Showing posts with label Joe Konrath. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joe Konrath. Show all posts

Monday, June 17

How To Survive And Thrive As An Indie Writer

How To Survive And Thrive As An Indie Writer
This post was finished then my word processor ate it! Yes, I know, I know, it's my fault for not saving. In any case, what follows is a shortened version.

Here's how to survive and thrive as an indie writer: Write good books, make sure they've been copyedited--either by a professional or a fellow writer--and publish.

I've just read two excellent posts on how to survive and thrive as an indie writer.

1. Kris Rusch: The Business Rusch: The Stages of An Indie Writer.

2. Hugh Howey: What do Self-Published Authors Need?

I'd like to add my own piece of advice: Read as many indie success stories as you can and examine what they did.

I'm not suggesting you do exactly what anyone else has done--Amanda Hocking once lived off of Red Bull and sweet-tarts for a week while she wrote Switched--but it shows you that the one thing they all had in common is that a) they published and b) they didn't give up in the face of criticism.

Here are a few stories I was inspired by:

Amanda Hocking: An epic tale of how it all happened.

Karen McQuestion: The Self-Publishing Bestseller On 'How I Did It'.

Joe Konrath: Independence; How To Sell Ebooks.

Hugh Howey: Hugh Howey: Self-publishing is the future — and great for writers; Author Hugh Howey gets richer by giving away his work;

The main thing is to do it! Don't edit your work forever. Put it out there and let readers give you feedback. I often publish stories on Smashwords first; I've found the feedback from readers there is excellent.

Whatever you do, all the best!

Photo credit: "cat daddy" by Robert Couse-Baker under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Saturday, April 20

Joe Konrath Is Having A 99 Cent Sale

Joe Konrath Is Having A 99 Cent Sale

Joe Konrath writes:
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to regain control over my legacy books was so I had say-so over the price. I felt that publishers price ebooks too high.
.  .  .  .
For the next three days, my Jack Daniels, Jack Kilborn, and sci-fi books will each be 99 cents (with the exception of AFRAID, which is free 4/19 - 4/23).
This sale ends at the stroke of midnight Sunday night (April 21, 2013).

For more information, click here: Joe Konrath's 99 Cent Sale.

Other links you might like:

- Dean Wesley Smith Writes A Novel In 10 Days
- 3 Ways To Create An Antihero Your Readers Identify With
- How To Write Episodic/Serialized Fiction

Photo credit: "Edge Of Space" by JD Hancock under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Thursday, March 21

Joe Konrath says KDP Select Made Him $100,000 In 6 Weeks

Joe Konrath says KDP Select Make Him $100,000 In 6 Weeks

Joe Konrath Made $100,000 On Amazon Over 6 Weeks Through Using Amazon KDP Select

That's right, Joe Konrath made $100,000 over at Amazon in the last 6 weeks and he says that's because he enrolled his books in Amazon's KDP Select program. Joe writes:
I just checked my 6 week KDP total, which updated yesterday, and I've made over $100,000.

More than ten grand of that is from Prime borrows (assuming $2 a borrow for March). That more than makes up for my loss of sales on other platforms.

But while the borrows are nice, it's my free ebooks that are helping me sell my backlist. My first Jack Daniels novel, Whiskey Sour, has been free for the last four days, and I've given away over 100,000 copies.

That's the most I've ever given away during a free promotion, and I'm really curious to see how high I bounce back onto the paid bestseller lists tonight. The second in the series, Bloody Mary, has earned me over $8k this month, many of those sales in the last four days because of Whiskey Sour being free.

So I gotta say I've been extremely happy about going all-in with KDPS, even though I did it with some reservations.

Why The Change Of Heart?

That's quite the about-face. Last year Joe Konrath warned indie authors not to enroll their books in programs that demanded exclusivity. In Joe's July 2, 2012 post he writes:
A lot of people ask me my opinion about KDP Select, and I made it known that I have opted all of my titles out of it. I dislike Amazon's desire for exclusivity, because it limits my readership. (Exclusivity and Free)
Why was Joe against enrolling his books in KDP Select? Joe explains his reasoning:
So how effective is exclusivity as a sales tool for Amazon? I've had people email me who bought a Kindle just to read Shaken. But how many more of my fans are annoyed because they own a different ereader that doesn't allow for a one-click purchase of Shaken? How many sales are lost?

My guess is: a lot. Shaken and Stirred have done well, but Blake and I have done better on self-pubbed projects.

For me to be exclusive with a retailer, I have to know the sales I'm going to lose will be made up for with increased sales on the exclusive platform. Long term, that's risky. After the big initial sales push, sales will even out, and years from now the lost sales will really rack up. (Exclusivity and Free)
So, what's changed?

Joe is making a heap-load of money by keeping his books enrolled in Amazon Select. He writes:
As new data comes in, I adjust my opinions. I'm currently making $2400 a day on Amazon. About 10% of that money is coming from borrows. I have years of data from the other platforms, but I've never earned $240 a day from them, even on all of them combined.

Right now, KDP Select is giving me the opportunity to make more money, and I'm taking that opportunity.
Wow! $2,400 a day. I did the math and that means he's making $876,000 a year--just shy of a million dollars!--from his Amazon sales. Any way you look at it that's a lot of money. It's hard to believe that he'd be doing better, even in the long term, if he kept his books with other retailers. What do you think?
Has Joe Konrath's experience with Amazon KDP Select changed your opinion of the program? Would you use it? Have you ever used it?

(Except where noted, all quotations are from Joe Konrath's article Exclusivity.)

Other articles you might like:

- Book Cover Design: Free Programs For Choosing A Color Palette (Adobe Kuler & Color Scheme Designer)
- Story Structure
- Hugh Howey's 3 Rules For Writing

Photo credit: "the thrills:one horse town" by visualpanic under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tuesday, March 12

Joe Konrath Makes $15k A Week Selling His Backlist

Joe Konrath Makes $15,000 A Week Selling His Backlist

Joe Konrath Makes $15k A Week On His Backlist Titles

In Backlist Then And Now Joe Konrath writes:
These past two years have been interesting, because I really haven't had a new IP of my own.

Of the last six novels I've written, five have been collaborations, and one was sci-fi under a pen name. No new stand-alones, either under JA Konrath or Jack Kilborn, and no new solo novels in my series.

And yet I'm making $15k a week.

How Joe Did It

Joe attributes his financial health to a combination of the following:

- Getting his rights returned
- Free promotions
- Paid advertising

Whatever Joe has been doing, it's paid off big! And not just in dollars.
In the ten years I was legacy published, I made about $450k. In the four years I've self-published, I've made over 1.1 million dollars.

The higher royalty rate, the control I have, and the very little self-promo I've had to do while self-publishing means I've never been happier as an author.

I'm very lucky. I get to write for a living. And I get to do it on my terms.

