Thursday, July 08, 2010

How To Make Money on Ebooks

1. Write a damn good book. This should be your main priority. It's also one of the hardest things to do, and the hardest things to judge for yourself if you've done it.

The problem is, most writers believe their books are good. Even at our most insecure, we believe complete strangers will enjoy our scribblings enough to pay for the privilege.

I recommend joining a writers group and getting feedback. Seek criticism, not praise. Praise is like candy; we love it, but it isn't good for us. If you want to bulletproof your manuscript, you want to find out what is wrong with it, and you need eyes other than your own to do that.

I don't recommend paying for a freelance editor--it's better you learn craft on your own. If you really feel you need an editor, get recommendations, references, and know exactly what you're paying for.

2. Price it right. I believe an ebook should be priced at $2.99, because the Kindle royalty rate is 70% for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Above or below that, it's 35%.

Three bucks is a more than fair price for a full length digital book. (Full length is over 50,000 words.) If it's under 50k words, go ahead and price it for less. Or put a few short pieces together to make a long piece.

Even with short pieces, make sure they are good enough. I'm selling quite a few short stories on Kindle, but they don't sell nearly as well as my novels. Also, the short stories I'm selling have all been published before in print magazines and anthologies, so I'm pretty sure they're good.

3. Format it correctly. If you know HTML and MS Word very well, you can probably do this yourself. But you'd get more professional results using someone who knows what they're doing. I recommend Rob Siders at

A poorly formatted ebook will get bad reviews, and ultimately it WILL NOT SELL.

4. People judge books by their covers. Make sure your cover is professional, not something you slapped together with an istockphoto image with some Arial text laid on top using Photoshop. My covers are done by Carl Graves. He's at cgdouble2(at)

5. Write a great product description. If you want to know the format for this, read back jacket copy of books similar to yours. Your description should include:
  • Genre
  • Word count
  • Author bio
  • Reviews (if applicable)
Check out and follow that format for your descriptions.

6. Choose your platform. I upload to Kindle directly at For iPad, Sony, Kobo (Borders), and Barnes & Noble, I use

Keep in mind that both Kindle and Smashwords require different formatting. Also remember that some vendors Smashwords uploads to tend to discount ebooks. If they discount your ebooks, Amazon will match the discounted price, and you will only get 70% royalty on the discounted price.

7. Publicize your ebook. You should be on Twitter and Facebook, and have a website. You could have a blog and a newsletter. I recommend announcing your ebook at in the Book Bazaar section.

Other ways to publicize your ebook include:
  • Trading back matter excerpts with other ebook authors
  • Searching online for various Kindle and ebooks groups
  • Putting your ebook link in your email signature
  • Developing an online presence by participating in blog comments and forums
Q: Do I need an agent?

A: You don't need an agent to publish your own ebooks. But I recommend getting an agent. Mine is invaluable. She's currently shopping my self-pubbed titles to foreign markets and audio publishers, and is essential for negotiating contracts for film rights and print deals.

Q: How can I get an agent if I self publish my own ebooks?

A: The old catch-22 was "You can't get a publishing contract without an agent, and you can't get an agent unless you have a publishing contract." With the rise of self-publishing as a viable alternative to regular publishing, it becomes "No agent will want to represent a self-published ebook unless the book is no longer self-published."

Print publishers WANT erights, and I doubt any will give them up. That means agents won't be interested in representing you unless you give them the opportunity to sell all of your rights. If you sell a ton of ebooks, you might interest an agent in repping your book, but you'd have to stop selling ebooks.

Q: Should I forsake selling ebooks in order to try and land a print deal?

A: Let's look at the pros and cons of both sides.

Traditional Publishing Pros
  • Wide distribution and more exposure
  • Most offer an advance, sometimes a large one
  • They do the editing, formatting, cover art
  • Marketing power
Traditional Publishing Cons
  • Take six to eighteen months before publication
  • Price ebooks waaaaaay too high
  • They have power over cover art and title
  • Don't use the marketing power they wield effectively
  • Pay royalties twice a year
  • Don't involve you in many of the decisions regarding your book
  • Difficult to implement changes
  • Lousy royalty rates, between 6% and 25%
  • Very hard to break into
Self Publishing Pros
  • Paid once a month
  • You control price and cover
  • Publication is almost instant
  • Easy to implement changes
  • Every decision is yours
  • Great royalty rates
  • Anyone can do it
Self Publishing Cons
  • No free professional editing, formatting, or cover art
  • Fewer sales
  • Less than 10% of current book market
  • Greater potential to publish crappy books
You need to figure out what your goals are, and set them accordingly.

Q: Would you personally stop selling ebooks in order to get a print deal?

A: No. I'm making too much money on ebooks. But that doesn't mean you'll earn what I'm earning. There are many factors involved, including luck.

Q: Who should sell ebooks?

A: If you have an out of print backlist, you should sell those as ebooks. If you have a book your agent couldn't sell, you should sell those as ebooks.

If you're doing well selling books, you might want to consider publishing your next book yourself. I just published two original novels, ENDURANCE and TRAPPED, and both had traditional publishing contracts. I chose instead to self publish, and I'll earn more on my own within 12-18 months than I would have with those deals.

Q: What if I can't get an agent?

A: Then maybe your book isn't good enough. Perhaps you should focus on writing better. If you're pretty sure your book is good enough, you can always self-publish. But be ready for negative reviews and poor sales if it isn't up to par.

Q: Is it true that the only people who are successful with ebooks are "name" authors?

A: No. I've blogged before about many other new authors who are doing as well, or better, than I am. This myth won't ever die, and is perpetuated by lazy thinkers who don't bother with five minutes of research.

Q: How will readers find good books when everyone is self published?

A: There are millions of books in print, yet readers seem to be able to find what they want. Adding a few million more won't change anything. There will always be ways to separate the good from the bad, and subjective taste always plays a part.

Q: Can I make a living by self publishing?

A: I don't know many people who make a living being traditionally published. Most of my peers have day jobs.

That said, I'm making a living self publishing. I'm sure others can and will. But whether you can or not involves a lot of factors, some within your control, some not.

But, in my humble opinion, a dedicated writer who turns out good material on a consistent basis will be able to, on average, earn more money self publishing than traditional publishing. I say this having done both.


  1. when I grow up, I want to be just like you!

  2. I just wanted to say, I've been reading your blog for a while now and I've been finding your advice invaluable. I also probably wouldn't have discovered your books if it weren't for your blog (weird, you'd think it should be the other way around) but there you go.

    I'm a fan!

