Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Kindle Sales Top $4200 and 5850 Ebooks

As of 11pm March 31, I made over $4200 on Kindle this month. That's over 5850 ebooks sold in just under four and a half weeks.

Here's the screen shot. It doesn't include the money earned on FLOATERS and SERIAL UNCUT, which are listed on Amazon by my co-writers Henry Perez and Blake Crouch.

I'm pretty surprised by this number. And it has lead me to some startling conclusions.

Back in October
, I looked at my ebook sales and said I'd never sell a book to a publisher for less than $30,000.

I've revised that a bit. I added a "1". My new number is $130,000.

This actually isn't as outrageous as it seems. Let me break it down.

Of my five best selling Kindle titles, four are original novels, and one (the novella TRUCK STOP) was written expressly for Kindle. Their average unit sales for this month were 880.

In June, Amazon is switching to the agency model, which means ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99 will earn the author a 70% royalty, minus a 6 cent delivery fee. Instead of making 70 cents per ebook sale like I'm currently doing, I can make $2.04 per sale.

If I put an original ebook novel on Kindle, going by my current average sales, I'd earn about $1800 a month on that title, or $21,600 per year.

That means, in six years, keeping my erights and steadily selling on Kindle alone, a single title could earn $129,600.

My first novel, Whiskey Sour, came out six years ago. During that time it has appeared in hardcover, and has had multiple editions in paperback. It has sold to ten countries. It's been an audiobook on cassette, CD, mp3, and download. It has also been an ebook, released by my publisher.

I've earned, with everything combined, around $50,000 on Whiskey Sour.

I think my royalties on Whiskey Sour are pretty good for a midlist author. The fact that it is still earning money six years later is rare, especially when I look at many of my peers who were also published in 2004 and are now out of print.

And yet, it's less than half of what I predict I can do releasing a Kindle-only title.

Of course, Kindle sales aren't a sure thing, even though mine have been steadily rising. Sales could begin to drop. The Kindle may become obsolete, like so many other technologies.

But my prediction for the future is I'll actually sell MORE ebooks than I expect, not less. I base these predictions on the trends I've seen in the industry, coupled with my own experiments. I've been blogging about Kindle for a year now, and my current numbers have exceeded my wildest expectations from back then.

And Kindle may be just the beginning.

My ebooks aren't up on Sony yet. They were just recently put up on Barnes and Noble. And naturally, I'll also sell my ebooks on the iPad. That's all extra income.

Plus, I believe the Kindle hasn't come close to critical mass yet. Over the next few years, the Kindle will get better, come down in price, and sell a lot more units.

Not only that, but I should still be able to exploit non-ebook rights. I could still sell print rights for novels, and audio rights, and foreign rights, and movie rights. I'm only talking about ebook sales here. And it makes no sense to give them to a publisher.

Let me repeat myself, because I've spoken with a lot of my peers who don't seem to grasp this point.


Now there's always a chance my sales might drop if I raise my prices from $1.99 to $2.99. But I've been thinking about this a lot, and here is what I foresee:

1. The ebooks that my publishers own the rights to are priced between $4.70 and $9.99, and they're all doing well because readers are getting hooked on my $1.99 books and then buying the more expensive titles. I know this for two reasons. First, because my traditionally published ebooks didn't spike until I started getting popular with my self-published cheap ebooks. Second, because I've gotten dozens of emails from readers telling me that's what they did.

2. As an experiment, I raised one of my ebooks to $4.99. It made more money this month, even though it sold fewer copies, than last month at $1.99. And this is without the new agency royalty rate. Even if my sales dip, I'll still be more than doubling my current profits.

3. The difference between $1.99 and $2.99 isn't that big a deal, especially in comparison to what the major publishers are pricing at. Once the agency model takes hold, Big NY Publishing is going to sell ebooks at $12.99. I predict fewer sales for Big NY Authors, more for indie authors, even if we go up to $2.99.

4. If enough indie authors go up to $2.99, then it's the new bargain rate.

I've been part of the traditional publishing world for over a decade, and what's happening right now with ebooks is unprecedented. Not only do authors have a chance to directly reach a large pool of readers for the first time in history, but NY Publishing is so short-sighted they're making it easy for us to compete with them.

My ebook THE LIST has sold 12,000 copies in a year. At the agency rate, that's over $24k annually, assuming my numbers stay the same.

But I don't think they'll stay the same. I think my sales numbers will continue to go up, even when I raise the price to $2.99. Ereaders haven't hit their stride yet.

So if I were to take an original J.A. Konrath or Jack Kilborn novel and put it on Kindle, I believe $130,000 in six years is a modest prediction.

If I also take into account Sony, B&N, the iPad, and print, audio, and foreign rights, I can see $130,000 being just a starting point for the money one of my novels can earn.

Of course, that's my prediction for 2016. How about my predictions for 2010?

Let's say I put two original ebook novels on Kindle this year, and they sell on average as well as my top five best sellers.

That means I'll be selling 7560 ebooks per month. I'll err to the side of caution and say my sales drop off 25% because I'm raising the price to $2.99. That would mean I'd be selling 5670 ebooks a month. At $2.04 profit per download, that's still $11680 a month.

So between June 1 and December 31, I'm looking to earn $81,761 on Kindle alone. And that's being a pessimist.

If I take the optimist route, I'll assume my numbers won't drop off, they'll escalate, as they have in the past. Especially if I offer new, exclusive titles. Perhaps I'll sell 8000 ebooks per month. That would mean from June to December, I'd earn $114,240.

Being even more optimistic, I'll also put up another novella on Kindle, as well as the Newbie's Guide to Publishing ebook (over 360,000 words of writing advice.) And people will continue to buy Kindles. So let's really dream big and guesstimate I can eek out 9,000 sales a month.

That puts me at $128,520 for a seven month period. For just Kindle.

The shocking thing about this is that it isn't a pipe dream. It's entirely within the realm of possibility.

Is everyone reading this thinking "holy shit" just like I am?

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Writer Looks At 40

As I finish my fourth decade, I'm taking a self-indulgent moment to reflect and dwell on what brought me to this point in my writing career.

1970 - Born. No star in the sky. No manger. Mom certainly wasn't a virgin. But I was born on Easter Sunday.

1978 - Put together a crude collection of drawings called Crappy Cartoons, staple-bound, thirty pages long.

1980 - Am taken out of my grammar school and placed in a two-year accelerated program for gifted kids. Write short stories that are ten times longer than my peers', but don't win any Young Authors contests.

1982 - Begin writing in class during lecture periods, passing stories back and forth to my friends while the teachers aren't looking. Over the next few years this collection of jokes and cartoons grows to more than 1000 pages long.

1983 - At my friend Jim Coursey's house, I'm playing with his Apple IIe and am amazed a typewriter can actually save text. We write a parody private eye story, featuring a sleazy detective named Harry McGlade.

1985 - Convinced I'll someday be a filmmaker, I get a video camera for Christmas. I shoot many movies of the neighborhood kids, being humorously hacked to death by masked maniacs. Visit the butcher shop for organs, and use pumps and tubes for blood squirting.

1987 - Get my first word processor for my birthday, a Brother. Begin writing a lot of short stories, many featuring Harry McGlade. Also write a play for the school's synchonized swimming team (?!) and it's performed for three nights. I play the villain. And no, I don't get in the pool.

1988 Part 1 - Graduate high school as part of a rap trio called The White Suburban Boys. We may actually have been the first white rappers. I write and perform over ten funny rap songs about white middle class suburban life, and we get a small cult following. Voted Class Clown of '88.

1988 Part 2 - Take my first real creative writing class in Columbia College in Chicago. Get a C. But I get an A in Film Tech, and my movie INVADER is shown at some local Chicago festivals. You can watch it, and some of my other early movies, HERE. I also get my first rejection letter, from Playboy, for a Harry McGlade Story.

