Thursday, February 20, 2014

Legacy John Fisks Hugh Howey

Joe sez: There is a new www.authorearnings.com report by Hugh Howey and Anonymous Data Guy. This time they looked at the rankings of over 54,000 Amazon titles.

The data blew me away. But my imaginary Big 5 Pundit, Legacy John, wasn't impressed.

Legacy John: His data is all full of lies and nonsense and nonsensical lies. I want to do one of those fisting things that you do.


Joe: You mean fisking?

Legacy John: Where you take someone's post and insult him, line-by-line.

Joe: Actually, the sarcasm is only a by-product of debating poor arguments, faulty logic, and bad data. I use it to accentuate how shoddy and worthy of ridicule their points are.


Legacy John: Whatever. You say you'll let traditional publishers have their say on your blog, so will you let me fask Howey or what?


Joe: Sure. Have at it. I'm all about contrary opinions.


Hugh: One week ago, we released our initial Author Earnings report on the prevalence and breakdown of nearly 7,000 genre e-books on Amazon’s bestseller lists. We only looked at three categories of genre fiction. Since that time, our spider has been hard at work gathering data on a wider variety of titles as it probes deeper into the lists. This time, over 54,000 titles were collected, practically every book on every Amazon bestseller list.


Legacy John: It is widely known by those who know things that the Amazon bestseller lists represent less than 2% of all book sales. This data is all bullshit, and I've heard that Hugh steals cars from the poor and tries to run over the elderly and military veterans and the disabled. Also, he invaded Peru.

Joe: Do you have any sort of evidence to back up these claims?

Legacy John: The truth needs no evidence. 

Hugh: For you techies out there who geek out on methodology, the spider works like this: It crawls through all the categories, sub-categories, and sub-sub-categories listed on Amazon, starting from the very top and working its way down. It scans each product page and parses the text straight from the source html. Along with title, author, price, star-rating, and publisher information, the spider also grabs the book’s overall Amazon Kindle store sales ranking. This overall sales ranking is then used to slot each title into a single master list. Duplicate entries, from books appearing on multiple bestseller lists, get discarded.

Legacy John: Bullshit! What kind of spider is smart enough to grab all that data? Insects have very small brains, and a spider couldn't possibly remember all of that. Plus, how could it pass that data along to Hugh? SPIDERS CAN'T WRITE OR TALK!

Joe: I'm pretty sure a spider is an Internet bot used for indexing information.

Legacy John: I'm pretty sure you lie about your sales, and are only popular because you got your start with the Big 6. You're just angry they kicked you out because your writing sucks.

Joe: That's actually not how it happened. If you read my blog--

Legacy John: No one reads your stupid blog, loser. Don't cry sour grapes to me because no one wants to publish you.


Joe: I sense a little hostility.


Legacy John: Can you sense me flipping you off? Because that's what I'm doing, right now, Konrath. And I'm going to Tweet that, too, and my six Twitter followers are going to RT and we're all going to laugh and laugh like a cool high school clique who laughs at others. Then we're going to take selfies combing our hair.


Hugh: As before, our spider is looking at a snapshot of sales rankings for one particular day — in this case February 7, 2014. Extrapolation is only useful for determining relative market share and theoretical earnings potential. Our conclusions assume that the proportion of self-published to traditionally published titles doesn’t change dramatically from day to day, and the similarity of this dataset, collected 9 days after the previous one, lends that assumption some support. By comparing successive reports over the coming months, we will be able to answer the day-to-day variance question more completely.


Legacy John: Snapshots! Now the spider can use a camera?! Give me a break.


Hugh: Of the ~54,000 titles sampled, ~11,000 (or 22%) were genre fiction. ~30,000 (60%) were non-fiction. ~900 (1.8%) were literary fiction. And ~10,000 (20%) were children’s books (young adult is not included in this last category). The preponderance of nonfiction in this sample does not reflect market share. Rather, it reflects the many hundreds of detailed Amazon sub-sub-sub-category bestseller lists for non-fiction (Health, Fitness & Dieting > Alternative Medicine > Holistic, for example), that make lower-selling nonfiction more visible to the spider than equally low-selling fiction.


