Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Konrath/Kilborn Collective 99 Cent Sale


UNTIL JUNE 2, THE KONRATH/KILBORN COLLECTIVE IS ON SALE


One of the things I enjoy most about self-publishing is doing things that legacy publishers wouldn't do.

Earlier this month I self-pubbed Haunted House. This is a Jack Kilborn novel, which means scary parts and shocking horror, but it also has more humor in it than the other Kilborn books.

The thing that made Haunted House liber non grata to legacy publishers was that it was a sequel to five other novels.

F. Paul Wilson did this to wonderful effect with his Adversary Cycle. He wrote three completely unrelated books--The Keep, The Tomb, The Touch--and then wrote three other books tying them together --Reborn, Reprisal, Nightworld.

I really love this idea. Blake Crouch, Ann Voss Peterson, and I have intertwined our universes in all sorts of ways, using each others' characters in our stories, collaborating on new stories, making timelines that show how they all interact.

For example, Ann and I wrote three short Codename: Chandler novels (Hit, Exposed, Naughty) and three long Chandler novels (Flee, Spree, Three). They all form one long story, and include characters from Ann's book Pushed Too Far, my Jack Daniels novels, Shot of Tequila, and two of Blake's books, Abandon and Snowbound.

Blake and I wrote Serial Killers Uncut and Stirred to combine his Andrew Thomas/Luther Kite books (Desert Places, Locked Doors, Break You) and my Jack Daniels books along with our co-written Serial series with Lucy and Donaldson. We're planning on releasing Last Call this summer, which will end all three of those storylines, and also bring back Chandler and Tequila, and introduce Lettie Dobesh into the series (Blake's protag from The Pain of Others, Sunset Key, and Grab.)

I think of these as crossovers. Like when Spiderman makes a guest appearance in Uncanny X-Men. You can be an X-Men fan without knowing who Spiderman is and still enjoy the issue, but if you know him it's like an added bonus.

Every one of our stories and books can be read as a stand-alone, with no prior knowledge of any other books and characters. But fans will find a lot of Easter eggs to smile at, old friends to revisit, and new friends who appear in other works they can seek out if they desire.

Which brings me to the Konrath/Kilborn Collective.

I wrote Origin in 1998, and The List in 1999. Since self publishing them back in 2005, a week hasn't gone by where I haven't gotten email requests for sequels.

When I wrote Afraid, Trapped, and Endurance, I got more requests for sequels. People liked the characters and wanted to see them again. Who was I to say no?

So I took survivors from each of these five novels and stuck them in a Haunted House where people are dying in horrible ways.

From a writing standpoint, this was fun to do. As you know, every character should have a back story. In this case, I knew the back stories for these characters already, because they'd lived them in previous novels. Plus it was really satisfying to bring back my old heroes and see how they got along with newer ones.

As a reader, I love crossovers and spin-offs and tie-ins. I also love discovering a new author and finding out she has a bunch of other things for me to read. At the same time I realize that some readers find it daunting when they realize an author has 50+ interconnected works, which is why each of my novels and shorts works can be read and enjoyed without having read any of the others.

From May 29 until June 2, Haunted House is free, and the five books that came before it--Origin, The List, Afraid, Trapped, and Endurance--are 99 cents each.

You can get six novels for less than five bucks.

Now I'll take some questions.

Q: If you keep putting ebooks on sale and making them free, how will you ever sell an ebook for $3.99? Won't people just wait until it goes on sale?

Joe: One of my rules is that I only do promotions that work on me. In other words, I'd never send out postcards promoting my books because I've gotten many promotional postcards and have never bought a book because of it. But I have tried new authors when their books are free or on sale, and so has my wife (who reads more than I do.) Once I discover a new author, I'll pay more than 99 cents for their other books. Why would I want to wait weeks or months, hoping it will be free, when I can plunk down $3.99 with the click of a button and get it immediately?

Q: I thought you said this blog doesn't sell books. So why mention a sale here?

Joe: Because I want the writers who read this blog (and have been helped by it) to do me a favor in return and spread the word by linking to it, tweeting, and mentioning it on Facebook, blogs, etc. A Newbie's Guide to Publishing has no paid advertising. It has no PayPal Donation button. If you've learned something from me and want to pay it forward, tell people about this sale.

Remember: Selling isn't making someone buy something they don't want to buy. It's about making people aware of something they like and are looking for.

Q: I'm still confused about the order to read these in.