  3. Thanks again for the timely advice. Your experience is, as always, an inspiration.

  4. So what you are saying is that I'm doing everything I should, just not doing everything as much or as right as I should. Realised that, and it is being attended to. But there is also the matter of a 'must-read' genre to add into the mix, which is what you deal in.

    I'm currently ebooking my sweet historical romance backlist, as test material and to get my name out there as much as anything, as without the current fashion for sex-sex-sex rippling through the storyline they are not going to be hounded the same way as, say, vampire romances.

    But I'm not wedded to sweet HistRoms, and my current is a contemporary timeslip thriller (the avatar). There's also a British Crime on the backburner. When all these feed through to the Kindle I should have my marketing more focused, and I'm hoping the drip-feed process turns into a small but steady stream. It'll be interesting to see how the different genres pan out.

    I only know of Ellen Fisher who handles different genres - there's bound to be others, and I apologise for not noting you - but perhaps these writers could chip in with their experiences. Do sales from one genre fuel another, or leave the unloved standing like a wallflower at a dance?

    1. Actually, there are plenty of authors who genre hop. Google pen names. That is one of the main reasons authors use pen names, to keep their genres tight knit.

  5. Solid post with honest answers.

  6. Linda--I have a mystery, PUNCTURED, and a coming-of-age ghost story, ANGELA. For months PUNCTURED sold 15 to 30 per day, while ANGELA sold an average of 1 per day. Suddenly PUNCTURED took off, and now ANGELA is selling 10 per day. So it looks like one is helping the other, even though they have nothing in common.

  7. You’ve given us sales figures on Kindle, can give us an idea on how you are doing with smashwords? I’m wondering if it’s worth it to pursue publishing through smashwords.

    Also, I’m using a freelance editor because I don’t have any writerly friends that can give me an honest opinion about my manuscript. I definitely see the benefit, they pointed out issues in my MS, but didn’t tell me how to fix them, and it’s still up to me as the writer to do this. A publisher recommended them to me and said they’d look at my ms again after the edit. I haven’t been able to get an agent, even though I have a sort-of interested publisher, so when/if they pass after the re-write, I’ll be off to publish on kindle.

    I can’t wait either way!

  8. The thing about "making a living" at self-publishing is that you can more easily _supplement_ your income if you appeal to a niche audience.

    It isn't worth it to a traditional publisher to keep you on if you don't move beyond the niche audience, but with self-publishing, you can keep pleasing that audience and maybe grow more slowly - and still make income while doing it.

  9. Joe ---

    I'm a tellin' ya, you're an absolute genius with the b@lls (and numbers too!) to back-up your out-of-the-traditional-box approaches!

    I'm learning sooo much from you and can't thank you enough!

    And yes, I'm a "buyer" who's now a most definite "fan" too!!!

    You rock! --- D. D. Scott

    P.S. One question...does Rob Siders do your Smashwords formatting too or just the Kindle formats? If not Rob, who do you use for Smashwords?

  10. The money stuff you said at the end is part of why I chose to self-publish. I know people say there is no money in it, but the moment I learned most NY pubbed authors still had day jobs, I thought "screw that." No way was I going to essentially "work for someone else" and not make enough money to JUST do that.

    And I'm doing pretty well self-publishing. I think as I grow a backlist I'll do even better.

    Also totally agree with you on "how will readers find good books?"

    How do people find good blogs or websites? There are a LOT of blogs and websites. Maybe even more than books, since it doesn't take almost a year to make a blog post and distribute it.

  11. @Linda You'd be surprised at the market for books that aren't all sex in romance. A lot of readers are getting REALLY tired of all the graphic sex scenes. And most of them claim they skim at least some sex scenes.

    I don't write very graphic or long/detailed sex scenes and while a "few" readers don't like that, most don't seem to be bothered or claim to prefer it that way. So definitely there is a market for romance that isn't erotica. It kind of irks me how those lines are blurring in some genres, to be honest.

    Erotica is all fine and good, but to me romance is about the relationship and the banter, not bedroom acrobatics.

  12. I’m using a freelance editor...

    A publisher recommended them to me...

    I would be wary of any publisher or agent who steers you toward a particular editing service.

  13. A question for those who have self-published ebooks *without* prior publishing history: How many copies are you selling a month at prices like $2.99 or $0.99 (please state the price you sell at)?


    Bonus points for those willing to report low sales figures.

  14. Btw, thanks for laying out your advice in this post, Joe.

  15. Keep telling it like it is, Joe. Another great post.

    Kindle sales have been looking much better lately for my five mystery novels and short story book. But I'm not sure whether I've helped my sales or hurt them by giving so much away on my website. I know you think it helps, and hope you're correct.

    Since 2006, tens of thousands of visitors to my site have read my books for free. How do they find my site? Try googling online mystery novels.

    It has lifted me out of obscurity somewhat, which is great. But what happens when I release a new mystery novel on Kindle that is not offered for free on my site?

    Will Kindle sales be much better for that new book? Or worse? Will the fans I've already gained be more than happy to pay $2.99 for the new book? Or will they turn away and go look for some other writer's free stuff?

    I guess I'll find out in a couple of months when I release the new book. ;)

  16. Rex@ I have a mystery, PUNCTURED, and a coming-of-age ghost story, ANGELA.

    Thanks for that info. It's really good to know.

    Zoe@ That gives me heart, and I know what you mean. So many readers and writers - or should that be publishers - think love and sex are the same thing. My contemporary timeslip, on the other hand, deals with a fertility goddess, so I examine both as different sides of the same coin because they are integral to the storyline, not an add-on.

  17. Joe:

    Can't you think of any more Traditional Publishing Pros than that? Come on, man. Be fair. How about the throngs of adoring fans who will flock to all your bookstore signings? The spots on Oprah and Letterman. The Hollywood producers throwing $ at you from every direction. Did all that slip your mind? Hmm?


  18. @ Jude - the only other benefits of traditional publishing are ego based, not business based.

    I've had long signing lines, and had a lot of fun with them. I love seeing my books on a shelf, or at a library. I even love finding them all beaten up in used bookstores.

    But if it's a choice between cradling a tangible print book, and buying a car with cash form my ebook sales, I'll say bye bye to print.

  19. Great info for those of us new to the idea of self publishing. I'm as excited as I am scared of the whole process.

  20. Anonymous2:05 PM

    A question for those who have self-published ebooks *without* prior publishing history: How many copies are you selling a month at prices like $2.99 or $0.99 (please state the price you sell at)?

    In June I sold 1,628 copies of one thriller at 79 cents and 88 copies of another at $1.99. Got a new book up now for $2.99. We'll see how that goes ...