Legacy John: Blah blah blah numbers blah blah blah data.

You know something, Howey? I got numbers too! Numbers like 17 and 3000% and 2.89/5 and eleventeen. Try to refute that!

Hugh: In order to better understand where and why this data differs from the three genre categories of our original report, let’s look at four different segments: Genre fiction, literary fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books. Here’s how daily unit sales and gross dollar sales divide up among them:50000-unit-sales-by-category50000-gross-sales-by-category
 Legacy John: I got pie graphs too, ya pinhead.



Hugh:
As with our previous report, daily unit sales and dollar sales estimates are based on crowdsourced sales rates by overall Amazon ranking. Adjusting these sales rates does not greatly alter any of our conclusions, as all titles are affected. What these graphs represent, then, is a snapshot of Amazon bestseller rank—which has been observed to correlate neatly with daily sales figures—and price.


With all of genre fiction lumped together, the previous estimates of 70% market share still hold. Future reports will break these genres down further. The goal of this report is to look at all e-books, rather than a single subset.

Legacy John: That's not your goal. Your goal to to try to make me admit I've been treating authors unfairly. Which is nonsense. We care about authors. Lots.


As I sit here, typing this in my solid gold swimming pool on my waterproof Cray XC30, I can't help but think of all the authors I've nurtured. If it wasn't for me, those authors wouldn't be paying part of their grocery bill, twice a year, with what they make in royalties that we send them when we remember to. And without groceries, they'd starve, and if they starved, they couldn't write more books that pay for my jet fuel. So don't tell me I don't care.

Hugh: Genre Fiction (All Genres)

The roughly 11,000 genre titles from our 54K sampling look very similar to the previous dataset of Mystery/Thriller & Suspense, Romance, and Science Fiction/Fantasy. These 11,000 genre books now also include Action & Adventure, Horror, Historical Fiction, Erotica, and the like. Here is the breakdown of how these 11,000 genre titles were published, and we can see that including all genres has given a boost to small publishers when compared to our initial report:
11000-genre-list-entries-by-pubtype
This breakdown is very similar to our original report, with self-published authors commanding roughly the same share titles on bestseller lists as the Big 5 combined. Ah, but where on the lists are these books? By estimating daily sales according to rank on the overall list, we can get a clearer picture:
11000-genre-unit-sales-by-pubtype
Not to belabor the point, but no matter how the unit sales by rank figures are adjusted, all titles are impacted equally, so the share of the pie remains largely unchanged. The above graph is a neat visual indicator of relative strength across Amazon bestseller charts. We can see that small publisher titles are well-represented on the lists but that the sales are relatively muted. As with our first report, self-published and Big 5 published genre works are roughly equivalent.

Legacy John: Genre fiction! Bullshit! Genre fiction is cultural wasteland devoid of any redeeming values, as evidence by this chart:




Hugh: Gross sales and author earnings come next, where we anticipated a fall-off for self-published authors as we included all genres, but we’re seeing just a few percentage points difference from our earlier report:11000-genre-gross-sales-by-pubtype

Legacy John: Ha! Look at your own data, Howie! We're making 55% of the money! Suck it!

Joe: That number represents gross sales. Authors don't care about what publishers earn. They care about how much they earn.


Legacy John: That's absurd. Authors don't care about money. They're clueless hobbyists, and should be kissing our asses that we might even consider publishing them in the first place.


Here's why those indie authors are doing so badly: They write crap. And there is so much crap, readers are drowning in it. Literally drowning. Last year there were 22,345 people who drowned to death reading crappy self-pubbed books, as evidenced by this statistic:


22,345

Bad self-pubbed writing also killed 124,928 puppies and kitties.


124,928

Without us gatekeepers to guard against indie swill, more will die. Quite possibly this many:


99,000,000,000,000,000,000

Do you want to be responsible for that many deaths? Do you, all you indie hacks?

