Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guest Post from Simon Wood

I'm currently on a deadline, hiding away in a cabin on a lake and writing in between catching muskie, so I asked Simon Wood to do a guest blog for me.

Here's Simon...

I’ve known Joe a long time. We met at a convention in Arizona just after he'd signed the contract for Whiskey Sour. We spent an evening in a hotel lobby into the wee hours of the morning talking. I’d admired his journey for nothing else than his stick-with-it-ness. I may not always agree with Joe, but I do respect his opinion. So I always have a lot of time for Joe and he's kindly given some of his time for me to talk about my writing journey.

My writing journey is a little different from Joe’s in that I came up through the small presses. I struggled to find an agent, so the doors to the New York publishers remained closed. A small press called Barclay Books picked up my first novel, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN and published it in 2002. The book came out to some good notices but that was about all.

Sadly, the small press was just as green as I was and hit the skids hard about a year later. I sold a collection of horror stories to a different small press the following year and it folded shortly after the book came out. I had better luck with a collection of crime stories, WORKING STIFFS. Blue Cubicle was a small press out of Texas and I have to say it remains the best publishing relationship I’ve had so far. The process was very collaborative. The book had limited distribution, picked up some nice praise and one of the stories won an Anthony Award. It was good for my profile, but with a limited print run, it wasn’t going to break me out sales-wise.

As much as I wish I’d gotten an agent who'd landed me a big contract, I’m quite thankful for my experiences in the small presses. I learned about contracts (sometimes by making big mistakes) and how the business of publishing worked from publisher to distributor to bookstore. It’s made me a far savvier writer because of it. I’d recommend to any new writer (especially these days) to make sure they know the industry inside and out and not leave it in the hands of others to make decisions.

In 2007, I finally broke out of the small presses by landing a book contract with Dorchester Publishing. They published a much revised version of ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN. My writing had come a long way since the Barclay Books edition, so I tightened up the manuscript and cut ten thousand words in the process. Again, I circumvented the traditional way of getting to an editor by pitching the book direct to an editor at a convention. I knew what he'd published and the kind of books he’d commissioned, so I was ready for any questions he might my throw at me. This one meeting led to three more novels with Dorchester until their well-documented problems last year.

When it came to eBook world, I’d been a little hesitant to get involved. I held the e-rights to all but my Dorchester titles, but a couple of my small press publishers had asked me not to release an eBook version because it would hurt print sales. I respected their position, especially as they'd paid me decent advances and held off for a long time until one of my small-press editors admitted that he'd stopped buying print books since he'd bought a Kindle. After that, I didn't see much point in holding off any longer.

As part of my understanding of this market, I quizzed a large Kindle readers online group about their buying habits. I got several hundred responses with surprising results. Once people converted to eBooks, they stayed converts. They didn't double dip, buying some print books and some eBooks. Once they went electronic, they never went back. My print publishers worries that publishing the eBook version would rob print sales were unfounded because those customers were already gone.

So last year, I released my backlist on Kindle, etc. I released my short story collection and several novels. When Dorchester crashed last year, I negotiated my rights back to all the thrillers I’d done with them. I went into 2011 owning all the rights to all my books so far.

I have to admit sales were slow at first, but to be honest, I wasn’t approaching it right. To use a Field of Dreams analogy, just because I built it didn't mean anyone would come. Success in the eBook market thrives on endorsements from trusted voices and you find them in the blogosphere . I sent review copies, essays and articles about my books to any and all blogs and websites with a good following. This helped get the word out and it showed itself in sales. With ten titles to my name, trying to promote them all at once was monumental and diluted my message.

In April, I decided to focus on title at a time. I focused on ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN first, as this was originally my debut novel. The approach worked. I had some good feedback coming from a lot of sources. Then momentum took over, I started to see various eBook and Kindle blogs talking about ACCIDENTS or one of my other titles almost daily. Sales climbed from April to June and ACCIDENTS hit Amazon’s Top 100 titles.

Then in one of those serendipitous events, Amazon sent out an email blast about the book at the end of June. This catapulted ACCIDENTS to the #2 spot at Amazon over the 4th of July weekend, just behind Janet Evanovich’s latest.

