Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tone

When it is running at its peak, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing gets over 30,000 hits per day.

This traffic means nothing to me personally. I don't care about fame for fame's sake. I don't care about what people think of me. I'm as immune to detractors as I am to those who offer praise, and I get plenty of both. It's nice to be thought of, but that's not what lights my fire.

This traffic means nothing to me financially. The majority of those who read this blog are writers, not fans. Readers don't care about the publishing industry. While I have, on occasion, used this platform to promote a book, it is almost always linked to a point I'm trying to make, an argument I'm trying to present. I don't have paid ads on this blog, or my website. A Newbie's Guide doesn't generate any direct income for me, and any indirect income is unverifiable.

This traffic means nothing to me altruistically. While I know this blog has helped many writers by informing, persuading, and inspiring, it is impossible to be directly connected to that many people. I get dozens of "thank yous" a week. It's flattering, but I stopped taking it personally a long time ago. I don't write this blog to help people, or make the world a better place.

But I do care about traffic. I want as many people to visit this blog as possible. Not for my ego or my bank account. Not for any cause celebre or romantic notions of fighting the system.

This blog exists as a tool to help me learn.

There is a certain amount to be personally gained from writing persuasive essays, from presenting arguments using logic and facts, from sharing information. Doing so helps me improve my debating skills and hone my position and distill my thoughts.

But everything I write is already in my brain. That's not the way to learn. Knowledge comes from seeking outside sources of information, from looking at other points of view, from being forced to defend an argument or position from an attack that hadn't been considered, from changing viewpoints as new information or better logic presents itself.

I go looking for that information. But there's also another way to obtain it. Namely, to host a forum, and let the information come to me in the form of comments.

This blog would not exist without the commentors. And if you're a regular visitor, you know how long these comment threads can go on. How many blogs get 600 comments in a single thread? How many people leave a message saying "I learned just as much from the comments as the post"?

I read every comment. I hardly ever reply to praise, or thanks. But I do reply to those who disagree, who try to disprove whatever point I attempted to make in the blog post. I also respond to whiny, anonymous pinheads.

We'll get back to the pinheads in a moment.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing allows me to make arguments, then refine them in the comments section. I learn from the comments. I'm made more aware, more knowledgeable, more informed. The commentors make me step up my game, which makes me think harder, which makes me experiment more, which ultimately benefits my career.

When I benefit, other writers seem to benefit. It's a nice, efficient, reciprocal relationship. Everybody wins. Even the pinheads who can't stand me. They get to feel superior and self-righteous, and they come here and take anonymous potshots at me, and then I get to humiliate them, and people come to watch the trainwreck. They form camps, polarize opinions, and discuss the topics here and elsewhere. Some of that discussion trickles back to me. Some of it I benefit from.

Are you getting where I'm going?

I could treat everyone graciously, with respect. I could discuss issues and make arguments without getting personal. I could act like a level-headed adult and never be provocative. I could trade being outspoken for being genteel.

Do you think I'd get as many blog hits? Do you think I'd get as many comments? Do you think the points I make would be as widely discussed and debated if I presented them in a more courteous way?

If so, point to another blog that averages 100 comments per post.

There is a whole sub-section of folks in the entertainment and news-entertainment industries that draw big crowds not only because of what they stand for, but how they say it. Radio shock jocks. Right wing political commentators. Controversial talk show hosts. They biggered their platforms by being opinionated loudmouths who don't care what people think.

Sound familiar?

The more traffic I get, the more comments I get. The more comments I get, the more I learn.

In short, I learn more by calling people pinheads. It attracts a larger crowd, draws more minds to the topics I discuss, and I improve as a result.

People take me to task for tone quite a bit. I see three reasons for this.

1. They can't attack my main arguments, so they have to focus on my attitude.

2. It makes certain people feel morally superior (Perhaps some of them use disrespect as a tool like I do, to learn from it, but I haven't seen any evidence of that.)

3. The targets in many of my blog posts are ignorant, greedy, brainwashed liars who present their poor arguments respectfully. If you are on the side of these pinheads (and therefore are yourself a pinhead) you become defensive when your stupidity is laid bare to the world. Pointing fingers at my tone is a defensive, ad hominem reaction.

While being attacked for my tone is distracting, the distraction is outweighed by the benefits of a larger audience. I don't mind being attacked if it leads to me learning.

Here's a terrific blog post called Tone Argument as Logical Fallacy. I have no idea who this blogger is. They haven't blogged a lot, or in a while. But this is a clear and concise explanation of tone that boils down to this: "I can call you an idiot and 2 + 2 still equals 4."

So why am I blogging about this at all? If I don't care what people think, why do I need to show the world why I do what I do? Why would I inform the pinheads who take me to task for tone that they're helping me out?

Because now, when someone brings up my tone in some discussion, I can simply link to this post. Then, hopefully, we can get over my tone and begin discussing the points I made.

When I debate, I am always as gracious as the person I debate. That may sound incorrect, considering how I skewer people on this blog, but my skewerings are always based upon dismantling an opponent's argument and revealing it to be stupid. If you say something stupid on the Internet, you open yourself up to justifiably being called stupid. But if you want to engage me one-on-one, I'll be as nice as you are, even if you are acting stupid.

My intent is not to convert writers to Joe's Way of Thinking. It's great that a bunch of writers are making money, some for the first time, because of my blog. It's great that more and more writers are realizing how shitty the legacy publishing world is. But those are all secondary benefits to me.

I'm here to learn. And I don't learn from people who agree 100% with everything I say. I learn from those who disagree. Or partly disagree. Every so often some anonymous poster says something that makes me reconsider my views. That's why I allow anonymous posting. Though it is entertaining to bitchslap the offended, which brings more traffic and thus more attention to the issues I present, this blog is not meant to persuade anyone but me.

Could I persuade more people to do what I do if I was nicer? Sure. But how is it in my best interest to persuade more people to do what I do? Wouldn't I learn more from angering the establishment so much they begin working hard to think of ways to prove me wrong?

I am purposefully controversial, intentionally disrespectful, and use tone in a precise, deliberate way that benefits me.

So suck on that, pinheads.

And if you want me to stop saying you're stupid, stop acting stupid. If you really hate me, that's the way to hurt me. If you stop saying and doing stupid things, you'll effectively reduce my audience. Your vocal hate makes me stronger.

But it's my guess you're too stupid to know that.

Love,

Joe

127 comments:

Ruth Harris said...

Tone = voice. Unique, invaluable, irreplaceable, relatable. The writer's fingerprint, DNA, gold mine.

Ty Johnston said...

I disagree. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"People take me to task for tone quite a bit. I see three reasons for this."

#4 is that there are many people who dislike confrontational interaction. Sometimes this is ideological: "I believe in measured disagreement", but most often it's that it turns people off viscerally. It's like the loud-mouth at the bar: he might be right, but who wants to hear him?

I think this is important for your blog because while you can certainly generate hits and responses with controversy and "shock-jock" style, you also filter out a lot of people who aren't 1-3 but are 4's.

So, regarding your stated purpose for your style, you are selecting for a certain audience, and won't learn as much (I think in a significant way, potentially).

PolyWogg said...

Sometimes the pinheads have a point, and this one related to tone is occasionally true. Rarely, but once in awhile, even pinheads can hit a target.

Tone-filled prose can be provocative, even fun to write with a certain let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may attitude, but like you said, in most instances you're not trying to persuade.

Yet you recently attached those same tone-filled e-mails to your DoJ letter, and may have missed a real opportunity.

If you had lifted from them, shortened them, altered the tone so that it was personality-filled but not tone-challenged, the worker-bees that look at the letters would have said, "Hey, here's a popular, successful indie author with cogent prose, and a strong but readable message -- let's pass this along as is as an example of some strong alternate messaging." However, when they read the tone of the attachments, and the fact that you even had to semi-apologize/ alert them to the tone issues in your cover letter, the worker bees are trained to think "Hmm, a little too raw for our bosses, let's just summarize it and add it to the database." In government circles, tone is king -- bad tone, you're a crank. One of those unwashed masses that rant and rave, but don't actually have anything worthwhile to say. After all, if they knew enough to contribute, they would know HOW to contribute.