As nice as the money is, the peace of mind is even better.
I encourage you all to read Joe Konrath's original article, he talks at length about the early years of his career as a writer and the events surrounding his decision to put his work up for sale on Amazon.
I'm curious, how many of you were, at least partly, inspired by Joe, his words or his example? I was.

Other articles you might like:

- How To Be A More Productive Writer: Use A Voice Recorder
- Amanda Palmer's TED Talk: The Art Of Asking
- Short Story Structures: Several Ways Of Structuring Short Fiction

Photo credit: "Week #6 "Leap" [6of52]" by Camera Eye Photography under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, February 25

Joe Konrath Talks About How To Sell Books On Amazon

Joe Konrath has been trying numerous strategies to increase his sales--including reducing the price for Whiskey Sour, the first book in his Jack Daniel's series, to 99 cents. He also made Shot of Tequila free until the 25th.

Here are his results, so far:

Free Books Sell Books

Joe has found that free books sell books. He writes:

A few days ago, when I had three freebies, I was selling 1000 ebooks a day. Since coming off the freebie period, sales have slowed to 600 a day. I find that interesting, considering I'm now selling three more titles. (Ann Voss Peterson's Big Regret)
So making three of his books free increased his other book sales during the sale period. That's interesting. Several other authors have said the same thing.

An Update From Melinda DuChamp

Late last year I blogged about Melinda's foray into erotic writing and her initial success (she made $15,000 in 20 days). Since then I've often wondered how well her books have been doing. Joe Konrath asked her for an update and Melinda was happy to oblige. Joe writes:
Melinda: ". . . The two ebooks have made me over $65k in seven months. I'm working on a third, then I'm going to follow your lead and make a trilogy boxed set and a paper version via Createspace. Considering how quickly I wrote these books, this is the highest paid I've ever been as a writer per hour, even with traditional paper sales in the millions under my other names."

Is Self-Publishing More Lucrative Than Writing For Harlequin? Anne Voss Says: Heck Ya!

Readers of Joe's Konrath's blog will remember Ann Voss Peterson's post, Harlequin Fail, where she talked about her decision to stop writing for Harlequin and start writing and publishing for herself. Here's what she has to say about her decision:
[A]fter nine months, do I regret my decision?

Let me share some numbers:

Last May 8 through 12 using KDP Select, I gave away 75,420 copies of Pushed Too Far.

In May and June, I sold 11,564 copies, netting me $22,316.30.

I also had 874 borrows during this time for another $1902.30.

So in a bit over six weeks, Pushed Too Far earned $24,218.60 and was downloaded onto 87,858 e-readers. My highest earning Harlequin Intrigue earned me $21,942.16 in the last twelve years.

Verdict: In less than two months, Pushed Too Far became my highest earning book. EVER.

As Joe has said many times, sales ebb and flow, and PTF has been no different. But for May through December of 2012, this one book (Pushed Too Far) has had a grand total of 15,257 (paid) sales and borrows, netting me around $31,179.03.

Of course there's no guarantee. I've known authors who have done better. I've known authors who've done worse. But the question is, do I regret my decision to self-publish?

Are you kidding?

I regret I didn't do it sooner.
Well, there you have it! If you're writing for Harlequin, think about writing and publishing a book yourself and see how it goes. You might do better on your own.

What is the best way you've found to market your books?

Other articles you might like:

- Exposing The Bestseller: Money Can Buy Fame
- The Importance Of Finding Your Own Voice
- Write A Novel In A Year, Chuck Wendig's Plan: The Big 350

Photo credit: "182/365 Sparkle (+2)" by martinak15 under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Sunday, February 17

Joe Konrath Made $15,000 dollars over 7 days using Amazon Select

It looks like Joe Konrath has returned to blogging. And what a return! He writes:
In the past seven days, on Kindle, I've made about $15k. I currently have two ebooks in the Top 100 Free list--the same ebooks I blogged about two days ago. Dirty Martini and Trapped are #3 and #4, and Tiemcaster will hit Top 100 later today. I also blogged about four other ebooks by my friends Barry Eisler and Blake Crouch. Both of Barry's ebooks hit the Top 100, peaking at #3. One of Blake's did, and it is still #1 in the UK.

In the past 60 hours, I've sold 2200 ebooks in the US, and had over 400 borrows.


I have a hypothesis.
Here's Joe's Hypothesis: All things being equal, when you're looking for a book "You're going to take what is right in front of you, currently under your nose". He writes:
I have no doubt that bestselling authors have a lot of fans. But it's one thing waiting for the next Harry Potter book to come out, and its another seeing the latest Patterson on the new Release table and picking it up because it is there.

I'm not knocking Patterson. The guy is a genius, on several levels. But how many fans have read every Patterson book vs. every Potter book?

Joe Konrath's Secret For Selling $15,000 in 7 days

Joe attributes his huge bump in sales to Amazon KDP Select. He writes:
So what am I doing differently? I have no new releases out. Yes, I self-pubbed my Jack Daniels series for less money than my previous publisher had, but during the first few days those sales were steady, not explosive like they've been.

What's changed has been making titles free using the Kindle Select program.

To wit: there are millions of people with Kindles, and the majority of them haven't heard of me, haven't come across my titles, haven't read me before. So by getting three ebooks on the Top 100 Free list, I am making myself known to them.

I am a tasty, free morsel directly under the nose of hungry readers. And they snatch it up.

Not all will read the free ebooks they download. But I still benefit, because the more ebooks I give away, the higher the bounceback will be on the paid bestseller lists. And when I'm on the paid lists, I'll be seen be those who have never seen me before.

Also, I have a hunch some people are reading the freebies immediately. This is why my sales are booming. A rising tide lifts all boats, and some people snatching up the freebies are also buying some of my other ebooks.

Whiskey Sour is #529. Bloody Mary is #411. Rusty Nail is #1121. Afraid is #586.  Endurance is #1439.

Last week, most of these were ranked at #10,000 or higher.
That's quite a bump!

Joe Konrath's Tips For Independent Authors

Here's Joe's advise for how indie authors can improve their sales:
1. Publish books with Amazon Publishing. They do a lot to announce their ebooks to readers.

2. Use KDP Select to make your ebooks free. I suggest using all five days at once. The more ebooks you give away, the higher the bounceback.

3. Have a lot of IPs. The more ebooks you have available, the more virtual shelf space you take up, the likelier it is for a customer to see one of your titles.

4. Cultivate fans. Have a newsletter, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, so people can follow you and get the announcement when you put something new on sale. But remember this will be supplementary, not primary, and no one will follow you if all you're doing is advertising.

5. Announce via third parties. I found to be effective in helping me give away freebies. So is Pixel of Ink.

6. Keep at it until you get lucky.

I can't stress #6 enough. It is easy to get discouraged with promotion, because it may not get the results you seek. You have to have the right book in the right place at the right time, and cross your fingers.
Publishing books through Amazon KDP Select can be intimidating! You worry about whether folks will hate your work, whether anyone will download it, whether you'll get horrible reviews. Don't forget, though, you can publish anonymously and, even if the whole thing's a disaster, use your failures to hone your writing and publishing skills.

