Monday, July 16, 2012

Zero Sum

I've blogged about the so-called Race to the Bottom before, a few times.

The argument du jour seems to be that if publishers do collapse, then all the current bestsellers will have their ebooks available for $4.99 or less, and that will be the end of self-publishing. I've blogged about an eventual bestseller shift, which we can argue is happening, has happened, or will happen, depending on which stats you want to support.

But now I think it's time to put them together, as well as do some Q&A.

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. 

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.

If I can currently sell a few hundred ebooks a day in the US alone, what will happen when ebooks become popular in India, China, Japan, Europe, Russian, and South America? There will be a bigger demand than unique supply, and I believe my position will improve.

2. Legacy bestsellers now may not be bestsellers in the future. 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.

Let's say the reader then went on to other bestselling thriller writers in the same vein as Child. How many current NYT bestsellers write series thrillers? I have no idea, but I'd guess a few dozen, tops. But does likign Child mean liking all NYT thriller bestsellers? I'm sure there are readers who love Child but don't like Brad Thor or Vince Flynn, but even if all an avid reader read was bestselling thriller authors who did a book or two a year, they would eventually run out of books to read.

BTW, I know a few avid readers. They lust for more authors to discover, and get excited when they read an unknown gem and find out that author has twenty more books in the series. I'm one of those types. I've read all Ed McBain, Mickey Spillane, John D. MacDonald, Robert B. Parker, and still managed to find new gems by Jeff Shelby, Brett Battles, Harry Hunsicker, and Jude Hardin, written in the same vein and style. 

If bestsellers like Child and Thor came down in price, it wouldn't matter to me much, because I already have read all of Child and I don't care for Thor. But if Child were $3.99 instead of $12.99, I can easily see myself buying his latest AND a few others. The money I'd save would be spent just the same.

Ever go into a store to buy a big ticket item, expecting to may more than you did? Let's say you research an over and find it for $699. When you go to the store, it is on sale for $499. And they also have a great toaster oven for $99. You probably wouldn't have bought the toaster oven originally, but now that you're saving money on the oven, the toaster oven becomes attractive.

If all ebook prices came down, more ebooks would be sold across the board.

3. 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 can 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. 

And as far as bestsellers go, they tend to fade when distribution changes or dries up.

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. Even though Al Collins is doing a great job continuing the Mike Hammer series. 

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. He also is still producing books after his death, via ghost writers, but he's nowhere near the powerhouse he once was.

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.

4. 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. 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 at $2.99 to live very well.

What do you need to do to reach that 100 sales a day?

1. Write good stories. As many and as fast as you can. They should be edited, proofed, and well formatted I use www.52novels.com for formatting, and they do better work than any of the Big 6. The more you have out there, the better you'll do.

2. Make sure you have a great product description and a professional cover. My cover artist, Carl Graves, has 24 new covers on sale on his website for $200 each. A bunch of them are awesome, and $200 is a great deal (he charges me $500). Check them out, first come first serve, at http://extendedimagery.com/predesignedcovers.html.

3. Find the sweet spot between price and quantity sold, where you make the most profit. Currently I'm $3.99 for novels, $2.99 for novellas (over 10k words) and story collections, and 99 cents for short stories. But this isn't set in stone.

4. Experiment with different ways to promote. Some things I've tried to varying degrees of success are giving away free ebooks to get reviews, announcing sales on ebook websites, having sales, making titles free for a limited time, partnering with different platforms, and guest blogging.

What don't I bother with?

1. Advertising. It doesn't work on me, so I don't use it on other people. That's a cardinal rule of mine. I only use something or believe it works if I do it as a consumer.

2. Social media. Occasional tweets of Facebook announcements are fine. At most, once a week. Maybe once a day if you have a new release, but end it after a few days. Otherwise people get sick of you.

3. Publicity. I've already blogged that getting my name in the press doesn't lead to sales. You probably don't need a publicist. 

4. Spamming. I have a newsletter, and use it a few times a year. I don't use it everytime I upload something new to Kindle. And I don't pimp my work on other peoples' blog or forums unless invited to do so, or there's a section for it.

I want to end this blog entry by telling writers: Don't Be Afraid. Yes, the future will be different. Yes, things will change. But there will always be a need for storytellers, and if you hold onto your rights, you'll be in a good position to exploit those rights no matter what the future holds.

286 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 286 of 286
Veronica - Eloheim said...

Facebook does WAY better for me than Twitter. I have 6000 FB people and about 1/2 that in Twitter followers so that's some of it.

Mostly I think it's that you can post images and video on FB easily and I have a lot of video so I focus on FB posts.

I just set up my FB posts to show up in my Twitter feed. That's a nice feature. It will be interesting to see if I get more traction on Twitter now.

I'm a non-fiction writer so there's that variable as well.

Veronica

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
AND since publicity doesn't matter and this blog doesn't drive your sales--WHY IS THERE A PROMINENT LINK TO "Joe's Ebook Store"

Joe Konrath said...
"I sell around 10 ebooks a month on that store."


Well we just have to take your word on that "around 10 ebooks a month" figure, despite the millions of hits per year that this blog gets. It's not like I'm going to question your motives just like my motives were questioned.

So okay, you only sell around 10 ebooks a month--AND YET you still keep the other link which tells people to "Hire My Ebook Store Builder"...

I don't know how much your ebook store builder charges for building an ebook store, but I wouldn't guess that "around 10 ebooks a month" is going to cover the cost anytime soon--SO WHY RECOMMEND IT TO YOUR BLOG VISITORS?

It's interesting that many of your guest posters and authors who you interview get to prominently place a very large picture of their books in your blog entries, because SUPPOSEDLY THIS BLOG DOESN'T DRIVE YOUR SALES NUMBERS AND PUBLICITY DOESN'T MATTER SO IT PROBABLY WOULDN'T HELP THEM TO DISPLAY A LARGE PICTURE OF THEIR BOOK IN THE BLOG ENTRIES.

It also wouldn't help them to use a picture of their book as an avatar when they post...

because you know, publicity doesn't matter or anything...

Rob Cornell said...

I use an avatar of my book and I guarantee it does not get me any bumps in sales when I post here.

However, if Joe wanted to prove you wrong, I'd be willing to be a test subject. I'll post a screenshot of my numbers before and after a guest post. :) I betcha I'd get about 10 new sales.

(That's a joke, Joe. I'm not really looking to pimp on your blog.)

Veronica - Eloheim said...

This brings up a good point. I can't figure out where Blogger finds the pic that is displayed here....the one it wants to show for me is YEARS old and I would like to update it. I just don't know where to do so.