Hugh: Again, because of the higher royalties for self-published works, this daily snapshot of earnings reveals indie authors as a group making more than traditionally published authors:

11000-genre-author-revenue-by-pubtype
See our 11K genre spreadsheet at the bottom of the report for more graphs and the full data set. It would be a lot to include everything here. People can only take so much pie.

Legacy John: You can make "data" say whatever you want to using your "methods". But did you know that Amazon is evil and wants to take over the world so they can turn people into half-man/half-fish creatures called "mishes"? We'll see how much you like Amazon when you're flopping around on your sofa unable to breathe, gill-boy.


Now you had a bunch more worthless data and graphs, which I left out because they are easily refuted by Bookscan and the DBW survey and the USA Today Bestseller list and Bowker and Publishers Lunch and the AAR and the Authors Guild and The Guy I Met On The Bus Talking To Himself About Aliens and smart people like Mike Shatzkin who predicted that by 2021 there would be 101,979,020 bookstores in the USA.


101,979,020

Or maybe it wasn't Shatzkin. Maybe it was that bus guy. But that doesn't deny the fact that print books account for 130% of all book sales, and ebook sales are dying and will probably be gone by tomorrow. Saturday at the latest.

Also, Amazon is evil and gatekeepers are important defenders of culture and authors need us and self-publishing is only for stupid losers. But if those stupid losers make it big, we'll offer them contracts with deal points like:

Publication within 10 years of signing.
Maybe some sort of editing.
1/6 the royalties you can earn on your own.
7 free galleys!!!
Cover art you'll love, because you have no choice.
Rigorous, ongoing sodomy. Without lube. (We call this the "Love Room")

Hugh: Across the entire range of e-books, fiction and nonfiction, adult and children’s, genre and literary, indie authors make up a large slice of the overall Amazon pie. While indie market shares in bestselling nonfiction, literary fiction, and children’s fiction are still catching up with genre fiction—where indies already beat out the Big-5—indies have already made surprising inroads into those other categories, too. We see also that including all the other genres alongside the three top-selling categories of our first report did not appreciably alter the distribution of self-published titles across the lists. Once again, no matter how we tweak the relationship between daily sales and bestseller rank, the effect on all titles is more or less evenly distributed. That means the market share by publishing type holds steady. This can be buttressed by running more reports over time.


Indies All the Way Down

Let’s try something interesting. What if we ignore the top 1,000 e-books and look at the 49,000 titles that follow? By removing the most extreme outliers, we can see if the lists are top-heavy for traditionally published authors or if the most extreme self-published bestsellers are the exception as some claim. Frequently, self-publishing success stories are explained away as rarities. If this is true, once we remove the top 1,000 from consideration, we should see the needle move toward the traditionally published mid-list authors who are making a steady living further down the charts.

Here’s the top 50,000+ e-books again:
top50000-authorrevenue
And here we have the same group of e-books but with the top 1,000 bestsellers removed:
next49000-itsindiesallthewaydown
It’s indies all the way down.

Once we look below the Top 1,000, indications are that the indie midlist is healthy indeed. Or it could be that we’re glimpsing the rising swell of tomorrow’s new Top 1,000. All of this remains to be seen.

Legacy John: There you go again, using your "data" to "prove" that "self-publishing" is a "better alternative" to "sodomy"--I mean "Signing With the Big 5".


Your data makes me laugh. What are you, Mr. Data? Do you have an academic background with advanced degrees in hard-science and engineering from MIT & Stanford and professional experience doing exactly this same kind of competitive analysis of App-store charts for leading game industry companies and online casinos?

Joe: Actually, that's exactly the background of Hugh's Anonymous Data Guy.


Legacy John: Oh yeah? Well, Amazon is evil and self-publishing is stupid!


Hugh: In Summary 


The picture emerging from relative ranking on Amazon bestseller lists is that self-published authors have captured a large piece of Amazon’s total market share, more than any other single publisher and often more than all five major publishers combined. Looking at daily sales rankings for 54,000+ titles reaches well beyond outliers and beyond even what might be considered midlist e-books.

