As for evolution vs. ID, I went through the Catholic school system here in Ontario (Canada), where the latest science, including theories of evolution, is taught without any fear that it contradicts Christian theology (that can be a discussion for another day, though not likely on this blog.)

If God, and holy books, weren't part of the equation, terrible things would still be done, no doubt. But they'd be harder to justify, and harder for lunatics to attain power.

I know you're aware of the atrocities committed in the name of atheism, Joe, so I'm curious how you would explain people like Stalin given this statement.

Stephanie Void said...

I read the post about destination and journey value... so true. I had never thought about it that way before, but it makes so VERY much sense.

As always, thanks so much for this blog. Largely because of you, I now have two ebooks online and selling.

Selena Kitt said...

I know what you're saying, but this could easily be interpreted as supporting the opposition.

It could.

You often talk about people in the publishing world who won't change their minds about self-publishing because they're unwilling to look at another point of view. If you're too busy asserting that your own view is the "right" one, you're often not willing to look at things from another angle.

I think that applies to both sides of any debate.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

Philip Nelson said...

I refer you to Everson v. Board of Education.

Takes a lawyer to twist "Congress shall make no law" into "Congress and state legislatures shall make no law."

If the Constitution needs to be changed, do it right and amend it. Interpreting things that aren't there into the Constitution is exceedingly dangerous, however noble the cause.


Well, I've been an atheist since I was 5 years old, and I wish religion would just disappear entirely.

That said, however, the establishment clause really didn't create a separation between church and state. It, like much of the rest of the Bill of Rights, was a compromise designed to get a diverse collection of states to join the proposed union. "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion" meant literally what it said. Some states at the time had established religions (official state religions, supported by the taxpayers). Other states wanted nothing to do with an established religion within their borders. So this clause was designed to guarantee both that the federal government would do nothing to interfere: a state that had an established religion could keep it, change it, or do away with it, and a state that had no established religion could remain that way or create an established religion any time it wanted to. It was the Supreme Court that located a heretofore unnoticed (irony) wall of separation between church and state.

If the Framers had had it all their own way, they likely would have established a wall between church and state, because most of them were deists, which was what atheists were called back then. ;)

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

Karl El-Koura said...

I know you're aware of the atrocities committed in the name of atheism, Joe, so I'm curious how you would explain people like Stalin given this statement.


One has to distinguish between atrocities committed by atheists, of which there have been many, and atrocities committed in the name of atheism, of which I can't think of any at the moment. Stalin was an atheist, but his atrocities were not committed because of or on behalf of or to further atheism, per se. Arguing otherwise is like arguing that because some men rape, all men are rapists.

Conversely, the many, many atrocities committed in the name of religion were in fact committed because of, on behalf of, and to further their religious cause. Furthermore, a reasonable argument can be made that Stalin's USSR and Hitler's Germany both had state religions, with Stalin and Hitler as their prophets, respectively. They were cults of personality, just as most religions are.

ADBBingo said...

In a desperate attempt to move this away from religious arguments and back to publishing, I was shocked (but not at all surprised) to see that Amanda Hocking as 'unpublished' a series that is being released by St. Martins Press in six months. The new e-book prices will be 800% higher than her first book in the series was priced - $7.99. And Amanda will make a lower royalty on each book sold.

http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2011/08/quick-reminder.html

Now lets see what happens with piracy when the cost of an item goes up by 800%, and its availability disappears for 6 months.

I honestly can't understand why she would agree to this deal.

KL Mutter said...

Hocking has been pretty straight-forward about her decision. Her blog explains her decision. As I recall, she has only sold 3 of her books. I think she's also fully aware that her series has the potential to sell in every big box store in the country. If I was writing YA urban fantasy romance and got the same offer, I would jump and fast.

evilphilip said...

"I honestly can't understand why she would agree to this deal."

$2 Million in advance.

"As I recall, she has only sold 3 of her books."

She sold an unpublished series for the $2 Million advance and then in a second deal sold one of her current series.

The current series will get pulled, published in print and the prices of the eBook versions will go up to standard "Big 6" eBook prices.

I mentioned it elsewhere -- Hocking will be pretty much 100% traditionally published in the near future.

The deal she made was a once-in-a-lifetime deal and no author should turn down that kind of money. It is lifechanging money and I'm excited to see that those magical deals still happen to writers.

It keeps you dreaming to see that kind of success.

Star-Dreamer said...

Heh… I don’t insert my opinions around here all that often, but I’m in the mood for a good debate right now, so I’m gonna start by tearing this oh-so-contradicting comment apart. ;D Maybe later I’ll come back with more on the actual post (which was a pretty good one, despite the unruly comment about intelligent design… or at least so I think. *shrug*)


“Let's set the record straight. I'm 100% fine with other people's beliefs. If faith makes you happy, or gives you comfort, good for you. And I mean that.”

