Monday, October 19, 2009

The Game

Just got back from Bouchercon, and had one of those revelation moments.

When I play, I play to win. That's the point for me. If I lose, I try to learn from it so I can win next time.

Traditional publishing is a game where I'm not allowed to win.

I suppose this is rather obvious. There are too many factors involved--luck being one of the biggies--that are out of my control.

But if I look at my writing career, I've done my best to have as much control as possible. I was the guy who sent out 7000 letters to libraries, who visited over 2000 bookstores, who blog toured over 100 sites in a single month, who gathered 10,000+ names for his newsletter, who talked about social networking before anyone knew what Facebook was.

I think all of this has had a positive effect on my career. I've made some money. I'm still selling books.

But even with my best effort, and with all I've learned, I'm not allowed to win.

Winning involves big print runs and marketing campaigns and distribution. No matter how hard I try, or how well I play the game, those things aren't up to me.

So along comes ebooks.

For the first time, there's a level-playing field. It's no longer about who has 200 copies of their latest hardcover on the Borders New Release table for five weeks at 40% off cover price. It's no longer about huge New York Times ads, or getting a review in People magazine. It's no longer about being available at every Walgreens and CVS.

I have no idea if I'll be able to win the ebook game. There are still a lot of factors involved.

But it's nice to finally feel like I actually have a chance to compete.

53 comments:

E's said...

Sounds like a lot of hard work - glad you got an epiphany on e-books - good hunting.

April L. Hamilton said...

Why Mr. Konrath...if I didn't know better, I'd say you're becoming an advocate for self-publishing. Maybe self-pub isn't so delusional, after all. ;')

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey, Joe, it was great chatting with you at B-Con, and you did an outstanding job with the Book Bazaar. I managed to not be the last person with books in front of him!

I'm writing to announce the launch of my new Kindle version of AMBER PAGE in coordination with Kindle International.

I'm pricing this one at $1.99. Will update as numbers come in the next month or two.

Rock on.

Scott Marlowe said...

It's both disheartening and encouraging to read your posts sometimes, Joe. :-) Here you started with the traditional route, did everything (and more) that you were supposed to, yet, per your previous post, you're kind of getting the shaft on the books whose rights are owned by your publisher. I think for myself I'm thinking now is it better to go the e-book route or the traditional one? That's something I'll have to figure out. If nothing else, you're inspiring a lot of thought on my part on this subject, so thanks.

Good luck with the epiphany. I'm interested in seeing where it takes you.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Joe, I think it's a game of attrition. If you can last long enough good things can happen. All of a sudden a book breaks out, movie deals happen, etc. But you're right, there's so much luck involved, and so much out of our control. And all we can do is keeping doing what we can to give us the best odds.

--Dave
(who is hoping badly that the Outsourced movie transitions soon from development to production!)

Jude Hardin said...

Traditional publishing is a game where I'm not allowed to win.

Depends on your definition of winning, I guess. If I get a six-figure advance and have a nice little run of six books in a series, I'm pretty sure I'll feel as though I've won something. I would feel that way even with a smaller advance.

Fame and fortune can never be the goal with something like writing, I think. Like James Lee Burke says, those things come of their own accord. He went thirteen years without a hardcover deal (publishing one PBO in the interum). You could argue that his success over the past twenty years was due to luck, but I think the writing had a lot to do with it. Someone finally recognized his genius and he got the push he needed.

Even so, hype only works if the product being touted strikes an emotional chord in large numbers of people. Publishers can't create bestsellers. If they could, they would do it every time.

Serena said...

good luck.

Fleur Bradley said...

Thanks for this positive outlook! Made my Monday.

Anonymous said...

Joe also has some name recognition from his days with a traditional publisher.

Those help with sales.

I think doing something in conjunction would be ideal. If you're just starting out and don't have the push from a major traditional publisher, you're still going to have a tough time of it, just like any other self-published writer.

