Sunday, September 08, 2013

GRANDMA? by JA Konrath and Talon Konrath

For most of my life, I knew I was going to be a writer.

But I didn't know my fifteen-year-old son wanted to be a writer. Not until I saw him working on a story. It wasn't for school. He was writing it just because he felt like it. And he didn't even tell me about it.

Naturally, I asked to read it, and it made me laugh out loud. It needed some work, so I gave him some tips, and when he incorporated those I thought it was actually good enough to be published.

So I did a rewrite, fleshing out the story, adding some jokes, ramping up the suspense.

The result is the first part of a YA serial novel called GRANDMA?

It's Talon's story, characters, and scenes, embellished by Dad.

And it's now available for 99 cents on Amazon.

It was fun writing about zombies, and fun writing with my son. We're hoping to release a new section every few weeks, until it is novel-length.

It also has an afterword by thrilleromedy bestseller Jeff Strand.

When Talon hit the Save and Publish button on KDP, a big smile on his face, I thought about how extraordinary the publishing world has become.

I got my first rejection letter at 18, and wound up garnering more than 500 of them, trying to break into this industry.

Newbie writers, who never worked in the legacy world, have no idea how good they have it right now. It took me a decade of trying to impress the gatekeepers before I got a break. Those were hard, depressing, years where I busted my ass. And then once I finally got published, I spent eight more hard, depressing years busting my ass. I've signed books at over 1200 bookstores in 43 states. I've been to dozens of writing conventions, conferences, and book fairs. When this blog began, I was known as the king of self-promotion, and I spent more of my work week marketing than writing, all while trying to make ends meet with the little amount of money I was making.

In eight years, I made about $350,000 writing. That's about $40k a year, and I spent a lot of that on travelling.

Since 2009, I've made $1.6 million by self-publishing. Not only has it been gratifying, but it's been a lot more fun, and a lot less work, than my legacy years.

Talon makes $40 a week, picking up dog poop. He turns 16 in October, and is looking to buy a car with the money he's been saving for years, and he has talked often about supplementing his allowance with a fast food job in order to get gas money.

If GRANDMA? sells as well as my other short stories, it should make between $2k and $6k a year. But we anticipate there being five parts, all 99 cents, and then that'll be a book we'll sell for $3.99.

I've never done YA before, and I've never done a serial novel released in installments before, and I don't know if the zombie genre still has juice in it, so I don't know how well GRANDMA? will do. But if the series does modest business, Talon has a shot of making more than $40 a week. With a little luck, he could make a few hundred a week. At 15 years old.

Now he obviously has an advantage having me as a father and a co-writer. But if Amazon and Kindle didn't exist, I wouldn't be able to offer him that advantage.

It truly is the best time in history to be a writer. The are no longer any boundaries. You can work with whomever you want to, at your own speed, get paid monthly, write about anything you want, do very little marketing, and still reach readers.

During September, I'll also be releasing nine Jack Daniels tie-in stories, written by writers who followed my franchise guidelines. By 2014 I hope to have several new Jack Daniels novels, written by other writers, self-pubbed and earning.

As writers, we can do whatever we want to. We're only limited by our imaginations.

What an amazing, incredible time to be alive. How lucky we all are.

49 comments:

Vern L said...

Awesome Joe. I wish more kids would start out trying something like this. I have a niece that can write exceptionally well already and yet she's content just to write on her blog about nonsense. Lol. I've been trying for a year+ to get her excited about the idea of writing a book. Getting started at that age - with some positive experience - can be life changing! God knows I needed some direction when I was a youngster under 35 or so.

Jonas Saul said...

You couldn't have said it better. What a wonderful time to be alive …

This looks fantastic. I love to hear stories of youth with passion and not the alternative.

Looks good on you, too.

Jonas

Susie McCray said...

It's great of you to encourage your son to write. I hope the series does really well.

Sean Black said...

"She won't buy you cookies." What a great tag line. I can see this doing really well.

Well done, Talon (and Joe).

Looks great. I'm buying.

Stephen Leather said...

Talon is such a cool name! Great to be starting so young! Well done!

Alan Spade said...

Another great example of the freedom in self publishing. How lucky we all are, indeed.

Charlotte Copper said...

It of course, doesn't hurt Talon having you as a dad...I'm sure many of us who follow your wonderful blog won't be able to resist spending the 99 cents to check it out. I'll be downloading my copy as soon as I post this comment. Good luck to you both, but especially to Talon!

Charlotte Copper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carlos Cooper said...

You know what I love? This is something you and your son will never forget. Years from now, he'll look back and remember the day his dad gave him a chance and said, "Let's do this together, bud."
I can't wait until my kids get older. I found my passion earlier than most and hope to pass on that love to them.

Thanks for the glimpse into your world, Joe. Look forward to seeing where 'Grandma' shuffles.

speculationsimpressed said...

Congratulations to you and Talon. The cover is so eerie, which of course, is good.

Niki said...

