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...

278 comments:

1 – 200 of 278   Newer›   Newest»
Vivi Anna said...

Joe, you certainly did fan those flames... LOL

But all true.

Doolols said...

It's absolutely frightening - frighteningly true.

Remind me again, why am I desperate to be signed to a publishing house?

KevinMc said...

Can't argue with a word of it. ;) And if you keep writing fun reads like that on your blog, I'm gonna have to go buy one of your books, Joe.... ;)

That said, I think that there *could* be a place for publishers in the new market. They're going to need to change (a lot), but I think there will be a place. Some thoughts:

- Publishers could become platforms in their own right. Some are already: consider Baen, which publishes a pretty narrow band of SF targeted at a specific sort of reader. They've gotten to the point where a reader can pretty much buy a Baen book and be guaranteed a good read, of the sort of story they enjoy. Push that, and publishers could have an added value for the author.

- Go into epub direct sales themselves. Publishers know books, they know authors, they have deep(ish) pockets. They could build their own epub bases like Amazon, Kobo, and B&N.

- Begin offering a la carte services for authors. Editing, covers, business assistance, even legal representation could all be services that publishers could offer authors on a fee-based basis in the future.

Notice that none of this involves contracts where publishers pay authors a tiny percentage of profits for doing most of the work, however... Publishers are going to need to come up with value to match what they want to charge, or they will become irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I'm a NYT bestselling author & this anecdote was told to me by a friend, also a NYT bestselling author. She was sitting in her editor's office (because she was a Big Deal Author, this guy is no mere editor but the Editor-In-Chief...fancy schmancy office and all). Anyway, this guy's boss -- he's the publisher -- comes in for a brief consultation with the EIC about a problem with some other book/author. They resolve whatever the issue is & when the Publisher leaves, he turns to say to the EIC -- and I quote, verbatim -- "This would be a great business if only it weren't for the authors..."

BTW, the presence/existence of my friend was never acknowledged even once during this entire incident.

I will only add that for all the years (many) I have been around publishing, I have heard endless complaints about how lousy business is, how the books aren't selling, etc etc. Yet never once have I ever heard of anyone missing lunch at the Four Seasons.

Not bitter, just a realist...

Anonymous said...

Filing this under "Things that make you think long and hard about chasing agents."

Joe Konrath said...

Yet never once have I ever heard of anyone missing lunch at the Four Seasons.

LMAO!

author Scott Nicholson said...

Boy-YOW.

I can understand and forgive almost everything about the publishing industry but, in my career, there is one thing I've seen that truly bothers me on a gut level: writers who spent years or decades at the craft, and have enough faith in an agent or editor to give them a chance to consider their labor of love and a lifetime of commitment to craft, and do everything by the book, format the query letter according to specific needs that border on OCD...and then not even be worthy of worthy of a 10-second email saying "No, thank you."

Momma taught me what is rude and what is arrogant. That's one part I'll never miss.

Scott

Ms Kitty said...

My laptop is covered with ice, which is spreading throughout my house. Looks like I won't need the AC all day. (LOL)

Joe Konrath said...

It's worth noting that this piece is satire and is meant to be funny.

I'm not trying to cause an uprising and overthrow the publishing industry. Really.

Anonymous said...

DAYUM.

why do i not believe that? ^

Anonymous said...

Joe, you needn't worry about overthrowing the publishing biz. They're doing a fine job all by themselves.

Anne R. Allen said...

Hilarious, chilling and awfully convincing. A Colbert moment.

Morgan Mandel said...

I don't see any reason to go with a publishing company to get an ebook published, but I wouldn't do it without a good editor and some awfully good cover art. I particularly don't like the idea of going with a publisher in the hopes of them perhaps, maybe, deciding to print publish the book if it makes enough ebook sales. That's a big if, with most of the ebook money sitting in the publisher's pocket.

If I were offered a publishing contract for a print book, I'd look long and hard about what the terms were for ebooks before signing on. It wouldn't be worth it, unless the advance was so great I'd be willing to take the gamble. The exception might be books that usually don't do as well in ebook form. I'd have to research that to find out.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

josephrobertlewis said...

This. A thousand times.

By the way, dramatizations are by far my preferred format for satire, mockery, and ridicule.

Jack Orion said...

WRITER should be played by Corey Feldman. I like Kathy Bates as EDITOR.

MJRose said...

I'm not commenting on anything but one point. Joe - you keep making fun of advertising even though there is proof if done correctly it works.

Just because you never click on ads or notice them doesn't mean others don't. Millions of readers do.

If you know how to do facebook ads they are amazingly powerful.

Targeted and reaching exactly the right people.

Via Authorbuzz.com we recently did $500 of them for an author and over 1500 people went to her book page at Amazon. In five days - that was more traffic than she'd gotten from four months of networking and blogging. And her sales for those five days showed it.

Did she sell $500 worth of books?

Yes.

Between Amazon and bookstore sale reports look like she sold more than that - but even if she had only sold $250 worth of books but every one of those readers if they like the book could turn around and via word of mouth influence others.

Yes word of mouth is the #1 way to sell books but to get word of mouth started advertising works.

Luke said...

Joe, your post betrays an obvious bitterness toward traditional publishers. I know you'll deny it, but I'm sure others perceive the envy that seems so obvious in many of your posts.

Why not just promote your point of view? Why do you have this need to belittle the club you no longer belong to. And no, I'm not connected with any publisher. But it seems obvious you haven't completely reconciled their rejection of your recent work.

If your Kindle sales continue strong, you have no reason to concern yourself with print publishers. So why do your constantly come back to this topic with such a cynical, juvenile tone?

Get over it. Move on. In the past, you offered useful insights to aspiring writers -- without the chip on your shoulder. You'll do better if you return to those roots.

Derek J. Canyon said...

LOL! Excellent, Joe!

I've put up specific information on my blog about editing and cover costs, if anyone's interested.

My editor charges $25/hr, and was able to go through about 2700 words/hr of my 15,000 short story compilation. Total editing cost $112ish.

The cover for the compilation cost me $500.

So, total outlay for the compilation is about $612.

For my novel, it'll probably be around $1500.

This does not include the cost of my website hosting or a book I've purchased on Kindle formatting, which are negligable.

So, for somewhere around $2000, I'll have two titles on Amazon.

Every copy of the novel over 1000 that I sell will be profit.

And there was much rejoicing.

Joe Konrath said...

@ MJ - If publishers did a good job advertising books there wouldn't be a need for Authorbuzz, would there? :)

@ Luke - I'm still part of the publishing world. The seven ebooks they control are overpriced, not available on all platforms and regions, and the royalties are ludicrous.

52.5% is a travesty, and the world should know it, and publishing should change.

Mary McDonald said...

Haha! Love it! Especially the ending. Will you be expanding this to novel length? ;-)

J. Dane Tyler said...

Wow, Joe, informative AND funny. This is hysterical. I hope I get to have this conversation someday. Really.

Brilliant.

Joe Konrath said...

envy? seriously? dude, I'd pay to get my rights back from my publishers. that ain't envy.

i also find it telling that you commented on my bitterness, but not on the fact that this satire speaks the truth.

the truth may be painful, but it should be said.

Luke said...

"I'd pay to get my rights back from my publishers. that ain't envy."

Joe, that you'd pay to get back your rights doesn't in any way contradict my point about your apparent envy. This is a silly argument on your part.

"i also find it telling that you commented on my bitterness, but not on the fact that this satire speaks the truth."

You make a incorrect assumption here. I don't think your satire speaks the truth -- at least, not the whole or substantial truth. Portraying publishers as if they are morons reflects your naivete, not theirs. I don't suggest that NY publishers always make good business decisions -- they don't -- but, by and large, they're far more knowledgeable than you portray them.

"the truth may be painful, but it should be said."

Joe, I agree with this last statement, but then, it's rather self-evident, isn't it.

MJRose said...

Joe -not sure I get your logic there. Authorbuzz is an ad agency. We can be hired by publishers or authors. We specialize in more creative advertising because we come from advertising. When publishers and authors use us more books sell.

Daryl Sedore said...

Joe,

Fabulous post and so realistic.

I saw no envy, sorry Luke. The only bitterness came through in comments, sorry MJ Rose.

Poignant and precise.

The Big Six have ruled long enough. The age has come and there'll always be someone intelligent and witty who leads out of the gate.

Boy won't the "smart" ones in the literary agent and publishing world be surprised in years to come when there's the Big Two: Amazon and Apple.

Have no doubt. This is true. The future is here.

Go ahead, deny it. But if you do, examine why. You must be one of two things: 1) Making a living (influenced) off of traditional publishing or 2)ignorant.

The information is out there for the taking. The proof is in the numbers. Check July stats for e-books.

This isn't a joke. Haters will be haters.

There is absolutely no way to alter what is coming for e-books.

Traditional publishing has no future. Period.

jtplayer said...

I guess it's officially time to take down the "Newbie's Guide To Publishing".

And yeah...the chip on the shoulder thing is starting to wear thin.

I've sampled some of the work by the "traditional publishers suck" crowd around here.

For me, so much of it is...less than stellar?

But never fear, you guys have this whole new frontier to explore, one where you are in control and get to set the rules. Or so you think.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy visiting here daily, if only to keep up with what's going on.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, that you'd pay to get back your rights doesn't in any way contradict my point about your apparent envy. This is a silly argument on your part.

No, it's silly to think I'm envious of an industry that I'm actively trying to get out of.

Portraying publishers as if they are morons reflects your naivete, not theirs.

If you truly believe that a publisher deserves 52.5% of ebook royalties, and the artist who created that ebook deserves only 1/3 of that, then I don't see any point in continuing this discussion. There's an obvious disconnect.

Publishing is a broken, wasteful business. I have many examples of this, both hard-earned, and shared by my peers. But for many years publishing was the only game in town, and if a writer wanted to reach readers he had to work through this system.

But not anymore. Now we have a choice.

If all of those smart people in publishing want to survive, maybe they should start paying attention to the things I've been trying to tell them for two years now.

I'm happy to make a quick list for you.

Bad - Huge advances that you'll never earn back.

Bad - Windowing ebooks.

Bad - Cover art without consulting the author.

Bad - Changing an author's title.

Bad - Ebook royalty rates.

Bad - Ebooks priced over five bucks.

Bad - Treating bookstores as your customers (hint: your real customers are the readers.)

Bad - Not exploiting all the rights you've bought.

Bad - Lousy websites.

Bad - Paying for author tours that don't recoop their costs in sales.

Bad - Full page ads in the NY Times.

Bad - High priced offices.

Bad - Orphaning books.

Bad - Returns.

Bad - Not doing focus groups.

Bad - Not giving readers what they want (hint: no windowing and cheaper ebooks)

Bad - Not growing authors like you used to.

Bad - Treating a 50% sell-though as acceptable.

Bad - Grabbing ebook rights that weren't specified in the contract.

Bad - Not making books available to stores that ordered and want them.

I could get into specific mistakes these smart people make, if you'd like. Editorial mistakes. Marketing mistakes. Advertising mistakes. Publicity mistakes.

But that has been tolerated, because we writers had no choice. It was your way or the highway.

Now let's do a list of the things publishing does well.

Good - Editing.

Good - Providing cover art.

Good - Getting books into stores.

Good - Providing some marketing and publicity.

But in an ebook world, and author doesn't need a publisher to do any of this.

Now I tried to show, using satire, how silly publishing is when it comes to ebook prices and royalty rates. And I'm right.

I'd love for you to explain how I'm wrong, rather than just saying I am and calling me bitter and envious.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe -not sure I get your logic there. Authorbuzz is an ad agency. We can be hired by publishers or authors. We specialize in more creative advertising because we come from advertising. When publishers and authors use us more books sell.

MJ - My post was about publishing's disconnect with reality when it comes to ebooks, including the advertising of them. It wasn't a rant against advertising.

If publishers did a good job advertising on their own, they wouldn't need to hire an outside ad agency.

wannabuy said...

Joe,
I loved the read.
I'm not trying to cause an uprising and overthrow the publishing industry. Really.
Too late. ;)

The numbers prove the publishers are idiots:
http://ebookcomments.blogspot.com/

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

I guess it's officially time to take down the "Newbie's Guide To Publishing".

I'm still publishing, jt. But now I get to make my own mistakes, rather than have them thrust upon me.

HL Arledge said...

Satire is supposed to be over the top to get the point across. It's writing. It's what we do.

I may not always agree completely with Joe, but in this case, I can say nothing but "Well done."

jtplayer said...

Right on Joe...and kudos for doing it your way.

I was only referring to the fact the newbie's guide is geared towards pursuing traditional publishing.

Do you have plans to revise it to reflect the changes in your career?

Apologies if you've already done so...I haven't perused the guide for a while.

wannabuy said...

JT said:
But never fear, you guys have this whole new frontier to explore, one where you are in control and get to set the rules. Or so you think.
Please read my link above if you missed the July book sales numbers. Those Indie authors are selling due to their better value.

A $99 Kindle by Christmas would be an interesting game changer...

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

Apologies if you've already done so...I haven't perused the guide for a while.

Gotcha, you meant the ebook, not the blog.

The ebook is filled with ebook info, and writing info, and agent info. It info pertaining to how to get published traditionally is still relevant, assuming that's a route writers want to take.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Those Indie authors are selling due to their better value."
---------------------

I checked out the link Neil, thanks for posting it.

No doubt the indies offer a "better value", as you put it.

But better content?

The jury is still out on that one. Based on the numerous samples I've read, I'd say not.

I have Kindle for my imac, iphone and PC. I haven't yet taken the plunge on an ereader. Maybe I will if they ever get to, say, 50 bucks. Then it would make sense for me.

I follow numerous blogs and message boards related to writing, particularly independents, and as such I sample a lot of the writing by proponents of indie vs traditional.

In particular, I like to sample the work of the loudest critics of the "Big 6", just to see for myself if they really have the goods, or they're just full of shit.

Sadly, I've found a lot of them aren't published for a reason, and if it weren't for Amazon & Kindle and the lack of "gatekeepers", their work would never see the light of day.

Unless of course, they were to spend a ton of money on a vanity press.

Anyway, the point is, IMO value doesn't equal quality, and sales don't equal good writing.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

It's always funny/sad to see that the most vehement nay-sayers seem to have so much of their own sense of self-worth tied up in the traditional model.

I'm still trying to figure out why someone succeeding outside of that model is such a massive provocation to them, personally, that they feel the need to attack.

I would be far more likely to listen to their counter-opinions, if it didn't all seem to come down to issues of self-worth, validation and the like.

I prefer to operate in the real world of sales numbers, growing fan-bases, etc., rather than the Rainbow Land of Special Unicorn Self-Esteem.

Jon VanZile said...

Ha ha. The only thing is ... you pay $500 for an "editor" to provide both a content and copy edit for a full-length novel, and you will definitely get what you paid for.

