Friday, September 23, 2011

Indie Publishing II: The Wrath of Konrath

Lately Konrath has become so notorious as an outspoken Indie publishing rebel that his every utterance is studied, dissected, and critiqued. His business decisions are weighed and measured against anything he might have previously said contradicting what he's chosen to do. Traditional publishers probably do see him as a Khan to their Captain Kirk, but I've even seen some steadfast fans implying he should be cautious making even more giant changes like recently when he talked about accepting a modified traditional deal. Why on earth would any Indie author want him to lay down his machete and stop carving a path through the jungle when we're not out of it yet?

Konrath's ongoing willingness to change his mind and approach to best fit his business needs and then--God bless the man--show all the rest of how to do it is a good thing. Behind the censure hides a very basic fear of change that each person needs to resolve for themselves. Frankly, it has me shaking my head. I frequently find myself hoping Konrath's Indie book sales are huge enough to pay for a really good bullet-proof vest in case he ever needs one, or least enough to buy some really, really good booze now and again to help shut us out. No matter how much vitriol he receives, the man continues to light the way for Indie authors regardless how much hell is being raised. How can you not admire that as a business person?

It was one of Bruce's IT friends who first mentioned Smashwords and made me curious enough to do research, but it was JA Konrath who watered and fertilized the discontent growing in me with traditional publishing. His blog, A newbie's guide to publishing, is on the recommended reading list of most every Indie author for very good reasons. He is a fountain of genuinely useful information and action-prompting-thought overflowing into the Indie publishing world. To get it all, you have to read the archive posts too. Some are epic. All are worth the time.

Here is the post from December 2010 that caught me and changed my life, and not just because he was a man admitting he had been wrong about something, though I sincerely enjoyed that also (no offense, JA--I write humor):

In December 2010, "Donna McDonald" was an unknown, but moderately good writer with a growing collection of traditional industry rejections that could have, and likely would have, continued growing over many more years. Authors like Konrath helped me change that outcome. Now in September of 2011, I am a writer with six published books and another one coming out in October who is actually making money from the work. I have a profound gratitude for what JA Konrath is doing and for his ongoing honesty. Because of him, and others like him, who remain willing to tell the good and the bad stories of Indie publishing I am armed well to take risks in the business of being a published author.

Writing romantic comedies is my creative soul and my life, but before I ever received my first $35 royalty check I realized being an published author is also a demanding business. I guest blogged about that on the Gem State Writers blog this week, but I remain cautious still about coming out of the self-publishing closet and bringing traditional industry wrath down on my head, too. I longed to be noticed by them for so many years. Then I chastise myself for being afraid to just talk openly about even my modest success because as a business person I know fear is not reasonable. If I was selling any other product than my books I wouldn't be afraid to talk about anything. See how crazy that is?  So I'm glad there are well-known, widely published authors on the Indie front lines like JA Konrath, Barry Eisler, Dean Wesley-Smith, and Kristine Kathyrn Rusch who are fighting the first round of censure bullets for the rest of us.

Konrath was already too busy to connect with me individually when I found him, and I don't mind that a bit. He probably hears from hundreds of people every day and I see his answers to many of them on his blog, in his interviews, and in articles. I still mention him, credit him, and try to be reciprocal to give back to him all the paying it forward he does every day that I reap the benefits from as I study his example.

You know what else I think? Though he didn't agree, even Captain Kirk saw that Khan had intelligent reasons for thinking like he did.

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