I'm so happy to see this! My daughter,(she's 22), and I have just started writing a time travel trilogy together. It started off as my own, but when I asked her advice, she had some great suggestions and wrote a few sample paragraphs that were fabulous. I've now recruited her to write it with me. It's been great fun and something she didn't know she could do. We both contribute to the writing and the cover designs. It's been a wonderful mother/daughter experience! You're right Joe, this is a great time to be a writer!

David Haywood Young said...

Wow...this reminds me of something I've wondered about for quite a while.

Several years ago I found a 17yo via a summer internship program who was very bright & had all sorts of useful abilities in the software world. So I hired him. He telecommuted through college, and since I figured I should pay him what he was worth instead of what other kids his age made--he had lots of cash (relatively speaking).

He's about 30 now, and it's taken him all this time to relax. He stayed with the same company until about a year ago (I didn't--not my style at all--but when I left I transferred him to a manager who was a friend of mine with a strong recommendation).

From my POV this kid was providing value right away, even before he could write code--he started as a tester, then moved into management himself later on--and he got paid for it. From his POV it all seemed too easy and it took him over a decade to start to believe he could actually change jobs and do something else--which he'd always wanted to do. A heck of an opportunity cost, there.

So I'm not sure what else I should have done, and I'm not sure how much I held him back. But hiring him right off the bat like that wasn't as straightforwardly beneficial as I wanted it to be.

So as for Talon--I hope he starts publishing stuff right away, under his own name, without help from his dad. AND I hope he takes advantage of his opportunities--that's what they're for.

Good luck, Talon! And happy writing. This really is a fun game to play, to whatever extent you want to get involved!

-David

Jude Hardin said...

Very cool!

RS McCoy said...

That's so awesome that you and your son are able to work together and *hopefully* make some money together. Best of luck to both of you!

PS. I think zombies are still HOT. Your book should sell well!

Jill James said...

Joe, I love that we live in the time we do. Young authors need to be nourished to grow. Off to buy zombie book!!

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Congratulations, Talon! It's a ridiculously fun and suspenseful story. May it sell like crazy. :)

Alistair McIntyre said...

Really cool that you two can collaborate on a project like this.

Iain Rob Wright said...

I never considered what a boon that self-publishing could be to a minor. Just think of all the kids that could forego menial 'pocket money' jobs and paper rounds and earn some real money doing something that is all their doing. Great way to start a young person off with a sense of pride and self-worth and the belief that they can make their own fortune in this world instead of having to beg for a wage.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for the kind comments. It was a lot of fun writing and I can only hope for the best.

-Talon.

MP McDonald said...

It is a great time. My daughter is 13 and has written a few things. She has a really vivid imagination and uses words I never would have when I was her age. She's already talking about when she publishes a book--not if. :-)

Janet Sked said...

This is so utterly cool. It really is the best time to be a writer. Go Talon - hope you sell loads, and enjoy every second of writing!

Patty McPhatty said...

Congrats and enjoy the ride Talon! You are one very lucky young man. :)

Paul Draker said...

My daughters, nine and seven years old, are working on their first book right now. It's a collaboration ;)

I took my first peek at what they have so far, and the story scared the crap out of me: great white sharks, Ouija board sessions in which spirits predict the accidental demise of our relatives, zombies, mysterious maps, time travel paradoxes and parallel universes.

I can't help but be proud. And thrilled, too, at the opportunity they now have. The stories I wrote as a kid got stuck in a drawer somewhere. They are all long lost. The only one I ever shared with a sixth-grade classmate resulted in a call to the school from his horrified parents, demanding that the person who wrote it be evaluated by a psychiatrist.

But my daughters' stories--once they are polished, edited, and ready for release--will be available for their friends to download and enjoy. And maybe even earn my girls some money. More importantly, they will learn to polish their prose and storytelling skills, inspired by the knowledge that, if they do their part to perfection, a world of readers is waiting for them, ready to enjoy their stories. And no arbitrary system of gatekeepers stands in their way.

It truly is a wonderful time to be a writer :) Or the parent of future writers :)

Lyn Perry said...

Congrats as well. And best wishes!

Pepper Phillips said...

Bought my copy. I'm all for helping out a kid. I sent the URL of this article to my grandson, who needs a push to do his writing.

It's a great time to be a writer, no matter what the age.

And quit calling me Grandma...

bdavidhughes said...

Bought, enjoyed and reviewed.

Joe: This has to be the most awesome feeling in the world, man. The only thing my 13 year old son has ever written was a ransom note for our cat, trying to get enough money for an Xbox game when he was 7. (True story.) Good for you!

Talon: Dude...dude. Nothing short of awesome! Great concept, and fantastic job on writing it. Do not, under any circumstances, stop. Not even if your dad offers to pay you $50 to clean up after the dogs. Now...it's time to out-sell him, just so you can make family dinners complete hell on him. :)

Lorraine Reguly said...

I got goosebumps while reading this post. I think your son is very fortunate, indeed. I'm a newbie to this world, and have only had my computer for about eight months. I've been blogging for that long, too!

Can you tell me how to publish a short ebook, just for practice? Pretend I am the daughter you never had, and that I'm fifteen, too. Thank you!

Jason said...