I do agree with Jude. Winning is how you look at it. Six books is a hell of an accomplishment even if they didn't sell well enough to warrant another contract. It's still something to be proud of.

As far as money goes, if you want the big bucks, publishing is no place to look for it. Do something easier, like Med school. At least then you'll know that there's a degere waiting for you if you put in the work. With publishing, if you put in the work, you'll still probably wind up with nothing to show for it.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of certain artists' complaints about the music industry. Particularly the successful ones who go one to become music producers. Are you thinking about becoming a "mogul" Joe?

Joe Konrath said...

Six books is a hell of an accomplishment even if they didn't sell well enough to warrant another contract.

They're still in print. Hyperion cut their entire genre line, me included. Strange decision, considering they keep sending me more money from continual sales.

Marva said...

You're officially my hero. I hope Hyperion just has to keep sending you money. However, if they cut the line, are they continuing print runs of the books? Or are these sales from books already in the pipeline?

I like ebooks for my own writing, but don't have a handheld device yet. I spend all day writing, so I prefer to do my reading away from the PC screen.

I.J.Parker said...

Hi, Joe. Sorry to hear the news, but join the club. Times are tough at the moment. Keep writing, that's the main thing.

Natasha Fondren said...

Self-publishing has always appealed to me simply because I was instilled with a work-for-yourself ethic, growing up. I was taught that one is either making money for yourself or making money for the "man," LOL.

I really mean to try it. I'm a little offended at how much of a cut Amazon takes for doing, basically, nothing, LOL.

Jim said...

Joe, Dark Sky Publishing will publish your 7th Jack novel. If interested, let me know.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Joe, didn't know about Hyperion cutting their genre line. Sorry to hear that, but just means you'll get a bigger deal with your next publisher.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Joe--you're kick-ass. I think publishing/self publishing is a great way to make money. The economy sucks but there's a lot of us that still make a good living. I'll never go back to a regular desk job. I just took my laptop to the beach.

Keep doing what you are doing. You'll wake up rich one day. Self publish, or sell ebooks, whatever! And if a big publisher comes along and offers you a grip, take that too. Just keep producing more. Ideas are bottomless & powerful. Money is just paper--if you feel like you deserve it, it will show up on your doorstep in one way or another.

Joe Konrath said...

Hi, Joe. Sorry to hear the news, but join the club.

That was a year ago. I've sold four novels to big publishers since then. But I am wondering how long I want to keep selling rights when I might do better in the long term keeping them for myself...

Karen McQ. said...

Ebooks released on Kindle not only level the playing field, they also allow a certain level of control, something I find really satisfying. The author gets to design the cover, handle promotion, pick the title etc. Good or bad, it all falls on the writer and the consumer decides via reviews or by reading the sample whether they want to buy it. Personally, I've found reader response to my books to be wonderful. Financially, the only ones who benefit are me and Jeff Bezos. I'm starting to really like that guy.

For what it's worth, you're a winner to me, Joe. Your books are out there entertaining the multitudes and you've inspired numerous other writers, including me. So thank you.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

My next book is coming out in ebook and POD format, so we'll see how that goes. You've done a tremendous amount of promotion. Trouble with me is, when I finish my writing quota for the day, I want to have a life. Not spend xx more hours in front of a machine. It's all a balancing act.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this blog, Joe. You are really helping a lot of people work through these new issues.

One point that many commenters is missing in the traditional v. self/e-publishing route is the decreasing resources publishers put towards the authors they actually publish.

You worry about the promotion you'd have to do with an e-book? Unless you're one of the 2 or 3 top titles a season, your publisher won't do anything much for you anyway. It will mostly be on your shoulders. Most houses barely edit. Brick and mortar bookstores are dying or being taken over by geegaws. The only thing I can think of that a publisher is good for is a nice cover. Really.

The bottom line is this: I can do all the work, sell a thousand copies a year and make $500 or I can do all the work sell a thousand copies and make twice that.