So, personally, I was a bit disappointed on the DOJ front -- your letter could have been a huge opportunity to erase the other letters from institutional memory.

I know, I know, you didn't ask for the "Poster Child" position...if nominated, you would not run -- if elected, you would not serve.

I rarely have much to contribute on Qs about the future of the industry or individual choices, but when someone wants to influence internal decision makers in government, there are some basic rules. And the first one is always tone. Just a thought...

PolyWogg

The Daring Novelist said...

You know, out there on the interwebs, there is a logic problem masquerading as a "tone" problem.

Specifically: there are a lot of people whose whole argument is "You are a pinhead!" (Sure, sometimes it goes deeper, "You are a pinhead! JK says so!")

And other people who blame people like you for teaching those pinheaded kids to be disrespectful in the first place

But as you point out here, that's not your problem. You're here to learn, not to influence pinheads. (The pinheads seem to do just fine influencing themselves.)

Joe Konrath said...

A loudmouth in a bar is potentially threatening and dangerous. My blog allows annonymous comments, and the internet is a protective filter. We all have more courage online.

That said, those few smart folks who shy away from anonymous confrontation can respond to those who agree with me and keep a genteel tone. There are bloggers who blog about things I say, and do so in a kinder way. So the meek can still indirectly respond to my points, which eventually gets back to me.

HondoRoss said...

Well, now. William F. Buckley's bastard love child. I like it. I reserve the metaphor.

Martin Alexander said...

Win-win situation for you, Joe.
I admire the way you think!

Jen Talty said...

Hmmmm...very interesting post. Your tone, in my humble opinion has changed over the years (I've been reading this blog for a long time). I will admit to talking about your tone a few times and just recently I went to lunch with a mutual writer we both know -- Dan Annechino and oddly, you name came up. All positive, BTW. I only bring it up because its such a small world...

Tone is something I do discuss frequently because tone does represent a part of who we are as people. I'm try to be very conscious of my tone and how I present my opinions to the world. Something I'm revisiting currently because I don't think its serving my purpose very well.

The reason I say your tone has changed is because I used to think the tone was "offensive but true". Meaning, I agreed but disagreed in presentation. Which in reality is on me, not you. But I find your tone less offensive, less angry and just more "you". This then leads me to the question is it your tone that has changed, or my response to it? Hmmmm.....

You said I am purposefully controversial, intentionally disrespectful, and use tone in a precise, deliberate way that benefits me.

That's pretty honest and I think that right there perhaps is what people misunderstand.

I had never really thought about the idea that a blog could help someone refine their arguments -- in the comment section. I will admit that most of the your blogs that I read more than once are the ones that are the most controversial and most often the comments are the most entertaining.

Very thought provoking.

Joe Konrath said...

After all, if they knew enough to contribute, they would know HOW to contribute.

A fair point. And one I considered and rejected.

The AAR and Authors Guild are idiots. Dramatically calling attention to their idiocy in a provacative, humorous way will make my letters stand out from all the humdrum, boring letters the DOJ is no doubt recieving. Don't underestimate the entertainment factor when conveying information.

If indeed my letter is dismissed based on its tone, it still has no effect on the reason I blog. I don't expect to persuade. I didn't simply send a letter to the DOJ. I blogged about sending a letter to the DOJ. Therein lies my intent.

Anonymous said...

I have a love/hate relationship with your blog. I love the arguments from people whom I too think are pinheads, but I hate your blog when I think I'm right in an argument and you call me a pinhead. By this point I feel too offended to defend my argument sensibly, so I go away feeling hurt. Poor me. Blah, blah. I think that's my take on tone, but only from an offended perspective, and not an offendees point of view. Get it? Sometimes I feel like everyone who comments here will eventually get picked on at least once. And if they never do they are just those who are 100% Joe butt-kissers. I love your blog more than I hate it though. I'm thinking about self publishing now, which I would never have considered doing before I discovered this blog. So thanks, and also *slap* for making me feel rotten sometimes.

Joe Konrath said...

I feel too offended to defend my argument sensibly

How can you be offended posting anonymously? You can't take something personally when there are no personal repucussions.

It is possible to defend an argument anonymously. Don't use 'i'm offended and hurt' as an excuse for being unable to cogently counterpoint.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I personally love your tone. Mostly because YOU JUST DON'T GIVE A FUCK. And that, to me, is refreshing. Especially when most writers, like myself, are wimps.

The Writers Canvas, Author Elaine Calloway said...

Hmmm...interesting post. I typically read your blog to learn, too, though I don't always agree with everything on it.

I *would* like to suggest that you eventually offer a blog post for the unpublished writers in your audience, those who don't have a backlist of titles or a platform to market to.

The other day, I engaged in a conversation with someone on Twitter, who claimed he couldn't begin to think of being published yet, he was busy building his platform. I don't even know if he had a completed book. Which is crazy.

There's so much advice about building a readership, a platform, focus on the writing, self pub it, etc. that it gets murky for those of us who aren't pubbed previously, don't have a readership as of yet, etc.

Any tips for that crowd? I agree with most of what you say about self pubbing. I think it would be a no-brainer for someone who already had a following.

But what about the rest of us who could benefit from the contacts/publicity/etc. that legacy pubbing offers?

I'm not looking to get skewered, here, I'm looking for insight. How can someone without a readership get his/her book out there without becoming an obnoxious spammer on Facebook and Twitter?

Any insight is appreciated, thanks -

E Calloway

Jill James said...

Your tone - your blog.

I am not a confrontational person, so I love just reading the blog and seeing how the other half does it. (being confrontational)

Tom Maddox said...

Readers don't care about the publishing industry.

This reader does care and I have learned much about it thanks to this site and your blog.

Joe Konrath said...

This reader does care and I have learned much about it thanks to this site and your blog.

Thanks for reminding me that all generalizations are false, Tom. ;)

Monica Shaughnessy said...

I don't care about tone. I care about sincerity. If that dries up, you've lost me.

Isabella Amaris said...

I think, theoretically, there's a time and place for tone to be given more importance (by a listener) than content; namely when it indicates the content is untrue/unreliable. But practically speaking, tone probably affects the believeabiliy of content more than one would like. I suppose we're all human in that sense:)

Anyway, there are some things you say, Joe, that I do disagree with content-wise, and perhaps your tone can be too abrasive now and then (yes, am understating things there), but to me these are small issues. I'm one of those who learns a lot by reading the comments on your blog as much as the provocative blog posts... Which is why I felt I should drop by to mention how grateful I am that you continue to provide alternative viewpoints and create a forum here on issues which might otherwise not be discussed as often elsewhere, or with as much vigour.

The thing is, your voice might be a loud one, but I think some loud voices are necessary in this day and age to act as starting points for valuable debate... Besides, since when have writers been known to be exceptionally proper AND exceptionally opinionated at the same time anyway?:)

I.J.Parker said...

I feel a bit ambivalent about this. It seems to me this endeavor shouldn't be altogether self-serving, and I rather doubt it is. You have done a tremendous amount of good for so many of us. I have learned almost everything I know about self-publishing here. I have gained the courage to cut loose. That's an extraordinary thing. (I won't say 'thank you' because you say you don't like or need it).
As for the tone: well, when I first arrived here and over the years, I decided that you were very angry at a grossly unfair system that had damaged you as it damages me and many, many others. I got quite angry, too. It's an injustice, and people need to be woken up to it.

And as for your opponents' tone: I assume most of the "anonymous" and polite posters belong to the publishing system in one way or another (even if they are authors who have reached bestseller-rank and enjoy their cozy arrangement). These people are always coldly courteous. I've dealt with many of them. There is no heart or emotion behind that facade.

