Q&A with J.A. Konrath discussion

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Ebooks and Self-Publishing

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message 1: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
If you have any questions about ebooks, or what I think about the future of the publishing industry, please post them here.


message 2: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 13 comments Hi Joe!

Have you seen this article?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/bus...

What do you think? Will you be trying to get your pbooks into such venues?

If yes, what sort of venues would you choose? (I'm thinking horror makeup shops and haunted house kind of places, but that's just me.)


message 3: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
I think there will always be a market for print books. But I'm not going to actively act as my own distributor to try and sell print.

I love print, I love bookstores, but most of all, I love writing. The more I take on the duties of a publisher (printing, distributing, marketing), the less time I have to write.

I'm lucky to be doing well self-pubbing, so I don't have to worry as much about selling books, and I can devote my time to writing them.

That said, Blake Crouch and I are investigation options to do limited hardcover editions of out ebook titles. So you may find me in a horror makeup shop yet. :)


message 4: by E.R. (new)

E.R. (er_marrow) How long would you wait for your first choice cover artist? What's a few weeks for good work,as opposed to something 'ok' that can be out now. Hell, it'll let me obsess over verb use on page 83 again, right?


message 5: by J.A. (last edited Feb 28, 2011 11:19AM) (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
A good cover artist can take two months or more to get a cover. Mine is well worth the wait. He's Carl Graves at http://extendedimagery.blogspot.com. He does all of my ebooks, and also did Shaken.

If you're in a time crunch and need a cover immediately, you can always upload your book with a crummy cover self-made, then change it later on.


message 6: by E.R. (new)

E.R. (er_marrow) J.A. wrote: "A good cover artist can take two months or more to get a cover. Mine is well worth the wait. He's Carl Graves at http://extendedimagery.blogspot.com. He does all of my ebooks, and also did Shaken.
..."


Yep, I like Carl's stuff. Actually waiting for him to get back to me. I did tell him I heard of him from you.


message 7: by Jarrett (new)

Jarrett Rush Spent the weekend at a writers' conference. Talked to a lot of people and didn't find that many who were going to try and make a run at this themselves with a self-pubbed ebook. Seems like everyone I am talking to lately online is doing it themselves. Was wondering if you had any idea why that might be the case.

Is it just the nature of a writers' conference -- with its agents and publishing professionals -- to have more people who are interested in the traditional route? Or are there really not as many people going alone as I thought there were?


message 8: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
It always takes a while for people to embrace a new technology. In the case of writers, they also must conquer Stockholm Syndrome. We're so used to pursuing traditional publishers that we don't believe we can survive without them.

But we can. I'm proof.


message 9: by Jarrett (new)

Jarrett Rush You and others are all the proof I needed that it was possible to do better on my own than what I could expect to get if I went traditionally. I know it will take work and a lot of it. And there's no guarantee, obviously. But there's no guarantees if I went traditionally either. If I'm going to have to put in all the work either way then why not keep more of the money myself?


message 10: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 13 comments Joe, I would buy hard copies of your book in the makeup/costume shop near me with absolutely no reservations.

As an aside, I wonder will we start to see more book booths at conventions of all stripes. As bookstores become rarer, I wonder if smaller, more mobile businesses will take up the challenge.

Heck with all the food and farm trucks coming out lately, I'm half expecting a bookmobile-come-bookstore soon.

Oh, I so want to recover from my Stockholm Syndrome...

Jenna (who does covers and ebook design!!)
@lundeenliterary


message 11: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie  Crawford J.A. wrote: "It always takes a while for people to embrace a new technology. In the case of writers, they also must conquer Stockholm Syndrome. We're so used to pursuing traditional publishers that we don't bel..."

How right you are!


message 12: by Stevie (new)

Stevie Ward | 1 comments Joe, where do you stand on lending and swapping of ebooks. I've always swapped dead tree books with friends and family. This is not now possible with the limited kindle lending scheme.


message 13: by Greg (new)

Greg Crites (veinarmor) I never queried. Never tried the traditional route. Just hunkered down and wrote 15 books. Didn't worry about printing anything. Recorded them as audiobooks. Built a base, and wrote more books. Took a couple years, but the instant-download audiobooks are big sellers. Approaching 10,000 paid downloads. Do you make your work available in audiobook form?


message 14: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie  Crawford Joe, do you think that the Big 6 (publishing houses) have a chance of surviving if they quickly create a self-publishing offshoot of their individual companies?

I have my doubts.


message 15: by Bobbie (last edited Feb 28, 2011 01:00PM) (new)

Bobbie  Crawford More questions for you...