I'm not arguing with the meat of the post, but you're underestimating the cost of comparable editing. Trade books get a content edit (your editor) and typically two rounds of copy editing—I know this because I'm a freelance editor who works with trade publishers. To recreate that level of editing independently would cost more than $500.

Is it money well spent? Well, that's up to the authors and has more to do with their tolerance for errors than anything else. It's true that a single $500 professional proof is better than nothing, but that's about all your gonna get at that rate, providing the book isn't too long.

You could, of course, hire some college student whose never picked up a copy of the CMS, but like I said, you get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

Joe, bravo.

Love to hear your take on this piece:

http://technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/25783/

Particularly the bit about Amazon's motivations and numbers behind announcing ebooks taking over hardcover sales.

jtplayer said...

Re: "I would be far more likely to listen to their counter-opinions, if it didn't all seem to come down to issues of self-worth, validation and the like."
-----------------

A bit judgmental?

Unless you've found a way to get inside someone's heart and mind, how the heck could you ever know if that statement you made is true? In particular, the "self-worth" part.

Tuppshar Press said...

jtplayer: "Anyway, the point is, IMO value doesn't equal quality, and sales don't equal good writing."

This is true. The reverse is also true. Popularity is not an indication of quality; nor is its absence. And this is one of the problems with the traditional gatekeeper approach: the assumptions that the gatekeepers know that they are doing, along with the belief that they are solely interested in quality. In fact, as I have long argued, book acquisitions are primarily governed, especially in the current economic climate of the United States, by the short-term profit motive. this doesn't mean big publishers can't put out quality work, or that they don't; it just means that isn't what they're most concerned with.

Big publishers have a lot of overhead, and they need to sell blockbusters to pay for it. I've met many editors who'd like to publish high quality literary stuff, but they can't, because high quality literary writing has trouble selling enough to justify the investment.

Small publishers and self-publishers, especially with ebooks, don't have that overhead problem. Because a large, short-term profit is not at the head of their list of things they need to do, they can, of they choose to, focus on quality.

Of course, that doesn't mean they will, but that's what previews are for.

jtplayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jtplayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jtplayer said...

Great link anonymous.

"Irrational exuberance", gotta love it man.

Spend some time at the Kindle message boards...you'll get an eye full that'll make you nauseous.

People in love with their devices and cheap books...couldn't care less about the future of quality writing.

Judgmental?

Hell yeah!

KevinMc said...

Joe, you commented after a list of services publishers provide that "But in an ebook world, and author doesn't need a publisher to do any of this."

That's true.

But I think it remains to be seen whether authors *want* someone else to do those things, even if they don't *need* them to. I don't *need* to have a mechanic rotate my tires, change my oil, or change my brakes either - but I prefer to not have to do it. ;) I think many authors will continue to see the "business side" of writing and publishing as something they'd rather hire out to someone else.

That doesn't mean they'll want to give the lion's share of profits for those services! I think we're going to see a host of new small publishers launch over the next half decade, nimble and ready to offer services at price commensurate withe the value. There will be something of a price war for editing, covers, etc., I think. And some of the big publishers will streamline themselves, change with the times, and do quite well.

I absolutely think there's a market for many services in the space between writing a novel and getting it to the reader. It's the manner in which those services are provided and the money that is paid for them which will change.

Robin O'Neill said...

I have a chip on my shoulder. I got it from being in the business 30 years. Fan away, Joe.
Probably the last novel I will ever have tradpubbed was sold before I really became involved with ebooks.

The way this publisher functions is to print just enough books so you earn back your advance but never get royalities. They don't tell you that, you have to get their other disenchanted authors to tell you.

I'm sorry I wasted this perfectly good novel on them.

But the editor was nice enough to tell me that the cover I did myself (so that's $0 cost) for one of my books was as good as anything they would do.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

@jtplayer -- the quality issue is a rather nice strawman that you're beating handily, there.

Yes, a lot of self-pubbed stuff is crap. So is a lot of stuff coming from the big 6. Customers will buy what they like, as they've always done.


And I don't need to "see inside someone's heart & mind" -- the traditional publishing model (or music career, or film career, etc.) have always been about getting validation by being "chosen" by a gatekeeper (a publisher, a record label, a studio). Those gatekeepers aren't needed any longer -- artists can now go direct to consumer. Of course, for some people this threatens the sense of worth they have been raised to desire -- the goal of being "chosen" and validated as worthy.

Not judgemental at all-- simple fact of how things used to be done, vs how they can be done now.

KevinMc said...

The quality issue is a real concern. We all know that from history that vanity presses have long been the home of novels that were not good enough to publish traditionally (among other things - that's not always the case, but it has been true for many vanity pubs). There is a risk that with no "gatekeeper", ebook platforms could end up flooded with poorly written novels.

I think we already have some protections against that; the ability to read the first couple of chapters is a big help. You can't always tell the quality of a book by the beginning, but it can give you a good idea. And reviews are a *powerful* tool that readers seem happy to use in propping up books they like and blasting those they don't. So on some level, we're already seeing evidence that ebooks will tend to sink or rise based on their merit. As it should be.

I think there's also room for publishers to maintain their role as gatekeepers... Elsewhere, I used an example of Baen, which tends to publish mostly a narrow band of SF, targeted at a specific sort of reader. That reader can pick up a new Baen title and be reasonably assured that the book is one they'll enjoy. There are a few other publishers which do this, too.

I think there would certainly be value in some publishers pursuing this model: develop their name into a brand, one that readers would recognize as representing a specific style of book that appeals to them. Readers would then be able to *know* from past experience that buying a book from Publisher would give them a good novel to read.

Readers will *demand* some form of gatekeeping (already are, via reviews), and will welcome other forms which are targeted at providing them the sort of entertainment they desire at a good level of quality.

jtplayer said...

The quality issue, or lack of it with indie published books, is very real.

Strawman?

Nice try.

Many independent writers have a huge blind spot when it comes to the quality of their work, and the work of their peers.

Parse that out any way you want. Rationalize it how you see fit. The fact remains, people are putting up work that has no business being published, in any format. And at this point in time, Amazon could care less.

So what's the harm?

Probably none.

But it certainly is a relevant point of discussion in the current debate.

IMO.

Anonymous said...

Luke,

Your concern trolling about Joe's cynicism and lack of kindness would be made more credible if you could post links for us to similar "oh so concerned" posts you've made on agent and publisher blogs disparaging self-publishing.

Or maybe you could post a link for us to a date-stamped comment of yours taking the #queryfail people to task.

Can you help us out with either of those?

Thanks.

Brenda Sedore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda Sedore said...

It's interesting to read how fired up people get about this issue. The fact that certain people are choosing to go ebook on their own rather than traditional publishing is not a reflection on people who choose the opposite. So, why do they take it so personal?

I think it comes down to human psychology. It's not really about writing. If everything is a reflection of us, then someone saying, "This is the smart way to go!" and we haven't chosen it; well we might feel like they're saying we're stupid for our choice.

The truth is, for everything new that came on the scene of human history or will come in the future, there will be two sides. Some will scream and cry and say the people who choose this are irrational or envious because they couldn't chose what we have. The people on the other side will say, why can't they see what's coming, how much sense it makes?

It doesn't have to be them against us. We can each make our choice and then live with the consequences. I like debate as much as the rest of them, but as Konrath says, very intelligently, "I'd love for you to explain how I'm wrong, rather than just saying I am and calling me bitter and envious."

If you're coming to the debate, at least have something factual to back up your argument.

From what I've seen, it always comes back to the same old thing. If you don't go traditional, you're not as good of a writer. If I have to hear that one more time I think I'll throw up. That's what traditional publishers have used for years to keep us writers in line.

I've seen as much garbage traditionally published as I've seen non-traditional. I've also seen as much gold in both. How about the people who went self-published and then were "discovered" by the traditional publishers?

You can't blanket all writing under one statement like that when writing is subjective. Let me say that again. Writing, good writing, is a matter of opinion. So, what's wrong with letting the real judges decide?

The reader. If they don't buy, you don't sell. Period. I think we should stop having a war between the two sides and put all that amazing energy where it does the most good. Our writing.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

My point, jtplayer, is that it's meaningless to the discussion at hand. Yes, it's a valid point -- just not for what's being talked about here (whether authors are served by a largely-failing publishing industry).

Let me be clear with you: I *agree* with you about the quality issues, and with most self-publisher's blind spots -- but I also agree with KevinMc's point (above) that the readers are making the quality assessments for themselves, and sharing those assessments with others. The model works as it should.

...and, I will also point out that in this very post, Joe talks about the writer *hiring an editor* -- and flat out says that "an editor is needed." So, again, I point out that the quality issue is a strawman FOR THIS DISCUSSION.

But, given that in your own words (in your Blogger profile), you describe yourself as a "lifelong wannabe musician and author", I would say that we can pretty much see where you stand on my earlier point about validation issues, so it's not surprising that you're arguing so passionately.

I.J.Parker said...

Joe, as a fellow author who has had somewhat similar experiences with big house publishing, let me thank you for your blog and for the inspiration you are to other authors. Please do not stop or change anything. You are quoted on many mystery sites as the man who showed that we could oppose the big boys and that we need not take the treatment they have been dishing out. As to the quality issue: the big houses are not known for paying for quality, or for nurturing it. I loved also your list of "bads" and would caution against praise for their editing. Most big houses don't edit or pass the job to poorly qualified staff.

jtplayer said...

Re: "I would say that we can pretty much see where you stand on my earlier point about validation issues, so it's not surprising that you're arguing so passionately."
-------------------

Ouch!

Just for clarification...when I use the term "wannabe", I am referring to the fact I am a hobbyist. I've pursued my artistic endeavors purely for my own personal fulfillment, never with any intention of making a living at it, or even selling any of my work.

I've only fairly recently entertained serious ideas of publishing my novel. In what format I don't know. This is the reason I come here and participate in these discussions.

In fact, if you read my blog profile carefully, and honestly, you'd know this to be true.

Clearly you've made a personal judgement about me based on how you "interpret" my own words.

Fair enough...we all do it.

But the fact is, you have no idea what "validates" me or anyone else, and basing your arguments on that point is...well, it's kinda lame dude.

On top of that, please tell me, what method do you use to determine the level of a person's "passion" when he or she posts here?

Please don't take any of this as argumentative, as this is not my intention.

EFKelley said...

I honestly don't believe the 'quality' argument is one worth worrying about. Consumers have been separating wheat from chaff since forever.

Enjoyable books sell, bad books don't. Plenty of print publishers have put pure garbage on the shelves. And they lost money on those advances. Which I've always thought was ridiculous. Let my work pay me what it sells. Don't gamble on it. It's not like doing pharmaceutical research or designing new kinds of reactors. The book is a finished product. Let it sink or swim on its own merits.

In that regard, If you find your self-published ebooks not selling, you may not be clearing the quality bar that traditional publishing sets. Hire an editor, attend some workshops, learn your trade.

That's it.

Sandy Balzo said...

Great stuff, Joe--thanks. I'm trying to catch up on all this (book deadline, head under rock), but I was just reading the Kindle pricing page. Am I correct that, even if I DID retain the electronic rights to a new traditionally published book, I couldn't price the e-book lower than the lowest suggested retail price of the physical edition being offered by my bricks-and-mortar publisher?

Selena Kitt said...

The "Big Six" have treated writers really poorly in general. They put a lot of time and energy into their big performers (sometimes... I remember Stephen King leaving his publisher early on, after three or four big sellers, because he was unhappy with their attention) and they leave the "midlisters" and the folks below those hanging out to dry. That much is clear, at least anecdotally, from most of the authors I've talked to who are traditionally published.

You sure do make me glad I never went that route. And it makes me angry to think of the injustice in it. One of the reasons I created excessica in the first place was because I thought authors should receive the lion's share of their royalties - because they do most of the work. It just makes sense.

When corporations get too big, they only concentrate on their bottom line and their shareholders.

Unfortunately, Amazon is one of those corporations. And right now self-pubbed authors are useful to them. In the future? I don't know. They'd turn on them in a heartbeat, though, if it made a difference in their bottom line.

I think we need to pay close attention to the man behind the curtain. It's something to really consider and be wary of, because all the self-pubbed authors are working for Amazon now.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Great post Joe.

It comes down to overhead, once again. Publishers don't want to trim their budgets. So they drop mid-list authors instead, giving a very short boost to their bottom line and cutting their long-term earning potential.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how that business model is a guaranteed loser.

If the big publishers want to survive, they have to drop their fancy offices, their expensive (and useless) conventions, and their wasteful spending on executive salaries and other perks.

Most of them have publicly traded stock. How much you want to make a bet that executive compensation and pension benefits (for excutives) take up a huge percentage of their overhead?

People are loathe to change, even when they can see the writing on the wall. Like Blockbuster-- they knew that RedBox and Netflix were killing them, and they just let it happen. At the beginning, Blockbuster had enough money to be competitive with Redbox or Netflix. But instead, they ignored the danger. Now they are closing for good.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

"all the self-pubbed authors are working for Amazon now."

No more than anybody is "working for" the vendor that sells their wares.

Amazon's entire business model is based on the Long Tail -- the more product they have, the better for them. Keeping self-publishing authors and other small producers happy is in their best interests, because having literally everything available is what drives their sales across all categories.

Could they drop the 70% to something lower? Sure -- but as long as it stays above standard wholesale rate (45-50%), thats what any manufacturer/producer makes when selling to a vendor. It would still be a fair cut, and a better deal for authors than they're otherwise getting.


So, Yes -- be aware. That's always good advice. But also be a realist, rather than an alarmist.

Joe Konrath said...

Am I correct that, even if I DID retain the electronic rights to a new traditionally published book, I couldn't price the e-book lower than the lowest suggested retail price of the physical edition being offered by my bricks-and-mortar publisher?

Higher, Sandy. You can't price your ebook higher than the lowest price print edition.

You can price it as low as you want to. Though your print publisher might take exception with that.

Rebecca Stroud said...

Although I do not write in the genre, I am an avid reader of thriller/suspense books. One of my favorite - and very well-known - authors must've had his dog write his latest novel and then had his cat do the editing....it was so awful, I finished it only because I could hardly believe it was that bad.

Point being: Gatekeepers? Editing? Worried about indies producing crap? Lord, if I gave you the author's name and you read this fiasco, you'd retract every word you ever said about independent publishing...

Edie Ramer said...

I was at an author panel at a library today that included one NYT author, two other many times pubbed authors, one newer author with several books out, one author who's with a well-respected epub. I was the only self-pubbed writer.

After the panel was over, your name came up. No one thought you were wrong or bitter. Instead, there was a lot of interest in what you're saying, and I promised one writer I'd send her links to your last two posts.

