Friday, January 13, 2012

Reality Check

My story about making $100,000 in three weeks on Kindle is getting widely passed around, and I've noticed that folks are reacting in a few specific ways.

1. Some are happy for me, and for the possibilities this opens up for them. They know the work and struggle that went into getting here. (Bert Carson has a very nice post about this.)

2. Some keep perpetuating that false meme that it was my legacy books responsible for my success. I'm tired of debunking that one. It is 100% false.

3. Some think I'm telling the whole world that becoming successful is easy and that anyone can get rich by self-pubbing ebooks.

4. Some keep insisting that I must be some sort of marketing genius and they want to know what I've done to get here.

Allow me to address all of these reactions.

I wrote 9 novels and collected over 500 rejections during a 10 year period before I made a dime in this business. I sold my tenth novel in a three book deal for $110,000 back in 2002.

My publisher refused to tour me for my first book. They also refused to let me do any official book signings because they would have had to pay coop. So I began doing bookstore drop-ins and handselling my books. I'd stay anywhere from four to eight hours in bookstores. Have you ever sold one hundred $25 hardcovers in one place? I have. It's hell.

For the next book, my publisher toured me. In between official signings, I dropped in another 100 bookstores.

The next year, I spent the summer on the road and signed at more than 500 bookstores. It almost broke me.

I also visited dozens and dozens conferences, book fairs, and libraries. I've been to 42 states, doing this promo thing.

I sent out 7000 letters to libraries and bookstores, each with a signed drink coaster in them, to promote my books.

I edited an anthology, and wrote dozens of short stories that sold (for pennies) to top markets.

My publisher dropped their mystery line, me included, and my second three books with them ($125,000 advance for the trio) were given very little attention. I didn't tour for these. Couldn't afford it.

Then I wrote a horror novel. Got a $20k advance, and a two book deal. The first book quickly earned out, but they didn't like the second one. I rewrote it and they still refused it. I wrote a third for them and they wanted changes. I said no. I'd had enough.

I was never a successful legacy author. I was midlist, eking out a living, struggling from check to check, never making more than $50k in a year and spending a lot of that on travel.

I kept at it. I got 10,000 people on my mailing list. I was one of the first to realize the importance of MySpace (remember MySpace?), Facebook, and Twitter. I did one of the first successful author blog tours, visiting 100 blogs in a month.

But I still wasn't successful.

Then Kindle came along. Those rejected novels were on my website as freebies. I got emails from fans who wanted to read them on their Kindles, but the Kindle 1 couldn't read pdf files. After some investigation, I learned Amazon had a program for self-publishers.

I listed some of my old books and short stories, for cheap. And I started making money. I started making more money than I ever had as a legacy author.

My legacy books didn't lead people to my self-pubbed novels. It's the opposite. My self-pubbed books continue to outsell my legacy books at up to 10 to 1. People aren't buying me because I visited 1200 bookstores in my career. They aren't buying me because I have a popular blog about publishing. They aren't buying me because they love my old books.

I made $100,000 in three weeks from people who have no idea who I am. If they knew who I was, they would have bought those titles years ago. Because they've been available for years.

Don't get me wrong. I know I have fans. I know I have some name recognition. But the sales they bring are paltry next to the marketing machine which is Amazon.

How do I know this for sure?

Because all of my other books were (until recently) on other platforms, where they did mediocre compared to bestselling authors.

James Patterson is selling well on Kindle, but he's also selling well on Sony and Kobo and Apple and B&N. On Kindle, I'm outselling many Patterson titles. That isn't the case anywhere else.

So it isn't my name or my past that is responsible for this success. Nor is it any marketing efforts I'm doing now, because I'm not doing any. I haven't visited my Facebook page in six months. I have a fan page but don't know how to use it. I've never bought an online ad. I've got Twitter followers, but they're writers, not fans.

Right now I'm making a lot of money because I'm paying close attention to what Amazon is doing, experimenting a lot, and getting lucky.

Yes, I've worked hard. I still do. But no one deserves success. I have NEVER said that everyone can get rich with ebooks.

But I have said, repeatedly, that there are things writers can do to improve their luck. And that the self-pubbed route is vastly superior to the legacy route I trudged through for years.

In the long run, except in the case of bestsellers and huge advances, a writer WILL make more money self-publishing.

If you really want to see how I became successful, go back to the beginning of my blog and start reading. Follow my journey, month by month, year by year, to get to this point.

Here's the thing, though. All of our journeys are unique. Some writers get luckier sooner. Some haven't gotten lucky yet.

But if you keep writing good books with good covers and good descriptions and good formatting, and you keep experimenting and trying new things, it improves your odds.

Can you be a successful self-pubbed author?

It depends. How hard are you willing to work, and how long are you willing to wait, before success happens?

I got my first rejection letter in 1988. I've worked hard for 24 years, waiting for this kind of success.

If you've got that same ambition, I'm sure I'll see you on the bestseller lists someday.

Hopefully it won't take you that long.

Much success to everyone in 2012. There's more than enough to go around.


Laura said...

I find all your hard work inspiring. I see a lot of writers who give up after one book because they don't want to put in the time for promotion. It's not easy, but if it means getting my work out there, I'll do it.

rdlecoeur said...

A blow by blow truthful account of your 'journey' is the best rebuttal to all those 'win the lottery, write an ebook' loonies that seem to have popped up everywhere since you posted the hundred grand story.
24 years is NOT an overnight success.

Rosanne Dingli said...

The most significant sentence you wrote here, Joe is, "No one deserves success". It's true - deserve has nothing to do with it, as Clint Eastwood wrote too.

It's earning the opportunity by doing the hard miles. I've been doing this since 1985, and I have had nowhere like the success you have enjoyed. Still, I keep going. I have seen a marked difference since October 2010. I have a foot in both camps, and have two novels with a small publisher. The rest I do myself on Kindle and Createspace, and yes - with hard work and dedication, there is mileage to be made.

You can't let up, though - an author can never afford to take the eyes off the ball.

It's exhausting, but I'm mostly having fun. I enjoy 80% of this. Which is not bad.

Did I say great post?

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Congrats. Bottom line, you earned it. Sure, luck and timing have a bit to do with it, but I always liked the "preparation meets opportunity" saying too. It was not that long ago, when anyone, including you, who mentioned self pub on the two big forums ( AW & WD) got so much abuse and hurtful comments directed at them.

Mary Stella said...

You earned every dollar by putting out enormous effort and being on top of the opportunities. No arguing with hard work and success.

Ruth Harris said...

Joe, excellent post & reality check indeed. The fantasy that anyone will get rich quick on books is just that: a fantasy.

The fact is that selling books — in e-versions or print — is no walk in the park, takes hard work, persistence, a willingness to change & try different covers, blurbs, marketing efforts, not to mention a thick skin & the determination that will see you thru set backs & disappointments. It's about trial & error, seeing what works & what doesn't.

