Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Guest Post by Jude Hardin

PUSHING THE BUTTON, PART 2: GOING INDIE

A year ago, Joe was kind enough to let me post here about my decision to quit my job and write full time. I’d been with the same company for fifteen years, and I was earning above average wages. Full benefits, 401(K), the whole shebang. As jobs go, it was about as stable as they come.

And it sucked.

So I made the big move, and since then I’ve written four novels, two novellas, and a short story. Not bad for a twelve-month period. I’ve never been more productive as a writer, and I’ve never been happier.

But was it a smart decision to abandon steady and lucrative employment and depend solely on something as unreliable as writing for an income?

Well…

At the time, I’d recently signed a multi-book contract with Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer imprint—four novels, with an option on a fifth. As one person in the comments section of my previous post said, “It feels like a deal with an Amazon imprint is about as dead-cert as it gets short of a five book, seven-figure advance from the big six.”

And that’s pretty much the way I felt. I had faith in my writing ability, and I had faith in the uber-promo machine that is Amazon. The genre publishing world, it seemed, was my oyster.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it has turned out so far. I say so far because, as of now, only two of the four books contracted through Amazon have been published. CROSSCUT was released June 5, 2012, and SNUFF TAG 9 came out November 20, less than six months later (POCKET-47, my debut, was released in May 2011 by another publisher). Sales haven’t been terrible, but they haven’t been great either.  Among the three series titles that have been available, I’ve sold about 20K copies over the past twelve months.

And here’s the deal, ladies and gentlemen: that ain’t enough.

It’s not enough for me to make a living, really, and it’s not enough for publishers to make an offer on future books in the series. Not the kind of offer I’m interested in, anyway.

I should mention that my experience with Thomas and Mercer has been altogether positive, and that I wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again if the opportunity arose. KEY DEATH, my third book with them, launches later this month, and the early reviews have been excellent. I’m expecting great things from this title.

Anyway, I knew, even before I turned in my option book, that I wouldn’t get the kind of offer I was looking for. The numbers just weren’t there. Would I settle for the same terms from T&M as I got on the first four books? Nope. Would I settle for a $20K advance and 25% ebook royalties from a traditional publisher? Nope.

So, with my Amazon contract fulfilled, I had some choices to make. I could either scrap the Nicholas Colt series (along with the first book in the spinoff series, which I’d already completed) and start on something totally new—with the hopes that my agent could sell it to a traditional publisher—or I could self-publish my Colt books and think about everything for a while.

And from the title of this post, you already know that I chose the latter.

Why?

First of all, I believe in the series, and I want it to have a decent chance at succeeding beyond the books in the Amazon contract. Based on the numbers so far, it isn’t attractive enough for T&M or other major houses to make the kind of offer I would accept, but I’m hoping it will catch on as more titles are released. Three just isn’t a fair gauge of its potential, in my opinion.

Also, I’d been wanting to try my hand at indie publishing for a while anyway.  I’d tentatively dipped my feet in the waters with a novella and a short story, but I wanted to see what a full-length novel would do for me. One in the Nicholas Colt series, one where I already have somewhat of a fan base.

But there was a problem with that.

I’d already written the finale to the series, a book called BLOOD TATTOO (to be released November 26, 2013), and I’d already written the next book (the spinoff mentioned previously), so my hands were somewhat tied as to where I could go with the Colt character.

And that’s when I decided to write a prequel.

Actually, Joe gave me the idea. In a roundabout way, that is. When he got the rights back to his Hyperion titles and self-published them, he mentioned that all of those books were now brand new to the people first looking at them. When he said that, I started thinking about how truly flexible ebooks are, how you can do almost anything with them. Readers discovering me for the first time, for example, might want to start the Nicholas Colt series from the beginning, but who says the beginning has to be the book that was published in 2011?

With digital, you can do all kinds of cool and strange things that would have been very difficult in the paper world. You can, in essence, travel back and forth in time, and you can do it instantly.

So that’s what I did. I sat down and wrote a book called COLT, starting the 
action three years prior to the events that occurred in POCKET-47.

And the real beauty of it? I can do it again if I want to. And again. I can write prequel after prequel after prequel, and at the same time continue to produce the spinoff books on the back end of the series. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Pushing the button to publish my first indie title felt good. It felt like something I should have done a long time ago, and I plan to do it many more times in the future. It’s liberating, knowing that this is my book and I can do anything I want with it.

Like this:

COLT is priced at $3.99, but I’ll send a free copy to the first fifty people who agree to read it and post a review on Amazon before July 31, 2013.  Just go to my website, click on CONTACT, and send me an email if you’re interested.

Also, you’re welcome to sign up for my newsletter if you would like to receive updates and special offers in the future.