However, I learn most from your facts, and the facts shared by other serious and experienced posters. I come for these, not the amusing squabbles. I come here to find out if someone has figured out how to squeeze more sales out of KDP. I come here to verify that not all good writers get sales figures like yours, and that times and sales figures change rapidly in this world. I think that you should listen to some of the voices that offer different results and facts. Success in self-publishing depends on factors other than writing good books and watching Amazon patterns.
I started out a year ago with making several thousands per month off 4 novels. Now these same 4 novels make a few hundred dollars per month, in spite of the fact that by now I have 12 novels and some 8 or ten stories and collections up. The competition has become huge and the giveaways make it impossible to make a decent income.
I have hopes that things will eventually shake out as readers discover that their free downloads are worth exactly what they paid for them. Then perhaps we can return to a reasonable financial situation for professional writers.

FrChris said...

"The majority of those who read this blog are writers, not fans. Readers don't care about the publishing industry..."

Not totally true.

I discovered this blog last year, searching information about the "ebook revolution".

I didn't knew you but I've been hooked since.

Realizing that most authors are been screwed and are not making a living was news to me.

Like all reader (I think), I care for the well being of writers.

I think there are a lot people like me reading your blog (even some foreigner as I am).

And I bought some of your books too.
So you do benefit financially from the blog. ; )

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Reactions to Joe's tone say more about the person reacting than they do about Joe.

When I wrote my guest post a few weeks ago, I purposely used a logical tone to present dispassionate numbers, and still I was painted as "extremely upset" and whiny, of which I was neither. When I didn't give them a tone issue to criticize, they made one up.

My guess is that even if Joe took great pains to be gentle in his tone, those who don't want to engage the argument would find some way to obfuscate it.

Stan R. Mitchell said...

I've never respected a woman who goes back to her husband or boyfriend after he slaps or punches her.

In fact, I've never even understood such behavior. How can you still love someone while your eye turns blue or blood flows from your lip?

Reading this post has changed my mind. You say you won't acknowledge those who thank you or show gratitude, and that you'll continue to act hard so that you'll attract more readers (or women, in this analogy).

I've sent you love before in the form of e-mail and blogposts. You didn't acknowledge them, just as you described above.

And you've just said above you won't change -- you'll basically still be an ass who wants all the readers (or women) he can get.

And like the insecure woman who crawls back to her man, hoping he will change, I'm going to keep crawling back to you knowing you won't.

You're like the pimp who protects his women and throws them a little money every now and then, and I'm like most of the other readers on here: a writer who's desperate for a fierce protector who will stand up to those in the world (the Big 6) who say we're worthless and have no value. And that we should be put in some program or run off the corner out of sight (and out of mind).

Joe, you can beat the shit out of me any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. I'll still love you regardless, just like all these other junkies reading your blog. Why? Because you're a badass who'll help protect and stand up for us who for now, can't stand up for ourselves.

JDuncan said...

I get the tone, Joe. It's loud, often entertaining, and unfortunately necessary. People won't often listen to the nice tone, no matter how useful the content might be. There's a tendency to get locked into mindsets and it takes a bit of jarring to break free and pay attention to anything else. While I don't always agree with what you say, or like the tone for that matter, I do appreciate the fact that you have purposefully set out to be a confrontational voice. Changes are happening that people can't ignore, and you have to hit them over the head with it sometimes to draw their attention. I'm glad you've got it in you to do it. I don't have the mindset for it, honestly.

That said, none of it really matters because the blog generates interesting discussion and debate and provokes thought, which no matter the tone, is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

*yawn*

Kelly S. Bishop said...

My favorite line from the movie "1776".

Another Continental Congressman critiquing Jefferson's Declaration, says that they should take out the reference to Parliament (which they did) so as not to offend the MPs (since the colonists' main beef was with the king).

At this point, John Adams, fed up with all of the "helpful" suggestions jumps up. "For God's sake man, we're at war. We're going to have to offend SOMEBODY!"

If you have an opinion, hell if you're even breathing, you're going to offend somebody. And if they can't argue facts, they'll fall back on tone.

Summer said...

I take offense at those who are offended.

Just a lawsuit waiting to happen.

From one of the legion of self-published who owe at least partial credit to your unique "motivational" techniques - I thank you.

Not that you care of course - you pinhead.

Joe Konrath said...

You're like the pimp who protects his women and throws them a little money every now and then

Uh, thanks?

While I understand the analogy, no one deserves to be subjugated or abused. Not responding to praise isn't equal to beating someone up, and calling someone stupid when they're stupid isn't the same as forcing them into sexual slavery.

I'd like to think that people don't visit my blog because they're masochists, or desperate, or self-loathing. I may not thank people, but I only call them pinheads when I can logically prove they are pinheads.

That said, I think I understand the sentiment, and thanks. ;)

Joe Konrath said...

*yawn*

Translation: Joe, you're so boring that I read all of your posts and then have to comment anonymously in the hopes I get a rise out of you.

If I weren't me, and I was looking at this blog as an outsider, I'd wonder if I didn't invent all the anonymous comments myself just to shake things up. But then I'd hope I'd come up with something more creative than *yawn*...

Adrian said...

Yes, the provocative tone likely increases the size of your audience, but it doesn't necessarily improve the quality of the feedback.

A thousand dittoheads might not be as useful as ten thoughtful people with a different perspective. I suspect that a lot of people who could provide useful feedback don't because they're turned off by the tone.

I.J.Parker said...

I see Blogger ate my comment. Sigh.

Joe Konrath said...

I suspect that a lot of people who could provide useful feedback don't because they're turned off by the tone.

The more outrageous or controversial I get, the more comments I get. The more comments I get, the more helpful comments I get. That's provable.

Since I never know when a helpful comment will arrive, it makes sense to try to get as many comments as possible. It's like buying a lottery ticket. The more you buy, the better your odds of winning.

Have you noticed that, for the most part, whenever I have a guest blogger, and the guest is well behaved, there are fewer comments than when I write an original post?

Ann got a lot of responses on her post, but could that be because I spent the last half of it crucifying Harlequin?

You can hand out fliers for a town meeting and hope to attract some debators. Or you can set city hall on fire and everyone will come running, and then debate when they all arrive.

But you shouldn't take my word for it. You should experiment. Start a level-headed, non-confrontational blog about publishing, and then share how much you learn from that. There's room for all types.

Fred said...

First time reading this blog. Intersting firt blog. I don't know how nasty these interactions you reference get, but there are people out there who stay away from confrontation that repeatedly devolves into people calling each other stupid, and those kinds of people in my experience tend to be deeper thinkers than those who let it fly. Obviously not every case. That means you might be chasing away a smarter segment, though admittedly not nearly as entertaining as the idiots.

Joe Konrath said...

That means you might be chasing away a smarter segment

That's impossible. Anyone with even a bit of smarts can't argue with me, because I'm right. :)

Mark Asher said...

"I am purposefully controversial, intentionally disrespectful, and use tone in a precise, deliberate way that benefits me."

None of that bothers me. What I wish is that you were more concise. You have trouble sustaining my interest for the length of your average blog post. Would you consider taking a bit more time to pare them down?

dan said...

Since when are really smart people "chased off" by intellectual intensity? We've heard the word "stupid" before. We can even look it up in the dictionary if want to know what it means.

Fred, no offense, but your theory of behavior doesn't make any sense. Okay, a little offense, but only because I'm confused and tone deaf.

Anonymous said...

Started reading blog because you posted numbers. Helpful. Stopped reading often because every post was repeat of "Big Six Fail". Now know am considered dogshit bait to help attract occasional helpful pinhead. Thank you. Fuck you. Oh, nevermind.

J.M. Porup said...

Two points.

One. This is a great way to keep yourself intellectually honest. I've been struggling to find a way to do this myself. This post has convinced me of the value of doing something similar.

Two. While I believe you are genuine in what you say, it comes so long after the fact that I have to wonder if it isn't justification for something you were doing anyway.

