Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Guest Post by Barry Eisler

Joe sez: There are plenty more guest posts I will be running throughout the rest of the year, but I'm going back to Barry Eisler today because it is a directly related to a recent post of his. This is about publishing misapprehensions.

Barry sez: Two weeks ago, I wrote a guest post here called The Bogeyman and The Axe Murderer. There was some substantive discussion of the post, which was about why many authors fear a potential future Amazon monopoly while remaining sanguine about the current New York one, but most of the substance was eclipsed by reaction to several charged analogies and metaphors I used, including a "house slave mentality." I have to take some of the blame for this relative lack of substantive discussion, and if I could write the piece over again, I'd change the rhetoric. Not because I agree with all the criticism my rhetoric occasioned (much of which, in my view, was misplaced), but because when enough people find cause to be outraged about your language, the reaction eclipses your underlying argument, and it's my argument I want to discuss, not my presentation of it.

By the way, for anyone interested in the pros, cons, and merits of the slavery analogy, I highly recommend this superb recent piece by Mike Stackpole, Degrees of Slavery, along with the exceptionally civil and substantive comment discussion that accompanies it.

Anyway, among reactions to my post, two far-reaching misapprehensions stood out -- misapprehensions that I think could inhibit people from understanding as clearly as they might the new choices facing writers today, and what those choices mean for the industry as a whole. So let's address those misapprehensions here, and see if we can clarify them.

1. All Legacy-Published Authors Are Making A Mistake.

In fact, I can think of many legitimate reasons an author might want to go the legacy route (and the self-publishing, and Amazon-publishing ones, too), and here's an online conversation I did with Amanda Hocking and agent Ted Weinstein discussing several of them. I've repeatedly said that for me, publishing is a business, not an ideology, and I don't think it's legitimate to criticize someone's tactics without first understanding his objectives. The key is not your chosen means (legacy, self, Amazon), but rather the degree to which those means maximize your chances of achieving your objectives.

So let's talk about those means for a moment. I think the most accurate way to understand the current choice between legacy- and self-publishing is this. Both systems, statistically speaking, are lotteries. If you measure the number of authors published in each system overall against the number who are making a living wage in that system, I don't think you can reasonably conclude that the odds of making a living wage through publishing are particularly good either way. It's so obvious that it shouldn't need saying, but neither system remotely guarantees success.

All this being the case, authors have to do some additional analysis to make a sensible decision. Reasonable questions to ask would include, How much is the advance? How much do I need the advance? Do I think that with higher self-publishing royalties, I can beat the contract (to see what I mean with that concept, follow the last paragraph in this Daily Beast interview)? If so, how long do I expect beating the contract will take? How important is paper distribution to me, and how important is digital? How important to me is control over things like pricing and packaging? How important is time-to-market? How much do I like, and how good am I at, running my own business vs. outsourcing business management to someone else? How much do I trust my potential business partner to manage things well? How much do I hate what legacy publishers are doing today vs how much do I fear what Amazon might do tomorrow? Which system gives me more personal power to influence my odds of success, and how important is that power to me? Etc. If you make a decision without asking such questions, you're making a mistake, at least in your process (though you can still get lucky in your result). If you are asking these questions, then regardless of the path you choose, you're making an informed decision, and for you, the right one.

Speaking only for myself, it's difficult for me to imagine going back to the legacy world (and at least as hard to imagine, at this point, that they'd have me). I'm very attached to control over packaging and pricing; time-to-market is important to me; I love the dramatically higher per-unit royalties self-publishing affords me. In other words, in general, I expect self-publishing will be, for me, more profitable and more pleasurable than was legacy-publishing. (Incidentally, I've also found all these personal objectives have been well served in my experience with Amazon as the publisher of The Detachment. In fact, I've found that, given my various personal objectives, a business model where I publish some works with Amazon and others on my own is the ideal mix). But that's just me. If your objectives are different, it makes sense that you would choose a different course of action. When I write these posts, I'm always far more interested in trying to tease out objective and widely applicable lessons from my own experience than I am in talking about the experience itself.

So, to reiterate: I don't think self-publishing is for everyone, or that legacy-publishing is for no one. And publishing with Amazon has been great for me, but it doesn't follow from that that it would be great for everyone. If you're conscious of your objectives and you ask the right questions, you'll have the best chance of choosing the course that's right for you.

One last thought. We now live in an era where writers feel they ought to clarify that they don't think legacy publishing is necessarily a bad decision, and where self-published authors like Amanda Hocking feel they ought to publicly justify their decision to take a legacy contract. Whatever you think about the respective merits of the two routes, this is an astonishing development. Can you imagine, five years ago, someone publicly explaining why she took a seven-figure legacy offer? It would have been inconceivable, because the decision would have explained itself. No longer.

2. New York Publishers Are Evil And Publishing Would Be Better If They Died.

As I've argued many times, I believe legacy-publishing business practices have become overly self-serving because of a longstanding lack of competition in the industry. But I don't believe these practices make legacy publishers evil; in fact, I think these practices are just a natural part of legacy publishers' humanity. Power corrupts, as the saying goes, and monopolies, by virtue of human nature, always come to serve themselves at the expense of the wider society (that's why we have laws against them). But it doesn't follow from this that any monopoly needs to perish, or that I would personally want it to. After all, when someone is sick, you don't want him to succumb to the disease; you want him to get better. Similarly, what I want for New York publishing is not for it to die, but to reform.

And I want New York to reform not just because even New York would benefit from more enlightened business practices (not to mention the benefits to readers and authors). I also want New York to reform because Amazon needs healthy competition, too. If New York disappears as a counterweight, then current fears about an Amazon publishing monopoly will have substantially more basis in fact. Yes, I expect Amazon will still face competition from a host of players like Apple, Google, Kobo, Smashwords, and others, and from newly emerging author website bookstores, too (check out Joe's store right here), but the more competition, the better, so I hope everyone stands with me in cheering New York on in its efforts to reform its business practices.

Now, if you ask me to bet on the likelihood that New York will successfully adapt to the advent of digital and the emergence of Amazon as a publisher, I would have to regretfully decline to bet very much. As I noted in my previous post, companies coddled by a lack of competition get flabby, and New York, which hasn't faced real competition in living memory, is now squaring off against a formidable competitor indeed. I don't think it's likely legacy publishers will be able to adapt and survive. And though I hope I'm wrong about that, my hope doesn't lead me to want to protect New York from competition, either.

Maybe I'm clarifying here more than is really necessary, but I've learned from recent experience how willing and even eager people can be to mischaracterize arguments they find threatening. So again: the fact that I'm predicting an outcome doesn't mean I'm hoping for it. I predict that one day I will be dead, but that doesn't render me particularly enamored of or eager for that outcome. Similarly, though I don't think New York's chances are good, come on, guys, I'm cheering you on. I want you to step up, not give up.

Which brings me back to the question I asked in my previous post -- a question no one, as far as I know, has yet tried to answer:

If there's a better way than Amazon to reform New York’s previously unassailable quasi-monopoly and all the suboptimal business practices the monopoly has enabled, what is it?

One way of answering this question would be to deny the legacy publishing model is suboptimal at all. You could also respond by acknowledging some degree of suboptimal behavior, while denying that the behavior is the result of a lack of competition. I doubt I'd be persuaded by such arguments, but I would welcome them because they'd be on point.

But if you accept my "Suboptimal New York business practices are the result of a lack of competition" premise, then what I'd like to hear is your solution for getting New York to improve. Personally, I'm thrilled by the advent of self-publishing and the emergence of Amazon publishing because I can't think of any more potent combination of competitive pressure on New York. But I'd be very interested in the views of others on this point -- thanks.

Joe sez: I don't have anything to add to Barry's points, because he's correct and they don't need bolstering from me.

But I will expound a bit about authors supposedly making mistakes by signing legacy deals. Because a lot of them ARE making mistakes.

If you hit yourself in the face with a hammer, I'm going to call you stupid for doing so unless you can really justify it using facts and logic. Otherwise, you're wrong in doing so.

If you don't like being told you're wrong, stop being wrong.

I've always stated that is important to set reasonable goals in your career, and to separate goals (things within your power) from dreams (things that require a "yes" or "no" from someone else in order to happen.)

Your dream could be to get published by a legacy house. That means your goals should be to write a terrific book, then send out ten queries a month to top agents. If stars align, your goals can help you reach your dream.

Then, once you have a legacy deal, your next goal could be to write another book for that house.

But is this really a worthy goal in today's publishing climate? Is it even a worthy dream to begin with?

Many authors defend legacy publishing without fully understanding their reasons for doing to. They don’t back up their opinions. They don't feel they have to. For the past 100 years, we writers haven’t had a real choice if we wanted to earn a living–it was legacy or nothing. So we pursued legacy.

I see that attitude still being expressed, even though there is now a choice. And based on everything I know, having been on both sides of the issue, self-pubbing is a far better choice.

But rather than argue with my facts and figures and logic, some folks choose to attack me, or my tone. There are reasons for this. Some of it is envy (though people will deny this vehemently.) A lot of it is fear.

Most authors are scared of something. Scared of their publishers, of losing a contract, of not getting a contract, of bookstores closing, of ebooks, of piracy, of going it alone.

As far as ebooks go, many are ignorant. They simply don't 'get' it.

But once they are aware of what is happening, several things can happen.

They can accept it, and look for ways to benefit from it.

They can ignore it and hope it goes away.

They can blindly trust their publishers.

They can refuse to accept it, and get angry at people like me.

They can become even more scared, but instead of acting, they become defensive.

And in those cases, authors are being stupid. They are being wrong.

If you're still accepting legacy deals as-is, you really aren't thinking about the future. That isn't being business savvy. In fact, it's the opposite.

If you're fully aware you're getting bad terms on ebook royalties when ebooks are growing so quickly, just to get a paper version in bookstores when both paper and bookstores are receding so quickly, explain how that is wise. Unless you're a bestseller or getting a ton of money upfront, it makes no sense.

Publishers KNOW this. Their contracts are becoming wickedly draconian in regard to erights. They refuse to offer more to authors because they need to replace their lost paper sales. They need to cover their overhead.

What are they offering you in return for helping to save their industry?

Legacy publishing is a poor choice for a lot of reasons, all based on facts, not opinion. People may draw different conclusions from those facts, which stimulates discussion. Or people can walk away because I used strongly worded, inappropriate metaphors. Which is fine. We live in a world where children get a Certificate of Participation if they lose. Let’s coddle everyone, walk around on tip-toes, making sure no one gets offended by anything or gets their little duck feelings hurt because it might destroy the fabric of society. I personally don't care if I'm liked or not, or even if people listen to me. But if you want to debate, debate my points.

And FYI--pointing fingers saying “You’re an offensive jerk” isn’t smart. It’s every bit as childish as what I'm being accused of.

There are plenty of things to be rightfully outraged about. My blog ain’t one of them… unless you work for the Big 6.

Since April 2009, I've been blogging about ebooks, and the changes in the industry. If you really want to see how legacy publishers have reacted to those changes, take a day off and read my blog from then until now.

If that seems like a lot of work and you want to get a head start on making an informed decision, here's Barry again.

Barry sez: First, various functions legacy publishers have always provided (whether in theory or in fact) are and always will be critical. Editing, line-editing, copyediting, proofreading, cover design, pricing decisions (in digital, dynamic ones), branding, promotion -- all continue to be required for the production of a quality book and to maximize the chances that the book will be discovered by the largest possible audience.

Second, the primary reason legacy publishing has traditionally been able to take 85% of an author's earnings is distribution. Because no author could cost-effectively distribute her books in paper without a distribution partner, legacy publishers have been in a position to charge an 85% monopoly rent for paper distribution. The other services they provide -- enumerated above -- are add-ons. How can we be confident about the relative value of distribution vs the add-ons? Because if those other services could be disaggregated from distribution, no author in his right mind would pay anywhere near 85% for them, and publishers would not have the negotiating leverage to charge such an amount.

Today, with the advent of digital distribution, an author can distribute her works 100% as effectively as any publishing conglomerate. In digital distribution, authors and legacy publishers stand on an entirely level playing field -- which is another way of saying that in digital, an author simply doesn't need a publisher to distribute. So what legacy publishers are saying to authors today -- the new legacy publishing value proposition -- is this: "Before, when we handled distribution plus, we charged you 85%. Now you don't need us for distribution anymore, and we're only going to handle the plus part -- and you'll still have to pay us the same 85%."

Obviously, this is unsustainable.

Now as long as digital doesn't become too big a proportion of distribution generally, publishers can continue to try to stake their claim to that 85%. But the bigger the share of digital distribution, and the smaller the share of paper, the more absurd becomes legacy publishing's argument that it can still make a reasonable claim to that antediluvian 85%.

Put those two developments together, and what you get is a massive disintermediation and disaggregation play. Authors still need the same editing etc. functions they needed before, but now we can get them via a variety of emerging business models, many of which have nothing at all to do with legacy publishing. All of which means that legacy publishing will have to reinvent itself and reprice its drastically reduced list of value-add services if it wants to survive. Meanwhile, with legacy publishing's paper lock broken, new entrants, including literary agencies and authors like Bob Mayer, are offering authors various collections of add-on services for various rates of remuneration. So whether legacy publishing survives or not, today authors have more publishing choices than they ever had before.

Personally, I don't think there ever was a time of "pure" indie publishing. After all, Amanda Hocking needed Amazon's, B&N's, and Smashwords' distribution to get her books to readers -- she didn't sell through her own website. And even if she had sold through her own website, she would have been reliant on her website hosting company, on Paypal for billing services, etc. If you think about it, even an old-fashioned paper indie author was reliant on Kinko's for printing services and on Oldsmobile and a network of gas stations for his distribution platform. No one accomplishes anything in business entirely on her own, and I'd argue that notional concepts of independence are less important than the presence of actual choice. No man is an island, nor ever was; what matters instead is the effectiveness, desirability, and range of vessels available to carry us to our hoped-for destinations. For authors, there used to be only one such vessel, which was as expensive and inefficient as monopolies always are. Now there are many, and we're living in a different world as a result.

Joe sez: Self-publishing isn't a cult. It isn't an ideology.

Criticizing legacy publishers isn't a case of being ungrateful, or envious, or bitter.

My dream has always been to reach a lot of readers, and make a living doing something I love.

While pursuing this dream, my goals have changed throughout the years. My goals used to be about sending queries to agents and publishers. I got more than 500 rejections, remember? This was my goal because it was the only way to fulfill my dreams.

Then my goals were to self-promote as much as possible to help spread my brand and sell my paper books. Again, this was the logical thing to do.

Now my goals are to self-publish my work in as many formats as possible, and occasionally partner with a company (such as Amazon) in order to boost sales and reach more readers. I came to this conclusion the hard way, through experience.

Ask yourself once more, what are your dreams? What are your goals?

Now ask yourself if legacy publishing is the best way to reach those dreams and goals.

Blake sez: I think what's not been said succinctly is what this has all been pointing toward:

Taking a midlist deal from a legacy publisher is dumb-ass thing to do.

The "average" advance for a first novel is about $6,000.

How sad to be a good enough writer to get a book deal, but with such poor business sense and such a potent need for a stamp of approval that you squander the money you could be making.

People say but taking that midlist deal is a career builder. Yes, it is. A career of being repeatedly fucked that culminates with getting dropped. The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of that scenario. I've been in this business since 2004, and the number of people who were first published when I was and still are being published is a fraction.

Do you think it's easier now than it was then?