  21. Anonymous2:14 PM

    I agree with the above poster - a realistic goal for *good* writers is a nice supplementary income, could even be a nice pension if you can write quite a few books.

    In my humble opinion, I think 99.9% of indie authors must spend more time on #1 -- the quality of so many is poor, and they even feel like first drafts. If people would spend more time learning to write and edit, they would make a lot more money.

  22. Excellent advice, to be considered along with other info on the web. I greatly appreciate your cheerleader stance -- it stands in for the occasional pep talk I need to keep motivated.

  23. Christophe2:42 PM

    Hi Joe,

    I've been reading your blog for a while.

    I totally agree with your position about price and convenience.

    But the funny thing is :

    At first, I was reluctant to try your books because of their prices.

    It's stupid, but I think I had this unconscious feeling that cheap book equals cheap writing.

    Last week, I tried Endurance and I like it very much. I've just finished Disturb and I loved it.

    I'm going next to Amazon for Trapped !

    Cheap price is great but time is even more precious than money.

    The real trick is to give people their first shoot (but it has to be a good one of course).

    And a last thing, you were so right to publish your book without DRM :

    I have a Sony reader, I could take your books for free (on your site).
    But since they are easily converted with Calibre (no DRM), I rather paid them on Amazon (I have my account it's quick and it seem more fair to me).

    (Sorry for my bad english I'm french)

  24. Anonymous3:36 PM

    Joe, I disagree about the freelance editing. I love my editor and I couldn't have made my books a success without her. She picks out lots of little things that I never would have caught myself. In fact, I attribute a big part of my success to her contributiions and comments.

  25. I make a living self-publishing my two books (I don't have a day job), but I have a blog that gets a few thousand visitors a day. I had a successful blog first, then wrote the books after (in part due to encouragement from my readers).

    I think if you can't get a modest readership from having an interesting blog, it will be very hard to sell a lot of books. Determine your audience, target them with free content (blog) that would interest them, then later offer them your book. Though this is much easier to do with non-fiction.

  26. The key to writing a good story lies within the 5 Fundamentals: Character, Plot, Setting, Style, and Theme.

    If you start self-publishing or sending out enough work to agents and editors, you'll begin to get of sense of which of these are your strengths and which are your weaknesses.

    Like a lot of reviewers praise my "setting" in CLAWS, CLAWS 2, and The Colorado Sequence. That's a strength. People seem mostly mixed on my "character" use; so I need to work on that.

    A lot of folks seem to compliment my ability to "plot" though a few say they're not original enough.

    Again, room for improvement.

    And then "style." Boy, I get nailed for style a lot. Readers just don't like it... so this is the area where I maybe need the most work.

    I'm convinced nearly anyone can become a #1 New York Times bestselling author, if they master each of these five fundamentals.

    That is, if readers unanimously praise your work for each of these five, your book is going to sell.


    Stacey Cochran

    Author of CLAWS 2

  27. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Joe,I am not only a newbie, wet behind the ears, green as a gourd, fresh meat; I don't know one thing about publishing a book, electronically or traditional. The only thing I have going for me is that I Love to write. So far it is only the hobby of a 63 year old retired man. I have been dabbling for a few years now and have a small private following. I would like to expand someday and share my work with lots more people. Thanks for you insightful blog. I shall return.

  28. Joe, you say that "If you sell a ton of ebooks, you might interest an agent in repping your book."

    Do you have any ballpark figure for what "a ton" of e-books would be to interest an agent? Thanks!

    Also, I'd love to look for an agent to possibly sell foreign rights, audio, movie, and print, but is there no shot at all for someone loathe to give up e-book rights?

    - David Derrico
    Author of Right Ascension

  29. This is really helpful and you've presented it well, thank you! As someone who is about to release my first self-published book, I'm thankful for posts like this to see if there's anything huge I'm leaving out. Thanks again!

  30. Jack H. H. King5:52 PM


    Do you think Donald Barthelme’s SNOW WHITE is a damn good book?

    Or is it too literary? It’s one of my all-time favorites. Are there any examples of self-published literary fiction selling huge on Kindle?

    Or does your advice only apply to mid-list genre fiction?

    New York still seems like the best choice for anything literary, or any genre fiction that has to potential to sell over 300,000 copies.

    I don’t think literary novels or New York Times Bestsellers are more enjoyable to read than mid-list genre fiction, but not everyone dreams to become a mid-list genre writer.

    If an author wants to connect to the elite, or to the masses, I’m not sure self-publishing is the path to glory.

    As a young author, you first tried New York. It took you years to learn the size of your audience. Right now you’re entering your prime and self-publishing on Kindle is money.

    But your craftsmanship keeps evolving. Maybe your next novel has the potential to break free, grow huge, and eat Tokyo.

    If you self-publish your books on Kindle and pod paperback without taking a whack at New York, you might pass up a golden ticket.

    Has any Kindle book sold over one million copies?

    What do you think would happen to your Kindle sales if next year you wrote and sold to New York a single JURASSIC PARK?

    Then how much would your backlist start earning on Kindle?

    Perhaps you underestimate your potential...

    - Jack

  31. Good article. But vain, I'm afraid.

    Half of should be common sense, the rest can easily be googled. Yet the vast majority of self-publishers somehow manage to get it all wrong on every count! Sometimes worse, actually; for example, wanna bet a significant fraction of those stock-picture-mspaint-arial-text covers aren't even licensed stock pictures to begin with, but ripped off the web without permission? As for justifying text and elementary proofreading, no one should need to be told in the first place!

    I long gave up with basic advice. Those that don't get it on their own never will.

  32. Joe, you forgot one very critical "con" of traditional publishing. A publisher will control its content to ITS best interest, not yours. That may very well mean windowing your release to fit an overall strategy, possibly to serve other releases and titles. And that doesn't even take into account any internal politics of changing editors, trends, hype, and corporate strategy.

    One of the things they pay you for is NOT to publish you--to kill your book and keep it out of print for years. The e-rights clauses are changing, but you really have to consider the cumulative effective of ALL the years you won't be making max money from the book, not just the pre-pub period. Let's say your book is widely available for two years (generous), but the clause wraps you up for three years after OOP.

    Well, you will probably get nickels per ebook sale at 15 percent or whatever, so count all that money lost below the 70 percent you would have made. And NY won't be pushing your ebook then--it will fall to you anyway. I think for the average writer, the difference is much more dramatic than it appears at first blush, assuming you're in it for the long haul.

    Also, foreign "sales" will become just as easy to do yourself if you're willing to find translators. I am working on five different foreign editions right now. The Kindle revolution isn't going to stay here forever.

