Joe Konrath: Anti-Christ?

I got this email from a very successful and critically acclaimed mystery novelist I know (who gave me permission to post this as long as I removed his or her name):

How can you be friends with Joe Konrath? He’s the anti-Christ.  In his own way, he is as bad or worse than Lori Prokop. The advice he gives to aspiring writers is just terrible and, worse, he’s doing everything he can to undermine his fellow professionals. How, you ask? He’s perpetuating the myth that you should devote all or part of your advance to promotion, that you should devote yourself to making sure that the publisher makes money (even if it costs you).  What he’s doing is legitimizing the damaging corporate mindset that authors should pay for their own promotion without any investment or reimbursement from the publisher.  We’re supposed to live off our advances, not kick them back to the publisher for advertising and promotion. Joe’s latest moronic blog post was so infuriating I almost put my fist into my laptop screen. Of course his publisher loves him. But professional writers should fear him. He’s cancer.

After getting this email, I had to scoot right over to Joe’s blog to see what had pissed off my usually low-key buddy so much.  I think this is it:

My writing philosophy is simple: Make money for your publisher.

I do this by not only doing a lot of self-promotion, but by also
considering my audience even before I sit down to write a single word.

This means compromises. This means understanding the system writing
exists in (the publishing business) and weighing it against the many
reasons I wanted to become a writer.

Successful writers seem to understand this balance, and the
trade-offs required. They realize that their books are products as well
as art.

By ‘successful’ I mean that they are making money for their
publisher. You don’t have to be an NYT bestseller to do this. All you
have to do is earn out your advance.

You can earn out your advance by doing a lot of self-promotion, by
working closely with your publisher, by spending a lot of your advance
money on marketing, and by writing good books.

Let me start by saying I really like Joe. I think he’s funny, gracious, multi-talented,  and genuinely interested in helping his fellow writers. We don’t always agree, but that’s okay by me — I don’t always agree with my wife, either, but we still love each other.  Sure, I disagree with Joe from time to time, but that doesn’t diminish my respect for him or how much I enjoy his company.

I’ve always been awed by the incredible time and energy Joe puts into promoting his books. He visited something like 200 booksstores for "drop in" signings  during a promotional tour which, I believe, was paid for by his publisher. He does an amazing job getting his work noticed and I applaud him for it.

That said, I don’t agree with his frequently expressed philosophy that your job as an author is to make money for your publisher and  pump your advance into promotion. It’s nice if you’re in the financial position to do that (it’s what I did with many of my books), but most authors aren’t. They write to support their families and, from a business stand-point, it isn’t cost-effective for them to donate a significant portion of their advances to their publisher.

Joe frequently talks about how important it is to promote your books and assure that each title earns out.  For those not in the biz, "earning out"  simply means that you’ve sold enough books to earn back the advance against royalties that the publisher paid you. That doesn’t mean that once you hit that point you are making tons of  money, it just makes it more likely the publisher will buy your next book.

I agree that authors need to promote themselves and their work…and that you need to earn out if you’re going to survive in this business. But the publishers have a responsibility to do more than merely publish and distribute the book. They also have to advertise and promote. They can’t expect the author to shoulder most of that burden.

Or can they? More and more, it seems, publishers are  expecting authors to use their advances for promotion, pay for their own websites, and send themselves on tour … and if they don’t, they are seen as being "unsupportive" and "difficult to work with." And that is scary, especially with the midlist disappearing and advances shrinking. The advance is supposed to support an author while he works, not act as a replacement for corporate spending on advertising and promotion…it is NOT a replacement for the publisher’s advertising budget.

But if authors like my friend Joe keep advocating that  it’s the author’s responsibility to devote some or all of their advance for promotion, and authors and publishers buy into that thinking, we will see publishers spending less on advertising and promotion and earnings for authors shrinking even more.

I’m NOT saying authors shouldn’t promote their work — God knows, I certainly work hard to promote myself (take this blog, for instance). But I have to admit that Joe’s  "What have you done for your publisher today?" attitude often makes me cringe.  He makes up for it my making me laugh a lot, and with his many keen insights into the biz, so it evens out.

Your thoughts?

UPDATE:  Joe has responded in the comments below and also shares his views on his blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

I know a lot of authors losing money hand over fist with high advances
and poor sell-through, and then blaming their publishers for their
lackluster sales.

Does the publisher make the author pay back
the advance if the book doesn’t earn out? Does the author lament the
money lost by the publisher, not only on the advance, but on the
production costs, the promotion, the publicity, the market, the

No. Authors scream "gimme gimme gimme" and whine
how the publishers aren’t doing enough. They whine that they didn’t get
enough co-op. Or frontlist catalog copy. Or not enough reviews. Or no
tour. Or no advertising.

But they don’t try to fix any of these things themselves. And they don’t shoulder the financial loss, which can be considerable.

is the preferable business model? If so, it needs to be changed. Then
maybe more books would actually be profitable, which would benefit

Scary thing, though, taking your fate into your own hands. Even scarier, backing it up with your own money.

UPDATE:  Author MJ Rose, something of an expert on the art of self-promotion (and I don’t mean that in a snide way), jumps into the debate.

60 thoughts on “Joe Konrath: Anti-Christ?”

  1. I sympathize with Mr. Konrath, and have tried everything he suggests, and agree that a writer should try to make money for his publisher. And yet, this dodges something crucial. A writer has to make magic, or else publicity and promotion fail. A novel that makes magic sells itself, profits publisher and author, and will succeed no matter whether it is supported. I finally stopped promoting and worked on my writing instead. I’ve not written a magic novel but I’ve made a good living at it for twenty-one years.

