Sunday, March 24, 2013

Joe Answers Your Questions

I get a lot of email. So much that I really can't answer it all.

Well, I suppose technically I could answer it all, but it would cut into my writing and/or leisure time, and as much as I appreciate people writing me (and I do), I have to prioritize and email is at the bottom of my list.

So I'm going to answer emails in this blog post. Not specific ones, but amalgams of the kind of email I get on a regular basis. If you've emailed me before, and I haven't replied, here's the answer you were seeking...

Q: Thank you, Joe. You've inspired me to self-publish.

A: You are welcome, and thanks for telling me. Even though I might not reply, I do appreciate you reaching out. It makes me feel like I'm contributing to the world.

(Sidenote: The meaning of life is simple. Learn what you can. Pass along what you've learned. Have as much fun as possible. The goal is to leave the world a better place because you existed.)

It frankly boggles my mind how many people can trace their self-publishing journey to something I said or did. I look at the Kindle bestseller lists and smile because I see so many folks who have emailed me for advice (back when I used to answer email) and are now selling well.

If I have helped you, pay it forward. Pass along the info to someone who needs it, and share your numbers and knowledge with me and the rest of the world, so we can learn from you. As I've said, you should always have two hands outstretched. One, reaching for your next goal. The other, pulling up people behind you so they can get where you're at.

Q: Can you read my ebook and/or blurb me? I've attached a copy.

A: Thank you for the ebook. It's kind of you to send it. But my time is limited, and I'll never be able to read everything I'd like to read. I've promised people I'd blurb them, and never got around to it, so rather than keep disappointing people who are counting on me, I've stopped blurbing.

Q: Help! My book isn't selling! What should I do?

A: I'll be honest. I have no idea why some books sell, and others don't. If you've already done the Four Important Things (written a great book, gotten a great cover, have a great book description, and priced it reasonably) there's really not much else to do, other than wait for luck to strike.

You can try promoting in these ways, but I don't recommend them all:
  • BookBub.com and ebookbooster.com--which I do
  • Facebook and Google ads--which I've never tried 
  • Twitter and Facebook--which I use sparingly, but remember it is about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell
  • Blogging--which I don't believe sells books
  • Blog Touring--which I've had some success with
  • Cultivating fans--have a newsletter, get active on GoodReads, Shelfari, etc.
Also, don't forget to experiment. Change prices. Try giveaways. Change covers. Change the book description. 

The best advertisement for your writing is your writing. Write a book that people want to read. Then another. Then another. Keep at it until the world can't ignore you anymore.

Some writers hate the idea that luck plays a big part in success, but it does. But I've found that the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Q: I read your old blog posts, and you recommend things that you now advise against. What's with the hypocrisy?

A: As new data comes in, I change my mind. 

It is one of Joe's Axioms that people would rather defend their beliefs to the death instead of admitting they might be wrong. I try to admit when I'm wrong, and I adjust my beliefs accordingly. I think the ability to learn and adapt can only help while seeking success.

Q: Why are you so down on publishers, and those authors who choose the legacy route?

A: This blog has documented all the reasons I believe self-publishing is preferable to legacy publishing, ad nauseum. It used to bother me when I saw writers signing bad contracts (hint: they're all bad unless you are a huge bestseller) and I believe that writers make bad decisions because they aren't edumacated. So I try to edumacate them, and adopting a controversial tone helps get this blog more traffic, thus making people more aware of the topics I discuss.

But frankly, it is none of my business what other writers do. If you want to sign away your rights, forever, for 17.5% ebook royalties, forever, knock yourself out. I no longer have a horse in this race. I got all of my rights back, and my six week Kindle total is $116,000, which is more than the first three-book deal I signed. For those same books. 

Do whatever makes you happy, and follow whichever path you think is best. But do yourself a solid and research all of your options. Writers never had options before. Now we do. You owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can before deciding which route to take.

Q: What about diversification? Why not self-publish some books, and legacy-publish others? Isn't that the best of both worlds?