Proving the adage that a rising tide lifts all boats, I saw incremental sales growth across the board as ACCIDENTS spearheaded the rise to the top. THE FALL GUY cracked the Top 100. I have six titles in the Hardboiled Top 20. WE ALL FALL DOWN looks to be the next title to go big judging by its rising numbers.

So what does this mean for me now? It means a few things. I will hold on to my eBook rights. In the past, I’ve lumped them in with my print rights contracts. Up until recently, eBook rights have not been viewed as a commodity. No one has had a handle on their worth. I do now. I have a track record and I can use this to my benefit in the future. My ex-Dorchester titles have outsold their print counterparts now. These eBook numbers will serve me well as I move forward.

I know Joe’s feelings and the feelings of others, but I’m not ready to cut my ties with traditional publishing. I will do what is beneficial to me. If that means working with traditional publishers then I will do so. If it doesn’t, then I won't. Either way, my agent will have some heavy caliber ammunition when she goes into negotiations with potential publishers in the future.

Throughout my writing endeavors, I’ve rolled with the punches. Part of that has been keeping an eye on how the face of publishing changes. EBooks have not only put some money in my pocket, but more importantly given me a stronger bargaining position going forward. I don’t believe publishing has reached a status quo yet, so I’ll be ready for it as it changes, and poised to adapt to the next development in the marketplace.

Joe sez: It's great to see Simon succeed, especially since he never got a fair shake in NY. I know so many authors who were dropped, overlooked, or poorly published, and I'm happy to see many of them finally finding their audience in ebooks.

Also, I'd like to point out that if I got the right deal, I would be willing to work with a traditional publisher again.

While I believe publishers have made big mistakes with my previous books, and are doing a poor job with ebooks, self-publishing is not an ideology for me. This is a business. I'll go with whatever way makes me the most money.

That said, I'm 100% sure no legacy publisher would ever pay me the amount of money I would need to sign with them, let alone agree to my terms. They'll all fade away first.

Which is why I would advise Simon, if legacy publishers do see his sales and make him and offer, to think long and hard about what his goals are.

The industry is changing fast. You don't want to sign a deal and then kick yourself a year from now. Not unless the money is so big you're willing to never get your rights back again.

Perhaps publishers will wise up. But I haven't seen any indication that they will.

I have seen more and more indie authors signing with publishers, however. Only time will tell if those authors made good decisions, or not.


The Virtual Sensei said...

I have been highly inspired by your blog here and these guest posts just reinforce that getting books on the e-shelves is a smart thing to do.

I'm not sure this is the place for this specific question but I was wondering if once you put an ebook out there on amazon if you can edit it once it is published? Or is that book out there in that form forever and you have to release another ebook.

JVRC said...

I think there's still a small part of me that would love to have a trad publisher pick up my work. But I'm very content as an indie. We shall see how I fare on my journey.

Thanks for the inspiration, though. You give me hope.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog for a while, and all you guys have helped me to finally decide to give up on trad publishing and do it myself. It's particularly liberating to publish, and while it's only been up a week (and got a paltry 5 sales so far) I know that it is my novel and will be until the end of time.

Thanks to Joe and all the guest writers on here. I hope one day to emulate a tiny tiny fraction of your success (though not too tiny please!)

Jennifer Oberth said...

Good for Simon. I like his attitude - this is a business and you should go where the money/working conditions are best or ideal. A lot of authors seem to stick by publishers out of some sort of loyalty and loyalty is a great trait but not when its blind and you're hurting yourself.

Great post.

TK Kenyon said...


Thank you Joe and Simon.

May the fish bite for you,

TK Kenyon

Tweet me at @TKKenyon

TK Kenyon

Mark Terry said...

Hi Simon,
Although for the MOST PART I've shifted over to e-books, I should note that I just ordered 2 paper books last week - one nonfiction that did not have an ebook version yet (don't know why) and the 8th or 9th book in a series I've been catching up on that I wanted in paper. So some of us do double-dip.

