Monday, May 24, 2010

Publishers Weekly Epic Fail

Publishers Weekly has done some terrific reviews of my books over the years. But they just did a relatively unflattering article about me that misses a few key points.

You can read it HERE.

Welcome back! That article certainly makes me seem like a loser, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, PW's version of the truth is lacking in many areas. Let's shed some light on those areas.

My six Jack Daniels books have earned US royalties in excess of $200,000. They are all still in print, some in multiple printings.

The first three have more than earned out their advance of $110,000. The second three should should earn out their advance of $125,000, but all the the books haven't been released yet. CHERRY BOMB, my last book in the contract, is not coming out in paperback until June.

The hardcover of Cherry Bomb did sell well enough to go into a second printing. The hardcover release was also mistakenly messed up--one of the major bookstore chains didn't get copies in their stores until more than two weeks after the publication date. There was a demand for Cherry Bomb that was unfortunately not met.

When my fourth Jack Daniels book was published, Hyperion chose to end their mystery line, which included me and other authors. They honored the two remaining books in the contract, but I was no longer toured, and my marketing budgets weren't nearly the same as what I received with the first three books.

After Hyperion dropped the series, my agent went to various publishers back in 2008 and pitched the next Jack Daniels. No one wanted to pick up a midlist series that had earned over $200k in print, plus has had decent foreign, audio, and ebook sales. Their loss.

As for the sales figures PW quotes from Bookscan, they certainly don't match my figures or my bank account, and it appears the 32,000 they quoted for my first book is for paperback sales, and the 4000 they quoted for Cherry Bomb is for the hardcover release, which was botched in one of the major chains, but still managed to somehow sell enough to have a second printing. Kind of a simple-yet-important thing to overlook, PW mixing up those paperback and hardcover sales, and it certainly does make it look like my overall sales dropped dramatically. In fact, reading the article, it seems they weren't even aware I was in hardcover, saying I was "published by Hyperion in paperback for years."

Of course, things like that are very difficult to verify, and would have required intense research along the lines of going to or visiting my website.

PW also wrote, "So Konrath essentially took a book no one wanted and instead of fully self-publishing it, signed with Amazon-Encore, which will bring the book out in paperback a year after the Kindle release this summer and at the very least e-mail all those who downloaded his last book."

Shaken will be released in the fall, not the summer, which is a small mistake, but could have been averted by reading the press release. I believe PW got a copy of that. The print version also comes out four months later, not a year later. That press release thing could have helped there as well.

It's also worth noting that Amazon is going to do a helluva lot more than simply emailing people who downloaded my last book, but my NDA won't allow me to discuss it. I can say it is more than ANY of my other publishers have done for any of my books, and I'm thrilled to be working with them.

I originally intended to self-pub Shaken--after all, I'm making a small fortune self-pubbing. But in the meantime, I signed three other print publishing deals, so I had to put Jack Daniels on hold.

Then, in January of 2010, AmazonEncore approached me about one of my other ebooks. I pitched them Shaken, they liked the idea, and it took a while to hammer out the contract.

I absolutely DID NOT sign with AmazonEncore as a last resort. If Encore had been an option back in 2008 when my agent shopped Shaken around, they would have been my first choice. But they didn't even exist yet.

I didn't self-publish Shaken, even though I endorse self-pubbing, because AmazonEncore will be able to reach a much wider audience than I can on my own. But that doesn't mean I would rather take any old print deal than self-publish. I am self-publishing two original novels on Amazon's Digital Text Platform next month, and both did have offers from major print publishers that I could have taken. I chose not to, and am going the self-pub route because I believe fully in ebooks and Kindle.

One would think PW would have checked with me to confirm some of this. In fact, I was contacted repeatedly by PW, but the only question they asked was about the royalty rate of the Amazon deal. I explained I signed a non disclosure agreement and couldn't reveal it. The reporter persisted, asking several times, and finally I said, "Would you like to get a quote from an anonymous source?"

When I received an affirmative response, I replied, "Next time an anonymous source confides in me, I'll send him your way."

I also did mention to the reporter that I have sold 46,000 ebooks on DTP, and was currently selling 220 per day. But perhaps these weren't important facts for an article about ebooks.

Elsewhere in the article, one agent insinuated my ebook efforts were "schemes." He's correct. They are schemes for me to get rich. And they appear to be working.

Bottom line: I'm profitable, Big NY Publishing took a pass on Shaken two years ago, AmazonEncore came along two years later and played it very smart, and the revolution is on, baby.

I don't happen to have a PW membership, so I can't reply in the thread to that article and correct what I perceive to be misrepresentations of the issue. If you're reading this, and can post on PW, please copy and paste this blog entry in PW's comments section. If several of you do this, I won't be adverse to it. Also, you're free to Twitter this, link to your blogs, Facebook, etc. The more, the merrier.

What do you think? Does PW owe me an apology? A retraction?

For the record, I'm not angry with PW. Any press is good press, especially when they give me a wonderful opportunity like this to set the record straight. And though their article really was an epic fail when it came to the truth, I wish them nothing but the best, and do truly hope PW is still around when digital ultimately replaces print.


Ellen Fisher said...

There is definitely a lot of bias here. The article seems to imply the deal is somehow less than a "real" publishing deal-- the phrase "instead of fully self-publishing it" implies that going with AmazonEncore is partially self-pubbing, which it's not. This sentence also confuses the issue: "While self-publishing has been around for years, this agent noted, 'what's new here is the means.'" Later parts of the article describe as a "midway point" between the big boys and self-publishing, which I would seem to be a better description. But the first part of the article seems quite confused on what constitutes self-publishing.

And the agent who thinks it's a "scheme"? It would be one thing if he were referring only to your self-publishing (though dismissing your numbers as a "scheme" seems rather inaccurate to me), but he seems to be speaking directly of the AmazonEncore deal. Unless his quote was taken out of context, the only conclusion I can draw is that he, too, thinks it's self-publishing. I've seen it described as self-publishing elsewhere (one article today called it DIY). I guess the difference between Amazon and AmazonEncore is being lost in translation by some folks.

Cat Connor said...

I would think PW do owe you an apology.
It's not that difficult to get facts correct.
As for your scheme... I love it! :-)

Terri said...

tsk tsk, one should always check one's facts before going to print. Don't they realise that if one fact is inaccurate it discredits the entire article?