    Generally, of course, I'm right with you on this. Write a damned good book and nobody on Earth can stop you.

    Scott Nicholson

  33. If you self-publish your books on Kindle and pod paperback without taking a whack at New York, you might pass up a golden ticket.

    I'm made over $14,000 in the last five weeks on Kindle. I think I found my golden ticket. :)

  34. How important is it to spell your name right? This afternoon Amazon changed some letters around in my author name for Punctured. Seems to be selling more copies; could be a good thing. From now on, everybody call me: Kulser.

  35. What amazes me the most about e-publishing is that, at least for now, only about 15% of books are sold digitally. At least that’s the number I recall from USA Today article. It’s clearly less than half. Most people still, as of this date, read by page and book.

    That said, with the biggest bookseller being Wal-Mart, are the days of exclusive print and e-rights and “in-house” publishing from a single retailer far away. Like the latest albums by Kiss, ACDC and The Eagles being available only at Wal-Mart and Sam’s (no Amazon, no Best Buy), wondering if the future has brick and mortar stores signing more and more exclusives with known authors, thus fragmenting the “book market” even more. No more publishers distributing books (they go out of business in any model)—rather, free agent authors playing for the team with the biggest ante—like LeBron James.

  36. Just jumped into the e-books water myself after publishing several books traditonally. Thanks for your invaluable advice. Long live the writers!

  37. Anonymous11:29 PM

    Love the pros/cons list, particularly that you mentioned that ebooks are 10% of the current book market. As ebook readers become more affordable, that number is bound to grow exponentially and those authors who get on the ebook self-publishing train now will have a huge advantage as it does.

  38. Ever since my girlfiend, Amber Scott, told me about you, I've been an avid follower. You're experiences and advice have really changed my perception of the publishing industry and where I want to fit in it. My social networks and website are up and successfully running. I have two novels in the hands of an interested agent, and one novel submitted to an e-pub. I appreciate all the time and effort it took you to acquire all this knowledge and to then turn around and share it with all of us! Thank you!

  39. @Scott N.

    I always enjoy your posts. Thanks for chipping in your $.02 (or in the eBook world -- your $2.99. Heh.).

    I was talking with Mrs. Evil about that very subject -- the idea that after you "Publish" to the Kindle you are making money right away.

    In the traditional marketplace you get 1/3 when you sign, 1/3 when you finish the edits & proofs and 1/3 when the book hits store shelves.

    Even if you were one of those people lucky enough to get a $50k advance that breaks your $50k (minus your agent's fee) across a minimum of two years.

    With a little hard work you might make as much money from independent publishing only you are starting to see checks roll in via direct deposit on the Kindle 60 days after you first publish.

    During those two years if you continue to add content to your online publishing portfolio you could see the same kind of success Joe & Zoe and many other authors are seeing.

    It is honestly starting to get to the point where self-publishing is the only smart move.

    Watch what is coming -- at some point here in the near future a self published book will go "Viral" -- something unique will come out as a self published book and the mainstream media will catch wind of it and that book will sell millions of copies. You know it will happen sooner or later.

  40. Great stuff. I'm waiting for fall to get last semester's final project back so I can rewrite the thing. Then I plan on putting it out as an ebook. I've been following your posts on this very closely!

  41. It looks to me, based on a response I got, that Amazon has outsourced their dtp-support to India. I'll have to send a snail mail to Seattle to get the spelling of my name changed back to what it should be.

  42. I'm just wondering if you could help me understand royalty scheme.

    85% on Net seems to be misleading. I'm used to print publishing where the printer gets paid, the distributor gets paid and the publisher gets paid...who pays the author.

    Amazon requires 65% of the cover price.
    If it was printed, the cost of the book would be subtracted from the publisher amount.

    With Smashwords...
    The distributor gets..?
    The have a transaction fee of...?
    They take an additional 15%
    and leave you with what?

    What I'm asking you is do you make more money selling through Amazon than you do for the books sold through Smashwords?

    Is it worth going through smashwords for anything more than to say "It's on the iPad?"

    Thanks. Love the blog.

  43. Thanks for laying it all out like that with the pros and cons.

    I just had someone on my blog mention watching how I'm doing with my self-publishing journey. She mentioned she was watching your's too, but that it was much different. In other words, I'm not famous and more likely to be the 'average joe' ;-). lol.

  44. Ed Charbonneau10:53 AM

    People make a living at flea markets, too. It that's as high as your ambition goes, more power to you and mazel tov on acheiving your dreams. I'll hold out for a real contract with a real publisher.

  45. While I'm not going to make $15,000 this month, I will be able to pay the mortgage on my home with Kindle royalties for all my books combined... most notably CLAWS 2.

    My initial thoughts are that the $2.99 price increase is worth it.

    CLAWS at 99 cents is only outpacing its sequel at a 4:3 ratio. Nowhere near the 7:1 ratio, it'd need to justify its lower price.

    Still, I'll probably keep it at 99 cents. Not sure why, though.

  46. If a reader my offer some advice to the authors (in particular those that have a hit). Besides following Joe's advice, be ready to publish your 2nd book within 4 months. You are a brand. Once you gain 'mind-share', your readers will look for a 2nd book... but they will eventually move on.

    I've bought 20 indie-author Kindle e-books this month. Half to try new authors... if I *really* like a new author, I buy out there $2.99 and under library. If you price your other books at $5.99, I'll buy a sequel if I loved the 1st book, but one at a time.

    But the main point is once you have a hit, you need to 'real in' the audience. 'Mature' authors like Joe have a backlog, so that part is easy. For the newbie's, if you do well, work your butt off and get out a good 2nd book.

    Comment: I'm not an author nor do I have any desire to become one. But I'm fascinated by the changes in the writing world.

    Icy said:
    " I also probably wouldn't have discovered your books if it weren't for your blog"


    JA, part of why I keep coming back is you really set the example of how a small business owner should advertise.

    Rex said:
    So it looks like one is helping the other, even though they have nothing in common.
    Congratulations on building a brand. :) What is your 3rd book going to be?

    Did you change how you advertise or is it the name mis-spelling? e.g., did you sit for blog interviews and one happened to 'sell you?'

    Jack said:
    Has any Kindle book sold over one million copies?
    The first Kindle author just broke 1 million sales (over a line of books).

    What's your point? As posted already, most authors do not make a living off traditional publishers. I keep seeing snide remarks as if the big six held the keys to the ivory tower. Nope...

    I'm an example of how correct the 'long tail' theory of retail is.

    Joe, keep up the blogging!


