Monday, December 20, 2010

Resolutions for Writers 2011

Every December I do a post about resolutions for writers, and every year I add more of them. This year is especially interesting, because my latest advice goes against some of my earlier advice...


Newbie Writer Resolutions
  • I will start/finish the damn book
  • I will always have at least three stories on submission, while working on a fourth
  • I will attend at least one writer's conference, and introduce myself to agents, editors, and other writers
  • I will subscribe to the magazines I submit to
  • I will join a critique group. If one doesn't exist, I will start one at the local bookstore or library
  • I will finish every story I start
  • I will listen to criticism
  • I will create/update my website
  • I will master the query process and search for an agent
  • I'll quit procrastinating in the form of research, outlines, synopses, taking classes, reading how-to books, talking about writing, and actually write something
  • I will refuse to get discouraged, because I know JA Konrath wrote 9 novels, received almost 500 rejections, and penned over 1 million words before he sold a thing--and I'm a lot more talented than that guy

Professional Writer Resolutions

  • I will keep my website updated
  • I will keep up with my blog and social networks
  • I will schedule bookstore signings, and while at the bookstore I'll meet and greet the customers rather than sit dejected in the corner
  • I will send out a newsletter, emphasizing what I have to offer rather than what I have for sale, and I won't send out more than four a year
  • I will learn to speak in public, even if I think I already know how
  • I will make selling my books my responsibility, not my publisher's
  • I will stay in touch with my fans
  • I will contact local libraries, and tell them I'm available for speaking engagements
  • I will attend as many writing conferences as I can afford
  • I will spend a large portion of my advance on self-promotion
  • I will help out other writers
  • I will not get jealous, will never compare myself to my peers, and will cleanse my soul of envy
  • I will be accessible, amiable, and enthusiastic
  • I will do one thing every day to self-promote
  • I will always remember where I came from


  • Keep an Open Mind. It's easier to defend your position than seriously consider new ways of thinking. But there is no innovation, no evolution, no "next big thing" unless someone thinks differently. Be that someone.

  • Look Inward. We tend to write for ourselves. But for some reason we don't market for ourselves. Figure out what sort of marketing works on you; that's the type of marketing you should be trying. You should always know why you're doing what you're doing, and what results are acceptable to you.

  • Find Your Own Way. Advice is cheap, and the Internet abounds with people telling you how to do things. Question everything. The only advice you should take is the advice that makes sense to you. And if it doesn't work, don't be afraid to ditch it.

  • Set Attainable Goals. Saying you'll find an agent, or sell 30,000 books, isn't attainable, because it involves things out of your control. Saying you'll query 50 agents next month, or do signings at 20 bookstores, is within your power and fully attainable.

  • Enjoy the Ride. John Lennon said that life is what happens while you're busy planning other things. Writing isn't about the destination; it's about the journey. If you aren't enjoying the process, why are you doing it?

  • Help Each Other. One hand should always be reaching up for your next goal. The other should be reaching down to help others get where you're at. We're all in the same boat. Start passing out oars.


I Will Use Anger As Fuel.
We all know that this is a hard business. Luck plays a huge part. Rejection is part of the job. Things happen beyond our control, and we can get screwed.

It's impossible not to dwell on it when we're wronged. But rather than vent or stew or rage against the world and everyone in it, we should use that anger and the energy it provides for productive things.

The next time you get bad news, resolve to use that pain to drive your work. Show fate that when it pushes you, you push right back. By writing. By querying. By marketing.

I Will Abandon My Comfort Zone. The only difference between routine and rut is spelling.

As a writer, you are part artist and part businessman.

Great artists take chances.

Successful businessmen take chances.

This means doing things you're afraid of, and things you hate, and things you've never tried before.

If, in 2008, you don't fail at something, you weren't trying hard enough.

I Will Feed My Addiction. Life is busy. There are always things you can and should be doing, and your writing career often comes second.

So make it come first.

Right now, you're reading A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Not A Newbie's Guide to Leading a Content and Balanced Life.

You want to get published and stay published? That means making writing a priority. That means making sacrifices. A sacrifice involves choosing one thing over another.

If you can't devote the time, energy, and money it takes to pursue this career, go do something else.

I Will Never Be Satisfied. Think the last resolution was extreme? This one really separates the die-hards from the hobbyists.

While an overwhelming sense of peace and enlightenment sounds pretty nice, I wouldn't want to hire a bunch of Zen masters to build an addition on my house.

Satisfaction and contentment are great for your personal life. In your professional life, once you start accepting the way things are, you stop trying.

No one is going to hand you anything in this business. You have to be smart, be good, work hard, and get lucky.

Every time you get published, you got lucky. Don't take it for granted.

When something bad happens, it should make you work harder. But when something good happens, you can't believe you earned it. Because it isn't true. You aren't entitled to this career. No one is.