Have you ever published through Amazon KDP Select? If not, has Joe Konrath's experience of making 15 thousand dollars over 7 days through Amazon Select changed your mind about the program?

Other articles you might like:

- Screenwriting Software: Adobe Story
- Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Write What You Know
- Writing A Feel Good Story

Photo credit: "Sloth in the Amazon" by Praziquantel under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tuesday, December 11

Guy Kawasaki Writes The Definitive Book On Self Publishing: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How To Publish A Book

Guy Kawasaki Writes The Definitive Book On Self Publishing: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How To Publish A Book

If you don't agree that Guy Kawasaki has written the definitive book on self publishing, go look at his table of contents: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book.

That's okay. I'll wait.

Back? Good. :)

I had been thinking about writing a small step-by-step guide on how to go through the nuts and bolts of the publishing process, but it looks like Guy has covered that.

Today Joe Konrath broke his month-long hiatus and published an interview with Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist of Apple. Barry Eisler, bestselling author of the John Rain thrillers, conducted the interview.

Here are a few highlights:

Barry Eisler On APE, Guy Kawasaki's New Book

I just finished Guy’s extraordinary new book ... and it’s easily the most comprehensive, best organized, nuts-and-bolts-useful work on self-publishing I’ve seen to date. I think Guy has written the bible on self-publishing, and I expect it will be recognized—and widely used—as such.

Guy Kawasaki On The Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Traditional Publisher

The advantage of a traditional publisher is that it takes care of so many details for you such as content editing, copyediting, cover design, interior design, printing, sales, distribution, and returns. It also provides a large advance. The disadvantage is that it rightfully pays you a lot less and reduces your flexibility.

The Democratization of Information

The historical trend of publishing, like many other industries, is towards democratization and an open system. It used to be that only the church and royalty had scribes. This meant a lower level of literacy, and that one had to go to church to learn about God. Then Gutenberg invented the printing press, and it was possible to print many more copies of the Bible. Now people could learn about God by reading the Bible without going to church.

Fast-forward to the introduction of Macintosh, LaserWriter, and PageMaker, and now anyone with these products could print a book. The current curve doesn’t even involve printing: anyone with a computer, a word processor, and Internet access can upload a book to Amazon. Then anyone with a computer, smartphone, or tablet can read the ebook. The democratization of information is not something to get in the way of.

Physical Limits To Publishing And Gatekeepers

There were physical limits to ... how many titles a store could physically display and stock. This meant that gatekeepers—arbiters of taste—were necessary to act as filters. If Random House or Penguin published a book, it must be good. And only a Random House or Penguin could print the book on dead trees and get the dead trees to the store.

This isn’t true anymore. Do you care who published a book? Do you even look to see who the publisher is before you buy a book? I don’t. I just look at the number of stars it has on Amazon and read a few reviews and buy it.

Unbound Is Kickstarter For Writers

Unbound puts the power of publishing in the hands of authors and readers. Authors pitch their book ideas directly to you. If you back a project before it reaches its funding target, you get your name printed in the back of every copy and immediate behind-the-scenes access to the author’s shed. If any project fails to hit its funding target, you get refunded in full.

Guy's Advice For New Writers: His Views On Book Marketing

The most important thing a self-publisher has to understand is that the hard part of publishing a book is marketing it, not writing it. On the day you start writing your book, you should start building a marketing platform, too. I recommend three hours per day writing and one hour per day building a social-media presence. You cannot wait until you finish your book before you start building a marketing platform. Life for a successful author is doing things in a parallel, not serial manner.
Guy's advice turned out to be incendiary so Barry Eisler added his two bits in the comments and I think it's worth repeating. (I didn't get Barry's permission to post this portion of his comment, but it was posted in a public forum and I am confident he would not mind.)
[W]hat makes for cost-effective marketing for your first book, when no one in the world has heard of you, is likely different from what's cost-effective for your 10th, 20th, etc book, when (hopefully) you're a big bestseller. Certainly I've changed my marketing tactics as my circumstances have changed. There were things I did for my first several books that I think were well conceived and well executed at the time, and that I would never do now because my circumstances have changed and the old tactics are no longer cost-effective.
I agree. You're not going to see a bestseller like Stephen King enrolling his books in Amazon KDP Select because, regardless of how he feels about Amazon (I have no information on this) he doesn't need the publicity so the exclusivity requirement could only hurt him. On the other hand, an author with absolutely NO following has nothing to lose.

If you'd like to join the conversation over on Joe's site, click here: Comments on Interview with Guy Kawasaki.

Even if you don't agree with all Guy's opinions his book seems like a must-read for independent authors. I know I want to read it.

Other articles you might like:

- The Dark Art Of Critiquing, Part 1: What Makes A Story Good?
- The Dark Art of Critiquing, Part 2: Formulating A Critique
- 12 Tips On How To Write Antagonists Your Readers Will Love To Hate

Photo credit: "Guy Kawasaki at front of USS Nimitz" by Robert Scoble under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Sunday, November 4

Amazon Reviews Are Disappearing

Amazon Reviews Are Disappearing

I had heard about Amazon reviews mysteriously disappearing before Joe Konrath blogged about it, but Joe laid it out in such a way that there was no mistaking what was happening, especially when writer after writer wrote in confirming their books were losing reviews. But not just that. Reviews they had written were vanishing as well.

[Update Nov 5, 2012: I've included an update at the end of this article. We've figured out at least two things that will cause Amazon to remove a review.]

The Disappearing Reviews

Joe writes:
I've been buried in a book deadline for all of October, and haven't been paying much attention to anything else. When I finally took some time to catch up reading email, I noticed I had many authors (more than twenty) contacting me because their Amazon reviews were disappearing. Some were the ones they wrote. Some were for their books. One author told me that reviews her fans had written--fans that were completely unknown to her--had been deleted.

I took a look at the reviews I'd written, and saw more than fifty of them had been removed, namely reviews I did of my peers. I don't read reviews people give me, but I do keep track of numbers and averages, and I've also lost a fair amount of reviews. (Joe Konrath, Amazon Removes Reviews)
The question is: Why were these reviews deleted?

No one knows.

Amazon's Response

Yes, Amazon customer representatives have sent various replies and these replies have been shared. Here's one, posted by Michelle Gagnon on the Kill Zone blog in the article Et Tu, Amazon?
I'm sorry for any previous concerns regarding your reviews on our site. We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product.

We have removed your reviews as they are in violation of our guidelines.  We will not be able to go into further detail about our research.

I understand that you are upset, and I regret that we have not been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. However, we will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on this matter.
One thing I'd like to note, it seems that reviews have been disappearing from traditionally published authors as well as independently published authors.