Our next report will step away from Amazon for a moment. Our spider has been crawling up B&N’s waterspout. What we have discovered there surprised us. Stay tuned.

Legacy John: Once again, this was a big waste of my time. I don't even know why I bothered fasting Hugh and his so-called data. We had record profits this year, because we're taking such a big cut from clueless authors, and this gravy train is going to last forever because existence bias is a proven way to embrace the future. Authors are clueless and ignorant and naive and stupid and eager, and they'll keep begging for the crumbs we toss them no matter what contrary data or opinion is posted.


For every number Hugh has, I have a different, happier number. No one cares about Amazon's data, but they do care about the lofty state of quality literature that will only exist if people like me keep telling most authors how much they suck.

You suck too, Konrath. You're mean and rude and your blog posts are waaaaaaaay too long and all you do is yak yak yak about us vs. them and how right you are all the time. Oh, and thanks for letting me guest post. It's a wonder more legacy folks don't post here.

Joe sez: Thank you for your, uh, insights, Legacy John.


As for Hugh and Data Guy, congrats on another job well done. To show that self-pub domination of the market extends far beyond the top 7000 top ebook bestsellers on Amazon is a revelation, and you're to be commended for this Herculean task.

Legacy pundits may not value your data. They may ignore it. They may disparage it, and try to discredit it and you.

But authors are listening. You're revealing that a whole lot of self-pubbed writers are making a whole lot of money outside the legacy system. You're also showing a whole bunch of legacy-pubbed writers what they could be making if they struck off on their own. This is valuable, and appreciated.

On behalf of all writers, thank you Hugh and Anonymous Data Guy. And if you haven't read the latest author earnings report in its entirety, check it out.

59 comments:

Josh Brown said...

I've never seen ANYONE take Joe to task like Legacy whats-his-face. Well done buddy! Your counter-data was A+ grade stuff. At least, that's what the Guy-On-The-Bus told me. Try-Abusing-The-Dashes-More-You-Might-Be-On-to-Some-thing-There!

Thank you Joe for piling on the pressure and spreading the word about your advice and this data. My first book is just weeks away and the potential is inspiring! I also would have never found Howey and wasting my years with a publishing house if not for your blog. Thank you.

Jude Hardin said...

Too funny, bro! Thanks for topping off my night with a good laugh.

Michael Reynolds said...

I almost spit sweet tea all over my monitor at the 99,000,000,000,000 deaths thing. I may have forgotten some 0s. I am one of the self published guys. I have little to no sales, BUT I have my rights. I have the stories, and if I want to redo the covers and titles and rework some... I can. And that makes me happy.

D. Greenfield said...

"Can you sense me flipping you off?" Could not stop laughing.

I started reading this blog in july of 2011 and have been thankful I did ever since. Thank you for your contribution to the education of the non-published Mr. Konrath.

Woelf2.0 said...

I laughed my ass right off. For some reason I was reading Legacy John's dialogue in Ben Stiller's voice, specifically the character's voice he played in Zoolander.

Oh, man, I needed this to unwind. That sarcasm and humor can convey so much truth so succinctly and so easily is testament to the state of things.

Thanks for the laugh, Joe.

Elka said...

That was hilarious and educational. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This was fun.

The "love room." I'm still laughing. :-D

Now, seriously: the most amazing thing about all of this is that the data is real. It's really real. A new world awaits us. :-)

CP

Anonymous said...

Hysterical!!!!!

KB/KT Grant said...

Legacy John's pie graphs cracked me up. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Legacy John didn't fill the loop in the R of "genre sucks balls."

Sloppy work. And he wonders why people go indie...

Alan Spade said...

Truly hilarious, yes!

An anonymous had a (little) point on the comment section of the 50k report, though, by saying all indie published authors doesn't make 70% on $2.99-9.99 ebooks, because some authors use aggregators like Smashwords.

And I have calculated for myself that what I make by using directly KDP is more around 62% then 70%. Also, one should not forget other players like Apple, who is more rewarding than Amazon with low prices and when selling abroad.