So that’s where I am now, embarking on my journey as an independent author. It’s exciting, but it’s kind of scary at the same time.

Will COLT, and subsequent titles, spark better interest in the series? Will it take off well enough for me to stop dipping into my savings? Or, conversely, will I be forced to stop writing full time and go back to the grind of a soul-sucking day job?

Only time will tell, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

If anyone is interested in watching me soar (or crash and burn), I’ll be chronicling it all here.

Thanks for having me, Joe, and thanks to everyone who stopped by to read my post. I’ll be hanging out in the comments section, and I would love to hear from every one of you!

Joe sez: There is no magic button that leads to success. I can see why Jude may seem a little discouraged with his numbers because he isn't earning a living with them, but 20,000 sales is very good, especially in such a short amount of time. 

For those who read my blog, it took me 14 years to get the numbers I'm currently getting.

I signed with Amazon Publishing for five books, Shaken, Stirred, Flee, Spree, and Three.

So far I've outsold those ebooks with my own self-pubbed KDP titles.

Notice I said so far. When the Amazon promotion machine works--and it does work--the results can be spectacular. You can sell 100,000 ebooks in a month. You can make $50,000 in a day. I know this, because I know authors who have done it.

KDP gives me more control over my backlist--pricing, sales, freebies, KDP Select, other platforms. It allows me to publish faster, make changes quicker, and gives me more options.

But I can't make on my own what I can potentially make with Amazon Publishing. So I hedge my bets and publish a few titles with them per year. As I said, with many of my peers, it has paid off in a huge way. And because ebooks are forever, those A-Pub titles can still pay off.

Right now, one of my German A-Pub titles (Amazon did the translation) is #3 in the Top 100. It sold 700 copies a EUR 4,99 yesterday. That's a lot of copies, and a nice chunk of money, and I couldn't have done that via KDP. Hell, translation costs alone would have been $5k.

This month, THREE is being released by Thomas & Mercer. So far, the Codename: Chandler series has done okay, but not as well as my bestselling KDP ebooks.

However, with just one promotion, Amazon can make the Codename: Chandler series sell like crazy. My fingers are crossed.

But, knowing some of the inner workings of Amazon promotions, there are no guarantees, and it isn't easy. I've never worked with a more enthusiastic  more professional publisher than Amazon. They're smart. They're motivated. They want their books to do well. However, all publishing success requires luck, and not every book will get lucky.

I think Jude is being smart, going with both A-Pub and KDP. He might also try other platforms, and experimenting with pricing and freebies.

I also think all authors should diversify. I've had five pen names all in different genres. The Colt series might be a big hit this summer. Or it might not become a big hit until 2023 (it took my Jack Daniels series ten years to become a hit). In the meantime, he's written a horror short story, and should consider longer horror works. Or sci-fi. Or stand-alone thrillers. Or erotica.

The money is out there. We just need to keep experimenting until we find a big audience.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep writing. Keep trying new things. And stay positive.

Also, buy Jude's books. They're good.

93 comments:

Margaret Welman Paez said...

Jude,

Curious to know more about Amazon's marketing of your books. Good, bad, about what you expected--and was it enough?

Anne Gallagher said...

That's what I love about self-publishing -- I'm free to write whatever I want. Prequels, sequels, stand alones.

My titles may never be as lucrative as Joe's, but I'm making enough to support my family on my writing now, so it's all good. And with the long tail, who knows, I may even be able to get my daughter into a good college.

Thanks Jude, for sharing your process.

Anonymous said...

Problem with restricting yourself to Amazon for either self-publishing or the traditional route, is that those of us who believe Amazon is predatory and killing local businesses will never even have the opportunity to hear of your works. An author could write and be the next greatest thing to hit the literary world, but if the work is limited to Amazon there are a vast number of people that won't give it a second glance.

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks again for having me, Joe, and for the kind words!

I think your advice to diversify is spot-on. Right now I'm planning something I've never done before, and I'll be talking about it on my blog soon.

Looking forward to addressing all the comments here!

Mark Terry said...

Jude,
As you know, I've been writing prequels to my Derek Stillwater series, and they sell about as well as the other novels - the prequels are novellas, so far - but since Derek has a backstory that's interesting, it allows me to do different things. Also, I can explore some of the things that formed him. I had a lot of fun with that in the latest one, Gravedigger, and even gave him a face-to-face with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. If only Derek had known then what he knew later!

Good luck with the book! I'm looking forward to it.

And p.s., you and I should talk about a collaboration some time. :)

John said...

Jude, is your horror story under a different pen name?

I've written one sci-fi book, but I'm currently working on a haunted house horror. Not sure if I should use a pen name or not -

Jude Hardin said...

