Sunday, March 31, 2013

Konrath Flip-Flops

It finally happened. I've pulled all of my ebooks off of Amazon.com.

I did this for several reasons.  I'll take them one at a time.

1. I was making $3000 a day. That involved a lot of accounting. Keeping track of money isn't one of my strong suits, and with so much money coming in, I was constantly confused and depressed. Plus, the taxes were significant.

It made sense that the only way to rid me of this burden of wealth was to get away from the cause of that wealth--Amazon.com.

2. Running your own empire is hard. I got tired of sitting on my throne, lording over all I'd accomplished. A smarter idea would be to let someone else lord over it, and take 75% of my income for doing so.

3. I never had any validation self-publishing. Sure, I've sold over a million ebooks and gotten thousands of great reviews, but how could I know my books were really any good unless I had some sort of gatekeeper tell me they were?

4. Amazon just acquired Goodreads. Anyone with half a brain knows what this means. Just look at Amazon's track record.

  • Amazon constantly strives to improve the customer experience
  • Amazon treats authors with respect
  • Amazon pays authors well
  • Amazon encourages reading

It's obvious to me, and to everyone else who is whining about this, that Amazon WANTS TO CONQUER THE WORLD AND REPLACE EVERYONE WITH A ROBOT DUPLICATE.

Naturally, I can't stand by and let this happen. Even though my robot duplicate may be able to fly and have cool laser beam eyes, I'm not going to be replaced by some machine. That's where I draw the line with my business partners.

So I did a lot of soul searching, and realized the answer to my problems was the very thing I'd been rallying against for so long.

I needed to make a lot less money, wanted to have less control over my career, and desperately craved having professionals pat me on the head and tell me I was worthy, all while being able to justify my hysterical antipathy toward Amazon.

In other words, I needed a legacy publisher.

I have begun the process of writing query letters to the Big 6.

Hopefully, by this time next year, I'll have a four-figure print deal. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

86 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blog quote: "Amazon pays authors well"

They pay authors a higher percentage, but taking 30 percent for being a "middle man" is a lot.

Still, I'm glad they've enabled Indie Authors to idependently forge ahead on their own.

Kevin said...

Nice April Fools joke!

AstroNerdBoy said...

Heh!heh!heh! Happy April Fools to you too. ^_~

Tuan Ho said...

Happy April Fool's!

Anonymous said...


Well, he did this last year too...

Anonymous said...


Correction:

Last year's joke was more of a surprise here's the truth joke.

This year it's a I'm flip flopping joke.

Anonymous said...

Happy April Fool's Day to you!!!

I wonder what you make of "Agent Assisted self-publishing" and the White Glove Program:
http://janefriedman.com/2013/03/26/amazon-white-glove-program/

Thank you for doing this blog!

Anonymous said...

If you want to read interesting story
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Janet Boyer said...

Nice April Fool's joke. ;oP

RD Meyer said...

Okay everybody, we get that we're all smart and caught on to the April Fool's joke, but maybe we could've held off on the self congratulations long enough to see if anyone would read this as serious first. ;-)

Tangerine said...

Re #3: Exactly. Why should a writer trust his readers or try to connect with them? I mean, who are these people anyway?

Regina Richards said...

Good one.

Jos Van Brussel said...

Better get an agent and manager too. Spread a little wealth to the deserving poor.

Anonymous said...



RD Meyer said...
"...maybe we could've held off on the self congratulations long enough to see if anyone would read this as serious first. ;-)"

Are you serious yourself?

Almost anyone, let alone a writer, can see that the post is dripping with sarcasm and is therefore a joke.

Anonymous said...

Obviously you need to get a legacy agent and publisher to help you solve your "problems."

Anonymous said...

I know this is an April's fools joke, but I hope the $3,000 per day is real.

Rachel said...

Truly laughing.

Barry Knister said...

You've done the right thing. The next step is to visit your local Franciscan monastery.

Mike Fook said...

NOW you're thinking!

Robert Dean Hall said...

I was wondering when it would come to this...

Dave said...

Today is April 1st, isn't it.

Joe Konrath said...

but taking 30 percent for being a "middle man" is a lot.

You do realize that publishers take 52.5%, right?

I wonder what you make of "Agent Assisted self-publishing" and the White Glove Program

I've been aware of the program for a long time (I know lots of secret stuff.) As far as I know, it wasn't meant for the public. So my guess is Ms. Friedman breached a confidence and spoke out of turn. Oops.

I hope the $3,000 per day is real.

Me too. :)

bettye griffin said...

This is actually dated March 31st, so let's hope no one out there takes this seriously...

Belinda Frisch said...

