Friday, September 16, 2011

Dead Man Walking

I'm trying to figure out all of the anger and animosity that seems to occur when I talk about ebooks, or the end of bookstores or paper book events or publishers, or self-publishing. I even hear this anger when my name is mentioned.

Yes, apparently the mere uttering of my name incenses some people.

I shake my head at this behavior. For years, I've told people the sky is falling. Because, indeed, the sky is falling. Some listened. Some ignored. Some got angry. Some denied. Some blamed me for it.

I was discussing this with my friend, Henry Perez (author of Killing Red, a #1 Kindle Bestseller, and Floaters, which I co-wrote) and he said something that was so spot-on, so perfect, that I've got to repeat it.

"It's like you're telling children that Santa Claus has cancer."

What a terrific analogy.

People have a lot of affection and good feelings tied in with the publishing world and all it entails. They like paper books, and bookstores, and events. Authors once struggled mightily to land an agent and a Big 6 book deal. There are dreams at stake here. Dreams, and fond memories, and hope.

And I'm shouting to the world that it is all going to end soon.

While anger may be a natural emotion when someone tells you something you love is going away, it certainly isn't a productive one. A much better way to approach the issue is with reason.

To wit: I like Santa Claus, because he brings me toys. If he dies, he won't bring me toys anymore. Perhaps I need to figure out how to get toys without Santa, since he won't be around for long.

That's been my message from the get go. Times are changing. Change with them.

Some have taken this message to mean I'm elated Santa is dying. I have no feelings for Santa one way or the other. I am elated that I figured out how to get toys without Santa. But that doesn't mean I'll be dancing on Santa's grave (even though he did give me coal a few times.) Nor do I have a vested interest in Santa dying. Right now, Santa is still alive, and I'm co-existing with him perfectly fine.

But I am right that Santa is dying. And I am right to say we need to figure out how to live without him.

The business is changing. Lamenting it, getting upset, blaming the messenger (me), or otherwise doing anything other than learing how to thrive is a big waste of energy.

I find it interesting that the changes in this industry seem to mirror DABDA, the stages of death.

Depending on who you are, you might be:

Denying there is a problem.

Angry at the unfairness of it all.

Bargaining for a bit more time.

Depressed it will all soon end.

Accepted it and moved on.

These stages seem to apply more to those who have either been involved in the publishing industry, or have been trying for a while to break into the publishing industry. Some newbies who self-pub skip straight to acceptance, because they have no other base of experience.

But I've encountered a lot of folks mired in the various stages. Writers who are depressed they can't get deals anymore. The Big 6 acting silly--their agency model was nothing more than a bargaining attempt. Agents denying there is a problem at all.

And a lot of anger.

Newsflash: it ain't my fault Santa is dying. I'm just trying to show there is life after Santa.

You can deny it. Be angry about it. Bargain with it. Get depressed about it.

I, and all of my blog posts, will still be here to learn from when you accept it.

192 comments:

Louis Porter Jr. said...

Sensible and true. The two things people hate the most.

Patricia Preston said...

In the office where I work, last year I would see several of my coworkers with paperbacks stuck in their purses or bags. This year none of those same people are carrying books. They all have E-readers now. (Especially since WalMart started selling them)
I have even heard them talk about how much easier it is to buy books now, they can shop any time and they don't have to go to a bookstore.

Change is here. You are right. I don't understand why any writer would not be thrilled. This is the best time ever to be a writer because your book doesn't have to go unpublished unless you want it to. My regret is that I had a good friend die a few years ago. She had several finished books that she was never able to sell because of the marketplace at that time. Now she would have the opportunity to get her books to readers. If that's not Santa for writers, what is?

MikeH said...

Excellent message; I think I'm just about through the Depression stage.

Mark Terry said...

Although I don't necessarily agree with every aspect of what you're saying (for that matter, I rarely agree 100% with anyone about anything ever, but that's just a neurosis issue), I really do think part of what you think and feel about the whole e-book thing depends on where you stand.

I had the opportunity last weekend to do a couple book events and of the writers, we were having wildly different experiences with publishing, as is typical of any group of writers. There were 2 or 3 of them who were the recipients of nice large book advances and publisher support and were having careers. For the most part, they seemed (not surprisingly) most hostile to the discussions of e-books and e-book self-publishing. Well, of course. It directly threatens something they're having great success at.

The other writers, who weren't having that kind of experience with traditional publishers - myself included - who have been dropped by publishers or are having more difficulties finding a foothold with traditional publishing (that isn't covered with slippery bird shit, it seems to me), are at the least very open-minded about what's going on with e-publishing. One of the writers in this camp (not me, but I agreed with her) commented that with the way publishing was going, we needed at the very least to position ourselves for what may happen in the future by getting involved in e-book self-publishing.

I'm in that camp and am finding some success (more would be good) with a number of e-books and it's quite liberating. I've got agents shopping some things around at the moment, but publishers are being even more skittish now than they have been for the last 20 or 30 years (at least). So it's good to know, well, I'll just publish it when I finish it if nothing else comes along.

I'm not quite to your point where I think I should turn down any traditional publishing contract, although I had a discussion with a writer friend of mine about the ridiculous e-book royalty rates some publishers are offering and how e-book pricing by most traditional publishers is suicidal, so it's entirely possible that there is NO traditional publishing contract out there that would make sense to me.

brendan mitchell said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I love the analogy, although I'd add, "it's OK kids, don't worry, yes Santa is on his way out and you won't be able to tug on his beard or sit on his lap any longer, but it's cool, The elves will still be cranking out all your goodie, so you'll still get all your presents as before... but these ones will be new and improved, not just pictures and words printed on mushed up bits of dead tress, oh no, you see these new toys, have sound, video, they're interactive, you can touch and play with them, so you're learn more than you ever could before, plus you'll be even more engaged than ever. Oh and did I mention you'll be able to take them all with you wherever you are. As let's face it kids, that's all you really cared about anyway, yeah the big guy is on his way out, but he set up www.santa.com before he left, so you'll be fine. The busy little elves will still get their toys to you, but they no longer have to rely on that old fashioned, out of date delivery mechanism, which you and I call Santa"

I'm like you, I've blogged, discussed and presented on this, a couple of years ago I was at the Young Publishers event in London, the panel made of book publishing and one music exec were giving presentations. I challenged them during the Q&A session... "you say the music industry is 10 years ahead of the book publishing industry" (they nodded in agreement) "well the music industry is obviously dying, so are you saying the publishing industry has 10 years to live?" (they umm'ed and urr'ed, but no actual answer, so I proceeded) "If as you said CD's = books, they I'd like to see a show of hands who here buys CDs?" (a ripple of hands went up) "Who of you will likely do so in 5years time?" (no hands went up) "Now think about books again" i sat down, they went onto a different question

Kelley said...

Spot on analogy.

J. Viser said...

People have a natural resistance to change. Publishers, authors and others who have built their careers on the traditional paradigm, or wanted to, have a vested economic or emotional interest in the "old" way. Ebooks threaten the traditional notion of what it is to be an author, publisher, agent, copyeditor, etc.

Because you have been outspoken on the coming dominance of ebooks, and many of your predictions have come true, you are a target of that anger by simple association wiht the new medium.

So, I wouldn't take it personally and by the likes of your blog post on not caring, you probably don't. This is a natural process of change that those in the technology, finance and manufacturing worlds have already had to deal with (i.e., globalization, outsourcing, integrated financial markets, etc). Now, the publishing/book world is going through it. We don't fully know where this road will take us, but many dreams baed on the old model have been dashed on the rocky shores of fundamental change.

Every "revolution" needs its standard bearer and that is what you have become to the ebook world. I am grateful that you decided to get on the front end of the ebook revolution, because you have helped me join it.

Thank you.

Michael J. Sullivan said...

While your posts are always entertaining, and usually spot-on I found this one really gives a great analogy that should help to explain the situation to others still trying to figure out what is going on in the new world order. Thanks for posting - I loved it.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

kerem mermutlu said...

People (in general) don't like change, and if that change will hurt you because it represents a threat, then ignoring it and hoping it will go away are what most people are good at. Ebooks will change things and i agree that publishing will go the same way as the record industry.

I have friends who are musicans who have their own fan base and put their music on itunes and tour on their own. They don't need a record deal because they can reach new fans via facebook etc. If you have the fan base, and an easy way for people to buy your products, then you win.

Jonas Saul said...

Got through those stages all in one month. September 2010 was that month. Jumped right to Acceptance and uploaded.

Oh, and Mrs. Claus needs a few toys of her own now that Santa is taking early retirement.

Jonas

Jude Hardin said...

I just browsed the Kindle top 100, and most of the titles there are from traditional publishers. So who exactly is dying?

Claude Nougat said...

Great post and great analogy! But the previous comment is right: the Kindle bestseller lists is top heavy with titles from the Big 6! So traditional publishers are not dying and they may well have caught on at last...

What is dying is the printed book. Not totally, of course there will always be a niche for luxury, well-bound books with lovely covers. Objects of beauty to decorate your home with.

Paperbacks? Na, going,going, gone! So that's where the ebook battle is really taking place!

billie said...

I wanted a big 6 deal for a number of years, and got close enough to taste it - and was certain at one point I never buy an e-reader b/c I would never give up the feel of reading an actual printed book.

Right now I do most of my reading on the Kindle, have four novels published via Amazon and Smashwords, and this month have had my biggest sales numbers ever.

I didn't get the big advance, and I'm not breaking records with money earned, but I have readers, reviews, offers for interviews, and yes, I AM earning some income from book sales.

The fact is, the dream is the same, but now, instead of the hope and the possibility that my books would sell, which wasn't just me dreaming, but was propagated by agents and editors telling me it would happen, I am in charge, and I am seeing actual results.

I'm happier with the real baby steps than I was with the dream of big, bold steps.

Some friends/writers seem happier with the dream, even if it's a dream that is no longer viable in the industry.

funny in the 'hood said...

As many have already said, people don't like change and when you're the one telling them about it you get the classic "don't kill the messenger" scenario. Personally, I love hearing about all the changes in the publishing paradigm and now that I've got my own book on Amazon and B&N, I have a vested interest.

However, if I was traditionally published I might have a totally different view.

The takeaway though is that it's never been a better time to be a writer. There are options and choices that have never been there before. Fighting about which choice is right or wrong should be left to the *Coke vs Pepsi debate, or the *"toilet paper over the top or underneath" argument because there is no "one size fits all" answer.

*It's Coke and over-the-top.

Tracey

A.G. Claymore said...

There is one more stage for the big six in dealing with grief: getting your staff to trash self pub authors on Amazon. I haven't run afoul of this yet but have seen the threads from the kindle boards.
There are some very suspicious characters out there who post nothing but 1 star reviews.
Either they're trolls with an agenda or they have extroardinarily bad taste when it comes to selecting books.

Walter Knight said...

Christopher Columbus used to walk around town in his later years saying to his critics, "I told you so."

Know what? That pissed them off even more. Being right does that.

Todd Trumpet said...

I really don't understand the anger. It seems transparently clear to me that things are getting better...

...for readers AND authors.

I suppose there will always be those grumpy about change, even when the benefits are so obvious.