Thanks for any help,
V

Kiana Davenport said...

CORRECTION: HER NAME IS KATHLEEN VALENTINE, OF VALENTINE DESIGNS! THANKX!

Henry said...

T. Ludlow: In essence your argument appears to be that self-pubbed ebooks are intrinsically worse than those produced by legacy publishers.

No, read over it, I'm saying the opposite,that Wada and Prada are intrinsically near-identical.

Therefore, if publishers don't add value, as you contend, how come people pay top dollar for their books?

Or to put it another way, if self-pub is just as good or better a product, than how come self-pub doesn't charge the same or more? The fact that publishers can get those high prices and self-pub cannot tells us that publishers are adding something to the value chain beyond editing and cover design, as you suggest.

Edward M. Grant said...

No, the writers are getting readers to pay those prices.


Really? Than how come self-pubbers can't charge publisher prices? How come the big NY publishers debut new writers all the time and sell thousands of copies of real books at 15, 20 dollars and ebooks at 10+?

Are you saying it's because the self-pubbed writers are simply inferior?

Merrill Heath said...

Readers don't care who the publisher is. Most readers can't tell you who the "Big 6" publishers are, much less who published the last book by their favorite author. The author is the brand, not the publisher.


That's why self-pubbers are selling just as many copies for the same prices as NY books. Right? Wrong.

I love Elmore Leonard. I've read everything he's written. I could not tell you, nor do I care, who publishes his books and I'm sure most readers feel the same.

Elmore Leonard, like all great writers to date, is a product of the traditional publishing system (which is constantly savaged around here). But self-publishing has yet to produce a writer who is commonly acknowledged to be anywhere close to his calibre.

I think that explains why mainstream readers still rely on publishers.

Personally, it does make a difference to me in my assesment of a book. I'll click on the cover first, then note whether it's self-pubbed or not, by the copyright page. If it's not, I'm already leery -- but that's just me.


Regards,
Henry

Joe Konrath said...

Well we just have to take your word on that "around 10 ebooks a month" figure, despite the millions of hits per year that this blog gets.

Damn! You caught me in a lie, just like...

Just like...

Oh, wait. I've never been caught in a lie. Because I DON'T LIE.

What would be the reason? I don't care what people think of me, and my only agenda is to host an open forum so I can learn how to sell more books. How does it serve my interest lying when I'm trying to attain data? That makes no sense.

I'd love to say my ebook store is making me rich. It ain't.

SO WHY RECOMMEND IT TO YOUR BLOG VISITORS?

First, I experiment. That's what I do, and one of the reasons I'm rich. Experimenting means trying new things.

An ebook store on my website is a no brainer. Why wouldn't I want to reach my fans directly, and make a bigger royalty rate?

Second, even though it hasn't paid for itself, it will eventually. I plunked down a few grand to translate TRAPPED into German. On Amazon.de, it's making about 300 Euro per month. Not big money, but enough to pay for itself and get in the black. The ebook store will do the same eventually.

Finally, no one knows what will happen in the future. I don't want to have to rely on retailers to sell my stuff. So having a store is a hedge.

I also support my peeps. Those in my sidebar did great work for me, and I'm happy to recommend them. I get no money for my endorsements. I'm just a really cool guy. Which is why, when I have a guest blogger, I post their cover art.

Ellen O'Connell said...

@Larry Buhl - Do you really need success stories? It seems to me the question you have to answer for yourself is: If I don't self-publish how many books will I have sold at the end of the year, two years, five years, ten?

I'm not a great success story by the average here. I self-pubbed my first novel, a cozy dog mystery two and a half years ago. It sold 7 copies in the first 24 hours, and I was astounded. First of all, those were 7 copies it never would have sold in any other way because I'd long ago decided jumping through the traditional pubs' hoops wasn't for me, but at the time all I could think of was, what if I had 4 like this? (Notice at the time I wasn't even ready to think big, as in what if I had 10 - or 20.)

It seems to me those are the kind of questions you need to be asking yourself.

Joe Konrath said...

Or to put it another way, if self-pub is just as good or better a product, than how come self-pub doesn't charge the same or more?

That's easy. Because high ebook prices are how publishers protect their print sales.

Read my blog. I've got loads of stats and examples of how lower priced ebooks result in a bigger profit.

Do yourself a favor. Find a midlist author published by a Big 6 house, and look at their Kindle ranking.

99 times out of 100, it'll be mediocre or worse.

Let's use Robert Gregory Browne as an example, because he posts here.

The Paradise Prophesy, which is only a year old and pubbed by Dutton, is #41,093. Dutton is a respectable publisher with a big marketing and publicity department.

Rob's book Trial Junkies is #428. He self-pubbed.

A rank of #41000 is a few ebooks a month. #428 is thousands a month. Why the big gap?

Paradise is $9.99. Trial Junkies is $3.99.

Take 30 minutes and surf Amazon. You'll find a lot of other examples.

Merrill Heath said...

Henry said: Elmore Leonard, like all great writers to date, is a product of the traditional publishing system (which is constantly savaged around here). But self-publishing has yet to produce a writer who is commonly acknowledged to be anywhere close to his calibre.

Elmore Leonard is a product of the traditional publishing system because that was the only viable option for virtually all of his writing career.

I agree that self-publishing has yet to produce a writer of his calibre. But I would also say there are very few traditionally published authors who are in his league. IMHO, the guy is a master at his craft.

Self-publishing as it exists today is in its infancy. Give it a few years and we'll see what it produces.

Anonymous said...

The point is that just by the VERY FACT THAT THESE VARIOUS EXAMPLES OF TRYING TO GARNER PUBLICITY MEANS THAT...

PUBLICITY MATTERS.

Why the large pictures of cover art and why mention the books at all in the blog entries? Often times the topic of the blog entries are such that the topic can be covered WITHOUT mentioning the books at all--yet they are mentioned and large pictures of cover art are posted.

Why use pictures of books as avatars--except for the chance that someone will see the art and try the book out?

Why advertise the 99 cent summer sale as a blog entry--except to kick start a buying wave?

So you want to have your ebook store as a backup if the other venues turn sour--but at 10 ebooks per month it is hardly a current success so don't you think it is a disservice to NEWBIE'S coming to a blog called "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing" with pushing a publishing technique that isn't a current success and you don't warn them openly in the CAPTION for ebook store building service that it is NOT CURRENTLY MAKING YOU A PROFIT? Doesn't sound like a cool move from a cool guy to me.

CAPTION to the link for the ebook store builder: "Hire xuni.com to create an ebook store for your website, so you can sell ebooks directly."

Alan Cramer said...

