Monday, April 26, 2010

The Newbie's Guide to Publishing Book

My exhaustive writing and marketing ebook, The Newbie's Guide to Publishing, is now available on Kindle.

How exhaustive is it? It's over 370,000 words, and clocks in at over 1100 pages.

The thing that makes it possible to navigate this monster is an organized table of contents that allows you to jump around.

Which brings up an interesting point about ebooks. In this case, my book simply couldn't be sold as a print book. It is too long, too niche, and too dependent on hyperlinks. Even 1/10th of the essays were bound in a print edition, it would still cost more than the $2.99 I'm charging for it.

If you still think $2.99 is too much, you can download a pdf version for free on my website. Here's an overview of headings and contents:

WRITING - More than forty essays, covering everything you need to know to craft fiction.

BREAKING IN - Over forty essays on how to find an agent and sell your writing.

PUBLISHING - More than twenty essays about the publishing business, and how it works.

PROMOTION - Over fifty essays on marketing, advertising, and self-promotion.

TOURING - Extensive, in-depth details on how to do book tours and signings.

INTERNET - Dozens of essays on how writers can effectively use the world wide web.

EBOOKS - Speculation and real-life examples of digital publishing, the Kindle, print on demand, and self-publishing.

MOTIVATION - Over fifty essays guaranteed to enlighten and inspire your writing efforts.

Plus many, many more.

It also includes a foreword and several bonus essays by bestselling author Barry Eisler.

When I first started this blog back in 2005, my intent was to share what I've learned about the publishing business with the world. Publishing was a secretive industry, with a lot of mystery surrounding how it worked. Newbie's Guide documented my journey, while also attempting to reveal some of that mystery.

And what a long, strange trip it has been.

Now, five years and 500 posts later, I still haven't run out of things to blog about. The publishing world is in the midst of a major upheaval, with the arrival of the Kindle and other ereaders. My views continue to change and evolve as the industry does.

I plan on updating this ebook again next year, and every year after that, because I know I'll never run out of opinions, predictions, and things to say about this business.

I'd like to thank you for reading this blog. I don't do that often enough. I'm lucky to have so many blog readers who share their comments, link to me, and help spread the word. I just learned I was again named one of Writer's Digest's Top 101 Websites For Writers. Incredibly, Googling my blog address, "", gets 383,000 hits. In the past week I've done eight interviews, all based on things I've said on this blog.

Since I'm feeling reflective, I think it's appropriate to go back to my very first blog post, from March of 2005. Here's what it said:

Oh no, another blog about the publishing business.

But before you mouse over to the VIEW NEXT BLOG button, hear me out.

My first novel, WHISKEY SOUR, was published in hardcover in 2003 by Hyperion. Since that time, I've learned a heck of a lot about how this business works. And the biggest thing I've learned is this:

1. There are over 100,000 books published every year.

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

3. If you expect to stay in this business, your book had better make money.

I have hundreds of author friends. Dozens of them are on their fifth, tenth, forty-third book, and find themselves unable to sell their latest because their numbers just aren't good---their publishers aren't making back their investment.

And investment in an author is expensive. Besides the advance paid, publishers must also pay for paper, printing, binding, cover design, editorial work, galleys, corrugation (making boxes for the books to be shipped in), shipping, and marketing/advertising/promotion. What profit is left is shared with the bookseller, and often a distributor (Ingram, Baker & Taylor). On a $25 hardcover, the publisher makes about as much as the author; about three bucks.

Many of my peers believe that their job is simply to write the books, and that the publisher must sell them.

Many of these same peers find themselves struggling to sell their next project.

I believe the opposite. If it's my name on the book, it's my job to sell it. My goal is simple; to make my publisher money, so they'll buy my next book.

So does a lowly author have the power to make this happen?


That's the purpose of this blog. To raise author awareness of what needs to be done in order to become one of those one in five books that turns a profit.

My second book, BLOODY MARY, comes out this June, along with the mass market paperback edition of WHISKEY SOUR. I'll be sharing my promotion tips, what works and what doesn't, and be happy to answer any questions along the way.

My name is Joe, and I'm an author.

Welcome to my blog.