A: I do diversify, by publishing with Amazon. I can't disclose the royalties they give me, but it is much better than what any legacy publisher offers. 

But legacy publishing? If you can get a Hugh Howey deal and keep the ebook rights, go for it. Or get E.L. James comparable money. If not, going with a legacy publisher isn't diversification. It's simply a bad business decision. 

Q: OMG I love your books! What order should I read them in?

A: Thanks for the kind words. I write every book as a stand alone, so they can be read in any order, and still enjoyed.

But if you really need a chronology, here it is:

SHOT OF TEQUILA by JA Konrath
SERIAL KILLERS UNCUT by JA Konrath and Blake Crouch 
WHISKEY SOUR by JA Konrath
BLOODY MARY by JA Konrath
THE LIST by JA Konrath
RUSTY NAIL by JA Konrath
DIRTY MARTINI by JA Konrath
EXPOSED by JA Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson
HIT by JA Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson*
NAUGHTY by JA Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson*
JACK DANIELS STORIES by JA Konrath
PUSHED TOO FAR by Ann Voss Peterson
FLEE by JA Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson
SPREE by JA Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson
THREE by JA Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson*
FLOATERS by JA Konrath and Henry Perez
BURNERS by JA Konrath and Henry Perez
FUZZY NAVEL by JA Konrath
CHERRY BOMB by JA Konrath 
SHAKEN by JA Konrath
STIRRED by JA Konrath and Blake Crouch
LAST CALL by JA Konrath and Blake Crouch*
TIMECASTER by JA Konrath
TIMECASTER SUPERSYMMETRY by JA Konrath
TIMECASTER STEAMPUNK by JA Konrath*

The Jack Daniels books also cross over with several books with my frequent collaborator Blake Crouch, and my pen name, Jack Kilborn. These include:

DESERT PLACES by Blake Crouch
LOCKED DOORS by Blake Crouch
BREAK YOU by Blake Crouch
AFRAID by Jack Kilborn
TRAPPED by Jack Kilborn
ENDURANCE by Jack Kilborn
HAUNTED HOUSE*
*coming soon

Q: You keep bragging about all the money you're making. I think you're a liar.

A: I don't consider it bragging. I post my numbers to show what is possible.

Before I started blogging, writers were pretty much kept in the dark about money. No one knew what anyone else made. As such, there was a lot of suspicion, misinformation, envy, and floundering.

I was one of the first writers to openly talk about earnings. I felt this transparency was necessary in order to show my peers the difference between self-pub and legacy.

Now, lots of writers openly discuss money. I like to think I played a part in that. 

And while I'm not perfect, I don't lie. There's no reason to. If I wasn't making a lot of money, I'd be honest about it.

Sometimes I use this blog in an attempt to instigate change, because there are certain things about this industry that should be changed. But I don't make shit up to prove my points. I draw conclusions after having experience, I don't fake experience to pimp an agenda.

Q: If I self-publish, how quickly will I make as much money as you do?

A: Believe it or not, I get asked this on a weekly basis.

Read my blog, going back to 2005. I worked for twelve years and wrote a million words before making a dime, and it took another ten years for me to be making this much money. I've got over fifty ebooks. And I'll cop to a bit of egotism and say I've never met anyone who ever worked harder in their career than I did.

So the snide answer would be: Bust your ass for twenty years, with very little reward.

But that answer is actually bullshit. Because every writer has a different path to follow. Maybe it'll take you sixty years. Maybe you'll get rich with your first book. I have no idea.

It comes down to luck. Keep at it until you get lucky. And if you can quit, then quit. If toiling in poverty and obscurity is making you pop Prozac like Pez, and this career makes you hate your life, do something else.

I write because I love it. I never did it for money or fame. The fact that I have money now is a wonderful windfall, and I'm grateful and happy to have gotten lucky. (BTW, some peers of mine think I'm perhaps the unluckiest writer in the world, considering how hard I worked for so long without getting a break).

Don't write hoping to quit your day job. Don't compare yourself to me, or anyone else. This is your journey, and it will be unique to you.

