Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your iTunes Apps Here

A few of my ebooks just went live on iTunes. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, you can download them for between 99 cents and $1.99.

You don't need to download a separate ebook reader onto your iPhone to read these. These ebooks come with a built-in ebook reader. They exist as applications on your iPhone. Just press the icon and the ebook opens up.

By clicking "Get App" on this page you will open up iTunes on your computer, allowing you to buy it and download it.


For a limited time, only 99 cents.

Before the events of Jack Kilborn's epic horror novel AFRAID...

Before the events of J.A. Konrath's critically acclaimed thrillers FUZZY NAVEL and CHERRY BOMB...

Before the events of Jack Kilborn's and Blake Crouch's #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller SERIAL...

Three hunters of humans meet for the ultimate showdown at the TRUCK STOP.

Taylor is a recreational killer, with dozens of gristly murders under his belt. He pulls into a busy Wisconsin truck stop at midnight, trolling for the next to die.

Chicago Homicide cop Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels is a long way from home, driving to meet her boyfriend for a well-earned vacation. She pulls into the truck stop for a quick cup of coffee and stumbles into her worst nightmare.

Jack's no stranger to dealing with psychos, but she's got her hands full trying to stop Taylor. Especially since he's getting help from someone just as deadly; a portly serial maniac named Donaldson...

TRUCK STOP is a 15,000 word thriller novella that ties together Konrath's and Kilborn's works, with terrifying results.

A prequel to SERIAL, which has been downloaded more than 70,000 times, TRUCK STOP is an eighteen-wheeled ride straight into hell. Not for the faint of heart. Let the reader beware.

This ebook also includes an exclusive interview: JA Konrath talks with Jack Kilborn, plus excerpts from their latest books, CHERRY BOMB and AFRAID.

1906 - Something is discovered by workers digging the Panama Canal. Something dormant. Sinister. Very much alive.

2009 - Project Samhain. The best minds in the world have been recruited to study the most amazing discovery in the history of mankind. But the century of peaceful research is about to end.


All hell is about the break loose. For real.

Masters of the comedy thriller genre, J.A. Konrath and Jeff Strand, team up for the humorous horror novella Suckers.

Featuring horrific violence, bad jokes, and lots of name calling.

Originally, published as a very expensive limited-edition hardcover, Suckers is now available as a super cheap ebook.

But the fun doesn't stop there.

Also included in this ebook are six other stories, many of them rare and long out of print.

A medical investigator tormented by secret guilt.

A beautiful doctor with an illicit desire.

A millionaire businessman indulging a passion for murder.

And a human guinea pig who has been awake for seven straight weeks.

You’ll never sleep well again...

Disclaimer: This novel is filled with extortion, conspiracy, taboo sex, hidden secrets, shocking violence, and murderous betrayal. Not recommended for the faint of heart.

This ebook version also includes the bonus horror short story, "Dear Diary," about a very special pom pon girl.

When a dead body turns up in the Chicago River, newspaper reporter Alex Chapa and Police Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels reluctantly join forces.

Thriller writers J.A. Konrath and Henry Perez have teamed up to create FLOATERS, a mystery tale that combines humor with thrills.

Included in this 30,000 word collection are the shorts LAST REQUEST and FAMILIAR PLACES.

It also includes a conversation between the authors and excerpts from each of their new novels, CHERRY BOMB and KILLING RED.

A billionaire Senator with money to burn...

A thirty year old science experiment, about to be revealed...

Seven people, marked for death, not for what they know, but for what they are...

History is about to repeat itself

THE LIST is a technothriller about a group of ten people who each have tattoos of numbers on the bottoms their feet, and don't know why.

One of them, a Chicago Homicide cop, has had one of these strange tattoos since birth. When he investigates a violent murder and discovers the victim also has a tattooed number, it sets the ball rolling for an adventure of historic proportions.

Several million bucks, stolen from the mob...

All caught on video, with no chance of redemption...

Now one man must face the entire Chicago Outfit, a group of hardened Mafia enforcers, a psychotic bookie, the most dangerous hitman on earth, and Detective Jacqueline Daniels...

His name is Tequila. And he likes those odds.