I'm a coarse, provocative individual, too. But I'm not that way as a person because I think it will better me (far from it -- more that I can't help myself.) By extension, if I started a blog like yours, it's likely that it would be coarse and provocative, but not as a deliberate learning strategy.

Is it possible that you are looking for a rational justification for your unpleasant personality traits?

I don't ask that to be rude or to be a pinhead. You say you want to be challenged. Here's a challenge.

J.M. Porup

Ellen O'Connell said...

Okay, call me a pinhead because I'm not going to search back through previous blog posts to get quotes to prove my point. However, whatever else your motives may be, I'm sure in the time I've been reading this blog I've seen you say you want to enlighten people about the benefits of self-publishing, you've highlighted people you work with who you think do good work, you've featured other writers you think should be doing better than they are. I think I remember mention of some charity. More than a year ago you had a list of indies selling over 1,000 books a month (that one I know for sure because I was on it). All of those things help other people.

Maybe you always have this additional motive of self-help, but denying any intent to help others now isn't IMO convincing. As to the curmudgeon image. You're doing fine.

Joe Konrath said...

Would you consider taking a bit more time to pare them down?

No.

Anything can be edited. We could edit the novel Jaws down to "Shark eats New Yorkers, then dies." Shorter may not equate to better.

If you are a person who likes things short, or has a short attention span, that isn't the fault of this blog.

If you can back up your position by pointing out where I'm being redundant and unnecessary in a blog post, that would back up your opinion and we could debate.

Gavin Bell said...

Okay, in the spirit of not pulling any punches with tone...

I am purposefully controversial, intentionally disrespectful, and use tone in a precise, deliberate way that benefits me.

So suck on that, pinheads.


Maybe. Or what if you just enjoy acting like an asshole, and are rationalising that by saying that this is part of a deliberate strategy?

What if you're not making a choice?

What if you just can't help yourself?

As a newbie to self publishing I've learned quite a bit from this blog, and I have to admit I agree with the substance of a lot (not everything) of what you have to say, Joe.

But your patronising, self-aggrandising tone gets in the way a lot of the time. I find your ideas interesting, but too often it feels like a slog having to plough my way through one of your long posts about how the 'big 6' are pure evil, traditional paper books are for losers, and everything would be great if only everyone would listen to you.

I know - no one's forcing me to read the blog. I continue to do so because the message is interesting even if the form is supremely irritating.

I'm just offering another point of view here: I read your blog very much in spite of your tone.

...with that in mind, I have to admit I did quite enjoy your scorched-earth attach on the ramblings of the Authors and Agents Guilds a couple of weeks ago - I guess some things really do require the more extreme response.

jakeescholl said...

Gotta have people who aren't afraid to say how it is. :) You're a Patriot in the writing world Joe.

Joe Konrath said...

Is it possible that you are looking for a rational justification for your unpleasant personality traits?

The persona I portray on this blog is deliberate. The justification is here to speed along the debate, not for any ego reasons.

The people to ask about my unpleasant personality traits would be my family and close friends, who know me as more than a blogger and writer.

We all rationalize our behavior. We're all the hero in the movie of our life. But I think the true measure of a person is if they have helped to improve the lives of others. Helping strangers is fine. But helping those I care about is how I choose to live my life. That's why I can ignore the criticism and praise of strangers, but pay close attention to the criticism of my inner circle.

Joe Konrath said...

What if you're not making a choice?

There's always choice, Gavin.

We chose things in the hopes of getting what we want. From this blog, I get what I want. Many readers also get what they want. Many don't. But it's a funny thing about those who don't like me or agree with me; they keep coming back. And that makes things more interesting.

Let's say we met in real life, and I took you out to dinner and entertained you with funny stories, which is something I do with friends. If you liked me as a person, would that make any of my points more valid? If you found me insufferable, would that suddenly mean that legacy publisher do indeed have authors' best interests in mind?

Many people can't come to terms with being disliked. Many people blog because they want to persuade, or connect with people.

That ain't me.

If this blog was about me doing nothing but insulting those who disagree with me, do you think people would comment? That's the old Monty Python sketch, where the man bought an argument. There was no substance to that.

I'm learning enough from this blog to find it substantive. If you can as well, cool. If not, that's cool too.

Adrian said...

The more outrageous or controversial I get, the more comments I get. The more comments I get, the more helpful comments I get. That's provable.

Don't confuse quantity with quality.

I might solicit feedback on a manuscript from a dozen family members and get a few good ideas, but those might not be nearly as useful as notes I get back from just one good editor.

Since I never know when a helpful comment will arrive, it makes sense to try to get as many comments as possible. It's like buying a lottery ticket. The more you buy, the better your odds of winning.

That's a really flawed analogy. If you're picking your lottery numbers randomly and every ticket has the same chance of winning, then, yes, your odds will improve proportionally to the number of tickets you buy.

But you're not selecting your audience randomly, and each reader doesn't have an equal chance of leaving a helpful comment. Your provocative tone applies a selection bias to the audience who will read and comment. This bias may actually reduce the odds of getting helpful comments even though it may increase the overall number of comments.

But you shouldn't take my word for it. You should experiment. Start a level-headed, non-confrontational blog about publishing, and then share how much you learn from that. There's room for all types.

I've no interest is starting a blog on that topic. I do, however, read and comment on several such blogs.

I read (skim, actually) Newbie's Guide in spite of the tone. I find the hard numbers and the news interesting. I occasionally find the tone off-putting. It gets in a way of a lot of good points that you make.

I rarely comment here whether I agree or disagree, even when I feel I have something helpful to share.

Joe Konrath said...

Maybe you always have this additional motive of self-help, but denying any intent to help others now isn't IMO convincing

If you think about it, every act is a selfish act.

Some selfish acts can benefit others. I'm not against that. There is merit and value to it. But I rarely do things just to be nice.

Changing the climate of the publishing world would help thousands of writers, and I believe I'm doing more than my part. But I have a dog in this fight. In fact, I have eight dogs--eight books being held hostage by shitty contracts.

Do you think I'd rail against the industry if I had my rights back?

Nope.

Years ago, in one of my blog posts, I told Big Publishing that I would stop blogging for 1 million dollars. They should have paid me, because I'm pretty sure I cost them a lot more than that by convincing writers to go solo.

This isn't an ideology for me. This is business. I'm out to improve my life. And if I take some people along for the ride, there's nothing wrong with that.

Aric Mitchell said...

Huge part of why I visit this blog is the tone. And not because I get a charge out of you calling people pinheads, though it can be fun when the bullets start flying.

No, I feel the tone is needed because as an indie, I'm coming from a position of needing as much good press as I can get, and that can lead down a dangerous road, where I run the risk of becoming an "all things to everyone" P.R. person instead of unique.

I feel that, to be a successful author (or a successful anything for that matter), you have to set yourself apart from the pack. You can't do that if all you ever do is agree with people and play nice. In a sense, the tone teaches me to be more fearless in both writing and marketing.

It's been said that if you're not offending someone, you're doing something wrong, and I believe that with all my heart.

Fuckers.

Alan Spade said...

"Do you think I'd rail against the industry if I had my rights back?

Nope."

But wouldn't you have a vacuum in your life, then ? Like, you know, soldiers who fight for a cause and then the war end and the cause disappear. They are lost.

You say it's not an ideology for you. But you spent much energy in it. And in a way, we are what we do. The posture of the writer on his/her blog may be just a roleplay. But if you put much of yourself in it, it might affect who you are.

I guess you'll have to talk to actors to check that.

Greg Abat said...

I suspect there are more readers here than you think. A friend of mine is an author (Ray Wallace) and heturned me on to this blog. Of course, as a musician with many of the same issues with gatekeepers of the music industry...i am not THAT far removed.

trickaduu said...

I'm lost. You've changed your name? Who's Tony? What's going on?

Blog on Joe!

wannabuy said...

Joe,

I believe your confrontational style does work. In person, I would per turned off by it. But on the web? Its different. Get the to facts. Make the point. If the authors guild is abusive, don't mince words.

