Steelgods, eBooks, more

on Wednesday, December 28, 2011
As much as I think J. A. Konrath is kind of a massive jerk, there is no denying the man has made a crapton of money off his eBooks. As one of the early adapter of the Kindle market, he worked hard, got his name out there, wrote quality thrillers (and wrote consistently) and is now reaping massive amounts of rewards from it. Like I've said, I certainly respect him and it's totally awesome that he's pioneering this new way to write books, and the numbers can't be ignored (I'm just saying he has a tendency to be...blunt about his opinions).

My only beef with the whole "eBook Revolution" is the successful people still have a tendency to ignore the thousands of eBook writers (good writers, mind) that still sell next to no copies. It's easy to say "I'm successful, and look, here are two more people that are successful! So clearly this is the best option for everybody!" but what about all the other people who were taking it totally seriously, working on getting their name out there, and still didn't see more than a hint of success? It's easy to dismiss them as "oh, they didn't try hard enough" but the fact of the matter is that luck is still part of the equation. Just as it is with traditional publishing, luck on being accepted and selling a novel (and it doing well) is still prevalent in the eBook world. The only difference (and one of the appeals of eBooks, if you are the kind of person who likes this) is that your failures are completely your own in the eBook sense. With traditional publishing, you first have to gain approval of an agent, then approval of an editor, then (often times) that editor's boss, and then once it's out there you have to gain approval of the readers. The eBook scheme skips directly to the readers, but also puts all the work squarely on the author's shoulders. Also, not having a physical product can decrease the amount of exposure (a book will be on a bookstore shelf, even if it is hidden away in the back). You can't really schedule signings for an eBook (unless everybody brings their Kindles).

Granted, I know lots of the responsibility of representation still falls on the author when he/she is published by a publishing house, but at least you have a hint of a leg up.

Anyway, the point of this is how I personally will apply this to my business model. I've already put Paradise Seekers out and squarely fallen in the 98% of Kindle publishers: I didn't even make enough to pay off my cover artist. Steelgods is currently seeing the most success with agents and editors of all my work so far (I'd like to think it's a better book, but honestly I'm thinking its the query that's improved), but the looming stormcloud of impending rejection still hovers overhead. Also, unlike Paradise Seekers, Steelgods actually has a second book finished (and a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth plotted), so if Steelgods falls off the bus, it's taking the rest of the series with it (unless it gets a total re-structure and re-submission in the future).

The fact of the matter is that I write really fast (don't use this last month as an example; it has been on/off with regard to word count). Both Steelgods were single-month projects, and I intend to keep it that way with the rest of the series. Death's Aria, which was unfortunately positioned on the same month as Christmas and New Years, will be finished in two months at the very most. Paradise Seekers was also a one-month project, though I will admit it was more of an experiment than a "greatest hit" of what I've written.

If all the Kindle market needed to be successful was a blitz of book-flooding, I could probably pull that off. I've decided to design my own covers from here on out (I know Photoshop and Illustrator as well as the next person, and there are plenty of free public images just waiting to have a boatload of effects filters thrown over them) should I take the Kindle route, to cut back on costs. I'm still not sold on that being my main source of publishing (or if I'm even going to go back to Kindle publishing), but it's interesting considering it.

That's it for now. Merry Christmas and all that, and have a good 2012. Maybe I'll make a New Years Resolution post. Maybe not.


CNHolmberg said...

Hopefully you get some bites! Good luck with whichever route you take.

And I agree; Konrath is a jerk. I refuse to read his work because of that.

Kristy Stewart said...

Good luck with your covers, should you end up designing more of them. I've noticed that a lot of indie publishers can find good artwork (all you have to do is find a good artist and be willing to pay his or her fees), but they end up spoiling it with cheap-looking typography that they put on top. And honestly, some of the covers look good in isolation, but when you see a lot of thumbnails together you can normally peg the indie typography.

And if you don't make more of your own covers, I still wish you best of luck. ;-)

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