Thursday, June 25, 2009

Should You Self-Publish?

I've been getting a lot of emails from people wondering if they should self-publish, specifically on the Amazon Kindle.

My answer is always the same: It depends.

Here is my advice, based on what I would do.


I believe your first order of business is getting a well-respected literary agent. The best way to land an agent is: write a damn good book. After the book is perfect, there are a few ways to find agents.
  • Visit writing conferences and conventions and pitch to agents in person
  • Read books similar to yours, and find out who reps the author
  • Pick up a copy of the Writer's Market
  • Visit
  • Befriend an agented author and beg for an introduction
After getting an agent, she'll want to submit the book to editors at large New York publishing houses. If you get lucky, you'll land a book contract. This is the best-case scenario.

Exception: You Can't Get an Agent

Getting a good agent isn't easy, which is why you should spend as much time as possible honing your craft, improving your writing, learning about narrative structure and the elements of a compelling story. I got rejected over 500 times, but the vast majority of these rejections were for books that were not very good.

Should you self-publish if you can't find an agent? I would say no. If a hundred lit agents all think the book needs work, I'd bet the book needs work, and releasing it into the world isn't going to win you fans or do your career any favors.

Exception: Your Agent Can't Sell the Book

If you landed a lit agent, chances are your story is good enough to be published. But just because something is good enough to be published doesn't mean it will be published. This is a hard business, and luck plays a huge part.

If your agent has sent the book to everyone, and no one made an offer, I would say that e-book self-publishing is a viable alternative.

I would avoid print self-pubbing if you some day want a traditional book deal, because numbers follow you. If you get an ISBN, that number is trackable, and so are the sales associated with it. A potential publisher will look at your previous low sales and possibly pass on your next book.

Exception: You Don't Care About Agents or Traditional Publishers

It's important to talk about goals and dreams here.

A goal is something within your power to achieve.

A dream is something that requires other people for you to achieve.

If your dream is to be a bestselling author, your goals should be:
  1. Write a damn good book
  2. Submit to agents until you find one to work with
  3. Keep writing good books until your agent sells one
However, if your goal is to see your name in print and you're okay with investing your own money and doing three times the work for very little respect:
  1. Write a damn good book
  2. Self-publish it
In the past, I never recommended self-publishing because in 99% of the cases the books are overpriced and inferior (poor covers, poor editing, poor writing), distribution is very hard (no returns on POD), and chances are high you won't sell many books that you didn't personally handsell.

But things have changed.

The Amazon Kindle and Amazon's CreateSpace, along with printers like, allow you to self-publish without investing a lot of your own money.


Your Kindle release, or your POD book, will likely get lost in a sea of millions, making it very hard for readers to find you. If you have an understanding of how publishing, distribution, and marketing works, then maybe you can sell some books and do well. But if you're clueless, YOUR BOOK WILL NOT SELL.

Simple as that.

Personally, I wouldn't self-publish a novel unless you already have a name for yourself. If you've been traditionally published and have a fan base, if you're a celebrity, if you do a lot of speaking engagements and can sell your books after your speeches, or if you already have an audience, then you've got a better chance at selling some books.


We'll define novella as a narrative between 7,000 and 50,000 words. In other words, too long for a short story, too short for a novel, meaning it's very difficult to find a traditional print market willing to buy it.

The rules for novellas are the same as the rules for novels, but disregard finding an agent. Agents don't care about novellas, unless they're so good you can beef them up to novel-size.

I believe novellas are where e-book self-publishing really has an advantage over print. A 15,000 word book doesn't cost much less than a 70,000 word book to produce, so it has to be priced comparably, and people don't want to pay full price for something so short. But in a digital world, you can lower the price of shorter work.

Personally, I see no harm at all in e-publishing a novella on your website (use if you want to charge for it), on, or on Kindle. Worst case-scenario: It doesn't sell at all, but you weren't going to sell it anyway. Best case scenario: It sells well, you make some money and also learn a lot.

I would restrict this to e-publishing because of the costs associated with print. Print novellas cost too much, and they don't sell as well as full length novels.


While the print short story market is dwindling, I believe it is still the preferred medium for shorts.

Writing and submitting short stories to magazines, anthologies, and websites, forces writers to understand the basics of publishing. There is a learning curve in crafting a story, researching markets, and writing query letters. I think all writers can benefit from this.