  2. Lee,
    I couldn’t agree more. I like Joe–personally and, as a writer–and I often agree with him, but from time to time I don’t. The degree to which he thinks you should promote makes me uneasy. At least partly because of what you say here–the publisher needs to do more than just cough up a book; it’s not the writer’s sole responsibility to be the sales and marketing force.
    But more, actually, what worries me about Joe is that I get the sense, sometimes, that he views the marketing and promotion as more important than the writing. That’s not fair to Joe, I don’t think, but it’s what I sometimes feel is coming off in the blog and in other areas. And I think when that actually happens to a writer, when they put more energy and time, let alone money, into marketing than into the writing itself, well, it’s a prescription for disaster.
    A good thought-provoking response to what is, I think, a good thought-provoking blog entry and response.
    Mark Terry

  3. If authors are expected to contribute significant chunks of their advances towards promoting their books, then the gap between a vanity press and a legitimate publisher narrows dramatically. As Mr. Konrath often points out (correctly), this is a business. Publishers expect to make money, but professional authors should expect to make money as well. If you’re spending most of your earnings promoting your book while you work your “real job”, then you’re a hobbyist, not a professional author. There’s nothing wrong with writing as a hobby if it makes you happy, but this sort of business model applied in large numbers sounds almost Amway-ish.
    If a publisher is looking to you for that extra $5-10k that’s needed to help your book earn out, then I would wonder how much effort went into all of the other aspects of producing a novel that publishers are supposed to be so good at.
    How seriously would you take your neighbor if he breathlessly told you that a major corporation had licensed his invention, but that they expected him to spend about half of his ten thousand dollar royalty check to buy some ads to promote the product? Or worse, what if he told you that he was going to “invest” all of his advance into promoting the product, and was going to pay for his own travel to pitch it to buyers? You’d probably think he was getting shafted, and you’d be right.
    If a publisher with offices in freaking New York City wants you to pony up a few grand to promote your book, maybe your book would be better placed with a smaller publisher, or maybe it just isn’t as marketable as you’d like to think.

  4. Most of my favorite authors live in Southern CA. Why? Because I went to a book signing, bought a book, and decided to read it before the next came out so I knew if I wanted to read it. Translation: Promotion works.
    However, it also makes money for the publisher. They should be working with the author to make the most out of the possibility. It’s not all up to the author.
    But I’m just a reader. What do I know? 🙂

  5. The problem is, I’ve known people who have spent forty, fifty thousand dollars promoting their books, and they’ve been cut by the publisher. I don’t have that kind of money to spend.
    I have a website. I’m planning on doing Podcasts. I did a mini-tour on my own money. I sign stock. But the most important thing to do is write a really good book. A great book, if you can.
    Sometimes it’s hard to shift between the two modes, writing and promoting, which often feels as if I’m a performing monkey. I know there’s a balance here somewhere, but I agree that publishers should do something other than just put the books out there.

  6. Joe’s not the anti-Christ. I shared a cab from Wall Street to Battery Park with the anti-Christ once. His eyes are way darker than Joe’s and he’s at least half-a-head taller.
    Lousy tipper, too.

  7. I think one of the clues to understanding where Joe is coming from with his advice about spending your advance to promote is in the title to his blog. This is advice for Newbies. I’m pretty sure that Joe expects to be able to spend proportinately less of his advances as he gets established. When he’s on book five, say. By then, he’ll have a lot of readers who know about him and need to do less promotional work.
    Of course, getting to book five is the hardest part.

  8. There’s a logic flaw in your argument, Steve. When you’re a newbie, getting small advances, you really can’t afford to spend it on promotion. When you’re “established,” and getting bigger advances, then you have the financial stability to spend money on promotion. (Of course, when you’re established, it’s far less necessary to promote yourself, though I note that Michael Connolly, Robert Crais, etc. still hit the road now as hard as they did early in their careers)

  9. re: Robert Crais.
    “18 Seconds moves like a bat out of hell…it’s explosive!” –Robert Crais
    He even uses cliches in his blurbs.

  10. I’m not a Cancer. I’m an Aries.
    I’m also president of my own company. The brand my company sells is “JA Konrath.”
    In order for my company to make money, I need to invest my own time and money up until it is able to reach a critical mass and run itself.
    The time to invest the money is at the beginning, because most businesses fail within the first few years.
    My name is on the books. It’s my brand. If my sell-through isn’t good enough, there will be no more books. Bye-bye writing career.
    I’m supposed to let my success or failure rest in the hands of my publisher? They’re my partner, my co-investor. They’re not my enabler. They’re not my boss.
    My publisher does a lot for me, but I have more at stake than they do. They have 200 other authors, all writing books, all who are getting a piece of the promotional pie.
    I should just write the best book I can, and then cross my fingers and hope it sells?
    Sorry. The best product in the world will fail if no one buys it.
    I should nag my publisher to spend more money on promoting me? They already spend a bunch. They are the ones investing the big bucks. They are the ones taking all of the financial risk.
    There’s no guarantee that big promotional dollars=success. Jim Haung had a great keynote speech about, which can be found at
    There’s no guarantee that wonderful writing=success. I’ve read a lot of wonderful books by authors who can no longer sell their latest because their previous numbers were bad.
    The only guarantee I have is: The harder I try, the more books I sell. This I know for a fact, and I’ve proven it time and time again.
    Best case scenario, my books catch on, all the money I spent will come back to me in royalties and multiple printings and larger advances down the line. I’m investing in a stock that I’m betting will go up.
    Worst case scenario, I fail. But I won’t be bitter, and I won’t blame my publisher or the universe for the way the cards fell.
    If I fail, I want it to go down swinging. I want to know that I did everything within my power to launch my career.
    I can understand why authors don’t like this philosophy. I’m saying that success isn’t all luck or talent. I’m saying that the author can, and should, play a major part in selling their own books.
    Scary thing, taking your fate into your own hands. Even scarier, backing it up with your own money.
    You can disgree with me. You can even hate me.
    But I’m really not the one you should be angry at, am I?

  11. “I’m saying that success isn’t all luck or talent. I’m saying that the author can, and should, play a major part in selling their own books.”
    I wholeheartedly agree. Look at this blog. Look at my website. Look at all the signings, speaking engagements, and convention appearances that I do.
    But I believe there’s a difference between doing what you can to support your work and pumping your advance back into promotion.
    I believe there’s a difference between working with your publisher to make your book a success and the “What Have I Done For My Publisher Today?” philosophy.
    As J. Steven York noted on his blog, the money is supposed to flow from the publisher to the author, not the other way around. And while you aren’t writing checks to your publisher, pumping a large percentage of your advance into advertising and promotion is virtually the same thing.
    I know you’ll argue that no, you’re supporting the Lee Goldberg brand. But if the industry comes to expect (a nice way of saying demand) that authors do this, then it’s a very different thing. Then it is, essentially, kicking back your advance to the publisher for work they should be doing. As a previous person commented, once a publisher start expecting you to finance your own advertising and promotion, then it’s just a vanity press with a classier veneer.

