Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guest Post by Bob Mayer

I asked bestselling author Bob Mayer to give me a blog post about his decision to self-publish, and was pleased to get this response.

Here's Bob...

I appreciate the opportunity to blog here today, as it’s a very special occasion, not only being the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War, but the continuation of a new era for myself and other authors.

In the military, it’s a maxim that every army is always prepared to fight the last war, not the next one. That gets a lot of people killed. In the Green Berets, we were always looking ahead, preparing for what would be, rather than what was. That was my Special Forces experience and I’m applying it to my writing career. Instead of looking at was, I’m looking forward at will be.

That’s the reason I’ve made the switch from traditional publishing to self-publishing. My next book, the epic Duty, Honor, Country, a Novel of West Point & the Civil War is live today on Amazon Kindle.

I won’t go into the math as that’s been done many times, and you and Barry Eisler laid it all out clearly here. I’ve had the same publisher as the one who wanted to sign Barry, St. Martins, and my last three book deals with them totaled over a million dollars, so I’m walking away from something significant. I’ve also hit all the bestseller lists, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, but that doesn’t equate directly to the bottom line.

My first book came out in 1991 and it’s now over 45 titles later, over four million sold, and I’m more excited than I’ve ever been as a writer. As you know, a year ago I was questioning your numbers. I just couldn’t believe what you were selling. A month ago, I had to publicly admit I Was Wrong and You Were Right. Not only was I wrong, but here’s the thing authors need to understand: it isn’t as much about what’s happening NOW in publishing. It’s where things are going to be a year from now. I see the book deals every day in PW, and just shake my head at the pub dates: 2013, 2014.

Another reason I made the decision to publish Duty, Honor, Country myself was timing. As noted, today is the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War. There’s no way a traditional publisher could have gotten the book out by today. They’re still working on the same business model they had before computers became household items, where their production schedule is normally at least a year once they contract for a book. I’ve had it take as long as 8 months just to get the contract in hand.

Often NY decides whether to publish based not on the book, but on what they perceive the market to be. It used to be a 50% sell through in paperback was the norm. Now they want 80%. How to solve that problem? Retailers are ordering less copies. Higher sell-through but lower volume. Good-bye midlist author. I used to say you needed to make at least six figures for a NY publisher to give you any push. Now it’s seven figures if you consider Eisler and myself walking away from mid-six-figures. I’m consolidating all my titles at Who Dares Wins Publishing and soon will have over 40 titles available.

There’s a huge difference between an author promoting their book and a publisher tossing a book out there. I can give you the numbers. My Area 51 series sold over 1.4 million copies in print for Random House. I sell more e-copies of my Atlantis series per week than RH does of Area 51 in six months. Because I have an incentive to promote and also know how to promote, something NY is still behind the curve on. And I lead with the first book in the series at .99. All the rest of my fiction is at $2.99. I’m pricing Duty, Honor, Country at $4.99 because it’s epic, almost twice the length of my other books, at 175,000 words and took me two years to write and also includes 18,000 words from the opening of my next modern thriller, The Jefferson Allegiance. But follow-on books in the series will be priced lower, at $2.99, and come out faster, which is another key to success.

I don’t think success is any easier in self-publishing than traditional publishing. Both are very difficult. The main difference is that I have more control self-publishing than I ever did in traditional publishing.

I believe one key to success is niche. The Internet has made things more specialized rather than broader. I’ve written in many genres: thrillers, romance, science fiction, non-fiction, but, as I had to do making the decision to self-publish, I had to sit down and decide what I really wanted to write. I based it on my platform: West Pointer, former Green Beret, lover of history. Duty, Honor, Country is the first in a series of books that will feature West Point graduates fighting through history. As a plebe at the Academy we had to memorize a lot of information. I found one piece particularly intriguing and it’s the foundation of the book: in 55 of the 60 major battles in the Civil War, West Pointers commanded on both sides. I always thought—that’s why the war was so bloody and lasted so long. The books focus on the sword’s edge of honor vs. loyalty and the tragedy of how classmates ended up on opposite sides of the battlefield. I’m posting a new blog every day about the book and interesting facts about the Civil War as part of the promotion for this.

Two weeks ago at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference I suddenly realized something: as quickly as a writer can publish their book, is also as quickly as they can quit. It seems many think this is an easy path to great sales and wealth and fortune—a yellow brick road. But success will go to those who first and always, have a well-written book with a great story. Then there is the need for persistence and consistency. While the digital age has made all this possible, I think it has the potential to make quitting much easier since we live in a time of instant gratification. Writers are checking their Kindle numbers daily and bemoaning lack of sales within a week of upload. I think one trait those of us coming from traditional publishing have had is knowing it’s the long haul that counts. Also, in digital, it’s not the spike for the bestseller list, but the long tail of sales that is the key.

Duty, Honor, Country
ends on the first night of the Battle of Shiloh, where more Americans were killed in one day than in all prior US wars combined. The commanders on that first day were like many in traditional publishing, holding on to the old ways. That night, sitting in the rain under an oak tree, Ulysses S. Grant was reflecting on the pummeling his army had received, contemplating retreat and defeat, just like many writers are sitting on the fence right now about publishing, trying to hold on to the old. From the book, and from history, here is what happened:

General William Tecumseh Sherman stared warily at the glowing end of the cigar Sam Grant was puffing on. A flickering lantern highlighted the deep shadows on his old friend’s face. After consulting with the other division commanders and coming to a unanimous conclusion, Sherman was going to tell Grant it was best to immediately put the river between their army and the rebels, but something on Grant’s face stopped the words. Sherman stood still for a moment, rain dripping down on his hat.


“Well, Grant, we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?”


The cigar glowed as Grant puffed and in that dim light he saw Ben’s blood on his hands. Then he spoke. “Yep. Lick ‘em tomorrow, though.”


And that’s exactly how I feel about self-publishing.

Joe sez: Last year I predicted that legacy publishing wouldn't be done in by technology, or by readers retreating from print and embracing digital. It would be authors who kill the Big 6 by deciding to self publish.

Looking back at my old blog posts amuses me, because they're a combination of eerily predictive and massive underestimation (for example, a year ago at this time I believed I could earn $100,000 in seven months, and I've just done that in seven weeks.) But even though my thoughts about the future were conservative, the majority are coming true. Publishers still don't understand that they aren't going to have anything to publish if they don't immediately change their ways.

Once again, for all those industry folks who read my blog but are too chicken to leave comments, here's what you need to do:

HOW THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY MIGHT STILL SAVE ITSELF

1. Give authors fair e-royalty rates. 50% should be the ground floor, and it should go up from there using various escalators.

2. Share the e-wealth with authors by offering them higher rates on contracts that are still active.

Did you hear that, Hyperion and Grand Central? Pay me more money for my Jack Daniels books and for AFRAID. Let's redo the ebook clauses on my old deals so they're fair in this brave, new ebook world. Because if you don't, I'm going to exploit my interactive multimedia rights, release my backlist as enhanced ebooks, and UNDERCUT YOU ON THE PRICE.

You think people will buy your bare-bones version of WHISKEY SOUR for $4.79 when they can get my enhanced version for $2.99? Would some iPad of Nook Color owner rather have a black and white text version of AFRAID for $6.99, or one with games, artwork, author audio commentary, and annotated clickable links for $2.99?

That's right. They'll buy mine, not yours.

Now IMAGINE THAT HAPPENING WITH EVERY SINGLE AUTHOR YOU HAVE UNDER CONTRACT.

Yeah, I'm yelling. Because you need to wake up fast, or you're over.

3. Drop the prices of ebooks. If anyone in New York has been PAYING THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF ATTENTION TO ME FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS I've made it painfully clear how cheaper ebooks make more money than expensive ones, with reams of data and dozens of examples to support this.

4. If you are an agent, begin to morph your business into an estributor model, or you'll sink along with the Big 6.

There. I've laid it all out for you. Now go have your meetings and act on it, or you're not going to survive the next two years.

258 comments:

1 – 200 of 258   Newer›   Newest»
C.L. Phillips said...

I recently finished reading Grant's autobiography. Grant was offered a token advance because his publisher thought he would sell 5,000 copies.

Mark Twain stepped in with sage advice and told Grant to hold an auction. The result : Grant's widow received the largest royalty check written until that time on sales of more than 200,000 copies.

Now, as then, the author is responsible for choosing the distribution channel and sales terms. Don't let anyone tell you this battle is new. We are simply on a new battlefield.

I'm looking forward to reading your newest work, along with catching up on your other titles. The Civil War is my favorite mystery.

Rebecca M. Senese said...

Bob Mayer said: "I think one trait those of us coming from traditional publishing have had is knowing it’s the long haul that counts. Also, in digital, it’s not the spike for the bestseller list, but the long tail of sales that is the key."

This is hugely important. I see so many writers despair of not selling immediately or not being best sellers immediately. Wake up! That's the old produce system from the old publishing model. Now we have the opportunity for the slow build. So what if it takes time for readers to find your work? The longer they take the more you'll have available when they find you. Now our backlist lasts forever and we can be discovered at any time.

Persistent is as important now as ever before.

Anonymous said...

"You think people will buy your bare-bones version of WHISKEY SOUR for $4.79 when they can get my enhanced version for $2.99? Would some iPad of Nook Color owner rather have a black and white text version of AFRAID for $6.99, or one with games, artwork, author audio commentary, and annotated clickable links for $2.99?"

JA, I might be wrong, but the publisher owns the copyright to the underlying work. You can't take it, add bells and whistles and call it something new.

You can create bells and whistles and they can be copyrighted in your name. You just can't combine them with another copyrighted thing(MS) that a third party (publisher) owns.

Anonymous said...

Joe: For new writers who can't afford professional cover design or editing, would you recommend they still try to self-pub, or stick to querying agents?

Blake Crouch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate said...

Thanks, gentlemen. Like Grant and Lee, we will find peace again, but until then, I'll be whistling "Rose of Alabama" while I hone my bayonet. My self-(e) published first novel goes on sale July 26th...

Blake Crouch said...

"JA, I might be wrong, but the publisher owns the copyright to the underlying work. You can't take it, add bells and whistles and call it something new."

What a multimedia, enhanced ebook is has not been defined, but the multimedia clause in standard publishing contracts leaves the door wide open. I plan on exploiting this with two books which my publisher has been selfishly holding onto.

Joe Konrath said...

Interactive multimedia has never been defined in a contract. Those rights are vague and untested and owned by the author.

Ebooks are defined as text and only text.

If I enhance an ebook and significantly change it into something that can be defined as interactive multimedia, I own the rights to that.

Publishers ARE aware of this happening, because recent contracts have significantly changed the interactive multimedia clauses, with much more specific definitions.

They have seen the loophole, but they've closed it too late.

Ursula said...

Another great post from the front line, thanks guys!

And using your multimedia rights, that's just brilliant!!!!!

Aaron Patterson said...

Joe,

Get em! I love your passion, it makes me glad to see others out there standing up for authors. This is a crazy world and at some point I changed from fixing publishers to helping authors. I am a publisher but authors call me to gripe about their publishers because they don't look at me as a publisher but an author.

If you are going to be at Thriller Fest in NY this summer I would love to buy you a car, ... I mean a coffee. I will be there with Vincent Zandri who will sell 100,000 eBooks this month.

Keep up the good posts.

Cheers

Daryl Sedore said...

Bob, Joe,

This was a great pairing.

Bob; One important thing about you is that you give back. I was a young wannabe writer at the Surrey Writer's Conference in 2004 and I had the pleasure of sitting at your table for lunch, listening to you discuss the business of writing.

