This post is part of the “Just Because He Did It, Doesn’t Mean You Can” files. JA Konrath signed with Amazon Encore to release his new book in the Kindle format first, then bring it out in book format a few months later – the exact opposite of what publishers are doing these days. I’m thrilled for him because he’s worked very hard – harder than most – to create a fan base. He’s not afraid to think outside the box in order to create demand for his books, another reason I admire what he’s doing.
However…and this is a big “however” – just because he did it doesn’t mean you can.
Now I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy, but every time I see something like this, it brings out the stars in authors’ eyes. “Oh heck yah,” sez the general collective, “screw getting an agent or worrying about querying editors…I’m gonna go the freebie Kindle route!”
I’m the last one to stand in anyone’s way or suggest they not do it. I am, however, a huge proponent of keeping one’s seat on the Reality Bus. And here’s what you’ll learn on the Reality Bus:
This is Numero Uno on the Reality Bus. Konrath already has a name for himself, and he’s worked tirelessly to achieve it. He has six books with a mainstream publisher that allowed him to get his name out there because his books had wide distribution. Do you?
Know the business
Konrath didn’t wake up one day – a complete unknown – and decide to sign with Amazon. He’s been knocking around the industry for years. He’s used that time to learn the business and analyze how books are sold and what he can do to short circuit the process so that more of the $$ finds its way to his pocket. In short, Konrath is a businessman. A very good businessman. I can’t say that about many authors.
Have a Plan
Because Konrath is such a great businessman, he formulated a plan to test his theories – that he could make a livable wage with his Kindle books. If memory serves [and someone will correct me if I’m wrong], Konrath’s publishers had the e-rights to his first books. It was there that he noticed his Kindle sales were quite respectable. He tested the theory out by converting an unpublished book to see how sales went. It did very well.
Whether I have the genesis right or wrong, my point is that Konrath carefully analyzed the Kindle marketplace and weighed it against his platform – which is very respectable. I mean, really, is there anyone who doesn’t know his wonderful blog – A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing? He didn’t rush in where fools dare to tread.
Impatience Will Make Your Intestines Explode
Well, ok, maybe that’s not the exact wording you’ll find on the Reality Bus, but it’s close. Makes me think of my kids. Back when they were wee bairns and getting ready for Halloween, they’d get their costumes about 3 p.m…hours before it even thinks of getting dark. So of course, they were hounding me every five minutes; “Isittimeyet? Isittimeyet?” Gah. They’d dance around like they had a beehive in their Underoos, and I swore they’d either pass out from expending all that energy, or their intestines would explode. I think this is when I developed a fondness for tequila.
And this is what happens to new authors. Their impatience has them dancing around, and, for various reasons they’ve decided to short-circuit the process and either go vanity or self pub through Kindle. I have no problem with either one PROVIDED they understand the uphill battle.
Impatience can be the great equalizer in the end because at some point reality is going to slap the intestinal explody author upside the face. But in the meantime, Author Antsy Pants is justifying his logic:
“I’ve collected a bajillion rejections”: This is a two-fold problem because rejections happen for all kinds of reasons. Most happen because the author’s literary grapes are still too green [see my post about that]. Instead of considering that the work [or author] needs more time to develop his skills, he imbibes the lusty drink called Technology, where all kinds of drek can still be published.
Why do so many people fear rejection? Sure it sucks, but geez, our words don’t come directly from the hands of the Great Cosmic Muffin. Frankly, the ease in which writers can circumvent the need for improvement alarms me. Rather than take an introspective journey inward to consider whether the writing/story simply isn’t marketable, noob authors [noobs=people who don’t know what they don’t know…and don’t care] take the shortcut and go the vanity or Kindle route. Hello, Drek. And this is where the book will finally die an ignoble death.
Please know that I’m talking generalities here. I’ve known plenty authors whose books were fabulous and really deserved to be published, but for whatever reason, weren’t.
“I don’t want to query”: And I don’t want to pay my taxes, but I do want to avoid a court-ordered extended vacation at the taxpayer’s expense. Face it; no one wants to query. So what? Authors who tell me this are basically saying they fear rejection, or possibly know that their writing isn’t up to industry standards. Why this fear to avoid the uncomfortable? Are you serious about this writing gig or are you just playing author because your cooking sucks? Achievement comes from achingly hard work. And come on…don’t tell me it doesn’t feel darn sweet.
“I want to keep more money in my pocket”: Le sigh…don’t we all? JA Konrath can make that statement because he has the ability to do something about it. But do you? Wanting something and working like a dirty dog are two different things. Do you have the intestinal fortitude to work hard enough so that you can ensure you have more money in your pocket? In order to do that, you have to know the business or have a seriously viable platform that will drive readers to your Kindle file.
And really, you have to ask yourself, “What is the intent for my book? Am I more in love with the idea of calling myself a published author…or is it my intent to produce a great, marketable book?”
Believe me, thar be a huge difference.
Look Before You Leap
At the end of the day, it’s vital to understand that not all writers were created equally, so there is no one-size-fits-all when selling a book. What works very well for the Konraths of the world will invariably fall flat for the new writer. Creating demand without the support of an agent and publisher is achingly hard work – especially if you don’t have a physical product. Additionally, it’s exceedingly hard to create an online presence and, in general, takes years to establish any kind of impressive audience.
If you’re determined to go the Konrath route, consider your intent very carefully before you make any decisions. Think about the decisions that will best honor your hard work – whether it’s stuffing it under the bed, going the query route, or Kindle-izing.