Curious to know more about Amazon's marketing of your books.

As with everything else, luck and timing play a big part. Thomas and Mercer published over 300 titles in 2012, so I'm thinking my books might have gotten lost in the shuffle a bit. In both cases, sales during the first month or so were pretty good, but then they fell off dramatically. I'm just not sure any publisher, even Amazon, can release that many titles and market them all effectively.

For 2013, from what I've heard, T&M is releasing about a third of the number of titles they released in 2012. Much more manageable, I would think.

But I'm not complaining. My books were marketed (and are still being marketed) better than I could have done on my own. Right now, for example, SNUFF TAG 9 is part of Amazon's "100 Books for $3.99 or Less" promo, and I'm seeing a nice bump in sales from that.

Jude Hardin said...

That's what I love about self-publishing -- I'm free to write whatever I want. Prequels, sequels, stand alones.

Exactly. Writers have the freedom to experiment now more than at any other time in history. Exciting stuff!

Jude Hardin said...

Problem with restricting yourself to Amazon for either self-publishing or the traditional route, is that those of us who believe Amazon is predatory and killing local businesses will never even have the opportunity to hear of your works.

I would love it if Amazon Publishing started offering their ebooks on other platforms. I think it would be good for everyone, including Amazon. That said, I think it's pretty silly to boycott a business for being a business.

Technology was the game changer, and those who embrace it will survive. Those who don't probably won't. That's just the way it goes. Buggy merchants hated Henry Ford...

Joe Konrath said...

if the work is limited to Amazon there are a vast number of people that won't give it a second glance.

Those vast numbers of people don't amount to many compared to what I sell exclusively on Amazon.

I've been on other platforms. Going with KDP Select has more than quadrupled the income I made on all other platforms, combined.

I don't find Amazon predatory. They're a lifeline for authors.

Jude Hardin said...

As you know, I've been writing prequels to my Derek Stillwater series, and they sell about as well as the other novels - the prequels are novellas, so far - but since Derek has a backstory that's interesting, it allows me to do different things.

Always good to experiment. I'm really surprised that ebook novellas haven't taken off better than they have. I love the form, but as a rule full-length novels sell much better. Maybe it's because there are always novels on sale for $.99 (or free), and readers don't feel they're getting their money's worth on novellas and short stories. It's hard to sell a 7500 word short story when there's a 60,000 word novel right next to it for the same price. So I don't know. I think it's probably better to go ahead and write novels for now. Or maybe bundle two or three novellas together. That might work.

Mark Terry said...

Re. novellas,
Like I said, they sell as well as the novels, for the most part. That said, I've written 2 novella prequels, expect to write 1 more then bundle the 3 as a single volume at some point.

Jude Hardin said...

Like I said, they sell as well as the novels, for the most part.

But generally speaking, novels sell better. And there are more promo opportunities for novels (BookBub, for example).

Of course there are always exceptions. Hugh Howey did pretty well with the first segment of a little story called WOOL...

Jude Hardin said...

Jude, is your horror story under a different pen name?

Yes. It's called UNBORN. It's extremely graphic, more so than my crime fiction (which is plenty graphic itself), so I think it's best to use the pen name to separate the two.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

It's hard to sell a 7500 word short story when there's a 60,000 word novel right next to it for the same price.

That's part of the reason, but I also think readers are looking for full-length stories with characters they can get to know and live with for a while. Most short stories don't fulfill that desire. Even short story collections don't tend to sell very well, and those often have as many pages as a novel.

I've had decent sales with my novellas (33K-40K words), but I've decided that my future books (including the thriller I'm currently writing) will be in the 50K-100K range.

Jude, sorry to hear that sales have not been as good as you'd expected. I, too, quit my job (took an early retirement) where I had a nice salary, 401K, and benefits to write full-time. I have a little retirement money coming in, but I need to supplement it with writing income, and right now it's less than I'd hoped for. However, I'm very excited about my coming thriller, which I think has tremendous potential. But, who knows, right?

Hang in there and best wishes!

Jude Hardin said...

I, too, quit my job (took an early retirement) where I had a nice salary, 401K, and benefits to write full-time.

And I bet you haven't spent one minute regretting it. I know I haven't. :)

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Thanks, Jude, for this honest and realistic look at the options. It's useful for all of us to know that not every author is going to have that break-out success right away... or possibly ever.

Merrill Heath said...

Thanks for sharing, Jude. It's interesting to learn what other authors are doing and how it's working for them.

Everything I've read indicates that volume is definitely a key to success. The more titles you have out there the better your chances are of making enough to live on. Readers like series and they tend to invest in multiple titles if they read something by you that they like. I can't tell you how often I've read reviews and comments that said, "I liked ____ so much that I went and bought the author's entire backlist."

