Saturday, July 07, 2012

99 Cents

So is 99 cents a good price for ebooks? Does it devalue them? Are we in a race to the bottom where consumers will always expect cheap and free? Or are 99 cents sales smart ways to find new fans, climb up on bestseller lists, and lower rankings?

I've blogged about the race to the bottom before, and explained in detail why I believe the notion is wrong.

I've blogged about the value of ebooks, and how I discovered that low prices are best.

I've experimented with 99 cent ebooks and did well with it, hitting the Kindle Top 100 Bestsellers, then reverting the price back to $2.99 and making lots of money. I did the same thing two more times, and each time I cracked the Top 100, but didn't make as much.

Now it's a year later, and I'm trying it again. But rather than one ebook, I'm making all of my ebooks 99 cents for a limited time (as of now, until Monday July 9).

So if you wanted to stock up on Konrath ebooks on Amazon, Nook, or Kobo, now is the time.

Also, I asked my buddies Blake Crouch and Scott Nicholson to do the same thing.

Right we have over 100 titles at 99 cents.

Feel free to buy lots, tweet it, tell your friends and family. If an ebook isn't 99 cents, try waiting a few days. Some titles haven't switched to the new price yet.

When the sale ends, I'll be blogging about how many ebooks I sold, and if it was worth it.

Until then, here are some links:


J.A. Konrath


Blake Crouch

Scott Nicholson
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=scott+nicholson


306 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 306 of 306
Elias said...

While I don't think the scientific method is neccessary like Belikov suggested, I have to agree with him on one point; this assumption that more indie authors write crap is damaging to all of us. It's already out there, and while I think that opinion is slowly shifting (at an admittedly glacial pace) it is our duty as indie writers to fight it when and where we can. The best way to do that is write a good book, and go out of your way to read and promote other good indie authors. I know they're out there, we ALL know they're out there, and it's up to all of us, as a community, to support one another. The shit is there and will sink by itself, and yes if a book is good it will find an audience, but we need to be involved in that. It benefits all of us.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

scientific study - regarding a badly written book!!! That's just stupid. Now look there are many well written self pubbed books, but if the argument turns on this subject and we fill reams of comment space talking about proper scientific studies then the debate goes nowhere. There are self pubbed books with badly designed covers, some using comic sans, there are self pubbed books with no editing but that is not to debase all self pubbed books.

Scientific experiment in a sealed chamber or not, there are some terrible self pubbed books and yes far more than traditionally published books.

However there are also some excellent self pubbed books.

You don't need a scientific study for this part of the argument, but in order that we don't turn this into another debate that misses the point entirely I will concede this point.

All self pubbed books are brilliant and the poster who suggested otherwise was wrong, and I was also wrong on this point.

Now let's rock and roll.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

E C - I did try and buy one of your books just now so I could take a look but your link to your website took me to a page where Go Daddy were trying to sell me web space. Harper Collins on the other hand takes me to Harper Collins.

However I messed about a bit and just downloaded The Feral Collection from Amazon UK.

So thanks for that.

T Ludlow said...

Joe Konrath: If you state all people named Dustin are left-handed, it is not my job to find a right-handed Dustin, even though I easily could. It is your job to show every Dustin in the world is left-handed.

Absolutely right. It's the person making, or defending, the extraordinary claim who has to come up with the evidence. The burden of proof rests with them.

Sasha's contention, and mine, is that there are very strong reasons (detailed in previous posts) to expect the average indie novel to be a 'worse' read that the average trad novel.

To say otherwise would be, in my opinion, the extraordinary claim.

E.C. Belikov: Sasha went through some objective qualifications such as: spelling, grammar, syntax, but at that point any story that’s been through a thorough line edit and proofread is going to qualify. That’s just the tip of the iceberg and I’m afraid everything below the waterline is completely subjective.

The point being that many indie books aren't edited and proofread properly.

I often use Amazon's 'look inside' feature to check out a novel before I buy it and most of the indies I've looked at have collapsed under huge clunking errors within the first few pages. We shouldn't be obsessed with technicalities, it's the story that counts at the end of the day, but reading a book is heavy time commitment and if an author can't be bothered to pick up on basic errors what are the chances they've bothered to hone their plot lines, characterisation etc? Time and again I come across blog commentators who have sworn off indie books because they've been 'stung' too many times. I'm not one of them, I would never dimiss an indie out of hand, but I can see where they're coming from.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Gary said, Now there are claims that you are inflating your sales figures so what do you say about this?

I can't answer for Joe, but I can assure you that his sales figures aren't inflated. All you have to do is look at the number of books he has available and the ranking he's getting over time and you can figure out the basic number of units he's moving a day.

I mentioned money earlier and got blasted for it, but, again, I think it's important that people know what kind of money can be made at this game.

I have a friend who told his editor what he was taking in monthly off his self-published sales and the editor couldn't believe it. And when the friend told me, I had a hard time wrapping my head around it as well.

Still do. Even though it has happened to ME since then.

Joe has no reason to inflate his sales figures. The truth is astonishing enough.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Indie writers, in general, write more crap.

I'm not sure who originally made this comment. I was a little distracted by the textbook trollish behavior demonstrated here which I tried to avoid adding to. But I just wanted to say that such words have been spoken many times in the past, usually based on the speaker's particular bias.

Similar things were said about paperback originals back when Fawcett first introduced the concept to the publishing world.

In fact, it's STILL being said about paperback originals today. If you aren't publishing hardback, you're a second-class citizen in the publishing world. Believe me, I got a lot of sympathetic looks when my first publisher decided to bring my second book straight to paperback.

Similar things are said about genre books by literary elitists. After I had published a number of genre books, a "friend" said to me, "When are you going to write something important instead of the crap you usually write?"

As I said, such assumptions are made by people with a particular bias. And the bias in this case—which will probably never be shaken—is that non-self-published books are somehow more "legitimate" than self-published books.

And I understand that bias. Two years ago, I would have agreed. But a lot of things have changed in two years and a lot of truly talented people are self-publishing, just as a lot of truly talented people are writing paperback originals and genre books.

The bottom line is that, end the end, IT DOESN'T MATTER. There is CRAP EVERYWHERE, depending on your own particular viewpoint. Who does or doesn't produce more of it is not important.

What's important are the GEMS. And there are plenty of those to go around in all forms of publishing.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Elias said this assumption that more indie authors write crap is damaging to all of us.

In publishing circles, certainly. I'm pretty sure a lot of people in the industry are laughing at us, just as—again—they laughed at he writers of paperback originals back in the day.

But unless your product is so amateurish that it SCREAMS self-published, I truly doubt that most readers know the difference. Or care.

To most readers a book is a book and who published it is unimportant. They're more concerned with who WROTE it.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

"end the end"

I think I've coined a new phrase.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Rob you make a good arguement and I've just downloaded Trial Junkies from Amazon. UK.

So all Joe needs to do is come and answer my questions directly, as he said he would. And by that I mean here in the comments section. I am especially interested in hearing about the Ace deal.

Joseph Day said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe Konrath said...

The point I am trying to make is that a well reasoned argument is a better defense then banning people from the comments on this otherwise excellent blog.

I only ban people when they start insulting other commentors. Which Day was doing.

Now there are claims that you are inflating your sales figures so what do you say about this?

People can choose to believe whatever they want to believe. I've provided ample evidence of my sales figures. I'm supposed to make my tax return public because some folks don't believe me? That's silly.

If you follow the history of Newbie's Guide and sync it to the history of the publishing industry, I was one of the very first writers to post sales numbers. That info is all still available. And because I did that, a whole new flock of writers are free with their sales info, which benefits everyone.

But that doesn't mean I have to take a screen shot every time someone challenges my claims. I believe my integrity has long since been proven.

Also the poster who said there was more crap being published indie style than traditionally, was shot down unfairly.

When you make a claim like this, quote me to show how I was being unfair. Because I wasn't. I was civil, and my argument was sound.

My final point is that whlst Jo Day did resort to name calling, you did call him a pinhead and an idiot.

Reread my post where I called him a pinhead. He was asking for it, and I documented the reasons why. He was flat out wrong, and could have saved himself from being flat out wrong by doing a few minutes of research. I refuted every single point he lamely tried to make. When he continued acting stupid, I kicked him out.