I think what you say about promoting one title rather than diluting it by promoting all is probably a good idea and I'll have to think about that myself. THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS came out in June. THE FORTRESS OF DIAMONDS will come out soon. And I just started serializing a Derek Stillwater novella on my blog (for fun and as an experiment - one thing about publishing imploding, it gives you a lot of options to experiment with) titled DIRE STRAITS. Which to promote? Hmmm...

SBJones said...

I always enjoy reading posts like this. Success comes in many forms and paths. What works for one person, does not always work for everyone.

The big 6 need to step up their offering before the indie gets too big. If you can make life changing money on your own, I cannot see what a traditional publisher could offer at that point.

Adam Pepper said...

Simon's a nice guy, and he's got talent. What a combo! A pragmatic approach always beats a dogmatic one. Keeping a level head and continuing to grind it out is the best bet for most of us right now, IMO.

puravida said...

CNN just picked up on my book and story. They even wrote in the article that I was self-published. I am so thankful for your blog and all those brave indie authors who put us on the map.

My sales are off the chart, and now every venue who turned down my writing is contacting me.

It's a great break for me, but is also a great break for self-publishing. That did not stop the reporter from wanting to do a story on me.

I've included a link to the article.

Once again, in a way, you contributed to my success,
Nadine Hays Pisani Article

Erica Sloane - Author said...

I decided to go indie because of this blog, too. I don't even know if a trad publisher would want my books, but they're selling on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N and OmniLit. The money I'm seeing coming in would have to vanish before I'd consider giving someone else a cut of it...for what, exactly?

Walter Knight said...

Publishing through a small press is almost like self publishing because often you are in a partnership that is new and learning the business same as you.

The key is finding a small press that has a great editor. I suggest my editor Pat Morrison at Penumbra Publishing

A small press worked great for me because I am tech challenged, and they did everything for me. I could make more money on my own, but when you first start out you have no money to gamble with. I do not begrudge my small press a cut of the action because without help I would never be published.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Excellent rundown on what it's like being with the small presses and your rise to success.

Frank said...

For Virtual Sensei, yes you can edit it to your heart's content while it's still up there in the Kindle store. Change the cover, add a promotion for another work at the end, even rewrite a chapter. Not that I'd recommend the last unless you decide it's not selling because you didn't write it write. Read Amazon's Kindle contract. It's short, to the point, and fair.

Frank said...

I meant write it right. DOH!

Simon Wood said...

Thanks for having me here, Joe. I think it's going to be an interesting 12mnths for me. The issue of sustainability will be of importance. I'm in a position where I can and will be careful how I proceed. To pick up on what a few people have said. Publishing is bigger than just ebooks. There's all the second rights to consider and that isn't always an open door to an indie.

Virtual Sensei: You can always re-edit and upload.

Archangel said...

Simon, that is great, and success is yours, may it always continue. For most of us it is not a straight path, a little more curving and tilting sometimes. But then that's what snowboarding and extreme surfing are all about too. Best always Simon

Wanted to mention too, the ebk-publisher field has changed today: big 6 looking at one of their own (kirschbaum) 'gone to the dark side.' BIG author signed with Amazon for next book. Interesting deal. IMO Kirschbaum was a big 6 rower for decades, elderly now, still a contender as AMZ publisher, even though steeped in decades of inking deals for his big 6 group, the usual 'pub gets 88-90%, + world rights, all other rights/but you author 10%-12% max, y no mas.' Unless you're a 'somebody,' and maybe not even then. Reminds me of why United Artists was founded in the film world. Moguls took the ride, while actors were the mules.

Kirsch or "cherry" as he is sometimes called, opened his own agency late in life then. Pulled deals in the other direction then, but even so couldnt better what big 6 pub's standards were. Now he's w/ Amz.