  12. The philosophy, “If you earned out your advance it wasn’t high enough” is a bad one. This isn’t an ‘us against them’ contest, with ‘them’ being your publisher.
    This is a partnership. If your partner is making money, you’re making money.
    An advance isn’t free money. It’s money based on potential book sales. It’s like a non-returnable loan. Your publisher is betting you sell X number of books, and giving you your share in advance.
    If you got zero advance, and sold X number of books, you’d get the same amount of money. It would just be later rather than sooner.
    Spending your advance money on selling more books is a way to ensure you get into that royaly phase even sooner.
    Does this make your publisher happy? Of course. They gambled and won.
    But so did you. Because you get a higher advance. A bigger print run. More promotional dollars. Your backlist stays in print. Your sales reps push your books harder. You’re talked about in-house. Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team.
    I didn’t have a book tour for my first book. But I spent a lot of money, and worked hard to sell it.
    Did my publisher notice? Yes. They gave me a book tour for #2. I went to 11 bookstores on the West coast, all expenses paid. Damn nice hotels too.
    Did I hang out at these nice hotels during my free time, ordering room service and pay-per-view porn? No. I visited 95 more bookstores while on that tour, and then another 100 on my own.
    Did my publisher notice? Yes. The new tour is 500 bookstores, and they’re paying.
    How is this a losing proposition for either of us? If they make money, I make money.
    So I pose this business model, and authors are afraid they’ll have to adopt it as well?
    I know a lot of authors losing money hand over fist with high advances and poor sell-through, and then blaming their publishers for their lackluster sales.
    Does the publisher make the author pay back the advance if the book doesn’t earn out? Does the author lament the money lost by the publisher, not only on the advance, but on the production costs, the promotion, the publicity, the market, the advertising?
    No. Authors scream “gimme gimme gimme” and whine how the publishers aren’t doing enough. They whine that they didn’t get enough co-op. Or frontlist catalog copy. Or not enough reviews. Or no tour. Or no advertising.
    But they don’t try to fix any of these things themselves. And they don’t shoulder the financial loss, which can be considerable.
    This is the preferable business model? If so, it needs to be changed. Then maybe more books would actually be profitable, which would benefit everyone.
    The whole “I’ll just write good books and my publisher will sell them” is an archaeic philosophy, and the only authors who should be afraid of self-promoting are the dead weight ones already losing money.
    Take some responsibility, for your sales, and for your career.

  13. Joe,
    I think that self promo is imporant, but how much money should you spend on it?
    Nora Roberts says no more than 10% of your advance. Allison Brennan spent very little as well — just her website, and a few local booksigning — but she reached the USA Today list and the NYT extended list with her debut novel this year. (And the two books that followed her debut also made the lists…higher positions each time) Mostly through word of mouth and because she’s such a sweet person and people liked her books.
    So to say that spending a ton of money on self promo = more sales seems false and ignores that there’s more to selling than just throwing money at advertising and booksigning.

  14. I have to say that Konrath makes a good argument in this debate. It’s the way business works, especially if you’re doing a startup. If you’re working for someone else, then that person has expectations of more than one task from the employee. I think there are two opposing philosophies at play here: writing as business and writing as art. None of you will convince the other of a different viewpoint so drop this and get back to writing books to keep me in the style to which I’ve become accustomed.

  15. These things depend heavily on the skills of the author. The late Terry Johnston was a genius at self-promotion and made a best-seller out of himself without significant help from publishers. At signings he would dress in buckskins, decorate his signing table with a buffalo robe and Indian artifacts, begin conversations with anyone drifting by, operate tours of western battlefields, and he published an extensive newsletter that was mailed to his fans, whose names and addresses he carefully collected.
    I lacked that knack and focused on writing books as well as I could. I found that bookstore visits were sterile. Because of staff turnover, no one would remember you a few months later. Signings and tours and visiting bookstores to sign stock weren’t economic. Websites don’t return their cost. The one thing that does work for me is simply giving away my paperbacks. It has created demand for my next novel.
    I believe these issues depend largely on the gifts of the author. Ones who have the knack can get ahead with promotion, while those who don’t have that knack, but do have writing gifts, should focus on writing so well that readers come back for more. So, Mr. Konrath’s approach may be right for one author, but not for another. My approach works for me but might not for others.

  16. Lee,
    Just trying to show what Joe might have been thinking. Then, of course, he spoke up for himself. Oh well.
    I tend to agree with Joe except for the emphasis on making money for the Publisher. I tend to think the Publisher looks out handsomely for his/her self. I think authors should do a lot to promote because they make money for themselves that way. I look at it as an investment in myself.
    I disagree with Joe sometimes, however. He wrote one post that had me laughing when that wasn’t at all his intent. It had something to do with the minimum that a publisher will do to help you promote your book. He listed something like a dozen things. If my publisher did half what he thought was the norm, I’d smile from ear to ear weeks on end.

  17. I think that every author will find out what works for them, each will try the proven methods and add some new ones only to discard what isn’t productive. I don’t think there is a “one size fits all” to this. Each of us will find a system for marketing and PR that we are comfortable with.

  18. Re. Allison Brennan, there’s an example of a publisher getting behind an author. They wanted to break her out by releasing three books in three months, and they did. A beautiful job of packaging and planning. It gives lie to the “crapshoot” theory.
    However, Allison Brennan had to work damn hard to have those three books ready to go. She did her bit for her publisher—but it was in the writing of the books, not the spending of the green.

  19. I like the giving-away-books idea. How else to get people to read? I had a bunch of bound galleys eight months old, although the book had been out for two. They weren’t arcs, just cheaply-bound galleys. I signed them to people and gave them away at the Arizona Book Festival. Made me pretty popular at the time.
    I do think that writing the best book you can possibly write will make the difference. Maybe not right away, but eventually. If I didn’t think that I’d probably put my head in an oven.

  20. Interesting to juxtapose his rant with Sara Gran’s story of being broke and nearly homeless waiting to get the advance checks and movie money from her publishers. (From her blog.)
    Does he really want mystery writing to be open only to trustifarians and middle-life crisis wealthy people who can subsidize their own launch? Because if the publishers are allowed to start require that the money flow away from the writers until the publishers are satisfied that they have made enough money, thank you, there will be very little money made by non-bestselling novelists. (He would probably argue that novelists shouldn’t make money unless they are bestsellers.)
    Perhaps he doesn’t realize that the self-financed multi-year apprenticeship that editors and such are required to undergo is a source of the problems in the publishing industry?
    I once interviewed an artist who would only allow profiles which revealed that she did not support herself with her art, but took in medical transcription and taught on the side. Pretending that artists and writers don’t need to make money from their work hurts everyone.

