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OPEN LETTER TO BARRY EISLER AND JOE KONRATH
Monday, March 21st, 2011

Hi guys!

Wow. Your post on Konrath’s blog blew me away and there are at this very moment thousands of heads exploding over thousands of keyboards.

The sounds of a revolution.

For those who haven’t read it yet, stop what you’re doing, go pour yourself a stuff drink, then go to JA Konrath’s blog and read it. I’ll wait here.

Okay?

So–Barry and Joe–your number crunching abilities are extraordinary and I bow to them, not being very numerate myself , but in all your analyses of the coming world of publishing, there’s one thing I missed in your conversation.

The world.

Yep, the world of 1.8 billion English readers. 1.8 billion readers who up until now you reached with difficulty. Oh, sure, your books could eventually make it to Australia, New Zealand, India, the UK, Ireland, Canada, but not without huge corporate friction that ate at your royalties, requiring sub licensing agreements and new covers and two and sometimes three corporations all taking their share of the pie. Not to mention all those English readers in Europe, Africa, Asia, where the American edition was sold at a huge markup because it’s an imported good.

Imagine those 1.8 billion English readers having instant access to your books. Press a button and there you go. They haven’t digitalized yet but when they do, the sky’s the limit.

And then of course there’s the rest of the world that loves American books but must read them in translation. The translation you have no say over, and in which (sorry guys) your text was probably cut by the translator to fit local editorial book sizes.

Not to mention olive-green garage door covers.

Now imagine a world where you control the translation, the cover is the same cover you chose. Right next to your book in English on amazon, there’s a button on amazon.de for the German language edition, or on amazon.jp there’s the Japanese edition, etc. And you get all those royalties. All of them, with no intermediaries. It will cost you about € 5000 and you’d have to find a translator you trust, but once you do and have paid the cost (which you’ll probably make up in 4 days of sales) all those royalties go straight to you.

Hark! What’s that sound I hear? Of pitchforks being sharpened at the gates of the Bastille? And that fire on the horizon? Those are the torches.

Allons enfants de la patrieeeeeee….

18 comments to “OPEN LETTER TO BARRY EISLER AND JOE KONRATH”

  1. Claude Forthomme
    Comment
    1
      · March 22nd, 2011 at 12:03 am · Link

    Wow, what a site, Liz! Looks great and right in line with your writing style, I love it! Congratulations, it’s explosive!

    Yes, you’re right, the e-revolution is on us. Trouble is that it’ll work for those who have a name, like Konrath and Eisler and you, because you guys (deservedly so) already have a following! For us poor unpublished authors, there’s little hope of duplicating the e-dream…

    For it is a dream reserved to those with an established market, or if you prefer the word, a “platform” from which to take off, to be sure, like a… missile in this bright new e-world!

    Like in the old French song when one watches fireworks spraying sparkling colours in the night sky: “Ferdinand, hausse-moi que je voie la fusée volante…Oh, la belle bleue! Oh, la belle rouge!”

    Problem is: us newbies have no “Ferdinand” to pick us up and watch fireworks…

    But I’m not complaining – only I believe we have to be aware of where the markets are and how they can grow. Otherwise, newbies are in for a rude awakening in an empty desert with no sales or very few…

    Indeed, someone gave very good advice recently (sorry I don’t remember who), saying that unpublished writers should start blogging at least 3 YEARS BEFORE PUBLISHING – because that’s how long it takes to build up a site that can get 1,000 hits a day. And less than 1,000 is just not enough to sustain the sales of a book, whether digital or not.

    So I guess what we should all do is go blogging out there, and twittering, and face-booking…Wow, I hope writers will still have enough time (and energy) to write!



  2. maria grazia Swan
    Comment
    2
      · March 22nd, 2011 at 8:04 am · Link

    Hey, Elizabeth, what a site! Well done. Like your covers also.
    Ti saluto, ciao.



  3. Mick
    Comment
    3
      · March 23rd, 2011 at 10:25 pm · Link

    A response to Claude. I knew Joe Konrath when he and I were in an online crit group in about 2002-4, and when he got his first book deal, for ‘Whiskey Sour’. Even then, with only a handful of short stories published anywhere but his own site and most of them in non-paying online venues, he was the most industrious and enthusiastic writer I’ve ever encountered. He’d already put in years of effort to learning his style of writing and to familiarising himself with the industry. He was first established on the horror/thriller fansites *as a fan*, not as a writer. He gave away stories to those sites too, even when he was starting to get paid more regularly. He did everything he could to get his name out, to help other writers, and to contact fans.

    When he eventually got the advance contract for ‘Whiskey Sour’ he posted that he’d cried like a baby over it. Then he did everything he could to sell; he’d stay hours a shop to meet three customers and only end up signing one copy, but he’d learn all about that shop from the staff and he’d keep adding it all to his picture of the book world.

    Eventually, as we know, he took the self-publishing direction and became highly successful in that realm, although he’s still available in deadtree versions. You might say he was an established author when he went ebook, but not by that much. We’re not talking Charles Dickens here, or James Patterson.

    Joe didn’t start his career established. No one does. He worked as hard as I can imagine myself ever working, and for more years than I’ve worked in my life so far. I’m not glorifying him or making him a martyr. He worked at what he loved, both writing and being a fan of his genre, so it’s hardly self-sacrifice. But it isn’t some unrepeatable coincidence of the e-revolution and his being established. Lots of authors were more established who haven’t done as well. Others have done as well without being established – Amanda Hocking comes to mind.

    Being established is an advantage. Getting established takes work now just as it always did. But being successful as a self-publisher doesn’t require being established, just the work part.



  4. Elizabeth
    Comment
    4
      · March 24th, 2011 at 12:22 am · Link

    Mick — I couldn’t agree more. Hard work and good work is what will do it every time. Everything else is noise.

    Elizabeth



  5. Claude Nougat
    Comment
    5
      · March 24th, 2011 at 12:46 pm · Link

    Sorry, I changed my name to my pen name (I prefer it – particularly the “goody” torrone implication!) but I’m still the same Claude.

    I just wanted to say I agree with all of you! Work – hard work – is key for achieving success.

    But the real question is one of strategy: what will work better? Go the legacy route first and then, once you’re a midlist author, go the e-self-publishing route? Or skip the legacy and go directly to self-publishing via the e-route?

    Konrath chose self-publishing very soon in his career, if I understand you rightly, Mick. That was his choice and it certainly seems to have fitted his go-go character like a glove. But not everyone is Konrath. For the more subdued and shy, those who are not willing to spend a lot of time on line and build up an Internet brand name, it would seem safer to go the old-fashioned legacy publisher route…That’s all I meant!



  6. Elizabeth
    Comment
    6
      · April 25th, 2011 at 10:07 pm · Link

    Hi Maria Grazia! Grazie! Elizabeth



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