And lastly is it true you did a deal with Ace Books for the SF novel? If so this would seem strange given all you have said about the gatekeepers etc.


C'mon, Gary. I replied to this already.

The Ace deal was prior to me self-pubbing on Kindle. And once I saw what Ace was doing with the book, I pulled the second book in the contract. I've blogged about this before. I also said it in this thread.

Elias said...

@Rob Gregory Browne

Sir, you make an outstanding set of points. I personally didn't know that the paperback originals or straight to paperback writrers were looked down upon by the elites, but I'd never really thought about it. Now that I have, it makes perfect sense.

And like you said, unless your book is just blatant trash, the readers don't care where it comes from; what matters to the reader is that the book is entertaining them, that it touches them in some way, or makes thier day better.

Well said.

Joe Konrath said...

Now Joe to me that splurge there is not only arrogant but contains several insults.

I'm arrogant and insulting, and I can defend both actions.

I didn't say commentors can't say negative things abotu me. They are welcome to. But back them up with facts and logic, or else is is juvenile.

When I call someone a pinhead, I explain in excruciating. irrefutable detail why they are a pinhead.

If you want to call me the same, defend it.

Joe Konrath said...

Scientific experiment in a sealed chamber or not, there are some terrible self pubbed books and yes far more than traditionally published books.

How many more, Gary?

Do you know how may books have been published? How many are legacy vs. self-pubbed?

How many have you read? Or at least looked at?

What is your definition of "far more"?

You see how easily you're argument can topple. Blanket statements aren't helpful.

Whenever subjective taste comes into play it comes down to opinion. And you have to be careful not to confuse opinion as fact. One is subjective, one is objective.

Also, whenever I form an opinion, I'm able to defend it. To state that Comic Sans automatically makes a cover bad means you've got extensive examples of it, and no examples that use Comic Sans well, according to an agreed-upon definition of what "good" is.

Tough to defend that viewpoint.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Joe - if the Ace deal was prior to you self pubbing, then I had my facts wrong on that point and agree that I was wrong. My apologies on that.

The inflated sales claims were not made by me but by others, and your rankings do not seem that high. Of course sales will go up and down in cycles. That is a given and I asked the question and you have now given an answer.

All I asked.

E.C. Belikov said...

@Gary I had conceded to Michael, that I would accept other forms of evidence, and that a full study was a bit out-of-reach. But you no longer wish to debate that point, so I will abide by your wishes. Thank you for pointing out those broken links, it had slipped my mind to change them temporarily while I’m moving my domain. And also thank you for downloading Feral, I hope you don’t judge it as crap.

@ T Ludlow You said: “Absolutely right. It's the person making, or defending, the extraordinary claim who has to come up with the evidence. The burden of proof rests with them.”

I never made any extraordinary claims, nor did I ever give an opinion on the ratio of quality in indie vs. non-indie books. Sasha made a claim and I asked for evidence beyond an opinion.

@Joe Day I hope you’re not thinking I sound “scared”. I’m being respectful. Wasn’t I respectful of you, here and on Twitter? Even though we disagreed. Respect shouldn’t be mistaken for fear.

Joe Konrath said...

Sasha's contention, and mine, is that there are very strong reasons (detailed in previous posts) to expect the average indie novel to be a 'worse' read that the average trad novel.

There were strong reasons to expect the earth was flat, until people actually realized it wasn't.

Sure, you can assume indie covers are bad, or they are filled with typos, but would you strengthen your opinion with examples and facts?

I have seen, for a fact, book covers I consider poorly done, and poorly formatted ebooks. I used to judge the Writer' Digest short story contest, and the self-publishing contest, and I have seen bad writing and can explain in detail why it is bad.

But I still try to avoid blanket statements.

On my Kindle, I have about 500 novels, some indie, some legacy. I've read, or tried to read, the majority of them. And I have found that, in the sample I've encountered, the books are equally well-written.

But my sample is skewed. The majority indie books I have are from former legacy writers. It would be wrong for me to form an opinion about the "average" indie ebook based on that sample.

But let's say I concede and agree: the average ebook isn't as good as the average legacy book. My response is: who cares? The writers I know who are indie publishing are doing just as good, if not a better, job than legacy publishers. Newbies who publish junk are not my concern, and I've posted at length about who they don't hurt anyone. Readers are the new gatekeepers.

Joe Konrath said...

The inflated sales claims were not made by me but by others, and your rankings do not seem that high

LOL Gary. If my ranking were really high right now, why would I be having a 99 cent sale?

Rankings and sales do fluctuate. I've had ebooks hit the Top 100 years apart (my novel The List has been in the Top 100 four times in three years.)

Right now I'm working on a three book deal with Thomas and Mercer, which won't be out until later this year. When those books come out, my rankings across the board will rise. When I finish my next Jack Kilborn, they'll rise. I maye try KDP Select again with some titles, to see if they'll rise. I'm working on a promo with Kobo, to get a sales boost.

In January I made $100k in a four week period. Things have cooled off since then, as expected, but they'll bounce back. I've got three years of data to look back on that show this.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

Hello Joe,

"I've got three years of data to look back on that show this."

I'm wondering if you could give a bit of insight on the buying trends you have seen. Which months are slowest? Which aren't?

Things seem to be pretty steady right now. I'm seeing the same income week after week for several months. However, that income is 50% less per week than it was in January even though I have added titles.

I feel like my new titles are laying the foundation for the "busy" time, I just don't know when that tends to kick off.

Thanks,
Veronica

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I've posted at length about who they don't hurt anyone. Readers are the new gatekeepers.

Yes, one of the biggest arguments the self-publishing naysayers make is that the ebook shelves are being flooded by amateurs, and that flood will ruin it for everyone.

But readers have ALWAYS been gatekeepers and have fielded their fair share of crap (by whatever definition you choose) from traditional publishers.

Publishers are intermediate gatekeepers who have been rendered largely unnecessary now that we can reach the readers directly. This is not a diss against publishers, but merely a fact.

And the thing we have to remember in this new scenario is that READERS AREN'T STUPID, and they have no problem figuring out who the so-called amateurs are. They don't need someone in New York to tell them.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm wondering if you could give a bit of insight on the buying trends you have seen. Which months are slowest? Which aren't?

May-October seem to be slowest, and I've seen sales slip downward month to month. November picks up, December and Jan are better. Feb and March are a slow decline.

But these are loose trends. Meaning, I'm just one author, and when I do promo stuff it skews things. Last year, April was my best month. This year it was January.

Bottom line: no one knows. But there does seem to be an ebb and flow.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

Thanks for replying. I've one other question that I haven't seen addressed: How do you track your Amazon sales?

I check KDP reports, month-to-date sales and try to remember what the numbers were the last time I checked. This is a bit haphazard and now that I have 18 titles I can't keep track in my head. I tried keeping an Excel spreadsheet and updating it about the same time each day....got tedious.

Is there a site/program that you use for this?

I did find that you can check the prior six weeks royalties in KDP and see the total at the bottom of the page. That's how I know my weekly income is steady as that number has been just about the same for a couple of months now.

I tried Googling this question and got a bunch of links to Goodreads threads about sales.....

Thanks!

V

Joe Konrath said...

I use Excel.

You can download previous months' spreadsheets on your KDP page. Then I put them all together, along with numbers from other retailers.

It's a pain in the butt.

T Ludlow said...

Joe Konrath: My response is: who cares? The writers I know who are indie publishing are doing just as good, if not a better, job than legacy publishers. Newbies who publish junk are not my concern, and I've posted at length about who they don't hurt anyone. Readers are the new gatekeepers.

Can't argue with that.

Thom said...

And let people laugh at indies. When I did a show in the early days of the WB network, everybody at the traditional networks were laughing too. Ridiculously low ratings, they said.

Until they figured out that what the WB was delivering with their 2 share was a solid demographic of 12 year old girls to their advertisers. Suddenly no one was laughing.

This thing is still so new. No one really knows anything. But if I were legacy, I would not be laughing. It may be that indies will capture a market we don't really understand yet.

Mark Edward Hall said...

Instead of endlessly debating what does and does not constitute a good book, You authors should be spending your time trying to write the best book you can.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Joe you say - I made $100k in a four week period.

Is that solely from book sales? What I can't understand is that you are not shy of stating the amount of money you made, but don't list the amount of books actually sold. For instance what is the average no of books you sell each month?