  21. I’ve had over a dozen short story sales to various publishers but no takers (yet) on my second novel (the first one was unpublishable scifi drek that I knew better than to submit). This second one has more possibilities. So, I do read Joe’s blog and this one and Miss Snark and Kristen Nelson and so on and hope to absorb as much information as possible.
    But, from the very start of reading of Joe’s exploits on the Web and in magazines like Writer’s Digest, the idea that an author must/should dump most/all of his or her advance into promotion, marketing and advertising, has troubled me. And frankly, it bothers me that Joe might be setting the bar far higher than most new writers can possibly manage. Sure, it generates publicity but is it setting the expectation that all new novelists have to do this level of marketing on their time and money? Visit 500 bookstores a year? Do 200 drive-by signings in a summer? Those are just not realistic numbers for people who have to work the damned day job to keep a roof overhead. I don’t know for sure but I’d guess that Joe hasn’t worked a 9 to 5 gig for years. And I’d bet he has a spouse who provides health insurance and a steady salary. For many writers, especially those of us who are partner-free or who work the day job to support a household, doing the full-time marketing gig just isn’t possible.
    If/when I get the novel sold, then I’ll do my damnedest to cover as many promotional opportunities as possible, within the confines of my budget and time constraints. But shouldn’t my advance support me, not the other way around?

  22. Because if the publishers are allowed to start require that the money flow away from the writers until the publishers are satisfied that they have made enough money, thank you, there will be very little money made by non-bestselling novelists. (He would probably argue that novelists shouldn’t make money unless they are bestsellers.)
    Not at all. Money should flow toward the writer, always. But investing that money in yourself widens the river and makes the flow go faster.
    Any novelist can make money, regardless of the size of the advance. But if you believe that simply having a book published means you’re goign to sell every copy in print, you are mistaken. And if you believe you’ll continue to get published if your books don’t sell well, you’re also mistaken.
    Pretending that artists and writers don’t need to make money from their work hurts everyone.
    The harder you self-promote, the more books you sell. Every book that sells, you make money. It’s up to you how much time and money you want to spend pursuing this aspect of the business.

  23. George Shuman is an interesting example of a publisher getting behind a writer. His book “18 seconds” has been heavily promoted by S&S. They have a website videogame, podcasts, full page ads, etc. They also have him touring with Robert Crais, which will obviously help the turnout at his book signings.
    I’ve just read the book. It’s OK, but I wonder how Shuman got the royal treatment when so many other debut writers are starving for publicity.

  24. Perhaps the question is, which came first: the authors who feel the need to promote themselves endless or the publishers expecting authors to promote themselves endlessly?
    I suspect that the latter is the case. Publishers have cut back on editing and copy editing and cut back on authors who don’t sell fast enough to suit them.
    We also have a large number of writers who want to be authors, so there’s heightened competition there.
    Finally, with the advent of the Internet, it’s become easier and less expensive for authors to self-promote.
    The downside is that an author who gets sucked into a lot of self-promotion doesn’t have the time or juice to write the books that make it work promoting in the first place.
    As if they didn’t have enough anxiety, there’s uncertainty with the publication of each work. Will it take or won’t it? Tod Goldberg reflected on this when he mentioned that his book of short stories garnered more critical attention than his two novels; the reverse of what most of us would think.
    Anxiety, competition, Darwinian winnnowing and paranoia. A writer’s life to envy.

  25. I would also just like to point out that Joe Konrath is very, very good at this promotion stuff. He may spin over the top for some tastes, but I’ve been to book talks where you can just see the proverbial big hook yanking the author off the stage–or wish someone would.
    It’s a pretty delicate balance. Shrinking violets should come up with some other way to promote, as, probably, should victims of industrial accidents. Somebody who comes off as morose or shy is going to have problems with book signings and library talks. I’m far better at one-on-one or giving talks to groups than I am in the clutter of a cocktail party-type promotion, partly because I can’t hear well in noisy rooms–background noise is a killer–
    “I really liked your book!”
    “You like my foot? Is that a fetish or are you a podiatrist?”
    “Oncologists? You have cancer?”
    “No, I’m a capricorn!
    “It looks like corn, but it’s really lima beans. Color’s weird!”
    “I’m not weird, despite what my wife says!”
    Mark Terry

  26. It is a failing of many Americans, especially young authors, to want instant success and to believe that it can be achieved through promotion. But what if these books are bad? An embarrassment? I have some early novels that, thank heaven, have remained obscure. I am glad I did not promote them. I think of Patrick O’Brian, who wrote brilliant novels of the sea set during the Napoleonic Wars. He did not promote them; neither did his publishers at first. He poured his genius into producing memorable literature, and word of mouth was the vehicle that ultimately enriched him and his publishers. It took him years; his sea novels will last for generations. He gave the world something grand and is now considered one of the 20th century’s important novelists. He did it right; the hasty, who want immediate gratification, are doing it wrong. Some day they may find themselves acutely embarrassed by bad novels they popularized long before their work was worthy of promotion.

  27. This has all been very interesting to read. Discussions like this are the main reason I’m a regular reader of both Lee’s and Joe’s blogs.
    I’m currently at work on my first novel. Its going well so far. I think I may have enough talent to make this be a book that will entertain its readers. That’s my goal. I’d love for the book to be a bestseller, but I know its a longshot.
    I just want the book to be as good as I can make it and for people to enjoy it. Hopefully that will inspire its readers to think, “Hey, I liked this. I want to read more by this Bud Gott guy!”
    I know it takes more than just talent to be a success in this business. I know I have a long way to go and a lot to learn along the way.
    I’ve already learned a lot from Lee Goldberg and Joe Konrath. I know I’ll continue to learn from them as I continue to read their blogs and their fiction. Yes, they have different opinions on some things, but they’re both great educators for a new writer like myself.
    Thank you, Lee and Joe!
    Bud Gott

  28. Buy One, Blog One, Get One Free!

    First, in light of the Goldberg – Konrath wars *g*, this seemed the perfect day to re-post the following snippets (attributes in the original post) . . .
    From agent Ethan Elleberg about author promotion:
    You dont have to do it. () You…

