Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Collective Narcissism

Like many writers, I waver between having the world's biggest ego, and no ego at all. You have to be somewhat narcissistic to believe that what you write will be so desired by readers that they'll pay you for it. At the same time, the unique structure of the creative mind, coupled with the loneliness and isolation of this profession, the reaction (or lack thereof) of readers, and the constant rejection by agents and publishers, makes writers a perfect candidate for depression.

Laura Hazard Owen recently did an article on GigaOm called "Elites or freedom fighters: How the Amazon-Hachette battle took on the rhetoric of class warfare" and there has been some interesting discussion about it at the Passive Voice.

I was going to add a lengthy comment, but it got so long I figured I'd just turn it into a blog post about about rhetoric, narcissism, and motives in this industry.

I originally posted a writer's declaration of independence  in 2012, and I was advising authors to self-pub as early as 2010.

At the time, I was considered an outlier, and largely ignored by the mainstream press. But more and more authors began to self-publish, and bit by bit the word spread.

Barry Eisler coined the term "legacy publishing" and he and I have repeated it so many times on our blogs it has become part of the lexicon. As earl as 2009 we were talking about digital self-publishing as a "revolution" and I've recently begun describing indies as a "shadow industry".

This language is deliberate and purpose-driven, as is fisking high profile authors and publishers. In any revolution, getting the message spread is essential, and that has been difficult when the mainstream media is anti-Amazon, treats indie success as human interest stories rather than business stories, and promotes legacy propaganda on a regular basis.

But we're gaining ground. Preston's PR hopes for his letter were largely nullified by the letter we wrote. After five years, some media outlets are actually mentioning our efforts.

Humbling the mighty, burning effigies, and showing data to support conclusions, are all grassroots forms of spreading awareness. Unlike the Tea Party, which Laura compares indie authors to, self-publishing isn't a fringe reactionary movement. It's emancipation. And we have the facts to back that up. My goal is to make writers aware of those facts, so they can make informed decisions about their careers and set appropriate goals.

There is no class warfare between writers. Those with legacy deals have no power over those who choose to self-publish. Those who self-publish have no equivalent of the Authors Guild. We aren't a unified force like the Tea Party. We're just a bunch of individuals with similar goals.

I have no dog in this fight. It doesn't matter to me who wins the Amazon/Hachette dispute. But the dispute is an opportunity to show more authors that there is finally a choice.

Why should I care?

Because no one helped me.

I'm the guy who had five hundred rejections for nine unsold novels before I landed a three book deal. For ten years I busted my butt to break into this business. A business that I soon discovered was archaic, corrupt, and treated authors unconscionably.

I'm the guy who did one of the first successful blog tours. I did this because my publishers weren't doing enough, and I figured it out on my own.

I'm the guy who sent 7000 letters to libraries, asking them to carry my books. I did this because my publishers weren't doing enough.

I'm the guy who handsold 100 hardcovers in a bookstore in one day. I did this because my publishers weren't doing enough.

I'm the guy who visited 42 states, self-promoting.  I did this because my publishers weren't doing enough.

I'm the guy who signed at over 1200 bookstores. I did this because my publishers weren't doing enough.

I'm the guy who earned out his advances, got into multiple printings, and got dropped by his publisher because they decided to stop selling thrillers.

I'm the guy who started a second career under a pen name, Jack Kilborn, and earned out that advance before getting screwed by my publisher.

I'm the guy who started self-publishing in 2009, and posted my sales figures. I did this to inform and empower other authors, because my publishers weren't doing enough.

I'm the guy who predicted much of the reality of the publishing industry today.

I'm the first guy to reject a legacy deal and sign with Amazon--a book that has gone on to sell over 100,000 copies. That paved the way for Amazon imprints.

I'm the first guy to buy out my legacy contracts to self-publish. I took that risk before anyone else, and I shared my numbers.

I'm the first guy to hire a lawyer to get my legacy rights back, to self-publish. I took that risk before anyone else, and I shared my numbers.

I'm the guy who sold a million ebooks, mostly by keeping control of my IP.