From grapevine, I hear that 'big name' authors get what's going on suddenly, just in the last few weeks lots of talk on the lines about AMZ publishing etc. I believe we have reached the Equator, and Ferriss has said it out loud, and on the way to the bank. Hundreds of thousands of other Big 6 authors are watching and not waiting. They are preparing in many different ways, as well they should. Gold rush seems to be about to be enjoined by many more than before

"Amazon Publishing made its first major deal since Larry Kirshbaum was named publisher of the unit, acquiring world rights to bestselling author Timothy Ferriss’ next book, The 4-Hour Chef. Ferriss has hit the bestseller list for Crown Publishing with his The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Workweek. “My decision to collaborate with Amazon Publishing wasn't just a question of which publisher to work with,” said Ferriss in a statement. “It was a question of what future of publishing I want to embrace." "

Mark Darley, Author said...

Great post. Thank you. It's always good to hear other writers' experiences. It was also interesting to hear about ebook converts. But it really shouldn't surprise me. The convenience of not having to carry around pounds of paper is worth buying an ereader.

Cynthia J. McGean said...

Simon's description of his own journey was very informative. Thank you for the added insight into the rapidly changing world of e-publishing.

L.J. Kentowski said...

Great inspirational post! I'm just finishing up my 1st draft and I've been going back and forth about whether to try traditional or just self pub. I've been leaning more and more towards doing it all myself and owning it.

Thanks for the inspiration!

LizzyFord said...

That's interesting that the smaller presses viewed ebooks as competition for paperbacks. I view those customers as existing almost on two different planets anymore! Ha! And there is nothing wrong with going the traditional route or indie route - it's personal preference, and you can always switch, if you're not happy with a trad'l publisher. Admitedly, that switch ain't so easy for an indie going towards the trad'l route.

Lizzy Ford

Sean McCartney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean McCartney said...

Great post Simon. I have been working with a small publisher for my series The Treasure Hunters Club and it has been great. Keeping with the current trend my ebooks outsold my print for the first time last month. Interested to see what this month will yield.


Simon Wood said...

I like something that Joe said in his sum up: "This is a business. I'll go with whatever way makes me the most money."

My feelings are the same and I keep my plans fluid because of it. ebooks might be the talk of the town for now, but that might not always be true. It's all about being flexible as the business changes.

Douglas Dorow said...

Simon, thanks for sharing. Always good to hear another writer's story.

And Joe, good luck with the writing and the fishing.

I'm glad I decided to go the indie publishing route. The support of other writers, readers, bloggers, etc has been amazing.

Simon Haynes said...

I was self-pubbed, then trade published over four titles, and now I'm self-publishing my new series.

I'm also a Kindle convert, and I agree that you never go back. It's easy to extrapolate this to a near-future when technophobes and holdouts still cling to paper, while the majority read electronically.

If ebooks are going to dominate - and I see no reason why not - and if authors can hire people to publish their own ebooks - as you are - then why would I look at trade publishers ever again?

I can tell you now, I'm done with 12-18 month lead times, 8-10% royalties, and bookstore chains killing ongoing series by ordering to net.

I truly enjoyed working with my publisher over the past six years, and I wouldn't missed that experience for the world, but I'm also excited about the future.

Claude Nougat said...

Great post, Joe, as always and many thanks to Simon (whose novels I enjoy very much, btw!)

I too am so glad to see success coming to self-pubbed authors on the Kindle and elsewhere (particularly as I happen to be one of them, but in my case, I just came out with my first book so it's too soon to tell). But I was traditionally published in Italy (in Italian - I speak the language having lived here 35 years), but I failed to find either an agent or a publisher in America for one of my successful titles here (that I had re-written in English, of course, also changing the nationality of the protag: he's become an American computer whizz kid!)

Since it's cross genre, it's obviously a tough sell and then I was told that it wasn't "politically correct" (the young protag falls in love with one of his ancestors, an 18th century beauty and that seemed too sexually risky!!!) I gave up and tried the self-publishing road...

Because that's the beauty of it: if you have something that is really unusual and doesn't fit into a predetermined genre or people's expectations (the people I'm talking about here are the agents), then you can still climb your way out of that impasse with a fair chance of success: self-publish!

Periphera said...

Simon, interesting post, and thoughtful comments. A lifelong reader, I have found the ebook revolution to be an eye opener. In 18 months of kindling, my purchases have shifted to about 70% digital, and a little over half of those are authors I have never seen in print.

