Thursday, March 11, 2010

Should You E-Publish on Kindle?

by Joe Konrath

Joe Konrath, a Chicago author and a friend of many Outfit members, has been getting a lot of attention lately (including Entertainment Weekly a few days ago) for the number of books he’s been selling on Kindle, books that he hasn’t otherwise sold to his publishers. I asked Joe if other writers should follow in his footsteps and whether it mattered if such writers were already established or were new writers.
--Laura Caldwell


My name is J.A. Konrath, and I'm a self-publisher.

That's not all I am. I've got seven books in print through major New York houses, and eight more on the way. But lately I've been getting a lot of attention for the ebooks I put up on Amazon Kindle. In eleven months, I've sold over 32,000 of them.

It began as an accident. When my first novel came out in 2004, I put some of my earlier, unsold novels on my website, www.JAKonrath.com, as free downloads. Then the Kindle came along a few years ago, and Kindlers asked if I could upload these ebooks on Amazon so they could read it on their device. Amazon doesn't allow authors to post books for free, so I listed four novels and a handful of short stories for $1.99 each.

Now I'm well on my way to earning about $40k this year just in ebook revenue. I've also had many authors, including a few NYT bestsellers, get in touch with me to ask if they should try this as well.

My answer is: absolutely.

If you're a professional writer, and have some out-of-print novels, some shelf novels, or some previously published short stories, get them up on Kindle.

If you've got an agent who shopped around a manuscript but couldn't sell it, get it up on Kindle.

If you're a newbie author who just finished a first novel, DON'T get it up on Kindle.

Yes, I'm making enough money to pay all of my household bills, but everyone's mileage varies. I'm currently outselling a lot of big name authors, and I have no solid idea why. I suspect it's a combination of name-recognition, my past self-promotional efforts, a popular blog, and decent book covers, product descriptions, prices, and stories. But I'm really not sure, and a lot of authors with good covers and low prices are selling in much smaller numbers than I am.

Self-publishing on Kindle works best if you're already an established author, and you want to make your unavailable work available again. Every dollar you make is extra. It's like found money.

If you're a new author, your best bet is still to go the traditional print route, and find an agent and a publisher. That's where the real money is, and where the majority of the readers are.

Over the past year, I've been writing a lot about Amazon Kindle, and ebooks. I'm at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com.

And if you want to find my Kindle books, just go to Amazon and search for "Konrath." Or look on the Kindle bestseller lists...

16 comments:

Kathy Holmes said...

Really good advice. When my agent wasn't able to sell my novel just as the chick lit boom went bust, I published it and later put it on Kindle. It was a great experience, and I'm still selling copies here and there. I love that. But I'm also still trying the traditional route with my current ms. But with one agent reporting she had 38,000 queries, requested 55 fulls, and signed only 6 last year, it does make you wonder about the whole publishing industry. So hard to know what to do.

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