Indie Authors Monthly and Navigating Indieworld Radio Show

Why Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Joe Konrath and Others Are Switching To Indie Publishing – At Least On Some of Their Books

One of the most pungent, entertaining and candid dialogues you may ever read between two indie writers, available in transcript, came in March 2011 between Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, two science fiction novelists who were traditionally published before moving into self-publishing. Both felt strongly about going indie. How strongly? Eisler confirmed he’d been offered… [Read More]

One of the most pungent, entertaining and candid dialogues you may ever read between two indie writers, available in transcript, came in March 2011 between Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, two science fiction novelists who were traditionally published before moving into self-publishing.

Both felt strongly about going indie.

How strongly?

Eisler confirmed he’d been offered a half-million dollars by a traditional publisher, and rejected it to self-publish instead. “I know it’ll seem crazy to a lot of people,” he told Konrath, “but based on what’s happening in the industry, and based on the kind of experience writers like you are having in self-publishing, I think I can do better in the long term on my own.”

Even Konrath, a long-time advocate for independent publishing, sounded a little stunned at the dollar amount, but not at the point Eisler was making. He said, “My switch to self-publishing isn't personal. It's just business. I can make more money on my own.”

For example, he added: “Currently, my novel The List is the #15 bestseller on all of Amazon. I wrote that book 12 years ago, and it was rejected by every major NY publisher. I self-published it on Amazon two years ago, and it has sold over 35,000 copies. ... In self-publishing, I'm seeing more and more books take their sweet time finding an audience, then take off.”

Eisler and Konrath are not rare examples among strongly-selling traditionl authors who take the independent route. In my last post, I wrote about mystery writer Lawrence Block’s experiences in self-publishing. And the numbers are growing.

I’ve had no bestseller books, but this week I’m working on both traditionally published and self-published book projects, one in the mornings, the other in the afternoons.

book_signing_in_Nashville

Many such authors combine traditional publishing and independent approaches.

J.K. Rowling, whose wildly popular Harry Potter print books were traditionally published, is now offering those books in digital form herself on the website pottermore.com.

Susan Wittig Albert, traditionally published fiction writer (of the China Bayles and the Darling Dahlias mysteries and many more) went indie when publishers took a pass on a fictionalized story about the origins of the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” books. In the February edition of Writer’s Digest she reported aggressively marketing the book through social media, reviews (highly favorable) and elsewhere, and promptly sold more than 12,000 copies and sold rights to other publishers. “I’d do it all – all over again,” she said.

On the research website Quora, sci-fi novelist Michael J. Sullivan remarked that, "I'm actually moving toward ‘hybrid’ which means I'll do both traditional and self-publishing. The traditional route has worked out well for me, established creditability and expanded my audience. … But I hate the draconian contracts and the business models of trade. Self offers higher income (per book), complete freedom and a faster time to market."

In his book On Writing, Stephen King describes writing and making money from his first horror novel – as a self-publisher. That was in high school, the novel was brief and made on a cheap copier, and he had to give back the sales money after the school principal found out he’d been selling copies on campus. But before he was caught, he was making (a little) money on the book.

Later on, of course, King became a traditionally published massively selling author. But as he was an example early on of an author who moved into self-publishing before a big publisher came calling, so has he been among those stepping back into self- and independent publishing. In 2000, he experimented with a serially-released book called “The Plant,” made available through his website. He later released digital-only tales (“Riding the Bullet,” “Ur”) himself, while also continuing releasing his work through traditional publishers.

Many other authors have worked in both worlds. Their approaches have been as widely varied as independent publishing itself.

Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear every other week.


 

Want great feedback from peers and experts on your work-in-progress?  Click HERE to sign up for BookWorks and post 2000 words from your book to get free, constructive suggestions from fellow writers.


4 thoughts on “Why Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Joe Konrath and Others Are Switching To Indie Publishing – At Least On Some of Their Books”

  1. Ben says:

    One important factor to remember is that all of the examples in the article had already built up audiences in traditional publishing before moving into self publishing. It’s much harder to make it going indie when you don’t have that leg up. I count Stephen King’s early experience as the exception that proves the rule. He made a few bucks, but it was traditional publishing that made him, and that allowed him the latitude of publishing later stories by himself.

    1. Ryan Doughan says:

      Ben, you make a good point here. I think the true exception here is Michael J Sullivan who actually indie published his series first (I think it was six books), then got picked up by Orbit due to his indie success. They repackaged his series into a trilogy and brought them back to market.

      That being said, I think you are spot on that developing a wide spread audience is the largest struggle even for the most serious indie author who is willing to go to the work and expense of doing all the other pieces correctly.

      If you’re interested, I talk more about some of this in my post “Why Indie Publishing” here:http://www.ryanjdoughan.com/blog/-why-indie-publishing

      Blessings

  2. PublishToday says:

    For me, it really doesn’t matter on what you choose when publishing your book. What’s important is that you get your book published successfully with good results in sales and having good reviews as your book does have a very good content.

  3. Jonah craven says:

    Hey, that’s pretty good

    — Gandhi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you are not a SPAM robot by answering the simple question below: *

 

Get Connnected From The BW Author Community


Our Partners

Partner