Joe Konrath said...

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/01/100000.html

That's the last screen shot I posted. And it'll probably be the last one I post until I hit a specific round number on Kindle and an announcement is made.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

That is impressive.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Mark Edward Hall said, Instead of endlessly debating what does and does not constitute a good book, You authors should be spending your time trying to write the best book you can.

With all due respect, this kind of comment is pretty pointless. I don't think there's a single one of us who doesn't try to write the best books we can. But that doesn't preclude us from debating issues related to our craft/business.

Joe Konrath said...

Instead of endlessly debating what does and does not constitute a good book, You authors should be spending your time trying to write the best book you can.

C'mon, Mark. If we don't have a definition of what a good book is, how can we write one?

Mark Edward Hall said...

I thought my comment was very much on the point, Rob Browne, but like everything else on this forum, I guess it's a matter of opinion.

Joe said, "C'mon, Mark. If we don't have a definition of what a good book is, how can we write one?"

Good point, Joe. Think I'll go write one. By the way, looking forward to your next effort.

P.S. Power said...

A good book has to be easily read by the average reader.

That requires good editing, clear presentation of ideas and enough focus to the concepts of the book that the reader doesn't become too lost or side tracked.

The rest is all about personal preferences of the reader, but that is about all that I can see is needed for a "Universal" definition of a good book.

It's in the personal preferences that we start getting into the part that is hard to judge.

George R.r. Martins Game of Thrones series comes to mind for me personally as an example.

The books are clearly well edited, so check.

It's easy to understand what he's saying and not get lost, even though he does have dozens of "main" characters. (Perspective characters.) So check on that.

They are, by the above definition good books. Even very good.

But I don't like them.

The two things can coexist however. I can see why other people do like them and if doing a review would probably never give them less than a four star rating, because in every real world way they are good.

(I don't like how the main people die off so easily. I know, boo-hoo, I'm a softy.)

But once you have the editing down (something that I'm struggling with and, I hope, getting a handle on finally)and write in a way that people can understand,you have a book that isn't crap.

People may still hate it, but depending on what you write, that may just mean you aren't putting out exactly the same book every time you sit down at the computer.

Just my opinion of course and I clearly skew towards the Indie side of the equation, but I think that makes some sense as a definition.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I think that the perception of self published books is changing and I firmly believe that the next superstar writers will come from the self pubbed community. However the facts are that to many self pubbing is viewed much like the vanity publishing of old.

I think I would define crap as being badly edited with no real hook to a story. However even that is subjective as I thought Fifty Shades of Grey was utter crap and look how that's selling.I also think a lot of Dean Koontz is crap which is strange because his novel, Watchers is one of my all time faves.

evilphilip said...

"Well, King tried it with 'The Plant' though that was before the ereader boom, and he was writing each episode on the fly. I'm sure this one has been put to bed already, start to finish."

Small correction. The Plant was NOT new. King had previously written and released The Plant in limited edition as a Christmas Card that he sent to friends, relatives and industry people.

The Plant was a smash success -- it sold over $100k in copies on a "Pay if you feel like it." strategy and King never finished the book. Why? The obvious reason -- he ran out of content.

He tried to play it off like people were not paying for it, but that wasn't true. It was just that he ran out of pre-written content and didn't want to bother taking time away from his $10 Million+ book contracts to work on a story that was pulling in $100k.

In the current marketplace, The Plant would have done amazing because via Amazon, nook, etc you are pretty much forced to pay for each installment instead of King's "Pay if you want." strategy.

I can only guess, but I imagine if King were to serialize an eBook today with current technology that the results would be pretty spectacular. Probably far above the $3 Million per book he gets from publishers.

evilphilip said...

"Indie writers, in general, write more crap."

I know it isn't a popular opinion, but I agree with this statement. I can only look at my own buying habits.

I seldom "go looking" for new books. Instead books tend to find me. I see a book mentioned on twitter or on a blog or in an article on a news website and the book sounds like something that fits my reading habits and then I seek out that book and add it to my iPad library.

Every once in a while I'll see something Amazon.com recommended to me and I'll follow those links and buy a book that way. (Which isn't my #1 way to find books.)

I don't think that has ever happened with an indie book. They are ALL books published by the big publishers.

It has been my personal experience that the best books come from the big publishers.

Keep in mind this is coming from an indie writer. I'm not seeing any Great books coming out of indie authors. Books that I can't ignore and that I feel like I have to own.

It might happen in the future. It isn't happening yet.

Joe is fond of saying something along the lines of "Write a great book and match it with a great cover."

I suspect a lot of indie authors are not listening to his advice.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Evilphillip - but then you have to define a great book. I agree with you but I bet all indie authors think they are producing great books.

evilphilip said...

" I agree with you but I bet all indie authors think they are producing great books."

If they are... why am I not hearing anyone talking about them? Why am I not reading about them on blogs, twitter or facebook?

I do understand that taste is subjective and what I think of as a great book isn't what other people are going to think of as great.

My point is that if your indie book was great, it would stand out and whatever genre I'm reading I would be hearing about it in the circles I travel in.

And if all that fails then there is still the titles that Amazon is recommending and if something is great and a ton of people are reading it and buying it -- why don't I see Amazon recommending it to me?

What I see is Amazon recommending mostly books from the big publishers and then all the sudden about 15 pages into recommendations you hit that break where there are a handfull of indie books with bad (I mean REALLY BAD) covers and worse descriptions.

Those are nothing I'm ever going to buy.

The best books are still the books that come from the big publishers.

Yes, big publisher do publish crap (Twilight? Shades of Gray (Twilight fan fiction?)) but they are still your go-to guy when it comes time to find something you actually want to read.

If there is ever going to be a revolution and we are ever going to hit the point where the Big 6 collappses in on themselves then indie authors are going to have to step up the quality by several notches.

Indie authors are the people who need to be cranking it up to 11.

Right now they seem to be setting the dial to "3" and then selling it for less than a buck and hoping that will be good enough.

Joe Konrath said...

but that is about all that I can see is needed for a "Universal" definition of a good book.

You're missing some stuff, including conflict, rising action, resolution, and dynamic characterization.

Flawed people with problems. That's essential in storytelling.

Newbie's usually forget conflict, or begin it too late. They don't give the hero story problems, or personal problems.

I've got an old blog post about how not to write a story, which is always controversial when someone brings it up.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/07/how-not-to-write-story.html

Joe Konrath said...

My point is that if your indie book was great, it would stand out and whatever genre I'm reading I would be hearing about it in the circles I travel in.

I disagree.

Popularity is about luck, not greatness. I've written a lot of great books that sold poorly. One of my favorites is BLACKBURN by Bradley Denton. No one has heard about that book, but it's just amazing. I could list dozens of titles no one knows, but that I could write essays about explaining how awesome they are.

We all need to write good books. But all good books don't lead to big success.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

True I think many famous writers have said luck is more important than talent. I can see evilphilps point, though and I also agree with Joe that many great books go unnoticed.

Though we must admit there are crap books both indie and trad published, but as I said I think the perception of indie is improving.

evilphilip said...

"Popularity is about luck, not greatness. I've written a lot of great books that sold poorly."

I don't want to be the one who went there... but...

If they sold poorly, they probably were not great books. The fact that the same book sold well as a $2.99 kindle eBook when it wasn't selling as a $24.95 hardcover doesn't make it a great book. It only means that people like cheap books and the type of person who reads $2.99 books and $.99 books isn't going to be as discriminating as someone who is reading $24.95 hardcovers.

You are having great success, but your success is weighted heavily by the fact that you are prominant and cheap. With 40+ titles available, your books will get pushed to people who like thrillers a lot more than someone with 1 or 2 books available.

Match that with the fact that your books are cheap and you have a recipe for financial success. It doesn't mean that the big publishers made a mistake when they didn't promote your books or that they made a mistake when they dropped you.

It certainly doesn't mean that the books are good.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Yeah but it goes back to the fact that indie writers wouldn't put out a book unless they thought it was great and Joe is no exception - true greatness will only be measured with time. And for the record I enjoyed Whiskey Sour - I don't think it was particularly great but it wasn't a bad book. I'm gonna read more of the series in any case.

Jude Hardin said...