Joe: These books can be read in any order. But I believe readers will enjoy Haunted House more if they read the other five novels (in any order) first. Remember the show Fraiser? At various points, characters from Cheers guest-starred on the show. You didn't have to know Cheers to enjoy those Fraiser episodes, but it made those Fraiser episodes more fun if you did.

Q: How long can you keep running promos like this? Won't you eventually saturate your readerbase?

Joe: The Kindle readerbase won't ever be saturated.

Every day, more and more people buy Kindles. Every year, Amazon opens Kindle stores in more and more countries. It is impossible to saturate a global marketplace. But the more ebooks you sell (and give away) the more fans you are going to acquire. Some of these fans will recommend you to other readers. Some will seek out your other work.

Readers surf Amazon at different times, looking for different books. I would bet I've missed millions of readers with my previous promotions--reader who would have bought my ebooks had they known about them.

The goal is to keep your ebooks as visible as possible, so every potential fan knows they exist. Sales raise visibility, and lower the barrier to entry (cheap or free is an impulse download).

Q: I've done sales and promotions and they haven't been successful. What's your secret?

Joe: There is no secret. Sometimes promotions work. Sometimes they don't. I've done promos for Afraid twice, and didn't get a spike in sales. I have no idea why.

The key to success is keeping at it until you succeed. For me, that took over twenty years of hard work, and I still fail all the time. If you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough.

Keep writing, keep experimenting, try to learn from your failures, and never give up.

54 comments:

Barry Napier said...

Read Origin and enjoyed it. Can't resist this sale, so BAM purchase purchase.

Also..I disagree with the Frasier comment...I don't think there is ANY way to make an episode of Frasier fun...unless maybe he falls out of a window and takes the dog with him.

Alan Tucker said...

Happily tweeted/shared as "thank you" for your blog, which has not only been educational, but entertaining as well. I wish you nothing but continued success!

Veronica - Eloheim said...

Thanks for the sale Joe and for all the help you have been for my journey as a indie.

I guess my brain is in editing mode as I noticed a couple of typos in your post. I'm assuming you want to know! :)

but it alsl has more humor in it than the other Kilborn books.

Once I discover a new authors, I'll pay more than 99 cents for their other books.

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the promos Joe!! I love your books... have most of them in my collection.. just a quick question... do you think SERIAL Killers Uncut will ever be on a promotional sale? I know two of your books Amazon still has the rights to, but what about SKU? Thanks again!!

Eli Wade said...

A lot of authors are talking about how they are seeing less and less return on free promotions like this.

I'm curious if you are seeing the same effect.

Keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

Linked to your sale. Hope it helps!

www.rjjagger.blogspot.com

Jason said...

Was waiting to pick up HH until after I'd read Endurance (read the other Kilborns already), but just grabbed it since you can't beat free!

Also, I picked up the 5 remaining Rain/Treven ebooks from Eisler I hadn't read yet for 99 cents each on sale this past weekend. Was going to read them old school from the library, but at that price the e-buys were a no brainer. Sales work - there's an example of profit from me he never would have had otherwise, plus I recommended them to a friend for that price.

Joshua James said...

Thanks Joe, love this! Will spread the word!

kimberlyabettes said...

I've learned SO much from you and this blog. The least I could do is help you spread the word, so I have. These are some of the scariest books I've ever read. I wish you much continued success.

Kimberly A. Bettes

Anonymous said...

I've read your blog for years, but never bought any of your books.

Several months ago you had some freebies, so I took them - read them - liked them - and proceeded to pay full price for the rest of them.

Now I anxiously await 'Second Coming' and would pay $9.99 for it upon release, even if I knew it would eventually go on sale.

James said...

I wonder how many new Kindles (new potential readers) are bought on a daily basis?

Summer Daniels said...

Joe,

Sharing on my WTRAFSOG (What To Read After Fifty Shades of Grey) FB Page.

The very least I can do for the wonderful advice and support you have provided for the indie author community. :-)

Summer Daniels
Admin & Author - WTRAFSOG

antares said...

Read Origin and rated it 4 stars. I would have given it 5 if you had killed Frank Belgium. I hated him. Passionately.

I hope someday I can write that good. Good enough to generate passion in a reader.

Joe Konrath said...

I hated him. Passionately.

Interesting. He's among my most beloved characters based on email I get.

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks all!

Adrian said...

Got them all and they're all frigging awesome. Just finished Haunted House; don't want to give anything away, but I was damn happy at the end. It might be the best of the bunch. Well, after Origin that is.

Adrian said...

I disagree with antares about Frank Belgium. Loved him.

Joe Konrath said...

I disagree with antares about Frank Belgium. Loved him.