1989 - Take more creative writing classes. Get more Cs. But I'm writing in earnest, lots of short stories in many genres. Also write and perform in an improv comedy show called The Caravan O'Laughs.

1990 - Write three screenplays, go to LA for two weeks, not knowing anyone, knocking on agents doors and trying to get my scripts seen. Get meetings with half a dozen film agents, but no one calls back.

1991 - Switch my college major from film to TV, thinking it will be easier to get work. Now have four book-length collections of short stories, which I print and bind at Kinko's and charge my friends $15 each for.

1992 - Graduate college, and can't find a TV job. Begin series of part time jobs to support myself, while working on my first novel. I finish it in three months. It's called DEAD ON MY FEET, about a guy dying of cancer. His name is Phineas Troutt. His walking death sentence leads him to a life of crime. Cameos by Harry McGlade, and a Chicago cop named Jack Daniels.

1993 - Find an agent who loves DEAD ON MY FEET. Write another novel, with Jack Daniels as the hero, called THE GINGERBREAD MAN. Give that to my agent.

1994 - In 18 months, my agent only shows my books to 2 publishers. I fire him, and start racking up rejections.

1995 - Write a third thriller called THREE WAY. Get a hundred rejections.

1996 - Write a fourth thriller called THE LADYKILLER. Get a hundred rejections.

1997 -Write a fifth thriller called EVERYBODY DIES. Get a hundred rejections.

1998 - Write a sixth thriller called SHOT OF TEQUILA. Almost land an agent, who likes it a lot but thinks it's too hardboiled. I'm now up to over 450 rejections.

1999 - Write a technothriller called ORIGIN. Land an agent. :)

2000 - My agent can't sell ORIGIN. Begin work on another technothriller.

2001 - Finish my thriller THE LIST. Agent can't sell it. I now have had more than five hundred rejections. Begin work on a medical thriller.

2002 - Finish my thriller DISTURB. Agent hates it, won't rep it. I dig out my old mystery novel THE GINGERBREAD MAN, and rewrite it from the first page to the last. Studying the mystery market, I decide to change Jack Daniels from a man into a woman, and release it under the unisex "J.A. Konrath." I also use Harry McGlade and Phineas Troutt as supporting characters.

2003 - WHISKEY SOUR sells in a three book deal worth $110,000. It's enough for me to write full time.

2004 - WHISKEY SOUR comes out. I buy my first computer, and begin to learn all I can about the publishing industry to figure out how I can succeed. Begin to experiment with self promotion on the Internet, and in person. I rewrite THE LADYKILLER, turning it into BLOODY MARY. I start selling short stories in earnest, making my first big sale to Ellery Queen.

2005 -Start a blog called A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, to share what I've learned about the industry. My publisher sends me to a warehouse, where I sign 3500 copies of my books. They also send me on a West Coast tour, to six cities. I use a rental car, and do drop-in signings at more than 120 stores. I write RUSTY NAIL, and begin to teach writing and marketing at a local community college. I sign a second three book deal with Hyperion, for $125,000. I also edit and sell an anthology called THESE GUNS FOR HIRE.

2006 -To promote RUSTY NAIL, I visit 612 bookstores in 29 states. I write DIRTY MARTINI. I begin giving away ebooks of my early, unsold novels on my website. I also continue to sell short stories and write articles for Writer's Digest.

2007 - Write FUZZY NAVEL. My publisher decides not to tour me. I continue to self-promote as much as I can afford. I rewrite ORIGIN and ask my agent to shop it around. It gets rejected by everybody. I write an action screenplay called THE SITE. No takers. You can read THE SITE for free HERE.

2008 - Write CHERRY BOMB, and a horror novel called AFRAID. Hyperion decides to drop their mystery line, me included, even though my first three novels have earned out their advance. My Italian publisher flies me to Italy to tour me. It takes my agent six months to sell AFRAID, in a two book deal for only $20k per book. My agent shops around a proposal for a seventh Jack Daniels novel. No takers. I'm worried about my career, even though my blog and website reach more than 1 million hits.

2009 - Do a blog tour to promote AFRAID, appearing on a hundred blogs in a month. Then I do a regular tour, signing at 200 bookstores. Kindle owners ask me to put my free ebook downloads on Amazon, since they can't convert pdfs. Amazon won't let me put them up for free, so I charge $1.99. They start selling like crazy. By the end of the year, my rejected novels ORIGIN, THE LIST, SHOT OF TEQUILA, DISTURB, and my previously published short stories have sold 27,000 copies, and are paying my rent. My free kindle story SERIAL, written with Blake Crouch, is downloaded over 200,000 times.

AFRAID earns out its advance on its first royalty statement. I write TRAPPED, the sequel. My editors don't like it. I rewrite it from the ground up, and the still don't like it. I write a sci-fi novel called TIMECASTER and sell it and a sequel to Ace for an embarrassingly small amount of money because I'm so worried about my future.

2010 - Write another Jack Kilborn novel, called ENDURANCE. My editors want changes. I refuse to make them. We're now deciding how to proceed. I also sign a three book deal with a bestselling author to co-write three thrillers. The deal will earn me more than 1 million dollars. Can't reveal the details yet. The seventh Jack Daniels novel, SHAKEN, is now in the contract phase with a terrific publisher. Can't reveal the details yet. But things are certainly looking up.

Final stats:
  • By March, I've sold over 35,000 ebooks in just a year.
  • Google "" and you'll get over 300,000 hits.
  • I currently have seven books in print, in eleven different countries, to the tune of several hundred thousand copies.
  • I've sold over seventy short stories and articles to magazines and anthologies.
  • I've sold two film options on my works.
  • I've mailed out 7000 promotional letters to libraries, and signed at more than 1200 bookstores in 39 states.
  • My Jack Daniels series, which my publisher dropped, is among their top 50 bestselling titles on Kindle.
  • In the next 18-24 months, I'll have six novels coming out, possibly more.
  • I'm now making $4k a month on Kindle. When Amazon switches to the agency model in June, I expect to be making $10k.
I still have goals. Still have dreams. But I'm in a very good position right now.

I finally have enough money to ease up on all the non-stop self promotion.

I've met a lot of great people. Made a lot of good friends.

Looking back on all the ups and down, successes and failures, near-misses and lucky breaks, I realize something...

I'm happy. I may be the happiest damn person on the planet.

So how am I going to spend today, my 40th birthday?

I could spend it celebrating the terrific ride I've had so far.

I could spend it worrying about the future.

I could spend it regretting the many mistakes I've made and failures I've had.

I could spend it patting myself on the back for a job well done.

But I'm not going to do any of those things.

Instead, I'm going to spend the day with my one true love. The one thing that has kept me going through the good and the bad, the ups and the downs.

Today, I'm writing.

I'm actually going to put words on a page, and get paid for those words. And I'm going to love every goddamn minute of it.

After all, who else is lucky enough to do what they love for a living?

Then later tonight, I'm getting plastered and jumping the wife. ;)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Am I Good Enough to Epublish?

Based on comments and emails, a lot of writers are using me as motivation to self-publish ebooks.

I've tried to be clear that the only writing you should sell on Kindle is good writing, and it's very hard to judge if your own writing is good. Which is why I recommend you only epublish works that were published before (short stories, out of print novels) and works your agent tried to sell but couldn't (a good agent actively trying to sell you is usually proof your work is worthy.)

But those of you paying attention will notice that I have a few things up on Kindle that I wrote specifically for Kindle. My agent didn't rep them, and they were never previously published.


Well, sort of. :)

When I offer works like SERIAL UNCUT, PLANTER'S PUNCH, and TRUCK STOP, which were written without any apparent vetting by professionals, I'm not completely bypassing traditional publishing channels. While I do believe ebooks are the future (and have the proof to back this up: it's 8am on March 24 and I've already sold 4300 ebooks this month) I also believe it's foolish to put anything up on Kindle unless you're 100% sure it is good enough.