Just read the first few pages of Blackburn. Fuck! I wish it was available for Kindle so I could start reading it tonight.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

What is Blackburn?

Rob Cornell said...

If they are... why am I not hearing anyone talking about them? Why am I not reading about them on blogs, twitter or facebook?

There is a huge glaring flaw in your analysis. Every sentence you say starts with "I." You are trying to make a universal assessment based on only your experience and opinion.

For example, I bet you money I see books mentioned on Facebook that you do not. Same with Twitter. What you see on those sites is largely a product of your own choice and preferences. Same with the Amazon suggestions. Those are heavily based on your own purchasing habits. That's what makes them so good. So if you're only buying the bestsellers of a particular genre, you're only going to get a certain cross section from that same area (as an example; not saying those are your buying habits).

People often think/say, "I don't experience such and such" and make the false extrapolation "therefore others must all experience such and such."

One person's experience is evidence of nothing on a larger scale. Besides, you've heard of John Locke? Amanda Hocking? JA Konrath? Questions of taste aside, their success as independent authors is undeniable. So you HAVE heard of great books by indie authors. Even if you, personally, wouldn't label them that way. Because many many others do.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Indie authors are the people who need to be cranking it up to 11.

Right now they seem to be setting the dial to "3" and then selling it for less than a buck and hoping that will be good enough.


In light of this comment I think we now need to define what an "Indie" author is. Because throwing everyone into the same bucket is probably a mistake.

Anyone who has set the dial at "3," is, to my mind, not an indie author. He or she is just someone who said, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to publish a book?" and decided to throw it up on Amazon.

Such books are easily spotted by readers. They're usually the ones with the covers that look like they were designed by the same guys who still put flashing and scrolling text and twinkling red hearts all over their websites.

Real indie authors are people who bust their butts writing a book, get it properly edited and hire a top notch designer to handle their covers. You know, the people who CARE about what they're doing and aren't simply throwing a book up there on a lark.

And I'd argue that the many or even most of the people who took the time to do that, and actually took the time to learn the art of storytelling, are the REAL indie authors. Whether or not they're books are any good is up to the readers and the readers will surely tell them.

If you stack a well-produced indie book against a traditionally published book, I think you'll probably get the same ratio of crap to genius, depending on your definition of both.

And most readers will never know the difference.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

If they sold poorly, they probably were not great books

Statements like this annoy the shit out of me. Quality has nothing to do with sales. Fifty Shades of Gray is the perfect example. It's not a great book. It's not even a good book. But it's selling like crazy.

There are many great books that simply don't sell well. I've read books that I thought were fantastic that the general public ignored or the publisher simply dumped because they couldn't be bothered.

To make the assumption a book didn't sell well because it must not be any good is the exact same type of thinking that permeates Hollywood and New York publishing.

"If it fails, it's the author's fault."

Give me a break.

evilphilip said...

"One person's experience is evidence of nothing on a larger scale. Besides, you've heard of John Locke? Amanda Hocking? JA Konrath?"

I concede that point. If you keep in mind Amanda Hocking is a traditionally published author at this point and most of John Locke's success is similar to Joe's -- he's cheap.

I spend a lot of time on Amazon and I spend a lot of time reading about authors, writing and books.

I honestly do believe that if you want AAA quality writing that you are going to find it with traditionally published books and you are not going to find it with indie authors.

I'm an indie author myself and I love the opportunity that Amazon is offering us and the fact that mid-list authors can suddenly make a living selling their books directly to readers. I love it and I'm a part of it.

As a reader, I see some serious flaws with the quality of the people I'm surrounding myself with.

You can pretend that my experience isn't the experience of the general public if you want. I disagree.

The truth is that that indie authors are not as good as the people the big publishers are pulling in.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

evilphilip said...

"Statements like this annoy the shit out of me. Quality has nothing to do with sales. Fifty Shades of Gray is the perfect example. It's not a great book. It's not even a good book. But it's selling like crazy."

There are millions and millions of people who would disagree with you.

I checked out your books. You appear to be another author who was traditionally published and who was dropped by their publisher because their sales were not good enough.

Am I close with that?

I can see why it would upset you when I make a comment that if you were dropped by publishers it might be because you weren't good enough to cut it.

Michael McClung said...

@ evilphilip- I stand corrected regarding The Plant not being written on the fly. It does however point out one of the possible weaknesses of the serial format. If the content is not completely written before being sold, there is a chance that readers will never actually get closure.

Of course the same can be said for any series. Writers die. Writers get bored. In traditional publishing, sales drop off and the series dies an ignominious death.

Michael McClung said...


I'm an indie author myself and I love the opportunity that Amazon is offering us and the fact that mid-list authors can suddenly make a living selling their books directly to readers. I love it and I'm a part of it.


The truth is that that indie authors are not as good as the people the big publishers are pulling in.

So you're saying that your own stuff is not as good as traditionally published work.

P.S. Power said...

"You're missing some stuff, including conflict, rising action, resolution, and dynamic characterization."

Joe, a lot of that goes back to being subjective again.

If we're trying for a definition of what makes a book "crap" then we can't use things that will shift from person to person.

I'll grant those things are needed for "good" books. But I've seen very few without at least conflict involved and most have something hinting at a dynamic character or two.

When most people complain about Indie books I don't get the impression that they're saying all the stories are trite, predictable or boring, but rather that the editing is weaker than they'd like.

People can complain about other things, but those problems may lie with the reader having gotten a book that's just not for them and doesn't make it crap.

evilphilip said...

" It does however point out one of the possible weaknesses of the serial format. If the content is not completely written before being sold, there is a chance that readers will never actually get closure."

I like the serial format. It seems like a cool throwback to the pulp era.

It worked good for The Plant and for The Green Mile and I think it was working really well for the guy who wrote Wool.

I wrote a serial audio play for a Podcast. It was a lot of fun to write, but it was hard to strike a balance between pushing the story forward and leaving new listeners behind.

evilphilip said...

"So you're saying that your own stuff is not as good as traditionally published work."

I'm not selling millions of copies. So, there is that.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I checked out your books. You appear to be another author who was traditionally published and who was dropped by their publisher because their sales were not good enough. Am I close with that?

I'm not a disgruntled author, if that's what you're trying to suggest.

I've never been dropped by a publisher. I did four books with St. Martin's, then left them when Penguin stole me away and offered me a nice deal. I've also written several books under pen names. I've consistently made six figures a year over the last four years since quitting my day job.

My decision to self-publish was based on an assessment of the direction of the industry (head in the sand about ebooks—although slowly surfacing) and friends who were making money hand over fist at it. The lure of complete control over my work, PLUS money to make it all worthwhile, was enough for me decide not to shop my latest book, TRIAL JUNKIES, to the Big 6.

And I'm certainly glad I made the move. In the month and a half or so that the book has been out, I've already sold over 20,000 copies, had several thousand Prime Library borrows, and sales of my backlist have picked up considerably. I am already approaching my yearly income and then some. Coupled with royalties from traditionally published work, I've already SURPASSED that yearly income.

I'm not going to sit here and say I write great books. That's not up to me to decide. But I think I write books that many people enjoy reading. And thanks to the exposure TRIAL JUNKIES has brought me, more and more people are reading them.

And that's what it's all about. Exposure. Same for Fifty Shades of Shit. It's popularity has absolutely nothing to do with quality and everything to do with hype.

One of the biggest reasons many great books don't sell is because publishers don't bother to do anything more than perfunctory promotion, print only a few thousand copies, and, as a result, readers never KNOW about them.

That's why comments like yours annoy the shit out of me.

P.S. Power said...

Do we have to sell millions of copies to be considered successful?

I feel pretty good about what I'm doing so far and it sure isn't millions of copies! I'm getting about seven to ten thousand across all my titles. True, I've only been at it for less than two years and trying to actually sell anything for about seven months, but I really doubt that I'll ever be getting millions of sales.

Oh, I hope so, but that can't be the only measure of success or else the vast majority of people will have to consider themselves failures, including some people with best sellers.

Isn't it enough that people can make a good living and be read?

Rob Gregory Browne said...

The truth is that that indie authors are not as good as the people the big publishers are pulling in.

This is a ridiculous statement. In many cases they're the very same people.

Publishers are not nearly as interested in quality as they are in sales. For example, I have several friends who WERE dropped because of poor sales, despite the fact that they were writing terrific books (my honest assessment of their work).