Joe: I simply love the ending of this post. How you spell it out for the misguided in traditional publishing was spot on. This YELLING has been needed for some time, but alas, I predict it will fall on deaf ears. Especially with literary agents.

In my experience, while doing interviews and preparing my book, Publishing Exposed, I found them to be an eclectic group of people unbound by trends as they work for themselves.

Without animosity or angst, I would say this change in their business model looks good on them.

G.P. Ching said...

Thank you for this. There were so many things in this post I was not aware of as someone who has never had a novel traditionally published. Your insight on how the industry has to change is right on the money.

Shéa MacLeod said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Bob (And Joe, of course!). I always find it so inspiring to read about authors who are really making a success of self-publishing. I'm totally convinced this is the way forward. Complete newbie myself, but I'm taking on everything I'm learning from this blog and going forward with my own plan to self-publish my first novel by the end of May.

Fingers crossed and pedal to the metal.

shana said...

Yowza!

Joe, I LOVE your ballsy, in-your-face style. Just love it!

And Bob, congratulations on a fab launch day!

Shana Hammaker
METAMORPHOSIS, Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Big Civil War history fanatic here. Thanks for producing this work. I can't wait to get started on it.

Anna Murray

Anonymous said...

Since you're bagging hard on the legacy industry in this post, Joe, (and rightfully so) ... I'd like to point out that the current issue of Wired magazine notes a recent study that "9% of all prostitutes in New York City have worked in publishing". I'm not making this up.

Commenters, let the punch lines fly.

Joe, thanks for allowing this (brief) hijacking of the thread. And thanks for teaching me so goddamn much. (I've been lurking for about eight months but haven't had anything at all substantive to contribute until now.)

Jason

nwrann said...

@Bob wrote: I don’t think success is any easier in self-publishing than traditional publishing. Both are very difficult. The main difference is that I have more control self-publishing than I ever did in traditional publishing.

I think this is the most important part of the ebook conversation these days.

@Bob wrote: While the digital age has made all this possible, I think it has the potential to make quitting much easier since we live in a time of instant gratification. Writers are checking their Kindle numbers daily and bemoaning lack of sales within a week of upload.

as evidenced by much of the talk on boards, comments and forums.

Michael said...

Thanks, Bob and Joe.

One other thing that might be worth mentioning is that if legacy publishing finally chooses to embrace (intelligent use of) e-books, they can attract some new blood.

I feel as though they're scaring away many debut authors with the current practices, which only hurts them.

Gretchen Galway said...

Bob,
I enjoy your comments here and on Kindleboards. It's good to get the reminder about not obsessing over immediate sales.

However, I feel huge urgency to get my work out there now before the traditionally-published writers (such as yourself) flood the e-markets with your backlist and new frontlist titles at competitive prices.

Someone said it on Kindleboards (sorry I can't remember who): it's not the crap flooding the market that I'm worried about. It's the cream.

And Joe, don't tell publishers how to save themselves until I've got a few more titles up, okay?

Gretchen Galway

Walter Knight said...

There will be a new name for the big NY publishers. Joe calls them 'legacy publishers.' It will get worse for them.

The NY publishers will be reduced to becoming 'celebrity publishers,' interested only in publishing celebrities, or in creating celebrities.

You can see that now at the malls, where your selection ranges from Oprah to candidtates for the presidency.

nwrann said...

@Gretchen, I agree with you. I'm also "rushing" to get some titles up, but I often remind myself to take the time to make sure I'm part of the cream and not part of the crap.

I believe in the "rising tide" philosophy. The more "name" authors that e-publish the more readers that will convert to the digital format. If the only musicians putting out MP3s were "unknown indie" artists nobody would buy an ipod and the mp3 market would have remained small.

Also, keep in mind that, in the past, a lot of the "name" authors became "names" because of the legacy publishing machine, without that machine will they be able to maintain their level and fanbase? It'll be a different type of work than they're used to. Guys like Bob, and Joe, and Barry etc do it but many more won't.

Anonymous said...

"If I enhance an ebook and significantly change it into something that can be defined as interactive multimedia, I own the rights to that."

You can't take an ebook and do anything with it because you no longer own the copyright to it. Just because you owned it at one point in the past doesn't make you any different now at to that work than anyone else. For example, one big-6 publisher can't take the work or a different one and "enhance" it and sell it. You can't take a Beatles song, change the lyrics, and release it as your own. If you sold the right, the rights are gone.

Bob Mayer said...

Appreciate the comments. Publishers do not own copyright on a book-- the author always does. They can have contracted for the right to produce the book in certain formats.
A huge problem that isn't being addressed is incentive to promote. When a publisher keeps the rights, doesn't promote the book, and the royalty rate is so low, the author has incentive to NOT promote the book in the hopes that it will go out of print and the author can get the rights back. I just don't understand why traditional publishers aren't addressing any of these issues.
I appreciate all the comments. Duty, Honor, Country was a labor of love over the past two years and I'm into the second book in the series right now and, thanks to self-publishing, will have it out this fall.

shana said...

Bob Mayer, thank you so much for sharing your story.
You bring a ton of experience to the conversation and have always been very generous with it.
I've always appreciated your advice over on the kindleboards, as well.

Shana Hammaker
METAMORPHOSIS, Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

Karen said...

To your 3rd point, Joe, I wanted to point out what's happening to the Michael Connelly's lastest book, Fifth Witness. The rating is taking a pounding at Amazon, not because of his writing, but because of the e-book's price point. I feel bad for Connelly, but maybe, it'll wake up the publishers. Hey, a girl can dream.

Joe Konrath said...

You can't take an ebook and do anything with it because you no longer own the copyright to it.

I own the interactive multimedia rights. Those are mine to exploit as I wish.

Sebastian Dark said...

Is "Anonymous" the new bowerbird, but hidden behind a proxy this time?

Matthew W. Grant said...

Bob,

I always enjoy your comments on KB as well. Like your guest post here, they are pensive and intelligently argued.

Considering your track record, it's appalling that you don't get better treatement from your publisher.

Thank you for sharing your perspectives with us.

Matthew

Discover The Secrets Of Slaters Falls

Brian Drake said...

Bob,
If you check in, first, thanks for the post--very nice. And I plan on exploring your website further for those bits of Civil War facts.

Second, I read "The Eyes of the Hammer" during breaks when I took my college entrance exams; great book! I read all the way to "Synbat-13" before I lost track of you. I'm glad you are still at it and it looks like I have a ton of catching up to do!

Mark Asher said...

"I own the interactive multimedia rights. Those are mine to exploit as I wish."

Have you discussed this with your publisher? Have they conceded this point?

I'm not arguing one way or another -- just curious.

Werner said...

I’m a fan of Bob Mayer and glad to see him make the switch to self-publishing ebooks. As I’m also a history buff, I’ll be adding Duty, Honor, Country, a Novel of West Point & the Civil War to my Kindle library as soon as I get home tonight.

It’s refreshing to see writer’s finally get a fair shake through self-publishing ebooks. It’s been a long time coming, but ebooks look to be entering its own Golden Era.

As with every “gold rush” there are going to be multitudes of people coming out of the woodwork thinking they’re going to strike instant riches by publishing their own books and novels.

The problem is the overwhelming majority of these self-published works are going to be little more than digital toilet paper. It’ll come to a point where the consumer is going to have to pick through a lot of trash to get to the gems.

This can have a severe backlash in that consumers will get discouraged with poorly written and unedited ebooks and go back to the traditionally published books and ebooks released by The Big 6 publishers.

Joe - what can be done to establish some sort of quality controls in the ebook industry to protect and preserve the market for self-published writer’s who do have well written and edited ebooks?

Joe Konrath said...

And Joe, don't tell publishers how to save themselves until I've got a few more titles up, okay?

LOL. That assumes publishers will listen to me. They won't. I'm an outlier and an anomaly who was rejected by the industry because my books suck, and now I'm bitterly trying to cause trouble for the Smart Folks Who Know Better.

Some agents are listening. They're already implementing things I talked about years ago. They may make the transition, and thrive.

But as long as the majority of the industry has their hands over their ears going "LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING" then this industry is dead.

Joe Konrath said...

Have you discussed this with your publisher? Have they conceded this point?

I'm betting I'll be sued, get even more famous, sell even more ebooks, and when I win they'll have to pay my court costs.

Blake Crouch said...

"Have you discussed this with your publisher? Have they conceded this point?"

There is nothing for them to concede. The rights clause in older standard publishing contracts is crossed out, because publishers, I know it's a shock, didn't think far enough ahead. To quote Bill Paxon from Aliens, "Game over, man!"

Anna DeStefano said...

What Bob and Joe are saying here, over and over in this post and previous ones, is authors HAVE to know their business. They have to own their publishing process as well as they do their creative process. They have to know everything they can about what's going on, even if they only apply a small portion of that knowledge to their own situations.

We're not all marketing savvy and we don't all have the inclination to pound the pavement or the information superhighway to get the word out about our newest releases. Most authors haven't over the years. But only a few have made it big without putting substantial effort into promotion--a few have hit hard the first time out of the gate and they've been on their way, no looking back.

The rest of us have to decide what our tollerance is for the type of self-promotion the current market demands, and what the best publishing route is for our work/situation. Then we do what writers have always done--we do the best we can with the choices we've made. We take ownership of where we go from here, stop blaming everyonoe else or the market or the industry at large. We do our jobs as business people, learn from our successes and failures, and strive to make an ever better choice the next time.

For now, I'm taking a hybrid approach--going the direct-to-digital/trade route for my sci-fi/fantasy with my mainstream publisher, while remaining mass market and eBook with my romances at Harlequin. It's working for me now. For the next series of books... Only time will tell...

You guys are an inspiration to the rest of us in the trenches!

Good luck with DHC, Bob ;o)

Gretchen Galway said...

@nwrann: I hope you're right about the rising-tide philosophy. If you talk to people who aren't writers (ie, potential readers), they don't realize how publishing is changing. Most people aren't buying ebooks yet. Having established authors publish to Kindle with bring more potential readers for our no-name books. We aren't competing with each other, but with Angry Birds and Dancing With the Stars.

Anyway, I hope that's true.

Another thing I like to remember: even the "big name" authors are unknown to most people. When Connie Brockway announced she was going Indie, lots of people outside the romance community said "who?" Similarly, I'd never heard of Barry Eisler.

Best just to put your head down and write, write some more, repeat. No sense arguing about an unknowable future.

David Ross Erickson said...

"it's not the crap flooding the market that I'm worried about. It's the cream."

The more cream, the better, I say. Personally, I'd love to see a thriving indie historical fiction section of high quality military, manly books. Hopefully, Bob will create some traffic. It's lots of cream that will keep people coming back for more. Maybe after they've read Duty, Honor, Country, they'll pick up The War God's Men, my war novel of Carthage vs Rome. :)

(How's that for subtle?)

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

Great post, guys!

You've hit it on the head, yet again. And Bob, I agree, more of us indies do need to be more patient and just keep working instead of being worried about low sales (provided we've determined we've covered all bases on making sales with good book/cover/price, etc.)

I'm definitely in for the marathon!

Karly Kirkpatrick
www.karlykirkpatrick.com
www.darksidepublishing.com

Jason said...

Bob, this sounds like a great read. Congrats on taking the leap to self-pubbing. We all know you won't be sorry!

Joe, it's definitely not your job to try to save the publishing industry. Now having said that...you should have expanded your shouting rant and made it it's own blog post. Nothing you haven't said in the past, but good to have it said again and all in one place. I really hope you do release multimedia versions of your Jack e-series. And soon.

It's crazy to me that trad. pubs. don't see how much more money they could be making on ebooks through lower pricing and much much higher sales. But of course...right now for legacy publishers it's more about saving paper books than maximizing ebook sales.