Good luck with the new release. I'm sure it will help bring readers to the Cost series.

Cheers.

Merrill Heath said...

Sorry... Colt series.

Stella Baker said...

Hi Jude. I just bought Colt as a thank you for posting your exact Colt sales numbers on your blog (now and on-going). (I also enjoyed Pocket 47, so my 'thank you' was a little self-serving!) That kind of information from someone who is doing well, but still struggling to get where he/she wants to be, is very useful to me (as I struggle even more.)I will check back on your blog now and again to see how Colt is doing and keep my fingers crossed for it.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

And I bet you haven't spent one minute regretting it. I know I haven't. :)

:) No, I haven't regretted it at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see people are still making decent bank on KDP. 18 months ago I was making over $12K/Month, $142K total in 201l. Now I'm luck to sell 5 books a day. And I have no idea what happened. I've just gotten used to the idea that my time has passed and I'm no longer in the game.

Jude Hardin said...

It's useful for all of us to know that not every author is going to have that break-out success right away... or possibly ever.

I think so too. Joe and quite a few others have shown that it's possible to hit it big, but there certainly aren't any guarantees.

I was chatting with a current and consistent NYT bestseller recently, discussing the viability of self-publishing, and she argued that the big indie successes are outliers, and that most writers will never come anywhere near the sales of Konrath, Locke, Howey, Hocking, etc. But what she failed to realize, and what a lot of upper echelon authors on the traditional side fail to realize, I think, is that THEY are outliers too. THEY got lucky. THEY hit the lottery. The vast majority of traditionally-published authors simply don't.

So it's a crapshoot either way. Every writer has to assess his or her goals and decide on a plan, and then hope for a little luck. They key, as Joe has said so many times, is to never give up.

Jude Hardin said...

Everything I've read indicates that volume is definitely a key to success. The more titles you have out there the better your chances are of making enough to live on.

That's a good point. All part of publishing being a marathon, and not a sprint.

We all dream of having a runaway bestseller, and it happens, but for the most part slow and steady wins the race.

Timothy said...

I love this post. It disproves the wrong-headed theory that Thomas & Mercer can work miracles regardless of the book.

This is proof that the books they've published that went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies did so for a reason beyond the fact they were published by Thomas & Mercer.

Jude Hardin said...

I just bought Colt as a thank you for posting your exact Colt sales numbers on your blog (now and on-going).

Thanks, Stella! And I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed POCKET-47.

And yes, I'm posting the exact sales numbers for COLT on my blog, at the top of the page under my name. I'll update the number daily, and sometimes more often than that. Kind of like McDonald's used to do with their "___ millions" served signs, for those of you old enough to remember that. :)

As far as I know, I'm the first author to post sales figures as they happen. So if anyone is interested, or just curious, feel free to stop by and check it out.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm glad to see people are still making decent bank on KDP. 18 months ago I was making over $12K/Month, $142K total in 201l. Now I'm luck to sell 5 books a day. And I have no idea what happened. I've just gotten used to the idea that my time has passed and I'm no longer in the game.

Well, I think it's important to keep at it. You might never sell that many books again, but writers write. It's what we do. As long as we keep writing, we're still in the game.

David L. Shutter said...

Jude

Thansk for the commentary and the back story on your writing career. I'm a big fan of the Colt series and wish you all the best.

Dave

Jude Hardin said...

This is proof that the books they've published that went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies did so for a reason beyond the fact they were published by Thomas & Mercer.

Nobody knows why some books sell better than others. That's the way it has always been, and that's the way it always will be. There's just a tremendous amount of luck involved.

But the chances of getting lucky can be improved with increased visibility, and AP is very good at providing that.

Merrill Heath said...

@Anonymous 12:37, Did you quit writing? Are you still publishing new books?

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks for the commentary and the back story on your writing career. I'm a big fan of the Colt series and wish you all the best.

Thanks, Dave!

Looking forward to publishing the one you helped me with!

Anonymous said...

3 titles and 20,000 total sales over 12 months is disappointing?

That is roughly how my first year went (2011)- and now I have 15 titles and made $27k in May, with no help from Thomas and Mercer.

Joe is only a financial outlier because he has 40+ titles to offer, in whole or in part. When you break down his numbers on a per book basis, hundreds of authors are doing the same.

And yes, new releases every 2 months are crucial to this process. The One Hit Wonder Hugh Howeys are the true outliers. Yet, even he released in serial form over several months' time.

I remember years ago Joe posted a screenshot of his KDP sales report and I was astonished at the number of his offerings, now I am halfway there myself.

Keep at it Jude!

David L. Shutter said...