Joe is more like the protective brother 'discussing' with the abuser of his sister. He's not ready to go to jail, so its the 'shape up' phone call.

I do think it improves the quality of discussion. There are few indie author sites that attract as wide of spectrum of posters. I now follow more than a few blogs I fount here. If any were notably improved over this blog, we would drift over.

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

You say it's not an ideology for you. But you spent much energy in it.

I have a reason to spend energy on it. It earns me a lot of money, and has the potential to earn me a lot more if the system collapses.

If the system collapsed, I'd happily transfer all my energy to one of my ideologies. I've got lots of causes. But this blog is about publishing.

Joe Konrath said...

In person, I would per turned off by it.

If you're reading this and you've seen me speak, feel free to explain how my tone in person is similar or different to my blog.

Cathy Keaton said...

I don't care about your tone. I only care about the content of your blog. Your content is epic. :)

Anonymous said...

Joe, I think it's wonderful that you and some other formerly traditionally-published authors have made serious bank self-publishing. I really do. However, I, a "newbie" (to which your blog should naturally appeal) also understand that as a soon-to-be traditionally-published author, I don't have a very big platform. I'm still a nobody; I have no official stamp of approval. Some readers still look for that before they purchase a book. Personally, I'm far more likely to buy a self-published novel by an author with name recognition — courtesy of a publishing house.

The most efficient way for *me* to build an audience is to traditionally publish first — and then consider self-publishing later in my career. So yes, I do feel a little offended and hurt at being referred to as a "pinhead" — one of those people who purportedly "defend" traditional publishing to my own detriment (blindness?). I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing, and if I don't? It's all on me, not the Big 6, et al.

Mike Fook said...

OK, here, I will help you learn something because I'm tired of watching you appear clueless. Hits means jack. You sometimes talk about hits on your site. What is a hit?

A 'hit' is registered for each object on your site that gets sent to a reader, and, if not filtered - to the crawlers.

A hit can be a photograph, icon, page, video, etc.

If a visitor comes to your site where there are 6 photos - your stats will register 7 hits for that one visit, for that one page. If he cruises through 8 pages and views 21 more photos, that one reader will register as 36 hits.

Hits mean nothing... unique viewers, returning viewers, pageviews... these mean something.

Please, please PLEASE get away from Blogger and start your WordPress eduction.

Thom Bray said...

Again, this is a page right out of Barnum's playbook. It's brilliant marketing, it's entertaining, and it's often informative.

For all we know Joe may help old ladies cross the street and takes in stray kittens in his off-blog life. Who cares? I'm not concerned with his off-blog life. I come here for the pure Barnum.

Bravo. Keep it up. I admire the business sense behind it. And if you ever have cause to call me a pinhead, I'll probably give about as much of a shit as you would.

Becca Mills said...

Maybe your blog gets ultra-high traffic because you're combative. I suspect it's because you're making valuable points and were pretty much the first one making those points in a public forum. Those are great ways to build audience, whatever tone you happen to take.

jry said...

Count in another "just a reader". I am fascinated by the way publishing doesn't work and I applaud your tone in taking that world to task. I would think a lot of readers would agree - what publishing does or doesn't do affects us as well from the books that are published or rejected to the prices we pay. This is my favorite blog and like another poster stated because of it I have discovered other great blogs on the subject. I thank all of you because I know I have discovered many new authors that went indie because of how badly the Big 6 and even, I think, a lot of the Tiny Many traditional publishers are handling publishing in today's market.

Warren said...

Thom Bray said...For all we know Joe may help old ladies cross the street and takes in stray kittens

I heard it was the other way around.

On a more serious aside, if you're an anonymous commenter who is also a published writer, don't complain about your lack of exposure. Every time you make a comment, use your username to link to your blog, author page, website, whatever you have. I do nothing but fart around on the comment pages of blogs and all sorts of people follow me back to my barely existent webpage. Imagine if I actually said something intelligent, interesting, or provocative, or had a website worth visiting and books for sale.

Plus, if you're posting anonymously, I usually just shout at the computer screen, "Trollson Johnson is right!" laugh to myself, then move on.

jtplayer said...

I dunno man...if you feel compelled to explain yourself, well then maybe you care a little more than you're letting on.

Also, I would question the assertion that people "attack" you for your tone. I've followed this blog for a long time, and from what I've seen, some people merely comment on your heavy handed approach. I fail to see how that translates into an attack.

Lark said...

As I think you're finding from some of the comments here, some readers do care about publishing. Count me in that number. Not only do I read about it (here, The Digital Reader, FutureBook, and other blogs), I sometimes blog about it, particularly but not exclusively in regard to ebooks.

As for tone... I prefer to make own my arguments without name-calling, which means I am sometimes uncomfortable with your style. But as you said, it's your blog, and the tone you choose appears to be working for you, so who am I to criticize? If I'm too uncomfortable with a given post, I can always skip it. I keep coming back because you often present information I find interesting and useful, and because when I look past the rhetoric, you usually make a lot of sense.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Interesting post.

I like what you say on your blog. I got your message. Your blog persuaded me to self-publish... it was and is eye-opening.

I don't enjoy the way you say it. I'm not "meek," (see your first comment above), nor do I fall into any of your other categories.

To me, your tone means you can't express yourself intelligently without getting angry.

Anonymous said...

This post makes me want to see a documentary following the day in the life of Joe Konrath as he's handcuffed for the entire 24 hours to Harlan Ellison. I think their conversations would be frighteningly awesome. Who would throw the first punch? Or would they just end up taking tango lessons?

gniz said...

I remember thinking how interesting it was on your 30 day beer blog diet or whatever it was called--how funny and sort of laid back you came off in person.

Very different than the voice of this blog. You were goofing around, self-deprecating, didn't seem to take yourself seriously at all.

Obviously i only saw a few glimpses of your personality and it was for the camera so who knows?

But I do buy that this tone is intentional to a large degree, and there's no doubt it's more interesting because of that fact.

You've told a lot of truths and helped a lot of people, including me. I've thanked you before and will doubtless thank you again because I'm now basically living the dream I've had since I was a kid in large part thanks to this blog.

Having done that much good for so many people, whether you do it for selfish reasons or not, is pretty damn impressive. And 99.9 percent of the pinheads can't say the same.

On the flip side, I still believe that we have maximum 2-3 years of this gravy train before Amazon brings the hammer down on us all. I hope to be filthy rich by then.

Sariah Wilson said...

From the "Joe sez" part on Robert Gregory Browne's guest post -

Do for others what others have done for you. Be successful, and teach other writers who to do the same.

The world needs heroes. Be one.


*This* is how I see you. I've been a reader of your blog for many years; back when you were first blogging about your book tours. You freely offered advice and tips to other authors in the same boat - how to build platform, how to work a book signing, etc. I really admired your work ethic and thought that if anyone could have forced their books into becoming bestsellers through sheer force of will, you were that guy.

I fell away from publishing for a bit and when I got back into the groove in 2010, I re-found your blog. And spent hours reading your archives about your decision to self-publish. It literally changed my life.

I don't care how you feel about the Big 6. I don't care what tone you decide to adopt.

What I care about - you are logical and factual and as far as I can tell - I've never seen anyone successfully dispute your arguments. That appeals to me.

As for your assertion that you're not here to help, I call BS. That may not be the primary reason that you blog, and you may be immune and no longer get the warm fuzzies from helping others, but I've seen too many quotes from you about helping others and passing on our knowledge and like the quote above, to be a hero to the world (publishing or otherwise).

You're right that service can seem selfish - we might help others to soothe our own conscience or because we enjoy the buzz of people feeling grateful. But sometimes it can be just plain altruistic, even if we don't acknowledge it.

So go ahead and grouse and complain about the damn kids on your lawn - but us kids know that under your curmudgeonly exterior, you do want to help us, and you want us to help others.

Kiana Davenport said...

"biggered"...?????

As George Patton said, "All you need is big balls... and a helmet."