Hilarious, but a little too transparent to be an effective April Fool's. LOL. Shared. You cracked me up this morning, thanks.

Stephen Galvin said...

I think the 30% anonymouss dude thought it was real, which says everything that needs to be sid about anonymous posting.

C E said...

and a happy April first to you, too, Joe .
:-)

STH said...

Joe, remember, if you find you’re getting rejections or non-responses, it’s probably your query letter.

When you’re ready for help in writing a professional quality query, I only charge $100 an hour.

Call me :)

Anonymous said...

Hi (I commented/lined re: white Glove program)

this from NOv 2012

http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/11/05/agents-self-publishing-and-the-mysterious-white-glove/

more recently: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/03/2013/agent-assisted-self-publishing-and-the-amazon-white-glove-program/

looks like the Glove is out of the bag -

I am curious as to what you make of it.
Ali

Anonymous said...

In celebration of Joe’s turning over a new leaf and April Fool’s Day, I’m offering The Imam of the Cave Free today.

J Randall

Rob @ 52 Novels said...

I've seen Joe's flip-flops while they've been attached to his feet. Not pretty.

Shah Wharton said...

Oh my. . . . I want to shove this post down the throats of the too many trad-snobs who won't review or read or even recognise indie authors. Of course, I won't do so because I'd rather avoid assault charges and I'm not you, nor am I so adored or even known by the reading public - I'm fledgling and somewhat needy :p. I really don't need not to make enemies, which is why reading this is such an exhale! :D X

Christie Rich said...

Still laughing! Love it!!!

Gary Ponzo said...

Joe, I understand you're writing a series of childrens books starring Jack Daniels. The first one is supposedly titled, "Shirley Temple."

Congrats!

TK Kenyon said...


3 lines before I figured out it was April 1st!

A new record for me! Yea!

As always, NICE!

TK Kenyon

David LeRoy said...

Four figures! I don't know about that. Don't you think you should scale down you ambitions a bit?

Jude Hardin said...

Joe speaks truth, you guys, even when he's bullshitting. Ignore him at your peril.

There are certain snakes who continue to thrive in this business, despite all the information available, and they'll bite you on the ass if you let them.

Don't let them.

Joshua James said...

this cracked me up...

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Lina Gimble said...

You actually had me there for a second. If my older neice hadn't drawn a mustache (in pen) on my younger neice for April Fools, I might not have known what to make of it.

Honestly, I need a keeper. Uh, but not a gatekeeper...

Li

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Well, if you start emailing out your queries today (assuming you've run drafts by QueryShark et al. to make sure you have a chance), you will probably never hear back from 97% of the potential agents. In six weeks you'll get three actual email rejections, and one request for a partial. After buffing and sending off your 30 pages, you'll wait three more months, then email that agent, who will tell you nothing. Then you'll email her again, and she'll give you a "not for us, others may feel differently" email response. Then you'll start again, now about six months down the road, with a new batch of potential agents and a new query letter.

In the meantime, I published a short story last Monday and have sold 500 copies so far. I'd still be at the query stage if I'd been looking for an agent. (More likely I'd never bother, since it's a short story.)

Thanks for the laughs and thanks for the inspiration, Joe.

Suzanne Anderson said...

So you're setting up a lemonade stand on the front lawn instead? Happy April Fool's!

John said...

And giving up beer?

Stella Baker said...

Joe, I'm sure you're making the right decision here. To give yourself something to do between writing those query letters, check out Google's new product, available only today. GOOGLE NOSE...now you can smell the internet!

Jill James said...

There is always truth on this blog, even in the middle of a joke.

Lois Marie Lavrisa said...

Ring Ring. Ring. Ring.

Gets voicemail.

Hey Joe, I’m a big time top dog editor with a legacy dinosaur, I mean publishing house. You mentioned getting your query letter together and I say, hey, don’t worry about that! I will consider your blog post as your query letter. After all you want to be with us and you are willing to let us take over control and rights to your career. So let’s make a deal! Here’s what I can offer you:

1. The sheer privilege of being with a legacy publisher, which validates you right away. Forget the Bozos at Amazon. We, at the top of the legacy publishing mountain, are looking down at them wondering when they will just go away. Put your trust in legacy publishing we are here to stay do not trust those trailblazers at Amazon. Trailblazers crash and burn.

2. We will give you real money. But it will take some time, and of course we have to take out fees, and commissions, and…well don’t worry about all that. Just know that within a year after it takes two years to publish, you should get a check.

3. Oh and you wanted a four figure print deal? If that counts cents we can do that for you too. I’m telling you it’s your lucky day Joe! How does $78.03 grab you? Take the wife and family out to dinner on us. It’s the least we can do. Seriously, the least.