I also recommend NEVER writing a short story unless you already have a market in mind. Would you create a key without studying the lock first? No. Same rule applies.

If you do sell a short story, I recommend waiting for at least a year after publication before you offer the story on your website or on Kindle. Your contract may say you have e-rights, or that you have permission to publish sooner, but I think it's nice to let the editor who paid you have an exclusive for 12 months.

Once of the reasons I began putting shorts on my website was because fans were having trouble tracking down out of print magazines and anthologies I'd appeared in. E-publishing makes it easy for people to read your entire oeuvre, and the reprint market (editors who buy previously published stories) is now smaller than ever. Years ago, you could sell the same story multiple times. I've published over 70 stories and articles, and less than a handful have actually been reprinted. Unless you're a big enough name that your publisher will release a short story collection (usually at a loss), then feel free to e-publish your old print stories.

Exception: Your Short Story Didn't Sell

Once you've exhausted all of your markets, there's no shame in e-publishing it. Unless you've already got a fan base, I'd recommend putting the short on your website as a free download. But MAKE SURE IT IS GOOD.

Your best advertising for your writing is your writing. If people try you and don't like you, this is the opposite of finding fans.

Again, I'd avoid self-publishing short stories in print. Even if you gather up enough of them to make a full length book, they don't sell as well as novels. Period.

But I see no harm in e-publishing. I'd price them low (or free) and group them together so it is a more appealing download.


See the If You Wrote a Novel section above, but there are a few differences.

You don't normally submit non-fiction books to agents or publishers. You submit a proposal, which isn't the full book. If you can't find an agent or a publisher based on a proposal, I would question if you should even bother to write the book in the first place.

Look at your goals and dreams. Maybe you've got a memoir that you want your family to have copies of. Maybe you wrote a cookbook for your friends who are always asking for your recipes. Maybe you get paid good money to speak on some topic you're an expert on, and selling a book after your speeches is a smart add-on.

If you have a need other than vanity, maybe you should write the book, and should self-publish it.

I self-published an e-book about writing which I give away for free, because my goal is to share what I've learned about this business. So far it's been downloaded over 6000 times, and I get just as much fanmail about it as I do from my novels. For me, this was well worth my time and effort, and it satisfies me on a core level even more than money does.


There are no short cuts, no easy paths to success, no matter how you publish. You're going to wind up marketing, promoting, and working hard whatever you decide.

Traditional publishing has the advantages of big money and a huge distribution network, though you might not get either even if you are traditionally published.

Self-publishing is an alternative, but at the time of this writing it still lacks in too many areas compared to trad pubbing, except in some circumstances.

Your job is to figure out what it is you want, and then decide on the best way to get it.

Should you self-publish? It depends.

But first focus on making your writing the best it can be.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Should E-Books Be Cheap?

Let's look at a recent Time Magazine article about the Amazon Kindle.

Here are the two things I picked out:

First, Amazon is selling ebooks at $9.99 for Kindle, and is taking a loss on this because publishers are charging them standard hardcover rates.

Second, according to small press publisher Dennis Johnson, nobody can make a book that sells for $9.99. You can save on shipping and printing, but that's only a small fraction of what it costs to make a book.

Now, at the risk of annoying print publishers everywhere--and print publishers have been very good to me and I consider myself grateful to have worked with some wonderful publishers--I'm going to politely disagree with the above statements.

The music industry, for all who have been paying attention, has never recovered from the digital mp3 revolution. I doubt the skewed tales of loss from the RIAA are accurate, but I have heard that iTunes is now selling more music than the Walmart, the world's largest music retailer. I also know, anecdotally, that my friends with iPods have managed to fill them with music, and very little of this music was bought. Rather it was borrowed, shared, or stolen.

There are several causes for the profits being down in the music industry. CDs cost too much money, especially when consumers often only wanted one or two songs on a disc. iPods and digital equipment have replaced stereos as the preferred method of music delivery. When fans set up distribution networks, like Napster, to share music, the RIAA tried to shut down these networks rather than learn to use the new technology to their advantage.

Apple finally figured out that 99 cent songs and no DRM is the way to go. But it took them way too long to get to that point, and as a result, we have a healthy, active piracy community. In fact, 13 of the top 100 most visited websites are file sharing sites, and that doesn't include Usenet, Limewire, or eMule.

So let's recap on the things the music industry did wrong.