No you are not. Because if you were then you wouldn’t have stated something as a fact that actually has no proof to support it. You can’t prove that creationism and intelligent design is absolutely wrong anymore than you can prove that Darwinism is right. (which, btw, you can’t… and even my 12 year old sister could point out the immediate inconsistencies involved. Even Darwin himself said that if even one of his theories were proven wrong, the whole system would crumble. Well, not one but multiple parts of his theory have been proven wrong, so hate to break it to you, but you simply can’t prove that one right.) Besides that, you have faith yourself. Faith has more than just one definition, Joe, although it’s interesting that you would try to pinpoint just one set definition in a (possibly subconscious) attempt to put down other people’s beliefs (which is exactly what you did, or at least what came across like you were trying to do.) Faith also means a strongly upheld set of beliefs (and not just the religious sort), which means, in essence, that you, Joe, have faith that the earth revolves around the sun and that there is a force called gravity, and that trees are green instead of tangerine and purple. But you never know for sure, do you? ;)

Star-Dreamer said...

(continued...)

“But once that faith (which, by its very definition, is belief in something without any proof) goes from being personal and private to being forced on others (like in public schools by teachers), I'm no longer fine with that.

“Children need to be taught facts, not beliefs. Facts require the scientific method, not personal feelings.”

Ok then. The fact is that none of the other beliefs about the creation of the world can be proven 100% true even if you try to test them with the scientific method, but it’s interesting that many of them can be proven 100% false. So why then is it that your attack doesn’t surround all the other bull-crap being fed to children in the public school system? Why don’t you point out all the other lies that America’s children are taught? Intelligent design is the only theory that has answers that continue to baffle scientists with the logic behind the answers, and it’s the only option that also has answers that can’t be re-questioned. The problem is that it’s deceptively simple, and by our very nature Humans don’t want to admit that we could be wrong, or that we are not all powerful… meaning here that we refuse to admit that our atoms couldn’t have just put themselves together. We also refuse to admit the possibility of there being a “higher power” so called, that could have told our atoms to do just that.

As far as children being taught some such beliefs in school, well let me tell you that after about 3rd grade kids start to wonder how things could be made the way they are, beyond what little they learn in their science classes. Yes, trees use sunlight for food… so what? How do the trees KNOW to use the sunlight for food? That’s what kid’s start to wonder. And believe me when I say that teachers are going to have to come up with some answers, or they are going to have some very unsatisfied students and parents on their hands.

So, the real question is, why should teachers be selective? Facts can only take you so far, but the human mind is wired to ask questions and to discover MORE facts. Why shouldn’t children be given all options rather than having some options forced upon them and others excluded? You say you don’t believe that creationism and such beliefs should be forced on children in school, so does that make it ok that Darwinism, and evolution and other un-provable theories are forced on America’s children? Why not give them ALL the possible options, rather than giving them some and weeding out others? Let them choose what they believe for themselves. Or is America’s school system afraid of what that might result in? Are we afraid that America’s children might actually detect some truth behind all the other bull crap fed to them daily?

Because in the end it’s not about “faith” being taught in the public school system. As I said, every person has some amount of faith in their life, no matter how much they try to deny it, and it’s not exactly something you can “teach”. What that whole debate is really about is the fact that teachers are allowed to even SUGGEST that there might be no other answers (or at least not wholly satisfying answers) to the children’s many, many questions than the FACT that there is a God. What the whole debate is really about is whether or not students should ever be given the chance to ever even THINK such a thing within school lines.

Intelligent Design has more going for it than a lot of the other mumbo-jumbo being shoved down the throats of American children through the public school system. Might as well let the kids choose for themselves what they believe.

Star-Dreamer said...

(continued...)

“Belief is God is fine. But religion, in its many flavors, is responsible for more ignorance and misery than anything else in history. Taking beliefs as facts, then forcing others to agree (and hating those that don't) has caused untold slaughter.”

This one is true to some degree. The biggest problem is not so much the “beliefs as facts” part as it is the interpretations of fact, which are the cause of belief. Everybody interprets facts differently, and the interpretation of some facts leads to different understandings, which leads to different beliefs. Which can, in extreme circumstances, can lead to hate.

The funny thing is, though, that people who don’t agree with the religions of the world have a sort of religion of their own. Even atheism is the religion of NOT believing in any religion. So your point was?

Personally, I don’t hate those who don’t believe like I do. Not at all. I certainly don’t hate you, Joe… your insight on the publishing market has been very helpful, and I enjoy reading your blog. I continue to refer people to you through my blog and other outlets.