If self publishing was a religion, you'd be the first saint

Alan Cramer said...

And to the poster who said Elmore Leonard is a great and that self-publishing has yet to produce a writer of his calibre.

Tell that to the people who won't buy his books but yet buy ebooks from indies like me. I've had many people contact me to tell me they liked all five of my ebooks. And at one point I was out selling Leonard. Now I'm not saying I'm a better writer than him, I'm just saying a lot of people will buy my book before they buy his.

I don't write for the literature teachers and the critics; I write for the people who pay to read.

David L. Shutter said...

You might be willing to take 70% of a few thousand copies, but I still suspect the Stephen King's will prefer their 17.5% of a few million copies.

Personally, I have a hard time believing that "the King", and the rest of the top tier are only making 17.5%. I think that at the their level is where the only real competition between publishers is found.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

No, I couldn't stay away.

Anonymous said, PUBLICITY MATTERS.

Of course it does to some extent. But you're saying that Joe's success is because of this blog and he's saying that's not true. Just as my success or Brett Battles's success or CJ Lyons success has nothing to do with our blogs (I actually don't have one).

But even if we agree that publicity matters, what's your point? That publishers give us publicity, therefore publishers are better?

The problem with that argument is that most writers, especially new writers, get very little publicity at all. You get a mention in the house catalog that goes out to booksellers and your ARCs are sent out to reviewers (who are now fewer and far between and accepting less and less books to review). You MIGHT get an ad. Maybe a Goodreads and some Twitter giveaways.

Do these help? Sometimes, but not usually. And unless you're Lee Child, you probably won't get much more of a push than that.

The majority of the time, publishers depend on the AUTHOR to do the publicity. Start a blog, they tell you. Solicit blurbs from other writers. Start a Twitter account and tweet about your book.

As I've said a dozen times already, I've got nothing against publishers and think (and hope) that both worlds can co-exist peacefully. But being with a publisher offers no more guarantee that your book wil be a success than self-publishing does.

P.S. Power said...

From what I can tell a rank of 41,000 should have you selling about seventy copies per month.

My slowest selling ebook "Crayons", has sold 28 copies this month and is sitting at about 91,000 sales rank.

This will change the instant someone buys one though, so it's hard to be exact.

That rank definitely isn't getting thousands of sales per month though!

(If I get more than two sales from mentioning "Crayons" I'll post about here and we can talk about the fantastic sales medium this is for Joe. I doubt that will happen though, since It's a young adult romance novel from a males perspective. Very niche readership.) I stand ready though, just in case!

:)

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I think it's crazy to say that this blog doesn't help sell Joe's books, but then what is the problem with that. The blog has built a huge following and that is quite an achievement, but I think the blog obviously helps sell his books. Mind you all the other publicity helps also and as for closing this blog for a few months - why would he do that? I get around 500-100 hits on my own blog each day and although not as many as this blog, I would not dream of closing it. And I do hope it helps sell a few of my own book. Granny Smith Investigates - anyboy.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

The majority of the time, publishers depend on the AUTHOR to do the publicity. Start a blog, they tell you. Solicit blurbs from other writers. Start a Twitter account and tweet about your book.

I was told that if an author doesn't have a mailing list of 20,000 people a publisher won't even consider signing the author.

Now, I'm not sure this is true. However, this came from a traditionally published author who was heading up a contest sponsored by a publishing house looking for the "next big author."

On the same call, he said that writing the book is the easy part, it's all the work you have to do to sell the book that is the hard part. Again, this was coming from the perspective of a SIGNED author.

Thank God I remembered this guy named Konrath was saying there was another option. I'm so glad I remembered that.

I have 18 titles, I'm bringing in a growing amount of money, and expanding my client base everyday and I still don't have 20,000 people on my mailing list! What if I had waiting until I did to publish? How would I have gotten them if I didn't publish.

Shaking my head.
V

Rob Gregory Browne said...

By the way, Joe mentioned Paradise Prophecy, so let's use it as an example.

Dutton gave it a big push. At the request of Dutton I did three videos for it (video production used to be my day job a few years ago), I designed a website to support it, the fact that it had been optioned by the producers of Twilight was trumpeted everywhere possible, it got stellar reviews from the Associated Press and Publishers Weekly. It got five star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. There were ads placed, posters made, co-op at the front table of the store.

The book was released as a $25 hardback and a $12.99 Kindle edition.

And even though I don't have the numbers from Dutton, I'm pretty sure I sold more copies of TRIAL JUNKIES in a month than Paradise managed in a year.

Like I said, being traditionally published is no guarantee of success.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I meant to say I get around 500-1000 hits on my own blog each day and although not as many as this blog, I would not dream of closing it. And I do hope it helps sell a few of my own books. Granny Smith Investigates - anybody.

Joe Konrath said...

And I do hope it helps sell a few of my own books.

Does it?

Veronica - Eloheim said...

I use affiliate links in all of my FB, Twitter, newsletter and website promotions. It occurred to me that this is one way to judge how many of the books I sell come from my efforts, so I decided to run the numbers.

Thus far in July it's 12%.

12% of the books I sold came from people clicking on links I created.

Because I used affiliate links to send those folks to Amazon, I made an extra 6% on those sales.

Veronica

Anonymous said...

I'm going to ignore your fan boys because in the past...

one used confrontational AD HOMINEM...

another used a STRAW MAN ARGUMENT...

another used AD HOMINEM, but wasn't confrontational...

AND some of the others, do nothing except try to grasp at anything that will give their hero Konrath any kind of support when it seems that their man Konrath is on the ropes.

You yourself, Konrath have resulted to insulting a couple times a while back, yet I took extra care not to insult you back--that was OTHER Anonymous posters.

I took extra care this time as well by saying "Doesn't sound like a cool move, from a cool guy to me." I could have said something VERY INSULTING.

Anonymous said...

I really wish I had some back up.

How about letting Joe Day back here if he agrees not to insult anyone--although in all fairness I don't think he insulted anyone who didn't insult him first.

Joe Day can debate your fan boys...

While I debate the self-publishing giant himself--Joe Konrath.

Joe Konrath said...

You yourself, Konrath have resulted to insulting a couple times a while back,

I only insult pinheads. But it is my blog, so I can insult whomever I please.

And I do it using my real name.

Rob Gregory Browne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adrian Staccato said...

Just published my book on Amazon Kindle today! I owe a lot to this blog! In case you're wondering, I went with Select, because as an unknown I value the extra exposure afforded me with the free promotions.

Thanks for all the help!
Adrian Staccato

Jay Allan said...

I'm not sure which is the stupider debate right now.