In my case, everything I write is read by several of my peers. My peers are all professional writers--people who have agents and have sold books to big houses. If there is something wrong with the writing--and even though I've now written over 2 million words, I do still make mistakes--my friends point it out and I fix it before it goes live.

But what if you don't have a cadre of pros to vet your work? What if you're unpublished, unagented, and none of your peers are published writers?

My advice stands. Before you begin putting your work on Kindle, get an agent and sell some writing. I know it's hard. That's what makes it worthwhile.

Agents do much more than simply pair you with publishers and negotiate terms. And even if you're selling as many ebooks as I am, that pales next to what a big house can do for your book.


I've seen the ebook world accelerate in the last 12 months, and traditional print publishing seems to be slowing down. Agents and editors are becoming pickier. Personally, I'm faced with some choices in my own career where I'm thinking about passing up print contracts that don't allow me to keep my erights.

I can predict a future where writers can, and should, make money without needing major print publishers. (I still believe agents are essential--for example, mine just negotiated a film option for SERIAL, is working to change terms in one of my contracts, is negotiating terms for another contract, has sold foreign rights, and has renewed my film option for AFRAID, all within the last four weeks.)

But I don't see agents as necessary in the ebook world, at least not yet. And I see print publishers as pretty much clueless when it comes to ebooks, for many of the reasons I've mentioned in previous blog posts. (If you're interested in epublishing, follow those links and read those entries.)

So what should newbie writers do? Stay the course, find an agent, and try to sell a print book in a difficult market? Or upload their stuff to Kindle without professional vetting?

If you're thinking of uploading to Kindle, and you don't have an agent or any publishing credits, here are some things to ask yourself.

1. Do I Understand Story Structure? Long ago I figured out the essential elements to a narrative. You can download my Newbie's Guide for details, but in a nutshell they are: Hook, Conflict, Dynamic Characters, Setting, Mood, Pace, Style, Resolution, and Spelling/Grammar. Unless you can speak at length what each of these do for a story, and know how to effectively use them, you probably aren't a good storyteller.

2. What Do I Want? If it's to make a living, get your work in bookstores, or have a wide fanbase, you want to get an agent. If you're content with making grocery money, getting a few fans, and not pursuing this as a career, then by all means ignore traditional publishing. Your goals should dictate your actions. And, as always, your goals should be within your capacity.

3. Can I Get Critiques? No matter your level of experience, you need other eyes on your work in order to vet it. Join a writing group. Befriend your peers. Use my crit sheet to give to friends and family (even non-writers) so they can critique you with a level of expertise. You can't do this in a vacuum. Even if you self-publish, you must have quality feedback.

4. Are There Downsides? Yes, there are, for either choice. Traditional publishing downsides include: publishers ill-equipped to handle the oncoming ebook boom, waiting a long time for the "yes" or "no", and relinquishing control of many aspects of your career. The downsides for epublishing yourself include: potentially alienating print publishers who want first rights (though that could swing the other way if you're a success), less money, less name-recognition, smaller fanbase and fewer readers, and putting out an inferior product, which can hurt your career.

5. Should I Do It Alone? A while ago, I postulated that estributors would arise--people who would be middlemen between the author and the etailer (such as Amazon.) For those writers who don't want to mess with cover art, formatting and uploading, or keeping track of numbers, there are people who will help you get your book Kindle-ready. As always, look at the terms of the contract. Do you want to give a percentage to someone forever for doing something you could pay a flat fee for? Or is it worth a percentage to not have to worry about all of that stuff? And what percentage is fair?

6. What Do I Expect? Goals are within your control to reach. Expectations, however, are akin to dreams and beyond your control. I've been pretty successful at epublishing, but I'm still not sure why some of my ebooks sell better than others. My expectations going into this venture were very low, and yours should be as well.

Conclusions? Only you can decide what is right for you. But THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS. Writing is a craft that must be learned. Just because it's easier to reach readers with epublishing doesn't mean you should forsake finding an agent. Like everything in life, there's a learning curve, and jumping in blindly is stupid.

I epublish things that are out of print, things my agent couldn't sell, and things my peers have vetted that I'm pretty sure I can make money on based on my ebook experiences.

If you have something out of print, epublish it.

If you have something your agent can't sell, epublish it.

If you have a fanbase who wants it, epublish it.

If you've exhausted all agent and print possibilities (meaning you've gotten a lot of rejections), don't epublish until it has been vetted and you have clear goals and expectations.

If you've never even tried to get an agent or publish it traditionally, think twice, then think again, before epublishing. It's tempting to get the instant gratification, but there is probably a reason you couldn't find an agent, and that reason is probably: the work isn't good enough yet.

Are there exceptions? Sure. There are always exceptions. And in my experience, every newbie writer thinks they're the exception.

But I urge you, before you self publish, to understand your reasons for doing so. You always have a choice.

The publishing industry is pretty moronic, and it makes a lot of mistakes. But before you think you're smarter than the industry, you have to experience the industry.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Status Quo Vadis?

Or, in English: Where are the old ways going?

I've spent a few weeks helping my friend, Robert Walker, format and upload his books to Kindle.

Incredibly, Rob has forty novels that are out of print. These aren't self-pubbed novels, or small press novels. These are books that were with big houses, which had big print runs and distribution. Some of these books go for big money on the used book circuit.

By the end of this month, thirty of Rob's books will be available on the Kindle, for $1.99 each. I predict he'll do quite well with them. After all, he managed to sell millions of copies when they were in print.

Which begs two questions.

1. Why did they ever go out of print in the first place?

2. Why am I, his friend, uploading these books to Kindle, rather than a publisher?

Part one is pretty easy to answer. More than 95% of everything ever published has gone out of print. Times change. Publishers fold. Bookstores need to move X number of copies per quarter in order to keep books on the shelf, and distributors charge rent for books just sitting there. So if a book isn't paying for itself in real estate, it goes out of print.

But Out-Of-Print does not equal Worthless. There is still money to be made on old books. That's why there's a billion dollar used book industry.

However, used books still involves storing, shelving, and shipping paper. It's the same industry, just at a discounted cut for all involved (and zero cut for the author.)

Which brings us to the second question. Why isn't anyone mining this rich vein?

Previous attempts to grab the out-of-print gold have met with disaster. Google is still in court over its Search Inside the Book program. Amazon first allowed all public domain books to be uploaded to Kindle, then did an about-face on the practice. Big publishers have tried to retroactively grab ebook rights, and are now attempting to add clauses to old contracts, offering a paltry 25% royalty rate.

But I don't see any well-funded, large, coordinated effort to scoop up the rights to out of print material and make it available again. Everyone is so worried about the erights of present and future books (and erroneously pricing those erights at more than consumers want to pay) but no one is taking a used bookseller/antique dealer/eBay stance on all of this material that's just ready to be exploited.

Smart authors are doing it themselves. Among my peers, I've seen Raymond Benson, Lee Goldberg, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Scott Nicholson, F. Paul Wilson, and several others make their older books available on Kindle. But these are a small fraction of the writers I know with out of print work.

What's the hold up?

I think it's a combination of things.

1. Writers are used to the publishing end of things being done for them.

2. Writers are scared if they publish their own ebooks, no one will want to republish them in print (even though that rarely happens these days.)

3. Writers don't believe they can actually make money off of the stuff that's "failed."

My advice to writers: Wake the hell up.

Ebooks are not only here to stay, they're only going to grow in popularity. And an ebook is forever. Your $50 a month now may be $10,000 a year in 2016. You have to an opportunity to make money for eternity on these rights, and eternity is a long time.

But the opportunity won't last forever. Because someone is going to get wise, look at your backlist, and see dollar signs. They're going bribe you to get a piece of eternity, for doing nothing more than providing a cover and an uploading service.

I urge all writers to look at their backlist, and figure out how they can turn those dead tree books into ebooks. This should become a required skill for writers, like understanding narrative structure, or how to write a query letter.