Some photographers lament the marginalization of film, but the entire market wouldn't have changed so quickly unless there were undeniable advantages to digital.

Some broadcasters lament the demise of network news ratings, but isn't having the news available any time you want it in any form you want it clearly superior?

Don't sweat the naysayers, Joe.

Now, what's all this BS about Santa being sick?

Todd
"THE TELLING OF MY MARCHING BAND STORY"
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Anonymous said...

You did once write "Santa can blow me."

That wasn't nice.

(Of course, you used legacy system instead of Santa, but I'm just sayin')

Chris said...

I love that my word verification for posting on here was "hedlyt". Because I feel like these trad publishers are like deers standing in the "hedlyts" just seconds before impact.

I've never published a book, but am working on one now and I don't see the wisdom in shopping it around when it's done. I'm about 90% sure I'll just publish it myself because it sounds like a ton of bs to go through the other way. Plus less money. No thanks.

Darlene Underdahl said...

Thanks for not being chased away.

Your posts are valuable.

Smuggy Smith's First Year said...

Or you can celebrate. The King is dead, long live the new king.

Now, right now, I can publish my book without the gatekeepers (agents and publishers who reject based on how much printer time they have left) getting in the way.

If my work is good or bad, I get instant feedback. I'm not blacklisted because my first book wasn't perfect or didn't sell into the NY list.

This is the best time to be an author. Long live the new King - ebooks.

Joe Konrath said...

So who exactly is dying?

I counted 7 indies in the Top 50 on Amazon. But you're looking at the front end of the bell curve. Go into the middle. Look at genre bestseller lists.

Indies at 8 of the top 20 in horror.

8 of top 20 in Police Procedural.

13 of the top 20 in Action/Adventure.

And so on. I got tired counting.

You seem to think Santa is going to recover. He ain't.

Tracy Lynn said...

I've had a Kindle for since they first came out and initially, people would stop me in the airport or wherever and ask questions and marvel at it, but for the last two years, I've gotten a lot of snotty I-prefer-real-books comments. Of course, I live in a hipster intensive area, but still. It's like they blame me for bookstores going out of business.
It's like logic and common sense have left the building.

Art Mayo said...

I work in publishing and have personally moved to acceptance. Depression was the hardest stage to beat! But there's life the other side.

I'm a nonfiction editor in the UK, but when I wrote a novel, I didn't bother sending it to any friends in the industry - not when the industry itself won't exist in the same way in three years.

Self-pub is now the most conservative choice.

Hiroko said...

I think of all the aspects of the publishing market that will "come to an end," the paper books will continue to last. I can't argue that ebooks are EASILY the new wave of the future or anything, but paper books have been part of history - and humanity - for so long, the affection that comes with the physical books will definitely outlast their former major sources.

Alas, though. I haven't seen anyone with even a Kindle in my neck of the woods.

KR Jacobsen said...

I'm not sure that Santa is going to completely die, but to ignore all that's transpired so far is just plain wearing blinders.

Traditional publishing is definitely struggling, and while the Pattersons and Kings of the world are going to be fine for the immediate (and near-, and possibly somewhat long-term) future, everyone else isn't, except for the lucky few here and there.

I'm glad I'm in the acceptance phase and am moving on. However, that doesn't mean I'm not sad, on some level, to see paper books dying.

But the industry was long overdue for an enema.

SBJones said...

I don't think print is dead. The traditional way of printing is. Instead of Borders, Waldens, and Books-a-million. You have Walmart, Target and Costco as your bookstore.

Print on Demand is cheap and easy to set up. Like an eBook, it has forever to sell. Unlike a mass market traditional book, you don't have inventory, storage, or a short shelf life to worry about.

You also don't need a Big 6 publisher to get a bookstore to stock your book. My first book came out in June. This week it is now stocked at Barnes and Noble. I wrote about it in my blog this week.

Stop waiting for things to happen. Go make them happen.

Jude Hardin said...

You seem to think Santa is going to recover. He ain't.

Is Santa even sick?

It seems to me the only thing that's dying is paper. Ebooks are booming all around. Why aren't traditional publishers going to continue making tons of money from their sales?

Joe Konrath said...

Why aren't traditional publishers going to continue making tons of money from their sales?

You do read my blog, don't you Jude? :)

The reason legacy publishers exist is because they control paper distribution.

When writers don't need paper books, because there is such a small market for them, what writer would ever sign with a legacy publisher offering 17.5% royalty, esp. when they charge $9.99 or more?

I said before that readers won't destroy the Big 6. Writers will.

Michael Offutt said...

The people that get angry with you are the people that stand to lose money. It's always about money. Bottom line, end of sentence.

And they get angry with you because you're unapologetic about it, somewhat smug about it, and what you say is happening and they want to stick their head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend that it isn't happening.

The truth may set you free Joe, but it WON'T make you any friends.

Jude Hardin said...

When writers don't need paper books, because there is such a small market for them, what writer would ever sign with a legacy publisher offering 17.5% royalty, esp. when they charge $9.99 or more?

Oh, I agree that the royalty rates will have to be adjusted. Absolutely. Price? Well, I think new authors should be priced at $2.99-$4.99 to give them a chance at establishing a fan base, but bestsellers will probably continue to do well at the higher price points.

Andy Conway said...

It's even happening here in the UK - ebook readers everywhere you look and, get this, Hollywood producers approaching writers like me.

One of my ebooks is now subject to a movie deal after a Hollywood producer approached me just one month and two dozen sales after I put a novella on Amazon.

True story.

The people who are angry at ebook publishing haven't realised just how much the landscape has changed. Amazon IS the slush pile. It's where publishers, agents and Hollywood producers are looking for writers.

I just wrote about it on my blog: Why Hollywood wants your ebook

Forgive the blatant self-promotion, but I'm obviously excited, and people need to hear this shit! ;-)

Andy Conway
Publishing 11 titles before 11.11.11 on Amazon and Smashwords : 6 down, 5 to go

Joe Konrath said...

but bestsellers will probably continue to do well at the higher price points.

I disagree. Bestsellers exist now because of widespread paper distribution, and the accompanying publicity.

When that stops, no one will spend $12.99 for Patterson. Prices will drop. As a result, authors will make less money.

A legacy pub offering 50% on a $4.99 ebook will earn an author $1.75. That's terrible compared to $2.04 on a $2.99 ebook the author self-pubs.

No one in their right mind will take a legacy deal.

I.J.Parker said...

First of all, there are a lot of people who are grateful to you because you have given them hope when no one else would.

Secondly, Santa's been bringing many of us nothing but coals for years, even though we've been very good.

And lastly, it's much healthier to regard deals with a certain amount of suspicion than to accept publishers offers with blind faith in their willingness to make us great authors.

I'm not sure that any publisher can do better for me in electronic publishing than I can myself. In other words, those rights ought not to be sacrificed to Santa in hopes that next time he won't bring coals.

Robert said...

As usual, spot on, Joe. Can I carry the drum as the parade away from Legacy marches forward? Rudolph the Reindeer by the way alongside an elf at one of the Big Six singlehandedly killed my Instinct franchise I had going, so I don't miss those dotes. My next work will be going straight to Kindle as have my last five alongside some forty backlisted titles. I call it FREEDOM and hey there is more than money to be had - self-satisfaction.

Rob Walker
www.robertwalkerbooks.com

Jude Hardin said...

A legacy pub offering 50% on a $4.99 ebook will earn an author $1.75. That's terrible compared to $2.04 on a $2.99 ebook the author self-pubs.

No one in their right mind will take a legacy deal.


Jude waves arms wildly and shouts, "Me! Me! Me!"

:)

Seriously, I would be ecstatic with a decent advance and 50% ebook royalties.

Joe Konrath said...

Seriously, I would be ecstatic with a decent advance and 50% ebook royalties.

Then you aren't thinking clearly.

A $2.99 ebook will sell more copies than a $4.99 ebook. Period.

But for the sake of argument, let's say they sell equally well. If you sell 10,000 self pubbed ebooks, you'd make $20,400. With a legacy publisher, that woudl be $17,500.

Now let's look at 100,000 ebooks. $204,000 vs. $175,000. You pissed away almost $30k. For what? Them to do the cover art and formatting? That's worth $30k?

But a $4.99 ebook WILL NOT sell as well as a $2.99 ebook. So you'll lose more than the $30k.

I compare my Jack Daniels ebook sales that Hyperion owns to my sales for Shaken, and I'm losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Angela Brown said...

There's a certain lackluster that comes with facing the downward spiral, no matter how fast or molassas-slow, of something that has been considered a staple and very stable.

When the decline occurs, there's usually more gnashing of teeth, ashing of the forhead and blaming the messenger than preparation for the future. Plus, some people prefer their truth dipped in honey, which isn't your style, at least not from the blogs I've read and had a chance to learn from.

At the very least, you have the information here when the time has come to no longer deny things.

Ian Martin said...

I take my hat off to you gents, even though I prefer to keep it on as protection against the African sun and to conceal my baldness. You really are masters of hype and exemplars of the maverick spirit transforming the world of books. If you don’t mind I’m going to emulate your success by starting a blog (called Gatecrasher)similar to Joe’s, in which I will trash the mainstream publishers in South Africa, espouse the benefits of self publishing, and at the same time tell everyone that the crap I write is highly entertaining and should be bought in large quantities, preferably from Amazon. And if I don’t have any success I’ll know who to blame.

Alastair Mayer said...

No one in their right mind will take a legacy deal.

Well, we are talking about writers here. ;-)

And for those worried about indie bookstores, Dean Wesley Smith blogs today about one approach for them, or even supermarkets, to sell e-books -- and give the readers something that can be autographed if they're into that.

Sean A Lusher said...

What with Santa dying and all, I'm lucky that I never managed to rely on him.

I came in late in the scene, and managed to score a very small deal with Santa just months ago.

While Santa was very accommodating and listened to me, and I do appreciate his generosity, I'm already figuring out how to get the presents myself.

Anonymous said...

Jude, one question. Are you wanting a legacy deal just out of principle and sentiment, or do you want to make money and have a career?

Ellis Jackson said...

Santa is forever. FACT.

(Books are also forever, but whether that means on paper or plastic remains to be seen. Though frankly I believe you, ebooks and self-publishing are the future, despite my shockingly bad sales on Amazon!)

DVshooter said...

That's what would haunt me. If, by some miracle, a legacy deal was ever offered to me. Unless it's Amanda Hocking money it simply doesn't make sense, as you've illustrated.

And as I threw out somewhere else, I thought you'd be immune to the messenger killers by now.

Claudia Lefeve said...

I don't comment often, but I do read your posts regularly, as well as other blogs on the subject.

This isn't what's being said, but this is what I see:

Authors that are traditionally published that no longer feel special. Now anyone can publish and have done very well going the indie route. It's kinda like a slap in the face.

Non-published writers still wanting a traditional publishing deal in order to feel special. They're willing to give up tens of thousands just to be picked up by a legacy publisher.

I don't know about them, but I feel pretty damn good about releasing my first book as an indie author. In two weeks, I've sold more than I though I would in a year. It's not enough to live off of (yet), but I'm pleased with my sales. I would never have done it had I not stumbled upon your books and your blog. Thanks Joe.