1. How important is eBook formatting?
2. Should authors pay professionals to format their eBooks?
3. Are there any companies or professionals that you would recommend to authors who are trying to find good eBook formatting services without breaking the bank?
4. Is it okay to sell eBooks in PDF format, or does that leave an author's work too wide open and make it too easy for people to pirate?


message 16: by Greg (new)

Greg Crites (veinarmor) Forget my question about audiobooks. I flitted to your site and see they are available.


message 17: by Jennifer (last edited Feb 28, 2011 03:40PM) (new)

Jennifer (jenniferfroelich) | 1 comments I have two completed manuscripts that I've been trying to publish traditionally. I've been met with a lot of "great, but I can't sell it" from agents. Still, I'm afraid to jump into self-publishing or e-book waters.

I know that established authors can do well with ebooks, but what about those of us who only get a few hits on our blogs, a few followers on twitter?

I don't know if it's Stockholm Syndrome or not, but part of me thinks the years of rejection are part of paying my dues.

So...convert me, please. Convince me that I've been looking at it all wrong.

Thank you!


message 18: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie  Crawford Are literary agents of any use to authors who mainly self-publish?

Is there a reason to look for a good agent if you aren't, in the end, trying to be picked up by a big publishing house?


message 19: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie  Crawford Are publicists a necessary evil, even for a self-published author?

Are they worth the expense?

Can a self-published author receive a good return on their investment in a publicist's services, where independent publicists are all but black-listed by the Big Guys?


message 20: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie  Crawford Joe, what is your take on the self-publishing route for authors who have a very limited budget to work with?

Many author hold out hope that they will be picked up by or offered a contract the old fashioned way; do you think that they should they hold out for that offer?

A more cost-effective method for publication would be an eBook format, I believe.


message 21: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 13 comments @Bobbie - I'm going to chime in here...

1. How important is eBook formatting?

VERY. Ask Sam Torode, who kept getting peppered with comments about his formatting issues on his Kindle book IN HIS REVIEWS. Then, he hired me. ;)

2. Should authors pay professionals to format their eBooks?

Most of the time, yes. The main reason for this is that a pro has experience with troubleshooting the problems that crop up in formatting and uploading. Even more, an author should hire a pro to design their cover. Depending on who you hire, you can get both GOOD formatting and cover for as little as $400.

There's a reason designers cost money - they have tons and tons of experience. They will get things done faster and better than you can.

3. Are there any companies or professionals that you would recommend to authors who are trying to find good eBook formatting services without breaking the bank?

Joe has his designers suggested on his website, and I've also worked with several of his blog readers. You can email me for more info if you like - lundeenliterary@gmail.com

4. Is it okay to sell eBooks in PDF format, or does that leave an author's work too wide open and make it too easy for people to pirate?

I think Borders sells ebooks in PDF as well as EPUB, and I'm pretty sure Joe has PDF versions of his books on his website. If you read Joe's blog posts over the past year, you'll see he has actively encouraged piracy of his work... ;)

5 - what is your take on the self-publishing route for authors who have a very limited budget to work with?

I know very few authors who aren't on a limited budget. You're not alone. You just have to decide what's best for you. If you have the hundreds of hours it takes to do the research, learn how to use the programs to do the formatting and covers, and find low-cost alternatives to the more expensive programs designers use, then do that. But you must be willing to work work work at the product. Just any old cover won't do. Those who prefer to use those hundreds of hours to write find a way to hire someone.

Put it this way - you can't start a business without some level of start-up cost. You can't get a lot of jobs now without degrees or certificates, which cost money and time. This is no different.

If you have a lot of books to publish, don't sit there and think "Well, I have 10 books, and if I pay $500 each for covers and formatting, that's 5 grand. I don't have that, so I just won't do this at all." One at a time is the key. Build slowly. It's ok to do that! Start with one. Upload it, and start saving for the next set. Many designers will give a multi-order discount, even if you don't do them all at once.

Honestly, I've had 3 yard sales in the past 2 years that each generated enough cash to do covers, formatting, or both. I lived in a tiny 480 square foot place, so I didn't have a ton of backed-up stuff in storage. I am by no means rich, but I was selling off quality stuff. I charged fair prices, sold off CD's to used music stores, and sold a ton of my older books on Amazon. You have the money available to you somewhere, most likely. It's just not currently in cash form. :) You just have to decide what you want more - an item, or a few bucks towards your goal.