(Sidenote: Envy is poison. So are jealousy, guilt, worry, and regret. If you catch yourself doing any of these, try to stop.)

Q: I read something on the Internets where people were badmouthing you. Here's the link.

A: One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit. 

I don't Google myself, don't read reviews of my work, don't look for fights, and don't try to correct every pinhead who misquotes me, misrepresents my arguments, takes things out of context, or is just plain wrong.
(Unless they do it on my blog. Then I'm happy to go at it for a bit.)

The point is, I'm no longer in high school. I don't care what people think of me. This is not an easy attitude to develop, and sometimes I may fall a little short, but I'm proud of not caring, and I think the world would be a better place if more people adopted this stance.

Q: I found your ebooks on a pirate site.

A: Awesome. Then you can get them for free.

My views on piracy are well documented on this blog. I don't believe it hurts sales, and in fact it might actually help them. DRM is a blight on digital media, the anti-piracy groups are scaremongers who can't prove their points, and information (media included) wants to be free.

If you fear piracy, do more research. File sharing will always exist. The reason the Internet was invented was to share.

Q: But aren't you worried that piracy is costing you money?

A: So far it hasn't. Because the best, and only, way to compete with piracy is with cost and convenience. I make my work available cheaply and easily. Even though I am widely pirated, it hasn't hurt my sales.

Q: Aren't you devaluing your books by pricing them so low?

A: The value of a book isn't its cover price. It's how much money the book earns the author.

Some writers think if they spent a year writing something, it should be priced high.

You can price however you want to. If you want to charge $99.99 for an ebook, and you can get people to buy it, go for it.

I think I've found the current sweet spot between units sold and profit per unit, which is under five bucks per title. Your mileage may vary. But keep in mind that ebooks are forever. Very few other careers allow you to keep earning money on time you already spent. You put in 40 hours a week at your day job, get paid for that week, and then you need to work the next week to make more money. A writer can put in 40 hours, write a story, and it will someday be earning money for his grandchildren.

Q: My agent sold some foreign rights to my ebook. Should I take it, or keep the rights and self-pub?

A: If it's a buttload of money, take it and run. If it's not much money, negotiate to put an expiration date on how long they keep the rights, something under ten years. Then the rights will come back to you, and by then you'll hopefully have enough money to translate it and self-publish it.

That goes for US rights as well. Big bucks, take it. Small bucks, try to keep the e-rights, or try to limit the contract term.

For the first time ever, writers have the power to say no and walk away from bad deals. Use that power.

Q: You talk trash about legacy publishing, but they are the ones who gave you a career. That's why you're making so much money now.

A: This is a faulty assumption that I've debunked many times. In a nutshell, I'm selling well because my ebooks are visible (lots of titles on lots of bestseller lists). While I have fans (thanks!) the majority of my sales are from people who haven't heard of me.

So far this month I've sold over 10,000 copies of Whiskey Sour. That was legacy published in 2004. From then until I got my rights back, Whiskey Sour sold about 35,000 ebooks.

So in 24 days, on my own, I've sold about 1/3 of what my publisher took nine years to sell. And these sales are obviously new readers, because all of my fans have already bought Whiskey Sour.

Besides, if I had such a great legacy platform, wouldn't I have been a bestseller years ago?

Q: Can I interview you? Would you speak at my conference/book fair/convention?

A: I've pretty much stopped doing interviews, except when I'm feeling particularly generous (usually if I'm reading email while drinking.) I've found that publicity doesn't boost sales, and that I often get misquoted or have things taken out of context.

Plus, it is a time suck. Ditto travelling. While it is nice to be asked, and even nicer to be offered lots of money (I've turned down speaking gigs for $20k), I value my privacy and my time too much, so I no longer do public appearances.

Thanks for asking. And good luck with your article or conference.

Q: Can I do a guest blog for you?

A: I've promised many people I'd let them do a guest blog, and then I've let them down by not following through. While I don't mind being asked, and I may even respond and say yes, the chances of you doing a guest blog is low. I apologize if I said I'd do it, and I didn't. Usually there is a reason for it (I forgot, time got away from me, I read your blog post and didn't like it).