Yes, you should celebrate successes. Sure, you should enjoy good things when they happen. Smile and laugh and feel warm and fuzzy whenever you finish a story or make a sale or reach a goal.

But remember that happiness isn't productive. Mankind's greatest accomplishments are all tales of struggle, hardship, sacrifice, work, and effort. You won't do any of those things if you're satisfied with the status quo.

Who do you want on your team? The kid who plays for fun? Or the kid who plays to win?

If you want this to be your year, you know which kid you have to be.


This year I'm only going to add one resolution to this growing list, but if you're writing for a living, or trying to write for a living, it's an important one.

I Won't Blame Anyone For Anything.
It's tempting to look at the many problems that arise in this business and start pointing fingers. This is a slippery slope, and no good can come from it.

Do agents, editors, and publishers make mistakes? Of course.

You make mistakes too.

Hindsight is 20/20, so we can all look at things that didn't go our way and fantasize about how things should have gone.

But blaming others, or yourself, is dwelling on the past. What's done is done, and being bitter isn't going to help your career.

So try to learn from misfortune, forgive yourself and others, and make 2009 a blameless year.


I Will Be Wary.
The medium in which stories are absorbed is changing in a big way, and it will continue to change. 2009 will go down in publishing history as Year Zero for the upcoming ebook revolution. Writers should explore this new territory, but we need to understand that Print is still King, and any goals and dreams a writer might have regarding publication should be focused on getting into print.

That's not to say that ebooks shouldn't be explored and experimented with. They should be, and in a serious way. Erights are a very long tail--one that can potentially continue long after our lifetimes.

Don't forsake print for ebooks without understanding what you're giving up, and don't give away your ebook rights to get a print deal.

I Will Be A Pioneer. Remember the old saying about how to recognize a pioneer? They're the one with the arrows in their backs and fronts.

I've tried to be forward-thinking in my career, rather than being content with my role as a cog in a broken machine. Your best chance for longevity is to question everything, test boundaries, experiment with new ideas, and be willing to change your mind and learn from your mistakes.

Your job is to survive, by any means necessary. So pull out the arrows and forge ahead. Discover the difference between determination and stupidity by being an example for one or the other or both.

Though this may seem at odds with the previous resolution about being wary, it's actually quite simpatico.

Q: What do you call a wary pioneer? A: Still alive.

I Will Read Books. I'm surprised I haven't mentioned this in previous years. If you're a writer, you must be a reader. I don't care if you read on your Kindle, or on stone tablets. Reading, and giving the gift of reading to others, is essential. Period.

I Will Stop Worrying. Worrying, along with envy, blame, guilt, and regret, is a useless emotion. It's also bad storytelling. Protagonists should be proactive, not reactive. They should forge ahead, not dwell on things beyond their control. Fretting, whining, complaining, and bemoaning the state of the industry isn't the way to get ahead.

You are the hero in the story of your life. Act like it.


I Will Self-Publish

Just twelve short months ago, I made $1650 on Kindle in December, and was amazed I could pay my mortgage with ebook sales.

This December, I'll earn over $22,000.

The majority of this is on Kindle. But I'm also doing well self-pubbing in print through Amazon's Createspace program, and will earn $2700 this month on nine POD books. I'm also finally trying out B&N's PubIt program, which looks to be good for over $1k a month, and I'm doing okay on Smashwords, with Sony, Apple, and Kobo combining for another $1k.

This is nothing short of revolutionary.

The gatekeepers--agents who submit to editors who acquire books to publish and distribute to booksellers--are no longer needed to make a living as a fiction writer. For the first time in history, writers can reach readers without having to jump through hoops, get anointed, compromise integrity, or fit the cookie-cutter definition for What New York Wants.

I'm not saying you should give up on traditional publishing. But I am saying that there is ZERO downside to self-pubbing. At worst, you'll make a few bucks. At best, you'll make a fortune, and have agents and editors fighting over you.

But remember: even if you are being fought over, you still have a choice.

DO NOT take any deal that's less than what you believe you could earn in six years. If you're selling 1000 ebooks a month, that means $144,000 is the minimum advance you should be offered before you consider signing.

It blows my mind to think that way, let alone blog about it. I got a $34,000 advance for my first novel, and even less for my last few.

Currently, I have seven self-pubbed novels, each earning more than $24k a year. In six years, at the current rate, I'll earn more than one million bucks on those.

But I don't expect them to maintain their current sales.

I expect sales to go up.

Ebooks haven't saturated the market yet. But they will. And you need to be ready for it. Which leads me to...

I Won't Self-Publish Crap

Just because it's easier than ever before to reach an audience doesn't mean you should.

I can safely say that I'm either directly or indirectly responsible for thousands of writers trying out self-publishing. The majority of these writers aren't making the same amount of money that I am, and are scratching their heads, wondering what they're doing wrong.