Looking forward to publishing the one you helped me with!

Looking forward to reading it brother. And I'm holding you to your offer to give me a Beta ;). God knows I'll probably need one.

Keep on keepin' on.

Jude Hardin said...

3 titles and 20,000 total sales over 12 months is disappointing?

Many of those sales came from special promos, when the books were priced low. So while 20K sounds like a decent number of books to sell over a twelve-month period, there really wasn't a lot of money involved.

Keep at it Jude!

Planning on it. Thanks. :)

Cerys du Lys said...

Sort of a weird question, in combination with all of this, but how do you go about contacting/talking to anyone from the various Amazon publishing imprints? It seems that some are extremely secretive about their submission process, while others are very open and accessible(at least in terms of contacting them).

It seems like a lot of them don't accept unsolicited submissions, either, which is kind of confusing to me. Is this more of a "who you know" thing where you can get in by referrals, or do they contact you if they like what they see?

I enjoy self-publishing on my own, to be honest, but their imprints and their whole publishing set up really confuses me.

Anonymous said...

@Cerys-

You don't submit to an Amazon imprint, they study sales data and contact you - or your agent.

At least that is my experience.

Jude Hardin said...

how do you go about contacting/talking to anyone from the various Amazon publishing imprints?

I submitted through my agent, and I really don't know about other channels. Maybe some other AP authors could chime in on the subject.

Marcos Soriano said...

I'm wondering how releasing titles out of chronological order will affect your longstanding fan-base. Will some people get frustrated? I know I prefer to read series in chronological order, but maybe that's just me?

And I'd be over the moon if I my books sold 20K copies. I think that's a great accomplishment.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm wondering how releasing titles out of chronological order will affect your longstanding fan-base. Will some people get frustrated? I know I prefer to read series in chronological order, but maybe that's just me?

So far, the longstanding fans I've heard from are anxious to read COLT. So I'm hoping for most readers it'll feel kind of like it felt as I was writing it--kind of like going home.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Congratulations on the new book, Jude!

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Ann!

I'm stumbling along, but not altogether blindly thanks to authors like you and Joe.

Anonymous said...

Did you quit writing? Are you still publishing new books?

Still writing and putting out new material, but the fall seems to have been fatal. I've totally disappeared from view and don't know how to climb back up. I'll bet I'm the biggest crash of all indie authors. At least I hold one title!

Merrill Heath said...

Anonymous said: Still writing and putting out new material, but the fall seems to have been fatal. I've totally disappeared from view and don't know how to climb back up. I'll bet I'm the biggest crash of all indie authors. At least I hold one title!

Maybe it's time for a new genre and a pen name? Have you tried that?

Jill James said...

Jude, wishing you mega self-publishing success!

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Jill!

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to email me privately. You have some very nice lurkers here, Joe!

Lee Goldberg said...

I think Jude is playing it smart. Diversification is key. I am publishing through through KDP, Amazon Publishing (Thomas & Mercer, 47North), and Big 6 houses (Random House & Penguin, soon to be 1 company). I don't want all of my eggs in one basket. By the same token, writers write...so I am not just writing books, but I am writing TV shows and movies, too. Diversifying helps you survive the inevitable ups and downs of publishing (and, in my case, TV & screenwriting). This year, my KDP sales are down but my "traditional" publishing sales are way, way up. Last year, it was the other way around. It's important to keep writing and exploring all the potential revenue streams.

Jude Hardin said...

It's important to keep writing and exploring all the potential revenue streams.

Exactly, Lee! I've never had a Big 6 contract, but I would certainly be open to the possibility if the terms were right.

Robert said...

Curious about the lack of "branding" on the covers for your series. I understand if T&M didn't want to try to copy the first book which was under a different publisher, but surely the idea was knocked around to "brand" the covers under T&M? Maybe that could factor into the less-than-stellar sales? Who knows. I'm not a big believer in branding EVERY SINGLE BOOK an author does, but branding for a series makes sense, at least to me.

Jude Hardin said...

Curious about the lack of "branding" on the covers for your series.

I would like to see more of that myself. I really dig the cover for KEY DEATH, and I would love to go back and revise the others with that same feel. If sales for KEY DEATH are way better than the others, maybe T&M will be receptive to the idea.

Anonymous said...


Quote from blog entry:
"I've never worked with a more enthusiastic more professional publisher than Amazon. They're smart. They're motivated. They want their books to do well."


Tell that to the erotica writers.
Amazon's ebook menu on the left hand side doesn't make sense. They list genres and inside the list is a section called "genre"... wait what? And erotica is hidden inside the "genre" section.

And I hear that some erotica books are flagged so that they only show up if you search for them specifically... wait what?

Smashwords has a more logical menu.

