Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Acquisitions Editor

INT. MORNING - Fourth Floor of the Hip Happening Building, New York

(Writer is escorted by an Assistant to the Editor's office)

Editor: Good morning! Assistant, can you bring me a cappuccino, skim milk, two Stevias? Writer, would you like something?

Writer: No, thank you.

Editor: Please, have a seat.

(Writer sits across the Editor's desk)

Editor: I'm excited to tell you we're epublishing your new novel. Aren't you thrilled?

Writer: I'm flattered. But there are still some things I don't understand. I was hoping you'd make them clear for me.

Editor: Of course. I'm here for you. We're partners now. Exciting times.

Writer: Yeah. Well, first of all, I'm trying to understand the royalty structure.

Editor: That's boilerplate. You get 25% of the net sales receipts.

Writer: With the agency model, that means I earn 17.5% of the list price.

Editor: (beaming) Not bad, huh? If it was one of those old-fashioned paperback books, you'd only be earning 8%.

Writer: But paperbacks cost $7.99. You want to publish my ebook for $9.99.

Editor: We've determined that's the best price.

Writer: How?

Editor: Pardon me?

Writer: How have you determined that's the best price? Have you done studies? Polled readers? Experimented with different prices?

Editor: We arrived at $9.99 by comparing it to the prices of paper books.

Writer: But paper books cost money to create. There's printing and shipping. And even with that, paperbacks are still cheaper than $9.99.

Editor: We're just following the market.

Writer: Actually, you're not. You determine the selling price. You're setting the market, not following it. And $9.99 seems high.

Editor: You should just let us worry about that. That's why we're partners. You concentrate on the writing, we'll handle the business end. It's part of the service we provide.

Writer: What exactly is that service, again? I mean, there's no printing or shipping...

Editor: Do you think those are the only costs involved in bringing a book to market? (forced chuckle) You writers are so naive.

Writer: Please. Enlighten me.

Editor: Well, we edit. Books need editing. We also create the cover art. Books, even ebooks, need covers.

Writer: Go on.

Editor: The list is so extensive, I have a hard time remembering it all. There's, um, catalog copy.

Writer: You feature ebooks in catalogs?

Editor: Well, no. But we do a lot of marketing.

Writer: How exactly to you market ebooks?

Editor: Because it's all so new, we're still trying to figure that out. But we just flew the whole office to Seattle to have meetings on how to market ebooks. We were there for two weeks. I think we're making some real headway.

Writer: (under his breath) Maybe you should have a meeting on how to better budget your money.

Editor: That meeting will be in Florida, next month. It's at the Ritz Carlton. We're paying Warren Buffett to be our guest speaker.

Writer: (sighing) Are there any other costs involved in bringing an ebook to market?

Editor: There's advertising.

Writer: You advertise ebooks?

Editor: We're planning to, eventually. Maybe on that Facebook thingy. The kids seem to love it. We also use Twitter.

Writer: Facebook and Twitter are free.

Editor: Facebook ads cost money.

Writer: How many Facebook ads have you personally clicked on?

Editor: None. Those stupid things annoy me.

Writer: So, let's be clear on this. There are no printing costs, shipping costs, or warehousing costs, and you don't do catalogs or advertising or marketing...

Editor: (snapping his fingers as if remembering something) We also format and upload the ebooks to retailers.

Writer: How long does all of that take?

Editor: Excuse me?

Writer: To edit a book and make cover art and format it?

Editor: Well, we could spend two or three weeks working on a single title in order to get it ready.

Writer: Nine months.

Editor: What?

Writer: Nine months, working 60 hour weeks. That's how long it took me to write my novel. That seems a bit longer and more labor-intensive than your three weeks. Yet I'm only getting 17.5% of the price that you set. Do you know what your percentage is?

Editor: Off the top of my head, no.

Writer: You get 52.5%.

Editor: Really? Huh.

Writer: To me, that doesn't seem fair.

Editor: You don't seem to understand that you need us. Without editing or cover art...

Writer: (interrupting) Let's say the ebook sells ten thousand copies. Which, at your inflated price of $9.99, seems unlikely. But let's say it does. That means I earn $17,500...

Editor: A respectable figure...

Writer: ...and you earn $52,500. Even though you only worked on it for three weeks.

Editor: But you gotta admit, we made a terrific cover for it.

Writer: True. But for fifty thousand dollars, I bet I could buy some pretty nice cover art on my own. I bet I could pay a doctor to raise Pablo Picasso from the dead and have him do the cover.

Editor: Don't forget editing.

Writer: How long does it take to edit a manuscript?

Editor: Excuse me?

Writer: In hours. How many are we talking? Ten? Twenty?

Editor: It might go as high as fifty hours, with multiple read-throughs and the line edit.

Writer: How much do editors earn an hour?

Editor: Excuse me?

Writer: Let's say fifty bucks an hour. I think that's high, and I also think your fifty hour estimate is high, but even if we go with both, that's only $2500. And according to the Artist & Graphic Designer's Market, book cover art should cost around $2000.

Editor: Don't forget formatting and uploading.

Writer: I can pay a guy $200 to format and upload the book. In fact, I can also pay a guy $300 to create a cover, and an editor $500 to do both content and copy editing. But you're not charging me $1000, or even $4500. You're taking $52,500. And that number can get even bigger. If I hire my own editor and artist, those costs are fixed. You continue to take your 52.5% forever.

Editor: You don't seem to understand. Do you know how much it costs to rent this office? We're paying $25k a month, and that doesn't even include utilities. I've got three assistants. We all have health insurance and 401k. Expense accounts. Do you have any idea what it costs to take agents out to lunch?

Writer: My agent didn't broker this deal.

Editor: You're missing the point!

(Assistant enters, with coffee)

Assistant: Here's your cappuccino, Editor.

Editor: There's another cost! We paid five grand for this cappuccino machine! How are we supposed to stay in business unless we take 52.5%?

Writer: (standing up) I think we're done here.

Editor: Wait a second! You need us! Without us to validate your work, you'll never be considered legitimate! You'll just be some unknown, satisfied rich guy!

(Writer turns to leave)

Editor: Think about what you're missing out on! When we do cover art, we do it without any kind of focus group, and we don't pay any attention to your wishes! We arbitrarily change your title to something we think is better, without any proof! We take twelve months to release a book after you turn in the manuscript when it would only take you a week! We pay twice a year instead of the monthly check you'd get doing it yourself, and our accounting practices are hard to understand and quite possibly shifty! Also, we'll drop you for no particular reason! You can't turn your back on all that!

(Writer pauses, then turns around)

Writer: Look, it's true that I do need a good editor.

Editor: See! I told you!

(Writer hands Editor his business card)

Writer: When your company goes bankrupt, and you're unemployed, I want you to look me up. Send me a letter. One page, double spaced. List your qualifications for editing my book, and your rates. Also include a SASE. If you don't hear from me in six months, no need for you to follow up--it means I'm not interested...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ebook Pricing

In my last post, we had a long comment thread where many folks chimed in about the price of ebooks.

I thought I would distill my thoughts into a new blog entry, and explain why I believe $2.99 is the new ebook standard.

There are a few ways to support this claim, but before I begin, we need some background.

It all starts with print.

Currently, the majority of authors are offered boilerplate contracts with fixed rates for print books.

Mass market paperback is 8% of the cover price (though some houses offer 6% or even less), After a certain number of books are sold, it can escalate to 10%.

Trade paperback is 7.5%.

Hardcover is 10% for the first 5000, 12.5% for the next 5000, and 15% for everything after that.

So, for a $7.99 paperback, the author earns 64 cents per copy sold.

