Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

A Book Review In The Midst of A Publishing Firestorm…

Luckily, media and legal firestorms are capable of being escaped if you’re not personally involved in either.

Yet, some may feel trapped in their opinions about the U.S. Department of Justice’s actions against Apple and traditional publishers.

While the storm was brewing, I was reading a book called, The Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, by Joe Konrath—1100+ pages of advice from the trenches of publishing experience.

I’ve referenced Mr. Konrath in this blog many times and you can find those posts by clicking his name in the Top Tags widget in the left side-panel.

During the brewing of the storm, I linked to a few of the media reports and excerpted some of Konrath’s opinions in the post, Authors/Readers vs Publishers vs the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

I will list two recent media reports, since the storm broke—the first of which is full of half-truths (and worse) and the second with a smidgen of redemption near the end.

Book Publishing’s Real Nemesis

Daring to Cut Off Amazon

My advice to writers, whether you’re looking for a traditional contact or your self-publishing, is to completely ignore the media onslaught and read the free book from Joe that I linked-to up there.

Yes, it’s long

Yes, it’s barely a “book” since he compiled it from about 5 years of his blogging

Yes, since he re-ordered the blog posts into logical categories, it’s a bit hard at times to follow his time-line

Yes, there are far too many typos for a writer of his standing


If you want to follow the hard-won experience of a writer who gave traditional publishing 1,000% of his effort and attained success then went on to top it by breaking into the e-book market

If you want to watch him experiment and give the numerical and other results of his efforts in clear language

If you need a draft of cold water in your face because you’re wallowing in indecision about your publishing woes

If you want a plethora of tips and guides…


I’m going to make this post longer than most because I need to excerpt enough of Joe’s book so I can discharge what I feel is my duty to all the struggling writers out there who may be worrying about what will become of publishing.

The first excerpt explains how you should take all the others:

Baz Lurhmann once said: ‘Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.'”
“Let’s say a well-known author releases a free ebook. But there’s a catch. In the ebook, there are fifteen print ads, like you’d see in a magazine. Each ad costs the advertiser 2 cents per impression, which is comparable to other internet advertising.

“That means each free download will earn the author 30 cents.

“More than 100,000 people have downloaded my free ebook, SERIAL.

“If I’d sold ad space for 2 cents an impression, I’d have earned 30k in less than a year. Even more money than I’d earn selling 10,000 ebooks for $2.99 each.”
“…selling 10,000 copies of a $1.99 book earns more than selling 1500 copies of a $9.99 book.”
“As of right now, my ebook The List has sold 10970 copies on Amazon at $1.99 each. I currently make 70 cents per download. That means this book has earned me $7679.

“Compare that to my ebook Fuzzy Navel, controlled by my publisher, Hyperion. This book currently sells for $7.19 on Amazon (they’re losing money on each book sold) and I earn $2.25 per book. As of my last royalty statement, Fuzzy Navel has sold 273 copies, earning me $613.

“According to publishers, the $7.19 is still devaluing the ebook, which should be higher. $1.99 is certainly devaluing the book, and publishers believe they’ll go out of business selling for so low.

“And yet, I made $7000 more, and sold 40 times as many copies, selling for the lower price.

“So what is the true value of ebooks?”
“The value of an ebook is determined by the overall amount of money it earns, not the list price.”
“If you write recognizable, conventional prose in a popular genre, your chances of getting published increase dramatically. I’d go so far as to say that the reason there are so many writers getting rejected isn’t because they suck. It’s because their work isn’t focused enough to appeal to key demographics that publishers actively sell to.”
“Agents, editors, and publishers believe they know what will sell. But they still fail all the time. Ultimately, the public determines what will sell, by buying it.”
“A famous writer once said, ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’

“She didn’t ask for comments, but I’d offer, ‘Being trapped in a burning car seems a bit worse.'”
“Only set goals you can control.”
“…the secret to happiness in the writing biz is about controlling what you can.”
All the following statements are also Joe, just not feeling like adding all those quotes marks :-)

There’s a word for a writer who never gives up… published.

Before you make the key, study the lock.

People would rather fight to the death to defend their beliefs than sit down quietly and question them.

It’s about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell.

You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than landing a publishing deal. But if you really want to get hit by lightning, you can improve your odds.

No one is entitled to anything.

What are the last ten books you bought, and what made you buy them? Use those techniques to sell your books to other people. Do what works on you.

Hard work trumps talent. Persistence trumps inspiration. Humility trumps ego.

Praise is like candy. We love it, but it isn’t good for us. You can only improve by being told what’s wrong.

Your book is your child. You can’t recognize its shortcomings, any more than a proud parent can consider their child dumb and ugly.

The experts don’t know everything, and they might not know what’s right for you.

Fate is a future you didn’t try hard enough to change.

Anyone looking for you can find you. Get them to find you when they’re looking for something else.

Life gives you wonderful opportunities to conquer fears, learn skills, and master techniques. “I can’t” shouldn’t be synonymous with “I don’t want to.”

People seek out two things: information and entertainment. Offer them freely, and they’ll find you.

The Internet isn’t temporary. What you post today can lead people to you decades from now.

Writing is a profession. Act professional.

Always follow the advice of an editor, even if you don’t agree, because then your book becomes our book. An editor will fight harder to champion our book.

No one said it would be fair, fun, or easy. But it is worthwhile.

We’re all in the same boat. Start rowing.

If you can quit, quit. If you can’t quit, stop complaining—this is what you chose.

There are a lot of things that happen beyond your control. Your goals should be within your control.

Just because something is publishable doesn’t mean it will get published.

Write when you can. Finish what your start. Edit what you finish. Submit what you’ve edited. Repeat.

The most successful people on the planet have one thing in common: nothing can stop them. Don’t expect to reach your goals without sacrificing things that are important to you. You can’t be both happy and ambitious.

Being your own best advocate is about understanding how people react to you.

Fake confidence, and real confidence follows.

Maybe you can’t win. But you sure as hell can try.

It’s your name on your book cover. It’s your responsibility to sell your book. If it flops, your publisher will still be in business, but you won’t.

Always have two hands reaching out. One, for your next goal. The other, to help people get to where you’re at.

If you can’t be smart or funny, be brief.

If you’re not in love with the sound of your own voice, how can you expect anyone else to ever be?

Knowing you’re not original is the first step in becoming unique.

End of Excerpts

So, did all that make you want to read his book?

Is anyone still reading this post?

See ya tomorrow :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

One response to “A Book Review In The Midst of A Publishing Firestorm…

  1. Pingback: Help! I’m Being Swamped By Writing Advice!! « Notes from An Alien

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