What’s Next, Diagnosis Murder?

I can think of a lot of TV shows that would make great movies, but TJ HOOKER isn't one of them. But Variety reports that director Chuck Russell, writers Brent Maddock & S.S. Wilson,  and series creator Rick Husky are mounting  a big screen remake of the cheesy, 1980s  William Shatner series, which ran for four seasons on ABC. Hey, maybe they can get Chris Pine to play Hooker.

The Mail I Get – Monk Edition

I've received a lot of MONK mail this week. Here's a sampling. 

I just wanted you to know what your Monk books mean to me. I lost my mother on April 3rd and I can not tell you how heartbroken and emotionally distraught I am. […]I never thought I would be laughing so soon. Your Monk books have helped keep me sane! I started with the OUTER SPACE book and from then on I was hooked. Thank you so much!

I was very touched by that email, and by this one, too:

Although it's impossible for me to know if you'll ever actually receive this
e-mail, I simply had to say thank you for putting some real laughter back into
my life. I just checked out your Monk book form our local library (Mr. Monk Goes To The Firehouse) and read it as quickly as time allowed. It's been a long time since
I've had so many real, true belly laughs. This is a difficult economy for so many people – especially for us. […] you have infused the book with compassion as well as
kindness, especially in Natalie Teeger, as well as in the people who surround
Monk. There needs to be more kindness in this world. Thank you for being tender
in your portrayal of these characters. This is a very clever book and I will always appreciate the laughter you added to my days. Can't wait to read more and looking forward to my husband reading his book, as well.

I tell you, getting notes like that make all the difficulties that go into writing a book worthwhile. On the other hand, sometimes you get ones like this:

I just had to write you to tell you that your books are terrible, mainly because they are narrated by Natalie instead of Sharona or Monk himself and aren't funny and you had him drinking milk. What were you thinking!!!

And I get some unusual requests, like this:

Mr Monk has a lot of French fans, and I'm sure they would be happy to read your books! So I have a little question for you… I was wondering if you'll agree to let me do the French translation of your novels. Of course I'm not a professional translator, but I love writing stories since early childhood and I really love Mr Monk's universe.

And this:

Greetings, Mr Goldberg! I have a special request. My family and I are huge fans of your Monk books! I am embarking on a trip to South Korea […]and I would love nothing more than a new Monk book to read on the plane. […]I see that Mr Monk and the Dirty Cop comes out on July 7th, but my flight leaves on July 6th. […]Any chance of getting you to send me an advance copy so I can have it in time(autographed maybe?)?

And this:

Could you do something in the Monk books involving people loving feet or people with dirty feet?

And this:

Please write a book where Monk goes to Brazil. I would be glad to help you write it.

But I also learned some things, like this:

Here's a weird fact: We know that the word "Adrian Monk" has 10 letters which
is his favorite number. But if you convert the letters into the their
corresponding number in the alphabet, you get 100! Weird, huh?

Mr. Monk and the Fireworks

More MONK book reviews came in today. Author James Reasoner blogged about MR. MONK AND THE DIRTY COP, which comes out on Tuesday. He said, in part:

As always, Lee Goldberg has the voices of the characters down perfectly and spins his yarn in smooth, often funny, and occasionally poignant prose. The plot has just the right level of complexity. There are a lot of excellent tie-in novels out there (the level of writing in the genre has never been higher than it is right now), but the Monk books are some of the very best. Don’t miss MR. MONK AND THE DIRTY COP.

Thanks, James. Cynthia Lea Clark at Futures Magazine gave two earlier MONK books some love. She liked MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY a lot. She said, in part:

Lee Goldberg continues his extension of the MONK television series with MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY. [He] paints a perfect written picture of MONK. It is as if you are there with Monk, Natalie, and in this case Dr. Kroger.  I am a true fan, and Mr. Goldberg does not let me down! He is MONK perfect! […] If you like MONK, you’ll love MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY. It is well written, easy to read, and a great escape. Lee Goldberg has written another wonderful novel. Excellent!

And she liked MR. MONK IS MISERABLE just as much. Her comments included:

Monk, garbage, and murder what a combination! It works! […] Goldberg has the nuances, the mannerisms, and the style down pat. His writing is so real and so vivid that Monk is right there with you, cleaning up after you and making sure you are holding Lee’s book at the correct angle! On a scale of 1 to 5. I give it a 5.

Thanks, Cynthia! 

You Can Become a Kindle Millionaire, Part 5

Okay, the first month of my Kindle experiment, inspired by the successes of Joe Konrath and John August on the platform, has ended. Here are the results.

