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May 17, 2010


JA Konrath

LOL, Mr. H.

Perhaps there was a reason Mr. K talked about being rejected by other publishers. Perhaps several reasons.

One might be for the benefit the booksellers who have sold a lot of Mr. K's books. They certainly will be annoyed having to order books from Amazon--their main competitor. But if other publishers passed on Joe's book, then Joe had no choice.

Another might be that telling publishers they had a chance to buy the book and blew it will lead to a very nice feeling in Mr. K's household when the rejected book sells a gazillion copies.

On an unrelated note, perhaps Mr. K isn't the only one who is doing well selling Kindle books. Check out his blog interview with Karen McQuestion--one of many new authors without any platform selling thousands of books. If you've got out of print backlist books, or shelf novels, get them on Kindle and Smashwords.

Enjoyed the post. First beer is on me at Bouchercon. :)

Brett Battles

Me thinks Mr. K makes a lot of good points. This is our future, and I think it just might be a great one. Mr. K and a few others are just paving the way for the rest of us!


Hey, Joe! (I feel like I can call you Joe now that we're going to be drinking together. Beer is always a first-name basis scenario.) Thanks for the additional insight re: the booksellers. It makes sense that you'd want them to know you tried going the traditional route first -- you didn't set out to cut them out of the equation. I'm sure a lot of them have to be looking at this with trepidation. As if things weren't tough enough in the biz, now they're going to have to compete with cheap e-books from name authors. It's gonna get brutal out there. Or more brutal, I guess I should say. As for the Karen McQuestions of this brave new world, I think it's great for them that they're reaching so many readers. I just worry that it's only a few pioneers like her and you who are going to have that kind of success because the e-market is going to become so swamped with material before long. Down the line, is it going to be easier for writers to break out and get noticed or even harder? Either way, writers would probably be well-served to jump into the fray RIGHT NOW if, as you say, they've got strong-yet-unsold material just lying around. Food for thought. A banquet, even.

And hello to you, too, Brett! (We've had beer together, so I feel I can presume.) It is nice being able to sit back and watch Joe blaze trails for us, isn't it? We'll be like those lazy 19th century S.O.B.s who didn't head West until there was a nice, comfy railroad to ride on.


Richard Prosch

Well, there's no magic bullet. And Mr. H. is right that the pool will only get more diluted. In the early '90s everyone predicted the demise of the big comic book publishers as scores of small press folks published their own work. Some people made a few bucks. A few made a bunch of money really fast and everyone pointed to them. Jeff Smith had a smash with BONE, and some of us with small books wondered who would win in "The Next-Bone Derby." (Really. People really talked like that.) Those with some real business savvy stayed afloat in the glut of (mostly crappy) self-made comics. (Convention season 1994 was even called "The Summer of the Glut") The majority of those that stayed in the industry went on to again work with bigger companies. Some of them still make a few bucks in a niche here and there. Last I checked, DC and Marvel were still in top place.


Great analogy, Rich. I wonder if broadcast TV fits the bill, too. When cable came along, everyone said the big three were doomed. That was 30 years ago, and not only are the big three still around, now they're the big four.

Still, whether the behemoths stick around or not, one thing's certain: It's going to be easier for writers to make their books available than ever before. The question I still have is whether said writers will be able to make enough money to support themselves. The answer, obviously, is "Some will, some won't" -- which is the case now. But will the ratio of wills to won'ts change?


Jerry House

Actually, Mr. H, at the moment, it's more like an altered
Big Three and NBC.

On to the main topic: Will this trend dilute the market? Hell, yeah! But I don't think it matters. The traditional market has been shrinking since Hector was a pup and supposedly, fewer and fewer people are bothering to read. But the internet and e-publishing has also broadened the market. Word of mouth has been replaced by word of Facebook, and people are beginning to find they can now get what they want to read rather than what a corporation wants them to buy. The heyday of the pulps created many markets, as did lending libraries in their day, as did the birth of the paperback era. Not many writers got rich then, just as not many are getting rich today. But, as things change, writers and readers adapt. And, as always, writers will find new ways to promote and market their work.

(By the way, the above has been brought to you by one who does not own an e-reader, nor has he any intention of buying one in the next couple of years.)


Good point, Jerry. The publishing biz as we know it might be ending, but it's actually ended again and again over the years. It's changed and redefined itself many times and, as you say, readers and writers always go with the flow. (Well, many of them do, anyway.) I'll keep all that in mind the next time I hear someone bemoaning the bleak, post-apocalyptic future us wordsmiths supposedly face....


Adam McFarlane

Like most other readers, I'm not qualified to add any useful comments. I just don't know enough about how publishing works.

How might readers such as myself learn more about the publishing world? Are there any good resources to help lay people appreciate the publishing industry?

Steve, you are delightfully fun and entertaining, as always! Thank you for your writing--including updates here! And thanks to Joe Konrath and other commenters for their interesting thoughts!


Hey, Adam! Great questions...and tough ones. Wow. I'm sure there are a million great websites and blogs about the publishing industry, but to be honest I can't name many off the top of my head. I don't follow that many simply because I find it all so overwhelming. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss. Still, I can make a few recommendations.

Joe's blog (A Newbie's Guide to Publishing) is great for aspiring writers, as is the Freelancer's Survival Guide by Kristine Kathryn Rusch:



To keep tabs on current events in the publishing world, Sarah Weinman's Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind used to be the place to go (though Sarah doesn't update the blog as often as she used to), and Galleycat's a solid, industry-oriented news hub, as well:



Hope that helps!


Amie Pollard

Two is company, but three's a crowd

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