If you're techno-stupid, shop around for a reasonable one-time fee to get your ebooks up and running. If you sign a contract with a e-publisher, make sure the lion's share of the profits are going to you, you have control over the list price, and the contract lasts for a finite amount of time.

Eternity is a long time to share royalties on books that you wrote.

Remember that. Before someone figures out how to screw you out of it. And I'm sure that will happen, very soon. Companies with deep pockets will offer to get your books on Kindle, and the fine print will screw you.

If I were an unscrupulous publisher with a big budget, that's where I'd be putting my money. I'd be approaching name authors with long backlists who don't know any better, offering them pennies on the dollar for what their life's work is worth.

The best defense against this is twofold: education, and hard work.

If you have out of print books, get them on Kindle yourself. If you need help, pay a flat fee for it.

If you do sign a publishing contract for your ebooks, make damn sure it is highly in your favor, and it has an expiration date.

For the first time in the history of publishing, writers have the upper hand.

Don't piss that advantage away by thinking that this is still 1995.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Last year, Blake Crouch and I wrote a horror story called SERIAL.

It was the #1 Kindle Bestseller for six weeks, and has been in the Top 100 for 275 days.

It's been a signed, numbered, limited edition chapbook.

It will soon appear in the upcoming Shivers anthology from Cemetery Dance.

This 7500 word tale has been downloaded over 200,000 times.

The overwhelming response was polarized. Some loved it and wished it were longer. Other wished they could "unread" it, attacking us for writing such filth.

Amazed at the traffic and attention our little story has received, Blake an I began to think about how we could make SERIAL bigger, longer, and rougher.

The result is SERIAL UNCUT.

SERIAL UNCUT is over 36,000 words, much of it brand new. Along with the insertion of additional material too extreme for the original version, it also has a vastly expanded beginning and ending, including an extended section that originally appeared in the novella TRUCK STOP.

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 UNCUT. They will not pay for any therapy you may require as a result of reading SERIAL UNCUT. 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 UNCUT.

You have been warned...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Value of Ebooks

Let's define the term "value" as "a fair equivalent in money for something sold."

Let's define "devalue" as "to lessen the worth off something sold."

So does a $1.99 price point for ebooks constitute their value? Or does that price devalue the work?

In a capitalist economy, under the rules of supply and demand, things cost money to produce, and their price is dictated by how many things are produced and how many people want to buy them.

An item usually costs a determined amount to create (which tends to go down as more items are produced), and then wholesalers and retailers sell this item for what the market will bear, trying to make a profit.

A few years ago, when the Nintendo Wii was a hot item and hard to find, people who were able to get Wiis sold them on eBay for more than double the $199 list price. The Wii's value was higher, because demand was higher.

Now you can buy used Wii's for less than $100. There is a big enough supply for everyone, so the price comes down.

So how do ebooks fit into this?

For the moment, let's ignore the hard work the author has put into writing the book.

To bring an ebook to market, a book needs to be edited, proofread, put into a proper layout and format, and given cover art and a product description.

These costs can fluctuate. But they are one-time costs.

Once an ebook is created, it can be reproduced indefinitely for free. There are no printing costs or shipping costs. Distributing ebooks to readers costs about 5 cents per download.

The retailer selling the ebook (Amazon, Sony, B&N, Apple) takes a percentage of the cost of an ebook. It looks like all of the retailers are adopting the agency model, which means they no longer can set the price of the books they sell, and they keep 30% of whatever that price is.

That leaves 70% of an ebook's price to be split between the publisher and the author. This split depends on what the contract says, but currently the going rate is 25% of the wholesale price to the author, 75% to the publisher.

Publishers seem pretty sure that the value of an ebook is $9.99 or above. It makes no difference that they no longer have to pay for shipping or printing or warehousing, or that their huge advertising and marketing departments won't be needed nearly as much for ebooks, and the sales department won't be needed at all. They want ebooks to be priced comparable to trade paperbacks, at least during their initial release.

One of the things I've heard several publishers mention is that they want to be able to establish the value of their ebooks. And that low-priced ebooks are devaluing their true worth.

When I hear this, my bullshit meter peaks.

Aside from some minimal set-up costs, ebooks cost next to nothing to produce or distribute. They have no inherent value, except in the entertainment value of the words.

In the past, publishers have determined the value of those words at around $25 for a hardcover new release. They determined this because of all the people who needed to get paid in order to bring the book to the consumer. Besides the printer and the shipper, the distributor got a cut, the bookstore got a cut, the author got a cut, and there were other costs like corrugation, advertising, and marketing to go along with the cover art, layout, and editing. So the author made $3.00 on a hardcover, and everyone else got a piece of the pie, and customers who wanted the book had to pay that $25.

But a lot of these costs get eliminated with ebooks. Yet publishers continue to insist that consumers are willing to pay print prices for intangible objects loaded with DRM and linked to a proprietary format.

Well, yeah, because publishers need to meet the same overhead that they're currently struggling to meet with print. They look at what they need to survive, and they have determined they can't sell ebooks for less than $9.99, even though common sense says they could downsize, reorganize, and probably do so.

What publishers aren't taking into account here are the consumers.

Naturally, people would rather pay less for something than more. And in a digital world, like we're rapidly becoming, consumers have shown consistently in other forms of media that they place less value on downloads than on physical products.

When companies price digital content too high, consumers respond by pirating that content. That's the ultimate in "devaluing."

So what is truly the value of ebooks? Is it free? Or is it the publisher's price, which seems inflated, and which in the agency model gives them 52.5% of the list price of an ebook for doing nothing more than providing a cover, editing, and putting it up on Amazon?

If an ebook is free, the author gets screwed.

If an ebook is priced high, it won't sell a lot of copies, and the author gets screwed.

If an ebook sells for a small amount of money, the author makes 17.5% of the list price. That also seems like the author is getting screwed.

Publishers are currently talking about going 50/50 with authors, so an author will make 35% of the list price. But it's still the price the publisher sets, which is inflated, which will lead to piracy.

By setting the price, the publisher is pricing ebooks so they won't sell well, and then taking 35% of what little money will come in.

I can write a novel pretty fast. But I'm betting I spend more time writing the book than my publisher spends making cover art, editing it, and uploading it. This is a fair 50/50 split?

In the past, authors needed publishers in order to get their books to readers. Authors needed the publisher's connections with bookstores and distributors. They needed the publisher to print and ship the books. They needed the publisher's marketing and advertising departments to make sure those books sold.

In an ebook future, authors don't need all of that. They need editors, cover artists, and someone to upload the book. And they shouldn't have to give up half of their money for those simple services.

But let's get back to value, and what ebooks are truly worth.

Supply and demand doesn't apply in a system where the supply is infinite. But consumers still vote with their dollars. And they prefer to spend less rather than more.

How does this work out for the author?

As of right now, my ebook The List has sold 10970 copies on Amazon at $1.99 each. I currently make 70 cents per download. That means this book has earned me $7679.

Compare that to my ebook Fuzzy Navel, controlled by my publisher, Hyperion. This book currently sells for $7.19 on Amazon (they're losing money on each book sold) and I earn $2.25 per book. As of my last royalty statement, Fuzzy Navel has sold 273 copies, earning me $613.

According to publishers, the $7.19 is still devaluing the ebook, which should be higher. $1.99 is certainly devaluing the book, and publishers believe they'll go out of business selling for so low.

And yet, I made $7000 more, and sold 40 times as many copies, selling for the lower price.

So what is the true value of ebooks?

Recently, publishers have forced Amazon to adopt the agency model. That means the above numbers will change dramatically once this new model kicks in.

How dramatically?

I'll be forced to change the price on The List, going from $1.99 to $2.99, to get the 70% royalty rate. I don't know if it will sell as well at the higher price, but let's say it does. That means 10970 ebooks sold will earn me $21,172.

Since publishers are now controlling the price, let's say Hyperion raises the price of Fuzzy Navel to $9.99. I don't know if it will sell as well at the higher price, but let's say it does. That means 273 ebooks sold will earn me $477.75.