Jude Hardin said...

Jude, one question. Are you wanting a legacy deal just out of principle and sentiment, or do you want to make money and have a career?

That's two questions, and the answers should be obvious.

My agent and I have discussed a variety of options for my recently-completed novel, and we're moving forward with what we feel is the best one for now. If it works out, I will make the (HUGE) announcement at the appropriate time. Let's just say I'm not convinced that self-publishing is the best career path for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hear the (HUGE) news.

Jon Olson said...

What? Santa has cancer?

Thank goodness there are ebooks.

Jon Olson
The Petoskey Stone

Anonymous said...

OK, Jude, so here is ONE question. If one of the Big 6 called today and offered you $75,000 for your new novel, would you take it?

Stephen Prosapio, author of Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum said...

Wait, what? There are problems in publishing? When did THIS start happening? LOL

I also wonder if the same thing happened with horse carriages and buggy whips. Was there denial that they were becoming less valued as a means of transportation? Did people get angry and defensive thinking that they'd never be able to ride a horse again? The whole "you'll pry my book out of my cold dead fingers" attitude is really just silly.

I bought a Kindle a year ago and ya know what? I can STILL READ PAPER BOOKS (and have...about 10 of them)!

Wake up peeps. Good post, Joe.

Marc Johnson said...

In general, people crave validation. As writers, we crave validation from publishers. I understand why people are getting upset when that validation is being taken away.

Paul Pender said...

Santa? Never trust a man whose name is an anagram of Satan.

Hopefully as his parting gift he'll deliver loads of new Kindles, Nooks and assorted ereaders this Christmas.

Elizabeth Ann West said...

Mr. Konrath,

Thank you for shouting Santa is dying. In January of this year, I dreamed of writing a novel and seeking publication. I'd been financially successful with non-fiction writing and wanted a new challenge. Plus, I was sick of writing about credit card debt, foreclosures, and other SEO topics.

I stumbled on your blog early one when I was beginning to stalk agents. No, I hadn't written a book yet, I was determined to fit their wants before I got started, rather than undoing/redoing my draft. This is right around when the first monkey and frog post came out (and the video scarred me for life).

I learned from you blog that self-publishing was a viable possibility, and one that would best fit my talents and personality. I haven't looked back. And this past week, I finally put some skin in the game. I published my first novel, and six people not related to me have paid for it.

And I'm working on more skin. :) I'm very sorry if the negative voices sound the loudest, but from me and I'm sure countless others, you aren't evil. You're the voice saving many of us from a slush pile death. And for that, I thank you. Maybe I published crap, maybe I didn't. But I'm very proud to have it published and will keep working to add more titles.

So thank you, once more! You rock.

Sarah Woodbury said...

In the historical fantasy list (where I hang out) 10 of the top twenty are indies. In Fantasy, Futuristic & Ghost Romance (not my genre) it's 16 of 20. In Time travel, 8 of the top 20 are Outlander books and 9 are indies.

And remember, none of these books count towards the percent of the market that ebooks take up in the articles permeating the web. Brave new world out there, folks, as Joe has said.

Chopped Nuts said...

Honestly Joe, I think it's just your beard.

Mark Asher said...

"I just browsed the Kindle top 100, and most of the titles there are from traditional publishers. So who exactly is dying?"

Yeah, and it's not like their revenue is plunging either. People are switching to ebooks and buying the ebooks from the big publishers. Why should we expect the publishers to collapse?

Also, Santa is an anagram for Satan. Just sayin'.

Jude Hardin said...

Bestsellers exist now because of widespread paper distribution, and the accompanying publicity.

I'm wondering if online retailers will eventually offer co-op placement at six-figure price tags the way bookstores do now.

Stephen T. Harper said...

I like that Santa Claus analogy, but I'm not sure it explains the anger perfectly.

Santa is kind and generous to all. IMO, the anger towards Joe's message comes just as much from authors who have not had enough success to view the industry as Santa Claus. To the successful, the unsuccessful, and the not yet successful, the publishing industry is more like a mountain to climb than a dispenser of gifts. A mountain with a pot of gold at the top.

Climbing mountains is a lot of work, a massive investment of time, energy, resources and planning.

You have been telling these folks that they are climbing the wrong mountain. That the pot of gold isn't there anymore.

You might as well try to tell someone that the religion they've been invested in since childhood is not the "one true religion." Or that a war in which members of their family had fought, killed, and died, was a "mistake" to enter. It will make them angry. And being correct only makes things worse.

I'm reminded of that Joseph Campbell line about spending your whole life climbing the ladder of success, only to find out when you get to the top that the ladder was a against the wrong wall.

Very few people could take a blow like that in stride. Much easier to think the messenger is the problem.

Kate Evangelista said...

The more I'm learning about the process of self-publishing, the less scary and intimidating it becomes. Sometimes, we fear the unknown. Many believe in the credibility being traditionally published brings. But today, I'm less inclined to think that way. Everyone brings their own credibility to the table now, and that's the best thing about it. Great post, Joe!

Joe Konrath said...

I published my first novel, and six people not related to me have paid for it.

Count that as seven. I just bought a copy for my wife. :)

Fosterity said...

You know, if you'd just grow your beard a little longer, dye all your hair white, drink a lot more beer to round out your belly and invest in a really awesome red suit, we wouldn't need Santa.

But I'm not gonna sit in your lap. ;)

Stephen T. Harper said...

Andy Conway said...

"One of my ebooks is now subject to a movie deal after a Hollywood producer approached me just one month and two dozen sales after I put a novella on Amazon.

True story."

Same here. I just finished another draft of a completely kick-ass action film based on King's X for a producer who optioned the book last spring. It's starting to get to the exciting part of the process.

Andy also said... "The people who are angry at ebook publishing haven't realised just how much the landscape has changed. Amazon IS the slush pile. It's where publishers, agents and Hollywood producers are looking for writers."

I think in hollywood, there is just a huge appeal for things that don't "come from Hollywood." I think it's easier for producers and execs to sell things that come with a different pedigree.

Joe Konrath said...

You have been telling these folks that they are climbing the wrong mountain.

Great analogy. But the one to be angry with is yourself, not me.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays you can literally figure out how to self-publish yourself online in your spare time. Why the hell would anyone choose to pay to publish print editions of the novels?

As a new (and young) writer with just enough experience to produce quality work, my whole life has led up to this virtual "awakening," and it's never been more exciting to see the potential that lies ahead.

As Konrath has seen and said, I am the newbie who has "skip[ed] straight to acceptance, because they have no other base of experience." Everything I hear on sites like Konrath paints a picutre of the world of print novels as an obnoxious waste of time, money and paper when compared to the e-pub world.

I am surprised to hear that people are getting angry about this. But I can assure you that my generation has embraced change, and ebooks are the way of the future.

Jude Hardin said...

ebooks are the way of the future.

I don't think anybody's arguing about that anymore. The question is, will the Big 6 be able to survive in an ebook world. I say they will, Joe says they won't. Time will tell.

I predict Amazon will eventually be the largest publisher in the world, and the other major houses (now known as the Big 6) will be forced to offer similar author-friendly deals in order to compete.

Joe Konrath said...

the other major houses (now known as the Big 6) will be forced to offer similar author-friendly deals in order to compete.

They can't.

With print sales dwindling, they need ebook royalties to afford those NY offices. Even if they offer 70% to authors, Amazon still gets a 30% cut. So a publisher offering you 70% means you actually get 70% of 70%, which is $1.47 on a $2.99 ebook.

That leaves 30% of 70% for the publisher, or 63 cents a book.

They can't survive on 63 cents a book. Especially since they aren't doing a damn thing to earn it. Once their lock on paper distribution is gone, they have nothing to offer authors.

And they'll never give authors 70%.

CT said...

The first thing to go will be mass market paperbacks. They were the most readily available and disposable. Ebooks fill this niche.

Trade paperbacks will take their place. Hardcovers will be the very last to go.

And this is in regions where electronic devices are readily and available to people who can afford them. Many parts of the world will be slower scooping up ebooks.

Jude Hardin said...

And they'll never give authors 70%.

When I say Amazon is going to be the biggest publisher in the world, I'm talking about their imprints like Thomas and Mercer. They don't pay 70%, but their terms are better than current Big 6 boilerplates.

I'm thinking the Big 6 can match what Amazon is doing with their imprints and, with the automatic lowered overhead of ebooks, still come out way ahead.

70% of $5.99 (the price of Barry's new one, for example) is $4.20. With a 50/50 split, the publisher would get $2.10 per copy. Forever. The author would get $2.10 per copy. Forever. The retailer would get $1.79 per copy. Forever.

Everybody happy. Forever. :)

Joe Konrath said...

70% of $5.99 (the price of Barry's new one, for example) is $4.20. With a 50/50 split, the publisher would get $2.10 per copy

Why the hell would Barry sign with a publisher who takes 50%?

Why would anyone?

Jude Hardin said...

Why the hell would Barry sign with a publisher who takes 50%?

I was just using the retail price of The Detachment as an example. I have no idea what kind of deal Barry got, but being a NYT bestseller I'm sure it's better than most.

Why would anyone?

For Amazon's marketing muscle, for one thing. You can't expect them to pay as much for imprint contracts as they do for KDP. At least I wouldn't.

DVshooter said...

70% of $5.99 (the price of Barry's new one, for example) is $4.20. With a 50/50 split, the publisher would get $2.10 per copy

Sorry Joe, I must have missed one of the past posts on accounting.

Amazon still gets 30% of the legacy book e-pub'd through them.

Whiiich...is a cut of a cut with a big 6 on Amazon VS. the flat 70% for doing the EXACT same thing on my own.

No one in their right mind would ever f%^$#ing do that?!

Well...since all these tradional types detest you so much, despite only being a messenger trying to help others in the trade...I think you should at least have fun with it all.

You should have a dead pool contest...whose the first Big 6 to go under? Give away some free e-books or an autographed JD bottle.

But be upbeat at the same time...whose the first mega-brand author to go full e-pub with their own LLC's of editors, cover artists, bloggers etc...Patterson? Roberts? Koonts?

Since it's gonna happen anayway.

Jude Hardin said...

Amazon still gets 30% of the legacy book e-pub'd through them.

No kidding. Brick and mortar bookstores get 50% of the retail price for hardcovers. What's your point?

DVshooter said...

Jude

Was just clarifying.

Melissa Douthit said...

Joe,

You are so totally right. I feel the same heat from people when I talk about the e-book revolution and big publishing going the way of the dinosaurs. As a newbie just getting into it, I skipped right to acceptance and was having a hard time trying to fathom people's reactions to what is happening. Now I know.

Melissa

Reacher said...

i love this post. clear, concise, funny, and so true. one thing i see with established authors is anger at not only the publishing world they know coming to an end, but that new authors will not have to pass through the same trials and tribulations that they did. they suffered to land that first contract, and they don't want anyone to be able to circumvent that suffering. it seems not to matter that the new changes are in favor of all authors, including them.

Joshua Simcox said...

This post has nothing to do with this particular thread, but I wanted to take a moment to respond to Jonas Saul's thoughts on the use of pen names in the comments section of the Bella Andre guest post.