Alastair Mayer said...

I don't worry much about what PW says. They called my first ever published story (part of an anthology) "trite moralizing on the need for a space program". But at least they spelled my name right.

MCM said...

Wow, the gloves really came off there, didn't they? I can't decide if this is aimed at delegitimizing your strategy in the eyes of agents ("If your clients do this, they're dead to us") or if it's just an error-ridden mantra they're repeating to themselves to help them sleep at night.

It all goes back to the thing I don't understand about the publishing biz: when someone does something crazy and new, they pull out the pitchforks. Your going to Amazon Encore for this one book doesn't take anything away from them... why are they getting so snarky? They should be watching, waiting to see what happens, and hopefully poaching your best ideas.

That article was a big load of sour grapes. They don't owe you an apology, they owe their subscribers one.

David Tanner said...

Seriously? Okay, Joe the PW article might be the lamest article ever (don't know yet, have to wait on the judges ruling). The thing was dripping with bias.

Objectivity? We don't need no stinking objectivity!

Oh, well. We'll see what they say in a few years. I think a lot of people, i.e. agents and publishing houses,are missing the boat on ebooks/new trends in publishing and have the wrong attitude but who am I?

Rob Walker said...

Oh hell PW has long and always had a mean, even vicious streak; they have lambasted my novels for thirty years like spoiled kids who can't play the game and can only watch from outside -- truer now than ever as they have no idea of the revolution in ebooks and the closer than ever bond Kindle has creaed between writer and reader. That said Kris Tualla has been having guest blogger-mouths like myself come on and I am part 4 and 5 dealing with why I have created five Original to Kindle books, and why I am having my work in progress go straight up on Kindle and not so much as bothering with NYC publishers for my 50th title Curse of the Titanic.
The blog is great and is found at

Brian Drake said...

One thing I've noticed, in following comments on other blogs once the Shaken news broke, is the willingness of other midlist authors to attack and ridicule anybody considering experimenting the same way you have, Joe, such as myself with a short story collection called "Reaper's Dozen" which I'm releasing this winter (see my own blog for more). Go to Ed Gorman's blog for a big example, where I stirred things up quite a bit myself. There's a lot of fear out there over what all this means, so nobody is going to be nice.

Simon Hay said...

I've seen so many misinformed comments that you've politely corrected. The article is just another one. Don't worry about an apology.
You scare everybody. Change is this easy. Taking control of our careers is easy.
I'm grateful for the transparency and full disclosure you give us. I know you don't have to, and I know how much you love this industry.
Thanks for being a pioneer.

JA Konrath said...

You know how to recognize a pioneer? The arrows in his front and back. :)

Anonymous said...

The comments are coming fast and furious, Joe.

I blogged and linked to this post.

I used to subscribe to PW, but I stopped when I started seeing that most of their ads were from vanity publishers like AuthorHouse.

Seriously... that article seemed designed only to demoralize any author who decides to make money any other way than through the traditional channels.

Pretty Shitty.

Anonymous said...

I tried posting this to Nathan Bransford's blog and he deleted it:

I think that JA Konrath's deal is the beginning of the end of traditional publishing and the death of the "big 5" publishers. For a long time now Agents and Publishers have been busy playing gatekeeper and preventing new voices from getting heard.

All agents want to represent is "Something exactly like what I previously sold." and all Publishers want to buy is "Something exactly like what is currently selling."

They have been so busy behind their castle walls chasing after fleeting trends that they didn't notice that the castle walls are overgrown with vines and are threatening to crumble down around them.

Konrath's deal is the first execution in the French Revolution of publishing.


Anonymous said...

I wouldnt worry about PW being accurate. They're irrelevant. They're on another planet, a destroyed one hurtling into oblivion. They still think readers are too stupid to know what they like to read and ought to instead heed their laughable unsigned 'reveiws' badly written by graduate students desperate to join the dullards at PW.

Incidentially, You can post your own responses at PW online, it doesnt require a membership.

I join you in wishing PW well, they really need it, considering their past and current 'droid' and aged management who are dying to seem cool by trailing the e-revolution-- only about 15 years too late. They're so untight, they're limp.

Ian Barker said...

The times they are a changing. PW may catch up eventually.

Anonymous said...

"I tried posting this to Nathan Bransford's blog and he deleted it"

No surprises there.

Surely, you don't think he's backing the self-publisher?!

J L said...

As a relative newcomer to publishing, I wish I could find a somewhat objective source of information about the biz. PW isn't it. I think your blog provides good info and a few other author blogs do as well. I gave up on review blogs except for entertainment value (although Dear Author does sometimes have good technical info). Keep posting hard figures, Joe. At least that way I can get a sense of who's playing what game.

Mike Jastrzebski said...

At the very least they owe you an apology. As for a retraction---I think a correction would be more in line with what's needed.

By the way Joe, I want to thank you for all of the upfront information. I have been trying for several years to get published and I am considering self-publishing to Kindle. I've had agents tell me that five years ago they could have sold mu current book.

Your blogs have given me an upfront look at the future and I may just take the chance.

Christopher Forrest said...

PW has a vested interest in the traditional big house publishing model. If publishing follows the trend that crushed the old school music industry, PW's advertising revenues and subscriptions will fall off a cliff and doom their business model. That's quite an incentive to put a negative spin on Konrath's trailblazing efforts. I dropped my PW subscription last year. PW is a dinosaur clinging to the past. Soon they will be irrelevant. Joe, don't give the article another thought.

PV Lundqvist said...

I noticed that all the quotes are from people with a stake in the status quo of publishing.

It's a little like writing an article on that new-found Protestant movement and asking the Pope, Thomas Aquinas, and the Grand Inquisitor what they think.

Mark Terry said...

I posted a note on it last night before your correction here because I had problems with the article. Rachel Deahl's piece is titled "Agents Weigh the Growth Of Alternate Publishing Options" so it's reasonable to believe it's going to primarily be an article voicing the opinions of agents. That's fine. The problem with it, as I pointed out, is that although there are a few facts in the article, most of them are inaccurate. In fact, it makes the matter a bit worse in that the agents who responded--especially Ira Silverberg at Sterling Lord--seemed to be responding to either a question they had very little knowledge of, or quite likely, they've read part of a press release about the deal, haven't heard of you, and then made a lot of assumptions.

