Saturday, August 7, 2010

As Re: Big 6 Publishx Going E-book a BAD THING

He who gives over his rights to his electronic books to the Big Six is in for a world of hurt and financial loss.  Read on from one who knows as this past year I have had it both ways - self pubbed as Indie Author on Kindle and watched as HarperCollins pubbed three of my titles as ebooks. Guess which one of us is making money and which is failing to as a result of stupid corporate greed?

Think of it, please, all youse guys who think that publishers getting into ebooks is a good thing; with their practices in the paper world, do you expect them to change such things as KEEP the sales numbers secret for six months to a year? A secret from the author?  My three HC books that are up now, I have SEEN no sales figures for whatsoever in a year's time. Why? Because I have no access to my own figures--a fact that has always been the case with dead tree publsihing (DTB)....and now it carries over to ebooks.

Same will be true and is true of my HC "so-called" team - PR, Marketing -- I see NO backup or help for the books on e-platform anymore than I saw in the non-virtual world for these titles. The titles are also effectively killed by another practice brought over from the paper world - too high a price. These publishers, and Dorchester is among the worst for poor royalty statements, unreadable contracts, etc., ripping off writers, etc., YOU can bet have not changed their spots.

At first I thought the folks at HC just did not know any better, that eReaders are not so dumb as they want to believe, so I wrote to them explaining no one is going to by an ebook set at same price as a paperback, but it is not just that they do not listen to the author, they are greedily married to an old model, an economic model that does not work in the online world (a circumstance wherein an author can make far, far more money on a title set at 2.99 than he can make on a $25 dollar hardback). So eReaders, not wishing to be tagged as stupid refuse outright to purchase a book online that is set at the same price or higher than the same book out here in the tangible world where hardcovers have become door jams.

Joe Konrath is the Pied Piper here on this subject of becoming an Indie Author and championing the author's causes rather than those of the publishers who have not given us authors a raise since Johnathan Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables was penned.  Joe Konrath is the Pied Piper and the rats he is running out of town are the publishers, and I am close enough to Joe that he allows me to trumpet for him but you need to clue into his blog on this issue now if you are an author, whether a newbie or an old pro like me.  Go to The Newbie's Guide to Publishing found at:

Whereas my HC titles are sitting like stones due to the stupidity of the publisher's decison-makers and committees, the titles numbering 40 that I have up and I control are earning out enough now for me to pay my rent and go on a trip and feed my family and buy the occasional shoes and tie. I have made more in the past month on ebooks than I have in the past three years on paper books. But my three HC titles on Kindle have earned me not a dime in a year's sitting there at 7.99 and 6.99.  Sad really as in my estimation these books represent my best work to date alongside Children of Salem, my bestselling title on Kindle which sells a hundred copies a month.  So will publishers -- who once considered ebooks as a losing proposition -- help or hurt authors by taking their electronic rights, running off with them, taking a big cut on books they sell online? That is IF they can sell online at all?  Given their poor track record so far, I'd say no if a publisher insisted on suddenly ebook rights being a deal breaker on a contract -- as those rights in your hands mean dividends for you and not a waste of time orchestrated by them!
Would love to hear your thoughts on this. I have lost my rights to certain titles during my career, and I would hate to hear that you have made the same mistakes I have in this business.  As in a casino, the stakes are against us but for now ebooks has historically given us a much, much better percentage than ever before in the world of publishing.  Now that whole NYC agencies are putting up their clients backlists and whole NYC publishers are making ebook rights a boiler plate clause in the contracts....BEWARE of who you are dealing wtih and as one agent cautioned me in 1980, "These people, Rob, are not your friends."
Sorry to take the tone of the cynic but who made me so? Born of experience and it is borne out.
Robert W. Walker
free sneak peeks of Children of Salem and Titanic 2012 here:


Mike Jastrzebski said...

Robert, I just put out my first book last month on Kindle and Smashwords. I have been trying for several years to publish with a traditional publisher. I did have some interest from a small publisher for my book, The Storm Killer, but when I sat down and did the math it woulod have been insane to go that route.

Now that I have control of what, when and how I publish I realize that I would not be able to work within the constraints of a traditional publisher even if I wanted to.

Mike Jastrzebski

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Rob, my only question is the one brought up on Murder Must Advertise: E publishing your own work is great if people know your name, but what about unknown authors? Will readers buy their books even if sold cheaply?

Mike Jastrzebski said...

Jacqueline-I had the same question when I put my book on Amazon and Smashwords. I have never been published and am unknown. Since June 30th when I went live I have sold 124 books, 27 since August 1. I am posting about my experience, how I promote, and my sales figures on my blog, I made my decission after reading Roberts blogs and Joe Konraths blogs..

Mike Jastrzebski

Tender Bright said...

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the valuable cautionary tale. I need some guidance on Kindle publishing. Can you please guide me towards some preliminary information?

Radhika Mukherjee

The Daring Novelist said...

I started Indie Publishing just to play with my off-genre non-marketable books. I was going to reserve my mysteries for traditional publishing.

But I've been watching what's going on with the big publishers (and littler ones) and what's happened to mystery authors I know. And I realized I was having a ball as an Indie Author.

I finally realized that if I wanted to do this, I should really commit to it - and commit my most commercial work as well as my odd stuff.

Ricky Bush said...

Great post. Hmmm...maybe some of these big guys want to dampen the enthusiasm for e-books by pricing them so high. Seems like some of the small pubs market their catalogue at much, much lower prices.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Great post, and lots of good information. Unfortunately, e-books are not going away. How a publisher can charge more than a few bucks for an e-book is beyond me when there is no expense involved. Publishers should look at e-books like iPhone apps -- if you make it affordable, people will buy it.

robert w. walker said...

The myth or lie is that no one will touch a book "already published" - and that this means ebooks will not be touched NOR anything you ever write if you dare publish digitally. Bull-swallop....Every day in the Publisher's Weekly and other pub news we hear of some author who has sold huge amounts of his ebook and suddenly Random Hs. or Penguin is all over the guy like a bear on honey... so ignore that crapola.

A second concern I am hearing here is someone needs fundamental help and direction....if so check out my archives here and at as well as and for articles or simply google my name with a PLUS ebooks (articles)

Thanks to all of you who took the time to respond and say hello. Sounds like many of you are well on your way. Anyone needs contact me I am at inkwalk at SBCglobal dot net.

Robert W. Walker said...

I market four or five of my titles as Original to Kindle titles or First Edition Kindle titles....crank up the marketing effort. I also put it out there that FREE sneak peek chapters found at my website