I don't like writing about the disappearing reviews on Amazon because I like the company. It helps indie authors make a living from their work. That said, this is an issue I think we all need to be aware of.

My feeling is that Amazon needs to tweek whatever software it's using to identify objectionable reviews. Hopefully they'll do this soon and restore the legitimate ones.

I'm interested in hearing from you. Have you lost reviews?

Update Nov 5, 2012: Why Some Amazon Reviews Have Been Removed

I'm not saying this explains the lion's share of the disappearing reviews, but it may help some folks understand what's okay and what isn't when it comes to reviewing.

Amazon Verified Reviews

Amazon verified reviews must be from folks who purchased the books with their own money.

If an author buys an Amazon gift certificate for the price for the price of the book and sends it to someone who then buys their book ... well, that's fine of course. It's a thoughtful gift. The only problem is, if the person likes the book and decides to review it, they can't. Such a review would be against Amazon's guidelines since they were compensated for the review.

In Amazon's eyes it's fine to send a copy of your book to a reviewer (in which case it would NOT be an Amazon verified review) but it's not okay for them to get any sort of gift, monetary or otherwise, for providing the review.

For more on this read: Cheating with supply of review copies - the Amazon Verified Purchase scam.

Reviews From A Competitor

It seems that if you're an author, traditional or indie, who has merged your author's account with your amazon account if you then review the work of another author, your review will likely be removed. It seems that Amazon doesn't want authors reviewing each others work.

I was devastated by this--it seemed very unfair--until someone pointed out that the overwhelming number of reviews didn't come from authors. For more on this see: Amazon Reviewhouhaha.

Further reading on Amazon's disappearing reviews:

- Joe Konrath's article, Amazon Removes Reviews
- Michelle Gagnon's article over at Kill Zone: Et Tu, Amazon?
- (Update [Nov 4]: I just found this article on Authors cannot review authors on Amazon.)
- (Update [Nov 5]: Amazon removes book reviews by fellow authors.)
- (Update [Nov 5]: Amazon Reviewhouhaha.)
- (Update [Nov 5]: Lost some reviews? -- Kindleboard thread.)
I would encourage anyone intersted in researching this matter to read the comments to these articles. Writers have been sharing their experiences as well as links to other resources on the web. - Here's a link to Amazon's General Review Creation Guidelines.

Other articles you might be interested in:

- Does Amazon KDP Select Drive Away True Fans?
- Ian McEwan Believes The Novella Is The Perfect Form Of Prose Fiction
- NaNoWriMo: A Survival Guide

Photo credit: "Three Trees" by / under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Wednesday, October 3

Libraries Look To Indie Authors As The Future

I love libraries. One of my favorite memories involves a library. I was as a kid, it was summer and very hot. I biked over to the library on my no-gear bike and sank into one of its absurdly comfortable, enthusiastically orange, chairs. I listened to the whir of the air conditioner and gazed in appreciation at all the books. As I drank in the stillness, for a moment it felt like a sanctuary.

I can't imagine living in a city without a library. I can't imagine there not being any more libraries! But that could happen.

Not only is library use down, but a few publishers--most notably the 'Big 6' (Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Hachette)--are making it more difficult for libraries to buy books. The following is from a librarian from a "mid-sized library system in South Carolina" who wishes to remain anonymous. He writes:
Random House tripled the cost of all their books so, for me to buy a copy of a $7.99 backlist title now costs me $23.97. To buy a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey would cost you $9.99 - that same copy costs a library $47.85. Hachette, beginning October 1, will be increasing the price of their titles by an even greater margin from early accounts. Oh, and Hachette won't sell frontlist titles to libraries at all - we can only buy backlist (and very old backlist at that). Which drew the reply from Sullivan: “Now we must ask, with friends like these...?” I couldn't have said it better myself. (E-books in Libraries: They Still Don't Get It)
What are librarians doing about this? If Librarian X is any indication, they're getting angry and finding ways of procuring affordable, quality, material: they're turning to indies. Librarian X writes:
If you don't sell us your frontlist authors, what will happen in time is that other authors will show up who will take their place ... and the odds are that these others will be self-published or publish through a smaller publisher who doesn't view libraries as enemies. Speaking personally, I don't buy e-book titles from any of the Big 6 any longer. Why bother? I can buy titles from smaller publishers and authors for less than $10 through OverDrive and, in my studies of my circulation figures on those titles, they circulate just as well as the more expensive ones. Why should I care? With my purchasing decisions, I'm buying more titles and showing a return on investment far sooner. My boss is happy and I'm more than pleased to be doing my part to twist the knife even if only a little. (E-books in Libraries: They Still Don't Get It)
This could be a marvelous opportunity for indie authors. Joe Konrath, one of the first and most well-known indie authors, has put together a proposal. He writes:
Blake and I are willing to sell our entire ebook catalog to the Harris County Public Library, and to any other libraries that are interested, under these terms:

1. Ebooks are $3.99

2. No DRM.

3. The library only needs to buy one ebook of a title, and then they can make as many copies as they need for all of their patrons and all of their branches.

4. The library owns the rights to use that ebook forever.

5. The library can use it an any format they need; mobi, epub, pdf, lit, etc. And when new formats arise, they're’re free to convert it to the new format.

In short, the library buys one copy, and never has to buy it again. (Ebooks For Libraries)
.  .  .  .
I've ... gotten lots of emails from authors who want to offer libraries the same terms.

The problem is organization. We need someone to act as a liaison between publishers and libraries to run something like this on a big scale. And I believe that person should be paid. How big a job this will be, and how much of a cut they deserve, can be discussed in the comments section. But indie authors need to come together to offer libraries their books, and dealing with 9000 different library systems would be a full time job. (E-books in Libraries: They Still Don't Get It)
If you're interested in either selling your books to libraries or in helping to organize this gargantuan undertaking, head on over to Joe's comment section.

Of course you don't need to organize to sell your books to libraries, or even to bookstores! Just approach the library and find out what their procedures are.

Whatever you decide to do, best of luck! :)

Other articles you might like:
- 3 Ways To Create Incredible Characters
- Amazon's KDP Select: The Best Long-Term Strategy?
- Save The Cat! The Importance Of Sympathetic Heroes

Photo credit: Paul Lowry

Friday, August 31

Joe Konrath: Selling Your Books To Libraries

Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch are going to sell their entire ebook catalogues to the Harris County Public Library. These are their terms:
1. Ebooks are $3.99

2. No DRM.

3. The library only needs to buy one ebook of a title, and then they can make as many copies as they need for all of their patrons and all of their branches.

4. The library owns the rights to use that ebook forever.

5. The library can use it an any format they need; mobi, epub, pdf, lit, etc. And when new formats arise, they're’re free to convert it to the new format.

In short, the library buys one copy, and never has to buy it again.
Joe and Blake said they'd extend these terms to any library.