Although the tone is fairly snarky, it's horribly unbalanced, although Waxman's comments are interesting. What's unforgivable to me--and I'm a freakin' journalist, after all--is the inaccuracy of the facts. I don't expect an apology, but PW has a problem with this article in that they're supposed to be authorities on publishing, but they didn't get any of the publishing information correct. Slant your interpretation of the data any damn way you want, but lay out the data correctly--and Deahl didn't.

Anonymous said...

Well, agents are going to say things like that, because when big print publishing crumbles, they're out of jobs.

The big houses are interested in big names and celebrity bios from illiterate tv stars. There's only so many of those to go around for the agents.

They're trying to intimidate you. They're trying to intimidate ALL of us.

Anonymous said...

I am a little surprised at all the support you got to this blog post. Yes they were wrong, and yes you have the right (if not the obligation) to set the record straight. But it is also important not to present your self like a jilted lover, frothing at the mag that did you wrong. You are a writer, tone and voice should be your best weapon, and spin your killing stroke.

Anonymous said...

Nathan posted about Joe in his Friday links. I think it was the off with their heads that got him--he has a play nice rule on his blog.

JA Konrath said...

Sloppy journalism is one thing. But when the misrepresentation of facts presents an incorrect version of reality, its unpardonable from a respected magazine.

This isn't a case of a few errors. This shows specific intent, which if fueled by the errors.

Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail. It tarnishes PW, and they should be ashamed.

Mary Stella said...

They owe you a correction of their errors, but don't hold your breath.

I've reached the point where I'm no longer amazed at how often writers and publications get their facts wrong. I'm still always pleasantly surprised when a magazine calls me to fact check a story on my "day job". Too bad more don't do so.

Joe, that PW article quoted an agent who has started a digital publishing company. I heard a couple of agents at RT say they are also now publishers. What's your take on this? Isn't it a huge conflict of interest for an author rep to be in the position of publishing his/her clients? How do they negotiate with themselves for better deals for the authors they represent? *g*

Unknown said...

I took exception to some of the things they printed, not so much on your behalf, Joe, but on my own and on that of the industry.

I didn't want to take up a lot of space on your blog with my opinions, so I did my own blog post.

If anyone cares what I think and how I perceived the PW article you can finish reading Joe's blog then hop on over to mine at

author x said...

Well now we know what side PW is on. They're not Authors Weekly or Readers Weekly, after all. Big NY Publishers Weekly *has* to be against this and any "scheme" that helps authors & readers because it's making them ever-more irrelevant & obsolete. Not just publishers (who aren't printing good or original literary stuff either), but also the agents are part of this system. (Agents too, speaking from a published author of literary fiction, are pretty closedminded and after certain stereotyped formulas only. So many classics wouldn't be printed today, but these guys haven't even read them either!)

I'm glad that the old-guard of publishing, which is responsible for killing the short story, taking poetry out of the popular mind, and passing up great literature for trashy dumb trendiness is finally on the chopping block here.

JA Konrath said...

Last year I wrote about a new type of role in the ebook world, and coined the term "estributor."

This would be someone who liaisons between writer and ebook seller, to edit the book, format it, upload it, and provide cover art and product description, for a flat fee or a percentage of the profits.

Agents are in a perfect position to take on this role. I don't beleive it is a conflict of interest, and I would consider working with an estributor so I didn't have to do all that other stuff.

PokerBen said...

Clearly PW is in denial about the changing times. They just chose to take it out on you Joe. That's pretty pathetic on their part. Oh well, only time will tell. They can't just close their eyes and hope it goes away.

Keep fighting the good fight Mr. Pioneer, Joe Konrath!

Literarily Speaking said...

Actually it didn't make me think you were a loser or think less of you. I actually thought it was a good PR move and you didn't have to do a thing. You don't have to get defensive at all - you're a front runner. ;o)

Anonymous said...

My reaction to the article?

The toothpaste is out of the tube, and they are trying to put it back in.

Good luck with that!

The Stiletto Gang said...

They are just really nervous about e-publishing and the whole switch of what's going on in the publishing industry. It's what happens with anything that causes a big change in something people think they are experts in.

I've been e-published for years, long before Kindle, and saw this coming--just surprised it took so long.


Thomas Brookside said...

Again, this comes back to the fact that publishers can't or won't properly pay their authors in, you know, actual currency, so part of every author's pay is prestige: the prestige of being "published".

That system cannot be maintained unless everyone who steps outside of it is demeaned.

So of course they will misrepresent your history and your current success, and of course they will shade their language to imply that you are desperate, illegitimate, a traditional publishing failure, a "schemer", a "jilted lover", etc. You are now the Other.

It probably gets worse from here, too.

John McFetridge said...

Sure, they owe you an apology, but they also owe their readers a more accurate article.

Using sales figures from paperbacks and hardcovers without identifying them as such is bad, and maybe even more importantly, the discrepency between the release dates of the e-books and the print book - that's something that other publishers might be interested in. It's cetrainly something they'll be watcing closely.

And, you're really onto something with "estributors."

If agents don't want to step into that it's likely that some small presses will.

As e-books make it more possible or individual authors to make mone self-publishing, it also makes it easier for small presses to compete.

Maryannwrites said...

It is good to have the clarifications you made here, Joe. This whole business of e-pubbing seems to have created a lot of misconceptions and misrepresentations. Thank you for providing resources and commentary that clears matters up.

Rex Kusler said...

Many literary agents these days seem to see themselves as visionaries. One of the most successful agents of all time, Scott Meredith, said it best: "We're hucksters."

Barry Eisler said...

I tweeted about it, too, using publisherswkly in my tweets to make sure PW sees them. Will also put up links on my Facebook pages. I can't log on to PW, or I'd leave a comment there, too.

There are two problems with the article: the inaccuracies, and the anonymous agent. The inaccuracies speak for themselves. As for the anonymous agent, why did PW grant him (assuming the reporter didn't invent him - after all, we have no way of checking) anonymity? Was the agent some kind of whistleblower? Did the agent fear Joe, from his position of power, might retaliate?