I'm the guy who continues to bash legacy publishing because I know how harmful it is, and support self-publishing because I know how awesome it is.

I'm the guy who has been thanked over 10,000 times for helping writers.

I've been rejected, mistreated, taken advantage of, lied to, misquoted, bullied, misunderstood, and hated. And I still continue to fight for authors' rights, share what I've learned, and try to make this industry better even though I don't have to. Even though I'm not benefiting.

I do this so authors don't have to go through all the shit I went through. It's my public service.

There is no Us vs. Them. But there is what's best for authors.

I know. I've been on both sides.

I got really lucky with my self-publishing endeavors. But it was luck that relied more on my efforts than on the whims of an uncaring corporation. I'd improved my odds by abandoning legacy publishing, and I'm not the only one. The data on www.authorearnings.com supports my position. Writers are being liberated.

I am an activist and a populist. That is my main motivation. I'm not in it for the money, for the fame, or for the revenge (besides, the best revenge is living well, which is what I'm doing.)

There cannot be class warfare when all writers are in the same boat and want the same things. We all want to be read. We all want to make a buck.

I've explained why I continue to blog. Patterson, Turow, and Preston all have a pretty transparent motive: the legacy system made them rich, and they want to preserve the status quo. That's pure self-interest.

So why are there so many midlist authors who agree with them?

I believe the defensiveness of legacy authors, and the whole legacy industry, is a perfect case of group narcissism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_narcissism

Here are the symptoms.

I wish other people would recognize the authority of my group

Self-pubbed authors have no group. But many of us strive to be heard because we want to help, not because we want our authority recognized. Whereas the Authors Guild is recognized by the media, and many authors, as having authority.

My group has all predispositions to influence others

Self-pubbers don't predispose to influence. We want to help. Legacy folks believe they are part of a special club. It is an ideology to them.

If my group ruled the world it would be a much better place

And for decades, legacy did rule the world. Which is why they dislike Amazon, and have no respect for indie authors.

My group is extraordinary

You just have to read Richard Russo's letters to see this in spades. Meanwhile, self-pubbed authors are treated as an outgroup.

I like when my group is the center of attention

Patterson's ad is but one example of seeking out media to support their viewpoint.

I will never be satisfied until my group gets all that it deserves

Which is a return to the old ways, when publishers ruled the world. Speaking for myself, I never felt I deserved anything. I simply got lucky.

I insist upon my group getting the respect that is due to it

I personally don't care if I'm respected. I just want to have the choice to publish however I want to. But when legacy authors keep calling for government intervention, they're demanding to have their opinions backed up by lawmakers.

Not many people seem to understand the full importance of my group

Which is why legacy folks keep insisting books are special snowflakes, and the legacy system is the only thing saving our literary culture.

I admit to having some narcissistic tendencies, but the indie revolution isn't collective narcissism. It's a bunch of individuals sharing information. But the legacy publishing world is a textbook example of collective narcissism.

This isn't a good thing. As explained in the Wiki entry, it tends to make legacy folks to perceive negativity against them when none exists (Amazon being the bad guy, indie authors as bullies). It leads to a kind of ethnocentrism, which encourages discrimination. If you scroll to the bottom of the entry, you see links to similar topics, which include: Cabal, Elitism, Cronyism, Nepotism, Old boy network, and Peer pressure. I've seen all of these in the legacy industry, whereas the self-pub world has very little.

In the Russo letter I fisked with Barry Eisler, I said that people tend to value rarity and exclusivity and clubs that don't allow everyone in. Clubs like legacy publishing. It makes them feel special. Amazon is making something that was once an exclusive club into something that is no longer special because anyone can join.

So I disagree strongly that there is class warfare happening right now.

What I see is an archaic industry trying to retain the status quo, and resorting to skeevy negotiating tactics and collusion in order to do so. I see some writers in that industry--the really rich ones--trying to influence public opinion via the media, because they want the gravy train to keep flowing. I see Stockholm Syndrome, and group narcissism. I see legacy authors afraid to jump ship, or criticize their publishers. And I see no good data or arguments to support any of their viewpoints.