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Nice post and some interesting posts. However I would disgree that this blog is not selling your books, and although most of the vistors are writers I would suggest that it is those writers who buy your books and therefore are your readers. I know I've bought a couple of your books after reading one of your blog posts. And you know some of these anonymous comments could have been left by anyone to stir up debate - that's anyone at all

Ty Johnston said...

This post makes me want to see a documentary following the day in the life of Joe Konrath as he's handcuffed for the entire 24 hours to Harlan Ellison. I think their conversations would be frighteningly awesome. Who would throw the first punch? Or would they just end up taking tango lessons?

No offense, Joe, but my money's on Ellison.

Daniele DeFelice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniele DeFelice said...

Your tone never bothers me. I like a good blog post same as I like my men: smart, provocative, and not smelling like something I need to scrap off my shoe.

Simon Townley said...

"all generalizations are false" - I'm sorry but I have to take you up on that point...

Anonymous said...

I.J.Parker said...

"I started out a year ago with making several thousands per month off 4 novels. Now these same 4 novels make a few hundred dollars per month, in spite of the fact that by now I have 12 novels and some 8 or ten stories and collections up. The competition has become huge and the giveaways make it impossible to make a decent income."

This the heart of the matter right here.

There are some of us who worry about paying rent and putting food on the table. We don't worry about which new car we're going to buy, because we take the bus and walk.

I don't care about tone, or the Big 6, or Amazon.

I'm looking to meet the basic needs of pure existence so I don't freeze to death or starve to death.

The high-falutin high-minded notions of other folk don't mean a damn to me. I don't care about entertainment or debate or ideals.

To make money--do what successful people do.

That's why I read this blog.

Joe Konrath said...

No offense, Joe, but my money's on Ellison.

I love Ellison. I love him so much I give away his entire bibliography as a free ebook on my website.

Gavin Bell said...

I'm learning enough from this blog to find it substantive. If you can as well, cool. If not, that's cool too.

I have learned a lot from this blog, both from you and some of your guest posters, and I'm grateful for that.

Your analogy about going for dinner reminded me that I have a couple of friends who nobody else can seem to stand due to their abrasive personalities, but who I always get a kick out of arguing with.

Maybe I get the same thing out of this blog - it challenges me to think more about my opinions, and that can only be a good thing.

I still think I'd enjoy it more if you were a little more laidback - Neil Gaiman's blog is my gold standard for a place that's interesting, informative and also fun to be around.

Sandra Patterson said...

Your blog, your tone, Joe. No one's forcing the pinheads to read it, but the fact that they do is illuminating in itself.

antares said...

Ty Johnston said...

No offense, Joe, but my money's on Ellison.


My money's on Joe. Harlan is ill.

Trudi White said...

What I think is interesting is the more honest and on edge you have been, the more successful you have become. Although I just discovered your blog this year, I went back and reviewed how you evolved to your current position.

In retrospect, it seems to me that you used to kiss a lot of publisher butt. And that got you nowhere. Stepping into your own voice has not only improved your blogging success, but probably your fiction as well. Standing up for what you believe, for yourself and other writers, may make your tone seem strident or whatever. But it certainly is honest.

I appreciate the evolution. And after all you've been through to get where you are now, you have the right to whatever tone you choose. Especially since it's always well thought out and never malicious.

You've spent enough of your career worrying about what someone else thinks is will sell. Your blog represents what indie publishing is all about. Saying what you choose to say - in your own authentic voice.

Steve Casteel said...

I have to say that I bought the book version of "A Newbie's Guide..." because of the pinheads. I read the reviews that amazon lets people post (so nice of them to list the 5-stars first). I figured that there had to be something good in there if people were complaining. Once I read it..(and use it as a reference book for websites and other blog-sites)...I am more certain than ever that those mouth breathers are sitting around with earphones on listening to closed caption.

I guess the one question I have is about something you wrote that made reference to the future of eBooks. You made comment that you could see a day where ads... (ads may be my word and not yours).... were placed in the books and the ebook would or could become free. I think that is fantastic for me as a reader (free is always good) but as a newbie writer I can see that getting the ads could be... well let's just say another hurdle.

Just wondering if you still see this day coming.

Deb said...

Why are people so busy about tone? Why not worry instead over whether the statement is true? Granted, tone is easier to discern, but we run into danger if we always take the easy path.

Deb said...

Shudder.

Lillian Archer said...

Passionate responses and witty discourse should never be confused with bad manners. I have lurked on your site for a long time, and while I feel your arguments are logical and thoughtful, this one was over the top for me. I got tired of reading all the "I" statements. I read this as an ego trip, nothing more, and felt like this was one of the few posts lacking the intelligent, if passionate, logic and response that usually characterizes your posts. A huge miss for me, I am afraid, and one that put me off as a reader. Perhaps that is a lesson you can learn from this comment.

Todd Trumpet said...

Joe said: "We're all the hero in the movie of our life."

This gives me an idea for a Biopic.

Does anybody have Zach Galifianakis' number?

Todd
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Robert Bidinotto said...

Another blog post to love.

Mainly because I'm frequently accused of the same thing: making my points in a blunt, arrogant, pull-no-punches way. Probably that's what attracted me here in the first place: I felt at home in a joint where I didn't have to wade through piles of reeking qualifiers and soggy "on-the-other-hands."

Thanks, by the way, for retweeting my blog post yesterday about why writers should avoid legacy publishing and self-publish instead. Predictably, the piece has been attacked for its "acidic" tone.

Could that be why you retweeted it, Joe?

Tracy Sharp said...

"Love, Joe"

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! THE BEST!!!!!

T. B. Back said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T. B. Back said...

Tone is the verbal form of sex appeal: Not everything is for everyone.

I like it rough. So you keep me coming.

And, at the risk of sounding like Jessica Rabbit, you make me laugh.

And learn. And think.
Thanks.

Leigh Purtill said...

"Anything can be edited. We could edit the novel Jaws down to "Shark eats New Yorkers, then dies.""

Hilarious. I love this. I know you don't care but I love the long posts. And all the comments. And the advice and inspiration and frequent tirades. Seriously, the best part of your posts are the comments: your readers - even the pinheads - can be just as informative and captivating.

The Pain and The Joy said...

Definitions:

Anonymous. The most prolific blog commenter in the universe. Distinguished by the ability to say nothing in 200 words or more.

Pinhead. Those who are offended or "hurt" by this blog, yet return over and over again to be re-offended.

Tone. They way things are said.

Therapist: 27.6 of commenters on Joe's blog who want to help him do what he does in a more correct way, while promising him it won't change his success.

Moron. See Anonymous.

C. Amethyst Frost said...

Love, Joe

LOL! I'm sitting in a coffee shop and everyone within a 5-foot square radius of my seat is glaring at me, probably because I just sprayed them all with the coffee I was drinking just before I read your closing. "Love, Joe." Hey, watch your tone!

I have to wonder, though, do the pinheads know who they are? I could be a pinhead and not know it! Then again, if someone knows he's a pinhead he's probably a pinhead on purpose, in which case all he's doing is fueling the flame that keeps this awesome blog going.

Your tone never bothered me. I mean, it's your blog. Blogs aren't dry journalism pieces. They're opinions. They're honest.

I know that right now I'm just contributing to the hundreds of comments you have to read (taking you away from valuable writing time), but I want to say that I read your blog because of your tone. I mean, it's certainly helpful for a writer to learn what you teach us. Your success is hopeful to those of us who are just starting out in publishing, to know what to expect.

But it's not really about how many books you sold, how much money you make, how famous you are, or even how successful. It's about your passion, Joe. There are hundreds of publisher/author blogs floating around the world wide web, but none of them portray such conviction. We can all follow your steps, exactly as you did, writing the same number of books, engaging the same social channels. But we'll never be as successful as you, not unless we can all develop your level of passion. Right now, I'm the kind of person who'll sit in a dark corner of a crowded room and mumble, "I've got a book to sell. It's probably not that good." You, Joe, would be in that same room, standing on a table with an armful of books yelling, "Who wants one?" And I'd end up leaving the room with my book and three of yours.