One of my flaws is a criminally short attention span for certain things, which means I often forget email promises.

If I did promise you a guest post (or anything else) then the best way to make sure I keep my promise is to keep emailing me until I either:
  1. Fulfill the promise
  2. Respond and tell you I can't fulfill the promise
  3. Put you in my spam folder and block your email addy
And once again, I'm sorry.

As a corollary, emailing me repeatedly because I didn't respond to you the first time is an easy way to join my spam folder.

Q: Can you help me with...

A: Here's the thing: no one ever helped me. I did it all by myself, figured it all out alone, and continue to do so.

And actually, doing it yourself is the best way to learn. While it may seem daunting, and even overwhelming, I'm sure you can manage. There's nothing magic about me, anyway. I'm just a guy who worked hard and got lucky. You can do the same. 

Q: Will you ever do a sequel to...

I have lots of sequels in the works.

THREE, HIT, and NAUGHTY are all Chandler ebooks coming this summer.

LAST CALL is a new Jack Daniels/Luther Kite novel, coming by summer. (I know I said STIRRED woud be the last one, but fans keep asked for more, and who am I to say no?)

HAUNTED HOUSE is a new Kilborn, featuring characters from AFRAID, TRAPPED, ENDURANCE, ORIGIN, and THE LIST, coming out next month.

ORIGIN and THE LIST will also have proper sequels, hopefully in 2014. 

TIMECASTER STEAMPUNK is scheduled for 2014.

My super-secret pen name will also have a sequel coming out this year. 

Q: I am the king of Nigeria. Can you assist me in depositing 25 million dollars into your US bank account?

A: I emailed you my bank info last week! Where's my millions?

59 comments:

Ken Lindsey said...

Whether I agree or disagree with the things you say here from one post to the next, I keep coming back because you are always honest with your readers. This is another great example of that, thanks for all the great info, Joe.

Anonymous said...


Blog quote: "Cultivating fans--have a newsletter, get active on GoodReads, Shelfari, etc."

Anybody know what the "etc" might be? Seriously asking.

Jude Hardin said...

Joe, can you do anything about those flashing Urgent! advertisements on the sidebar of my Yahoo mail? They're driving me nuts!

But really, thanks for all the help through the years, and the wisdom shared through this blog. I'm still learning, still growing.

As it should be.

And if you ever want another collaborator, just shoot me an email. I still answer mine. ;)

Joe Konrath said...

Etc. is basically anywhere you can get readers emails, so you can announce when you have a new book out. I only use those I mentioned, but I'm sure there are more.

Roger Lawrence said...

Good down-to-earth tips. If I want to become a best selling author, it's up to me to work at it.

Anonymous said...

Quotes from blog (not in order):

"I've got over fifty ebooks."

"I got all of my rights back, and my six week Kindle total is $116,000..."

Hi Joe, is the $116,000 from all 50 ebooks or just the ones you listed in the current blog post?

Joshua James said...

Okay, so I have a question that might be out of left field... but first, thank you for this blog... thanks, dude...

Now, onto the question... whenever I do my morning cruise through the news blogs I like (Balloon Juice, Kos, etc) I'll see Amazon ads for books (for example, I've see one for a Barry Eisler book, I'm pretty sure) and every time I open my kindle, there's an ad for an ebook...

Can I presume those ads are paid for, or are they random? If not, how does one get on that train, cause it's pretty cool...

Bruno Stella said...

I think that your honesty and sense of humour are a large part of why you do well. It's very cool that you have gone to such trouble to help your fellow writers and whenever I'm feeling down about dismal sales figures, your blog is an inevitable pick-me-up. Finally, I LOL'ed at the Nigerian prince Q&A. Those 419ers drive me up the wall. Keep writing, and thanks.

-Bruno Stella

Darlene Underdahl said...

Great post. Looking forward to Last Call and all the others.

Rich Grimshaw said...