With the rarest of exceptions, publishers support books they pay lots and lots of $$ for. And only some of those are successful. If you get big money for a book up front, take it and run. No one's saying that's not a smart thing to do. I think Amanda Hocking was masterful in leveraging her ebook sales into a killer major print deal.

But midlist, for the most part, stays midlist. And considering the current royalty structure for ebooks, midlist is an even worse place to be now than it was a few years ago.

I haven't heard anyone here say that all legacy-published authors are morons. Because no one believes that. Some are making fat bank. Good for them. Ride it out. But if you have a first novel, or are considering publishing again, and you're taking less than $25,000, I think it's safe to say that's a stupid, stupid thing to do.

Some people would say that number should be way higher.

You want some numbers?

On my first novel, Desert Places, which was published in 2004, I have earned a total of $13,114 from my publisher. That took six years, and I was paid an advance of $6,000.

Since I re-published it myself one year ago, I have made $17,677, on Amazon US alone. That doesn't include Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon Fr.

And this isn't my top seller. It's only cracked the top 1000 once. This is a 7-year-old novel.

Now, there's been a lot of talk about tone. So if this comment just hurt your feelings. I apologize. Go to this website, and have one on me:


Joe sez: Blake originally posted that in the comments, and I asked for permission to put it in the actual post.

Right now, I'm holding up a big sign that says, "If you do this, you're stupid."

A lot of people don't like hearing that. My guess is that those who don't like that comment are those who resemble that comment.

If you don't think you're being stupid, tell me why. Explain for all to see how you're making smart, enlightened decisions by signing with a legacy publisher. Show me actual numbers of how it is working for you.

But I don't see anyone doing that. I just see the same group of morons, circle-jerking each other about what an ass I am, without offering anything to prove me wrong.

Because they can't prove me wrong.

So attack the messenger, not the message.

But me being a jerk doesn't make you any less stupid.

187 comments:

Anonymous said...

The reason I most see signing legacy is to build a name. I've published eBooks and can't sell more than four copies. I post everywhere, I participate in forums, I have a website. People don't buy it. The people who do, love them. But I don't have a name, I'm a "me too." I'd love a legacy deal to build some legitimate standing to the readers, then go all eBook.

Rob Blackwell said...

As always, great discussion from Barry and Joe.

Here's what I find fascinating: the number of wannabe authors who still really crave traditional publishing deals, even when you explain the economics to them.

I just had a conversation yesterday with a writer working on her first novel. She wanted advice on whether to epublish, as I did just two months ago. I took her through the logic, which is really pretty self-explanatory. If you want a traditional publishing deal, be prepared to wait. Send those query letters to agents, and if you are lucky, eventually wait for them to read your book. Then wait for them to get you a deal where you get a 15% royalty rate.

Or... OR... You could hire an editor, hire a cover designer, get your book into great shape and just start publishing yourself. No waiting. No seeking others' approval. Just publishing and finding an audience.

And yet this person still said they would try their hand at a traditional publishing deal. Why? I don't know. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

"But rather than argue with my facts and figures and logic, some folks choose to attack me, or my tone. There are reasons for this. Some of it is envy (though people will deny this vehemently.) A lot of it is fear."

How does that explain those of us that largely agree with your facts and figures, but think you're doing your position a disservice through tone by, bluntly, being a douchebag?

This post is a perfect example. Barry comes in and makes a reasoned point -- he sees how his word choices resulted in his points reaching fewer people, addressed that, and corrects misunderstandings.

He goes on to make the salient point that it's not one-size-fits all, that different models have different benefits and drawbacks, which must be examined by each individual writer.

In other words, he makes the same point that many of your critics have been making.

You then wade in like Godzilla stomping Tokyo, with talk of hammers to the face, being "wrong", and charges of envy.

It absolutely amazes me that a simple concept like "you get more flies with honey" seems to escape you -- and worse, you view it as a sign of being somehow attacked.

Here's a fact, Joe -- more people would listen to what you're saying (which again, I AGREE WITH), if you weren't going out of your way to be such a dick.

I.J.Parker said...

Another excellent job, Barry and Joe. And all quite true.
I left legacy publishing this summer because I couldn't take the anger any longer. From my first experience with one of the big 6, I've been angry. The kind of angry that kept me awake at night. This house puts out a sales catalogue for its new releases. I imagine they all do, but the others wisely didn't share them with me. In the sales catalogue, you can see where you stand in the publisher's estimation, because it lists what they plan to do for each of you. Promotion was vital for my series then, and I've learned that it is not something you can do for yourself. Neither should you have to. Much of my anger was based on the perceived unfairness in how they treated different authors.
But there were other reasons: the long delays, the incompetent and/or rude editors, the covers that were simply wrong but none of my business, the sneaky efforts to use tiny fonts to save paper, the reserves against returns, the returns themselves, the greed during contract negotiations, the e-royalties below market average 15%!), and the general attitude that I was less important than the boy in the mailroom.
I made my choice gladly and am grateful for Joe's advice. But here's the thing: miracles haven't happened yet. I do well and I'm no longer angry, but the fact is that print still sells better than e-books, and that many of my fans want print books, and that I seem to have only one viable choice: Amazon Publishing, and that has so far escaped me. I feel we do need the print option, but we need more publishers who offer better deals.

evilphilip said...

Legacy Authors are a scared bunch. I got into it this morning with two of them on twitter and the second I pointed out that I had made more on my own -- this year -- than one of them had received in an advance on a book that won't even be on store shelves for another year that author blocked me from his twitter feed and then started to ridicule me to his cronies.

What was the funny part? The part where I made more money than him or the part where I pointed out that I'm making more money than him? Or was it the part where I'm published now and making money now and he only got 1/3 of his money up front minus his agent's fee?

I'm not sure I saw the amusing part.

These authors are scared and they do have that "house slave" mentality and they flat out don't want to hear anything different.

I'm glad I don't have a blog like Joe's because I'm not sure how many times I could beat my head against that brick wall mentality before I closed up shop and just went about the business of writing good books and making money.

evilphilip said...

"I post everywhere, I participate in forums, I have a website. People don't buy it."

I don't do any of those things. I don't participate in forums, I don't have a twitter feed and I don't use Facebook.

I write under a pen name and the ONLY thing I have ever done is write the book, edit the book, create the cover and post it to Amazon.com.

(I haven't even taken the time to post it to B&N yet.)

I'm making money. Decent money. Not life changing, but it is getting there.

Forget about the book you posted and go write another one. Then post that one.

Time and perseverance is what it takes.

Joe Konrath said...

The reason I most see signing legacy is to build a name.

Why do you think that will help you build a name?

Unless you become a huge bestseller, I see no evidence that a midlist release translates to self-pub success. If anything, examples like Lee Goldberg and Brett Battles show that success comes from self-pubbing, not vice versa.

Joe Konrath said...

but think you're doing your position a disservice through tone by, bluntly, being a douchebag?

This amuses me. Have I specifically called you a douchebag? No.

How is hypocrisy treating you? Is it helping you succeed?

As far as telling people they're wrong, as outlined by my argument, those folks ARE wrong. If they don't like being called wrong, they can stop being wrong.

Also, did you read the part where I stated (ad nauseum) that I could not possibly care less if people agree with me or like me?

This blog isn't about catching flies with honey. And your argument sucks.

But thanks for playing, and for the personal insults. I'm saving them for my new blog entry, "When Pinheads Attack." I'm guessing you won't approve of the tone.

Joe Konrath said...

It absolutely amazes me that a simple concept like "you get more flies with honey" seems to escape you -- and worse, you view it as a sign of being somehow attacked.

I just had to repeat that, because it came in the same post where I was called a dick and a douchebag.

Hmmm...wonder why I feel I'm being attacked...

Jonas Saul said...

I love the hammer in the face. I haven't done that, but I know of a few people who have.

If the hammer fits, bang it.

Jonas

Stephen Knight said...

Some people just can't see the forest because there are so many damned trees in the way.

I think traditional publishing adherents suffer from this mentality.

Go self-pub, and what is there to lose? Respectability? Will the traditional publishing industry mark you with a scarlet letter--or even an e-ink one--and never, ever publish you if you write something that catches their eye?

The arguments against going over the fence from the traditional crowd are as steeped in rhetoric as any argument out there. It's not even civil enough to be called a debate. People act like they want to brawl over this, and it's kind of amusing.

I don't have the numbers that Konrath or Eisler or Crouch have, but I'm likely to be $20,000 richer by the end of the year. If I had landed a contract with a traditional publisher back in MARCH, I might be in the same position...but I'd have to wait another eight months before anything else happened.

Just can't see the utility behind waiting. Some folks seems to claim there's something there. I can't see it.

Must be all these damned trees.

I need a bigger chainsaw.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

People have tried honey with you, Joe.

They get called "stupid", "pinheads", "Stockholm syndrome sufferers", etc. You really can't be surprised when they decide to take the same tone as you, can you?

That's pretty much at the crux of the criticism of tone, in case you're missing it. It is a disservice to the argument, because people get fed up and start lashing out, on both sides.

But hey, you're so awesome you don't care if people agree with you... which is why you devote an entire blog to constantly pushing your point: so that nobody will agree with you. (Huh?)

Fatima Fayez said...

I love reading the back & forth between Joe & Barry. This was another brilliant post.

I've been following your blog for a while now and must say that it's motivated me to seek the self-published route. Today, I shared your blog with a friend. He's lived his whole life wanting to be an author but always believed trad publishing was the way to do it. He didn't even know people were self-publishing or that there was an indie revolution going on ;) Now he's preparing his MS to self-publish. I'm so glad bit by bit people are waking up and seeing that they hold their destiny in their hands and they can make their dreams come true. They don't need to wait on anyone else.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I think the most accurate way to understand the current choice between legacy- and self-publishing is this. Both systems, statistically speaking, are lotteries.

I think this is the biggest point that new writers don't understand. I've seen people literally approach self-e-publishing with the idea that they can crank out sub-standard material, bank a few hundred thousand dollars "for now", and then go for a commercial deal with the Big-6 to get publicity, marketing, etc.

People with that mindset take it as a given that the instant they hit "submit" they'll have legions of fans magically shunted to their links from who-knows-where, and sadly, they don't want to hear that this isn't the way the system works (even from people in the know, such as yourself, Mr. Konrath or Ms. Hocking.)

I agree that no one should have to justify choosing a system that works for them. If you make more selling Avon on-line than you do door-to-door, then use your computer. If you make more selling your books on Amazon than you do by signing with a commercial press, then do it. It's the same thing.

The biggest example I can think of is (of course) JK Rowling selling the Harry Potter Books through her own store in cooperation with her original publishers - it works for her, and the fact that it works for her has no bearing whether or not it would ever work for anyone else.

There's room for both systems to flourish so long as both systems exist. Trying to turn it into an exclusively either/or situation has more to do with emotional attachment than business model.

But I also don't think it's fair to say that the NY publishers are a monopoly. They're separate companies that exist in competition with each other, which is the opposite of monopoly. Harper exists separately from S&S, which exists separately from Random House, etc. If they were one mega-corporation, auctions wouldn't happen.

The monopoly concerns come in when you examine a business model that's designed to put the competition out of business. If a company wants to create their own material and market/ distribute it, that's their prerogative, but when they also operate as a major channel of distribution for their competition, it creates a conflict of interest.

This is, of course, all my opinion as a relative newcomer to the whole industry. I went the agent route and landed a contract with a commercial publisher. They do the things I either don't want to do myself or don't know how to do myself, and that's what I wanted.

I also have a project or two that I'd put out myself if I could get them to a point where I'm satisfied with them. While I like them, they're not commercially viable in the larger sense.

I really don't understand the venom on either side. It's a Lilliputian/Blefuscian conflict that shouldn't exist among rational people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments everyone and Joe, thanks as always for having me. About to take off for New England Crime Bake in Boston, so won't be able to check in til tonight. Be back then.

--Barry

Sam said...

I've always stated that is important to set reasonable goals in your career, and to separate goals (things within your power) from dreams (things that require a "yes" or "no" from someone else in order to happen.)

I love this distinction between dreams and goals. Very similar to Epictetus, my favorite philosopher, who teaches that happiness comes from focusing only on what is within your control. Waiting for others-- i.e., agents and publishers-- to create your success is a recipe for misery.

Donna Ball said...

Well, there's always something exciting going on when I drop in here! As a mid-list writer who was abused by traditional publishing for more years than I care to count, my goal in going indie was quite simply self-preservation, both in the psychological and practical sense. Though I'm by no means doing as well as those you read about here, I have already made more this year self publishing than I did last year with my traditional publisher. The one advantage I do think trad publishers have to offer, however, is their ability to build a brand. I do best with the books that piggy-back onto a series already established in print. However, as I continue to self-publish more and more original titles, I suspect even that advantage will eventually disappear. And as much as I try to imagine a circumstance in which I would be desperate enough to accept a standard contract from a traditional publisher, so far I can't. I'll keeping thinking, though.

Stephen Knight said...

"Waiting for others-- i.e., agents and publishers-- to create your success is a recipe for misery."

But it IS worth pointing out that, on occasion, some folks have made out on the deal.

The same way some folks have made out in the self-pub arena.

Two paths, neither of which offer absolute, guaranteed results. But with one of them, the WRITER has control. And that's what's so cool about that one.

Dieds said...

This is just a comment on ebooks in general, which I've wanted to love but until now, have not been able to.

However, I think the new Kindle Fire (which hits the market Nov. 15) and other relatively low-cost "enhanced eReader" devices in the pipeline from other companies will accelerate the public's adoption of ebooks.

I have an iPhone, but I don't want to spend more than $500 on a larger version of one (the iPad). But reading eBooks on my iPhone is not fun. It's too small. And reading them on my computer is a buzz-kill.

The $199 price tag and color screen of Kindle Fire will make reading novels (newspapers, magazines and other books, too, for that matter) much more enjoyable. The color screen actually makes the pages appear "real" but you can add great graphics and videos. (Yes, I am getting one.)

Clever authors will soon be optimizing their eNovels to include easter egg bonus material, video interviews, etc.

So Joe and Barry, please start thinking of adding enhanced "bonus" material to your eNovels -- unless you are already doing that in which case, carry on. :-)

Joe Konrath said...

They get called "stupid", "pinheads", "Stockholm syndrome sufferers", etc.

Who are "they"?

Do I signal people out by name and hold them up to ridicule? Do I tweet about specific individuals and call them names?

Nope.

What I do do is hold up a big sign that says "If you do this, you're stupid."

And the stupid people get mad, because they feel like I'm calling them stupid.

If you aren't acting stupid, the message wasn't for you.

If you are acting stupid, calling me a jerk doesn't make you any less stupid.

It is a disservice to the argument, because people get fed up and start lashing out, on both sides.

Self-awareness is important. I'm constantly analyzing why I do the things I do.

Now, I could sugarcoat my advice and speak in soothing tones, and I wouldn't irk as many people.

But is that truly the best way to get the message out? Or does being opinionated and outspoken invite controversy, which brings the message to more people?

I'm not oblivious to my tone. Not in the least.

which is why you devote an entire blog to constantly pushing your point: so that nobody will agree with you.

Read through my comments. Lots of people agree with me.

How often do I thank those people? Or even acknowledge them?

This blog isn't so people can cheer me on. That's shallow. Just as shallow as caring what people on the internet think of you.

This blog is to allow me to share what I've learned so I can pressure-check my ideas and logic. Every so often someone makes a counterpoint that is thoughtful, or comes up with a smart idea, which helps me strengthen my arguments.

I don't need approval, or friends, or thanks, or accolades. All I need is to better understand how this industry works, so I can reach more readers and make more money.