But the moment those very same books and others began to sell in large numbers on Amazon as self-published work, the Big 6 came calling again, offering them sweetheart deals.

You say you're an indie author, and I'm truly sorry that you don't seem to value your own work as much as you do the work of traditionally published authors, but what you feel about your own work does not hold true for many, many indie authors out there.

P.S. Power said...

Sorry, that should have read seven to ten thousand a month in sales, across all my titles.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Do we have to sell millions of copies to be considered successful?

No. We're small business owners. Unlike the Big 6, we have very little overhead and don't need to sell millions to make a very comfortable living.

That's all I've ever asked of my career. That I be able to do what I love and make a good living at it. I punch my own clock and don't answer to anyone but the readers.

If you want to be a millionaire, you're in the wrong business.

Anonymous said...

There is a certain author who promotes the benefits of self-publishing and criticizes traditional publishing.

This author has some books still controlled by the traditional publishers, so this author would benefit from the collapse of the traditional publishers by recieving the rights to those books back.

What this author fails to realize is that the collapse of the traditional publishers would release all the famous big name authors who wrote for the traditional publishers, into the self-publishing arena.

These famous big name authors would then be free to set their own prices for their ebooks.

So does price competition really matter?

Lets imagine two ebooks, both of which are priced at the same price, but one ebook is by a famous big name author and the other is by a no name author. Which book is the average consumer going to buy?

But a certain proponent of self-publishing would say that consumers would buy both because that person says that comsumers hoard books. Oh Really?

Governments can print money endlessly but they don't. Do you know why? Because infinite money creates infinite inflation. There is only a finite amount of money to go around. Therefore not every consumer is going to have the ability to hoard books. Also even for the consumers wealthy enough to be able to hoard books, there comes a time when too much is just tooooooo much--a saturation level. You don't believe me? Imagine having 100 books on your iPad, now imagine 1000, now imagine 10,000, now imagine 100,000, now imagine 1,000,000, etc. etc. etc. The saturation point is going to be different for each individual, do you think there are enough of these "hoarders of books" to make every author rich? How come every author isn't rich already--what with all these "hoarders of books" everywhere just waiting to gobble up the latest ebook written by a no name self-publisher.

Imagine two self-publishers: one a newbie self-publisher, and the other one an average no name self-publisher who has been around a while but has not become rich and famous.

Now imagine that these two self-publishers now have to compete on price with all the famous big name authors because the traditional publishers collapsed. Lets say there are 20 big name famous authors who each have 3 new ebooks out, reaching a total of 60 new ebooks by big name famous authors. Lets say all the ebooks are in the same genre as 6 ebooks wriiten by our orginal newbie self-publisher and our no name self-publisher (3 books a each). Lets also say that all 66 ebooks are the same price. Which ebooks do you think the average consumer is going to buy--the ebooks by the famous big name authors or the newbie and no name authors? Now imagine if the ebooks by the famous big name authors were actually cheaper than the ebooks by the newbie and no name authors. Which ebooks are the average consumers likely going to buy then?

Rob Gregory Browne said...

@ Anonymous

Not sure if this was directed at me, but anything I say about publishers is not meant as criticism. I have friends in that world and value those friendships. In another post I was merely pointing to an obvious fact. Publishers do not offer much exposure for most of their authors. Anyone who disputes that doesn't know the industry. Marketing and promotion are largely left up to the author.

I don't know of anyone who is rooting for the death of the Big 6 and I doubt they'll go under. I think both worlds can co-exist peacefully.

As for big names going into self-publishing and lowering their prices, I don't think it would make any more difference than it does now. Those authors have never been a threat to me, because I don't believe this business is ABOUT competition.

Readers who enjoy Lee Child or John Grisham will always buy Lee Child and John Grisham, no matter who else is in the marketplace.

I'm not competing with them. I'm competing with myself.

Joe Konrath said...

Which ebooks do you think the average consumer is going to buy--the ebooks by the famous big name authors or the newbie and no name authors?

I've answered this question at least a dozen times, so I'll do a quickie recap.

1. Ebook sales aren't a zero sum game. A sale of one ebook doesn't preclude the sale of another, because this is a burgeoning global market with hundreds of new customers introduced daily, and people naturally horde more than they need. If all Lee Child ebooks were $3.99, an avid reader could buy and finish them all in a month. Then what? Wait six months for him to finish another, and not read a thing until then? I think not.

2. The reason bestselling authors are bestselling authors is because of distribution. Nora Roberts is available EVERYWHERE books are sold. So, by default, she sells a lot, because readers wanting that particular type of book have no other choice--they buy her, or nothing.

When publishers collapse, Nora will have the exact same amount of shelf space and exposure as any indie author. Sure, there will be some name and brand recognition for a while, but that will fade when not being constantly reinforced by massive print distribution.

It also remains to be seen how Nora will price her ebooks when her publisher goes bankrupt. Will she stay at the $9.99 price point she's selling at now? If so, I predict fewer sales. If she does price reasonably, then the reader with $9.99 to spend can buy one of her ebooks and one of my ebooks with change left of.

The market is getting bigger. People with ereaders tend to buy and read more. And authors came make a very nice living selling 100 ebooks a day for $2.99 each. Across multiple platforms, on a global scale, I see this as not only possible, but likely for decent, prolific authors.

I can sell a few hundred books a day, up to a few thousand in some cases, just in the US. Wait until Europe catches up, as well as India, Asia, and South America. Even if Stephen King continues to smoke my sales, I'm confident I'll still make a fine living.

Joe Konrath said...

Also wanted to add: there is already a tremendous abundance of choice, not only with media in general, but ebooks in particular. I believe Amazon has over 1 million Kindle titles for sale. Yet people still find me, and I was hardly a bestseller in print.

If bestselling authors all dropped their prices, I believe I'd sell more ebooks, not less, because more people would buy ereaders and have more money to spend on content.

Joe Konrath said...

And one more comment about name recognition and bestsellers: the majority fade.

Mickey Spillane (whose books I love) has sold over 225 million books.

Check his Kindle ranking now, only six years after his death. Lots of indies are outselling him.

Check ranks on some Louis L'Amour titles. He sold over 300 million books. Mediocre kindle sales.

Sidney Sheldon has sold more than Stephen King. Look at Sidney's rankings on Amazon these days.

Harold Robbins has sold 750 million books. More than twice JK Rowling. And many of his Kindle titles are less than $2.99.

Check his rankings. Mine are better in many cases. One of the best selling authors of all time, but he isn't in the paperback racks anymore, and that means no more bestsellerdom.

Anonymous said...

Rob Gregory Browne said...
"Not sure if this was directed at me, but anything I say about publishers is not meant as criticism."

I think that makes you a minority on this blog.

Rob Gregory Browne said...
"I don't know of anyone who is rooting for the death of the Big 6 and I doubt they'll go under. I think both worlds can co-exist peacefully."

Haven't been reading this entire blog much have you?

Anonymous said...

Rob Gregory Browne said...
"As for big names going into self-publishing and lowering their prices, I don't think it would make any more difference than it does now. Those authors have never been a threat to me, because I don't believe this business is ABOUT competition.

Readers who enjoy Lee Child or John Grisham will always buy Lee Child and John Grisham, no matter who else is in the marketplace.

I'm not competing with them. I'm competing with myself."


http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11291165&postID=1584400423377612112

You don't think competition matters?

Imagine a hypothetical situation in which you were the only game in town and

everyone had to come to you to get their needs met.

Lets say that for some reason all the other mystery writers retired and

stopped writing and you were the only mystery writer left. Assuming you had

decent talent, imagine what your sales would be in this hypothetical

situation.

Now, imagine that a few months later a new generation of mystery writers got

into the game. Lets say that 100 new mystery writers got into the game and

they had according level of talent:
50% had the same level of talent as you.
40% had talent somewhat better than you.
10% had talent that clearly surpassed yours by miles.

How well do you think your sales are going to be then?

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Joe Konrath said...
"1. Ebook sales aren't a zero sum game."

When it concerns money--it is always a zero sum game because money isn't INFINITE.
Governments can print money endlessly but they don't. Do you know why? Because infinite money creates infinite inflation. There is only a finite amount of money to go around. Therefore not every consumer is going to have the ability to hoard books.