You're a hoot, Joe, and I admire you. You do what you want, and you don't let anybody get in your way. You are never a victim. Thanks for, "people would rather defend their beliefs to the death instead of admitting they might be wrong. I try to admit when I'm wrong, and I adjust my beliefs accordingly." We should all be so committed to integrity. I'm drinking this next beer to you!

Anonymous said...

Joe, I want to chime in as one of the thank-yous.

I write gay romance, probably not a genre you're interested in. But I've tried self-publishing because of reading your blog.

I've made over 600 dollars in the last few months. That is huge for me, because I've been disabled and unemployable for the last ten years.

I'm also working with a top publisher in the field now, because they can do better cover art, editing, and promotion than I can, and they pay excellent rates and have a limited contract (i.e. not for the rest of the book's natural life).

I'm just so happy, with all of it. I feel like I have hope now. I can use self-publishing when I feel like it, and I can work with a publisher when it's to my benefit and theirs.

Just...thank you, man.

Natalie said...

I've never commented here before, and I don't have anything new to add, to be honest, but I wanted to thank you for this post. Your blog has helped me so much and inspired me to get more serious about my writing. I'm working on my first novel right now and plan to self-publish it once I'm finished. Again, thanks so much. :)

Eli Wade/Jacob Chastain said...

Great post.

I could only imagine what it is like to have so many authors ask for help...

This is a crap shoot guys. Write great books and build a community. Personally, I am finding that there are greater ways to advertise than telling people about your books specifically (like ranking high for a keyword in google that relates to your book).

Also, podcasting, youtube, and blogging... Diversify.


Now go buy my books. They're cheap and are great tools for practicing mindfulness. :)

Anonymous said...

I know there's no point in having a super secret pen name if you cop to it but can you at least give us a hint? Genre? Anything?

Rosa Lee Jude said...

I heard you called many things, but the truest word to describe you, in this context, is generous. Through all your years of blogging about your journey, you have logged many words on the subject, time that you could have easily spent writing several books.

As a writer, I thank you. I have learned many things about the
world of publishing and continue to put your advice to work in my own career.

As an individual, I say bravo, many people talk about paying it forward, very few people actually do it.

Thank you.

bettye griffin said...

I echo what Ken Lindsey (poster #1) said.

My favorite quote from this post: "But I've found that the harder you work, the luckier you get."

And as for that guest blog I wrote, I published it on my own blog about three weeks later. It was apparent you wouldn't be using it, and no point in wasting perfectly good words. I'd completely forgotten about it...

Jill James said...

Thanks for my chuckle of the day. Those were great.

Joshua Simcox said...

"Stirred" was supposed to the final Jack Daniels/Luther Kite novel. What changed your mind?

- Joshua

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Keep on keepin' on, Joe. You are paying it forward every day.

Oh, and whatever happened to that 30 days on beer project? I thought you were going to do a film or something...?



Suzanne Anderson said...

I'm finding that the comments are as enjoyable as the blog posts!

Craig Allen said...

I'm glad I found this blog. I started self publishing last year. I don't have much success yet, but I'm just getting started. Even if I'm never successful, at least my books will be out there for others to read (as you said, ebooks are forever).

Thanks for everything you do.

Stephen Goss said...

I join the group of people you've helped through your blog, and I appreciate your disclosure of your earnings.

Joe Konrath said...

Hi Joe, is the $116,000 from all 50 ebooks

From everything. But 95% of it is from my novels.

Joe Konrath said...

but can you at least give us a hint?

Hint: It's not JA Konrath.

Joe Konrath said...

"Stirred" was supposed to the final Jack Daniels/Luther Kite novel. What changed your mind?

Fans. They want it, and I'm not going to tell them no.

Joe Konrath said...

I thought you were going to do a film or something...?

It's on my todo list.

Joe Konrath said...

Missed you during the fourth quarter of 2012.

I was tending to my garden, so to speak.

Walter Knight said...

I'm the real King of Nigeria. Your Millions are being sent by UPS. Be patient, and send me your bank account number again.

Aimless Writer said...