The more comments I get, the more potential there is to learn from others.

Of course, that also means dealing with the frightened, the envious, the flamers, the trolls, the name-callers.

But the root of all narrative structure is conflict. One way to invite conflict is to be confrontational and opinionated. To speak strongly, and risk alienating people.

Meek and polite ain't my style. If you don't like it, get your advice elsewhere.

Rob Blackwell said...

Clearly, the best way to bolster an argument is a personal attack. This is why everyone respects politicians as bastions of intellectual debate.

Speaking of which, I noticed a post on "The Millions" yesterday that said self publishing was... dorky. Which admittedly isn't as harsh as some of the insults thrown around on this particular comment arc, but still pissed me off.

Post was here: http://www.themillions.com/2011/11/do-it-yourself-self-published-authors-take-matters-into-their-own-hands.html

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

You misunderstood my last bit. Sarcasm doesn't travel well on the internet, I suppose.

I know that people agree -- I was just surprised to hear that you don't care if they do, which seems odd, given that you appear to be very much in the advice-giving business. Strange that you don't care if people take it.

But your comment seems to indicate that the advice is just a way to spark conversation in order to increase your understanding, so that you sell more. That's cool -- but I don't think I've seen you flat-out say that before. (Although maybe I missed it)

If the advice and self-pub advocacy is just a scheme to increase your profile and make you more money, I think you'll find a lot of folks who may be disappointed by that. Although, since you've said you don't care about being liked or agreed with, it probably isn't something you're too concerned about.

Fair enough.

Joe Konrath said...

Sarcasm doesn't travel well on the internet, I suppose.

That's what emoticons are for. Lots of communication is non-verbal.

I was just surprised to hear that you don't care if they do, which seems odd, given that you appear to be very much in the advice-giving business.

I'm in the "how do I succeed" business. If someone takes my advice and gets rich, how does that benefit me?

But if someone helps me expand my ideas, I can benefit from that. And a forum is a good place to get this. The more people the forum attracts, the more I can benefit.

I don't think I've seen you flat-out say that before. (Although maybe I missed it)

I've said it so often I don't say it much anymore because I'm sick of saying it.

If the advice and self-pub advocacy is just a scheme to increase your profile and make you more money, I think you'll find a lot of folks who may be disappointed by that.

It's not my job to live up (or down) to anyone's opinion of me.

This blog is a tool that people can choose to use. Liking me isn't necessary to use it. Being grateful to me isn't necessary either. This blog will keep on going even if you never like me or thank me.

Rob Blackwell said...

An earlier commentter said this: "I think the most accurate way to understand the current choice between legacy- and self-publishing is this. Both systems, statistically speaking, are lotteries."

Which is true, BUT in one system you can buy a ticket anytime you like and in the OTHER system you have to wait for someone to buy a ticket for you. In one system, you at least have a fighting shot to win. In the other, you may never even get to play.

Robert said...

What it really comes down to is many writers want to impress their peers, so they strive to be published by "publishers." I use quotes with publishers because it really is a loose term. Awhile back there was this new ebook publisher snatching up some genre writers to release their work in digital format. Many well-knowns signed on to reprint some backlist titles, mostly limited edition stuff. Then the ebook publisher fell through. And those writers who had signed with them? Most haven't done anything else, as far as I know. They like the idea of having a publisher and impressing their friends than becoming a publisher and impressing the people who matter most: readers.

As for me, I've only been publishing my own stuff for a few months now and doing okay, averaging about 40 units sold a day and between $1,500-$2,000 a month. Nothing earth-shattering, but the sales are definitely building, and I don't have a "name" or huge readership or even troll message boards. I just try to present readers with a great product, and so far it seems to be working.

wv: churgees

Joe Konrath said...

In comments http://bit.ly/rOY3cS , @JAKonrath states that self-pub advocacy is primarily to increase his own success. Kudos for honesty.

No, Gareth, I never stated that.

Don't misquote me. It makes you look stupid.

I stated this blog is primarily to increase my own success.

I advocate self-pub because self-pub is MAKING me successful.

Would it be too much to ask you to stop being a pinhead and actually listen to what I'm saying?

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

Not a pinhead, Joe. I understand what you said, I was just limited by 140 characters on Twitter.

This blog, which by its title is a "Newbie's Guide to Publishing", and has for the past couple of years been largely given over to self-publishing advocacy, is, by your own admission, to increase your success.

As you said: "This blog is to allow me to share what I've learned so I can pressure-check my ideas and logic. Every so often someone makes a counterpoint that is thoughtful, or comes up with a smart idea, which helps me strengthen my arguments.

I don't need approval, or friends, or thanks, or accolades. All I need is to better understand how this industry works, so I can reach more readers and make more money."


Am I mis-stating your position there?

Seriously -- this isn't a gotcha. As I said on Twitter, kudos for the honesty. I hope people will stop giving you crap thinking that you're about X, when you're actually about Y.

Stephen T. Harper said...

@Sam "I love this distinction between dreams and goals. Very similar to Epictetus, my favorite philosopher, who teaches that happiness comes from focusing only on what is within your control."

I'm beginning to see my problem. My favorite philosopher is Shemp, a huge proponent of hitting yourself in the face with a hammer, which as I coincidentally also learned today, turns out to be stupid.

Live and learn, I suppose.

Stephen Knight said...

What's more important, gang--the message, or the fashion in which that message is conveyed?

Seems like a lot of bandwidth is being consumed trying to chastise Konrath for being an unrepentant meanie.

Personally, I don't care if he calls me an oily pig fucker so long as he continues to shine a light down the path. I would submit the message Joe and the others are passing on is what should have our undivided attention.

Unless you're a pinhead.

Melissa Schroeder said...

I have been in the ebook business for almost 8 years. I have been continually published those eight years also. That is a long time in a business this young. I could never sign on with legacy publishers for varied reasons, one being that once I found a name, they bottom fell out of the markets and legacy shut down.

As an ebook only author, I make a lot of money with my companies. But, I was starting to have issues. One of my main publishers started dragging their feet, spacing out the releases of my biggest selling series. I knew if I didn't make the transition now, I would lose the momentum I had made. I had no advertising for my books from my publisher and very little support other than the minimum. I took that jump last month, and I am thrilled. It is scary, but not as scary as it must have been for others a few years ago.

As I said before, I make a lot of money, 6 figures in fact. Since I am a small press published author with no other major pub, that is usually not believed. But, I listened to various voices out there and decided I needed to get my backlist back out there, and start putting out more books than my publisher was allowing.

I was asked at a reader conference this summer if I would take a NY deal. All the authors on the panel said yes, all small press authors. I was the only one who said no. Now, I didn't discount an Amanda Hocking deal, but I'm more likely to get hit by a bus than for that to happen. So, I stated very proudly, "It would be a pay cut, so no." I had emails for WEEKS after the con asking if I actually said that. Why would I want a four figure deal for a book when I can publish that and make it in the first few weeks, and be paid YEARS before I would in NY.

It is a broken system and Legacy is so bound up in wanting what worked in the past to be true now, they are ignoring the opportunities. I want them to change and give Amazon some real competition, but with the present leadership, I don't see it happening.

DVshooter said...

Go self-pub, and what is there to lose? ...I might be in the same position...but I'd have to wait another eight months before anything else happened...Just can't see the utility behind waiting. Some folks seems to claim there's something there. I can't see it.

Planning to buy Stephen Knight a drink someday.

That's the crux of my biggest motivation for e-pub: the timeline.
Even the very best of authors have queried, networked, pursued and submitted for YEARS before landing deals.

I can self-pub after wrapping up editing and design, hit the button and have something to guage over 6, 9, 12 month periods.

Absolute worst case: I'm selling poorly to non-existent there will be something there for me to analyze and work from.

The same time frame and effort chasing Legacy: 32, 86, 128 form rejection letters from agents and editors.

What does that do for me?

Stephen Knight said...

"Planning to buy Stephen Knight a drink someday."

Bring lots of money! I highly advocate wealth transfer to my liver, as I have plans on it being buried with separate honors.

Waiting for the traditional process just isn't happening for me, especially since my doctor told me I only have 30 years left to live.

Stephen Knight said...

"It is a broken system and Legacy is so bound up in wanting what worked in the past to be true now, they are ignoring the opportunities. I want them to change and give Amazon some real competition, but with the present leadership, I don't see it happening."

Amen, sister. And if this wasn't the case, we wouldn't be here now.

mactheweb said...

I very much appreciate Barry's clarification of his earlier post. The main takeaway I'm seeing is the point that publishing is a business decision. Commitment to publish by any means depends on a lot of factors.

As an writer who has shopped his novels to agents, it would be easy for me to come down on the side of self-publishing, especially since I have the technical and social media skill to easily do so. And, I am old enough that I have a strong bias against self-published fiction, that it is generally of lower quality than that published traditionally.

As a former Amazon top 100 reviewer, I've receive many self-published novels to review. I won't accept such stories anymore since I hate being the bearer of bad news. That's what most of my reviews ended up being. I've since removed most of those reviews. However, most legacy published novels would receive similarly bad reviews. I'm a firm believer in Sturgeon's Law that 90 percent of everything is crud.

I even failed to sign with an agent because I would not sign away perpetual rights to my work. Yet, the old bias against self-publishing is deep in my psyche. Decades of belief don't just disappear because I actually believe much of what Joe and others, like Smith, Rusch and Stackpole are saying about the legacy publishing industry.

If this were a simple business decision, I would self-publish. But, da**it that just doesn't provide the same sense of validation.

Joe Konrath said...

Am I mis-stating your position there?

Yes. Very much so.

In that statement, I was referring to my blog. My blog helps me be become more successful, because I can learn from the comments. I blog about things I'm doing, what works and what doesn't, and seek counter-arguements to strengthen my ideas.

I advicate self-publishing because it is the smart way to approach a career. But advocating self publishing doesn't make me successful. This blog does very little for my sales. I've said that many times. This blig is for writers, not fans. Fans don't care about this stuff.

When you say I stated something that I didn't state, that is misquoting me.

Blake Crouch said...

I think what's not been said succinctly is what this has all been pointing toward:

Taking a midlist deal from a traditional publisher is dumb-ass thing to do. The "average" advance for a first novel is about $6,000.

How sad to be a good enough writer to get a book deal, but with such poor business sense and such a potent need for a stamp of approval that you squander the money you could be making.

People say but taking that midlist deal is a career builder. Yes, it is. A career of being repeatedly fucked that culminates with getting dropped. The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of that scenario. I've been in this business since 2004, and the number of people who were first published when I was and still are being published is a fraction.

Do you think it's easier now than it was then?

With the rarest of exceptions, publishers support books they pay lots and lots of $$ for. And only some of those are successful. If you get big money for a book up front, take it and run. No one's saying that's not a smart thing to do. I think Amanda Hocking was masterful in leveraging her ebook sales into a killer major print deal.

But midlist, for the most part, stays midlist. And considering the current royalty structure for ebooks, midlist is an even worse place to be now than it was a few years ago.

I haven't heard anyone here say that all legacy-published authors are morons. Because no one believes that. Some are making fat bank. Good for them. Ride it out. But if you have a first novel, or are considering publishing again, and you're taking less than $25,000, I think it's safe to say that's a stupid, stupid thing to do.

Some people would say that number should be way higher.

You want some numbers?

On my first novel, Desert Places, which was published in 2004, I have earned a total of $13,114 from my publisher. That took six years, and I was paid an advance of $6,000.

Since I re-published it myself one year ago, I have made $17,677, on Amazon US alone. That doesn't include Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon Fr.

And this isn't my top seller. It's only cracked the top 1000 once. This is a 7-year-old novel.

Now, there's been a lot of talk about tone. So if this comment just hurt your feelings. I apologize. Go to this website, and have one on me:

http://www.freehugscampaign.org/

Kiana Davenport said...

Guys ..thanks for a brilliant posting! I like the yin and yang of it: Barry presenting his arguments, then Joe bringing them down the abstraction ladder to sound bytes.

As an author who's recently been dragged over the coals by a Big 6 publisher, I totally agree with Barry. I don't want to see legacy publishing die, I just want to see them REFORM! Yes, 'Step up, Not give up!"

Legacy publishing needs a MAJOR OVERHAUL in their contracts, their terms, and their despotic treatment of authors. Meanwhile these little crumbs they are offering us, like the right to (finally!) see our sales figures, are ludicrous, too little, too late.

Its like repainting the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Adam Pepper said...

It is unfortunate that Barry used the “house slave” reference because clearly it offended people and took the focus away from the issue at hand. I, for one, really am interested in hearing the counter arguments to the views espoused on this blog. But by and large, I’m not seeing many good ones. And it’s not for lack of looking.

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks, Blake. I added you to the blog entry. The fire is burning, might as well throw some gas on it and see what happens...

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

Joe--

I think the confusion is coming from the fact that you're separating your blog and your advocacy. Whereas where I'm coming from is that they're essentially one and the same, because your advocacy comes almost exclusively VIA the blog.

I apologize that I misunderstood that you intend the two to be viewed more granularly as separate things.

Shelby Cross said...

For a long time, I wanted to be a traditionally-published author, just to have my name on a paperback book. I remembered visiting my local bookstore as a child, looking for my favorite authors. I wanted to be the favorite author someone else was looking for.
Then I realized, nobody's going to bookstores anymore. They're reading online, or from a kindle, or from a nook. And if they have to buy a paper book, they're ordering it online, too, not perusing through aisles of bookshelves.
Times have changed, and my dream has become outdated. So now I have a new dream: write the best books I can, and make them as accessible as possible to buyers who are shopping the way of this new world.

Wayne McDonald said...

Josin L. McQuein said
But I also don't think it's fair to say that the NY publishers are a monopoly. They're separate companies that exist in competition with each other, which is the opposite of monopoly. Harper exists separately from S&S, which exists separately from Random House, etc. If they were one mega-corporation, auctions wouldn't happen.


There are a number of types of monopolies or semi monopolies where there is limited competition or the appearence of it. For example this is one type
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligopoly

Anonymous said...

Great post, but I still wanna' know-what about the ability of legacy publishers to take what was considered a well worn-out plot, and genre, vampires seeking human blood, which must be defeated,yawn, snore... and crank it into a multi-million dollar deal ? Does anyone believe this could have been done by a SP author? Never. Nothing beats being the Designated Son of the Year.

Anonymous said...

Josin L. McQuein said
But I also don't think it's fair to say that the NY publishers are a monopoly. They're separate

They engage in price-fixing of payments to authors. Hence the common phrase in old marketing guides: "pays standard royalties."

evilphilip said...

"Taking a midlist deal from a traditional publisher is dumb-$$$ thing to do. The "average" advance for a first novel is about $6,000."

I made more than that in July. Which was the point I was trying to make this morning on Twitter when I had pinheads like Gareth chime in and try to ridicule me.

I'm not real broken up about it, I still get to keep the $6k.

You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make him think.

Livia said...

Blake -- Good thoughts. I'm curious how you got the $25,000 figure, for the minimum amount of money to take for a legacy deal.

Joe Konrath said...

You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make him think.

LOL.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm curious how you got the $25,000 figure, for the minimum amount of money to take for a legacy deal.

Can't speak for Blake, but I wouldn't take less than a million bucks.

If I can make over $50k per year on a hot IP, right now when ebooks are still a fledgling technology, I can easily see making $100k or more annually in 2014 or 2015.

Why would anyone give up rights for something they could earn back on their own in ten years? Because chances are, the legacy publisher would keep the rights forever.