1. Whether or not Joe Konrath gets some book sales off of this blog. Who cares? What is the point of repeatedly arguing that he must be getting tons of sales? What does that have to do with anything?

2. Whether or not it is reasonable for the owner of a blog to ban someone from the blog or make blunt or insulting posts. Of course it is? This is not free political speech...it is a private person's blog. Why would anyone want to waste their time constantly bitching about what the blog owner says or posts? If you have nothing substantive to discuss why would you want to waste your time here? Idiotic.

Jay Allan said...

This whole argument between good books and bad ones is hamstrung by the fact that good and bad mean different things to different people. Obviously, if something is terribly written to the point that it is difficult to read that is empirically a bad book. Most likely a book like that would not make it through a publisher, but nothing would stop the author from self-publishing. But that extreme example aside, there are so many different types of readers, it is not so easy to say this is good, that is bad.

As a reader, I need an interesting story, and if I get it I really don't care about perfect grammar and sentence structure. On the other hand, a novel can be beautiful prose, but if it bores me for ten minutes I'm gone. That's me. Someone else is going to be different. There are people out there who would love nothing more than to scour a book looking for a misplaced comma. Not my idea of fun, but to each his own.

Still others, the NY Times literary snob group, seem most interested in being able to tell everyone else what is good. I've never noticed any particular correlation between "professional" reviews and books I've enjoyed (no reverse indicator either). But many will blindly follow the tastemakers.

There are also specific things that drive me crazy. For example, I once read a whole series that I quite enjoyed EXCEPT, one of the characters was Scottish, and the author insisted on writing all of his dialogue in some unintelligible gibberish that he must have thought sounded like Scottish pronunciation. It was infuriating and while the story kept me reading (barely), part of me wanted to chuck the books into a fire.

Now that same thing might not bother someone else. But for my part I am wondering why a professional NY editor didn't say, "lose the annoying pig-Scottish."

In the end a book sells well or it doesn't. The market decides what it thinks is good, and there is room for many variations of quality.

David L. Shutter said...

Likes what Jay Allen says.

Anon can mock me as a "fan boy" all he wants but there's some simple facts here.

Like most, I come here for the information and entertaining discussion. Yes, I may have had made my first Konrath purchase from hearing about a book here, but...

I continued to buy Konrath books after the first one because they're fun, entertaining reads.

If the contrary is the case, blogger can't help you out much.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly Konrath once said "Prove me wrong."

I'm pretty sure I did that.

Again if I recall correctly Konrath once said "I've never been fisked."

I'm pretty sure I did that twice--both here and on the blog entry titled "99 Cents".

And as for self-publishers putting out quality just take a look at Timecaster Supersymmetry...

Joe Konrath said in a blog entry titled "Audiobooks":
"Timecaster Supersymmetry for $3.99. This book was a true labor of love for me, written completely from the heart and without keeping anything reigned in. I had no legacy editor to tell me, "You can't do that." The result is a science-fiction thriller that I am 100% positive no publishing house would ever release in its current uncut form."

I went to Amazon and read the first sample chapter (chapter 1).
The first sentence is a looong mouthful, try saying it out loud. And really the part about without the need for a microscope? Well I would never have figured that out, what with all the zooming magnification and all.

And It isn't clear what is happenning when the Michio Sata character is holding some sort of weapon over his head and the "dissy" character walks back eating from a container of ice cream. Is the Michio Sata character hiding behind the door or something--it doesn't say. Or is the "dissy" character just nonchallantly looking straight at Michio Sata holding a weapon over his head ready to strike the "dissy" which is what ends up happening. Strange behavior that the "dissy" wasn't scared or didn't try to run away--was the Michio Sata character hiding behind something? Doesn't say.

And at the end of the chapter, the "dissy" meets a talking dinosaur from an alternate dimension with an alternate history--so strange that the talking dinosaur speaks English, what with all the alternate history and all. And also Speaks English fluently enough that the "dissy" has no trouble understanding the dinosaur and holding a conversation with said dinosaur.

Hey Konrath, I'd say it's been fun but it hasn't.

I'll be leaving your blog now, I see no need for me to post anymore.

Seriously, I wish everyone well with their writing, you too Konrath.

Larry Buhl said...

@Ellen: I don't NEED to hear success stories for lit fiction and YA in order to decide to self publish. The decision has pretty much been made. I would like to hear about them in order to learn things, maybe find out how they did it, find out some anecdotes about what didn't work. It's info I'm looking for at this point.

Joe Konrath said...

I see no need for me to post anymore.

I'll believe that when I don't see it.

Sasha said...

Anonymous said, "I went to Amazon and read the first sample chapter (chapter 1) [of Timecaster Supersymmetry]. The first sentence is a looong mouthful, try saying it out loud. And really the part about without the need for a microscope? Well I would never have figured that out, what with all the zooming magnification and all. And It isn't clear what is happenning when the Michio Sata character is holding some sort of weapon over his head and the "dissy" character walks back eating from a container of ice cream. Is the Michio Sata character hiding behind the door or something--it doesn't say. Or is the "dissy" character just nonchallantly looking straight at Michio Sata holding a weapon over his head ready to strike the "dissy" which is what ends up happening. Strange behavior that the "dissy" wasn't scared or didn't try to run away--was the Michio Sata character hiding behind something? Doesn't say.]

I haven't read any of Joe's books - they're not in genres that I'm keen on. I come here for the discussion. However, I went to look at the first few pp of the sample chapter to see if was as awful as these comments suggested.

I read out the first sentence with no problem. Yes, it's on the long side, but not a big deal.

Joe establishes with the magnifying eyes only that they magnify; not that they do so to the same extent as a microscope. So yes, worth him pointing that out.

The dissy was eating ice-cream when he came back in the room and I assumed his attention was taken up with that. He has already been established as a scatty character so him not noticing things didn't feel surprising.

I didn't read on the to end of the chapter but I had already been surprised, intrigued and had enjoyed the dialogue. If TS was in a genre I liked, I would have been sufficiently convinced to at least read more of the sample and I might have bought the book.

If one approaches a book with hostile intent, it's possible to nitpick the living crap out of it. But not very fair, and not very informative.

Anonymous said...

@Henry
I'm not one to argue matters of taste. If you haven't been impressed with self-pub/indie offerings then there's not much I can say. Myself, most of the books I've read this year have been self-published, mostly because it's not the same old, same old coming out of established publishing houses. I now read a mix of both self and traditionally published books and the overall experience is far richer than ever before.

@Rob Cornell
Loved Darker Things, one of those genre-bending/genre-mixing books you'll never see from a traditional publisher. I will be reading the sequel once I get some free time.

Take care, guys.