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  49. Even the former 900-lb gorilla, Barnes & Noble, sees the need to directly engage the writer. Their program starts this summer: Pubit. Less than ten percent today, but ebooks will continue to nibble at market share. The economics propel this model of delivery. My inner geek revels in the analysis. Thanks for all the numbers.

  50. I've been finding your advice very useful in maintain my online casino business.

  51. I can't say how much it means to be able to read your blog and learn what I need to know.

    You are doing a great service to all of us out there and making yourself proud.

    thanks for this post. I will copy into a doc. and use it.

  52. Now that I've self-published on Kindle, I'm also having (imagine this) -- FUN! Sure wasn't having fun touring the agent tables at conferences . . .

  53. Wannabuy,

    My third book (which is actually my 7th) will be the sequel to PUNCTURED, which is the one that's doing well. I don't know why it suddenly took off. I haven't done any promotion at all.

  54. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Sorry, I don't understand this apparent contradiction:

    "She's currently shopping my self-pubbed titles to foreign markets and audio publishers, and is essential for negotiating contracts for film rights and print deals."

    AND . . .

    "No agent will want to represent a self-published ebook unless the book is no longer self-published."

    Does that mean you're an exception . . . or did I miss something?

    Thanks, Paul

  55. "Now that I've self-published on Kindle, I'm also having (imagine this) -- FUN!"

    Isn't that what writing should be about? Making a living doing what you enjoy?

  56. P.J. Alderman, author9:24 PM


    Great post, as always. Your pros and cons are dead on. And Scott, I agree with everything you said about publishers doing little to support authors, and tying up their work.

    I would add another potentially negative consequence to writing for NY publishers, which is that if you write a series in which the chronological order is important--for example, a historical mystery series, and if a NY publisher decides to drop you but tie up the rights to the books already published, this is a great disservice to your readers.

    I've heard many a published author bemoan the fact that one of his or her series was ruined when the publisher dropped them yet tied up books, failed to get the last one published into the bookstores, failed to keep them in print, and so on.

    This is extremely unfair to your most dedicated fans/readers, who may be trying to read your books in the order of publication, to follow the developments in the lives of the series characters (and/or to read about historical events, for example, in chronological order).

    Keep up the great posts!


  57. To add onto the "How will readers find the good books" discussion, I think it's important to mention sampling. Checking out a sample can immediately tell you if the book is formatted correctly, contains decent writing, and is something you'd like to read.

    Authors needs to take note of this and come out strong! Thinking that readers will grow to love your book is the first nail in the coffin.

  58. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for noting point number 1, and giving it the number 1 spot where it belongs.

    (Yep, I've read lots of ebooks, or at least the first few pages of them. How'd you guess?)

  59. wannabuy said:

    Jack said:
    Has any Kindle book sold over one million copies?
    The first Kindle author just broke 1 million sales (over a line of books).

    When I stop laughing, I'm going to call bullshit on this one.

    There has been no indie, kindle only author who has sold a million copies, stand alone or series, nowhere even close.

    If you have proof of these numbers, post them, but don't just go around spouting bullshit because you think it sounds good.

    When it comes to uploading your writing to the internet so people can download it (still can't bring myself to call it publishing, since it isn't) There's enough nonsense out there already. Don't add to it.

  60. Anonymous9:40 AM

    "still can't bring myself to call it publishing, since it isn't"

    Was Thomas Paine publishing? Ben Franklin? These guys wrote, edited and printed their own tracts, and they used an unorthodox delivery system. Often they made little or no money, yet their influence forged a new nation.

    Were people calling that nonsense and saying "it's not publishing?"

    Revolutions often begin with humble steps. I doubt you'll be laughing about ebook publishing five years from now.

  61. I'm not laughing about uploading your writing to the internet so people can download it, I'm laughing about the idea that someone sold over a million copies of their uploaded indie manuscript.

    I say it's not publishing because, well... it's not publishing.

    While I applaud the spirit behind ebooks, let's call a spade a spade. Uploading your manuscript to the internet on your own in no way makes you a published writer. You can argue the point all you want, but you'll still be wrong.

    You're published when someone pays you for your work, edits it, and prints it, period. The only people who consider independent kindle writers published are the kindle writers themselves.

    If all it takes to be published is to upload something to the internet, everyone posting on this thread is now a published writer and on equal footing as Stephen King and Raymond Chandler.

    Is that what you think?

  62. Great posting! I'm sharing it with my traditionally published friends. I'm self publishing my novel as new and midlist authors have to do their own publicity and marketing no matter what, so why not get the higher royalties that self publishing offers, as long as you have the drive and skills to self market as well. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.

  63. Joe, thanks for being an example that it can be done and for helping us with great advice. I'm an Indie author and have even begun teaching others how to make, market and sell ebooks all for free. Fortunately we can try this business without spending money first.

  64. Kyle,

    I'm not making Joe-level income, But I earned $2300 last month from my little self-published novellas. That's more than most of my NY pubbed friends made in a month.

    I'm getting paid. If you think I can't call myself a "published author" then that's A-okay with me. I have readers, fans, and money.

    That's all I've ever wanted. And I intend to grow all three of those categories. So we can all haggle over whether or not indie authors are "published" or not. Meanwhile some of us are succeeding on our own terms and getting what we want.

    So to deny someone a label seems rather silly and petty.

    I am an author, and I am a publisher. I think it's time some people looked up the dictionary definition of "publish". Because in their need to still make the NY published author dream the ONLY relevant dream, they've rewritten the dictionary.

    I'm just saying. Let the bashing commence.

  65. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Kyle, no one said an "indie, kindle-only author" sold 1MM copies. The point was that James Patterson recently became the first author to sell over 1MM ebooks.

  66. There has been no indie, kindle only author who has sold a million copies, stand alone or series, nowhere even close.

    James Patterson sold a million ebooks.

    By the end of the year, I'll have sold over 100,000 self-published ebooks.


  67. Anonymous2:10 PM

    "I'll have sold over 100,000 self-published ebooks."

    There's a point where reporting and providing information becomes bragging and throwing it in everyone's face.

  68. P. J. Alderman, author2:24 PM

    Joe's not bragging; he's providing validation for the rest of us. If authors like Joe weren't publishing books for the e-book market, it would be less viable for the rest of us.

    And let's not forget: he takes valuable time away from his work to educate and support all authors trying to break into this market. I, for one, am very appreciative, because I know exactly how hard authors work.


  69. Joe: James Patterson? Really? Is that the guy you want to throw out there as an example? That guy isn't even an author anymore, he's a brand name who combs the world for sub-par talent to type up his absurd ideas, then packages them and sells them for millions of dollars. He's about as far away from the poor schmucks who read this blog and dream of big bags of money for their poorly written books as you can get.

