My friend Joe Konrath can't stop making Kindle news. A month ago, he announced that Amazon Encore will be publishing his next Jack Daniels novel, first as an ebook exclusive and then as a trade paperback. Yesterday, he upped the ante and announced that he's giving up on print altogether and putting all his chips on the e-format, primarily the Kindle. And he's kicking it off with the Kindle publication of ENDURANCE and TRAPPED, two horror novels originally commissioned by a print publisher… but that he pulled from them rather than accepting the editorial changes they wanted him to make. Joe writes, in part:
Last year, some fans asked me to put my early, rejected books on Kindle so they could read them on their cool new device. I figured it couldn't hurt to try.
Fourteen months later, I've sold over 52,000 ebooks, and will earn over $100,000 this year on Kindle sales alone. On books that NY Publishing rejected.
So now I've taken the next, logical step. ENDURANCE (now available on Kindle for $2.99) is being released exclusively as a self-published ebook.
I've gone from desperately wanting to be accepted by NY Publishing, to completely ignoring NY Publishing.
And for him, I predict it will pay off handsomely. As of 10 pm tonight, ENDURANCE is ranked #42 out of all the books available in the Kindle store… and #1 in horror. I think his book is going stay at the top of the Kindle lists for some time to come. And if this book does a fraction of the business that AFRAID, his first Jack Kilborn horror novel, did as an ebook, then Joe is going to make a hell of a lot of money out of this…certainly more than he could would have made sticking with his publisher.
But I want to stress that I believe that Joe's success is the exception, not the rule. Mid-list or newbie authors who yank their books from publishers over editorial notes and go the Kindle route shouldn't expect to do nearly as well as he has. He is a very special case.
Prior to his ebook success, Joe was doing well in print… and heavily promoted his books by attending dozens of conferences annually, sending out thousands of newsletters, and visiting hundreds of bookstores across the country (if I am not mistaken, I believe he landed in the Guiness Book of World Records for most bookstore signings in one year). He had a considerable blog presence and significant name recognition before embarking on this Kindle course.
There's no question that Joe is blazing a trail in ebooks… and doing incredibly well at it. I am one of many authors who have benefitted from both his example and his great advice…but I fear that aspiring writers will read about his success and believe it's a short cut that will lead them to a pot of gold. And it's not.
He paid a lot of dues, suffered a lot of rejection, honed his skills, and established a strong, professional reputation before he got where he is. That's very important to remember before you decide to follow his path…which, contrary to what you might think, isn't necessarily paved with gold.
9 thoughts on “Kindle King Konrath”
I agree with you. I think it will work very, very well for Joe. I don’t think it is likely to work well for other people, although it will probably work for a few. Turning down a print publisher contract to self-publish startled me, although it’s consistent with where Joe’s at in his career at the moment. I wish him the best.
I’m REALLY glad you included those last four paragraphs. I’ve already seen far too many who fit the description you gave of authors who assumed they could do as well as he did without any of the reputation he had already built for himself.
He is a very special case.
I booked Konrath to give a writers workshop at my Library in November. It will be interesting to hear his advice on online publishing to new authors. (I do not mean that as a smart-ass or a snot. I am sincere in wanting to hear his take and advice on the issue.)
Thanks for the kind words, Lee. And your advice is all spot-on.
As for it paying off, I don’t expect ENDURANCE to stay on the bestseller list for very long. It’s priced at $2.99 and I’m a midlist author. $2.99 is a bit too high to hang with the 99 cent books on the list, and I’m not a big enough name to hang with the major bestsellers. But it’s fun while it lasts.
That said, in the past three days on Kindle, with all of my self-pubbed ebooks, I’ve earned about $1600.
Yeah, I said 3 days. And yeah I said $1600.
I’ll do a full disclosure on how that happened at the end of the month, when all of my figures are in.
But… holy cow. I really never could have guessed.
I hope most writers do realize they’re not going to make a gazillion dollars a year at indie publishing. It does seem possible to meet more modest aspirations, though. Indie publishing may be a reasonable path, or at least a sensible starting place, for many writers– IF their writing is good enough, IF they’re good at self-promotion, IF they’re willing to put the effort in. And the big if, IF they’re lucky. But I suppose all these factors matter in more traditional forms of publishing, too.
If I had a book under contract with a major publisher, I’d be highly reluctant to pull it, personally (unlike Joe, I have no reason to suppose I could sell that well on Kindle). But for new authors, the decision between whether to start selling right now, or to go through the traditional process and not get a book into print for a probable minimum of two years… well, I can certainly see why new authors find indie publishing tempting.
Does this make me an exception as well? I’ve never had a traditional publisher, the first thing I released into the world was a self-published novella in November of 2008. Yes, I’ve been doing the Internet marketing, but I never had anyone else’s marketing budget behind me or the stamp of approval of NY. I decided it was a bad business decision to try to go the NY route considering that I believe ebooks are the future and NY is severely mismanaging ebook rights (ridiculous pricing models that discourage buying being the main issue.)
So I self-pubbed. As a totally unknown nobody. I have three novellas out now, all at 99 cents in the Kindle store. If my sales continue for the rest of the month at the rate they are going, I stand to make $2,300 this month. All three of my novellas are ranked in the top 200. One of them has gotten very close to cracking the top 100.
Joe is great, and his story is great, and I respect all that he’s done and how he’s been willing to look and think outside of boxes to chase after what he wants. I have a lot of admiration for anyone in traditional publishing who is willing to look at the other side of things and take chances. But he’s being held up as the poster boy of self-publishing (Which isn’t his fault. He can’t control how other people respond to and label him.)
But he didn’t START self-publishing. Those of us like myself and Karen McQuestion (a lady doing better than me even), did.
I think I made some comments a long time ago with regards to self-publishing here. And I’m pretty sure I was met with this attitude that I was a little moron (not from you, from other commenters). And yet the tide is turning now, and people are starting to believe maybe I wasn’t such a little naive newb after all.
Do I think everybody can do this well? Probably not, but I think more would be able to if they would take it seriously and do what was necessary to put out a quality product. And “market” it.
I had a friend upset her ebook isn’t selling. I was like “Do you Twitter, Facebook, etc?” She hadn’t even commented on Twitter in 2 months. I love her, don’t get me wrong, but DUDE. You have to be willing to put out quality work AND market. Not just one of those.
I’m not sure if my other post posted, so if it showed up like three times, I apologize. I hate it when I don’t get either “instant upload of comment” or some kind of moderation message cause I don’t know if it went through or not.
Anyway, one point of clarification. I don’t believe Joe has succeeded like he has because he had a NY publisher. (Though I think their greater distribution helped in a lot before ebook.) They didn’t support him very much with marketing. He’s always pounded the pavement and worked his ass off for the numbers he has. I’m just stating that he didn’t start out self-pubbing. If he HAD started out self-pubbing, since he’s Joe, he’d probably be exactly where he is right now.
Congrats to Kindle King Joe Konrath, who is hitting so many home runs lately, I wished he played for the Yankees!
“But he didn’t START self-publishing. Those of us like myself and Karen McQuestion (a lady doing better than me even), did.”
Well, the mystery is finally solved. Konrath isn’t the king, ZOE IS THE QUEEN!