Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Joe Konrath

Extending the Conversation about Traditional vs Self Publishing


Traditional vs Self Publishing Our current conversation, the longest one since I started the new format here, has covered this ground:

March 28th — Shifting to Self-Publishing

April 2nd — Readers as Gatekeepers

April 4th — Comparing Traditional Publishing & Self-Publishing

And, that last post has two comments that extend the discussion here…

From the U.S.A.:

“I enjoyed your comment: I realize Mr. Sparks has hit the Big-time with his books; however, I truly feel he should have used the phrase ‘make money’ rather than the phrase ‘become a success’…

“He actually did just that Alex, redefining success before he elaborated a very sad definition of success in my mind:

“’Success can be defined any number of ways. For the purposes of this section, let success be whatever “your” version of it is, with one caveat: you want to be able to write novels and earn enough to make a living.'”

From the U.K.:

“I write novels and I don’t ‘earn enough to make a living’ because I am retired. Published authors would consider me a hobbyist but that does not mean my writing is any less valuable than theirs.

“In fact, as long as I have readers I consider myself a success. I give paperbacks away free to the library and they are taken out until they wear out.

“There is nothing more satisfying than having a reader ask when the next volume is going to be published!”

The U.S.A comment is an extension of other comments we had about the traditionally published author, Nicholas Sparks, and brings out the notion many writers cling to: “If I’m gonna be a writer, I have to make money to be ‘successful’.”

And, Sparks’ clinging to money as “success” is really rammed home with his: “…let success be whatever ‘your’ version of it is, with one caveat: you want to be able to write novels and earn enough to make a living.”

And, interestingly enough, the U.K. comment describes a level of success with books that is free of money: “…as long as I have readers I consider myself a success.”

Admittedly, the two authors are not only on the opposite sides of the Big Pond, they’re also on the opposite edges of age; still, any writer can decide whether they want success yoked to traditional institutions that treat books as commodities and have shown vast disrespect to authors; or, hitch their hopes to their own gumption, whether or not they sell their books.

Thing is: innumerable traditionally published books fail to sell more than 500 copies; and, innumerable self-published books are bestsellers

Rather than me going on with my ideas about publishing, I’ll round out this conversation with some quotes from a writer who spent many years being traditionally published; then, found solid reasons to seed his fate with his own will and purpose…

Here is Joe Konrath from his article, You Should Self-Publish:

“For many years, I said DO NOT SELF-PUBLISH.

“I had many good reasons to support this belief.

1. Self-publishing was expensive
2. The final product was over priced and inferior
3. Self-pubbed were impossible to distribute
4. Most self-pubbed books weren’t returnable
5. Chances were, the reason you had to self pub was because your writing wasn’t good enough
6. Most POD houses were scams

“Yep, I was pretty confident that traditional publishing was the only game in town.

“Then, in 2009, I became aware of the Kindle.”

“So now it’s December 2010, and I’m selling 1000 ebooks a day, and I’m ready to change my mind on the matter.”

I’d highly recommend any writers reading this (even those who may already feel self-publishing is their path...) to read Joe’s full article

If you have a comment on anything you read in this post, it can be the reason this particular conversation continues

If you would rather, leave your opinion on what we “should” be discussing, in the realms of Reading, Writing, and Publishing
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New Year’s Resolutions from a Very Successful Author


This will be the 35th post I’ve done that relates in some way to Joe Konrath.

Jack Daniels and Associates

Click this image to find out how to “borrow” Joe’s characters…

He was very successful when he used a recognized publisher and he became even more successful when he went Indie.

And, if I can offer an idea for a writer’s New Year’s resolution, I’d say pay close attention to what’s related about Joe in my past post, Should Rejection by a Publisher Be Praised ?

Here are some excerpts:

In 2011, Joe Konrath wrote the article, The List, A Story of Rejection.

He begins with:

“…I garnered more than 500 rejections before getting published.”

Then he relates how his book, The List, was rejected by Ballantine Books, Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, Talk Miramax Books, Doubleday, Little, Brown and Company, Hyperion, New American Library, HarperCollins Publishers, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, William Morrow, Warner Books, Pocket Books, and St. Martin’s Press.