    Zoe: That's wonderful you've got fans and a little money. I don't fault you at all for being excited if making money is your goal, Vampire romance is the way to go. It sounds like you're achieving the goals you set for yourself, congratulations. But you're not a published author, sorry.

  70. Anonymous5:08 PM

    There's a point where reporting and providing information becomes bragging and throwing it in everyone's face.

    It's ok for Patterson to announce 1 million ebook sales, but it isn't ok for Konrath to announce his sales numbers?

    You're published when someone pays you for your work, edits it, and prints it, period. The only people who consider independent kindle writers published are the kindle writers themselves.

    Quite frankly, I don't need validation from an anonymous poster on a blog to find satisfaction in writing and publishing.

    I'm making real money at this point, more than most other mid list authors make with the NY contracts. My accountant loves me; he was nearly giddy at our last meeting.

    Give me a reason to submit to NY publishers that pays this well, and I'm there. Until then I'll suffer as a "not-a-real-published" author while I'm laughing my way to the bank.

  71. You're published when someone pays you for your work, edits it, and prints it, period.

    Everything in that sentence after the word "work" is irrelevant.

    It really makes absolutely no difference if you make $2000 by getting an advance from a publisher or $2000 by selling 1000 kindle books.

    If you get paid for your work, you get paid for your work.

    Anyone who would celebrate more if they made $2000 in an advance than they would if they made $2000 by selling books directly is a pathetic, cringing soul so desperately in need of meaningless validation from arbitrary authority that they build their entire live and entire self-view around it. They should really seek counseling, or maybe just cut out the middleman and throw themselves off a boat immediately.

    Everybody goes through a phase when they really, really want to get a gold star from the teacher. Most non-neurotic human beings grow out of it. Not authors, I guess.

  72. Everybody goes through a phase when they really, really want to get a gold star from the teacher.

    LOL. This is true.

    One of the things the gatekeepers have done so well is convince writers that without their stamp of approval, their books simply aren't good enough.

    Well, that's wrong. And now ebook authors are able to prove this with dollars.

  73. Give me a reason to submit to NY publishers that pays this well, and I'm there. Until then I'll suffer as a "not-a-real-published" author while I'm laughing my way to the bank.

    There is no reason. If your goal is money, and you decide to sell your unpublished work on the internet, more power to you. All I'm saying is that it doesn't make you a published author. I don't think I can be much clearer.

    Anyone who would celebrate more if they made $2000 in an advance than they would if they made $2000 by selling books directly is a pathetic, cringing soul so desperately in need of meaningless validation from arbitrary authority that they build their entire live and entire self-view around it. They should really seek counseling, or maybe just cut out the middleman and throw themselves off a boat immediately.

    Uh Oh, looks like someone got one too many rejection letters.

    Actually, I kind of agree with you, although I think it's a little hypocritical to criticize someone whose goal is validation from NY publishing just because it's not your goal. Not everyone cares about making $2000 off an ebook, just like not everyone cares about getting published. Some writers just love books. They grew up loving books. Their heroes were all published writers and they want to be good enough to be in the same club.

    The difference is, for writers who publish traditionally, it's their choice. ANYONE can upload their writing to the internet and sell a bunch of copies. Not everyone can get published, and that's obviously where a lot of the hostility from the uploaders is coming from. The game you're playing is the only game you're allowed to join. I can see why that would make you bitter and judge success by how much money you earn.

    their books simply aren't good enough... Well, that's wrong. And now ebook authors are able to prove this with dollars.

    Sales equal quality? Really? Do you read any of the uploaded books available for the Kindle that sell a lot of copies? I've yet to find one that that I think is publishable. You know people buy garbage. You can't have spent as much time in publishing without knowing this is true. You just posted about Patterson, the king of garbage. Are you saying he's the best writer in the world because he sells the most?

  74. You just posted about Patterson, the king of garbage. Are you saying he's the best writer in the world because he sells the most?

    I already won this argument five years ago.

    Popularity is objective. "Garbage" is subjective. Objective wins.

    Whether or not you like something doesn't mean squat to anyone but you.

    But 10k, 100k, or a million people liking something means quite a bit. To the artist, and to the society's culture.

    Once you start slinging blanket statements, you lost.

  75. Anonymous11:48 PM

    "ANYONE can upload their writing to the internet and sell a bunch of copies."

    No. Most will fail. I can point you to hundreds of books uploaded to Kindle store that aren't selling.

    Anyone can upload but only those with good books that appeal to the masses will sell. You insult readers by claiming otherwise.

    Cream rises to the top.

    It takes considerable courage to self-publish. It's much easier to accept a few rejections from agents and a handful of houses and give up. But to put yourself out there and let the reading public decide, to subject oneself to the Amazon review system? It takes brass cojones.

    Is there self-published crap out there? Absolutely. But there's also some damn good writing that was either passed on by NY or was never submitted through the traditional query system.

    Have you read Karen McQuestion? Boyd Morrison? Both are authors who self-pubbed to Kindle first; both have received critical acclaim. There are others, but I haven't read all of them (yet).

  76. Anon E Moose4:53 AM

    Kyle wrote:

    If all it takes to be published is to upload something to the internet, everyone posting on this thread is now a published writer and on equal footing as Stephen King and Raymond Chandler.

    Your definition of published is "when someone pays you for your work, edits it, and prints it, period." Fair enough. Neither blog comments nor self-published Kindle eBooks meet that definition.

    But you then draw a false conclusion: that if anyone meets the definition of "published," they are then on "equal footing" with Stephen King and Raymond Chandler. Clearly this is not true; one can be published widely and not have a platform equal to Stephen King. Conversely, you don't prove that being unpublished (by your definition) would necessarily entail being on a lesser footing.

  77. Anonymous7:51 PM

    Anyone who knows anything about the major houses knows there are myriad reasons beyond a lack of talent or skill as to why a book might get turned down.

    There are very famous authors whose earliest books got turned down. (Jonathan Kellerman, for example, wrote 9 unpublished books prior to his first acceptance.) These authors in most cases didn't suddenly get talent or make a quantum leap in their skill level when they finally got the nod--instead, the ducks were in a row, right project, right time, lucky champion found, no competing books in-house, another similar book from another house had done well, etc... So this notion that you're not a real author until or unless you're published by a major publisher is pure bullshit.

    You what else is bullshit? That NY pub pros know what sells. They are wrong so often, just ask them.

    Everyone in NY passed on Grisham's The Firm and it only got published because Tom Cruise's film company bought the rights and greenlit the project. There are so many similar stories, but I like that one because they not only passed on a hugely commercial book but on a new subgenre: the legal thriller.