Anyone who can't see that publishing is changing is like a kid watching a scary movie, his eyes scrunched closed and his hands over his ears during the bloody parts.

Sandy Balzo said...

Ahh, HIGHER--gotcha, Joe. That makes more sense. Thanks.

Mike Dennis said...

Great post, Joe. Also, don't forget to tell him to demonstrate a knowledge of the editing marketplace and how he intends to market his editing skills, should you deign to take him on.

Oh, and make sure you tell him to write that letter in Times New Roman 12 pt., or you will NOT read it.

Arnie said...

So glad I found this. Enjoyed reading the post, but have to admit, I enjoyed all the comments even more. Working on my own book right now and have planned to self-pub right from the beginning.

Nicole MacDonald said...

*hee* LOVE that post Joe - cept now I'm gonna have to read dozen's of rebuttals on the Agent blogs I read (keeping up with the goss of course!!). Still it'll be worth it *grin*

http://damselinadirtydress.blogspot.com

Tina Folsom said...

Joe, you've got to film this and put it on comedy central - I'm howling as I type.

Tina Folsom

Chris Bates said...

Joe, I like to read your blog but I just want to draw attention to that earlier list. Firstly a lot of people in publishing have been trying for decades to address many of your points. But...

Bad - Huge advances that you'll never earn back.
It’s a competitive business. The big titles cover the smaller ones. I’m certain publishers would prefer not to pay large advances.

Bad - Windowing ebooks.
That is entirely understandable (although I don’t agree with the practice). It is of course to protect the print model. Particularly the HC revenue.

Bad - Cover art without consulting the author.
Talk to a pro cover designer about this. Any in-house or freelance designer with the big publishing companies will shake their head at his one. Comic sans anyone?

Bad - Changing an author's title.
Check Amazon for some pearlers on that one. Like editing, it pays to listen to other input ocassionally.

Bad - Ebook royalty rates.
Hey, I agree. But we’re talking about large companies that turn like the Titanic.

Bad - Ebooks priced over five bucks.
Sure, that’s possibly to pricey. But currently the bestsellers are all above that price.

Bad - Treating bookstores as your customers (hint: your real customers are the readers.)
Customers have never bought titles direct from a publisher (apart from direct marketing). Bookstores have accounts with publishers. Readers buy from bookstores.

Bad - Not exploiting all the rights you've bought.
It costs money to properly exploit any asset.

Bad - Lousy websites.
Are we talking publisher’s sites or author sites?

Bad - Paying for author tours that don't recoop their costs in sales.
True. But it’s probably cheaper advertising than actual print advertising. Both are pretty ineffectual. Maybe no author tours would be better. Saves money and time.

Bad - Full page ads in the NY Times.
For Grisham, Patterson etc it may be very good ROI. Or it may be just a waste of cash that could have been used to fund another title.

Bad - High priced offices.
We’re talking about ‘corporations’ here. Their parent companies are monolithic media organisations. You won’t find them near a pawn shop. Although they probably deserve to be.

Bad - Orphaning books.
If every publisher kept books in print via offset runs there would be no publishers. And even if they did, bookstores wouldn’t stock the titles anyway.

Chris Bates said...

Joe, I like to read your blog but I just want to draw attention to that earlier list. Firstly a lot of people in publishing have been trying for decades to address many of your points. But...

Bad - Huge advances that you'll never earn back.
It’s a competitive business. The big titles cover the smaller ones. I’m certain publishers would prefer not to pay large advances.

Bad - Windowing ebooks.
That is entirely understandable (although I don’t agree with the practice). It is of course to protect the print model. Particularly the HC revenue.

Bad - Cover art without consulting the author.
Talk to a pro cover designer about this. Any in-house or freelance designer with the big publishing companies will shake their head at his one. Comic sans anyone?

Bad - Changing an author's title.
Check Amazon for some pearlers on that one. Like editing, it pays to listen to other input ocassionally.

Bad - Ebook royalty rates.
Hey, I agree. But we’re talking about large companies that turn like the Titanic.

Bad - Ebooks priced over five bucks.
Sure, that’s possibly to pricey. But currently the bestsellers are all above that price.

Bad - Treating bookstores as your customers (hint: your real customers are the readers.)
Customers have never bought titles direct from a publisher (apart from direct marketing). Bookstores have accounts with publishers. Readers buy from bookstores.

Bad - Not exploiting all the rights you've bought.
It costs money to properly exploit any asset.

Bad - Lousy websites.
Are we talking publisher’s sites or author sites?

Bad - Paying for author tours that don't recoop their costs in sales.
True. But it’s probably cheaper advertising than actual print advertising. Both are pretty ineffectual. Maybe no author tours would be better. Saves money and time.

Bad - Full page ads in the NY Times.
For Grisham, Patterson etc it may be very good ROI. Or it may be just a waste of cash that could have been used to fund another title.

Bad - High priced offices.
We’re talking about ‘corporations’ here. Their parent companies are monolithic media organisations. You won’t find them near a pawn shop. Although they probably deserve to be.

Bad - Orphaning books.
If every publisher kept books in print via offset runs there would be no publishers. And even if they did, bookstores wouldn’t stock the titles anyway.

Chris Bates said...

Bad - Returns.
How do all the bookshops you visited over the years react to this? There isn’t a publisher who wouldn’t like the sale or return model to disappear. And yet, most bookstores need this model to survive by allowing them credit on unsold returnable stock. Thus keeping many unknown authors on the shelf.

Bad - Not doing focus groups.
Rachet up some more costs on this one.

Bad - Not giving readers what they want (hint: no windowing and cheaper ebooks)
This will eventually happen. If only because a large number of publishers will not be offset printing by then.

Bad - Not growing authors like you used to.
Isn’t there something like 200,000 books printed in the US each year?

Bad - Treating a 50% sell-though as acceptable.
A print run of 50,000 distributed to a huge number of booksellers gives an author’s title exposure. Almost no publisher will sell-through more than 50%. Of course, they could simply lower the print run and knock out 80% of the distribution network and the numbers will look better. Any author want that? How 100,000 units at 25% or 10% sell-through?

Bad - Grabbing ebook rights that weren't specified in the contract.
Grubby, but expected. You’re not talking about churches here.

Bad - Not making books available to stores that ordered and want them.
Well, that’s just dumb business. Depending on previous experience of course. Sometimes people don’t pay their accounts. Even when you give them a second and third chop at new titles.

Certain self-publishers are going to do very well in this new ebook environment (however, they won’t make any inroads into the print/bookstore world). The level of success will probably be dependent on the same things as traditional publishing: write a good book that people want to read, pay for an edit (copy and structural), get a designer for your cover.

Get feedback.

I can strip a motor and rebuild it. But I’m crap on the spray gun. Hey, I’m still working on my car. Surely I can do it all myself? Of course not. I understand where I’m capable and where I'm not.

In the words of my old man: ‘Mate, you got your mentalities mixed up with your capabilities.’

Best case, avoid the failures of the publishing industry and embrace the successful elements.

Apologies to the viewers for the long comments.

Timothy James Dean said...

Nicely written Joe! Laughing my legs off...

Jude Hardin said...

It's possible for an author to get rich with a traditional print/ebook deal. Not likely, but possible. Acquisitions editors typically make $40K-$50K a year. So you might want to direct your contempt a little higher up the chain.

That said, you do make some valid points here. But, you know, we're all grown people, and we're free to walk away from the table like the writer in this amusing little script did. Nobody's pointing a gun to anybody's head. For me, for where I am right now, I think it made sense to take the traditional deal. And I'm very excited about having a book come out in print and being distributed nationally. You really can't buy that kind of exposure.

Oh, and Jon VanZile is absolutely correct. Nobody worth a hoot is going to edit an entire manuscript for $500. Quadruple that.

Selena Kitt said...

"You really can't buy that kind of exposure."

Yes you can - at Publisher's Weekly, apparently!

Cate Rowan said...

*howling with laughter*

Thanks for the Saturday chuckles, Joe.

Bob Mayer said...

Interesting post. I think we're getting to crunch time. As noted, Morrell is going straight to eBook, skipping traditional publishing with his backlist and his next new title. I read PW Deluxe every day and shake my head as it seems as if business as usual. I just posted a blog about reverse royalties regarding the backlist which publishers still control. A person who had been in the business a long time told me the problem with my concept was that publishers are holding on to rights with no concern whether they make any many but on the off chance that author breaks out or the book topic becomes hot; then they still own it. He said he sat in on meetings in NY where they did a print run of 500 copies of a book just to keep rights. With eBooks it's worse. If publishers want to treat writers that way, the payback is coming in the form of less and less writers seeing the value as this blog post reveals. I'm making more money with my backlist from Berkley that I got the rights to in one month, than my backlist from Random House, which they still have, in a year. And they won't even answer the certified letters I send them regarding rights. I think we all have to really shake off old habits and face the reality that change is already here. It's not coming.

wannabuy said...

JT said:
But better content?

Yes, far better content. The publishers have rejected the better material as it wasn't in their comfort zone. So two decades of excellent rejected material is seeing the light of day. I've read the blogs of three *other* Indie authors who have given up their day jobs due to finding an audience.

I've replied to you before my tricks for ensuring any e-book I buy is worth my time:
1. Read 3+ *negative* reviews on the book. One needs to know why one might dislike a book before buying.
2. Follow Amazon reviewers who like the books you like and dislike the books you dislike. I've found about six worth following.
3. Never buy a book with only 5* reviews and less than 15 reviews. See point #1. All 5* reviews is BS.
4. Put your ratings in Amazon as soon as you finish a book. Otherwise their recommendations assume you liked every book you bought.
5. Look at the 'people who bought this book also bought' list.

The only bad e-novel I've bought in two months was from one of my favorite established authors in a scenario a little more mild than Rebbecca's.

Please realize that those that have found tricks that work to find good e-books consider the 'publishers vet authors' argument a straw man argument. Why? It is easy to ignore the crap.

Please name a Kindle e-book you didn't like. I'm curious to read the reviews.

Gareth said:
I'm still trying to figure out why someone succeeding outside of that model is such a massive provocation to them, personally, that they feel the need to attack.

Some is their fear of change. But some is the desire for no change as they do not want their 'investment' in the current system to be diluted.

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

Nobody worth a hoot is going to edit an entire manuscript for $500.

I suppose that would depend on how much work the manuscript needed, wouldn't it?

Glenn G. Thater said...

Joe -- that post was just too good and too true. You're riding high on an Indie revolution that is destined to outlive and overrun the traditional publishing establishment. Many of us are on that wave, just a step or two behind you, soaring towards a future more fair, more respectful, and more profitable for the writing talent whose toils and devotions make books possible. I was traditionally published in the non-fiction arena for many years before moving to fiction a couple of years ago. I saw some semblance of the same future you’ve been prophesizing and chose not to send a single query letter to agents or publishers. I went Indie with my fiction from the beginning -- CreateSpace, Amazon DTP, and Smashwords. I've sold thousands of books in last two years going this route, and earned more royalties than the meager advances of the big 6 would ever have paid me. You are not alone. Keep up these blogs and thanks for sharing your sales figures with the world. It demonstrates that the Indie model can and does work, if you have the right talent and perseverance.
Regards,
Glenn G. Thater
Author of the Harbinger of Doom saga

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Joe, I agree with everything you've said here. I get that its satire and I also believe there are good people in publishing. By being observant I still consider there's value in having a good agent, but I also feel confident that I can negotiate with confidence. Common sense tells us traditional publishing is broken and authors aren't being paid enough. If the publishing industry was a bank we'd have had the GFC years ago. You certainly get some commenters excited.

Jude Hardin said...

I suppose that would depend on how much work the manuscript needed, wouldn't it?

The freelance services I know of offer a flat fee up to a certain page count. Here's the breakdown for one of them:

Complete Manuscript Package

Ten–fifteen page report on all aspects of manuscript.

Thorough line–editing and in–text commentary of a minimum of the first one-hundred pages; light editing of the remainder.

Half-hour follow-up phone conference or online conference on America Online.

Review of synopsis/letter to agents.

Ongoing support and feedback during the marketing process.
15% discount off further work.

Price: $2,175 up to to 400 pages. $5 per each additional page.

http://www.free-expressions.com/site/default.htm

Lorin has been at it for a long time, and I know she's a good editor and an honest one.

I suppose you might be able to find a freelancer who works by the hour, but then there's no way to be sure they actually spent as much time on the book as they're charging you for. As always, beware of scammers.

Zoe Winters said...

This is so FREAKING brilliant. LOLOLOL OMG. Okay... Joe, please please please turn this into an Xtranormal video. Do you have any idea how much funnier it would be with robot voices?!? and little cartoons?? :)

Robert W. Walker said...

The SAD thing, the really, really sad thing is that there are so many authors who are going along like sheep with agents and editors who are "doing them this big favor" and taking large cuts of their income, still working on the old model. Sad that they are convinced it is the only way they can work when in fact Indie publishing means Freedom and Liberty from the slave labor of old.

Rob Walker Again said...

Joe may seem bitter or sound bitter to some toward the industry, but I have had a couple of more decades in it than he has, and he's got damn good reason to be bitter as do we all who have been used by it. His concern and mine for many years has not been to seek vengeance on the stupid asses of the industry but to wave a big-assed red flag to the unsuspecting authors out there which amount to MOST authors. Very few of us are made the darlings of an industry that has no allegiance to any but those who write blockbusters while the rest of us write what we write.
Have all the books NYC turned down on Kindle now and they are all selling crazily, making a lot for an old guy black balled years ago by the industry. What does it say about the industry that says a book will not sell because readers are not interested in the subject matter of said book when on Kindle I am selling 150 copies of said book a month?
The only books on Kindle with my name on it that are NOT selling are the ones controlled by my publisher of the paper books and the fools set the price at exactly the same as the paper books. They sell as well as a stone might.

Anonymous said...

In regard to the quality issue, permit me to share an analogy:

I love a good Thai restaurant, but I only go to one about three times a year due to the cost of taking my entire family. On the other hand, my grocery store carries Thai noodle-in-a-box meals for around $3.99, and I buy a couple of those a month. Are they as good as Thai restaurant food? Not even close. Do I enjoy them and do they satisfy my craving for Thai food? Almost always. Are they worth the price? To me, they are. Are they for everyone? No. Should they be taken off the market because they aren't the same quality as the best Thai food out there and Gordon Ramsay would think they are crap? Of course not. Is it 'real' Thai food? I'm buying and enjoying it, so it's good enough for me. Are the people who came up with the recipe 'real' chefs? Who cares?

The Daring Novelist said...

Just a couple of thoughts for jtplayer:

1.) You said you are sampling self-published ebooks based on how loud the author complains about traditional publishing... do you really think that's a good way to choose a book?

2.) You do realize that Joe isn't just talking to the writers who would be using vanity press, don't you? He's not even primarily talking to unpublished writers. His message is most pertinent to published writers - the ones have that actual choice he described in this silly script.