But I don't need the money. For some, $25k would be enough to sustain them for a year so they could write full time. Taking a deal that is a life-changer isn't stupid. It might not be the best return on investment, but if that money upfront allows a writer to live her dream, go for it. Just be careful about non-compete and first-look clauses.

Blake Crouch said...

"Blake -- Good thoughts. I'm curious how you got the $25,000 figure, for the minimum amount of money to take for a legacy deal."

It's certainly a tough figure to pin down, and probably is different for everyone, depending on a number of things--their financial situation, goals, etc. I just put $25K out as a base minimum, a starting point, that would cover everyone. It should truthfully be quite a lot higher. I guess my thought would be that anything below that number is categorically a stupid thing to take, and as you get higher and higher, it becomes a sliding scale of how much you're getting bent over the barrel.

Anonymous said...

I've put several books out on Kindle on my own and will get revenues of approximately $150,000 in 2011 for those efforts. That's pretty cool

But I also walked into BN this past weekend and saw my new NY produced hardcover sitting on the top shelf in the new fiction section, and that was pretty cool too.

Both indie and trad routes have their own sets of pros and their own sets of cons. I have no regrets walking on both sides of the street; nor would I even if someone could convince me that one side was way better than the other. It's sort of fun to look at life from different angles.

Phrased differently, even if you can eat steak every day it doesn't hurt to have a hotdog every now and then.

PS: JA is a total standup dude. I cringe when I see some of the pinhead slop slung his way by people who don't have a clue.

DVshooter said...

Anon..

I assume you're referencing the sucess of Twilight and the ensuing, wild popularity of supernatural YA.

Good point. A few blog's ago some of use were taking shots at Joe's critics for flaccid, piecemeal arguments. I actually threw some PRO-legacy arguments out just for kicks.

100+ million selling, international bestselling series are, so far, something that only they have done, so in part I agree with you.

While that resultant income may be substantial portions of a Legacy houses balance sheet the writer herself is probably a .001 out of all her published peers.

In essence you're supporting Blake's argments. She got an insane promotional push that generated a #5bestseller list debut.

What about the rest of us.

In short; she's a lottery winner. Great for her but it's not really something relevant to the debates here as the industry applies to mid-listers and aspiring newbs.

I also strongly disagree that Legacy publishers revitalized a "worn out genre". I think it's excedingly worn out now...but not before 2005. If anything the overall concept was fairly fresh then, even if strongly dervied from Ann Rice, (IMHO).

Blake Crouch said...

"But I don't need the money. For some, $25k would be enough to sustain them for a year so they could write full time. Taking a deal that is a life-changer isn't stupid. It might not be the best return on investment, but if that money upfront allows a writer to live her dream, go for it. Just be careful about non-compete and first-look clauses."

Agreed, you also have to consider though that getting $25K if you signed today isn't what you think. It would work like this....from the time you sign the contract, about 4-6 weeks later you would get a third of it, less agency fee.

That's $7,000.
Then another $7,000. on acceptance, which could take a year. Then $7,000 a year after acceptance, which could be another year or year and a half. So it's not like being handed a $25K check to live on for a year. It's like 85% of $25K spread out over 3 years.

This is the identical payment schedule for my novel Snowbound, btw, a book published by St. Martin's Press in 2010.

Stephen Knight said...

And that right there is why I think traditional publishing is full o' crap right now. It's just not worth my time to wait so very, very long for so little reward.

And I can't believe some people think otherwise. I guess they get lonely when they step outside at night, look up at the stars, and suddenly miss their home planet.

Livia said...

Thanks Joe and Blake. One of the challenges for a debut writer is that there are no prior sales numbers when estimating how for estimating potential self pub income. You two and Barry can make grounded decisions based on prior records, but for a new writer, there's a bit more guesswork involved, so I'm always interested in hearing how people arrive at numbers.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

"I made more than that in July. Which was the point I was trying to make this morning on Twitter when I had pinheads like Gareth chime in and try to ridicule me."

You were being ridiculed because you were trying to make that point to people who also make that and more -- including via self-publishing (which I've been doing since 2003) as well as traditional (a NYT best-seller).

When it was pointed out that 5-6K was the FLOOR, you assumed that's what Paul's income was, and started mocking like an asshole, touting your (completely unverifiable due to your supposed psuedonym} success and trying to belittle his work as "quaint."

In short, you were ridiculed because you're a fucking joke, and behaved like one.

And if I'm a "pinhead" for having done self-publishing since 2003, agreeing with Joe's data (because I've been living it for almost 9 years), but having a problem with his cartoonish "aggro" persona, then so be it. I guess I'm a "pinhead."

Better a pinhead than a wanna-be fanboy, mindlessly parroting your idol's catchphrases.

evilphilip said...

"That's $7,000.
Then another $7,000. on acceptance, which could take a year. Then $7,000 a year after acceptance, which could be another year or year and a half. So it's not like being handed a $25K check to live on for a year. It's like 85% of $25K spread out over 3 years."


Plus, many publishers don't offer $25k advances. Angry Robot offers only a $10k advance and they are such a small publisher at this point that you will never earn out that $10k and you will lose the rights to your work pretty much forever (or at least until they end up going out of business).

I love the Angry Robot editors, I've known some of them for years, but that formula doesn't work.

Even at a few hundred copies a month you will do better than that on your own.

DVshooter said...

Unless you're talking about Hocking..in which case you're not maing any sense at all.

Her "big deal" happened because of her self-engineered indie sucess.

Jane George said...

"If there's a better way than Amazon to reform New York’s previously unassailable quasi-monopoly and all the suboptimal business practices the monopoly has enabled, what is it?"

A piece of the reorganization puzzle is going to be the resurgence of small bookstore cafes in partnership with the Espresso Book Machine (or equivalent) and POD distributors.

Now, someone just needs to find a way to incorporate onsite ebook sales so the bookstore gets a cut.

evilphilip said...

"When it was pointed out that 5-6K was the FLOOR, you assumed that's what Paul's income was, and started mocking like an a$$hole, touting your (completely unverifiable due to your supposed psuedonym} success and trying to belittle his work as "quaint."

I wasn't even talking to Paul or about Paul. (Though I do find licensed fiction to be a quaint hobby.)

I was talking to another author who blocked me from his twitter list the second I mentioned that I made more in a month self-publishing than some people get in an advance.

You jumped into a conversation you hadn't followed and weren't invited into and that is why you are a pinhead.

Joe Konrath said...

Insulting me is fine.

Insulting other posters is verboten.

Attack the argument, not the person, or be vanquished.

The mighty Oz has spoken.

David LeRoy said...

I am a new author, working through the fourth draft of my first historical fiction novel. I planned all along to self publish, but I am really interested in publishing through Amazon. Anyone here with experience on submissions to them and can advise on that process? Would I need to self publish first, or do they look at brand new "virgin" talent?

Joe Konrath said...

Better a pinhead than a wanna-be fanboy, mindlessly parroting your idol's catchphrases.

Actually, no it isn't.

The majority of those who parrot me do so because what I say is working for them, and they're making money and selling books.

Being a pinhead is just a waste a carbon.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"If this were a simple business decision, I would self-publish. But, da**it that just doesn't provide the same sense of validation."

Wow mactheweb, this is an impressively honest post. I think this is exactly the reason some legacy published authors and those who have been pursuing a legacy deal for a while have a hard time transitioning to self publishing. That validation or the hope of it becomes part of the way we define ourselves, our self identity.

Human beings will go to great lengths to protect self identity. There's a great chapter about that topic in Gavin de Becker's Gift of Fear (and if I was more familiar with blogger, I'd include a link. Sorry).

In light of that, it shouldn't be surprising that some are obsessing over distractions in order to avoid facing the argument Joe and Barry and Blake are making.

I've been traditionally published since 2000. My 25th trad pubbed novel is out now. I started thinking about self publishing about two years ago but finally did it in March of 2011. In my case, redefining the way I saw myself took some time (just ask Joe). But in the end, simple self preservation won out.

The unknown is frightening. Change is frightening. But refusing to acknowledge reality isn't much of a business strategy.

So I wouldn't say stupid. I'd say self-deluding.

Not you? Are you sure? Why?

Stephen Knight said...

"Being a pinhead is just a waste a carbon."

But the entertainment value more than offsets the wasted carbon. Kyoto Protocol aside.

Paula Millhouse said...

This comment may get buried in the list, but...I hope not.

First off, Thanks guys for taking a stand. Things they are a-changing.

I think you're both brave and intelligent and I appreciate what you've said here.

I'm a new author - a Newbie...

I wrote a great book.

A bonafide New York Literary Agent picked it up, and I think he did his best to sell it. That speaks volumes, because in your guide to publishing for newbies, Joe, you said there's merit in going with the establishment. A proving ground. Shows you both sides, if you will. That experience has obviously helped your argument, because unlike me, you have been there.

So...

I did something crazy after ten months with my agent (whom, I hate to admit, did not place my book, and behaved like I was bothering him some of the time...)

I fired him.

Newbie mistake, or blessing in disguise?

Well, you spoke about Goals here, and my goal is to get this book out to the readers.

They're the ones who need to see it. My rookie attempt will live or die by their decision to buy it or not.

My book club, and my beta readers loved it as much as or more as the agent who picked it up (and that agent has been in NYC for more than forty years).

I put it up on amazon and bought and created a website to market it.

So, even though I don't need your approval because I've already gotten Froggy and jumped, what would you say to someone like me who is Unpublished by the Establishment, yet knows her book rocks? Looks like I may be in the fighting chair...

Thanks,
Paula
www.paulamillhouse.com

p.s. May I post a link to your website on my new website?

Stephen Knight said...

Paula, you very probably did the right thing. You could have searched for another agent...and waited...and probably wound up in the same place. Or worse: You could have surrendered your property for a miserly advance and had it locked up for years.

Now that you have the book out and available, that's a great start. But back it up and release some other properties, so you can give your budding fanbase more to enjoy.

Be prolific, be deliberate, be businesslike. You're in the business of selling books now. Put 'em out there.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

Irony is dead.

"The mighty Oz has spoken."

I suppose it would be bad form for me to point out that "the mighty Oz" was a sad little man in a threadbare suit, pretending to be a great and powerful all-knowing wizard.....

This "pinhead" has been doing self-publishing since you were still lugging yourself around doing book tours -- which is the main reason I agree with your facts, because I've been living them for years.

But it's just adorable that anyone who doesn't buy The Whole Konrath Enchilada gets lumped in with the folks who disagrees with the facts. Charming.

Enjoy the Kool-Aid, kids.

Joe Konrath said...

Stephen's advice is solid, Paula.

My rookie attempt will live or die by their decision to buy it or not.

Are you a one trick pony? If so, you may be right.

But if you have more books in you, your rookie attempt has a long time to find an audience.

My novel, ORIGIN, was written in 1999. It was rejected dozens of times. I self-pubbed in 2009, and it has made $72k in two years.

Ebooks are forever. Just keep at it until you get lucky.

Paula Millhouse said...

Thanks, Stephen.

2nd book's on tap. It should go down nicely around Chrismas-time.

I'm developing a great back-list and a great readership at the same time.

This economic lesson is eye-opening.

Thanks, guys.

DVshooter said...

Mr. Skarka

Quick, honest question...I thought Joe was supposed to be the dick and douchebag for the tone he used expressing his viewpoint?

What is this...a bad SF parody where hijinks have ensued after someone runs through a cloning machine?

Who'se the real dick/douche? It's so confusing!

Paula Millhouse said...

OMG -

Joe Konrath just replied to my post.

I LOVED the query letter for Origin, and learning that that book is the one they rejected makes me giggle...

Careful What You Wish For...is going to be that book for me.

Thanks Joe. Your ability to share this collaborative effort with me and thousands of others really means alot.

I will buy you a beer when we meet.

Paula

Stephen Knight said...

I believe the real Dick Douchebag goes by the name Harry McGlade.

Joe Konrath said...

But it's just adorable that anyone who doesn't buy The Whole Konrath Enchilada gets lumped in with the folks who disagrees with the facts.

I don't recall lumping you in with anyone. I recall taking you to task for insulting me, misunderstanding my intent, and then misquoting me.

Good for you for successfully self-publishing. It would be great if you added to the conversation by explaining what you've done that worked and didn't work, and why you think self-pubbing is a smart thing to do. It would be helpful if you used facts and numbers to back up your opinions.

The industry needs more people sharing ideas and success stories, Gareth. There are too many empty-headed opinions bouncing around, and too few people with the gravitas to back up their words.

If you don't like this blog, I hope you're sharing those ideas elsewhere. And I hope you start focusing more on that, instead of on what a poor job you think I'm doing.

Joe Konrath said...

"Hijinks" would be a great name for a novel. Never been used, either.

I'm currently writing a Harry McGlade scene in the new Timecaster novel. He's a dinosaur. A real one.

I love my life.

Stephen Knight said...

2nd book's on tap. It should go down nicely around Chrismas-time.

I'm developing a great back-list and a great readership at the same time.


Then you're officially off to the races! Just try not to win the Triple Crown right out of the gate, you'll make the rest of us very depressed.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think that will help you build a name?

Unless you become a huge bestseller, I see no evidence that a midlist release translates to self-pub success. If anything, examples like Lee Goldberg and Brett Battles show that success comes from self-pubbing, not vice versa.


With a legacy published book, you can advertise that. People still, for whatever reason, respect that. You can say you're doing the eBook thing now because you want control over legacy tyranny. You look cool! and validated! But without that, right now like I said, I can't sell more than a handful of books. I just can't get word out there better than the other 10,000 eBooks published last week by self-pubbed authors.

Stephen Knight said...

I'm currently writing a Harry McGlade scene in the new Timecaster novel. He's a dinosaur. A real one.

That'll likely piss off the Jurassic Park crowd.

How are the sales of Jailbait, now that it's no longer called that?

Stephen Knight said...

without that, right now like I said, I can't sell more than a handful of books. I just can't get word out there better than the other 10,000 eBooks published last week by self-pubbed authors.

Could it be the books themselves aren't what readers want?

Sometimes, these things take a while.

Joe Konrath said...

But without that, right now like I said, I can't sell more than a handful of books.

You don't need a legacy background. You just need to keep writing until you get lucky.

Lots of authors--Locke, Hocking, Mallory, McQuestion--had no legacy backgrounds, but are now raking in the dough.

Having multiple titles available helps a lot. Keep at it.

evilphilip said...

"This "pinhead" has been doing self-publishing since you were still lugging yourself around doing book tours -- which is the main reason I agree with your facts, because I've been living them for years."

Your website doesn't show any published novels or stories -- self published or traditional -- only a few indie RPG supplements.

What have you been working on for all those years that makes you such an expert?

Joe Konrath said...

How are the sales of Jailbait, now that it's no longer called that?

So-so. Made about $1200 so far. But it took us two days to write, so I'm not complaining.

Todd Trumpet said...

Is anyone else here kind of sad that Barry Eisler had to (or felt the need to) backtrack/explain/apologize for "several charged analogies and metaphors"?

I personally would rather read writing with color and even some bite than that which has succumbed to the Societal Homogenization Machine.

Not coincidentally, this ties in with some comments that have been made today about Joe's sometimes, uh, assertive writing style...

...which is one of the reasons I read this blog in the first place!

After all, I don't want to become a house slave to political correctness.

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

DVshooter said...

Todd

Yes! One of the most insightful and thoughtful blog posts (essay really) on the current state of the indistry and so many people could only focus on single comments.

I appreciate that certain terminology can be offensive due to historical conotation but I agree that things are getting silly.

Brett Ratner had to resign from the Academy Awards production because of a comment he made was perceived as anti-gay.