  29. Like Lee and others here, I like Joe but often find myself at odds with him on this promotion thing. I agree with his advice that a writer should approach their publisher as a partner rather than adversary. But I have also heard him say he spends 2-3 months a year writing his book and the rest on promotion. That would be suicide for me. And I’m thinking it’s a bad example for those just starting out. Why? Because the second book is harder than the first (mainly cuz you’re writing it on the publisher’s clock, not your own). And the third, fourth and fifth are even tougher. The hard part is not breaking into this biz; the hard part is surviving until things happen.
    Maybe I’m naive, but I still believe consistency counts, and that if you produce books people like to read, you can break out. And publishers are still backing authors with good track records. Some break out by taking the Harlan Coben route with the departure standalone vs the series. Others like Greg Iles, get bigger pushes after hanging around long enough to grow an audience. This isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. And sometimes I get fed up with authors who’ve written a couple books and are whining about no pub support even as they expect major bucks and bestseller status. Talk about entitlement. Get in line behind the dudes who’ve paid some dues and built their audiences book by book.
    The truth is that no one — especially the folks in NYC — really know what will click with readers, what renders one author more commerically appealing than another of equal or even greater talent.
    Commercial success (as opposed to critical success) in this biz is an alchemy of many factors: talent, drive, perseverance, your pub supporting you (which can mean NOT overublishing you if your numbers can’t yet support it). But I seldom hear people talk about the other ingredient, that undefinable X-factor that makes folks want to pick up your books. I heard Ed Gorman once call it simply “heart.” Maybe it’s just the ability to tell a damn compelling story. You can be the darling of critics, win every award and yet you’re just not clicking with the mass audience needed to put you on the lists. Likewise, you can promote yourself til the cows come home, but if you don’t have that X-factor, you won’t make it.
    Thanks for letting me vent, Lee. Whew. I feel better now.

  30. “But I seldom hear people talk about the other ingredient, that undefinable X-factor that makes folks want to pick up your books. I heard Ed Gorman once call it simply “heart.” Maybe it’s just the ability to tell a damn compelling story.”
    Glad you brought it up, PJ. Because it’s undefinable, and I don’t even think it’s that “obscenity” thing, ie., I know it when I see it. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Who of us hasn’t read a bestseller and said, “Huh? I don’t get it.”
    As one of my former agents commented, “If publishers knew what made a book a bestseller, that’s all they’d publish.”
    Welcome to Show Bizness, Book Style.

  31. “Most of my favorite authors live in Southern CA. Why? Because I went to a book signing, bought a book…”
    There’s something flawed with this logic path too. I haven’t gotten there yet, but it’s apparent some books don’t get any publicity or national stocking, so it’s unclear what level of spending one should devote to pushing a book that is hard to find even though St. Martin’s or others published it. I’d keep the money and work on the next on, but do local signings wherever it is stocked. Signings are the sort of things vanity press authors dwell on. It’s the cart without a horse in that venue.

  32. I find these discussions very interesting and entertaining.
    I find it interesting that people newer to the business think that there is a magic secet to success.
    Pump out the book and get a publisher.
    Now implement promotional plan a and b and by the end of the year I’ll be poised for a huge push with my next book.
    Different things work for different people and there is no one single answer to success.
    It does seem that sometimes the most important part gets forgotten. Writing a great book. With out that all the promotion in the world won’t save you.
    I may be a bit jaded, and I may have a bit more insight, but I’ve seen enough promotion to recognize it for what it is.
    In the end what I want is a good book.

  33. Promotion doesn’t make the book good, Jon.
    But it is what could lead you to a good book.
    All the promotion in the world won’t get people to buy your second book if your first one sucks. But if a reader likes the book, they’ll seek out others by the same author.
    The trick is to get the reader to pick up your book out of the 200,000 released every year.

  34. The trick is to get the reader to pick up your book out of the 200,000 released every year.
    And, surely, the first thing you have to do is to write a good book, one that someone will read and recommend to their friends.
    That doesn’t, necessarily, mean having a blog or doing signings in bookshops (I think in all the years I’ve been going in bookshops, I’ve been in one where there was a signing going on exactly once, and on that occasion I bought a different book) or even, in extreme cases, the talk show circuit.
    Thinking about how I choose a book by a writer I’ve never read before, it’s going to be:
    (1) because a friend whose opinion I trust recommended it, or
    (2) because someone bought it for me, or
    (3) because it’s about a subject I’m already interested in and I’m wondering how this author has handled it, or
    (4) because I picked up a book by that author in the public library and liked it enough to buy it and others by that author.
    Of these (1) usually works – it’s how I found Lindsey Davis and Josephine Tey, (2) occasionally works, my first book by China Mieville was a gift, but it’s also how I discovered that I think Dan Brown’s writing sucks rocks. (3) is how I’ve acquired a very large libary WW2 history and archaeology books, but I don’t usually buy fiction on that basis.
    I’ve found (4) is the best method of all for me as a reader. I get to read the book for free and if it sucks, I give it back and never read that author again.

  35. Good books usually get good reviews. Good reviews in the trade journals breed more reviews in newspapers. Libraries usually buy books on the basis of reviews, and especially use reviews in Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus to gauge the works of unfamiliar newcomers. Many early books by authors, including mine, were largely marketed by this natural process involving reviews, libraries, and word of mouth. Mr. Konrath’s whole promotion apparatus was not a factor. In short, a well-done book is not dead in the water if the publisher doesn’t spend a lot of money on it. And writing a magical book counts a great deal. Mr. Konrath’s either/or dichotomy, promote the hell out of books or see them perish, just isn’t very real. There is an ongoing process by which attractive books work their way into public consciousness and sales, all without significant promotion. But it does not hold true for lousy books.
    In addition, sales reps for the publishing companies certainly know which of their titles are outstanding, and sell them to booksellers on that basis. So there is an additional marketing effort that places good books in the hands of booksellers and readers. All of this occurs daily, without benefit of Mr. Konrath’s type of marketing.

