I think what’s not been said succinctly is what this has all been pointing toward:
Taking a midlist deal from a traditional publisher is dumb-ass thing to do. The “average” advance for a first novel is about $6,000.
How sad to be a good enough writer to get a book deal, but with such poor business sense and such a potent need for a stamp of approval that you squander the money you could be making.
People say but taking that midlist deal is a career builder. Yes, it is. A career of being repeatedly fucked that culminates with getting dropped. The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of that scenario. I’ve been in this business since 2004, and the number of people who were first published when I was and still are being published is a fraction.
Do you think it’s easier now than it was then?
With the rarest of exceptions, publishers support books they pay lots and lots of $$ for. And only some of those are successful. If you get big money for a book up front, take it and run. No one’s saying that’s not a smart thing to do. I think Amanda Hocking was masterful in leveraging her ebook sales into a killer major print deal.
But midlist, for the most part, stays midlist. And considering the current royalty structure for ebooks, midlist is an even worse place to be now than it was a few years ago.
I haven’t heard anyone here say that all legacy-published authors are morons. Because no one believes that. Some are making fat bank. Good for them. Ride it out. But if you have a first novel, or are considering publishing again, and you’re taking less than $25,000, I think it’s safe to say that’s a stupid, stupid thing to do.
Some people would say that number should be way higher.
You want some numbers?
On my first novel, Desert Places, which was published in 2004, I have earned a total of $13,114 from my publisher. That took six years, and I was paid an advance of $6,000.
Since I re-published it myself one year ago, I have made $17,677, on Amazon US alone. That doesn’t include Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon Fr.
And this isn’t my top seller. It’s only cracked the top 1000 once. This is a 7-year-old novel.
Now, there’s been a lot of talk about tone. So if this comment just hurt your feelings. I apologize. Go to this website, and have one on me:
I think that characterizing acceptance of a trad-pub contract as dumb is wrong. Ill-informed, perhaps, but, after all, it has been the prevailing model for near on a century. And self-publishing is a risk — a crap-shoot — and more especially for a new writer with a first novel. Nor is it a given that said author finds the terms of the contract amenable. More likely, I’d say, that she finds it a Hobson’s, and may seek another route to publication next time.
There’s been a lot of commentary on the subject of the abrasive tone of Konrath’s posts on the subject. I can’t say as I have an opinion either way on that. If you can’t see the plan facts in front of your nose, maybe it’s a “if the foo shits…” situation. But, at the same time, people can get their backs up if they perceive that they’re being insulted — whether with reason or not — and the emotion can cloud their judgement or their receptivity to the message. That is, however, not really the messenger’s problem, now, is it?
Also posted at Musings of an Indie Writer.