Many are frankly not ready for prime time, but even they often have fresh ideas and plots worth polishing. It's a shame to read a book with a great idea that is poorly edited and has many misspellings, and I am unlikely to give that author another look.

Authors, good luck to you all!

Darlene Underdahl said...

Great post as always.

Thanks Joe and Simon.

Ah, a cabin by the lake and fishing for dinner. Good times.

I.J.Parker said...

Thanks, Simon. I love success stories.
My agent tells me that it is impossible to get a print deal without giving up e-rights. I really don't want to do that. At some point, one has to weigh comparative income and other factors. Yes, it's not all about money. It's also about reaching 2 types of readers, reaching more readers, getting reviewed in print, and maybe getting a book to awards judges. So, one walks a fine line. I'm still waiting and watching what is happening to my print books vs. my self-published ones. I promise you, any upcoming print contract negotiations will be considered with the greatest care.

Anonymous said...

ACCIDENTS has 21 one-star reviews on Amazon. Some of the reviewers said they would have given it less than 1 star if they were able to do so.

Nancy Beck said...

@Virtual Sensei,

You can edit your ebook on Amazon anytime; you just have to upload the new version.

I tweaked my first novella and uploaded a new version twice; it takes about 24 hours or so for it to go live on Amazon.

In the interim, Amazon will send out an email alerting those people who bought the first version that a new version has been uploaded.

I also did the same thing at Smashwords, although I don't know what (if anything) they do to let buyers know newer versions are up.

And I'm seriously considering hiring someone to re-do my first and second novella (second one isn't out just yet), because I bought an ebook cover that's perfect for the third in the series, and it doesn't match up with what I already have.

Which means I'd have to upload again, lol.

Decisions, decisions. :-)

Changing Faces

Werner said...

From a business perspective, you are both playing this intelligently. With the rapidly changing publishing landscape, are you negotiating publishing deals with trad publishers that are far more fair and favorable than they used to be in the old legacy model?

Derrek said...

Catching muskies!? You must be in Wisconsin ;-).

Great post. I especially liked the information Simon gave us about the reader poll he conducted. It's a good indicator about the future of things, but I'm sure most of us who read this blog already believe that eBooks are the future.

Continued success to all!

Michael Bracken said...

Simon wrote, "I quizzed a large Kindle readers online group about their buying habits. I got several hundred responses with surprising results. Once people converted to eBooks, they stayed converts. They didn't double dip, buying some print books and some eBooks. Once they went electronic, they never went back."

While this information helped SImon make a decision that appears valid for his career, his data pool was limited and not necessarily representative of all readers because a "large Kindle readers online group" is obviously biased in favor of ereading.

I purchased a Kindle a few months ago, promptly loaded it with several of my titles, and then set it aside. Since then I've purchased several dozen books--paperbacks, trade paperbacks, hardbacks-- and not a single electronic book that I didn't write.

Am I an anomaly? I haven't a clue. But I would like to see data from a much larger data pool than Simon used before I draw the conclusion that "Once people converted to eBooks, they stayed converts."

Walter Golden said...

I enjoy going into a book store and seeing what is new. There are certain authors, such as Jim Butcher, whose hard backs I buy as soon as they are available. I get about half my books on the kindle and the other half from the stores. I have published three e-books, but I admit it would be nice to know that on some Tuesday morning I could walk in to a Barnes and Noble and see my book displayed on the table nearest the door.
I think what we have today is the world’s greatest slush pile. Publisher pushed off the job of first reader off to the agents, now the public has it. Five years from now we will see how it works out

Simon Wood said...

Periphera makes a nice point. If you are going to self publish, you have to be prepared to play all the roles that the publisher normally does. And that means proof reading and editing. You don't get a second chance to make a 1st impression.

rdlecoeur said...

Man Booker-winning author Graham Swift recounted a story about Lewis Carroll taking Alice in Wonderland to Macmillan and saying he would give them a 10% royalty for its sales if they published it. He said: "In my view, that is the correct arrangement, but of course it would be sheer wonderland now to go to a publisher and say: 'I can give you a royalty'."
Lewis Carroll had the right idea in 1865 look how far backwards we've

Michael E. Walston said...