  36. I respectfully diasgree, Richard.
    Good books usually get good reviews. Good reviews in the trade journals breed more reviews in newspapers.
    Most books published don’t get reviews, good or otherwise. If you write a PBO, or you’re midlist, there’s no guarantee Kirkus, PW, LJ, or Booklist will review you–in fact, it’s more likely they won’t.
    And even if they do, when those reviews come out, it doesn’t lead to newspaper reviews, because by that time the book is already on the shelves and newspapers want lead time before the pub date.
    There is an ongoing process by which attractive books work their way into public consciousness and sales, all without significant promotion.
    Publishers won’t continue to publish authors whose sell-through is poor, or whose sales take a steady downward plunge. Nor do they keep a backlist in print for these authors. Surely you have friends with out of print books, or who were dropped by their publishing house. I have dozens.
    In addition, sales reps for the publishing companies certainly know which of their titles are outstanding, and sell them to booksellers on that basis.
    I have it on several good authorities that sales reps don’t read every book they push. In fact, some don’t have time to read any. A rep may spend as little as thirty seconds pushing your book to a buyer, depending on the catalog size. How do you get the reps to spend more time on your book?
    Being talked about in-house is a good way.
    Every book a publisher puts out is a good book–that’s why they are publishing it. When a big publisher puts out 200 titles in a quarter, how are you supposed to get noticed?
    Catalog copy tells buyers what the hot titles are—they’re the ones in front with two page spreads. What if you’re mid-list, and have a quarter page ad on page 46?
    Distributors have cataloges too, and placement is paid for by the publisher. They don’t promote all of their books equally.
    Ditto co-op money. Books come and go all the time without anyone noticing. But to get on the New Release table, or get a dump box display, means big promo dollars. This isn’t automatic; it’s selective.
    How do you get selected?
    Many people in this thread talk about writing a good book. Of course that’s important. That’s essential.
    But many good books go out of print. Many don’t sell very well. We all have favorite books by authors who have never become bestsellers. A good book won’t automatically sell a lot. It has to be noticed and read.
    Self-promotion helps.

  37. I would say the best start is a copy on the shelf at a number of stores in towns you haven’t been to. That would suffice for me but even Dan Brown couldn’t get anything behind his three previous books and nothing they did for self-promotion made any difference so, just saying self-promotion like some magic mantra would make work.
    Lew’s books are on shelves initially then they disappear very quickly. I don’t think that’s because he does nothing, but there’s only so much you can do on your own. It’s about support from the company.

  38. Mr. Konrath and I are at loggerheads, and nothing I say will alter his opinion, nor will he alter mine, so I will simply close with this, based on my experience as an editor with a scholarly press (Open Court Publishing Company) and a commercial press (Walker and Company).
    There is indeed a natural process by which the better books reach sunlight, sales, and acclaim, while undistinguished books sink into oblivion. This involves favorable reviews, library sales, promotion by sales reps (who receive their perception of a book from editors at seasonal sales conferences held regularly by publishers), word of mouth, and the enthusiasm of booksellers. If this natural process did not exist, and did not make many books profitable even when not intensively promoted, it would be irrational for publishers to produce any title they don’t plan to promote. But they do. They publish tens of thousands of books they don’t plan to promote, and it is not because they wish to lose money.
    Publishers are constantly publishing books they don’t promote, and rely on this natural process to give each title life and sales. Publishers are not irrational. They wish to make every title profitable. But some books are better bets than others for publicity.
    Other books and authors, and I include myself, have a very good chance of success wrought from reviews and similar favorable circumstances. Publishers well understand these factors, and entrust books to them to succeed. It stands to reason that the better the book, the better chance is has in this natural process.
    An author’s first and far the most important goal is to write the best book possible. My advice to authors, new or experienced, is to focus on writing a great book first. Promotion may be helpful, but it is a secondary process, not a primary one.

  39. After reading the page of cliche-ridden dialog Konrath uses on his blog today to show how to write effective dialog, I have to concur: he’s hurting people with his advice.

  40. After reading the page of cliche-ridden dialog Konrath uses on his blog today to show how to write effective dialog, I have to concur: he’s hurting people with his advice.
    Real mature there, Moritz. Please enlighten us all on where we might find samples of your wonderous dialog. I’m always willing to learn from those with greater skills.
    Can I pick your books up at my local Barnes and Noble?

  41. I vote Wheeler. Anyone smart enough to write books from Livingston, Montana where a select few significant writers and artists chose to live deserves deference. Wisdom doesn’t come fast and isn’t cheap. I wish I was writing from there, because while a good book can come from anywhere, it can’t come from just anyone. The setting is important though.

  42. I, too, tip my hat to Mr. Wheeler’s views. His arguments have that resonant quality that accompanies well-drawn logic and truth.
    As one who recently discovered Richard S. Wheeler’s books, I’ll also add that his wonderful characters also resonate with me. Anyone who hasn’t yet read a Barnaby Skye story has a real treat waiting at their local bookstore.

  43. Richard Wheeler – as always – brings class, experience and intelligence to an argument sadly lacking all three.
    Konrath = McDonald’s is a great analogy. And Joe is happy working his butt off to feed people cheeseburger books. Some readers love nothing but a diet of fast food writing.
    I prefer finer quality eats in my reading. Eisler, Burke, Wheeler. Does that make me better than anyone? No. It’s just what I prefer. Joe’s writing is what will end up being the greatest victim of this attitude/argument. But again, victim may be the wrong word – Joe is happy serving cheeseburgers, even if it means he will always have to work his marketing butt off, as opposed to the quality of the writing leading the sales way.
    Anyway, I’m blathering like the idiot I am. My original intention for this post was simply to commend Mr. Wheeler. It’s no surprise – considering the way he sees the writing biz – that I always look forward to my next Wheeler read, and no longer have an interest in reading Joe.

  44. Having read three excerpts from Joe’s work in as many days on his blog, I can understand why he has to do so much self-promotion. The writing is glib, superficial and riddled with cliche phrases and stereotypical characters. It doesn’t rise to the level of cheeseburgers, Mr. Guyot. More like saltines when you’re sick and that’s the only solid food you can keep down.
    FWIW, I didn’t like Lee Goldberg’s “Man with the Iron-On Badge” at all though I enjoy his “Diagnosis Murder” books, which were a real surprise to me. They are the first and only tie-ins I’ve ever read.
    I think Richard Wheeler is a masterful storyteller, one of the true giants of western literature. I can’t believe he’s actually leaving messages here. Lee Goldberg should be extremely flattered.

  45. You people are very kind, and I thank you. Kirkus just trashed my forthcoming Skye’s West novel, The Fire Arrow, so my hat size is still seven and three/eighths.

  46. Mr. Tipton, I am, actually, honored to be a part of the lively discussions on Lee Goldberg’s intelligent blog. He is the maestro who has inspired the richest discussions of the dilemmas and rewards of writing, which is why this venue is the place to gather and debate. The fact that there are at this writing 44 entries in this particular exchange is a tribute to Lee, and one reason I admire him. Best wishes to you all.

