Joe Konrath

Gavin Newsom Interview; Snapshot Self-destructing Photos; Catfishing: Konrath on KDP Select

In this week’s Time Magazine, former San Francisco mayor and supporter of gay marriage, Gavin Newsom, is the focus in the “10 Questions” section. He’s also the present California Lt. Governor and the author of a new book titled, Citizenville.

The questions are interesting, especially this one about the Catholic Church, which I found interesting because I was raised Catholic and went through twelve years of strict Catholic education. I basically feel the same way he does, and I understand his difficulty.

How do you Square your politics with your Catholicism?

It’s difficult. It’s hard for all of us, especially for those with progressive leanings, to square (the gay marriage issue). Then there’s stem cells, choice, birth control. That said, it’s very important to me, my faith.

I also have issues with the way the Church looks at divorce, too. I recently had to fill out a long questionnaire for someone who has been divorced and is seeking what’s called a Papal Annulment. Without this grant from the Church, divorced people are basically excommunicated.

In any event, here’s a link to a video of the full interview.

“Snapshot,” or, Self-destructing Internet Photos

This link is amazing. Check it out and watch what happens.

But that’s not why I’m posting about this topic. Images seem to be running rampant on the Internet these days. Just this week an older friend who is getting a new computer asked if I could show him how to take photos from his digital camera and put them on facebook. This is someone who never dreamed he would have been on facebook five years ago, let alone posting personal pics there.

 “If I texted you a photo of myself, you could keep it forever and then I have no control over what you do with it,” said Travis Mayfield, director of social media for Fisher Communications.

But Snapchat can make images vanish into thin air. The app allows users to put a self-destruct timer on photos, giving the recipient only seconds to see the image.

You can read more here. Supposedly parents are worried about sexting, and from what I gather screen grabs can be taken before the photos self-destruct. But I don’t think most people take screen grabs unless they are on some kind of mission. I know I’ve only taken them twice, and just because I wanted to back up something I’d posted about.

Catfishing

I’m sure a lot of people already know what this is, but I didn’t know until recently and I figured I’d share for those who still might not know.

From Urban Dictionary:

The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).
Sounds like something that takes sockpuppetry to a whole new level. Tony actually plays a lot of online poker, with people from all over the world. And some of the stories he tells me about how these people…mostly straight…flirt and play around with each other online is very entertaining. The most recent was about some guy in the Netherlands who’s been flirting romantically with a woman from Texas. She’s been flirting right back. Both are married. Turns out the woman’s IP can be traced to Canada, and now this guy is freaking and they’ve never even met. Oh what a tangled web we weave!

Konrath on Kindle Select Program

Joe Konrath, of the A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing fame, recently wrote a blog post titled, “Hungry Dogs.” It’s a good post for the most part. But I found a few things that wouldn’t work for me as a writer who has self-published four books in the past year, all of which have hit bestseller lists (I’m not bragging about that. I’m just pointing out that I must have done something right while self-publishing, and unlike Konrath, I do ALL the “nuts and bolts” work alone and pay no one for their services to format or layout. There’s nothing wrong with using someone to e-publish, but I wanted to have that control, too. And, learning formatting and HTML has made me much stronger than I thought it would.)

This was one things I found in Konrath’s post that wouldn’t work for me:

What’s changed has been making titles free using the Kindle Select program.

To wit: there are millions of people with Kindles, and the majority of them haven’t heard of me, haven’t come across my titles, haven’t read me before. So by getting three ebooks on the Top 100 Free list, I am making myself known to them.

I’m a huge fan of the Kindle Select Program in a general sense, and I have been part of it with several books and I have no huge complaints. However, Konrath is talking “Hungry Dogs,” and I agree with him completely. But that means that when I’m self-publishing I need to think distribution in as many places as I can get my books, which includes places like Allromanceebooks.com and Kobo.com. I need to think like a hungry businessperson, not an author.

And with Kindle Select I found myself locked into an exclusive that kept me from distributing the books anywhere for a long period of time, and that just didn’t work for me. And I don’t think Amazon allows you to just put a book up for free for a week unless you’re part of Kindle Select (I would do these promos often if they did). At least that’s how it’s been explained to me. So I’ve opted out of Kindle Select for this reason with all my books, and in turn I’ve had a lot of success offering free book promotions on Allromanceebooks.com for my readers, and other web sites were e-books are sold. But more than that, I can offer these free promotions and no one’s locking me into an exclusive. And I can tell you that after twenty years of publishing experience, I don’t do exclusives with anyone unless the deal is so sweet I can’t pass it by. It’s why I’m not asking for an exclusive with the upcoming anthology I’m indie publishing this summer (more to come on that soon.)

