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Thread: If you aren't sure whether to self-publish, ask yourself what you want.

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  1. #10
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Seems like you spent a long time looking at this, HapiSofi.

    Wouldn't it have been quicker just to ask me directly about some of these things, don't you think?

    Since you didn't, I'm happy to correct your many assumptions and leaps in logic.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    Have you ever checked Konrath's famous Bedtime Story article against the Wikipedia article about him? I did, because so many of the details seemed unaccountably odd to me, and so few of them were checkable in their own right.
    Do you know who wrote the Wikipedia article?

    I do. It was the guy who formats my ebooks, Rob Siders. He came to me one day and said, "I'm going to do a Wiki page for you." And I said, "Cool. Thanks."

    It's a very basic overview of my career, but you're looking at it a bit too hard.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    So: Konrath writes nine novels that don't sell, then sells the tenth for $33,000, which is pretty good for a first novel, and quite a breakthrough for him. In the bedtime story version, that's the only book he sells to his first publisher. He busts ass promoting it, and it sells okay, but it doesn't sell enough copies to make his publisher happy, so they dump him.

    I have trouble bringing that picture into focus in my head.
    You could have read my many blog posts about this, or asked me to get the answer.

    Hyperion dropped their entire mystery/thriller line, and all of their mystery/thriller authors. I was one of several. As a result, my last three books in the contract got no marketing or advertising support. Though two of them, Dirty Martini and Cherry Bomb, had second hardcover printings.

    For the record, all six of my Hyperion books are still in print, and I've earned out the $265,000 advance for them and get very nice royalty checks. But they still dropped me.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    A first novel means extra work for the publishing house. If you really believe in an author -- and $33,000 is a healthy amount of belief -- you want to continue publishing them, building audience and public awareness with each successive book. A first novel is unlikely to be terribly profitable all by itself. What you're aiming for is profitable sales levels on later books, and new readers going back to pick up that first novel they missed when it came out.

    No, I don't think so. Those are weird numbers. That's a weird story.
    Every publishing story is a weird story. Get used to it.

    Might also be worth mentioning that Hyperion has world rights for that series, and has sold them to eight other countries. That also accounted for a nice chunk of change.

    Again, you could have asked.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    First novels don't have to sell all that many copies to achieve satisfactory sales levels. Profitability on the first book is not what it's all about. If Konrath's sales figures were the reason his publisher dropped him, his book didn't "sell well." It sold abysmally, and there were probably other problems.
    Whiskey Sour has earned me over $65k, and it's still selling. As are all of my books.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    The part about all the touring in support of the book is equally weird. That was a lot of traveling. It was expensive and time-consuming. It was also remarkably unsuccessful, given that Konrath says he hit at least 1,400 - 1,500 venues, and he still didn't sell enough copies to roll up respectable sales numbers for a first novel. At that rate, he's spending more money traveling than his readers are paying at the register for his book.
    I take back my earlier comment about you spending a lot of time looking at this topic. Your research sucks.

    I've visited about 1200 bookstores in my career. That spanned eight years. Nowhere did I ever use the number 1500, or say that was all for the first book. If you know my story, you'll know my publisher refused to tour me for my first novel.

    On my website there's a For Writers page. You can download my Newbie's Guide to Publishing ebook, for free. It has a long autobiographical section about the early part of my career, including all the touring I did.

    And I didn't pay for my tours. My publishers did.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    This led me to wonder whether he should have been putting more of that time into writing the second novel. On the other hand:

    Doesn't sound like it took long to sell it, and he got another nice advance for a first-time author, so the second book can't have been all that bad. The story's getting odder and odder.
    Actually, your research is getting shoddier and shoddier.

    I had two 3-book deals with Hyperion.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    I don't think that's his third published novel he's talking about. I think it's his fifth, Fuzzy Navel, which was the last one published by Hyperion. Konrath's novels always get dinged a little bit by reviewers for their cliches and implausibility. However, if you look at the one-star and two-star reviews on Amazon, what you see are readers who liked the earlier books just fine, but are complaining that this book is a complete dud: no plot, no characterization, no real ending; just the same damned things happening over and over again.
    Way to cherry pick a few reviews to make a half-assed point.

    BTW--Fuzzy Navel was my fifth book, not my last. It purposely ended on a cliffhanger, which annoyed some people. And yet it has 72 Amazon reviews and an average of 4 stars.