Thank you for taking the time to share, Simon. I love to read what other writers have to say about this brave new world.

Now personally, I'm inclined to hold on to my e-rights, but if a small publisher had a good track record selling to libraries, I would absolutely be inclined to talk to them...

Jim Thomsen said...

I would not necessarily take the 21 one-star reviews on Amazon for Simon's book as a credible indicator of quality.

One of the great takeaways from John Locke's book about how he sold a million e-books on Kindle is this: With the first few books in a series or a standalone book, or when you're just starting out as an e-book author, pricing your books at 99 cents means that you're trolling for your niche audience. And that means that you're going to sell a lot to lookie-loos, or to people who didn't carefully read the books' descriptions and therefore have expectations for the book that weren't fulfilled. (I've read enough 1-star reviews to know that most of the criticisms focus on "too much gore" or "excessive profanity" or other factors that indicate a fundamental mismatch between writer and reader. Locke said something to the effect of this: that he expected and accepted something like 20% to 30% bad reviews with his first few books as a necessary part of the process of finding and homing in on your audience.

By the third book, Locke said, a smart author will have found his or her niche readership, and learned how to target them in the marketing of subsequent books. That cuts down on the browsers and the drive-by readers, and you're much more likely to get mostly good reviews because you're dealing largely with people who like to read what you like to write.

My guess is that Simon was going through his trolling-for-his-true-readers phase.

JA Konrath said...

ACCIDENTS has 21 one-star reviews on Amazon.

See my earlier post on one-star reviews, and what I think of those who leave them.

Two for the Road said...

Jim makes some interesting points. I can't dwell on the negative. You take the knocks on the chin and move on. Accidents was my 1st book and learned something from it because I chose to have a protagonist who'd committed a crime and that doesn't always go down well readers. It was a useful lesson on reader's expectations, but on the whole, more people like the book than don't.

Dorothy said...

I have a question. Is it common practice for the author to hold the ebook rights? Do you just ask or does it automatically go to the publisher if you don't ask?

Jude Hardin said...

Is it common practice for the author to hold the ebook rights? Do you just ask or does it automatically go to the publisher if you don't ask?

It's common practice for publishers to try to take as many rights as they possibly can. It's common practice for your agent (or you, if you're on your own) to try to retain as many rights as you possibly can. Nothing is automatic.

wannabuy said...

held off for a long time until one of my small-press editors admitted that he'd stopped buying print books since he'd bought a Kindle.

I haven't bought an adult print book in 2011. Pure digital. All the growth is digital...


Clive Warner said...

I'm super, super pleased that Simon has actually - this is such a hard thing to achieve, believe me - become a successful, well-known writer.

Although we don't talk to any extent except through "The Face Book", I first encountered Simon through his first publisher, Barclay Books. My own first book was published by Barclay, too, and I endorse what Simon said. Enthusiastic, but Becky bit off far more than she could chew.

However, like Simon, it also provided me with a stepping stone to writing more books - though compared with Simon's prolific output, it's nothing. I also found an interest in editing, and publishing too, which is some compensation.

How sstisfying it is that things come together. Thanks for this great piece, Simon.

Adam Pepper said...

Joe said "See my earlier post on one-star reviews, and what I think of those who leave them."

How do you feel about anonymous posters who point them out?

Adam Pepper said...

Michael Bracken,

I agree that Simon's data isnt large enough to draw any conclusions, but you said you've only had your Kindle a few months. I was the same way at first. My wife bought me a kindle and I didnt immediately take to it. Now I'm hooked. I still check books from the library but doubt I'll buy many paper books anymore.

Anonymous said...

I am a published writer. My 1st ebook will be out in November. I am thankful to Joe for leading the way into the new age of publishing. I have learned a great deal about ebooks from this blog.

I am the one who mentioned that Simon's book has 21 1-star reviews.

As a regular follower of this blog, I realize Joe is not fond of anonymous posters and 1-star reviewers but sometimes both are warranted.

However, (there is always a however isn't there!) if the writing is awful, I think it needs to be said.

The 21 1-star reviews of Simon's book, ACCIDENTS, are not just bad, they are truly awful.

