A whole new world

So, Joe Konrath's most recent blog post is about his experiment with dropping the price on one of his books to 99 cents. It's fascinating.

OK, it's fascinating to me, the ex-business-reporter weenie. What's really fascinating is that Konrath is dealing with a buying public whose behavior he can't predict--that's why he has to conduct these experiments. Will e-book buyers act like regular book buyers? No one knows!

One thing is obvious: Book publishing is in the midst of enormous change. Thanks to new technology, e-books and even print-on-demand books are really cheap to produce. This is hurting traditional booksellers (which shouldn't shock me: I used to work in the encyclopedia industry, which was basically eliminated by first CDs and then the Internet). Writers, however, can make money--Konrath reports that he is making $187 a day off his 99-cent book, which is on Amazon, which isn't exactly going under selling 99-cent books, either.

Which is why stuff like this is so off the mark--this person, who no big surprise, sells services to self-published writers, thinks that to be "competitive" you have to cough up more than $40,000 to produce a book.

Let's turn our heads away from the fact that, duuuude, if you want people to buy stuff from you, you're opening line should not be, "Wanna go bankrupt?" Let's ignore the fact that you can spend all the money you want on a review package, and the major media outlets still won't review a self-published book. And let's not focus on the fact that people like Konrath and Karen McQuestion have done very well for themselves spending waaaaaaay less than $40K.

Isn't that $40K in start-up and promotion costs exactly what is wrong with traditional publishing?

I mean, let's say it's really vital to me that I break even on Trang (it's not). Given my start-up costs and that ad I bought, I need to sell, what, 450 copies of Trang to make back that money? Compared to 20,000 copies if I were "competitive"? With that kind of spending, it's no wonder a writer at a major house will not get a new contract if their sales are south of 30,000 copies.

Who the fuck am I supposed to be "competitive" with here? And what am I competing for? If the competition is to avoid Chapter 11, I'd say I'm already ahead. If the competition is to, I dunno, outsell J.K. Rowlings or something--with my non-commercial science-fiction book that lacks an alpha-male hero and features lots of bad language--then what I really need to do with that $40K is to plow it into therapy in hopes that one day I will become less delusional. Or maybe I pile it up in my back yard and set it on fire--that would work about as well, and I'd get more enjoyment out of it.

Anyway, yes, I need to stop reading provocative blog posts and get to work on Trust. That "something" I was coming down with is apparently a sinus infection, though, so we'll see how productive I am....