I am a non-fiction writer who just gone a royalty statements from one of my publishers - 8 titles and I made $2000 for six months. Another royalty statement from another publisher showed that during one month, 4 copies sold. And I'm not a total unknown and am respected in what I write. It's just that after the first year,the publishers keep it in print, but don't even try to sell it anymore. If I had the rights and could epublish and sell myself, I could do better than that, I have no doubt.

Yes, non-fiction is a different animal than genre fiction, which is fine, but I am really thinking that for some kinds of things that I write, I could do as well or better than I am doing with a traditional publisher.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4.0

"Ebooks released on Kindle not only level the playing field, but also allow a level of control."

Karen McQ and everyone else who reads this should go find a local musician and ask them how they are doing? Ask them how Myspace, Itunes, and every other social network was going to level the playingfield for them. Then ask them how they are doing.

There is no level playing field. You could be delusional and continue to think this is the way to go. To me its six of one, half a dozen of the other. It's changing bosses and getting a bit more control. But what do you lose? What happens if Amazon lowers the royalty rates?? How much will you spend in publicity if you have higher aspirations? Genre's always go in cycles. If you just see the world with rose colored glasses you will be severely disappointed.

I'm glad money falls from the sky for Christy, but for the rest of the universe who don't have rich spouses to lean on how do you expect to survive??

Joe Konrath said...

There is no level playing field.

When the artist has full control over the content and the price, with unlimited distribution, that's a level playing field.

Could things change? Sure.

But right now, I'm able to outsell Stephen King on Kindle. I never had a hope in hell of doing that in print.

Ben said...

This is the new way publishing is going. It is a nice inspiration to watch what you are doing and think about going forward with it. Big Publishing is like the Yankees and Manchester United. But now the minnows are learning to compete in the big game and are starting to get some wins. Keep fighting and keep inspiring!

Joe Menta said...

How about a blog entry- or a new section of your web site- about the technical side of ebook publishing? What format does Kindle require? What are technical requirements for the cover artwork? Things like that. I'm sure I could get all that from Amazon, but seeing an encapsulation here of what needs to be done to get something up and selling would be valuable and probably inspiring.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Joe, now that I've recovered from Bouchercon, I will take a shot at articulating my opinion.

The way I see it, publishing is no different from life. We don't have full control over anything. Our health, our relationships, whether we die in a car wreck tomorrow, etc. The best we can do is control the few things that are up to us and hope for the best. Head off disasters, if you will. :)

I suspect this is also true of e-publishing in the long run. You might have a little more control, and you might choose to trade money to get it (much like the benefits of moving to a smaller press), but you're still depending on other people for success (Amazon, e-readers improving, what types of publicity are available to you personally, that series of tubes we call the internetz).

I think your control fantasy is a seductive fantasy for authors, but it's still fantasy.

Joe Konrath said...

I think your control fantasy is a seductive fantasy for authors, but it's still fantasy.

Nothing wrong with a little fantasy. :)

Stacey Cochran said...

My new Kindle novel AMBER PAGE available for 1.99 has climbed quickly into the top %1 of all books on Kindle.

What's been fascinating to watch today are all the international threads on the K forums. Titles like "Kindle in Brazil" and "Kindle in Colombia."

As the official international launch was yesterday, the biggest surge in international sales of our books will probably come in the next 4-30 days.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4.0

There is no level playing field.

When the artist has full control over the content and the price, with unlimited distribution, that's a level playing field.

Could things change? Sure.

But right now, I'm able to outsell Stephen King on Kindle. I never had a hope in hell of doing that in print.

Is your objective to sell as many of your product or outsell Stephen King?

Once again I don't get your logic. You want to fantasize about control when that very rarely exists for any artist. You want people to waste $995 just so that they can say they did something.

Do you realy believe it's a level playing field? is it being naive? Is it ego? is it rose colored glasses? is it being locked and lost into a dream? is it exhausting every possible avenue that you thought you could break the glass cieling? You should know better, and tell people that those top positionms are bought and paid for. Those kitschy reviews are bought and paid for. You can't beat the system!