Hey! Wait a second! The price went up, and I'm earning less?

It gets worse. I fear that if they raise the price to $9.99, fewer people will buy it. $2.99 is still an impulse purchase. $9.99 is a lot of money for a download.

But maybe Hyperion will get smart, and actually drop the price to something reasonable. Say $2.99.

Let's say at $2.99 I sell 40 times the copies I'm currently selling, as with The List. That means I'd make $5740.

That seems better. Not as much as the $21k I'd make if I self-published it using the agency model, but a helluva jump up from the $613 I made selling for $7.19.

So I ask you. What is the true value of ebooks? Is it $9.99 and up? Or is it $2.99 and down?

Seems obvious to me. But I'm not in charge of a large publishing company trying to sell paper, which is apparently more important to them than embracing the future by figuring out what I already have:

The value of an ebook is determined by the overall amount of money it earns, not the list price.

Let's see if publishers can figure that out.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Whoa There, Ebook Writer

If you've been reading my blog lately, you know I've sold over 30,000 self-published ebooks on Kindle. Today it's 9:15am on March 8, and I've already sold 1322 ebooks this month.

I've gone from paying my mortgage every month on Kindle ebooks, to paying almost all of my monthly bills.

Numbers don't lie. But numbers also mean very little until significance is attached to them. It's easy to misinterpret my numbers and draw hasty conclusions.

Let's look at some truths, followed by some misconceptions.

1. More people are buying ereaders and ebooks. And the number will keep going up and up. This is true. While no one knows if ereaders will ever reach the same saturation as iPod or BluRay, it's safe to assume that as time goes on, ereaders will become better, cheaper, and more adopted by the general public.

2. Cheaper books sell better than expensive books. I'm frankly shocked not a single big publisher has released an ebook for $2.99. Value isn't about list price and royalty percentage. The true value of a book should be how much it earns in royalties. And selling 10,000 copies of a $1.99 book earns more than selling 1500 copies of a $9.99 book.

3. Ebooks make it easier for writers to reach readers. This is very true. Agents and editors--once gatekeepers, blessing the few with publication and snubbing the masses as inferior--are no longer as relevant as they once were, and unless they adapt, their relevance will continue to diminish.

4. Joe Konrath is doing well selling ebooks. And he's going to do even better as time goes on.

So far, everything I've said is true and hard to argue against. But if the amount of emails I've been getting lately is any indicator, many writers are drawing on these four facts and tailoring them to fit their individual dreams.

1. Writers no longer need an agent. Easy there, Smokey. I never said that. I never even hinted at that. Right now, in March of 2010, agents are essential if you want to be a full time fiction writer. Yes, they shop manuscripts to publishers, but they also do a lot more than that. First and foremost, they do have a pretty good instinct for vetting manuscripts, and separating the wheat from the chaff. If your manuscript isn't good enough to land an agent, how can you be sure it's good enough to be a successful self-published ebook?

2. Writers no longer need publishers. Right now I've got 12 ebooks and story collections on Kindle, and by the end of the year I'll make over $40k. But I made over $40k on Whiskey Sour, my first novel, by signing with a large publisher. Print is still the way to make the most money and reach the most readers. I don't see that going away anytime soon.

3. Print publishing is impossible to break into, so don't even bother. Wrong. You should try. You should try very hard. There is no reward in success without failure coming first. Sending out queries and getting rejections are more than rites of passage. They're learning experiences. And for fiction writers, I believe they're essential learning experiences to have.

4. I can sell a lot of ebooks like Joe Konrath. That's the seductive thing about numbers. You look at them and think, "I can do that too." Well, maybe you can. But chances are, you can't. No offense meant. You might be a better writer than I am. You might be a better marketer. But I'm pretty lucky to have these numbers. I also have a pretty solid platform I've built up over the last eight years.

Here's my advice: Keep aiming high.

As a fiction writer, your goal should be to find a great agent who can sell your book to a great publisher.

If you can't find an agent, perhaps you should rewrite the manuscript. Or begin working on the next one.

If you find an agent, but can't find a publisher, you can consider self-publishing on Kindle. But keep in mind all that entails. You'll have to edit, format, find cover art, learn simple HTML to upload your file, write a cover description, and then get the word out, all with no guarantee you'll sell more than a few dozen copies a month. Also, many editors will consider a book self-published on Kindle to already be published, and they only want first rights. By leaping immediately to Kindle, you might be forgoing a print deal later on.

Q: I've got a book I know is great, but I could never find an agent. Should I self-publish on Kindle?

A: If it's your first book, I'd say no. Sit on it for a few months and write a second book. First books are never as good as we think they are, and self-publishing a book that isn't your best can hurt your career.

Q: I have a bunch of short stories. Should I self-publish those on Kindle?

A: If you've already sold them, yes. If they're stories you never even tried to submit to magazines or anthologies, I'd try to submit to magazines and anthologies. If they've been rejected a bunch of times, maybe there's a reason for that.

Q: I wrote a novella. There are no markets for novellas. Should I self-publish on Kindle?

A: Has the novella been workshopped with a writers group? Has it been written, rewritten, rewritten, edited, and polished? Then my answer is; maybe. Though you should consider making it book length, or trimming it to short story length, and pursuing print either way.

Q: You've always touted self-publishing, Joe. Why are you changing your opinion?

A: I've never advocated self-publishing. I've advocated ebooks. And I think traditional publishers are missing the boat on ebooks, so I'm doing it myself. But I didn't become a writer so I could spend my time formatting, working with cover artists, uploading constant corrections, fiddling with product descriptions, and pimping myself on message boards. I became a writer to write. I'd much rather just write the books, and leave everything else to a savvy publisher.

In other words, writing is a job. Self-publishing your writing is two jobs. I'd rather just have one job.

Q: Now that Kindle is adopting the agency model with a 70% royalty, and Apple is opening an iBook store, shouldn't I get in on this now before the market is flooded with shit?

A: Maybe. If you have an out of print backlist. If you have an agent with books she hasn't been able to sell. If you're a published author with some shelf novels. Then yes, you should get on Kindle and iPad and Nook and Sony and everyplace else that comes up.

But if you're a newbie author who hasn't even finished your first novel yet and is already designing the cover art, perhaps you need to slow down a bit.

I'm not out to crush anyone's dreams here. But writing a good book is hard to do, and not everyone can do it. There's a learning curve. We're all eager to get read. We all want to get published. But before you let the hard-to-please masses read your work, you really have to make sure it's good enough. Readers don't care about you, or your dreams, or how hard you worked on a book. They want to be entertained. Period. If they buy your book and don't like it, they'll let you and others know.

You wouldn't buy your first saxaphone, practice for a month, then go audition for the Boston Pops. You'd spend a long time practicing and learning before you were good enough.

One one hand, authors being able to instantly reach readers without any gatekeepers is a fabulous thing.

On the other hand, too many authors may jump into this too quickly, without mastering their storytelling skills.

I know this for a fact. I've judged self-published book contests. It was awful.

If you really want my ebook sales, here's the only path I know to duplicate them.

1. Write 9 unpublished novels and get over 500 rejections.

2. Sign a six figure print deal.

3. Mail out 7000 letters to libraries, visit 1200 bookstores, and travel to 39 states speaking at writing conferences, conventions, and book fairs.

4. Write a blog that gets half a million hits per year.

5. Sign six more book deals.

6. Get one of your big print publishers to release an ebook for free.

7. Study the market so hard your spouse thinks you're crazy, then take your early rejected books, make sure they're perfect, and upload them to Kindle along with several short story collections and collaborations.

8. Cross your fingers.

That's the journey I took to get here. Your journey will be different. But no matter your path to success, I urge you not to cut corners. There is no shortcut to selling a lot of books, because books sell one at a time. Learn your craft, learn the business, work hard, try your best. That's the secret.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some writing to do...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

JA Konrath Kindle Sales: 30k Ebooks In 11 Months

I uploaded my first self-published ebook for Amazon Kindle back on April 8, 2009.

