Thursday, February 10, 2011

Out-of-print Book Kindle Experiment--tip of the hat to JA Konrath

I may be a late bloomer to get on board the Kindle publishing thing, but at least I’m getting on board. I’m starting by putting one of my out-of-print books on Kindle.
“Saint Jude” WAS vetted ---before anyone starts on me about the “self-pubbed books are all crap” argument—I had an agent (who sadly, couldn’t sell it to a Big 6 publisher—though I got a nice “we really, really, like it –close but no cigar” reject from Random House. ). But “Saint Jude” was ultimately picked up by a nice, smaller, indie publisher.
“Saint Jude” chronicles the journey of a young adult with bipolar disorder. It did well, got some great reviews, but didn’t make me enough money to quit my day job (few first novels do.) It was particularly popular with high school libraries, and as you guessed, libraries generally only buy one or two copies of a book unless they need to have a replacement copy.
As expected, since “Saint Jude” was published in 2001, royalties have since trickled. I think the royalty check I got for last year was something like $15. Feeling I had nothing to lose, I just posted it on Kindle recently (January---though I don’t really count January 2011 for much because I was sick with the flu for about three weeks. So for all personal purposes, January 2011 did not exist.)

Well, I have sold two copies over the last couple of weeks, which I’m okay with, considering that I did practically zero promotional e-mail / blogging for it in January (see my flu comment above.) What does that give me? Well, it’s selling at $2.99, and I get a 70 percent royalty (which is better than the 10 percent royalty I got from the print editions. Ten to 15 percent royalty for first-time authors on printed books is not unusual.)

So that means my take on the sales thus far is roughly $4.

Not much. Not even latte money.

But remember that my last year’s royalties for the entire year on the out of print book was less than $20.

If I sell two books a month, that’s 24 books a year, and my take would be around $50 a year [ I’m estimating those numbers, btw, because I was a liberal arts major ].

So, just selling two books a month would more than double what I got last year. Seems like a no-brainer. Rights have reverted back to me and the novel was just hanging in limbo, not earning much for anybody.

So---tell all your friends to buy my book. And no, you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Just download the FREE Kindle app for your netbook (or cell phone, or iPod, or whatever else…)

To my avid reader friends out there: I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll love the Kindle. You can also e-mail stuff to yourself and edit it on it. I wouldn’t have normally gotten one except I got it for Christmas (shout out to mom and dad!). I still love print books---and I’m not going to be reading my Kindle in the bubble bath (well….okay, no…) but it has its place, and it’s a place I’m really enjoying.

And if you’re a writer and you’re not reading J.A. Konrath’s blog “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing,” I think you should. You can agree or disagree with him, but he’s now able to make a living supporting his family and doing what he loves. You can’t argue with results, and ultimately, I think if something gives you the freedom to do what you’re passionate about, you should do it. I know that many writers—traditionally published and academic—find him a very polarizing philosopher and say Kindle (and Konrath) are “devaluing” literature by promoting the possible benefits of Kindle self-publishing without “gatekeepers” to vet the work.

As far as “devaluing” literature, didn’t Snooki of Jersey Shore ‘write’ a book? And didn’t Mike “The Situation” ‘write’ one as well? I think these were both from imprints of major traditional publishers. This shows that, publishing is, after all, a business. Those books were published because the companies know they will sell.

I’m not saying that with bitterness—I’m just saying it is what it is.

Now, in fairness, I haven’t read either book, so Snooki and Situation may be the next Faulkners for all I know…but I’m just saying, if we’re going to use the “our society will be devaluing literature” argument, I think that horse left the barn a long, long, time ago.


billie said...

Actually the Snooki book is a miserable flop sales-wise - so whichever big 6 publisher paid millions for that one is now looking at a huge loss.

Guess how many 'normal' advances could have been paid to 'real' writers with that wasted money?

And look at this: the word verif is:



Dawn said...

Ah, poor Snooki---we hardly knew ye!
I don't know what kind of advance she got, but I would guess there was a bidding thing to try to get her business.

But just an example of sometimes things that seem to be immediate successes aren't...and as you said, how many wonderful books went "undiscovered" or even discovered but just "un-marketed" (yes, I know that's not a word)

...and now with this post I'm sure I'm on the "radar" of the Big 6 :)

Ah, Billie, your insight keeps me afloat...

billie said...

An agent on Twitter yesterday was tweeting how "we do google alert on our names so be very careful what you write about agents and editors online" - and I am like... who cares?

Agents and editors are not gods and goddesses. If you can't take what you read online, better get out of the publishing business, babe.

Writers WRITE. That's what we DO. And yes, some of it is ONLINE. Gasp.

Mike Dennis said...

Good post, Dawn. Check out my post on Snooki et al on my website

I posted this back on October 19, before Snooki's book came out. You're right it was strictly a business call by Simon & Schuster.