So you are back from Bouchercon, having gone there to work and promote and spend a good deal of money. I don't think my two Bouchercon visits generated more than a handful of sales. The second time, I had at least a good time. Chicago.

The man who has promoted himself more than any other living crime author, J.A.Konrath, has been dropped by his publisher. I was shocked and sad to see it. It seems like such a cruel thing to do to an author who tried so hard to help his publisher. Joe plans to get back at them by making his money in the future via electronic publishing. I hear this reaction over and over again: traditional publishing will not last. They have dug their own grave. Authors are flocking to new publishing models.

But however you look at this sad news, it means that I don't have to blame myself for not being J.A.Konrath, for refusing outright to do all those miserable book tours, signings, telephone meetings with book clubs, expensive mailings of freebies, etc. And conventions. None of that saves an author from being dropped by the publisher. Presumably because none of it generates the sort of numbers they like to see.

Consensus among comments to Joe's announcement was that success in traditional publishing is a matter of luck. It takes that one person who can change the picture to read the book and decide to support the author. And that doesn't happen very often.

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Worth noting that he says Hyperion dropped their entire genre line, and that in the year since, he (Konrath) has sold four (!) other books to big publishers--so it's not like his career is at a standstill, and it's not as though he's gone all e-book all of a sudden. What he wonders, and I'd bet this is true for a number of "brand" authors, is whether given his popularity he really needs to go through a traditional publisher at all--why pay them a huge cut if he can publish his own e-books and keep the cash? Take away production and distribution, what exactly is the publisher doing for you? It's an intriguing question--and the only problem, as Konrath states elsewhere on his blog, is that eBooks won't stay proprietary long and will be as easy to pirate as CDs or DVDs the moment there's sufficient incentive to do so. Electronic media are impossible to copy protect, simple as that.
Jon, if there was a will to do so electronic media would be very easy to copy protect. It would mean the e-book readers all following an agreed upon standard for transferring files to the e-reader and encrypting/decrypting these files. I worked for years building network communication devices and all the technology needed exists, the biggest obstacle would be publishers and e-reader vendors agreeing to a standard.
Ah, I didn't know his publisher dumped the entire genre line. That puts a different perspective on it. Isn't Konrath doing thriller work now?

As for piracy: I'm already available in electronic formats. My guess is that most authors are. So thye piracy thing is already in place. It's up to the publisher who has the rights to protect them. Unfortunately, if piracy becomes a big deal (as it well may with all the new devices), this will also affect print sales.
I wonder if Konrath being dropped is to some extent a political decision as he has been saying publicly he wishes his books would go out of print so he can market them himself as ebooks and make more money that way. He also has suggested publicly that publishing as we know it is doomed.
I don't think so; evidently Hyperion dropped their entire genre line, not just his stuff. They're clearly trying to reposition themselves--in what way I couldn't tell you, though. It's certainly an odd decision to drop a good-earning author, genre or no, but I suppose stranger things have happened.
Ah, forgot it was everybody. Never mind. (But I guess Konrath gets his wish now in having his books go out of print.)
I feel what you're saying, I.J. I've posted before about dreading having to do self-promotion when and if I ever get published. I'll be curious to hear how Konrath's sales are affected in the near future. I can't imagine some other publisher not picking him up (same for you).

I saw something interesting on Facebook the other day -- Anne Frasier was having an online release party, offering a digital version of one of her books for a certain amount off. It made me wonder about a promotion model in which the digital version of a book is released *first,* with a hard copy version to follow. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but as someone who's gone to buy a hard copy version of a book after reading the paperback from the library, I wonder... I think Anne's a member here; maybe she'll drop in on this convo and give us some stats on her digital vs. hard copy sales?

I think you're the exception to the rule in terms of buying a book after reading it from the library. This has happened fewer than 5 times for me. Mysteries tend not to be keepers.
For me, a give-away as you describe it would actually work because one freebie would send people to buy the rest.
On the other hand, library sales alone can drive a series. It's possible to sell 7,000 copies and up to libraries--that's more than either of my print runs.
Where can one find out about library sales? I see a slew of them when I google my last title, and many branches have more than one copy. As for print runs, Penguin actually ran an additional 1000 shortly before release. I just don't think one can survive on libraries, even if there are 7000 branches and each one buys a book. It might be easier with hc. (And then, of course, it depends on the advance).
hi MK!
I've been watching this thread with interest. My digital experience has been dismal. The biggest roadblock: Amazon implemented a new policy in Sept, and it's almost impossible for writers to publish reverted titles once the book is already in their system as being published by someone else. my advice would be to change the title before you upload, then make a note somewhere that it's a reissue of whatever. I sent them a signed letter from the publisher of Penguin. The letter very clearly stated the reversion of all rights, but that wasn't enough. They asked for the publisher to contact them. Right. Like the head of Penguin is going to contact Amazon about a writer who no longer writes for them. So I ended up self-publishing the digital format. Yes, I had a sale on Sunday. Download was 3.00. Sold 7 copies, all purchased by friends and family. (I had this professionally formatted, so it looks beautiful.) But anyway, I've put months into this project. After formatting and scanning fees, I doubt I'll break even. Joe's experience is unique. He's almost his own industry, and he's really positioned himself well. I could see him becoming a successful ebook publisher. Not only of his books, but other writers.

my Amazon fiasco can be read here:

my feeling is that digital is still the future. We are seeing so much about digital books, but I don't think readers are there yet.
FYI, the thriller I self-published to Amazon's Kindle 3 months ago ("Crack-Up") will surpass 500 in sales today or tomorrow. No website, no advertising budget, and my marketing efforts consist of mentioning the book in a handful of Kindle related threads.

But to give you a sense of the teensy size of the Kindle indie market at this point, 500 books sold already puts me in the top 20 in total sales among independently published mystery/suspense that is now available at the Kindle store, and at its price point of $1.99 (high by indie book standards there) there are only two mystery/suspense authors outselling my book (Konrath, who has several books kicking my ass, and one of Lee Goldberg's).

eBook sales make up one to five percent of the book buying right now, depending on who you ask, but I can see the percentage skyrocketing over the next few years because the ereader wars have begun and prices are already tumbling and because the people who buy them seem to love 'em.


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