However, I do think you are wrong in some instances (as is my right), and I might think other people are wrong in this argument too… and I’ll be sure to point out my views as well. (especially if someone makes a statement that can’t be proven 100% true, though they also state that they only believe in cold hard facts… hint,hint.) Might as well speak my piece… it’s a free country after all, and we all might learn something if we all start listening to each other. (Me included.)

“My best friend is a Christian. He knows, after all the debate, it ultimately comes down to faith, and you can't defend faith with facts or logic. I don't think he's an idiot. But he'll never win that argument.

“Unless, of course, we both die and he sends me a telegram from heaven. :)”


Lol! Actually I don’t think anyone can win that debate. The biggest problem is that many Christians get upset way too easily when they are challenged and it seems to me that many of them go off to pout…. And the people who argue against us think that these pouting fests are in their favor (which, sadly, they are, because you earn nothing by throwing baby whiny fits.) If, instead, we (christians) all come at the argument with a cool and collective head we might find that the argument is a draw… or perhaps we would find that the argument is actually in our favor. ;) There are plenty of “facts” as one might call them that support Christianity, just as there is faith. There is also a lot of “Faith” involved with non-belief. Like the faith that there is not a God, for instance. It is a belief without proof, after all. I mean, come on… People say that there is not a God because there’s no proof that he exists; they say “show me the proof” and they cross their arms in front of their chests and stare us down and hope that we go off to pout. ;) But if you were to ask me, I’d say that everything around is the proof behind God. How could all of THIS *gestures to the world* in all its many, complex facets and surprising twists and turns have been just a joke of chance, when even the slightest change to DNA or the placement of our atoms would either equal total destruction (the blow up sort) or death? How could the intelligence of humanity be nothing but a fluke of nature? In fact, if one were to ask me, I’d say there’s no proof that there IS NOT a God, because the entire world suggests otherwise. So show me the proof that there is NOT a God, or that Creationism and Intelligent Design are NOT how the world started, because as far as I’m concerned, the entire world has gone to extreme measures to prove that God exists.

And as far as that telegram goes, well, I guess you’ll know when you receive it then, won’t you? ;) I’ll ask your friend to say hi to you from me.

Joe Konrath said...

The deal she made was a once-in-a-lifetime deal and no author should turn down that kind of money. It is lifechanging money and I'm excited to see that those magical deals still happen to writers.

Hocking hasn't worked within the system before. Now she'll have a chance to. I hope she gets treated right, because most authors aren't.

As for life changing money, she made a million prior to the deal. It ain't life changing anymore.

Joe Konrath said...

Intelligent design is the only theory that has answers

That's where I stopped reading.

Intelligent design isn't a theory, and it has no answers.

Talk Origins

Feel free to look up every one of your points and see how science has refuted it.

You'll either read that and come out with a clear head, fully understanding why you're wrong.

Or you'll come up with excuses. Which is why all Christians who pursue this line of thinking are are ultimately called apologeticists.

KL Mutter said...

I think another big aspect for Hocking is that she doesn't want to be managing the whole show. I can appreciate that.

I have no doubt she'll be measuring her future success in terms of millions and she's amazingly prolific. At this point in her career, I think she wants to say "Jesus take the wheel" and focus on what made her a writer in the first place.

H C Pucket said...

Nik Holman said...

"As always, your publishing wisdom shines though. But stick to the publishing. The theology stuff just makes you sound like an asshole to your fans."

I won't discuss religion, because Joe doesn't want that. But I think this is Amazing. How many television hours are devoted to religion every Sunday(or Friday in Muslin nations)? How many schools/books aid in promoting religious dogma? Yet any book or blog that questions these "truths" gets attacked.
We're not all believers in your religions. And we have a right to express our skepticism.

Lady at the Club

H C Pucket said...

Far from looking like an asshole to this fan, I like knowing that Joe operates on reason.

Christine Leov Lealand said...

Data to support Joe's contentions about how self-publishing benefits authors.
Having made the change from mainstream publishing with one of the big 6 to publishing and selling my own novels I now have some figures.
From my latest sales via an online small etailer I am making $4.28 per book sold by them on my behalf.
For my in-print books I get $2-$3 per copy [or much less] for print copies sold or a measly 90c they offered me per ebook sold. Which I declined.
This is a small example of how self-publishing can benefit the Author.
I haven't even begun really marketing my books yet!

W. Dean said...

Joe said: “...it is natural for humans to cooperate...”

Absolutely. But the fact that it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s right. This is what’s usually called the naturalistic fallacy. (People like Sam Harris pooh-pooh this fallacy nowadays, for example, because they find it inconvenient. But those of his inclination thought the naturalistic fallacy was very useful 15-20 years ago when they used it ad nauseam to refute moral arguments against certain lifestyles.)

