Site Seeing: Joe Konrath |

When I first started trying to understand the tumult taking place in the publishing and self-publishing industries, one of the sites I ran across was a blog called A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Written by author Joe Konrath, the site provides useful commentary on the transitions taking place in publishing, and how writers may profit from these changes. In the past I referenced several of Joe’s posts here and here, but today I want to encourage you to take both a closer look at the Newbie blog and a broader look at the empire.

If your writing platform equals your celebrity (and it does), there’s still the nagging question of how you become celebrated. Various authors have reversed the process entirely, building up a persona first, then capitalizing on it by writing a book, but that’s not what most authors are going to do. For most authors the question is more mundane: how do I let the world know where I am?

Part of the answer today is undoubtedly technological. Whether you choose to have a blog or a web site or both or more, that’s going to be part of your solution. It’s certainly a big part of what Joe is doing — as one click here will demonstrate — and that’s another reason to keep track of both the site and the blog. Someone is actually doing the stuff you may decide that you want to do, and they’re giving you a chance to learn by their example.

If you’d prefer a more hands-on approach to marketing, Joe’s also been down that road:

I was the guy who sent out 7000 letters to libraries, who visited over 2000 bookstores, who blog toured over 100 sites in a single month, who gathered 10,000+ names for his newsletter, who talked about social networking before anyone knew what Facebook was.

I think all of this has had a positive effect on my career. I’ve made some money. I’m still selling books.

I’m not advocating that you do any or all of that — I certainly won’t be — but that’s not the point. The point is that Joe Konrath doesn’t seem to be kidding around as an independent author, and there aren’t a lot of people you can say that about.

— Mark Barrett

Following the Money

What are the economics of being a professional author? I know how much I’ve made as a storyteller in various mediums, but the book business is still pretty much a mystery to me.

To the extent that I’ve been able to fill in any blanks I owe individual authors for having the courage to talk about their own experiences. While each story is different, they’re all adding up to a useful composite, and particularly so given all the forces at work and changes taking place in the industry.

For example, today I ran across a follow-up post by Lynn Viehl on Genreality, talking about The Reality of a Times Bestseller:

So how much money have I made from my Times bestseller? Depending on the type of sale, I gross 6-8% of the cover price of $7.99. After paying taxes, commission to my agent and covering my expenses, my net profit on the book currently stands at $24,517.36, which is actually pretty good since on average I generally net about 30-40% of my advance. Unless something triggers an unexpected spike in my sales, I don’t expect to see any additional profit from this book coming in for at least another year or two.

Is that a sobering reality? Easy money? I have no idea. I don’t know how many hours Lynn put into that title, so I can’t do the workaday math. Still, if you didn’t live a big city or have any consuming vices you could probably squeak by on that money, provided you had the same amount coming in next year…but then that’s not a given, is it? (Speaking of givens, Lynn blows up a number of myths in the post, and in the prequel.)

In a previous post I noted Joe Konrath’s sales figures for both traditional publishing and self-publishing of his novels, and that’s also worth a look.

For pure self-publishing numbers I’ve been relying on posts by Dan Holloway writing as a pair of shoes. You can read his initial accounting here, and his latest here.

If you’re a literary fiction writer, how many books do you have to sell to call yourself a success? 7,000.

If you’re an online fiction writer, are there ways to monetize your content? Sure.

Update: Publishing your own RPG? Here’s what it cost someone to do just that.

I’ll post more as I find it. If you’ve already found it, let me know.

— Mark Barrett

Control Your Copyrights

Regular readers know that I harp from time to time on the idea of authors retaining their copyrights. I’ve been doing this because there’s no clear metric other than raw dollars by which an author can calculate the value of a publishing deal compared with the value of retaining and exploiting copyright ownership themselves. And raw-dollar comparisons are hard to come by.

Which is why this post from Joe Konrath should be the first thing you read today, and tomorrow, and any day a publisher comes calling:

My five Hyperion ebooks (the sixth one came out in July so no royalties yet) each earn an average of $803 per year on Kindle.

My four self-pubbed Kindle novels each earn an average of $3430 per year.

If I had the rights to all six of my Hyperion books, and sold them on Kindle for $1.99, I’d be making $20,580 per year off of them, total, rather than $4818 a year off of them, total.

So, in other words, because Hyperion has my ebook rights, I’m losing $15,762 per year.

It’s only one example. And this author is profiting indirectly from having had his books published by a publisher — including any editing, design work, previous marketing, etc., which helped attract attention to his name and stories. But he’s also being very clear: controlling his copyrights would be putting more money in his bank account.  Read more ]