For a $13 trade paperback, the author earns 75 cents.

For a $25 hardcover, the author earns $2.50 to start out, though it can get to $3.75 if it sells well.

It is worth noting that these royalty rates are low because there are a lot of costs built into a book sale. Besides the costs absorbed by the publisher (editing, cover art, marketing, advertising, factoring the the cost of returns, plus overhead from salaries, rent, utilities, etc.), there are also printing and shipping costs. The distributor gets a cut. The bookseller gets a cut as well.

But the time the writer gets their cut, there isn't very much left. That's why hardcovers are priced as luxury items. You spend twenty-five bucks to be entertained by something for eight hours--something that I spent months of my life working on--and I get $2.50.

Now let's take a small detour and discuss ebooks.

Ebooks are a tricky product. Their costs are much lower than their print counterparts. No printing or shipping, no distributor, and the bookseller cut is smaller. There is no need to inflate the cost to factor in returns, because returns don't require shipping, warehousing, or printing.

I'll also put forth that the marketing and advertising costs for ebooks are much lower, and fewer people are required to create an ebook, which means less overhead.

Bottom line: Ebooks cost less to produce.

This is a Good Thing. Especially because customers want ebooks to cost less.

There is an acknowledged bias against the worth of downloadable content. This bias is partly emotional, and partly fact-based.

Facts include:

Ebooks cost nothing to distribute or produce.

Ebooks are intangible--they don't exist in a hard copy.

Ebooks have restrictions like DRM and proprietary format, which makes them worth less because they can't be shared, copied, or transferred.

Emotional response to downloads include:

I get a lot of stuff for free on the internet, which must mean it is worth less.

If something can be copied, it has no tangible value.

Copyright is not enforceable in a digital world, so everything should be free, and intellectual property is worthless.

Bottom line: Ebooks cost less, customers know this, and customers want to pay less.

Ebooks should be a bonanza for publishers. They cost less, they require fewer people to produce, and entire wings of their business could be downsized or eliminated, saving a lot of overhead.

But I believe publishers have seen ebooks as a threat to their long-entrenched print book business. I've I've said before: publishers should be connecting writers and readers, but they seem more concerned about selling paper.

That means protecting their paper-selling business. They've done many things to ensure this.

-Push the agency model so they control the selling price of ebooks
-Window ebook releases until after the print version is released
-Keep ebook prices artificially high
-Refuse to release ebook versions of some books, or in certain markets, or for certain platforms
-Demand DRM, which consumers hate (iTunes no longer uses it for that very reason)
-Devote time and energy and money to combating piracy, which is a waste of time and energy and money

None of this embraces the future and prepares them for making fat ebook profits. Instead, it alienates their customers, angers their authors, and leaves them even farther behind as ebook domination draws closer and closer.

Bottom line: Ebooks cost less, customers want to pay less, publishers don't care.

So where are the authors in this?

The boilerplate for ebooks was 25% of the net sales receipts. Instead of basing it on the cover price, it is based on what the publisher receives from the seller.

So on a $9.99 ebook on Amazon (price set by the publisher) is sold to them for $7, which means the author earns $1.75.

Now compared to hardcovers and paperbacks, a buck seventy-five is a pretty good royalty.

At least, on the surface it is. But not when some other things are taken into account.

On a hardcover, and on a paperback, there are so many costs that the publisher earns very close to what the author earns--three bucks on a hardcover, about a buck on a paperback.

But on a $9.99 ebook, the publisher earns $5.25.

$5.25 for simply uploading it to Amazon? Sorry, that's way too much.

Not only that, but they do a lot less to bring an ebook to market, and pay a lot less to get it to market. Lower costs, lower overhead, but jack up the profit? I think not. A world where a publisher earns three times what the artist earns is simply messed up.

If I wrote the damn thing, I deserve the lion's share. A 25% royalty rate isn't fair. Especially compared to print.

It gets worse, though. We've established that ebooks should be cheaper, and customers want to pay less. They certainly don't want to pay ten bucks. So when a publisher prices a book that high, they're losing potential sales. No wonder there's a $9.99 boycott by readers.

My own sales have confirmed this, numerous times. The lower the price, the more money a book earns. This is because value has nothing to do with the list price, and everything to do with how much the author earns.

But it gets worse, still.

By working with a publisher, an author gets 17.5% royalty of whatever price that publisher sets the book at.

By self publishing, the author can get 70% royalty, plus set their own price.

I price my ebooks at $2.99, because I've found that to be the sweet spot. If I price them higher, I make more per sale, but have fewer sales so I lose money.

On a $2.99 ebook, I earn $2.04.

In other words, I earn three times more than I do on a $8 paperback, and almost as much as I do on a $25 hardcover.

And guess what? Ebooks are easier to buy and sell than paper books. Kindle owners can buy my ebooks and get them instantly, without going to the store, or without even turning on their computers. No hassle, no wait.

I like the $2.99 price for other reasons as well. A hardcover requires thought before buying. In this economy it's a big purchase.

$2.99 is an impulse buy. It's no-guilt. It's a bargain. It encourages people to buy, rather than discourages.

Bottom line: I can make more money selling $2.99 ebooks on my own than I can selling $7.99 paperbacks or $25 hardcovers with a publisher.

The fact that I keep the rights, control cover art and titles, and can release the book as fast as I can write it rather than waiting 12 to 18 months, is all icing on the cake.

So let's hear from the opposition:

1. Joe, don't you think books are worth more than $2.99? People have always paid more than that.

Joe sez: A book is worth what it earns the author. Selling a bunch of $2.99 books is more profitable than selling almost as many $25 hardcovers. The public believes downloads should cost less, and the author makes more than they would in print. I think $2.99 is a perfect price to satisfy everyone.

2. Joe, don't you think part of the reason you're selling so well is you're undercutting other authors with your low price?

Joe sez: This isn't a zero sum game. Kindle owners don't buy just one book. They read more than they did before buying their ereader, and if they seem happy to buy more ebooks if they cost less. It isn't a choice between my book or your book. Readers can afford both.

3. Joe, but what happens when publishers start selling at $2.99? Won't you lose sales?

Joe sez: I don't believe publishers are going to go that route for a while. But if/when it happens, I can easily see my sales going up. When people can buy the new James Patterson for $2.99 instead of $9.99, they'll have money left over to spend on me.

4. Joe, ebooks have been around for ten years, and they've always been priced higher than $2.99.

Joe sez: The past is the past. Currently, people want to pay less. I say, give the customer what they want.

5. Joe, books shouldn't be an impulse purchase. Many writers spend years toiling over their manuscripts. Books have integrity and gravitas, and people are willing to pay more for that.

Joe sez: Books are entertainment. We can spend a lot of money to be entertained, and we can also be entertained for free. If you feel your ebook should be priced comparably to a hardcover, or a Broadway show, or a Picasso, knock yourself out. As I said, it isn't a zero sum game. You're free to price however you desire.

6. But if I price my book high when everyone else listens to you and prices their books low, I won't sell very many.

Joe sez: Then write a Broadway show, or take up painting. Then you'll get paid what your masterpiece is truly worth.

7. Your books suck, and the only reason you sell so many is because they're cheap.

Joe sez: I've long stopped caring about what people think of my writing, good or bad. I get enough fan mail, and make enough money, to no longer be concerned about bad reviews, negative people, or the obviously envious. My ego and bank account are satisfied, and I'm lucky I can find an audience while doing something I love. Also, you're an asshat.