The difference in e-pub is that the writer/publisher can do quite easily what a TradPub can't (the whole trial & error approach) + the great advantage that an ebook is forever.

You don't deserve your success. No one does. You've earned it—the old fashioned way in a new fangled media.

Stephen Knight said...

Well said, Joe. It's great that things continue to come together for you, and I for one salute you. And thanks for pulling back the curtain so the rest of us can see what's going on.

crw said...

Good post. I've always found it interesting that many overnight successes have become that way through hard work and many years of struggle yet the media often ignores that bit of the story. I believe that one gets lucky by doing hard work and one can improve talent by doing hard work. Simple really. You are an example and you have earned every cent so thank you and good luck in 2012.

Dr. Doug said...

Thanks for the reality check. I don't know why people are even focusing on whether you have some sort of "advantage" because of your history of legacy publishing. Writing takes such an exorbitant amount of time and the biggest worry for me (before reading your blog) is which business model to pursue. I have read your posts from the start up to the present. It seems your voice has always been simply sharing your journey. Decisions, actions steps, etc. It is clear from reading your blog, and a few others, that the self/indie pub business model works best for me.

I really appreciate your willingness to simply share your path. I roll my eyes when I read that people get annoyed that "your success might give them false expectations". That your success is only a reality because of your legacy history.

It simply comes down to a viable business model for me. I wouldn't buy a Blockbuster Video Store franchise right now. But I will moonlight, and get my books up on Amazon, B&N etc. When I read your blog, the thought that comes to mind for me is "how quickly can I get my own work up, and how wide can I make my virtual shelf".

Your success stories are so inspiring. I have always worked long hours, in my business. Often, I feel I'm always the last to hear about the "timing" of something. Then the door closes and I'm left out. This is a great time for everyone. No one is guaranteed shit. But, I'd rather work hard in a business model that has unlimited potential. That is the gift you have given.

Sherry Gloag said...

Thank you for this awe-inspiring blog. I'm delighted for you, and that you've shared your experiences here too, thank you.
It's nt easy to stay focussed when everything appears to be going down the pan, but keeping focussed ahead will eventually pay off imho.
That said, I read this postjust when i needed that reminder to keep looking ahead, and to keep experimenting.
Best wishes for 2012.

billie said...

Enjoy every penny, Joe. You absolutely earned the success you're having right now!

Mark Terry said...

I've got a RUSTY NAIL coaster on my desk.

Brett Battles said...

Amen, brother.

Unknown said...

Okay, so the real question is how do I get an autographed drink coaster?

Marie Force said...

Congratulations, Joe. You've certainly earned every bit of success that's come your way. Anyone who begrudges you that success isn't paying attention to what you've been saying here for years now.

bettye griffin said...

One thing I've learned about can speak the truth 10,000 times, and the rumors will still persist. Best thing to do...take care of your business (and please keep sharing with the rest of us). We're all grateful.

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks for posting this follow-up reality check. I read your $100,000 post the other day, and I was quite pissed. I won't go into the reasons, but I was going to rant about it. And something held me back. My Catholic manners, maybe.

But now I see where you came from, what happened, and how you got to where you are. And I appreciate your story and do wish you all the success in the world.

I've been writing off and on for 30 years as well, and never thought to self-publish until last year. In my own micro-cosmic world, I feel I'm very successful. If I can get another book out soon, I'll be in Heaven.

What we do as writers is very hard work, and we deserve every little bit we can get.

So thanks, Joe, for setting the record straight. Much continued success.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Some of us have been with you since the early days of this blog. I joined the party in the summer of 2006 when you were in the middle of that crazy 500 bookstore tour.

But most newcomers will not go back and read all of those early posts. They have no idea how hard you worked and how you were barely getting by--until they read this post.

You were there, leading the way, trying everything you could think of. It wouldn't have surprised me if you had decided to try a door to door tour of entire cities, selling your books like the old vacuum cleaner salesmen did.

And all we had to do was watch and learn. You were out there busting your butt, proving what worked and what didn't. Unfortunately none of it worked. But we kept watching you.

By the time you began to have some success with the Kindle Store, I had nearly given up all hope. But it was working for you. Finally. This crazy idea was working! So I jumped in too, and have had some pretty good luck myself.

So if it's all about getting lucky, and if you can increase your chances of getting lucky by working harder and smarter, then nobody--NOBODY deserved to get lucky more than you, Joe. NOBODY.

Thanks for sharing every nitty gritty detail of your story for all these years. Without you, many of us would still be luckless.

Elena DeRosa said...

I "discovered" you when I was being interviewed by a local reporter regarding my self-published book. He asked what I thought about you, and frankly, I had never heard of you. So afterwards I searched you out, and then downloaded some of your books. Now I know what to say if I'm ever asked again..."He's my new hero."

Anonymous said...

Every day when I don't write, it's your blog that gives me the kick up the backside to get back in the seat.

When I published 11 titles last year, I noticed a few times that people were talking about it online and saying 'There's no way they can be any good if he wrote that many books that quickly.'

I always point out I didn't write 11 titles in a year. It took me 29 years to write them.

29 years of writing novel after novel, story after story, while doing shit jobs, and never giving up just because publishers thought they were unmarketable.

There's a great many writers out there whose books are now finding their market. But boy, did we put in the hours.

Andy Conway
How I Published 11 Books in 9 Months...

Marilyn Peake said...

Thank you for another inspiring post, and for explaining your journey from legacy-published to self-published author. Your comments about Amazon answered an important question I've had ever since KDP Select started. I signed up a few of my titles with KDP Select and sold more books in one week than I used to sell in years. It seemed to me that it was the use of Amazon's free promotions to increase visibility of KDP Select books that was causing such a huge increase in actual sales, and that Amazon has some brilliant strategies for marketing books. I wondered if anyone else felt the same way.

JA Konrath said...

Thanks for the kind words, Robert.

You were out there busting your butt, proving what worked and what didn't. Unfortunately none of it worked.

Actually, some of it did work, which is unfortunate.

One of my main goals with all the touring was to make sure my books stayed in print. Going out of print meant no more royalties, which meant failure.

I point to my efforts as the reason they have stayed in print.

This turned out to be a curse. Now I wish for nothing more than them going out of print so I could get the rights back. I'd be making a lot more money if I had those books instead of my publishers.

Be careful what you wish for...

Adam Pepper said...

You worked your butt off to get to where you are, Joe. Anyone who wants to give the credit to your legacy publishers or anyone but you, is simply trying to spin some revisionist history, or isnt willing to look at the facts.

$100,000 in less than a month. Still pretty staggering. Congratulations...dont spend it all in one place!

Ingpark said...