It's too much.

Mister Snitch! said...

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...
In short, you were ridiculed because you're a fucking joke, and behaved like one.

Better a pinhead than a wanna-be fanboy, mindlessly parroting your idol's catchphrases.


Nice to see a man who can think for himself on this board now and again. The thin-skinned Konrath makes it endlessly clear that he only wants sycophants around him, but he howls like a banshee when that's pointed out.

It's quite the show. But if you want to find out what the world REALLY thinks of this guy, just Google him with an unflattering adjective and check other sites where Konrath can't control the conversation.

Of course, he cares so little what people think of him that he shows up on those sites to try and browbeat them, too. (Doesn't work so well though.)

Watch him make this comment disappear... because, you know, he's so far above concerns over what people think of him.

Jude Hardin said...

I would never dissuade anyone from going the traditional route, from seeking representation from a reputable literary agent and then a contract with a legitimate press, no matter the advance, because there's no telling where such a route might lead. I recently made an unbelievable contact through my debut thriller Pocket-47--a major singer/songwriter/actor who happens to be looking for scripts. Ironically, the contact was made because of an editing mistake. :)

And this isn't the first good thing that has come from my little book with a little advance from a little press. In retrospect it might seem stupid that I accepted the contract I did, but it somehow seems to be benefiting me now in all sorts of marvelous and unexpected ways.

Barry speaks truth. One size does not fit all. If you're able to nail a traditional deal, it might be the best way to go for your first novel. Then, knowing you've honed your craft to where your work is of publishable quality, you can take it from there.

Every writer's path is different, and no two success stories are exactly the same.

Suz Korb said...

I love reading the posts on this blog and the comments. It's funny. The posts are well thought out, while the disagreeable comments are pathetic and easily rebuked.

Joe Konrath said...

The posts are well thought out, while the disagreeable comments are pathetic and easily rebuked.

Ain't it cool? I consider it a personal triumph every time some cowardly pinhead creates a Google account just to bash me. How pathetic is that?

But it makes for fun reading. If I didn't have detractors, I'd have to invent them.

Who knows? Maybe I'm the one insulting myself, just to make things interesting.

But even though I'm a bestselling author, I'm not sure I have the talent to sound THAT stupid.

I feel for their families. Poor things.

Suz Korb said...

HAHAHAHA! Oh man, you crack me up. You know what they say "all publicity is good publicity" because it's all publicity, right? lol

Joe Konrath said...

all publicity is good publicity" because it's all publicity, right? lol

Shhhh! Don't let the pinheads catch on.

Christina said...

I can't say I'm a always fan of your phrasing and tone, Mr. Konrath--in fact I cringe at it more and more lately--BUT I've been reading this blog for a while and it has a lot to do with my recent decision to self-publish. I was so indecisive for a long time. So I've found value in your blog, and regardless of the reason you maintain it, I'm glad you do.

Though I'm getting ready to release my first self-pub title, I have not yet made the decision of whether to give up on getting a legacy deal. I will probably still pursue that path as well. I queried a few agents last spring but pulled my manuscript from their consideration b/c I decided to self-publish it. Then I decided not to. Then I decided to wait until I finish law school (b/c I was lucky enough to squeeze out time to write and SURELY I didn't have time to take any major steps when publication could wait for that golden "someday."). Talk about indecisive idiocy.

Anyway, if I continue (or start again?) to pursue a legacy deal, it would be because if I'm playing the lottery, I'd rather put my name in the hat twice. And IF I did win the legacy lottery, then I'd get my name out there and it would hopefully fuel sales of my self-pubbed books. I'm okay with the prospect of using a legacy pubbed book as a loss leader. But I'm an unknown, and in some respects, I'm more concerned with reaching an audience (let alone building one--my biggest fear about self-publishing was always how in the world would readers even know I was out there) than with money. Also, I think it'd be worth it to be able to work with an editor who loves my book, someone who will help make not just the book better, but my writing better. But again, I'm new and I've never had that (not really, though I have published through a digital first press), so I find that much more appealing than the current process of finding an editor myself who will do it for a flat fee. Which is not to say they couldn't be awesome, I've already engaged a few for my books and obviously I have high hopes for how they are working out. Finally, the future of publishing is so uncertain, and if NY pubs do actually adapt and reform or the fears about Amazon come true, then that might make self-publishing less desirable and I don't want to have all my eggs in one basket.

And maybe I'm just a product of my generation, but I can't really get myself to care much about wanting a book in print, or enough to be a significant motivator.

J S said...

The back and forth here reminds me of the Linux vs Windows vs iDevice wrangling (Linux is the way, by the way).

People will have an opinion and they will do as they want, and are hard to pry away from thier current beliefs.

The legacy grail was chased for so long by so many .. they can't give up the idea that the world is changing. It makes me wonder why spend all that time marketing to Agents, then to Publishers, and only then to readers? Spend all that time writing the books. Create something.

Now of course, if you go straight to indie, you can't say "fifty publishers turned this down and I sold this gazillion of them on my own and have three movie deals.... hey, wait a minute... now how do I indie the movies?..."

All good fun. Keep Writing.

Anonymous said...

You don't need a legacy background. You just need to keep writing until you get lucky.

Lots of authors--Locke, Hocking, Mallory, McQuestion--had no legacy backgrounds, but are now raking in the dough.

Having multiple titles available helps a lot. Keep at it.


I'm definitely still trying. I have three books on Kindle right now. But I can have 100 books and if I can't find a way to promote them to the masses, they get lumped in with the rest. It's tough, but I'm still slogging away and hoping I can find a way to promote that will actually turn something out.

Patty G. Henderson said...

Maybe some have addressed this issue, but what about the fairly large sum needed to put out an indie book good enough to compete with the best? Editing is an enormous money eater. It could cost you a car payment plus your house payment. Getting a professional book cover done can also be expensive. Converting your book or getting it formatted.....lots of money involved. With a legacy contract, the money is offered to you upfront. With indie publishing, the money goes out the door from your wallet and if you're not a well known entity, it could be hard to sell fiction.

I'm an indie author. I would not want to go contract again, however, I understand when some question the costs of self-publishing. Not everyone can do it. Some HAVE to go the legacy route because they simply cannot self-publish.

Anonymous said...

It's really sad that this thread got derailed. Barry had a lot of good points that were well thought out and well articulated. It could have led to a great discussion; and Joe went to the bother to set it in motion. Instead of a great debate we got something much different. No wonder Joe wants to take some time off. I'm sure Barry is shaking his head and regretting that he took the time and energy that largely ended up going by the wayside.

Rex Kusler said...

It amazes me how much the publishing process has changed since the ‘80s and how much harder (or more impossible) it is now. And I quit writing back THEN because it was so ridiculous. I went through three reputable agents and none of them ever asked for changes. The third agent is now extremely successful. I listened to an interview with him and he said that with most books they go through an average of three revisions within the agency and then they expect another massive rewrite from the publisher—so the writer should expect to suffer through years of mind-numbing rewrites for a single novel, followed by years of submitting the manuscript to editors, and another six months to get a contract (I’ve never read any stats on the success rate of agents). Maybe some of the revision requirements are legitimate—but I believe it’s mostly some bastard’s ego at work. If not—why back in the ‘80s were these hucksters just hawking manuscripts without any changes?

DVshooter said...

Joe

Jeez Louise,...all this animosity from some anti-big 6 blog posts? Been following since Mar and I still don't get it. We're all educated people here!

C'mon man, seriously, whatdya do...stiff a different person with the bar tab every night during all those years of touring?

Aric Mitchell said...

"Maybe some have addressed this issue, but what about the fairly large sum needed to put out an indie book good enough to compete with the best? Editing is an enormous money eater. It could cost you a car payment plus your house payment. Getting a professional book cover done can also be expensive. Converting your book or getting it formatted.....lots of money involved. With a legacy contract, the money is offered to you upfront. With indie publishing, the money goes out the door from your wallet and if you're not a well known entity, it could be hard to sell fiction.

I'm an indie author. I would not want to go contract again, however, I understand when some question the costs of self-publishing. Not everyone can do it. Some HAVE to go the legacy route because they simply cannot self-publish."

I totally understand the misconception that it takes a lot of $$$ to self-publish, but it's completely off-base. You've just got to put in the upfront time to learn a few new skills.

Scrivener is a program that takes 45 minutes to learn. Incidentally, it costs $45 and can be used for book after book after book. It creates mobi and epub files with very little prep work. Adding interior images is as easy as copying and pasting a photo into the word processor. And you can check each format before ever uploading it. Write five books, and formatting has officially cost you $9 per book and a little bit of time. Buy an individual ISBN from a broker online for $5. Pay someone around $100 to create a pro-looking cover, and the entire production costs you $114.

If a person can't invest $114 into a professionally produced book, then they're not ready to become an indie author. As far as editing is concerned, learn grammar and spelling. Use online peer groups or a trusted friend to get a second opinion. Polish, polish, polish. And you're done.

The most expensive part is the time expenditure, and as a writer, you'll be doing that anyway.

Stephen T. Harper said...

@ ARIC

Scrivener. Yes. It is easily the best 40 dollars an Indie author can invest in a product. One big change I can think of in the last year- there used to be a lot of talk around here about the need to spend a few hundred bucks or more to get someone who will properly format your manuscript for Kindle and everything else. Scrivener does a flawless and perfectly customizable job in any format, with html ToC, images, and whatever else you want, literally with one click.

If you've ever done this stuff yourself, with the formatting and the meat-grinder, and the need to write html code just to use a different font for chapter headings... and you also happen to be a moron about such things like me, Scrivener is Aladdin's f'n lamp.

evilphilip said...

"Scrivener. Yes. It is easily the best 40 dollars an Indie author can invest in a product."

I have used it, I don't use it on a regular basis. I prefer taking the word document down to a plain text file and then formatting it from there.

I've been pretty happy with how professional the results have been.

Scrivener always felt bulky and awkward to me. It is a great program if you want to create an epub for the nook.

Veronica said...

Every time I visit here I find myself grateful for the same two things:

1. That I never was involved in the "only a legacy deal will make me feel like I am a real author" BS. Self-pubbing is very REAL to me and so is the $$ I'm making. I learned about self-pubbing (here), read about the legacy system, saw some serious writing on the wall, and got busy uploading my books to KDP.

2. That Joe doesn't have thin skin. He gets the same crap thrown at him every time he posts. I'm so grateful he doesn't just say FUCK IT and close this blog down. I learn something every time I visit. You don't need to like Joe to learn from his experiences.

I happen to find him quite funny, which makes it even more enjoyable to visit his blog.

DVshooter said...

Patty

I agree that it seems daunting at first. I'm in the revison stage myself so am looking at covers, editing and formatting. I think that with any independent venture there needs to be degrees of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Just as an example, I put out a Craigslist post for graphic designers and got nearly a hundred replies. That was a month ago and I'm still going through sample work on websites and in attachments. May not find an artist from what I've seen, am writing Sci-Fi and want something dramatic with an illustrated look to it, but just for reference the rates I've been quoted (as I have a rough design for them to work from) have been as low as 50$.

Kindle boards is full of artists advertising discounted, pre-made covers for sale. Sounds cheesy but they tend to look damn good and are super affordable.

That's just what I've seen with cover art, more to it than that of course but I'm learning there are lot's of affordable workarounds...not shortcuts mind you...but your expenditure is more often personal time and effort.

JT Dunsmere said...

Funny that Gareth calls you a douchebag and a dick while objecting to your tone? Self awareness doesn't seem to be his strong suit.

Scrivener sounds good but I missed finding it and after many false starts found April Hamilton's Indie Guide to Self Pub on the Kindle. If you do exactly what she tells you to do, you'll get excellent results.

http://www.aprillhamilton.com/resources/HowToUseAmazonDTP_v3.pdf

Then pop that Kindle file into Calibre and you're set for B&N Nook.

The formatting part doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Aric Mitchell said...

"Scrivener sounds good but I missed finding it and after many false starts found April Hamilton's Indie Guide to Self Pub on the Kindle. If you do exactly what she tells you to do, you'll get excellent results.

http://www.aprillhamilton.com/resources/HowToUseAmazonDTP_v3.pdf

Then pop that Kindle file into Calibre and you're set for B&N Nook.

The formatting part doesn't have to cost a fortune."

Lots of good tools out there, and there's no one right way to do it. I prefer Scrivener because of the 4:30 video that walks you step-by-step through the process. Seems like less work than the link, but I thoroughly agree that if you're not going to get Scrivener or some other program, you should pour through tutorials like the one you mentioned. If cost is going to be an excuse, then one owes it to themselves to put in the time it takes to get rid of the excuse.

mactheweb said...

Ann Voss Peterson said:
"The unknown is frightening. Change is frightening. But refusing to acknowledge reality isn't much of a business strategy.

So I wouldn't say stupid. I'd say self-deluding.

Not you? Are you sure? Why?"

I understand the business logic, and I'm spending the money to get a second content edit (from a Nebula Award winning author), just to make sure that my first novel is ready for self-publishing. The second will go through the same editor if I like her work. I'm writing my third now.

You say this is a business decision. I get that. And, you've already been traditionally published, as have Joe and Barry. You've had the validation that someone going directly to self-publishing doesn't.

I'm not saying that the I'm not better off going direct to Amazon, BN, etc.. I did turn down an agency contract because of information I've gotten here and at a couple of other blogs.

My point is simply that writing isn't just business, especially since I've already made my F-you money and don't need the income. I've done the pure business thing. I know how to. I'm now writing, not just as a hobby. I do want success, but part of that is shaped by long held expectations of "being published."

I don't, and a lot of people don't, equate financial success with quality. I've started way too many best sellers only to put the books down in disgust at the poor quality writing. Yet, there still is that external validation issue of having a publisher say, "Yes, your work is good enough." Illogical? Absolutely. People are built that way.

Barry said...

Thanks again for all the thoughts, everyone. I have to say, I don't understand why some people get so focused on tone. When I don't like the tone of a blog, I read a different one. There are billions to choose from, after all, and the substance, for me, is a lot more interesting and useful.

Which isn't to say that tone doesn't matter, and I try to be conscious of its effect on my persuasiveness. Joe and I don't entirely agree on this point (which is part of the reason we have so many fun conversations), but when I argue, I try to do so with intent to persuade. For which, tone matters a lot.

For some more thoughts on this topic, which directly address your point, Todd, here's a comment I left on the excellent Mike Stackpole post I linked to in the guest piece itself:

http://www.michaelastackpole.com/?p=2887&cpage=1#comment-16532

Mike, thanks for an an (as usual) excellent, substantive, engaging post. Made all the hits I took for my earlier language and link even more worthwhile.

I can understand the views being expressed by both sides of the language argument. Ultimately, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, I tend to look at things the way you do. I find I don’t get outraged or unduly distracted by rhetoric I disagree with, and I tend to approach analogies not by accusing the writer of racism, white privilege, insensitivity, etc, but rather by attempting to disprove the validity of the analogy itself. I find this approach produces more civil and productive conversations.

But: I also understand there are a lot of people who aren’t like me in this regard, along with a lot of opportunistic ones who would prefer to attack me for being politically incorrect than to engage my substantive argument. So I recognize a balance: How much do I want to avoid unnecessary offense, and to avoid providing ammunition to obfuscaters? If I cause such offense and provide such ammunition, how much will I have lost in doing so? And how much will I have gained?