Wait wait wait...isn't Talon the name of the main guy in your Timecaster series Joe? That is a HECK of a coincidence!!!

Congrats guys, I'm really looking forward to reading all parts of 'Grandma?'.

Merrill Heath said...

Congrats, Talon, and best of luck. I'll download a copy later today.

Also good for you, Joe. My dad always encouraged me to write but never pressured me. I'm glad to see you seem to have the same approach with your son.

Anonymous said...

My father has never encouraged me to write. He has once never said "Hey! You working on that story? You should finish so we can put it on Amazon! You should become a writer because i make millions, and you can too!"

I wanted to write a story that i thought was good. I wanted to do something different, something thats gets kids in my school excited for. My librarian always picksthe books she likes for students and that saddens me that kids think reading is boring or dull because of that. So 'Grandma' is showing my freinds that reading is fun and it should be done more often.

I never would've thought it would actually be posible for me to actually be making money with writing at my age. And for that i'm greatfull to have an awesome dad.

If i can write a story then anyone can and i think anyone can self publish, but it takes skill and commitment and a lot of luck for you to get somewhere. Prove me wrong, but there's good stories out there that arn't being bought.

But why?

I think it's mainly because they don't have a bigshot father to help them. ;)

My dad has happend to be my dad and he helped me out with this story.

Thank you all for your kind coments. :).

Part 2 is coming soon.

-Talon.

Geraldine Evans said...

Wow! That's awesome! It's difficult enough to get boys to READ, but to have them WRITING...! Brilliant. Well done, Talon. And Joe.:-)

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Wow! I love that cover! Downloading Grandma? Now. Can NOT wait to read it!

w. adam mandelbaum esq. said...

Mazel Tov to the kid!

Amber Dane said...

What a great post. Will have to grab a copy. Congrats to Talon and you, always exciting when our kids get involved in something we love. May his passion continue. Was just telling my daughter yesterday that I'm thrilled to be alive and breathing.

John Erwin said...

Lorraine Reguly-

To publish an ebook, go to http://kdp.amazon.com -- they will walk you through the process. You can also try smashwords.com -- they give you access to a lot of markets but their formatting is a lot more arduous than Kindle/Amazon's.

H. Raven Rose (@chocolatevamp) said...

Woohoo for Talon! Brilliant support of your creative child, dada. I bought a copy! #IndieAuthorLove

Frank Sergeant said...

Hi Lorraine,

> I'm a newbie to this world, and have only had my computer for about eight months.

Now that sounds practically like a man bites dog story! Would you care to share it? I thought everyone had had a computer for many years.

> Can you tell me how to publish a short ebook, just for practice?

I wasn't going to mention it quite yet, but Nepo Press has been offering an eBook formatting service (turning your manuscript into a mobi file, an EPUB file, and an HTML version of your book). That's not the news. The news is we are about to offer it for FREE for manuscripts under a certain length/size (such as short stories).

So, yes, this would let you publish a short eBook for practice (or for real). If you are interested, email me at frank@nepotism.net. To get an idea of how it works, read the description of the full service at http://nepotism.net/formatting.

Frank

Anonymous said...

What a great idea!

Question about publishing books in parts: When the full novel is ready, do you replace the "episodes" with the full book? Or do you publish it as a combo, in addition?

MK Brattican said...

I have a new blog for Young Authors since I am on this blog as an 8 Hour Winner. I put Talon's book on it, I hope you don't mind Talon! Come check out my site! I hope other young authors put their books up too. Could we be the only young authors?http://youngauthors1.blogspot.com/

Ashy said...

Congrats to you both! A couple of my kids are doing the same thing! :) Let's raise a whole new generation of self-publishers!

anthony newman said...

That is very nice and must be rewarding to share what you do with your son. I hope the Grandman novel does well !

AD Starrling said...

Congratulations to the both of you! You must be a proud dad and he must be a proud son :D

Joe Konrath said...

Or do you publish it as a combo, in addition?

This.

Joseph said...

Adopt me! :-)

Rob Gregory Browne said...

This is really wonderful, Joe. Congratulations to you and your son.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Very cool and congrats to Talon! (Which is a neat name for a writer.) I'm trying to persuade my daughter, who has been writing for a while, to do the same thing with me. I've told her that if she will write a story, I'll smoothe and edit, and we'll put both our names on it... so I can share my little bit of indie sci-fi bestselling notoriety and boost her chances of discoverability.

Jan Thompson said...

That's great that you encourage your son to write (Talon is a great name). My teenage son is also a writer. He has been writing for a few years now. I've always encouraged him to write what his heart tells him. We're each other's beta readers and brainstorm buddies, but we do not share credits for books. He has his own genres, and I have mine. I think he will be published sooner than I will be. That's OK. I'll be a proud Mama! We're all writers in this family, and I'm a happy camper that people around me speak the same lingo as I do :-)

Celeste said...

I just finished reading "Grandma?" and have to say, great job! I'm sorely tempted to read it to my son, but he's only in the second grade, and talks about zombies enough to lift his teacher's eyebrow already. It'll still be on the Kindle for him when he's old enough for it, though. Looking forward to the next installment, Talon!

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