And from indie authors I see earnest efforts to inform and help each other, and legacy authors as well. I see plenty of data, and logical discourse.

Class warfare is about the haves and the have nots. With the advent of self-publishing, there are no longer any have nots. Now we are all haves. I'm not a freedom fighter. I already have freedom.

Legacy folks will probably continue to resist change until the very end. And folks like me will continue to offer an alternate viewpoint. But the future is inevitable no matter how much hot air either side spouts. Ebooks will replace print as the preferable method of reading. Bookstores will close. The legacy midlist will vanish. Publishers will merge, and eventually go away. And most authors will end up self-publishing.

This isn't a war. It's a PR campaign unsuccessfully battling the future. Change is upon us, and all the closed-minded establishment players will be forced to adapt, or die.

58 comments:

MacOgma said...

Excellent article. It's always awesome to see authors who have "made it" like yourself take this stance.

Personally, I think that if publishing, as a business, is to have ANY existence in the future, it will have to be as more of a services kind of enterprise. It will need to take on a form that is cooperative and supportive of authors individual goals. It will need to fill in the gaps that many authors struggle with.

It will need to NOT be a club or authoritarian entity that only really cares about its top 5% of clients, and lets everyone else fend for themselves.

Anthony said...

Nailed it.

This is not a PR war, indeed. All this PR talk is deflection and avoidance.

Daniel Powell said...

We have traded e-mails and posts since about 2005 (I read Origin as a PDF on your site, in addition to your horror short stories) and you have always been nothing but open, supportive, and generous. Your honesty, doggedness, and savvy are admirable, Joe.

Great post on your part, and add me to the list of folks saying "Thanks." I've enjoyed your writing from day one, and I hope you and Blake Crouch will do some kind of visceral, atmospheric horror collaboration down the road. Shoot for creepy and frightening!

R. Q. Garcia said...

Great article! As always, very insightful. Overall, it seems to me to be an issue of fighting against change. Analogies to history and evolution/adaptation aside, this is really an old story: as soon as a person/company becomes "King of the Hill," the natural inclination is to plateau and fight to keep things status quo.

And, incidentally, Joe, it was your blog that gave me the courage to follow my dream by taking the leap and self-publish. You weren't kidding: it's hard work, but I'm still glad I did it. So please add me to the list of others who've said "thanks" and appreciate the nuggets and pearls you've shared.

Jennifer Oberth said...

I love this post. It is a bit strange to argue with the same people you're arguing for. It's refreshing, though. One of my favorite pieces of advice from you is to reach for more with one hand, while pulling someone up with the other. I think all your posts come from that and while they're informative, hot-blooded and entertaining - they're all a good deed. Just one good deed in a string of them. Never mind about your monetary bank, your karma bank must be bursting!

RG Dillon said...

"And from indie authors I see earnest efforts to inform and help each other, . . ."

I don't remember ever seeing a legacy author promote another legacy author's work - maybe it's happened, maybe not.

But what I do see every single day are indie authors actively promoting the works of each other via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and News Letters, etc. That's the group I'm proud to be a part of.

Carlos Cooper said...

It's because of you and more like you that I left a boring world of 9 to 5 and now make a full-time (and soon to be comfortable) living as a writer. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: thank you for all that you do to speak up for we many, we happy many, we band of brothers.

T. M. Bilderback said...

Bravo! Well said!

Mark Terry said...

Legacy folks will probably continue to resist change until the very end. And folks like me will continue to offer an alternate viewpoint. But the future is inevitable no matter how much hot air either side spouts. Ebooks will replace print as the preferable method of reading. Bookstores will close. The legacy midlist will vanish. Publishers will merge, and eventually go away. And most authors will end up self-publishing." -- yeah, pretty much. And it's possible too that eventually the primary point if distribution will be authors' websites & not amazon, but we will see.

Sue Trowbridge said...

"I don't remember ever seeing a legacy author promote another legacy author's work - maybe it's happened, maybe not." I follow plenty of legacy authors on Twitter and have discovered TONS of great books through their recommendations. So this comment strikes me as a bit unfair. There are also plenty of legacy authors who plug the work of indie authors, and vice-versa. Thank goodness not everybody is in "taking sides" mode.