I'm on your bandwagon, Joe. But I accept that I won't be as lucky. I've been writing since the early eighties, finally published a story in 97, got an agent in 2000, a two-book contract (for a mere 30,000) in 2001 (on the strength of a Shamus award). Was dropped. Signed again for 6 titles. Was dropped. Signed for two titles (3,000 each). Refused to sign for more over e-rights, and now I self-publish.

The author promotion bit never worked for me and I refused to do it early on.

My problem now is that my subject does not hold the general reader appeal your titles do. I write mysteries set in 11 th. century Japan. Very good ones. My small number of fans adore them. But there you are: I will never sell as many books as you.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not inspired by you. Every day. Thanks. I.J.Parker

Anonymous said...

I've read this blog front to back, back to front. Not wanting to stop there I went back to the beginning and read through the comments. I still can't believe you stayed in the Budget Inn in Elizabeth N.J.

Nerd King said...

Joe, I just want to say a HUGE thank you for all your openess, honesty, and help via your blog, Be the Monkey, and everywhere else you've shared your experience as an author. Thanks in large part to your advice, I'm actually making a living as an author now! Keep up the great work and good luck on the beer diet! I'm rooting for you!!! Matt

Jude Hardin said...

Funny...I was talking to a friend last night (a thriller reader, btw), telling him about the beer diet, and he asked if you were a bestseller. So I told him your history, pretty much what you've outlined here. I mean, your sales are just drop-jaw astounding, but we can't really point to any specific cause-and-effect, can we? Naturally people want to know the secret to your success, but the secret is that there ain't no secret. Am I right? Nobody can predict, with any certainty, which book (assuming a certain level of quality in the writing, strong cover art, perfect formatting, etc.) will become a bestseller. It's all a crapshoot, so the best we can do is keep shooting and hope to roll a seven someday.

TK Kenyon said...

Hear, hear, Joe.

We, your friends, know that you've worked hard, written a lot, and that your success is earned. You're helping a lot of other writers with your blog.

And BTW, I put a screenshot of that $100,000 post as my background on my laptop. Inspiration!

TK Kenyon

Joshua James said...

I've been following your blog for a long time, Joe, from before you self pubbed (I believe I downloaded a free pdf of A Newbie's Guide To Publishing when it was offered on your website)and read every post here you've ever written, I believe and I'd be happy to attest you've busted your ass at this game.

And I wanted to let you know, when I first came here, I went to a Borders in Manhattan and looked for your (legacy) books ... they weren't there. I couldn't find a legacy copy at freakin' Borders ... I've read your blog tours, your blogs of your quest to sign in 500 bookstores, all of it ... what's happened for your career, you've earned ON YOUR OWN, and I'm very happy for you ... congrats, dude!

bit concerned about that beer diet, tho' ... don't see how that can be good for you ... but we'll find out in less than a month, right?

Bridget McKenna said...

Joe, I think you made your own luck by working hard, paying attention, and being ready when opportunity came within reach. And I think any of us can have that brand of luck; how much of it is up to us.

Thanks for showing the way, being honest and generous, and allowing us to share the journey and (vicariously) the rewards.

John Caliburn said...

I admit that the people who bought your books during those 3 weeks are new readers to your work, and not previous fans. However, you've got to admit that it is thanks to your previous fans that got you ranked in the top 100, which allowed these new readers to find you and try out your work.

JA Konrath said...

However, you've got to admit that it is thanks to your previous fans that got you ranked in the top 100, which allowed these new readers to find you and try out your work.

Nope. That's the fourth time The List got into the Top 100 in three years. I keep doing that through a combination of timing and pricing.

C R Myers said...

Thank you so much for sharing your success with us. I have found your insight invaluable, and appreciate you taking your time to educate and inspire. You're the best!

Mike Dennis said...

One of your greatest posts ever, Joe, and I've read just about all of them over the last two years.

Amazon is the key, no doubt about it. Anyone who wants to succeed in this business cannot think of Amazon as some evil corporate Satan who is out to control the world. They have consistently come up with inventive ways to sell books and promote the independent author. And we as authors should not only applaud them for it, but get on board. Now.

Your post is a perfect encapsulation of your long, long journey to get where you are. You took responsibility for your own destiny and you deserve all the credit for making those decisions at critical times. Sure, you caught a break or two along the way, but you were astute enough to take quick advantage of it.

Every indie author, regardless of level of expertise, can learn from this post. I know I just did.

Nancy OHara said...

Thanks, Joe, I've learned a lot in the few weeks I've been following your journey. Surprised you can be so lucid if you're still on that beer diet. Ha!

Collins-Rideout said...

Before I stumbled on Joe’s blog last year, I was another discouraged mid-lister with a long history of publishing misfires. My co-author and I had bounced with our 9 books from one publisher to the next, frequently orphaned by editors. After big promises turned to ash in our last gig, we pretty much gave up. Then my agent sent a link to Joe’s blog, and there was instant spark of hope. Could we rise again?

We’re trying. First, we e-pubbed a teen rom-com in October. Then, because no one was telling us not to change genres, we e-pubbed a teen paranormal, TORCH, this week. So far, we haven’t sold many, but it’s early days. I’m guessing—and if anyone can enlighten me, I’d be grateful—that the e-market is currently better for adult fiction than teen.

We’ll experiment and persist. I haven’t been this excited about my writing career since our first teen novel sold at auction (and subsequently failed miserably!).

Here’s hoping luck will strike soon, but in the meantime, head down, doing the work. My greatest regret is that we don’t have manuscripts we can polish and publish. We had the great misfortune of selling them all traditionally :) There are half a dozen scorned “partials,” however, that we’ll be mining for gold.

Just wanted to add my voice to the many in thanking Joe for his perspective, advice, and encouragement. Although my friends and family are getting sick of hearing, “Joe sez...”

Sandy Rideout

LK Watts said...

Hi Joe,

This post is truly awesome! I love following your blog because it uplifts me every time. I don't know how people can accuse you of point #3. In all the blog posts that I have ever read, you have never once said that this route is easy, and everyone will somehow turn into someone like you if they choose to follow it. Sometimes I think people are blind - only choosing what they want to see. Thank you for your continual tips on how we can all improve our chances of making it big in this industry.

SweetMarie83 said...

My comment from earlier this week stands: you are an inspiration. Anyone who comes away from your blog thinking that you're telling us all that everyone who self-pubs is going to have your success is delusional. You're telling us what CAN happen if we're willing to work for it. This stuff doesn't happen overnight, and again, anyone who thinks that is delusional. I've been working toward being an author my entire life, and now that my first book is finally published on Kindle, I'm working on the next one and then the next one and so on. Some people publish one book and then disappear and wonder why they're not having any success. It takes WORK, talent, perseverance, and really just some good old fashioned dumb luck.

Christina Garner said...

One of the things I appreciate about your blog is the transparency. It's inspiring to hear about your struggles as well as your successes. Only fools would think they can wake up one day and write a book and make a ton of money. That has about as much a chance of success as me walking out my door in Hollywood and getting struck by lightning.
It's a combination of hard work and preparation meeting marketplace demand and opportunity.
I write because I'm a writer. Doing it for any other reason would make it a miserable process.