That's a petty good deal! I don't know much about this area but I believe that the usual practice with ebooks is only a certain number of copies can be loaned out at a time and each book can only be loaned out a certain number of times before the library has to renew the license.

Here's how the librarians at the Harris County Public Library put it:
Libraries are not able to purchase all of the eBooks we would like to purchase due to publisher and author concerns about copyright protection in the digital format.  Only two of the big six publishers will sell eBooks to libraries, and those pricing models either limit us to a low number of checkouts or charge us more than twice the retail price for a book.  Very few picture books are available for us to purchase, even though small children are a large part of our customer base and we often use digital books in storytimes.  With adult fiction titles, we can’t always offer complete series because of format availability or publisher restrictions.  Some publishers would even like to implement a plan that would force people to come to the library to check out eBooks, rather than being able to do it online, which kind of defeats the purpose.  Librarians are also making the adjustment to focus on providing access for our customers through leasing or subscription, rather than only owning items to be a permanent part of a collection.

Better Public Experience 
Because of the way we have to purchase electronic content, our customers often have to jump back and forth online through multiple access points, instead of simply finding a book and clicking to check it out.  This can make the borrowing experience quite confusing and complex.  Then add the confusion about which formats match which devices.  We’re not just providing materials for one type of device, our customers use Kindles and Nooks and iPads and cell phones and devices we probably haven’t heard of yet.  We are constantly learning about all of these devices because we are now free tech support for the public.  Our customers show up with their new eReader in a box, and we teach them how to use it.
I would urge everyone even the least interested in how libraries have changed over the years and the pressures they are under to read the entirety of Joe's post. I've only excerpted from the letter the librarians at the Harris County Public Library sent Joe and it's well worth reading in it's entirety: Ebooks For Libraries

Other articles you may be interested in:
- Stephen King's Latest Book: A Face In The Crowd 
- Fifty Shades of Grey - Oh My!
- Book Promotion: Where's The Line?

Photo credit: Friar Balsam

Thursday, August 2

The Lawsuit Against Harlequin In Plain English

Harlequin, Lawsuit Explained

Joe Konrath hit another home run, this time by explaining the lawsuit against Harlequin in terms anyone can understand. That make his post sound dull but I assure you it's anything but. Here's Joe's summary of his summary:
Recap in layman's terms: Harlequin assigned rights to itself, which I'm pretty sure is a no-no legally, and it licensed those rights below fair market value, which is another no-no, and then it sold ebooks on its website without having the rights to them, yet another no-no.
I highly recommend reading Joe Konrath's entire post: Harlequin Fail Revisit.

Laura Resnick also did a darn good job of explaining this and you can find that post here: The Harlequin Class Action Lawsuit Explained.

Other reading:
- How I Solved My Book Cover Dilemma, and How You Can Too
- 8 Ways To Become A Better Writer
- Changes In Publishing, Signs Of Hope: A speech by Stephanie Laurens

Photo credit: carbonated

Wednesday, July 25

Writer Beware: The Return Of The Vanity Press


I was first introduced to the idea of the vanity press by Umberto Eco in his book Foucault's Pendulum. Eco does an excellent job of explaining why vanity presses have such a bad name: they are the literary equivalent of carnies and writers are their marks.

Years ago, before I had discovered Joe Konrath's blog, I confused vanity publishing with self publishing. Vanity publishing strips the author of their money and gives next to nothing back while self-publishing--publishing ones book oneself--is a sound business strategy.

I used to think vanity publishing was dead, driven out by a tsumami wave of embowered writers publishing their own work themselves.

I was naive.

For the past week or so I haven't paid much attention to the ads on my site. I apologize. Over the past two days I've noticed many of these ads were for businesses offering to help writers publish their books.

At first I didn't think much of it. It can make good sense for a busy person to pay someone to help with certain aspects of publication--help with cover design, line editing, content editing, formatting, and so on. These services can sometimes cost as much as $1,000 dollars. (I'm not including the cost of a book trailer, website, and so on.)

What I've just mentioned is still self-publishing because, and this is the key point, the writer themselves uploads the finished file to the stores where it will be sold (e.g., Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and so on). If a book is self-published it means the writer published it rather than paying someone else to, as in traditional publishing. Yes, in traditional publishing the money flows to the writer. The publishing company shares the proceeds from each sale with you, the writer, because they are the ones who shelled out the money to publish your book. They've earned it.

At the very least, even if you get someone to help you upload the file to, for instance, Amazon, it is very important that you are the one who controls the accounts. This gives you access to your sales figures. You'll know exactly how many books you sold at each place (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.), you'll set how much each book will be sold for and the retail outlet will give you detailed royalty statements. No guessing involved.

Now, someone might say, "But, Karen, I just don't want the bother! I'll gladly pay someone to do that sort of thing for me. I just want to hand my finished manuscript to someone, have them take care of the formatting, the cover design, the uploading. I don't want to have to bother with all those different accounts--one with Amazon, one with Smashwords, one with Barnes & Noble, one with Kobo; my head is hurting already!--I just want someone to take my manuscript, do it up, publish it and then send me a check every so often."

Okay. Fine. But that isn't self-publishing. You have two options: go the vanity press route, which I do not recommend, or shop your manuscript to traditional publishers.

If self-publishing isn't for you--and there's nothing wrong if it isn't--then by all means don't do it! There are many reputable publishers out there and sometimes small presses will accept projects that larger ones won't. But please don't waste your hard-earned money by going the vanity press route.

How to recognize a vanity press: The company charges you to format your book and then also takes a percentage of each sale.

One vanity press I contacted was offering, for the 'mere' sum of $5,000, to set the writer up with a website--how generous! When I asked if that included a blog they said no, a blog would be $350 extra. Uh huh.

Sorry for nattering on about this. I'm steamed. It bothers me when folks try and prey on writers. I'm not against writers paying others for help--cover art, formatting, editing, and so on--but for a company to charge outrageous sums for these services and then to also want 50% of all sales ... Wow. That's chutzpah.

Related reading:
- Self Publishing: 3 Steps To Success
- Penquin's Purchase Of Author Solutions: Going To The Dark Side?
- International Writers And The U.S. 30% Withholding Tax: Getting It Back

Links to reputable tradespeople:
After I published my post I got to thinking, it's one thing to say, "Stop! Don't do that!" and quite another to provide a solution. So I went over to Joe Konrath's page and looked at who he gets to help him out with formatting his books, his cover art, and so on. You can go over to his page and get this information, but I know he wouldn't mind my including it here as well:

- Joe Konrath's cover artist
- Joe Konrath's ebook designer
- Joe Konrath's print designer

Joe's books look fabulous so I have no hesitation offering these links. If anyone knows of any links they'd like to add to this list get in touch with me.