Joe Konrath said...
"A sale of one ebook doesn't preclude the sale of another,..."

Again, money isn't infinite-- SPENDING money in ONE PLACE, ALWAYS PRECLUDES SPENDING THAT SAME MONEY IN A DIFFERENT PLACE.

Joe Konrath said...
"...because this is a burgeoning global market with hundreds of new customers introduced daily,..."

It stands to reason that new readers ALSO BRING NEW ASPIRING WRITERS--MORE COMPETITION.

Joe Konrath said...
"...and people naturally horde more than they need."

If that were true (I'm not saying that it is true), then it stands to reason that the following is also true:

Even for the consumers wealthy enough to be able to hoard books, there comes a time when too much is just tooooooo much--a saturation level. You don't believe me? Imagine having 100 books on your iPad, now imagine 1000, now imagine 10,000, now imagine 100,000, now imagine 1,000,000, etc. etc. etc. The saturation point is going to be different for each individual, do you think there are enough of these "hoarders of books" to make every author rich? How come every author isn't rich already--what with all these "hoarders of books" everywhere just waiting to gobble up the latest ebook written by a no name self-publisher.

Joe Konrath said...
"If all Lee Child ebooks were $3.99, an avid reader could buy and finish them all in a month. Then what? Wait six months for him to finish another, and not read a thing until then? I think not."

No, of course not. These avid readers would gorge themselves on ALL THE CHEAP NEW OFFEREINGS AND CHEAP BACKLISTS OF ALL THE OTHER FAMOUS BIG NAME AUTHORS--and not look twice at the no name stagnating indie or the newbie indie.

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Joe Konrath said...
"2. The reason bestselling authors are bestselling authors is because of distribution. Nora Roberts is available EVERYWHERE books are sold. So, by default, she sells a lot, because readers wanting that particular type of book have no other choice--they buy her, or nothing."


http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11291165&postID=426421575493101218

It's not just about distribution.

If distribution was all that mattered then, every mediocre title that the Big 6 got behind would have been huge bestsellers.

The fact is that some authors have more creative ideas, better story telling skills, a wider knowledge base of the language, and a better grasp the mechanics of the writing "craft".

Those four traits far OUTWEIGH distribution. That's how those FAMOUS authors made it.

Just take indie e-publishing as a separate example. Why do some indie authors have huge amounts of success and others not so much? Supposedly they all know how to use the Interwebs to market their books, there are several places where you can find out how...

FAME is a huge advantage.

Talent is a huge advantage.

Sure the playing field is level on the e-publishing market.

But some players have a better starting position (meaning already famous), not to mention better game playing skills (meaning better writing talent).

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Joe Konrath said...
"It also remains to be seen how Nora will price her ebooks when her publisher goes bankrupt. Will she stay at the $9.99 price point she's selling at now? If so, I predict fewer sales. If she does price reasonably, then the reader with $9.99 to spend can buy one of her ebooks and one of my ebooks with change left of."

So Nora Roberts' fans can buy Konrath ebooks with the money they save if Nora drops her own ebooks' prices.

Nice to know...

I wonder if there is going to be enough spare change left over to buy ebooks from:

Barry Eisler
Ann Voss Peterson
Jude Hardin
Robert Gregory Brown
Blake Crouch
Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin
T Ludlow
Mark Edward Hall
Merril Heath
evilphilip
Rob Cornell
P.S. Power
RD Meyer
Ruth Harris
Jill James
Perry Wilson
Rich Van Gaasbeck
Greg Camp
Darlene Underdahl
Casper Bogart
etc.
etc.
etc.

And of course, hopefully after all that, there is enough spare change left over to buy ebooks from...

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Joe Konrath said...
"The market is getting bigger. People with ereaders tend to buy and read more. And authors came make a very nice living selling 100 ebooks a day for $2.99 each. Across multiple platforms, on a global scale, I see this as not only possible, but likely for decent, prolific authors."

THE FOLLOWING IS A QUOTE FROM YOU ABOUT LUCK.

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11291165&postID=426421575493101218

Joe Konrath said...
"Maybe. Luck always plays a part in success. Always.

There are many great books that never found their audience. At least, since ebooks are forever, those books might have a chance to now."

If "luck always plays a part in success"...

THen is stands to reason that with MORE COMPETITION--INDIE AUTHORS WILL NEED MORE LUCK. Maybe a lot more luck when they have to compete directly on price against famous big name authors who turned into indie authors as well.

Anonymous said...

Joe Konrath said...
"I can sell a few hundred books a day, up to a few thousand in some cases, just in the US. Wait until Europe catches up, as well as India, Asia, and South America. Even if Stephen King continues to smoke my sales, I'm confident I'll still make a fine living."

Sure... just wait until all those new aspiring writers and MFA graduates from Europe, India, Asia, and South America catches up--THAT MEANS MORE COMPETITION.

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Joe Konrath said...
"Also wanted to add: there is already a tremendous abundance of choice, not only with media in general, but ebooks in particular. I believe Amazon has over 1 million Kindle titles for sale. Yet people still find me, and I was hardly a bestseller in print."

You have stated multiple times that your blog gets millions of hits per year. I think you also said that at best your blog gets about 30,000 unique hits a day.

And somehow people still manage to find you on Amazon...

Joe Konrath said...
"If bestselling authors all dropped their prices, I believe I'd sell more ebooks, not less, because more people would buy ereaders and have more money to spend on content."

Okay, famous big names dropping their prices might get more consumers to buy ereaders, but that doesn't lead to extra to spend on content for everyone (some authors are going to get left out when the spare change runs out)--SEE THE ANONYMOUS POST AT 2:40 AM

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Joe Konrath said...
"And one more comment about name recognition and bestsellers: the majority fade.

Mickey Spillane (whose books I love) has sold over 225 million books.

Check his Kindle ranking now, only six years after his death. Lots of indies are outselling him.

Check ranks on some Louis L'Amour titles. He sold over 300 million books. Mediocre kindle sales.

Sidney Sheldon has sold more than Stephen King. Look at Sidney's rankings on Amazon these days.

Harold Robbins has sold 750 million books. More than twice JK Rowling. And many of his Kindle titles are less than $2.99.

Check his rankings. Mine are better in many cases. One of the best selling authors of all time, but he isn't in the paperback racks anymore, and that means no more bestsellerdom."

All that can be explained by the following:

"What have you done for me lately?" said the reader to the author.

And you can't use yourself as a benchmark to measure against, because you said your blog gets millions of hits per year.

Anon #2

P.S. Power said...

Anon #2

Don't let the idea of competition stop you. It takes luck, and skill, but also hard work.

If you're bothering to be an author the basic skill is probably there.

So hard work and dedication are the main things you can add at that point.

You can't control luck, but you can add titles and do your best with everything you do.

It might just be enough and even if it doesn't take you to the big time, you may find yourself doing well enough to keep you happy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouragement, P.S. Power.

But my point is that--

BOTH SIDES SHOULD LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE (indie publishers versus traditional publishers).

Do current indie authors have the power to hasten the collapse of traditional publishing? YES THEY DO--through bad publicity and encouraging famous big name authors to jump ship and become indie authors.

Should current indie authors try to hasten the collapse of traditional publishers? NO THEY SHOULD NOT.

The collapse of traditional publishers will NOT BENEFIT CURRENT INDIE AUTHORS, except maybe Joe Konrath--because he gets millions of hits per year on this blog and he will get back the rights to his traditionally published books.

The price competition from famous big name authors who turn indie, will cut short the current gravy train for all NON-FAMOUS INDIE AUTHORS.

Anon #2

Michael McClung said...

Nobody promised me gravy on this train.

Anonymous said...

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gravy+train


2. gravy train

a very lucrative or rewarding situation or arrangement, likely to continue for some time.

Jude Hardin said...

After I get settled from having returned from ThrillerFest (a lot of writing to catch up on), I'm going to post a blog on my website about the following topic. It's my general impression that many people go to writers conferences because they want to find an easy formula to become a bestselling author. My own view is that if someone's goal is merely to make money as a bestselling author, then that person is chasing the market and already behind the curve. The only goal should be to write the best, most exciting, most moving, most meaningful book we can. After that, it's in the hands of Fate in terms of whether large numbers of readers will like our work.
--David Morrell, NYT bestselling creator of Rambo. Posted on Facebook this morning (7/16/2012).