So does my wife. She was the reason I put Frank into Haunted House. Originally it was just going to be survivors from Kilborn books, but her (and the hundreds and hundreds of emails I've gotten asking for sequels) prompted me to revisit Dr. Belgium, and Detective Tom Mankowski.

It was too much fun to write, though a bit stressful because of a self-imposed deadline. Frank is one of my favorite characters to write for, though I also had fun with Moni and Mathison.

Frank Sergeant said...

> Because I want the writers who read this blog (and have been helped by it) to do me a favor in return and spread the word by linking to it,

Good idea, Joe. I just put a link on the Nepo Press site at http://nepotism.net.


Frank

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe. I have just finished reading Afraid.I couldn't put it down and finished it in 1 day.
I think the book would make a great action movie and I can even see the actors to play the main characters:
Sheriff "Ace" Streng: Bruce Willis
Josh Van Camp : Gerard Butler
Fran Stauffer : Kate Hudson
Wiley Streng : Harrison Ford
Brandon Stauffer: Davis Cleveland
Erwin Luggs: Justin Bruening
Jessie Lee Sloan Amanda Seyfried
Taylor: Willem Dafoe
Santiago: Danny Trejo
Ajax : Omar Benson Miller
Bernie: Keifer Sutherland
Logan : Charlize Theron
Dr.Stubin: John Malkovich
General Alton Tope: William Sadler

David Gilmore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Gilmore said...

I posted about the sale on Facebook and Twitter.

The main reason I'm leaving a comment though is because I wanted to say thank you for all of the advice you've given out over the years. Your posts etc. have been instrumental in making me decide to take the leap and self-publish a short story last month.

I've been a long time lurker and well . . . I felt it was finally time to say thanks.

(Deleted previous comment because I noticed I'd missed a word out. ;) )

Anonymous said...


Quote from blog entry:
"Q: I thought you said this blog doesn't sell books. So why mention a sale here?

Joe: Because I want the writers who read this blog (and have been helped by it) to do me a favor in return and spread the word by linking to it, tweeting, and mentioning it on Facebook, blogs, etc."


So your blog doesn't sell books, but you want your readers to reblog your sale on their blog?

If your blog doesn't sell books, how can your reader's blogs (or other social media) sell books?


__________________________________



From the comments of the blog entry "The Proteus Cure":

Joe Konrath said...
Proteus was ranked #19,000 before I blogged. It hit #1600 the day I blogged. But that was the ebook launch, so I'm sure it coincided with other promotion by Paul and Tracy.

My blog, and social media connections, can help give an ebook sales. But these sales are brief and not sustainable. In order to catch on and continue to sell, a book needs a big external push (sale, freebie, bookbub, ebookbooster) or it needs to capture readers' attention while on the bestseller lists.


__________________________________



From the comments of the blog entry "Guest Post by Robert Swartwood":

"Joe Konrath said...
Nothing wrong with getting high. I enjoy it. But I try not to get on the Internet and make comments while I'm too wasted to make sense."


__________________________________


Sorry Joe, I really do like your blog.

But this post was just too easy not to pass up.

Seriuously, best of luck with the current sale.

:)

Lelaina Landis said...

Joe, I'm really happy that you've made a successful career self-publishing. I really am!

But here's my problem: I don't have a big backlist. I worked with a traditional publisher on my first novel (with plans for a series)in great futility, and that time suck prevented me from finishing Books 2 and 3 of the series. I have exactly One. Book.

One.

I'm wondering how I can ever get started with only one completed book. Sure, I'm working on others. But I am extremely exacting, and it takes me much longer to complete something that I feel worthy of the market. As in, a year. I revise multiple times. And I also work full time.

It seems that self-publishing is more likely to pay off when an author has a big backlist. And that's what I find daunting about this entire process. I don't want to promote the same book over and over for a year.

Thoughts? Advice? Rub on the noggin?

Anonymous said...


I'm the same anonymous who made the anonymous post at 7:25 AM.

Hey Joe, sorry I made that post, feel free to delete it.

Alan Spade said...

@Lelaina : you could either choose to self-pub it for 0,99 $ on the different platforms (KDP, Kobo writing life, pubit), to make it free on those platforms until your next book is out, or to make different experiments with changes of prices.

You could also sell the paper book with Createspace. I've heared now, the extended distribution allowed your paper book to be distributed in bookstores by Baker & Taylor, even as an indie.

And you could make a blog and post chapters of your book for free (and on social medias), in order to get people used to your prose. You can use issuu and a PDF file for a nice presentation (and you can track your stats there).