    And by the way: why would anyone privilege the opinions of NY pub pros over readers when it's readers who are the target audience? It's like relying on the Maitre d' to tell you whether your own food tastes good.

  78. Anonymous10:12 PM

    Just got through Alexandra Sokoloff's amazing blog and linked from hers to your blog. I'm intrigued. Are these amounts in US$? Apparently Canadian publishers get government assistance to promote literary works. This having been said, assuming it's true, would a longer Canadian novel do better in Canadian markets or worldwide through Amazon...? How do you set pricing for a longer novel?
    BTW: Read a previous post and I appreciate the excerpt. Sokoloff has excerpts as well including one for her latest novel just released: Book of Shadows.
    Great post, wonderful info. Debbie

  79. Im thinking about publishing an ebook. A one stop shop that will convert and distribute my ebook to the various outlets seems like the best route!

    That being said a part of me wants to make my own PDF and sell/market it myself thereby keeping ALL of the Profit....

    I think I have a good little niche in the web now I just need to be motivated!

  80. What do you think a solid number of self-published ebooks a year is? I know a book a year is a good run for many traditional authors, but as an indie relying on ebooks to bring in extra cash (or a whole living eventually), is there a magic number of releases per year that seems to work well. Obviously considering the books are well-written and edited.

  81. I came across your blog today and found it very informative. However, what made the blog even more informative were the comments made by some of your readers. I was particularly interested in the running debate over what constitutes a published author and what does not.

    As a writer myself, not a novelist, I’ve always been intrigued by the traditionalists who insist on pursuing a pedantic view of authorship.

    The reality is that the monopoly once exercised by traditional publishers has been broken by advances in publishing technology. Not since the days of William Caxton has the publishing world seen such a major revolution in how the written word is packaged and sold. We can either accept this revolutionary change or we can deny it and go the way of the Luddite.

    My personal feeling is that traditionalists are hanging onto some elitist notion that an author is someone who has had his or her work put into print and sold through a bookstore. Accordingly, a writer who falls outside this definition is not an author. This is something that I find hard to stomach since it smacks of pure snobbery, a defensive line followed by those who feel threatened by change.

    We should not forget that prior to the Gutenberg Revolution, and the introduction of the movable type printing press, most of the known world was illiterate. The Gutenberg Revolution was the single greatest contributor to an improvement in literacy levels during the fifteenth century, which in turn led to major changes in the laws that had held men and women in medieval bondage for centuries. In effect, the Gutenberg Revolution was directly responsible for many of the freedoms which we now take for granted.

    Before the onset of the Gutenberg Revolution, writers had to content themselves with handwritten manuscripts or woodblock press copies of their work. If we follow the line of reasoning advanced by your anonymous contributor, then Homer (The Iliad), Virgil (Aeneid), Aurelius (Meditations) and countless others who wrote and published their handwritten work on velum, papyrus, slate or stone are not authors but writers who have little to contribute to the world of literature. Wow! I suppose that is one way of trashing a whole class of authorship. However, I wouldn’t recommend your anonymous contributor take his or her argument to an academic level. He or she might find themselves on the wrong end of a losing battle.

    Thanks to the Gutenberg Revolution mankind was able to enter a period of learning and enlightenment. Did the world benefit from this revolution? On the balance of historical evidence, I would have to say yes.

    Perhaps we should also give thanks to this current revolution taking place in the publishing arena, as it is pushing the envelope on how we communicate with each other. It is also pushing us towards a better understanding of the world in which we live.

    Thanks to e-publishing, Joe and Jane Public have been given a platform through which they can express their thoughts, their opinions and their ideas. In the same way that the Gutenberg Revolution broke the shackles of ignorance, e-publishing is breaking the notion that authorship is the reserve of an elitist few.

    It matters little to me whether someone calls me an author or a writer. (I rather like the idea of being put in the same class as a Homer or a Virgil. If only!) The fact remains – I can write and publish my work on the Internet without validation or restriction from traditionalists who would keep the majority of us chained to the Dark Ages. Now that is what I call real freedom! Your anonymous contributor can keep the title of author. I’ll settle for the freedom to express myself.

  82. Anonymous11:31 PM

    No one has addressed ISBN's. Any thoughts on whether or not this is necessary or highly recommended for eBooks? It's not cheap.

  83. I intend to publish an e-book, but this does not deter me from my dream of being published in the traditional fashion and seeing my print in bookstores. I do not plan on trying to distribute my e-book in print, but instead wish to find a traditional publisher for a completely new work that I do not plan on publishing online at any point (aside from when said publisher does it, of course.)

    Maybe this is a naive goal given the current market trends and considering the information in your post, but I want to know anyway. Would you suggest for or against this plan? Is there some reason that is a terrible idea based on your experiences?

    Thanks for your time in reading,

    Robert A. Priester

  84. Thank you for this great article. I think anyone who is considering self-publishing should read this.

  85. Thanks so much for your valuable tips and insights. After working with several newbie authors, I have decided to make the change to write and illustrate my own stories.
    I know the regular routes to book publishing are fraught with many roadblocks. The "Catch 22"..first you need an agent to get published. You need a publisher to get proper distribution. Blah, Blah, Blah. Thanks for cutting to the chase! As Doug Bennet of the "Slugs" said, "Fame and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee anywhere in town." Yours, Grant Crawford

  86. Joe, just tripped over your site/blog for the 1st time here. I've written some screenplays in the past, and got older and more frustrated doing the "Hollywood Shuffle." Anyone who's written scripts and tried to get them through to the "gatekeepers" knows of what I speak. So I'm changing gears. I'm turning my last - and best - script into my 1st novel, and am seriously considering going the e-publishing route when it's done. From what I've read here alone, it seems to be the way to go for me. I've got one really quick, dumb question for you or anyone else on this blog; is the Amazon 70% royalty you spoke of their take, or is that 70% the writer's cut? Know it's a dumb question, but am completely new to this. You rock, Joe. I'm from Detroit, and it's really cool to see a Midwestern guy make it in this business. By the way, did anyone ever tell you you resemble Joe Eszterhas? Another Midwestern guy who wrote "Basic Instinct," and a great little book called "The Devil's Guide To Hollywood." Great blog, Joe. Will be dropping in from time to time. Thanks for taking the time to respond to questions from schmucks like myself. Best of luck to you in the future and to all of those who aspire to write the Great American Novel, like I hope I'm doing right now........Gary C

  87. Great info for those of us new to the idea of self publishing. I'm as excited as I am scared of the whole process.

    make money by writing

  88. Thanks,a bunch this blog was very helpful,I am a newbie,that has almost completed 9 books.I have been going back and forth with publishing company's for some time now,this can be a very tricky hobby or line of work,most agency's seem to want to buy the rights to my books for less than $500,that's not gonna work,because i would love to make a living of of this....thanks to you and this blog,i still have hope....Milah' looking out for my books...Thanks again

  89. Thanks for your information. I am Susan Horowitz author of Queens of Comedy, published 1997, now on Amazon, but rights have reverted to me. I want to publish Queens of Comedy as an Ebook, maybe enhanced Ebood with recordings of my interviews with legendary comediennes. I'd appreciate advice about this. I also write a blog

  90. Great post! I agree 100% that $2.99 is a reasonable price for an ebook, whether self published or traditionally published. And the good thing about self publishing is that you don't have a massive payroll of people to support, which requires hiking up the price of ebooks.