I know I'm a little bit nit-picking, here: the main thing is that the most realistic and viable way lies with self-publishing, and I'm grateful for this new fantastic report. Kudos to Hugh and Data Guy.

V. J. Chambers said...

MISHES!!!

That was seriously the funniest thing I have read all week.

Daniel Kenney said...

Joe, whatever data guy you've got creating graphs for you is some kind of wunder-idiot. I've been through the numbers countless times and cannot get get the data to show a "genre sucks balls" pie chart.

Also, I've got my own team of super spiders crawling the wonder webs and based on what i've found I'm also calling BS on the size of the "konrath sucks" portion of the other pie chart.

How about a little intellectual honesty for a change?

Turow

Anonymous said...

Legacy "Ben" is right, folks. That's exactly what I've been trying to tell you people why it makes absolutely no sense to talk about going Independent. Do you people even understand the type of prestige we get living under the Crown? You really want to band together as 13 states, on our own? Who's going to protect us when France wants to attack? Or how about the Spanish?

So what if we have to pay a little extra tax on our tea and don't get a seat at the table. At least we know the people at the table know what they are doing and have been around for centuries.

Don't be blinded by fools like Konrath---look at his name--con and rat. Okay? Do not listen to rebellious people like him. You really want to go to war with the King? You really thing a bunch of colonialists can gain independence and run a country by themselves?

Never going to happen. It's more likely we'll be able to fly one day from Boston to London than it is we can succeed on our own.

don't the Redcoats find you hanging around people like Konrath when he gets hung in the public square.

Be smart people. Don't trust these hucksters filling your heads with ideas about independence it will never work. Long live the King!

Joe Konrath said...

I've been through the numbers countless times and cannot get get the data to show a "genre sucks balls" pie chart.

Legacy John says that data can be interpreted in multiple ways. He also said something about my mother that I'm not going to repeat.

Walter Knight said...

It's true about Hugh invading Peru. Bastard!

Joe Konrath said...

Who's going to protect us when France wants to attack?

I can't believe Legacy John--a normally astute and keen observer--missed this obvious point.

Joe Konrath said...

It's true about Hugh invading Peru. Bastard!

I've heard rumors he now has his sights on Nebraska. Can you believe the cajones on this guy? Invading his own country.

Plus, I had already called dibs on Nebraska.

walt said...

The two charts at the bottom where the top 1000 best sellers are removed suggest that Amazon Published is overrepresented in the top 1000 best sellers. Getting into the Amazon Published program seems like a good bet at the moment.

Jeff Ezell said...

What a HOOT! Sarcasm truly shortcuts to the truth. Well, for the intelligent anyway.

I'll enjoy rereading this blog whenever I need a laugh. Maybe we should take up a collection, say 1% of all Indie ebook sales, to establish an asylum for the Legacy John folks soon to be out of work. They can have meetings all day, show THEIR pie charts, and tell each other what a great job they did for ungrateful, stupid authors. Indies can send them some "humble pies" for dessert.

A comparison chart showing a manuscript completion date and then timeline on how long it "typically" takes to start generating author earnings(and paydays). My guess Indie is about 2+ years sooner than Agent/Legacy path. I realize there are many variables.

Do readers really care who publishes the books they read? Not many I'll bet. (Legacy John has a pie chart for this somewhere.) They just want to be entertained and educated.

Great job as always,Joe, Hugh, and Data Guy.

Irwin P. said...

Looks like this data is going to keep coming. It's going to get very exhausting for the legacy folks to keep coming up with responses. Now what, will Shatzkin, DBW, PW, etc. respond again, or have they blown their loads? How many more shills are the Big 5 going to expect to step forward? The NYT Book Review?

What we could see, though, if Howey and Data Guy maintain the offensive, is a slightly more direct response from one or more of the Big 5. Perhaps it starts as a group of carefully selected trad pubbed authors coming out with their own "author earnings" numbers.

An explicit statement from the Big 5 would be very unlikely, though. I think they're probably smart enough to know that it's too much of a statement to choose to engage. ("Never fight your enemy in the way he wants to fight you." - Sun Tzu) Maybe we see it mentioned in passing as an interview question or something.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

OMG Joe, this is SO funny. The pie charts ....