    Cherry Bomb was the last book I did for Hyperion.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    That makes sense to me. After four successful books, Konrath's editor wouldn't start demanding pointless and arbitrary changes. I can easily believe that Fuzzy Navel needed a major rewrite, because it still needs one today.
    Something needs a rewrite, but it isn't Fuzzy Navel. It's your poorly done post here. Just sayin'.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    Why the sudden drop in quality? I don't know. I do have one theory: Konrath started putting a huge amount of effort into promoting his books. It has to have cut into his writing time. Here's Wikipedia's description of it:

    Note, by the way, that Konrath's self-promotion jag started the year his third novel came out. The sales, marketing, and promotion that laid the foundation for his career was done by Hyperion.
    Heh heh. First of all, there's not drop in quality. Have you read all 40 of my titles? You're assuming a drop because of some 1 star reviews? You do know that every author gets 1 star reviews, right? I'd say averages are a better indication. Out of 40 titles, and over a thousand reviews, I'm averaging 4 stars. Including on recent books.

    Second, you seem to know a lot about the sales, marketing, and promotion that Hyperion did for me.

    Oh, wait. You don't.

    I was toured twice, for six books. I got no advertising for the last three, minimal advertising for the first three, and no coop for any of them. They had a booklaunch party for me at BEA.

    That was what they did for me.

    I visited 1200 bookstores, sent 7000 letters to bookstores and libraries, spoke at over a hundred book fairs, libraries, and conferences, went to 41 states, and began a blog that now gets several million hits a year. I was one of the first people to do a successful blog tour. All on my own.

    So, let's see, who did more for my career, me or my publishers?

    That would be me.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    Back to the bedtime story:

    Even if I hadn't checked Wikipedia, at this point I'd have known the story wasn't accurate. If his first novel earned out its $33,000 advance, no way would his publisher have dropped him for having inadequate sales.

    His advances weren't keeping up with his expectations. Dog bites man. Film at eleven. Et cetera.
    I hope you're feeling rather silly by this point. To repeat, my publisher dropped me right after I signed my second 3 book deal with them, because they dropped their mystery line. So my last three books were pretty much put out there with no support other than what I did on my own.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    Nice big advances. Attractive unified-format packaging on his series. Miscellaneous evidence I won't go into that to me says "well-published books, well-published author."

    As for his editor asking for rewrites, assuming that's what really happened? That's not mistreatment. The easiest thing to do with a bad book delivered under contract is to throw it into production and forget about it. It'll be bad, the readers will be unhappy, and the author's reputation will take a permanent hit, but it'll be the least amount of trouble for the in-house staff. Actually editing the book is a lot more work and bother.
    Wow. More poor research on your part.

    Look at my novel Trapped on Amazon. It has 148 reviews, a 4 star average. I've sold about 50,000 copies of it.

    I wrote this book as the second of a two book deal with Hachette. My editor wanted major changes. I made those changes. She still rejected it.

    The version of Trapped I self-pubbed has both versions in it. Fans are divided over which they prefer.

    So I wrote a third book for Hachette (the third in a two book deal) called Endurance. Look it up on Amazon. It has 145 reviews and a 4 star average.

    Again my editor wanted changes. I wasn't playing that game again, so I told her no way and pulled the book. It too has sold about 50,000 copies That's $200k I've made on Trapped and Endurance in 15 months.

    BTW, the contract with Hachette was for $20k a book. They were foolish not to publish Trapped, and foolish to insist on edits with Endurance. They lost a whole lot of money.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    False, misleading, and disingenuous. When Konrath started self-publishing, he already had a readership and a reputation because his publisher had put a lot of work into building them. If he'd started from scratch, he wouldn't have more than a fraction of whatever readership he enjoys today. He might still have mailed out 7,000 letters to libraries and bookstores -- self-published authors do that sort of thing all the time -- but few of the recipients would have been interested, because he wouldn't have had Hyperion to give him credibility.
    More really bad research and lousy conclusions on your part.

    My self-pub books outsell my traditionally published ebooks 20 to 1. People are reading my print backlist because my self-pubbed stuff leads them to it, not vice-versa.

    I'm selling well because of good covers, low price point, and fun reads. Not because of any so-called readership I had in print. There have been quite a few successful ebook authors who have followed my example and had huge sales without any former print deals.

    It's not about the name. If "Konrath" is popular because of his huge readership, why is my pen name more popular? If you read my blog, you'd know that.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    I will now skip over a bunch of Konrath's alleged sales figures.
    With those "alleged" screen shots of my "alleged" Kindle numbers that I posted regularly on my blog. LMAO.

    At best, you're a misguided fool who did lousy research.

    At worst, you're a complete idiot with some agenda.

    Either way, you got it all wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    Tentative translation: "I've made a hash of my career, and I think you should do the same."
    I've made about $300k from the 8 novels I published with Hyperion, Hatchette, and Berkley, since 2002.

    I've also made $300k in the last 8 months, by self-publishing. By the end of the year I'll break $400k.

    Do I think other people should self-publish?

    Of course.
    Last edited by JA Konrath; 09-18-2011 at 03:52 AM.

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