Hey Jude, good luck. :)
You are one of Joe's nicer friends.

I.J.Parker said...

Well, it's still a tough world out there, Jude, and seems to be getting tougher. Sorry it's taking you a bit longer, but best of luck! You are in any case incredibly productive, so that should help bring in money.

Jude Hardin said...

Hey Jude, good luck. :)
You are one of Joe's nicer friends.


Thanks!

Joe has a lot of nice friends, and he's pretty darn nice himself. I need to talk him into Seattle in August so I can finally buy him a beer (or ten).

Jude Hardin said...

You are in any case incredibly productive, so that should help bring in money.

I'm trying. I will have four new novels (including COLT) out in the next eight months, along with another project I'm working on. That's about the best I can do.

best of luck!

Thanks!

Joe Konrath said...

I need to talk him into Seattle in August so I can finally buy him a beer (or ten).

Not going. Prior plans I couldn't cancel. Drink ten for me. :)

Anonymous said...

I finally found out how to get a publishing deal with a real publisher:


http://www.theonion.com/articles/if-you-wish-to-be-a-writer-have-sex-with-someone-w,32687/

Jude Hardin said...

Not going. Prior plans I couldn't cancel.

Well, hope you have a great time wherever it is you're going!

Drink ten for me.

Okay!

Jude Hardin said...

I finally found out how to get a publishing deal with a real publisher

Yet sometimes SELF-publishing can be just as satisfying. ;)

Anonymous said...


i not understand

the onion

it not funny

Colin M said...

Hi Jude,

Great to hear your history. I read your short story Rattled and was left wanting more, which was good. I look forward to getting into your Colt series, and watching your success over the next few years.

I did have a few questions. Had you put out anything before T&M signed you? It sounds pretty impressive to get a 4 book contract on your first book.

When you sign on with T&M do you have any say in the promotions they run or do just sit back and wait for Amazon to do something? And, do you have any say in the price?

It sounds like having a, or some, self-pubs would give you the flexibility to do some giveaways to entice people to try your other books. I think you've made a great choice at the right time to move to self-pub.

Best wishes in your success.

Colin

Jude Hardin said...

Had you put out anything before T&M signed you?

Yes. POCKET-47 was published through a small press May 2011.

When you sign on with T&M do you have any say in the promotions they run or do just sit back and wait for Amazon to do something? And, do you have any say in the price?

As with any publisher, they call the shots, but I would say they're more open to suggestions from authors than most.

It sounds like having a, or some, self-pubs would give you the flexibility to do some giveaways to entice people to try your other books.

Exactly.

Best wishes in your success.

Thanks!


Jude Hardin said...

i not understand

the onion

it not funny


Lawrence Block's take was funnier, from his novel SMALL TOWN.

Paraphrasing: literary agents have it best. They get to fuck the publisher and the author.

;)

Josephine Wade said...

Hey Jude (Sorry not trying to sound like a Beatles song),

I'm glad your you are going to keep with it. 20,000 books and a possible 5-7K repeat buyers is a good lead for a single year. Plus, my feeling is you love this series and don't want to stop just yet :) .
I think if you are going to invest in the Colt series further you should think about audio books. Not because they sell a ton (well for some they do), but the word of mouth generated by audio book listeners is pretty valuable.
Just a thought.

Good luck and I you've got a great thing going here!

-Josie

Jude Hardin said...

I think if you are going to invest in the Colt series further you should think about audio books.

Other than COLT, all the books in the series are available in audio.

And my agent will be working on getting audio and foreign rights deals for my self-published titles as well.

Good luck and I you've got a great thing going here!

Thanks, Josie!

Kendra said...

"how do you go about contacting/talking to anyone from the various Amazon publishing imprints?"

My agent submitted to Amazon Publishing. I'd estimate 10 to 15 of the Amazon Montlake imprint authors were previously selfpublished and contacted by Amazon. The rest of us went through agents or were absorbed through their purchase of Dorchester and Avalon. According to their website, http://www.apub.com/contact they're currently not taking unsolicited submissions.

Daniel said...

Best of luck, Jude. I hope your new titles get people to check out all your others.

This is a little off topic, but Joe along with many others here) is always talking about the advantages of digital over print, how bookstores as we now have them are dinosaurs, etc. Well, here's a blog post that says it pretty succinctly. Its title is: BOOKS ARE EVIL. THEY'RE KILLING US. LET'S BAN BOOKS. Check out the kid's impeccable logic at:

http://freakydudebooks.com/wp/books-are-evil-theyre-killing-us-lets-ban-books/

Jude Hardin said...

Best of luck, Jude. I hope your new titles get people to check out all your others.

Thanks! Me too!

Jon Village said...