8. Aren't you worried about piracy?

Joe sez: No. I'll eventually post long term results to my piracy experiment, but so far I've concluded that piracy hasn't hurt my sales. The way to fight piracy is with cost and convenience. Three dollar ebooks that can be purchased and delivered with the press of a button are the ultimate in cost and convenience.

9. Don't you think publishers will eventually figure out what you have? Some smaller, independent publishers already have.

Joe sez: I erroneously group all publishers together under the "Big 6" banner. If anyone can adapt and survive in this brave new world, smaller publishers are much better suited for it. But if the brand is the author, all publishers, small and big, need to figure out what they can offer their authors to justify taking a percentage of royalties forever. It has to be more than a cover and editing, because authors can get those on their own, and pay one-time costs for them.

10. What happens when Amazon lowers the royalty rate for authors?

Joe sez: What happens when it starts raining acid and aliens invade our planet and the crickets stage a coup and win the majority of the seats in Congress? I'll worry about it when it happens. But if it does happen, we live in a capitalist society. Other businesses will spring up and offer authors more... which is why Amazon is currently taking authors away from Big 6 publishing.

11. The only reason this works for you is because you already have a platform and a lot of books. Other authors can't follow your example.

Joe sez: How many authors get rich, whatever path they take? Very few. A fraction of a fraction are able to make big money selling fiction.

It isn't a question of either selling 100,000 ebooks or selling zero. Everyone falls somewhere in between. This isn't a competition, or a sprint. It's a marathon, and the race is with yourself.

Set realistic goals, experiment, learn from mistakes, keep and open mind, and most of all, write a lot of good books. I believe 99.9% of writers have a better chance to make more money in this new market than they did in the old one.

If you do get offered a print deal, congratulations. But make sure that there is a clear reversion of rights clause if the publisher goes bankrupt before the book comes out (or during its shelf life.) Make sure there is clear language about what "out of print" means. Make sure you get a decent ebook royalty rate. And above all, crunch the numbers and compare what you could potentially make on your own, especially in the long term.

Also you have to remember that I'm just one man following my own path. Your results may vary. You can, and should, form your own conclusions based on your own experience.

I'm sure this is my future. You need to figure out what your future is, and act accordingly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Konrath Ebooks Sales Top 100k

I haven't posted my sales numbers in a while, and was going to hold off on this until I got my latest royalty statements. But I've reached a milestone, and decided it is worth sharing.

As of today, Sept 21, 2010, I've sold 103,864 ebooks.

Here's how it breaks down:

My six Hyperion ebooks, from June 2004 until December 2009: 7865

Afraid from Grand Central, from May 2009 until December 2009: 13,973

Self-pubbed titles on Kobo from May 2010 until July 2010: 132

Self-pubbed titles on Smashwords since July 2009: 372

Self-pubbed titles on iPad from May 2010 until August 2010: 390

Self-pubbed titles on iTunes from Jan 2010 until July 2010: 508

Self-pubbed titles on Barnes & Noble from June 2010 until August 2010: 2212

Self pubbed titles on Amazon from April 2009 until Sept 20, 2010: 78,412

So what does all of this mean to the home viewer?

Currently, I'm selling an average of 7000 self-pubbed ebooks a month on Kindle. Those numbers are for 19 self-pubbed titles, though the top 6 account for more than 75% of my sales, roughly 5000 per month.

That means those six are averaging 833 sales, or $1700, per month, each. That equals $20,400 per year, per ebook, for my top sellers.

Those six are my top sellers because they're novels. My other 13 ebooks are novellas and short story collections, which don't sell as well.

Considering the average advance for a new novel is still $5,000, each of these ebook novels is quadrupling that, annually. And these numbers are rising, not falling.

Compare that to the ebook novels my print publishers are controlling. (These numbers are going to be low, because I haven't gotten my latest royalty statements for Jan-June 2010 yet.)

My best selling Hyperion ebook, Whiskey Sour, has sold 2631 ebooks since 2004. That's earned me about $2200, or $34 a month since it was released.

$34 a month per ebook is a far cry from the $1700 a month per ebook I'm making on my own.

Why are my self-pubbed ebooks earning more than Whiskey Sour, which remains my bestselling print title with over 80,000 books sold in various formats?

Because Hyperion has priced Whiskey Sour at $4.69 on Amazon, and I price my ebooks at $2.99.

For each $4.69 ebook they sell, I earn $1.17.

For each $2.99 ebook I sell, I earn $2.04.

So I'm basically losing money hand over fist because Hyperion is pricing my ebooks too high, and giving me too low a royalty rate.

Even the print sales (Whiskey Sour just went into a fifth printing) don't come close to making up the money I'm losing.

If we assume I could sell 833 copies per month of Whiskey Sour, I'd be earning $17,000 per year on it, rather than $5616 per year. (I'm guessing my numbers have gone up recently, and am estimating 400 Whiskey Sour sales per month.)

Let's multiply that times the six books Hyperion controls.

I'm estimating I currently earn $33,696 annually in ebook royalties on those six.

If I had the rights, I estimate I'd earn $102,000.

Do I want my books to go out of print?

Hell yeah.

Now allow me to address the other ebook venues, on a case-by-case basis.

Through, I've sold 3106 ebooks, but the majority of these have been within the last three months or so.

Smashwords allows authors to sell ebooks through their site, and also supplies ebooks to Kobo, iPad, B&N, Sony, and Diesel. (I haven't gotten Sony or Diesel numbers yet.)

My Kobo numbers are low, because I opted out of Kobo. They discounted my ebooks, which isn't fair to other retailers. But I'm currently working on a deal with Kobo to have my ebooks back up very soon. Kobo supplies books to, so I anticipate a bump this holiday season.

iPad has proven disappointing, and I blame the iBookstore interface, which is very user unfriendly. I assume it will get the kinks worked out eventually, but it is currently torture to navigate and browse the iBookstore. Still, almost 400 sales in just a few months is better than nothing.

Of course, compared Kindle sales, I'm selling 70 to 1 on Amazon over iPad.

Barnes and Noble fares a bit better. I'm averaging 663 ebooks per month, which is substantial. It's still about 10.5 to 1 compared to Kindle, but I'm pleased with it.

For iTunes, I use IndianNIC. The 508 sales figure is incomplete, and doesn't count the last 2 and a half months, because their user interface isn't the best. But they're now supplying ebooks to Android, so I'm hoping to get a piece of that growing market.

Actually, I'm hoping to get a piece of all the growing markets, and every market seems to be growing. By the end of the year, my self pubbed books will be on all the major ebook platforms, including:

Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Do you know what that is? That's distribution. The very thing print publishers have had a lock on for a hundred years. Except now, authors control their own distribution.

By comparison, the ebook rights my print publishers control are missing from many of these key markets. On a daily basis I get emails from fans who want Whiskey Sour or Afraid for their device or in their country, but my publishers aren't exploiting these rights.

Am I angry?

Hell yeah.

And to add insult to injury, Hyperion recently packaged my six Jack Daniels ebooks together as a compendium. At first, I was thrilled with this, thinking they finally understood what I've been saying for months. Then they told me the price.


Even with Amazon's discount, that comes to $28.80, for ebooks that are several years old.

That's insane. And yet, a few poor souls are buying it, because it's still cheaper than buying the books separately.

I sent Hyperion several emails, explaining my reasoning for wanting this price lowered.

They haven't responded.

Now the anomaly here is Grand Central. They've sold 13,973 ebooks. Isn't that odd, compared to Hyperion?

Not when you realize that 10,253 of those ebooks were sold during the first month of Afraid's release, at the intro price of $1.99.

Consider that. In one month we sold 10,253 ebooks, just because it was cheap.