From June 1-30, the Kindle edition of my 2004 novel THE WALK sold 444 copies @ $1.89 each, for $302.67 in royalties. As of today, I have sold 37 more copies for a royalty of $24.78 (I also raised the price a dime to $1.99 for the heck of it).

The book was also available on Smashwords, where I sold one copy, and Scribed, where I sold two copies, for combined royalties of about $4. Hoo-hah.

I have since pulled the book from both Smashwords and Scribd so that it's exclusively available on the Kindle. I've done that as part of a promotional effort by Amazon that will roughly coincide with the release Tuesday of the Kindle edition of my new MONK novel, MR. MONK AND THE DIRTY COP (I'll talk more about that in a later post).

I also released a collection of previously published shorts stories that I packaged for the Kindle under the title THREE WAYS TO DIE. I sold 54 copies @ 99 cents, earning a royalty of $18.90. I sold one copy of the collection on Scribd and none on Smashwords. It remains available on all three services. 

The only promotion I have done for these books are posts on this blog, my Facebook page, Twitter, and a few Amazon Kindle forums. 

I haven't spent a dime on this…but I have spent time.

What have I learned? 

Well, there's money to be made from your out-of-print work. Not a lot, but it's found money. THE WALK wasn't earning anything for me anymore and now it is. Pretty soon, it will have earned enough to buy myself a Kindle.

I wouldn't write an original novel for the Kindle. It just doesn't make any financial sense. But if you have an out-of-print novel, and you happen to have the copy-edited manuscript sitting on your hard-drive, it makes more sense to re-publish it for the Kindle than have it brought back in print for free as a POD title through the Authors Guild. You won't get rich doing this…but it also won't cost you anything. In essense, you have absolutely nothing to lose. And if the Kindle edition sells in huge numbers, it might help get your book  back-in-print (though I haven't heard about this ever happening for anyone). On the other hand, it could also limit your agent's efforts to sell other print editions of the book…which is why I haven't posted THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE on Kindle, even though it is now out-of-print in hardcover.

I think there's no real money in "self-publishing" original novels to the Kindle if you aren't already an established name (which both Joe Konrath and John August are). You won't sell much, if anything, because you don't have a strong platform from which to promote your work. I'm not famous, but at least I have a little more recognition than your typical, unpublished author…and my Kindle sales so far aren't phenomenal or particularly lucrative. You could argue that THREE WAYS TO DIE is essentally a self-published, original novella…and it has tanked. I've sold 55 copies @ 99 cents each in total across all three web platforms this month for a royalty of less than $20. (Joe has an excellent post about the pros and cons of self-publishing here)

The one big advantage the Kindle platform has for self-publishing is that it's free and puts your book on the best bookselling website on the planet.  And It cuts the predatory, vanity presses with their outrageous fees out of the picture entirely. Good riddance! 

The "publishing" aspect of making your book available for the Kindle is not as easy as it seems at first. My manuscripts looked fine in the "preview" on the publishing page but turned out to be filled with formatting errors when actually seen on the Kindle. It took me a lot of time, and the generous assistance of some Kindle owners, to clean the manuscripts up. 

Smashwords and Scribd are also very easy to publish to…perhaps easier than Amazon…but if my experience (and Joe Konrath's) are any indication, your sales will be pitiful to non-existent. They just aren't in the game yet. Then again, they are free…so it costs you nothing to make your books available there as well. Just don't expect to make any money off of it.

So is this the future of publishing? 

I don't think so…the money just isn't there yet for authors or publishers. That's not to say it won't be in the future if the price-point for the Kindle, and products like it, drops considerably and millions of people buy them. 

Is it the future of self-publishing? 

Perhaps. It certainly has the benefit of being free to the author…at least for now. But actually selling copies will be a huge challenge. And in a broader sense, if there's a deluge of horrendous, self-published crap on the Kindle, it could actually turn readers away from risking money, even a few cents, on authors they aren't already familiar with. 

Right now the Kindle is a novelty, and users are eager for content…they're grabbing whatever they can, especially if it's under a buck or free… but if they get burned too many times by garbage, they'll be a lot more discerning about what they download, even for nothing.

That said, there are some unknown, self-published authors who are making decent money selling books on the Kindle…and I've interviewed a few of them for an article in an upcoming issue of the Novelists Inc newsletter (www.ninc.com). I believe, and so do many of them, that they are the exceptions rather than the rule. I'll share some of their experiences here at a later date.

I'll also report back on how THE WALK continues to fare as a Kindle edition.