Luck still plays a part in success. But so does professionalism.

Being a professional means you make sure you have a professional cover (, and you have been professionally formatted for ebooks ( and for print books (

Being a professional means you're prolific, with many titles for sale, and that you diversify, exploiting all possible places to sell your work (Kindle, Createspace, Smashwords, iBooks, iTunes, Sony, Nook, Kobo, Borders, Android, and no doubt more to come.)

But most of all, being a professional means you won't inflict your shitty writing on the public.

Self-pubbing is not the kiddie pool, where you learn how to swim. You need to be an excellent swimmer before you jump in.

If your sales aren't where you'd like them to be, especially if you've done everything else I've mentioned, then it's time to take a cold, hard, critical look at the writing. Which segues into...

I'll Pay Attention to the Market

To say I'm excited about the ebook future is putting it mildly. But that doesn't mean I have carte blanche to write whatever the hell I want to, and then expect it to sell.

Yes, writers now have more freedom. Yes, we can now cater to niche tastes, and write novellas, and focus on more personal projects.

But if you want to make a living, you still have to understand your audience, and how to give them what they want.

Self-pubbing is not an excuse to be a self-indulgent egomaniac. On the contrary, it's a chance for you to learn what sells.

For the very first time, the writer can conduct their own real-world experiments. By trying different things, learning from mistakes, and constantly tweaking and improving, we have more power than ever before to find our readers.

A lot of folks know how much money I'm making. But how many know:

I've changed or tweaked cover art 45 times.
I've reformatted my books five times each.
I've changed product descriptions over 80 times.
I've changed prices on each book two or three times.

Unlike the traditional publishing world, where published books are static, self-publishing is dynamic. If something isn't selling as well as you'd like, you can change it. The work doesn't end when you upload your ebook to Kindle. The work is never-ending, and vigilance is mandatory.

Self-publishing is a wonderful opportunity to learn and to grow. This means you MUST try new things.

2011 is going to be a turbulent year for publishers and bookstores and editors and agents. Change is coming, and many of the stalwarts of the industry aren't going to be around for much longer.

But savvy writers will be safe from harm. In fact, they'll thrive like never before.

For the first time in the history of publishing, we have control. Embrace that control, and make 2011 your year.

Go get 'em, tiger.


Unknown said...

Determination is stupidity that works. Good to know.

JA Konrath said...

Actually, determination works a lot better if you're smart.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Joe! Hey, how would you re-write 2006 today?

Christopher Wills said...

As usual, motivating stuff. I've always believed you need 3 things to be a successful author, hard work, talent and luck. You need to do the hard work to improve your talent and you need to do the hard work to create the luck. I think J A K is testament to this theory. Well done and keep up the good work; and have a happy Christmas from an apprentice writer.

Anonymous said...


Loved this! The change in perspective from 2006 until now was quite revealing. Great idea to add the previous years.

I have struggled with moving away from traditional publishing for a while and only four months ago uploaded my first title to Smashwords and Amazon.

Then I did the rest of my eleven titles, ones I'd written for a magazine over a three year period.

This affirms the part you wrote about where you are somewhat responsible for other writers and their decision to go direct to e-book.

This post also reminds everyone to not publish crap. I've read some fabulous indie e-books in the last six months, but I have also read a few that I couldn't get past the first three pages.

Merry Christmas to you and your family...

Donna said...

Good morning, Joe.

I’ve been a devoted reader of your work and your blog for a while, so this is just a little “thank you” note. This past year, I completed my first novel and decided to go the traditional route—constructed an effective query to agents, received some encouraging responses and even a couple of offers. However, in the end nothing panned out (one agent wanted my violent dark urban fantasy to become a straight romance—not sure how to do that, exactly).

If I had not discovered your blog, my novel would be sitting on some external hard drive in my office rather than on sale digitally at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Omnilit, etc. In the 36 or so hours since it’s been live, I’ve already moved a number of copies and am sitting #2 on Ominlit’s horror list.

Encouragement and motivation is one hell of a Christmas present. Plus, I am now realizing I do not need an agent to be published and, most importantly, read.

Thanks for being awesome and sharing what you’ve learned with all us “newbies.”

Donna Burgess

RobynBradley said...

Seth Godin would call you a linchpin. That's a compliment! :)

Unknown said...

Cool stuff, Joe. I was looking for a bit of a boost and found it here.

Claudia Lefeve said...

I'm not the first and I certainly won't be the last to say "thanks" for giving us writers a reason to keep on truckin'.

Mark Feggeler said...