By the way, if you go to the full article, you can read all those rejections

Joe goes on to say:

“In April of 2009, I self-published The List.”

Which is followed by an extremely enlightening sentence:

“As of this writing, December 26, 2011, The List has earned me over $100,000.”

So, just before I direct you to Joe Konrath’s New Year’s resolutions, I need to mention that clicking on the Image up there ( “Jack Daniels and Associates” ) will take you to the guidelines for Joe’s offer to “borrow” his characters. He wrote about it here & here’s a brief excerpt:

“You can take any of my characters from eighteen of my novels, and write stories about them. I have no rules or boundaries, and you can mix and match.”

Now Joe Konrath’s New Year’s Resolutions <<< that link will take you to 12 years of resolutions, about which he says, “…a lot of the advice from a decade ago still holds true, so take these resolutions for what they’re worth to you.”

And, his resolution for 2017 is:

Change with the times.”

By the way, he says a lot (at that last link) about his resolutions and you just might resolve to do some of what he says :-)
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Should Rejection by a Publisher Be Praised ?


Traditional Publishing demands an author find an agent (some strangely lucky folk avoid this)—said agent to deal with various publishers and secure a contract for the author’s work.

Needless to say (?) — Traditional Publishing rejects more authors than they publish

This fact may be the primary driver of Self-Publishing.

However, of those lucky few who do (finally, after many, multiple rejections) get selected to make money for the Publishers, there are a sub-set who have a strange mental ability—RejectionPraise—claiming that an author’s worth can be directly correlated to how often they’ve been rejected.

So…

Is the author in the image doing a victory scream or are they experiencing RejectionRage?

The Atlantic magazine has an article called Writers Shouldn’t Romanticize Rejection.

That article has this sentence:

“Time and time again, the literary establishment seizes on the story of a writer who meets inordinate obstacles, including financial struggles, crippling self-doubt, and rejection across the board, only to finally achieve the recognition and success they deserve.”

Just a bit later, the article says:

“This arc is the literary equivalent of the American Dream, but like the Dream itself, the romantic narrative hides a more sinister one.”

And, that sentence is swiftly followed by:

“Focusing on how individual artists should persist in the face of rejection obscures how the system is set up to reward only a chosen few, often in a fundamentally unmeritocratic way.”

“…how the system is set up to reward only a chosen few…”

Naturally, Traditional Publishing is a Business and how various organizations within it are set up depends on how much money is being made.

The truly weird thing is that there are other organizations dedicated to accepting all authors, paying them all a decent royalty, and still making money for the founders

The Atlantic article goes on to treat, in detail, how writers of color are rejected disproportionately more often—it’s worth a thorough read

If you want a weirdly mixed-bag of opinions about rejection, check out the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio article, 12 Famous Writers on Literary Rejection.

In 2011, Joe Konrath wrote the article, The List, A Story of Rejection.

He begins with:

“…I garnered more than 500 rejections before getting published.”

Then he relates how his book, The List, was rejected by Ballantine Books, Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, Talk Miramax Books, Doubleday, Little, Brown and Company, Hyperion, New American Library, HarperCollins Publishers, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, William Morrow, Warner Books, Pocket Books, and St. Martin’s Press.

By the way, if you go to the full article, you can read all those rejections

Joe goes on to say:

“In April of 2009, I self-published The List.”

Which is followed by an extremely enlightening sentence:

“As of this writing, December 26, 2011, The List has earned me over $100,000.”

I’m hearing an echo from that article from The Atlantic—“…how the system is set up to reward only a chosen few…”

That “system” is still making scads of money; but, so are thousands of self-published authors who never suffered from rejection

However, before anyone thinks that Self-Publishing is a magic road to a self-sufficient writing career, my post, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?, should be carefully studied………
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Why is the Authors Guild so Mad at Google Books?


I’ve written before about the Authors Guild of the U.S.A.—rather critical articlesseems they’re organized more to favor legacy publishers than authors… 

The Guild’s latest outrage is directed against Google Books.

Recently, a federal appeals court ruled that Google’s scanning of “snippets” from books, to present in their search results, was legally “fair use”.