I have tears in my eyes from all the laughing.

T.K. said...

Hilarious. But I predict complete silence now from the establishment. I think they're going to go back to the "ignore them" stage and hope that works.

Joe Konrath said...

But I predict complete silence now from the establishment. I think they're going to go back to the "ignore them" stage and hope that works.

If I were a legacy publisher, my response would be a media campaign that they are now offering authors 50% ebook royalties. If I really wanted to make a splash and turn public favor, I'd say that the royalty is retroactive and applies to previous contracts. That would be a huge good-will coup that would get a lot of mainstream press and sway a lot of authors on the fence.

But no one asks me for advice on these matters.

T.K. said...

One of the revealing things Shatzkin said in his comments was that he anticipates the traditional industry growing smaller and the non-traditional industry growing larger. (These weren't his terms. Can't remember his terms.)

A trad editor recently hinted to me privately how little she earns. The editors, marketers, and the others are not well paid. That's why they get lots of vacation time and short hours.

This particular editor said only the high-up execs earn good money.

I’m also sure that some of the brilliant designers of children’s hardcover books are freelance at this point — they don’t get a salary or benefits. They’re for hire. I’m also fairly sure that the big pubs pay them a lot of money. Designing a children's hardcover book, when each page is illustrated and designed, is probably behind the budget of most indies.

I think what Shatzkin sees is the bulk of editors and marketers moving from salaried positions in the house to freelancers as the mid list moves Indie. These editors will offer services to indies and trad publishers alike, but it's likely the traditional publishers will pay better.

The execs keep their jets because they'll look for the Fifty Shades and Wools to keep them going. Also the celebrity bios. When Hillary wants to write a book, she’ll take the 15 million dollar advance instead of going indie. Children’s library and school books will stay mostly traditional because teachers, parents, and grandparents do care about awards. Small children don’t buy their own books, so gatekeepers will always have a place. Grandma doesn’t have time to do lots of research when she’s shopping for gifts. She’ll pick the books with the gold medallions on the cover.

Under this scenario, the top execs really aren't worried. Lots of editors probably know they may not have salaried jobs with benefits much longer, but the best ones will remain.

T.K. said...

P.S. I meant children's picture book instead of children's hardcover book.

Dee Van Dyk said...

Thanks to Legacy John for the flash of nostalgia. Pie charts like my granny used to make them.

Robert Bidinotto said...

As one of the 124,928 who have lost my puppy due to indie publishing, Konrath, I think you should wipe the sneer off your fuzzy face and stop mocking us! YOU GOADED ME to take this self-publishing path, never warning me about the high potential for collateral quadruped damage.

I hate you. I'm going over to puppy-safe publishing. And I'm reporting you to PETA.

Agent D. Umbass said...

I make sure all my authors get their annual prostate exams...I mean royalty statements from their publishers, and those statements include all the hardcover and paperback sales. You know, REAL books sold in REAL stores, like Border's and Mulva's Hair Salon.

Ebooks are just a fad, and before you know it everything will be back to normal. Then we can all break out the champagne and the KY and spend some more time in the Love Room!

Hairhead said...

This post shows why JA Konrath is loved by (a certain segment of) the population.

Specifically, that segment which enjoys its sarcasm-irony bombs at the 20-megaton level.

Sure your fingertips aren't still radioactive, JA?

David List said...

Joe,
Around October of last year I decided to self-publish. Largely because I finally accepted the reality that traditional publishing isn't the gold mine I'd once believed to be.

I had seen links to your blog from several other blogs and forums. Only lately (Dec 2013) have I started actually paying attention to you. I don't honestly know what took me so long.

I firmly believe you and your fellows (not limited to Eisler and Howey) are fighting the good fight and for that I want to thank you.

I've played guitar and bass in several bands... Bands that get out and bust our asses, playing shows and letting our material and showmanship sink or swim. My friends and I have made several short films (mostly garbage ninja movies) and thrown them on YouTube to be loved or hated by the masses. Video game music that I've composed and uploaded to Newgrounds or Soundcloud has gotten me paid more than once. If I were an artist, there's no limit to the websites where my art can be rated by the masses...