About Joe's last few paragraphs: it reminds me of a line in "Beaches" where Midler's character was complaining to the director about her role development. The director just looked at her and said, "Your an actor: act."

Experimenting with various genres may not be any writer's cup of tea, especially if they've always seen themselves as romance novelists, horror writers, literary greats, etc. ... but, if you want to make a living at it, find the market that will support you.

If you can write; don't whine. Write.

Jon Village said...

About Joe's last few paragraphs: it reminds me of a line in "Beaches" where Midler's character was complaining to the director about her role development. The director just looked at her and said, "Your an actor: act."

Experimenting with various genres may not be any writer's cup of tea, especially if they've always seen themselves as romance novelists, horror writers, literary greats, etc. ... but, if you want to make a living at it, find the market that will support you.

If you can write; don't whine. Write.

Jude Hardin said...

For anyone who's interested, I've sold 16 copies of Colt since it was published May 30, along with 5 borrows through Select, for a net profit of around fifty bucks.

So far, I've sent out way more review copies than I've sold...

Jude Hardin said...

but, if you want to make a living at it, find the market that will support you.

A long time ago when Stephen King was asked why he writes the kinds of books he writes, he replied, "What makes you think I have a choice?"

I guess I could write a romance novel (etc.) if someone had a gun to my head, but it wouldn't be a very good one.

Colin M said...

Hey Jude,

Many are convinced that Joe's now writing erotica under an ultra-secret pen name. Maybe you two can co-write something together to test out the market. "Colt meets Bambi"

Jude Hardin said...

Maybe you two can co-write something together to test out the market.

Not many people knows this yet, but a couple of years before the events in this new book, Nicholas Colt had a hot tawdry affair with a slightly older female cop in Chicago named Jacqueline...something-or-another. You can read all about it in my next prequel. ;)

Jude Hardin said...

Actually, after thinking about it, the thought of my character doing it with Joe's makes me feel a little...icky.

;)

Joe Konrath said...

For anyone who's interested, I've sold 16 copies of Colt since it was published May 30, along with 5 borrows through Select, for a net profit of around fifty bucks.

BookBub and Ebookbooster.

And evidence my blog doesn't sell ebooks. The writers who come here aren't ebook buyers. They're writers, looking for advice.

Jude Hardin said...

BookBub and Ebookbooster.

I guess I could try, but I've heard that BookBub denies ads for books that are "too new" and books that don't have many reviews. So I think it might be best to wait for some more reviews to be posted. I'm definitely planning on doing that, though.

But should the sale price be $.99 or free? That's what I'm debating over. I've heard (strictly anecdotal) that free just isn't working as well as it used to, that authors aren't seeing enough of a bump afterwards to warrant the cost of the ad.

Jude Hardin said...

For anyone who prefers good old fashioned paperbacks, my novel
CROSSCUT is currently marked down to $2.64 on Amazon.

Bruno Stella said...

Well, when I published "The Man from the Tower" on Amazon I saw very few sales as well. I think that there's just SO MUCH stuff out there that unless people are specifically looking for you, you are headed for Failville. Still, Joe has said it over and over: you need to have quite a few titles out there in order to generate a bit of traffic / web presence. Let us know how it all turns out for you Jude.

Oh, and a PS - nice cover :)

Bruno Stella said...

Might as well say thanks to Joe while I'm here. Your blog has been invaluable in the discussing of the ins and outs of publishing, and your posts inspirational. It really does make a difference to have somebody around who has been there, done that, and is lighting the way along the dark cavern with a lantern for all the noobs clustered behind.

Well, that's how I see it, at least.

Jude Hardin said...

I think that there's just SO MUCH stuff out there that unless people are specifically looking for you, you are headed for Failville.

The only thing you can do, really, is try to get your book in front of as many eyes as possible. These days, unfortunately, that's probably going to involve spending quite a bit of money. It's a gamble, just as publishing has always been a gamble, and authors with money to spend on marketing will of course have a distinct advantage. So it goes.

nice cover

Thanks!

Bruno Stella said...

You're probably right. Certainly I have had scant luck in trying to get reviewed, even on blogs. Proffering indie / self published works elicit an immediate "no thanks" from even the dingiest blog. What some bloggers seemed to be OK with was allowing me to do guest posts. That way they refresh their content and I got a bit of spotlight.

Here's a tip, though: strangely enough I managed to do better with my local newspaper. The sub-editor read the book, liked it, and ran two articles on it. In my case I didn't see much in the way of increased sales, but it couldn't harm to try, you never know.

Mean Teacher said...

