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Old 03-15-2011, 03:03 PM   #1
kennyc
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Independent ebook publishing vs traditional publishing

I just ran across this. It may have been poster before:


The Numbers Game - Joe Konrath

So I just got off the phone with an acquaintance of mine. She's a writer whom I met last year at a conference, and she called me asking for advice.

First some background. She's hit the extended NYT list several times in both hardcover and mass market, and has a backlist of ten books. She was just offered a contract from one of the Big 6 for $200k a book, for a two book deal....


http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/02/numbers-game.html
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:36 AM   #2
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That blog is required reading for anyone in this industry.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:57 AM   #3
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I can see why Konrath is a liked writer (I admit I've never read one of his books). His blog piece is almost convincing to me. I think he has left several things out of the equation or skimmed over them as if irrelevant.

One thing I would like to know is what happens to the questioner's writing life should she go the indie route and fail? Will her agent take her back? Will a traditional publisher be willing to invest in her?

I also wonder what the real market life is of her books. Konrath talks about 7 years down the road, but presumably she will have written another couple of books following the 2 for which she has been offered a contract. Not having seen the proffered contract, I don't know what terms it provides for marketing of her books or for when distribution rights would return to her from the publisher, but I would think that if she had a decent agent, those terms would be spelled out. Once the traditional publisher created a market for her books, when she got the rights returned, she could rerelease the books and earn based on an already existing base.

And let's not forget the psychological assurance of a guaranteed income. Self-publishing is a gamble; a contract for $400,000 is not, even if it works out to $57,000 a year -- a relatively decent income in most people's mind. Being self-employed in its broadest sense is not for everyone.

I also wonder what she would owe her agent should she turn down the offer and go indie. I find it hard to believe she would be able to get away paying the agent nothing for the agent's efforts when the agent actually has a deal that only requires her signature.

I don't want to suggest that going indie is the wrong move. What I do want to suggest is that Konrath has determined that it is the only right move and I'm not sure he can see the other side of the coin. He was mighty bitter when his traditional publisher turned him down and loose, and I wonder how much of his absolutism is a result of that experience. Konrath does a good job pushing the indie way, but he skims over too many things to convince me that he is right in the case of the questioner.
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
One thing I would like to know is what happens to the questioner's writing life should she go the indie route and fail? Will her agent take her back? Will a traditional publisher be willing to invest in her?
Will there still be agents and publishers? Will they still have the influence and power they have now?
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:44 AM   #5
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Will there still be agents and publishers?
Yes.

Seriously, though, I think the role for really smart agents and publishers will expand, just in different ways. The big problem with indie ebooks is finding the good ones. With pbooks, you expect a certain minimum quality from a book that's gone through all the hurdles to get on a bookshelf. With ebooks, there are no such hurdles. So there needs to be some way for people to select the books they're likely to want. Having the option to choose those bearing the name of a trusted agent would be a good start. And publishers, too, have a place, but as book promoters, not book selecters. Not everyone can, or wants to, do all their own sales and promotion. Some might wish to offload that onto a publisher in exchange for a cut of the take. And again, readers would look for publishers (or at least imprints) they know produce books they like, perhaps those specific to their favorite genre, as a place to start. The ebook world is huge and, right now, very hard for the average person to find their way around in. Having guides, in the form of what we now call publishers and agents, could be a very good thing.

Of course, they're more likely to try to legally require all automobiles to carry buggy whips, but hey, I can dream.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:35 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by rhadin View Post

One thing I would like to know is what happens to the questioner's writing life should she go the indie route and fail? Will her agent take her back? Will a traditional publisher be willing to invest in her?
I can see a future not far from now where agents and publishers will only choose from writers who have some sort of self-published Kindle presence. User generated reviews will help cut out the complete no-hopers, and they are less likely to miss a new trend because they could also sort them by sales volume.
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