If you want to do minimum promotion, just put it free on ebook platforms until the next one, than you can decide whether to price it. Just my 2 cents.

Alan Spade said...

Oups ! I've heard, sorry.

Merrill Heath said...

@Lelaina, what kind of book have you written? I would assume that since you said you worked with a traditional publisher that this novel has been edited and is ready for publication. Do you have a cover for it?

Joe Konrath said...

If your blog doesn't sell books, how can your reader's blogs (or other social media) sell books?

This blog is for writers, not readers. But social media (Twitter, Facebook) can help sell books, and many writers have blogs that cater to readers.

Read through the comments here. See who offered to mention this. That's networking and word of mouth. Summer's mention alone helped me move some copies for sure, because she has a big blog for readers.

My blog, and social media connections, can help give an ebook sales.

Notice I said "can" and not "does". I tweet guest posts, and those get retweeted, and that can help. But not always, and not consistently, and not enough to get excited about.

As a tool to sell books, this blog by itself isn't very helpful. I've blogged about this before. Writers come here, not readers. Some writers buy my ebooks, and some fans show up here, but the majority of my blog readers don't read my fiction.

I'd love to say I can point to specific instances where my blog helped sell ebooks. But then I'll do something similar, and nothing happens. From a scientific standpoint it is impossible to establish cause and effect.

Which is why it is very rare for me to do promotional posts, for myself or other writers. If you noticed, this blog post contains promo, but also talks about the goals of creating an expanded universe. It's teaching writers something.

My point? This blog can help ebook sales, but very often it doesn't. That isn't hypocrisy. It's fact. If I knew the secret, I'd exploit the hell out of it.

Joe Konrath said...

Hey Joe, sorry I made that post, feel free to delete it.

Don't be silly. I should never be above critique.

Alan Spade said...

Another reply to Lelaina : study Joe's blog, including comments.

Even old posts like this april 12, 2010, is not totally outdated : http://jakonrath.blogspot.fr/2010/04/guest-post-by-wendy-webb.html

In a short sentence, that 2010 blog post talked about building your platform.

One last advice : all advices won't work for you. Find what works for you.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm wondering how I can ever get started with only one completed book.

A good time to remind ourselves that publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. If one book a year is the best you can do, then it's the best you can do. In ten years, you'll have ten books. If you don't get started, those ten years will still pass and you'll be no closer to your goals than you are now.

And of course there's always a chance that you'll knock one out of the park on the first try. Hugh Howey started with one segment of one book, and now he's a millionaire with a print-only deal and a film deal.

I can't think of any good reason not to self-publish your book. Anyone?

Colin M said...

Jude Said "If you don't get started, those ten years will still pass and you'll be no closer to your goals than you are now."

I just heard a great Chinese Proverb this morning. Something like "The best time to plant a tree was a hundred years ago. The second best time is today."

It's never too late to get started.


On a different note. Joe, I sent you an email listing a couple errors in HH, on May 28. Loved the book but thought you might like to know.

Good luck on your sale and thanks for your blog...its a great motivator.

Colin

Anonymous said...

I'm going to ask the question everyone wants to know...

What happened to the beer diet blog and results and stuff? It vanished early and has never been heard from since. :(

Merrill Heath said...

Joe, you also never told us anything about your experiment with a new pen name and book genre that was not associated with the Konrath/Kilborn brand. Are you at liberty to discuss that now?

Amber Dane said...

Shared! Have Afraid, now off to add the rest.

Anonymous said...


Hey Joe.

I went to Amanda Hocking's blog and she's got moving cover's for her books.

I really like hers because they are very subtle and surprised me, like clouds moving past in the bachground.

Joe Konrath said...

I sent you an email listing a couple errors in HH, on May 28.

Thanks, Colin. I've fixed many errors since HH was published. I'd uploaded an earlier version with typos and such. No excuse, my bad.

Joe Konrath said...

What happened to the beer diet blog and results and stuff?

I died.

Ha! Kidding. When I get a chance I'm going to edit it into a film.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, you also never told us anything about your experiment with a new pen name and book genre that was not associated with the Konrath/Kilborn brand.

It's still making money. And I'm still keeping mum. :)

Joe Konrath said...

Sale results so far:

I've lost a few thousand bucks dropping my prices to 99 cents and making HH free, but the rankings for those books were #6000 to #10,000.

Now the rankings are between #600 to #1000, and I'm on multiple bestseller lists (I wasn't on the bestseller lists before.)