Anonymous said...

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

- Dylan

Nirmala said...

Here comes round two:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/15/us-amazon-com-cbs-corp-idUSKBN0FK2MN20140715

Joe Konrath said...

"the times are a-changin"

I know. I said that over four years ago.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/06/ja-konrath-releases-two-original-kindle.html

Terrence OBrien said...

There cannot be class warfare when all writers are in the same boat and want the same things. We all want to be read. We all want to make a buck.

When producers are in the same boat, want the same things, and there isn't enough for all of them, they compete with each other. Lots of people think they are above competition, so they call it things like class warfare.

Libby Hellmann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Libby Hellmann said...

Wanted to clarify my thoughts:

Great post, Joe. You really have been prescient as far as self-publishing goes, and, as you know, I'm a convert. You've also been generous with your information, time, and support.

But I'm not sure print/legacy publishing will disappear. I sense things will settle at about50-50, at least for the next 10 years or so. But I hope those authors who do remain in traditional publishing will learn what we've learned so that they can make more informed decisions.

Sure it's hard. Sure it;s frustrating. And yes, we have to be flexible and nimble. But geez...what a rush to own your career! I love it!

w.adam mandelbaum said...

I think that any author who has been legacy published when it was the only game in town should feel a certain sense of accomplishment. But now? It's about the ability to control the issuance and production of one's IP and make a better royalty. Mr. Market can determine the worth of one's literary output without the need of self appointed and self important gatekeepers.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

To the music lovers in the crowd—can you ever think of a time when an indie band was treated with disdain?

I may be wrong, but it seems to me the narrative has always been that they're like the little engine that could, striking out on their own without the sponsorship of a label, but having the pluck and fortitude to hit the road and get their music heard.

The same is true for indie filmmakers and small business people. They've got that plucky American can-do spirit that won't slow them down.

So what is it about writing and writers that turns that can-do narrative into "they're just a bunch of losers who couldn't get published?"

I don't really understand that.

Anonymous said...

So what is it about writing and writers that turns that can-do narrative into "they're just a bunch of losers who couldn't get published?"

Stockholm Syndrome.

Compared to filmmakers, small business people, musicians, and video game developers, it seems that writers are far more insecure and easier to manipulate.

Michael W Griffith said...

It really is an old story. A middleman delivers poor service and charges way too much for it. The market figures out a way to get things done cheaper/faster/better, and replaces the original middleman.

The market has in fact figured out a way to replace legacy publishing, but rather than trying to come up with a more competitive offering, legacy has opted instead to attack the competition. Has that strategy ever worked in any business? How could they possibly think it would work this time?

Kevin Hallock said...

Thanks again for all of your efforts leading the charge!

CALarmer said...

I've self-published 7 books on Amazon and now live off my earnings. Was so proud of that, in fact, that I went to share my story with an author in legacy publishing at her recent book launch. She and her publicist seemed horrified for me, suggesting I was giving it all away for 'next to nothing'.
Let me repeat: I live off my earnings.
Isn't that better than living off the dream of a legacy publishing deal that never comes through?
Pity they can't be happy for me. I'm happy for them.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

She and her publicist seemed horrified for me, suggesting I was giving it all away for 'next to nothing'.

It amazes me that despite our basic transparency (especially Joe's), people in trad pub still have no idea how much FUCKING MONEY indie authors are making. It doesn't seem to compute for them.

Dear Trad Pub author, we're making the money your publisher usually keeps for himself. That's what we're making. And it ain't chicken feed.

So never, please feel sorry for us. We have control of our work and are making great money. That's all any author can hope for.

venkyiyer58 said...

You said it. I heard it, too.

Laura Resnick said...

Well, despite all the media hype, the NYPL panel (I still crack up every time I think of it), Patterson's ad, the public statements of the increasingly-misnamed "Authors" Guild, Preston's letter and its signatories, the whole trad-v-indie and us-v-them dynamic that plays and spins well, etc....