Dummy Zero said...

Joe, I found your blog through Amanda Hocking's interview for the Guardian UK. You have an amazing story. I wish that digital publishing had been available in its current form when I started my first publishing company and developing the concept for my first series of books. Things would have been a lot different for me I know. And you are so right - success in this business (or any business) is not "deserved"'s earned. In fact, the underlying hard work and details that supported that result are rarely noticed by others looking furiously at your bottom line...kind of like an iceberg you only see the tip protruding, yes?
I wish you continued success. Thank you for sharing your insights with us all.
aka Dummy Zero™ - original creator of the For Dummies® concept

Unknown said...

Love the straight talk and your generosity in sharing your experiences. This post is your e-book's(TNGTP)"Promotion" section in a nutshell-valuable book btw.

Christopher Hudson said...

Joe, I wasn't one of those who denounced your success ... I say good on ya ... however, it is a little discouraging to read about the details ... I was hoping the promotional fairy would handle all that odious marketing stuff.

JA Konrath said...

it is a little discouraging to read about the details

Nothing worth doing is easy, Christopher. And there is rarely success without struggle.

Unknown said...

I have been writing for more than 10 years and always told myself I needed validation from someone else, if not I was a horrible writer.

Then, I started following your blog in April 2011 when I was published. In November 2011, I self-published and I experimented. I went back and I read your older posts. I used the post where you spoke of "having thick skin" as a daily reminder when things got grey for me.

I used some other bits of what you had shared and went with my gut for the rest of it. Over Christmas when my books hit #1 & #10 at Kinde's Top 100 Free, I got my share of "good for you(s)" but I also got a lot criticism and let's not even start on the negative reviews. All that aside, I've made enough "income" to last me a year and settle a ton of overdue payments, my books are still selling and I'm still writing.

Everything you said in this post and others is the absolute truth. People dream of overnight success but "overnight" can mean years for some, decades for others. There's a lot of colour along the way, distractions and loads of pebbles in our shoes but that makes for an even better story when you finally get to where you want to be.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being a light for those who start this journey with nothing but pen, paper and a dream of "making it". Blessings.

Russell Brooks said...

Way to go, Joe. I'm so happy for you. You're an inspiration.

Lee Lopez said...

What this all comes down to, is sacrifice and hard work, and believing in your stories. I hope with sacrifice and hard work, I'll find some success. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Joe. Do you ever get sick of repeating yourself, though? :D Some people still don't get it. Write a good book, get it in front of an audience, connect a bit with that audience. Repeat. Its not magic, and you've never claimed that it is. Its the way this digital machine works. What is good and selling rises to the top and sells more. End of story. Best of continued success to you in 2012.

Razzberry Jam said...

Great blog! I sent the link to my niece, since we're talking about publishing her dark fantasy series as e-books. I'll tell her to go back and read about your journey before she gets too excited. I already have two non-fiction books out, but they were both work-for-hire -- IE no royalties. But I'm slowly working on my own books and I'm definitely going with self-publishing. You're an inspiration!

JA Konrath said...

Do you ever get sick of repeating yourself, though?

It's a message that needs to be heard, and there are always new people who need to hear it.

Yes, I get sick of it. But it's the path I chose.

Jude Hardin said...

What is good and selling rises to the top and sells more.

But what causes a book to sell big in the first place? Nobody knows. There's no way to control it. No way to make it happen.

Being "good" doesn't make it happen. There are plenty of good books with poor sales. And yes, there are plenty of crappy books with huge sales. Nobody knows why. If they did, every book published would be a bestseller.

Asti said...

People never understand BEING YOU... Just be and Do you, others will always have a comment, critic, criticism and or compliment, buddha says none of these should matter in the least unless you allow them to.... Congratulations on busting the grindstone...

T.J. Dotson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake Scholl said...

Thanks Joe! I just wished I knew about this blog when I first started writing back in Jr High. I'll keep writing! :)

Remus Shepherd said...

Foundation, foundation, foundation. Once someone has a fanbase, a network of contacts, and the social skills to make use of them, it's hard to avoid being successful with anything one does.

You built a foundation of 10,000 readers and a network of industry contacts and knowledge. You acquired all that by a lot of hard work and -- it must be stated -- through your initial publishing contract. It doesn't take away from your hard work to admit that you had a little luck as well.

This is basic meme-smithing 101, Joe. An idea stagnates until it gets a critical mass of attention, then it explodes. Once it goes viral it needs no more fuel. You're viral now, the hard work you did to get there is in the past. But that hard work and your initial contract built you the critical mass of readers and knowledge that you needed to make the step into stardom.

In contrast take someone like me. After a lot of hard work I have about 1,500 readers, a scant few industry contacts, and no idea how to leverage myself into a viral phenomenon. A publishing contract would give me a lot of the knowledge I'm lacking and add to my readerbase as well. (Whatever it lines my pocket with would help also.)

I don't know how you can say that the legacy contract had nothing to do with your success. An author needs three things to make it big: Skill, hard work, and luck. Nobody is trying to deny that you put in the work. I don't see why you would deny that your luck in legacy publishing was also a factor.

T.J. Dotson said...

I got my first rejection letter in 1988. I've worked hard for 24 years, waiting for this kind of success.

I'm printing this post out and hanging it on my inspiration wall. Also, I must admit whenever I read one those "how did you promote yourself?" questions. I cringe.

After years of reading author blogs and posts, I'm convinced of one thing... "promotion" is a huge waste of time. A writer is better off writing. This writing should include a mix of long and short works.

Also, the more you write the better you do. That's it.. there really isn't much more to it. Just write good and proofread stories, with professional looking covers.

After almost a year of hard work, my short stories are selling well. There is no 'quick fix' it really is hard work.

I still think a lot folks will miss the point of your post. But don't count me as one of them. :D

12:29 PM

Todd Trumpet said...

Sorry to have to contribute to your digital ass-chafing...

...but you just plain write a damn good blog.


Sean McCartney said...

Great post Joe. It is the outlier effect. It's like the story of the Beatles working in those dingy clubs in Germany working their songs out before becoming successful. You have said it before and it does ring true, "we are in a marathon, not a sprint."

@Jude You are right about people not knowing what makes a best seller. I just saw Moneyball and it says the same thing about judging baseball talent.

The tough part is to work hard without knowing there is a payoff. However, a friend of mine said, "The payoff is a finished book." I like that one.


JA Konrath said...

I don't know how you can say that the legacy contract had nothing to do with your success

I can name a dozen other authors who have had huge success without every having a legacy deal.

But I can't name a single author who has had a legacy deal, then has self-pubbed and had my success--even though hundreds of former/present legacy publishers have self-published.