1. High price.
2. Not adapting to the new method of delivery.
3. Not adequately dealing with piracy.

Hmm. Now if we look at what publishers are doing, we can draw some parallels.

First, in this economy, $27.95 is too much for a hardcover work of fiction. Why do they cost this much?

I've done other posts about the cost of books, and why publishing uses an archaic business model. To recap:

1. Only one out of five books makes a profit (two break even, two lose money.)

2. A fifty percent sell through (books printed vs. books actually sold) is considered by many to be the industry average.

3. The books that don't sell are remaindered (sold at a loss) or destroyed.

4. Retailers take books at a 40% to 60% discount. (we'll include the distributor cut in here as well.)

5. The author earns between 10% and 15% of the cover price.

6. Printing and shipping and corrugation (making boxes and displays) can cost 10% or more of the cover price, depending on the number of returns.

7. Marketing, advertising, and coop all are factored in to P&L.

8. Books have certain set up costs; typesetting, line editing, artwork, etc.

9. That means a publisher earns perhaps 15% to 20% of a book's cover price, and they have to run their entire company on this small amount.

So it seems that maybe it is impossible for publishers to lower their prices.

And yet...

No printing, no shipping, and no distribution (warehousing) costs, along with no returns, actually can save a big chunk of money. The way these costs are broken down make it seem like this is a very small part of a book's price. But, in fact, these are the only set costs, and these are the costs that all other costs are based on.

All the other costs are negotiable.

Publishers make money on paperbacks, which sell for $6.99 to $10.99. So it isn't about price, it's about profit per unit.

Print publishers are basing ebook prices on the profit per unit figures of print books. They have to do this, because if they sell ebooks for less and don't make up for the loss in volume, they will lose money.

But if a major publisher switched completely to ebooks (which may be what the future holds) a new pricing and profit structure will evolve. Costs to the publisher will be much less, and the cost of running a company will be much less.

When the cost of printing, shipping, and warehousing is eliminated, a lot of jobs are eliminated. This saves money.

When the cost of returns no longer figures into a book's profit margin, this saves money.

When books no longer go out of print, this earns money. In fact, every book, rather than one out of five, can be profitable.

When gigantic marketing and advertising budgets aimed at moving print books are slashed, this saves money.

No coop in bookstores, no author book tours. This saves money.

"But what about author advances?" publishers may ask. Tell you what--double my royalty rate for ebooks, I won't take an advance.

What we actually have isn't a situation where ebooks cost as much as print books. It's a situation where publishers must charge the same for ebooks as they do with print books if they want to keep their infrastructures intact.

But the fact is, consumers don't care about publishers, or their infrastructures. They care about books. And they want to pay less for ebooks.

They also want to be able to get ebooks without copy protection, just like they want their songs without copy protection. ITunes dropped DRM because their customers hated it. Will publishing adopt a similar stance?

I just got this newsletter from a large publisher:

We have engaged Attributor, a leading anti-piracy protection service, to monitor the web for instances of unlawful use of its authors’ books and content.

How much do you think that is going to add to the cost of ebooks? And how well do you think it will work, considering DRM and Macrovision and RIAA lawsuits and every other form of anti-piracy protection has failed miserably? And of course, Attributor will be used in conjunction with DRM.

I'd love to see Attributor take on Usenet, which has billions of illegal downloads per day and no way to track them. Or Rapidshare, which is based on password-protected private uploads and downloads using encrypted file lockers. Or any torrent tracker, for that matter. Pirate Bay and Mininova have been sued a gazillion times to no effect. And the private trackers are invite-only---good luck Attributor in getting an invitation.

Do you really want to know how to get rid of piracy? Here's how:

The rules of supply and demand don't work in a digital world, because the supply is unlimited. You don't fight piracy with weapons. You fight piracy with cost and convenience.

Let me state that again, because no one seems to get it.

The rules of supply and demand don't work in a digital world, because the supply is unlimited. You don't fight piracy with weapons. You fight piracy with cost and convenience.

If there were a central hub, where you could easily search for ebooks and get them at a reasonable price, there would be no need to pirate books.

Amazon is not that central hub. The Kindle is too expensive, their ebooks are too expensive, and the Kindle uses DRM and a proprietary format that is difficult to convert. Proprietary exclusive formats don't work. That's why Betamax and DAT failed.