Doesn't it seem possible that the "tsunami of crap" that Joe has preached as mythological could actually be a reality? For every well designed cover (like Jude's and Joe's books, for instance) there are hundreds of horribly crappy ones that look like they were designed by an eedjit. Same goes for the writing. The lack of quality control leaves people like myself depressed and jaded, and the sheer digital space taken up by garabage makes it worse. The expectation to sell more than 20k books a year is very understandable, but easier said than done. There have to be some people whose Kindles are just loaded with more free and cheap books than they'll ever get a chance to read.

This blog is an incredible resource, but I think it's easy to look at the Konraths, Crouches, and Eislers and come away with unreasonable expectations.

I wish you the best of luck, Jude. It sounds like you're doing many of the right things. Maybe fate will be on your side soon.

Jude Hardin said...

The lack of quality control leaves people like myself depressed and jaded, and the sheer digital space taken up by garbage makes it worse.

Well, it would be different if all those crappy books were front and center, if they were selling in significant numbers. But as far as I can tell, they're not. The quality of self-published titles has gotten better over the last couple of years, I think, and those are the books that are selling.

I wish you the best of luck, Jude. It sounds like you're doing many of the right things.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

i will set my main character apart by making him a cross dressing dwarf with a unibrow

Thejendra said...

20,000 copies is not something to be disappointed, Jude. I have nearly 20 books published have hardly have twenty copies of each sold every month :-)

Thejendra
Book Cave - www.thejendra.com

Jude Hardin said...

20,000 copies is not something to be disappointed, Jude.

I would be ecstatic if COLT sold that many copies over the next twelve months. $3.99 at 70%. It's still not a lot, but I could get by on it.

Charles Harvey said...

Everyone will remember 2011 being published on Amazon, was the year that was everything. Maybe there were some god awful books out there with crappy covers, but were they selling or not? I got in on the tail end, saw the promise and saw it fizzle. I want to quit my day job too with its decent salary and 401k. But I think I'll do it the hard way for a while--inch by inch in my spare time. It's just too risky now to quit without even a measly unemployment check to back you up.

Nancy Beck said...

First of all, I believe in the series, and I want it to have a decent chance at succeeding beyond the books in the Amazon contract.

As one who took Jude up on his offer (and a person who doesn't even read thrillers on a regular basis), I was looking for something different, so I figured, why not?

Jude sent me the book a few days ago...and I finished it in 2 days. Talk about a page turner! His writing is great, the typos are at an absolute minimum (there is no such thing as the perfect novel, after all), and did I mention this is a page turner? :-)

It's also fairly clean - hardly any cursing or gruesome descriptions, so if you worried about excess with either, be assured that it's not overdone.

I've already put my 5-star review up on Amazon and have Pocket-47 in my Wish List. This is a series worth reading whether you're into thrillers or not.

Jude Hardin said...

But I think I'll do it the hard way for a while--inch by inch in my spare time.

Nothing wrong with that. I did it that way for years. You'll know when it's time to take the big leap. Best of luck with it!

Jude Hardin said...

It's also fairly clean - hardly any cursing or gruesome descriptions, so if you worried about excess with either, be assured that it's not overdone.

I've already put my 5-star review up on Amazon and have Pocket-47 in my Wish List. This is a series worth reading whether you're into thrillers or not.


Thanks so much for the kind words, Nancy!

I should probably note that some of my other thrillers are much more graphic with the language and violence, especially SNUFF TAG 9.

So glad you enjoyed COLT!

Jude Hardin said...

Update for COLT:

Number of copies sold or loaned through Prime: 40

Number of copies sent out for reviews: 43

The gap is narrowing. :)

Jude Hardin said...

Just sent out review copy #50, so that's it for now. For everyone who requested a copy, thanks so much for spreading the word!

Coolkayaker1 said...

I applaud Jude Hardin for dumping the day job to pursue his passion. He is a brave man.

I sit and wonder, as a reader, how many superb writers --truly outstanding future Philip Roths and Joyce Carole Oates--are opting for the book-in-a-month club means of rags-to-rags over their fullest potential as million-selling, Hollywood seeking genre or literary authors.

Everything about self-pubbing, from the trading reviews for free copy, to the kudos for churning out a pulp novel ever four months (or, as Joe has done, in 8 hours), the overwhelming focus on money and sales over theme and meaning, reeks of the sadness for the reader.

As readers fade, so, too, do skilled authors. It is no mistake that Salinger spent 8 years writing Catcher, Donna Tartt ten years for The Goldfinch (Amazon's book of the year 2013--anyone read it? It's amazing), Matterhorn by Karle Marlantes 30 years, and on and on. Those who spend time to write a novel of skilled, shined and true, will achieve the monetary rewards.

How many authors--excellent authors, with potential for legendary or iconic status--are swallowed up by the impatience of self-publishing. The reader will never know.