Now try to contemplate why publishers continue to charge $5 to $13 for ebooks.

Are you scratching your head like I am, wondering why they don't sell ebooks at lower prices?

Since that promo (and probably because of it), Afraid has been averaging around 465 ebook sales a month. Respectable, but still below my average, and only earning me $1.75 per ebook instead of $2.05.

But that's not a big deal, right?

Let's look at it over a three year period.

If I had the rights to Afraid and priced it at $2.99, I'd earn $51,000.

With Grand Central, pricing it at $6.99, I'll earn $29,295.


Do I want my rights back?

Hell yeah.

I wrote Afraid under the name Jack Kilborn, and received a $20,000 advance. It was released in the US, the UK, and Australia simultaneously. In nine months, combining the ebooks, trade paper, hardcover, and two paperback versions, Afraid sold 53,623 copies and earned $26,839.

On June 18, I self-published Endurance and Trapped, two more novels by Jack Kilborn. I released them in ebook format only, for $2.99 each.

In three months, Endurance and Trapped have each earned $11,424.

So, in other words, I'm earning $35,785 per year on Afraid, in all formats.

Endurance is on its way to earn $45,696 per year, in ebook only. So is Trapped.

And unlike Afraid, where I made the majority of my royalties on the print versions, which will sell fewer and fewer copies, Endurance and Trapped will continue to sell well for years as ebooks.

With Afraid, I went on tour and signed at 200 bookstores. I did a blog tour the month before, appearing on 100 blogs in 31 days. I worked my ass off promoting that book.

With Endurance and Trapped, I announced them on and did a few tweets on Twitter. That's it.

Does anyone else see this as a wake-up call?

When I began this ebook odyssey, back in April 2009, I had no idea the market would get so big so fast, or that I'd make so much money.

Since then, a lot of folks have done their best to dismiss what I've been preaching. They say I'm an outlier. An exception.

But I'm not an exception anymore.

New writers like Zoe Winters, Rex Kusler, Vicki Tyley, Karen McQuestion, John Rector, Aaron Patterson, B.V. Larson, Stacey Cochran, Amanda Hocking, D.B. Henson, Eric Christopherson, Debbi Mack, Karen Cantwell, Jonny Tangerine, Stephen Davison, Charles Shea, Joe Humphrey, Gary Hansen, M.H. Sargent, R.J. Keller, David McAfee, David Derrico, David Dalglish, Brendan Carroll, Alan Hutcheson, Paul Clayton, Imogen Rose, Tonya Plank, David H. Burton, Tina Folsom, Maria Rachel Hooley, Maria E. Schneider, Anna Murray, Ellen O'Connell, Edward C. Patterson, Caroyln Kephart, Lynda Hillburn, Robert Burton Robinson, Joseph Rhea, C.S. Marks, K.A. Thompson, J.R. Rain, John Pearson, Tonya Plank, Linda Welch, Ruth Francisco, Sibel Hodge, T.C. Beacham, Ricky Sides, Chance Valentine, Nancy C. Johnson, and many, many others are selling thousands of ebooks and getting on the bestseller lists. Many of them have even cracked the Top 100.

Then there are established pros like Robert W. Walker, Scott Nicholson, William Meikle, James Swain, Paul Levine, Selena Kitt, Richard S. Wheeler, Jon Merz, Simon Wood, F. Paul Wilson, Libby Fischer Hellman, Lee Goldberg, Casey Moreton, Raymond Benson, Blake Crouch, David Morrell, Mark Terry, Marcus Sakey, Ellen Fisher, Christine Merrill, Dean Wesley Smith, Kathryn Rusch, Joe Nassise, Gordon Ryan, Harry Shannon, and me, among others, who are releasing their backlists themselves, along with putting original works directly on Kindle.

I'm not the exception anymore. New writers and seasoned veterans are seeing the future and acting on it.

Publishers, however, are not.

Now allow me to draw some conclusions, make some predictions, and offer a bit of advice.

1. Think twice, and think again, before allowing anyone to buy your erights. I doubt I'll ever have another traditional print deal. I can earn more on my own, especially in the long run. With print losing ground to ebooks on a day-to-day basis, I'd hate to sign with a big house, and then 18 months from now they'll go bankrupt before releasing my book, taking my rights with them.

2. Amazon Kindle is where you want to be, but you should also check out and That extra bit of income can turn out to be pretty substantial, and I expect some of these platforms to begin picking up speed.

3. Writing good books is essential. Having a bunch of them is a plus. The more ebooks you have available, the easier you'll be to find, the more you'll sell. By the end of this year, I'll have 28 ebooks available on Amazon. By the end of next year, I'll have at least 34.

4. I've been very lucky. I have a popular blog, and have gotten some good press. The scads of promotion I've done in the past certainly helps. But others are doing just as well, without my platform. And let me tell you, ebooks and Kindle are a much easier route than getting 500 rejections, mailing out 7000 letters to libraries, and visiting 1200 bookstores.

The ebook market hasn't even hit its stride yet. Here are some things I'm looking forward to in the upcoming months and years:

Selling my Kindle ebooks on international Amazon websites (with translations in German, French, Chinese, and Japanese)
Selling my ebooks on Kobo and Borders
Selling my ebooks on Android
Google Editions
$99 Ereaders
Kindle being sold at Best Buy
Getting my numbers from Sony and Diesel
Releasing DRACULAS on October 19
Releasing SHAKEN on October 26

This ride has only just begun. I'll end 2010 having earned over $100k on my self-pubbed ebooks, and that's nothing compared to what I expect to make in 2011. And I'm doing it without touring, without promoting non-stop, without spending a lot of money, and without relying on anyone.

I don't expect the publishing industry to acknowledge this post. You won't read about my ebook sales in Publisher's Weekly. Agents won't mention it on their blogs. If you go to conferences and ask the editors you meet about J.A. Konrath and ebooks, you'll get blank stares, dismissals, or outright hostility.

I'll be at the Novels Inc. Conference in Florida, October 7-10, and that will be the last time I speak in public for at least a year. In the past few months I've turned down dozens of speaking engagements and interviews, and I will continue to turn them down. The amount of email I get from folks wanting ebook advice is daunting and impossible to wade through, so I'm not even bothering to try.

I spent 12 years trying to break into publishing, and 8 years doing everything I could to succeed. Now I'm finally able to write full time, which is what I've wanted to do all along. No more tours. No more appearances. No more accessibility to the entire world.

I'm not a motivational speaker. I'm not a teacher. I'm not a salesman. I'm not a dog and pony show. I'm not an outlier.

I'm a just a writer, dammit. And that's all I'm gonna be.

Don't you want to be just a writer, too?

Monday, September 20, 2010

David Morrell on Ebooks

A few months ago I predicted a bestselling author would publish a new title exclusively on Kindle. Author David Morrell did just that with THE NAKED EDGE, a follow-up to his thriller hit THE PROTECTOR.

Besides THE NAKED EDGE, Morrell has also released nine of his backlist titles on Amazon, including the ground-breaking FIRST BLOOD, which many cite as the first modern action thriller.

David has always been a savvy guy when it comes to publishing. He was one of the first authors to use the term "platform", and has always been smart about the business end of things in this industry.

To see him understand and embrace the future with a move like this is a portend of things to come. He's doing what publishers have failed to do, and he won't be the first heavyweight to do so.

I caught up with David in Monaco, at the Monte Carlo Casino, and we discussed his new move while playing $500 minimum baccarat.

Okay, that's not true. I just emailed him.

David, why did you decide to publish these ten as ebooks?

