Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Calling the Guinness Folks...

Advance Reading Copies of RUSTY NAIL will be coming out next month. Bound into the front of each book will be a letter from me:


To my Friends in the bookselling biz—

Lt. Jack Daniels and I want to thank you for kicking so much butt selling WHISKEY SOUR and BLOODY MARY. Your enthusiasm has been the key to the series’ success.

For this book, Hyperion and I are doing something special—something never done before—to show our appreciation.

During the summer of 2006, I’ll be visiting 500 bookstores across the United States.
I’d love to stop by your store and say hello.

If you’re interested in having me drop in, please contact me through my website, JAKonrath.com.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you again, and to meeting many of you for the first time. Now I’ll open the floor to questions.

Q: Did you really say five-hundred bookstores?

Yes. I wish it could be more—there are so many great stores and great people in this business.

Q: How long will you be on the road?

All of July and August.

Q: Do we find out what happens to Jack’s mother in this book?

Yes. Many characters from WHISKEY SOUR also return, like Phin and the Feebies. Plus, it appears that the Gingerbread Man is back.

Q: But I thought…

Shhh. Don’t spoil it for new readers.

Q: So if I want you to drop by my store, I just have to email you?

I’ll try my best to honor all requests. I love booksellers. That’s why I thank so many of them in my acknowledgements. In fact, two of the main characters in RUSTY NAIL are named after booksellers.

Anyone who sells twenty or more copies of my novels gets mentioned in DIRTY MARTINI, the fourth Jack Daniels novel. The one who sells the most will get to be the villain in FUZZY NAVEL.

Q: What does “JA” stand for? Are you a woman or a man?

I’m sorry, no more questions. See you this summer!

All best,

JA Konrath


Is 500 stores in 61 days really doable? That's only about 8 stores a day. In densely populated areas, I can hit 15 a day. In rural areas, I can visit at least 5. These are drop-ins, not full-fledged events. Half hour schmoozing, then on to the next.

I see three main problems ont he horizon.

1. Planning. Even wiyh my trusty GPS, I've got to have a route planned. That could take some time.

2. Travel. The US is big. Real big. And there are long unpopulated stretches that would interfere with my quota.

3. I may die of exhaustion.

In July, I visited 106 bookstores in 11 days. I could have done more, bcause 8 of those were events that lasted several hours. But I probably could not have been more tired.

So can I do it? Is it even possible? Will my family forgive me for being gone an entire summer? Will it generate some buzz and publicity? Will it sell books?

The future will reveal all.


Anonymous said...

Do you really think you'll sell that many more books to make this worthwhile?

Stacey Cochran said...


You are inspiring.


Anonymous said...

Actually, you're kind of exhausting. And for the rest of us mere mortals, when our publishers say, Why aren't you visiting 500 bookstores in 2 months like Joe Konrath did, we can blame you. Joe Konrath, torn apart by an angry mob of exhausted midlist and genre authors. Ah well. Hope you hit a bookstore nearby. I would think you could probably hit that many in 5 or 6 states or less, so maybe it own't be that bad. Planning routes sounds like the way to go.
Mark Terry

Jim said...

Joe, I've got a place for you to crash when you're in Denver. Sounds like you're going to need it.

Anonymous said...
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Stacey Cochran said...

So, at the rate of nine stores per day, how many bookstores could you visit if you did this for twelve months? Hmmm....

Trusty Calculator Says: 3,285

I could do it.

But the real trick is to get the stadium-sized crowds that J.K. Rowling draws. That's my goal.

Stadium crowds! :)

JA Konrath said...


It has nothing to do who publishes a book. It has to do with who buys a book.

No one is forcing anyone to do any promotion.

If you want to stay in this business, you have to sell books.

The publisher does a lot. But the publisher can't make a customer buy the book, no matter how much publicity, marketing, advertising, promotion they do.

But an author can. An author can get into a bookstore and meet the booksellers and customers.

All art requires work on the part of the artist. Musicians toil for years in crappy clubs for no money. Actors do community theater, thousands of casting calls, and take parts they hate. Artists can paint dozens of pictures before they have a show, and once they do they have to be chatty and upbeat and meet the potential buyers.

It has nothing to do with being the publisher's bitch.

You want to roll the dice and hope you succeeed? Or do you want to do everything you can to make sure you succeed?

JA Konrath said...

How many wonderful writers are there that don't make it?

It's important to write a good book, but very often that's not enough.

You can lament it, or you can do something about it.

Success isn't about talent. It's about luck. Luck increases with persistence, not with hope.

Stacey Cochran said...


You make some really good points, but the publishing business is exactly that, a business. It is a sales-driven industry, but just because it is, does not mean that an artist can't have genuine artistic integrity.

As a writer who has chosen an independent path, I constantly mine my subconscious for the truest scene I can write, the one that is truest to that internal voice that drives me to be who I am. I do it every day, every time I sit my butt down to write.

That doesn't mean that I can't get that same butt into bookstores to meet the people who sell my books. My attitude is that if you thumb your nose at the business and say "I wrote the novel; you people sell it," you're thumbing your nose at every bookstore employee, every librarian, every human being who makes his or her living in the book trade.

Being a salesperson doesn't mean you're evil or Herb Tarlek:)

But you're right, you do have to challenge yourself to be true to yourself. Make "selling it" its own artform, I say. You can still be spiritually whole and true to yourself.

My two cents worth. Nothing more.


JA Konrath said...

'But, ultimately, success IS about talent.'

So our greatest artists are the most successful ones? :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my God! I'm sure you can do it. I'm not sure I could do it, but I'm sure you can do it. (It's always easier to say the other person can do it.) Take your vitamins.

JA Konrath said...

Hold the phone!

Shatner didn't write those novels?

Anonymous said...

"But should PR skills be a prerequisite for succeeding as an author? I think it might be coming to that, and I think it's a shame. I guess we better all sign up for that public speaking class we avoided in college..."

PR skills need not be a prerequisite for success as an author. I think many publishers will get behind what they believe to be a truly good book. They'll also get behind their marquee authors.

I'd like to think a good book will sell itself, but I know that's not true.

So, I'll add this: PR skills aren't necessary for success as a writer, but I absolutely guarantee that a writer with PR skills will sell more books than a similar author without PR skills.

Somebody like Joe, with BOTH talent AND that Barnum-esque showmanship otherwise known as "PR skills," will go a long, long, long way in this business. And yes, as we all know, it is a business.

Plus, Joe has clearly demonstrated to his publisher that he believes that this is a team effort, and that he's part of the team. That will get him even more support from his publisher, which means he'll sell more books. It's the happy opposite of a vicious cycle.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of future books, Joe, did you ever get the comments I sent to you on your manuscript?