KevinMc said...

"Sad that they are convinced it is the only way they can work when in fact Indie publishing means Freedom and Liberty from the slave labor of old."

Robert, I think it's important to remember that the "old model" is actually still the "current model. =) Ebooks are gaining ground every month, but they are still a very small fraction of overall books. Yes, folks like Joe are demonstrating that it's possible to go another route - but I suspect that you'd be hard pressed to generate the math showing that the route of traditional publishing is already dead. We're a long way off yet from ebooks replacing paper as the primary medium for novel publication.

It's also worth noting, as I've been chatting about elsewhere, that most of the publishers are probably *not* going to be going anywhere. Some practices will change, for sure; there will be forced change as the new medium's impact, the force of new small publishers entering the business, and the fact that authors can now effectively self-publish all get factored in. But I'm still pretty convinced that most of the big publishers will weather the storm and come out the other side just fine.

Active bashing toward people who might well read this blog and whom you might want to work with someday is probably not productive. ;)

jtplayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jtplayer said...

Daring...you've misinterpreted my words. I don't sample the works of traditional publishing critics as a means of finding new books to read.

I do it to get a better perspective on where they're coming from.

I figure if they're writing some kick-ass stuff, they've got something to back-up their claims/opinions.

If their work blows, well then...

And this statement...

"He's not even primarily talking to unpublished writers. His message is most pertinent to published writers"

...makes no sense to me.

The name of the blog is "Newbie's Guide To Publishing". It seems to me his message is pertinent to everyone.

Of course, if you wanna act like you published authors are members of some kind of "in crowd", and the rest of us neophytes aren't worthy of the "insider scoop", well then have at it.

Although if you do that, then you're guilty of some of the very things publishers and agents are accused of.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

"Of course, if you wanna act like you published authors are members of some kind of "in crowd", and the rest of us neophytes aren't worthy of the "insider scoop", well then have at it."

WOW.

Well, if there was any question before about the issues of self-esteem and validation going on here....

Anonymous said...

Joe,

Sincere question: if it's not okay for the publisher to earn 52.5% of gross sales, why is okay for Amazon to take 30%? That's almost double the author's take with the agency model isn't? What justifies that?

Again, I'm not disputing what you're saying, but it seems like a major chunk of change not to talk about.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Well, if there was any question before about the issues of self-esteem and validation going on here...."
----------------------

Man...you really are intent on pushing that point, aren't you?

Apparently sarcasm goes right over your head.

But no worries here bro...it's ok with me if you want to believe your amateur analysis of my psyche.

The Daring Novelist said...

JT -

You're the one saying that all you're finding in the self-published stuff is junk. I was just pointing out that you seem to be biasing your own samples.

I really can't tell what your deal is. First you attack those who criticize traditional publishing, then you're suddenly telling me I'm a snob for pointing out that a lot of the people Joe is talking to are traditionally published?

It's not an us vs. them issue, dude. The paradigm is changing, and Joe is just pointing out that those who are trying to keep the genie in the bottle by pretending things haven't changed are full of it. They're not evil. They're not even stupid. They're just not telling the truth.

bowerbird said...

jon vanzile, are you _really_
a copy-editor? seriously?

***

jon vanzile said:
> but that's about
> all your gonna get at that rate,
> providing the book isn't too long.

you obviously meant:
> all you're gonna get at that rate

***

> You could, of course,
> hire some college student
> whose never picked up
> a copy of the CMS,

you obviously meant:
> who's never picked up

***

> but like I said, you
> get what you pay for.

based on your comment here, jon,
i'd guess you don't charge much...

even so, i sure wouldn't hire you.

but if you want me to proof your
resume for you, i'd be happy to...

no charge. i'll call it "pro bono"...

-bowerbird

Archangel said...

thanks Joe K. And thanks for the Bad: grabbing erights even when contract didnt specify such. I am trapped by my own big 6 publisher; cant challenge them legally; afraid of going under should publisher sue me if I upload my bestseller on kindle... and my readers are asking and asking for it in epub and kindle. I feel my hands are tied. I have a family to take care of and cannot risk this, and cant see a way yet to take to market what is rightfully mine. There are many many thousands of us in the same basket because of Bertalsmann's grab. Sigh

You're right about the cost of ebooks. This is my experience thus far: Many talented people who edit and do graphics who are way reasonable, esp building relationships with them for more than one book.

I do hear distant thunder from freelance editors, that their ship is taking on water because big six are paying less and less and voila! have discovered native english speaking quality editors who live abroad; it's a new form of outsourcing to retired and expats. Very interesting.

Along with ebook prices going down by indie authors, seems all free lance pay go down too, for the competition is global now, and gearing up to be fierce. It's more of the reality you speak of. Pay 1.50 or more a page domestically, or author/ publisher can pay a highly skilled person abroad .25 a page or less and get a pristine product and person abroad makes great money for their economic circumstances.

The quality has arrived from overseas and will more and more, and quickly now. The days of saying all editing and graphics have to be done in one nation only, are over. More competition pushes prices down.

there's a concept in capitalism that is always looking for a slave labor force in order to make gains. That force has been authors for decades, and editors who make under 100k per year in hugely inflated cost of living in NYC. I dont hear any bitterness in you or any of us. Just frustration in wanting to bring some of our good and decent people from mainstream publishing with us, to open their eyes, but they are glued shut by the tiny culture they live in.

I've sat through many a marketing, sales rep, publicity, planning meeting with publishers from big 6 and the many good people who work for them, and have mostly memorized the patterns in the popcorn ceilings. The lack of knowledge, what i'd call the lack of youthful outlook, the barricading of the estates of the 'old ways' is just so blind-sided, so sad

anyway, keep going Joe, and all others here who are trailblazing. People say you are fringe elements. I'd say you are at the frontiers.

dr.cpe

Jon VanZile said...

Ha ha!

This is why we all need editors ... anyway, my point still stands.

Author said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.J. Rose said...

Note: this has nothing to do with adverting.

And for the record - lest anyone reading think I have a bias- I self-published my first novel as an ebook practically before they were called ebooks (1998. And another in 2001. And will be putting up some back list this year.

I've been saying since that first ebook - there's question that publishing as a model is broken in many places.

And there is no question that it is going to have to evolve and change.

But I believe that newbies need to evaluate the self publishing issue differently than established writers do and I was wondering if there are any posts here or other blogs I can point some debuts to where that is discussed?

The needs of a true newbie are completely different than someone like Joe or David Morrell. Those guys are examples of how really well established writers can self pub ebooks and make that work.

Each has had years and years to build followings, get their names out there, been accepted and vetted by hundreds of thousands of readers - in Joe's case - and millions in Morrell's case.

Also neither Joe nor David has vowed never to use a traditional publisher again. This is what they are doing now. Right? Joe didn't you announce on your blog a few months ago signed a co-writing deal for mega money with one of the big 6?

Joe Konrath said...

Also neither Joe nor David has vowed never to use a traditional publisher again.

I'd consider working with a publisher if I were offered a minimum 250k per book, and if the other contract terms were more favorable than my last contracts.

Joe didn't you announce on your blog a few months ago signed a co-writing deal for mega money with one of the big 6?

I signed with the author, not with the publisher.

Let's break down some numbers.

I have data that shows a self-pubbed ebook novel, in today's market, can earn me $45k per year.

Besides the advantages of choosing my own cover and title, releasing it quickly, setting my own price, being able to make instant changes, and not being the victim of someone else's mistakes, I also get to keep the rights.

Assuming my ebooks sales stay static, I can earn $250k on a title in 5 and a half years.

The only authors I know who have earned royalties of $250k in that amount of time are those who were paid much higher advances than that. In other words, if they earned that much, they haven't earned out yet. (Though the majority of authors I've talked money with aren't mega NYT bestsellers, even though some of them have hit the list.)

I'd say that earning $250K on a single title in less than six years is a pretty rare event. So that's my bottom price for publishers if they were interested in a title. And I'm sure no one will offer that, effectively meaning I will never sign a deal with another print publisher.

But I believe that newbies need to evaluate the self publishing issue differently than established writers do

In my previous blog post I list over 40 newbies who are selling very well on Kindle, who have approached it the same way I have.

If you have a good book with a low price and a good cover and description, you have a chance to make more money than you would by signing with a print house.

Joe Konrath said...

Sincere question: if it's not okay for the publisher to earn 52.5% of gross sales, why is okay for Amazon to take 30%? That's almost double the author's take with the agency model isn't? What justifies that?

It's my understanding that wholesale for products is 40% to 50% of the retail price. Amazon's 30% is a much smaller cut.

Publishing has had a stranglehold on distribution for decades. The only way an author could reach readers was to accept their terms.

With Amazon, authors no longer need publishers.And in an ebook model, the only things publishers can offer are things the author can get on their own. The one thing they can't--distribution--is now open to authors.

KevinMc said...

Sincere question: if it's not okay for the publisher to earn 52.5% of gross sales, why is okay for Amazon to take 30%? That's almost double the author's take with the agency model isn't? What justifies that?

I'll tackle this one a little. ;)

I think he's got a good point, Joe. B&N and Borders and such *were* taking 40-50%, you're right. But they were taking that to support bricks-and-mortar stores. Each store cost tens of thousands per year in rent, and had dozens of employees. B&N alone has over 800 stores in the USA. That's an enormous amount of overhead that Amazon simply *doesn't have*.

Now that said, I think Amazon has other costs. I don't have hard numbers, but having worked in a computer field til recently, and knowing the costs of various hardware - I'm pretty sure that a basic e-ink wifi Kindle costs them more than $139. The 3G one for certain costs them more - if for no other reason than offering free 3G internet for free to every Kindle owner has to cost them money every month.

These are costs they are taking on in an attempt to build up the number of people out there with e-readers. It's an investment - a risk of capital - on their part, and deserves a significant return on that investment. A 30% return? I'd have to look at the numbers to know for sure, but yeah - that doesn't sound way off base.

Jude Hardin said...

In my previous blog post I list over 40 newbies who are selling very well on Kindle, who have approached it the same way I have.

Out of the 700,000 titles self-published last year, 40 are selling well? Even if you could round up 700 who are selling well (whatever "selling well" means), that's still only .01%.

You can get better odds at the track.

Joe Konrath said...

Out of the 700,000 titles self-published last year, 40 are selling well?

40 that I found by surfing for fifteen minutes.

Kindle only has 700,000 titles, so obviously not all self pubbed books are on Kindle.

If you want to play the percentage game, here's one for you. Look up those authors I listed. Look at the bestseller lists they're on. Look at the name authors they are outselling. Then count how many self pubbed ebooks are on those lists.

Here's an example:

On the Kindle>Fiction>Horror category, out of the top hundred bestsellers:

6 books are Public Domain
30 books are self pubbed

Did you catch that? 30% of the top 100 Kindle Horror Bestsellers are indie books. Almost 1/3 of the top sellers in horror.

Feel free to do this with other categories, and then tell me about your .01%. :)

Ellen Fisher said...

But Jude, the track is fairly random, even if you know horses. If you're an indie author, you can up your odds hugely if you're a good writer with a good product. The best stuff (which includes decent covers and decent descriptions) tends to sell, which makes it a far less random proposition than gambling.

The big problem for the author, of course, is determining whether his or her writing is actually good, which is tough for most of us. Objectivity about one's own work is a hard thing to develop. Still, it's not nearly as random as betting on the ponies, IMHO.

jtplayer said...

Re: "You're the one saying that all you're finding in the self-published stuff is junk."
-------------------

Please...I never said any such thing.

I said (paraphrasing here), that a lot of what I've sampled has left me unimpressed.

I also take issue with the "attacking" comment.

I'm not attacking anyone, and I'm really sorry if you've taken it that way.

I responded to the things you wrote, perhaps a bit too sarcastically, but an honest response nonetheless.

I've actually read many of your posts over at CrimeSpace, and found them to be quite informative. It is not my intention to be an ass.

Olive branch?

The Daring Novelist said...

Amazon gets that 30 percent (or more) because they are actually offering something of value we want and need - access to customers.

Joe Konrath said...

In the top 10 Fiction>Horror>Occult, 6 out of 10 are indie books.

Guess what? I'm not only outselling Stephen King and Charlaine Harris, my ebooks are earning me more money than they're earning, because I make more per book.

On a $6.99 ebook, Charlaine earns $1.22. On an $8.99 ebook Steve earns $1.57.

I earn $2.05.

Jude Hardin said...

What's more interesting to me is that someone is making money off the public domain books like The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe, books that you can get for free elsewhere. Kindle owners are obviously just scarfing up low-priced books indiscriminately.

You've said before that four out of five traditionally published books fail to make a profit. That means one out of five makes a profit. What does that mean in terms of copies sold? Let's just say a book has to sell 5000 copies to turn a profit. So 20% of books published by NY sells at least 5000 copies. What percentage of self-pubbed titles (by newbies) sells at least 5000 copies?

.0001%

Just a guess.

jtplayer said...

Amazon has proven themselves to be a company that will operate at a loss for a long time, as part of their overall business plan.

But one thing is certain, their business plan is not to lose money.

In my mind, the tipping point will be when Amazon hits whatever internal milestones they've set, and begin shifting the numbers out of the writer's favor and into theirs.

And all of those supposed competitors that will rise up to take up the slack?

I'll believe that when I see it.

And even if it does happen, Amazon will be so entrenched with a name synonymous with ereaders and ebooks, that it won't matter.

There may be other players on the board, but right now Amazon is the leader, as Joe's numbers prove. I suspect they'll stay that way.

So what this really boils down to is putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket, and for some, burning a lot of bridges along the way.

Is that really the best long term business plan?

markdf said...

Joe:

It's my understanding that wholesale for products is 40% to 50% of the retail price. Amazon's 30% is a much smaller cut.

Yes...but isn't this a bit like leaving someone who beats you for someone who just treats you like crap? ;) It's a step in the right direction, but I'm not sure it's a fair one.

Publishing has had a stranglehold on distribution for decades. The only way an author could reach readers was to accept their terms.

Yes...but as The Dominant Player, Amazon is setting the terms for everyone else--in essence, creating a stranglehold on the new distribution model. One doesn't have to use Amazon because of it, just like one doesn't have to use traditional publishers for hardcopy. The result ends up the same tho--lower distribution unless you give up a huge chunk of earnings.

With Amazon, authors no longer need publishers.And in an ebook model, the only things publishers can offer are things the author can get on their own. The one thing they can't--distribution--is now open to authors.

But can't I push your publisher arguments back at you only using Amazon? "With the internet, authors no longer need Amazon."

