Thursday, November 14, 2013

Straight Up and Racked and Amazon's Also Boughts

The ultimate goal, naturally, is world domination.

Before that, baby steps.

Some of those baby steps involve me allowing authors to write stories and novels using my intellectual property, and then collaborating with them, publishing their stories, and splitting the profits while giving them full power in the relationship.

I blogged about it here, and here. My first collaboration, Jacked Up, which I did with Tracy Sharp, has been available for a few weeks.

Two more collabs are now available. Both were a lot of fun for me to work on, and are a lot of fun to read.

Iain Rob Wright is my kind of writer. He specializes in horror and technothrillers, and did a great job teaming up Jack Daniels with his new heroine, Sarah Stone, in the story Straight Up, now available on Kindle for $1.99.

Lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels hates to fly. She hates the cramped leg room and the recycled air. She also hates the fact that she can't get a decent drink. The short flight to Florida is a necessary burden to visit her mother, but what escalates it beyond a mere inconvenience is the fact that the pilot is a gun-toting maniac.

Teaming up with an irritable, badly scarred woman from England, Jack sets about trying to protect the plane and its passengers from the homicidal Captain Clive while also making sure that they don't end up taking a deadly nose dive into the Sunshine State.

STRAIGHT UP by J.A. Konrath and Iain Rob Wright
Air Travel can be murder.

Rob is close to finishing a new novel; a sequel to my technothriller Origin called Holes In The Ground.

Jude Hardin has been commenting on my blog for as long as I've had a blog. It's been fun watching him launch a writing career, and it was really fun teaming Jack Daniels up with Hardin's PI Nicolas Colt in Racked, now available on Kindle for $0.99.

A private investigator, a police lieutenant, and a man wearing a Bugs Bunny mask walk into a bar...

Unfortunately, it's no joke when Bugsy rigs the barrel of a twelve-gauge pump to the back of the bartender's neck.

Together for the first time in this explosive, lightning-paced tale of greed, betrayal, and blood-soaked terror (not really, but it's a fast-paced and funny mystery-thriller), Florida PI Nicholas Colt (Crosscut, Key Death) and Chicago cop Jacqueline Daniels (Whiskey Sour, Shaken) team up to stop the robber before another shotgun shell gets RACKED.

Jude just finished a full length Colt/Daniels novel called Lady 52, which should be available before Christmas.

If you're reading this blog, stop right now and go buy those two ebooks. You can spare the three bucks, and the knowledge I'm about to impart is worth the expenditure.

Are you back? Good. Thanks for your support. :)

And now I'm going to share with you a very cool trick which will allow you to sell more books.

If you've been following this little project of mine, you already know a few things. For the uninitiated, I'll recap.
  • My wife, Maria, reads all the submissions and decides if they fit in my universe or not.
  • I pay for everything involved in the publishing process, and don't recoup my investment. 
  • The co-author gets paid monthly by my agent, and we split the money 50/50.
  • The first draft of the story is written by the co-author, then I do the second draft, rewriting and adding about 20%-40% to the content.
  • The co-author has all the power: they can cancel the deal whenever they'd like, and they have final say over price, platforms, and sub-rights.
  • No one gets rich writing short stories, but I'm using shorts as a testing ground for where the real money is--novels.
Earlier I mentioned world domination. Here is my nefarious scheme.

Amazon has provided two big ways to assist readers in finding new ebooks to read. The first we're all familiar with; bestseller lists. Readers who like Female Sleuths can browse that list for the Top 100, and find new authors who write stories similar to the ones that they enjoy. It is possible to manipulate the bestseller ranks by using promotions such as social networks, blogs, Bookbub and Book Blast, and sales.

The second assist Amazon gives readers is the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section on the ebook's Amazon page directly under the description.

The items that appear in that also bought carousel are the result of Amazon keeping track of purchases. Any reader who likes Konrath can look at the also boughts and discover new authors they haven't read before. It's like a reader making a recommendation to another reader. "You like Konrath? Try Eisler."

Right now, in the also bought carousel for Racked, there are ebooks by Konrath and Hardin, which is to be expected. But there are also books by Blake Crouch, Henry Perez, Tracy Sharp, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson--all authors I've collaborated with. But it doesn't only link to our collabs, it links to these authors' ebooks written without me.

Customers who bought Run by Blake Crouch also bought Jacked Up by Tracy Sharp, and customers who bought Jacked Up also bought Kutter by Jeff Strand, and customers by bought Kutter also bought Animal Kingdom by Iain Rob Wright.

This isn't coincidence. This is lineage. 

How many authors will be linked with also boughts when I have twenty more collaborative stories and novels live? Forty more? A hundred more?