4. And remember in point number one? You have the validation of being with a legacy. That alone should help you market and promote yourself. Because we won’t help you. I mean after all we gave you the big advance, you need to do the work yourself. If you were Stephen King, we’d help you out. But you, Joe, have to prove yourself. Oh and the small print on your contract says we will drop you like a hot potato if you don’t.

I know Joe, you are pinching yourself right now. You never thought you’d be offered a contract right here and now. But I have to tell you, you need to act quickly. I’ve got emails stacking up in my inbox, full of fresh faced writers who can’t wait to sign on to his deal.

Hold on a second a client is asking me something (muffled phone) “Fries with that? Pull to the first window.”

(Rustling) Okay I’m back. So, you see I am valuable and you need me. I’m glad you know that already. I’m emailing the contract, and really don’t worry about rights for perpetuity and so on- You just keep writing, I will take care of all the rest of the mumbo jumbo. Trust me. You need me more than I need you.

Hangs up.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Galvin said...
I think the 30% anonymouss dude thought it was real, which says everything that needs to be sid about anonymous posting.

Yeah sure, I thought it was real.
I mean, it was clearly obvious that it was real.

And thanks for the insult.

You have shown that you are a fabulous writer, a fabulous speller and a testament to the kindness of the human race.

Donna said...

Can u add a rss feed to ur site? Goodlge got rid of their reader app before they said they were going to, and this wld help a lot.

Suzy said...

Thanks for the afternoon heart attack.

Anonymous said...

Nice AF. :)

The only thing that concerns me about the Goodreads acquisition is that Amazon may go into "let's delete all references to your book made by anyone who might have met you once" mode again on the Goodreads site as they did with product reviews. People who know the author do have a right to review books they buy.

Joe Konrath said...

Amazon may go into "let's delete all references to your book made by anyone who might have met you once" mode again on the Goodreads site as they did with product reviews.

I love Amazon, but they dropped the ball on that one. I've talked to a lot of authors about it, and none of us are going to review books anymore. Which is a shame, because my reviews were thoughtful and had gotten hundreds of "helpful" votes, but Amazon still deleted dozens of them.

I'm man enough to admit I cried when that happen. Cried like a fat guy who thought there was a donut let but there wasn't because his fat wife ate it.

Okay. I ate it. But it still hurt to realize they were all gone.

Walter Knight said...

Evil corporations are, well, you know, evil. Also, my wife says I can be replaced by a machine, so I'm drawing a circle in the sand, too.

Cyn Bagley said...

Hey-- I can help you out with number one? (3,000 a week? ummm I could practice my counting). lol

Oh well-- if it is really an April Fool's joke, then have a great day--

Ripley King said...

I just crushed a box elder bug between two fingers, and @Walter Knight, there are 64 reasons a cucumber is better than a man, and machines ... well, you do the math.

At Publishers Weekly, in the comments section, I shoved Smashwords into their faces. They still won't get it. And I won't help them.

BTW, online, Smashwords gets very little respect. We should work together to change that. It's in our best interest.

Collect them rejection slips. Joe. I've papered one wall with mine. It looks festive.

Joe Konrath said...

BTW, online, Smashwords gets very little respect.

Coker is a smart guy, and an innovator. SW does a lot of stuff right, and it stung when I pulled my ebooks from them to go all-in with Amazon.

But I'm making $3100 a day. When I'm looking at my numbers, I don't believe them. It's insane.

And the thing is, I've never hit the real Amazon jackpot. I'm doing well, but many authors make my numbers look lousy. There's the potential to some day have ten titles in the Top 100. $3100 a day could be $3100 an hour. Believe it or not, that actually happens.

That said, if I were Coker, I'd be playing with ads in free ebooks. A few years ago I discussed a business proposal with him on how to monetize that idea. That would lure me back to SW in a heartbeat.

Bill said...

Oh, thank goodness. It's awful getting those royalty payments every two months instead of twice a year. Maybe.

"How the Write Your Novel in Nine Weeks" by Bill Dodds.

L.L. Muir said...

Wow. That was great. I was so confused, and then so relieved, it was well worth the confusion.

Happy April 1st to you also.

Alan Spade said...

For something like 10 seconds, I believed you were running a new experiment to go exclusive with Kobo, Nook and Apple. LOL :)

Regarding the deal between Goodreads and Amazon, either it's not an exclusive one or it has not already begun, because there's still the mention "average rating includes Goodreads" and the link with Goodreads on the Kobo website.

Also, I didn't see any mention to Goodreads on the Amazon.com website.

Alan Spade said...