-Brian

Joe Konrath said...

If one approaches a book with hostile intent, it's possible to nitpick the living crap out of it

True. Plus pretty much anything can be edited, rewritten, reworked if it is looked at too closely.

I never defend my writing. It is deliberate, so it does what I want it to do, but if a reader doesn't like it I obviously failed that reader. I'm lucky in that I seem to please more readers than I fail, but pleasing everyone is a silly, and impossible goal. Just as I don't bother caring about what people think of me, I'm long past caring what people think of my books. I make a living, I've got a lot of fans, and if someone thinks I suck, so what?

Supersymmetry is a really eclectic, almost experimental, piece of prose. The only thing I've written that comes close is Banana Hammock, which also would never be touched by a big publisher. Both of those books break a lot of genre conventions, and often narrative conventions as well. They were a joy to write, and though neither is as popular as my more mainstream stuff, they do have their supporters. By the end of Supersymmetry the hero and his dark matter counterpart are racing against the clock during a zombie apocalypse to bring their wife back from death by retrieving a potion eaten by a giant land-walking squid that only comes out when it rains. Then they go to an alternate earth in the multiverse where the Chicxulub asteroid never hit and dinosaurs evolved into intelligent life forms who talk and use steampunk technology.

I love my job.

Michael McClung said...

I'll be leaving your blog now, I see no need for me to post anymore.

Godspeed, Anon; your work here is done.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I don't think it is constructive to knock peeps writing style - I won't resort to that myself because after all people in glass houses and all that. I have one BIG OBSERVATION though and it's for Joe - could we see more posts going through the nuts and bolts of self pubbing - ie idiot guides to formatting, plotting and promotion. This is after all a NEWBIES GUIDE and there are newbies here.

Face facts all Joe sells a lot of books and well done him.

Sasha said...

It seems a long time ago now, but Joe said:

"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. 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)."

I'm not sure about the billions of ebook readers; currently, according to the WHO, 2.4 billion people out of the world's 7 billion don't have access to basic sanitation. We have a long way to go before people get lavatories, let alone Kindles. But I'd agree there'll be a lot more e-readers.

I'm wondering if there are any convincing arguments suggesting a reduction in the market for books. Some commentators in the press have been writing about the "death of reading" among the young, who have lots of other ways of entertaining themselves apart from books, and whose attention span seems to have been reduced by the kind of entertainment they consume, such as this:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/days-of-children-reading-books-are-numbered-955497.html

A friend of mine who teaches a university course on language and literature can't get her students to actually read a book (yes, literature students).

Rob Gregory Browne said...

At the risk of being labeled a Joe Konrath fan boy, I just read the Timecaster Supersymmetry sample and loved it.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Rob - am half way through Trial Junkies - a great book

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Thanks, Gary. Glad you're enjoying it.

David L. Shutter said...

RGB: I plan to check out Trial Junkies too, looks good, and I generally avoid legal thrillers, you fan boy.

If one approaches a book with hostile intent, it's possible to nitpick the living crap out of it

Kris Rusch had an interesting post along those lines recently. If you want to criticize something...it's easy.

A piece of Shakespeare was taken apart in one of her recent workgroups, because they set out to. But, he's just another talentless hack too.

T Ludlow said...

Sasha: I've never argued that publishers are perfect filters - but even imperfect filters do a better job of keeping out the dreck than no filter. I would certainly agree that they're no guarantee of high quality, just against abysmal quality.

The filter conundrum.

We do need them and traditional publishers have provided them up to a point, but their tastes can be fairly vanilla and publishing choices often seem driven by a bandwagon mentality. For example, when Pirates of the Caribbean first came out, a slew of ‘piratey’ titles appeared on the shelves, most pretty poor. A couple of hours ago I was in a local bookstore and found half-a-dozen ‘Shades of Grey’ wannabes in the new book section.

I struggle to think of a solution...perhaps some commercial vetting scheme that could at least guarantee a book was not full of typos. You pay $30 to have your manuscript vetted and as soon as one of the scheme’s readers finds a significant error, it’s sent back to you to resubmit for another $30. Once your book is clean you get some sort of quality mark.

It would certainly help concentrate a writer’s minds and reward those who put extra care into their work, but hard to get it off the ground: publicising the scheme so that readers recognised it for what it was and writers’ valued the results (like Michelin stars for restaurants).

Just thinking...

Edward M. Grant said...

Really? Than how come self-pubbers can't charge publisher prices? How come the big NY publishers debut new writers all the time and sell thousands of copies of real books at 15, 20 dollars and ebooks at 10+?

Are you saying it's because the self-pubbed writers are simply inferior?


No, it's because Amazon reduce the royalty rate to 35% once you go above $9.99. A self-published author has to be crazy to price an e-book novel at more than $9.99 when they could split it into two or more books at lower prices.

Stephen King sells well at high prices because he has millions of fans willing to pay those prices. Even if Amazon didn't cut royalties at $9.99, few self-published authors would sell well at those prices because they don't have those millions of fans... but few trade-published mid-list authors do either.

If you really believe a publisher's name sells high-priced e-books, you'll have to explain why so many mid-list authors have complained that their e-books are so expensive that hardly anyone buys them.

How can that be? Since the publisher's name is selling the book, they should be selling by the million, just like King.

Edward M. Grant said...

Once your book is clean you get some sort of quality mark.

Will this also apply to trade published books with typos, misused words, duplicated words, poor grammar, etc? Or are only self-publishers supposed to release perfect books while trade publishers are given a free pass?

Since I began to write seriously again, I've noticed a heck of a lot of errors in the books I own. When I was 'just' a reader I read some of the same books and didn't notice any problem, but now I'm paying more attention to the words, I'm amazed by the number of errors I'm finding that I missed before.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I would certainly agree that they're no guarantee of high quality, just against abysmal quality.

So this, for me at least, begs the question. Why does there need to BE a filter against abysmal quality? Aren't readers perfectly capable of figuring that out for themselves?

If there's concern about the "taint" that these abysmal books might have on other indie produced books, shouldn't there be equal concern about the "taint" that abysmal traditionally published books have?

Do we assume that every celebrity memoir written is bad simply because we read a few cheesy ones?

No. Of course not. I doubt that readers evaluate books as a group, but instead judge them individually. But even if they do evaluate the group, that evaluation rarely has anything to do with who published them and more to do with genre.

The only real filter most readers need is their own brain.

In one of the comments on this thread someone said that when they look for books on Amazon they avoid the self-published books. But how can you tell? I certainly can't. Price might be a clue, but it's no guarantee. Many backlist books are priced competitively. Many traditionally published books are being re-published by the authors. Many authors have created company names (for example, Braun Haus Media).