It's not remotely what I encounter in my profession. I know (sometimes to my sorrow) hundreds of traditionally published novelists. And out of all of them, I can only think of a few who's are NOT -also- self-publishing and/or working with new or non-traditional business models.

Yes, we clearly see in online interaction and media interviews that there are a lot of writers (in particular, mega-selling stars) with zero interest in (or knowledge of) self-publishing and a spit-upon-you! attitude about Amazon, indies, nontrad ventures, crowdfunding, co-ops, etc.

But to most working writers who are still working with traditional publishers, self-publishing is part of their careers now, and/or things like crowdfunding, co-ops, Amazon imprints, self-producing audio, etc.

Most traditionally published writers I know (including me) do NOT see this as a trad-v-indie world, but rather as an and-AND-AND!! world for writers now.

I know writers who, while still singing contracts with their publishers, are self-publishing, self-producing, and crowdfunding audio projects, books that they're not offering to publishers, series that got dumped, and things they want to write which didn't used to be able to generate income (such as novellas related to boko projects). I know writers maintaining indie self-pub programs alongside tradpub schedules. Tradpub writers starting publishing ventures which they edit and publish, such as mags, anthologies, or oddball books. Writers a working together on book-bundling, and new publishers working with writers on book bundling. In the past year, I've contributed short stories to small publishing ventures set up by various writers via crowdfunding.

I know hundreds of writers who are still involved in traditional publishing who are also publishing, producing, and earnings in all sorts of non-trad ventures now. I hardly know any career writers who see this as an us-v-them world.

(However, I have lately noticed a resolutely pro-trad, anti-indie attitude in a group besides just blinkered mega-sellers like Patterson, the increasingly misnamed "Authors" Guild, and the reliably-sleazy AAR. I've seen it among a number of people whose passion suprises me, since I'd have said none of this affects them--people ho blog a lot, tweet a lot, write the ocasional short story or article, have done many one book or one collection... To me, their taking angry, vocal positions or sneering at non-traditional careers or careerists is on a par with me getting angry about the local yoga school changing its schedule. I only go once in a blue moon, for goodness sake, though I always have good intentions, so how does this even affect me? I should make a habit of going regularly, participating and contributing, before I get all noisy and shirty about the schedule.)

Meg Manchester said...

I used to love your blog, I agree the publishing world is elitist exclusive and exploitative. I agree that self-publishing is a revolution that democratises the whole shebang - I love the idea and the possibilities it offers.
But signing an exclusive contract with Amazon doesn't seem like a herald of the brave new, free world of self publishing?
I love your books but can't read them anymore because they are only on Kindle.
Amazon are shit, publishers are shit, you've signed an exclusive deal with one side of the shit. You've made the money now (and that seems to be what matters to you) so what's all the obsessive rage about, maybe you should chill out?
The blog was interesting because it talked about how to self-publish, what it means to have autonomy in not just the writing but the selling process.
It doesn't do that anymore.

Mir Writes said...

Meg, you can read Kindle books on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It's not exclusive to a Kindle device. If you have a way to read this blog and comment, then you have a way to read his ebooks.

So, yeah, actually, you CAN read Joe's books.

And I don't want Joe to chill out. I want him to keep raging against the abuses of authors and encouraing writers to choose the freest and most autonomous paths. Keep at it, Joe. And thank you.

Alan Spade said...

"I don't remember ever seeing a legacy author promote another legacy author's work - maybe it's happened, maybe not."

That happens all the time. I don't know how many times Stephen King have blurbed for another legacy author, because I've lost count. Yes, these blurbs are dealed with the publishers, but they nonetheless mean legacy authors supporting each other.

Every time a legacy author rates and review another legacy author's book on Goodreads, it does help for the promo and visibility.

You could even argue that Patterson's deals with other authors are legacy authors helping each other, or that ghostwriting (and don't let me be misunderstood, I hate ghostwriting) is a win-win deal for Snooki and her ghostwriter.