The whole macmillan/amazon fight should give authors pause--that was a lot like running over the neighborhood kids because you don't like the way their parents drive. A single entity with that much power can and does use it. I bet if I went to Amazon tomorrow and demanding they only take 15%, their response (if they would even bother) would be "you know, there's lots of smaller internet distributors out there your work might find a home at." Amazon showed by that action that they will abuse authors to get the business relationship they want.

Don't get me wrong--I agree with you on the publisher arguments for the most part. My ebook sales thru my traditional publisher are abysmal. I'm just leery of getting locked into another disadvantaged business agreement.

btw, your advice (or desire) to withhold ebook rights from traditional publishers is going to be met with a resounding "See ya later." They may not have figured out how to do ebooks right yet, but they know they're the future and they aren't going to let go. Enough newbie, powerless writers will just say yes.

(see my comments to KevinMc)

markdf said...

Joe:

It's my understanding that wholesale for products is 40% to 50% of the retail price. Amazon's 30% is a much smaller cut.

Yes...but isn't this a bit like leaving someone who beats you for someone who just treats you like crap? ;) It's a step in the right direction, but I'm not sure it's a fair one.

Publishing has had a stranglehold on distribution for decades. The only way an author could reach readers was to accept their terms.

Yes...but as The Dominant Player, Amazon is setting the terms for everyone else--in essence, creating a stranglehold on the new distribution model. One doesn't have to use Amazon because of it, just like one doesn't have to use traditional publishers for hardcopy. The result ends up the same tho--lower distribution unless you give up a huge chunk of earnings.

With Amazon, authors no longer need publishers.And in an ebook model, the only things publishers can offer are things the author can get on their own. The one thing they can't--distribution--is now open to authors.

But can't I push your publisher arguments back at you only using Amazon? "With the internet, authors no longer need Amazon."

The whole macmillan/amazon fight should give authors pause--that was a lot like running over the neighborhood kids because you don't like the way their parents drive. A single entity with that much power can and does use it. I bet if I went to Amazon tomorrow and demanding they only take 15%, their response (if they would even bother) would be "you know, there's lots of smaller internet distributors out there your work might find a home at." Amazon showed by that action that they will abuse authors to get the business relationship they want.

Don't get me wrong--I agree with you on the publisher arguments for the most part. My ebook sales thru my traditional publisher are abysmal. I'm just leery of getting locked into another disadvantaged business agreement.

btw, your advice (or desire) to withhold ebook rights from traditional publishers is going to be met with a resounding "See ya later." They may not have figured out how to do ebooks right yet, but they know they're the future and they aren't going to let go. Enough newbie, powerless writers will just say yes.

(see my comments to KevinMc)

Anna Murray said...

"You can get better odds at the track."

Jude, how much personal experience do you have with publishing and selling on Kindle store?

Why do you doubt the success stories of so many who have direct experience with this distribution channel?

Where do you get your data?

My first book has sold over 5,000 copies, and I know at least a twenty self-pubbed authors who are doing better than me.

markdf said...

KevinMc:

I think Amazon has other costs...a basic e-ink wifi Kindle costs them more than $139. The 3G one for certain costs them more - if for no other reason than offering free 3G internet for free to every Kindle owner has to cost them money every month.

To which the counterargument from a publisher is "we pool the revenue from all formats (hardcover, paperback, ebooks) to pay for the cost of production." Now, grant you, the ereader device is a necessity for ebooks, but the argument assumes Amazon sells no other products to support the cost of the Kindle.

These are costs they are taking on in an attempt to build up the number of people out there with e-readers.

Yes, this is a standard business strategy. The difference is that the suppliers (authors) are being forced (and they are being forced) to give up earnings to make someone else's business succeed. In other businesses, competition jumps in fairly early to level the playing field and give suppliers options. A competitor to Amazon is years in the future--and Apple is another huge company that is likely not going to be it in the same way this happens in other businesses, i.e., they are more than happy to take the same chunk Amazon gets away with.

It's an investment - a risk of capital - on their part, and deserves a significant return on that investment.

...says every major publisher to justify their cut.

A 30% return? I'd have to look at the numbers to know for sure, but yeah - that doesn't sound way off base.

But what numbers? Publishers, at least, can make the argument they are primarily in the business of selling books. Amazon is not. I'd be very surprised if Amazon looks at their overhead as distinct in each product line (i.e., the cost of selling ebooks and Kindles is supported only by the revenues generated from ebooks and Kindles).

Don't forget the long tail argument here: if authors can make that argument to publishers, they can make that argument to Amazon: drop your cut. The long tail will cover it in the long run. Either the long tail argument is valid--in both directions--or its not, no?

Selena Kitt said...

Putting all your eggs is one basket IS an issue, I agree. I've been called an alarmist... and maybe I am :) But I don't trust Amazon any further than I trust the "big six" or any corporation. Their bottom line is the almighty dollar and their only obligation is to their shareholders.

This is one of the reasons I've argued against the $2.99 price point that AMAZON is setting.

But there *are* other distributors out there. At least, there are right now. I make roughly $15,000 a quarter at other distribution sites besides Amazon. If Amazon disappeared tomorrow, I'd still have outlets where I could sell my books.

At least, at the moment, that's true.

The question is... are you supporting them? Is anyone? Or will Amazon win?

Since Amazon opened, I've watched other distributors struggle. Writer-friendly independently owned vendors (like www.omnilit.com - which is a division of www.allromanceebooks.com) who have great customer service and good royalty rates (at 60%, they were higher than anyone before Amazon came along) are going to disappear because of Amazon's domination in the long run.

So right now a lot of writers are putting their eggs exclusively in the Amazon basket. The problem is, they may be the ONLY basket around at some point, and that isn't necessarily going to be a good thing.

One of the advantages of going rogue (i.e. self-publishing :) is being in control of your books. If Amazon changes the game, YOU get to decide what to do.

But it may become a moot point if Amazon becomes the ONLY game in town. Then they're in control, and you're locked into a situation similar to signing a contract with a traditional pub - because there won't be anywhere else to put your book.

So call me an alarmist if you like - maybe the sky will fall, maybe it won't. But I'm buying stock in umbrellas - just in case.

MJRose said...

I think for me its all about money you earn on the books vs long term career plans. And that's what newbies need to figure out.

For me it's never been about short term money.
As a self published writer and a traditionally published one - I'm just not satisfied to only reach the readers who read ebooks.

The market is too small still.

I want a chance for my books to be exposed to the 80% -90% of people who buy print. I want my books in every outlet.

When that number is 50% or more - then I'll revisit the issue. And I say this knowing that in e i make less per book by having a publisher. (But I don't make less overall.)

The writers you mention - Stephen King and Harris - they may sell less ebooks than you, Joe, but they are selling hundreds and hundreds of print books too.

If my fan base grows so will the $ I earn.

It comes down to this for me -and I stress - for me - I'd rather sell 50,000 copies to 50,000 readers even if it means I make less on them than selling 5000 books to 5000 readers.

And that's what I think newbies and in fact all authors need to look at.

What are your goals and expectations? What's your priority? Long term? Short term?

KevinMc said...

Mark, you have some *very* valid points regarding Amazon. There is a possibility that we're simply trading one "Evil Overlord" for another. In the long run, authors working with Amazon might need to look into some form of unionization so that they can collectively bargain with the company, because as individuals, we won't have any weight.

That said, I'm not feeling like you're right about the 30% cut.

It is right, and just, to pay money for value. So what does Amazon give us? Well, if you remove all Amazon sales from Joe's ebook sales, I doubt he would be making his mortgage. Amazon has created a store that is exceptionally popular and heavily used by readers. That popularity brings in sales.

That is value!

Is it valuable enough to be worth 30% of the revenue? It seems to be. It sounds like taking books off Amazon would reduce profits, even for an established author, and even with 30% going to Amazon. That tells me that the bottom line is - they are giving enough value to be worth their 30%.

Is it the best possible world? No. :) But it seems to be the best we have, for now.

Anonymous said...

But when the market reaches 50%, MJ, all those book rights are still gone, baby, gone. The the self-published author who owns those rights and wrote more books and grew their audience in the meantime will be in a position to take full advantage. Then and ever after.

KevinMc said...

Selena, I wouldn't worry about Amazon becoming the only game. We still have B&N working hard (and they will be closing brick stores and moving more online as time goes on). There's a number of others, too.

And then there's Google, who pretty obviously wants "in" to ebooks. They're waiting for the settlement to finalize, but once it has - count on them becoming a major player. Honestly, I think even Amazon might be in trouble once Google gets into high gear.

Joe Konrath said...

What are your goals and expectations? What's your priority? Long term? Short term?

I'd argue that print is short term, ebooks are long term.

In print, there's a downward slope. You sell a lot of books when it is first released, and then sell fewer and fewer. Barring some big boost like a huge hit or a TV series, print books will either drop to a steady level, or they'll go out of print, which often takes a long time. None of my books are out of print yet, but they have fallen to steady levels.

Then it becomes a question of math.

Let's say the first year your book is out, it sells 50,000 copies. Then the next year it sells 10,000, and by year four it is maintaining a steady 2000 copies per year.

My top four ebooks are averaging 17,000 copies a year. And I expect those numbers to go up, not down, as more people buy ereaders.

In terms of money, self pubbed ebooks win. But they also win in terms of copies sold, over time.

Again, I'm talking midlist numbers, not bestselling numbers.

Around the world, Whiskey Sour has sold about 70,000 print books. It's been in print since 2003, and just had a fifth paperback printing.

In seven years, I'll sell over 100,000 ebooks of specific titles. And this is assuming that ebooks stay static and don't grow, when they are going to grow.

In the meantime, Whiskey Sour is still selling as an ebook. But because my publisher prices it too high, it won't sell as many copies as my self-pubbed ebooks. And because the royalty is so low, it'll make piss-poor money for me.

So ebooks, even though they're a small percentage of the overall market, both sell more and earn more for me.

As for missing out on reaching those print readers, Createspace allows authors to release in print. I'm in the process of making all of my ebooks available in print versions, with comparable prices, quality, and royalties to regular publishers.

I don't have the distribution of a print publisher, of course. But that will be a moot point when bookstores start disappearing.

Joe Konrath said...

What's more interesting to me is that someone is making money off the public domain books like The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe, books that you can get for free elsewhere. Kindle owners are obviously just scarfing up low-priced books indiscriminately.

You can get all of my ebooks for free as well. Just go to my website.

That you find public domain more interesting than that 20% to 30% of Kindle bestsellers are self-pubbed is rather short-sighted and sad.

Public domain books are perennial bestsellers. Poe, Dickens, Lovecraft, Twain, continue to sell many print copies per year, even though they can be found for free. In the case of Kindle readers, it may be that readers are willing to pay for better formatting or a table of contents.

Let's just say a book has to sell 5000 copies to turn a profit. So 20% of books published by NY sells at least 5000 copies. What percentage of self-pubbed titles (by newbies) sells at least 5000 copies?

LOL Jude. There are so many flaws with this argument, I don't know where to begin.

1. Profitablity on print books has many factors. If one of my print books sold only 5000 copies, my publisher would have lost a ton of money.

2. A self-pubbed ebook doesn't need to sell even close to 5000 copies to be profitable. Some can make a profit with one sale.

3. Your "let's say" scenario has no basis in reality, and doesn't translate.

4. You're comparing apples to oranges.

5. You're using a classic argument fallacy. If A = C then B must = C.

The fact that you seem to want to ignore is that indies are doing great, both selling and profiting, on Kindle.

rex kusler said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MichelineMcAllister said...

Great blog today!!! :0) Sad because it's true!

markdf said...

KevinMc:

(note: I'm not being contrarian here!)

Value is at the bottom of all aspects of this discussion, of course, and it's intangible because it changes from person to person. I don't believe, frex, there is a "magic" book price of fair value that is uniform across all books. While no one is coming out and saying that that way, there is a bit of that sensibility behind a lot the ebook pricing discussion.

One can say that Amazon's 30% cut is value because of all the sales they provide to an author, but at what point is that value simply the outrageous cost of doing business with a distributor that controls 70 to 80% of the market? There's a reason we don't like monopolies.

Take Joe's example--Amazon would earn $30,000. One of the biggest complaints against publishers is comparative profits. How much of that $30K is profit to Amazon? I'm willing to bet that Amazon's profit margin compared to publisher's profit margin is a multi-factor. (I'm talking on a per book basis--I couldn't care less about underwriting the cost of the Kindle anymore than I care about publisher's bonuses). Yet, I'm still feeling Amazon is getting a pass on this point because they are simply a prettier "evil overlord."

(btw to Joe, you missed an easy whack at publishers: the agency model with Amazon basically says the publisher values distribution almost twice as much as it values the provider of its products!)

Defending Amazon's 30% by saying taking books off it reduces profits is exactly the same thing as saying not going with a major publisher is reducing hardcopy sales. I think it's a way of rationalizing getting into another disadvantaged business relationship. If Amazon, frex, took 45%, comparatively speaking, that's still better "value" than the 50% of bookstore channels. That doesn't mean it's not more than their service is justified. In fact, I think bookstores have a stronger argument taking 50% under the current distribution system than Amazon has taking 30%.

I'm not saying, of course, that a distributor (be it Amazon or otherwise) shouldn't be paid for their services. But, what is the tipping point between real value versus exploitative value?

As far as unionizing for collective bargaining, I'm sorry, but I have to say that it will never happen. Publishers have had to contend with writer's unions and associations forever and while they have managed to hold the line on some things, they've never been able to make true headway in signigicantly changing compensation--and that's dealing with a group of companies that don't have the option of saying "take it or leave, we're the only game in town."

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

The whole "Amazon will screw you because their business plan was to operate at a loss until they got marketshare" argument is an urban myth.

Yes, Amazon was operating in the red for a part of the late 90s... But that was because they were building their infrastructure (fufillment and shipping centers, delivery networks, etc.). It wasn't some evil plot to operate at a loss so they could suck in customers, it was the period of any business where they set up their operation.

Now, they are NOT operating at a loss -- despite still offering exactly the same prices -- simply because they've already spent the money on the infrastructure. They don't have the additional costs of set-up any longer.

Please, folks. If you're going to offer opinion on internet retail, digital delivery and new media, try to do a little bit of research and *actually understand* what you're talking about.

Concerns about "putting your eggs in one basket" are very wise-sounding... except nobody is talking about doing that. Joe's posts have been very clear that he is leveraging presence across *every* platform he can.

Amazon is the top seller, yes -- but that falls under the obvious and constant 80/20 effect that exists in pretty much every sales situation. (80% of your sales usually come from your top 20% vendors, and often more).

Business-as-Usual isn't something to get nervous about, kids.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Rex, your story sounds so surreal, but also like it was fate. So, what happens when they start asking for movie rights? Will you use an agent then?

rex kusler said...