In a general sense, if you don’t know how to aggressively distribute your e-book, I do have to agree with Konrath. Taking advantage of Kindle Select might work for you if you don’t want your book anywhere else, or if you don’t know how to put it anywhere else. However, my advice would be to take the next step and learn more about e-book distribution if you’re serious about self-publishing. Because your goal is to get that book into as many places as you can. There are a lot of venues like allromanceebooks that sell a lot of e-books to people who prefer this boutique e-book shopping experience instead of going to Amazon.

My point is this: get that book out there to as many retail web sites as you can, including Amazon. And that’s something I’ve learned from digital first book publishers, not something I figured out by accident.

Joe Konrath Says Sockpuppets are No Big Deal; Man Arrested in New Jersey for Internet Stalking With Sockpuppets

One of the things I’ve been predicting about a lot of the Internet corruption happening these days is that the law will eventually step in and take over. Charges will be pressed and these Internet crimes will be prosecuted. How Internet crimes are defined seems arguable these days. Joe Konrath seems to think that no one is completely innocent and no one can point the finger at anyone else. In fact, this is what Konrath says in a recent post:

Fake reviews, like sock puppets and trolling and flame wars, will always be part of the Internet and are no big deal.

He’s even created a few fake reviews on Amazon, here. He did this on purpose for a reason. He’s trying to prove his point and he’s speaking about a very small segment of Internet crime. I don’t want to take his post or his comments out of context; he’s trying to be funny. And if it were all this simplistic and the world were all hopey and changey and peace and love, I would probably agree with him all the way around. And what a wonderful world it would be, indeed.

But I know people who work closely with Internet crime daily and the world isn’t like that. The people I know who work in Internet crime scope the Internet daily to help expose child molesters, gambling rings, and stalkers of the worst kind. That’s just to name a few, without getting into child porn and drugs. A good deal of this crime is based on Internet anonymity and sockpuppeting. And even though what happens with online reviews of any kind can be labeled as less offensive than the things I mentioned above, it’s still sockpuppeting, it’s still misleading, and it’s still wrong. I know it’s less of a crime to steal gum at the drugstore than it is to rob a bank. But it’s still stealing. Plain and simple.

In New Jersey a young man was recently arrested for allegedly stalking juveniles with sockpuppet accounts.

Troopers arrested Craig L. Wyatt Jr. of Hamilton Township, according to a press release. He is being held in Atlantic County Jail on $35,000 bail.

The arrest came on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The group alerted New Jersey State Police in July that a Facebook account using the name Jimmy Raketerra sent a threatening message to a juvenile from Browns Mills.

Clearly, this has been an ongoing investigation, as are most Internet crimes these days. This person allegedly used e-mail and social media to threaten juveniles under more than one fake identity and sockpuppet account. I’m not even getting into the ramifications of social media here, and where their responsibility rests. That would be a completely different post altogether. I also wonder if the people who invest in facebook stock realize that the so-called billions of facebook accounts are not all one account with one person. In some cases it’s two or three accounts to one person. In others it’s far more.

I’m certain this isn’t going to be the last time we hear about an arrest like this. And while I wish I could agree with Konrath when he says sockpuppets are no big deal, I can’t help but look at the overall picture of the Internet crime we are facing and will be facing in the future and wonder how many more times I’m going to read about Internet corruption being exposed. Because the interesting thing is this…and I know first hand from people who are involved with Internet crime…you can hide, you can try to cover all the bases, you can pretend no one will ever find out, but eventually you will get caught. Another thing of which I’m certain is that the young man who was arrested in New Jersey had no idea he’d been under investigation that long.

How many others are under investigation right now? It’s something to think about, not laugh about. And that’s because on the Internet there’s always a trail.

Nice Review for Chase of a Lifetime; Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs

Someone pointed me to a nice (unsolicited) review for “Chase of a Lifetime,” here. I don’t do google alerts and I’m always very thankful when people let me know things like this. I’m also very thankful to the reader/blogger, “Oh MY Gigi!,” who wrote the review. The reason I don’t do google alerts is because I find them intrusive at times. I did them up until April of 2009. I don’t miss them.

I do know that some would not agree with me on this. Working as a career writer, they would tell me I have to do google alerts. In some respects I’m sure they would be correct. But the most wonderful thing about working as a full time writer is that you get to make these decisions yourself and you decide what is best for you.