Publishers, if they truly were looking toward the future, would make themselves into these hubs, eliminating the need for Amazon. But they're still focused on dead trees.

Here are some possible future scenarios:

--Publishers learn from the mistakes made by the music industry regarding digital content, and lower the prices for digital books. This could result in more inexpensive digital books than expensive print books being sold, leading to a decline in print sales, and an overall drop in the gross profit of the industry, even if there are a greater number of books sold. But they would survive, and after restructuring, possibly thrive.

--Publishers keep the price of digital books high, in which case more and more people boycott expensive books and support newer and cheaper authors. Readers also begin to illegally download books in larger numbers, as they do with music. Publishing dies.

The goal is to figure out what readers are willing to pay for the ease of downloading a book at a central distribution hub. Will they pay $5.99? Will a percentage of them buy it from another site for $2.99 and then convert it to their desired format themselves? Or will some of them just pirate it?

--Publishers realize their business model is based on printing and distribution, and they radically alter their companies in order to succeed in a digital world. That means becoming their own stores/distributors like Amazon, offering exclusive content.

Wal-mart has proven that “one stop shopping” is what America wants. Why go to a mall, with 50 stores, when one store carries everything from milk to tires to pants to books?

And yet, Green Day didn’t release their latest CD with Wal-mart, and it was still a smash hit. People will go elsewhere for exclusive content if they want it bad enough.

If I were a publisher, I’d consider what books I have under contract, and figure out how to sell them without splitting the money with a distributor/retailer such as Amazon.

--Authors realize that they don’t need publishers. Why should they split revenue with a publisher when they can upload it to the world themselves?

Currently, I'm making $110 a day on books NY publishing didn't want. That's not a lot of money, yet. But the average advance for a novel is still $5000. Between April 8 and June 30, I'll have earned $5000. And my numbers are going up.

--Amazon realizes it doesn’t need publishers, and deals directly with authors. They've already begun publishing print titles, and they've allowed for authors to publish print and ebook titles on their own. Eventually, Amazon is going to start getting some big download numbers for their ebooks, and they'll approach a big author with an exclusive royalty deal.

--A third party ereader is created by a company to compete with the Kindle. It will be inexpensive, able to read a variety of ebook formats, and have upgradable software and memory. This will lead to ereaders becoming as commonplace as iPods, and be the beginning of the end of print.

--Ebooks will become multi-media experiences like DVDs. Books will have author annotations and interviews, be bundled with audio versions, and contain extras such as short stories, early drafts, dictionaries and glossaries, and be directly linkable to forum discussions and book groups. Who would still want paper?

There's a lot to consider when it comes to e-book and the future of publishing. And I may be dead wrong on a lot of these predictions. Hell, I may not know what I'm talking about. Even with the economy, and bookstores losing money, and revenue down, publishers are still alive and kicking, just like they have been for hundreds of years.

But I do think e-books are the future. And I don't think print publishers know how to handle that.

There was a recent announcement that Simon & Schuster was joining forces with Scribd, an ebook download hub, and offering their catalog of ebooks for 20% off print cover price.

I wish S&S much success, but I don't predict it. 20% off the print price is a insignificant discount. Maybe if they slashed prices to a few dollars each title it would catch on, but I don't believe Scribd is a big enough hub yet, and it doesn't get nearly the traffic Amazon does.

But because I'm a cutting edge early adopter who can predict trends (ask Barry Eisler), I offered my ebooks on Scribd 15 days ago, at the same price they are available for on Kindle, less than $2 each.

In 15 days, I've sold zero books. Compare this to over a hundred books a day I sell on Amazon.

Scribd is not the future of epublishing.

If I were Simon & Schuster, or any big publisher, I would digitize my entire backlist and sell it on my publisher website for $2.99 a book, splitting royalties 50/50 with the author, and advertising the hell out of it in print, radio, and TV. Scribd, Amazon, and other e-tailers could have the titles for slightly more, factoring in their mark-up.

I would also invest heavily in new ebook reader technology, perhaps partnering with Apple or Google or Sony, to make a cheap, better competitor to the Kindle.

But I don't predict either happening anytime soon. Publishers, like oil tankers, take a long time to change direction. That doesn't mean publishers aren't smart--they're some of the smartest folks I know. But being smart, and being willing to scrap a business model you've used for fifty years, are two different things.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds. But as an author, I'm emboldened that with enough titles under my belt, in the future I might actually be able earn a living uploading my own books digitally, rather than depending on someone else to sell my books for me.