Wednesday, July 18

4 Reasons Why Writers Will Always Have Work

4 reasons why writers will always have work
Working Writers

Joe Konrath's done it again, this time on the subject of what has been dubbed "the race to the bottom".
The argument du jour seems to be that if publishers do collapse, then all the current bestsellers will have their ebooks available for $4.99 or less, and that will be the end of self-publishing.
Joe gives 4 reasons why, even if the current bestselling authors were to price their books at $4.99 or less, self-publishing would not only be here to stay but would still be a good way for writers to make a living.

1. Ebooks aren't a zero sum game
In other words, if publishing were like a zero sum game then because of Stephen King's deal with the devil--wait, no, I think James Patterson took that over--there would be fewer readers for the rest of us. That is the key point Joe disputes and I think he does an excellent job.

That said, Joe argues that even if publishing were a zero sum game self-published writers could still earn a living because there are so many readers. He writes:
Let's say there are currently 100 million ebook readers, and 1 million ebook titles on Amazon. In ten years, there will be billions of ebook readers (following the path of mp3s). But there won't be a corresponding 100 million ebook titles available--there aren't that many people writing ebooks, and never will be.
If I can currently sell a few hundred ebooks a day in the US alone, what will happen when ebooks become popular in India, China, Japan, Europe, Russian, and South America? There will be a bigger demand than unique supply, and I believe my position will improve.
2. People who are bestselling authors now may not be bestselling authors in the future
Readers have an insatiable appetite for reading. When we've finished reading our favorite best-selling authors we read other things, other books or blog posts. If deprived of reading material we'll resort to instruction manuals or the ingredients list on canned goods. Just as writers write, readers read.

Also, if bestselling books came down in price then readers would have more money to spend and it's a good bet most of it would be spent on buying books. Joe puts in this way:
Ever go into a store to buy a big ticket item, expecting to may more than you did? Let's say you research an over and find it for $699. When you go to the store, it is on sale for $499. And they also have a great toaster oven for $99. You probably wouldn't have bought the toaster oven originally, but now that you're saving money on the oven, the toaster oven becomes attractive.
If all ebook prices came down, more ebooks would be sold across the board.
3. The reason bestselling authors are bestselling authors is because of distribution.
A big part of the reason a bestselling author is a bestselling author is because her books are on sale everywhere books are sold. If, one day, publishers do collapse then bestselling authors will have exactly the same sort of distribution as other authors. Far from pushing other authors out it is just as likely--perhaps more likely--that as their distribution dries up so will their sales. Joe writes:
The market is getting bigger. People with ereaders tend to buy and read more. And authors can make a very nice living selling 100 ebooks a day for $2.99 each. Across multiple platforms, on a global scale, I see this as not only possible, but likely for decent, prolific authors. 
And as far as bestsellers go, they tend to fade when distribution changes or dries up.
4. The more ebooks there are the more ebooks will be bought
If bestselling ebooks come down in price that would make the purchace of an electronic reader an even better deal and the more electronic readers are sold the more electronic books will be bought. Joe writes:
If bestselling authors all dropped their prices, I believe I'd sell more ebooks, not less, because more people would buy ereaders and have more money to spend on content. There's enough room for 300 cable TV channels, and four billion videos on Youtube.
I would encourage you all to read Joe's entire post, Zero Sum.

I like what Joe says about a writer being able to support herself though her writing if she can sell 100 books a day at $2.99 or more. Sounds like a great goal to me!

Further reading:
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do
- Joe Konrath: Are You Ready To Quit Your Job And Write Full Time?
- Amazon's KDP Select, Kobo & PubIt: Joe Konrath & Blake Crouch Share Their Experiences
- Joe Konrath's Letter To The Department Of Justice

Tuesday, July 17

How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Joe Konrath has just written an excellent blog post called Zero Sum. I'm going to blog tomorrow about what he says about the race to the bottom but what I'd like to talk about now is this statement of his:
They [writers] need 100 sales a day at $2.99 to live very well.
My reaction: Yes! 100 sales a day seems doable. Sortof. So, here it is, six things you need to do in order to sell 100 books a day:

1) Write a lot of good stories
This point, though obvious, bears restating. Part of putting out a good book is making sure it has been edited, proofed and professionally formatted. (Joe mentions that he uses for formatting his books.)

Even if unedited, unproofed and poorly formatted books will sell--we've all read ebooks like this--at the very least making sure your books look professional will give you a competitive advantage.

2) Have a great product description and a professional cover
This is self-explanatory. Joe recommends Carl Graves.

One thing I've found helpful in writing a product description is Nathan Bransford's advice for writing queries. Nathan gives a helpful paint/write-by-number formula for doing this that got me started and, often, getting something half-decent on the page, something you can work with, is half the battle.

3) Price your book right
It's devilishly hard to determine what is a good price for a book. Joe writes, "Currently I'm $3.99 for novels, $2.99 for novellas (over 10k words) and story collections, and 99 cents for short stories. But this isn't set in stone."

How ebooks should be priced is a hotly debated issue. One thing I will say is, given the changes in Amazon's ranking algorithm, it's not worth pricing any novel-length work below $2.99. How high you want to go is up to you.

4) Promote your books 
Have free giveaways to encourage reviews, write guest posts to announce sales, sell your books on different platforms, and so on. Those are a few of the things things you can do to promote your books. Here are some things Joe recommends not bothering with:
1. Advertising. It doesn't work on me, so I don't use it on other people. That's a cardinal rule of mine. I only use something or believe it works if I do it as a consumer.

2. Social media. Occasional tweets of Facebook announcements are fine. At most, once a week. Maybe once a day if you have a new release, but end it after a few days. Otherwise people get sick of you.

3. Publicity. I've already blogged that getting my name in the press doesn't lead to sales. You probably don't need a publicist.

4. Spamming. I have a newsletter, and use it a few times a year. I don't use it everytime I upload something new to Kindle. And I don't pimp my work on other peoples' blog or forums unless invited to do so, or there's a section for it.
Joe ends by writing:
I want to end this blog entry by telling writers: Don't Be Afraid. Yes, the future will be different. Yes, things will change. But there will always be a need for storytellers, and if you hold onto your rights, you'll be in a good position to exploit those rights no matter what the future holds.
I think this is an exciting time to be a writer. New possibilities for sales and distribution are opening up, writers are getting the lion's share of the royalties on most of their book sales and as a group we're starting to think more like business people and are taking charge of our careers. Go us!

Remember, in order to write a lot of good books we have to follow Heinlein's first rule: Writer's write. I hope you all have a productive day. Cheers!

Related reading:
- Kobo's Self-Publishing Portal: Report From A Beta Tester
- Query Tracker: Keep Track Of Your Stories
- 10 Reasons Why Stories Get Rejected

Monday, July 2

Amazon's KDP Select, Kobo & PubIt: Joe Konrath & Blake Crouch Share Their Experiences

Joe Konrath published the post I've been hoping for ever since Amazon tinkered with its ranking algorithm. In his post, Exclusivity and Free, Joe is joined by Blake & Jordan Crouch, authors of Eerie, who share their experiences with various self-publishing platforms starting with PubIt!