No disrespect intended to Jonas Saul or his wife, but I can't help but feel that the surge in sales for their novels is due at least partially to readers associating (if not outright confusing) the authors pen names with two other wildly popular bestsellers: John Saul and Patricia Cornwell.

In fact, while browsing through Amazon's Kindle selection of John Saul novels, I came across a Jonas Saul title and momentarily mistook it for a new book by John Saul. Somehow I don't think this is coincidental, especially when one considers that the cover art (right down to the font used for the author's name) is almost identical to what one would see on the cover of a John Saul novel.

Obviously, Jonas and his wife are doing very well through their self-publishing efforts, and I won't argue with success. But am I completely off-base in thinking that the use of these pen names is almost a form of dishonesty?

--Joshua Simcox

Anonymous said...

"I'm wondering if online retailers will eventually offer co-op placement at six-figure price tags the way bookstores do now."

This is the point that makes it possible Joe is wrong about the whole thing.

He's gambling his entire mental universe on the notion that the on-line storefront for ebooks is a level playing field. But it isn't - not now, and it's going to end up looking like a ski jump. Why? Because Amazon is going to make it that way.

Understand it from Amazon's point of view: it doesn't care what title the customer spends his money on - only that he spends it at Amazon. As long as it knows it's churning 40% or 50% or 60% (or ideally 100%) of the nation's book budget, it's happy.

But - it can get more than that, by letting individual publishers try to influence what title the customer spends his money on. That way, it gets its regular 40% or 50% or 60% of the nation's book budget, plus millions in publishers' marketing money. It's free money. It's all upside.

It can offer the top left spot on a six-ebook home page for $100k. It can get $75k for the next spot. $50k for the other four. Then after "click for more ebooks" you see six more titles at $10k for a couple of weeks.

Sure, some dedicated customers will work their way down to the curved bit at the bottom of the ski jump, but not many, and remember, Amazon doesn't care whether they do or not.

Joe seems pretty hard nosed about deals, so he'll understand there's no reason on earth for Amazon to turn down that free money.

He keeps on saying what distinguishes Big Six publishers is their lock on print distribution. He's dead wrong.

What distinguishes Big Six publishers is their lock on marketing spend.

Marketing spend dominated print, and it will dominate digital.

Jonas Saul said...

@Joshua Simcox

When at Amazon, search James Patterson. You'll see Aaron Patterson's name come up. Notice how close his covers are to James'

Also search Joshua Graham and see how close his covers are to John Grisham's. B.V. Larson and Stieg Larsson. The list goes on.

I chose the name Saul for many reasons. I've always loved the author sound of it. Saul Bellow, John Ralston Saul, John Saul, Saul Goodman.

My wife does my cover art. We're concerned with branding so my author name is prominent, just like ones you'd see coming out of Random House. We aim to make our covers look as serious and professional as possible, just like the pros. If that is considered dishonest instead of seeing what works and doing more of it then I'm lost.

My wife did not choose her name to mimic Patricia. My wife doesn't even write in the same genre.

I sell in the thousands. I get fan mail. My new thriller is coming out next month and I have people coming to my blog for the last six months or more searching for this title. There's no way that this many readers could buy my books and continue to do so daily because they think I'm someone else. I do get returns. Not many, but a few. Maybe there's something to what you said for those few.

Maybe not.
I still sleep at night.

Jonas

JAMES BRUNO said...

I've been puzzled and taken aback by the hostility I've encountered in a popular writers forum directed against Joe Konrath. And this negative sentiment comes largely from unpublished wannabes waiting for Santa to climb down their chimney. Whether simply in denial, or intoxicated by Big-6 Koolaid, I can't say. I just hope they're keeping their day jobs.

Eric Christopherson said...

Marketing spend dominated print, and it will dominate digital.

Good post, Anon. But you could be wrong too.

What if Amazon decides they can make more money in the long run by driving the Big Six to their knees?

Solarman9 said...

How do you see the future of books as it relates to libraries?

Joshua Simcox said...

@Jonas Saul

Great points. Thank you for elaborating.

--Joshua Simcox

Anonymous said...

"I chose the name Saul for many reasons. I've always loved the author sound of it. Saul Bellow, John Ralston Saul, John Saul, Saul Goodman."

Why did you pick "Jonas" as a first name? Could have been Peter Saul, George Saul, Edward Saul, etc.

Anonymous said...

"What if Amazon decides they can make more money in the long run by driving the Big Six to their knees?"

If Amazon goes this route, it means they shut out indies too. It means they put their own imprints ahead of everyone else.

Alan Cramer said...

i can understand why traditionally published authors hate the ebook revolution the most.

It's like you struggled to get accepted by the cool kids. They finally accept you and invite you to a party. Then you you find out there's a party across the street where they're having more fun and anybody came come.

puravida said...

I had a published author friend of mine telling me I shouldn't self publish. It was a waste of time. I listend to him for about 2 months, until I realized that he was just angry. Angry that so many were having success on their own without selling over the rights to their books.

This is a great time for authors. I am having an incredible amount of success, and can't thank Konrath enough for writing these posts....time after time.

Being able to shed some light on this industry, and an honest dialogue about the pitfalls of the publishing industry is invaluable to people who never had the chance to be traditionally published.

If there is any broader message here, it is to keep up with technology and be forward thinking. Look what happened to Borders...enough said.
Happier Than A Billionaire

Paul Andrew Russell said...

I recently wrote a blog post where I referred to you, Joe, amongst others, who are convinced the end of the printed book is nigh. Granted, it will happen, sometime. However I was trying to put forward the view that it won't be tomorrow; the sky isn't falling yet. There is a whole sector of the world out there for whom eBooks are just not a reality, yet.

I love technology. I have self published two books using this great technology. I just think we in the western world are somewhat isolated from the reality of life for a lot of people. People who can only dream of what we take for granted.

Publishing is changing, yes, but let's not put all our eggs in one basket until we know whether Chicken Little is carrying it or not.

http://www.paulandrewrussell.com/2011/09/13/the-future-of-publishing/

Liz said...

I will miss meeting up with writing friends at Borders for a coffee and a chat.
Too bad libraries can't be funded better to making them meeting places and sell coffee/pastries - that would be heaven.

CG Blake said...

Joe, I'm a big fan of your blog. I like the Santa analogy, but unlike Santa, the Big 6 are not doling out presents to every kid. It's nearly impossible for new authors to break into the game, but instead of making excuses we need to make sure our work is the best it can be, whether we are submitting to agents or self-pubbing on Amazon. Keep up the great work!

Joe Konrath said...

What distinguishes Big Six publishers is their lock on marketing spend. Marketing spend dominated print, and it will dominate digital.

Wrong.

Well, mostly wrong.

Coop in bookstores no doubt sells books, because it is front of store placement coupled with discounting.

But distribution is why the Big 6 ruled. They ruled like a monopoly. Some books had more copies, and better placement, and lower prices. Some books weren't even on the shelves.

While marketing pushed sales, it was dependent upon those titles being widely distributed, in big numbers.

It isn't the same with ebook. I have as much shelf space as Patterson, and I can sell my ebooks for less. If his publisher buys homepage ads, that doesn't effect me in the slightest. His sales don't push out my sales.

Perhaps we'll reach a point where the only ebooks that hit the Kindle Top 100 are ad-sponsored. So what? I don't currently have any books in the top 500, but I'm still making fat bank.

It's also worth noting that Amazon already does have advertising on its site, and has for years. Hasn't hurt me.

And it's also worth noting that nothing is preventing me to buy an ad on Amazon, should I choose to. Though a smarter alternative is to sign with Amazon, and let them place ads for my book. Which I've done.

So, no, I'm not wrong about the whole thing.

Joe Konrath said...

convinced the end of the printed book is nigh

The dominance of paper is over. But I never said print would become extinct. I said it would become a niche market.

Once that happens, there is no need for publishers.

Anonymous said...

Joe sez: "I have as much shelf space as Patterson ... "

But you always did, in the on-line storefront for print books, which is an exact analog of the on-line storefront for ebooks. Yet you sold much less print, and you sell much less digital. Why? Because of marketing money, which leads to name recognition, and eventually to a self-reinforcing juggernaut.

Whether we end up all digital, or 50-50, or 90-10, there will always be heavily-marketed frontlist brands, and there will always be midlisters with modest per-title-per-year sales.

What's great about the revolution is that those midlisters won't be dumped according to someone else's economic calculus. They can stay in the market as long as they want to. But the playing field isn't level, and never will be.

Distributing print product is not the issue. Creating brand recognition is. Again, the revolution allows midlisters to make modest reputations for themselves at the margins, which is great, but to imagine you're somehow equal with the big brands is unrealistic - some of those marketing budgets are more than you've earned in your career.

A better slogan would be: "Ebooks let me quit when I've had enough, not when a bean counter has had enough."

Lisa Hinsley said...

I agree that paperbacks are no longer going to be top of the publishing food chain. But I’m not so sure it’ll end up a niche market – could be completely wrong but I think the Big 6 will keep putting their big sellers into paperback and hardback. Pulp fiction will keep being printed for supermarket bookshelves for those impulse buys. For me, at least, this means very little change from what is currently available in paper. Meanwhile eBooks will be where you can find everything and anything.

When I put my first book on Kindle, I still had the dream of having a copy in the bookshops as well. I went on to shop my second novel to agents with little luck, and released it to Kindle where it’s doing very well in the US. My third book went to a small publisher, a result I’m pleased with. My fourth book is due out in a few months, and what to do? Shop it around or just release? I think it’ll get self-pubbed to Kindle.

Me? I’ve skipped all the stages. I’m straight to acceptance.

Anonymous said...

I think the digitizing of books will be a decline in civilization. Not everyone has cable/satellite. Not everyone has computers/internet. And not everyone will have access to an e-reader.

Education is already declining and this trend will just make it go further. Poor people already have few options, taking away available physical books will make society worse.

Joe Konrath said...

But you always did, in the on-line storefront for print books, which is an exact analog of the on-line storefront for ebooks.

It's not an exact analog. Not even close.

If you're talking paper books, online sales are trivial compared to store sales. The majority of paper books are still sold in brick and mortar stores.

Patterson has front table space, with 60 copies of his new hardcover, discounted 40%, in every bookstore. Plus his entire backlist, two copies each, in section.

I'd be lucky to have a single hardcover, spine out, in section.

He's in Wal-Mart. I'm not.

That's why Patterson outsold me in print. He had gazillions of books, printed and distributed everywhere.

Some of that translates to online sales, because he has a bigger following due to more brand recognition, but that could be attributed to his omnipresence rather than marketing. People are familiar with him because he's everywhere, not because of banner ads.

In digital, I've outsold Patterson in many categories. He reported he's sold 1 million ebooks. I've sold 500,000. Some of my titles smoke his. And guess what? No banner ads on my part.

Distributing print product is not the issue. Creating brand recognition is.

I disagree. Is Patterson available everywhere because he has name recognition? Or does Patterson have name recognition because he's available everywhere?

Probably both. But in the case of the latter, once paper sales become niche, Patterson won't have that anymore. Potential fans won't discover him at the airport bookstore, or the supermarket check-out line, or front of store at B&N.

They'll discover him online. For $12.99. And they'll balk.