And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who believes this.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Amazon Kindle Numbers

Elsewhere on the Internets, people have been referring to my previous posts about the Amazon Kindle (here and here) and one of the things they were interested in is numbers.

So here they are. Thoughts, explanations, and predictions to follow.

by Jack Kilborn, a horror novel, was released on the Kindle on April 1. During the first month of its release, it was available for $1.99 on Kindle. During that month, it sold over 10,400 copies.

SERIAL by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch was released for free on the Kindle May 20th. It's a horror novella. As of June 10, it has been downloaded on Kindle more than 34,000 times. SERIAL also appears on, and has had 12,000 downloads, along with 7000 downloads from the Sony Reader website.

Both AFRAID and SERIAL were released by my publisher, Grand Central. They promoted both titles on Amazon using sidebars on, and on the Amazon Kindle blog.

On April 8th, I began to upload my own books to Kindle. As of today, June 11, at 11:40am, here is how many copies I've sold, and how much they've earned.

THE LIST, a technothriller/police procedural novel, is my biggest seller to date, with 1612 copies sold. Since April this has earned $1081.75. I originally priced it at $1.49, and then raised it to $1.89 this month to see if the sales would slow down. The sales sped up instead.

ORIGIN, a technothriller/horror occult adventure novel, is in second place, with 1096 copies sold and $690.18. As with The List and my other Kindle novels, I upped the price to $1.89.

SUCKERS is a thriller/comedy/horror novella I wrote with Jeff Strand. It also includes some Konrath and Strand short stories. 449 copies, $306.60.

DISTURB is a medical thriller. 371 copies, $234.21.

is a crime novel featuring Jack Daniels. 342 copies, $164.02.

55 PROOF is a collection of 55 short stories. 217 copies, $138.99.

PLANTER'S PUNCH is a Jack Daniels novella I co-wrote with Tom Schreck. 154 copies, $107.10.

DIRTY JOKES & VULGAR POEMS is a collection of over 1000 of my Twitters, one-liners, and funny poems. 37 copies sold, $18.57.

So far on Kindle I've earned $2781.35 in 64 days.

PRICING: I've kept my collaborations priced at $1.59, and upped my other books to $1.89. Also, I reduced the price of my poetry collection to 80 cents.

What I've learned about pricing: Not much. I went on some Kindle forums and asked what the magic price point is, and got answers ranging between free and five bucks.

I've kept my books under two bucks for several reasons. First, because my intent is to use these books to hook readers and get them to buy my other, in-print titles. I give these same books away on my website for free, so charging Kindle users more than a few bucks doesn't seem fair.

That said, raising the price from $1.59 to $1.89 didn't cause any drop in sales or Amazon ranking. In fact, my Kindle numbers have been steadily going up.

I don't know what the perfect combination of price/profit is... yet. Authors make 35% of their suggested retail price (Amazon then discounts this.) So I can raise the price, sell fewer books, but still make a greater profit.

For me, however, this isn't all about profit. It's about units sold. Which also gets confusing.

UNITS SOLD: Pricing doesn't seem to be much of a factor in units sold, as my lowest price book is also my worst seller, and there doesn't seem to be any correlation between price and sales.

What I've learned about units sold: Nothing. I have no clue why The List, which is a fun technothriller about cloning, is outselling Origin, which is about a secret government compound studying Satan. In fact, on my website, Origin has been downloaded 2675 times, and The List only 2223.

Even stranger is SHOT OF TEQUILA, which is a Jack Daniels tie-in novel. I'm known for my JD books, and there is a pre-existing audience for them. Yet the Kindle version is very much underperforming compared to my other three novels, even though I have sold more than 300 copies of it on my website for 99 cents.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION: I've tweaked all of my product descriptions several times, playing with the wording and the formatting. I didn't see any noticeable uptick or downtick with any changes I've made.

What I've learned about product description: I believe the product description should sing, but the genre of the book may be more important than the description. I think my best and most provocative description is for the poem book, which is selling poorly.

Category listings and keywords seem to be just as important, if not more important, than the description, because this is how people browse for titles.

COVER ART: People do judge books by their covers, and the covers I've uploaded to Kindle aren't good.