Joe Konrath said...

You want people to waste $995 just so that they can say they did something

I have no idea what you mean by that. What's $995?

And again, you really aren't able to argue. You keep saying "you're naive" without giving any sort of support for your POV.

My argument is easy to support. Right now I have control over price, content, and distribution. Never had that before in my career. And right now, I'm able to earn more royalties than on my print/ebook backlist. Never thought that would ever happen.

Now try to form a coherent position against that, with facts and logic to support it.

Anonymous said...

"I'm able to outsell Stephen King on Kindle. I never had a hope in hell of doing that in print."

Unfortunately, doing it in print is all that matters.

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey, Joe, inspired by your post, I have posted my exact sales #s on my blog. Feel free to check it out, folks, as a comparison from a writer who has no traditionally published books (one of the arguments folks keep making regarding why Joe is selling well).

Joe Konrath said...

Unfortunately, doing it in print is all that matters.

In 2009, I agree. We'll see what things are like in 2012.

King's publishers will never give up his ebook rights, and I don't see a future where publishers will price ebooks according to what consumers want to pay.

L.L. Barkat said...

Maybe it's largely about platform, as it always has been. Except this time you can have a platform right from the comfort of your own home... on cyberstage.

Jude Hardin said...

King's publishers will never give up his ebook rights, and I don't see a future where publishers will price ebooks according to what consumers want to pay.

I disagree. If ebooks ever become the preferred format for novels, prices will reflect what consumers are willing to pay. How could it possibly be otherwise?

Eventually paper will become a premium and digital downloads will cost around a buck. Same as buying a song on iTunes vs. a physical copy of a CD. When I started buying 45s around 1970, they cost a dollar. Singles from digital sources still cost a dollar. This amazes me, since the price of a candy bar is five or six times what it was back then. Singles are a dollar because that's what people are willing to pay. The same will happen with books, I think. The market will eventually correct itself.

Joe Konrath said...

I disagree. If ebooks ever become the preferred format for novels, prices will reflect what consumers are willing to pay. How could it possibly be otherwise?

Right now, print publishers are artificially inflating the price of ebooks. They feel they have to, and the bean counters support this. In order to run a modern publishing company, they have to make X amount of dollars per books.

This is not only irritating the ebook distributors, who are losing 4 bucks on every download, but the consumers as well, who think $9.99 is too much.

This will lead to two things--piracy, and lower prices.

But the publishers simply CANNOT lower their prices. It will bankrupt them.

Eventually, estributors like Amazon, Sony, and B&N will have contracts with authors. Then the prices will come down. Publishers foresee this, and fear it, and won't ever give up their backlist.

Jude Hardin said...

But the publishers simply CANNOT lower their prices. It will bankrupt them.

But what's the point in charging $9.99 for something that nobody buys? Won't that lead to bankruptcy as well?

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Turning a big company is like turning a semi on ice. Publishers might not adapt quickly, but they'll adapt. Or at least some will.

E-books will change the publishing business, but I'm not sure they'll revolutionize it as much as authors are hoping. Having publishers act as filters makes things easy for most readers. I don't see a large enough number of readers being willing to sort through an online list of 8 zillion self-published, self-edited novels to find something they want to read, even if they're risking less than $2 a pop. At least that is true of me. Perhaps I'm just cheap and time challenged, but I'm betting I'm not the only one.

I know Joe's and Stacey's numbers look good, but they aren't very big when you compare them to traditional publishing numbers. And before they become big enough to revolutionize anything, I'm betting publishing will adapt and compete, likely by offering backlist e-books at reduced prices. E-books will simply be another format, along with hardcover, trade paper, mass market, etc.

Jude Hardin said...

Great points, Ann. I concur.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4.0

Ann I couldn't aggre more with statement.

"I don't see a large enough number of readers being willing to sort through an online list of 8 zillion self-published, self-edited novels to find something they want to read, even if they're risking less than $2 a pop. At least that is true of me. Perhaps I'm just cheap and time challenged, but I'm betting I'm not the only one."