Reflexive grants of anonymity are a hallmark of shoddy journalism. Combined with the tendentious factual errors, there's no way to look at this except as a hit piece. PW screwed up in publishing it. If they don't correct it and adequately explain the use of an anonymous source, they go from screwup to on purpose.

Zoe Winters said...

With disinformation like this PW truly hampers their credibility for me. I think I won't be paying for that massively expensive subscription after all.

When major industry "news sources" and a few agents become "haters" you know you're about to split the publishing atom.

I want to be you when I grow up. Except I like being a girl.

Anonymous said...

I read Nathan's weekly recap blog post on Friday and he's saying some pretty smart things about Joe's deal with Amazon. I don't always agree with Bransford, but he's talking about writers having more options, which is where the industry is going.

It's true that Bransford has a "play nice" rule, but his comments about AmazonEncore seem thoughtful and fair.

Joe has an agent, and he likes her. I don't think that agents and publishers are the enemy; they are trying to make money. So are all of us. Sometimes publishers don't make smart choices, like passing on Joe's most recent book. Sometimes I don't make smart choices, either. I ate a whole creme brule by myself to celebrate purchasing our new car. It was awesome.

Morgan Mandel said...

It appears to me that many of the traditionalists are running scared!

Was this a way to get even or an honest mistake?

Either way, what they did was unprofessional. You don't state something as a fact unless you know for sure it's true.

Morgan Mandel

Zoe Winters said...

Re: Nathan Bransford

I don't think he deleted your comment. Though I do find it curious that anonymous posters bitch about their dissent being thrown away. Put your name behind your words and maybe more will respect it.

Bransford has held many very open debates and discussions on his blog and he's let people verbally abuse him for several posts before blocking them... anonymously even.

He's featured me in the past as a commenter of the week with regards to self-publishing tips. He's posted several posts about self-publishing that were open-minded and non-snarky. He recognizes the changes in the industry and seems to be someone who truly cares about writers and their success.

He is one of very few agents that I have any respect for whatsoever.

Are you sure it didn't get stuck in spam or that your comments weren't coupled with anonymously delivered verbal abuse?

Because I've followed Nathan's blog for a long time. My money is with him and his integrity over that of an anonymous poster.


Zoe Winters said...

"anonymously even" meant that Bransford has allowed anonymous posters to say all kinds of stupid crap to and about him on his blog before finally getting fed up and blocking them. Which is why I don't really believe he deleted your post at all unless there is a part you aren't telling us.

Aim said...

You seem to be scaring people, Joe. How dare you do things your own way and be successful. :-) I just linked your blog in my new blog post.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Yeah, Joe, they do owe you an apology. You'd think that a publisher that speaks for the world of literary work would actually check their facts. Uhm...yeah. I thought those statistics sounded off. Glad to hear they were WAY off. I wish you well, Joe. You've given me a lot of inspiration, business savvy, and encouragement. Keep doing what you're doing.

Rex Kusler said...

PW probably hopes raising your blood pressure will help their circulation.

Zoe Winters said...

LOL Rex, was that a pun?

Larry Kollar said...

Classic hit piece on PW's part. They contacted you, but didn't care about what you had to say to include a quote — nor did they call/quote AmazonEncore. I had the same thing happen to me a few years ago, blogging a series of articles that drew a sharp response from a consultant who quoted other cons but didn't even bother to email me for a response.

They've gone straight from ignoring & laughing at you to fighting you. Next step, of course, is you win!

Rex Kusler said...

heh heh heh...

JA Konrath said...

They've gone straight from ignoring & laughing at you to fighting you. Next step, of course, is you win!

Cool reverse Godwin's Law: Internet comments devolve to Gandhi. :)

I also like: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” and “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

Rex Kusler said...

They should change their name to Publishers Weakly.


Hell Yeah they owe you an apology. Will you get one? Probably not, unless its a backhanded one.

They, like every other traditional publisher thought E-Pubs would go away like disco but it hasn't and it won't. They also jumped on the e wagon as soon as they saw the $$'s

Anonymous said...

Amazon CEO says 'millions' of Kindles have sold
3 min ago - MarketWatch

Anybody have more on this story? It sounds like it is more than the 2 million that analysts often quote.

Ty said...

Sigh. I've said it before and I'll say it again, as a former newspaper journalist, I see what's happening currently in the book publishing industry what has been happening to newspapers for the last few decades (slowly at first, now steamrolling downhill).

For those who say there's no relation, you're wrong. When it comes to print vs. electronic publishing, the biggest change is in distribution, across-the-board change for all forms of publishing.

The big book publishers aren't going to die tomorrow. In fact they'll probably be around for years. But they're going to take fewer and fewer chances on beginning or mid-list authors, and they're bottom line is going to slowly start shrinking. Sorry, folks, but Stephen King and J.K. Rowling aren't going to be around forever.

The big shame, as I see it, is that instead of embracing the new opportunities and trying to make a buck from it, the big publishers are trying to fight it. Won't work. They're going to lose. Joe Konrath might or might not be the glorious rebel leader charging at the front of the fray, but he's definitely a link in a chain to bigger things down the road.

Alastair Mayer said...

Re. Kindle sales. Technically even 2 million is "millions". The analyses I've seen (I was researching this a week or so ago), partly based on looking what the third-party manufacturer of the Kindles is ordering,etc, suggests that the number of Kindle devices sold is probably about 2.5 million currently. That doesn't count the however many non-Kindle devices which have Kindle Reader software installed; that's a much harder number to estimate.

Amazon is keeping the number close to its vest, and it's in their interest for it to be perceived as on the high side.

Vincent Zandri said...

I had too much to say about this PW BS Joe, so I blogged about it:

Keep it going...:)

Anne R. Allen said...

PV Lundqvist said it better than I can, "It's a little like writing an article on that new-found Protestant movement and asking the Pope, Thomas Aquinas, and the Grand Inquisitor what they think."

Of course PW owes you an apology. But you won't get it, anymore than the President will ever get an apology from Faux News. We live in an age when there are no facts: everything is spin.

This is the real reason you are the enemy and the "glorious rebel leader": you back up everything you say with provable financial data. You wield the most terrifying weapon of all: truth.

lisekimhorton said...