David: Early this year, Amazon came to my agent, Jane Dystel, about making a large portion of my backlist available as Kindle e-books. These days, print publishers don’t seem as interested in backlist titles as they used to be. When they do commit to a backlist, it’s often so that they can have the e-book rights, which means that the way contracts are now written, the publishers have the e-book rights forever. The Amazon proposal allowed me to keep the e-rights while at the same time receiving the full might of Amazon to promote the titles on a global scale.

We selected nine titles from my backlist (after 38 years as an author, I have a lot of material in the vault). To draw attention to those nine titles, I decided to add an original, never-before-published novel, THE NAKED EDGE.

Joe: The Amazon marketing muscle is the main reason I signed with them for SHAKEN rather than simply release the ebook on its own. (For those keeping tabs on such things, I'm now selling 7500 self-pubbed ebooks per month on Kindle alone.)

THE NAKED EDGE is currently #206 on the Kindle Bestseller list, and I have no doubt it will continue to sell well, especially with Amazon getting behind it.

While publishers are mucking about with enhanced ebooks for the iPad by incorporating video into them, you've taken a simpler, yet still innovate, approach to adding extra value to ebooks.

THE NAKED EDGE has some pretty cool pics in the back matter (which look great in full color on various Kindle apps, and also reproduce very well in grayscale on the Kindle itself.) Do you foresee more authors adding extra content to their ebooks?

David: One reason that I wanted to offer THE NAKED EDGE directly as an e-book is to experiment with what an e-book can be. A main character in the book is a master knife maker, the old-fashioned kind with a hammer and an anvil. In the novel, he makes replicas of famous fine-art knives, such as the one in a 1950’s Warner Bros. movie, THE IRON MISTRESS, starring Alan Ladd as Jim Bowie. It’s an absolutely gorgeous knife that was used in a lot of other movies and inspired many contemporary knife makers, such as Gil Hibben who designed the knives for the last two Rambo films.

Another knife that’s described in the book is the most expensive knife in the world, Buster Warenski’s solid-gold replica of Kind Tut’s dagger. It’s valued at a million dollars. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could include photographs of these stunning objects?”

If the 18 examples I selected were put into a printed novel, in color, the price would be extreme. But it doesn’t cost anything to include photos with an e-book, so I decided to tailor THE NAKED EDGE for an e-book format.

Joe: It does, however, cost a lot of money to add video, and that's what I'm hearing that publishers are doing. However, Kindle can't do video yet. What sense does it make to create video books when they can't be sold on the #1 platform? (My latest numbers: over 100,000 Kindle ebooks sold vs. 390 iPad ebooks sold.)

Another dumb move publishers are making involves authors' backlists. Either they try to grab ebook rights when the rights weren't mentioned in the original contract, or they make lowball offers for backlists with terrible royalty rates.

THE PROTECTOR is one of my favorite books of yours, so it's great that this is available again. Especially since used paperbacks are selling for $60 on Amazon.

It's insane that this book went of out print in the first place. But it's great for you, because now you can earn more than the sixty cents per paperback you were being paid, while still keeping the price under the cost of a new paperback.

And now you've written a sequel...

David: I love the dialogue between the main characters. Cavanaugh and Jamie remind me of Nick and Nora in THE THIN MAN, lots of amusing male-female banter between them, but with the difference that in my case the banter is accompanied by serious action.

As much as THE NAKED EDGE emphasizes what I see as a healthy marriage, it’s also about the failed friendship between Cavanaugh and a boyhood friend who is now his enemy. The background is that five years ago I ended a 35-year friendship with a man I considered to be my brother. The reasons are nobody else’s business, but I came to realize that the end of a friendship between two men (or two women for that matter) can be as angry and destructive as a divorce.

Here, the consequences of those emotions are harrowing. Skilled at protecting others, Cavanaugh discovers that it’s quite another thing to protect himself, especially from a man who knows him so well. The emotions are frank and honest.

Joe: Cavanaugh is in a short story, “The Attitude Adjuster,” that I included in an anthology I edited, THESE GUNS FOR HIRE. He's my favorite of your characters.

Can you explain why there are two versions of THE TOTEM?

David: In the late 1970s, when I submitted a 550 page version of THE TOTEM, my editor wanted to know why there wasn’t a love interest and why there were so many characters and . . . Let’s just say the editor didn‘t “get” what I was doing.

THE TOTEM is my attempt to redefine the werewolf myth, using science as the explanation, instead of superstition. It’s set in a town in an isolated valley in Wyoming, and one reason for the novel’s length is that I wanted to characterize the valley, to create a substantial sense of place.

In those days, I had not yet been fortunate enough to have a New York Times bestseller, which meant that I could either agree to the cuts or hit the road. Reluctantly, I agreed to the cuts, reducing the scale, emphasizing the town rather than the valley. That version was substantially shorter, almost by half. It had a very different beginning and climax.

I also changed the style, giving the revised text a subtle rhythm, which was my attempt to try to control the reader’s heartbeat. Even in the short version, the book received great reviews and was cited as one of the 100 most frightening horror novels. In 1994, I finally had a chance to publish the original 550-page version. That became the US version while the short version was the UK version.

Now both versions are available in one package as a single Kindle e-book. It’s another way to explore the possibilities of the format. In a printed book, the cover price of combining both versions would have been huge. But here I can add as much material as I want without any extra cost to the reader.

Joe: I did the same thing with my horror novel TRAPPED a few months back--putting two different versions into the same ebook. I'm also doing the same thing with SHAKEN.

Publishers don't seem to understand that ebooks aren't just another format. They have many advantages over print, and are allowing writers to give readers more bang for the buck.

Some readers don't understand this, either. I've gotten many emails from fans who are upset that I'm releasing certain titles as ebooks.

David: I'm getting a little heat for the e-book only option. On the other hand, if the book were a print novel and I waited 3 months for the e-book to be available, as some publishers prefer, then I would get heat for that. It seems very wrong that someone would make an aesthetic judgment based on whether the book is an e-book or not.

Joe: People are resistant to change. But change inevitably comes, and the majority adopts it, usually amid much grumbling. Then they wonder how they ever lived without the technology. Cell phones come to mind. I know several folks who swore they'd never get a cell phone because there was no reason for it. They all eventually gave in.

But even if some readers hate the thought of Kindles, ebooks are allowing writers more freedom than ever before. We're no longer beholden or bound to the whims of editors, sales reps, distributors, coop, marketing dollars, chain-store buyers, and corporate folks who ultimately decide the fate our books. For the first time, we can directly reach readers without any gatekeepers or middlemen who impose their ideas on what works and what doesn't, and we can make 70% royalties, compared to the 8% royalties we've gotten for paperbacks.

I don't want to speak for you, but I find this brave new world liberating and exciting. I can write what I want, without worrying about length, or if it fits into a specific genre, or if the buyer for Barnes and Noble will pre-order enough copies. I control the title, the price, the cover, and the content, and no one else has any say over how I run my career. My success or failure isn't dependent on the whims of an industry that accepts returns, where a 50% sell-through is considered acceptable, where overhead has become outrageous, and where only 1 out of 5 publishing books actually makes a profit.

What is your take on this revolution? Is it even a revolution? You've been in this biz since Gutenberg printed his first bible. Are ebooks a gamechanger?

David: Yes, I think ebooks are a gamechanger.

I’m not abandoning printed books. I collect Dan Simmons books and would not be happy if I didn’t have a signed copy of everything he writes. Some books are so attractive that I love holding them and admiring their artwork. Some books are so compelling that I want to lend them to my friends or buy them as gifts.

But the current system is broken.

I am troubled when I think of how the chain stores charge publishers a fee to display their books and then sometimes don’t display the books anyhow because of a communications failure.