This is what happened with podcasting. Who wants or has the time to sort through 100,000 podcasts to find what they like? When there are too many options it becomes a giant wall of white noise, and the consumer will inevitably revert back to what they know instead of potentially finding someone new.



"Unfortunately, doing it in print is all that matters."

In 2009, I agree. We'll see what things are like in 2012.

King's publishers will never give up his ebook rights, and I don't see a future where publishers will price ebooks according to what consumers want to pay.


Again, and you'll avoid, manipulate, and twist my points to make yourself feel good, but why is your aim to outsell anyone?

Joe Konrath said...

Perhaps I'm just cheap and time challenged, but I'm betting I'm not the only one.

How do you find books to read? What things lead up to you buying a book?

Ebooks sell like regular books. Word of mouth, marketing, ads, and reviews all help sell them. So does browsing.

I don't agree that surfers are time challenged. My son spends HOURS on YouTube, surfing from one video to the next. Anyone who has ever been on a bit torrent site does the same thing: searches for content and downloads what he wants. Billions already do this. They also already do it on Amazon. I believe a lot of my sales are from browsers rather than a direct result of marketing.

Again, and you'll avoid, manipulate, and twist my points to make yourself feel good, but why is your aim to outsell anyone?

You haven't made any points. If you get near one, I'll address it.

It isn't my aim to outsell anyone. It's my aim to make money. The more I sell, the more I earn. Stephen King is an example of someone who sells a lot. Of course I'd like to sell as many, or more, than he does. And some of my titles on Kindle do outsell his.

Right now, print is still king. But I believe ebooks will continue to rise in popularity. I also believe print publishers are going to fight it, kicking and screaming.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

I erased my last post because I saw that Joe posted in the meantime.

Joe, you're blending my comments with Anon. 4.0.

As for my comments, I do use traditional publishers to filter my book choices for me. There are certain publishers (large and small pubs) I trust to deliver books with a certain threshold of quality in writing and editing. From there I might choose depending on storyblurb or author or word of mouth.

There are probably some good self-published books out there, but I'm not likely to spend the time sorting through the rest to find them. I have tried in the past and have been disappointed. I don't think I'm alone in this. And more self-pubbed books out there is not going to mean quality will rise.

I agree with you that e-book sales will grow considerably. But I expect publishers will adapt and still claim the majority of the market. Still growth among self-pubs and smaller pubs will give authors a little more power, and God knows I'm all for that.

Joe Konrath said...

@Ann- I often answer more than one comment in the same post, to save time. I don't think anyone confuses you with Anon 4.0, who continues to hang around here without offering anything worthwhile.

As for my comments, I do use traditional publishers to filter my book choices for me.

Do you think the average reader knows who published The DaVinci Code? Hell, I don't know who published the DaVinci Code. And I certainly couldn't name any other books by that publisher, though I'd undoubtedly recognize titles and authors--because people follow titles and authors.

There are some exceptions. Harlequin, obviously. Ace and Baen.

But for the most part, I think people are oblivious to publishers--except in the case of self-publishers.

I've seen very few self-published books that are as nice as traditionally published books.

But ebooks blur the line. While you may not bother wading through inexpensive ebooks looking for wheat in the chaff, there are people with Kindles who do. The ability to download a sample to read without paying for it keeps the chaff to a minimum.

There are a lot of self-pubbed authors doing well on Kindle right now. I believe price-point is one of the key factors. I also believe the strength of good cover art, a good product description, reviews, word-of-mouth, and links help sell ebooks.

I can predict in the future it will be tougher to find the good books because there will be so much crap. But already I'm seeing Kindle-specific reviewers and forums who are trying to do that.

I liken publishing to a supertanker--it takes six miles to turn. Will they figure it out? I haven't seen anything so far that shows me they will. The innovation and success are coming from a lot of places other than publishers--Amazon, Sony, iTunes, B&N, and specific authors. But I don't see publishers doing anything other than continuing self-destructive habits.