Joe, I am intrigued by your response to the PW article, which I'd read (eagerly I might add, because I am a firm believer in e-books, in self-publishing for the motivated and marketing savvy author, and your route with Amazon). First let me say "more power to you" for taking the bull by the horns. PW, and many others in the various publishing genres are still holding out to the old publishing model as the only "real" publishing avenue for an author. With print publishers cutting purchases, cutting marketing, and with bookstores closing, buying fewer (especially the midlist authors') books and with every single author competing for the dollar of book buyers, that old-fangled devotion seems to me to be both short-sighted and biased. However, I believe that moves like yours, and other e-book and digital "shake ups" are slowly changing minds. The ease of technology to afford an author a publication opportunity, as well as to offer that published work to a far, far reaching audience of proven digital customers (as well as POD customers) is going to change things, and fast. Consider yourself a pioneer. The PW errors in the article (known only to you, not to readers of the article) and the article itself did not make you look like a loser to me. But it did make that editor look a tad grouchy. I'll be watching for your Amazon release!

Jack H. H. King said...


You picked a fight.

You tag-teamed with Amazon and sent out a press release with the headline NEW YORK SUCKS.

Of course they would hit you back.

And it was cruel. They sat you in the comfy chair. They poked you with soft cushions.

New York doesn’t know what to do with a novelist whose book sells less than 100,000 copies. New York is a room of old women throwing spaghetti at the wall. New York is my grandmother. We don’t want her to die. But she’s not getting any younger. And her mind is beginning to fail. The only thing we can do now is make fun of her.

Amazon, on the other hand, is the world’s greatest pimp. Amazon is the reason I haven’t had sex in a bookstore for over twelve years. But Amazon needs a real competitor in the ebook market, to keep them honest, because right now Apple and Google and Microsoft and Sony are a bunch of drunken squirrels.

I love this conflict. I hope it escalates.

- Jack

Rob Walker said...

All I know is that not in my best year with traditional publishers did I ever have a single title go out of brick and mortar stores like I have seen the 800 plus titles purchased by kindlers with my name on them, and I owe this entirely to Joe Konrath who dragged me kicking and screaming into writing for Kindle, and my next work in progress will join my books traditioanl publishing let go out of print, along with several already "Original to Kindle" titles.
Putting up my Curse of the Titanic as soon as I can do the rewrites and have it edited and vetted by some serious cold eyed editors.

Like eStibutors, I see a market here for eEditors, a big one! My son is doing eArt for books. Like Green Technology (how long has that been resisted?) whole new 'industries' are waiting to open and I dearly need a bunch of
eReviewers to show up - anyone? Need my Children of Salem reviewed, and my old faithful Killer Instinct reviewed and the list goes on and on....

Blogged on this at (free stuff)

Anonymous said...

"So Konrath essentially took a book no one wanted and instead of fully self-publishing it, signed with Amazon-Encore."

Although the sales figures cited by PW immediately prior to the above statement may be somewhat off, the statement is nevertheless, in the end, accurate. PW accurately concluded that this is a situation involving a MS that none of the big houses wanted, for whatever reason, and posed the issue as to what this means, if anything.

PW asked several industry members what they thought about the matter. Those persons gave their opinions. They were widely scattered.

You may like them or hate then, and you may agree with them or disagree, but those people are entitled to their opinions. PW is also entitled to report opinions they receive.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with the PW article.

Rob Again said...

PS = failed to mention that 800 plus copies of my books on Kindle are just for May, and May's not over yet! Shootiing for 1,000 books. Even at 800, that is a lotta new readers for this lifelong "midlister" == notice how Midlist Author is now a BADGE of Honor?

Rob Walker said...

Anonymous sounds as if she is the author of the piece of shoddy reporting done on Joe...The PW is not the Glenn Beck Show where you get to report nonsense. I have known Joe for well over a decade and his sales are far greater than reported in PW, a place where reports of author's book sales happens every day, so why couldn't the bitch find accurate numbers? Cause she is a SNARKY BITCH.

Furthermore, I strongly suspect neither she nor anon here has even read any of Joe's work - not a paragraph.


Flick Masters said...

Not so sure why all the name calling is necessary.

If JA Konrath's sixth book sold less than his first, it means his sales are on a declining path, which makes him less attractive to any mainstream publisher. After all, if his books were such big sellers, another publisher would have picked him up. It's that simple. It's great that Konrath has earned out his advance, but he needs to do more than just break even, or make a marginal profit.

If Konrath can make more money on AmazonEncore, all power to him. But he's not a big threat to the big publishers, because they never made much money off him to begin with.

I think the publishers will be worried if their stars start going this route -- if Nelson DeMille jumps to AmazonEncore, then there will be a publishing revolution on our hands. But that's not happening -- at least not right now.

Bill Peschel said...

While I don't know enough about how they do things at PW, I know enough about reporting and editing, and I suspect the mistakes in the article were the reporter's fault, abetted by the lack of editing and double-checking of facts.

It really is unforgivable to misstate publication information that's readily available.

C E said...

Non-fiction writers have these deadlines and editors who have deadlines and often such time constrictions lead to ..., well, crap on the page.

Go Get 'em, Mr. Konrath

JA Konrath said...

Although the sales figures cited by PW immediately prior to the above statement may be somewhat off, the statement is nevertheless, in the end, accurate.

"Accurate" isn't a word I'd use.

The numbers are waaaay off, not "somewhat". From my first book, to my fourth book (when my publisher dropped the line and the series) my numbers were consistent. I didn't go from 32,000 to 4000. I went from 10,000 to 10,000 to 10,000 to 10,000 in hardcover. The last two books in hardcover were 7000 and 7000, and I attribute the drop to my publisher not marketing them like they had the previous four, and ME not marketing them either. I didn't tour. I didn't do nearly the promo I did for the early ones. I'd moved on to other things.

When Big NY Publishing passed on Shaken, I signed three other book deals and set Jack Daniels aside. When Encore approached me two years later, I recognized the chance to keep the series going, and jumped at it.

AmazonEncore, and the opportunities they represent, WERE NOT AROUND when my agent shopped Shaken. So it isn't a case of me picking them last (or getting picked last), which the above statement implies. That PW statement also equates Encore with self-pubbing by using the word "fully." Guess what? AmazonEncore doesn't accept just anybody. They've been very picky in vetting books. And their contract is a standard pub contract, not POD or vanity or self-pub in the least.