"I'm the guy who handsold 100 hardcovers in a bookstore in one day". Kudos for doing that, Joe. My personal record as an indie author is 70 books in two days. Still a long way from the thousand books Brian Sanderson signed in one day. I don't know if my wrist would bear that, though.

Michael J. Sullivan said...

The whole "books are special" and we (Author's Guild, Publishers) are all that stand in the way of the fall of "literature as we know it" really cracks me up.

Every parent thinks their child is the cutest, so it isn't surprising that authors and publishers would believe that their product is somehow fundamentally better than other products; it's their product after all. I suspect the makers of other products might disagree. I'm not certain how anyone can compare the social impact of the latest James Patterson novel to the iPhone. There certainly have been books that changed the world, but very few in comparison to other products like say, the lightbulb. And if you have a child, a pack of diapers is far more important to have than the entire Twilight series.

So sure, books are very special...to those who make them, or make their living off them, but let's not get all pretentious about it.

The real problem isn't that Amazon treats books like products, but that literary elite don't. They see books as works of art, and as everyone knows artists are expected to starve. If an artist is so successful that he/she can afford a new car, they are labeled sell-outs and create nothing but populous crap, not art. Publishers are all too eager to perpetuate this ideal as it keeps authors from seeking a fair portion of the income they generate.

Authors need to wake up and realize that both Amazon and publishers exist to make money off them. Neither are naturally good or evil; they are businesses. They certainly are individuals at both organizations that work for more than a paycheck, but taken as a whole, Amazon and publishers must make as much money as they can, and they do this by exploiting the weak and the stupid, and by providing excellent service to customers.

When authors recognize that with the advent of Amazon they now have the power to reduce publishers (including Amazon) to the role they should be filling, that of a "service" authors can hire. Just like the pizza place that will deliver your dinner, or the taxi you pay to take you somewhere, publishers are a convenience that authors can hire (for a share of the profits) to make bringing their books to readers.

What both should fear is the day when an author's organization makes it's own one-stop sales portal direct to readers and cut both out of the process.

Books are products. Publishers and distributors are services. And everyone is far too willing to manipulate authors for their own ends. I for one am one child who doesn't appreciate my fighting parents asking me to pick sides. Maybe it's time to tell mom and dad to screw themselves and just move out.

Joe Konrath said...

But signing an exclusive contract with Amazon doesn't seem like a herald of the brave new, free world of self publishing?

KDP Select is exclusive... for three months. I own my rights. I can do what I want to with them.

You've made the money now (and that seems to be what matters to you) so what's all the obsessive rage about, maybe you should chill out?

Having control was what I found to be most important. The money is nice. Nicer still is to not be at the mercy of morons who were screwing up my livelihood.

As for chilling out, maybe one day I won't feel compelled to blog about this topic anymore. But based on the amount of email and comments I get, writers still seem like they want to hear about it.

Those sick of it don't have to read my blog. There are plenty of others things to do on the Internet.

Joe Konrath said...

What both should fear is the day when an author's organization makes it's own one-stop sales portal direct to readers and cut both out of the process.

Shh!

Let me get the sites out of beta at least. :)

Alan Tucker said...

@Rob

So what is it about writing and writers that turns that can-do narrative into "they're just a bunch of losers who couldn't get published?"

I've thought about this as well and have a theory: Writing is perceived as "easy" by the general populace. We all do it every day — writing emails, memos, grocery lists — and a huge percentage of people feel "they have a novel in them".

The other endeavors you mention require skills that people recognize not everyone has. Now, we all know that writing something that other people will actually want to read is a skill few people have, but I don't believe that view is widely held outside author circles. Many people I've encountered think, "Oh, if I had the time, I could write a good book."

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

"Exclusivity and clubs that don't let everyone in."

I can't help picturing Studio 54 here. And you know what happened to them! :)

Christina Pilz said...

Hey, Joe, you can make it ten thousand and one times that you've been thanked by an indie author. My friend told me about you, and what indie authors were doing, over two years ago. I wished I'd listened then; I am listening now.

Thank you, Joe!

Nirmala said...

"Let me get the sites out of beta at least. :)"

Can't wait to see what you are cooking up!