And this is over a 99 cent book!

I am going to buy the book and find out for myself.

It will only take about 50 pages to find out if these 21 reviewers are right or wrong.

I hope they are wrong.

CC Carlquist said...

@ anonymous who mentioned 1-star reviews:
I am very much interested to read your review of this book, even the 1st 50 pages. I rarely read the 1-star reviews, but I do read the 3-star reviews. Always, in everything, if an artist (or whoever) puts himself out there, he best be prepared for anything and everything that comes back at him. Or stay home.

Rex Kusler said...

Anonymous said: "ACCIDENTS has 21 one-star reviews on Amazon."

In equally exciting news, I found two gobs of bird shit on my car this morning. Feel free to tweet that if you like.

Anonymous said...

You should clean the birdshit off your car Rex, it contains acid which will damage the paint.

Simon Wood said...

@Michael & @Adam: Yeah, I agree my survey wasn't a comprehensive sample, but it was a chance to get the ebook consumer's POV. The results did surprise me. Interestingly, I belong to a couple of book groups. 2 yrs ago, kindle users were tarred and feathered. Now, most of those people own e-readers now. So people do seem to be changing. How far that change will extend, time will tell.

Thanks Clive. Barclay was a trial by fire, but very educational. :-)

BTW, I posted a comment under my blog "two for the road".

I'm CCC comment about reviews. Writers lose ownership the second it hits the bookshelf.

Jon Olson said...

"I will do what is beneficial to me." This is where we all stand.

A good, rich post. Thanks Simon and Mr. K.

Jon Olson
The Petoskey Stone


After three fine agents who couldn't get my books sold, and a consequent loss of time numbered in years, I have zero incentive to try the traditional publishing route again, particularly after two of my novels have been Kindle multiple bestsellers for eight months running. I was featured on NBC's Today Show and written up in the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and a bunch of other media. Self-pubbing means I do all my own promotion and marketing, a time-consuming, yet rewarding, task. I like 70% royalties, little lag-time to publishing and no assholes to answer to. We need more Simon Woods, Joe Konraths and others like them to demonstrate that the new business model really works.

Selena Kitt said...

Late to the party - in the middle of moving house and w/o internet for five days - eek!

but I just wanted to say I LOVE SIMON! I've been talking up his books everywhere I go. I'm so very glad to see him getting the sales he really deserves. Makes me believe in karma a little bit more.

yay you, Simon! :))

JA Konrath said...

if the writing is awful, I think it needs to be said.

Does it? Does it really?

By whose criteria should a subjective "awful" be considered a universal indicator of quality?

Reviews and ratings can help sell books. They can also hurt sales if the ratings are bad.

If those 1 star reviewers were deliberate, that would be a good indicator that a book might indeed be lacking in quality, and a good warning for the masses.

But a very small percentage of the one star reviews I've read are deliberate, yet they can still hurt sales.

I've read and blurbed Simon. He's a good writer.

I've also judge several Writer's Digest writing contests. The vast majority of those writers were not good.

Simon shouldn't get a one star review. Period. He knows craft, knows characterization, knows structure.

If you want to pan something, don't confuse personal taste with universal quality. And do the world a favor and defend your viewpoint.

Also, get stoned and get laid. Life is too damn short to be so damn negative.

JA Konrath said...

Writers lose ownership the second it hits the bookshelf.

Absolutely. And taking to heart the opinion of a stranger (praise or criticism) is a one-way ticket to crazydom.

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Selena Kitt said...

Man Booker-winning author Graham Swift recounted a story about Lewis Carroll taking Alice in Wonderland to Macmillan and saying he would give them a 10% royalty for its sales if they published it. He said: "In my view, that is the correct arrangement, but of course it would be sheer wonderland now to go to a publisher and say: 'I can give you a royalty'."
Lewis Carroll had the right idea in 1865 look how far backwards we've gone.

Through the Looking Glass indeed!!

Great comment. :)

Simon Wood said...

Selena: Thanks. The restraining order is in the mail.

Joe: I think everyone has ridden the crazy train at some point, until you realize you can't fall in love the praise or the stone chucking.