That said, I am only now asking myself Why the hell are there still gate keepers in ANY creative field? Clearly people can determine what they like and what they don't!
The only answer I know of is because people still validate them... And mostly because of misinformation.

Here's to you guys continuing to shed the light. You're doing the right thing.

So, thanks.

David - Regarding Silexare

Anonymous said...

Speaking of mega-bestselling traditionally-published Author X perpetuating the myths...

Today on CBS This Morning, James Patterson, being interviewed about donating a million dollars to help independent bookstores, said, "If we don't have strong publishers, who's going to find the next...To Kill a Mockingbird?"

Um, readers, maybe?

So it's pretty obvious who Patterson is REALLY interested in helping: publishers.

Wouldn't it be nice if, for once, mega-bestselling traditionally-published Author X distributed some grants to some authors? Maybe some of those midlisters who have been screwed over for decades by the same outfits Patterson is trying to save.

I mean, really. Wouldn't that be nice?

Lisa Grace said...

You are one (well, two in one) funny guy. Thanks for making me laugh. Anytime I have an inkling to click on a link-baiter selfie-hater, I'm just going to come back and read this post instead.
Shavu'a Tov!

rjbucchianeri said...

Wonderfully funny! Great work by you and Mr. Howey

Laura Resnick said...

I want to be too big a person to find this post funny--but I kept laughing!

One point about Big 5 terms: "Publication within 10 years of signing."

Not consistently. At least one major house has now removed any language from their contracts that would obligate them to publish within -any- specified timeframe. They can hold onto the delivered MS for 20 years without being in breach of contract.

I found out when a writer I know, who'd waited an unconscionable amount of time, asked my advice. The lawyer I recommended confirmed that the contract was that bad. I consulted a friend who's collecting publishing contracts to review industry practices and standards, and my friend confirmed that that house has eliminated timeframe (for itself) from all its contracts, and this is not the only house where that's happening.

So "publication within 10 years of delivery" is actually BETTER than the terms some major houses are now writing into their boilerplates. Egad.

Joe Konrath said...

A lot of these comments are hilarious.

I'm laughing my ass off. Keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

To respond to what T.K. said about children's picture books above.

I write and illustrate children's books, and I predict that publishers will soon be more concerned about this area as well. I work in a school district, they are very supportive of my self-published children's books. Teachers care more about the content of the books they read to children than the awards on the cover. Also, to how the children respond to the books. Two of my picture books have now reached out to other schools around the country in paperback and are fast becoming my best sellers on Amazon and Barnes & Noble through Createspace distribution. One of them has been linked on the also-bought pages of some classic children's books, not only on my product page, but on the pages of the more popular traditionally published books. Last month I had my best selling month with these two books in paperback. The paperbacks outsell the ebooks by about 5 to 1 for these books. When more illustrators and children's writers realize that it's not that difficult or costly to produce them, we will see many more self-published children's books by much bigger names.

Hollis Shiloh said...

Bring on the mishes!! They sound adorable. :D

Alan Tucker said...

I heard Amazon is using subliminal messages on their book pages to change popular phrases more to their liking.

DeAmazon isn't a river in Egypt.

Howey's next report will show the effectiveness of these messages.

With exploded pie graphs. Because the data is mind blowing!

Stacy Claflin said...

This is hilarious! I appreciate the laugh - and I never would have guessed that Hugh would invade Peru. And here I was thinking he's been traveling around the world for fun!

Saul Tanpepper said...

Well, Legacy John did get one thing right at least: Your posts are waaaaay too long, Joe. Between reading this and cleaning off my screen, I just blew a precious ten minutes of writing time and a shot of the most expensive whiskey the corner gas station has on offer.

Mirtika said...

Looks like the authorearnings site has crashed again. Wow. It's getting read, folks. :D I got in earlier, and it's down now.