Bob's new ebook reminded me of a Civil War era project I was working on involving our 16th president time traveling and bringing back some modern things. I was going to call it Abraham's Lincoln...

Barbara Morgenroth said...

Self-publishing makes *some* things easier. In no other publishing universe could I be ranked above Tess Gerritsen or James Patterson, yet for reasons and algorithms known only to Amazon, my novel is #2 in its category, above some of the heaviest hitters in the industry.

YAHOO!! Best time in the history of the world to be a writer.

Bob Mayer said...

Publishers hardly ever listen to authors. They think we have little to contribute in terms of expertise in the business.
Glad you enjoyed Eyes of the Hammer-- I just released that in ebook along with the next book Dragon Sim-13. Synbat will be out in ebook within the week. I've got so much backlist, we're working full time just to get it out there. It also looks like I'm getting the rights to my Area 51 series back, which is huge as it sold over a million copies in print, although I'll believe it when I get the reversion letters.

A major flaw in publishing has been treating authors as unimportant. I don't see that changing.

Eloheim and Veronica said...

For years I made my living selling things on Ebay. I would hit the garage sales and thrift stores on the weekends then spend the weekdays listing and shipping.

At the time, everyone was saying how "easy" it was to make a killing on Ebay.

People approached me to teach them how to sell on Ebay. I made sure they knew all the steps and just what to do. None of them lasted more than a few weeks. Why? "So many details, too much to keep track of, It's a lot of work!, my stuff didn't sell, I can't figure out what my ad should look like, the customers are unreasonable!".....etc.

It reminds me of the conversation here today. Sure, lots of people may want to jump on the ebook wagon and lots may even try, but if my experience holds, they may not stick around long.

Self-publishing, like running an Ebay business is being self-employed. There is a lot to deal with with when you are self-employed.

I don't intend for this comment to be discouraging. I actually wrote it to do just the opposite although I'm not sure I pulled it off.

I believe there is plenty of room for good books and there will be plenty of room for good books for a good long time to come.

There will be plenty of room for authors who are willing to be self-employed and to take on all that that entails.

That won't be everyone, but it bodes well for the authors who are.

Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

Things I have learned about self-publishing (so far)

lindareedgardner@yahoo.com said...

Publishing prostitutes? Too funny. Are you sure they are all FORMER employees in the mill?
Meanwhile, no one ever mentions that the SP deal cuts two ways here. The agents that survive will be blessedly free of the need to waste much of their time wading through dopey queries, stand-up comedy amateur hour "pitches," and abysmal sample chapters. They can just sit back while all the SPers thrown themselves at the wall like so much mud, and wait and see who manages to stick for a bit.
They will then swoop down upon the fractional number who have actually written professional manuscripts, good stories that catch the public imagination, and dangle contracts in front of their noses. And some will certainly think this is the better deal and take them.
Nothing wrong with that, but I can't help noticing what a great shift this also is for legacy publishing. The kids like Hocking? Terrific. Go and get her.
Again, nothing wrong with it at all, but it certainly does free agents up,and their cash reserves also. It's a cherrypicker's dream.
I can't wait to see what is left when the dust settles. I assume the best will prevail in both camps.

Dawn said...

Bob, checked out your Who Dares site---pretty cool. Congrats on the new release.

I confess, I had skepticism at Konrath's "sales won't trickle but seem to increase." So I figured putting out of print books on Kindle was a no-brainer...and didn't put anything at risk.
...I'm starting seeing what Rebecca and Bob mentioned--a build that is slow, but seems to be consistently improving.

nwrann said...

@Joe wrote: I'm betting I'll be sued, get even more famous, sell even more ebooks, and when I win they'll have to pay my court costs.

Better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

@Gretchen wrote: Best just to put your head down and write, write some more, repeat. No sense arguing about an unknowable future.

This is the only unarguable point.

Jason said...

"A major flaw in publishing has been treating authors as unimportant. I don't see that changing."

Bob, that is certainly an understatement!

E & V, how right you are. Authors who are thinking of self-pubbing really do need to think of themselves as self-employed and act accordingly. It won't always be easy, but it will be worth it.

Todd Russell said...

Interesting piece, Bob. Thank you for sharing.

Bob Mayer said...

By the way-- reference the very first comment. Grant's first 'attack' in the Civil War as head of the 21st Illinois was against the town of Florida, Missouri. Mark Twain's birthplace. I have that scene in the book, because some speculate Twain, as a young man, was there on the Confederate side.
Grant agreed with Twain to write his memoirs after he was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer and had been bankrupted in a ponzi scheme and didn't want to leave his wife destitue. It was the #1 nonfiction book of the 19th Century.

Sariah S. Wilson said...

Bob, you comment that you know *how* to promote. You should teach an online class with that information - I'd sign up!

nwrann said...

@Bob wrote: I believe one key to success is niche. The Internet has made things more specialized rather than broader. I’ve written in many genres: thrillers, romance, science fiction, non-fiction, but, as I had to do making the decision to self-publish, I had to sit down and decide what I really wanted to write.

You bring up a great point here and a topic worth discussing. One of the reasons that I am attracted to self-pubbing is because I'll be able to write whatever I want in any genre and publish it. Whereas a legacy publisher would need to pigeonhole my name into a specific genre, niche or style for marketing reasons.

My question, regarding this is: If I plan to publish a teen paranormal romance & a sci-fi horror & a hardcore Ketchum-style horror this year, should I use a pseudonym to distinguish between the different styles? Does self-pubbing make it easier or harder (more dangerous) for authors to switch between genres? Konrath uses the Kilborn name for horror fare, does it matter?

Coolkayaker1 said...

Thanks for trying to save the traditional publishing industry, Joe.

Darlene Underdahl said...

I signed up!

Was the Battle of Shiloh covered in the novel Cold Mountain? I can't check because I passed that book to a friend. A terrible day.

David Wisehart said...

Anonymous said, "I might be wrong, but the publisher owns the copyright to the underlying work."

You are wrong.

Authors don't sell their copyrights to publishers. They license the copyright for a limited, defined use.

Copyrights can be, and usually are, sliced and diced and sold to various publishers and other entities to exploit, but the underlying rights remain with the author (and their heirs) until the work falls into the public domain.

David

Jill James said...

Bob, I was telling my husband about your Civil War books and how self-published authors can cash in on events and dates if they can write fast enough, not wait for publishers to put out their books 2 or 3 years from now.

For a fast writer there is the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic next year. A self-publisher could have a book written and out in time for that event.

Shawn R said...

Pricing of e-books is a constant frustration for me as a reader. I am willing to pay up to 6.99/7.99 for a novel length ebook, because that is what a mass market paperback costs. I prefer to pay $5 or less, & if I luck into a good book at .99 to 2.99, I'm ecstatic. But I will impulse buy at $5.

The 9.99 fiction e-books just irritate the dog-spit out of me. I have half a dozen sampled e-books that I would love to go ahead and download - the writing is excellent quality, the author voice is fun, the story is engaging. But I'm not paying $10+ for the e-book. There are only 3 or 4 authors I will pay $10 - $12 for the e-book & that is only because they are "must reads", & $10 is cheaper than the hardback & the mass market won't come out for another 6 months. Even then, I grumble.

I completely understand that publishers' overhead & expenses for the entire business has to be factored into all of the unit sales across all media.

As a reader, I don't really care, though. I feel like I'm being taken advantage of when the publisher demands I pay more for an e-book than for a mass market paperback, and the result is the publisher is losing a sale to me.

I can't be the only one.

I wonder if they've hit a tipping point & don't know it ... if they dropped their prices to more reasonable levels, would there be enough hold-outs like me to make up the difference in revenue?

Bob Mayer said...

Pricing is a big issue. I've found leading with .99 for series, such as Atlantis, my thrillers, etc works. I had to think long and hard about pricing Duty, Honor, Country at $4.99. Part of it is simply length, over 175,000 words along with 18,000 words of next thriller as teaser. I considered breaking it into three smaller books, but that's just a pain for readers. But I do think for fiction $5 is the breaking point.

Erik said...

A few weeks ago I was clicking links and moving around on the laps of blogs more frequently than a $5-a-dance stripper. I stopped at this one and read Barry and Joe's dialogue. Since then I polished and published my novel, Morality Blurred, on Amazon, PubIt, and Smashwords, started a blog, and tweet more than I ever thought a father of three should. Like many others who follow this blog, the writer in me has been resurrected (just in time for Easter!).

One thing Mr. Mayer mentioned that I've been thinking about is developing a niche. I'm worried b/c I'm more of a literary mainstream fiction kind of writer, and my platform is as high as an Amish phonebook. It seems like self-pubbing is more geared toward genre writers, but I could be wrong. Anyone have some insight re: developing a niche w/o writing genre fiction? Thanks!

Jamie Sedgwick said...

Great posts today, and another great story. This really is history in the making and I can't stop watching it, wondering what will happen next. As a rookie (and social recluse), I certainly don't have the marketing skills you guys do, but without ever walking into a bookstore I've manged to sell hundreds of copies of my books in just a couple months. Like many indies here, these were books that literary agents and editors wouldn't even glance at.

Things are very, very different now. This may very well turn into a sink-or-swim business, with publishers and agents swooping in to sign successful indies after they sell successfully, but to me that sounds great. Everyone benefits, especially the authors who previously had zero chance of getting published. In my eyes, Joe and the other authors profiled here are heroes on the cutting edge of a massive revolution. Thanks Joe, not just for chronicling this change but for helping to make it happen, and good luck to Bob!

Selena Kitt said...

I'm betting I'll be sued, get even more famous, sell even more ebooks, and when I win they'll have to pay my court costs.

That was going to be my prediction. Although I really hope they DON'T sue... it's a headache no one needs. But if they do, I predict they'll lose, and it will set a precedent for all those lucky authors who signed contracts like yours restricting e-book rights, but not multimedia rights.

And I frankly can't wait to see what you do with your books - Blake, too. Bring it on, I'm buyin! ;)

Suzan Harden said...

@Veronica,

You're not discouraging. What you say about self-publishing being self-employment and hard work is very, very true.

Those who succeed will be those folks, like Joe and Bob, who work their rearends off as well as producing a great read.

David said...

@Bob:

"But I do think for fiction $5 is the breaking point."

Considering most of the books in the Top 100 are over $5, even $7, is this really true?

Many writers are pricing at 99 cents because that's as low as they're allowed to go on Amazon, and other writers are choosing $2.99 because that's the absolute bottom floor to receive a 70% royalty, but I haven't seen any signs that readers are the ones demanding that books be priced below (often well below) $5.

Anonymous said...

"Copyrights can be, and usually are, sliced and diced and sold to various publishers and other entities to exploit, but the underlying rights remain with the author (and their heirs) until the work falls into the public domain."

Are you taking the position that an author can license the print/digital copyright of a book to a publisher, then take those same printed words and enhance them with something new (videos, whatever) to get a new, non-violative product?

I don't think so ...

The words can no longer be used by the original author. The words, whether in physical print or digital, have been sold.

Blake Crouch said...

"I don't think so ...

The words can no longer be used by the original author. The words, whether in physical print or digital, have been sold."

Ummm...that's not the way my contract reads for my two books in question. This is why the language on more recent contracts is being changed, because it does not protect the publisher from doing exactly what I am going to do later this year which is release enhanced, interactive, multimedia editions of these two books. They do not own the words. They own exclusive licenses to release those words as print or electronic text only.

Joe Konrath said...

Are you taking the position that an author can license the print/digital copyright of a book to a publisher, then take those same printed words and enhance them with something new (videos, whatever) to get a new, non-violative product?