Excellent advice throughout. Twenty years of drafting, outlining, rewriting, etc., this year gave way to the determination to finally stop futzing around and write "the damn book."
Your comments on realistic goals strike home. A major motivating factor was giving myself a solid year to finish the rough draft, plus several more months to edit and format. The timeline was a no brainer -- I predicted a final product with xx pages and knew I could write xx pages per week during the wee hours of morning while the rest of the family sleeps. Simple multiplication.
As I've heard a thousand times over in sales training programs, goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). It's nice to have something close to my heart to which I finally can apply it.
Mark Feggeler

Ruth Harris said...

Thanks so much, Joe. The changes over the years are fascinating to read and very instructive. So many of us are inspired and motivated by your generosity in sharing your experiences.

PW is now acknowledging self-publishing & today's issue includes a section on self-publishing including a title listing and reviews. Blake Crouch raised some troubling points about PW's behavior but I thought people would like to have a look anyway. Here's the link...

Ruth Harris
NYTimes bestselling author
Husbands And Lovers

Robin O'Neill said...

When I reached #7 in the Middle Reader (9-12) category at BN last weekend with my quite old backlist horse book, I wept. I sold better than C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engel. For a couple hours anyway.

This past week, in other news, I got a rejection from an agent who said my writing wasn't loud enough. (?) Helpful info on some planet, I'm sure, just not earth.

I have little pity or compassion for these people. They dug this hole for themselves and traditional publishing pretty much deserves the future that's bearing down upon them and yet they still haven't noticed they're rapidly becoming obsolete.

JA Konrath said...

A lot og my 2006 resolutions still stand. These don't:

I will always have at least three stories on submission, while working on a fourth.

I'll self-pub stories as soon as they're finished.

I will master the query process and search for an agent

When I'm selling 1000 ebooks a month, I'll start emailing some agents and ask what they can do for me.

I will schedule bookstore signings, and while at the bookstore I'll meet and greet the customers rather than sit dejected in the corner

I stopped doing bookstore signings, but I do have signed print books on my website for fans who want them.

I will attend as many writing conferences as I can afford

Cons have worn out their usefulness to me. That said, I will be at Love is Murder in February.

I will spend a large portion of my advance on self-promotion

Nope. I hardly spend any money self-promoting these days. If given the chance to advertise on Amazon, I'd take it. But otherwise, my money is staying in the bank.

Unknown said...

I started reading "Newbie's" back in 2009, about two months after I had started writing a novel that I intended to finish. That novel went up on DTP and Smashwords 5 December 2010. Long road ahead, I come here for the signposts.
Thanks hope you have a merry Christmas and a great year.

JA Konrath said...

PW is now acknowledging self-publishing & today's issue includes a section on self-publishing including a title listing and reviews.

Today's PW also says some nice things about me. Go fig.

But paying to be included in their self-pub section is B-A-D, and all of those folks paid.

There's a lot of irony there, but what I find most amusing is that PW is trying to make money from something that will eventually put them out of business, which means they're helping themselves go out of business.

billie said...

Thanks to you I now have two novels up on Kindle. The first one, which agents jostled over, and editors said was beautiful and good and "should be published" finally is.

I have another one ready to go up, and a middle grade first book of a series awaiting the cover design I've hired - both these should be up by the new year.

2010 for me has been the year I officially shifted my perspective on how I want my work to be published. 2011 is the year it's going to happen.

Thank you for all the info you've shared here - a terrific resource for those of us taking advantage of the "new way."

CJ West said...

Great Post Joe.

Thanks for helping me tune into the ebook world over the last year. It is amazing how much the publishing world has changed.

My resolution for 2011: I will give away books and connect with ebook readers.

@David - I have tried more than my share of stupid things. Some of them even worked.

@Joe - self-publishers have a long way to go in the eyes of PW, but IMHO readers are coming around.

THE END OF MARKING TIME (free from me)

Edward l Cote said...

I am polishing my first book now. I plan to have it on Kindle in February or March. I just hope that I haven't worried too much over quality control and developed a form of analysis paralysis.

CJ West said...

One more thing Joe...

Savvy writers will thrive like never before.

If there is one message coming from you on this blog that is it. And it is so true. Ebooks are rewarding (a wide array of) writers and it is a fantastic thing to watch


Anonymous said...

Mr. Konrath,

I was wondering your thoughts on the YA market for ebooks in 2011?

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallion

wannabuy said...

"This is nothing short of revolutionary."

Joe, in part because of your willingness to post and inspire other authors. As a reader, thank you!

I hope you will track and post your Christmas Day sales. It should be the busiest book selling day of 2010! Since it will be a bit of history, it would be interesting to know the sales bump. :)


James Viser said...


Thanks again for the advice and helping us newbies through what you've already experienced!

Happy Holidays!

J. Viser

Layton Green said...

As someone who has been following this blog since 2006, I want to say thank you for all previous and current advice. Without the knowledge, grit and hope gained from reading this blog, I'm not sure I would have taken the plunge. And boy, am I glad I did.

Happy holidays to all--
Layton Green

Tina Folsom said...