  47. Hey Guyot,
    Doesn’t it hurt your nose waving it around in the air that much?
    (a mere commoner who enjoys cheesburgers)

  48. I wonder sometimes about this desire that drives people to be a “successful writer” rather than a good one. (And, too often, the impulses are quite separate.)
    James Patterson is a perfect example of this. He’s monstrously successful as a force in publishing, grossing over $40 million a year. But his books aren’t very good. Patterson did an interview recently where even he admitted that his latest book wasn’t worth reading. (And, of course, it debuted at #1 on the The List.)
    The sad part is that Patterson was once a good writer. His first novel won an Edgar Award. The first couple books in the Alex Cross series are terrific examples of suspense fiction. But then he stopped being “James Patterson, the writer” and transformed into “James Patterson (TM).”
    Now he doesn’t even try. Hell, he doesn’t even write the books himself. Who has time for the inconvenient details when you could be out promoting?
    Yet, again, he’s monstrously successful. Rich by any measure. But his critical reputation is lousy and the books are awful. Focusing 90% of his energy on the promotion and only 10% on the work has paid off financially. But is it worth it?

  49. If Patterson’s books were truly that awful, then nobody would be buying them.
    Do you honestly believe that people are shelling out $20 for a hardcover book because Patterson is a good marketer? I don’t think so. People are smarter than that.
    Ultimately, what’s “good” depends on the subjective perspective of the reader.
    Just because the mystery literati (David Montgomery, Sarah Weinman, etc.) don’t like something doesn’t mean that the people won’t.

  50. I don’t need to have any books for sale to know cliched writing when I see it. But in case you can’t, here’s what I pulled out.
    “Colin stood about Benedict’s height, but rail thin.”
    You’re right, that’s not a cliche. You could have said “he was a tall drink of water” and it might have been even worse.
    Then there is this gem:
    “Do you recognize this woman?”
    I watched Colin’s face. He glanced at the photo without changing his expression.
    “Never saw her.”
    If only bad tv shows had dialog this vivid. Oh, wait, they do. And they’re cliched, too.
    You’re right. You shouldn’t use dialect. This exchange reminds me of that scene in Hollywood Shuffle: I ain’ts be gotten no weapon!:
    “Don’t got no cell phone.”
    I read the phone number to him.
    “Don’t got that phone no more. Lost it.”
    And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was completely surprised by this scene and the incisive dialog that went with it:
    Herb bent down, reaching for Colin’s foot.
    “I think you dropped something, Colin. Well–-lookee here.”
    Herb held up the bag of powdered sugar.
    “Dog, that ain’t mine!”
    Herb made an innocent face. “I saw it fall out of your pocket. Didn’t you, Jack?”
    “I don’t even deal that shit, man. I just distribute the herb.”
    I don’t have the time to point out all the cliches there, because I’m busy trying find my nonexistent books at Barnes & Noble. So pick them out yourself.
    “You know the drill, Colin. On your knees, hands behind your head.”
    You know the drill. If he knows the drill, does he need to be told it again? And I mean this for you, Joe, not Colin.
    “I had a pretty good internal BS detector”
    Never heard anyone in a cop book, or cop show, ever say that.

  51. Is success having written a book worth reading, or is it having created a specific brand name that consumers instinctively searh for? What makes worthwhile reading? My taste is all over the map – I can see a book like The Conquerer Worms by Brian Keene and think, “Giant maneating worms take over the world? COOL!” and tear into the book like it was a Double Whopper with Cheese and a side of Onion Rings and I hadn’t eaten in eight or so hours. Ditto every single tie-in novel I read. When I pick up a Star Wars, Star Trek, Diagnosis Murder, Resident Evil, Friday the 13th, Doctor Who, or Aliens tie-in, I know precisely what kind of book I am getting. Sometimes I even discover a new writer that I would not have started reading otherwise, like Mr. Goldberg, Peter David, and Kristine Kathryn Rausch. Media Novels are an excellent way to test drive unfamiliar writers.
    I don’t know if the same can be said of the Writer Tie-Ins out there. Tom Clancy’s Netforce, Op-Center, and Power Plays, or Clive Cussler’s NUMA spin-offs. Writer’s both living and dead are now Franchise Titles, telling consumers exactly, precisely what it is they are buying, based entirely on a branded body of work. Robert Ludlum, Lawrence Sanders, and James Patterson are only three that come to mind. Classic literary characters like Conan, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond continue to have adventures written by writers for hire. I pick these out sometimes because I am curious, but, as I stated before, they are proven commodities – ways of test driving a genre or simply getting some lowest common denominator entertainment. Many of my reading staples are branded writers who really just rewrite the same book again and again: John Saul, Dean Koontz, Graham Masterton, etc. It’s like listening to an AC/DC album – consistant, comfortable, and exactly what you expect it to be.
    Nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t literature. Which is why, after burning through a fistful of these books, I sometimes feel like I have been eating nothing but Cool Whip for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I need some real food, something healthy, something organic. So I dust off writers like Raymond Carver, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, or I just step out on a limb and read something different. A book about history, politics, religion, or the porn industry. Just to keep the mental gears greased.
    It is has been my observation that the most marketing focused writers seem to be those that do work for hire or write with the lowest common denominator in mind. We’re not talking about art, we’re talking about product. Creating a marketable business model. (Remember, this is coming from a guy who reads more product writing than he does art writing. The product is more fun.) Even Mr. Goldberg has stated he wouldn’t write another Harvey Mapes novel unless there was a for sure sale. That’s market focused writing rather than art focused writing. It’s sitting down and writing something that will sell, rather than something that speaks from the heart.
    Right now I am going through that very same struggle. Do I want to be a “hack?” Someone that works for hire, that won’t write something he couldn’t sell. Or do I want write from the heart? Spends hours, days, weeks, months, or even years working on a project that, in the end, only a handful of people might bother to read, no matter how hard I might market it? I sit there and wonder if it is even worth bothering to do. (And this is a guy who has wanted to be a professional/published writer since he discovered William Goldman in 1978.)
    I’m a shy, withdrawn guy that would rather have a tooth pulled out with a pair or rusty pliers than tool around asking if I can sign what few books I have written might be in stock. I prefer the slowburn model. But even I note that the industry has changed, a quicker profit turnaround is expected these days. You can’t be a 30 year over night success anymore, it seems. The mid list seems to be disappearing just as fast as the middle class. I wonder where I fit in, and if I even want to try anymore.
    Oh, well…I have to go distribute faxes around the office now. (Why, yes. I am at my day job right now.)