What I've learned about cover art: Not much. I redid the cover art on the poetry book, and it apparently did nothing. Of course, the new art may be just as ugly as the old art.

I'm having a professional cover done for TEQUILA to see if that improves sales. I'll keep everyone posted.

NAME RECOGNITION: Having seven books in print does make it easier for people looking for my books to find them. But there are other authors doing just as well or better than I am on Kindle, and they've never been traditionally published.

What I've learned about name recognition: It may not be as important as other criteria.

QUALITY OF WRITING: Do good books sell better than bad books? Is it even possible to judge quality objectively?

What I've learned about quality of writing: Amazon reviews and Kindle previews (which allow people do download a sample before buying) should have a long range impact on sales. I would think poor reviews will sink a book, or poor writing will result in it not being downloaded, or it being returned (Kindle books can be refunded.)

But I'm not sure if this is a deciding sales factor yet, because the Kindle is still so new, and because people are buying cheap Kindle books but aren't reading them right away.

I also have to look at SERIAL, which has gotten more than twenty 1 star reviews, and is still being downloaded 1000 times per day.

Perception of quality ultimately dictates if a person will buy your next book, but may not be a factor in them trying your first book. For two bucks, why not try it? And if it sits on the Kindle without being read for a year, it isn't helping or hurting your future sales.

But good reviews do help sales, just like a good cover and a good product description does. I just haven't figured out how much yet...


It's hard to draw any conclusions, because there just isn't enough data. But there are some things I'm noticing.

1. Publisher releases vastly outsell author releases. This seems obvious, but a publisher can buddy-up with Amazon and get primo placement. Authors can't do this on their own.

2. Price matters. All of my ebooks (even the poetry one) are on the genre bestseller lists, outselling name-brand authors. I'm sure this is because of price.

3. Being active on the Kindle forums, in newsletters, and on Amazon, may do more for sales than your cover, your description, your reviews, or even your writing. The key is to make people aware of your books. The more awareness there is, the more you'll sell.

Once you're on a bestseller list, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People browse the lists, see your book, buy your book, you stay on the lists.

4. Novels outsell short stories. It's like this in print as well, but my numbers confirm it.

5. No one buys poetry. Even outrageously funny poetry.

6. My technothrillers are doing much better than my medical thriller and my crime novel. Is this because more Kindle owners like technothrillers? It seems so.


1. To get professional cover art for all of my Kindle books.

2. To release a Kindle exclusive novel at a slightly higher price point ($2.99) under JA Konrath to see how it does.

3. To release a Jack Kilborn/J.A. Konrath short story on Kindle for 99 cents to see how it does.

I'm not sure what the future holds for the Amazon Kindle. I'm currently earning $90 a day, with no signs of slowing down. Now that the Kindle DX was released, I expect my numbers to rise.

With 1.5 million Kindles sold, I could sell 200 books per day, for 720 days, and still only reach 10% of all Kindle buyers. If we include all of the iPhone and iPod Touch owners who can download a Kindle ap, along with continued Kindle sales, I should be able to sell quite a few books before coming close to saturating this market.

If the $90 per day trend keeps up, that's $32,850 a year. Not a huge amount, but not chump change either.

I'll keep everyone updated. And FWIW, in the time it took me to write this blog entry, I made $16 on Kindle...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ten Questions

I'm having some minor email problems, so haven't been able to send email for about 24 hours. This happens sometimes when I mail out a newsletter--some program or bot or switch is flipped, thinking I'm a spammer. So if you've emailed me and I haven't responded, it's not that I don't love you.

Until I get this sorted out, here's a fun interview with me.

Monday, June 08, 2009

JA Konrath/Jack Kilborn Newsletter

Straight Up - The Official Newsletter of Author J.A. Konrath/Jack Kilborn

In this issue:
--Free Book
--Free e-books
--Book Launch Party
--Summer Reads

You're on this mailing list because you love books. I love them, too. This email is my way of reaching out to readers, librarians, bookstore employees, and fellow authors, in order to give you free stuff. If you want to be taken off this list, you can opt out using the link at the bottom. If you've asked to be removed from this newsletter and haven't been, I apologize. If you've signed up for this newsletter and haven't received it, you probably aren't reading this, but I apologize anyway.

Now let's get to the fun stuff:

FUZZY NAVEL, the fifth in the Jack Daniels series, was recently released in paperback. If you were too cheap to buy it in hardcover, this version is for you.

