G.W. Jefferies says he’s just an ordinary man working a full time job that has nothing to do with writing. I write because I enjoy it and someday I hope it will take me to many, many wonderful and exciting places. I’m also engaged to be married and very happy. I believe he is much more than that, and this episode of Get Jack’d might have you drawing the same conclusion.
JW: Your book, Apolo Drakuvich has managed to amass some pretty impressive reviews. In fact, as it stands, you have 30 5 Star reviews and 4 4 Star reviews. That’s incredible. I would say, from my perspective, one of the hardest things to do is get readers to leave reviews. In fact, I hear that getting reviews is a serious sore spot for a number of indie authors. The way I see it is that it takes a special kind of reader to take the time out to leave a review. The average reader, I believe, isn’t all that likely to review a book, just as the average movie goer isn’t likely to review a movie.
On the other hand, I have to wonder how much stock the average reader (which I believe makes up the bulk of readers) puts in reviews. I can’t imagine most people going much beyond the cover and the description of a book. This is even more so considering, at least with indies, the readers are only dropping $0.99 to $2.99 on a book. At this price, books are impulse buys more than anything. And that price point has been a serious bone of contention for many authors. I recently went through this myself. Looking at my book I Zombie I, I had to seriously look hard at the time and effort I put into that book and decide if I really wanted to undervalue the book at what was basically change found in the sofa. So, I raised the price to better reflect the quality of the book.
There are moments when I think how sad it is that so many artists are undervaluing their work by selling it at a price lower than a candy bar.
GW: It took a little work to get the reviews for Apolo Drakuvich. I created a facebook event page about six or seven months was complete. The page was originally for beta readers and I had quite of few friends and family members. The event page was updated often and soon friends and family added friends of theirs. I was generating a little buzz for the book and this was before I decided to self publish. I self published a book of poetry several years ago with terrible results and wasn’t really in the mood to self publish again. Konrath’s blog popped up and that changed my mind. When Apolo Drakuvich was complete, I put the book up on Amazon and B&N and kindly asked (several times) for people to post reviews of the book. Reviews have also come in from different readers as well. I’m very happy with all of the great reviews that I have received. It’s not an easy thing to do.
I’m not 100% pleased with the .99 price for my ebook or really for any ebook. Months or years go in to the book project and selling it at .99 feels…cheap. But the book is selling at .99 and some people have made a lot of money off of the low price. I’m sure this .99 price fad will change. At some point, some indie author is going to say “Hey, $3.25 is the price to be at. I’ve made over two million dollars and you can too!” Konrath is King of the Indies at the moment and authors are going to follow his lead. We don’t want to screw up. We worked hard and we want to sell some books and have people read our bits and pieces.
It’s about building readers, fans, and some sort of following for your work. The plan for now is to have a few books at .99 and maybe higher prices for future works.
JW: I feel like Konrath really did quite a lot to pave the way for indie authors. But then, he was already an established author with a following. I feel, because of that previously established following he was able to strike out on his own and very quickly start pulling down the numbers he’s pulling down. I would be very interested to see how he would be doing now had he not already had established readers. Would he be struggling to find a readership or would his work carry him forward fast enough that he’d be in the state he currently enjoys.
I know I have been told over and over (by many wonderful fellow indie authors) that this is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s all about patience. Sometimes that is advice quite simple to take – other times…not so much. You don’t want to look at sales numbers, but something beckons you forward and you succumb.
GW: Konrath has done a lot for indie authors and has done a lot of good for the self publishing world. I agree that having that traditional publishing background has helped him a great deal. I’m sure Konrath would not be where he is at if hadn’t published with a traditional publisher. The kindle is a fairly new deal and he would probably have difficulty at first to get a following. He may not have chosen to self publish if he hadn’t been traditionally published before. Who knows? I don’t believe everything Konrath says but he has worked hard and it is clearly paying off for him.
Konrath mentions luck when it comes to his success. I think that is partially true but I think it really has to do with the hard work he has done. He took the time to write the novels and short stories. He had the courage to seek out publishers and look beyond the rejections. He took a big risk self publishing and has succeeded. Konrath put the hard work and effort into his business and that is why he succeeds. Konrath isn’t the only author who has had this kind of success but his name is well known amongst indie authors which is both good and bad. Don’t always follow everything Konrath or anyone else says. It’s your book do what you think is best. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
I constantly look at sales numbers. It’s like an addiction and it’s difficult to not look every day. We must remind ourselves that this is a marathon. Being patient is very important and it is also important to be persistent. Work hard and don’t be afraid to try new things but at the same time have the will power let things be. You can only mess with your cover and blurb so many times. It may be wise to start working on your next book. Write and write some more. That seems like good advice.
It’s not always easy to just write and be patient. I’m always reading and studying other authors to see what works and what doesn’t. I look to see what can be done on a very limited budget. At the same time, I want to show readers that what I’m doing is different and unique. I have an odd but nice personality and I try to show that in my blog and stories that I tell. So I try and find some sort of way to work amongst the collective of indie authors but be fresh, unique and different. There’s no magic key to success. It takes time and hard work.
JW: Limited budget is really key. In fact, my editor and I had a discussion about that very subject today. It boils down to this: I can’t afford to put my books through the same process that a “traditionally published” book goes through. To do so would cost in the area of 2-3 thousand dollars (that’s about five pairs of eyes looking at the book.) As it stands I have a beta reader and two editors. I am looking to add one more editor to the process, but that person (like my beta reader) is doing so on a voluntary basis. It’s tough…but (as I told my editor today), I am a work in progress at the moment. I do not have decades of experience in the publishing industry. What I have decades of experience in is creating…which is my strength. And now I’m trying to figure out a process that suits my budget and also offers an end product that is as polished as possible.
Perfection? No. In fact, I hear of traditionally published books that contain errors all the time. My wife recently finished reading The Prince of Tides and it was rife with errors. The first book in the Twilight series has a big ol’ glaring error on page nine. Seriously – if readers want perfection they best stick with Shakespeare. But that’s not to say I (we) do not strive for perfection. Ever single error eats away at me and I take them very personally and seriously. But I know perfection is something very few authors ever achieve.
And you’re right – Konrath really did pave the way for us. I belive, were it not for him, we’d be struggling even more than we are now.
GW: I think it takes more guts and balls to self publish. If a person is lucky to get traditionally published, they get to deal with people who are in the business and have the know how to get things done. With self publishing, we are in the dark. Sure, we may have some ideas and we think we have a clue what we are doing, but in reality we don’t. It takes hard work, lots of research, and plenty of ups and downs before we could MAYBE succeed in the self publishing world. You can lead a person to a book but you can’t make him buy it or something along those lines. But it does take guts, it messes with our brains and it turns our stomachs sour on some days.
All we can do is put a smile on keep on writing and hope for the best. Keep moving forward.
Blog: The San Pinto Times