Yes. Hence the term "interactive multimedia."

Just as the term "audio" means I can read my story aloud and release it on CD and mp3, as long as I have those rights.

As stated in my GC contract: "electronic rights shall mean the right to transform the content of the work (i.e. including text and any illustrations) into electronic, digital, and magnetic media without any material video or audio enhancement."

In my Hyperion contracts, multimedia is reserved for the author. They don't define either "ebool" or "multimedia."

But "interactive multimedia" is pretty easy to define. It means the reader is able to interact with the material (such as they could with games, links, forums, and user aggregated content) and that there must be more than one media type (such as text, audio, video, and games.)

When I turn my backlist into interactive multimedia, my publishers will have no claim on that, because they don't own those rights.

They own the plain, vanilla text. That's all.

Anonymous said...

As I'm sure you're aware, the likely legal issue here is your noncompete clause, and whether your exploitation of reserved interactive media rights might be competitive with the rights you've licensed to the publisher.

It seems that you're acknowledging with this post that your interactive edition would in fact be competitive with your publisher's ebook edition, which I'm not sure was the wisest thing to do.

I suggest reviewing the exact language of your noncompete clause before proceeding, as going forward I suspect publishers will be very agressive legally in what they see as efforts to protect their rights.

Anonymous said...

"Yes. Hence the term "interactive multimedia."

From what I understood of your idea, you intend to HAVE THE WORDS IN A WRITTEN FORM (e.g. digitial) and then "enhance" them with overlays or intertwines of video, audio, etc.

Is it true that you intent to have the words in your final product in a written form?

Or are you talking about a whole new product that doesn't include text words?

Bob Mayer said...

I think that's an innovative way to use the contract. Again, there is a big difference between rights and copyright. I've never given up copyright on any book. I signed rights. Looking at some of my old contracts Joe's got a point about the difference between reproducing the text in electronic form and doing a multimedia form that's more than text. Two separate sets of rights.

Anonymous said...

Shawn R: I agree - as a reader I'm very annoyed by high ebook prices. I finally bought a Kindle last year and love it but before that I always bought used books for one cent + shipping on Amazon. I read a lot so I can't spend $10+ on each title and prefer to spend less than $5. What publishers are missing is that my spending habits haven't changed just because I'm buying ebooks (and I've developed a dislike for publishers since purchasing my Kindle after reading all the info on this blog). Now when I can't find the ebook version for a reasonable price I STILL buy the paper book on Amazon for one cent + shipping, ensuring that the publisher (and unfortunately the author) get no revenue from the sale. Really - do they think we're stupid? I'd prefer to read [almost] everything on my Kindle but I'm not paying those prices to do so. I'm finding so many good books under $5 in ebook format I see no reason to pay higher prices for Big6 titles.

Bob: You're book sounds like one my dad will like so hopefully you have it available via Smashwords too since he doesn't have an ereader. It will make a great birthday give so I've made a note of it.

Joe Konrath said...

It seems that you're acknowledging with this post that your interactive edition would in fact be competitive with your publisher's ebook edition, which I'm not sure was the wisest thing to do.

How are interactive multimedia any different than audiobooks?

It's an entirely different format. If my print books lose sales to those who want to listen to the audiobook, it doesn't violate the non-compete clause.

And guess what? If audio publishers lowered their prices to $2.99 a download, you can bet they'd really eat into ebook sales.

From what I understood of your idea, you intend to HAVE THE WORDS IN A WRITTEN FORM (e.g. digitial) and then "enhance" them with overlays or intertwines of video, audio, etc.

Ack! Read the clause I just posted!

"into electronic, digital, and magnetic media without any MATERIAL VIDEO OR AUDIO ENHANCEMENT."

Once I video and audio enhance it, they don't have the rights to it. Simple as that.

Donald Wells said...

Joe or Blake
Is there a company you would recommend for ebook enhancements?
I don't think I've ever seen an enhanced ebook, but the idea sounds intriguing.

E. Miguel said...

I say go for it, multimedia out your back catalog. If the publisher holds no rights to it, then go ahead. If they want to fight about it, fight them and give them hell.

It isn't up to authors to change for the publishing industry, it's up to the industry to change for us. If they want to be shortsighted, then who are we to stop them from falling off that cliff up ahead.

Thank you for the blog Joe. It has given me the courage to say screw it and self pub instead of waiting around like some poor animal at the shelter hoping I'd be picked out by a publisher.

The Outer-Universe Cruise Ship Mardis Gras

Anonymous said...

"Once I video and audio enhance it, they don't have the rights to it. Simple as that."

By your reasoning, you could take the full text of one of your books (exactly as your publisher paid many thousands of dollars to purchase), then lay some background music on it or insert a few hyperlinks, and publish it.

No problem?

Really?

Tom Keller said...

Great post! Damnit Konrath, now I have to follow you on twitter just to keep up. Oh, and I bought one of Mayer's books as well!

Thanks for being an inspiration to us future Indie authors as well!

Anonymous said...

Mr Mayer, please consult an attorney. Seriously.

Again, the issue is not whether you've retained these rights, I'm sure you have. The issue is whether you can exploit them freely. If this is for a newer title (i.e. after 1998) this is going to be an issue.

Typical noncompete language says you cannot authorize or arrange for publication or sale any work that would directly compete with the Work or diminish the rights granted to a publisher.

You've acknowledging here that you hope readers would by your interactive media edition instead of an ebook edition produced by the publisher. That means that your edition would both compete with the publisher's editions and diminish overall sales.

Perhaps your noncompete language is different than the above, but if it is not, you'll need to tread carefully here.

Mr. Konrath - I don't think it's helpful to authors to give advice/suggestions without fully advising them on the legal issues involved beyond the grant of rights. It all depends on the specific contract, the rights granted and reserved, the noncompete clause, and other language. As I mentioned above, authors need to be careful proceeding here as Publishers are likely going to be extremely litigious on this matter.

David said...

"How are interactive multimedia any different than audiobooks?"

If you intend for the "reader" to read the text, which is really a revision of your previously published text, and have them do it on the same e-reader, i.e., the Nook, it seems like it could be a problem.

Any writer with this sort of clause could simply do what anon states--slap on some music, add hyperlinks, and have a few animations. But all of those things only enhance the underlying content, the reason for buying the product, which is the written text, and is intended to be "read" on the same device the "electronic book" is intended to be read.

I don't know who's right, but it will probably lead to some expensive litigation.

Joe Konrath said...

By your reasoning, you could take the full text of one of your books (exactly as your publisher paid many thousands of dollars to purchase), then lay some background music on it or insert a few hyperlinks, and publish it.

Nope. That's not what I'm planning at all.

I'm planning to make my backlist into INTERACTIVE MULTIMEDIA.

I have some really cool, innovative, groundbreaking ideas on how to make a narrative interactive. But if you're a reader of this blog, you had to know I've thought this out.

I foresee nothing less than a complete re-imagining of how stories can be told. Plain text is so 2010...

Anonymous said...

"I foresee nothing less than a complete re-imagining of how stories can be told. Plain text is so 2010..."

I hate to be the one to break it to you but someone's already though of it. It's call the movie.

Bob Mayer said...

Interactive is going to happen because the technology is there to make it happen. I'm trying to team up with the National Park Service, which is in the process of developing interactive on-line guides to all its parks, including many battlefields used in my books. I'll be at Shiloh the week after this recording podcasts and discussing possibilities. I really think the possibilities are limitless.

Michelle Muto said...

Great post as always. It's interesting to watch authors like Bob turn and walk away from traditional publishing as it stands now.

I say that because Shhhhh! Joe! Quiet! Stop telling the Big Six to lower their prices! New indies like me are happy raking in money for a manuscript agencies almost repped.

http://www.amazon.com/Book-Lost-Souls-ebook/dp/B004QWZ8LO

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"I foresee nothing less than a complete re-imagining of how stories can be told. Plain text is so 2010..."

Joe you are too funny! But even funnier is anonymous disapproval of everything you say. That is hilarious. You would think, if they thought they were smart enough to take you on. They would put a name behind it so they could build a name for themselves!

Oh wait! I'm going to be anonymous too! Bet you can't tell that I'm not a publisher.....

Jack

P.S. Did you know that I actually had to click the "Hide me I'm scared!" button?

Gary Ponzo said...

It's amazing how many copyright experts follow this blog. I think the smart money is probably on Joe, since I doubt he falls out of bed and makes capricious decisions based on what a buddy told him at the bar last night. At least I hope not. Joe?

Joe Konrath said...

I hate to be the one to break it to you but someone's already though of it. It's call the movie.

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but I think very little of anonymous cowards. Especially when they're morons.

Consider making a book into a website where readers can interact with the author and each other.

Consider novels that get added to, bit by bit, year after year. Not static, but organic.

Consider an author doing a full length commentary, both audio and annotated notes, on the writing of a novel.

Consider forums embedded in manuscripts, where readers can have live books clubs and read and comment in real time.

Books can, and will, become community events.

Of course, if you don't want any of that, you're still able to buy the more expensive plain text version.

jack said...

oh yeah....

just so I'm not anonymous anymore.

Jack

Kendall Swan said...

Finally a Konrath blog post-- I've been needing my fix!

Lively discussion with Anon today. Very interesting.

Bob, JAK, and all you other cross genre writers-- like nwrann, I, too, would like to hear your thoughts on pen names.

I can see the benefits of having everything under one name-- heavy cross promotional opportunities. But I can also see the frustration of a reader getting a book by a favorite author in a different genre than they meant to get.

Personal example-- I will autoclick JD Robb, but I've only been interested in 2 (out of how many gazillion?) Nora Roberts titles.

What do y'all think?

Kendall Swan
Coming Soon: NAKED Adventures: 26 Fun and Erotic Short Stories

Anonymous said...

"I hate to be the one to break this to you, but I think very little of anonymous cowards. Especially when they're morons."

Chill, dude, I was just challenging your basic premise. No need for name calling.

My take is that if you're intending to start with text that the reader can lay eyes on, then "enchance it" somehow, you're headed for a battle.

If you're talking about a new product without the existing text, then that's a different story.

jack said...

"Chill, dude, I was just challenging your basic premise. No need for name calling."

I took it as a friendly nickname. Like I call my best friend skinny, cause he is skinny. He is just labeling you by your most recognizable feature.

Joe Konrath said...

Chill, dude, I was just challenging your basic premise. No need for name calling.

For name calling, you'd have to have a name, dude.

Challenging me anonymously leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you want to sign into your Google account, but a name to your words, that's when you'll get some respect from me.

David said...

It's an interesting idea, or set of ideas, though I don't know if the average reader wants to interact with the author or other readers. Great for textbooks though. As for the novels that get added to bit by bit, I'm not sure what that would look like. Sounds like a series of novels or novellas, similar to how King published Green Mile. Again, it's all interesting and worth exploring, but it sounds like it'll be competing more with other APPS than with printed books or e-books. What I don't understand is how it'll be cheaper than plain text.

H C Pucket said...

Question for all... why are you trying to persuade traditional publishing to change their ways? Why not let them continue to seal their fate?

Lady at the Club

Joe Konrath said...

What I don't understand is how it'll be cheaper than plain text.

My overhead is much smaller than a Big 6 publisher's overhead. I can pay set fees to set up an interactive multimedia book, then everything after that is profit, forever.

Being a one-man operation has its advantages. So does not having an office in the Flatiron Building.

jack said...

interesting side note.

you can now buy a kindle for $114.00 if you do not mind adds that do not interrupt your reading.

Anonymous said...

"Challenging me anonymously leaves a bad taste in my mouth."

