Konrath (kon*rath) verb: To succeed in the world of publishing without the aid of a publisher.
Author Jude Hardin has an interesting post on Joe Konrath’s blog, A Newbies Guide to Publishing. For those of you not familiar with Konrath, he’s the author of a number of books under a couple of different pen names. I’m most familiar with his Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels novels. In recent years, he’s become the voice of the indie publishing scene. He broke away from the traditional publishing world and has flourished as an indie author. Every author wants to pull a konrath.
Jude Hardin is also the author of a number of books, the most successful of which feature a former rock star turned unlicensed private investigator named Nicholas Colt. Hardin made the monumental decision to quit a good-paying job last year to pursue writing fiction full time. He did so with a publishing deal in hand from Amazon’s publishing imprint, Thomas and Mercer.
Keep in mind, Amazon does not pay enormous advances (unless you’re Penny Marshall – $800,000). In fact, I believe their general practice is to not pay any money upfront. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great achievement to get a publishing contract from them. It is. I worked for an Amazon.com company. They know who I am. They’ve read my books, and they’ve never offered me a contract. So, they do have some discretion. They won’t publish just anyone. Bastards.
So, Mr. Hardin should feel good about his publishing deal. Unfortunately, he discovered that not everyone can hit Joe Konrath’s numbers. I don’t want to speak for him, so I’ll just direct you to his post – PUSHING THE BUTTON, PART 2: GOING INDIE. Here’s a sample.
Sales haven’t been terrible, but they haven’t been great either. Among the three series titles that have been available, I’ve sold about 20K copies over the past twelve months.
And here’s the deal, ladies and gentlemen: that ain’t enough.
It’s not enough for me to make a living, really, and it’s not enough for publishers to make an offer on future books in the series. Not the kind of offer I’m interested in, anyway.
My experience has been closer to Hardin’s than Konrath’s. I honestly believe my accountant must joke about my returns at dinner parties. He even refused to imagine a scenario where I made a significant amount of money when we were discussing different tax structures for self-employed people. He actually snickered with derision.
I’m not complaining, and I don’t believe Hardin is either. I think he’s just giving a factual account of his journey so far. I am reminded of Brenna Clarke Gray’s post on Book Riot titled Readers Don’t Owe Author’s Sh*t. Simply put, Gray is tired of authors pouring on the guilt trip because they aren’t selling enough books. She points out it’s not her responsibility to support an author’s dream. And I couldn’t agree more.
**To be clear, I’m not saying that Hardin is doing anything other than writing an informational post for educational purposes.
Writing is a job like any other. Authors are no more entitled to throngs of fans than a dental assistant or a help desk associate. I’ve seen authors on social media sites go nuts with ‘share’ requests and reminders that they ‘welcome’ reviews. Early in my career, I may have done the same thing. I may have even encouraged other authors to do so. I know better now.
There’s an odd sense of panic when you first publish a book. You feel an ever present clock ticking away in the back of your head signaling you’re running out of time if you want your book to be a success. That finite window of opportunity only exists in the traditional publishing world. Indie authors live in an evergreen world thanks to ebooks and POD. There’s no need to panic. We have no clock. There’s plenty of time for we indie authors to konrath.