Different people will weigh the costs and benefits differently, and there’s a range of varying conclusions I can respect. Speaking only for myself, I’m going to steer clear of the slavery analogy from now on. Not because I don’t think the analogy is on-point or useful (I think it’s both), but because it stirs up so much distraction from my substantive argument. And also because, having read the post you just wrote, I’m persuaded that “indentured servant” is actually an even more illuminating frame of reference. I know many people will go into dudgeon mode over indentured servant, too, and perhaps that’s a cost I should consider. But it’s also one I’m willing to incur because (i) indentured servant avoids distracting, hot-button reactions relating to race; and (ii) as I said, I think indentured servant is actually a more useful analogy in absolute terms, too.

That’s how I weigh the utility/distraction calculus here, at any rate, but I get other people will weigh it differently.

Thanks again for all your keen insights and for everything I and so many other writers have learned from you. Even if I disagreed with your delivery, I’d still be grateful for that.

Anonymous said...

Reform New York? Realign reality is better.

The solution in my mind is partnerships between online sellers and traditional publishers: A fusion of the best of both worlds (bookstore and new outlet distribution with digital distribution). Amazon has not realized this dream - Createspace isn't it; imprints might be.

Years ago, Amazon's business model didn't exist and such a model, although dreamed up, wasn't probably that feasible. Now, the world has changed and opportunities are abundant. Why reform when you can improve?

We need to go beyond the online game and play with a fuller deck of cards. Our reality is changing quickly. Hence, when the juganaut that is traditional publishing - against all odds and accepted truth - changes course, we needn't be to shocked.

Anonymous said...

Old dogs can learn new tricks. It just takes time.

Joshua Simcox said...

"As far as telling people they're wrong, as outlined by my argument, those folks ARE wrong. If they don't like being called wrong, they can stop being wrong."

Though I agree with many of Joe's views regarding legacy publishing vs. self-publishing, I feel this type of button-pushing commentary weakens his arguments to some degree.

To feel that an author is "wrong" for signing a mid-list deal with a traditional publisher for a four-figure advance is a valid opinion, but it's not particularly fair or accurate. It's a judgement that no one other than the author in question has any right to make.

Self-pubbing does makes the most financial sense in this new publishing climate. But if an author isn't entirely motivated by financial gain and is well-informed and aware of all the pertinent arguments on both sides of the legacy vs. indie fence, how can anyone definitively prove that said author is "wrong" for signing a legacy deal?

If an author places value on the validation that comes from being traditionally published and is willing to sacrifice higher royalties for it, they're not "wrong" simply because they didn't do what Konrath did. We can question the intelligence of their decision, but they're only wrong if they feel they're wrong.

One of the biggest arguments against signing with a legacy publisher is the declining state of paper. Sure, paper is dying and bookstores are closing. But who's to say that a new author can't do well with legacy-pubbed ebooks? The odds are against it, but we can't definitively say it won't happen. Readers aren't just buying $2.99 self-pubbed cheapies. I routinely pay between $10 - $15 for legacy ebooks, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. As more and more readers feel the burn of spending money on poor quality indie ebooks, legacy validation may become worth more than we give it credit for now.

If authors are aware of - and have made peace with - the numerous risks and pitfalls inherent in signing a legacy deal, are we really doing them any favors by crushing their optimism and labeling them "idiots"? Why not just wish them well and follow our own paths toward our own specific goals?

Brian Keene is a good example of this. Keene, one of the most successful and well-respected horror writers of his generation, strongly considered self-publishing after parting ways with Dorchester. However, after weighing his options carefully, he ultimately chose to sign another legacy deal with a new publishing house.

Sure, Keene probably left some money on the table by taking the deal. But money wasn't the only consideration. We can argue the logic of his decision all day long, but by all accounts, Keene seems perfectly content with his new publisher.

Is Keene an idiot? Absolutely not. Is he "wrong" for signing another legacy deal, particularly after being burned so badly by his original publisher? It's debatable, but I certainly don't think so. He probably isn't making the kind of money he could be on his own, but if he's satisfied, who are we to argue?

chris said...

@Barry:

That last comment you made has won me over.

I now like you again!

And, you know, that's super important because I once read a couple of Rain books. Then you got a little snarky in the comments and I didn't enjoy your tone. You sounded like a kid caving to peer pressure. So, I ran from this devil's playground and swore I wouldn't read your goddamn books ever again.

But lately, you've reverted to being a nice guy again.

You're intellectual. Soft yet unafraid to strongly argue a point in a respectful manner.

If you weren't a spy/lawyer/bestselling legacy author/indie publisher/Amazon wonderboy I would knock on your door and give you a big cuddle.

I applaud you for turning away from the darkside. Away from Lord Konrath's vengeful wrath.

I am so suitably impressed with your rebirth that you can now have my $5.99 back again. But I'm not buying a goddamn book from your site. It has to be Amazon.

Or Pirate Bay.

As for Joe....

Well, you once-so-lovable but now oh, so villainous ... er villain. You, my friend, are not getting my $2.99 until you learn to play nice.

You may own this blog but you don't own the interent.

Mark Zuckerberg does.

Craig said...

Genuine question which isn't meant to stir up self-pub vs trad.

Let's say Amazon give a writer 70% across the board. Flat rate for everything you publish but the platform is all they provide. eg you get to publish quickly, make changes to the book etc.

The big 6 finally wake up to the changing market and say "OK, we have bigger overheads so we'll offer 60/40 in your favour. We'll do the cover, format for print and digital, translate to foreign languages, have a big marketing campaign with posters on the subway and bus shelters etc"

Is that viable or are there other reasons to self-pub?

Claude Nougat said...

Excellent post,Barry and Joe and enjoyed Blake's comment!

Reading the reactions, I must say I'm surprised how angry some people seem to be. I can't understand why. Oh well...so be it!

I fully agree with most of what you say but not with everything. I must hand it to you: your discussion makes the decision process needed to reach self-publishing very clear. Indeed, when I answered to myselfall the questions you pose I must say that's why I've chosen the self-pubbing road...

But I still think, contrary to what you both say, that legacy publishers WILL react to the challenges of the digital age and in particular to Amazon. People never sit dumbly waiting for someone to hit them on the head with a (digital) hammer.

They react.

And legacy publishers will, don't bet that they won't. They will. They'll give authors better deals on e-rights. Some of them already have (especially HarperCollins)...

So the game is open and it will be fascinating to see who wins! Don't forget that Legacy publishers hold some winning cards in their hands: they control the distribution of paper books (through their bookstore partners) and paper books still make up 80% of the trade.

Another point in their favor: They have a far better marketing system in place, in particular via newspapers and national prizes like the Pulitzer. This is a system self-pubbed authors dream about! No Indie could ever hope to have it. E-book sales are just now beginning to make the bestseller lists (in particularly on the Wall Street Journal)but it's going to be a long way to go before self-pubbed authors with their e-books win a Pulitzer!

My personal belief: in the end, after all the battling is done, Amazon will become one Legacy Publisher like the rest of them...
Amazon is really poised to become the Next Big Publisher.

And the publishing industry isn't about tochange as much as you guys hope...

Of course that's just my personal opinion, speaking not just as a writer but as an economist (that's my training...)

chris said...

@Craig:

60/40 of what... the 70% Amazon (retailer) gives the publisher?

That split doesn't look so goo now, does it?!

Covers etc aren't that tough. Just put a little bit of research into it or do a little networking. Someone is sure to help you out somewhere. The self-pub crowd are a pretty helpful/resourceful bunch. And despite Joe seemingly being a prick, he does have some great info on this site!

Self-publishing is very easy, Craig. The agent/publisher gauntlet is very hard.

Craig said...

@chris

I over simplified on purpose. Just wondered if there was an element of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Theresa said...

Hi Joe and Barry. Great discussion. But maybe it has been a few years since you were tyros, remember the uncertainty and trepidation? I do. I live it. I'm a wannabe author. I have zip, zero, nil experience with publishing anything beyond a newsletter. For a newbie the lure of legacy publishing is three-fold.

First, a legacy deal would fulfill the new writer's lingering need for affirmation. "Yep, I guess you really can write."

Second, since no one knows me, how do I get them to read my book? Legacy paper displayed for browsing in a bookstore is ingrained in those of us rooted in the space age rather than the digital age.

Third, until I actually do it, I have no idea how to manage all of the pieces to successfully self publish. There may be monsters luking in the self-publishing process. Despite readers and writing groups how do I truely know when my work is good enough? Legacy publishers provide assessment and feel less scary to the novice.

These may not be good reasons. They may not be logical reasons. But, I'll bet they are the real reasons.

David Gaughran said...

This is only slightly related to what has gone before, but I thought it would be of interest.

When Amazon announced that Hocking had joined the Kindle Million Club yesterday (along with Baldacci and Meyer), they also said that 12 KDP authors had sold over 200,000 e-books, and 30 of them had sold more than 100,000.

That's pretty impressive.

More here:

http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/amazon-adds-amanda-hocking-david-baldacci-and-stephenie-meyer-to-kindle-million-club/

David Gaughran said...

Before anyone gets too excited with the above link, they didn't name names, but I could guess a few...

DVshooter said...

The big 6 finally wake up to the changing market...

Craig

Ask yourself this...how long are you going to wait for them to make favorable changes (which would ammount to massive paradigm shifts from how they work now) for authors?

And much more importantly...why?

Read through this entire blog, in addition to Joe and Barry there are dozens if not hundreds of writers, folks who've "made the cut" with agents, editors, publishers and readers...and have said things have never been better for them self-pubbing.

I don't expect their results to be automatic for me but as a "un-pub'd" guy whose followed and researched publishing for a VERY ling time (my first Writer's Market guide to agents/publishing: 1989, had all the yellow pencils on the cover) and these baromoters are far more favorable looking than anything I've ever read or heard from the traditional side.

I don't decry people for pursuing traditional, knock yourself out, but I would wonder if you're doing it strictly due to the perception os validation.

Back in Mar I went looking for "that &*!%ing Konrath guy" after his name started popping up on all the legacy Agent/Editor blogs I followed. Since then I still visit the legacy blogs and have easily read THOUSANDS of pro-legacy/anti-indie posts from aspiring folks like us that center solely around the validation aspect.

I have yet to read ONE that makes ANY sense. The value of self-pub has made it's case, endlessly. The real value of 'validation' has yet to be explained even once as anything more than a personal intangible.

Don't like Joe's tone or his delivery, cool, listen to Barry and Blake. Google 'Dean Wesley Smith', look at what he's done and what he's saying now. See the guy with the 'stache and the hat above, go check out his blog. He's the model of how to get started now.

If you think you're incapable or unwilling to suceed due to the logistics of self-pub (seen that sentiment elsewhere here) then fine, it's scary, go query agents...but I would also recommend you go to Joe's actual webpage, click on the link for his "old page"...pre-2009...and peruse through his extensive journals of the effort and lengths he expended pursuing traditional success.

It makes editing, formatting and paying for a cover design look like scratching your ass and picking your nose.

I'll pass. I want the validation of readers. I plan to push the button X-mas week.

Thanks Joe

Craig said...

Wow, a simple question and the knives are out!

FWIW I'm not a writer so I don't have a horse in this race. It does come across that self-pubbed writers feel the need to defend themselves a hell of a lot though. For what? You're writing, yuo're selling so who cares what the establishment think.

Both sides in this debate are as rabid as each other sometimes :(

Todd Trumpet said...

@Barry:

Thanks for the response and the link text.

While I agree with nearly everything you said, and in particular...

Different people will weigh the costs and benefits differently, and there’s a range of varying conclusions I can respect.

...I'll simply say this:

When anyone, and especially a writer, begins to check-rein themselves to placate a vocal minority, not only do they expend energy best put to better creative uses...

...but devitalize their own voice as well.

On which side to "err"?

Todd

DVshooter said...

People never sit dumbly waiting for someone to hit them on the head with a (digital) hammer...They react.

Claude

I'm surprised to hear that from an economist. I don't mean to be brash or abbrasive but have you been looking at the world since the internet's been around?

The best analysts at Bloomberg can't count how many companies no longer exist because they failed to adapt to e-commerce in the 90's and early 00's. There are thousands.

Blockbuster reacted in time with an e-business model to avoid complete death...barely. They're lucky because they ignored it for year. "Can't happen to us! We're too big!" is the motto of every empire that's ever fallen.

This is a system self-pubbed authors dream about! No Indie could ever hope to have it.

Viral: (def) quickly and widely spread or popularized especially by person-to-person electronic communication (a viral video)

Hocking sold 450k titles in one month...largely from Twitter traffic. She's only one of the first.

You're right, no indie has sold 10 or a 100 million titles, but this market and technology is very much in it's infancy. Will a talented future indie writer produce a work that captures readers like Meyer's and Rowling have and sees a million or more downloads in a month, ten million or more in a year, a hundred million over the span of a series?

I don't think it's a matter of IF but rather when and from who. To say it can NEVER happen is what I think a lot of former CEO's and President's said about that 'silly internet thing' back when.

IMHO

Robin Sullivan said...

I've said all along that each choice has positive aspects and negative aspects - you just need to align your goals wo which one best meets them. And realize that changes (both in the industry and your career) may require you to switch hats and later switch again as needed.

I'll be the first to admit that I was hesitant going into Michael's big-six publishing deal. Mainly because of the horror stories I had heard from Joe and others. But as I mentioned in the other thread I'm VERY pleased with the results, and attention that his books have been getting from Orbit.

Now true, his case may be unique, and other authors may not be treated the same way. But in many respects we've already gotten more out of signing then we expected and the first book (release date for Theft of Swords 11/23) is actually just now hitting the street.

Just signing has opened doors that would have been closed...

Library distribution (Library Journal made it the Fantasy Debut of the Month) - and yes I tried to get into Overdrive through Ridan but it would have been too expensive.

More foreign sales...Since signingn another 4 have come in and more on the way.

Starbucks is featuring the book in EVERY store as part of their Digital Bookish Club.

A high-end facebook page with like-locking (already more than 1,100 likes and the technology required to use the page as they have would cost me $5,000 even before my labor

The series is no represented by the book-to-film head of ICM one of the largest TV/Movie agents in the country.

Science Fiction Book Club editions being produced

Adio Versions being produced by one of the largest and most repected houses in the country (yes I could have paid to have this done - but again the costs were prohibited).

Does all this mean that I'm now a full blown traditional publisher rah-rah girl? Nope...See how I started this post. But for Michael it was a good decision and I'm glad that I didn't let my fear of what the experience.

Bottom line - we did well when self-published, we are getting what we want out of traditional there are reasons to celebrate both.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishinguld" have been stop me from doing it.

Isabella Amaris said...

Very nice post, Barry and Joe... As to tone, lol, I think I drop by more often than not because of your tone, Joe. It's very refreshing:) Onward:)

Robin Sullivan said...

If there's a better way than Amazon to reform New York’s previously unassailable quasi-monopoly and all the suboptimal business practices the monopoly has enabled, what is it?

Yes I belive there IS a better way and it is exactly how I run Ridan Pubishing.

#1 - Change from a venture-capitalist based model (lots of up front investment that guarantees some projects will fail and therefore the backer has to take a bigger cut to make up the difference.

#2 - Have both publisher and author have the same skin in the game - TIME. The author makes an investment in time to write the book the publisher in time to edit, format, and do cover design. If out of pocket costs are required then they shoule be shared based on % of income each party will recieve.

#3 - Make the share of the profit based on #2 above. The standard Ridan contract splits 70/30 (70 to author 30 to Ridan)

#4 - Allow the authors to leave anytime they wish. If the upfront investment is eliminated both parties will make money almost from day one. If the publisher is good at making the sales happen then they deserve to benefit. If they are not ..... the author should be free to go else where.