Don't take things personally. I'm not challenging YOU, I'm debating the IDEA of whether an author can take text words which have been sold to a publisher, and then re-publish those same exact text words with impunity simply by overlaying music or doing some sort of "enhancement."

jack said...

"Don't take things personally. I'm not challenging YOU, I'm debating the IDEA of whether an author can take text words which have been sold to a publisher, and then re-publish those same exact text words with impunity simply by overlaying music or doing some sort of "enhancement.""

Put your name on it. THEN you will receive much happier responses. Grow a pair, and we will welcome anything you say. We may still disagree but you will find that we show respect to you then.

Joe Konrath said...

Don't take things personally.

I don't.

I also don't take things anonymously.

Anonymous said...

"Put your name on it. THEN you will receive much happier responses. Grow a pair, and we will welcome anything you say. We may still disagree but you will find that we show respect to you then."

This is why I post anon. There are too many haters and name callers in the world.

jack said...

BTW....

Excellent post Joe and Bob. I can't wait to read Duty, Honor, Country. Sounds like my kind of book! I wish you the best of luck!

Anonymous said...

@Joe Konrath

Thanks for the line about multimedia publishing. I hadn't even thought about that, but I just checked my contract, which says:

"All rights not specifically granted hereunder are reserved by Author, including but not limited to ... multimedia and/or interactive electronic rights... Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, electronic rights shall be limited to the display of the text in the Work and shall not include any moving images, sound or any interactive multimedia elements."

There is no noncompete clause in the contract--I read it three times.

Holy shit. I have rights to put up my e-backlist in interactive multimedia form.

Not that I'm going to do it at the moment, but when I approach my publisher about buying back my backlist, I just got a really really big stick to beat them with.

Leaving this anonymous for obvious reasons, and I'm kissing my agent the next time I see her.

Anonymous said...

And I did post anonymously--I still have ongoing relationships (e.g. contract not yet finished) with my publisher, and so I don't really want to announce that I'm planning on doing this--but for the anonymous who is questioning whether this is okay, you can't know until you read our contracts.

I read mine three times. It specifically reserves multimedia versions to me and defines those as anything other than electronic with pure text.

This is a big publishers with a massive legal departments, and this contract was written in 2007, and negotiated on my end by my solo-practice-agent.

If Big Publisher can't freaking close a loophole that massive in 2007, they deserve to have their authors drive trucks through it.

You can question what Joe (and I) can do all you want, but I never "sold" my copyright to anyone--I licensed a subset of the exclusive rights granted to me by copyright, and if I held on to one of those rights, my publisher never owned it and I can still use it, subject to any noncompete clauses.

End. Of. Story.

Again, apologies for the anonymity, and I wish I had a choice, but I posted my contract language above. You tell me why I can't do what my contract plainly allows me to do.

RW Bennett said...

Bob,

Thanks for pricing this important work at $4.99. You could easily ask, and get, $9.99 or even $12.99. I just downloaded my copy today.

RW

Selena Kitt said...

Holy shit. I have rights to put up my e-backlist in interactive multimedia form

Awesome!!!

Another author to soon join the ranks of the lucratively self-published, I hope.

You can come out of the anonymous closet in the future when you're selling gazoodles on Amazon and point back to this post with glee :)

RW Bennett said...

Bob and Joe,

Rachelle Gardner had a post last week where her readers gave their reasons for sticking with trad pub. Over 200 comments - mostly saying they didn't feel validated otherwise, or lacked the range of skills (edit, format, market) to SP, or wanted to feel part of a "team". In other words, trad pub will still be widely queried, but mostly by writers lacking in confidence or lacking in foresight. I don't think that is the sweet spot most publishers are looking for.

RW

Bob Mayer said...

Actually, in the original version of the post. I mentioned something about Alpha type personalities being the ones who are breaking tradition, but I cut it, trying to keep focus.
I've always said that if you're looking for validation, publishing in any form, is not the place to go seeking it.
I believe we all write because we love creating. The nice thing is now we don't need to get other people's approval to get our product to readers. We just need reader approval in terms of sales. Simply because of length, Duty, Honor, Country would have turned off most publishing houses.

Greg Shultz said...

Yet another great post! Thanks for spreading the word, Mr. Konrath.

Jenni Holbrook-Talty said...

Someone asked about Bob teaching classes on marketing. He's teaching "Marketing and the Writer" in June over at Write It Forward. I hope it's okay that I put the link here... http://www.whodareswinspublishing.com/WIF_Workshops.html

Understand the business is key to being successful, regardless of the path you take in publishing. Joe has pointed out many times his experiences in both worlds. I have the honor to be working with Bob to get his backlist out and have learned more about publishing in the last two years than in my ten years as an aspiring author and 5 years being published by two different epublishers.

David said...

"All rights not specifically granted hereunder are reserved by Author, including but not limited to ... multimedia and/or interactive electronic rights... Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, electronic rights shall be limited to the display of the text in the Work and shall not include any moving images, sound or any interactive multimedia elements."

Doesn't this mean the publisher still might have the rights to the text in a new multimedia work but NOT to the new material (video and audio)?

Ula James said...

@bob - I just picked up your Atlantis for an introduction to your writing. Best of luck with your newest release! It is great to be able to schedule something so that it can take full advantage of the market conditions, like the anniversary.

Kristen Lamb said...

I keep saying that it is an AMAZING time to be a writer, and it is so wonderful to see Bob sharing that same enthusiasm (He was a tad unsure of Twitter when I first introduced him to it :D).

Bob has always written excellent books, and I am sure he will continue to produce some of the best fiction out there. But, I think social media can make a huge difference in giving us (authors) more publishing options and more control over our careers...regardless what level of author we happen to be.

It is so wonderful to see some of the bigger names embracing some of the newer methods of publishing. I only mention this because Bob has done a lot of great work building his social media platform, and I think that this enthusiastic platform of followers and friends will make this decision a great success.

Thanks for the great post and for sharing your experiences with us.

Anonymous said...

"Doesn't this mean the publisher still might have the rights to the text in a new multimedia work but NOT to the new material (video and audio)?"

David, I think you're hitting the nail on the head. The text rights themselves have been sold. The author can't take them back, use them as a foundation, lay something else on top and say voila, it's mine!

Something entirely new would be a different story. For example, audio does not overlay on text. There's no text for the eyes to see. There's only words to hear.

But when the author tries to take back the written words that the eyes actually see, well, I don't know if I'd be jumping up and down with conviction.

jry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Woodbury said...

Bob--My g-g-grandfather took his parents down to the enlistment office in Boston on his birthday in 1864 so he could join the Union Army. His parents had to give permission because he was only 15. He fought at Cedar Creek. Thank God for him and men like him. I will check out your book!

Joe--I love it when you yell. Please keep it up :)

Kathy Kulig said...

Joe, Bob, Thanks for the great discussion. And Bob, Congrats on your new release. Sounds awesome!

I can see how self-pubbing can be the way to go for well established authors who've hit best seller lists & have sold millions of copies of their print books. They have a large following of readers.

But I'm not convinced self-pubbed is the best path for authors like me. I've published a few books, yet most people don't know me, I haven't sold millions, and I don't have a huge following. The odds of self-pubbing becoming a lucrative career path for me is doubtful. I'm still watching tho. The publishing world is changing day to day. So I may change my mind down the road. But for now: Self-pubbed for the big guys-yes. Us little guys-meh.

Jimmie Hammel said...

I think the arguing about Joe's rights to his own work are a little silly. I'm sure he understands his own contracts. I'm also sure that he has lawyers that understand his contracts. If he says there's a loop hole then I'm sure he has fully researched the limitations.

jry said...

jry said...
Mr. Mayer said:
"But I do think for fiction $5 is the breaking point."

David said:
Considering most of the books in the Top 100 are over $5, even $7, is this really true?

Many writers are pricing at 99 cents because that's as low as they're allowed to go on Amazon, and other writers are choosing $2.99 because that's the absolute bottom floor to receive a 70% royalty, but I haven't seen any signs that readers are the ones demanding that books be priced below (often well below) $5."

We Are Out There:
I had composed an even longer response, alright even more of a rant filled with examples of how I became a rabid consumer who refuses to pay more than 5.00 per book let alone pay out any cash for a single short story or novella. My friends and I spend as much time talking about our contempt for prices much beyond the 5.00 point and publishers in general as we do in discussing the new eBook authors we have discovered. I do admit that not all of them are as hidebound about not going over that as I am but they do try.

Mr. Mayer is quite correct - many of us share that 5.00 breaking point thought. My limit is 5.00 but my impulse limit is 2.99.

I personally believe that more and more and still more quality, low priced indie titles will come to the fore and replace more of the traditionally published writers in the Top 100 who have been coasting for years - many are being purchased out of habit. Recently one of my library patrons told me that she continued to buy her FAVORITE author even though she had not enjoyed one of her books in the last 6 years and then went on to tell the title of the last book she had enjoyed, not her favorite mind you, simply the last one she remembered really liking. I didn't have the heart to tell her it had been published in 1994.

Trust me the original rant would have been lot longer!

peter darbyshire said...

Consider making a book into a website where readers can interact with the author and each other.

Consider novels that get added to, bit by bit, year after year. Not static, but organic.

Consider an author doing a full length commentary, both audio and annotated notes, on the writing of a novel.

Consider forums embedded in manuscripts, where readers can have live books clubs and read and comment in real time.

Books can, and will, become community events.


I think this is what Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear are doing with their Mongoliad book online. I haven't had time to read it yet -- too busy chasing the toddler! -- but it looks interesting.

evilphilip said...

Padworx Digital has released an iPhone/iPad version of Dracula.

It contains the full text of the story, enhanced with video/sound/graphics all bundled into a self contained App.

This would qualify as multimedia and yet it STILL contains the full text of the original work.

Our anonymous coward needs to do a little looking around before he starts trying to raise a fuss. There is this whole big thing out there called the internet and you can *gasp* use it to find things out when you know not of which you speak.

David said...

"This would qualify as multimedia and yet it STILL contains the full text of the original work."

That work is in the public domain.

Jason said...

Kathy, you don't need a huge pre-set following to be successful in self-pubbing ebooks. Many many here have proven that. Why not do both?

You should take the plunge...not even with a full novel, but just with a short or two. Self-pub a couple and see what happens. You have nothing to lose. And you may gain tons of new readers and make a nice chunk of change. But that doesn't mean you have to totally turn your back on legacy pubbing.

Self-pubbing is another way to gain a bigger following. Blog about it...tweet about it...kindle board about it, and see what happens!

Kathy Kulig said...

Thanks Jason, Good points. :)

Nicholas La Salla said...

I love this friggin' blog. It's the best darn place to talk e-publishing anywhere. Bob, Joe, awesome post.

I'd like to think real publishers will rethink their ways and salvage what's left and do things the right way -- treating their authors fairly and paying them a reasonable royalty, particularly for e-books -- but I just don't see it happening. Greed is too big a motivator.

My own book, One More Day, a modern day ghost story, has scored a great review, sold 23 copies in its first month, and pretty much tanked in April. I have more traffic to my blog than ever, and Amazon's page says that 83% of the people who've viewed my product page bought the book.

So what exactly is the problem here? Is it just dumb luck that people buy or don't buy? My blog is reasonably interesting, I'd like to think so anyway, and yet no one clicks through to buy the book?

The month's not even half over yet, so who knows what it'll ultimately turn out as, but April has not been too kind to me so far.

I'm prepping my next book for release toward the end of the month. I hope that helps to bump One More Day back into the charts so people will find it and enjoy it.

It's so hard to tell when you're doing things right or wrong -- it's times like these that I wish I had the support of a publisher, but then I remind myself of the hundreds of horror stories authors have told about their publishing deals gone wrong, and I rethink myself.