Jenna
@lundeenliterary


message 22: by Milton (last edited Feb 28, 2011 08:27PM) (new)

Milton Bagby (miltonbagby) | 10 comments Joe -- I'm a newbie mystery author, but a veteran audiobook voice talent and producer. Do you think there is a market for the audiobook version of novels being written by all these Konrath Konverts? Amazon could do for audiobooks what they've done for paperbacks (CreateSpace) and e-books (Kindle), except they own Audible, which operates very, very Legacy. Can you see a way around this for audio? -- Milton Bagby


message 23: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Stevie wrote: "Joe, where do you stand on lending and swapping of ebooks. I've always swapped dead tree books with friends and family. This is not now possible with the limited kindle lending scheme."

I love lending and swapping. I also support piracy. If you can find my ebooks online for free, go for it. And if you want to share them, you have my blessing.

Media wants to be free, and the more people who read me, the better off I'll be. Besides, I haven't seen a single convincing study that piracy hurts the artist.


message 24: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "I never queried. Never tried the traditional route. Just hunkered down and wrote 15 books. Didn't worry about printing anything. Recorded them as audiobooks. Built a base, and wrote more books. Too..."

Yep, all of my ebooks are audiobooks, coming soon from Brilliance Audio and Audible.com.


message 25: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Bobbie wrote: "Joe, do you think that the Big 6 (publishing houses) have a chance of surviving if they quickly create a self-publishing offshoot of their individual companies?


No.

At least, not in their present form. The market can no longer sustain them.


message 26: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
>>How important is eBook formatting?

Extremely important. I pay Rob Siders (www.52novels.com) to do my formatting.

>>Is it okay to sell eBooks in PDF format, or does that leave an author's work too wide open and make it too easy for people to pirate?

There's nothing wrong with piracy. It's no different than getting books at a library, buying them used, or lending them to your friends.

Those who oppose piracy haven't done enough research.


message 27: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "I have two completed manuscripts that I've been trying to publish traditionally. I've been met with a lot of "great, but I can't sell it" from agents. Still, I'm afraid to jump into self-publishi..."

Go back to April 2009 and start reading my blog. it'll give you a Master's Degree in Self-Pubbing.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com


message 28: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Bobbie wrote: "Are publicists a necessary evil, even for a self-published author?

Are they worth the expense?

Can a self-published author receive a good return on their investment in a publicist's services, w..."


I've got a decent publicist for Shaken, who has set up several nice bits of publicity for me.

But on my own, I don't use them. In fact, I've stopped doing interviews and public appearances. This hasn't hurt my sales at all. In fact, they've gone up.

In an ebook world, it just isn't necessary to bust your butt doing promotion.


message 29: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Bobbie wrote: "Joe, what is your take on the self-publishing route for authors who have a very limited budget to work with?

Many author hold out hope that they will be picked up by or offered a contract the old..."


You can get a professional cover, proofreading, and formatting for about $800. That's well worth the investment, and a lot less than a legacy publisher would take if you signed a book contract.

Stay indie, unless they offer you a crapload of money.


message 30: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Milton wrote: "Joe -- I'm a newbie mystery author, but a veteran audiobook voice talent and producer. Do you think there is a market for the audiobook version of novels being written by all these Konrath Konvert..."

I do. But I have no idea how to exploit it. I'm fortunate that my ebooks have sold their audio rights.


message 31: by Milton (new)

Milton Bagby (miltonbagby) | 10 comments Joe --

I recently narrated the audiobook for a release of Max Brand's "Trailing." It was a gas, reading all the old timey 1920s cowboy lingo. Brand would have been right at home in the e-world, where you crank 'em out and keep rolling--novels, novellas, short stories.

I will probably produce an audiobook for my mystery "Before I Sleep," which is at Kindle now and will be in paperback at Amazon when I clear up some cover upload problems at CreateSpace. I've got the e-book priced at $0.99 for now, waiting to see what happens.

There are some digital download websites out there where an author, if they owned an audiobook version, could sell the audio from their website and keep all the proceeds except whatever fees they had to pay the storage website. I'm still investigating and will keep you informed.

Regards,
Milton Bagby
http://bagbyfile.blogspot.com


message 32: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 13 comments J.A. wrote: "Yep, all of my ebooks are audiobooks, coming soon from Brilliance Audio and Audible.com. ."

Oooh, Joe!!! Do tell how you cracked Audible! I never get anywhere with them! Are they opening self-pub to audio books as well?

Jenna
@lundeenliterary


message 33: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
I went through Brilliance, Jenna. They took care of it.


message 34: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 13 comments Thank you, Joe!!

:D


message 35: by Milton (new)

Milton Bagby (miltonbagby) | 10 comments Oooh, Joe!!! Do tell how you cracked Audible! I never get anywhere with them! Are they open..."