Very encouraging words. I had the urge to lift various quotes from several point in this post.
I was a little irritated by some of the emails you get regarding bragging, piracy, and your choices in publishing and sharing your story.
I've watched your career grow since the article you wrote in WD on how you got published (years ago!). You are one of the hardest working writers I've ever seen. Not only do you write awesome books, but also do market research & experimentation that helps others and then you come here and share how you did it. Anyone who doesn't know/think you're awesome and an inspiration is a fool.
You are my hero. I'm now self publishing because of the guidance and inspiration you offered here on your blog. Thank you.

Kimberly Steele said...

I'm just another one of the writers Joe has inspired to stay independent and self-publish to Amazon, B&N, and others. Joe, even though he did not realize it, helped me to make about $300 a month during a very rough economic era from my Forever Fifteen vampire fiction series instead of the pittance I would make if "signed" with a legacy publisher. $300 may not seem much in comparison with your numbers, however, every little bit counts! I won't go into detail as to why but things have not been easy for me financially in the last 6 months. Joe is no less than directly responsible for the groceries and gas I was able to afford over that stint. Thanks for the groceries and gas, Joe! Times would be a lot tougher had I not followed Joe's advice. I will be paying it forward by offering a class out of my office space on how to format and sell your own ebooks.

Mark Edward Hall said...

A little off topic here, but I find it more than a little interesting that The Da Vinci Code seems to have been made permanently free for kindle. It has occupied the number 2 spot for nearly two weeks running. And it was number 1 before that. I'm wondering how long it will take another top publisher with a massively successful book to do the same thing. And then another. I know this sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theory but it would be easy for them to game the free system and occupy say the top ten spots indefinitely, therefore pushing lesser known independents out of the running. Just a thought. Wonder what anybody else thinks about this.

Joe Konrath said...

The Da Vinci Code seems to have been made permanently free for kindle.

I read about this. It's for a limited time.

I find a few things interesting about this.

First, hasn't everyone read DaVinci already? More proof that old ebooks are new to some folks.

Second, I predicted years ago that publishers would catch on to the low-priced ebook thing, and they have, to a degree. But here's the thing: they fear going all in on low prices. For the moment, at least.

The problem won't be free. The problem will be when every Big 6 book is $3.99.

But then I don't see that as a problem. I see that as luring more people to ebooks, and giving readers more spending money. When readers can get the new Lee Child for 4 bucks instead of fourteen, that'll be ten bucks in their pocket to buy my books.

Mark Edward Hall said...

I like your optimism, Joe. Talk about turning a sow's ear into a silk purse!

Rick Schworer said...

How did that whole beer diet thing turn out?

Joe Konrath said...

How did that whole beer diet thing turn out?

I lost weight, including muscle and bone mass. :(

I'll edit it all together one day. Fun viewing.

Anonymous said...

The DaVinci Code freebie is only one example of big publishers coming to lower ground. Lots of backlist books are being made cheap on the eve of a new release by a known author. Bottom line, big publishers are now in the game. Just a year ago all the indies were screaming about how stupid and doomed all the NY publishers were. Guess what? They're not.

Jude Hardin said...

First, hasn't everyone read DaVinci already?

I haven't. Why would I? Just because 80 million other people have?

I've never read J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyers, or E.L. James either. Those books just don't interest me.

More proof that old ebooks are new to some folks.

Yes, and that's definitely cool.

Anonymous said...

@anon:

Yes the big 6 are still stupid and doomed. How many bloated salaries can they pay when they put up backlist titles for free? How many months of rent at a fancy NY office address does that finance?

Even if Joe's doomsday scenario comes to pass and they offer ALL best sellers at $3.99 - their massive, stinking fat-filled overhead will sink them like stones.

Tracy Sharp said...

More Jack? YAY!!!!!

Joe Konrath said...

Bottom line, big publishers are now in the game. Just a year ago all the indies were screaming about how stupid and doomed all the NY publishers were. Guess what? They're not.

Big publishers have always been in the game. But they have been playing the game poorly, and continue to play the game poorly.