I don't know. Maybe.

bowerbird said...

jtplayer said:
> I haven't yet taken the
> plunge on an ereader.
> Maybe I will if they ever
> get to, say, 50 bucks.
> Then it would make sense
> for me.

i hear this "50 bucks" a lot.
and it really perplexes me.
joe, can you can explain it?

let me give you backdrop...

***

never been in a walmart, but
i hear they sell books cheap...

indeed, i'm told that the new
franzen is available at walmart
for just $10, for the hardcover.

thus my first question, joe...

the publishing industry said
they couldn't make any money
on _e-books_ priced at $9.95...

so i think you see the puzzle.

for a hardcover ink-on-paper,
they have to do editing, etc.,
_plus_ they have to have it
printed, which involves a bunch
of paper and buckets of ink, and
slapping that ink onto paper --
big sheets of paper, with 8 book
pages on each side, then folded,
cut and stitched into signatures,
then bound together in a book --
and then the printed books are
trucked to distribution points,
and trucked again to each store,
and heaped onto shelves, and
checked out by a human working
the cash-register, and slid into
nice plastic bags to take home.

and _every_single_one_ of these
p-books is created and handled;
the variable cost of each is high.

yet, somehow, publishers can
(evidently) make money selling
p-books at walmart for $10...

but -- for an unknown reason --
they can't make money selling
a _file_ (that's all an e-book is)
at amazon for $10. they don't
have to print every one of the
e-book files by applying ink to
big sheets of paper, nor do they
have to _truck_ the e-book files.
all they do is send amazon a file.
the variable cost is virtually $0.

it doesn't make any sense, joe...
can you explain it please?

***

here's another question i have...

prior to agency model, amazon
would sell a big6 e-book for $10,
then send that publisher _$15._
no, joe, that's not the question.
i grok the idea of a loss-leader.
amazon ate the $5, to lure the
customers into their store. ok.

what i don't understand is why
the agency5 were so unhappy...
they insisted amazon change,
and sell their e-books for $15
and send 'em $10. so they got
$5 less for every book, amazon
made $5 instead of losing $5,
and far fewer books got sold,
due to the higher price-point...

none of it makes any sense, joe.
it's lose-lose-lose, for publishers,
amazon, and especially readers.

so, can you explain all this, joe?

***

now back to the $50 kindle...
(or nook/kobo/sony or whatsit.)

just like with _physical_ books,
where ink is printed on paper,
a kindle is a physical entity...
it's plastic, with electronic guts;
each one must be produced and
shipped to buyers one-by-one.
as with most physical products,
the variable cost is considerable.

it's also true there are ongoing
costs for each kindle, given the
free connect time that is given,
and the ability to re-download a
book, even to different devices.
there's that nifty service where
amazon saves the last place you
read and syncs it with another
machine you might read from...
and they store your annotations.

given all this -- the high-tech
engineering inside the kindle
and the high variable cost of
each one -- frankly, i'm just
_amazed_ they can now sell
the things for a mere $139...

i wonder how they do it.

but that's not the question...

no joe, the question boils down
to this. how do people expect
amazon to sell a kindle for $50
-- heck, let's say even $100 --
but they are willing to give the
corporate publishers a pass on
their e-books at $12.50 or $20?

or let me put it another way...

once the cheap bastards get
their hundred-dollar-kindles
-- or fifty-dollar kindles! --
how much do you think that
they're gonna wanna pay for
e-books to put on that kindle?

-bowerbird

Jude Hardin said...

I think for me its all about money you earn on the books vs long term career plans. And that's what newbies need to figure out.

This is the point I've been agreeing with, Joe. We're talking about newbies here. I will concede that Kindle is its own special little world and that selling 12 copies and making it onto one of the "bestseller" lists constitutes "doing great." And I'm sure there are more than 40 out of the however many hundreds of thousands who are doing this well and better. But is it the best long-term career choice? That's the point MJ raises and the one I've been trying to discuss. I would argue that self-publishing is still not the best career choice for most newbies right out of the gate, if for no other reason than most of them are bypassing all the traditional hurdles at the expense of learning their craft. And 40 names out of hundreds of thousands isn't very convincing.

wannabuy said...

Yes...but as The Dominant Player, Amazon is setting the terms for everyone else-
Didn't the publishers force Amazon to match Apple's "Agency model?"

Joe distributes on every platform, as others have noted, so why wouldn't all authors? Inherit self limiting on Amazon.

JT, you once again are not responding to suggestions on how to find *excellent* indie books. Yet you keep complaining. I'm getting the idea you just want to complain.

Neil

bowerbird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bowerbird said...

rex said:
> I don't know. Maybe.

i love rex! he's so funny! :+)

but some of you probably
don't realize he's kidding...

if you are (un)lucky enough
to go into meetings where
they're discussing your book
for a movie, you _must_ have
an agent representing you...

it's an absolute _necessity..._

those people are sharks, and
you'd better have protection,
or they will eat you alive and
laugh later amongst themselves.

there are no exceptions to this.

but that rex! he's a crack-up! :+)

-bowerbird

KevinMc said...

You've got good points, Mark. ;)

Honestly, I wonder what would happen if some guy founded a new ebook website, selling books for all the major formats, and taking, say, 2% royalties.

Two percent?!?!?

Sure. At six to twenty cents per book, multiplied by a million or so books per year, that one guy running a website could make a decent living. Costs? Commercial webhosting at a couple thousand dollars a year or so (you want an AMAZING connection and server, nothing halfway). And advertising.

Maybe add a caveat that all books sold there must be priced X amount lower than anyplace else they are distributed. Coupled with the free media blitz about the "astounding!" royalty rate, now you're selling more than a million books a year. Quite possibly many, many more.

Think indie publishers would jump on that to get the extra income? Think big publishers would? ;)

This is something Amazon is going to have to deal with in the coming years... Because I am pretty sure it *can* be done on something close to that margin, and therefore someone is probably going to do it. Maybe not 2%, but the lower limit is almost certainly under 10%.

Anyone want to go into the ebook business with me? :)

rex kusler said...

I think I'd be lucky to get interest from a puppet show.

Joe Konrath said...

Anyone want to go into the ebook business with me? :)

I aloready tried this two years ago and couldn't get investors. But it wasn't 2% royalties. It was free ebooks that sold ad space in them.

That's the future. And I've got a business plan that's ready to go.

Joe Konrath said...

I will concede that Kindle is its own special little world and that selling 12 copies and making it onto one of the "bestseller" lists constitutes "doing great."

The names I mentioned have all sold over 2000 copies. Many over 5000. Some over ten thousand.

And not knocking Oceanview, but if you sell 2000 hardcovers, I'd be mightily impressed. I know this industry, the current market trend, and how hardcover sales have plummeted.

Don't put up your nose at 2k. It's more than a lot of the big boys are doing these days.

I would argue that self-publishing is still not the best career choice for most newbies right out of the gate, if for no other reason than most of them are bypassing all the traditional hurdles at the expense of learning their craft.

You and I agree there. Just because you can self-pub, doesn't mean you're good enough to.

And 40 names out of hundreds of thousands isn't very convincing.

Actually, it's extremely convincing.

How many new authors are getting new fiction contracts, and what are they making on them? Even more importantly, what are those books earning?

If there are 100 new mysteries published by big houses this year, I'd be surprised. I think it's fewer. And of those, only 1 out of 5 will make a profit.

Those 40 authors are all making profits. And those are just the ones I hunted around for, based on my knowledge of their genres. I wouldn't be surprised if there are hundreds more.

Especially since, after looking at over a dozen amazon bestseller lists, the average number of indies on those lists is 23%.

Anonymous said...

This is from a very good finance blog called The Reformed Broker...the money graf is the fifth one & it's about keeping up (or not) with the digital revolution. Bottom line: Are we're looking at the demise of the bookstore right here, right now?


"I've been covering the Ron Burkle vs Barnes & Noble activist battle since jump street for you guys, so like a gentleman, I wanna be the one who takes you home.


"Barnes & Noble, the country's largest bookstore chain, will count votes for three contested board seats, including that belonging to Mr. Riggio. Whether Mr. Riggio will retain his post is unclear, particularly in light of last week's decision by Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) to support three rival candidates led by Mr. Burkle.

Mr. Burkle's investment arm, Yucaipa Cos., together with investment firm Aletheia Research & Management Inc., controls 33.9% of the retailer's common stock.

By contrast, Mr. Riggio, together with all directors and officers as a group, can vote 31.5% of the bookseller's outstanding shares.

According to Barnes & Noble's August proxy, Mr. Burkle owns 11,291,213 shares. At Friday's 4 p.m. price of $17 in composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Mr. Burkle's stake is valued at $192 million.

Like any large-scale proxy fight, the institutional shareholders will hold the key. This is not just a battle for control of the nation's largest bookstore chain, it is a referendum for once-successful management teams who have not kept up with the Digital Age.

This one's too hard to predict and will come down to the wire. Everyone on the The Street who runs a hedge fund or a company under pressure will be watching. You should too, I'll have the details here on TRB as they surface."

Moses Siregar III said...

I agree with you 1000% on the 17.5% ebook royalties, Joe.

IMO it's an example of the major publishers taking advantage of authors in a way that is shameful and unethical. It reminds me of a vanity press.

To sign with a traditional publisher, I'd need either a great advance, much higher royalties on ebooks than they typically give, or some combination of both.

If anyone involved with traditional publish is reading this, your industry needs to raise the royalty rates that you are paying authors on ebooks. Until you do, the beatings (such as this post from Joe) will continue as they should. Authors know they can get 70% on their own. Start treating them with decency and respect.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Joe, when I read all the comments over at Pub Rants, it seemed like 1/2 the posts were from people who said, "Ah, Konrath is only successful because Hyperion gave him the push he needed to succeed."

I don't know how much of that is true, but I'm running a little experiment and I'll let you know how it goes. I think that is IS possible for a no-name author to make money selling POD and Kindle book without an existing platform.

And not just erotica, either. You have to have an online presence. And the writing has to be good. But I think its possible to create buzz without a big publisher blowing wind into your sails.

jtplayer said...

Neil...wtf!?!

What exactly is it I'm supposed to respond to?

And who ever said I was looking for "suggestions" on how to find excellent indie books?

I have no problem finding good material to read. My book shelf has well over 100 titles waiting to be read, and I'm always on the lookout for new stuff. I've yet to be truly disappointed by single book I've purchased.

I've simply posted my feelings and opinions on the "quality" of many Kindle books I've sampled. "Sampled" being the key word.

That's all there is to it.

There's no "complaining" involved.

Jude Hardin said...

The names I mentioned have all sold over 2000 copies. Many over 5000. Some over ten thousand.

Those are definitely respectable numbers, and I congratulate all the authors pulling them.

But MJ Rose and I are talking about what might be the best career route for most people in the long run. Since you yourself have said that maybe only one in ten thousand self-published books are actually of publishable quality, it only follows that only one in ten thousand newbie authors are making a wise career choice by self-publishing. Better to work on craft and sell to a traditional press first, IMHO.

And I know I'm not going to make a lot of money with my current contract, unless lightning strikes and I hit with subsidiary rights. But it still gives me some publishing cred, and I think it will will work to my benefit over the long haul. That's the goal, anyway.

Chris Bates said...

I already tried this two years ago and couldn't get investors. But it wasn't 2% royalties. It was free ebooks that sold ad space in them.

That's the future. And I've got a business plan that's ready to go.


Join the club.

I pitched a biz plan to Collis @ envato. A little out of their interests but still a great company to copy.

Joe, I don't believe it is necessarily has to be just ad-based. Can be, but I'm sure most authors would be willing to fork out a one off listing fee of $5 for their title. Similar to the e-junkie set-up.

Thus no commission on sales, just a listing fee.

I do agree with KevinMc - a nice server set-up would be the go.

I have owned Skoobi.net for a few years and Skoobi.com.au thours! ... for this purpose (Internet Books - backwards... kinda) but I'm still waiting patiently for Skoobi.com to become available. It never will unfortunately!

Someone needs to get on this ebook selling ASAP, but come at it from the author angle. You don't even need to offer lower prices. Just be a competitor and run your business with transparency. Ie, don't rip off your client and be upfront about your operation.

Also offer other useful services to author to help them succeed. If they want that.

jenny milchman said...

Joe, I don't know if you'll see this comment, or be able to reply, but I've referred to you and your blog (and an author to whom you introduced me, Karen McQuestion) more than once on my own blog.

Your admittedly humorous and thought-provoking posts are aimed at e books. What I'm wondering is this. For the not-yet-published author who loves print books and would like to make bookstores part of her career--let's assume both remain viable propositions--does traditional publishing trump self-pubbing in digital formats as a way to launch a career?

You mention the ability to put books in stores as one thing the Big 6 can still do. To me this suggests that where e rights are concerned, you have probably nailed it, but the print world still very much belongs to the majors.

But of course, I might be missing something, either in my love of print or my parsing of this.

Thanks.

David Barron said...

"You'll just be some unknown, satisfied rich guy!"

Hilarious.

Ellen Fisher said...

"Better to work on craft and sell to a traditional press first, IMHO."

I mentioned on my blog the other day that a lot of authors who really don't have a clue about the quality of their own work have still always found a way to get their work out there. Before the Kindle platform made it supereasy, they frequently wound up working with thinly veiled self-pubs like Publish America, or really poor startup small presses. I frankly think it's better for such writers to put junk up on Kindle than to be tangled up with a bad publisher for years. At least this way, they can pull their work, edit it, and not be locked into a bad contract for a long period of time.

The problem with Kindle publishing may be that it encourages people to publish junk more frequently. But as has been said before, is that really a big deal? Sure those authors would be better off working on their craft. But by putting it out there, they are bound to get some inkling that it sucks, either by reviews or lack of sales. At that point they can either work on craft, or give up. Nor have they really wrecked any future career by self-publishing the unpublishable-- pen names are always an option.

In short, it would certainly be best if we all refined our craft and became terrific authors before we put our work out there, but writers have always gotten around the system and published before they're ready. At least with Amazon, they aren't locked into a relationship with a bad publisher, and they may be able to learn from the experience and improve their work. If not, they may eventually realize they're not cut out for writing.

markdf said...

wannabuy:

Didn't the publishers force Amazon to match Apple's "Agency model?"

Actually, no. Apple forced Amazon. Publishers were a pawn in the middle. Amazon did not want the agency model, i.e., they wanted a worse deal for publishers. If the iPad hadn't made a timely appearance, the publisher's would have had no leverage at all. Remember: Amazon
turned off the buy buttons on macmillan because they thought there was no other player that could compete with them.

Apple had zero realistic presence in this market and agreeing to an agency model was a smart business move on their part vis-a-vis the only dominant player: Amazon, not publishers.

markdf said...

KevinMc:

I've often wondered why publishers haven't formed some kind of online sales consortium either (or the AAP). It seems a no-brainer. That, in fact, would make them actual competitors to Amazon/Apple and not desperate suppliers.

wannabuy said...