It wasn’t always that way for me. I worked part time as a writer, stealing time whenever I could get it, for fifteen years. I ran two businesses that required my attention seven days a week for fifteen years. The good thing about both businesses I owned was that I had a certain amount of down time to write part time. This wasn’t an accident. I started the businesses and geared them around writing part time. I’d worked in publishing as an editor and I knew that if I was ever going to write fiction, I couldn’t remain working as a full time editor. It was too demanding to edit someone else’s work and then go write my own. So I altered my life in such a way that I had not only the time, but also the psychological freedom to write.

The reason I’m posting about this right now is that I came across a blog post on “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing,” by Joe Konrath. It’s a guest post written by author, Jude Hardin, titled, “Pushing the Button.” The gist of the post gets into people quitting their days jobs to work full time as writers. It’s interesting, especially because everyone has different circumstances and has to make these decisions for themselves. Jude mentions this:

Last year I signed a multi-book contract with Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer imprint for my Nicholas Colt thriller series. My wonderful agent Jane Dystel negotiated the deal, and I’m very happy with it.

I never had an agent or a large publisher backing me, and I have over 90 published works out there. And that’s not unusual. I’m just like hundreds of other authors I know. And I’ve taken more than my fair share of chances over the years. But one thing I know for certain, nothing is set in stone in publishing. Nothing; not even if you have an agent or a large publisher backing you. There is no guarantee that a book is going to sell any copies, let alone enough copies to afford an author a comfortable living. You could have fifty books out there, and that still might not be enough to garner the sales it takes to afford things like health insurance and mortgage payments. So making the decision to quit your day job is something you really have to think about for a long time. And be prepared for what’s to come if you do quit your day job and things don’t work out as you’d planned.

Take the time to read the post I linked to. It gets into more details that I’m not going to repeat here. One of the most important, I think, is the ability to write fast and produce at least four novels a year.

I knew an antique dealer when I owned my gallery. He used to fill his store until it was packed with merchandise. He always said, “You can’t sell from an empty cart.”

Lit Agents Appeal to DOJ Settlement; Joe Konrath Responds to Lit Agents

For those who haven’t been following what’s going on with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and publishers, here’s a link to learn more about it. Basically, it has to do with alleged collusion, allegedly keeping e-book prices higher, and interesting things like that.

The AAR, (Association of Author’s Representatives), isn’t pleased with a proposed settlement between the DOJ and publishers. And they banned together and wrote a long letter. Evidently there’s this *thing* called The Tunney Act. And people can write in and voice their opinions about any settlement with the government in any civil case. You can read more about it here, at the Dystel & Goderich site, a blog written by literary agents who seem to be less than thrilled with the settlement.

They even say this in the post, hoping to rally authors and readers to join them in this quest to save bookstores and publishing as we all know and love it:

If you are in agreement that the terms of the settlement are onerous for publishing and bookstores, you need to write a letter and send it to:

Although I’m not offering any comments in this post, I decided to pass on writing to the DOJ. I don’t see the point.

Now, in a post titled “AAR Fail,” bestselling self-published author, Joe Konrath, who isn’t shy about anything, responded to the AAR and to the Literary Agents who wrote the letter to the DOJ. He even published a copy of the letter, and responded to each paragraph with his own opinions. So far, I haven’t seen this letter anywhere else. It’s interesting to read the way it’s worded.

In any event, Konrath raises more than a few interesting points and if you are an author I would recommend reading his post in full. As I said, I have no comment. But I don’t think that Amazon…or anyone…is putting bookstores out of business. Bookstores were going out of business long before e-books became popular. I remember this happening to a number of bookstores in New Hope during the ten years I owned my art gallery in the 1990’s. They would come and go; someone with a poor business plan always lost a nest egg or a mid-life divorce settlement. At the time, the culprits that put small bookstores out of business weren’t web sites like Amazon. The big culprits back then were large chain bookstores like Borders. And we all know what happened to THEM.

Konrath makes an interesting point here:

Personally, I want my agents to be smart and to look out for my best interests. I want them to recognize they work for me, not the Big 6 or bookstores. And if I were repped by one of the 13 agents who signed their name to this, I’d be a lot angrier than I am right now.

The bigger picture for me with all this has nothing to do with the DOJ settlement or how people “feel” about it. My concern is who is going to help all the new authors who are doing things differently nowadays. I don’t see anyone looking out for their best interests.

