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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Eric, good to see those figures! If amazon ever allows my book to go live, I wonder how Kindle people will even know it exists. I've glanced at some of the Kindle forums, and there is much bitching about writers who use the area to promote their books.
Anne, there's a friendlier place to announce your book:

Go to the "book bazaar" section and introduce it in a new thread. Every book is allowed one dedicated thread. (I haven't even done that much myself, I'm so lame on the marketing, but I do interact in the authorial discussions and that gets my book noticed a bit.)
thanks, eric!
So Eric, do you feel that a price under 2.00 is what drives the sales?
Price is always a factor, I.J. Konrath has blogged about price elasticity on Kindle, done some experimenting, and he's selling most of his stuff at $1.99 now, considering it the sweet spot, the most one can charge and still obtain a lot of impulse purchases, or risk trying an unknown or relative unknown. I just happened to start pricing at $1.99 and after reading Konrath I've left the price there.

I would say that three quarters of the indie books in mystery/suspense are on sale for 99 cents. Ostensibly this is to build an audience.

I think having more than one book available really helps, creates some synergy. Konrad has 10 or 12 books available, either as sole author or co-author.
A cautionary tale. My own experience with the Kindle author/publisher relations people has been weird, too: somehow we ended up with two competing Kindle listings for my first book, and after much prodding from my publisher over the course of three or four months they're still both up. Not as bad as Anne's experience (works out the same, numbers-wise, it just looks weird), but it's pretty clear evidence that Amazon isn't capable of much attention to detail on the Kindle front.

I think digital is the future, too, although I don't see print books going away anytime soon. And we may see publishers beating a hasty retreat from the eBooks front lines when the file sharing begins in earnest.
it's like dealing with the cable company. they are working from a script that they keep recycling, and the script doesn't address the issues. right now i see a massive need for a storefront for ebooks and writers that's not amazon. we have all of these ebook readers and digital formats, but no decent, visible place to sell them other than A. we need an etsy for books.
I'm not sure publishers CAN beat a retreat, Jon. What's to prevent someone scanning a hard copy of a novel then posting a pirated digital copy online?

So far pirating is only an issue for the mega sellers. You can get Dan Brown's latest for free in ebook form from myriad sources, I'm told. Will people really bother pirating the midlist? I'm not sure.

There is this whole contingent of people who maintain that DRM is easy to crack and digital piracy can't be stopped and you're better off fighting the piracy with low cost and convenience. "Information wants to be free" (or at least cheap) you hear a lot from them. I don't know how right they are.
What's to prevent someone scanning a hard copy of a novel then posting a pirated digital copy online?

Laziness. They could do it, but it takes work and time. It's much easier to rip an existing ebook and file-share it--you never have to get out of your chair, and it takes maybe a minute, tops. People will pirate the midlist when it becomes easy to do so. But--and this is a big caveat--the demographic for fiction, especially crime fiction, is an entirely different kettle of fish than the demo for music or movies. We're older and probably more inclined to go the library than to illegally download books. The downside, as I've said elsewhere, is that as the boomers die off, so goes the crime fiction biz.
I keep seeing parallels with the music biz. Apple has done very well for itself with iTunes even with all the rampant piracy. And they're working on a new format, a digital LP. Like any business, the work never ends.

The main difference with the book market is the target demographic. Pirated digital music is easily obtainable by its tech-savy younger market. But they're not interested in reading. At the risk of generalising, I believe the crime fiction market is made up of mostly over 40 women who I imagine aren't mad electronic pirates.

The trick that Apple pulled off is making it really easy to get music, and to get it cheap. Kindle is making headway into that territory and that service can only improve. Australian bookstores are working on an easy ebook in-store purchase/email delivery system and I imagine that this could help with the reading demographic.

I mean, why go into a library when you can grab your eReader and take it to that nice young man/woman at the bookstore? You can still have the physical interaction.
You mean like what Google Books did?
Google is moving into the market as an actual business. Could be interesting, especially since they're pushing for an open format.


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