What has changed since then?

Some things have changed a lot. But some are still the same.

I still believe it is my name on the book, and my job to sell it. While it isn't within an author's power to make a book a huge hit, an author does have the power to make a book profitable.

But that's no guarantee the publisher will continue to buy books from the author. I've parted ways with two print publishers, even though my books continue to earn royalties. I've also signed deals with three other print publishers, and have learned that it's possible to make a living without print at all.

Authors have more power than ever. And you can make a difference in your career.

I'm proof.

My name is Joe, and I'm an author. I'm still here. And I plan on being here for a while.

Welcome to my blog.


CJ West said...

Thanks Joe. I downloaded just now. Really looking forward to this!


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Hello, Joe! Just started following your blog. Not a newbie - I've had six books published - but always on the lookout for new and better ways to market myself.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

It is only available on Kindle? I have a nook, and I'd rather pay than download the free pdf. Just cuz.

David Wisehart said...

I read your ebook awhile ago. It's excellent. Lots of great advice. Highly recommended.

Elizabeth S said...

Wow. That is one huge book. I'll be downloading, donating, and passing along the link to my writing group.

Author Scott Nicholson said...

"My name is Joe, and I am an author."

In unison: "Hello, Joe."

The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting you have one!

Enjoy the journey.

Professor Beej said...

It's your blog that made me actually think I could make it in the publishing industry instead of failing miserably, so thank you. I don't have aspirations of being a bestseller; I want to be a midlist author who can survive on my writing, and through your blog, you've shown me how to do that (or at least, plan for doing that) at some point in the future.

Yours may be my favorite blog in my RSS feed. My only wish for your blog was that it was on Wordpress; the comment's system is so much nicer! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog, Joe. Your words have helped me, too. I'm not a huge Kindle fan, and I don't sell many e-books, but that's not all you write about. And your words have given inspiration to thousands. I'm one of them.

I've said it before. I write non-fiction. Fifteen years ago, I was a waitress in a shitty restaurant working my way through school. I worked one shitty service job after another; slinging drinks and trying to keep drunk frat boys from grabbing my tits, mostly.

Finally, I went back to school (again), took some accounting courses and wrote a book about accounting. Aaron Shepard's books were my guide.

I didn't make anything the first year. But I a little money in year two. In year three, I quit my job. This year, year four, is my best year yet.

Thanks for keeping the torch lit, Joe.

Perry said...

Yay, I couldn't click fast enough. Thanks for this.

M. M. Justus said...

Okay, I'm blind. I can't find the .pdf of The Newbie's Guide to Publishing on your website. Help?

JA Konrath said...

Justus is blind?

Hmm. Maybe I should have a page on my website just For Writers...

David Ebright said...

I'll wait 'til I get a Kindle & buy it. Appreciate the PDF offer though. Dave

Jenn McKay said...

Hi Joe,

I just read your interview on GalleyCat

You are quoted as writing, "it's an impulse purchase". What is? Novels or ebooks or both?

When I read that I cringed. Is it just my ego? It makes me sad to think that my year or two of hard work and imagination and love would be classified as an impulse buy.

Is it related to people taking a chance on a new author?

Can we talk about that more? It might be a big reason some authors suck at promotion.

Cliff Ball said...

I downloaded the Kindle for PC just to read this. I'm not even close to being done yet, but I have found a lot of useful information that would take me a very long time to find elsewhere. Thanks for all of your hardwork!

Cliff Ball
author of Don't Mess With Earth
and Out of Time

JA Konrath said...

When I read that I cringed. Is it just my ego? It makes me sad to think that my year or two of hard work and imagination and love would be classified as an impulse buy.

You'd prefer your year or two of hard work to be ignored on the shelf, unbought and unread?

The goal is to be read, and hopefully to make some money as well. That's easier to do with a lower price. My experiments have shown that people are willing to take a chance on a new author for a lower price.

As for ego--except for maybe acting or music, writing is the most ego-crushing business there is. Rejection is part of the job, and a thick skin is required.

Garry M Graves said...