So I'm pretty confidant I'm right.

JA Konrath said...

But what causes a book to sell big in the first place? Nobody knows.

Agreed. Which is why legacy publishers, even though the vet a lot of crap, still do a poor job at picking hits.

But if you know how the game is played, in theory you can improve your game. That's an apt description of what I've been doing since the beginning. Learning and adapting.

Trance St. Croix said...

Up until a few months ago, there seemed to be some correlation, albeit loose, between sales and quality. Recently, however, it seems we're living more in a world of internet/amazon gamesmanship. The "good" author is not the one who writes the good book, it's the author who learns how to play games to become visible.

Success is becoming less and less defined by craftsmanship and more and more by studying Amazon and determining how to manipulate it.

Personally, I believe we ARE in a world where a bad writer can make a fortune straight out of the box. Correspondingly, we're also in a world where an exceptional writer can be forever buried by the masses.

Three Hoodies Save the World said...

Regardless of what anyone might say, good luck and well done.

Christopher John Chater said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher John Chater said...

Great blog post. It's all about writing great books and getting them out there. That will never change, no matter who's publishing them. Thanks Joe.

Pam said...

Great post! Remember when you were a kid and you had this sort of vague idea that your parents didn't have lives before you were born? That's what people (and yes, even some writers) tend to think when a writer hits success; that they had no writing life before that success. In reality, most of us work years and years and gather tons of rejections before we start making enough money to even buy groceries. Thanks for the honesty.

Esri Rose said...

A masterful summation. It takes time to build an audience, but once you build it, it's nice if most of the money comes to you. :)

William Ockham said...

Joe Konrath, the author, is nobody (no offense, of course). Joe Konrath, the publisher, on the other hand is more significant to the future of publishing than any of the Big Six.

Why? Did you catch that line about how he's outselling some of Patterson's titles on Amazon? If you were James Patterson and you knew that, wouldn't you be a little bit pissed off at your publisher?

I'm pretty sure James Patterson cares about maximizing the value of his brand and Joe Konrath is living proof that in one market (Amazon e-books), James Patterson is, to put it bluntly, getting screwed. His publisher has dropped the ball. They can't compete with this mid-list hack with no experience as a publisher.

How much money did it take to for Joe Konrath to break into publishing? Pretty close to nothing. That should be scary to the Big Six who have counted on the vast amount of capital that it would take to challenge their dominance. Now, some publishing flunkie is probably thinking that Joe Konrath only has one author in his stable and so, he can't be a real threat. To which I would say, dude, you are reading this blog. Every writer who is reading this blog is gaining from Konrath's experience. And this doesn't hurt Konrath at all, but it is the end of the line for you guys. Maybe not this year, but unless you can learn very quickly how to replicate his success, you are toast.

50pret50 said...

thx for this good article, you inspired me, so I just ordered this one and this one for my wife, and guess wich book I will read first..... yes your right, your best selled book

Dummy Zero said...

Re "what causes a book to sell big in the first place? Nobody knows."

I'd like to add another point of view from a different genre of book. In my case I spent nearly a year on a mission haunting bookstores looking for something similar to mine before I decided to self-publish.

And the reason the books sold so well is because I found a gaping hole in the presentation of what was being published in non-fiction at the time (in tech books primarily). And I combined other ideas from other sources. (Maybe non-fiction is a little more forthcoming with the reasons why, eh?)

Yes, luck was involved, because nobody could've predicted what happened. But still, the foundation the books were built upon was solid and filled a need for many people...myself being one of those folks.

Now I think I'm going to have to try this medium for my new project. Thanks again, Joe, for putting this information out in the universe...and being upfront about the struggle behind your current success.

50pret50 said...

thx for this good article, you inspired me, so I just ordered this one and this one for my wife, and guess wich book I will read first..... yes your right, your best selled book

David L. Shutter said...

James Patterson is, to put it bluntly, getting screwed. His publisher has dropped the ball. They can't compete with this mid-list hack with no experience as a publisher.


Which is what every top Big 6writer has to be looking at.

Yes, they sell millions, or more. Everytime they drop off a new manuscript there's a huge check followed by big royalty checks as well. Yes they're taken care of, probably getting more than the base royalty percentages too, but they're still getting a pittance from the overall money pile.

The top 20-80 writers in the world, those still with traditional publishing, can't possibly be that stupid or oblivious to not see that.

Their e-book titles are abhorrently overpriced. Overall this is helping to hedge the Big 6 losses from paper but big name authors are routinely outsold by lower priced independents and former mid-listers.

And book shelf space is still going away.

I'm waiting for the big exodus this year.

thebuckedoff2 said...

Just the pick-me-up I needed after following your advice and not reading your blog instead of writing...

I had a weak moment, sorry.

Back to writing! Thanks for the encouragement, and I showed my thanks by buying your books too, even though they are not my genre. ;-)

Ursula said...

Much success to everyone in 2012. There's more than enough to go around.

Completely agree and wish all the same.

And thanks again for posting all the info through the years!

Unknown said...

I love that people are still bashing you, Joe. They never cease to amaze me. I think you found the right mix of talent, business savvy and audacity. Your action brought your luck just like most writers' inaction leads to their demise.

You deserve every penny you rake in. I hope next January it's 100-times what it is today. Congrats!

Jeff Faria said...

I think the key takeaway here is to pay attention to how Amazon operates, and to the emergence of tablet devices as well. This is the rising tide that's lifted quite a few boats.

Jon Olson said...

One of your best posts, Joe.

Jon O.
The Petoskey Stone

antares said...

Hmmm. Is there a correlation between success and drinking beer? One can hope, huh?

Good on ya, brother. I applaud your success.

Kathryn Meyer Griffith said...

you're my hero! because of you and your blog I'm - FINALLY - going to self pub my 15th novel. Like you, the big pubs have pushed me down, stepped on me and....killed my 40 year writing career. I have a couple of quick questions for you on how to get my book formatted into a PDF (I have a great cover artist and have had it edited already). Please, if you have a minute email me at and let me ask them. I would be forever grateful.Thank you, author of 40 years; 14 published novels and 8 short stories and 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE for her romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author's Edition, Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Rex Kusler said...

" the best we can do is keep shooting and hope to roll a seven someday."

Seven comes up for me on a regular basis--after I've loaded up the table with come bets. Seven out--line away.

Jonas Lau's Blog said...

My wife and I love your books. I am an aspiring author of young adult fantasy and mystery books. I have followed your blog and love what you write. We have recently starting reading your horror books also. I have published my first book and I say if you earn 100,000 in 3 weeks that is inspiring and congratulations. I also love Eisler's books and am excited you convinced him to self-publish. Keep up the great work! Thanks for taking the time to share your ideas in your blog.

Robert Bidinotto said...

I can't tell you how much this blog means to me, Joe, because it sums up everything I've learned from you. And what I've learned from you has changed my life.