Great inspiration as always. Will forward this to my critique partner who's a wonderful writer but still sitting on the fence about self-publishing.

In terms of December sales, I've already seen a huge uptick. Did everybody get their Kindle and Nook a month early or what is happening? As of Dec 3, my sales have more than doubled from November. Have others seen the same jump?

Tina Folsom, Author of the Scanguards Vampires series

Anna Murray said...

" I got a rejection from an agent who said my writing wasn't loud enough."

I got a rejection because my writing "didn't sparkle."

That book has sold over 6,000 copies, and it's always on the bestseller list in the western category on Kindle store.

Unknown said...

Thank u beyond thank u, Joe!

I've studied your blog and your success for the past couple years, and can't tell you how much I've looked to you to re-focus my writing-for-publication career!

I've now got three books out and have watched my sales triple each month as well as increase dramatically with the addition of each new release. And I've got five more coming out in 2011!

My agent and I are travelling this E-Book Road together and looking forward to the journey.

Thank you for giving me the courage to chart my own map to publishing success.

Happy Holidays!

Sincerely --- D. D. Scott

P.S. And in my efforts to "be the J. A. Konrath of the Romance Genre", I've teamed-up with several other authors and launched a new grog to hit January 1st. We're giving you quite the promo plug at . Stay-tuned for my Welcome Msg on January 1st, and you'll see what I mean!!!

Christina Katz said...

Hi Joe,

I just posted your blog in my blog as the number one blog I recommend for writers. I want to thank you for all that you have shared over the years.

Though I don't share your taste in fiction (sorry!), I have always appreciated your friendly, humorous voice, the way you present both sides of a story (even while holding a strong opinion), and your willingness to experiment.

If it wasn't for you, I would not have tried self-publishing or worked with Rob Siders or been brave enough to cross over into the brave new world of self-publishing.

But thanks to your wise example, and insistence on quality and professionalism, I am proud to say that I have gotten a toe in the pool. It's a start, anyway.

I'm very happy for you and all of the success that you have created for yourself. I hope you will keep up the great example because we all need it.

Happy holidays,

Christina Katz

James Scott Bell said...

Joe's most important nugget is to become an excellent swimmer first. You can't just be prolific. There are tons of people who write a lot of....not good stuff. The good news is you can learn the craft. Be intentional about studying, practicing and getting better. Self-pubbing does not mean there are no more dues to be paid in the form of hard work.

Ken Hansen said...

Ok :)
I'm currently doinmg my finishing touches on my first book, in norwegian, and have been following your blog for a while. Good adwices abound.
And I'll make myself a few new years resolutions, too.

wannabuy said...


Where is your book free? After reading the reviews, I'm interesting in giving it a try. As a reader, I do 'sell' indie authors to coworkers. :)

I'm excited to keep hearing how indie author sales have spiked since about November 20th. I'll be curious to see this December's numbers! Ack... why do they have to lag so much? (See my ebookcomment blog for graphs of AAP sales.)


Rob Cornell said...

Great post, as always. Crazy to see how fast things have changes in just a few years. I remember dreaming of being a writer when I was kid, and what I expected of the experience then. Totally different world now. But maybe even better than what I'd originally imagined.

My only question: How do you let readers know you've got a book out? Or do you have to have a lot of different titles out there before you start generating sales. It still seems like visibility is an issue.

Maybe you have a post on this somewhere?

Sarra Cannon said...

Thank you so much for this boost! This morning I published my second ebook, and I know that 2011 is going to be the year that everything changes for me. Thanks for your honesty and encouragement!

Ursula said...

You give some great resources for formatting and cover art. Any hints on finding a solid freelance editor? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

But I'm also doing well self-pubbing in print through Amazon's Createspace program, and will earn $2700 this month on nine POD books.

Looks like someone might owe me a bottle of whiskey.

In all seriousness, though-- I'm so happy for your success.

Thank you for being a model for all of us to follow.

Maryann Guberman said...

So, did you cleanse your soul of envy?

JA Konrath said...

Looks like someone might owe me a bottle of whiskey.

Indeed. And I couldn't be more pleased. :)

Joe Flynn said...

I've found your advice to be very helpful. I have six novels up on Amazon now. I'll have eight within a month and twelve by spring. I'll make sure all are available through every distribution channel.

I've written some terrific books and it feels great to see people buying them. But I'm going to work hard in 2011 to make sure as many people as possible know about my books — and of course to write more of them.

Thanks for opening my eyes to self-publishing e-books.

Joseph Flynn

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Your resolutions were appropriate and well stated for each year. But, oh my, how quickly things have changed. And, like you, I'm loving it.

Joe, I knew you had changed your covers and tweaked your ebooks a bit, but I had no idea you'd made so many changes. I just updated all my ebooks, reformatting them and including the book covers. I found that the easiest way to do it (other than hiring someone) is to use the free Calibre tool and convert each Word file and jpg cover file to ePub. Once the book is converted to the ePub format, it is ready to be uploaded to both Kindle AND Barnes & Noble's PubIt.

