Honestly, it's Time to Save Yourself...

A couple of weeks ago, a certain writer's list that I was on had authors who were complaining about the success of another author on Amazon. They maintained that his fantastic sales numbers and increasing presence were the work of a vast amount of money dumped into publicity and that he'd somehow had it easy because he started off published by a "traditional" publisher. While they were not totally mean and hateful toward said author, they were so busy "blaming" his success on everything they could find and missed the mark on everything they should have seen.

I kept my mouth shut. And, if any of you know me personally, then you know just how hard it is to get me to keep my mouth shut when I feel someone is being wronged. (It's a family trait. Both my father and daughter have this dominant gene.)

The author was J.A. Konrath and I won't bother to mention the list. If you're on it, then you've already seen this discussion that went on for several digests, during which time I had a hard time digesting. I don't know what their personal motivation was for dissing him. But I can guess that it smacks of little bit of jealousy and a whole lot of envy. Either way, they were completely missing the point when it comes to Konrath, so I'll point it out... HE'S MAKING IT WORK AND IT'S WORKING WELL FOR HIM.

There is no magic bullet. There is no absolute formula, and if you're looking for it then you need to find another profession. Konrath took complete control of writing and his publishing. He provides a great book and he's invested his career into making it work. It shows. Just go to Amazon and look up his titles. I daresay he's got more listings than 90% of the authors who are digitally publishing. In a sense, there is something very traditional about him in that he takes his career very seriously and gets the writing done so that he can give the readers what they want. I've never met the man, but I've been around this block long enough to know that if all you do is talk about publishing books, then you'll never actually write them. He's analyzed, scrutinized, taken chances, and taken his lumps. But he's still out there.

His post on his blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing is making the rounds. (You can find the post here) It focuses on the blame game that is being played out against Amazon for a good many things, including the demise of the so-called "traditional" publishers and the impact of Amazon on markets. I think there's room for both digital and traditional... for now. No one knows the future, but I do know that the cost of printing books is prohibitive to getting good books to market and readers. Blaming Amazon for something like this is ridiculous. Things change. Deal with it. And if you can't, then you didn't belong in publishing.

It's evolution, people... every market evolves, whether it's books, food, clothes, they are all subject to trends and advancements. Amazon didn't put Borders out of business. Borders put themselves out of business for a lot of reason, one of which was a failure to react to changes in the market in a timely manner. It's 101. The same could be said for those writers who stick their heads in the sand and refuse to look at the possibilities.

Let me tell you a dirty little secret... I went to college originally to be a travel agent. Okay, so not so dirty. But how many of travel agents do you see today? Most agencies have closed up shop. Oh, there are a few of them left, but believe me when I say that the increasing use of the Internet made that job obsolete. My education isn't completely useless, though. It helps me out a heck of a lot when I want to book a flight or look for a vacation package in some sunny destination (it is Maine here, after all). But ultimately, Travel Agents went the way of the dinosaurs. If people can do it all themselves and cut out the middle man and the extra cost, then they should do it. That's why companies like Expedia and Travelocity are going gangbusters!

Finally, getting back to the whole green with envy thing. My feeling is that if someone is doing better than you then that's the person you want to watch and learn from. Konrath blogs with regularity and he offers up all the knowledge he has willingly. He's a pretty open book kind of guy (pun intended). Take it. Take it and run with it. Take it and publish with it, and make your own publishing experience a success. Don't be a dinosaur, or play the blame game. It doesn't look good on anybody.


Liz said...

personally I hold Konrath up there with the guy who invented the printing press. genius. truly. as a marketer FIRST (For my brewery) I've already used many of the "Tricks" to get my company noticed. Now that my writing career is taking off a bit, I am reading his advice and mentally dog-earing pages of his blog like a crazed maniac. Brilliance. And because he's stuck his neck out and gotten good at it, well, he'd gonna get it smacked. It's human nature. thanks for this! well said.

Greta said...

Basically, I couldn't agree more. There's no point in whining about somebody who has made it - and it isn't just Konrath in people's sights, after all. Get off your behind and work at it. He sure did.

Teagan Oliver said...

Liz and Grace, I agree. It's always easier to learn from people who have already done the trial and error for you. Not all his ideas will work for every authro, but the big one is that the more work you have out there, the bigger your presence, the more books you'll sell. There's tons more, but he works hard for what he's got. No one should beat him up for it.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Great post! I don't read Konrath's genre but I do know what he's got is a lot of energy, the smarts to market and play the system, and the huge backlist that comes from a lot of hard work. There's no point hating somebody for that! He publishes both digitally and traditionally, and there's nothing wrong with that either. And now I'm going off to write :-)

~Jane~ said...

Hi Teagan~

I'm not in the group you are talking about, but I'm glad you decided to speak up!

Konrath has valuable info for everyone looking to self-pub and he encourages everyone to get themselves out there and try!

He is definitely someone to watch/follow!

Great post!


Nina Pierce said...

I definitely have Konrath/Hocking envy...deep green shades of it oozing out my pores. But do I diss them and say they didn't work for it? Hell no. They worked hard ... damn hard.

They wrote book after book after book. I'm working on that part. It's so easy for me to NOT write. So my lack of stellar sales falls completely in my lap.

I do watch what successful authors do and follow their advice. No sense reinventing the wheel.

Great post, Teagan.

Susan Vaughan said...

Teagan, you hit the target dead center. Mostly it's sour grapes talking when people trash someone successful. Your travel agent analogy is exactly right. And we don't have many harness makers either.

Lina Gardiner said...

I guess as long as there is success there will be envy from smaller minded individuals.
Personally, I take heart from these kinds of successes, it shows there's hope for all of us.

Teagan Oliver said...

Thanks to all who posted comments. I'd let myself stew over it long enough that I knew I had to speak up. I'd like to be a successful as Nora or any of the other top of the list writers, but without my butt in the chair and my hands on the keyboard I will only have myself to blame for mediocrity.

Stay tuned. I'm sure there'll be another rant at some point in my future :)

Diane said...

Good points Teagan.

Bad mouthing others never advances an author's career. And karma often comes back to haunt and bite Ms./Mr. Negativity in the butt.


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