I started reading your blog after decades of "dues-paying" nonfiction writing and editing. When I heard about the opportunities in self-publishing ebooks, your name came up as the Pied Piper of the ebook revolution. So, before I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at writing fiction, I first went back many months into your past blogs. I studied them closely, learning from both your mistakes and successes; but I paid most attention to the basic principles enunciated repeatedly by you, Robin Sullivan, and a few others:

Write the best damned story you can; make sure it's well-edited and proofed; give it a great cover; format it professionally; and price it competitively.

I did a few other things, too. Knowing that the book's Amazon product page was THE one place where most prospective customers ultimately would go, I put in many hours to make the product description -- the book's sales pitch -- as compelling as possible. Then, after early readers told me how much they enjoyed my debut thriller, I encouraged them to post "reader reviews" on that Amazon product page. The rest of my marketing efforts have focused on driving traffic to that page.

As a result, from the earliest days after I uploaded HUNTER in late June, browsing Amazon customers could find on its product page a polished sales pitch, backed up by a fast-growing pile of 5-star customer raves. The $3.99 price was low enough to encourage impulse buying, but high enough to make me decent money.

It took five months of slowly increasing sales before these efforts all paid off, big-time. Suddenly, over the past six weeks, I've achieved a level of success with my debut novel that I never could have anticipated. And it was exactly for the reason you stated: Amazon.

In late November, the Amazon editors decided to smile on HUNTER, making it their top "Editors' Pick" for the full week of November 27-December 3. Their lavish attention propelled it to the top of the Kindle bestseller list.

You can call that "luck," but I don't kid myself. HUNTER became visible to them only because I had adhered religiously to the basic principles I learned from you:

Write the best damned story you can; make sure it's well-edited and proofed; give it a great cover; format it professionally; and price it competitively.

I did that; it was noticed; and it has changed my life.

Thank you, Joe Konrath.

P.T. Michelle said...


Thanks for sharing and consistently laying it on the line. I've been a long time follower, but finally had to post. You always keep it honest and interesting. Congratulations on all your hard earned successes. Keep looking forward!

P.T. Michelle

Asguardian Tsoaela said...

First of all congratulations for paying the price for your success.

It's only natural that the masses would criticize your "overnight" success and turn a blind eye on the hours and weeks and months and years you put in to your work.

Your persistence is something your critics cannot imitate hence their envy. I guess their jab at you it easier than admitting their own weakness, something they can work on in order to better their lives.

But you seem to be a person that rises above it all. I'm thankful for your growing process.

You inspire me.

You are amazing.

You are awesome.

Happy 2012 to you too!

- Musa

Anjasa said...

Thank you for the follow-up. This must be something so refreshing to you after so many years of struggle and trial!

Patrice said...

I fall into that first group of people who are happy for you. I am paying attention and learning from you. Your 100K post was purely inspirational to me. Keep up the good work!

Walter Golden said...

I know the reason for your success. It’s your blog. A little over a year ago I was looking for some information on POD and came across it. The blog inspired me to try the self publish route. Now I have four books on Kindle and Smashwords--by the way, I would never have tried Smashwords without the recommendation that you gave it. Since then I have given talks at the local community college, several senior citizen writing groups, and the local branch of California Writers Club. In all cases I have recommended your blog. There is a lot of interest in e-books that is just beginning to stir.
You are in a good spot and, thanks to your hard work, you deserve it
You have something people need and they are going to come to you. Thanks for your inspiration

Cyn Bagley said...

I have been reading your blog since 2007 and I have really enjoyed what you had to say about your journey.

I am excited and happy for your success because I know that you have worked your ASS to a little nib. ;-)

So you go and write more and enjoy your success.


And I hope that your success will give me the will-power to write more and to publish more.

Yours, Cyn

Patrice said...

Thanks, Joe. One of your best posts ever.

After my 20 years of writing novels, I'm finally getting read and making money. You were part of my inspiration.

Patrice Fitzgerald
author of the best-selling RUNNING

Bernard Schaffer said...

Hi Joe. First time I've commented here, but I've been following your story about the $100k and must say it both inspires me and hurts a little. It's a good pain, though. I assure you. Here's why: My first book went live in May 2011, and I've been steadily writing and publishing since. In December I made over $3000 and was ECSTATIC...right up until I saw your post. That whooshing sound is the sound of wind rushing out of my sails. That cracking sound is your awesome sales spanking the hell out of my paltry figure.
But I am resolved to tarry on.
To keep writing, to keep publishing, to keep perfecting my craft, because really that is the only true path to sales figures like yours.
In the immortal words of the 504 Boyz: "Haters Gon Hate."
Keep blazing the trail, my friend.

Rocky Cole said...

Joe, thanks for the truth. It is what sets you apart. You are transparent to a fault. Refreshing.

Ty said...

The two rules I live by as a writer: Never give up and be prepared to take chances.

There are down times, as there are with all writers at some point or another, but success never comes by giving in or giving up.

Kiana Davenport said...

Joe, 24 years is NOT an overnight success. You earned every dollar. What most impresses me is how you keep taking the time and energy to REITERATE all the reasons you became successful, for those of us who need to hear it more than once. I love how you keep expending yourself, paying it forward.

A plus of all this is that you have engendered a reader community who is cheering you on, and also cheering each other on. Helping each other, a thing uncommon in the legacy print world. We are all learning how to pay it forward thanks to you.

I met Steve Jobs once. He told me 'Never, NEVER ask permission. Just DO it." You are the apotheosis of that mantra.

I wish you $100,000 more - quick. And bravo to Maria, who has to put up with you.

Liz/moth said...

Hi Joe! I've been following your blog for a while but never commented because I rarely sign in to my blogger account. You've inspired me to make 2012 the year I try self publishing. I love your mantra and am going to try to tailor it to my own writing situation. I bought one of your books on Kindle, purely via reading your blog, by the way, to see what kind of writer you were. It was Whiskey Sour and I absolutely loved it. I have downloaded the freebies you so generously gave us for Christmas, and am looking forward to them. But they won't make you any money! Hoever, I will tell people about them and will no doubt go on to buy more. Your blog is so valuable - I look forward to every post! Sincere congratulations on your success!!

Ellen Britt, PA, Ed.D. said...

Well said, sir! Anf Joe, I know you worded very, very hard, but you yourself say it was n't all that previous work that got you where you are today.

it was your persistence in writing plus experimentation and the ebook tipping point which Amazon has provided. I am simply delighted by your success!

Ellen Britt, PA, Ed.D. said...

Darn typos..."worked" of course, not "worded."

Anthony Steven said...

Excellent post, and truly inspiring. I'm just starting out on the writing journey that I've wanted to begin for years and just not had the gumption to begin.

Indeed no one person deserves success, equally as with beauty, the definition of success lies in the beholder.