Grand Central did something smart. They launched AFRAID at $1.99, and in doing so, sold over 10,000 ebooks in a month before raising the price again.

Why not keep the price there for longer than a month? It seems like it was a smart thing to do.

But they didn't. And I don't see any other publishers experimenting with lower prices, except for limited edition freebies. I'm all for freebies. I'm still giving away ebooks on my website, even though I'm selling them on Amazon and elsewhere.

Customers want lower prices. And digital media should be priced low. I don't see publishers doing that anytime soon...

Ann Voss Peterson said...

I don't doubt e-books will gain sales. What I question is whether the gain will be great enough to really revolutionize the biz, or if e-books will just become the next format with a lower price point(as mass market is to hardcover).

And don't you think the lower prices and the free giveaways are an example of publishers testing the waters? Seeing if it would be worth the effort to turn that supertanker?

I can see publishers selling backlist books at a lower price point. Especially a publisher like Harlequin, who has rights to a staggering number of out-of-print backlist books that are not currently earning much. Once a single publisher does that and is successful, the rest will stampede in that direction.

Joe Konrath said...

I don't see publishers changing tactics until ebooks take a large share of the market, and by then it may be too late.

They'd have to entirely change their business model and structure, downsize, fire a bunch of people, and rethink their entire marketing and publishing strategy.

The music industry couldn't do it. The newspaper industry couldn't do it.

Last I heard, ebooks were 1.5% of the market. And I'm earning enough off of that to pay my monthly mortgage and some bills. What happens when it's 10%? What happens when the ereader equivalent of an iPod comes out and is the must buy item of the season?

I just heard Stephen King's new ebook will be priced at $35. That doesn't seem like publishers understand ebook buyers at all.

Right now, out of 300,000 ebooks on Kindle, I've got four books in the Top 1000 sellers. I'm outselling loads of bigshot authors, because I'm $1.99. And I believe that $1.99 will be enough for me to earn a living on, possibly within a year or two.

That blows my mind.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Okay, consider this:

Harlequin's series romance books are around $5-ish full price. This is discounted to something like 3.24 at the big box stores. It's not much of a drop in price to get to 1.99.

In stores, the books are returned after 2 to 4 weeks if unsold to make room for the next month's releases. That's it for shelf time in the US. You can order the books for about 6 months or less after the release, then they are out of print. If the price then drops for English language e-books, you'd have a whole new surge of earning potential (besides foreign sales).

And you don't think they'll do this? Something like this wouldn't require reorganization. In fact, there doesn't seem to be much downside, and they're an innovative company. They also have their own e-store.

Maybe I'm the one fantasizing here, but I think you're underestimating publishers.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that worries me about ebooks and the ability to easily put self published books out there is the lack of editors.

I really don't care if someone sold 10,000 copies of a book no publisher wanted to buy. Bad writing is bad writing, and people can be talked into buying it easily. Look at James Patterson. There's nothing impressive about him or his books. I'm much more impressed with Daniel Woodrell and his miniscule numbers than I am with Janet Evanovitch and her nonsense.

I have no doubt ebooks are the future, but I also have no doubt that publishing will adapt.

If we're lucky, there will still be gatekeepers and editorial standards that will need to be met in order to reach the largest number of readers. If there isn't, and the industry becomes a free for all where anyone can put their absurd NaNoWriMo scribbling up for sale, then it'll be the death of books.

And just to point out... Thinking you're outselling big writers because your kindle numbers are better is ridiculous. If this "even playing field" you're talking about ever comes to pass where every reader has an ebook device, the big sellers will be right back on top, and the mid/low listers will be right back on the bottom.

Enjoy where you are now, but pray publishing doesn't figure out a plan. If they do, and the quality of self published books doesn't improve drastically (which it won't), then it's back to the end of the line.

Joe Konrath said...