Joe's post is a must-read for anyone who has self-published or is thinking about it. I'll summarize a few things here, but, really, head on over to Joe's site and read the original.

(Also, Black & Jordan Crouch are offering their book, Eerie, for free today (July 2), so head on over and pick up your copy.)

Here's the scoop:

Publishing platforms covered:
- Barnes & Noble's Nook/PubIt!
- Kobo's publishing program (Kobo is soon launching a self-publishing platform: Writing Life)
- Amazon KDP & KDP Select

Publishing platform that was the most flexible and author friendly: Kobo
What Blake had to say surprised me:
[I]n May, I had the opportunity to drop my best-selling title RUN into a Kobo promotion involving email blasts, coupons, and prominent placement on their landing pages. I could not have been more pleased with the results. RUN reached the top 10 on Kobo's overall list, stayed there for several weeks, and the rest of my catalog sold well in response. When you consider the size of Kobo's market share, the fact that I sold more books on Kobo in May than I did on Pubit! is astounding. It was only a few hundred dollars shy of beating Amazon for May, and it did beat Pubit! again in June. Even better, Kobo did not request exclusivity. Their writer-relations people are some of the friendliest, most proactive, responsive people in the business. Suggestions and requests I made last year were taken to heart. It's no secret that Kobo is on the verge of unveiling their own platform (Writing Life). If there is a company that could one day compete with the mighty Amazon, it's these guys. They're inventive, have far, far reaching plans to bring writers what could become the slickest digital publishing platform ever created, and they get that writers are customers. They listen. Best of all, my titles continue to sell and rank highly on Kobo's bestseller list, a month after the promos ended. I cannot say the same for Barnes and Noble. There is no other platform (aside from Amazon) where I've seen this level of "stickiness." If someone asked me what's keeping the majority of my titles out of KDP Select, I would have to say these guys.
That makes me more interested in hearing from authors who are testing out Writing Life before it's rolled out at the end of this month.

Pulbishing platform which sold the most books: Amazon
This was the least surprising thing Blake had to say. Every author I've talked to has admitted to selling more books on Amazon than on any other platform. That Kobo came close to Amazon's sales figures amazed me.

That said, Blake wasn't entirely pleased with his experiences with Amazon's KDP Select. He writes:
KDP Select opinion pieces are a dime a dozen. Amazon is still, hands down, the most lucrative platform for me. Even though the transition from free to paid sales appears to have weakened as of late, success stories like Ann Voss Peterson and Robert Gregory Browne are convincing enough for my brother and I to roll the dice and drop EERIE into KDP Select. I say this as someone who has had great success with free titles: they still make me nervous. I get the excitement of giving away 70,000 ebooks. The prospect of making new fans. But free, in the long run, is dangerous. It sets a bad precedent and level of expectation in the minds of readers. Am I a hypocrite for saying this while EERIE is free? Maybe. But if all the platforms did away with free, I'd be okay with that. As writers, we cannot keep going to that well. It will dry up. Kindles may be able to hold a gazillion ebooks, but readers can't read that many. The key is not being downloaded. It's being read.
This post is not going to end with a definitive conclusion on freebies and exclusivity. I'm uncomfortable with both concepts, even as I play the game. My sense is that the people who survive and continue to do well selling ebooks will be those who experiment, take risks, and adapt. We've said it before, but what worked yesterday, may not work today, and the possibility of a game changer (like KDP Select) is constantly looming. 
Publishing platform that has technical support staff from hell: Barnes & Noble's Nook/PubIt!
Although Blake and Jordan were "pleasantly surprised" by their books performance on PubIt! their sales rank was disappointing. He writes:

It [their book's sales rank] never seemed to correlate to a corresponding low rank. Even on days where we sold 400 books, our rank never dropped below 2000. I have no doubt this cost us many, many sales, a good chunk of money, and kept the book from every appearing on the BN bestseller lists. A real shame, because the marketing triggers that Pubit! pulled worked in a big way. The tech just wasn't there to support them, and their tech support staff just couldn't be bothered to give a damn.
But that aside, Pubit! clearly has some real marketing power, and the smaller window of exclusivity (as opposed to KDP Select's 90 day commitment) is a definite plus. When Pubit!'s tech support decides to follow the model of Kobo and Amazon and treat writers as customers instead of entities to be ignored, Pubit! could become a force.
Overall, Blake's experiences are encouraging. The promotions he ran with the various platforms worked and his book, in generally, ranked well.

Blake and Joe go on to discuss book pricing and the pros and cons of offering books for free. Joe just posted the blog, but already many authors have written in to share their experiences with various platforms and programs.

If you'd like to read Joe's post it's here: Exclusivity and Free
Read the comments here: Exclusivity and Free (Comments)

Related articles:
- Amazon Award-Winner Regina Sirois & The Problems Of Indie Distribution
- Amazon's KDP Select: Another Author Shares Her Experience
- Writing Life: Kobo's New Platform For Self Publishers
- Amazon To Acquire Dorchester Publishing

Photo credit: 3D Issue

Tuesday, June 5

Joe Konrath: Are You Ready To Quit Your Job And Write Full Time?

Isaac Asimov

Joe writes:
Every writer needs to figure out what their goals are, and decide upon the best ways to reach those goals. Quitting your job to write full time is a big risk, with no guarantees. Remember that luck is extremely important. You can write a great book and it could take years to find an audience. It might not find an audience within your lifetime. Betting your entire future on luck may not be a wise way to approach life.
- Guest Post by Jude Hardin
I couldn't agree more.
As I read these words Isaac Asimov came to mind. Asimov, one of my all-time favorite authors, was a professor of biochemistry at Boston University and one of the most prolific writers of all time. Did you know he wrote or edited over 500 books? 500! By the way, that information comes from Asimov's Wikipedia page, which is bursting with interesting facts. For instance, I had no idea he had published books in all 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal System. That's prolific.

Back to Joe.
If you are thinking about writing full time, here are some questions you might ask yourself before telling your boss to go to hell.

Do I Write Quickly? The faster you can write, the better chance you have at making a living. I can comfortably write four novels a year, plus a handful of shorts.

What Is My Financial Situation? You need to understand how much money is required to stay afloat, and when you guess how much your book income will bring in, guess low. Ebooks aren't a steady paycheck. Sales fluctuate. 

Do I Have A Back-Up Plan? Do you have money put aside if things get rough? Would your job take you back six months from now? Do you have an alternate stream of income (spouse, investments)?

What About Insurance? I couldn't afford health insurance the first seven years I was writing full time. I got really lucky my family had no serious health issues. 

Can I Write? Every writer thinks they can write good books. But not every writer actually writes good books. Obviously, some people are deluding themselves. Are you one of them? How do you know for sure?