Most readers see a cover, a title, an author's name, a blurb, and maybe read an excerpt before making their decision to buy. Unless the author has announced it, they have no idea if it's self- or traditionally published.

Anonymous said...

I see Mr Konrath is still deleting posts.

Mr Konrath, if you don't want an open discussion, just say so. It might save you some time. ppl post Anon because your blog is totalitarian.

Joe Konrath said...

I only delete pinheads whom I warn or kick off my blog.

Unfortunately they often come back and post anonymously, because they are obsessed with me and can't stay away.

I allow anonymous comments so industry pros and those who can get into trouble can post their thoughts, not for pinheads to troll.

You lasted what, a few hours after saying you'd never be back? Do you have a pic of my on your desktop screensaver too?

Get a life and go play elsewhere.

Sasha said...

Edward M. Grant wrote: "Will this also apply to trade published books with typos, misused words, duplicated words, poor grammar, etc? Or are only self-publishers supposed to release perfect books while trade publishers are given a free pass?"

I read a Jeffrey Deaver hardback lately (I forget which) and was amazed at how many typos there were in it. If even JD can't get properly checked, it does make you wonder.

Anthony Horowitz, the first ever author to be authorised by Conan Doyle's estate to write a new Sherlock Holmes story, wrote a very funny piece about the 35 proof-reading errors in the resulting House of Silk (or as he now refers to it, Mouse of Slick), and what that says about publishers:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/feb/27/anthony-horowitz-do-we-still-need-publishers

T Ludlow said...

Edward M Grant: Will this also apply to trade published books with typos, misused words, duplicated words, poor grammar, etc? Or are only self-publishers supposed to release perfect books while trade publishers are given a free pass?

Since I began to write seriously again, I've noticed a heck of a lot of errors in the books I own. When I was 'just' a reader I read some of the same books and didn't notice any problem, but now I'm paying more attention to the words, I'm amazed by the number of errors I'm finding that I missed before.


This mythical scheme, or something like it, would be open to anyone who thought it might do them some good. I chose typos as they're the only clearly objective measure I can think of. I wouldn't include grammar because that can be very flexible and some creative writers break the 'rules' all the time for dramatic effect. You'd also have to be careful laying down the law on punctuation for the same reason. But if someone starts a sentence with 'Quack hide, their cuming?' It's an obvious fail (not a real life example if you're wondering).

Rob Gregory Browne: So this, for me at least, begs the question. Why does there need to BE a filter against abysmal quality? Aren't readers perfectly capable of figuring that out for themselves?

You're right. They are capable. But it takes so much time wading through the mass of material that's becoming available.

If I was a pearl diver, I'd like a gadget that let me know if a pearl was inside an oyster before I cracked it open. The gadget wouldn't necessarily
tell me what sort of pearl was inside the oyster (it might be tiny, or peanut-shaped or whatever). But I could at least squat there shucking open my oysters knowing there was something to be seen. That's the sort of filter I'd find useful. Something to help sift out the books where the author has gone the extra mile to deliver a quality product. Lack of typos would be a rough and ready indicator of that extra effort.

Merrill Heath said...

Thanks for the link, Sasha. Anthony Horowitz is an interesting writer with a broad range of "work" to his credit. I've seen and enjoyed the Poirot series he did and I love "Foyle's War." Then again, I've always been a fan of British TV, especially mysteries.

Sasha said...

I don't think we need to be protected against the illiterate dreck - I don't think it will rise to enough prominence to ever find us. I think we need protecting against the superficially OK that turns out to be bad storytelling, once you're a few chapters in. Spotting that stuff needs trustworthy reviews and these days, it's hard to trust customer reviews on Amazon, certainly. Others have pointed out why professional reviewers might be untrustworthy (which I didn't know, so thanks).

A pity someone can't set up a cadre of 1,000 secret ninja reviewers who are anonymous and incorruptible...

Sasha said...

Thanks, Merrill - he's also responsible for Midsomer Murders, which I think is shown now and again in the States (I'm a Brit) - it's a sort of gothic-meets-Miss-Marple sort of world. It's a bit... weird.

Merrill Heath said...

Yeah, I also like Midsomer Murders. I've seen quite a few of those on A&E (I think). Good stuff.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

You're right. They are capable. But it takes so much time wading through the mass of material that's becoming available.

I've been to many warehouse bookstores and libraries in my time and there was always a mass of material. Yet I never felt overwhelmed by the task. In fact, I reveled in the idea that I had so much choice, and when I found a library or bookstore that gave me less choice in my chosen genre, I was disappointed.

It works the same on Amazon or B & N. You browse, you see something that catches your attention, you sample, you either buy or you don't.

I'm guessing here, but I'd bet that most people who love to read like to have MORE choice, not less. The mass of material—even if some of it's god awful—is a wonderful thing.

Rob Gregory Browne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Gregory Browne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Gregory Browne said...

Spotting that stuff needs trustworthy reviews

See, I don't get this. You have just as much chance being burned by a review than you do by simply reading the book yourself and discovering it's not for you.

While you and your trustworthy reviewer may share some of the same sensibilities, there will be plenty of time he or she will let you down.

Why? Because that "trustworthy review" is merely someone's opinion. His or her opinion is no more valuable than any other readers' opinion, and certainly not more than your own.

I, frankly, have never trusted any reviewer to tell me what to buy or not to buy. How do I know he isn't in the pocket of someone? How do I know he didn't wake up on the wrong side of the bed that day? Even if he writes literate, articulate reviews, I can only enjoy that review for what it is. A well-written opinion.

I've never quite understood the value of the whole review system. Because one person's trustworthy reviewer is another's flaming idiot.

Imagine the wonderful books you may have missed because your trustworthy reviewer hated it. Believe me, that's happened with enough movies. I've seen some roundly savaged by reviewers only to watch the movie for myself and discover that they're all completely jaded and nuts.

Ignore the reviewers and trust yourself.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Konrath

How do you know I'm the old anon, and not a new anon.

Don't scare ppl. Then you'll know which anon I am.

P.S. Power said...

Due to the subjective nature of what each individual likes as far as prose and literature, I would submit that it isn't just possible to rip apart something if you try hard enough or are hostile towards the author, it's something that can't be helped.

Some people will hate your work. No matter how good it is. This is just due to the fact that people like different things.

You can't put out a work that will please everyone.

Add violence and some will like it, others will hate the whole thing.

Add sex and some will treat you like a pervert, while others wonder why you were so tame about it.

Add a romance subplot and some will be turned off while others wonder why you bothered with having them fight the alien menace at all when you could have been focusing on that!