My personal author resolution: to write and publish three to four more Rebecca Ranghorn Mystery books in 2011.

Ellen Fisher said...

Thanks for these. It's interesting to see the changing landscape of publishing through your resolutions. This older one is a particular reminder of how much things have changed: "Writers should explore this new territory, but we need to understand that Print is still King, and any goals and dreams a writer might have regarding publication should be focused on getting into print."

scott neumyer said...

Great post. It's about time someone said that you can't just publish garbage (just because you CAN) and expect it to sell. That's the major hurdle I see with self-publishing. Too many people think it just means they can whip something up and pop it on Kindle, hope it will sell, and not consider if it's good or what the audience is. Kudos to a quality post, sir!

Derek J. Canyon said...

Thanks a lot for all your info, Joe. Thanks to you, I epublished my first full-length novel, Dead Dwarves Don't Dance, in late November. As of today, I've sold 48 copies and gotten 2 nice reviews! Early next year, I'll publish my second novel, a young adult action-adventure. I'm hoping that by next Christmas I'll be making something in the 4 figures. All by following your advice!

Blog: Adventures in ePublishing

Cathryn Grant said...

I started reading your blog in 2009 as I was finishing my novel and preparing to query agents.

When I poked my head up out of my editing hole, I realized the world had changed significantly.

2010 has been a year of decision-making, more editing and getting organized to take the self pub route.

My novel will be on Amazon, Smashwords etc before the end of the year. 2011 should be a wild ride.

Thanks for all the pointers along the way: a damn good book, good cover, good description and the right price [+ marketing etc].

M Pax said...

Interesting read. This is a journey. Makes me want to jump on the ebooks soon.

Jay said...


Amy idea if literary fiction will lend itself to the self-pubbing model, or does it, by nature, rely on The Gate Keepers?

CJ West said...


You can get the free book (THE END OF MARKING TIME) by sending an email to me at: authors (at) 22wb dot com. Specify .mobi, .pdf, .epub, .lrf. You may share the file with anyone you like. I'd be glad if you opened your address book and forwarded like crazy.

Thanks for asking.


Unknown said...

This post is one for the bookmarks!

I'm planning a February 2011 launch of my first self-published fantasy novel. The future seems promising and, more importantly, within my control -- that's a welcome alternative to trying to fit my square niche into New York's round holes. Thank you for your ongoing support of other authors. Your success is absolutely inspiring.

Jude Hardin said...

Excellent post.

Bet you're watching the Bears kick ass right now, eh?

Katie Klein said...

This is great advice. I always try to set new writing goals for myself at the start of each year. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post, Joe, yet "I won't self-publish crap" is useless advice, because the only ones who need to hear it can't recognize crap coming out of their own word processors.

Just as with any community pool you've got your deep water and diving board on one end and the kiddie pool on the other, and always it will be.


Selena Kitt said...

"But otherwise, my money is staying in the bank."

Oh please do tell me it's at the very least in CD's or some other interest-bearing form... ;)

Big kudos to ya, Joe. And good luck on Pubit!

Sharper13x said...

Joe, just wanted to say thank you. I stumbled on your blog in August, went back and read all of 2010, and knew it was time to publish my book.

Went live over the weekend. So far I've sold 15 books, 2 of which were even bought by strangers.

But even if I don't sell any more, this is worth it.

Thanks again for the inspiration and information. You're doing a good thing, Joe. Merry Christmas!

wannabuy said...


Thank you. I have e-mailed you. :)

Good luck with the novel! Quality is key in an ever growing market. :)

Anon said (@9:33pm): "Just as with any community pool you've got your deep water and diving board on one end and the kiddie pool on the other, and always it will be."
I couldn't agree more. With the tools available on Amazon, It doesn't feel like 35,000 ebooks are added to Amazon every month. Instead, there feels like 'just enough' good ones in interesting generas hit the store. Wow... agreeing with an anon... (faints).

It will be a wild ride. Good luck!


Unknown said...

With a great deal of thanks due to your blog and to my own market research, I took a book that trad pubs said "would not sell" and self-published it. I had no online platform, no readers, no fans, but I did have years of experience as an editor under my belt. Guess what. It is selling and I'm planning my future releases.

Thank you for giving us something most industry people do not: actual numbers. And hope.


Bella Andre said...

Great post, Joe! Thanks for including the previous years posts too. Things definitely change fast, don't they.

I'm excited to see what happens December 25th when millions of people unwrap their new ereaders and tablets and think, "I can't wait to get some books on these!"

It was a fantastic 2010 and I'm looking forward to an amazing 2011!
:) Bella Andre

WiseMóna said...