We all have different goals, and there are many ways to reach those goals. There are no right ways and wrong ways. The best plans can be derailed by bad luck. The worst plans sometimes succeed. But the more informed we are, the more we understand, the likelier we are to make smart choices.
- Guest Post by Jude Hardin
It's all about risk management.

I once took a course at my alma mater that was taught by the owner of Talon Books Publishing. His main focus was on drilling it into our heads that the number one thing we had to focus in any business was on was how to manage risk.

This is true for writers as well, at least writers with their business hats on. The creative artist inside us doesn't give a fig about risk, nor should she, but when we think about marketing, sales, etc, when we think about how nice it would be to continue eating and not having to fight Big Joe for the good cardboard box, then we don our business caps and think about risk management.


Monday, May 28

Joe Konrath's Letter To The Department Of Justice

Joe Writes:
Dear Mr. Read,

I’m writing to you as the author of forty-six books--eight legacy published, two Amazon published (with three more on the way), and thirty-six self-published, all of which inform the views I express in this letter.

As you doubtless recognize from the mail you’re receiving, there is currently underway a letter-writing campaign coordinated by the Association of Authors’ Representatives, the Authors Guild, and other parts of the publishing establishment attempting to persuade you that the DOJ’s suit against five of the Big Six and Apple is without merit, and that the Agency model is, at best, good for everyone, at worst, harmless.

I’m writing to tell you that these organizations did not solicit the views of their members, that they in no way speak on behalf of all or even most of their members, and that (as I imagine is obvious) they are motivated not by what’s best for consumers, but by what they see as best for themselves.

I recognize that the heart of the DOJ’s suit is collusion, not high prices. But it’s clear that the legacy publishing industry’s strategy is to keep the prices of ebooks high so as not to cannibalize high-margin hardback sales. If the prices of legacy published books are kept artificially high it could be argued that my lower-priced self-published books are made more attractive by comparison, but I believe that a regime of higher-priced books is bad for the industry overall because it slows the growth of the global book market, which indeed hurts all sales. I also believe it’s obviously bad for consumers, especially lower-income consumers, who could buy more of the books they loved if those books weren’t priced so high.

When prices of media are high, they’re a barrier to entry. Many are avoiding buying an ereader because the ebooks they most want are $9.99 - $14.99. If prices came down, more Kindles (and Kobo readers and Nooks and Sony readers) would be sold. That widens the market, which leads to more ebook sales. This is good for authors, and for readers who can get more for their money.
Read the rest here: Joe's Letter to the DOJ

Go Joe!

I'd just woken up when I read Joe's post -- last night I stayed up late getting my short story A Night In The Country ready for publishing on Amazon -- but I hope I managed to write something marginally coherent in the comments.
Very well said Joe, but it was strange to see you write in a more subdued tone.

Anyway, I agree. One thing that has always irked me when folks complain about Walmart artificially lowering prices is that ... well, sometimes I think it's easy to lose sight of how cash poor some folks are, especially families. Getting something for 50 cents cheaper can make a difference.

Of course one doesn't need books in the same way one needs food, but -- and I hope this doesn't sound cliche -- books do feed the soul and, as I said, 50 cents (or less!) can make a dig difference.

Even though I think the Big-6 inflating the prices of books makes lower priced indie books more attractive, you're right. It hurts the book business and that hurts everyone. Writers, booksellers and especially readers.

In any case, wonderful letter Joe, thanks for sharing. :)
Of course now I'm looking at my comment about Walmart artificially lowering prices and thinking about all the mom and pop shops which went out of business because they couldn't compete against the big chain.

Is that what is happening with Amazon? Will the act of Amazon selling books for lower prices drive indie, or self-published, writers out of business?

No, I don't believe so. Amazon is the self-published writers' biggest business ally. That's true right now and I don't see why it would change in the foreseeable future. That said, Amazon isn't a friend to publishers who want to sell ebooks at inflated prices.

Some publishers complain that if they don't have the kind of monopoly control they need to do this, that they'll go out of business. Further, they say that if they go out of business that the world of publishing, the world of books, will be a poorer place and, ultimately, readers will suffer.

Personally, I don't buy it.

Yes, I do think that if publishers are prevented from fixing ebook prices artificially high, or if they are forced to give authors better ebook royalties (a topic for another post), that many of them will go out of business.

Let's say that's true. I believe that although some, perhaps many, publishers will fold that there will be many publishers who will survive and thrive. These publishers will be the new Big-X.

Publishing won't be dead, it'll just be different.

Further Reading:
17 More States Join The Class Action Suit Against Apple et al
The Fungibility of Books

"Joe Konrath's Letter To The Department Of Justice," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.

Wednesday, May 16

Joe Konrath On Going Indie: "This isn't simply following your dream. It's chasing after it, full speed, until you catch it"

Joe Konrath
Joe Konrath

I don't like to quote extensively from other writer's blogs, but I had to share this. Sometimes it's hard, lonely, going the indie route but Joe's right. Being a writer is risky, but if a person never takes risks then ... well, I won't say it's impossible to get a reward, but I think it's less likely.

In any case, I needed this pep talk so I'm sharing it.

Joe writes:
I started this blog seven years ago, and I've long preached that is important to take chances, to experiment, to try new things. I'm also a believer in going all-in. This isn't a Newbie's Guide to Leading a Balanced and Happy Life. It's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. If you want to get lucky, you have to gamble first.

Gambling in this case means devoting time and effort to something that may never pay off. It means devoting your energy to something beyond what the world says you should be doing.

This isn't simply following your dream. It's chasing after it, full speed, until you catch it.

We're all, to a certain degree, risk-averse. It's scary to fail. Failure can mean a loss of time and money. It can mean bad feelings and disappointing others.

But if you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough. You aren't taking enough chances.

A lot of people dislike me. They dislike my tone and attitude. They dislike my opinions. They dislike my writing.  They dislike my blog.

I. Don't. Care.

We could all benefit from caring less about the opinions of strangers. Especially since, let's face it, there are so many pinheads in the world.

That's a learned behavior, as we all grow up seeking approval.

Taking risks can also be learned.

It'll be difficult, because it is unnatural and uncomfortable. It requires unlearning many of the coping mechanisms you've learned. It requires failure, and in many cases ridicule, monetary loss, and depression.

But no one ever became successful without taking chances. If you think about it, many of the important things in your life--the things that you're proudest of and that define you--are all about taking risks. Things as ordinary as asking or agreeing to a date that ends up in a long term relationship. Going to that job interview. Making an offer on that house.

Self-publishing that novel.

Risks are risky. True. But they can also be rewarding.

So what chances have you taken today?
- Guest post by Tom Schreck
The article started out as a guest post, but Tom brought up the topic of risk and Joe caught the ball and ran with it. Go Joe!

I tweeted the link to Joe's post yesterday, but I found this section of it very moving and thought it well worth sharing again. 

Photo credit: A Newbie's Guide To Publishing