Am I Allowed to Disagree with J.A. Konrath?

So, am I allowed to disagree with the eBook, Indie guru J.A. Konrath? After all, he’s made it, I haven’t. He has been prolific over many years (40 some books?), I’ve written two books. He has a long stretch of experience that has yielded extraordinary amounts of acclaim, money, and reputation. I feel as though I might be cast down into the hellfire–but here goes anyway.

Yesterday, in the excitement of tonight’s release of Darkin 2, I was perusing Lindsay Buroker’s blog for something to learn. I am always trying to learn more about self-pubbing, promotion, and making it as an Indie Author. One of her most popular posts is called 7 Reasons You’re Not Selling Many eBooks. In her post, she links to what she calls possibly the most important article by J.A. Konrath for aspiring Indie Authors. That post is found here: What Works: Promo for Ebooks.

This is what, at the end of Lindsay’s post, sent me along to J.A.’s article:

Update: JA Konrath (bazillionaire traditionally published author turned indie) wrote up What Works: Promo for Ebooks last week, and it’s the most useful post I’ve seen on his blog. It also makes me feel terribly unoriginal for mentioning Outliers. Ah, well. The post is definitely worth a read!

So, being the most useful post on his blog, I jumped on over. It was, in fact, a very insightful, and useful blog post. It only half serves the fledgling author though, in my opinion. Okay, it might even be damaging for the success of an early Indie writer such as myself, if I followed his advice. Lindsay gleans more from it as she herself is already well-established. Both of them have put in many long, hard hours to achieve the success they have (don’t get me wrong, so have we). Despite his overwhelming, god-like success, here’s where I completely disagree with J.A. Konrath:

In fact, doing that could actually harm you. In that spirit, here are some things that I don’t believe work.

1. Advertising. Joe’s First Rule of Marketing is: Only do things that work on you.
I have never bought an ebook because I saw a Facebook ad, a Google ad, a print ad, or any kind of ad.

You see, these are what J.A. Konrath calls the updated rules of the Indie Publishing Scene. I believe these are the cushioned perspectives of one who has long since been required to generate a reader-base. I think there should be a preface: “Not for Those Just Starting Out.” Konrath also goes on to point out that luck plays a big role. He admits that hard work reduces luck, but that it plays a big role in our success. I even sound similar in my post about the Three Obstacles for Indie Authors. So why do I disagree with J.A. Konrath on his point about advertising so much?

1. Advertising: We desperately need it as fledgling writers. In fact, before I advertised my epic fantasy book Darkin, in the span of a year, I sold maybe forty copies. Mind you, I wasn’t promoting the book except to friends and family–in other words, no advertising. Recently, I watched the most inspirational movie ever (for me), called Indie Game: The Movie. While it focuses upon Indie game designers, I found it very much a motivator–a huge one. I never watch documentaries twice, not in the same year anyway. I listened to this movie in the background while I worked on drawings I loved it so much. If you want to relate to the others who experience horrible emotions we go through as Indie artists, do yourself a favor and watch this movie. Anyway, before I am too far off-topic: I decided to promote my book through advertising after watching the movie and getting deeply inspired. The results? I moved nearly 2,000 copies of the first book in my saga. But more importantly than that, what I cherish most, and what will make me continue to pursue my dreams more fervently than ever, was this email I received from a fan who picked up my book, due to my advertising efforts (a reader I would have never reached otherwise):

Hello sir,

I am very much enjoying your book, Darkin, and had hoped to find a continuation of the story in another book or two. I did find an old kickstarter and was wondering if you were considering starting this up again. I would be happy to become a supporter.

Just want to send you a quick note and let you know that you have my support and that your writing is brilliant.

Thank you,

Wow, what a great email to receive. The intangible effects of advertising, along with the practical, make it a no-brainer for anyone but authors who’ve “arrived” already. They’re out of touch with the early struggle. They’ve been there but they have forgetten.

8 Thoughts on “Am I Allowed to Disagree with J.A. Konrath?

  1. Pingback: Am I Allowed to Disagree with J.A. Konrath? | Indie Authors Unite |

  2. After rereading Joe’s post, I do think you have a point. For a newbie author with no fans, it’s hard to reach out to fans. You have to find them first and promotion is one way of finding those fans.

    • Nice post. Sadly, I think independent booektorss may now be in the same position that video rental stores were in the mid 90’s. (Anybody remember video rentals?) Internet movie streaming was a blip on the horizon back then. A lot of people thought it would never happen. Then it got close, and it was big and scary and it came up fast. Some of those stores went from video to DVD and Hi-def, and included online access to movies, but most of it was too little and too late. I see some bookstore owners acting the same way now, because that blip on the horizon is getting big and they’re afraid. Unfortunately, it’s going to be tough times ahead for them and it has nothing to do with Konrath or any other writer. The technology changed. Those who survive that change will adapt quickly. They’ll be clever and insightful and they’ll evolve along with the rest of the world. Maybe they’ll specialize in hard to find books, rare and antique items, etc. Or maybe they’ll come up with distribution arrangements that allow them to sell special digital editions. I doubt many will survive and I feel sorry for them, but I also felt sorry for the guy that used to own the video store downtown. If you think about it, he could have boycotted Brad Pitt movies, but that wouldn’t have made much sense either.

      • josephturkot on February 22, 2013 at 1:17 am said:

        I worked at an independent video store for four years in college. It was one of the best jobs I ever had, and it was really sad to see it close down. I agree with you that independent bookstores will likely go out of business en masse, but there is some hope: new comic book and board game shops have been cropping up in my town recently, which I love to see. There will always be a place for a good independent bookstore, but there just won’t be as many.

  3. I agree with Patricia. I do find a lot of inspiration from Konrath’s posts. A lot of his advice, however, works better for well-established authors and not those just starting out or struggling to gain their footing. I think advertising is the most important way to get your book noticed. How else are no-name authors supposed to let readers know that their book exists?

    And congratulations on that awesome inspirational email you received! It only shows that you already have a fanbase for your books 🙂 That should be motivating enough to keep you writing!

    • he did little in the way of ptmooring the books in the beginning but I also think he was a traditionally published writer initially and that would possibly weigh in his favor.Personally, I don’t generally spend more than $3.99 on a fiction ebook unless I know the person personally or it’s something I really, really think I’ll like. Now I will spend more on a non fiction book about publishing secrets, etc.One other experiment I conducted is for a non fiction grief and loss book I have on Kindle under a pseudonym. It’s kind of been languishing there for awhile. I decided to do a free promotion for 5 days on KDP select. It was downloaded almost 3000 times for free with no publicity at all. This is in a much smaller category on Amazon then my romance series, and this book throughout the promotion hit #1 in Grief and Loss category a few days, #1 in stress management category and #1 a few times in a family category. In the Free Kindle category it got down to #137, but that was it. Interestingly, while that free promo was about three weeks ago, the book sales have increased a bit when I put it back up to $3.99 and while it went up to 70,000 or so in Kindle, it did not go back yet to obscurity of 1,000,000 or so. It’s still ranking about #70 in grief and about #85 in stress management.This is just my limited experience with ebooks but I am tracking the results of my different efforts and the tweaking involved in this market.

      • josephturkot on February 22, 2013 at 1:12 am said:

        Thanks for stopping by and weighing in Marcus. The KDP program can work wonders in the sense that it purely gets your book into readers hands. I also learned that it’s better to space out your KDP days rather than blowing them all in one shot. It’d be interesting to see how staying atop a list in a genre with relatively little competition helps long-term sales–keep us posted!

  4. Pingback: Joseph A. Turkot | Getting My First 100 eBook Sales Month

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