So while the statement isn't necessarily false, it is inaccurate, and the incorrect stats setting it up make it even more inaccurate.

While a handful of major houses passed on Shaken, my agent didn't shop it to more than a few, because I'd already moved on by then with other deals. This isn't a case of the book being rejected by everyone. If memory serves, it was no more than five or six.

It's great that Konrath has earned out his advance, but he needs to do more than just break even, or make a marginal profit.

Last I heard, only 1 out of 5 books makes a profit. Mine do. As for "marginal" that depends what you mean. If you earn 10% on an investment, is that "marginal?" How about 30%? Is that a poor return on an investment?

It isn't worth digging into my past royalty statements and digging up numbers--I have the latest royalty statement in front of me, but it doesn't list accrued royalties--only for the current period. But since my first contract earned out a few years about, I've gotten bi-annual four figure and five figure checks.

So I'd estimate my "marginal" profit is about 30% - 40% over the advance. I would expect my second advance to do the same, after it earns out--the other on didn't earn out until a year after the last paperback in the three book deal was published.

Perry said...

Unfortunately, news articles only publish what they think will sell. I'm not sure an appology will do anything to correct the errors.
I'd be interested to hear ifyou had a spike of visits to your blog or website after the article from people who are looking for the whole story.

Rex Kusler said...

PW circulation is less then 40,000.
Trailer Life circulation is 250,000.

I'd be more concerned with bad press in Trailer Life Magazine.

Anonymous said...

"That PW statement also equates Encore with self-pubbing by using the word "fully." "

You're reading too much into the PW language. The article says,"So Konrath essentially took a book no one wanted and instead of fully self-publishing it, signed with Amazon-Encore."

It's accurate that you didn't self-publish it. You didn't go to DTP.

The PW article doesn't equate "Amazon-Encore" with "self-publishing." The word "fully" doesn't imply that. In fact it implies that Encore is NOT self-publishing.

The word "fully" may imply that PW doesn't hold Encore in much of a higher esteem than straight DTP self-publishing. It may imply that PW views Encore as something far below a traditional publisher. But again, even if that is the case, PW is entitled to have an opinion as to where Encore fits in the publishing landscape at the present time.

What I do find interesting is the fact that you strongly point out that Encore doesn't take just anyone and that this is not a self-publishing deal, or even akin to one, i.e, not everyone could have gotten the deal you landed.

It's as if, deep down, you still see the "self-publishing" tag as a stigma that may be fine when applied to other people but not to you.

JA Konrath said...

Oh, by the way, those 10,000 hardcover sales are without discounting or coop placement or big box stores.

Is it a huge number? No. But I never had 40% discounted front of table space, so those numbers are based on full price in the mystery section, often just spine out.

But those sales don't include paperback, foreign, audio, and ebooks.

With so many books losing money, I was a safe bet. No one took the safe bet. Their loss, Amazon's gain.

JA Konrath said...

It's as if, deep down, you still see the "self-publishing" tag as a stigma that may be fine when applied to other people but not to you.

Hell, no. I am self-publishing two titles on Amazon next month. But AmazonEncore isn't self-pubbing, and they shouldn't be confused.

Linda C. McCabe said...

I didn't see any mention in the comment trail of PW's follow up article, by the same reporter.

She does seem like she's quoting you accurately this time. It seems like direct quotes from your blog.

Linda C. McCabe said...

Here's the link shortened:

This dust up between you and PW is also mentioned in today's Publishers' Lunch. And ya know, I think your name was spelled correctly each time. That's good publicity.

Have fun at the BEA.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

As a reporter for over twelve years, I have to say that this is an embarrassment to the institution of journalism. To post such a biased article and call it "news" - for shame!

John Rector said...

Just to add a point here... Not everyone involved in traditional publishing is fighting against AmazonEncore.

When I got the call from AmazonEncore saying they wanted to publish my novel, The Grove, I talked to my editor at Tor/Forge, and my editor at Simon and Schuster (who is publishing The Grove in the UK feb 2011). Not only were they both excited about the deal, they encouraged me to take it.

AmazonEncore offers publicity on a massive scale, which is something a lot of cash strapped traditional publishers can't provide for mid-list writers like Joe, or for brand new writers like me.

AmazonEncore is a way to introduce a writer's work to a much, much larger audience, and hopefully boost sales of back list titles at the same time.

For someone just starting out with a traditional publisher, like me, it would've been foolish not to take the deal. Thankfully, both of my editors were smart enough to see it this way, too.

Joel Goldman said...

Joe, well done. Glad to post the link to FB, Twitter and PW.

Vincent Zandri said...

Be nice if said "anonymous" agent chimed in, and revealed his or herself...No doubt you're looking at this anonymous agent...aren't you?

Anonymous said...

Re: Nathan Bransford

Because I've followed Nathan's blog for a long time. My money is with him and his integrity over that of an anonymous poster.

That is the exact same post Nathan deleted. I know, I save them as text files before I post them.

Bransford thrives on being an interenet celebrity and has used both his celebrity and his position as an agent to score himself a publishing deal. Which of his clients was he ignoring while he was busy brokering his own publishing deal? Which of his current or future clients was he ignoring while he was writing his book?

A few weeks ago he was bragging about how he had blown through some 400+ query letters in a few hours. Do you want your query letter to be one of the hundreds he deleted while he was busy writing his blog???

His blog is an enjoyable read, but take a serious look at the clients he is representing and you can see that as an agent his biggest success is publishing his own book, not a book for a client.

He has fallen into the Colleen Lindsay trap of believing that they are a "good" agent because their blog is popular. The best agents are those companies without a blog.

Your clients come first.

JA Konrath said...

I like Bransford. I don't agree with everything he says, but most of the advice he gives is good, and he has been one of the only industry pros who has mentioned me in his blog. The rest either don't know who I am, or are ignoring me.

Did I mention I met an agent last October in Bouchercon who said to me, "I know who you are, and I don't want to hear anything you have to say."

Epic denial.

(BTW, I'm overusing the word "Epic" lately but I just love the way it sounds.)

Anonymous said...