Have you been paying attention to my former legacy ebooks? I'm making $2750 a day on those. Why weren't the publishers making that when they still had the rights?

Big Publishing has all but killed the midlist. Incredibly, they are dropping authors (the one group that can save them). I hear my peers talk of lower advances and contracts that aren't being renewed. This is not Big Publishing being smart. It is missing the forest for the trees.

A unilateral drop of all ebooks to $3.99 or less, and an abandonment of paper, might save them. But I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

They're still making money because of huge hits, but the hits won't be able to sustain them forever.

Joe Konrath said...

How many bloated salaries can they pay when they put up backlist titles for free? How many months of rent at a fancy NY office address does that finance?

They'll have to change, or perish.

Even with massive ebook profits, legacy publisher are reporting losses because they aren't compensating for the dearth of paper sales.

If they moved to Jersey, downsized, and tried attracting authors rather than repelling them with terrible contract terms, they'd have a chance. But there is too much waste and too many mistakes being made.

But I'm not counting them out yet. This is a billion dollar industry, with lots of money behind it. A Twilight, 50 Shades, Potter, Dragon Tattoo, or Hunger Games can keep the lights on while they lose money on other IPs. James Patterson or Stephen King probably could support a publisher... until those authors leave to make more money solo.

So the publishers will offer those flagship bestsellers higher royalties to keep them, which cuts into their bottom line.

The house of cards will fall. But it'll take years.

Anonymous said...

"The house of cards will fall. But it'll take years."

Big publishers will change as the times change; although it sometimes seems more like turning an ocean liner than a jet ski. In the end they'll do just fine. They have great things to offer, including print which will never go away. Pay scales to authors will change to keep authors from shifting to indie, and already has in many ways (authors keeping ebook rights higher ebook royalties, hybrid contracts, etc.). The truth is that the publishing landscape is changing dramatically every year. Everyone who wants to adapt will. Yes, they have rent which in expense that indies don't, but they also have highly talented people populating those rented spaces.

Don't worry about them.

wannabuy said...

@ Anon:Big publishers will change as the times change; although it sometimes seems more like turning an ocean liner than a jet ski. In the end they'll do just fine.

The same can be said of AOL (America on line). They still exist, but does anyone worry about them?

Neil

Marie Force said...

Count me in as one of the faithful drinkers of the Konrath Kool-Aid. I read your blog, followed your advice and turned myself into a two-time NYT bestseller (twice this MONTH!). I like to tell people about my income before and after self-publishing: 4 figures in 2010, 6 figures in 2011, 7 figures in 2012 and 2013 is on track to outpace 2012 by June.

Thanks for your generosity, Joe. Any time, any place our paths may cross, I owe you a drink or three.
Marie

Mark Smith said...

Hi Joe,

Entire editorial board resigns due to unfair treatment of authors...
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/journals-editorial-board-resigns-in-protest-of-publishers-policy-toward-authors/43149?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Not a huge publisher but fantastic to see editors stand up for author rights!

Mark

S.W. Vaughn said...

Thanks for sharing everything with everyone! I always enjoy your advice -- it's inspiring to know that self-publishing can work out eventually. Keeps me going.

I've got a question too (no worries if you can't answer; I'm currently researching) -- your fabulous cover designer isn't doing any more custom work! *weeps profusely* NOW who am I supposed to get an awesome cover from...?

Matt J said...

Joe, it took a while to click and sink into this thick head of mine, but thank you for opening my eyes. Instead of spending all my time marketing - scouring the Kindleboards, schmoozing on Goodreads and Shelfari, and agonizing over the perfect look for my website and blog, I should be WRITING, getting more of my work out there, of always better and better quality, with an eye towards the prolific. I loved your entire post, but this is the line that got me:

"The best advertisement for your writing is your writing. Write a book that people want to read. Then another. Then another. Keep at it until the world can't ignore you anymore."

Amen, brother!

Joe Konrath said...

In the end they'll do just fine.

Just like Kodak and Polaroid. And travel agents. And VHS and Beta.

Goldie said...