Does my world domination comment seem a little more plausible now? How soon before every thriller ebook on Amazon has a Konrath title in the also boughts, which not only increases my visibility and sales, but also the visibility and sales of everyone who has ever worked with me?

And what's really cool is that readers benefit as much as the writers do. The collaborators I work with are vetted by me. Co-writing with them is a seal of approval, giving my fans opportunities to discover new voices. The first person I did this with was Blake Crouch, and when we began it was pretty one sided--I sent my fans his way. But as Blake's star has risen, he's been sending more and more fans my way... and Jeff Strand's way... and Henry Perez's way... and Ann Voss Peterson's way... etc etc etc.

I wish I could clone myself so I could get through these collabs faster, but I'm only one guy and I also have to run the business side of my growing empire, so it's taking longer that I'd like. But I'm getting through them, slowly but surely. 

If you're a writer, and you haven't written a story in my universe yet, what are you waiting for? Follow the guidelines and submit one. If my wife rejects it, you can always rename my characters and publish it yourself.

And if you're a Jack Daniels fan, I encourage you to read not only Straight Up and Racked, but other collabs I've done, all reasonably priced:

And coming soon...


Veronica - Eloheim said...

Wow! This is WONDERFUL! And the cover art is FANTASTIC!


I've yet to come up with a way to tie my non-fiction books to your thrillers, but it could happen...someday... :)

I was chatting with a new author on FB who was asking me questions about indie publishing.

I shared your blog with her describing you as "experimenting with new ideas all the time." I really appreciate you sharing your journey with me.

I published my 25th ebook last week. You were the one that said, "Hey Veronica, you can do this!" even though we have never met.

Thank you.

Alistair McIntyre said...

Wish you and your collaborators all the best. It is a tough market to get started in, but working together is a good way to go.

Looking forward to an Origins sequel.

PJR said...


Just got the new Jack collabs. This is interesting. A few Qs, if I may...

Are they all Amazon-only, & KDP Select so could see freebie options down the road? Not looking for freebies but wondering how the cross-marketing can be leveraged.

You said: "No one gets rich writing short stories, but I'm using shorts as a testing ground for where the real money is--novels."

I must admit that I had not really and truly clocked the fact that these stories are shorts...I have to look back to earlier blog posts. Anyway, fills me with ideas - and also tickles the brain about the quote above - "...a testing ground for...novels."

What's the plan?

I'm looking forward to see how THE EYEWITNESS PROTOCOLS pops up on the new Jack collabs' "Also Bought..." feature, and vice versa - and tucking into some cross-worlds.

best wishes to all in the new Jack collab venture.


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

I'm almost finished Racked, which is insanely fun! And I have Straight Up on my kindle, which I'll be reading next. Can't wait!

Ken Lindsey said...

It's already a bit of a thrill to see the cover for something that Joe and I wrote together (BABYSITTING MONEY) on this blog, and it's not even published yet. The whole venture is smart and innovative and I'm damn proud that I get to be part of it.

I think Joe is opening up some big opportunities here, as well as proving once again that helping out another author is never going to cost you readers. I've been picking up each collab as they come out, and I haven't been let down yet.

Thanks, Joe! Can't wait to see what comes next

Daniel Kenney said...

Joe, Jacked Up was a blast and I'm excited to buy Straight Up and Racked (which all of you should be doing.) Had a question. What email address do you want people using when sending in their story for your wife to read?
Thanks for the domination, Dan

Unknown said...

Digging all these stories coming out and all the cross-promo going on! And the covers rock!

Daniel Kenney said...

I agree with Jude and he beat me to it. But these covers are awesome!


William J. Thomas said...

Rob is close to finishing a new novel; a sequel to my technothriller Origin called Holes In The Ground.

First things first - is Rob solely writing the sequel to Origin, or is it a collab? Does this mean you will not be writing a sequel on your own Joe?

Loved Jacked Up, looking forward to reading all the others too!

Nick Kelly said...

So cool to see Joe and Jude working together. I just discovered Colt this summer and really enjoy Hardin's writing style. Partnering these two characters makes perfect sense. Thanks for the info as always!

Unknown said...

Awesome Sauce! Congrats everyone. Already read Jacked Up! Loved it. Iain's and Jude's stories are locked and loaded. ;)

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Congrats to Joe for breaking cool new ground! Hugh Howey did something similar (though he didn't cowrite at all) in allowing others to write in his WOOL universe -- thus empowering a lot of authors who helped spread the word about his own books, which were the source material.

I'm soon to release a cowritten short in the same vein -- my name is known in sci-fi circles, so she does the initial writing, I expand and polish, and then we put both names on the cover.

Pretty tremendous concept.

Jill James said...