Maybe I'm the one fantasizing here, but I think you're underestimating publishers.

Is it possible to underestimate publishers? :)

On a hardcover, both the author and the publisher make between $2 and $3.

For a typical paperback, each make between 50 and 85 cents.

If publishers were to release ebooks on Amazon for $2.00, and Amazon took 50% (which is a standard discount that publishers give booksellers) that would leave $1.00 for author/publisher to split.

That makes sense to me.

Instead, publishers are charging Amazon $14 for an ebook. Amazon sells it for $9.99 and takes a loss. Consumers don't want to pay 10 bucks for an ebook. But the publishers are complaining that it is impossible for them to sell ebooks for less because of their costs and overhead, even though the costs and overhead for ebooks are considerably less, such as no printing, delivery, or returns.

Could they lower their prices and start releasing backlists? Sure.

Will they? I don't think so. I think they see it in their best interest to keep the cost of ebooks high, even while screwing the etailers, in order to extend the prevalence or print.

I've asked both of my publishers to lower my ebook prices. They won't do it. Even though I've shown they could earn more money by doing so.

Why aren't they doing this? Why aren't they lowering prices and converting backlists?

I think it's denial.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

You're talking about new releases. What if e-books are released, or the price is lowered a few months AFTER the mass market edition's release?

It was fab discussing this with you, Joe. I have pages to write, so unless you really piss me off, I'm out.

I didn't mean that as a challenge. ;)

Joe Konrath said...

The only thing that worries me about ebooks and the ability to easily put self published books out there is the lack of editors.

Why should that worry you? You download a free sample, read a page, and dismiss it if it sucks.

I really don't care if someone sold 10,000 copies of a book no publisher wanted to buy.

That's silly. If 10,000 people buy something, it's obviously viable, not to mention lucrative.

Look at James Patterson. There's nothing impressive about him or his books.

That must be why he has half a billion of them in print.

If there isn't, and the industry becomes a free for all where anyone can put their absurd NaNoWriMo scribbling up for sale, then it'll be the death of books.

Not at all, any more than it is now. There are 200,000 books published every year. Some of them make money. If there are a million ebooks published every year, some of them will still make money.

And just to point out... Thinking you're outselling big writers because your kindle numbers are better is ridiculous.

Define "ridiculous." I am outselling big writers on Kindle. And I think that speaks to what ebook buyers are looking for.

the big sellers will be right back on top, and the mid/low listers will be right back on the bottom.

I'd say that depends on price. Because at my current price, I'm outselling a lot of them.

If big publishing decides to lower their prices, it will make it much harder to compete. But if I sell 40,000 books in two years, that's a nice little fanbase I've built up.

And by the time publishing drops to $2, I'll be giving mine away.

Anonymous said...

"Right now I have control over price, content, and distribution."

Only for electronic versions, though. Can you get printed books into stories for a reasonable price? Nationwide? That's what I call distribution.

Putting stuff on Kindle iss just like garage bands putting their stuff on iTunes. Sure, it's there, and technically anyone in the world can buy it...but they won't. it can't compete with stuff that has corporate backing, who also share the e-spaces, besides the physical spaces.

Anonymous said...

Something else to keep in mind is that for a lot of people, it's not the price that matters to them when selecting a book to read, but the time it takes to read it. A novel takes somewhere between 6-18 hours to read--that's a lot of time your askibng someone to give to you, even if it's free. For a doctor making $200 an hour, you're really asking for a lot! You're saying, "instead of working extra on the weekend and making $2,000, spend the time reading my $2 e-book instead!

Joe Konrath said...

it can't compete with stuff that has corporate backing, who also share the e-spaces, besides the physical spaces.

Except that many authors are competing. I don't know where you're getting "can't."

Right now, THE LIST is the #297 Kindle bestseller, out of 300,000 books available. And a good number of the ebooks being downloaded ahead of me are free.

So how am I unable to compete with corporate backing when it comes to ebooks? Seems like I'm competing pretty well...