#5 - Eliminate advances. When you have an advance you screw up #1 and #2 above and can't allow #4.

There you have it...its radical but I love the paradigmn and so do my authors...who are all selling more than 1,000 books per month and often sell 10,000 or close to 20,000 as well.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Dustin Scott Wood said...

Joe, for what it's worth, I love your tone. Same for Barry and Blake's. And when the three of you all chime in on a peice, it's like listening some wonderful three part harmony.

Selena Kitt said...

Are you kidding me? Joe -himself- is what sells his books, it's what sells this blog. Joe is selling himself, and people are definitely buying. They buy it when they don't like him, they buy it when they like him. Controversy sells.

Joe is his own capital.

People who come here and say he should be different are deluded. That's like saying, gee, this cayenne pepper tastes okay, if you could just take the spice out of it, that would make it perfect.

It is what it is. You either like it or you don't.

Now, back to the everlasting gobstopper argument... it's not ever going away. At least not in our lifetime. Keep chewing.

But I, for one, am grateful that Joe's taken up the bullhorn and has become self-publishing's town crier. For selfish reasons, certainly. It means I don't have to do it - leaves more time for me to write. :) For altruistic reasons too (because if Joe was a TRUE asshat, he would have kept this all to himself and never breathed a word, except to his friends, like an insider-trading deal. Think about it. Why breed competition? Because he *gasp* actually cares what happens to authors? Because he hates injustice and can't stand to see people getting hurt? No! It can't be!) Because it makes me sick to think of how legacy publishing has treated some of the most amazing authors I've ever read, lumping them in with other "mid-listers" to be pissed on and used and screwed over, when they are the artists, and without the content, the publishers would have had nothing to publish in the first place!

I get a profound sense of satisfaction knowing many of those authors are now making a great living doing what they love. I bet Joe does, too. And he did a hell of a lot more than I ever did to actually MAKE that happen for people.

Now, does Joe deserve some notoriety for it? Well, I can say one thing... he's certainly earned it! :)

James Scott Bell said...

The key word in all this discussion, to me, is goals. Think about goals carefully. If deep down you are seeking the validation that comes with traditional publishing, bring that out in the open and look it over. Ask yourself if this is what you truly want, or is it a transitory thing that will disappoint you in the end?

Since I'm traditionally published in both fiction and nonfiction, my goal in publishing independently was simply to create a separate stream of income that I could build upon as desired. And to write more, which is what I love doing most. So far so good. This year will be my best earning year to date when all the baskets are collected. For me it would be writerly malfeasance not to get in the self-publishing game, at least via short form works, which is where I am at the moment. How I choose to build from here is, again, a matter of goal setting.

So be clear about your goals, what you really want and what you can reasonably expect. Use the information in blogs like this to figure out what's going on in the industry. This truly is a business, and there are ways to make business decisions. One of the ways not to make a business decision is through ignorance.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

mactheweb--
I didn't mean you specifically in my question. I meant the you generally, as in all authors should ask themselves those questions.

I think you've already analyzed your motivations. You can and did explain exactly why you want a legacy deal and seem to have your eyes open about the realities of the publishing business. Sorry for being unclear about that.

People who are reacting emotionally to this blog or who are avoiding engaging in the argument by focusing on tone or political correctness have not done the self analysis that you have.

I don't care what type of publishing people pursue (more than one is probably smartest for most), but I think it's important that writers analyze their motivations and choices and don't just react emotionally and defensively.

Barry-- You have a point about trying not to let your delivery get in the way of the argument itself, but the wording/analogies/etc. you use are only half the equation.

In my experience, people who want to avoid the argument will invent things to be upset about. Many people are approaching this only on an emotional level. They're defending their self identity, their years of work, their dreams. Whether you touch this nerve lightly or (like Joe) take a cattle prod to it, there's going to be a reaction.

You say you don't understand why people get so focused on tone. This is why.

Nancy Beck said...

Maybe some have addressed this issue, but what about the fairly large sum needed to put out an indie book good enough to compete with the best? Editing is an enormous money eater. It could cost you a car payment plus your house payment.

@Patty - No offense, but who the heck are you using? I have 3 books out (2 short novels in a 3 book series and a short story), and I spent less than $150 on the whole shebang, editing included. Of course, I used editing software - which I'm including in the above price for e-book covers - Serenity Software's Editor, to be exact, rather than hire one because it does the job for me.

Which goes to show you don't necessarily have to spend an arm and a leg to find people to help you. And you can get some great deals. The cover artist I went with was just starting up her portfolio, and we worked out a great deal - which included an installment plan. IMHO, a real, live editor could do the same installment thing.

All you have to do is ask. And look around.

I went onto Kindleboards to find the artist; she was listed as offering a deal on an already-made cover I thought was perfect for the 3rd book in my series.

Converting your book or getting it formatted.....lots of money involved.

I haven't found that to be true, either. I bought a book on formatting in Open Office (just use Open Office as the search term at SW), and except for the first time around, it's been easy-peasy. (The first time, there was a problem on Smashwords with ePub conversion; the nuclear option solved that.) I'll make a suggestion: download Smashwords' Formatting Guide (it's free). I'll admit it's tough to slog through at first, but you don't have to read the entire thing, just the parts that are pertinent to your books.

I'd never pay to have someone format/convert, but maybe that's because I want control over that. :-)

I'm certainly nowhere near what Konrath's making or what most other people have stated here; it could be that I just have to be found & that might take a while. It's tough to see people raking in so much dough - even after a couple of months! - but keep at, keep putting up stuff, which is what I intend to do. :-)

The more you have out there, the more of a chance people will find your stuff.

Self pubbing CAN be done for a minimal amount of money, if you're smart and shop around (and learn to do some of the stuff yourself, which really isn't torture :-)).

BTW, I'm currently working a temp job for well under what I was making as a permanent worker and my hubby is on SS Disability; so I'm not exactly pulling in dough, but I learned enough about formatting and uploading and doing some of my own covers (I'll continue to do that for short stories) that I do okay.

You can, too. You just have to believe in yourself; and that if you make a mistake somewhere along the line, you can always re-upload a corrected copy. I've done that a couple of times now. :-)

Seriously. Give it a shot. What have you got to lose? :-)

DVshooter said...

Selena

As always, thank you for your unabashed input. You're one of the voices of experience I choose to listen to.

Robin, Michael's treatment sounds fantastic as does the practices you have in place at Ridan. I hope you're wildly sucessful; you could serve as a model for other publishers to follow.

Nancy Beck said...

Despite readers and writing groups how do I truely know when my work is good enough?

When people who aren't related to you buy your books. At least that's what works for me. :-)

Night Terrors

W. Dean said...

Eisler and the “house slaves” controversy calls to mind the following scenario.

A scientist announces at a press conference that at long last he’s found a cure for cancer. In passing he thanks the “house slaves” in the lab for all their hard work.

The headline in the next day’s newspaper reads:

“Famous Cancer Scientist calls Lab Assistants ‘House Slaves’”

Isn’t it a sad commentary on contemporary character that this outcome is not at all inconceivable?

Nancy Beck said...

@Teresa - Forgot to add, you might want to check out Dean Wesley Smith's site. He has a series called Think Like a Publisher. His advice gets into the business aspect of being a self pubber, thinking up a name for your business (I took mine from my maiden name), setting up a checking account, etc. Definitely worth a read (and read the comments, too). :-)

Livia said...

Piggybacking off of Robin's comment, Amanda Hocking is thus far enjoying the traditional process as well. Granted, she's not a typical case by any means, but it's another data point.

http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2011/09/countdown-for-switched.html

evilphilip said...

"Piggybacking off of Robin's comment, Amanda Hocking is thus far enjoying the traditional process as well. Granted, she's not a typical case by any means, but it's another data point."

Would it be wrong to snicker at the idea of an author putting a countdown clock on her website counting down to what may (probably will) spell the end of her print career?

Robin Sullivan said...

"Taking a midlist deal from a legacy publisher is dumb-ass thing to do."

To put it a better way...if your book is a good solid "midlist title" you'll do better self published than through traditional publishing. To which I firmly agree.

But what if you have, as Donald Maas puts it, "A Breakout Novel" one with real legs with larger than average potential. The problem of course is there's no way of telling before hand.

Advance is one indication. So if you get a $5,000 or $6,000 advance as Blake was talking about then - sure stay self published. But what about the $100,000 or $300,000 advance?

iirc Joe's first Jack Daniels was a 3-book $125,000 deal - but those books (for whatever reason) from what I can tell stayed midlist in sales and what the publisher put toward it. I'm sure there are many reasons for this and won't speculate or debate them here.

But...it could have turned out differently. If they had "caught" and became like Patterson, or Connelly, or Evonavitch I doubt Joe would feel the same way.

One other point I want to make. Is there are really two different types of self-published authors:

Those that have ONLY been self-published and those that have one or more traditional books under their belts.

Many people leading the charge (Joe, Barry, Blake, Bob Mayer) are in the second category. It's MUCH easier to self-publish when you have a fanbase to act as a starting point.

To build from zero is harder to attract attention, harder to get people to take a risk and read your stuff, harder all the way around. This too should be factored into the mix.

The bottom line is each book, and each author's situation is UNIQUE. There is not a one size fits all. Even though I agree that a midlist at the bigsix will not be as "profitable" as a midlst self-published - is it worth doing 1 deal this way...for any number of reasons? I think a point could be made that if your reasons make sense yes even sacrificing a bit of $'s for other perks might be worth the payoff.

Robin Sullivan said...

Rob Blakcwell says...Here's what I find fascinating: the number of wannabe authors who still really crave traditional publishing deals, even when you explain the economics to them.

That's assuming that the $ is their main concern. Which may be for you but not for all writers. I know plenty that would sacrifice $'s for readers - look at all the people who price at $0.99 they are in many ways doing just that.

Don't make the mistake that money is the only factor - for some it will be - then your point is valid but for others...it may not be.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Anonymous said...

You had me at "antediluvian", Mr. Eisler. I love dirty words like that.

Lee Goldberg said...

Saw this on twitter today...

@PublishersWkly New sales and marketing structure at Simon & Schuster will shift resources from print to digital; story coming shortly

Archangel said...

@Barry, thanks for your extensive thoughts. Appreciate it, and sorry so much overshadowed in the discussion here at the moment. But plenty of time to discuss your points, I think, in future, as there are many significant matters afoot that I hear through pub grapevine that will underline much of what you're saying when they surface.

Thanks. Be well.
dr.cpe

Jim Kukral said...

DVshooter said it best...

"I don't decry people for pursuing traditional, knock yourself out, but I would wonder if you're doing it strictly due to the perception os validation."

The only real valid argument in my opinion is if you're a consultant/speaker like I am and you can raise your fees just because you have a "real book".

Other than that, there's no other argument. I would also argue that within a year or so, there will be no more difference in perception of a "real book" vs. a book. They'll all just be books.

Nancy Beck said...

@Lee Goldberg - you mean this one? (Which I found on Dean Wesley Smith's site):

CBS reported second quarter earnings after the close of the market on Tuesday, with Simon & Schuster recording a 1 percent increase in sales, up $2 million to $220 million, and a sharper increase in profits. Adjusted OIBDA rose $6 million (or 19 percent) to $38 million, and adjusted operating income also rose $6 million, at $30 million. The company said that “strong growth in the sale of more profitable digital content was offset by lower print book sales,” indicating that improved profits were “driven by lower direct operating costs, including expense decreases resulting from the significant increase in more profitable digital sales as a percentage of total revenues.”

Nancy Beck said...

@Lee - Sorry, it's sales data. Next time I'll actually read what you've said. ;-)

DVshooter said...

Jim

That's also true. I forget what blog I saw it on but a woman was ardently pursuing traditional channels for her non-fiction work. As a college professor, her work needed to be "published".

We can sing the equality of self-pub here all day, doesn't make it so within certain establishments.

On that note, I like what Robin, Jude, B. Meyer, Steve Lether, et al, have said about their legacy standings. It's not all evil and it sounds like they've made out well or are at least content with their results.

I'm still convinced that any newb is better off attempting indie first. If anything I think it's exponentially more fruitful of a "let's just see/proving ground" than a potentially endless agent search.

Nancy: there's a small wake-up call with that news, will be interesting to see how their movement takes shape.

Kiana Davenport said...

I have a belated question for Joe, and Barry, that I don't think anyone has asked.

Since you're both now publishing with Amazon Print AND still self-publishing, how do you decide which books to contract with Amazon, and which ones to self-publish?

Thanks.

Edward M. Grant said...

Second, since no one knows me, how do I get them to read my book?

Since no-one knows you, how do you get agents and publishers to read your book?

Re-read Joe's old posts from his trade publishing days and ask yourself if you seriously think that sounds easier than self-publishing a book and finding people who'd like to read it.

And don't forget that once it's in the bookstores you still have to convince readers to buy it if you plan to have a long career as a writer. Unless you get really lucky and the publisher decides to make your book the next Twilight.

Michael J. Sullivan said...

DVShooter said..."I'm still convinced that any newb is better off attempting indie first. If anything I think it's exponentially more fruitful of a "let's just see/proving ground" than a potentially endless agent search.

I agee with this - I think self-publishing will become the new slush pile - I think it is ultimately easier and faster to self-pub and if you get some traction and still desire traditional then you will

a) be more attractive = higher advance

b) have some leverage in contract negotiations

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Stephen T. Harper said...

@NancyBeck

That Serenity editing software sounds intriguing. Does it catch misspellings that are actually words, like "form" when you meant "from?"

ANd as far as all that formatting stuff you were talking about. Seriously, Scrivener does it all, customizable and perfect. And no, I don't have stock in the company. Just a satisfied customer. When I released King's X as a serial, it took me days to format each episode. Just having separate pages for quotations and centering my the dedication to my lovely wife required learning html coding. The Table of Contents was a nightmare.

When I released it as a novel I bought an iMac first. Then Scrivener, which, as an independent author, I feel is on a par with the invention of the refrigerator for an independent chef. It does all the Html for a clickable ToC, the proper headers, customizable everything... It literally took seconds to format and create files for E-pub and Mobi, then less than a half hour to set up the interior the way I wanted it for the print edition. The episodes had a lot of sweat in them and they looked good. The novel was much easier and look a lot better.

The Epub file in particular - it looks better on the Nook, imo. I think that's a function of Kindle more than anything else.

Joe Konrath said...

Since you're both now publishing with Amazon Print AND still self-publishing, how do you decide which books to contract with Amazon, and which ones to self-publish?

I'm going to try to work with Amazon on two books a year, one as a solo, and one with a collaborator, like Blake or Ann.

Then I'll do at least two more a year on my own, plus shorts and novellas.

Besides being a joy to work with, and great contract terms, when Amazon publishes one of my books, my entire backlist gets a sales boost.

As for which books to give him, that depends on which ones they're most excited about. I always have several projects in the works.

Selena Kitt said...

As always, thank you for your unabashed input. You're one of the voices of experience I choose to listen to.

We're all in it swimming together... I've just been doing it since 2006. So I'm all pruny and stuff. :)

Joshua Simcox said...

An interesting take on self-pubbing from author Nick Mamatas that everyone here is sure to find offensive. Not sure how much I agree with the points he makes, but it's a compelling read nonetheless:

http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1705237.html

DVshooter said...

Sweet Jesus...the house slave rants just won't die.

EC Sheedy said...

So many words. So little time. Thanks JA and Barry... But now my eyes hurt and my brain is fried.

I learn so much from your blog and the people who comment. Boggled, I am.

Must drink wine now.

Anonymous said...

U overlook 1 important point.
Most self published books suck.