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Anon said, How well do you think your sales are going to be then?

My sales will be what they are. People don't buy just ONE book.

Your percentages are interesting, but the level of one author's talent versus mine has nothing to do with sales. As we've established (again and again and again), sales are not dependent on talent alone.

Some authors may sell better than others and some may have more skill than others, but it's a big world with a lot of readers and we're not all competing for the same dime.

Michael McClung said...

@ anonymous-

Yes, I know what gravy train means, thank you, though your urban dictionary definition leaves something to be desired. Personally I'd go with wikepedia on this one:

(idiomatic) An occupation or any lucrative endeavor that generates considerable income whilst requiring little effort and carrying little risk.

Considerable income. Little effort. Little risk. This is how you see indie publishing? Seriously? And you think trad pub authors will take that away from you if the publishing houses collapse?

Just what kind of things do you write, how much do you make, and how much effort do you put into it, anonymous?

Rob Gregory Browne said...

No, of course not. These avid readers would gorge themselves on ALL THE CHEAP NEW OFFEREINGS AND CHEAP BACKLISTS OF ALL THE OTHER FAMOUS BIG NAME AUTHORS--and not look twice at the no name stagnating indie or the newbie indie.

So, in other words, we'd have the same chance of getting noticed that we do in the traditional publishing world?

What's the point of your argument? Despite all the big names out there, new writers get noticed all the time. New bestsellers are born. Lesser known authors manage to make a living, as I have.

It won't be any different if the playing field is ebooks only, at low prices for everyone.

Time and again I see people come here and elsewhere (never using their names, of course) and try to use scare tactics to make a point. "If you don't watch out, the world will come crashing down around you!"

To my mind, such tactics speak more about you than about the authors you're targeting.

But there's something you have to understand: authors, by nature, are scared all the time. Every single day of our careers we've had to wonder if are sales are any good, if we'll get another contract, if the powers that be will continue to buy our books, if they'll bother to promote us properly, if the cover they have designed will be any good, if they'll make us change the parts of the book we love, if the success we're having today will still be here tomorrow. Hell, we worry that the book we're currently working on is a big piece of shit.

So trying to scare us into thinking that indie publishing is somehow a BAD idea, is completely ridiculous. For one thing, going indie REMOVES half of the fears we already have.

And if I'm in control of EVERYTHING but the buying proclivities of the average reader, then I figure I'm in pretty good shape.

So, anonymous, if you're an agent or a publishing exec who thinks you can scare us into staying in your world, why not try another tactic?

Give us more control over our books and pay us a balanced, fair royalty for, you know, giving you a job. That tactic might actually work.

Anonymous said...

There is an interesting interview on the BBC Books and Authors podcast available via iTunes and also via the BBC Radio websites.

It concerns ebook sales figures and why Amazon does not release its figures other than the occasional news pieces about a million book seller.

Amazon has 85 to 95% of the UK ebook market. They were invited to contribute to the discussion but did not.

The guess is that Amazon want to keep their figures secret so as not to identify the price sweet spot to their competitors.

Also did you realise that not only do Amazon know which book you bought, they also know whether you read it or not.

This is incredible data to have that in the future will strengthen Amazon's position as a publisher because they will know exactly which books and authors are bought and read and which to recommission or do deals with.

Fifty Shades of Grey is said to have sold as many ebooks as print books. "J K Rowling territory," according to the expert interviewed.

All fascinating stuff.

Anonymously Optimistic

Anonymous said...

Rob Gregory Browne said...
"My sales will be what they are. People don't buy just ONE book."


Whatever...

My example tried to show what would happen if there was a monopoly situation (one author in one genre with no competition) , and what would happen in a situation where an average writer went head to head against top quality writers.

I'm not going to argue this point ANYMORE. Logical people can decide for themselves who made the better argument.

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Rob Gregory Browne said...
"So, in other words, we'd have the same chance of getting noticed that we do in the traditional publishing world?"

No that is a misrepresentation of my argument which was--it's harder to compete on price against famous big name authors.
I won't argue this point anymore either, logical people can decide for themselves who made the better argument.

Rob Gregory Browne said...
"What's the point of your argument?"

I told everyone my point on the Anonymous post at 6:22 AM

I will not repeat myself about this point, because I find you CONFRONTATIONAL, I'm here to hold a civil discussion, not cast doubt about other poster's motives as I think my own motives have been questioned unfairly.

Anon #2

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Rob Gregory Browne said...
"Time and again I see people come here and elsewhere (never using their names, of course) and try to use scare tactics to make a point. "If you don't watch out, the world will come crashing down around you!

To my mind, such tactics speak more about you than about the authors you're targeting."


This kind of unfairly casting doubt on my motives is what I consider an AD HOMINEN.

And therefore I will no longer debate you, for that reason and also I find you CONFRONTATIONAL.

Logical people can decide for themselves who made the better argument.

All future posts directed at me will be ignored.

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Michael McClung said...
"Yes, I know what gravy train means, thank you, though your urban dictionary definition leaves something to be desired. Personally I'd go with wikepedia on this one:

(idiomatic) An occupation or any lucrative endeavor that generates considerable income whilst requiring little effort and carrying little risk.

Considerable income. Little effort. Little risk. This is how you see indie publishing? Seriously? And you think trad pub authors will take that away from you if the publishing houses collapse?"

That is a STRAW MAN ARGUMENT because I did NOT USE YOUR WIKIPEDIA DEFINITION.

Michael McClung said...
"Just what kind of things do you write, how much do you make, and how much effort do you put into it, anonymous?"

My arguments stand on logic, your inquiries will not change the logic of my arguments.

I will no longer debate you because I do not like to answer STRAW MAN ARGUMENTS as well as inquiries that bear no weight on the current argument.

Future posts directed at me will be ignored.

Anon #2

Anonymous said...

Jude Hardin said...
"After I get settled from having returned from ThrillerFest (a lot of writing to catch up on), I'm going to post a blog on my website about the following topic. It's my general impression that many people go to writers conferences because they want to find an easy formula to become a bestselling author. My own view is that if someone's goal is merely to make money as a bestselling author, then that person is chasing the market and already behind the curve. The only goal should be to write the best, most exciting, most moving, most meaningful book we can. After that, it's in the hands of Fate in terms of whether large numbers of readers will like our work.
--David Morrell, NYT bestselling creator of Rambo. Posted on Facebook this morning (7/16/2012)."

THANK YOU Jude Hardin.
Your response is productive and does not contain confrontation or straw man arguments.

Good luck with your writing.

Anon #2

Joe Konrath said...

Haven't been reading this entire blog much have you?

Have you? Quote me where I say I can't wait to see the Big 6 go under. They will go under, but show me where I delight in it in a schadenfreude way.

As Eisler says, "When someone is sick, we want them to get better." If the Big 6 figured it out and started treating authors well, they'd pose some competition for Amazon, and competition is good.

When it concerns money--it is always a zero sum game because money isn't INFINITE.

We don't need infinity. We need a growing marketplace which a single author could never saturate. And that already exists right now.

Even for the consumers wealthy enough to be able to hoard books, there comes a time when too much is just tooooooo much--a saturation level.

Name ten people you know who have stopped consuming because they are saturated, and never plan to consume media again. I don't know any. But even if you do, the people I know keep reading and buying booking, no matter how big their TBR pile is.

Ebooks are going to reach BILLIONS of people within a decade. My guess is more people are buying ereaders than are publishing ebooks. The demand is outpacing the supply of new material. The market is getting bigger, not smaller.

I may be wrong, but I don't think I am. Who has numbers showing ebook growth vs. self-pub growth?

ALL THE CHEAP NEW OFFEREINGS AND CHEAP BACKLISTS OF ALL THE OTHER FAMOUS BIG NAME AUTHORS--and not look twice at the no name stagnating indie or the newbie indie.

That's a guess with zero evidence behind it.

I have proof that self-pubbed authors can sell lots of ebooks. There is zero proof they will stop selling lots of ebooks if X happens. I'll go with proof over a guess.

But so far you're making a reasonable argument, so good for you. It's nice to see anonymous posts without abuse in them.

Joe Konrath said...

If distribution was all that mattered then, every mediocre title that the Big 6 got behind would have been huge bestsellers.