If you haven't read FUZZY NAVEL (or even if you have) and would like to review it on your blog, I'll give you a free signed copy of one of my other books.

Let me repeat that: Review FUZZY NAVEL and get a FREE SIGNED BOOK.

Along with the blog review, I'd like you to post your review at least one other place on the Internet. Some of the obvious choices are,,,,,,,, Yahoo groups,, etc.

How do you enter?

1. Email me at with the heading FUZZY REVIEW.

2. Include your snail mail address, the URL to the blog where you'll post the review, and tell me which review websites you'll post on.

That's all. Fifty people who follow those easy instructions will get free books. Perhaps even more than fifty, if the response is overwhelming.

How cool is that?

This is an ebook horror novella available for free. Blake Crouch (author of ABANDON) and I turn our attention to the twin golden rules of hitchhiking:

# 1: Don’t go hitchhiking, because the driver who picks you up could be certifiably crazy.

# 2: Don’t pick up hitchhikers, because the traveler you pick up could be a certifiably crazy.

So what if, on some dark, isolated road, Crazy #1 offered a ride to Crazy #2?

When two of the most twisted minds in the world of horror fiction face off, the result is SERIAL, a terrifying tale of hitchhiking gone terribly wrong. Like a deeply twisted version of an “After School Special,” SERIAL is the single most persuasive public service announcement on the hazards of free car rides.

Beyond a thrilling piece of horrifying suspense, SERIAL is also a groundbreaking experiment in literary collaboration. Kilborn wrote the first part. Crouch wrote the second. And they wrote the third together over email in 100-word exchanges, not aware of each other’s opening section. All bets were off, and may the best psycho win.

A warning about SERIAL from the authors:

SERIAL is a 8000 word horror novella written by masters of the genre Blake Crouch and Jack Kilborn.

But just because it is 100% free doesn’t mean you should automatically download it.

This is disturbing stuff. Perhaps too disturbing.

If you can handle horrific thrills, proceed at your own risk.

But if you suffer from anxiety attacks, nervous disorders, insomnia, nightmares or night terrors, heart palpitations, stomach problems, or are of an overly sensitive nature, you should read something else instead.

The authors are in no way responsible for any lost sleep, missed work, failed relationships, or difficulty in coping with life after you have read SERIAL. They will not pay for any therapy you may require as a result of reading SERIAL. They will not cradle you in their arms, rock you back and forth, and speak in soothing tones while you unsuccessfully try to forget SERIAL.

Yes, it’s free. But free has its price.

You have been warned.

Download SERIAL at .

Incidentally, SERIAL has been the #1 download on Amazon Kindle for the past 17 days. :)

This is a novella I wrote with Henry Perez. In it, Jack Daniels joins forces with Henry's protagonist Alex Chapa (KILLING RED) to solve a bizarre murder.

It's free, and currently available on Henry's website, . It also features an excerpt from KILLING RED, and from my new Jack Daniels novel, CHERRY BOMB.

Here's what a famous author has to say:

"FLOATERS is buoyantly engrossing, and you'll want to dive right in. I could also use some kind of 'wet behind the ears' pun, but I'm too busy working on my next novel, TRAPPED." - Jack Kilborn, author of AFRAID and, apparently, TRAPPED

For those who haven't been paying attention, I have a FREEBIES page on my website. To date I've given away more than 23,000 ebooks. I've just added even more books to give away, including:

PLANTER'S PUNCH, a collaboration with Tom Schreck where Jack Daniels teams up with Duffy Dombrowski, the hero from his mystery series.

SUCKERS, a collaboration with Jeff Strand, where Harry McGlade teams up with Andrew Mayhem, the hero from his thriller series.

THE WORLD'S WORST POET, which features over 1000 bad jokes and poems, including many I've tweeted on Twitter.

Plus others. These books are free on my website, or if you have an Amazon Kindle, you can download them for less than two bucks each on

For the three people in the world who still don't know, I wrote a horror novel under the pen name Jack Kilborn. The book is called AFRAID, and it's available in paperback, ebook, and audio versions.


Welcome to Safe Haven, Wisconsin. Miles from everything, with one road in and out, this peaceful town has never needed a full-time police force. Until now...