If you add everything and the kitchen sink for good measure, people will hate it, because of all the "junk" in there that they don't like.

This doesn't even get into the idea of taking an actual risk or two in writing.

Need to add a gay sex scene to an otherwise straight book? You're going to hear about it!

Need a character to have problems with the police? Cop hater. (Even if other books of yours show the police in a decent light...)

Have a main character that's a demon who's mentor isn't wild about Christians?

Devil! (Though that one star review drove sales up by almost fifty percent for that series. Go figure?)

So I don't think it's as much about "failing" a given reader (though I do get the point behind the statement) as much as the idea that you have to fail some of them just to convey an idea.

Any idea.

Author said...

"I, frankly, have never trusted any reviewer to tell me what to buy or not to buy."

True words. Reviews, even when they're honest (not sock puppets, not haters or trolls) are nothing more than one person's reaction. That person may or may not have the same literary taste as you and, in fact, probably don't.

My last hardcover, for example, had one major review source describe it as "less than compelling" while another applauded it as having "a riveting plot." The only difference between a starred review and a trash review is the luck of the draw as to who you get for the reviewer.

Jude Hardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Duane Spurlock said...

<<
I read a Jeffrey Deaver hardback lately (I forget which) and was amazed at how many typos there were in it. If even JD can't get properly checked, it does make you wonder
>>

I remember when Arthur C. Clarke's 2010 first was published. It was full of typos. I was really surprised that such a high-profile novel was so badly copy edited. I think it was rushed into print for the holiday selling season.

Duane Spurlock said...

<<
Anthony Horowitz, the first ever author to be authorised by Conan Doyle's estate to write a new Sherlock Holmes story . . .
>>

I've seen this stated elsewhere. Wasn't Caleb Carr authorized to write The Italian Secretary? Wasn't Cay Van Ash authorized to write Ten Years Beyond Baker Street?

Henry said...

If you really believe a publisher's name sells high-priced e-books, you'll have to explain why so many mid-list authors have complained that their e-books are so expensive that hardly anyone buys them.

How can that be? Since the publisher's name is selling the book, they should be selling by the million, just like King.


I didn't say the publisher's name is selling the book. What I said is that only publisher's are consistently getting high prices for titles; self pubbers (far as I know) simply can't do it -- at all.

It is true, as Joe pointed out, that they are doing it in order to protect their print franchises. They don't want consumers to fall out of the habit of shelling out a relatively large amount for their intellectual property. They want to preserve cachet and they fear low-priced ebooks will make selling high priced paper much tougher.

But my point is that from a big picture POV they (the publishers) are managing to create more money for the sale of words than self pubbers. Period. And that's a seriously large amount of more money.

To a publisher, the mid-lister's low sales are not as important as a Dan Brown hit. They operate on the hit model: they'll take small losses on the majority of titles (though they aim to break even) in order to have that Da Vinci Code smash.

But if they were to discount titles then the Dan Brown hit would be just a sizzle. The high prices put them in the game for that jackpot.

It's like movie tickets. If you have slow sales, do you reduce theatre prices? No. You suffer through your flops, knowing your Batman is going to put you into the black.

Bottom line: major publishers are the only ones who can turn a novel into a 100 million dollars as of this moment. I think that's indisputable; and I also think it is the reason that many prominent self-publishers have signed with big houses. 52 Shades is but the latest example. I've already mentioned the NY Times list as a relative indicator of self-pubbers losing ground to the majors, getting squeezed out.

Look -- I'm in the writer's corner and hope for the most options for them. It's possible that the future is self pubbing and the end of publishers. On the other hand it is possible that publishers are adapting and will dominate ebooks once this disruptive pattern has settled. Here's an interesting link, apologies if it's been posted before, lots of data:

http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/top-self-published-kindle-ebooks-of-2011-a-report-by-piotr-kowalczyk/

A last word on publishers: I'm one who actually pays attention to who a book is published by; but then I'm part of the industry. So I put it to a friend who's a reader and couldn't care less about publishers. She said she doesn't even know who the publishers are - true. But she also said that knowing a book had a publisher was a sign that the book was vetted by someone, which is not the case with a self-pubber. I would say she is a typical mainstream reader, and has never yet bought a self pubbed title . .

Regards,
Henry

Tom Simon said...

Quoth Henry: But my point is that from a big picture POV they (the publishers) are managing to create more money for the sale of words than self pubbers. Period. And that's a seriously large amount of more money.

Per unit sold, yes. But their unit sales, in many cases, are so utterly paltry that they are doing a piss-poor job of making money per title.

And that’s leaving out the well-known royalty shenanigans, where authors with numerous titles from a particular publisher were seeing exactly identical sales figures for every one of their ebooks — and pathetic figures, too: for instance, three copies of each book sold in a six-month royalty period. It takes some doing to make an ebook sell that badly. To make all your ebooks sell exactly that badly? Someone is fiddling those figures.

Art Linkletter famously said, ‘I’d rather have 3 percent of something than 100 percent of nothing.’ But I would rather have 70 percent of a $3.99 sale than 17.5 percent of a $9.99 sale. And if I have to choose, I’ll take 1000 sales a month at $3.99 over three sales every six months at $9.99, no matter what my percentage is.

Rob Gregory Browne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sasha said...

In reply to me: "<<
Anthony Horowitz, the first ever author to be authorised by Conan Doyle's estate to write a new Sherlock Holmes story . . ."

Duane Spurlock said: "I've seen this stated elsewhere. Wasn't Caleb Carr authorized to write The Italian Secretary? Wasn't Cay Van Ash authorized to write Ten Years Beyond Baker Street?"

I didn't check, Duane - I was going by the first article I found on the internet about the background of House of Silk - thanks for this info.

Sasha said...

Interesting thing in The Bookseller today about Penguin (part of the Pearson group, presumably):

"Pearson has acquired self-publishing company Author Solutions Inc for $116m (£74m) in cash, with Penguin c.e.o. John Makinson saying "self-publishing has moved into the mainstream of our industry"."

The article is here:

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/pearson-buys-author-solutions-will-integrate-penguin.html

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I think Anthony Horowit was the first person requested to carry on the stories by the estate of Conan Doyle. Many others have written Holmes stories and had an OK from the Doyle Estate but they actually solicited Anthony Horowitz. There is the confusion.

Merrill Heath said...

Henry said: A last word on publishers: I'm one who actually pays attention to who a book is published by; but then I'm part of the industry. So I put it to a friend who's a reader and couldn't care less about publishers. She said she doesn't even know who the publishers are - true. But she also said that knowing a book had a publisher was a sign that the book was vetted by someone, which is not the case with a self-pubber. I would say she is a typical mainstream reader, and has never yet bought a self pubbed title.