Regardless of how I get on with writing over the remainder of my days I'll remember that I'm doing it because I enjoy it and for nothing more.

Diane Capri said...

Joe, as long as I've known you (since about 2004), you've been one of the hardest working writers on the planet. I salute you. And wish you continued success. There's never been one of us who deserved it more. Congratulations, my friend.

Scott Daniel said...

I admire your tenacity, Joseph.

Shelley said...

Thanks for posting this reality check, Joe. I've been reading your posts for awhile (clued in by my crit partner) and after your $100,000 post I wondered what I might do to get similar results when I put my books on Amazon. This told me it takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, and faith.

Because of your blog, I've changed the way I look at self-pubbing. I used to think the only way to get respect as a writer was to do the legacy thing. Now I know I can earn respect by publishing quality books on my own. You've opened up an entirely new world for me, and I thank you!

Shelley said...

I should have said I can earn respect - and hopefully a living - by publishing quality books on my own. ;)

BobbieNoSocks said...

I self published on Kindle and Amazon earlier in 2011 and was looking for some insight into how to expand my reach and get the word out. Just found your blog... I'll be reading all day. Thank you!

H. S. Stavropoulos said...

Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!

You have inspired me over and over again with your willingness and enthusiasm to share your insights and experience on the road of e-publishing. You are the trail blazer. For that reason you are taking the flak. But you are standing up for the rest of us who are following the same path in your wake.

You've made money the old fashioned way, you earned it.

So much for the snarky who say books aren't legitimate if they aren't vetted and published by a traditional publisher.

Yuwanda Black said...


Stop begging people to believe your succes comes from just plain ole hard work, coupled with a dose of luck. Why?

Because those who work hard already know that that's why you're successful.

And, those who don't work hard will always attribute the success of those who do to ANYTHING other than hard work -- because they don't want to put in the work. It's "success deflection" at its best.

I wrote 50 ebooks last year. When I set that goal in Dec 2010, I couldn't believe how negative some were about it (although most were very supportive).

I reached my goal in Dec 2011. My ebook sales are still paltry. But, am I discouraged? No, because I see my sales creeping up every month. If I have to write 500 more ebooks to reach the financial goal I've set for myself, I will.

Because writers write.

And, those who want to be successful will settle in and do what it takes (ie, work hard) to get there.

Hopefully, my "does of luck" is right around the corner.

And FYI, I, for one, am absolutely thrilled for you. It gives me hope -- and that's about the best thing one successful writer can give to another.

Keep on keeping on.

Yuwanda Black, Publisher

Yuwanda Black said...

Just want to clarify a couple of things:

1. RE "Hopefully, my "does of luck" is right around the corner.

Should be "dose," of course.

2. I Published 50 ebooks last year. Some were pullouts (eg, excerpts of longer ebooks I wrote).

3. I write primarily in the non-fiction business, how-to genre (I get asked this question a lot).

Again, continued success Joe! :-)

Cassandra said...

I applaud you, Joe! :) Cassandra

Thom "Pappy" B said...

We're in Show Business.

And our work is the show, and all the things you describe in your post--the grunt work--is the business."

The two go together. In this new world, we who are used to only producing the show now need to pay attention to the business.

Thanks for lighting the way.

puravida said...

"It takes 20 years to be an overnight success"
~Eddie Cantor

Congratulations on all your success and thanks for opening a window for all of us to peek inside your world.

Nadine Hays Pisani

Happier Than A Billionaire

J. R. Tomlin said...

You really are an inspiration, Joe. One of the things I admire about you and that we need to take to heart is your refusal to base your decisions on fear of the future. I see so many authors out there doing posts of the "what if Amazon decides to eat s-p authors for breakfast" sort instead of taking advantage of what Amazon can do for us NOW.

L.H. Thomson said...


Great post. After 20 years of newspaper writing and editing, I'd already decided to go the self-pub route, acutely aware that good, entertaining pulp fiction -- my style -- is not loved by agents or publishing houses.

Your blog cemented the decision.

I've written five novels this year and am happy with all of them. I plan to probably write five more next year. Your blog, which I found about six months ago, is a big reason why I think I can sell them and, over three or for years, perhaps transition to fiction full time.

Thanks, man. It's inspiring to a lot of us trying to eke out the same path.

Unknown said...

Am I the only one that thinks Joe doesn't have to justify his success. This blog, his website and his sales speak for themselves. The fact that the internets is reacting to his recent sales is proof that everything he has been preaching for years has been the truth.

J. Eathen
The Vanguard Society

Amy said...

Like one person once wrote about you I thought you were full of bullshit. I thought at least when it came to their big dog pets a publisher wouldn't leave money on the table-I was wrong you were right. I have thriller book club and we usually only read soft/paperbook to keep costs down or it can be bought cheaply. Well I screwed up and on the advice of someone picked A Simple Act of Violence by R.J. Ellory. He's no Patterson or King but I've seen his books but never read him I figured at the very least we could him by Kindle on Amazon for the full soft cover price-no. Did research on him and he's got a big whopping contract so the publisher is wringing every hard back sale they can get from him. Too bad that because he is such a big deal all but two people were able to copies from the 13 copies available at the library. The rest purchased second hand through Amazon spending less than 10 bucks. With a business model like this you are sooo right this business model is no longer working and will surely fail.

Walter Knight said...

I took Joe's advice to heart, and will write as many books as I can.

Anyone remember the 'Casca' series by Barry Sadler? He wrote a 22 book series about a cursed romas soldier who would not died. After Barry died, the series continued to book 37 written by otherauthors.

Continuing a series as long as it is popular, and fun to write, combined with Amazon's marketing, is my route.

I tell people that reading Joe's Blog is like taking a Junior College class on how publish your books. Forget creative writing classes, either you can write or your can't. Just do it.

Sam Grant said...

Wow...I would've given up a LOT sooner or just published for self entertainment/ego. You deserve everything coming your way and more.
I began my novel on Al Qaeda in 2004. Sent out only ONE query to Follett's agent and got a very nice rejection letter. In his defense, I didn't send a word out only a generic idea of where I was headed. Fast forward to a Washington Post article on self publishing last March and viola! I put mine out on Friday the 13th (2012) on Kindle! Talk about motivation when the gatekeepers and others no longer have control over us, the hardworking writer(s). That is indeed a REVOLUTION. Mr. Konrath, I "found" you surfing on google once I read the WP article. Your blog has indeed been INSPIRATIONAL for folks like myself. Now that my work is out and one feels exposed & totally vulnerable. Silence. The marketing is the key due to the volume I guess being submitted. But alas, writers are quiet fellows who hate publicity and marketing and other such seemingly "whorish" stuff. That is the only downside to troll and shamelessly promote. Just hoping one soul will read and perhaps comment. So my hat off to you as a pioneer and other that have come after you and will continue to enter this truly brave new frontier.
I sure hope those amazing stories in dusty cupboards now find the light of day. Amen.