BTW, what you gonna do now that Legacy John has topped Hugh's pie chart skills. Those numbers, how can you even think of adequately refuting such BIG, BIG numbers? :)

Hilarious. Added joy to my birthday. THANKS, Hugh and Joe and brilliant Mr. Data Guy.

Trainee Dave said...

Spot on, Legacy Dude. And in no time at all - you're really the one who draws faster than his own shadow...

And what is it with that Hack Howdy? Seems to have way too much time on his hands, with all that moaning, mining and invading. Why don't he get a decent day-job? (That goes for the rest of you bunch, too!)

Anonymous said...

So hilarious!
And I don't think it's out of line at all because I see certain people bashing Hugh when all I see on his part is altruism.
I'm not self published nor am I mad at my publisher for anything compared to a lot of people I see, my publisher is pretty fair. But watching both sides of the arguments, I'm sad to continually see the people on the "trade publishing" side just saying things I know for a fact are not true and then when the millionaire self publishers say their stuff they try and accuse them of having some secret crazy agenda when it looks like all they want to do is help writers get better deals across the board. It's just getting annoying to watch. I'm not self published, but I am forced to side with them as they are the ones that are obviously telling the truth.

Anonymous said...

Yes I know Legacy John is a made up parody character but unfortunately he's uncomfortably close to the reality. I'd like to see the traditional pub arguments to be good. I'd like them to be offering something good, unfortunately I'm just not hearing it from authors.

Steven Konkoly said...

This is exactly what I needed to start me day. Joe Konrath's misguided advice in 2010 was responsible for me quitting my day job 3 years later—after replacing my corporate income. What a dick! And now Hugh is trying to keep me on the self-publishing gravy train. Nice!

Someone should start a LegacyJohn twitter account so we can hashtag the brilliant Legacy mindset.

#Legacyjohnsays We can only afford to publish X authors per year, so X represents the number of good authors. Simple math.

William J. Thomas said...

#Legacyjohnsays We fully expect mid-list authors to work 2nd or even 3rd jobs to support their families. In reality, we are doing them a favor by paying such little advances and royalty rates. Mopping that school hallway floor is MIGHTY fertile ground for book ideas to pop up. Your welcome.

William J. Thomas said...

#Legacyjohnsays See how I put "your" in my previous comment instead of "you're"? That's because the comment was not vetted, edited, proofread, or validated by a Big Five publishing house professional team. Same thing that happens to indie hacks who "publish" without us. Pure dreck.

Anonymous said...

Here's a post about an Amazon imprint picking up two (successful and previously self-published) thriller writers after HarperCollins tried to get traction with them and came up short:

http://rogerpacker.com/blog/amazon-publishing-snatches-thriller-pair-cradle-harper/

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for longer than most, although I seldom comment. This post is my favorite, though, because of LJ's charts and numbers. I squeed (in my pants) reading it.

James said...

This is my favorite blog post of yours ever. And that's saying a lot. (As I've both read a ton, and think they are of high entertaining quality).

This be flat out awesome.

Colleen ODonnell said...

Joe I just discovered your blog. It's very informative and I'd like to thank you. I also like the titles of your books (named after drinks!). I agree with your comments on paid anthologies, like the two sisters who publish, "The Glimmer Train." Yes, they do charge but then I feel the fee is nominal considering the mountains of manuscripts they must have to read through. Also, they give you a great bio and like 10 copies should you be one of the selected winners so I think it's worth it. I also feel university anthologies (like the Univ. of MO for example) are great portals for new writers. I don't know if they charge or even pay. Lastly, I feel self-publishing is the future with folks downloading E-books from their kindles and tablets and the like. I also feel that the best genres for those who self-publish is romance and horror/thriller. Unfortunately those are neither of my strong suites. It's work but it sure beats the red tape and fees charged by the NY publishing giants. Thanks again, Joe! I have a lot to read through on your blogs now! --Colleen

walt said...

Is there any way Hugh Howey and friend can break out the Amazon Published title data grab to peek at which line of Amazon is doing good and which isn't? Montlake relative to 47 North, that sort? Are all of the Amazon Imprints doing equally well?

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