That's why I read your blog, to learn how to get out of the dark corner and up onto the table. I want your passion to rub off on me. (Okay, that didn't come out right at all.)

Anyway, bring on the tone and bring on the pinheads. Soup loses its taste if you don't stir the pot once in a while.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mike Fook's comment that Joe doesn't actually understand what a "hit" is when applied to the internet. Unique Visitors is a more reliable benchmark of a site's popularity and even then the number needs filtering for various reasons.

I note that Joe didn't come back with one of his smart ass comments.

Maybe Joe learned something new today.

Jussi Keinonen said...

A very good point.

I rarely comment here, but when I do it's a(n effort at a) challenging return ball. Game evolution for everyone is a needed in the new frontier. It's good to disagree.

(The inevitable self-predicting irony of this post.)

Amy said...

I just have to leave this quote. For some reason, it seemed to perfectly distill what you are saying:

"I never did give them hell. I just told them the truth and they thought it was hell." --Harry S. Truman

I have that under my signature at work. Now that I'm 7 months from retirement, I'm a lot more honest. Also a lot less popular.

Go figure.

Joe Konrath said...

Statcounter tracks pageloads, unique visits, and return visits.

Newbie's Guide gets as high as 30,000 unique visits daily according to Statcounter. The pageload count is higher.

If I confused anyone, or didn't use the proper terminology, apologies.

Anonymous said...

Tone, it's something to watch out for, along with repetitive content. It can come across as more about a particular and rather narrow point of view rather than a reasoned argument.

Mark said...

Joe, your tone is just right. You really don't take rubbish from people. Keep up the good work!

Joe Konrath said...

That's a really flawed analogy. If you're picking your lottery numbers randomly and every ticket has the same chance of winning, then, yes, your odds will improve proportionally to the number of tickets you buy.

But you're not selecting your audience randomly, and each reader doesn't have an equal chance of leaving a helpful comment.


You're correct. It's not a very good analogy. My burning city hall one was more analogous to this situation.

Don't confuse quantity with quality.

I don't. But the higher the quantity, the likelier a quality comment will appear. Your analogy is flawed. Of course seeking advice from an editor is more helpful than a dozen family members. But I can't pick my commentors. To state that all the smart commentors stay away because of tone is wrong since I do get a lot of smart commentors.

I rarely comment here whether I agree or disagree, even when I feel I have something helpful to share.

And yet you wrote that, which wasn't helpful to anyone at all.

I learned something a while ago. True intelligent discourse doesn't exist on the Internet. Instead, intelligent things get said among a lot of garbage. It is impossible to weed out the pinheads and keep only the worthwhile comments, especially since that is subjective in many cases.

A better approach is to provide a large a forum as possible, and let people say whatever they like.

If some people don't want to say anything, that's fine. But they miss the opportunity to learn.

If I was quiet every time I had something helpful to share, for whatever reason I chose to be quiet, I'd cease to benefit from reactions to my viewpoints. I'd also cease helping others.

But if your way works for you, rock on brother.

Joe Konrath said...

In retrospect, it seems to me that you used to kiss a lot of publisher butt. And that got you nowhere.

Indeed I did. I truly believed that publishers were business partners who would recognize hard work.

It did get me four book deals, which now I wish I could take back.

William Ockham said...

I completely disagree that you can't get intelligent discourse on the internet or that a level-headed blog about publishing wouldn't get as many good comments as this one. I submit http://www.thepassivevoice.com as my evidence of both.

But here's the thing. It's a movement. Every movement needs its loudmouths and their more reasoned brethren. There's a different thing going on over at PG's place than at Joe's. I find both of them useful. The part I don't get are the people who complain about the tone here. Joe is outraged about stuff that really is outrageous.

I'm just glad Joe's taking all the incoming flak while we plot the revolution quietly over at PG's. That way they'll never see it coming.... Oops, I've said too much....

[Just because I can type dgeteory Equally doesn't prove I'm not a robot. I could be a really sophisticated robot...]

Joe Konrath said...

http://www.thepassivevoice.com

Passive Guy is terrific, but it's apples and oranges. He aggregates most of his content from other sources. I'm pretty much all original essays. We each serve a purpose.

RD Meyer said...

I"m offended I'm not yet important enough for people to single me out and call me a pinhead. ;-)

Julie Rowe said...

ROFLMAO!

A.Rosaria said...

Reading this blog post, I now crave for a shot of whiskey. Do not really know why.

Long posts of saying you do not care but kind of ends with you caring anyway. Probably just caring differently than most think you should, but we all do things because one way or other we care.

I'm at work now and broke so no whisky for me and that really does suck. :(

T.A.K. said...

Joe, I'm posting this here because you read all your comments.

If you check out the latest issue of THE NATION, you'll find an article which I think you'll find very interesting. It's the first time I've seen a mainstream periodical publishing a lengthy, well researched, balanced article echoing your war cry that "legacy publishing is dead."

Check it out.

http://www.thenation.com/article/168125/amazon-effect

T.A.K. said...

Added. They don't actually concluded that legacy publishing is dead, but imply that it will return to the cottage industry it was before the conglomerates formed.

The article says many of the things you say -- ebooks will be a literary revolution like the printing press, Amazon is presented as an innovator and not a destroyer, publishers are not fearing that Amazon will end literacy, they fear Amazon will make them redundant.



Teri

Carmen McCormack said...

I'm a reader only and I care about the publishing industry. after reading your blog I am incensed about the big business shitting all over the guy trying to make a living. It is noce to see the other side, and I think readers (and consumers in general) want companies to be more accountable these days.

Adrian said...

Strange, I submitted a response a couple days ago, but it never appeared. Let me try again.

The more outrageous or controversial I get, the more comments I get. The more comments I get, the more helpful comments I get. That's provable.

True, but that skirts the point I was trying to make. And it doesn't necessarily follow that trying to maximize comments is the best way to maximize the helpful comments. Quantity doesn't necessarily imply quality.

It's like buying a lottery ticket. The more you buy, the better your odds of winning.

That's true for lotteries because every ticket has an equal chance of winning. But the analogy is flawed. Every potential audience member does not have an equal chance of providing helpful comments.

Your tone applies a selection bias. Your audience may indeed be much larger because of the provocative tone, but that larger audience may very well have a much smaller number of people who are likely to provide helpful comments.

A better analogy: I could send a manuscript to three dozen aunts, uncles, and cousins and probably get lots of notes back. Some of them may even be good. But if I instead hire one professional editor with a good track record, I'd bet I'll get vastly more useful feedback, as well as less noise to sort through.

Embrack said...

Trying to spot the "pinheads." As for the tone, it's perfect, somewhere between Tom Leykis and the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. Anyone who doesn't like it should check their own writing because it may be putting people to sleep. Never trust an ugly beautician or a boring writer.

Chimere McKether said...
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Chimere McKether said...
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Chimere McKether said...

I'm sorry for deleting my post twice! It's not intentional, so please forgive me lol.

LOL, this post is right on! Joe, I've come to learn that stupidity is overrated and common sense is not that common. You have some folks who are book smart, but not street smart. SMH. My high school teacher used to say, "If you have both (book knowledge and life experiences), you have power!" I want you to know I enjoy reading your blog. I'm learning a lot and your blog is helping me to become a better writer. I appreciate your hard work and effort, which you are growing and learning as an individual as well. Keep on loving what you do! And as for the pinheads, sighs, we'll just leave them right where they're at. Enjoy your evening. :)

Jontrout said...

Joe:You are right--it is writers that read you all the time. I have also noticed over my 3 years of reading that you are much more of a ranter now and I see why--it's to broaden your exposure. I personally get turned off by the rants at the publishing machine. You are at your best when you tell us Indie writers about your sales numbers, what works, and what doesn't. Those are your roots. This rage against the machine is a liitle boring after the 3rd or 4th post.