"Amazon, on the other hand, is the world’s greatest pimp. Amazon is the reason I haven’t had sex in a bookstore for over twelve years."

Jack, you get my vote for the quote of the decade. I...LOVE...THIS.

And the spaghetti-throwing grandmother was pretty funny, too.

What's with all the anons on this blog posting shitty comments? A lot of people disagree with Joe, and he's always polite, even when he's being forceful. At least have the balls to sign in.

Thomas Brookside said...

Anonymous wants to parse this article fairly closely, but the choice of language used in the article makes it clear that it's a deliberate hack job.

I suppose next he'll post, "Well, you know, if you go by the dictionary definition, what Konrath is doing literally is a 'scheme'. So it's 'accurate' to call it one."

Anyone who takes one day of journalism class knows that the selection of quotes can also reveal reporter bias. Look at the selection of quotes used in this article.

"They flip off the publishers who rejected them, claim new technology will support their career, and they get attention they never had before. Let's see if we remember who those authors are in a few years." Publishing this quote without at least asking Konrath if he wanted to comment on it makes this smear job hackery. So much for PW's status as an industry publication of record.

JA Konrath said...

At least have the balls to sign in.

I'm liking you more and more, Christy. How's the sweet new car?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Thomas. The PW quotes and wording were deceptive, at best. Let's have some fun and prove a point, shall we? Here's the most douchey quote in the article:

"They flip off the publishers who rejected them, claim new technology will support their career, and they get attention they never had before. Let's see if we remember who those authors are in a few years."

Now, let's just make some reasonable word subsititutions:

"I [Sterlong Lord guy] will beat off any publisher... new technology will destroy my career, and [previously rejected] authors [like Konrath] will get attention like they never had before! Let's see if I remember [how to get a job] in a few years."

Genius. I could totally work for Rupert Murdoch.

How's the sweet new car?

S-W-E-E-T. Mercedes-- the first one my husband and I have ever owned.

Pimpin' Pimpin'

Anonymous said...

can guarantee hacks at PW are reading this post and comments, esp writer who finger-knitted spin on Konrath.

PW shards likely google their own names daily. Likely why they have no time for precisely accurate fact-checking. Too much looking to see who said what about themselves. Thin- skinned in the extreme they seem now that their gatekeeping hulls are busted wide open and they're taking on big water... as they deserve to be.

PW owned the franchise over bk reveiws and pub news for years and squandered it with their twee attitudes toward who is a 'real' author and who isnt, which celebrity agents/ pubs to focus on (damn few)

Firing their aging editors a couple years ago didnt freshen their blood. They just repeated first-cousin marriages and predictable offspring as usual.

Given the swill they put out that has no craft to it, no precision, no dpeth, pw looks like a gigantic flaccid op-ed page. I cancelled my subscription months ago. It was usury for little value. Most of the info is on other blogs and pub websites.

I like another commenter's notation re Trailer Life vs pw; while you're at it look at LJ (library Journal) subscriptions and Kirkus subs... oh, I guess Kirkus the other twee org no longer shows on the 'must read' radar. Same path PW is on. Konrath has managed to highlight PW's sloth in a way all the letters to pw ed never could. It is a good day when one sees an author able to retort/respond/reply as he wishes. If there were there no blogs, PS would never publish a word of Konrath's hitback or would edit it to spin it again

Gabriela Popa said...

Joe et al,

No matter how acid the discussion gets here and how furiously we throw flames at the other party, what truly matters has to do with: (a) authors taking control of their own career and (b) writing and self-publishing quality work. The technology (emerging under own eyes) will move forward as it always does and will take care of the the rest. By the way, I give a bit of credit to PW for bringing Ted Weinstein in the discussion: This agent is cited as saying: "Authors can now be more self-possessed. They can go with a major house, an agency, or one of the turnkey services."

So, the point is, there are agents and publishers who see it coming...


PS. "self-possessed." I like that.

von.wittg said...

simple observation:

pw & their audience are afraid.

just like the newspaper & magazine industry are afraid.

the sound they hear is their old, comfortable world coming to an end...

old-school publishing isn't quite dead, but it is in at least as much trouble as the railroads were, mid-20th century, probably more so.

not as bad as it sounds, most of the infrastructure of publishing; editors, proof/copy work, even agents to some degree at least (for better or for worse) can transfer over.

but the "bricks & mortar": the printing plants, etc. & the distribution system, & a whole lot of the administration/management/corporatebulk, as well as a lot of the old way of doing things.

if they don't/won't/can't evolve, they're dead.

like the dinosaurs; the ones that didn't develop into birds...

it's not the end of the line yet, but that event horizon IS getting closer.


Eric Christopherson said...

I would kill for a review in Trailer Life!

Ty said...

You know, I got to thinking, "Shaken" is just one book. True, Joe has been rather blunt about where he thinks the future of publishing is head, but still, it's just one book. The rest of his ebooks are older material he didn't sell before he "went legit" or are smaller, personal projects.

What I mean is, if the traditional publishing industry truly thinks Joe Konrath is a failing mid-lister who wasn't able to sell his last book to any of the major publishing houses, and they seem to believe he's some kind of idiot running on about something of which he obviously doesn't understand ... if all that's true, why was it even worthy of an article in the first place? Why bother to even seek and/or provide quotes for such an article?

I smell fear.

Ty said...

On a related note, there's this article from Garrison Keillor in The Baltimore Sun ...,0,5036071.story

Flick Masters said...

Don't get too cocky Joe -- remember that you're very lucky to be a writer at this precise technological moment. The literary Gods have smiled upon you.

Think about an author like Richard Laymon and his life of endless financial struggle and his premature death. He would make a fortune in the age of the Kindle, wouldn't he? The only thing that makes you different from Laymon is timing. So try to keep things in perspective.

Feddie Girl said...

I'm on board... You go, Joe!

Zoe Winters said...

@anonymous Why shouldn't Bransford also seek to sell his own writing? Are agents not allowed to be writers too? At least AS a writer, he GETS writers.

As for how fast or slow he reads query letters, makes no difference to me. I'm not looking for an agent, or a publisher. I'm happy being indie.

But him reading queries fast doesn't mean he's not paying attention. Query letters aren't that long. Anyone who buckles down should be able to get through a few hundred in a few hours.

@Joe LOL @ what the agent said to you.

carl brookins said...