Thank you for such an amazing read! Not only did you answer question's I didn't even know I had but you left me laughing and brightened my day!

Terri Herman-Ponce said...

The question about making money and self-publishing hit home and it couldn't have come at a better time. I'm published with my 2nd book just released in the past year. Sales are, yeah, pitiful. But feedback is excellent. So your post reminded me of the very reason I write: because I love it. It's the only work that doesn't feel like work. Thank you for this terrific Q&A, but mostly thank you for the reality check about expectations and envy. I needed it.

Kay Bratt said...

Joe,

I started reading your blog wayyy....back when I started. I self pubbed then became one of the very first Amazon-pubbed authors. Today I have 5 self pubbed books, 2 Amazon-pubbed books, and recently signed a contract with Amazon Publishing for a trilogy. All 3 books are written and are now in the publishing stage. Meanwhile I'm halfway through writing book one of a new series I'll self pub.

All that to say, like you I have my feet firly planted in both courts: Indie & APub. And we might write totally different stuff, but because I first started being inspired by you, last year I brought in six figures + for the first time in my life. From my writing.

I work hard. VERY hard. And I pay it forward. I've helped many indie authors get started.

Thanks. And ps...you aren't telling us your super secret pen name...could that be because you are writing erotica? Whoo hoo! I guessed it.

David Hudnut said...

Sorry to hear about the beer diet bone loss. You had me worried when you first started it. I'm not a doctor or nutritionist, but you might want to read up on vitamins D3 + K2 and how they promote healthy bones. My understanding is that if you don't get a lot of sun (which your body uses to produce vitamin D, which in turn makes the calcium in your diet available to your body) and eat a TON of vitamin K2 rich vegetables (which guides free calcium in your body toward bones instead of soft tissue), you might want to consider a vitamin D3 + K2 supplement.

I think it's safe to assume beer is not a balanced diet. ;-)

Of course, consult your physician, blah blah blah. But less beer, more milk, cheese and fresh spinach and kale.

I've heard that if you eat fresh spinach while reading a Joe Konrath novel, it makes the spinach taste like beer.

Anonymous said...


I can understand how making one ebook free will generate more interest and sales in the author's back list of titles.

But how does it generate more sales if you only have one ebook and no back list?

Hey Joe, doesn't your secret pen name only have one book? And haven't you only been making it free?

So how does making that single book free for a while generate more sales when it is no longer free?

Anonymous said...

Joe makes $2,000 a day. That number used to boggle my mind. Then I realized he has 50 books for sale.

Just $40 per day per book on average, in other words. Several hundred authors accomplish that same feat. You can too.

I have published nearly 1 million words in the past 6 years, and still see my writing improve with every new effort. Don't ever quit.

When I went with Bookbub and Select every month beginning in January, my sales doubled. I have 2 complete 3 book series, 2 series with 2 books each, and a few (for now) standalones.

I release a new novel every 10 weeks. I have 5,000 FB friends and 10,000 Twitter followers. It took me a decade to build that social media empire and it pales in comparison to some others.

And all of this from novels rejected 500 times by agents/publishers because my niche was 'too small'.

Thanks Joe!

Tuan Ho said...

Another great post Joe!

You're a huge inspiration! :)

Fiona Ross said...

Great posts and shovel loads of really useful, current and valuable advice. Thank you.

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Jack D. Albrecht Jr. said...

I have to admit, I have sent you an email or two. The fact that you never replied hasn't fazed me a bit, and I keep finding myself back here every few months to read another refreshing dose of honesty.

The thing about needing advice from you is this: all the advice any author needs can be found in the blogs over several years of blogging. But the one thing you said long ago, and is the reason I am not checking your blog everyday, anymore, was "Why are you reading my blog and not writing?"

Yep, that was great advice!

Now I have two books doing great (for a first time author) and I find all the inspiration I need by writing.

Keep up the good work Joe. I know that following your advice changed my life. I hope others can glean what they need from these posts as well

Michele Newton said...

I recently starting reading your work and quickly became a fan. I absolutely love the Jack series. When exactly will "Last Call" be released?