As of this morning, March 4 at 9;23am, I've sold 29,224 ebooks.

I'm currently selling $1.99 ebooks at the rate of 170 per day. That means I'm earning around $120 per day just sitting on my butt. If this trend continues as-is, I'll earn $43,800 this year on previously published short stories and novels that NY print publishing rejected.

But I don't expect this trend to continue as-is. I expect it to explode.

In July, Amazon is doubling royalty rates for self-publishers, going from 35% to 70%.

I have no doubt, by the end of the year, I'll be making 5k per month on Kindle. And that's probably a low estimate.

So how am I doing this? What's the secret?

Here are my guesses as to why I keep selling well.

1. Being known. I already have some name recognition from my print books. There are half a million books of mine in print worldwide, and some of those readers go looking for me on Amazon and find my self-pubbed Kindle titles.

2. This blog. I have a blog called A Newbie's Guide to Publishing where I often talk about ebooks. That blog gets over a thousand hits per day, and some of those readers wind up becoming ebook buyers.

3. Low price. I've found the sweet spot for pricing to be $1.99, though that will go up to $2.99 when the royalty rate changes. Perhaps I could make a bit more money selling at $2.99 now, but that would mean some fewer sales, which would negate:

4. Being on the Kindle genre bestseller lists. The bestseller lists are chances for browsers to find you when they're looking for well-known books by well-known authors. In my case, they'll buy a Stephen King, James Patterson, or JD Robb, see me next to that author for only $1.99, and it's a one-click impulse purchase. It's worth a lower price to stay high up on those lists. Last week I had ten titles in the Police Procedural Top 100. I believe these lists become self-fulfilling prophecies. The more you sell, the more you sell.

5. Word of mouth. Or in this case, word of Google. If you Google me, you get a lot of hits. Lots of folks link to me, review me, read and recommend me. I did a lot of self-promotion for my print career, and that foundation still stands in over 100,000 mentions on the world wide web. This extends to Twitter and Facebook, and the kind folks who retweet and link to me.

6. Promotion. Strangely, I don't do much self-promotion for my Kindle books. Especially compared to my print books, where I've signed at over 1200 bookstores. I've posted my titles on a few Kindle forums, done a few Amazon blogs and Listmanias, and been lucky to get a lot of reviews and a few mentions by the mainstream media. But for the most part, my Kindle promo strategy has been hands-off. In fact, I know that Kindlers hate too much blatant self-promotion, and will label you a spammer if you toot your own horn a lot.

7. Cross Pollenation. It's no secret that I write scary books under the pen name Jack Kilborn. I want all JA Konrath readers to know this, and all Jack Kilborn readers to know he's really JA Konrath. So I've tied the two names together by writing the novella Truck Stop, featuring my series character Jack Daniels, and my villains from Afraid and SERIAL. I wrote SERIAL with Blake Crouch, ensuring his fans discover me. I wrote novellas with Tom Schreck, Jeff Strand, and Henry Perez, to make sure their fans know who I am. And I recently put ebook excerpts from my other titles in the back of my ebooks. Plus, I'm now trading excerpts with Robert W. Walker to hook even more readers. Remember my Virtual Paper blog?

8. Decent stories. Name recognition and cheap prices only go so far. If the ebooks aren't any good, sales will drop off. Not only should the writing be stellar, but the Kindle formatting should be perfect. A great story with terrible word formatting won't sell. Period.

9. Good covers and product descriptions. I just improved some of my covers, and saw an immediate uptick in sales. I'm also constantly adding to/tweaking my book descriptions. I've found that more information leads to stronger sales (as opposed to teasers with less info.) I also make sure my first line of description is "Only $1.99 for a limited time." By announcing the low pricing is limited, I encourage impulse buyers.

10. New content. Every few months I try to add another ebook to my Kindle store. The more books you have on Kindle, the greater your chances of being discovered. And if someone discovers you, and likes you, they'll buy more of your ebooks.

Speaking of covers, descriptions, and content, I took all of the feedback that I received when polling you folks for opinions about my ebooks, and I've updated some of the covers and descriptions based on your suggestions. Here is the new JA Konrath line-up on Kindle, with some new ebooks. These titles are each $1.99, except for SERIAL, which is free.

Click on each cover to be taken to its Amazon Kindle page.

Several million bucks, stolen from the mob...

All caught on video, with no chance of redemption...

Now one man must face the entire Chicago Outfit, a group of hardened Mafia enforcers, a psychotic bookie, the most dangerous hitman on earth, and Detective Jacqueline Daniels...

His name is Tequila. And he likes those odds.


Book Description:

Shot of Tequila takes place in the early 1990s, and is both an homage to and a re-envisioning of classic action novels by authors like Mickey Spillane, Ross MacDonald, Donald Westlake, and Elmore Leonard, but with a more modern twist.

The breakneck action is intercut with scenes featuring Konrath's series hero Jack Daniels, here as a supporting character chasing the main protagonist.

Edge-of-your-seat suspense, non-stop action, and dark humor punctuate this heist novel/fugitive-on-the-run thriller. Fans of Konrath's police procedurals will enjoy the slight departure from his normal writing style, while still finding familiarity with the setting and characters.

SHOT OF TEQUILA is approximately 75,000 words.

A billionaire Senator with money to burn...
A thirty year old science experiment, about to be revealed...
Seven people, marked for death, not for what they know, but for what they are...

THE LIST by JA Konrath
History is about to repeat itself

Book Description:

THE LIST is a bit of a departure for Konrath. It's a technothriller about a group of ten people who each have tattoos of numbers on the bottoms their feet, and don't know why.

One of them, a Chicago Homicide cop named Tom Mankowski, has had one of these strange tattoos since birth. When he investigates a violent murder and discovers the victim also has a tattooed number, it sets the ball rolling for an adventure of historic proportions.

To say more would give away too much.

Like the Jack Daniels series, THE LIST combines laugh out loud humor with serious suspense and thrills.

THE LIST is approximately 82,000 words long.

A medical investigator tormented by secret guilt.
A beautiful doctor with an illicit desire.
A millionaire businessman indulging a passion for murder.
And a human guinea pig who has been awake for seven straight weeks.

DISTURB by JA Konrath
You’ll never sleep well again...

Book Description:

It's the pharmaceutical breakthrough of the millennium. DruTech Industries proudly presents N-SOM, a pill that completely replaces eight hours of sleep. Feel totally refreshed, both physically and mentally, in just fifteen minutes a night.

The profit potential is boundless. Mankind's productivity will go through the roof. One third of a person's life could be recovered, for only ten dollars a dose.

The FDA sends CDER agent Dr. Bill May to green light N-SOM for American use. The pressure, both political and monetary, is tremendous. But Bill soon harbors fears that N-SOM may not be as safe as early reports indicate...

After meeting brilliant inventors Dr. Nikos Stefanopolous and his beautiful daughter Theena, Bill stumbles into an insidious cover-up that hinges on Emmanuel Tibbets, a human guinea pig who hasn't had a fink of sleep in over fifty days.

Bill's investigation soon unearths a snarled tangle of extortion, conspiracy, taboo sex, hidden secrets, and murderous betrayal.

When N-SOM's deadly side-effects are revealed, along with the shocking truth of how the drug is produced, Bill and Theena find themselves on the run from hired assassins, three letter
government agencies, and a breed of psychopath unlike any ever known.

Billions of dollars, and billions of lives, are at stake. Can Bill and Theena survive long enough to expose the truth? Or will the world succumb to an evil that may bring about the extinction of mankind?

Thriller writer J.A. Konrath, author of the Lt. Jack Daniels series, digs into the vaults and unearths a technohorror tale from the depths of hell...

1906 - Something is discovered by workers digging the Panama Canal. Something dormant. Sinister. Very much alive.