Indiana Jim said...

I enjoy your snarky delivery. I find snark keeps me awake when reading "business analysis." If it's snarky, I can pretend it's not really research. It's why I liked reading Chuck Wendig at first.

When it comes to the issue of your snark as it relates to your position as self-publishing advocate, I find it's closer to the "we have no substantive argument" variety.

Case in point, Chuck Wendig's blog posts often find him on the other side of the coin from you, and his snark is far more vulgar, and incendiary to the point of comedy, and usually far less informative.

The last post I read from him could probably be distilled down to "Here's why you still need traditional publishers, and don't be a jackwagon who only self-publishes."

Point is, his snark is generally worse than yours, but he still can't do math.

ooohsomethingshiny.com said...

My only objection is the use of the word pinhead, frequently used by Bill O'Reilly, who I'm pretty sure is Satan.

Keep calling the trolls out on the carpet though. It doesn't take long to drag them out over their heads.

ooohsomethingshiny.com said...

My only objection is the use of the word pinhead, frequently used by Bill O'Reilly, who I'm pretty sure is Satan.

Keep calling the trolls out on the carpet though. It doesn't take long to drag them out over their heads.

Unknown said...

re: Tone Blog

Keep up the good work, Joe.

I love writing that's scribed with a good poison pen, dipped in acid, and written large and boldly. This is a personality defect I've had for as long as I can remember.

Kudos...

James F. Brown

Mira said...

So, I both completely agree with your post, and slightly disagree with it.

Agree: I think you are dead on the money that your power-punch style brings readers to your blog and makes an IMPRESSION. Your strength attracts writers, and makes it safe for them to agree with you. You are a powerhouse, and we need a powerhouse.

Disagree: I have had occasional issues with your tone, not because I'm a pinhead (I hope) or afraid of conflict (bring it), but because you just cross the line sometimes, and your argument gets lost in the tone.

I've learned to accept it, because I think it's just part of who you are, and besides, I think you love it. I think you love taking people apart, and who am I to try to get in the way of your enjoyment of life.

However, I hope you understand that some people, who may go elsewhere and acknowledge your tone, but support your message, may have their own role to play.

Also disagree: "I don't write this blog to help people, or make the world a better place."

I had to smile at that. I could be wrong, I don't know you, Joe, but I suspect that is just not true. I think you want the floor to shake when you walk, and the walls to crumble, while the birds to take flight and the people stop whatever they are doing and listen to you speak.

Don't we all? So, good for you.

Go for it.

Anonymous said...

Konrath leaves out the main purpose that this blog achieves.

Amazon is a keyhole site -- if they promote you in that keyhole, you'll sell a ton, if not no one will know you exist.

Question: Why would they choose to promote Konrath?

Answer: Because Konrath promotes the hell out of Amazon through this blog, bringing them the new writers they want.

In return for this blog -- for bringing in the writers -- Amazon gives Konrath's books lots of play, and that's why they sell. So the blog is vital to Konrath's strategy.

See, Amazon needs product. They can mine that dreary long tail forever. And they can use the new writers to put pressure on traditional publishers.

Just thought I'd point out the obvious.

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Clytie said...

"I love Ellison."

Romantic tango it is, then. ;)

I read a lot. I bought thousands of ebooks from Fictionwise before geolims were imposed. Suddenly, I wasn't "allowed" to buy most of the titles I wanted: there was no explanation to customers. So I spent much of my previously-ebook-buying time wandering the Net, trying to find out WTF was going on. This is one of the most enlightening sites I discovered. It's told me why publishers behave in such an illogical and inefficient way (geolims, ridiculously high ebook prices), and brought to my ebook-buying eyes the fact that I can get much more money to the actual book creator (author) by buying self-pubbed ebooks.

I've bought quite a few ebooks featured on this site, and I really enjoy the way Joe presents information. Incisive delivery is not necessarily aggressive or unpleasant, and humour is a valuable communication tool.

As for ads in books (mentioned by one commenter above), I have several "yellow jacket" paperbacks (Edgar Wallace! Mmm) from the very early part of last century. These were "cheap" editions, considered disposable, but some of them have evidently survived for a hundred years. These books were cheap enough for "the lower classes", because they contained ads. There's one ad inside the front and back covers, one on the back cover, and one or two interleaved in the text. They're not at all intrusive, so I think this practice could definitely work for ebooks.

Perhaps they could even be animated, when one passed one's finger over them. It's important to make animation voluntary, as moving images cause problems for people with neurological conditions. I have to avoid video and moving bits on webpages, but I would quite enjoy trimming out the occasional "tap-to-animate" cover or ad. ;)

Anonymous said...

So being a dick is the way to get things done in this world! Well, hallefuckinluia for figuring THAT one out. You truly are a genius.

Oh wait, but only if it was 1995. It's only the same revelation that so many idiot radio hosts (I refuse to call them shock-jocks because I'll bet they have very LITTLE in their jocks to shock anyone considering that they need to wave their metaphorical dicks to get attention), TV pundits, other blogger dickheads and comment trollers who've come before you knew already. You're far from unique and you're so far from being a trailblazer that the LIGHT from trailblazers would take a YEAR to reach you. I mean, even the word "pinhead" is stolen from that other bastion of good taste & tone, Bill O'Reilly.

The medium IS the message, dillweed. What you say and how you say it are exactly the same thing and don't kid yourself otherwise. Your overly defensive long-winded blog post blathering about how important your tone is to... wait, what was tone supposed to do, exactly? I can't remember... all that "tone" got all over my eyes... and now, shit, it's on my shirt! Anyway, you were saying that your tone is important, why? In 2,000 words or less? Let's try 14 words: "Your tone makes you feel superior to everyone else. You like being a bully." End of blog post.

Good for you, little man, good for you.

Side note. I don't work for the publishing racket or the bookselling shills. I couldn't give 2 shits about the entire publishing "industry" -- they are trapped in an era even earlier than you are, Cro-Magnon man. They won't wake up and smell the Kindles until they're all living in fridge boxes on skid row, even though they have the entirety of the music industry as a valuable cautionary lesson. I'm rooting just as much for the indie author as you claim to be. (In fact, I'm an aspiring author who happened to visit your blog for the first time today and stumbled across this lovely, warm, welcoming post.) So, go ahead, call me a pinhead because you're a dick, but don't call me a pinhead because I'm the enemy. I'm just like you -- only without the bully pulpit and the KOLD HARD KA$H.

Tom said...

Joe,

Thanks for all the great tips! No plugs but wanted to let you know I published my first book on Kindle this week.

The info you have put up here has been a lot of help.

Just wanted to say thanks!

Tom said...

Joe,

Thanks for all the great tips! No plugs but wanted to let you know I published my first book on Kindle this week.

The info you have put up here has been a lot of help.

Just wanted to say thanks

Tom said...

Joe,

Thanks for all the great tips! No plugs but wanted to let you know I published my first book on Kindle this week.

The info you have put up here has been a lot of help.

Just wanted to say thanks

Tom said...

Joe,

Thanks for all the great tips! No plugs but wanted to let you know I published my first book on Kindle this week.

The info you have put up here has been a lot of help.

Just wanted to say thanks

Michael J. Sullivan said...

This is off-topic but something Joe really needs to read comment on:

http://borderlands-books.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/terry-goodkind-publisher.html?m=1

It's a blog post suggesting that traditional authors should add to their contracts the prohibition of self-publishing.

Yuwanda Black said...

Joe,

I have to say I love your abrasive tone. I like the fact that you own the fact that you have a dog (ie, 8 dogs) in this race and your goal is to make your life better (and if others benefit from the ride, then great).

I guess what I enjoy overall is that you don't try to b.s. readers by saying, "I write this blog to help others, blah, blah, blah."

Too many writers, in my experience, RUN from owning that the write, in part to make money.

While "loving to write" and writing a blog to "help others" is great (heck, I do it too), one of my main underlying goals is to earn a living from my writing.

Keep it up!