SherritheWriter said...

You are so right. It takes a ton of work, and sometimes the return is nowhere near what you put in. I'm still working my way up and believe me, I know you speak the truth. It's tough.

jack wallen said...

Bravo to you and your hard work. You helped to pave a path for so many of us. Had it not been for you, we might not have the route to success we now have. Thank you Mr. Konrath!

Theresa Wiza said...

You inspire me. Thank you.

Unknown said...

First off let me say congrats and I never heard of you until last year, probably because I'm a writer. I added you long ago an Facebook and I doubt I ever left a comment or knew who in the hell you were or what you ever wrote.

It was an accident that I ever came across you to begin with. I'll blame Robert Walker because that's the only place I can think I may have first seen you blog.

I'm not the typical newbie writer. I read tons of writer blogs, but I doubt they ever read mine. I'm no expert and my journey is as of yet not really started. I released two short stories in one book and someone thought I'm some kind of genius and offered to feature me in a podcast. Again nobody may know who I am, but I continue to plug away on revising two novels that I have decided to self publish. All because of this blog that is both inspiring and realistic. You have never said it was easy and it can happen to everyone. I know that's not the truth.

You deserve the success because you work hard and write great books. I'm also not your typical writer because I actually buy ebooks not just from some A listed writer, but from the ones that I interact with or respect.

Melissa Douthit said...

This is really a cool blog post, Joe! Keep up the good work!

Rich Grimshaw said...

Good for you, Joe. Your work is producing good results, and you are having fun. I'm glad this is happening to you. Thanks for sharing the details with the world.

TeriB said...

I really appreciate all your time and energy in creating this blog and to sharing your resources and educating and inspiring other authors.

You rock.

AnonymousWriter said...

I wanted to let you know about a really stupid situation.

I wanted to buy the John Updike books series of Rabbit books.

I would prefer to have them on kindle because its easier than having the books and they'll be with me wherever they go and take up no space in my flat.

To buy them on Kindle? 3 at £7.99 and 1 @ £10.99. Total cost 35 quid! Actually more expensive than buying them new as books.

What did I end up doing?

I have spent £9.50 plus £4 postage and packing to buy them second hand. So the publisher gets zero.

If they had charged £4 a copy for the kindle edition they would now have £16 on the way to them with the publisher keeping 70% with no cost of printing or postage.

How many millions of £'s are publishers missing out on because of this situation.

I don't expect these books on kindle to be cheap, but they should be pitched at a realistic and sensible price.

They have missed out on $20 plus of revenue for 4 books.

Unknown said...

You're right Richard, the typical ebook by the big six have went up the last year. They went from $9.99 to $12.99 the last year. Okay, so you want us to pay the same price as the hardcover on Amazon. I think not. I can either wait until the physical book hits the sale shelf or like you, we have a used book store in town where the publisher or author doesn't get any money, and buy it there. I'm not sure what marketing genius came up with the idea of raising prices, but it's stupid. Probably another reason Joe and the other best sellers are making more money. Joe's books are better than most of the book put out by the big six.

Nancy Beck said...

I remember "tuning in" to your blog from time to time during that 500 bookstore tour and just thinking to myself: How does he do it?

Not something I could do...although maybe if I were a little bit younger...;-)

That whole silliness with legacy authors having a leg up on everyone else is...well, silly. ;-) You have a LOT of books up, which means more people can set their eyeballs on them because you have a huge selection. THAT'S the difference.

And as for promo/marketing...I only have 4 books up (3 novellas in a series and a mini short story collection), and any marketing I've done (if you want to call it that) has been free or fairly cheap (the cheap comes in the form of software, as suggested by Jon Mertz). A lot, lot less in wear-and-tear than travelling around the country.

Write more, edit it, upload it. Having more available is the ticket that will get you steady sales for the long haul.

Demon Daughter

Maria said...

Yeah, I've been here from early on. The story hasn't change. Yes, your legacy work helped, if only because you had been working hard already and had some backlist for people to find. But yeah, Amazon's marketing machine is pretty incredible. They're always tweaking it to make it better, to gain more sales. Kinda like you.

Jessica L Buike (AuthorJess and Operation Relax) said...

I am really glad you posted what it's really like!!

I'm just letting all the blogs I follow know about my giveaway today, please stop by if you can:

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Why is it that so many writers don't seem to get the "work your ass off" part? WTF?

WackyWhat said...

I started self-publishing in Nov 2011,
because you inspired me. I sold 1200 titles in Dec. Thank-you Mr Konrath.

Renee Mimms said...

Excellent post. People are so caught up in finding out how they can make a quick buck, that they don't want to do the hard work and long hours that are necessary. You've paid your dues many times over and have been kind enough to share your experiences with all of us. Hopefully more writers will take the jump and carve out a place for themselves in the e-book market.

CMSmith said...

Thanks, Joe. As I look at my measly onesy and twosy sales stats, it's hard to keep my resolve up to promote my self-published memoir.

It's good to know that it's not just me. It takes a lot of hard work.

Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations on your well-deserved success.

Patience Prence CLICK HERE! said...

Thanks so much for sharing this article.

I agree with you that you have to put the time in and and be willing to work hard. I promote almost every day at least 2 hours and it's paying off. I also have several videos on youtube about the end-times with a promo of my book. One video has over 90 thousand views. SCARS is currently #1 Top Rated and #1 bestsller on Amazon Christian fiction/ Biblical.

Three words, promote, promote and promote!

Anonymous said...

Congrats from one writer to another. The ebook craze has inspired me to go that route also. And thanks for sharing your journey with us. All writers let's all win, win, win.
Rita Shields

Joel Arnold said...

I've followed your journey for a long time (since you blogged about getting an agent) and you're still very inspiring. Thanks!

Robert J. McCarter said...

Joe, I don't comment often here, but I always read.

Thank you for being so open an honest about your journey. Without this blog an a few others I don't think I would have had the courage to get my first novel out last fall.

For me, it has made a huge difference, so Thank You!

Nell Rose said...

As someone who has written a book, been published a few times in mags etc, I find this so refreshing. Its good to see all your hard work pay off, well done and thanks for the inspiration

Glenn McCreedy said...

As a publisher who hit it big with Amazon bestselling author J. Carson Black, Joe's remarks, "pay attention to what Amazon is doing, experiment a lot, and get lucky" rings true. Now, you do have to get to where Joe is at, writing and publishing books readers like and want to buy, but that is a whole other story. If you're already there, you are one lucky mofo because Amazon is ready for you.

Steven Hardesty said...

Not surprised to learn you've had some negative responses to your huge success - too many folks out there have the "tall poppies syndrome" and just have to hack away at anyone who rises too high. For me, I'm glad to see good people get ahead. Your success means that, just maybe, with sweat and hard work, I can make some success, too. Cheers to you, Joe!