2009 - Project Samhain. A secret underground government installation begun 103 years ago in New Mexico. The best minds in the world have been recruited to study the most amazing discovery in the history of mankind. But the century of peaceful research is about to end.


Book Description:

When linguist Andrew Dennison is yanked from his bed by the Secret Service and taken to a top secret facility in the desert , he has no idea he's been brought there to translate the words of an ancient demon.

He joins pretty but cold veterinarian Sun Jones, eccentric molecular biologist Dr. Frank Belgium, and a hodge-podge of religious, military, and science personnel to try and figure out if the creature is, indeed, Satan.

But things quickly go bad, and very soon Andy isn't just fighting for his life, but the lives of everyone on earth...

ORIGIN by J.A. Konrath
All hell is about the break loose. For real.

ORIGIN is approximately 76,000 words long.

Masters of the comedy thriller genre, J.A. Konrath and Jeff Strand, team up for the humorous horror novella Suckers.

Strand's perpetually unlucky character Andrew Mayhem, star of the novels Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary), Single White Psychopath Seeks Same, and Casket For Sale (Only Used Once), sets off on a simple mission at the request of his wife: Get some spaghetti sauce.

On his way to the store he meets Konrath's obnoxious private eye Harry McGlade, co-star of the Lt. Jack Daniels thrillers Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel, and Cherry Bomb.

Horrific violence, bad jokes, and lots of name calling soon ensues. Some sex, too, but not between the main characters.

Originally, published as a very expensive limited-edition hardcover, Suckers is now available as a super cheap ebook.

But the fun doesn't stop there.

Also included in this ebook are six other Mayhem and McGlade stories, many of them rare and long out of print.

Whelp Wanted - JA Konrath
Poor Career Choice - Jeff Strand
Taken to the Cleaners - JA Konrath
A Bit of Halloween Mayhem - Jeff Strand
The Necro File - JA Konrath
The Lost (For a Good Reason) Adventure of Andrew Mayhem - Jeff Strand

If that's not enough to get you to part with your pocket change, this ebook also includes two brand new introductions written by the authors, and an exclusive Strand/Konrath interview.

That's over 53,000 words worth of demented entertainment, for half the price of a kiddie meal at that fast food restaurant with the scary clown. It's also 1/3 of the calories.

Warning: Some of the jokes (mostly Konrath's) push the boundaries of good taste. Don't buy this if you're easily offended.

Before the events of Jack Kilborn's epic horror novel AFRAID...

Before the events of J.A. Konrath's critically acclaimed thrillers FUZZY NAVEL and CHERRY BOMB...

Before the events of Jack Kilborn's and Blake Crouch's #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller SERIAL...

Three hunters of humans meet for the ultimate showdown at the TRUCK STOP.

Taylor is a recreational killer, with dozens of gristly murders under his belt. He pulls into a busy Wisconsin truck stop at midnight, trolling for the next to die.

Chicago Homicide cop Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels is a long way from home, driving to meet her boyfriend for a well-earned vacation. She pulls into the truck stop for a quick cup of coffee and stumbles into her worst nightmare.

Jack's no stranger to dealing with psychos, but she's got her hands full trying to stop Taylor. Especially since he's getting help from someone just as deadly; a portly serial maniac named Donaldson...

TRUCK STOP is a 15,000 word thriller novella that ties together Konrath's and Kilborn's works, with terrifying results.

A prequel to SERIAL, which has been downloaded more than 70,000 times, TRUCK STOP is an eighteen-wheeled ride straight into hell. Not for the faint of heart. Let the reader beware.

This ebook also includes an exclusive interview: JA Konrath talks with Jack Kilborn, plus excerpts from their latest books, CHERRY BOMB and AFRAID.

JA Konrath is the author of the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels mysteries, Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel, and Cherry Bomb. Daniels is a Chicago homicide cop with a wicked sense of humor, and the novels fluctuate between funny business and serious suspense.

Tom Schreck is the author of the Duffy Dombrowski mysteries, On the Ropes, TKO, and Out Cold. Duffy is a social worker by day and a semi-pro boxer by night, and he's quick with a left hook as he is with his wit.

Planter's Punch is a collection of Jack Daniels and Duffy Dombrowski short stories. Plus Konrath and Schreck have included a cross-over short that features both of their lead characters.

This 56,000 word compilation features ten stories, an interview, and an excerpt from Konrath's seventh Jack Daniels novel, Shaken.

Contents include:

On the Rocks - JA Konrath
Duffy by Decision - Tom Schreck
Body Shots - JA Konrath
Duffy, Elvis and One Very Special Hound Dog - Tom Schreck
With a Twist - JA Konrath
The Duffy Vinci Code - Tom Schreck
Overproof - JA Konrath
Hounding Duffy - Tom Schreck
Shaken (excerpt) - JA Konrath
The Right Choice – Tom Schreck
Planter’s Punch – JA Konrath & Tom Schreck
Tom Schreck Interviews JA Konrath

Both Schreck and Konrath write funny, laugh out-loud mysteries without skimping on the action and suspense.

This collection of more than one thousand raunchy jokes and funny poems, formatted especially for your Kindle, is easily the best pocket change you'll ever spend on anything, except for maybe some sort of medication that helps keep you alive.

Here are some examples of the over one thousand (did we mention there are over 1000?) gems included in this ebook:

I pissed,
And I missed.

No one likes,
My cousin Jeff,
He’s a nice guy,
But has bad breff.

My Grandma wears a diaper,
I really hate to wipe her.

I lost my squirrel!
I lost my squirrel!
It just fell off now I’m a girl!

Why is it raining?
I don’t Noah.

There is a giant hog,
Who lives in my garage,
But I never see him,
Because he uses hamoflage.

Prison gave me acne,
So I broke out.

I ate the parrot,
And didn’t share it.

Mary is on the pill,
But it plagues her with doubt,
Whenever she has sex,
The pill just falls right out.

Plus hundreds more bad poems, most of them too filthy to be printed here.

Besides the lousy poetry, this book contains hundreds of Haknort's thoughts and observations, including:

I wrote a book about menopause, but it is hard to understand because it doesn't have any periods.

When the old gypsy cursed me, I laughed in her face. I'm not laughing now, because when she saw me laugh she beat the crap out of me.

I was addicted to nicotine gum, chewing three packs a day. So in order to ween myself off, I started smoking.

Whenever I go fishing, I'm reminded of an old girlfriend. Her name was Annette. She also had a sister, named Smallmouth Bass.

I’ll never forget what my grandfather used to say. I would sit on his lap and he would yell, “Fatty buttocks! Fatty Buttocks!” at the top of his lungs. I guess I never really understood my grandfather. My parents didn’t, either. That’s probably why they put him away.

Yes, believe it or not, there really is a blue six foot chicken named PepĂ© living in my bedroom closet. Either that or it’s the drugs.

It’s much easier to differentiate between a cabbage and a lettuce if you give them names, like Shelly or Jockmo.

Instead of "Mothers Day" how about "Sexy Virgins Day?" It can be nine months earlier.

I never claimed to be a genius. Well, except on that billboard I rented.

I remember Mom’s signature dish. She called it Pork Surprise. It was just a big bowl of dirt with some clumps of weeds in it. When we asked where the pork was, she’d yell: “There’s no pork... surprise!”

It's not fun watching a grown man cry. Unless you have a comfy chair to sit in, and maybe some snacks.

And many, many, so many more. Boy, there are lots more. Lots. Too many, in fact.

So get yours today, before we jack the price up to $9.99 like all the other ebooks on Amazon. Hurry! Do it now!

JA Konrath, known for the Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thrillers set in Chicago, offers this collection of short stories and novellas from the Jack Daniels universe.

Join Jack Daniels, her partner Herb Benedict, private eye Harry McGlade, and part-time criminal Phineas Troutt, in this omnibus of 15 stories.

These were previous published in magazines and anthologies, and many are long out of print.