I've been predicting once paper sales become niche, many current NYT bestsellers and name authors will cease to be bestsellers.

Marketing and advertising are for pushing paper. They support giant print runs with massive distribution. I posit many bestsellers are the result of convenience rather than brand loyalty--readers have limited choices at key buying locations.

Even though Amazon has ads, it isn't analogous to bookstore coop, with multiple copies and front of store placement. Digital is a much more even playing field.

Joe Konrath said...

Poor people already have few options, taking away available physical books will make society worse.

Actually, the poor will have more paper books than ever, because they'll get all the ones that were discarded during the switch to digital.

Anonymous said...

Joe sez: "Marketing and advertising are for pushing paper ... many bestsellers are the result of convenience ... "

No to your first point, yes to your second.

Marketing and advertising are for pushing anything, period.

And you can be sure that marketing money will find a way to make it convenient to buy certain items and not others. It's not hard to imagine a digital storefront looking at first - and second and third - glance like an airport bookstall.

The playing field ain't level. But at least the revolution means we can all camp out on a few square feet of its lower slopes.

Cathryn Grant said...

People buy Patterson because they like his stories. They buy Konrath because they like his stories. The ability for readers to find a new author might be skewed, but once found, it’s the books that sell the books.

The playing field ain't level.

No field is level, but the gopher holes have been plugged.

Joe Konrath said...

Marketing and advertising are for pushing anything, period.

In the case of coop, that's for paper, and it is arguably the highest cost of any type of marketing. Coop is not analogous to a banner ad on a website. You cannot compare a stack of 40 hardcovers displayed right near the front doors in 3000 bookstores discounted 50%, plus Wal-Mart, Costco, CVS, etc, to a banner add that appears on Amazon's homepage every fifth click.

Coop and distribution is why Patterson sells like he does.

That's not to say a website campaign doesn't work. It does. Eisler is getting a big push form Amazon, and he's currently #7 on Kindle.

But Amazon isn't zero sum. If someone picks up Eisler, it hasn't cost me a sale. They'll still buy me.

In a B&N where as soon as you walk in you see a stack of Patterson's latest, in your face and discounted, and I've got one hardcover spine out in section, that very likely cost me a sale. It wasn't even close to a level playing field.

As I've said, Amazon.com has always had ads on it. And I'm still getting rich. I was unable to get rich with the legacy/paper model.

Reacher said...

"But Amazon isn't zero sum. If someone picks up Eisler, it hasn't cost me a sale. They'll still buy me."

But isn't time is a finite resource? People have limited windows for leisure reading. Choosing Eisler might mean their reading window is closed for the time being and they walk away from the e-bookstore without buying you as well.

Werner said...

SANTA!...Say it ain't so! Waaaahahaha!

This is a classic case of people shooting the messenger. It never fails to amaze me how many people hate to hear the truth, or face up to it.

Andy Conway said...

@Stephen T. Harper

Thanks for the comment about my Hollywood option. I thought everyone must have missed it! I think it's absolutely astounding that a lowly self-pubbed ebook novella can get Hollywood interest. It flies in the face of everything they tell us about what's realistic for writers to expect!

It's a brave new world.

Great to hear King's X is optioned. I enjoyed it and need to give it a review.

I think in hollywood, there is just a huge appeal for things that don't "come from Hollywood." I think it's easier for producers and execs to sell things that come with a different pedigree.

I really hope you're right! Interestingly, with regard to this 'death of paperbacks' debate, one of my strategies to make my novella easier to shop around Hollywood is to get a Createspace POD paperback printed. I think a producer can sell a property more easily if it's a physical thing.

And that doesn't negate what Joe says about paper becoming a niche, which I agree with.

Andy Conway
Publishing 11 titles before 11.11.11 on Amazon and Smashwords : 6 down, 5 to go
why Hollywood wants your ebook...

Werner said...

All anyone has to do is look at what many traditional publications are doing. Print media is dying.
http://www.1000words-a-day.com/2011/09/15/print-continues-to-disappear/

Joe Konrath said...

Choosing Eisler might mean their reading window is closed for the time being and they walk away from the e-bookstore without buying you as well.

I said "buy", not "read."

I've used the buffet mentality before. Ebooks are impulse buys, like going to a buffet and grabbing 12 different dishes, even though you couldn't possibly eat them all.

We all have TBR piles. With ereaders, they're much bigger.

But people with ereaders tend to read more, at the cost of other media. More reading means less TV or music or movies.

And isn't your argument just another case of "Why is this different for ebooks?" A reader has the same time problem with paper, except with paper they have to be pickier because paper costs so much more.

Ultimately, though, I've never met someone who truly enjoys reading who isn't able to find time to do it. If you love books, you find a way.

Ruth said...

I started reading Konrath's blog back in April and I found his advice practical and profitable. My book isn't #1....it's #205...but it still makes $400/day and that has given me the freedom to consider leaving my day job and writing full-time. Well, maybe after I put out one more book.

But I say...thank you Konrath for sharing what you know so that we could bypass the routes that are less profitable and focus on adapting to how things have already changed.

Ruth Cardello
Author of Maid for the Billionaire
Rhode Island

Madison Johns said...

I think agents acknowledge what is happening, but they still go on as business as usual. They have to because that's what they do.

I also feel that many published authors feel that they are somehow better than self published authors, and worked harder. We work hard too, more so if you think about it. Writing a book isn't easy, networking and promoting ourselves isn't easy.

I have two books I can't even get out yet because one is waiting to be proofread, and the other is waiting for an editor to free her schedule up.

Stephen T. Harper said...

@ Andy Conway. Thank you. I just downloaded "The Very Thought of You." great premise. can see why someone came after it.

So much cool stuff to find in Joe's comment board!

Madison Johns said...

When I first walk into Barnes and Nobel I don't see any books. I see a huge display of Nooks.

David Gaughran said...

Amazon have a sophisticated algorithm which displays books to customers based on their personal browsing and purchasing history. If you want to see the difference your history makes, log out of your account, delete all your cookies, then browse the site; it's very different.

The whole point of the algorithm is to display YOU the books that YOU are most likely to purchase. This is something there are continually perfecting (as you may have noticed in the last couple of weeks with "also boughts" being replaced with "bestsellers in this genre" and other experiments).

If Amazon start offering these spots up for sale to the highest bidder, then they will be - by definition - no longer displaying the book that you are most likely to purchase. And they will lose money in the long run, as there is no point showing you books you don't want to buy.

Amazon are a tech company at heart, and they know their history. Yahoo lost the search advertising war (even though they invented it) because they offered up the top spots to the highest bidder. Google won because they made relevance more important. Amazon know this.

Barnes & Noble (and Apple) are making tentative moves to sale online coop - and we know they juice their algorithms and bestseller charts in other ways which reduce the visibility of indie books.

They are the Yahoo in this war. Amazon are the Google. Amazon will win.

So, in short, don't worry, there won't be any crazy selling of online coop from Amazon which will crowd out indies.

J. R. Tomlin said...

Walter Knight, bad analogy since Christopher Columbus was dead wrong and died still thinking he had reached Asia. Joe's analogy works, however. Good post as usual. All of the Big 6 won't die, but there are going to be additional tectonic shifts that will shake up some dinosaurs. (Their. My own bad analogy ;) )

Michael E. Walston said...

Liz said: Too bad libraries can't be funded better to making them meeting places and sell coffee/pastries - that would be heaven.

That actually wouldn't surprise me!

Anonymous said...

I love my Kindle. I love the way my iphone synchs with it. I love the money I've made on my ebooks this year. I love knowing that my writing gets published when I think it's ready. I love how the arrogant creeps no longer have any power in my life.

Yeah they're angry. Boo f-ing hoo.

Coral Russell said...

and as far as support - the Indie community is doing a great job. I learned some great stuff about marketing on Amazon from the IBC - here's the post - hope it helps!
http://alchemyofscrawl.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/what-is-your-marketing-message-on-amazon/

Reacher said...

"I've used the buffet mentality before. Ebooks are impulse buys, like going to a buffet and grabbing 12 different dishes, even though you couldn't possibly eat them all."

I agree, for now. Though I think this is only a temporary phenomenon while ebooks are so much cheaper than paper books and while ebooks from legacy publishers are so overpriced. I think people's habits will become less impulsive once paper starts to go away more and the overpriced ebooks become reasonable.

When you're new to dinner buffets, they are a novelty, and you do tend to grab everything in sight even if you can't possibly eat it all. Not so much once you've become used to the experience and the novelty wears off.

Joe Konrath said...

I think people's habits will become less impulsive once paper starts to go away more and the overpriced ebooks become reasonable.

Overpriced ebooks will never become reasonable. And as more people buy ereaders, more will complain about high prices.

Jude Hardin said...

When I first saw the title to this post, I thought you were going to pimp the Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin series. :)

Good post, though. I've enjoyed the discussion.

Stella Baker said...

@DavidG. You said: Amazon have a sophisticated algorithm which displays books to customers based on their personal browsing and purchasing history.

I’m laughing because just the other day I checked out The Detachment at Amazon. At the bottom of the product page, it said people who bought The Detachment also bought 4 Gigs of Trouble (my book.)OMG!!! My book was RIDING ON EISLER’S COATTAIL! [Since it's a book, maybe that's coattale]>

Well, um, no it wasn’t. [Sadly] I remembered Amazon’s algorithm and had someone who doesn’t frequent my book’s product page check.

For one glorious moment I thought I’d been given a great gift. Easy come, easy go!

Justin Dennis said...

Ahh, that is so true. My novel Through the Portal is much better off self-published. At this point I don't think I'd even go with a big six if given the chance. You're right; this is where the world is going!

DVshooter said...

Reacher

I totally understand your view on the "impulsiveness" of e-readers. When we got our I-pad me the wife and the kids went crazy with the downloads, especially the free ones. Novelty did wear out but we still use it heavily and are always getting new apps and games.

Things to remember; a whole new generation is growing up using mainly/only digital devices for virtually everything (I know, have three of e'm at home) so e-reading is anything but a fad.

The total number of Kindle sales (just one device) is apparently an Amazon secret (I tried looking it up) but the estimate I read is somewhere between 2 and 3 million. There's 300 million people in America, 6 billion worldwide.

When giant analog cell phones first came out they cost a grande, so did DVD players. How much these days? People in third world countries who don't have running water have access to cell phones. In demand technology always proliferates and cheapens.

Despite the monumental success notable indie writers are having in E-pub the market is still very much in its infancy with nowhere to go but up.

Elizabeth Ann West said...

Thank you for the purchase. Hopefully she has a really long "to read" list and the file has a chance to update. It was my first upload and I completely screwed up by sending the wrong file. I had to wait 24 hours for it let me fix it, then another 24 hours for that to populate. I didn't know there was a waiting period. It's fixed now.

When I first read those words that you had purchased the book for your wife, I freaked out. But even if she hates it, I am a professional who grows from criticism, not pats on the back. :)

Thanks again. You've made my publishing week!

Reacher said...

"Overpriced ebooks will never become reasonable. And as more people buy ereaders, more will complain about high prices."

Right. I wasn't clear; what I meant was that the (currently) overpriced ebooks will eventually drop in price.

Joe Konrath said...