I am troubled by the inefficiency of book distribution. How many authors have gone on a tour only to find that their books are available only in the store where they’re signing and not anywhere else in the city, or in the state for that matter, because the warehouse screwed up?

It bothers me that a new printed book has a six-week shelf life.

It bothers me that books go out of print rapidly (to create warehouse space for new books, which themselves will soon go out of print).

It bothers me that, if an editor wants to buy the manuscript of a new novel, it’s first necessary to get the okay of the marketing department, which in turn sometimes goes to the buyers for the chain stores and asks them “If we publish this book, how many copies would you hypothetically buy?”

This is nuts. There’s something liberating when writers don’t need to base their self-worth on what a conglomerate’s marketing team decides is a good book. The e-book market allows writers to write what they want. There’s no guarantee that a non-trendy book will attract readers, but at least authors now have a chance to find out.

Joe: Amen. When we get to Monaco, first beer is on me...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Henry Perez on Ebooks

I've known Henry Perez for years, and have had the pleasure of seeing him leap into the publishing scene and make a nice, big splash. I asked him to blog about his recent Kindle experience, since he managed to hit a milestone I haven't reached yet.

If you're interested in what it's like to be a new published novelist, check out his blog at

Here's Henry:

I Dipped a Toe in the E-book Ocean…Then My Publisher Gave Me a Push

My name is Henry Perez and I’m a number 1 bestselling Kindle author.

I’m the author of two thrillers, Killing Red and Mourn the Living. Both feature a Chicago newspaper reporter named Alex Chapa who has a habit of getting into trouble with some very bad folks, pissing off important people, and breaking big stories.

It seems like a relatively short time ago, three years, four at most, that I stood in a Borders and held a Sony Reader in my hands for the first time. I remember how that night I told my wife that I had seen the future of publishing.

But I had no idea…

If you had asked me then I would have told you we were still five to ten years or so away from the point where e-books would begin to have a significant impact on the publishing business.

Obviously, I was wrong.

Back in early 2008, Joe and I were each asked to write a short story for an anthology titled Missing. We had often discussed the possibility of writing something together, so we asked the publisher if we could collaborate on one long story instead of two shorter ones. We got the okay, and that story became Floaters, a 14,000 word novella that featured my protagonist Alex Chapa teaming up with Lt. Jack Daniels.

I had a great time writing it, but I didn’t give Floaters much thought after that, as I was busy working on the final revisions on my first novel, Killing Red. Then, in the summer of 2009, Joe approached me with the idea of putting Floaters up on Kindle. By then he was beginning to have some success in the e-book market. I liked the idea, so we each added short stories with introductions, as well as an interview, in order to give the reader more bang for their buck, and launched it in May of that year.

I didn’t see it as a money-making opportunity, necessarily, but more as a way to introduce readers to my work in advance of the release of Killing Red, which was due out in early June.

It turned out to be both.

From the beginning, the sales numbers for Floaters have been steady, and growing. I’ve received many emails from readers who purchased Killing Red after reading Floaters. It worked out exactly as I had hoped, and we began planning a follow-up. Originally, the idea was to have a new Chapa-Daniels novella ready to launch this past July, but other projects and time constraints pushed the date into this fall.

That was no big deal as far as I was concerned. After all, as a conventionally published author, original e-books were primarily a way of generating publicity while making available material I cared about that publishers wouldn’t handle (like novellas). Though I have long believed in the great potential of e-books, I remained unsure of just how big an impact they could have at this time for a relatively new author like me.

Then a lot of things changed all at once.

Mourn the Living, my second thriller, was released on August 3. For two weeks its Amazon numbers, both for the print version as well as the Kindle, were okay. I assume the same was probably true for the retail numbers, but that’s only an assumption at this point.

But on the morning of August 16, when I checked my Amazon numbers, I saw that the e-book version of Mourn the Living was now available as a free download. I knew this was coming—sort of—I knew my publisher planned on doing that as a promotion, but I did not know when, or on which site.

The real shock, however, came when I looked at the book’s rank—number 12 among the freebies. An hour later it was ninth. By midday Mourn the Living was second on the list, and later that afternoon it reached number one.

I was thrilled. What a great way to introduce an unknown author to some of the world’s most dedicated readers. I only wish my publisher had done that with Killing Red. For the next three days, Mourn the Living remained at number 1 on the free download list. The Kindle version of Killing Red (not a freebie) also spiked during that time. All the while, however, the Amazon ranking for the print versions of both books improved only slightly.

When I checked my Amazon numbers on the morning of August 19, I immediately noticed that Mourn the Living was no longer available as a free download. For a moment I thought, Well, that was fun while it lasted.

Then I scrolled down to check my rank—Number 1 on Amazon’s list of bestsellers, ahead Stieg Larsson’s three novels, and Eat, Pray, Love, and Carl Hiaasson, and James Patterson. Number 1 in Books > Literature & Fiction. Number 1 in Books > Suspense, etc. You get the idea.

Mourn the Living held the top spot for several days. During that time, the e-book version of Killing Red moved into the top 100, then the top 50. Floaters also moved up into the top 250.

Over the next week, Mourn the Living was mentioned on numerous blogs, tweeted about, and my inbox traffic jumped from 2-3 pieces of reader and writing business email per week, to 4-6 per day. There was something viral going on, maybe not a full blown pandemic, but something significant.

Mourn the Living stayed in the top 10 for more than a week, in the top 100 for over two weeks. The Amazon numbers for the print versions of my books also improved significantly.

So how did all of this happen? Well, first, it speaks to the awesome power of Amazon. There’s never been anything quite like it in publishing. The opportunities that it affords a writer or publisher to connect directly with readers is unlike anything in the history of publishing.

Second, there is now a definable e-book community. It is large, enthusiastic, and growing exponentially. I say “enthusiastic” because I’ve noticed how many of my Kindle readers have made a point of identifying themselves as such in emails. It’s a community that is plugged in, turned on, and hungry for the next big book or new author discovery.

Now, none of this is meant to suggest that authors should turn their backs on conventional publishing. On the contrary. I’m not one of those who claims to know for certain that the publishing industry will collapse in two, or three, or (insert your own number) years.

The big publishers in New York have the power, resources, and personnel needed to continue to dominate the industry. That may well require a significant change in their business model, but they also have the ability to develop and implement that. Consider that it would have been far more difficult, if not nearly impossible, for me as an individual to achieve the results my publisher got out of a promotion on Amazon.

Ideally, authors should a have a foot in both conventional publishing and e-books, including Amazon exclusives—especially Amazon exclusives. The good news is that being rejected or dropped by New York publishers is no longer a death sentence, not for a book, a series, and certainly not for an author.

Every author, regardless of their success level, now has a powerful outlet for their work. E-books are more than just a tool, though, they represent an important and necessary market for every author. Miss out on the e-book readers, and you’re missing out on the future.

A year ago, I looked at Amazon as a sort of safety net, in case a future book of mine didn’t find a nice home in New York. Three months ago, I thought of it as a viable option, in case a future book of mine didn’t garner the sort of offer I wanted from a traditional publisher. Today, I see it as a vital market, one that I’m certain I will write for directly in the not too distant future. Any other approach would be foolish and short-sighted.

It’s amazing how one’s outlook can change in just a matter of days.

As for that future I thought I saw a few years ago—it’s here, and it’s a lot bigger and much more exciting than I could have imagined.

Joe sez: A few things jump out at me when I hear Henry's story.