Remember: Amazon
turned off the buy buttons on macmillan

For *one* day before capitulating to Macmillan's demands. Off on 1/30/2010, and then back on 1/31/2010:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10444878-93.html

"Amazon customers will...decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book."

Look at my blog for the sales numbers on e-books. http://ebookcomments.blogspot.com/

MacMillan won that battle... They set the terms Amazon had to offer all publishers. This drove the most prolific book readers to search out indie author alternatives. The one exception was Random House. Does anyone have any links on their current position?

Neil

Walter Knight said...

The problem with NY publishers is they do not want fiction from new authors. Whether their business model is crubling or not, E-books are the only platform for new authors like me no matter how I feel about it.

The two million plus and growing Amazon Kindle readers don't go to book stores to buy anymore anyway, and I'm glad.

My America'a Galactic Foreign Legion series is experiencing accelerating Kindle sales, while paperbacks are doing nothing.

I'm just going with the flow now: A Kindle flow all the way to Christmas ka-ching!

Joe Konrath said...

You guys aren't thinking the agency rate through.

Amazon, like all retailers, set the retail price of things they sold, such as ebooks.

Often, they sold the ebooks for less than they paid for them. This sort of loss-lead is common with retailers. Black Friday is a perfect example.

In Amazon's case, they were willing to take a loss on ebooks in order to sell Kindles and get a bigger market share.

Along comes Apple, and they offer publishers the agency model--allowing publishers to set the price, and taking 30% on top of that.

Macmillan and others liked this idea, because this would allow them to raise the prices of ebooks (which they did.)

Amazon didn't like this idea, because they felt they should be able to set their own prices. (And they should, which is why this is now a court case involving price-fixing collusion in Texas.)

After showing a brief flash of power by removing the "buy" buttons from Macmillan's books, Amazon allowed the agency model.

HUGE mistake for Macmillan and others. Now, instead of losing money on each ebook sold, Amazon made a profit on each one sold.

The publishers and the authors, however, earned LESS MONEY on the agency model.

Except for the self-pubbers, of course. :)

And guess what? Customers balked at $12.99 ebooks, and many of them were reduced back to their original prices, but now with a smaller royalty.

Amazon won.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of self-pubbed titles (by newbies) sells at least 5000 copies?

If you leave your book up on Amazon for 5 years, that's 60 months. That's about 83 books a month, or less than 3 a day.

Selling 3 copies a day would probably keep you ranked at around 15,000 in the Kindle store.

Since you yourself have said that maybe only one in ten thousand self-published books are actually of publishable quality, it only follows that only one in ten thousand newbie authors are making a wise career choice by self-publishing.

No, it doesn't. The opposite follows.

Since there are probably thousands of indie books that will sell 5000 copies in the next 5 years, if those authors took your advice and didn't publish they would be pissing money away. And for what?

Let's say for the sake of argument that you are correct and only 1 in 10000 indie books are "publishable". That means that when you tell people not to self-publish you are offering advice that is useful only to 1 person. You are offering the other 9,999 truly awful advice.

In fact, the only person who shouldn't self-publish is that 1 guy with the "publishable" book. Everyone else should self-publish because they aren't costing themselves anything and are gaining sales and readers.

Anonymous said...

Jude,

In reading several independent author offerings, I've encountered situations where the digital book was placed on the shelf, all iced and decorated, yet when I dove in, it was obvious the ingredients weren't mixed properly or the finished product was only half-baked.

I've observed what not to do marketing-wise, such as: blog-blasting reviews, under pricing, over pricing, confronting reviewers, product misrepresentation, making false claims, etc.

Would this be an example of the point you are trying to make regarding long-term career choices?

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

By the way, fellow indies, I host a free (no fee) book reviewer list on one of my websites and the list just broke 100! (I just added two more today)

100 book reviewers that ALL agree to review self-published books. I used a lot of blog reviewers when I first started, and I built this list to help other noobs.

Enjoy, and pass it on. Hopefully this will help some of you.

Indie Book Reviewer List

Moses Siregar III said...

Another factor, Jude, is timing.

Timing Factor #1

If someone waits until they get an agent to take them on it might take years, even if they'd do just fine on their own. For example, Joe's early books didn't sell to NY publishers, but they sell just fine as Kindle ebooks.

I'll guarandamntee you that there are indies selling thousands of books right now who would *not* have been accepted by agents or trad publishers within a year. For one thing, there's only so much room at the dinner table of traditional publishing and most of those spots serve up no more than a halfway decent meal that leaves you hungry ten minutes later.

Timing Factor #2

It makes more sense to start to get your work out there as an indie earlier rather than later, all other things being equal. Two or three years from now there it will be significantly harder to stand out and take off.

Plus, it's more fun to sell books, have your work read, get reviewed, and make money sooner rather than later.

The counterpoint to this is something you're consistently right about, which is that a writer should wait until his book is ready. Launching too soon is likely to damage your career, perhaps even fatally.

Moses Siregar III said...

Christy, that's awesome. Thanks for posting that.

Btw, if anyone here is considering using CreateSpace to sell POD books, check out Christy's book on the subject. I have it and it's very good.

markdf said...

wannabuy:

I respectively disagree. The idea that MacMillan had more clout than Apple in that situation doesn't jibe for me with what happened. Overnight, publishers who had been the villains in the piece were replaced by Amazon, not because Amazon did something terrible to publishers, but what they did to authors. By that "only" one day action, they showed that the effect of their business policies on authors were not a consideration--and if it wasn't such a public relations disaster (that had no allies. none.) those buy buttons would have stayed off. Amazon capitulated not because MacMillan "won," but because Apple was waiting in the wings with a very attractive alternative to Amazon. If it was Joe Ebooks Online in the background, it would not have happened.

To be clear: I hope you don't mistake my points about Amazon as anti-ebook. I am not. What I am finding odd is the unexamined staunch support for Amazon policies with respect to their cut. If there were six truly competitive online Amazon-type operations, I think we'd suddenly see that cut plunge.

Anonymous said...

Ahem. I present to you some tales of woe, courtesy Jeffrey Trachtenberg of the WSJ via "Souther Oregon's News Source" Mail Tribune:

http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100926/LIFE/9260320/-1/NEWSMAP

"John Pipkin's 2009's debut novel, "Woodsburner," won several literary prizes, including the 2009 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Despite the acclaim and print sales of more than 10,000, "Woodsburner" has only sold 359 digital copies."

Of course, Woodsburner is selling for $9.99 on Kindle.

Recommend reading the whole long article. It'll either make you laugh or cry.

evilphilip said...

In fact, the only person who shouldn't self-publish is that 1 guy with the "publishable" book. Everyone else should self-publish because they aren't costing themselves anything and are gaining sales and readers.

Fascinating! You have won your Spock ears with your impressive display of logic.

wannabuy said...

markdf said:
What I am finding odd is the unexamined staunch support for Amazon policies
I read a half dozen author's blogs on their opinions on the MacMillan/Amazon rift (which is almost universally pro-MacMillan). I think sales volume (in dollars) dipping clearly shows what customers thought of the publisher imposed 'agency model.' Recall Random House chose to stick with the old 'vendor model.' I'm a reader... not an author. So I will pick the side of the customer.

Amazon's hand is weak and that influences my opinion. If they try to change the rules quickly, early adopter will defect (readers and authors).

Thankfully, July e-book sales were 'back on track.' But one month is not a trend...

Apple might have set the precedent, but MacMillan had Amazon blink in a day. So in effect, MacMillan set the cut based on Apple's example. Nothing kept them from following Random House's example. Its not as if Amazon could have kept up the discounting once e-books were a larger chunk of the book market...

70% to the authors is a heck of a lot better than what it was. While not perfect, nothing ever is. So I'm not sure what issue you have with the 'cut.' If the publishers or authors wanted a better deal, they could set up their own web site.

I download about 20% of my Kindle books from alternate sites (all legal and within copyright). If Amazon's cut becomes an issue, more people will do that to.

Besides, I believe p-books will be around a long time. So I have trouble getting worked up over a 30% cut versus the old 40%+. 30% is reasonable for online retail (in my opinion).

JT:
I've simply posted my feelings and opinions on the "quality" of many Kindle books I've sampled. "Sampled" being the key word.
You keep posting very strong negative feelings that 'trigger' others by how 'broad based' you criticize e-books. e.g., "People in love with their devices and cheap books...couldn't care less about the future of quality writing." Not directed at me per se... but it shows your tone and certainly sounds like a complaint if spoken aloud.

My perspective:
Of the last 43 books I've read on my Kindle, 34 were Indie authors. 40 of those books were excellent reads. 1 Indie author and 2 'published' e-books were not worth reading, but I finished the books anyway.

I had to learn how to filter efficiently. My ratios were far worse for the first three dozen books on my Kindle. All books... I don't bother with samples.

I'm finding the gems with ease. There is a lot of really good indie work out there.

Neil

Anonymous said...

Fascinating! You have won your Spock ears with your impressive display of logic.

Hey, thanks for the recognition, Phil.

Do you mind if I call you Phil?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees that the statements:

1. Only 1 self-published novel in 10,000 is publishable

2. People are harming their careers by self-publishing

...can't both be true. Either neither is true, or one of them is true at most [it doesn't matter which one].

Anonymous said...

The main advantage of the big 6 has always been distribution.

I do not understand why so many seem to be worried about Amazon. As has already been mentioned, it would not be difficult to set up a site from which ebooks could be sold and downloaded.

Writers can do this easily by using esellerate or a similar site, or making their own site.

The problem then becomes one of getting people to your site----otherwise referred to as promotion.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Not directed at me per se... but it shows your tone and certainly sounds like a complaint if spoken aloud."
-------------------------

Yeah?

Well then you've read it wrong.

Time to move on from that one Neil.

And this statement:

"People in love with their devices and cheap books...couldn't care less about the future of quality writing."

Is certainly true, IMO, based on the time I've spent reading and participating over at the Kindle message boards.

The reason I only sample ebooks is I don't own an ereader at this time. Maybe in the future I will. For the time being I sample different things on my imac, iphone and PC. I have no desire to buy and read an entire ebook on my computer or cell phone.

I realize 10% of a book may not be enough to fairly judge the entire work, but it is enough to get a feel for the style and overall vibe. That's all I ever sample of printed books when I read them at Amazon or Google Books, or even when I thumb through them at the book store.

jtplayer said...

Hey Neil, throw a few titles my way, I'd like to check some of them out.

Indies only though.

And for the anon who posted the link at 11:19, thanks for that. Interesting reading for sure.

Of course I already knows Joe's response, drop the price to $2.99 and it will sell.

Joe Konrath said...

That 11:19 article had so many untruths it was funny. Sloppy research.

K.L. Brady said...

I found this post to be pretty amusing. I definitely got the tongue-in-cheek tone. But I do have some observations.

As someone who was originally self-published and picked up recently by a big six publisher, I feel like you're only giving authors (particularly first-time authors who originally self published) part of the story.

I admire (envy--oh so green with envy) the success you've had with your e-books on Amazon and other apps. But one of the reasons I believe you were able to acheive the level of success and sales is because, at the beginning of your career, you were able to leverage traditional publishing to build your platform/audience.

By the time you started publishing your own ebooks, you already had a substantial audience to leverage and build on. And you were able to build audiences because of the extensive level of distribution that traditional publisher provide (at least in terms of bookstores). Most first-time self-published authors could never achieve that level of distribution on their own. I don't see that happening for years because traditionals have those channels locked down right now. And I can say this from experience.

Dare I say, your sales numbers would PROBABLy look A LOT different if you didn't have that platform to leverage when you published on Amazon.

At the time I initially self-published, I had one book. I averaged about 500 sales a month at 99 cents. That's great, but that sure isn't gonna get me a $100K salary each year. You have like 28 books? First timers have to know that they aren't gonna make a living off of one book. It takes lots of sales off lots of books to make a living in the ebook world.

While I loved the control I had as a self-published author and would not for a millisecond hesistate to self-publish my books again and I couldn't get something sold through the traditional channels, traditional publishers, for better or worse, provide a level of distribution they will not see on their own.

That's just a fact.

jtplayer said...

Flawed or not, I found it interesting.

Perhaps you could point out the untruths?

Anonymous said...

Doolols said: "Remind me again, why am I desperate to be signed to a publishing house?"


Probably because when you're published by one of the major publishers, your work takes on a legitimacy that you just don't get from uploading your manuscript to the internet, which anyone can do.

When you're published by one of the major houses, it tells readers that you're book has been vetted and reaches a certain standard. When a reader picks up your book in the store, they feel as though they are taking part in a larger conversation with their culture and society, where as when they read your self published manuscript, it's no different than reading a fiction blog post.

On some level, you probably realize that while you might make a few bucks and sell a few hundred copies of your book for a few pennies, you're really not doing anything special -- at least nothing every other writer in the country can do (and is doing) just as easily.

That's my guess.

markdf said...

wannabuy:

I'm a reader... not an author. So I will pick the side of the customer.

Now I see--you're coming at this from a consumer cost position (which is fine), but the subject is author compensation within that purchase. Is the agency model good for consumers? That's not the question I'm raising. The agency model is here. Saying it was bad for sales is a different topic than how I am compensated.

If there were ten different back end compensation models, all of which produced the same basic price, the consumer is agnostic about them. The author, tho, isn't because it will depend on how the author is compensated under each model.

70% to the authors is a heck of a lot better than what it was. While not perfect, nothing ever is. So I'm not sure what issue you have with the 'cut.' If the publishers or authors wanted a better deal, they could set up their own web site.

I guess I can go out and set up a company to compete with a behemoth with 71 BILLION dollars in market cap. Seems so simple.

So I have trouble getting worked up over a 30% cut versus the old 40%+. 30% is reasonable for online retail (in my opinion).

Well, that's easy to say when the money isn't coming out of your pocket. I'm not talking about consumer price here. I'm talking about the cut Amazon is taking--even if the price is $1.00 or whatever the perfect consumer price is.

You say 30% is reasonable. Based on what? What are Amazon's costs? What's their profit? Is it fair to the author? Why can we ask those questions of publishers but not the dominant distributor in the market?

That's what I've been talking about--not consumer price.

Joe Konrath said...

you were able to leverage traditional publishing to build your platform/audience.

I've heard that so many times I might just get it tattooed on my chest.

I've responded to it just as many times. Some of my ebooks outsell others 10 to 1. If my name sold my ebooks, wouldn't they all sell equally? If people were so enamored with the J.A. Konrath brand, where I built my platform, why are my two bestselling novels by Jack Kilborn?

Many who buy me don't know who I am when they first try me. I know this from emails and from reviews and comments.

My cheaper ebooks far outsell my "known" more expensive ebooks. If it was all about the brand name, the brand I've been associated with--the Jack Daniels series--should outsell everything else. The List has sold twice as many ebooks as all of the Jack Daniels ebooks combined.