Joe Konrath’s Blog, Amazon, and My Quiet Venture


Although Joe Konrath isn’t the reason why I’ve become so interested in self-publishing on Amazon, I’ve been a fan of his blog and his opinions/reactions on the subject. Especially his most recent blog post, here. Coming from a background in “traditional” publishing, I tend to focus more on my readers than I do other authors. The main perk for me with self-publishing on Amazon would be I could offer my books and stories at a much lower price, and have control over all the content…for my readers. I have one wonderful reader who has been corresponding with me for a while now. This reader suffered medical problems a few years back and was left with disabilities. I want people like this to have affordable e-books, and with regard to amazon publishing I like knowing the author can control his prices. Even though my e-books with digital first publishers are nowhere near as high as e-books are with “traditional” publishers, I often wonder how many pass by my books and choose another because they have e-book budgets they have to follow. I know I do this with books I want. And I’ve passed on quite a few that I thought would push me over the lines I set for buying e-books. I wouldn’t, however, pass on a .99 e-book.

I haven’t done it (not even with a pen name), but self-publishing with Amazon is something I’ve been looking into for a while. I haven’t made any set decisions yet, but I will make one small announcement in the coming weeks on the topic. It’s not going to rock the world and I’m not going to start slamming all my friends on social media with announcements and spam. It’s just a small, quiet venture I’ve been thinking about for a while. I love all the publishers I work with and my interest in self-publishing on Amazon has nothing to do with whether or not I’m satisfied with the results I see from my publishers. I am satisfied and I hope to continue to work with them for as long as they want me. I love them all. But the thought of having complete control is just too interesting to ignore. And the thought of being able to offer a brand new release…not a backlisted book…for .99 to my readers is even more appealing.

If you’re like me, and you’ve been interested in learning more about Amazon, please take the time to check out the blog post I linked to above by Joe Konrath. I can promise you one thing, it’s not the kind of material you’re going to read on literary agent blogs or “traditional” publishing blogs. I do think it’s still too soon to make huge predictions about the future of publishing (although I did make the same predictions Konrath made a few years ago, while a good friend in publishing sat at my dinner table and laughed at me when I said e-books would only continue to grow, and that’s why I got into digital first publishing about seven years ago in spite of being laughed at). Konrath’s POV is just different than what you’ve been seeing for so long, based on his own personal experience. And I can tell you this for certain, and this has nothing to do with the future of publishing, based on my own personal experience with digital publishing, Konrath has been telling the truth about what has been happening in the past ten years.

Joe Konrath: "Amazon Will Destroy You"


Here’s an interesting blog post by Joe Konrath. It’s not a long post; it gets right to the point. I recommend reading it, especially if you’re a new author.

I agree on some things, I’m not sure about others. I’m not sure because I still haven’t tried out self-publishing with Amazon. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t one of the first to get into e-publishing. I don’t know when Konrath started looking into digital publishing, but I started with one e-publisher nine years ago who was bought out by someone else. Three years after that, I moved on to loveyoudivine.com (where I remain), and then started writing genre fiction for ravenousromance.com. Including all the work I’ve had published with traditional publishers over the years, I have about 90 different published works out there (I’m honestly not completely sure about the exact number), most with my real name.

I have no regrets. I’m glad I made the switch to e-publishing in spite of more than one piece of advice from publishing professionals who told me not to waste my time with e-publishing. I’m glad I didn’t listen. The switch to e-publishing has allowed me to write more, release more, and build my reader base.

My overall experience with e-publishers has been very positive. Even though I’m not self-published and I don’t have complete control, I don’t have any complaints. More often than not the advice I receive from my publishers has been something that has helped me move forward. I’m not sure I could have done that alone. This doesn’t mean I’m still not curious about the self-publishing program at Amazon.

Konrath, Self-Publishing, and a Different POV from Tobias Buckell

I’m remaining objective here. I’m still curious about self-publishing and I want to learn more about it. And this isn’t because of Konrath or any other self-pubbing success stories I’ve heard about.

My interest is strictly one of curiosity with regard to author control and empowerment. When it comes to publishers, I’ve had to concede more times than I’ve won on issues I’ve felt strongly about in the past twenty years. And although I was right every single time, I’ve had to smile and move on for the sake of keeping the peace. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it stings and you don’t forget it.

This is an interesting blog post by Tobias Buckell. I don’t agree with all of it, and sometimes it’s all over the place with regard to the central theme of the piece. But it’s an interesting take. You can check it out and see for yourselves. And if you’re so inclinced, here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s blog.

Whether you are a published author, a new author, or an author thinking about self-publishing, I think you’ll find Konrath’s blog more than interesting.