The first one is: His publisher had no idea what they were doing. They spent a few bucks to get Amazon to release Mourn the Living as a freebie, but they did it for just four days--one of the shortest free periods I've ever seen since watching the Kindle boards. This was not a vote of confidence on their part.

The fact that it jumped straight to the #1 Paid Bestseller list is impressive, and not a feat I've seen repeated too often. If it was that easy, then every publisher would do that with every book.

This is yet another instance of the Spaghetti Theory so many publishers subscribe to--throwing a bunch of ideas at a wall and seeing if any stick. This one stuck, and it resulted in a decent amount of sales, along with an instant fan-base that Henry will be able to tap into for future books.

I disagree with Henry that NY Publishers will continue to dominate. In fact, this shows why they won't dominate. They simply have no idea what works and what doesn't. You would think that having a #1 Kindle Bestseller would have caused his publisher to somehow capitalize on the notoriety, or follow it up somehow. Perhaps with ads. Perhaps with longer coop. Perhaps by beefing up his Amazon page with an interview, or a video clip. Perhaps by mentioning it on their freakin' website.

Nope. Epic fail. Kensington is not ready for an ebook future.

The second thing I find intriguing is how little his print numbers jumped in rank, even though he had two ebooks in the Top 50. The gap between ebooks and print seems to be widening.

Henry hasn't gotten his numbers yet, but I have no doubt he sold thousands of ebooks. And his rankings on both Chapa titles are still holding firm. While Henry was lucky that his publisher did this promotion, he now needs them less than they need him. He will always be a #1 Bestseller, and the fans he's accrued will no doubt buy more of his work, because he writes good books. He's the brand, not Kensington.

Third, it's pretty obvious but worth mentioning that if readers like something, they buy more. Floaters has sold a modest 200 copies a month since we released it last year. In August it sold over 500 copies, all thanks to the boost Mourn the Living gave it.

Why am I selling 250 ebooks a day? Because I have 27 different ebooks for sale on Amazon.

The more ebooks you have, the more you'll sell.

I'm thrilled Henry is making money and finding readers. And at this point in time, going through a traditional publisher is the only way to make a splash as big as he did.

I've known for years that publishers create bestsellers. Only they have the money, connections, and distribution networks to get books in front of a lot of eyes at once.

But give it time. Amazon is smart, and they're doing a lot right. Plus, authors are figuring this new frontier out faster than publishers are. We've already seen some self-pubbed bestsellers. I have no doubt we'll see some of them hit #1 in the near future.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Banana Hammock - A Harry McGlade Mystery


Now available as a low-priced kindle exclusive.

About the Book
Private Detective Harry McGlade is hired by an Amish woman who suspects her husband is cheating on her. Going undercover into their community, Harry must untangle a web of lies and deception to find the truth. This will be his biggest challenge yet. Because Harry McGlade is an idiot.

Lead Harry through a series of comic misadventures and bad puns as he traverses the J.A. Konrath universe, popping into many familiar books and stories. Prepare to be shocked and amazed by scenes that are just plain wrong.

It's over 60,000 words of Harry McGlade, which is probably way too much.

About "Write Your Own Damn Story" Adventures
Banana Hammock is not a single, linear book, and should not be read sequentially, page by page. Instead, it is an interactive text adventure.

This ebook is meant to be read out of order, depending on the path you, the reader, choose.

Harry McGlade is a continuing character in the Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels series. At the end of each section, you decide where Harry goes, and what he does. By following different paths, you can arrive at many different endings. There are literally hundreds of variations.

You control the character. You control the fun.

Join Harry and a cast pulled from JA Konrath and Jack Kilborn stories, and push ebook technology to the boundaries of reading enjoyment, or something like that.

From the Author
This ebook is filled with raunchy humor, and has something to offend everyone. If you believe there are taboo things that shouldn’t be laughed at or made fun of, don't buy it. Instead, pick up one of my other, less-offensive books. But if you like roasting sacred cows, read on. You’ll laugh.

From the Book
“Hell no, I don’t want to get your damn horse,” I said. “I’m an important man, with important stuff to do, probably.”

I turned back to Facebook and continued playing Combville—a game where you used a virtual comb to comb a virtual head of hair, over and over and over again until time and life lost all meaning and you questioned the reason for your birth.

“But Amos will starve! There’s nothing to eat in an auto pound.”

“Your horse is named Amos?”

She nodded.

“Isn’t your husband named Amos as well?”


“You don’t think that’s odd?” I asked.

“Not at all. But my brother Amos finds it strange.”

“I promise we’ll get the horse later,” I lied. “Right now we need to go to the costume shop.”

“For what?” Lulu asked.

“For one of those plain black suits and an Abe Lincoln beard.” I winked. “I’m going undercover as an Amish guy.”

To go to the costume shop, CLICK HERE
To keep playing Combville, CLICK HERE

About the Author
JA Konrath is the author of seven novels in the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thriller series. The latest is SHAKEN, published by AmazonEncore. He also wrote the horror novels AFRAID, TRAPPED, and ENDURANCE under the name Jack Kilborn, and the sci-fi novel TIMECASTER under the name Joe Kimball.

Konrath has a lot of names, apparently. His newest is DRACULAS, written with Blake Crouch, F. Paul Wilson, and Jeff Strand.

is his attempt to recapture the fun he had as a child reading those books where you decide what the characters do. But this ebook is definitely NOT for children.

Actually, it's not for anyone who has a shred of decency.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

DRACULAS Advance Reading Copies

If you haven't been on my blog for the last few days, I've got a new ebook experiment going on.

Earlier this year, I asked three fellow writers if they wanted to collaborate on a horror novel. I've worked with each of them before (F. Paul Wilson, Jeff Strand, and Blake Crouch) and they're all consummate professionals.

The result of our efforts, DRACULAS - A Novel of Terror, will be released on Kindle, October 19. You can currently download the first 50 pages for free, and pre-order the ebook.

Now we're attempting to generate some buzz prior to the launch, by treating this like a traditional release rather than an indie release. That means we're looking for a few good reviewers.

Do you want a free advance reading copy of DRACULAS?

Here’s what you do…

Send an email to and confirm that:

1. You will post a review of DRACULAS by October 18 on your blog or website, along with a link to Amazon’s pre-order page (which will be provided to you along with the book and press release.)

2. You will post that same review to Amazon’s DRACULAS page when the book is officially launched on October 19.

3. Make sure to include your name and the web-address of your website or blog, which may be linked to from this blog when the book goes live in the Kindle store.

Your email address will of course be kept confidential, and anyone who writes a review, good or bad, will be thanked in the acknowledgments of a future edition of DRACULAS.

We anticipate having a final manuscript of the book ready to email on or before October 1.


No problem. We're going to have a dedicated DRACULAS website page. Write a review, email it to the above address, and we'll post it there. Then you can link to your review via Twitter and Facebook, if you use them. You can also post reviews on and

You can also email the above address for interview requests.

Thanks in advance for helping us spread the word! And please email and not me directly. We want to make sure your email is read, not lost in my huge stack of unanswered emails.

Friday, September 10, 2010

DRACULAS Teaser Chapters

Now up on Kindle are teaser chapters for the horror novel DRACULAS, written by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson.

This comprises the first 50 pages of the novel, and it's free. The pre-order page will be up shortly. DRACULAS is being released October 19, for $2.99. You can preorder it here:

Mortimer Moorecook, retired Wall Street raider, avid collector, is losing his fight against cancer. With weeks to live, a package arrives at the door of his hillside mansion—an artifact he paid millions for…a hominoid skull with elongated teeth, discovered in a farmer’s field in the Romanian countryside. With Shanna, his beautiful research assistant looking on, he sinks the skull’s razor sharp fangs into his neck, and immediately goes into convulsions.