In a previous blog post, I named 50 newbie authors who are selling in the thousands, some who are selling as many as I do. No platform for them. No name recognition.

I'm sure my name helps sales. So does this blog.

But I'd say that my low prices, plus the fact that I have 26 ebooks on Kindle that browsers can stumble across, account for many more sales than those folks actively seeking me out because they know me.

Joe Konrath said...

@ jt - Read the comments after the article. They spot a lot of problems, and they're correct.

I also left this comment awaiting moderation:

Priced much lower than hardcover books, e-books generate less income for publishers.

Ack! Check your sources, man!

On a $9.99 ebook, a publisher earns $5.25. The author earns $1.75. This is more than a publisher eanrs on a hardcover, but much less than an author earns on a hardcover.

"No (sic) everyone believes that the shift to digital publishing is necessarily bad for writers."

No kidding. With some rudimentary research, you would have discovered I'm making over $100k a year on ebooks alone. And if you read my blog, http://jakonrath.blogspot.com, you'd see I recently list about 50 newbie authors who have all sold over 2000 ebooks, many over 5000, and a few over 10,000.

Google is your friend.

Selena Kitt said...

"I do not understand why so many seem to be worried about Amazon. As has already been mentioned, it would not be difficult to set up a site from which ebooks could be sold and downloaded."


It's been done. It's called Smashwords - and when we (excessica) joined up with them, we were the very first to do so as a collective. I saw the future of their little endeavor and it's now proving itself out.

Our little collective also has a site where our own downloads are possible.

Of course, we make less than a tenth of our sales through Smashwords and our own shopping cart, compared to Amazon sales.

jtplayer said...

Thanks Joe. I didn't read the comments section, but I will definitely go back and do so.

But about this statement:

"With some rudimentary research, you would have discovered I'm making over $100k a year on ebooks alone."

Have you actually made 100k two years running?

I've been following your blog for a while and it seems to me your ebook sales have only taken off within the last year.

Maybe I"ve got it wrong. But to say you're making that amount per year implies something more long term.

K.L. Brady said...

@Joe.

I was one of the indie authors you listed on one of your original posts of successful kindle books.

I'm not saying that there aren't some real benefits to ebook publishing. I mean I did it. It worked for me. And I'm a huge proponent.

BUT - you cannot leave the distribution aspect out of the equation when you're doing the publishing math. Whether you want to acknowledge it, that does make an difference--or I'd never have sold my rights.

Now, after I have a few books under my belt, I might be right back to self-publishing. Who knows? Depends on how well I do.

But, if an author gets the opportunity to work with a big six publisher or indie publisher under decent terms, I don't think it's an opportunity to turn your nose on, even if you don't get a $250k advance. For me, it's a matter of business. Not prestige, not acceptance (although I can't lie and say it's nice to have big six backing). My decision was largely due to the opportunity to get wider distribution. When you're self published and you don't have that, it becomes a very valuable commodity.

rex kusler said...

hmmm...I'm reminded of a guy I worked with a long time ago, who met the woman of his dreams. They were engaged for a year, and during that time he told anyone who would listen, what a wonderful person she was, what a wonderful marriage they would have for the rest of their lives, etc.

The day came. They went on their two-week honeymoon to Hawaii. On his first day back, I encountered him in a hallway and asked how married life was.

With a wild look in his eyes, he cried: "I MARRIED A CRAZY WOMAN!"

Joe Konrath said...

But, if an author gets the opportunity to work with a big six publisher or indie publisher under decent terms, I don't think it's an opportunity to turn your nose on, even if you don't get a $250k advance.

The math doesn't add up. Long term, ebooks outsell and outprofit print.

Plus, I wouldn't want to sell to a publisher who either a) keep your erights forever while paying you poorly or b) go bankrupt and force your to hire a lawyer to get your rights back.

If a publisher buys your book today, they MIGHT get it into bookstores that MIGHT still exist 18 months from now.

If you're getting a big payday with money up front, take it.

If you're getting a modest deal, think hard.

Look, one of my basic tenets is: get your name on as many pieces of paper as you can. The more, the better.

That means getting a lot of books in print, getting reviews, blurbing other books, selling short stories, etc.

It also means virtual paper--websites, blogs, links, ebooks, etc.

I think being in print is helpful. I love foreign sales, libraries, used books, and anything that can get my name in front of peoples' eyes.

But the biz is changing so fast, I think it's really risky and short-sighted to sign a book deal with a print publisher.

I wish I had my print rights back, but I doubt I'll get them anytime soon. In the meantime, I'm losing money.

Leisure and Medallion, switiching to ebooks models and giving up paperbacks, is a portend of things to come for all publishers.

Would you want to be a Leisure author right now? Of course not. It's a mess.

So why risk that happening with other publishers?

When the death spiral begins, it'll happen quickly. One big bankruptcy, and the house of cards will fall.

Anonymous said...

Joe, can you talk about Amazon Encore? There's not a lot of information out there about them, and from what I've read they sound like a good middle ground between self publishing and traditional publishing.

I've heard they get print copies of your books in stores, and push your ebook at the same time.

Why not go with them 100%?

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, can you talk about Amazon Encore?

I signed an NDA, so I can't discuss details.

I would sign with them again, if the terms were right.

I really think the Encore program is great, staffed by smart folks who understand the industry a lot better than a lot of the publishers I've worked with.

But I will continue to self-publish. I write a lot, and quickly, and the ability to make money instantly and entirely on my own is something I want to keep doing.

The Daring Novelist said...

JT -

The issue of "year after year" is actually in epublishing's favor right now. One of the problems with traditional publishing is that you are guaranteed to have a fall off. It's the way physical book distributors work.

While main the reason I decided to go to self-publishing is because I really enjoy it - the main reason I have decided to forego traditional publishing altogether from now on is because the life expectancy of a career in light mystery ("cozy and related") seems to be about four books now.

A couple of recent surveys showed that readers of cozies like to start in on a series at five or six books.

Do the math.

While people throw around the word "midlist" I think one part of this debate that people overlook is that the changing times are better for some writers than others. Those of us in the solid midlist genres (never a star, but very steady and loyal readership) find a lot more security in the new paradigm.

(At least those of us who find the business end to be fun.)

wannabuy said...

JT, Here are a few titles. I'm going to reset and just answer the question in good faith: Note: I only read what many call 'guy topics': scifi, mystery, horror, history, and economics. Note that I consider publishers with only one author Indie, a la Zoe Winters. :)

I'll give the publishers credit, I haven't found an economics book worth reading from an indie yet...

My post became so long, I blogged it!
http://ebookcomments.blogspot.com/2010/09/few-indie-books-to-recommend.html

Neil

rex kusler said...

K. L. Brady--Don't let anyone downplay your success. I was following your story with a lot of awe (although I wouldn't have signed). Your accomplishment is incredible. Congratulations.

Joe Konrath said...

By December, I'll have earned over 100k on ebooks. And the 70% royalty rate only kicked in the end of June.

I've been doing this for almost 20 months. Next year will be better than this one, based on industry trends and my own numbers.

jtplayer said...

Thanks Neil.

I'll check some of those out.

I lean more towards mysteries and thrillers on the fiction side, although lately I've been getting into historical fiction.

I really like history books...right now I'm reading "Three Roads To The Alamo" by William C. Davis, and I'm enjoying it very much.

I always keep a fiction and non-fiction going at once.

Along with the Alamo book I'm reading "Dark Star" by Alan Furst. It's a little sluggish, but very atmospheric and the writing is excellent.

jtplayer said...

Thanks Joe.

I wasn't trying to downplay your earnings...just a little confused on the timeline.

wannabuy said...

JT player said:
You say 30% is reasonable. Based on what?

I counter, what do you think Amazon 'deserves?' They weren't the first e-reader, but they had the marketing muscle to make e-readers mainstream. Anyone can offer their book on another site and download it to the Kindle (albeit, at a user transfer fee for some models).

If an author can get more from Apple, B&N, or another, they will gravitate their. Perhaps 'windowing' later to Kindle.

A big company needs a 12%+ profit margin for long term stability and growth. I also have a large number of friends in IT, so I have an idea of their expenses. (My friends have set up and managed large data centers to run a global network for a fortune 500 pharma.)

I'm in R&D, so pardon me if I want Amazon to keep investing in new devices. Amazon also launches other new services that will lose money. Money that will come from books. Which is good and normal business practice.

Note: As soon as Amazon makes it impossible to bypass their store, I'll have a different opinion.

You must be livid with the publishers giving the author less than half! 17.5% from the publishers is ridiculous. Once the e-book market is 20% of the dollars, all who accepted that cut will be more frustrated than Joe.

Where in an exciting infancy to the e-book market. Just think what it will be like in 2012.

Oh, I am going off the business theory that too low of a margin business is eventually driven out of business. So I want e-book vendors to make enough to 'stick around.'

Neil

Mark Barrett said...

Thank you very much for this.

Smiled all the way through. :-)

jtplayer said...

Re: "JT player said:
You say 30% is reasonable. Based on what?"
-------------------

I said that?

I think you've confused me with someone else.

wannabuy said...

JT,

I apologize. I meant to quote Mark. Mea Culpa.

The Daring Novelist said...

I think the arguing over whether Amazon does or does not deserve 30 percent misses the point of Joe's post.

The question is: is what they're offering worth what they give in return. To me, being carried by the worlds largest (and most ubiquitous) retailer, AND one that provides all kinds of wonderful internal search and promotion (listmania, "customers also bought," communities, user reviews, etc.) - yeah that's worth 30 percent.

Until recently, traditional publishers offered the only way to get that kind of exposure, so they were worth what they took. For some, that deal is still pretty good, but it's rapidly losing its shine.

Fran Ontanaya said...

Live slush piles are probably the answer to the quality concerns.

When works are sorted by the votes of the public, people with little time or interest in discovering unknown titles are never exposed to the unrated slush pile.

Here's a recent example:
http://www.reddit.com/r/fictioncircus/

Mark Asher said...

I think the ideal situation would be if you could do a bit of both -- self-publishing and working with a traditional publisher.

It looks like you can make more money self-publishing if you can get enough exposure. It looks like you can get more exposure and credibility if you work with a traditional publisher.

There are also advantages to traditional publishing I haven't seen mentioned here -- the chance of having a story optioned to Hollywood is one. I doubt self-published books have much of a shot at this.

Another one is finding other writing work -- work writing for other media, for example. TV, movies, comic books. We're still in a time where being published by traditional publishers establishes your credentials as a professional writer much more readily than happens as an indie writer.

There are also teaching opportunities for writers with professionally published books under their belts if they have the academic requirements to go along with that.

Even if you make less money over the long haul by letting a book be tied up with a publishers, you might experience other benefits that you wouldn't see if you only publish as an indie.

bowerbird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bowerbird said...

amazon doesn't deserve 30%?

hogwash.

they're giving you access to
their book-buying customers,
millons and millions of them.

that's worth 30% all by itself,
not even counting their tech.

when amazon was taking 65%,
_that_ bordered on the unfair,
which is precisely why apple
forced their hand, taking 30%.

amazon matched it right away.

now neither of 'em will budge
any lower than that for a while,
because that's right at the line.

don't get me wrong; i believe
authors must wean ourselves
and our fans off of amazon,
corralling onto our own sites,
to save us from the 30% fee...
it's stupid to pay it repeatedly,
for fans connected to a writer.

but it's _hardly_ an unfair rate.

what's that you say? you say
you can set up a competitor?

yeah, right, because apple and
amazon have software engineers
who are clumsy stumble-bums;
you can do better, and you can
negotiate for cheaper hardware.

and you have how many users?

excuse me while i go away and
laugh my socks off... :+)

really, one of the funniest things
i've heard in many _months_...

-bowerbird

KevinMc said...

Bowerbird, it's not that the Apple/Amazon folks have bad tech...it's that the tech involved is not that complex. Pretty much any competent website programmer can build a similar site without too much trouble; in fact, much of the code for doing it is already available, for free, on various sites.

Where an indie has an edge over Amazon/Apple is in overhead. You can't run either of those companies with one person, or even with a small team of a couple of people. They do too many things, have fingers in too many pies. Whereas an indie who focused specifically on one thing (selling ebooks) could create a comparable service for significantly less overhead.

For now, though, I think what we have seems to be working pretty well. If it ever stops working pretty well, there are alternatives that can be built.

The Vampire Years said...

No platform - popular genre, though

http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-The-Vampire-Years-ebook/dp/B00322OOVO

Kindle
September to date 346
August 328
July 409
June 371
May 378
April 179
March 103
February 93
January 78
December 3

310 - Apple through August 28, USD denominated only
57 - Kobo through August 28

Total 2655

Looking forward to what Christmas will bring w/ kindles stuffed into so many stockings.

Oops...make that 2656, sold another one while I was posting. Better hurry up and hit submit before I have to change the numbers again

bowerbird said...

> it's that the tech involved
> is not that complex.

_any_ tech is complex
once it grows to have
millions and millions
of users, trust me...

even more difficult is
collecting those users
in the first place...

plus if you wanted to
get the cheapest cloud
storage space around,
know where you'd go?
that's right, to amazon,
just like twitter does...

one-click purchasing?
you'll pay amazon a fee
-- just like apple does.

and do you really think
people will trust you and
your new start-up for
long-term storage of
their purchased books?


> Pretty much
> any competent
> website programmer
> can build a similar site
> without too much trouble

"similar" is such a nice,
vague, squishy word...

i once built a model of
the brooklyn bridge...
it looked just like it...
guess how many cars
could've driven on it?

the publishing houses
(and their cousins in the
recording industry) are
owned by parents who are
fortune 500 companies,
and _they_ can't wrestle
amazon and/or apple,
or they would have
done it already, so
if you think somebody
with fewer resources
can manage it, fine...

but i will be the one
over here, laughing...

-bowerbird

Anonymous said...

I really do like
bowerbird's blog comment style
like long-form haiku

Joe Konrath said...

the publishing houses
(and their cousins in the
recording industry) are
owned by parents who are
fortune 500 companies,
and _they_ can't wrestle
amazon and/or apple


The publishing houses can't do much of anything, Rex. That's why they're in such trouble right now.

But Smashwords, started by one guy, is providing a nice alternative to Amazon. You know that.

Joe Konrath said...

http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100926/LIFE/9260320/-1/NEWSMAP

They took the story down, probably to fix the errors. Perhaps there is some integrity left in journalism.

Anonymous said...

Here it is on the Wall Street Journal site:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703369704575461542987870022.html

With pictures and graphs and everything!

rex kusler said...

Joe--I don't think bowerbird's name is rex.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe--I don't think bowerbird's name is rex.

Huh. Wonder how I got you guys confused.

rex kusler said...

Thanks for the insult.

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