Jenna --

The Konrath Revolution has not yet reached the audiobook business. Joe probably had to go the traditional route and have his agent negotiate deals with Brilliance and Audible. There is no comparable service for self-pubbers, no Kindle or CreateSpace for audiobooks that I've been able to discover.

There is a way to DIY, if an author wants to pay to have an audiobook book produced. If you will pardon a little shop talk, I'll explain.

As a rule of thumb, expect to pay $150-$300 per finished hour, depending on what's included. If an audiobook is 6 hours long, that's six "finished" hours.

That's something I can do for any successful self-published author who wants to invest in audiobooks for their novels. I work out of a state-of-the-art studio in Nashville. I have a string of very talented readers, male and female, trained actors who can handle anything.

On average, you can lay down about 8,000 to 10,000 words per finished hour. That means a 60,000 word novel might be about 6 hours long. These are averages, mind you--some longer, some shorter.

An hour of audio is roughly 100 mb of data. There are data sales websites where you can upload your product to the website and they will sell it for you, either for a transactional fee (a piece of each sale) or for a flat monthly fee, whether you sell anything or not.

This is where the rub comes in. Some of these websites can't handle files that have hundreds of megabytes of data. Some have fee schedules that seem out of proportion. I'm still looking for a website that does what an author needs--stores and sells the entire audiobook as one file (the way Audible does) and treats the author right on price. If you know of one, please let me know.

The good thing is, these transactions (on flat fee websites) are PayPal direct, which means the money goes straight to you and it's your job to pay the website. I would rather find a website that charges a flat monthly rate. There's no royalty calculation or split, and after you clear the monthly cost, the rest is gravy.

Of course, it's all up to you to market the audiobook by means of your blog and website. Still, if your sales are strong on ebooks and paperbacks, that's not a problem.

Would I prefer to have my audiobook show up on a product page on Amazon? Sure! But until Amazon tells Audible to open up the process to self-pubbers, we'll have to find another way.

Regards,
Milton Bagby
Author of
"BEFORE I SLEEP"
http://bagbyfile.blogspot.com


message 36: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Wallace (brendabwallace) | 3 comments I think I remember that you once said you do use an agent for subsidiary rights. I'm working hard to get at least two books ready for Kindle. Let's say a big time NY agent called me today, breathless and anxious to represent me. What should I tell them?


message 37: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 13 comments J.A. wrote: ">>How important is eBook formatting?

Extremely important. I pay Rob Siders (www.52novels.com) to do my formatting."


I hate to say this, but I've gotten quite a few people come to me for formatting after not hearing back from Rob for quite a while. Same for Carl and his covers. You just might be overworking them, Joe! ;)

Jenna
@lundeenliterary


message 38: by Milton (new)

Milton Bagby (miltonbagby) | 10 comments Joe -- You've been very forthcoming in describing the math that Legacy Publishing uses for royalty calculations. Could you do the same for audiobooks? Deal structure in the audiobook business has remained mostly hidden. It would be interesting to know how the pie is sliced. I've always been on the production side and never had a peek at the deal side. Maybe you can help start another revolution. Thanks!

Regards,
Milton Bagby
Author of
"BEFORE I SLEEP"
http://bagbyfile.blogspot.com


message 39: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 13 comments I agree with Milton! Please, do tell!

Jenna
@lundeenliterary


message 40: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Brenda wrote: "I think I remember that you once said you do use an agent for subsidiary rights. I'm working hard to get at least two books ready for Kindle. Let's say a big time NY agent called me today, breathle..."

It depends on what your goals are.


message 41: by J.A. (new)

J.A. A. Konrath | 47 comments Mod
Jenna wrote: "J.A. wrote: ">>How important is eBook formatting?

Extremely important. I pay Rob Siders (www.52novels.com) to do my formatting."

I hate to say this, but I've gotten quite a few people come to me ..."


Yeah, they're both swamped. But they're worth waiting for.


message 42: by Milton (new)

Milton Bagby (miltonbagby) | 10 comments I've done a little more research on self-pubbed audiobooks, which I blogged this morning on the Kindle Boards in the Writers Cafe. I set up a model using a low price (as audiobooks go, that is) and cite Konrath's pricing strategy. I'll be interested to see if my fellow Konrathians have comments.

Milton Bagby
Author of
"BEFORE I SLEEP"
http://bagbyfile.blogspot.com


message 43: by E.R. (new)

E.R. (er_marrow) Question, If you were formatting yourself, would you release them as they are done, or wait to release on all platforms at once?


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