The naturalistic argument cuts both ways in your case, however, because you’re an anomaly in one very important way. The vast majority of people in every culture and every age believed in a creator and an ordered cosmos, and this belief was fundamental to their self-understanding. Empirical evidence also shows this to be true. In rejecting the important one, you reject the natural way.

“Religion is insidious because it preys on fears and weaknesses...”

As I suggested before, all kinds of beliefs address our fears and weaknesses. Religions don’t have a lock on exploiting them. Politics is the art of exploiting fear and weakness.

“...terrible things would still be done, no doubt. But they'd be harder to justify...”

Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Moa had no trouble finding justification in capital-H “History” and capital-J “Justice” for their deeds. The well of resentment–like that of all the vices religions rail against–has no bottom.

W. Dean said...

RBT,

You’re conflating two ideas of falsifying. Falsifying a theory means finding evidence that contradicts it, so it has to do with the truth and falsity of theories.

Falsifiability is criterion proposed by Karl Popper to separate scientific from unscientific theories before they’re even tested. For example, “The Moon is made of green cheese” is falsifiable because you can, in principle, go and check; “Rain is caused by rain fairies” isn’t falsifiable because “rain fairies” don’t exist.

Falsifiability got demoted to a rule of thumb because some genuine scientific theories, like evolution, are not obviously falsifiable. Why? Because the theory of evolution is the same as the evidence for it.

Put another way, evolution can explain anything as a result of evolutionary forces acting on living things. The examples of counter evidence are immaterial to the question of falsifiability and, in my opinion, flawed as examples of counter-evidence because they loaded with assumptions (e.g., what would count as “static” that couldn’t be explained away?).

Paul Pender said...

I think this is the wrong place for a debate about faith, but since we're having one I would like to cite the great film director Bunuel, who said, "I'm still an atheist, thank God."

Now can we get back to self-publishing?

TMastgrave said...

Hehehe, I actually heard some of these in person recently. It's not surprising that so many people hold on tight to tradition, they're human after all, but eventually most of them will see the light.

Nancy Beck said...

Don't you think the data indicates that the majority of writers will not be able to quit their day jobs and live of[f] their writing alone?

@Phantomimic - First, a lot of trad pubbed authors can't live off their writing, either.

Second - Book as event is over. (Go read Dean Wesley Smith's blog for a detailed explanation of what that is.) For decades, a book was given two or three weeks to earn out; if you didn't earn out, you were considered a failure.

With self pubbing, though, you can take your time finding readers. Yes, I've read the posts on Kindleboards about people selling 20 ebooks in the first month with their first ebook (I'm not among those). I sometimes get depressed looking at those, so I tear myself away from such posts, reminding myself that I have more than a few weeks to see if what I'm writing is good or shit.

So far, I only have one book out (a novella), but I'll be rectifying that soon, with two short stories (both in the same ebook), and the next in my novella series. I should finish out the series with the third book sometime in late November/early December.

But I digress.

Unfortunately, a lot of self pubbers are still in the "book as event" mode; if they don't see their ebooks selling right off the bat, they become discouraged (I'm certainly not immune to that, lol).

At least now, writers have a chance to develop their readership, and do it slowly and steadily, instead of having to hope for a big smash right out of the gate. I've also read on KB of writers who sold only a little for almost a year, then sales exploded.

Hmm...this is a hot-button issue for me, I guess, and sorry for the long post. :-) But we have to get away from that book as event mentality and just keep putting out great stuff. If we keep doing that, the readers will find it eventually.

And, no, I'm not quitting my (temp) day job - not anytime yet. :-)

Changing Faces

Nancy Beck said...

I honestly can't understand why she would agree to this deal.

@ADBBingo - I think for two reasons. One was because there were many in her fanbase who didn't own ereaders or computers, preferring the hard copy. Yes, she had 'em on Createspace, but she couldn't automatically get them into every B&N in the country.

That part of her thinking was good. As was the thought of being given a bazillion dollars up front; what person in their right mind would turn that down? (Not me. :-))

However, from what I've read, her other reason clues you in that she's quite young and didn't understand how trad pubbing works: She wanted to spend more time writing.

HAH! I've read in too many places that trad pubbed writers had to do some of their own promoting, and, of course, different editors no doubt kept interrupting her writing sessions with all sorts of edits she had to do before they could move along with the publishing.

No doubt a rude awakening for her. (As is the fact that another poster pointed out her ebooks will be priced much higher, and she'll receive less in royalties.

That sucks.

But you can't beat that upfront money she got. :-)

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