Mark Asher said...

@Blake Crouch: Taking a midlist deal from a traditional publisher is dumb-ass thing to do. The "average" advance for a first novel is about $6,000.

Thing is, the vast majority of self-pubbed ebooks may not ever earn $6000. My guess is 90% don't even sell one copy a day.

For example, there's a writer who posts on this blog quite a bit who has one book out with a traditional publisher and one self-pubbed. The self-pubbed one has some great reviews from people like Konrath and Goldberg, has a pro cover, etc. It has a sales rank of 170,000, which means it's probably selling 10-20 copies a month at $2.99.

It will take years for this book to earn $6000. If it ever does. We have no idea what the Amazon royalty rates will be like in a year, what the sales climate will be like, etc.

Money in the hand and a print presence in bookstores isn't to be sneezed at.

There are about a million ebooks for sale on Amazon. A sales rank of 5000 sells about 10 copies a day from what I've heard. That's good money, but that's selling better than 995,000 other ebooks for sale. Most writers are not going to sell that well.

evilphilip said...

"U overlook 1 important point.
Most self published books suck."


You overlooked one important point. Most traditionally published books suck too.

It's true. I could pull complete crap off the shelves by the handful at any local bookstore -- if there were any left.

The idea of indie publishing vs legacy publishing is as absurd as it is amusing. For most people -- you are never going to get published in print.

That is the fact.

Try as hard as you want for as long as you want the odds are that you aren't going to get picked up by an agent or a publisher.

At least with indie publishing you will get some sales. Even 20 sales a month is 20 more than zero.

You can have your book up on a virtual shelf where someone might buy it -- or you can never see your book on a shelf at all.

That is the reality for most authors.

Marta Szemik said...

@ Stephen T. Harper

I use Serenity Editor. It's great. It catches homonyms like "from" vs "form", "there" vs "their". It gives you suggestions to tighten and polishes your ms. Catches wordy phrases, lengthy quotes, grammar errors and much more. I found it invaluable for my work. So far one of the better investments I made in my writing.

Joe, Barry, great post as always. I find reading the comments to your posts entertainment in itself. Once I go live on Dec 1st with Two Halves, I will share my numbers as well, because I do think I will make more in a year than a $6,000 advance and for other newbies like me. This is for someone with no platform and a debut novel. Interesting times ahead...

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

Mark

I have some counterpoints:

We have no idea what the Amazon royalty rates will be like in a year, what the sales climate will be like, etc

Traditional royalty rates are awful NOW. The paper sales climate is awful NOW...with no signs of changing or improving soon.

The potential of Amazon's evil, future empire should be everyone's least concern. Competition in e-pub is exploding. Look at the recent Kobo/Rakuten deal. Kobo has issues apparently but they look to be adressing them vs. ignoring the indie market.

...print presence in bookstores isn't to be sneezed at

I agree it's an accomplishment, all things considered...but bookstores are going away! Forget Borders for a min, big chains get mis-managed and die all the time. Recently, for the first time in my 39 years I was in a major mall (live in the NE) and there was no bookstore. None!

With paper sales continuing to decline are they going to open more or close more?

There are about a million ebooks for sale on Amazon

Your indie e-pub will be lost in the Kindle ocean. A viable concern.

Current print books available on Amazon: 33,507,085.

I've been to my B&N a lot recently, nowhere else to go, and each time it's more stuffed animals, more fancy plastic coffee cups, more misc chotski's and a bigger Nook display.

And fewer and fewer customers.

Respectfully

Dave

Anonymous said...

Yawn. For the haters, have you guys actually read JA's books? He's not pissed off - he's in character.

It's my opinion that anyone who sends 10 hours a day popping out 12,000-15,000 words of prose while in someone else's head space is going to pretty be that person.

Anyone wanna make a bet he had a 'I could do a backflip and scissor kick that there melon across the back fence' moment when writing Tequila, or a hardboiled PMS attack when doing Daniels? (Ahem, writing Daniels, I mean.)

Just be glad he's not Robert Jordon (or Braden S. at the moment) that guy had way too many characters in his superb Wheel of Time series. Talk about voices in your head.

P.s, More Tequila, please.

Anonymous said...

$6k is not too hard. I'm not even close, but with 200 titles and cruising to a solid 600-800 more by 01/2013, I'll probably see that in my lifetime with ease at the current rate of sales (I'm ranking in the 100,000-200,00 for my bread and butter books on Amazon US, but as readers start to travel my back list, it's an expanding area.)

Then again, if I was a risk taker and went the 80k novel direction with 6 going up a year (10+ if I didn't work), I'd be a little worried. There really is safety in numbers and good product mixes can ensure at least some minimal returns.

;)

Nancy Beck said...

That Serenity editing software sounds intriguing. Does it catch misspellings that are actually words, like "form" when you meant "from?"

@Stephen T. Harper - It has actually caught that kind of stuff for me, although YMMV. :-)

Of course, it's not perfect (what software is?), and will often point out "mistakes" that aren't really mistakes (viz, suggesting "reel" when I use "real," when there isn't a darn fish in the story). That can adjusted through the program, but I haven't had the time to read thru the notes on how to do that. (My bad.)

And, if you're not careful, it can take your voice out of what you've written, which is why sometimes I accept what the program says, and sometimes I don't. Without the voice, why bother reading fiction?

I think you can try it for 10 days or something. Give it a whirl. It's somewhat clunky, but it has saved my butt, esp. on some WTF errors I've made. :-)

Night Terrors

Nancy Beck said...

ANd as far as all that formatting stuff you were talking about. Seriously, Scrivener does it all, customizable and perfect.

I've actually thought about buying Scrivener, and now that it's in Windows (sorry, can't afford a Mac), I see that it's at a pretty good price (USD$40, as I write this).

Sounds like a good all-in-one kind of program. I think it's time for me to download a copy...thanks for the testimonial. :-)

Barry said...

Robin, I agree with a lot of your ideas about what publishers *should* do to reform their business practices. My question was more along the lines of, without Amazon as a competitor, why would they bother? They haven't so far.

Ann, agreed. There are people who have concerns about tone and communicate those concerns in a helpful way -- they're interested in education. And there are people whose concerns are primarily driven by self-serving motives -- they're interested in reeducation. Education is about learning; reeducation is about punishment. I get that, and generally speaking will listen carefully to the first group and discount the second.

Dean, yes, that's about right!

Kiana, that's a good question, and I don't have a good answer… I'm really just playing it by ear.

Jon Olson said...

I think the legacy publishers are still reeling in shock. It takes them a year to put out a book. Imagine how long it will take them to change their industry.

Jon Olson

Nancy Beck said...

It has a sales rank of 170,000, which means it's probably selling 10-20 copies a month at $2.99. It will take years for this book to earn $6000.

That's one book. If this writer cranks out (quite) a few more, it adds up - over time, over books. Check out Dean Wesley Smith for his take on that.

IMHO, one book should not a career make (unless you're talking about something like Gone With the Wind).

Dani said...

Excellent post as usual. I can see the argument from both sides but at the same time, I am just thinking I want the best of both worlds.

My dream isn't to be picked up by one of the legacy publishers or even a small publishing house, I want to be picked up by Amazon.

Yeah, I know. I won't have the ability to sell my books on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony et al... who cares? Amazon is such a *huge* market, I would be willing to make the sacrifice.

Until then, I'll keep self-pubbing because I know I will never get a deal from a legacy publisher and that is okay by me.

But you know what made my day? Getting a response from a blog post from someone who said they love my series and can't wait for the next one to come out. Do you know how awesome that feels? Yeah, I know it was only one person but if I had never self-published, that one person would have never discovered me and that is why I write books and plan to make fans. One person at a time. It's a slow process but eventually it will pay off.

I am doing what I love and what I have always wanted to do, and that's all right by me. ;-)

Edward M. Grant said...

Most writers are not going to sell that well.

Most writers are not going to get a trade publishing deal either.

This 'everyone should take a trade publishing deal because they won't sell more than a book a day by themselves' argument is really getting tedious. The writers who'd get a trade publishing deal should easily be able to sell as many books themselves if they can get those books in front of the readers who are looking for them. Books that don't sell when readers are aware of them are unlikely to be books that a trade publisher would want to buy.

Edward M. Grant said...

I've actually thought about buying Scrivener, and now that it's in Windows (sorry, can't afford a Mac), I see that it's at a pretty good price (USD$40, as I write this).

Note that they're offering a 50% discount for anyone who wins NaNoWriMo this year or won it last year. I think there's a 20% discount for anyone who registers for NaNoWriMo this year?

Selena Kitt said...

My dream isn't to be picked up by one of the legacy publishers or even a small publishing house, I want to be picked up by Amazon.

Now THAT is a paradigm shift. Gave me goosebumps. I think the world just tilted sideways! :)

Dani said...

Selena, isn't it amazing how times change? I emailed Amazon submissions to see if 47North are taking any as that is one of their newest divisions and they don't have as many authors as say Encore or Thomas & Mercer. I will never be a thriller writer but I love to write fantasy and horror. Will I ever be as good as Konrath/Kilborn, Crouch or King? Probably not but I can do my best and carve out my horror/fantasy niche. ;-)

Blake Crouch said...

"Thing is, the vast majority of self-pubbed ebooks may not ever earn $6000. My guess is 90% don't even sell one copy a day."

There's a reason for that. My comment about not taking a midlist deal from a legacy publisher is aimed at writers who have produced an exceptional novel.

Mark Asher said...

@Blake: There's a reason for that. My comment about not taking a midlist deal from a legacy publisher is aimed at writers who have produced an exceptional novel.

Hey, that's cool, Blake, but remember there are a lot of us unexceptional indie writers reading this blog and at times it seems the message is aimed at us. If this blog is for industry veterans, fine, but it's not always easy to tell that at times.

Danielle Blanchard Benson said...

@Mark, I think most of us writers who write because we love it and are talented can produce an exceptional novel. There is nothing I have ever wanted to do except write. I have been making up stories since I was in second grade. I finished my first novel when I was sixteen (I started it at the age of thirteen).

A more than decent story can be turned exceptional but that means being willing to pay for an editor (a real one, not your best friend who majored in English ten years ago in college), getting a professional book cover (I know two cover artists who will produce decent covers at $100), professional formatting and taking the time to put together a quality product.

What is exceptional? Some people will love your story and others will hate it and others will be a bit blah. Take an author--any author--and cruise their ratings.

The Dome by Stephen King, is one of my favorite books of all time (it ranks up there with The Stand)... have you seen how many one star ratings it has received.

Blake said to produce an exceptional book but not *everyone* is going to recognize brilliance when they see it. ;-)

DVshooter said...

Danielle

The openess and heart that's evident in your posts really makes me want to check out your work.

The wildly popular contemporary vamp/supernatural genre is something I've rather veered away from (still have a bad taste in my mouth from when I was unable to get through the first Twilight novel) but I'm going to go back on that rule of thumb.

Promise me it'll be real bloody and hot.

Joe Konrath said...

If this blog is for industry veterans, fine, but it's not always easy to tell that at times.

Blake's advice is aimed at all writers. Newbies can produce an exceptional novel. We were all newbies once.

Joe Konrath said...

Blake said to produce an exceptional book but not *everyone* is going to recognize brilliance when they see it. ;-)

I wrote a blog post called Be Deliberate.

If you can justify every word in your story, and explain exactly what you set out to do and why, you're being deliberate. That's as close as we can get to being exceptional.

Mark Asher said...

@Danielle: @Mark, I think most of us writers who write because we love it and are talented can produce an exceptional novel. There is nothing I have ever wanted to do except write. I have been making up stories since I was in second grade. I finished my first novel when I was sixteen (I started it at the age of thirteen).

I understand that and I certainly think there are tons of talented writers out there.

However, in many ways it's a numbers game. Maybe 1% or 2% of the ebooks published will earn their authors $5000 in a relatively short time, if ever.

A sales rank on Amazon that would put you in the top 1% would be about 10,000. That means you're selling better than about 990,000 other ebooks available for sale, and the number is rising every month.

A 10,000 sales rank might be 2-3 sales a day. (I believe a sales rank of 5000 is about 10 sales a day.) You can use that as a baseline and figure out what kind of money you might make from a book that is selling better than 99% of the ebooks that are for sale.

My whole point is twofold: How about putting the bridle back on the optimism here to provide some balance, and perhaps not every modest advance from a publisher means a writer should turn it down and self-publish instead.

I'm not really arguing in favor of traditional publishing. It's just that I think there's this tone here on this blog that self-publishing is always the right thing to do unless you can score a $100,000 advance.

DVshooter said...

Mark

I understand your point that a Legacy deal, for any decent amount of money, should not arbitraily be dismissed in favor of allusions of indie success.

Heard this argument a lot lately; it's hard or impossible to standout and sell well among the million e-books on Kindle. I made this point elsewhere.

Print books on Amazon: 33 million.

Don't know about anyone else but I'll take my chances with only the 1million.

About your twofold argument: if you haven't read Mike Stackpoles post below, the genesis of the now infamous "house slave" discussion...

http://www.michaelastackpole.com/?p=2887

...than you really should.

It isn't just about money but the conditions under which you're getting it. 20-50k for a book you've already written (when you plan to write 1-2 more a year until you die no matter what) sounds great. But pay your agent her cut and then look at how that money's spread out over steps (it's almost never a big bag-o-cash) and worse, how that indebtedness limits you in the future from selling your other work. Then that "big" paycheck get's even smaller and smaller.

The other part of the twofold, the optimism. Once you read Stackpoles post (where a lot of the contract clauses I "thought" I understood were explained in great detail) I think you'll see why there's such a lack of optimism for legacy deals here from the vet's.

It was very clear to me.

Mark Asher said...

"The other part of the twofold, the optimism. Once you read Stackpoles post (where a lot of the contract clauses I "thought" I understood were explained in great detail) I think you'll see why there's such a lack of optimism for legacy deals here from the vet's."

I can see that. Maybe the most realistic view is that going with a traditional publisher isn't going to do much for a midlist writer, but 99 out of 100 writers who self-publish probably won't ever make enough to quit their day jobs either. That's the thing that I wish Joe and Barry and others would acknowledge from time to time instead of waving the rah-rah banner for indie publishing.

DVshooter said...

...but 99 out of 100 writers who self-publish probably won't ever make enough to quit their day jobs either

Lifes tough. Millions of people spend their college loan money on filmmaking, music, theatre, art history etc, and spend the balance of their lives doing anything but to pay the bills and feed the kids.

I'm one of them. No one owes you the career you want. Your best is all you can do.

Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

I've been recently kicked out of the "legacy author's club" so this was a timely post for me to read. Those who are emotionally tied to New York are so for one reason and one reason only - self validation. I think it is sad that so many talented people rely so much on outside accolades that they literally allow their "business partners" to rob them blind. Worse yet, they defend these thieves and hold them up as Gatekeepers. I'm proud to say I'm a self publisher and I'm thrilled that it also pays my bills - but even if it didn't (it didn't always) I'd still be far happier running my own life than opening up my purse for the thieving outstretched hand of Legacy Publishing.

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rese said...

being an "offensive jerk" who doesn't care if he's liked, eh? sounds a lot like someone who's been in the publishing industry for a long time. whether author, editor, agent - you work in this business long enough and you're bound to grow a thick skin and get grouchy. i don't kno a single "nice" person in the industry. - there are those who'll smile sweetly at you, but as soon as they're rubbed the wrong way, the claws whip out like wolverine's. this is a cutthroat industry - the dewy-eyed softies will learn to toughen up, or get squashed like a kitten in traffic.

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