And after reading some today about Google's new Express service, it crossed my mind that independent bookstores could join together and create a "local bookstore" website, where they sell directly to customers and the book is delivered by whatever bookstore you select or whichever one is closest to you. They may not be able to compete on price and speed, but at least they could offer the same conveniences as Amazon of shopping on your computer, and a much wider selection (if they include all books available as special orders...even print on demand books!) The site could incorporate the partnership with Kobo and so offer both paperbooks and ebooks.

Like the Google Express service, this could combine "local" and "online" shopping to give the best of both worlds. A customer could also use the online service to special order any book, and then stop by to pick it up if they preferred not to pay for shipping.

I really like the Google Express concept of using my computer to shop locally...too bad it is not available where I live.

Mark Edward Hall said...

Joe said, "Shh!

Let me get the sites out of beta at least. :)"

I've been wondering what you were cooking up in that active little brain of yours, Joe. Can't wait to hear about it.

Jill James said...

You have to view "Stockholm Syndrome" from the outside, which I feel is why so many legacy published authors deny it exists for them. Another great post from Konrath.

Dolores Brown said...

I agree. It's hard to be an author. Just look at J.K. Rowlings struggles getting into the business, and now she's one of the most famous authors. Something needs to change, and it needs to happen soon. http://www.peanutbutterpublishing.com/services.html

Valerie Douglas said...

I did two interviews lately on the Hachette/Amazon thing - both interviews based on my comment on the Change.org petition. One was from Bloomberg - they wanted an us vs. them - and one from NPR - that was in response to Scott Turow. I did the interviews because I wanted both sides to talk to each other - and largely because the media was trying to paint a black hat solely on Amazon.
I also did them to help Indie authors get their voices heard, not because my 'group' is better. We're all authors, and there's room at the table for all of us if we try.

MP McDonald said...

Please don't chill out. There are still many writers out there who only have vague or out dated ideas about self-publishing. I was at a writing group with at least three just last night. I'm not hugely successful, but I showed my author category ranks last night and they were impressed. Maybe that will get them thinking that if I can do it, they can also be successful.

Anonymous said...

As Joe says in his blog post change is upon us. Kindle are now testing their Kindle Unlimited service. Don't buy a book, rent it.

http://gigaom.com/2014/07/16/amazon-is-testing-kindle-unlimited-an-ebook-subscription-service-for-9-99month/

Joe Konrath said...

I did two interviews lately on the Hachette/Amazon thing

Nicely done, Valerie.

Charlie Ward said...

"There are also plenty of legacy authors who plug the work of indie authors, and vice-versa."

Yeah, Piers Anthony blurbed my first book for me and even reviewed it in his newsletter. It's really not fair to paint everyone with the same brush just because they made a different decision to get their stories out there than you did.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Alan said: Writing is perceived as "easy" by the general populace.

Good point. I remember a famous Hollywood quote, which I think was from Sam Goldwyn to Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond after a pitch session. He said, "Just go home and word it in."

Because, you know, it's that easy.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Kindle are now testing their Kindle Unlimited service. Don't buy a book, rent it.

Amazon isn't the only one doing this. Scrib'd is doing it also, I believe, and there's another service that the Big 5 have already signed on for.

I look at this as a positive step. Yet another revenue stream. We've had music subscription services for years, but people still buy tons of music off iTunes...

Lacey Harper said...

Oyster is another monthly fee service for readers. As an author, I go through Smashwords to get to Oyster. They pay royalties of 60% of the list price once a reader reads past 10% of the book. The royalties started coming in and I was surprised at the extra stream of revenue. It will be interesting to see what Amazon's royalty terms will be.

And Joe, as a writer of absolutely filthy erotica, I'm hoping your new project will allow us to publish erotica without having to use secret code words in our descriptions. Selena Kitt had something in the works but it hasn't panned out yet... But maybe you're secretly partnering up?!

Angry_Games said...

Valerie,

Thanks for your NPR interview. My wife and I are, of course, NPR nerds, and every time I've heard a story lately about the Hachette (HASHAY!) vs Amazon negotiations, I nearly scream with rage that the story only seems to come from one side.