    A big argument in favor of the traditional publishers is that they do the editing, formatting, and cover art. But the downside to this is that the author has little input and no control. The work may be edited in a way that the author is not happy with the finished product. The publisher may change the title. The author may hate the cover design. Another HUGE reason that many authors are making the move to self publishing is because they have total control over the end product.

    Oh, and that “free” professional editing, formatting, and cover art? That's not free. You've paid for it in the 75-94% you're paying the publisher to get your book on the market. Where did I get those percentages from? Most royalties range from 6-25%. Though in reality, most range from 10-15%.

    A second big argument in favor of publishers is marketing. Yet many traditionally published authors are quick to say that the publisher did next to nothing to market their book. Publishers often reserve their marketing budget for their biggest selling authors, who already have a huge fan base and don't need much marketing anyway.

    “Greater potential to publish crappy books?” Yes, provided you only do half the work it takes to get a book on the market (writing it). Editing and proofreading is an important part of any publishing process, whether you hire a freelancer to do it or whether a publisher does it.

  91. Joe, first time here for me, too. Great post, thanks. This para made me pause, however: "Keep in mind that both Kindle and Smashwords require different formatting. Also remember that some vendors Smashwords uploads to tend to discount ebooks. If they discount your ebooks, Amazon will match the discounted price, and you will only get 70% royalty on the discounted price."
    Do you need to pay a formatter double to format for both? and how do you prevent Smashword vendors from discounting your books?
    (Just beginning to look into self-publishing, it sounds overwhelming to me right now.)

  92. I'm just beginning a writing career and this post has a lot of info for me. I have bookmarked to refer back to later. Thanks for sharing this info. Sally

  93. Thanks Joe! I loved your blog and stumbled on it by accident. I can't wait to read more.

  94. Thanks Joe! I loved your blog and stumbled on it by accident. I can't wait to read more.

  95. Wow, usually have no patience for long comments lists, but this one was really interesting.It would be interesting to hear what Kyle's sales figures were like given that he puts himself forward as a spokeperson for the publishing industry so vehemently.

    As a reader, I agree with Joe about opinions of books being subjective. I gotta say that I think some 'top authors' like Stephen King are rubbish (sorry Stephen) and not to my taste, but plenty people love him, so more power to him. One person's opinion means little in comparison to all his fans.

    I see nothing wrong with self publishing. If your book is rubbish, no one will buy it, regardless of whether it's digital or paper-based. Remember that the publishing houses aren't Gods. If you want to self publish and you think you have what it takes then go for it. It is better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all....or something like that.

  96. All good advice, thanks Joe. One question - I am the author of an out of print book 'Tammy Damulkurra' from 1994. Can I, should I just go ahead and ebook it without having to go back to the publisher? I'd like to do this while I prepare 'Turn Left at the Devil Tree' which is nearly finished. Derek Pugh

  97. Cheryl3:03 PM

    I love the article and have been reading the comments, but I've come up against a problem. I took your advice and hired your cover artist. Carl/Cheresse, whomever, designed a wonderful cover based on the story elements I described. Now, however, the few days I was told to wait for the finished product has turned into two weeks plus, with no reply to my emails. How long is a reasonable wait before I consider the worst?

  98. Gary C, that was an excellent question. I too would like the answer regarding percentage the writer gets for epublishing.
    My wife and I also wrote a screenplay which has not sold yet and therefore not produced. The script is called 3rd. You can google the name and should find it. The person who helped us with the script is Mr. Lee Levinson who gave the script his highest recommendation for production. We have also converted to a book and is why I'm at this blog. I suggest you check out the website for LULU which can help with self publishing. Best of luck, John Wiebe

  99. Call me argumentative, but as far as #1 goes, I think it is far less important than most of us think it is. On a personal level, if you want to be the next great American author, then knock yourself out. But some of the best selling novels out there are utter trash (the Fifty Shades trilogy comes to mind.) Yes, you should make sure your spelling and grammar are correct and your formatting readable. But beyond that, all you need is a story other people will enjoy. I would compare it to going to see your favorite band - do you notice when they miss a note or the tempo lags? Or do you just enjoy the experience? All I'm saying is, don't be so self-defeatist that you never put your work out there because it's not "perfect." The average reader is not going to notice if your work is flawed - they just want to be transported into the world you've created.

  100. Hi, Konrath! Remember me? I used to post in AFO. I really enjoyed this article immensely. I got here by linking from another article directly. I finally have a book I'm ready to sell, and I think I am going to go the self-publishing route. I disagree that the only reason agents won't accept your manuscript is because you're not good enough. I think there are a variety of factors involved, like if you don't have a big platform or an online presence, and they don't think they can get enough readers to buy your book. I'm not cocky, but I am a lot better than I was when I posted in AFO, and my book has been gone through extensively, by myself and other members at So, I think many factors are involved in a rejection, heck, even timing, if they don't think the market is right for your book, for example.

    So, I'm now trying to get an online presence. I have a blog, I've been busy on Twitter and Facebook. I even have Pinterest now. :-) The next step is to publish it. All in all, it's been a fun process. I know you're busy,. but I was just wondering if you remember me from our old stomping grounds. I still keep in touch with Alaric. Nice to talk to you. It's been a while.

  101. Thanks for the inspirational post. Naïve assumptions led me to believe selling an eBook required a polished PDF and BOOM; steady trickle of passive 'I Told You So' money in the bank. Obviously, since the internet is the internet, the online publishing market is buzzing with infinite choice. I'm glad that amongst all of the overwhelming chatter I stumbled upon this post. I've been reassured that the beginning stages of my research towards self-publishing haven't been wasted efforts. I'm excited to dip my big toe into the eBook waters. Appreciate the advice! Thanks!


Thanks for the comment! Joe will get back to you eventually. :)