The key is to keep plugging away and make changes slowly. Give yourself time to find an audience.

That's the advice I'm following at the moment, anyway. ;-)

Nick
One More Day: A Modern Ghost Story

nwrann said...

Since nobody (except Kendall Swan) wants to discuss the benefits of Pen Name or sticking with one niche/genre/style I'll throw my hat in the Anonymous MultiMedia vs Ebook realm.

My best guess would be that the publisher ONLY has rights to Print versions (maybe even only in certain formats (hardcover, mass market, trade)) and ebook versions (which are probably defined somehow) ANY OTHER VERSION belongs to Konrath. Which means a "Choose your own adventure" website story belongs to him even if it includes all of the text from the original book.

What if Joe decided to rent a movie theater and project a scroll of the text of his book on the screen? That's neither an ebook or a print book. I would call it multimedia or interactive.

just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

"Our anonymous coward needs to do a little looking around before he starts trying to raise a fuss."

That's an interesting statement and reminds me of something important. To be a good author, you also need to be a good person to make it work over the long haul.

Lots of people on this blog and others throw insults around. It says nothing of the person they're trying to insult, but says lots about them.

Agents, publishers and even readers google them. When they find out how insulting and explosive they are, they're turned off.

Just something to keep in mind next time you feel like taking a swipe at someone.

David said...

@nwrann: I've been wondering the same thing about sticking to one genre or not, and using a pseudonym, but I don't think anyone has answers. I know it takes a hell of a lot of time to promote one name properly. Probably not a good idea to have erotic and YA on the same author's page though.

As for the rights issue, I think most publishing companies don't want to be in the multimedia game. I think where it gets dicey is with the noncompetition clause. If Joe's publisher has one of his older titles on the Nook at $7.99 and he puts a new, interactive version on the same device but at a lower price, he will be in direct competition with his own e-book.

That is, he will be in competition if his book is in a form that can be read (whether or not it's revised). If it's a whole new thing, that might be different, but if it's the old thing bundled together with new things and sold at a cheaper price, and he has a noncompete clause, it seems like it could get hairy. What really complicates this is that it's on the same device. It's not like film and video, or print books and e-books.

One could argue that one will be an App and the other an e-book, and those are different things, but then iBooks is an app, which means you can read an e-book on an app, so are they really different?

Sorry, too long. I know.

David said...

@Nick: I think you will sell much, much better with a new cover.

T.J. Dotson said...

@Kathy

I think you may be seriously underestimating yourself. Mid-list authors are doing pretty damn good in e-book land. I advise you to take a peek at the Kindle Boards, "Writers Cafe" forum. If you haven't already.

I also notice your write Paranormal Romance etc...that market is blazing hot right now. Since you've been already published, you also have less of a 'credibility hurdle' to overcome with new readers.

I encourage you to give it a shot..and see what happens. What could it hurt?

evilphilip said...

"Agents, publishers and even readers google them. When they find out how insulting and explosive they are, they're turned off."

Which explains why you post anonymously.

Obviously, any agents, publishers or readers who saw your barrage of vile posts would be turned off your work.

I suspect that even if people knew who you were they would find themselves turned off by the work itself.

There is no way to measure that statement, since you are too much of a coward to post using your real name.

I'm not and I'm happy to participate and stand by my posts and let my work stand on its own.

evilphilip said...

"That work is in the public domain."

Yes, it is. However, it is a great example of how you could enhance an existing text and have it be different enough to be considered "multimedia" and still contain 100% of the original text.

Padworx is a professional developer and I'm sure they spent a boatload of money putting together the Dracula and the Christmas Carol Apps.

These days, Joe does seem to have a boatload of money.

Anonymous said...

Joe,

You wrote two articles for Writers Digest about your path to publication and then what happened after. I was wondering if you would ever do something like that for one of your ebooks?

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallions

Rob Flumignan said...

Mr. Anon said: "Don't take things personally. I'm not challenging YOU, I'm debating the IDEA of whether an author can take text words which have been sold to a publisher, and then re-publish those same exact text words with impunity simply by overlaying music "or doing some sort of "enhancement.""

Let's get something straight here for everyone... Writers do NOT sell words to publishers. The publisher's merely have license to publish certain forms of the book (based on what's in your contract). They don't OWN the story. Unless you put that in your contract--and you're dumb if you do. That's why some writers can e-publish their own backlist, because e-rights weren't in the contract. Same exact words. Different form.

I'm pretty sure someone else already noted this, but Anon keeps harping on this idea that publishers own the stories. They don't.

Marie Simas said...

Christ, Joe, that's a lot of comments.

I do think that you're going to get sued. Big time. They're going to try and make an example out of you.

They should have tried to shut you up when you were poor. Now you can afford a shark lawyer to go along with your gold-encrusted whiskey bottles and Cuban cigars.

You know, they might even win. The case, that is. You'll still win the war.

The sales of all your books will skyrocket, just like they did when Selana Kitt got her bout of bad press. Except this will go on for a year, maybe longer.

And they won't drop it, because they're stupid assholes. Maybe now's a good time to hire a bodyguard.

Anonymous said...

"Agents, publishers and even readers google them. When they find out how insulting and explosive they are, they're turned off."

There's quite a chorus on this subject from agent-and-publisher land. I remember a very famous agent saying, almost verbatim: "I remember looking at how one author posted about a rejection. Now I know exactly how that author felt about that rejection!"

Wow, pat yourself on the back Sherlock!

So this part of why so few agents "have time" to read queries and submissions ... they're busy trolling usernames on multiple search engines, lurking on dozens or hundreds of blogs to look for embarrassing missteps, like some stalker or vindictive ex. It's so sadly surreal and irrational --- what a foolish exercise in self-absorption to waste the time they simultaenously bemoan as being in such short supply!

Lee Rogers said...

Interesting comment from Kristen Nelson (one of the more astute agents) about multimedia rights and how times are changing.

http://tinyurl.com/3kzk4gy

I.L. Wolf said...

I predict first they will bury you in paper and crank up your legal fees, and then they will attempt a settlement with a great big shiny confidentiality agreement (with a gag order thrown in along the litigative way). They can't risk you actually winning, and the only thing worse than that would be you telling other writers how to do it as well.

Anon, publishers are basically "leased" the ability to produce an author's work in a specified way, under specified conditions. They pay separately for each way they are allowed to produce the work. Print and ebooks have the exact same text, but they still need rights to each to produce each. Same with foreign rights. Joe is going to produce the work in a format the contract explicitly says he retains the rights to. Put another way, they are rights the publisher explicitly declined to "lease." I'm not sure where the issue lies (not that it will prevent a lawsuit, if for nothing other than to intimidate other authors from taking similar action).

Merrill Heath said...

My dad's first book, Violent Saturday, was published in 12 installments in Cosmopolitan, in hardback by Harpers, in paperback by Transworld Publishers of London, and in paperback again (20 years later) by Black Lizard Press.

The text was exactly the same in all 4 publications. Each publisher was licensed to publish the book in a specific format. None of them owned the story or the copyright, just the right to publish in a particular format and only that format.

It's all about what the contract says.

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

_zzz_ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"So this part of why so few agents "have time" to read queries and submissions ... they're busy trolling usernames on multiple search engines, lurking on dozens or hundreds of blogs to look for embarrassing missteps, like some stalker or vindictive ex. It's so sadly surreal and irrational --- what a foolish exercise in self-absorption to waste the time they simultaenously bemoan as being in such short supply!"

Anon, my point was simply that people who post hateful, derogatory and verbal assaults at others on the internet will never succeed, either in the publishing business or any other business for that matter. Rational people simply don't want to be around them. Those rational people include agents, publishers, other authors, employers, and just about everyone else. Once a person makes that name for themselves as a hater and flogger, it's over. No one will really ever want them on their team. No one will want to take a chance on them. No one will want to be the next person they turn against or talk about.

_zzz_ said...

One question to Bob:

I was really impressed by the topic of this new book and bought it immediately via Amazon (even if it did not have any reviews).

Then, I saw the mention to your Atlantis series and noticed in the reviews section a lot of comments on bad editing/ proofreading.

I had a huge impulse to buy it a .99cents, but with almost all reviews stating it, I could not complete the action.
I am sure more readers chose not to buy it due to it.

What are you doing to correct this?


Thanks
Jose

Lundeen Literary said...

I'm with nwrann, Kendall, and David - I want more discussion on the proper application of pseudonyms!

Was it Zoe or Selena who commented on good sales on a pseudonym that she didn't promote much? And we know about the Kilborn pen name selling better than Konrath until recently.

Anne Rice had a pen name for her erotica, but seeing as her writing is so lush, it was inevitable that the barrier between the two names would break down.

JK Rowling says that any Non-Potter stuff will possibly be under a pseudonym, just so she can see how it does without the almighty name behind it. If she decides to undo that, all she has to do is leak that the work is hers, and BAM.

I'm going to assume that I cannot be an author of chick lit, YA, sci-fi, alternate history, and mainstream lit fic all as one author name. Then again, Kazuo Ishiguro wrote both The Remains of the Day and Never Let me Go. Walter Tevis wrote both The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Color of Money. Margaret Atwood is a literary writer who swears she does not write sci-fi, yet Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and The Handmaid's Tale all qualify as such.

Does there need to be separation? I mean, other than between erotica and middle grade works by the same author? ;)

Jenna
@lundeenliterary

Ellen O'Connell said...

Count me as another Civil War buff who has been waiting for Duty, Honor, Country since I first saw you post about it, probably on KB. I'll be checking your blog for the CW facts you post every day too.

What I've never been able to get past is how devastating that war was in all ways and how people just dug in and kept going. I know there was a thriving anti-war movement, but considering hundreds of thousands of casualties, it just wasn't like the wars of my lifetime. I wonder how different this country would be today if more people knew more history.

As to the poster who doesn't think a $9.99 or even $12.99 price would make a difference - oh,yes, it would. He should take a look at the many, many threads in the Amazon forums complaining about ebook prices. Reasonable prices are a big part of what has given us indies the opportunity we're all busy celebrating in these comments and all over the net.

jack said...

"Anon, my point was simply that people who post hateful, derogatory and verbal assaults at others on the internet will never succeed, either in the publishing business or any other business for that matter. Rational people simply don't want to be around them. Those rational people include agents, publishers, other authors, employers, and just about everyone else. Once a person makes that name for themselves as a hater and flogger, it's over. No one will really ever want them on their team. No one will want to take a chance on them. No one will want to be the next person they turn against or talk about."

Do you honestly believe that statement? By your argument, no publisher would ever want to work with Konrath again? After all, it was he who said "I hate to be the one to break this to you, but I think very little of anonymous cowards. Especially when they're morons."

First of all, I am pretty sure that if he wanted a publisher, he would have one. But that is not success, over a million in sales in a year..... That is success. No matter what you want to call it.

Second, you said "I hate to be the one to break it to you but someone's already though of it. It's call the movie." This was a negative comment. Not the first you made either. If you are the expert on this than have the courage to put your name and credentials behind the statement. Then, as we have told you many times..... We will respect you.

Am I the only one that thinks of this as a child trying to get attention cause dad spends to much time at work? I mean seriously. you have been attacking this blog all day. I thought if i left this alone for 5 hours the kids would have found a game to play or took a nap.

Can we please get back to discussions that matter and leave the rock throwing to those who do not live in glass houses. Maybe even talk about something interesting.... like pseudonyms! great idea btw!

D. Nathan Hilliard said...

I'm with nwrann, Kendall, and David - I want more discussion on the proper application of pseudonyms!

As a fantasy and ghost story writer, now working a far bloodier zombie project, I with you guys.