  52. You make some very good points beyond the whole self-promotion/what is success discussions that rage here periodically.
    I wrote MAN WITH THE IRON ON BADGE on spec — I didn’t have a contract. Then again, I didn’t have the DM novels or the MONK novels to do, only my TV work. I wrote that book in the time I now use to write the work-for-hire stuff.
    I would LOVE to write another Harvey Mapes, but since I have to make a living as a writer, the time spent on it would take me away from paying work. I simply can’t afford to write another Mapes now, not while balancing my script committments and the work-for-hire novels.
    Once you make the leap to professional, and you have contracts for specific work, it gets harder and harder to find the free time to gamble on writing the passion projects you can’t be sure will ever pay off financially.

  53. If Patterson’s books were truly that awful, then nobody would be buying them.
    The man himself admits they’re awful! And I write this as a Patterson fan. Or, at least, a former fan. (I’m not sure it means anything to be a “James Patterson fan” now since the books are written by other people.)
    I’m the farthest thing from a literary snob (I’m intrigued that you would consider me part of the literati!) but it would be a lie to say we were talking about high quality work here.
    That is what lies at the heart of what I was saying: The books aren’t supposed to be good. They don’t even try to be good. They are conceived, written, packaged and marketed to sell — which they do, quite nicely. And that’s absolutely fine.
    There was a time when Patterson wanted to be a writer, and he was a pretty good one. But he wanted to be a brand name more, so he gave the rest of it up.
    I’m not making a value judgment — most of us would make similar choices if we were in a similar situation. (Who wouldn’t want to make $40 mill a year?)
    But there is definitely a trade-off involved.
    Sure, it would be nice to be Harold Robbins. But I’d still rather be Ross Thomas.

  54. If Patterson’s books were truly that awful, then nobody would be buying them.
    That comment right there shows that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  55. David, I respectfully disagree. Perhaps you should talk to someone who actually buys and reads Pattersons books — there are several million of them. I think most of them believe that Patterson’s books are good. But they don’t count do they?
    And Guyot, doesn’t your neck hurt from looking down on so many people? Geez, what a piece of work.

  56. Is this thread still going on?
    Paul–not all of us can hope to aspire to the level of Snoops. 🙂
    I’m busy trying find my nonexistent books at Barnes & Noble.
    Why aren’t I surprised?
    Are you trying to tell me that you’ve never heard an inner city youth use slang or ebonics… know what I’m saying?
    How should a teenage drug dealer from the south side of Chicago talk? In iambic pentameter?
    Ditto cops. Do you know any? I do. I’ve heard them say, “You know the drill.” Because people who have been arrested multiple times do, indeed, know the drill.
    BTW–saying “Don’t got no” is improper grammar, but it isn’t dialect, which involves creative spelling and punctuation to make the words sound phonetically correct. A’ight, dawg?
    “Never saw her.” Wow. Got me there. Especially since the kid never saw her and was telling the truth.
    What exactly did I say to evoke all of the animosity? That a writer needs to self-promote? Can someone point out where I said “self-promote at the expense of writing a good book.”?
    Do you really, truly believe that a good book will sell on its own? None of you have favorite novels that are out of print?
    And so you really think that criticizing others somehow makes you better? Or that a guise of superiority is necessary to feel good about yourself?
    I think Richard Wheeler is a wonderful writer, and while I don’t agree with his take on this topic, I applaud his ability to discuss it like a gentlemen.

  57. None of you have favorite novels that are out of print?
    I have dozens, how many dozens I cannot even begin to guess.
    It is an interesting point, but one I don’t really think is connected to the primary subject. All books go out of print eventually, it’s a fact of the writer’s life that few like to discuss. There was an article in the Contra Costa Times a few years back that talked with several local writers that had to deal with the unforseen issues that arose when the books they had labored so long and so hard to produce were now nothing more than memories. Turns out it is a bit of a jolt to the psyche. It isn’t just nobodies with limited commercial appeal, there are quite popular writers that have books go out of print. There will always be far more books that are out of print than in actually print. Some of those out of print books are by great writers that are household names. While in college I learned that when William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature, there weren’t any of his books in print in America. The publishers had to track Faulkner down and see if he had his original manuscripts. He didn’t. So, in the long term, even Stephen King, John Grisham, Dan Brown, and Tom Clancy will be going out of print some day, and they will be replaced with other writers.

  58. Going out of print someday and going out of print soon after being published are two different things.
    Backlists are how many publishers can remain in business, especially since so many new books lose money.
    Backlists are also important for writers, not only because the royalties help them remain writers, but because having more books being printed means more chances to find fans.
    Books go out of print for many reasons, but one of those reasons is not “it is still selling well.”
    What can writers do to keep their books in print? Their well-written, well-reviewed, award-winning books?
    If so many go out of print because the writer relied on the publisher to sell them, shouldn’t the writer take a more active stance to prevent that from happening?
    As for the concept of ‘hacks’, Al Collins write more books that just about anyone. Plenty of tie-ins, but also some award-winning original stuff. I don’t think anyone who has read Road to Perdition would call him a hack.
    This is a terribly hard business to break into, and it’s even harder to earn a living at it. Looking down on those that are doing so doesn’t make any sense.

  59. Books go out of print for many reasons, but one of those reasons is not “it is still selling well.”
    I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that publishers will cease printing books because they are cancelling lines, restructing their business, and, while a book might be selling well, it isn’t selling “well enough.” I’m not going to pretend I know more than that.
    It seems to me (and I’m an outsider looking in) that there seems to be a hard push to compress the time it takes to build an audience. That there seems to be a greater interest, or pressure, to publish product that has a ready made audience rather than have a writer build an audience. There also seems to be an Old School of thought: “My work will speak for itself and my audience will grow over time,” and a New School of thought: “I need to get as many people reading my book as soon as possible.” From what I can tell, it seems the Old School looks at the new New School as if it were someone trying to sell an Amway Dealership. (Don’t get me started on Amway, please.) I think it’s an individual thing, each person finding a way to sell his/her work in many that best fits their personality.
    As for the concept of ‘hacks’, Al Collins write more books that just about anyone. Plenty of tie-ins, but also some award-winning original stuff. I don’t think anyone who has read Road to Perdition would call him a hack.
    This depends entirely on a person’s mindset and whether or not they view comic books as “literature.” I do, by the way. But I’m still smarting from some of the scathing commentary I heard in University about “popular writers” and how detestably dirty “genre fiction” was in comparison to the purity that was “true written art.”
    I really should have majored in history. 🙁


Leave a Comment