A helicopter has crashed near Safe Haven and unleashed something horrifying. Now this merciless force is about to do what it does best. Isolate. Terrorize. Annihilate. As residents begin dying in a storm of gory violence, Safe Haven's only chance for survival will rest with an aging county sheriff, a firefighter, and a single mom. And each will have this harrowing thought: Maybe death hasn't come to their town by accident...

You can read more about it, and play the AFRAID Flash game, at .

The sixth Jack Daniels thriller, CHERRY BOMB, will be out in hardcover and on audio on July 7. I may be biased, but I think it's a pretty good book. Also, unlike the other Jack Daniels books, this one contains a lot of sex to go along with the scares and laughs.

To celebrate the occasion, I'll be having a book launch party.

WHEN: July 12, 2pm - 4pm
WHERE: CENTURIES & SLEUTHS BOOKSTORE, 7419 W. Madison St. Forest Park, IL 60130 (708) 771-7243
WHO: JA Konrath, Jeff Strand, Henry Perez
FREE BEER: Hell yes

Everyone is invited. Mark your calender. Besides being able to buy Cherry Bomb, you can meet two of my favorite authors, Jeff Strand and Henry Perez, who will be there signing their new books, PRESSURE and KILLING RED. We'll probably have some sort of talk or something, but that will be made bearable by the keg of beer we're bringing to the party. Hope to see you there.

Summer is here, and Joe sez this is what you should be reading.

In paperback:
KILLING RED by Henry Perez - A serial killer thriller that is the best debut I've ever read.
PRESSURE by Jeff Strand - The most frightening novel I've ever read.
A FATAL WALTZ by Tasha Alexander - The best historical mystery writer working today.
DARK SIDE OF THE MORGUE by Raymond Bensen - The second in his terrific Rock 'n roll detective series.
TRIGGER CITY by Sean Chercover - The second in his excellent Ray Dudgeon series.

In hardcover:
THE DOOMSDAY KEY by James Rollins - This one has more action than all four Indiana Jones films combined.
ABANDON by Blake Crouch - Crouch is one of my favorite writers, and this is his best book.
THE AMATEURS by Marcus Sakey - About Last Night meets Reservoir Dogs. Hip, sexy, and fast-paced.
FAULT LINE by Barry Eisler - A thriller tour de force, crammed with sex, action, and an all-too-plausible plot.
THE UNSEEN by Alexandra Sokoloff - Does ESP exist? It may kill you to find out...
DEAD ON by Robert W. Walker - I love Walker's stuff. He's insane.

See you on the road!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Helping Each Other

Let's talk about the Internet, and why it is the greatest invention in the history of mankind.

Our success as a species has to do with a lot of things. Opposable thumbs. Large brains. Walking upright. Making tools and fire and wheels.

But the thing that allowed us to spread across the planet is language.

Language allows us to communicate with one another. Communication means we can cooperate better and share information. But this isn't the telephone, where the words are lost to time, or a book which is dependent on a print copy only available to a finite number of people.

The Internet is permanent, and accessible by everyone.

What a gift for authors, who need a way to spread the word of their existence in order to survive.

And yet, I don't see many authors doing this to the degree they could or should. And fans, who anxiously await an author's next book, then wonder why the next book never comes (hint: it's because the author was dropped by their publisher.)

Well, I do my damnedest to help other authors. Here are some of the ways I try to:

1. Links. Look in the sidebar, or on my website, and you'll see I link to hundreds of blogs and websites. This isn't just an one-sided endorsement by me, because mutual links help raise Google rankings for sites that reciprocate.

2. Newsletters. In at least one newsletter a year, I recommend books written by my peers to my fans. Imagine if all authors did this.

3. Reviews. I review my friends. We all should.

4. I mention books by my peers when I do interviews and speak in public.

5. Pimping. This goes beyond links and mentions. With several of my buddies, I push their books, and push pretty hard.

6. Blogging. I've been known to interview other authors on occasion.

So why aren't all authors doing this?

We aren't in competition with one another. We're not all islands unto ourselves. It doesn't detract from our sales to mention someone else's book. In fact, fans like these recommendations.

If you're an author, look at your links. Look at your newsletter. Look at your blog. Check how often you mention other authors in general (and me in particular.)

And if you're a fan, the best thing you can do to ensure an author you like continues to get published is to tell other people about their books. Either in person, or online via reviews, social networks, forums, listservs, etc.

Just imagine how many new people we could reach if we pooled our efforts.