I'm kind of curious if a pseudonym should be used just for change of genre, or if a stylistic change is also grounds for consideration.

CJ Archer said...

Great post Bob and Joe. I agree 100% - self-publishing is not the easy route. A great product, platfrom and persistance have always been key with trad publishing and still are with indie publishing. But it's a lot more fun than now :)

Good luck with your civil war book, Bob.

davidgaughran said...

Joe & Bob,

I thought you would get a chuckle at this. At the London Book Fair yesterday, there was a lot of deckchair-arranging going on.

One Big 6 publisher said that they couldn't raise e-book royalty rates because of the increasing cost of fighting piracy!!! He even had the neck to say that "unknown costs" would replace ALL the savings made on e-books. At least one agent had the sense to push back on this nonsense. Read more here if you like: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/pa-backs-publisher-admission-over-piracy-costs.html

Dave

nwrann said...

@davidg

Real nice how the cost of fighting piracy comes at the expense of the author rather than from publisher's bonuses, salaries or "profits"

Clearly the publishers are looking at "piracy" the wrong way. They think every book stolen is a lost sale. Chances are, most of the people stealing the books would have never bought them to begin with.

nwrann said...

RE: Pseudonyms

I would really love to hear Bob Mayer and Konrath's take on the pseudonym discussion.

Bob is someone that has written in different genres all under one name. Konrath has written under multiple genres and adopted a pseudonym for horror. Both have had good sales. I think they could both shed some (experienced) light on the topic from both sides.

Shéa MacLeod said...

Ugh, don't know why my comment didn't post but...

@Nick

I agree with David. You really need a new cover.

As a reader, that cover doesn't say "ghost story". It says "Jodi Picoult". Since that type of story isn't to my taste, I wouldn't even go past the cover to read the blurb.

As Joe has said time and again, we really do judge books by their covers.

J.M.Cornwell said...

A lot of agents, and publishers, are clinging to the old model. Take a look at Rachelle Gardner for an instance. She's clinging with breaking nails, but she's clinging and she doesn't believe she will ever have to change.

As C. L. Phillips mentioned Mark Twain, I'll add a little something here. Twain decided to get his books to the masses and he hired a team of door-to-door salesmen to sell his books. He needed the money since he spent so much and his nephew had run the publishing company into the ground a bit, but he continued to self-publish and to send out his teams of salesmen to keep selling his books. Nothing like the personal touch, which is what you're giving the rest of indie published authors.

It is a toss-up whether or not the bulk of indie published authors will ever make the kind of money you and your best selling friends are making, but we're following your example and keeping our fingers crossed we can free ourselves of wage slavery and focus only on writing and marketing our own work. Thanks for that.

Verilees said...

Pseudonyms: As a reader I used to search obsessively to see if I might be able to find my favorite genre authors under other names-- there was even a couple of web sites that offered pseudonym plus pseudonym dictionaries in the library. So keeping a pseudonym from a dedicated fan is not easy.

However, while I might be willing to follow Leigh Brackett anywhere she led, it may be a good idea to separate certain genres.

Romance readers want a HEA and any book that doesn't provide one might be better done under a pseudonym. Readers of certain types of mysteries or action may despise romances so it would be a good idea to separate this way also. If you are going to put something out totally at odds with previous works I would go with a pseudonym.

But don't try to keep it a deep dark secret. Own the name and mention why-- probably on your blog-- because you might be surprised who would go for something different if they like your writing in general.

Shéa MacLeod said...

As a reader, I agree with Verilees about psuedonyms.

Nora Roberts writes romances. JD Robb writes futuristic mysteries. Pretty much everyone know they're the same person. The pseudonym allows me to keep them separate as I like JD Robb stories, but not Nora Roberts ones.

Ann Aguirre writes urban fantasy, scifi and futuristic YA, all with a romantic twist. She uses the same name for everything EXCEPT a series she co-wrote with another author. Most of her readers read ALL her series. A lot of people who like one genre like the others.

I think if you're using a pseudonym, you should make sure people know ALL your pen names. That way your readers have the best chance of finding you in all genres. The only exception may be erotica. But that's another story... :-)

Bob Mayer said...

As far as pen names, I wrote under five during my traditional career. The primary reason for that is part of the discussion here: contracts. Publishers owned the option on your next book. Back in the good old days, they want no more than one book a year and I was writing three. Plus, each publisher wanted a specific type book. So to get out of the option clause, we marketed the book under a pen name.
In my indie career, I'd like to do away with all my pen names and have managed to get it down to my name and my Robert Doherty pen name. I continue to use Doherty because it's more my scifi, X-Files, Crichton type books and they've sold over 2 million copies, so there is name recognition there. But if you look at my covers, my name is on all of them now.

Megg Jensen said...

Holy crap, guys! :D

That is all. ;)

Megg Jensen

evilphilip said...

"A lot of agents, and publishers, are clinging to the old model. Take a look at Rachelle Gardner for an instance. She's clinging with breaking nails, but she's clinging and she doesn't believe she will ever have to change."

Some people can not see the writing on the wall even when it is written in huge neon lettering.

Amazon announced a $114 advertising supported Kindle today (a $25 drop from the regular WiFi-only Kindle).

Which product do you see Amazon offering for $99 come Christmas? That puts the #1 eBook reader right into that magic $99 mark where consumers will pounce on it.

While I'm not a big fan of getting SPAM with my eBook reader, Amazon's advertising is pretty low key on that version of the Kindle and I think that the average consumer will snap it up once it drops to $99.

I predict that price drop will happen around November in time for Black Friday.

eBooks and that Top 10 rack you see at Kmart/Walmart/Grocery Store are going to be the only way to buy books much much faster than angents & publishers are predicting.

As a side note: I don't trust Agents who blog on a daily basis. That strikes me as someone who has too much time on their hands.

nwrann said...

Bob, Shea & Varilees,

Thanks for the input. I agree with the concept of using a pen name without the secrecy. It would really only be for segregating one genre from the other. So that readers expect a certain thing from one name and something else from the other. If they want to cross over, they cross over.

J.M.Cornwell said...

As a side note: I don't trust Agents who blog on a daily basis. That strikes me as someone who has too much time on their hand

I never thought about it that way, but you're right.

evilphilip said...

"I never thought about it that way, but you're right."

You also have to look at the time these Agents are posting -- usually between 9 and 5. Normal business hours.

The time they should be reading submissions, dealing with clients, dealing with publishers -- that is the time when you see these people posting their blog entries and making comments to their blogs.

If someone has that much time on their hands during normal business hours, I suspect they aren't a very good Agent.

Erik said...

For someone just starting out, I plan on avoiding different pen names even if I write in different genres. It's hard enough building an audience who recognizes just one name.

David said...

"If someone has that much time on their hands during normal business hours, I suspect they aren't a very good Agent."

Just because it's posted at a certain time, doesn't mean they wrote it at that time. I suspect most of them do it before work or at night on their own time. And I've seen many instances of agents promoting their clients' books on their blogs.

J.M.Cornwell said...

For someone just starting out, I plan on avoiding different pen names even if I write in different genres. It's hard enough building an audience who recognizes just one name.

I feel the same way. I've avoided using a pen name all this time, although I have written under previous married names, going back to my maiden name and sticking with that. A writer who has a wider range of styles and types shouldn't be forced to use a pen name.

Kathy Kulig said...

@T.J Dotson
Thanks for the encouraging words. See you on the Kindle Boards/Writers Cafe.
Learning a lot from you all. Thanks Bob & Joe!

Kendall Swan said...

A writer who has a wider range of styles and types shouldn't be forced to use a pen name.

I don't think there is any forcing going on. But as a reader, I appreciate the different names (brands) to signal to me what I'm looking at--it's less work for me.

It seems like the consensus is to maybe write under different names for different genres and/or styles but make it clear these are the same author and therefore get the cross-promotional benefits.

With the sole exception of, yep, that's right: erotica. Damn it!!!

I think it was Dave who mentioned keeping erotica and YA completely separate-- which, of course, is exactly my situation. I'm almost done with a YA dystopia story and will have to start from scratch with a new name. I can't even tell all you lovely folks here about it.

Foiled, again!

Thanks for the discussion. Much appreciated.

Kendall Swan
NAKED Adventures- 26 Erotic Short Stories

Kendall Swan said...

Cool article about Selena Kitt here.

Hocking, Shmocking.

And, Bob, I just bought Atlantis. I look forward to reading it.

davidgaughran said...

@nwrann

I think there are two kinds of pirates. The ones who would download anything, probably never read any of it, and probably wouldn't have bought the book anyway. And there are the ones who justify it to themselves because either the e-book version if priced too high, or not available at all. The latter group, I believe, is a lot smaller, but this is where publishers are losing sales.

I have heard they are scrambling to get backlists online, but the big question is what price will they be? Are they going to continue trying to hold back the digital tide with high prices? Or will they try and drown the self-publishers by playing them at there own game and being competitive. Time will tell.

davidgaughran said...

It was interesting to see someone from Trident on Bookseller calling out publishers for placing piracy costs at the author's door. They said "this is utter nonsense and an attempt by some in the industry to create a land grab for publishers at the author's expenses." I recommend reading the last comments at the bottom of this link (http://bit.ly/gwKVfG). It seems that some agents see their future as being author's advocates rather than evolving into publishers of some sort. Interesting.

J.M.Cornwell said...

I don't think there is any forcing going on.

I think you'll find some writers were forced to use pen names, but it's a moot point.

I do, however, believe that there should be a distinction between erotica and YA, or even erotica and other work if the other work contains no erotica at all. A simple label stating adult content should be enough.

nwrann said...

A writer who has a wider range of styles and types shouldn't be forced to use a pen name.

There is no forcing.

When self publishing, the free market is the only thing that matters (not publishers, not agents, not editors) and if the free market determines that your books would sell better if published under different names, then so be it.

This goes for everything else. If the free market thinks your book cover sucks, the free market is right. If the free market thinks you need an editor, the free market is right.

Don't argue with the free market.

Anonymous said...

I decided to keep the same name for my thriller/romantic suspense (my other books are western historical romance). My WIP is another western, and after that I have outlines for a YA (western theme), a contemporary romance, and a literary novel. At this point my biggest problem is too many ideas and not enough time to write.

I'm thinking about a name change for the literary work, but will keep the same name on all the rest.

In the ebook world it seems multiple pen names aren't necessary. The ability to specify genre or series name on the product page is enough to differentiate most works.

Anna Murray

Christine Rose said...

Another brilliant post. Thank you, gentlemen. I have learned so much from you both, and I'm paying it forward to all the emerging authors I meet.

Elizabeth Ann West said...

Konrath, shhhhhhh on telling the Big 6 what to do to succeed....do we really want them to be back in charge as the gate keepers of information by taking over the ebook market? I don't. I love reading books by independents.

J.M.Cornwell said...

David, does that also go for agents who are commenting in real time during the work day?

Tara Maya said...

I don't trust Agents who blog on a daily basis. That strikes me as someone who has too much time on their hands.

I would totally want a blogging agent. It's like having an agent and publicist in one.

Before agent blogs, I had no idea who repped what. Now I will often buy all the books by clients of agents whose taste I like.

Tara Maya

Tara Maya said...

Kendell: I can't even tell all you lovely folks here about it.

You can email me your other name privately. It's one sale!

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate - only $.99
The Unfinished Song: Taboo
Conmergence: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction

Diane Darcy said...

Bob, I took your Warrior Writer workshop in Utah last June and still refer to the book often. I'm also planning to take your Marketing and the Writer workshop this June. Congrats on your new book. It looks awesome and like a good one to also give as a gift. You've written in so many differents genres, and had success doing so. What made you decide now that you need to specialize? And does this mean no more novels with Jennifer C? =(

David said...