I meant was that the (currently) overpriced ebooks will eventually drop in price.

That will mean the end of publishers. If they lower the prices, authors will make less money and dump them. If they give the authors higher royalties, they won't be able to meet their overhead.

And low prices all around mean more sales all around. This isn't a zero sum game.

DVshooter said...

And low prices all around mean more sales all around

Wal-Mart's proven equation. Love it or hate it, it works.

Anyone remember Clover?

wannabuy said...

Tomorrow is the last day for *any* Borders. :(

Note on the libraries: Our local library has become theater. They really have a good bit of talent reading to a variety of age levels.

Neil

wannabuy said...

@David:" log out of your account, delete all your cookies, then browse the site; it's very different."

Chrome browser has a feature 'New incognito Window' that does all that for you. It is very different looking at what is recommended going in cold.

Neil

wannabuy said...

@Joe:"Potential fans won't discover him at the airport bookstore"

It might be a single rounder of books at the Starbucks, but they'll be books for sale at the airport and Paterson is still likely to be seen there. ;)

Neil

Walter Knight said...

My county of 65,000 residents (Grays Harbor) no longer has any book stores. The future has arrived.

Andy Conway said...

The side debate about the future of libraries is interesting for me, particularly as my city (Birmingham, UK) is currently building a new £193m state-of-the-art library.

Will it be a gigantic white elephant, opening its doors just when everyone has switched to ebooks?

I'm not sure. Libraries are places of research, remember; the current one being two floors of lending to five floors of research material, with a huge amount of books stored away closed-shelf only available to see on request. No one's going to be digitising those books any time soon, if ever.

And the artist's impressions of the new library's interior struck me as very interesting.

Here's a building that is much more of a giant community space, a city within a city, with lounges, atriums, theatres galore, not to mention all those public internet access points (a very popular feature of the current library).

See it here

Maybe there will be a few hundred Kindle pods in there eventually?

Maybe we'll go there to browse new ebooks and maybe even buy them? Could it be a place where you take your Kindle and get it topped up with short-loan books to read (they delete themselves after a week?) with a choice to buy if you want to keep?

I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of the activity going on in this new space will be in the shape of performances, readings, etc.

I just hope that it's as useful to me as the old one has been over the years. I read a lot of great books there for free, educated myself in literature and art, used it as a second office, researched teh books I write there, and it's solely responsible for my in depth knowledge of classical, jazz and swing music.

Andy Conway
Publishing 11 titles before 11.11.11 on Amazon and Smashwords : 6 down, 5 to go
Why Hollywood wants your ebook...

Reacher said...

"And low prices all around mean more sales all around. This isn't a zero sum game."

To an extent yes, but I still feel people's finite amount of leisure time restricts how much overall sales will expand. Library checkouts cost nothing but people still only read as much as they can.

The bigger impact I think will be that those sales will become spread out amongst many more authors than before, not just bestselling authors as we see currently. I think this will remain true even after bestselling authors drop their ebook prices to the $2.99, $1.99, $0.99 range, because readers will now have access to better authors than they had before, and those authors will erode the sales of the mega bestsellers.

A golden age is approaching for all readers, and also for *good* writers. On the other hand, mega bestsellers and poor writers have much to worry about. Which is why I find it so troubling that legacy publishing pundits claim the digital revolution is going to lower the quality of literature -- nothing could be less true.

Further, when the massive barriers to entry are gone, more good writers will thrive as they gain readers, thus again pushing up the quality of literature. How many good/great writers have been lost throughout recent history because they lacked the tenacity to push through the ridiculous agent/publisher barrier? Lots and lots. Now, hopefully they won't be, or at least less of them will be. Believe me, I admire the writers who've gutted their way through the legacy publishing system of old, but was it worth losing all those great voices who gave it a solid effort but ultimately gave up because they weren't willing to put up with the bullshit of a system based more on blind luck than logic? Not in a million years, no.

Reacher said...

On another note, I also find it strange that people assume that because brick and mortar bookstores are closing there will no longer be any congregation points where book lovers can mingle, sip coffee in comfy chairs, etc. What about public libraries? As stuffy as they are now, perhaps that will change in the future as they assume this role from Borders and like stores. Public libraries aren't going anywhere, so it seems like a natural progression. We'll see.

Austin Briggs said...

I understand the Santa analogy, yet I don’t agree with it. As someone said, Santa is kind to everyone. Publishers aren’t always so.

Today I read a blog targeting the authors who wish to trad publish. Their theme this week? Rejections.

Post after post on how to handle rejections. Much great advice, e.g.: publishers aren’t rejecting you, just your work. Don’t despair. Keep asking.

Took me a while to understand what they’re talking about. Rejections?

After reading this blog, I found my own way to handle rejections. I put my book straight in front of readers. Two months passed, and I’m in an out of the top 100 in my genre daily. I get fan mail. Folks ask me for interviews. I can’t believe it‘s happening.

I don’t want the trad publishers to die. I hope they survive and prosper. But I’m glad I found this blog and saw other choices before I went asking for rejections.

Five Dances with Death

DVshooter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leonard D. Hilley II said...

If they cannot bend, they'll break. Great post!

Archangel said...

Ertha Kitt sang the original in sultry, breathy voice... hearing Santa song will never be the same after Joe K....

seems the song is about wish fulfillment re Santa as sugar daddy, as opposed to the ancient trope about Santo Nikalas, who was a mythic kindly soul who brought food to the starving on the Asian-Russian steppes in ice of winter.

Far and away perhaps that was once book publishing's ideal... to feed others who lived in the icefields.

Now it appears, as Joe says, to deliver 'the toys' to the few, while harnessing the many. I think that what I'd call the entire "sugar daddy syndrome" of publishing is probably what is most shaky in terms of how authors project that being published in 'the old way' is 'Xmas every day' somehow. But it isnt for most. For many, it's often harness work even if there is a nice red harness with bells, perhaps being invited to teach at an IL, being sought on the speaking circuit. And the dominant is not you. The whipmaster/ whipmistress is not you. It is the shareholders or the family's coffers who own the company. Being the sub might be charming in the context of eros, but it isn't in good business sense, despite all talk about financial submissiveness being sexy. In reality it's closer to being chattel instead of a person with a soul.

But, as the 'sugars' realize, IF they have been 'kept,' there may be a high price for being 'kept'. That high price may not be only about less income and author's risk of being turned away eventually, or their venerable editors whom they sometimes have lifelong relationships with being fired. It may be about too that there was a time (very close in time) when authors did not see behind the curtain of management of the large publishers. They only heard what was told to them. They did not overhear the talk about themselves and their manuscripts at editorial /management/ sales meetings. Had they heard the latter, (as I have) I suspect many would now be walking down the open road with their bindle bag over shoulder, taking risks on their own.

re 'old school authors' ...I think helping, befriending is the better thought re helping to see farther now. Just telling alone, may not be as effective initially. The many I know are good souls, and many have different paths in life than many of ours. Some will ever remain as they are now, and that has to be alright too: their choice. But many will come across the divide as they understand the suspension bridge has been built. And some will manage to walk back and forth between the two, depending on their fates and choices.

Just speaking for myself, I'm grateful when 'the young' people reach across to me with good will. Already beaten down and silver-haired from being in harness for long and long, it is good to hear words of welcome here. And the opinions and facts of us gathered here, are also gratefully read and taken in.

Just to say what is hard to convey on the internet, for you cant see my soft eyes and brave heart: and maybe in my old age, I am becoming too easily touched by other souls' stalwart tenderness (but i dont think so yet) Thanks Joe and thanks all here gathered. Seriously.

Archangel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archangel said...

So here is the 'santa baby' song...original sung by Ertha Kitt...song written by J. Javits and P. Springer

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me /I've been an awful good girl/Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, an out-of-space convertible too, light blue/I'll wait up for you dear

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed/ Next year I could be oh so good/ If you'd check off my Christmas list

Santa honey, I wanna yacht and really that's Not a lot/I've been an angel all year

Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed To a platinum mine

Santa baby, I'm filling my stocking with a duplex, and checks
Sign your 'X' on the line

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's/ I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring/I don't mean a phone

Santa baby, hurry down the chimney tonight

Corine said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Santa, although he and I are not close. He isn't a jerk per say but not the warmest fellow either. He plays favorites if you ask me, and he definitely plays safe.

In January I began to listen to an impish Elf named Joe Konrath who said all kinds of scary things I did not want to hear. But some of those things made me feel kinda good inside so I kept listening.

In March I finally let go of Santa in my head. Only then could I self publish my first novel, Hidden in Paris. For me it's been Christmas ever since.

As for Santa, I will mourn him not at all.

DVshooter said...

Which is why I find it so troubling that legacy publishing pundits claim the digital revolution is going to lower the quality of literature -- nothing could be less true.

I agree completely

Another point that's discussed here is the alleged "quality control" issue from the traditional side. Without their special screening process any thrown together, derivitive, pile of crap can be put out there and advertised as a masterpiece.

Is that happening on Kindle, you bet. Is every single other book, movie, TV show, album and website you see a masterpiece, or do you see a lot of crap on a daily basis? What's the difference?

I don't know all the latest industry stats from Publishers Weekly but many more novels fail than succeed to be hits. As for the "big hits" and "hot new authors" that only the traditional system can deliver; read interviews from some of those "overnight success" authors. They tend to have a lot in common like long and agonizing roads to publisher acceptance and monumental rejection stats along the way.

Quality control? Seal of approval? Public reading preference know-it-all's? Hardly seems the case taking all this into account.

William Goldman had a famous saying: "Nobody knows anything."

What if Mrs. Rowling gave up after only 11 rejections and went back to teaching full time: no Harry Potter universe. How ingeniously intuitive and all knowing were the first eleven experts that read her work?

I believe there's an incredible amount of talented writers out there that either gave up on or never bothered pursuing traditional publishing. They can all be read now, and so can we, without having to appease the preferences of individual gate keepers.

dmitri ragano said...

I appreciate your honesty... Jeez it's not like the book industry has never changed before. Back in the days of Guttenberg there was no establishment, no hierarchy of agents, big 6 publishing firms, etc. The music industry regime collapsed ten years ago. It was inevitable this would happen with books as well. Anyone who didn't realize this hasn't been paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Nah, Santa's not dying, he's just getting new up-to-date clothes. The story is the story and reading it in a more convenient way is progress.

chris said...

Joe, take heart. You're dead on about where the industry is headed. Huge denial out there. E-books are flying off the shelves.

Chris

chris said...

I knocked heads with my publisher last week, and he knocked heads with Amazon. Having a $9.00 e-book and a $29.95 science fiction hard back was killing us--it lanquished there for months. We decided to blow the Kindle version out at $1.99. Jesus. You can't imagine the change in sales rank right now.

Planet Janitor Custodian of the Stars is now moving like hell. With 370 pages, TOC, chapter heads, oil and canvas wrap-around lithograph and 26 illustrations, we just hosed the competition.

My publisher is now a firm believer in making book available and economically accessible to the masses. He's reading your blog right along with me.

I've never, ever believed that an e-book should cost more than five bucks. Let the big six choke on their over-priced digital offerings. Their missing the boat of a million years. We little guys will gladly let thousands of browsers pick up our stories and novels and affordable prices.

