1. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    Author Joe Konrath turns down $500,000 deal to Self Publish

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by lettuce head, Apr 9, 2013.

    http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/ebooks-and-self-publishing-dialog.html

    This is getting very serious. With over 20 million ipads and 10 million Kindles sold, and books stores closing left and right, while Amazon reports their Kindle ebook sales have overtaken print sales, folks this is heading in only one direction. You have to read this interview at the link provided. I'd sure like to hear your thoughts on it.
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    it's pretty easy for an established author to turn that kind of money down to paddle his canoe.

    personally I'd tear someone's hand off - horses for courses
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Konrath has a habit of ignoring his trade published success when it comes to touting self-publishing. If he hadn't had a following to begin with, things could have been a lot different, and he wouldn't be worshipped by self-publishing beginners as he is now. I try to ignore him as much as possible.
     
  4. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    Oh, you would not. Look how you are with that baby in your arms. You are no beast, sir.


    But why would an established author turn down that money? Reason: He can do better on his sown.
     
  5. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    I'm sure it would have been different. But we are now in an age were writers can make other choices. A half million dollar choice to drop a publisher is a serious business decision. Publishing is changing regardless if you think people are worshiping the guy.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    he can [maybe] do better on his own only because he's an established author with a large fan base...

    no new and unknown writer would have the same assurance of self-publishing sales...
     
  7. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    It's common for people to confuse the ebook vs. hardcopy debate with the traditional publish vs. self-publish debate. These two topics are mutually exclusive; traditional publishers almost always make ebooks, and self-publishers can still make hardcopies.

    Take the most extreme situation, which is not going to happen any time soon: All bookstores close and we stop making hardcopy books and only make ebooks. We will still have traditional publishers publishing ebooks.
     
  8. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    His decision to go it alone was because he makes way more money in the long run. We have come to a point where new or established writers can decide to go it alone and have a greater chance of success. This is a recent event.

    There are never guarantees in business. What are the chances a writer would get picked up by a publisher? Many good writers live in the slush pile. Some of them decided to go it alone and make a play the ebook way. It pays off for some. It is a valid option these days.
     
  9. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    But, from a business perspective, they both have to be considered together. When Amazon sells more ebooks than hard copies, that is a big deal. The tide turned on that last summer. Ebooks are rapidly becoming the new standard. So you have to look at that.

    Sure, publishers and authors can both produce ebooks and hard copies. But never before has it been more economical to enter the book market using ebooks. It gives first time authors the ability to create a readership instead of relying on a publisher to get off their duff. Now, authors don't have to dangle from the string of another. The method is there, the marketplace is there.
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not saying self-publishing isn't a valid option. I'm saying guys like Konrath make it sound a lot more lucrative than it actually is. Authors who have already established themselves via trade publishing have a very easy transition; new authors with no fanbase/history are a totally different story. And Konrath has bounced back and forth between trade and self-publishing, depending on which benefits him most - so he's not really as anti-trade publisher (or independent) as he likes to appear.
     
  11. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    In some ways, self-publishing makes it easier for first-time readers to build readership. In others, it makes it harder.

    Ask yourself: What's the problem with agents and publishers that makes people want to self-publish? They turn away your good manuscripts because they get lost in the slush pile.

    We think self-publishing solves this problem because you can now get published without agents and/or publishers. But so can all of the authors that consist of the slush pile. The slush pile isn't left on the agent's to-do shelf, it follows you to amazon.com. Your good manuscript, now a self-published book, still gets lost in the slush pile.

    So the real problem is the slush pile. Too many authors want their books published before they are polished to an industry standard. They want to make money, not art, and in their greed and pride, they make it harder for themselves and others to make money. Social media has a lot of potential to connect readers to good books despite the slush pile, but right now, it's not enough. Publishers are still the kings of connecting authors to their readers, and the self-publishing industry is filling exponentially with slush.

    If you want to self-publish, go ahead, but know that every successful self-publisher devotes almost all of their workday to desperately connecting to new readers instead of actually writing. It's not a life for everyone.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Thanks for the interesting link, lettuce head.

    Self publishing used to mean investing a lot of money. And publishers were the gatekeepers if you didn't have that money. Also, before e-books, how could a self published writer hope to get any kind of decent distribution?

    Now we can publish a Kindle edition for free, and sales on Amazon are worldwide. There are also print on demand services so one can distribute hard copies through the Net.

    When I look at the thousands of junk fiction novels on the shelves of the bookstore, I can't help wondering how JK Rowling was ever rejected by a publisher. Is getting a publisher to look your way really that arbitrary? I don't find that kind of gatekeeping good. And who do I want to read my book, a publisher or the public? Sure you want the publisher to notice you. But what if you have a really great book like the Harry Potter series (IMO) and you can't get past the gatekeeper? Does that say something about your work, or the publisher, or getting published process?

    I, for one, welcome our new overlords, the e-readers. :)

    I plan to submit my novel to publishers. But as a new, not yet recognized writer, I am expecting to and therefore also planning to self publish on Kindle and I'm already investigating the marketing angles I'll need as well.
     
  13. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    But at that point you have nothing, other than the quality of your work and lack of marketing, to stop you. The chance is in your own hands. Sure, it isn't everyone, but the choice is there and more than a few have found the ability to pay some bills because of it.