Dear Joe,
Thanks for the awesome advice. What a great way to start the new year with your words all lined up and ready to be adhered to.
You are so generous.

Aaron Hilton said...

If someone starts putting self-publishing down, I always return to your blog for guidance and inspiration. Thanks, Joe.

Douglas Dorow said...

Thanks for continuing to use this blog as a forum to share your own experiences and thanks to all of your active followers. Always great banter here.

I've been following you since we met at the first Thrillerfest in Phoenix.

When I saw Amazon's offer to authors at $2.99 I knew, like you, it was time to publish to Kindle. But that meant I had to finish the book. The first is The Ninth District, which will be up on Kindle by March.

My resolution is to finish The 49th Parallel and publish it by Christmas 2011.

I've used you and your followers writing advice, got my cover designed by Carl Graves and am excited about writing.

Here's to a FANtastic 2011.


Mike Fook said...

Thanks for sharing those Joe - indeed times change.

My current 2011 resolutions?

Write 6-12 books.

Finding more writer blogs to read.

Hit 1,000 book sales per month.

That would be enough for me, no sense doing any more than that.

Good luck to everyone putting the time in, and best wishes in 2011!

Cheers! Mike

Heather Hildenbrand said...

Re: "If something isn't selling as well as you'd like, you can change it. The work doesn't end when you upload your ebook to Kindle. The work is never-ending, and vigilance is mandatory."

Joe- thanks for this, especially. I am still toying with the idea of e-pubbing and this is great advice. It's easy to think once its uploaded, then 'that's it'. Eye opener to realize (duh) I can keep tweaking it to find out what works for me. Also the comment about being my own hero. Yeah that was helpful and translated to basically 'grow a pair'! And stop being so scared about what will happen if I DO e-pub it. 2011 will be my year!!

Melissa Romo said...

Thanks for this post, Joe. I left my business and marketing career last year to write fiction and guess what? Now I have a new career in business and marketing. The industry changes are fascinating and your blog helps me keep up. Have a nice holiday.

Unknown said...

Upon reading your post again, I have a question. What is the significance of 6 years in figuring out how large an advance is worth taking? Does it have to do with the time value of money? Or something to do with rights? Or something totally different?


JA Konrath said...

What is the significance of 6 years in figuring out how large an advance is worth taking?

In prior blog posts, I compared what I'm earning on ebooks to how my traditionally published books have done, and I've realized that in all cases, I can make more in six years on my own than I've every been paid by a big publisher.

It stands to reason that if you try to predict six years' worth of income on a self-pubbed title, that's the minimum you should take if offered a contract from the Big 6.

Unknown said...

Excellent. Thank you for the response. Will read up on those older posts.


Eliza Gayle said...

I particularly found what you said about the constant tweaking helpful. When you are transitioning from the old way to self publishing it's easy to forget that you're not locked in to whatever you started with.

I started with a small digital publisher back in 2007 and I too am still stunned how much has changed this year.

Now to just keep up. :)

Happy Holidays!

evilphilip said...

"I got a rejection because my writing "didn't sparkle."

That book has sold over 6,000 copies, and it's always on the bestseller list in the western category on Kindle store."

You are also one of only about 5 living authors on that list. :)

Congrats! Do you do any promotion for your book?

Jude Hardin said...

It stands to reason that if you try to predict six years' worth of income on a self-pubbed title, that's the minimum you should take if offered a contract from the Big 6.

But then there's the old saying about a bird in the hand.

And there's a lot more to a contract than an advance. You have to weigh the pros and cons of the entire package.

Sharper13x said...

To Jennifer, "Excellent. Thank you for the response. Will read up on those older posts."

To anyone knew here, (technically I'm "new" but I've been reading it for a while) I suggest reading all of 2010 on this blog. It's a real-time journey of an established author watching and analyzing the development and viability of self pubbing ebooks. JK's opinion starts out conventional, that self-pubbing is not for the professional author. But he gradually does a 180 with all the rationale and evidence laid out in front of you. It's a great read for anyone who writes.


Anna Murray said...

You are also one of only about 5 living authors on that list. :)

Congrats! Do you do any promotion for your book?

;-) Just checked. Yep, I'm still this side of the sod.

My titles lean to western romance, but there's plenty of action.

I've done online promotion (free), mostly just announcements on Kindle boards (Writer's Cafe and Book Bazaar boards). Recently I did an author "meet and greet" at our public library, and I gave a talk on digital publishing a the local art center. I don't have a blog or Facebook page or twitter account. I think the best way to promote your book is to 1) write a good book, 2) add an attractive cover, 3) provide a great product description to hook the reader, 4) give it a low price -- 2.99

Philip, when will your novel be available on Kindle store? I read the description, and now I want it!

shey said...