And someone feel free to mention the 40+ 5-star reviews. :-)

Archangel said...

@All: there are 40+ great starred reviews on Simon's work, WAY more than even many books pub'd by big 6 in past few months, which often rank 3 or 6 or maybe 9 reviews, 'maybe' by readers, maybe by mother, stepmother, sister, step-sister, brother. Ok, kidding on latter. But the number of reviews, great ones, for Simon are beyond the usual given to many many books. Rock on Simon. You've got IT goin' on. In the trade, they call it 'reader momentum' ... you cant make it happen... other than put best work on 'shelf', put self out there, and STAY out there... and Blessed Lady called luck often happens by at the oddest times. Staying power aint just for the bedchamber.

@Selena... "moving house"... keep all "will wither/die without" stuff in well marked boxes. Take time with unpacking all else... in 27 moves, amazing what one can live w/o stored in packing boxes. Hang in there.

Simon Wood said...

Archangel: You're good people. :-)

The Chief Pirate said...

Ey, Konrath! Likedd your post. was starting to miss you [but you always tell us to stop reading blogs; and do the acutal writing] While you're locked up, probably spinning one of those massives of yours, ALLOW ME TO DO SOME SELF-PROMOTING (after all you're the one who taught us about self-pubbing.Now we bite back!) Okay,I also got a book out--its actually poems (but its good--and its gettable on smashowords. Kill me, I dont care--but its called Letter from Justin Bieber. And trust me, I am a numbersomething fan of yours. I even support you when you say John Lock sold a million because he was just lucky. Here's the link for my book:

Archangel said...

so are you Simon. Easy to say good things about a craftsman.

>>>>Archangel: You're good people. :-)>>>>

Selena Kitt said...


Translated: Pbbbbbbbbbbbbtttt!

You need lessons in how to treat fangirls.

@Archangel - It has been an exercise in simplification. I can't believe how much I gave away or left (including many many dead tree books! lol) And STILL - too much "stuff!" Far too many boxes left to unpack. Although it was nice to realize I had two cupboards left in the kitchen after it was all said and done with nothing to put in them!

Now I have to resist buying stuff to put in them.... :)

Simon Wood said...

Selena: When it comes to the ladies--treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen. :-)

Robin Sullivan said...

I think we'll see a lot more "hybrid authors". Those that have books in both traditional and indie spaces.

Simon is absolutely right in that his ebook sales success will give him tons of leverage if/when he considers a traditional deal.

My husband's Riyria Revelations was FINALLY signed with Orbit (we were in negotiations for a number of months) and we were able to get all the changes made to the contract that we wanted (most of which his agent didn't think were possible) but a lot of that had to do with having good self-published sales.

Joe warned me that I would regret signing a big-six deal. But so far I couldn't be happier. I've been impressed with the work from the various departments (cover design, editing, marketing) and I've seen what they've done for other authors and I'm pleased with my choice.

As Joe said...time will tell but at this point there is a lot of indications to be optimistic. But...even if it all falls a part in the future Michael always can continue to self publish so at a minimum we've only put at risk a series that we made more money from than we ever thought possible.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

TeriTobias said...

Hi Joe! I don't want to disturb you while you are holed up in a cabin on a lake (I just returned from doing the same thing for a weekend in Canada, which fortunately had no internet access), but when/if you have the chance I would love to hear your perfect trad deal...

"I'd like to point out that if I got the right deal, I would be willing to work with a traditional publisher again."

If you have a moment, please call me at 212-388-9363 or email at
I will be out of the office from August 27th through Labor Day but available anytime after that. Thanks for any time.

I hope you have been very well! I remain very appreciative of the fantastic dinner (and scotch.)

Thank you!


Ian Martin said...

It' a clever idea to incorporate multimedia in your book. I've also come up with a 'brilliant' concept that is kind of related. It's called a Minds-I-Book and it allows readers to illustrate my Henry Fuckit story and thereby participate in the creative process. I've put it up on my Website and I expect it to take off any day now. I can see that only three things separate me from fame and fortune: luck, marketing skills, and a sweet, outgoing personality.