Love the Last Call cover. Pow!! in your face. What a cover should be. Off to go read some Lt. Jack Daniels books.

Iain Rob Wright said...

I can honestly say that working with Joe has been a pleasure, and after so long following his advice and reading his books as a fan, to be working directly with him is a great personal achievement for me.

Iain Rob Wright said...

And the first name is 'Iain', lol. Rob is my middle name (Robert actually). People often seem to get mixed up and call me 'Rob'. Maybe I should just change my name for the sake of ease :-)

As for the sequel to Origin that I am working on, it will be completely separate to any plans that Joe has of his own and should fit within his created canon without altering it massively. It is very nearly done and in the editing stages, so hopefully Joe will give it a seal of approval and it will come to fruition as Origin is one of my favourite books and writing a sequel has been a blast.

Anonymous said...

I'm most looking forward to the "sequel" of ORIGIN, and LAST CALL! In response to this update, I've found MANY incredible reads through Joe's collaborations. For example, Luther Kite…I first read of him in Serial Killers (uncut). I think it's a great way to discover new authors and links when paired up with one that you already know as "established".

Anonymous said...

There is only one thing I don't understand.

These books are self published. Why do we have to go via your agent then? Your agent has done nothing, so why is he/she making money off this?

JA Konrath said...

Why do we have to go via your agent then?

I currently have an assistant who I pay hourly. She keeps track of my sales, and my royalty splits with collaborators. It is time consuming, and costly, and still involves work on my part (1099s, sending payments, keeping track for the IRS, etc.)

My agent takes 10% and takes care of this. Do you have any idea how costly and time consuming it will become when I have 50 collaborators, all who are paid monthly? I'll happily give up a percentage to not have to deal with that.

JA Konrath said...

My solo sequel to ORIGIN, called SECOND COMING, will be out in 2014.

I'll also be adding my touch to Wright's sequel.

Paul Draker said...

Now I'm excited. After my long wait: *two* sequels to ORIGIN instead of one :)

I'm looking forward to the expanded Jack Daniels universe, too, as I burned through all the existing canon. Big congratulations to Iain, Jude, Garth, Bernard, Joshua, Ken--and of course Blake and Joe, as well!

Leveraging shorter stories for this purpose is brilliant. Amazon's also-bought algorithms won't factor in length. Multiple short stories will create far more cross-linking than a single novel will.

Want more Donaldson & Lucy, too.

Hey Joe, any plans for that?

Laverdad said...

Gotta say I'm lovin' all this collaboration.. !

I first discovered Joe and Blake (and this blog) a couple years ago when I bought my first Kindle (I'm in Australia). I've bought pretty much everything Joe and Blake have done since (though not all of it has been read as yet), and have started on some of the other collaborations (and the various authors' works) as well. Just today realised that a bunch of authors have written spin off stories in the Warward Pines universe...I've already bought a couple of those too - though a bit more sceptical of those as Blake does not necessarily work on those as Joe had done with these.

Oh, and I am sooooo looking forward to TWO origin sequels..! Go Indie authors !! MORE than happy as a reader to support all this collaboration...I've just bought these two stories btw, and will happily shell over my hard earned cash for any more as they become available.

Great idea Joe.And good luck all of you (authors). I wish you all the success in your collaborations and in your solo efforts also of course.

Cristian (from Oz).

Unknown said...

Still love that you're doing this, Joe. Wracking my brain trying to figure out which of my characters to throw into the mix. Thanks for continually reinventing your approach and being so open about it.

William J. Thomas said...

My solo sequel to ORIGIN, called SECOND COMING, will be out in 2014.

I'll also be adding my touch to Wright's sequel.

OUTSTANDING on both accounts.

My agent takes 10% and takes care of this. Do you have any idea how costly and time consuming it will become when I have 50 collaborators, all who are paid monthly? I'll happily give up a percentage to not have to deal with that.

AND to make sure it gets done right! ;-)

Mark Edward Hall said...

Decided to give this a try. Am working on a novel now featuring the main protagonist from my Blue Light series, Lieutenant Rick Jennings, along with "Jack" Daniels, of course. Fun so far. We'll see how it turns out. Either way it'll give me a new novel.
Thanks for the inspiration, Joe.

Unknown said...

Ingenious, sir! It builds your own empire (via the spread of incidious tentacles) and, more importantly, pays it forward to your fellow indie authors.
(I like to think I'll have fans someday who want to write in my universes too, and now I have a great model to follow!)

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I'm living proof that this works. I enjoyed RACKED so much that I went immediately to Amazon and bought the first COLT book.

A.C. James said...


Question... What is the procedure for the Tess Guest Posts? I sent you a few emails for a post to go up but don't know if you got it.