OK. I've just read in the press release the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

I don't know if Goodreads' reviews and ratings helped Kobo to sell, but if they did, it's a deep blow.

Mark Edward Hall said...

"That said, if I were Coker, I'd be playing with ads in free ebooks."
Hey, Joe, could you explain in a little more detail how adds in free ebooks would benefit an author?

Jude Hardin said...

Hey, Joe, could you explain in a little more detail how adds in free ebooks would benefit an author?

In theory, advertisers would pay authors to place ads throughout the books, the same way they pay magazines and newspapers.

But I don't think it would ever work. Readers wouldn't stand for it, for one thing, and advertisers wouldn't want to be associated with ruining everyone's reading experience.

If it was a viable idea, it would have become common in paper books a long time ago. Not going to happen, IMO.

Walter Knight said...

64? I need to get out more.

Connie said...

Happy April Fools to you, too.

Joe Konrath said...

Hey, Joe, could you explain in a little more detail how adds in free ebooks would benefit an author?

You'd get my latest ebook for free. In it, between chapters, would be ten ads selected for you specifically. Such as a coupon for a pizza place near your house, an ad for a beer making website (because you brew your own), an ad for the new Honda Civic, because you own a Honda and are looking to get a later model, etc.

Ads didn't work in books because ads expire. They become dated, and books are permanent (unlike mags and newspapers, which are disposable.)

But with ebooks, new ads would be generated every download. And they'd be less like ads and more like catalog listings. Every send away for a company's catalog because you're interested in what their store sells? That sort of thing.

For the very first time in the history of advertising, ads could be specifically tailored to individuals. And I figured out a way to do it.

Billion dollar idea. Had it six years ago, couldn't get any seed money to start it. But someone will do it. At 2 cents per ad impression, every free ebook would generate 20 cents.

I gave away 100,000 copies of Whiskey Sour in 5 days. Do the math.

bart hopkins said...

Classic. I appreciate the humor. Can we package one of my books with yours and sell together? Get me a slice of the Joe Konrath pie?

Jude Hardin said...

For the very first time in the history of advertising, ads could be specifically tailored to individuals.

Everyone who downloads WHISKEY SOUR likes thrillers, right? So, to test your advertising theory, you could place ads for other thrillers between the chapters of WS. Not at the beginning of the book, or at the end, but between chapters, the way it would have to work with paid advertisements.

I would be interested to see how that works out. My guess is that it would result in a bunch of one-star reviews from annoyed readers.

But if you want to do it, I'll volunteer to be part of the experiment, i.e. one of the ads between your chapters.

Merrill Heath said...

My Alec Stover mysteries have a lot of local sites and events in them. I considered trying to sell hyperlinks to the web pages for the restaurants, hotels, etc. Eventually, I chunked the idea because I didn't want the reader to leave my story and get distracted by external data.

But I do see this as being a type of advertising that might work.

I started my own newspaper when I was in college and made pretty good money from selling ad space. I also bartered for free beer at a couple of bars, free meals, laundry services, discounts on textbooks, etc. But that was in a newspaper that I gave away at various locations around campus. I'm not sure the same thing would work so well with ebooks.

Joe Konrath said...

My guess is that it would result in a bunch of one-star reviews from annoyed readers.

My guess is people will put up with ads if the book is free. Especially with a disclaimer like:

"The author was able to provide this book to readers, free of charge, thanks to advertising sponsors."

But you experiment wouldn't work for several reasons. First, I can't make my ebooks free on Amazon. Second, I seem to remember they don't allow ads. Third, there is no way for me to monetize it properly.

Ads exist everywhere. Newspapers, TV, movies, magazines, the Internet, highways, sides of buildings. There is nothing sacred about books that should prevent them from containing ads. That's analogue thinking. It's a digital world.

Kim C said...

Phew! I was worried there for a second. Just a second!

Kim C said...

Phew! I was worried there for a second! Just a second.

It took me a whole paragraph before I figured it out. Duh!

Mark Edward Hall said...

If Mark Coker had the stones to give the free book ad thing a try it might be just the thing to shake up Amazon.
I think Joe is right. Inevitably someone is going to do it.

Jude Hardin said...

My guess is people will put up with ads if the book is free.

But they don't have to. That's the thing. There are already plenty of free ebooks that DON'T have advertising. Readers are having their cake and eating it too.

In the past few weeks I've downloaded more free ebooks than I'll be able to read in a year. And they're all books that I wanted, not just something I clicked on because it was free.

Ads exist everywhere.

They exist in all the media you mentioned except movies. There are ads before movies, but not during them.

I'm pretty sure most people would rather pay ten bucks to see a film without commercials breaks than to see it for free with them.

