I’ve saved Joe Konrath’s talk for last. For those of you who haven’t been following his journey into self-publishing, you can check out his blog HERE. Joe or J.A. Konrath as he’s known online gave his last (his words) in person presentation about self-publishing at the Novelist Inc. Conference in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida. He definitely has a lot of strong opinions about self-publishing vs. going the traditional route. A little background might help. According to Joe, he has 12 years of rejections under his belt for a grand total of over 500 rejections. He eventually got published and did pretty well for himself going the traditional route. When the line he was writing for dried up, he was mid-series. He couldn’t sell the books anywhere else, so he decided to go the Kindle route. He hasn’t looked back since. He believes you should make a website ‘sticky’ (ie NO ADS). He believes content comes in 2 forms: Information and Entertainment. He believes that for the last 200 years we’ve needed publishers for reaching readers. That’s not the case anymore.
He believes that the keys to success for self-publisher are as follows:
1. Write great books. Hook the reader immediately.
2. Write a good blurb.
3. Your work should be well formatted, edited, and error free.
4. Price should be kept low. (ie $2.99)
5. Experiment with price. (Some people drop the price to get on bestseller lists, then raise it to $2.99 once they’ve been ‘discovered’.)
He keeps PDF’s of free books on his site, while putting all the books up for sale online.
Joe gave an example using his book Whiskey Sour. In all formats, it has sold 60,000 copies and made $54,000. That is an average of 833 copies a month on average or $750 a month. Priced at $4.69, he only earns 80 cents.
Now compare that to The List, which came out April 2009. The book is priced at $2.99 and has sold 20,000 copies, averaging 1500 copies a month. I believe Joe makes $2.07 per copy on that title, which brings the amount to $41, 400.
Joe suggests that if you go the self-publishing route that you participate at Shelfari, Mobile Reads, and on the Kindle Boards. He also suggests checking out Red Adept. Joe said advertising on Kindle Nation>Newsletter>Steve Windwalker for $150.00 to get exposure. He said that the easiest thing to do is format your books on Smashwords, then opt out of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, since the royalty percentage is much higher if you go with them directly. He recommends contacting publishers to keep price in check for your N.Y. releases or price books higher on all other formats. Again, keep free books on your website of the books you have for sale. He thinks PDF is the best format to have them in. He said great covers can increase sales 30%. He suggests using Carl Grazer at CG22 (AT)sbcglobal (DOT) net for covers, but there are a lot of really good designers out there who’ll create killer covers. He also recommended Peter Glaze at Elementary Studio DOT com and 52 Novels (DOT) com for formatting. (52 Novels seems to be having a link problem at present, so I’m not linking to them.)
Impressions of Joe… He’s definitely an interesting character. Anyone who breaks out a bottle of Malibu Rum and Diet Coke in the middle of a panel session and starts mixing drinks is definitely a rock star–even if it is only in their mind. (He was in the audience, not speaking on the panel.) Personally, I liked him. You didn’t have to guess what he was thinking and he really couldn’t give two craps about what N.Y. publishing thinks of him (or anyone else for that matter). I like direct people. And Joe is nothing if not direct. He may rub some people the wrong way, but you can’t fault his passion for the subject or his enthusiasm to share. I really enjoyed his session. Wish it could’ve been longer. If you get good information from his site, then show your appreciation by going out and buying his new release Draculas.