I don't know how many of you read J.A. Konrath's blog, but he's been publishing his out of print backlist on e-books himself. He just hit the $100K mark on book sales. If you've ever considered a self publishing career (or any publishing career really), go spend some time on his blog. Konrath's been very candid about what he makes and what he's selling and how he's done all of it. It's a fascinating look at this side of the business.
My first thought when I started following his posts, was that it made perfect sense that he was doing so well. He has a sizable backlist (all the right had reverted to him), spent years building a following, has a popular blog and platform, and has readers waiting for his next book. He has the perfect situation for a self published scenario.
But Konrath's latest post says that this works for any author.He lists new authors who are doing this as well, and being successful.I admit I met this with skepticism. The hardest part about selling books is telling folks you have a book. If you have no one marketing your books, how would readers ever know about them?
Then something came to me last night that made me reevaluate this.
Now, I'm not an e-book reader. I don't like them, though I imagine a day will come when my issues with them will be overcome and I'll enjoy them as much as a traditional book. Technology is like that. But I know folks who love e-readers, and I thought about how they buy books.
One is a writer and is exposed to books all the time. She hears about a book, and goes to the e-book store and buys it, just like traditional book buying.
Another looks at the low-cost area of the e-book store and finds stuff that looks interesting. He'll buy a specific book when he wants it, but he wants books for his cool new gadget and he doesn't want to pay a lot for them.
This is when it hit me. This is one reason why Konrath (and perhaps those new authors he mentioned) are successful. E-books are purchased differently that traditional paper books. Those with e-readers probably also have other gadgets and are used to being able to click a button, spend a few bucks and buy something to entertain them. (There's a ap for that) Authors pricing themselves in that affordable range are sitting in prime e-book real estate. That's the "front of the store displays" for e-books. This is where e-book buyers are browsing.
With today's technology, the times they are a changing. If I had a backlist, I sure as heck would be following Konrath's advice and turning them into low-cost e-books. If/when my books go out of print, I can see myself doing this. I can even see going this route for any future books I write that a traditional publisher doesn't want.
Would I ever try this first and skip the traditional publisher?
I don't think so. I've been very lucky with my publishing experience so far. I like and find a lot of value in what they offer me. As publishing evolves, that will no doubt change (for better and for worse in some areas), and I'll naturally do what I feel is best for my writing career, but I'm happy where I am.
It's interesting to watch those future options unfold, though. There are more opportunities for writers now than ever before. And don't let the doomsayers tell you differently.