I seriously considering self-pubbling, after commercially publishing for 22 years.

Chris Stevenson

Jodi said...

There are a lot of reasons why people might get angry at such posts. For example, consider the following article on Eureka Alert about bad news and brands.

I think the psychology behind this article can relate to this situation too. Such as, not only do people respond to such advice as a threat, whether or not they believe in it, but they also tend to make the opposite thing, in this case commercial publishing, look better. People invest a lot of themselves in their choice, commercial or self-publishing, and so it makes sense they'll do their best to defend their choice.

Jodi

Lizzy Ford said...

I don't understand the anger, either. Or the anger between indies and traditionally published authors or the anger from authors towards those who are successful. I guess I find reasons to celebrate, though I understand change is something that causes a lot of anxiety. We've been documenting and doing our best to help other authors as we figure out new strategies (like for promotion or marketing.) I wish more people focused on navigating change in a positive way - and helping others, too!
Lizzy Ford

Anonymous said...

Joe, for fun, I decided to Google you to find some of your critics...some of what I found was jaw-dropping. Apparently Amanda Hocking, Borders, and all the stuff you predicted would happen - was due to you being "delusional," or "bloviating," etc. according to these lunatics: http://mikecanex.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/joe-konrath-needs-to-shut-the-fuck-up/

Victoria said...

Huh. I tried for years to get published, shopping manuscripts around with no luck. As soon as I found out I could self publish I went straight to the Acceptance phase.

Joe Konrath said...

I have plenty of critics. There are also a lot of idiots in the world. It's not a coincidence that both groups overlap.

Donna White Glaser said...

I was at Bouchercon this year. When I first read Joe's previous post that cons would disappear I disagreed, but now I think he's right. At first, I felt that readers are readers and there will always be conferences b/c they're fun and rejuvinating. Not so, this years B'con. Not for me anyway. I left fighting the feeling that I was a pariah and frankly I'm still pretty depressed and haven't been entirely successful fighting the feeling.

I self-pubbed in March after years of pursuing the trad route. I'd had two agents and came very close. Now, I count myself lucky to have missed that particular leaky boat.

But, at B'con, that's not a popular viewpoint. In one panel, Ebook: Friend or Foe, the word 'cannabalism' kept cropping up re: ebook vs print. I'm not stupid, but I don't understand. A sale of a book is a sale of a book. One didn't eat the other; it just sold in a different form. A reader finally stood up in the panel discussion and asked why it was even being called Friend or Foe. Why not use words like Partners? Lots of the audience clapped but the panel just looked at her sourly and explained that "it was more complicated than that."

I left B'con after spending well over a thousand dollars thinking I would have done light-years better by sinking that money into marketing/cover changes, etc. If book cons do disappear it won't be b/c there isn't a community of readers looking for a gathering of like-minded peers and contact with authors. They will go b/c ebooks and ereaders are condemned as print book killers and who wants to spend $1500 to feel like an untouchable?

Joe Konrath said...

I'm sorry about your Bouchercon experience, Donna.

I was just on the phone with a friend who said she felt the same rift at RWA. There were the authors who embraced change as a golden opportunity, and those who clung to the past.

This shouldn't be us vs. them. The whole point of being a writer is to be read. Self-pubbing is an opportunity to do that, and to make more money than ever before.

It's likely conventions will spring up that connect self-pubbed authors with ereader owners--conventions that will make you feel welcome.

Joe Konrath said...

BTW-There's nothing wrong with being a pariah. I know this from experience. :)

Don't be depressed. Be proud that you're smart enough to understand the future and bold enough to do something about it.

chris said...

I think we're experiencing a power shift from large publishing to the general author. We have a choice, whereas before we were pretty much at their mercy. Now we hold some or most of the cards in regard to our choices in publishing and sales tactics.

That's a major blow to the giants. Small press and self-published authors, the little pigletts, are finally getting their swill at the trough and this has got to bother the hogs.

chris said...

This kind of dovetails in with my agent associations for the past 23 years. I've had a total of nine books repped by three different top-gun agents over two decades.

Not one sale--not even to an indie or small press, let alone NYC. I ended up selling seven of them myself. I've never had an agent sell one of my books, and my combined years with all three agents tallies at 7.5 years, with a total of something like 85 to 90 subs.
Wanna talk about dismal? I'm Conan, nailed to the tree of woe.

Bryan Methods said...

I like the analogy, but I have the feeling it's less the disappointed kiddies who got upset when you started spreading the word than the men who hire the fat guys in suits and the elves, who build the little grottoes in their department stores and rely on the extra income Christmas brings who are lashing out.

After all, a lot of people love books and the glamour associated with them. But it's the ones with the pecuniary interest who have been relying on a system for years that suddenly is no longer working as it should who seem to me the ones who are getting angry.

Stephen T. Harper said...

Donna said "...Why not use words like Partners? Lots of the audience clapped but the panel just looked at her sourly and explained that "it was more complicated than that."

I know what you mean. I haven't been to a book conference in a while, but even the general tone across the net is so peculiar because it's filled with non-arguments like the one you mention. As Joe is pointing out with this post, it's more psychological than logic- based. But it's also kind of depressing to get into a conversation like that. "it's more complicated..." or "Because that's the way things are..." that's what parents or teachers say when confronted by a question that makes them uncomfortable to contemplate.

What's so odd about this is... what are people clinging to that's so important?

Mary Stella said...

Joe, I was feeling kind of low that I've followed so much good advice in self-publishing my backlist and am only selling about a hundred copies of one and fifty of the other a month.

Then this weekend I spoke with someone from a small press that literary novels. They're fortunate to sell 150 print copies a year.

It's all perspective. My books were out of print and not selling any copies at all. Would I love to sell more copies a month? Sure. Am I selling more than I would have been had I never taken this step? Hell yes. Best of all, nobody's going to pull them from a shelf, rip off a cover and return them for credit or put them out of print ever again.

Edward M. Grant said...

As for the "big hits" and "hot new authors" that only the traditional system can deliver; read interviews from some of those "overnight success" authors. They tend to have a lot in common like long and agonizing roads to publisher acceptance and monumental rejection stats along the way.

The funny part is that they were probably rejected for 'not being just like every other book that everyone else is publishing right now'. Yet as soon as a publisher takes them on and prints their book, everyone buys it because it's 'not just like every other book that everyone else is publishing right now'.

Much as I like bookstores, if they vanish I won't miss seeing the horror shelves stocked end to end with sparkly vampire or 'Historical Figure, Zombie Hunter' novels.

Todd Trumpet said...

I was on the KindleBoards earlier, where a reader started a thread with the following:

"I hope creativity won't fade with the struggling publishing industry. Imagination still exists, but what form is it taking?

...what is the future of imagination as publishers and book stores close down?


As it applies to this blog post, I'll repeat my reply here:

You make the mistake, IMO, of front-loading these statements/questions with incorrect assumptions.

"I hope creativity won't fade with the struggling publishing industry." Who says the publishing industry is struggling? If you're talking about the traditional "Big 6", yes, they are struggling (and largely because they have shot themselves in the foot). But publishing as a whole is flourishing. More books are being published than ever before, now that the "gatekeepers" have lost their monopoly. If anything, this opens the door to Creativity (and, yes, crap, too) now that writers don't have to shoot for a narrow channel of approval.

"If not, what is the future of imagination as publishers and book stores close down?" Again, do you really believe that it is publishers and bookstores that are the repository of imagination? It is the content providers, not the middlemen and their retail outlets, who provide the stories. Traditional paper publishers may weaken. Bookstores may go away entirely. But Imagination won't. It's still there where it has always been...

...with the writers.

And now they have MORE opportunities, not less, to distribute their work and find an audience.

To exercise both their Creativity and Imagination.

Don't fear the future.

Embrace it.

Todd
"THE TELLING OF MY MARCHING BAND STORY"
www.ToddTrumpet.com



P.S. Yes, for a moment there...

...I felt the Power of Joe!

Hunter F. Goss said...

Joe, you said:
“It's likely conventions will spring up that connect self-pubbed authors with ereader owners--conventions that will make you feel welcome.”

Glad you said that. I was afraid to.

scribbler_kate said...

Yes, the publishing landscape IS changing, but I don't think it's a black-and-white issue. I don't think print books are ever going to completely die. But in no way is that me denying a change. At some point, it will all balance out: print books will find their (new) place alongside e-books, and e-books will likely dominate. But who's to say for sure? Maybe it's not Santa Claus with cancer; maybe it's Santa Claus with a twisted ankle - some major knots just need to get worked out.

Summer said...

“It's likely conventions will spring up that connect self-pubbed authors with ereader owners--conventions that will make you feel welcome.”

Can you imagine setting up a little booth at such a convention with a banner that says "You Can Be Published Too - Ask Me How!!"?

You'd have to turn away business I think. In every reader, sometimes buried very deep inside, there exists some desire to write. In my humble opinion of course.

How many great novels yet to be written will get their start in such an environment?

It is such an exciting time to be an author and a reader.

Facilitating the union of these two would be a convention worth having.

Summer Daniels
Author of Summer's Journey - Volume One: Losing Control

Cheri Schmidt said...

I have absolutely no feelings of anger toward you, just gratitude that you were brave enough to be so blunt and honest. Thanks for your blog, Joe, you’re my indie hero. Because of you, I self-published and have sold more than 15k e-books in a few months. My traditionally published writer friends look down on me even though I’ve sold more books than them. And some of them won’t even talk to me anymore. :(

One question...the Turkey publisher, Artemis Yayinlari had an agency, that is recommended on Predators and Editors, contact me about getting my books translated into Turkish. Would you go with a legacy publisher in this case? I just don’t see how I could ever get my books translated into Turkish on my own. Spanish, probably. German, perhaps...Turkish, I don’t think so...

Nancy Beck said...

@Cheri,

First of all, congrats on your sales!

As to foreign rights/translations, you might want to do a search on Kris Rusch's site, http://www.kriswrites.com. I remember Kris talking about foreign rights, that she and her husband Dean Wesley Smith do the foreign rights contracts themselves.

It's possible translations are part of the deal when foreign rights agents come knocking. But don't take my word for it; pop on over to Kris' site, and check out Dean Wesley Smith's site (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com) as well.

Continued success to you. :-)

Cheri Schmidt said...

Thanks for info, Nancy. I really appreciate it.

The Holmes said...

Then there are folks like me who just started their first novel and have only just started investigating the wide world of publishing, only to find out how much it's changing. For my part, I'm excited about it. Thanks for all the great info.

David LeRoy said...

Santa's Cancer is spreading. I know that this blog focus on fiction, but another part of publishing is now under threat, and that is the "picture book" world that includes art, and children's books. Last December Apple gave us Fixed layout Epub, with Read aloud features, and even video option. This past week, a $6.99 app was released called Book Creator, which allows a goof ball idiot such as myself to layout and format my own photographic portfolio and self publish this as a artistic monograph. These books are the most exepensive books typically in a book store. People love them, but converting them to E-books has been a problem, until now. So, in the near future books on travel topics, and special intrest such as ships, or cars, or photography, and of course more children's picture books are going to be self published and by-pass the big six. I see nothiung that is going to prevent this over time.