...Hi Joe, I’ve followed your blog for some time and downloaded ‘Newbies’ long ago. It’s more like a study guide as I refer to it a lot. I’ve even picked up many tips from your site design, like; ‘Let’s trade blog links,’ which we have and it’s always a joy for me to see my books (site), name posted on your blog. Having become an advocate of self-publishing, it’s always informative reading your posts about the industry, another plus for your blog. With everything going on in your life it surprises me you continue to keep very close to your blog (readers), then again it’s not surprising given your success. Each day begins with me looking at my ‘bloglines’ feed and hoping to see a new post from Konrath. Just wanted to say thanks Joe, it’s sort of like being a talk radio call in person, who has never called in.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I've read some portions of your book and skimmed others. It's comprehensive and chock full of level-headed advice that's been tested in the real world.

Your a real mensch for making it available for free.

Private said...

I've been reading your blog for some time, and you just make so much sense! This is brilliant! You're such a generous man - I'm going straight over to your website to download (don't have Kindle) this beautiful monster:)

Also, this post will be part of my Friday reccommendation on my blog, just thought I'd let you know.

Maxine Thompson said...


I love your blog! I've been reading it for a couple of months.

I started out self-published, and I'm now with a traditional publisher. I've always done a lot of promotion. I've been doing an Internet radio show of one sort of another consistently since March 2002.

I plan to get your book on marketing. We're always learning.

Thank you!

Noel said...

Your book "Newbie's Guide To Publishing" has become my new writing bible.

Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

Matthew Dayton said...

This is awesome, Joe! I've been reading your blog for a while (I remember reading about your mega book tour a few years ago!) Anyway, you have always been an inspiration to me. It was through your site that I actually first heard about Smashwords. I ended up writing a thriller over the past year called SEEK WHEN ALONE, which I just posted on Smashwords yesterday (shameless plug, I know). But I also just wanted to let you know that your blog has had a really encouraging effect on me. I probably wouldn't have finished the book, let alone got it ready for publication, if it hadn't been for all the resources on your site. Anyway, thanks again for dedicating so much time and effort to helping new writers! said...

I'm looking forward to buying your new ebook. $2.99 is a bargain for what you've included. Thank you for all the good work you do through this blog.

Helen Hanson said...

@Alexandra You’re right, the man is quite generous with time and talent.

@Joe Congratulations!
I read that Writers Digest selected your blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers! You’ve certainly earned it.

If this is old news, sorry . . .

Helen Hanson said...

@Alexandra You’re right, the man is quite generous with time and talent.

@Joe Congratulations!
I read that Writers Digest selected your blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers! You’ve certainly earned it.

If this is old news, sorry . . .

Jenn McKay said...

Joe, I wasn't thinking it was an either or situation, but when you put it that way... OUCH!

No, I would not rather have my book sit unread on a shelf. That is actually the saddest thing
I can think of.

My goal is also to be read. I guess I just reacted to the phrase 'impulse buy'. It conjured up an image of the useless mood rings for sale at the counter.

Adam Pepper said...

Thank you, Joe. For the inspiration and practical advice.

Chris W. Martinez said...

Joe -

Count me among the many who have been inspired and educated by your blogging about writing, publishing, etc.

I found your site very recently via Barry Eisler - I started with your first post and worked my way through at least a third of them all the way to the present. It was an odyssey to read!

I am yet another person who has read your many, many warnings about the myriad roadblocks and setbacks in any writing career yet does it anyway, propelled by the sheer love of writing.

For anyone interested, here's a recent humorous short story that fell out of me:

M. M. Justus said...

Cute. I was looking in your ebooks and freebies page. Given that it's both an ebook and a freebie, that seemed to make sense to me...

I did find it. But I still say it makes more sense to have your ebook on the ebooks page [g].

John Kurt said...

"Authors have more power than ever. And you can make a difference in your career."

Thanks Joe, for all the great advice, and I agree... technology is allowing more options for writers and authors than ever before.

~John Kurt

Rex Kusler said...

The cover says it all.

Win money with survey said...

Maybe you make some money from your post like me on my blog:

You can win money if you put some survey on your download link.


Carl said...

+1 for a nook version.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Maya said...

It's a great read. And inspiring. Like a kick in the butt through your Kindle!