A rural hospital. A slow night in the ER. Until Moorecook arrives strapped to a gurney, where he promptly codes and dies.

Four well-known horror authors pool their penchants for scares and thrills, and tackle one of the greatest of all legends, with each writer creating a unique character and following them through a vampire outbreak in a secluded hospital.

The goal was simple: write the most intense book they possibly could.

Which they did.

A word of warning:

Within these pages, you will find no black capes, no satin-lined coffins, no brooding heartthrobs who want to talk about your feelings. Forget sunlight and stakes. Throw out your garlic and your crosses. This is the Anti-TWILIGHT.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Coming October 21, exclusively on Amazon Kindle for $2.99.

DRACULAS - A Novel of Terror

Written by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson.

More details coming very soon...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Scott Nicholson on the Never-Ending Book

This should have ran yesterday, but I'm in New Orleans at a conference and sobriety has eluded me.

I met Scott a few years ago, on the horror circuit, and found him to be smart and likeable. He's also a great writer, and if you like thrillers you shouldn't even hesitate; buy everything he's written.

It's my pleasure to host him here, and I apologize for the delay in getting this up. Here's Scott:

Scott: If not for Joe, I’d be getting a lot more sleep.

No, there’s not some secret man-crush thing going on (unless it’s so secret I don’t know about it yet), nor is it his enthralling and sometimes disturbing fiction—though that has added plenty of adrenaline to my system.

Joe just happened to be at the right place at the right time when I was at a big crossroads in my writing career. I’ve known Joe a little bit for years, though mostly through passing in the Internet night. By late 2009, I’d left my agent and was a couple of years removed from the paperback midlist, and despite staying busy with comics and screenplays, I really wanted to meet fiction readers again.

I’d spent a few months exploring how to get my first novel The Red Church back out there. Trying to get it into bookstores on my own just seemed so troublesome and expensive, and not likely to bring me many new readers unless I sent them there in the first place—which clearly is the dilemma of the major publishing industry as well.

I’d cruised by Joe’s blog fairly regularly and started noticing this “e-book thing” he kept raving about. I’d tried e-books five or six years back and came away with the notion that nobody was going to sit there and read a book on the computer. Silly me, I hadn’t kept up with the changing world. I live in an Appalachian Mountain hollow without television and with chickens as my primary entertainment. I didn’t even own a cell phone until last year, so how could I know people were now carrying their libraries with them and reading books on credit cards and gum wrappers?

Then Christmas 2009 came and the Gold Rush was on. I launched The Red Church for Kindle on Jan. 1, figuring I’d get a few dozen readers and I’d be happy with that, since all it cost was a few days to learn formatting. Sales were slow for a bit, but in the spring the book found an audience and hit #1 in both the “Ghosts” category and “Christian science fiction & fantasy” on Amazon. My daughter was mightily impressed to see me ranked ahead of Stephen King and C.S. Lewis.

The siren’s lure of simplicity had me quickly formatting an original title, The Skull Ring, which my agent once loved but for some reason we never shopped. Bingo, shopping days were done. Click, click, upload, and now readers do the shopping, not the agents. Because it is a crime and suspense novel, I am especially pleased to see it has become the best-reviewed of my books, since I’m mostly known for paranormal thrillers.

Well, a bunch of books later, and here I am right where Joe planted a seed that has now become my digital tree. This is Act II of my career, and I work pretty much nonstop on writing, promoting, exploring the online reading community, and meeting cool new people. Coffee and keyboards collide in my happy place.

This has by far been the most satisfying and rewarding part of my 14-year career, because you are just a mouse click away from me. In fact, I feel like we’re pretty much connected through these wires and pixels. You’re in my head. Play all you want.

I don’t expect to be a bestseller, and I know my stories don’t appeal to everyone, though the books coming out during the tour vary widely in scope. A beta reader told me he’d never read anything like As I Die Lying, which is exactly the kind of reception I hope for. I’ve never read anything like it either. I am not even sure it is a book, or who wrote it. And I’m marketing it as “The Worst Novel Ever Written.”

I have Gateway Drug: Mystery Stories coming (with a bonus Konrath tale), and also the “author’s preferred edition” of an older book now with the “author’s preferred title” of Forever Never Ends. A book co-written with J.R. Rain will be out in November. And there’s some other stuff I am working on that you may never know I’ve written. And one project that’s so weird even As I Die Lying will seem normal, because it’s a never-ending book in a constant state of evolution.

I don’t know about you or Joe, but I am incredibly grateful that this digital era has allowed me to be as bold as I dare to be, grow wings as big as the sky, and swim an ocean as deep as our combined imagination.

This is the greatest era since Gutenberg pressed some wood pulp. Let it flow.


Scott Nicholson is author of Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, and 10 other novels, five story collections, four comics series, and six screenplays. A journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, he often uses local legends in his work. This tour is sponsored by Amazon, Kindle Nation Daily, and Dellaster Design.

To be eligible for the Kindle DX, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free ebooks to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. And, hey, buy my books and put me in the Top 100 and I’ll throw in another random Kindle 3 giveaway. Thanks for playing. Complete details at

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Journey of the Late Adopter

Day 1 - Ebooks? No way! Too expensive, and print will never be replaced.

Day 40 - Sure, authors like Konrath are making a bit of money, but this is a niche market.

Day 94 - Konrath is paying his mortgage with ebook sales? Big deal. He's an exception.

Day 112 - Okay, so the price of ereaders has dropped. They're still too expensive.

Day 223 - So a bunch of authors are making a bit of money on ebooks. Big deal. They're exceptions.

Day 300 - Okay, so the price of ereaders has dropped again. They're still too expensive.

Day 432 - Konrath is making over 12k a month? Big deal. He's an exception.

Day 541 - Hmm, ereaders are pretty cheap. But I'd never give up print books. I like print too much.

Day 940 - A lot of bookstores seem to be closing. Maybe I should have bought more print books.

Day 1114 - There sure are a lot of people with ereaders. The devices are easier to use, inexpensive, and have a lot more features. And there are millions of ebooks available, most of them cheaper than the print versions.

Day 1322 - Lots of authors are releasing enriched and enhanced ebooks. Some bigshot bestsellers are even releasing ebooks without a print version.

Day 1496 - Maybe I'll ask for an ereader for my birthday.

Day 1594 - I love my f*cking ereader. How'd I ever live without it?

Day 1687 - You don't have an ereader yet? Wake up and join the present day, you caveman.


Ereaders have been around for over a decade, but I believe the revolution really began to pick up speed when Amazon released the Kindle 2 in 2009.

According to my scenario, by July of 2013, ereaders will be adopted by the majority of readers the US, and the preferred method of book buying.

This timeline is purely guesswork, of course. I'm basing it on the gradual adoption of the iPod by consumers, particularly the period of growth from 2004 to 2006, when sales went from four million a year to forty million a year. They are currently plateaued at over fifty million a year, and have been since 2007.

That '04 to '06 growth spurt looks a lot like what's happening now in the ereader world, with Random House recently reporting that ebook sales up were up 300% and Amazon predicting ebooks would soon outsell paperbacks on their site.

We're certainly in a time of tremendous growth, and it probably won't plateau for another two years or so. If it follows the same trend as the mp3 player (which followed other tech trends like home computers, cell phones, DVD players, and flat screen TVs) then my scenario may not be far off the mark.

Hear that, all of you naysayers? All of you folks saying you hate ereaders and will never get one? All of you who love the printed word and won't ever give up paper books?

By July 2013 you'll be eating those words.