Henry, I also pay attention to who publishes a book, but only because I'm a writer and I'm curious to see how things are changing in the industry. I do not make a purchasing decision based on the publisher.

It might be interesting to ask your friend if her favorite author self-published a book, would she not buy it because it hadn't been vetted by a traditional publisher?

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Henry said, I would say she is a typical mainstream reader, and has never yet bought a self pubbed title.

How does she know she hasn't, if she doesn't know who the publishers are?

Many self-pubbed books, my own included, are published under company names. Penname Press/Braun Haus Media in my case. But how does the average reader, like your friend, know this?

They don't. And they don't care.

Readers are looking for a good book. Period.

Henry said...

@Rob Gregory Browne

Your book looks great, I have to say. Very pro, down to the logo, and the fine print and the inset blurbs. and love the 'division of'part -- friendly lol.

Can I ask who your designer is?

You're right about my friend, the only way she'd know you're self-pubbing is if she googled.

Even then in your case, since you've been published by a trade house, it's unclear whether you're now with a small imprint or doing it yourself.

I would say you've done an excellent job that would be the exception rather than the rule in self-pubbing. Amazon obviously noticed too, it's probably why they decided to give the title some special marketing.

Good for you.

Regards,
Henry

Anonymous said...

So what is that magic number to sell 100 books a day at $2.99? How many decently-written stories must you create? Even 100 books a day, after Amazon takes its cut, is only $75K a year. I say "only" because I'm fortunate enough to have reached nearly double that in annual salary at my "day job". I realize not everyone is in the same position, but I sit here thinking, as much as I love to write, if it gets to the point where I have to crank out a half-dozen mediocre novels a year just to sustain a decent living, is that really an improvement in my quality of life? Okay, so I wouldn't have a boss, and I wouldn't have to commute 25 mins to work, but I see just as much torture - if not more - in becoming a one-man mediocre-novel factory. Am I missing something?

The Daily Brass said...

I don't know if I'll ever make a living as a writer. Novels, and even short stories come slowly to me and my work doesn't fit neatly into a genre. I do write some pretty funny parodies when I find time, but I'm not convinced there's a market, so I give them away for free at my blog and hope that some day the market will find them.

The novel I have for sale and the book of short stories took years to write, but I've sold very few copies so far. I dont know if it's because the books are no good, they don't appeal to the people buying self pubbed authors, or because I haven't given it enough time.

Despite my lack of positive results so far, I think about stories I've heard about the publishing industry--about Zen and the Art of Motorcylce Maintenance being rejected by over a hundred publishers, or how Harper Lee's editor worked with her extensively to whip her novel into shape--and how those novels probably wouldn't even find a publisher today, and I think about all the other points Joe and others here have been making,I feel like I made the right choice. Sure, I'll be putting my work out among some good books and a bunch of crappy ones, but at least I'll have some control over what happens. And I'll have complete control over my books.

B. Rehder said...

I'm curious as to how a book becomes a Kindle Daily Deal. Is that solely a decision on Amazon's part?

Rob Cornell said...

Okay, so I wouldn't have a boss, and I wouldn't have to commute 25 mins to work, but I see just as much torture - if not more - in becoming a one-man mediocre-novel factory. Am I missing something?

Why would you write mediocre novels? Being prolific does not make you a bad writer. If you really think so, you are caught up in a major writing myth that's historically unproven. A little research will show you this. Steinbeck wrote Grapes of Wrath in only 5 months with minor editing afterward. And nobody is expecting the Grapes of Wrath. A well crafted genre novel written in 2-4 months means you're writing 1000 words or less a day. If you can't pull that off, even part-time, you don't really want to be a full-time pro. Do you really think writing a couple sentences every hour makes the work better? Better to keep writing a hobby then.

Also, that number--six novels a year--not sure where that comes from. Joe only writes 4 novels, and then some shorter stuff. The point is, frequent and consistant output is key in managing a pro career as a fiction writer. Do the best you can, but you can probably do more (and do it well) than you think.

(Usual disclaimers apply. This is my opinion. Every writer is different. Take it for what it is, etc.)

GEO777 said...

Thanks for pointing that out Rob


Also, Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 9 days. That novel is now considered a modern american classic. The library he wrote it in has a plaque citing that event took place there.

I'm a new writer but I get all kinds of people telling me 'not to write fast'. I write fast and I had to fight hard to conquer the fast = bad myth.

I don't have a blog yet or anything but I'm writing without this myth over me for the first time in my life and Im not stopping. I plan to finish the novel I am on currently, form a blog and try out the things Joe Konrath speaks about here. BTW Im printing out your answer to put on my wall.

George

GEO777 said...
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Madison Johns said...

I personally see Facebooks as a useful marketing tool. I hardly think anyone would have ever known of my book without it. The writers and readers groups have changed the last six months and I have made many sales from them. I do see social media as a selling tool and have no problem hocking my books.

I understand that Joe is in a much better place than most of us. I'm hardly selling 100 books a day, but I'm happy with the ones I am selling. I'm selling print copies too. It seems that I have a few fans that insist their friends have signed copies that I'm selling myself instead off Amazon.

I did my time building relationships online the last three years before I published my first ebook. Marketing is a love/hate relationship. You hate to do it, but if you don't your books won't ever sell.

I have listened well to your advice Joe, and see you are spot on paying for marketing. I have invested little of it, but focused instead on giving prizes away for a book launch party. Sometimes an author needs to give back to its readers.

Walter Knight said...

The Big Six will remain viable for as long as they continue to retain their monopoly on paper book distribution to bookstores.

I do not see any way to break that exclusive club. Paperbooks will always be an important market. I sell lots of E-books, but cannot break into their paperbook distribution monopoly. Selling paper books on Amazon a very small market for new authors.

Jennings said...

Thanks for this post - I couldn't agree more. And thanks especially for the last part about your own advertising. I have spent today, in fact, researching marketing online until I have a migraine and feel discouraged. My book is good, and the sequel is coming out in Sept. I can write 4-6 a year. I'm going to do what makes sense and works for ME, not necessarily what conventional wisdom is. (Which is what we did 12 years ago in homeschooling, and that worked out great!) You've restored my self-confidence!

Deb said...

Well, I have no more access to a crystal ball than anyone else, but if my local B&N closes, it'll be because people like me stopped trying in vain to find books amongst the toys. They're shooting themselves. Can we not have a bookstore that sells -- I dunno -- BOOKS?

Scott Moon said...

Thanks for this excellent blog.

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