Rex Kusler said...

I was at Bouchercon for the first and probably last time. It was okay, though I spent at least $2k all total. It was like a trip to a museum. You can read my blog post about it. What impressed me the most were the people who live in St. Louis.

http://rexkusler.blogspot.com/

Lola Swain said...

I still don't get the hostility between trad and self-pubbed authors. If I self-pub and you trad-pub maybe I'm just as good a writer, but don't want to wait to get paid. Or perhaps you have better connections than I. Or maybe I'm better than you but you have a better name? Point is, how does the fact they trad-pub effect my life? And why does the fact I self-pub effect theirs? And speaking of hostility Joe, I just read a post on another forum (not Kindle) I frequent, which showcases the hostility you speak of in spades (and you did a good job).

Cynthia Luhrs said...

Change is inevitable. I and my friends now mostly read via ereaders and don't plan on going back to print. Also, thank you for writing your blog, you've given me the inspiration to move forward with self-pubbing my non-fiction green smoothie book and my fiction book so keep talking!

Jude Hardin said...

Speaking of Dead Man Walking, Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin (and the other authors involved in the Dead Man series, including myself) made a major announcement today.

Donna White Glaser said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Joe. I definitely felt better after venting a bit. I think I'd gotten blind-sided b/c I've always found the writing community to be such a warm place, at least when I was following the lock-step march toward trad publishing. One thing: when I listened to the audio CD of the panel I'd mentioned I discovered that the real title of it was "EVERYTHING IS BROKEN-Authors, Publishers & Bookstores in the E-Marketplace: Friends or Foes?"
Everything is broken? Sez who?
Lastly, at the risk of sounding like a stalker, I did include you in the acknowledgments section of my novel, The Enemy We Know, along with Rob Walker. I met both of you (briefly) at Bouchercon in Madison. I think that's one of the reason I'd expected this Bouchercon to be more welcoming. Ah well. Lesson learned!
Donna

J.P. Hansen said...

170 comments! Holy cow. I discuss some of these issues in a post at my blog entitled "What's Wrong With Indie Writers? Plenty." It ends up defending indies against traditional publishers for a variety of reasons. But there is something indies must do better at: quality control. There are so many poorly edited and proofread indie books out there that it's embarrassing. As a group, we need to develop an institution that will give something like a seal of approval based on some criteria.

David Gaughran said...

@Cheri

There are two options with foreign markets: translate the books and sell them yourself, or go with a foreign publisher.

The advantage of a publisher is an advance, a free translation, and local language marketing.

The disadvantage is you might have to chase them for ages to get paid (if you get paid at all), the royalty rates tend to be terrible (7% is a figure I keep hearing), you may have to kick over 20% of that to an agent, you could be tieing up your rights for a long time, the translation could be shoddy, the cover could be awful, the marketing could be non-existent, you may never even get paid.

Having said all that, if it was a print only deal, and you could hold on to the e-rights and not be prevented from publishing a future digital version yourself through some form of non-compete clause, then it would be a no-brainer to do the deal.

The other option is translating them yourself and publishing them yourself.

The clear advantage here is that you get to keep all the royalties. The corollary disadvantage is that translation fees can be significant (several thousand dollars a pop). Also, after all of that outlay, it could take some time to recover it, as even the largest non-English digital market (German) is still very small (0.5% e-reader ownership the last I heard), and the other language markets are even further back in their development.

And, to be honest, most indies lack the capital to invest in a series of translations, especially when it is most likely to be slow coming back to them. We also shouldn't discount the handicap of how hard it is to market your book in a country where you don't speak the language.

I think you should evaluate each proposed deal on its merits. If you think you are being offered a crummy deal and/or are intrigued by the opportunities a foreign market could hold, you may be interested in a creative solution that Scott Nicholson has come up with to negate translation costs.

In short, he is paying no up-front fee, but is sharing 20% of his royalties with the translator - for as long as the book is on sale.

More details here, if you are interested:

http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/share-the-wealth-a-radical-solution-to-translation-costs/

Maria said...

I don't know that it's dying, but it's changing. The shift has been swung wildly to one side. Whenever that happens, there is always a shift back. It's in the nature of things because if something works, others will change to make money from it.

It's quite possible for more than one idea to work.

Maria

Cheri Schmidt said...

@David,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question. I’m grateful, and you mention a lot of great points. The blog post about Scott is great too! What a smart idea. Now if I could only find a writer who’s from Turkey, who’s willing to take 20% of the royalties for payment....hmm

SteventheThorn said...

"Some newbies who self-pub skip straight to acceptance, because they have no other base of experience."

That's what characterizes me as a beginning writer. And the more I learn about traditional publishing deals, and the royalties you get from them, the more excited I get about e- and self-publishing.

I'm not opposed to traditional publishing, but I'm thrilled to be a newbie writer at a time when e-publishing is taking off.

I know that it's a competitive market, but that's obviously nothing new. Content is still king, and I still can't control whether people buy my books--only whether I write them and write well.

DVshooter said...

There are so many poorly edited and proofread indie books out there that it's embarrassing.

@ J.P.

Yup, very embarrasing and supports many anti-indie/e-pub arguments from traditional's.

Also can't be avoided, unless Amazon starts putting filters and gate keepers in place.

Have only been e-reading a few months now and yes, have seen many dissapointing dud's. Are usually in the .99 cent category (or free) but regardless, it does devalue the market.

Stephen Leather said...

"you say the music industry is 10 years ahead of the book publishing industry" (they nodded in agreement) "well the music industry is obviously dying, so are you saying the publishing industry has 10 years to live?"

Hmmmm. I was under the impression that more money was being spent on music than ever before.

And I have earned twice as much from writing fiction this year than I did last. Earned more than John Locke, too. The industry isn't dying. It's changing. There's a difference.

Stephen Leather said...

"Christopher Columbus used to walk around town in his later years saying to his critics, "I told you so."

Know what? That pissed them off even more. Being right does that."

That would be Chris Columbus the director presumably because Chris Columbus the explorer wasn't right, was he? Didn't he stumble into America thinking he was heading to India?

Andy Conway said...

@David Gaughran

Hi David

Is 20% a fair rate for a translation?

I ask because I've been approached by a French student who wants to translate The Very Thought of You for his PhD. He had no intention to publish, but I'd be happy to publish his translation on the new Amazon France store and pay him through a percentage of each sale.

I just want to make sure I give him a fair rate for all his work.

Also, is there a simple translator's contract online I could download?

Thanks in advance.

Andy

Andy Conway
Publishing 11 titles before 11.11.11 on Amazon and Smashwords : 6 down, 5 to go
why Hollywood wants your ebook...

Amanda said...

I discovered your books on my ebook. Your books were recommended to me after I read Kilborn's. I probably wouldn't have read this genre otherwise.

Edward M. Grant said...

As a group, we need to develop an institution that will give something like a seal of approval based on some criteria.

Absolutely. We could call it 'a publisher' and before long we'd have to hire so many people to reject 99% of writers that we'd rent a big New York office and then to cover our costs we'd charge the writers we did accept 75% of their royalties to get our 'seal of approval' on their book.

Ever been to Youtube? Lately I've been following random paths from video to video through the swamp there and it's full of bad videos that have only been viewed fifty times, yet no-one seems to be demanding that Google set up a 'seal of approval' system to indicate which videos are worth watching.

BTW, there was a thread on the Kindles board a few days ago because Amazon apparently pulled an ebook from their store after readers complained about too many typos.

It wasn't self-published...

W. Dean said...

Andy Conway,

I’d look into this offer a little more closely before signing anything. Translating a book for a dissertation is highly unusual—translating an e-book, unheard of.

The polite thing to do is ask if you can “okay it” with his thesis supervisor first. His thesis supervisor’s name and contact information will be listed online at the university’s website. Alternately, it will be available through the department itself.

Archangel said...

from PW this morning:

"Kindle Library Lending Goes Live"

"....Under the arrangement, Kindle users can now use their local library’s web site to search for and select a book, then choose the “Send to Kindle” option to borrow it. They are then redirected to Amazon.com, where they log in to their Amazon.com account, and the book is delivered to the device they select via Wi-Fi, or via USB. The lend period is two weeks. Library editions will offer virtually all the features of Kindle books, Amazon officials said, including the ability to save margin notes for readers—should the reader choose to buy the book at a later date, or check it out again, their notes would be “backed up and available."


http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/book-news/libraries/article/48778-kindle-library-lending-goes-live.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly%27s+PW+Daily&utm_campaign=724bc3963d-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email

David Gaughran said...

@Andy

This is Scott Nicholson's model and it sounds pretty fair to me. He said that he used to pay 10%, then raised it to 20% (even for the deals already signed).

His translators seem happy and the translators I'm talking to seem happy with it too. But none of us have any real idea how it will all work out, it's a leap of faith in a sense.

But if it works, it could be great for writers, translators, and readers. Which is my kind of solution.

I'm in the process of getting a template contract drawn up, but I'm not sure how much use it will be for you as mine will fall under the jurisdiction of the Irish courts. However, if you send me an email to david dot gaughran at gmail dot com, I can give you more details when I have them.

James said...

Joe,

How many e-books did you sell in 2011 and 2010, exactly? I'm assuming an upward trend.

Anonymous said...

Re mark of approval:

http://www.publishinginnovationawards.com/the-qed

These guys are angling to be that in terms of reliable/correct formatting. Won't be long before they or others branch out. We'll see in time if anyone gives a shit.

Anonymous said...

Gotta repeat it. The remaining publishers wil make out like bandits, no more risk, just pick off the established e authors and dangle big advances in front of them with all of the money saved. And just wait until Patterson & Roberts offfer their stuff for 99 cents also. They are the ones who can afford to do it, with such world- wide sales, not the tiny indies, unless they like writing essentially for free. Let's see, on 99 cents you would make make 3?

chris said...

I think the small press should really take this shift to heart and lay their e-books down in a competitive price range, right along with the self-pubbers. If I can convince my publisher to make the swing, someone else can too.

K. Drollinger said...

It's like Ragnarok for the writing community. The ewriters will just have to ride out the winter in Yggdrasil until the new gods have taken over and the pantheon of ereaders/eformats rules us all.

S.M. Boyce said...

Yeah, dreams are at stake.

I think quite a few newbies who have dreamed all their life of winning a Hugo can't bring themselves to think that the publishing industry would ever disappear. It's a rare case where the dream might actually be holding them back.

I did a lot of research before I decided to go indie. I didn't even look for an agent, which made my heart go a little wonky at first, but the decision came after a massive internal debate. I'm fairly certain my family got sick of hearing about it.

I could have written a thesis, I think, but instead I decided to just blog. You know, the healthy thing. You can read it here if you'd like.

Now, I'm scheduled to publish my first book on October 15, after my beta readers get one more read through. I pretty dang excited.

DVshooter said...

S.M.

Good luck with it. I'm at that same point with the "getting published" issue. After a lifetime of writing, hoping it would happen someday, I'm realizing...it won't. Probably.

But the prospects available in the indie world are exciting to the point where I'm getting over it pretty well.

nancy a reader said...

So, I am confused. Are Jonas and John Saul related, the same person or just writing under two different names???