Same goes with books, only more so. Reading is a totally different experience than watching TV or driving down the interstate or even watching a film in a theater. With reading, your imagination is actively engaged. Placing ads between the chapters of a book would be like someone waking you up from a good dream. You wouldn't like it, even if the person who woke you excitedly proclaimed that Whoppers are buy-one-get-one-free today.

Ripley King said...

Up until March these newsletters could make money by listing free Kindle e-books. They linked their associates account to their buy buttons. Smashwords doesn't give something for nothing as an associate. In giving Love Dark away with a coupon I've hit 5 forums, 10 newsletters, 20 Twitter followers that deal in promoting indie authors, 2 retweets to an average 20,000 of their followers, and one good friend who wrote a blog post. As of today, 17 books have been given away to readers. Yeah, that sucks.

One newsletter turned me down because she didn't have a spot on her Google forms that includes SW, and yet another flat out refuses to include SW books.

I went free, as far as I could go, saving my $ for the KSP giveaway later this month. I'll go free there first, and then buy what I can. Money talks.

I never left SW, and still stand behind them, but their PR people should address that little or no respect issue. I could see this as Amazon's margin being SW opportunity. Think about it. A nickle per free books to those SW associates, operating from these same newsletters. SW would profit, the author would profit, and the newsletters would profit.

Ripley King said...

SW could do that for five days, on books that use coupons from their regular list price. Not for all the permafree's. I think this one idea, taking a page out of Amazon's war book, would make SW an army of one.

Anonymous said...


Ripley King said...

"In giving Love Dark away with a coupon I've hit 5 forums..."



Hey Ripley, do you mind naming the 5 forums?

PS.

I read the sample for your novel "Alice In Sexland" at Amazon.

It was um...very exciting if you know what I mean. ;)

Ripley King said...

Just think of the first five that matter. And you can read 50% of everything at SW. Glad you liked it. Nothing like pure and very graphic porn.

Now go buy my books. I'm tired of being poor. Leave reviews, too. Maybe a video review. "We're not worthy." with every kowtow.

David Tanner said...

With regards to ads in books: I have some old paperbacks from back in the day that have cigarette coupons in about the exact center of the book. Surely, I can't be the only one who's seen these?

Anonymous said...

Re:
White Glove Program in Amazon -
I've heard it mentioned recently in the British press:

http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/2013/02/15/thistle-publishing-launch

http://paidcontent.org/2012/12/04/amazon-white-glove-service/

Are the success stories on Amazon KDP often a product of this semi-secret White Glove Program?

Aimless Writer said...

MWWahahahahahaha!

Joe Konrath said...

There are ads before movies, but not during them.

Look closer. It's called product placement.

Jude Hardin said...

Look closer. It's called product placement.

Product placement, if done well, can actually add to the story experience, whereas commercial interruptions universally detract from it. Not the same thing at all.

I use brand names in my books all the time, for the sake of verisimilitude, even though the companies don't pay me for it. Anyone who reads my Nicholas Colt books knows that he drinks Old Fitzgerald on the rocks, for example, which to me sounds more real and natural than just saying bourbon all the time.

It's the same with movies. The products integrated into the story are ones that make sense for the characters and the settings. When it's done right, that is. I can remember television shows from the 70s where everyone in town drove a Ford. That's pretty lame, but you don't see much of that kind of thing these days.

Picks By Pat said...

Take my word for it...your books are good! I should know...I'm your # 1 fan (heh, heh, heh)

Anonymous said...


"Joe Konrath said...
'Hey, Joe, could you explain in a little more detail how adds in free ebooks would benefit an author?'

You'd get my latest ebook for free. In it, between chapters, would be ten ads selected for you specifically. "

That's gonna go over well with the privacy lovers.

Wait til snooping parents see condom ads in their sons' and daughters' ebooks.

Or snooping husbands and wives see condom ads in their spouses' ebooks and wonder why they never use a condom with him or her?

People would also be too embaraased to let friends or associates peek at there ebook or over their shoulder while they're reading. Just think of all the embarrasing just waiting to be seen.

Anonymous said...

oh my God... i fell for this. and my heart sank as i read the words...

Doris said...

Konrath : )

Wrong date! You sent it out on March 31, rather then on April 1 ....

No one believes it anyway.

J.N.Race said...

I felt bad because the Library of Congress won't recognize me as a literary contributor since my words aren't as good as gatekeeper approved words, but then I saw this post and it made me giggle (as always). Rock on Konrath.

Anonymous said...

The Slow Death of the American Author.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/opinion/the-slow-death-of-the-american-author.html?pagewanted=all

Accurate?