    There are thousands of unpolished books in the self published ebook market. No doubt. And they will more than likely find no readership because of it. Garbage in garbage out. It is a lack of professionalism. They have the chance to connect to readers where before they did not. Isn't it better to know?

    It sure isn't. But for those who are willing to market themselves it can pay off, provided there is a desire for their product.
     
  14. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    And thanks for your interesting thoughts. I'd rather be my own gate keeper. I've never enjoyed someone else deciding my future for me. It is my life and my property. I'll decide for myself even if it means I have to do it all myself. My readers can decide if they would recommend my book to a friend or not.

    Publishers are only looking to sell what is hot and are fallible in that regard. They lag a whole year before a book hits the shelf. If it doesn't take off and sell right away you get put out to pasture. The whole system has flaws. Until recently, there was little a writer could do about this.
     
  15. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm glad you said that Ginger - as good as I think my book is/will be, I have almost resigned myself to not getting by the gatekeepers, myabe my stamp will be askew and the envelope won't be opened so yes, I too am already looking at marketing an e-book. Purely for vanity though I would love to see my book on a store shelf, sign a few for friends etc. That might seem vain but that's it.

    What I wonder though, as I've never actually bought an e-book, is it emailed from amazon? Or downloaded direct to my device? Can I pass it around to all my friends like a real book or do they have a way to stop people sharing?
     
  16. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This Barry Eisler guy is in the minority. He's one of the few who can afford to turn down such a deal. Most authors aren't like that. So this isn't enough to convince me that self-publishing is a good option.

    I also have to wonder how long it will take Eisler to earn $500k from his book sales.
     
  17. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's downloaded directly to your device. Whether you can lend the book depends on the publisher -- some publishers do not allow lending at all. For books that can be lent, at least on amazon, you can only lend it once to one person, and only for 14 days. You see a lot of talk about Digital Rights Management (DRM) software, and a lot of people aren't happy about it. This limits how often the book can be shared. It also can allow amazon to take the book back from your kindle (or B&N to take it back from your Nook if your credit card on file expires, which happened recently to a bunch of folks, who were none too pleased.)

    As far as the self-pubbing and turning down half a million bucks -- yeah, nice he can do that. Most people can't. It's kind of like going to Hollywood and expecting to be the next Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. Sure, some guys strike it rich in Hollywood. And a lot of others work as waiters at the Olive Garden.
     
  18. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    One thing to bear in mind when talking about rejections before finally being accepted - the book first sent out is not necessarily the book that was finally accepted. Many, many writers revise their ms after getting rejections/feedback. It's quite possible that had those revisions been made first, the number of rejections would have been dramatically reduced. Same thing goes for query letters - some authors have no idea how to write an effective one, and those get revised along the way as well.

    It's not all that different from self-publishing in this regard - instead of trying to convince individual readers to buy your book, you're trying to convince a publishing company to do so. The benefit is you only have to make one sale, not hundreds or thousands.
     
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  19. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    One sale to a publisher? Then he has to make X sales or he'll be looking for his poultry advance back!


    I do believe there should be some sort of e pub police. A good friend of mine (who I didn't even know was writing) sent me a link to his e-book and asked me to support him by buying it for €2. Included in his email was a pre-apology for any typos as he couldn't be bothered editing it. He also told me it had about 10,000 words!

    There obviously is nothing in place to prevent this kind of crap - needless to say I didn't buy it. People like him will give the whole business a very bad name very quickly, don't you think?
     
  20. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The publisher doesn't ask for the advance back. If a book doesn't earn back the advance, it's the publisher's loss, not the author's.
     
  21. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Your amazon account has an electronic library. From there, you can send it to your devices (via email) or else read it directly in the web browser with a kindle plugin. You can also transfer it with a USB chord. I like this because if I send something to my kindle but forget to bring my kindle on a trip or whatever, I can download the file onto my iPod and read it off of there.

    And all kindle books are DRM protected (Digital Rights Management), and is synced to your amazon account, so you cannot simply share it like a normal file. You can, however, "loan" kindle ebooks to other people, meaning you won't have access to it while they do have access. They do not need a kindle, so long as they have a kindle app on their device or a kindle plugin for their browser. The publisher decides how loaning works, and so how many people you can loan it to, how often you can loan it, and how long it can be loaned, varies with use.

    The only way to get DRM-free books is if it's a classic and it's copyright is up, or if you are doing illegal things.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    Buying and downloading is a snap. And a lot of books are cheap enough one doesn't need to borrow. But my son and I just trade our Kindles if we want to share something. And I think he also does the same with his friends.
     
  23. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which is why they're picky about the books they sign. All of the costs are on the publisher, and all of the risks. If the book doesn't do well, it's money out of their pocket, not the author's.
     
  24. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    It isn't that he can afford to turn it down, he can't afford not to. The math is in his favor. It is a new world. People are making money doing things a new way. Look at what itunes has done for music.

    There is a good reason why the US Postal Service is closing offices and thinking of cutting back Saturday delivery. The digital age is forcing the age old ways into the back seat. They can no longer justify themselves as before. Publishers are making deals for the print only rights because the author wants to sell ebooks directly. It is a new world.
     
  25. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Selling ebooks isn't limited to self-publishers. Traditional publishers can put out ebooks as well (in fact, they do).
     

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