@J.M.: "David, does that also go for agents who are commenting in real time during the work day?"

You're commenting here. I doubt this is your job. And many of the best agents also Tweet, sometimes many times a day. That doesn't stop them from selling books or representing their clients. In fact, many of the people they're tweeting with are editors.

There was a study that showed most people (it may have been white collar workers, I don't remember) only do four hours of actual work in a day. Seems like a lot really. The rest is Facebook, reading, texting, lunch, breaks, chatting with co-workers, etc. It would be silly to hold agents to a higher standard than anyone else.

J.M.Cornwell said...

You're commenting here. I doubt this is your job.

No, this isn't my job, but I don't chat or comment during working hours. I wait until after work. I'm also not an agent. I'm an author, traditionally and self-published.

Rebecca Stroud said...

Personally, I will continue to write under my legal name. Even though my books are "generically" different, I think readers are savvy enough to sort out that one is a novel, the other is a short story, etc....not to mention the fact that I have a hard enough time keeping up with what the "real" me needs to do let alone a pseudonym...:-))

Rebecca Stroud
Devil's Moon
A Three-Dog Night
Zellwood: A Dog Story
The Animal Advocate

David said...

"I don't chat or comment during working hours."

Probably a wise policy for most. I should adopt it. Others (I know many lawyers) don't really have working hours. They're all working hours. Maybe some agents work the same way. As for them blogging, who says that's not part of their job? They're enlarging their profile and the profile of their clients. I shouldn't know who Kristin Nelson is, or who her clients are, but I do because of her Pub Rants blog.

Mel said...

Thank you for sharing all of this! VERY encouraging for someone like me who decided to go indie so my book could get into the hands of those who need it now. i also like having the control over my own work. I know i can make it. Thanks!

Blessings,
Mel
Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

Kendall Swan said...

@Tara Maya
Awww. Thanks!

Anon 29 said...

"One Big 6 publisher said that they couldn't raise e-book royalty rates because of the increasing cost of fighting piracy!!!"

I find it interesting that any time there is an "extra" cost in publishing, it has to come at the expense of the author. He has to accept a lower royalty because of piracy prevention?

I'd suggest that perhaps the publisher and all those who DEPEND ON THE AUTHOR TO MAKE A LIVING should be the ones to take a cut in pay in order to pay such costs.

As an author, I don't give a FLYING FUCK about piracy. It doesn't concern me. So why should I be paying to help them stop it?

And without ME, folks in the publishing world WOULD NOT HAVE A JOB. The audacity of these people just slays me.

Rose Pressey said...

I'm looking forward to reading your new book, Mr. Mayer.

This is my first visit to Mr. Konrath's blog, and my first comment. I've never been to the Kindleboards, but I plan on visiting right now.

How to Date a Werewolf
Me and My Ghoulfriends
www.rosepressey.com

Lundeen Literary said...

Kendall: I can't even tell all you lovely folks here about it.

Tara: You can email me your other name privately. It's one sale!

I KNOW THE NAME!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

/gloating

Ok, I might not know, but if it'll make you jealous, I totally know. XD


"One Big 6 publisher said that they couldn't raise e-book royalty rates because of the increasing cost of fighting piracy!!!"

*facepalm*
The stupid… it burns!
Fighting piracy has worked out very well for the music industry, so why don't we all just copy them?!?!? :eyeroll:

I've said the following before:
Every pirated copy does NOT equate a lost sale.

I once did research on some torrents: I downloaded a bunch to take tallies, and ended up with about 10,000 titles in less than 2 hours. 80% were the incorrect format for my device, and converting them took forever and looked like poo. 15% were readable in my format and were loaded with errors, making them unenjoyable. 5% were in my format and relatively error-free, but less than half of those were something I was interested in. The first Laurell K Hamilton books were given away legally by the publishers on Kindle. I read them both, and I found them to be boring and awful. When I found the rest of her titles on the torrent, I deleted them immediately so they would not sully my hard drive.

I started reading the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series on the torrent, went and bought the book, proceeded to buy the rest, suggested them to my friends, and they bought all of them, too. I have handsold at least 120 books for Charlain Harris because of that torrent.

I deleted the whole torrent, with the exception of books that I own in paper and are not available as ebooks. When those come available (hurry up, J.K. Rowling!) I will buy those again.

Oh, and I kept one other book from the download. I bought the first Landover novel on Kindle, and it was so riddle with errors as to make it useless. I'm talking about HUNDREDS of misspelled character / place names. Landover was spelled Land Over, Landowr, land-over, and a few other ways which involved special characters. They just scanned it and threw it up, no proofreading. They could have done a shitty find/replace job and had a better looking copy in 10 minutes. The pirated copy was better edited. I could have done better book design in my sleep. :/ That publisher has lost my money because I'm not paying that much for a horrible reading experience. Fine, I'll pay your paperback-equivalent price, if you promise me a clean copy!! No? then buh-bye!!

Ellen O'Connell said...

Count me as another indie who decided to write under only one name - my own. I'm writing mystery and romance, and the mysteries are cozies, not vaguely romance-like. The books are clearly labeled, and my feeling is readers are smart enough to figure out which is which. I expected very little crossover because the genres are so different, but have had emails from readers and seen reviews where people who never before read a romance read mine because they liked the mystery and vice versa. If any were sorry they did it, they haven't said so where I saw it.

elijahjoon said...

Good post, Bob.

Bob Mayer said...

Appreciate all the comments. Diane, glad you enjoyed Warrior Writer. I'm updating it, since things have changed so much in the past year.

David Wisehart said...

Lundeen Literary said, "JK Rowling says that any Non-Potter stuff will possibly be under a pseudonym, just so she can see how it does without the almighty name behind it. If she decides to undo that, all she has to do is leak that the work is hers, and BAM."

JK Rowling has, for the past year, been writing under the pseudonym "David Wisehart."

Joe Konrath said...

The stupid… it burns!

FLMAO

Anonymous said...

Konrath, read your SHOT OF TEQUILA book and though it rocked. I also read your bio on your website and it said if we tell you we loved it that you will buy us beers.

If I ever meet you, you owe me a beer.

You need to write another book with Tequila in it :D

-burble

Cheryl Tardif said...

Bob, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I really appreciate learning from another who has 'been there, done that'. As a strong proponent for self-publishing from the beginning of my career, I am very excited about the future of ebooks.

Joe, thanks again for bringing in another voice. I'm really enjoying your series of guest posts.

As a follower of your blog, I was wondering if you would consider discussing ebook returns in a future post. Since you’ve had more experience with the big pubs--and possibly with higher returns--than probably most who read your blog, what has your experience been with returns?

Do you find they are higher with ebooks? Lower? What percentage do you personally feel is “acceptable” (if any)? What percentage makes you feel you should re-check an ebook for formatting glitches or other possible reasons for returns?

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this, as I’m sure many others would. Thank you.

P.S. I finally broke the $1000/month in ebooks sales goal. It took me a year.

All the best in success!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
bestselling suspense author
www.cherylktardif.com

Anonymous said...

@Ellen " I expected very little crossover because the genres are so different, but have had emails from readers and seen reviews where people who never before read a romance read mine because they liked the mystery and vice versa."

I'm seeing the same thing. Take a look at the "What do readers ultimately buy" section on my first western (Unbroken) and you'll see 7% are buying my new thriller, and my western romances are listed in the "also bought" line on TAKEDOWN. It seems readers follow authors, and if they like the writing style perhaps they are open to crossing genres. This is likely why JD Robb books often have a byline that reads "Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb".

The other advantage to keeping the same name online is leveraging your backlist to sell the new book. I suspect my new work is selling more rapidly because my regular readers are searching on my name to find other books. If I switched to a new pseudo they wouldn't find my new book . . . and it would be like trotting out of the gate with a nappy pony to kick start the sales ;-)

Anna Murray

evilphilip said...

On the idea of piracy...

I recently purchased another zombie book to add to my collection and started reading it (it was the excellent Pariah by Bob Fingerman) and I was enjoying it so much I wanted to add it to my iPad.

That would mean pirating it or paying for it a second time. I have to say... not including the Kindle version with the sale of each dead tree copy of a book seems like a real wasted opportunity for Amazon to push the Kindle format forward.

Lundeen Literary said...

I sez...The stupid… it burns!

Joe sez...FLMAO

Glad I could make you giggle with one of my favorite phrases... xD

Jenna
@lundeenliterary

Bob Mayer said...

Cheryl. I've found returns to be less than 1% and I'm hoping it's mainly people who start reading and realize they've read the book in print before (a main reason I'm keeping same titles, even though I'd like to change some of the bad ones, like Eyes of the Hammer). If you have formatting problems, readers will let you know either by reviews or emails. We had some problems with our Atlantis books as someone noted in the comments and had to pull all the book and fix issues and re-upload. In those cases we offer customers a free clean copy and also a free 2d book of their choice.

Andrew said...

Just wanted to add a comment about some folks who are worried about the market getting "flooded" with works. I think you underestimate the insatiable desire for ebook readers to find new titles. Right now I've probably tapped out the top books in the genre I really enjoy (light fantasy) and end up browsing Amazon hoping for "anything" new to show up every few days or so. I think demand will outstrip supply for some time to come.

Robin Sullivan said...

Hey Andrew, I would have sent this privately but your profile is not visible. If you like light fantasy checkout The Riyria Revelations. The first book is The Crown Conspiracy.

Bob - I've really been enjoying your posts on Kindle boards and glad to see another "indie publisher" who "gets it". The traditonal business model makes publishers "venture capitalists" having to sink tens of thosands of dollars at a project and "hope" some of them pay off to offset te losses of those that don't. With new techologies (ebooks and POD) titles can be brought to market with very low overhead that makes them profitable nearly from day one.

Keep up the good work.

David Wood said...

@David Wisehart

If that's the case, can you please do something about the awful epilogue in Deathly Hallows?

J.M.Cornwell said...

If that's the case, can you please do something about the awful epilogue in Deathly Hallows?

I'm with David, and could you also explain why some of the pointless descriptions of moving camp without anything else happening were pruned?

Cheryl Tardif said...

Bob, thanks so much for replying to my returns questions. I was thinking along the same lines, that some return books because they've already read them. But I do know from doing 300+ book signings that people do read books/ebooks and then return them because sales policies make this acceptable.

My returns are under 1% too. (Whew!)

Like you, Bob, I would change an ebook if the formatting was off, which happens often. I just read a novel by an international bestseller published by one of the Big 5 that had terrible formatting. Thankfully, the story was so good, I was able to ignore it.

Thanks again. :-)

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Children of the Fog

Selena Kitt said...

Hey Kendall, thanks for the mention. The "size matters" aside in that article cracked me up :)

I have the same issue - I have another pen name and she writes mainstream YA and I can't share it. Wouldn't want a YA reader picking up a Selena Kitt book! Eek! Bad idea.

Although I read Interview with a Vampire when I was 12... and the Beauty series when I was... well, I'm pretty sure I wasn't eighteen yet. :)

wannabuy said...

I'm enjoying reading Mr. Mayer's books. :)

@Andrew:"I think demand will outstrip supply for some time to come."

I thought that... until I started expanding my genres. Mostly by trying out featured authors from this and other blogs. ;)

Neil

C. Pinheiro said...

I have another pen name and she writes mainstream YA and I can't share it.

I agree with Selena. Pen names are good (especially for women, because the internet is full of psychos). They allow you some privacy, and if you publish a series of books that gets terrible reviews, you can just start over.

I know a lot of authors who published early novels or dubious poetry collections under their real names. It's something they learned to regret.

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