The only thing I didn't enjoy about your interview was that it seemed like you barely got half the time Turow did, and you didn't get a chance to really explain what we (self-pubs) are really up to / thinking.

But at least they let someone that wasn't from legacy get a word in finally. Maybe my very angry emails to a few of the shows got them to realize they maybe should do some equal-time reporting.

However, they still haven't asked Joe for an interview (which is kind of the first or second thing I put in those emails). Maybe they're afraid he'll be like the talking heads on cable news and start shouting Alex Jones slogans haha.

"WE ARE NOT YOUR SLAVES!"

Phil Haddock said...

I think this Amazon-Hachette "dispute" is helping indie authors because it's finally bringing some attention to the arguments you've been making for years. You've mentioned inequitable legacy contracts, well there's a post on HuffPo outlining some of the worst clauses - hard to believe authors have put up with it. I suspect you've talked about legacy contract clauses elsewhere on your blog, but here's the post from Thomas Hauser (not sure what he means by "as bad as Amazon" because he doesn't go into that. Maybe he should read your blog.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-hauser/publishers-are-as-bad_b_5587407.html

Aimless Writer said...

I've watched you since I read your article in Writer's Digest on how you got published. I've watched you go Indie.
You are my hero.

HN Wake said...

Anonymously, I have thanked you, Hugh and Barry before. I now thank you publicly. What you all have done for self publishing authors is critical, inspirational, and brave.

Thank you.

Keep up the good fight.

HN Wake

Cher Gorman said...

Love your post today. Thank you. Whenever I feel the writer blues coming on I read your blog and you always lift my spirits. Keep fighting. I'm with you 100%. :-)

Mark Edward Hall said...


This just in from the very latest Author Earnings Report:

"Self-published authors are now earning nearly 40% of all ebook royalties on the Kindle store. The days of looking at self-publishing as a last option are long gone. A lot has changed in six months."

What more needs to be said?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a while and it occurred to me I've never said thank you.

Shame on me.

Thank you Joe (or as I like to think of you -Jakon) for all the advice, encourage, honesty, and data you have shared with authors. For not blowing smoke up our collective asses, and giving us sound resources to base our decisions.

Edward M Wolfe said...

Joe, I'm another indie who wants to add my thanks to the pile you've received so far.

A year ago, I heard about self-publishing and somehow landed at your blog. I spent many hours reading your posts, then I found your compilation of posts book, and I want to thank you for that too.

I'm nowhere near successful yet, but I'm on the path. I netted over $1200 this year, which is not a lot, but it's a start - and it all started with you. If I ever do make it to your level of success, it will be in large part because of what I learned from you, how you inspired me, and how you proved that it's possible. That there is an alternative to the ultra-depressing legacy publishing system - which I had long ago resolved to never even bother with.

Now that it's been a year, I think I should re-read your book on publishing so I can get a refresher course with a whole new perspective - as an author. :)

THANKS, Joe!

MJRose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angry_Games said...

With all due respect, MJ, I don't see your blog from before Joe started self-publishing telling us exactly how the industry works and why we should all be self-publishing.

He may not be the first to self-publish (that would belong to someone living a thousand or two years ago), but he's the first one to champion it publicly for the rest of us.

MJRose said...

I accidentally deleted my comment trying to explain that I misread Joe's comment - I thought he was saying he was the first to self publish in 2009 as opposed to him saying that he first self published his own work in 2009. But just for the record Angry, I wrote one of the first books about how to self publish in 2001 - called - How to Publish and Promote Online in 2001 - first we self pubbed it and then ironically it was picked up by a NY house.

Erica said...

Hi Joe,
I've been reading your blog for a couple of weeks and have learned a lot. Than you for all the information you've so graciously shared. I may have to go the indie path with my novel. However, I have a question for you. Why do you think printed novels will become so obsolete? So many people love the printed page vs. an e-reader. Even my 15 yo daughter would rather read a paper page. I realize Kindle and other e-readers are enormously popular, and their popularity will only continue to grow, but do you really think legacy publishing will vanish??