Yet, according to an article in Consumerist, the Executive Director of the Authors Guild had this to say:

“It’s unfortunate that a Court as well-respected as the Second Circuit does not see the damaging effect that uses such as Google’s can have on authors’ potential income. Most full-time authors live on the perilous edge of being able to sustain themselves through writing as a profession… so even relatively small losses in income can make it unsustainable to continue writing for a living.”

Joe Konrath, an author who’s had a successful career in both traditional and self-publishing, responded on his blog with Fisking the Authors Guild.

An excerpt from Joe (here’s a definition of “Fisking“, too):

“The Authors Guild has lost similar battles. During Authors Guild vs. Bill Smopey, they sued him because he’d sat in a Barnes & Nobel and read half of The Terror by Dan Simmons but hadn’t bought it. Smopey’s defense, “After the first 500 pages, the monster wasn’t even in it anymore, and I got bored and put it back.” The Guild claimed that Smopey owed Simmons’s publisher half of the cover price for reading without paying, and for partially crinkling page 342. The court dismissed the case…”

And:

“With Authors Guild vs. Janet’s Mother, they sued because Janet bought a full price hardcover of Stephen King’s The Cell, then loaned it to her mother to read. The Guild demanded Janet’s Mother pay Stephen King a royalty, because she had no right to read what she hadn’t bought for herself. Janet’s Mother’s legal team dazzled with the famous, “Well, what about libraries?!” defense and the suit was dropped.”

Finally:

“That lead to Authors Guild vs. Libraries, where the Guild insisted that every library extract a pound of flesh from patrons who borrowed a book, in lieu of collecting royalties. But unlike the impossibility of separating blood from flesh,  making the acquisition of a pound of flesh quite impossible, the court did decide it was possible to separate the experience of reading a book with the fiduciary duty of monetarily compensating the author for having done so. Yep, you can read without paying.”

I recommend that all authors who may be contemplating joining the Authors Guild go read the rest of Mr. Konrath’s article
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Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing


With this post, I’ve written 29 articles dealing with what’s called Traditional Publishing.

The Real Price of Traditional Publishing

Printing Press Image courtesy of Tracy Olson ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/designkryt-45681

For those who haven’t had to find out about different types of publishing, “traditional” involves finding an agent (who usually gets 15% of whatever you make) who shops your book to the publishing companies—when accepted by a publisher, an advance against possible royalties is given and the author is then pretty much kept out of the loop for the rest of the book’s life

By the way, those advances against sales have been getting smaller and smaller.

Also, nothing beyond the advance is paid to the author until royalties from sales pays off the advance.

Plus, if the book doesn’t sell well, it can be yanked from the stores within two weeks.

Then there are all the wicked things that happen behind legal language in author contracts.

And, the marketing of the book (unless you’re already famous) is minimal

Naturally, some folks have made a lot of money with traditional publishing; yet, many more have been cheated out of earnings and bullied into concessions they should never have had to consider

By the way, I’ve written 126 articles about Self-Publishing… 

However, there’s an author named Dean Wesley Smith who spent 40 years with traditional publishers, then did it all himself, then helped start a mid-sized publishing company. He’s written the article, The New World of Publishing: The Real Price of Traditional Publishing.

Here are a few excerpts:

“In the last two years I have seen a couple dozen author contracts from various traditional houses. ‘Life of Copyright’ is always a non-negotiable contract term in the United States if you are a normal-level writer.”

“The ‘life of a copyright’ at the moment in the US is the life of the author plus 70 years.

“An example: I finish the book I am working on. I am 65 years of age. Say I live another 30 years to 95. Then add 70 years and the life of the copyright for the novel I just finished will be 100 years.

“That’s what the ‘Life of Copyright’ term in a contract means.

“That’s right, your great-grandkids might be able to get your book back that you sold for a few thousand in one hundred years or so. But at that point the book will drop into the public domain and not be worth anything to them.”

And, then, after going through some examples of money-making with traditional vs self-publishing, he says:

“The real price of traditional publishing is total loss of control over your work.”

If you’re looking to someday publish, or you have friends who are, Dean’s article is a must read

Another author who’s been in the traditional trenches and is doing very well with self-publishing is Joe Konrath.
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