Currently HH is #5 on the free list. So when the sale ends, I'll have six $3.99 ebooks ranked high on the genre bestseller lists (horror, occult, police procedural) and I expect they'll stick there for long enough for me to make up the money I've lost (for the free days, sale days, and ad costs), plus a tidy profit.

I'll keep you posted, and thanks for spreading the word.

D. C. Chester said...

Joe, Do you add Konrath as co-author to your Kilborn books (on the Amazon listing page) to get every title onto the same Amazon author page?

Thanks,
Dan

Joshua Simcox said...

"It's still making money. And I'm still keeping mum."

What's the point? Konrath completists would want to read that title. Why write a novel and hide it from your readership?

Authors do the whole secret pen name thing from time to time, and I've never understood the logic behind it. Sure, I do understand the reasoning for using a pen name to market a novel outside of an author's usual genre to potential readers beyond an author's typical fan base. But why keep it a secret from fans? Doesn't seem fair to me.

But if this new genre you're experimenting with is something in the realm of "hardcore amputee scat porn with strong Satanic overtones"...well, even I'm not enough of a Konrath completist for that.

But if it isn't, why not share the secret with your readers and let us hand you a few extra dollars?

- Joshua

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your sick, twisted mind by accident and I've been camped out ever since. I've read all of your horror stories, as well as Blake Crouch's. Brilliant, creepy, horrifying stuff. Bravo!! I'm spreading the word. I hope you get to #1.

Sariah Wilson said...

Joshua - I don't know what Joe's reasons are, but I think he's mentioned before that one of the reasons he keeps it quiet is to refute detractors who say self-publishing only works for Joe because of his traditionally published books. If he has a book out there under a different name with no ties to the Konrath name and it's selling tens of thousands of copies - then his theories about self-publishing are correct.

Joe Konrath said...

If he has a book out there under a different name with no ties to the Konrath name and it's selling tens of thousands of copies - then his theories about self-publishing are correct.

That indeed is one of the reasons.

Also, it is satanic hardcore amputee scat porn. "Beelzebub's Poo Poo Stump Orgy" is one of my bestsellers.

Joe Konrath said...

Do you add Konrath as co-author to your Kilborn books

Yes.

Joshua Simcox said...

"Beelzebub's Poo Poo Stump Orgy" is one of my bestsellers."

Bullshit. I happen to know that Selena Kitt published that title last month. :)

(I kid.)

- Joshua

David L. Shutter said...

Also, it is satanic hardcore amputee scat porn. "Beelzebub's Poo Poo Stump Orgy" is one of my bestsellers."

Nice. I bet you're making out with the hidden bestiality like some of the werewolf/e-rom that slips by.

Hooves, fur, tail, bat-wings and all that.

And whatever happened to the collected blog/essay project? You had responses from dozens of established writers and I was looking forward to the finished product.

Steve Jackson said...

Hi Joe,

I've been following your posts about pricing strategy. I'm a partner at Telemachus Press and many of our authors have followed the same strategy of offering a book at a low price as a way of investing in their market to get follow-on sales at a higher price. This has worked well when combined with other components of a strong promotional campaign. Something that we are consistently seeing is that the self published reader is much more inclined to show interest in an author with multiple books for sale, especially if a brand around a central character, or group of characters, has been created. Traction often doesn't occur until book three or later. We are John Locke's self publishing partner and it wasn't until book three, Saving Rachel, that he developed his following.

I'd be interested in your feedback as to whether or not you believe that the readers of self-published books are looking to authors with multiple titles and not just a single book? I know that every successful author begins his or her career with just one book. It does seem, however, as if readers have so many books to choose from that should they really like the work, they don't want to be disappointed that there are not follow-on books from the same author ready to read.

Thanks for your time.

Steve Jackson

Anonymous said...

Joe, good luck with the horror, but is there any konrath historical romance on the way. I would like to see you start a series set in old time America.

Could this happen?

Harry Speakes

Steven Lowe said...

Just finished Haunted House. ... Wow. What a ride. Awesome book. Couldn't put it down. It had me on the edge of my seat with suspense one minute and then laughing my tail off the next. Looking forward to reading more....

Karen Lewis said...

Hi have just finished haunted house which I enjoyed and I'm a frank fan its makes a nice change to have an ordinary chap help to beat the bad guy's not die like the folks wearing the yellow uniforms in star trek and get the girl.
My question and I'm sorry if you've answered this before when is second coming going to be available please?
I loved origin and holes in the ground by both authors (I discovered you via iain rob Wright so in my case Co authoring works)
one last thing how about a pairing with Lucas and mathison,I think they could be a match made in heaven or hell as the case may be.