I definitely love this post. Thanks a lot for motivating me to start with, "I MUST try something new!" thought. You remind me a lot of how professional author Delatorro McNeal II influenced my writing career. He published some good books too, I found them at <<

evilphilip said...

"Philip, when will your novel be available on Kindle store? I read the description, and now I want it!"

Best case scenerio I will be finished and ready to upload it to the Kindle in March.

I'm friends with several people who work in publishing and I plan to submit that work to those individuals before going the self-publishing route.

Thank you for checking out that brief description on my Blogger site. I've been living with those characters for years, I'm looking forward to getting something out there for people to read.

J.A. Marlow said...

"PW is now acknowledging self-publishing & today's issue includes a section on self-publishing including a title listing and reviews. Blake Crouch raised some troubling points about PW's behavior but I thought people would like to have a look anyway. Here's the link..."

Yep, and you "pay to play" in order to even be considered worthy of being reviewed. For Indies, especially those focusing on ebooks, PW is a joke. Some even argue, a scammer, because of how they set up their self-publisher review system.

They claim that the money paid does not guarentee a good review. But just because of the money issue, I don't trust that. It's a conflict of interest. And I don't trust them.

From the announcement: "This, our first PW Select supplement, received approximately 200 books for us to announce to the industry."

Oh, lovely. about 200 books. Multiply 200 with the amount they are charging for the listing an the carrot waved in their faces of a possible review ($149). That equals around $29800 (since they didn't give exact numbers). Nice tidy sum that cash-strapped PW made off the backs of self-publishers.

J.A. Marlow said...

Joe, you mentioned how many times you changed or tweaked covers. Can you do a blog post with a few examples and talk about how each one helped in a good or bad way? I love cover art, and that mention made me curious. I would love to see the changes from one cover to the next so we could see the progression.

dr.cpe said...

Dear Joe
Reading your candid takes, your honesty in this reflective piece, and also your wit, is just good. Many have done a 180 wheelie, others a slow knee-drag 180 because of reading the real life story of JK.

While some ( are slow writers, there's yet hope we might also pub ebks someday... certainly you set the example Joe with your own brand of brio and toil...

This ain't no eulogy, just an end of the year thanks to you... where I come from, they'd say you've flown all balls out thus far. Do carry on. Many of us are proud of you. I am one.

blessed holidays

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

De-lurking to say thanks, and best wishes for your continued success.

Aimlesswriter said...

Inspiring post.
I have a book I want to put up on Amazon but I'm dragging my feet, wondering if it's ready. Perhaps that should be my New Year's resolution.

Tara Maya said...

I'm one of those convinced by Joe and a couple other indie writers. (Zoe Winters, I'm looking at you too!)

I'm loading my next book up to Amazon today. Initiate the first book in the fantasy series, The Unfinished Song.

You can have a peek at the
cover art here.

By the way, I also do cover art for hire, if anyone is interested.

Tara Maya

C Bailey said...

This is seriously awesome. I've just self-published an anthology of writer's work, The Handbook of the Writer Secret Society, and I was hoping to hear some confirmation that it was okay to self publish something (not crap).

2011 is what I wanted to hear...thank you. I believe it's dead on, but you would know more than I :).

evilphilip said...

"You can have a peek at the
cover art here."

Seriously excellent.

Walter Knight said...

Thanks Joe, you are a God. Now, how do I get my books made into a movie?

You laugh? Like you, I'm a lot farther than anyone thought I'd get. How do I get to Hollywierd?

David Ebright said...

"I Won't Self-Publish Crap"

Thumbs up on that.

Merry Christmas, Joe. Thanks.

Tara Maya said...

@ evilphilip. Thanks. :)

@ Walter Knight. Well, Amazon also has a program aimed at film makers. Just sayin'.

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

I deleted an entire folder of webpage bookmarks titled, Agents, without remorse.

Thanks, Joe. May everything you plan and hope for 2011 ripen on the vine.

Anonymous said...

Amy idea if literary fiction will lend itself to the self-pubbing model, or does it, by nature, rely on The Gate Keepers?

In my view, literary fiction will start to take hold in 2011/2012. This may be a sweeping generalization, but I expect literary writers are more likely to be tied to the writing establishment in terms of needing "validation"(as you suggest), so it will just take them longer to make that mental/emotional transition. In my experience, they are also more tied to the aesthetics of a printed novel, so slower to move to ebooks. But I think it's coming.

Liora Hess said...

This was a very enjoyable and informative post. I don't recall how I arrived here, but you can bet I'll be a regular reader. Hope you have a very successful 2011!

Just Joan Marketing Services said...

Thank you for such an inspirational post! I love your forward-thinking approach to where publishing is going--it has given me an entirely new perspective on where to take my writing this year.

Happy holidays, and I look forward to keeping in touch.

Unknown said...

This is GREAT info for us newbies. Currently writing my first novel. This is inspiring Thanks for sharing