Publishing Revolution? J. A. Konrath, Open Road are stirring up one

J. A. Konrath has a post that is a must-read for every Author (and perhaps every Publisher) – Traditional Publishing Vs Self Publishing.

His key assertion -

for the midlist author, I’m beginning to think it’s possible to make a living without print contracts.

He reveals details and they’re rather amazing (all figures are for Jan 1st to June 31st, 2009) -

  1. eBook Sales for Published Novels – 1,237. Amount Mr. Konrath made: $2,008.
  2. Self Published eBooks – 9,800 ebooks. Amount Mr. Konrath made: $6,860. 

He also has some great conclusions drawn from the numbers -

  • A $4 eBook sells 3 times that of a $8 eBook. 
  • A $2 eBook sells 4 times that of a $4 eBook.

The most surprising conclusion he arrives at -

According to my math, I’d be making more money if my books were out of print, and I had my rights back.

All of this is Right Now -

  • Before eReaders make the jump to mainstream and before Apple and Barnes and Noble and Plastic Logic and Txtr have jumped in.
  • Before the Kindle has gone International.

Note: The sales are all Kindle Store Sales. Mr. Konrath has said that sales of ebooks from other sources are only in dozens of units.  

Let’s move on to the next big part of the eBook Revolution.

Open Road Integrated Media – an eBook only Publisher

NY Times writes about Open Road who have a truly refreshing approach to Publishing –  

Jane Friedman has formed a new company that will republish old titles by big-name authors including William Styron, Iris Murdoch and Pat Conroy in electronic form.

Ms. Friedman, 64, has founded Open Road Integrated Media to focus almost exclusively on digital publishing.

The company will also seek new authors willing to be published in the electronic format first. 

Every independent Kindle Author needs to email or hand deliver their sales numbers and manuscripts to Ms. Friedman. She used to be President and Chief Executive at Harper Collins.

It’s such a smart strategy it makes you wish you thought of it and executed it first.

In a way its taking what J. A. Konrath is doing and scaling it up.

Ms. Friedman plans to push a torrent of online marketing on new readers in the hopes of reigniting the backlists of well-known authors in the digital world.

She’s shown she’s serious about it by getting a deal for Catch-22 ebook rights.

You have to give Open Road credit – this is almost as exciting as the Kindle going international (mostly due to the beauty of the strategy).

Open Road have found/created a killer niche

Open Road have stumbled into the near perfect situation -

  1. Recognized Authors.
  2. Open eBook Rights they can actually get.
  3. Channels (like the Kindle Store) that minimize the cost of taking a chance.
  4. The booming eBook and eReader market.

Catch-22 ebook rights are a huge gold nugget in the midst of the ebook gold rush. If Open Road play their cards right they will be able to find a lot more gold nuggets and harvest them for decades.

Open Road ought to consider rounding up rights for all the books used in school and college that are not close to passing into the public domain.

Quick Thoughts on the Konrath Post Comments 

1. People Creating Excuses before Trying

Perhaps it’s rather brutal to say this – However, its amazing to see the comments on the Konrath Post – people creating excuses BEFORE trying out the Kindle Store i.e. Oh, you’re published; Oh, you have a blog following.

If you’re creating a Reason it’s not going to work for you Before Trying It Out, the problem lies with you, not with the channel.

Of course, you can make yourself feel better by believing in this Disclaimer from J. A. Konrath instead of trying to get a piece of a new emerging market that is exploding -

To All New Authors: JA says try the traditional route first. Find an agent. Land a deal with a big NY house. Ebooks aren’t there yet.

Well, after seeing the Kindle Store evolve and grow for close to 2 years – my advice is to not try the traditional route. Your true customers are readers.

  • Boyd Morrison and John Rector had good sales and got book deals.
  • Sam Landstrom’s MetaGame is in the Top 100. 
  • They had neither a blog following nor published titles nor a brand. 

Something a Search Blogger wrote about Google applies to Publishers -

The more you don’t need Publishers, the more likely Publishers are to come after you.

People will still come up with rationalizations for the success of the independent stars – their first names have 4 alphabets or less. Your ‘Konrath has a brand name’ argument is not that different, and its not others that you’re trying to fool with that argument.

2. The Whole ‘I Don’t Want to Under Value my Work by selling it for $1 or $2′ Line of Thought.

Think in terms of 10 years, or better still, your whole career.

If you’re a new, self-published author you have to build up your brand and people need to be able to read your work to realize it has value.

  1. A Kindle Owner buys your book for $1 or $2 because that’s low risk. 
  2. She (or he) reads it and thinks – Wow, that was worth $10. I have to buy the next one.  
  3. She adds a good review.
  4. She’s a loyal reader now. Her review helps you more than $1,000 of marketing (yes, that’s how important Kindle Store reviews are).

Your work has UNKNOWN value – Even you yourself don’t really know what it’s worth (you just THINK you do).

  • It’s much better to have 10,000 people think – Wow, that was worth so much more than $2.
  • Than to have 10 people think – Yes, that’s worth $10.

There’s still a chance to carve out a piece for yourself in the Kindle Store and create a fan following. Amazon have gone International and just doubled or tripled your prospective market.

2 Responses

  1. I visit your site daily and am always impressed by the information and insights offered here. I agree with the word revolution, and think this change in publishing is creating lots of opportunities for writers (and readers, too, but as a writer I tend to view it from that perspective). You seem to have your finger right on the pulse. Thank you, switch11 for your time and efforts in keeping the rest of us updated.

  2. Have you seen the new self publishing venture from Thomas Nelson? Michael Hyatt (the CEO and ebook enthusiast) has a blog post about it http://michaelhyatt.com/2009/10/should-you-consider-self-publishing.html

    I think that these types of services (get your book printed and prepared for ebook) are exactly the niched that people like Konrath and other will need. Some of the early ones are tech savy and can handle it all on their own. But many small authors know how to write but can’t handle the technical details. Smart publishing houses will start having fee for service arms. Then they will give contracts to the ones that sell well and produce really good work. It is a good solution on both sides. The technical work has fairly low marginal cost for a good size publishing house and the author gets the services at much lower cost than a traditional self publisher and no long term contract.

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