On the Rocks - Suicide or murder? Lt. Jack Daniels solves a locked room mystery.
Whelp Wanted - P.I. Harry McGlade becomes a dognapper in order to stop a dognapper, or something like that.
Street Music - Phineas Troutt hunts a prostitute through the dangerous streets of Chicago. Are his intentions pure?
The One That Got Away - The Gingerbread Man (the villain from WHISKEY SOUR) hunts one final victim.
With a Twist - It looked like the man fell from a great height, but the body is in his living room. Jack Daniels solves another impossible crime.
Epitaph - Phin Troutt takes on a Chicago street gang with vengeance on his mind.
Taken to the Cleaners - Harry McGlade tries to solve a difficult mystery, but mostly just goofs off.
Body Shots - Jack Daniels faces her most challenging case yet; a school shooting. But does she know more about the perp than she realizes?
Suffer - Phineas Troutt has taken some questionable jobs, but will he murder a man's wife?
School Daze - P.I. Harry McGlade investigates a private school, but he's not entirely sure why.
Overproof - While shopping on the Gold Coast, Jack Daniels notices traffic has come to a stand-still. When she realizes what the problem is, she's confronted with her own mortality, and the possible deaths of hundreds.
Bereavement - How badly does Phineas Troutt need a fix? What is he willing to do?
Pot Shot - Detective Herb Benedict just wants a home cooked meal. But his plans get interrupted by a very determined sniper.
Last Request - Phineas Troutt picks up a hitchhiker, with deadly results.
The Necro File - Harry McGlade investigates some bizarre murders in this hilarious, gore-filled mini-epic. (Author's note: This is easily the funniest thing I've ever written, but it's also very offensive. Let the reader beware...)

That's about 65,000 words of Jack Daniels and friends.

This collection by J.A. Konrath (aka Jack Kilborn) features scary, gruesome, and even a few funny horror tales, most of them previously published in various magazines and anthologies. Stories include:

Finicky Eater - It's after a nuclear war, and a mother and her son are in a fallout shelter, the food long long...
The Screaming - Van Helsing and vampires, in 1960s England.
Mr. Pull Ups - A body modification tale taken to the extreme.
The Shed - Two burglars find the door to hell.
Them's Good Eats - Rednecks vs. aliens, on a spaceship ride of horrors.
First Time - A coming of age tale where all may not be what it appears.
Forgiveness - A dying serial killer asks for a priest to hear his last confession.
Redux - Ghost story noir, about a private eye and a deadly haunting.
The Bag - What's in the bag? You really don't want to know...
Careful, He Bites - Lycanthrope flash fiction.
Symbios - A sci-fi novella about man's first encounter with alien life, and how
things can quickly turn bad.
A Matter of Taste - Zombie flash fiction.
Embrace - A bit of gothic horror.
Trailer Sucks - Some trailer park jerks kidnap a vampire.
Markey - Flash fiction, from a twisted point of view.
Punishment Room - A horrific suspense tale about a not-so-distant future.
The Confession - Terrible crimes, told entirely in dialog.
Basketcase - Hardboiled noir with a horrific twist.
The Agreement - A gambler pays the ultimate price to get out of a debt.
Well Balanced Meal - The worst restaurant you've ever been in.
S.A. - A werewolf novella about a Shapshifters Anonymous group that must battle Santa Claus.
Dear Diary - A very twisted pom pon girl reveals the secret of her inner strength.
Mr. Spaceman - We've come to mate with earth women.
Appalachian Lullaby - What do you do with a radioactive monkey?
Treatment - A troubled boy talks to a psychiatrist, but are either what they seem?
A Sound of Blunder - A parody of Bradbury's Sound of Thunder, co-written with F. Paul Wilson.

That's over 70,000 words of horror, for less than the price of a coffee. If you liked AFRAID by Jack Kilborn, or the dark parts of Konrath's Jack Daniels series, this ebook is right up your alley.

Twenty crime and mystery stories, some of them series, some funny, some real puzzlers. Most of these were previously published in various anthologies and magazines.

If you're a fan of Konrath's Jack Daniels series, it's worth checking out. Contents include:

The Big Guys - Flash fiction, winner of the Derringer Awar
A Fistful of Cozy - A satire of the mystery cozy genre.
Cleansing - An ancient crime of biblical proportions
Lying Eyes - Solve it yourself, given the clues.
Perfect Plan - Another solve it yourself. Don't you remember One Minute Mysteries and Encyclopedia Brown?
Piece of Cake - Another solve it yourself, originally featured in Woman's World.
Animal Attraction - Solve it yourself.
Urgent Reply Needed - A cautionary tale about dealing with spammers.
Blaine's Deal - A parody of hardboiled noir.
Light Drizzle - A light-hearted send-up of hitman stories.
An Archaeologist's Story - How digging up old bones leads to fresh corpses.
Don't Press That Button! - An essay about the gadgets in the James Bond
universe, and which you need to buy.
Piranha Pool - A writer seeking criticism pays the ultimate price.
A Newbie's Guide to Thrillerfest - Never been to a mystery conference? Here's the in-depth dirt.
Inspector Oxnard - He's either brilliant, or too stupid to breathe.
One Night Only - A sports fan ends up in jail, all for the love of the game.
Could Stephanie Plum Car Really Get Car Insurance? - An essay about Janet Evanovich's famous character.
Cozy or Hardboiled? - Take the test to find out which type of book you're reading.
Addiction - What's the worst drug you can get hung up on?
Weigh To Go - A humor column about health clubs.

When the latest in a series of dead bodies turns up in the Chicago River, newspaper reporter Alex Chapa and Police Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels reluctantly join forces.

Thriller writers J.A. Konrath (Whiskey Sour, Fuzzy Navel, Cherry Bomb) and Henry Perez (Killing Red) and their series characters have teamed up to create FLOATERS, a mystery tale that combines humor with thrills.

Included in this 30,000 word collection are J.A. Konrath's LAST REQUEST, a Phineas Trout story, and FAMILIAR PLACES, a story by Henry Perez about hit man who has seen better days.

This collection also includes a conversation between the authors and excerpts from each of their new novels, CHERRY BOMB, by J.A. Konrath, and KILLING RED by Henry Perez.

Remember 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 raving nutcase.

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

When Blake Crouch (DESERT PLACES, ABANDONED) and Jack Kilborn (AFRAID, TRAPPED), 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 psychopath win.

F. Paul Wilson says, "SERIAL reads just like a Crouch or Kilborn novel: Full speed ahead, no flinching, no blinking, no brakes."

SERIAL contains the 7500 word novella, SERIAL, a Q&A with Kilborn and Crouch, author bibliographies, and excerpts from their most recent and forthcoming works: Kilborn's AFRAID and Crouch's ABANDON.

And finally, a note/disclaimer from the authors:

SERIAL is a horror novella written by two of the most twisted minds in the world of horror fiction.

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.

# # #

So there you have it. Pictures and descriptions for my Kindle books. Five of them are currently ranked in the top 1000 Kindle bestsellers. The majority of the rest are in the top 5000. Not bad when competing against huge bestselling authors and 420,000 other ebooks currently available on Kindle.

Can you duplicate these results? Some already have. There are authors with less name-recognition than I have, who are equal to or beating my sales. It shouldn't be a surprise that they all seem to be doing many of the things I've mentioned above.

The ebook world in general, and the Kindle in particular, has leveled the playing field for self-published authors.

It's going to be an interesting year. If you're a writer, you can watch from the sidelines, waiting for the publishing industry to get a clue. Or you can carve a niche now, before everyone jumps on the bandwagon and it gets much harder to succeed.

Oh, and I almost forgot. I have another ebook coming soon to Kindle. An ebook that hundreds of people have been asking me about for years. One that contains almost 400,000 words of publishing tips from yours truly, all organized by section and fully searchable, updated to include all of my blog posts about ebooks.

Can I get a hell yeah? :)