Apology? Nah, that's not gonna happen and even if it did what would it get you? Two lines, if you're lucky. "PW apologizes for any inadvertent errors it may have made in a recent article about Mr. Konrath's finances and maneuverings in the publishing world."

What you Really want is a correction. A detailed explanation of what they wrote that was wrong, and the facts of the matter.

But, you aren't likely to get that, either. So, just movin' on, dah dah da dit dah.

David Kentner -- KevaD said...

Hi, Joe

Dave Kentner here.
I’ve had your site linked on my blog - - ever since you consented to the interview we ran in the newspaper and posted on my blog.
Yup - a little shameless advertising ala Konrath.

I know once you get past the amateurish errors in the PW article, you’re going to sit back, drink in hand, and count up the number of new names that have checked out your site and facebook pages.
The article may have been Swiss cheese with the odor of limburger, but it has served to get your name ‘out there’ to the public even more.
So for that… congratulations!

I’m enjoying the hell out of it all, and wondering if you’ve figured out a way to see if your sales increase after this. They certainly deserve to. And not because of PW, but because you write ‘good stuff’ that I spend my money on.

Cheers, Joe.

Stacia Kelly said...

Does PW still count? If they're not going to keep up with the times...then, seriously, we're not going to keep reading their articles.

I have to say I skimmed it after the first few lines. I can only deal with so much...B...ias.

Only Anon Now said...

Hi Joe!

I need to post this anonymously for fear of "reprisals" but here is one for the record agent *suggested* recently that I self publish!

She intro'd me to one of your Amazon Encore comrades too who originally self pubb'd was picked up by AE and subsiquently got a multi-book foreign rights deal in Germany. No wonder the Big Six don't want to admit AE is for real!

Love your blog and I'm now sure to be a steady follower. Don't hate on the PW article too much because it brought me to you! (and I'll not post anon normally)

BTW can I quote YOU on this? "You know how to recognize a pioneer? The arrows in his front and back"

That's awesome!

JA Konrath said...

Dunno where I first heard the pioneer comment, but someone else wrote it, not I.

Mark Feggeler said...

Back in my reporting days, it was customary to give all sides of a story the opportunity to address all serious questions or concerns. Maybe the staff I worked with were the exception rather than the norm. Several times while calling to get info & quotes for articles I surprised people by giving them a chance to give their point of view on unflattering statements others had made about them.
The newspapers I grew up reading seemed to believe in fair play and an even-handed approach to presenting the "truth." I suppose it stuck with me. Too bad not everyone has the same sense of responsibility. PW should apologize with a published interview of you addressing the questions raised and accusations made by Rachel Deahl and the organization she represents.

Rex Kusler said...

The important thing is achievement of your goal. I doubt that the survivors in the lifeboats were concerned that the band on the Titanic wasn't playing their tune.

Anonymous said...

Don't understand the slam on Nathan. Lawyers write, doctors write, teachers write. So he has a day job and he writes, like millions of people. Big deal.

What I like about Nathan is that he gets that things are changing and he is excited about it. That's refreshingly cool on an agent/editor blog.

Adam Pepper said...

Jack H. H. King said it well. But I dont think they sat Joe down and poked him with fluffy pillows. More like they smacked him in the head as hard as they could...with fluffy pillows. Did it sting, Joe?

Stephen Prosapio said...

Bransford is the agent of a friend of mine and she loves him. He's as active and proactive an agent as he is a blogger. His blogging only helps draw attention to his clients' books.

If his clients don't care that he writes, why should anyone? Methinks sour grapes...

Alastair Mayer said...

@Eric Christopherson

Your comment about killing for a review in Trailer Life has given me an idea. No, not about killing. I won't go into detail here, but the small starships in my just-finished book are very much like space-going RVs. Surely there are some sci-fi fans amongst Trailer Life readers... ;-)

Author Scott Nicholson said...

What do you expect from PW? It is an "industry news" magazine. Joe, you are no longer industry news. You are the news the industry does not want to hear.

Every report I hear out of BEA makes me think, "Wow, I have been a professional writer for a decade and the publishing industry is no longer MY industry, if it ever was." Now, it's worth paying attention to, but it's not the only industry through which people make money with words. And as I hear about all the opulence and rooftop parties and big-ticket lunches, I think, "All those poor readers who have to pay for all this..."

No wonder ebooks are $ the industry.

Anonymous said...

'When I received an affirmative response, I replied, "Next time an anonymous source confides in me, I'll send him your way."'

Excellent answer!

And yes, it sounds like PW were so keen to slag you off they didn't bother to check (or simply weren't interested in) the facts.

Perhaps they've forgotten they're supposed to report on fiction, not write it.

Self-publishing isn't a route I'd take myself, but I can see why, in your case, it's a smart move. I wish you every success with your latest publication :)

bowerbird said...

> and the revolution is on, baby.

you tell 'em, joe! :+)

> What do you think?
> Does PW owe me an apology?

well, you did punk the reporter with
your little "anonymous source" trick.

> A retraction?

what do you care? just move on...


Debbi said...

Cute quote from that agent, Ira Silverberg. Let's see if he still has his job in a few years.

JA Konrath said...

Looks like PW tweaked the article to fix a few things.

It's still an epic fail, making it seem like my numbers had something to do with me being dropped by Hyperion, which simply wasn't the case, and that AmazonEncore was my last choice, which wasn't the case.

The Swivet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Stamps said...

Amazing how they're always messing things up, isn't it? I almost get the feeling they look down on authors who go into Kindle ebook. Whatever. Nothing I wanna contemplate on my way to the bank. *lol*

And you're right. Even bad PR sells books. This weekend the ladies at one of the message boards at Amazon decided to slam me for my tiny 2-line sig. Then they started cruising other boards and found a thread on swinging I had particpated in. Before long it was a nasty personal attack on me. Even thougb I followed all the sig rules. Even though I never spammed a thread. Even though I always add to the discussion and stay on topic they decided to make me the scapegoat for all the spamming authors out there at the message boards.

Very unpleasant biz. However I had to grin. Even though they started slamming my books when they ran out of stuff to attack, my sales in the Kindle Store tripled each of those days. Gotta love those lurkers at the message boards, ya know? *falls over laughing*