Luck still plays a part. I'd contend that a lot of mediocre titles have become bestsellers, and a quick check of Amazon ratings will confirm this. Look how many bestselling books have under a 3 star, or even 2 star average.

No, quality isn't the reason for bestsellers. Omnipresence is. But we won't know for sure until publishers are gone.

THen is stands to reason that with MORE COMPETITION--INDIE AUTHORS WILL NEED MORE LUCK.

Actually, if there are three billion ebook readers out there, I have a much better chance at getting lucky. I only need to sell a few hundred ebooks a day to be rich. And I'll have a better chance at that when ebooks are global.

Let's say there are currently 100 million ebook readers, and 1 million ebook titles on Amazon. In ten years, there will be billions of ebook readers (following the path of mp3s). But there won't be a corresponding 100 million ebook titles available--there aren't that many people writing ebooks, and never will be.

So luck favors me.

Joe Konrath said...

But some players have a better starting position (meaning already famous), not to mention better game playing skills (meaning better writing talent).

Agreed. I've said for ten years that becoming successful is like get hit by lightning. It's luck. But you can improve your chances at getting hit by lightning. Writing good books, building a fanbase, marketing well, these can all help.

I wonder if there is going to be enough spare change left over to buy ebooks from:

Yep. Just like there's enough room for 300 cable TV channels, and four billion videos on Youtube.

Sure, some YouTube videos won't be watched, just like some ebooks won't be read. But quality does seem to eventually find an audience. Maybe not to smashing success, but authors don't need smashing success. They need 100 sales a day.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I will not repeat myself about this point, because I find you CONFRONTATIONAL, I'm here to hold a civil discussion, not cast doubt about other poster's motives as I think my own motives have been questioned unfairly.

When you make statements and I ask you questions about them, that doesn't make me confrontational. I'm not trying to confront you, I'm merely asking you a question.

And, I'm sorry, but if you post ANONYMOUSLY, expect to have your movies questioned.

Joe Konrath said...

You have stated multiple times that your blog gets millions of hits per year. I think you also said that at best your blog gets about 30,000 unique hits a day.

And somehow people still manage to find you on Amazon.


I dealt with this meme too often to do it again. See my resoponse and rebuttles here:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/01/reality-check.html

All that can be explained by the following:

"What have you done for me lately?" said the reader to the author.


Actually, no. There are new Mickey Spillane and Sidney Sheldon books being written, but they aren't getting the same distribution as they were years ago with the whole paperback/rack jobber revolution. Thus, ebook sales aren't being spurred.

What made them big was distribution. That particular distribution--rack jobbing--collapsed. Just like bookstores will collapse. When that happens, so long Nora Roberts dominating the ebook market.

Should current indie authors try to hasten the collapse of traditional publishers? NO THEY SHOULD NOT.

I see my peers being exploited, abused, treated unfairly, and making far less money than they could. I see depression and unhappiness and crushed hopes and dreams.

Sure, I could leave that alone and let it be.

But I won't.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

This kind of unfairly casting doubt on my motives is what I consider an AD HOMINEN.

And therefore I will no longer debate you, for that reason and also I find you CONFRONTATIONAL.


I find it ironic that someone who posts anonymously about what the future might hold, while offering nothing but speculation to back up their claims, finds ME confrontational.

Yes. Please ignore me. We'll both be much happier.

Joe Konrath said...

When you make statements and I ask you questions about them, that doesn't make me confrontational. I'm not trying to confront you, I'm merely asking you a question.

I like Rob, but if he was being a jerk, I'd ban him. He's not being a jerk. In fact, he's being incredibly polite and gracious.

His motives are obvious and transparent, because he posts under his name. Asking you your motives isn't the least bit offensive. In fact, it would add to the discussion if you explained who you are. Names aren't needed. But if you are an editor, a newbie, a reader, or a bestselling author, it would help.

For example, when I'm arguing with a newbie who has never worked int he legacy system, they don't truly know how writers are treated by the Big 6. When arguing with a legacy bestseller, they tend to be protective of the status quo and feel entitlement. It makes the debate smoother, and more direct.

Joe Konrath said...

After that, it's in the hands of Fate in terms of whether large numbers of readers will like our work.

I really like David, and he's right. But after writing a good book, writers do have a choice on how to reach those readers. I don't believe in fate. But I do believe in luck, and odds. And right now, luck favors the self-published.

Jude Hardin said...

And right now, luck favors the self-published.

Right now, maybe, but I would say over time luck favors those with the opportunity to diversify.

I have one title from a small press, a multi-book contract with Thomas and Mercer, and a couple of self-published novellas under a pen name (which are free now through Friday). I'm thinking about self-publishing more in the future, but right now I'm keeping busy with the T&M titles. And, if the right Big 6 offer came along, I might consider that as well.

The publishing climate might be altogether different a year or two from now, so it would probably behoove those in it for the long haul to keep an open mind and avoid burning bridges.

Wayne said...

To Anon #2, all I need is roughly 30 sales of $2.99 a day to quit my low paying day job. I don't need to be a huge bestseller to support myself.

That's only 10000 people who read only 1 book of mine per year and didn't go on to read others.

evilphilip said...

"So trying to scare us into thinking that indie publishing is somehow a BAD idea, is completely ridiculous. For one thing, going indie REMOVES half of the fears we already have."

I'm not scared. I was commenting on the earlier part of this thread where people were talking about the quality of indie books.

Right now, I do see that as lacking. Too much crap from too many people who think that Close Enough is Good Enough.

And I think that drags everyone doing indie stuff down.

As for the "Big 6" going away. That isn't going to happen. Right now (IMHO) they still have the advantage of having the best books and the best authors. As we transition from print media to digital they are still in the position of having the best books from the best authors. In fact, everything I've been reading says that despite the closure of Borders and the slow loss of many Barnes & Noble physical stores that the big publishers are making more money and selling more books than ever before.

It isn't doom and gloom with big publishers. I'm sure there are a lot of people in that industry who are scared -- change is always scary.

But overall they are taking advantage of the digital revolution just as much as everyone else and enjoying making $9.99 or $12.99 off a product they didn't have to print, ship or take returns on.

evilphilip said...

"To Anon #2, all I need is roughly 30 sales of $2.99 a day to quit my low paying day job. I don't need to be a huge bestseller to support myself."

Congrats, Wayne! That is the level I'm at right now. I haven't quit my day job, but I see it coming in the near future.

Jill James said...

I don't need to sell to millions, just thousands to make a great living.

If customer A only has money this month for her favorite Nora Roberts then she isn't my customer.

If customer B has money to try 3 previously unknown to her authors, I'm hoping for her as a reader, then I might get her.

That's what I'm working for, anyway.

evilphilip said...

"I'm not competing with them. I'm competing with myself."

I meant to mention, when I checked out your books I thought your covers were great. Obviously, when I'm talking about people who are putting in a "3" effort I wasn't talking about you. The amount of effort you put into your stuff is pretty close to "11".

Great covers and I love the Pen Name of your self-publishing company.

I thought that the description on Amazon for The Paradise Prophecy was kind of a bitter pill to swallow. You might want to ping your publisher and see if that description can be tightened up. It is confusing and lacks storyline punch.

The 4th paragrah (with a few minor edits) is what should be the first paragraph. And you can't even see that 4th paragraph if you don't click on "Show More".

Best of luck to you, Rob. I really enjoyed reading your posts.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I thought that the description on Amazon for The Paradise Prophecy was kind of a bitter pill to swallow.

The nice thing about indie publishing is that I can now write my own descriptions and don't have to ask for changes. And if something isn't working, I can easily tweak it.

The Paradise Prophecy is one book I don't have the rights to and my publisher is handling the marketing and promo as they see fit.

The people at Penguin are great, however, and they've worked their butts off trying to get the book attention.

Embrack said...

What geek would start a flame war here? Are these operatives of the Big Six or what? The only thing an agent ever did for me was send me to Joe's blog.

Todd Ohl said...

Sounds like this may have promise.

I'll try it with my own book and let you know i it works for someone who's freshly published on Kindle.

Bittermac said...

Joe,
As a thank you for all the invaluable stuff you pass along in your blog, as well as the incredible books, I have mentioned you in the dedication for my first book on Amazon. Thank you.
Take a look. http://tinyurl.com/cw327cd

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