Three of the writer's blogs I check out every day are filled with comments about J.A. Konrath's decision to publish his next novel first on Kindle. This is an interesting story with important implications for the future of publishing. Novelist Jason Pinter wrote a piece for Huffington Post that looks at many of those implications.
Jason PinterBestselling Thriller Writer
Posted: May 18, 2010 11:34 AM
The Konrath Effect: Will New Technology Ruin Talented Authors?
A long time ago, I ran a poll on Twitter asking who some of the greatest living novelists were in a certain genre. I offered a few well-known authors as examples. I received many responses, all valid, many of them wonderful talents. One self-published author, however, responded to me with great annoyance. Annoyed that he had been left out of my initial tweet as one of the greatest living writers in that genre. When I asked his rationale for inclusion on the list, he told me that as an e-publishing phenomenon, his current success was equal to, if not greater than many authors I'd mentioned. The author in question has never been published by a traditional publisher, and has instead listed many of his unpublished works online for free. One of his free e-books broke the Amazon Kindle top 100. For that, he declared himself a revolutionary, and took offense to my neglecting his genius.
I bring this up because on May 17th, it was announced that J.A. Konrath (aka Joe Konrath, aka Jack Kilborn) reached a deal with Amazon Encore to publish the 7th book in his Jack Daniels mystery series. Hyperion had published the first six installments in the series, which have seen a reasonable amount of success and been nominated for several awards. To his credit, Konrath has made himself into something of an internet and social networking behemoth. He maintains a hugely popular blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, in which he opines quite openly and honestly about his career trajectory, ups and downs, the peaks and valleys, with frank and often valid criticisms of the publishing industry. According to Konrath, he and his agent shopped the 7th Daniels book, Shaken, only to find no takers. For most authors, having a book rejected might mean it never seeing the light of day or selling a single copy. However over the last few months Konrath has blogged about the enormous success he's had publishing nearly a dozen of his previously unpublished novels, novellas and short story collections on the Kindle, Nook and iPad. Books that had been rejected dozens of times, but were now on pace to earn him upwards of $100,000 in royalties in 2010 alone.
I use these two authors as examples of two sides of the self-publishing coin. It is clear that many methods of traditional publishing are undergoing seismic shifts. The notion of self-publishing does not carry the same stigma it did just a few years ago. Yet there is a danger in self-publishing that becomes clear when you compare these two authors, and how they got to where they are. I wonder, with the incredible ease in which authors can now publish their rejected manuscripts online, whether fewer authors are going to take the time to hone their craft, get good at what they do, and achieve their full potential. Will new technology stifle budding talent?
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