JA Konrath is the author of the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thrillers (Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel, Cherry Bomb.)

If you'd like to see the actual order page, you can visit:, where you can still get SERIAL for free.

This requires iPhone OS 2.2 or later. And the apps are really cool and simple to use.

Welcome to the future.

If anyone is interested in doing the same thing, you can contact the company that created my apps at Apple takes 30% of the list price, IndiaNIC takes 35%, and the author takes 35%. So I'm earning between 35 cents and 70 cents per download.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In Defense of Print

Lately the majority of email I get, and the authors I meet, all want to know one thing:

Are ebooks going to replace print books?

Right now, ebooks are a supplement to print, much like audiobooks are. They're less than 2% of book sales. Some industry pros think they cater to a completely different audience than print, and the two can coexist peacefully. Other industry pros are in complete denial. At a recent convention, I was talking to a well known agent about how publishers are artificially inflating the cost of ebooks by charging etailers hardcover prices, and this person told me "You're making me angry. I can't talk about this with you."

Amazing. Ebooks are the big elephant in the corner of the room that everyone sees but refuses to acknowledge, even as it craps all over the floor.

I don't reach hasty conclusions. I like to gather information and learn all I can about something before forming opinions or predictions.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I do believe ebooks are the future. I believe this based on my personal experiences in publishing, and what I know about the industry. I can also draw conclusions based on my knowledge of other media industries, namely music and newspaper, and my interest in the Internet, digital media, file sharing, and formats.

I'm still in the minority. People are fond of quoting me, or pointing others in my direction, but I haven't seen any industry professionals brave enough to either agree with me, or open a debate with me to disprove my assumptions.

But I have seen a lot of statements, and heard a lot of questions, repeated over and over. Here are a few that stand out:

I love the feel of a regular book.

I hear this a lot. The tactile experience of cracking open the spine and turning the pages. The smell and feel of paper. We grew up reading paper, and we have a good relationship with it that fosters warm feelings.

But what if we grew up reading ebooks? Would paper have a single advantage? Who's to say you can't form that same bond with an ereader?

Actually, if you've ever listened to someone who owns a Kindle, you'd know that not only can you have feelings for digital books, but the feelings are even stronger than with print. Whenever I meet an ereader owner and ask them if they like it, they don't just say yes and move on. They evangalize.

These people are so enthusiastic, so happy about their discovery, that they gush on and on AND ON about it.

Remember that the written word can be written on anything, and it still has power. Books aren't on the page--books take place in our heads. While you can be nostalgic about the delivery system, I highly doubt you still listen to music on 8-track or 78.

I want a tangible product.

Me too. I have over five thousand books. I love owning them. I love how they look on the shelf. I love perusing my library.

But I'll be honest here. I used to have over a thousand cassette tapes. I loved owning them. I loved how they looked on the shelf. I loved perusing my music library.

Then CDs came along, and I repeated the love affair.

Eventually I got my first iPod.

I don't even own a CD or cassette player anymore.

I still love to own. But now I own digital files. I still love to persuse my music library. Except now I do it on iTunes.

Tangible is only a state of mind...

Ebook readers are too complicated.

If a computer is too complicated for you, than an ereader might be, too. But no too long ago, vacuum cleaners, clothes washers, and microwave ovens were considered complicated. Fear of technology is pretty common with the older generation. But the longer a product is around, the easier it becomes to accept, and to use.

Future ereading devices will become simpler and simpler as the developers strive to reach those late adopters.

Ebooks are a niche market.

Well, no duh. All new technology begins as a niche market.

But this is a niche market based on the written word, just like printed books. Except it has many advantages over books, and doesn't kill 40 million trees a year or involve shipping and returns.

By all accounts, more companies are developing ereaders, and more consumers are buying them. Ignore this at your own peril.

You can't autograph an ebook.

I've signed over a dozen Kindle covers, and one Sony cover.

When is some smart publisher going to give away skins or ebook covers that feature the cover art for their latest novel? Or at least sell them cheaply? Wouldn't it be cool to carry around a Kindle that looked like Whiskey Sour or Afraid? I think so too.

Ebooks can be shared and stolen.

The fear over digital rights being abused is real, but there are no clear indicators that sharing ebooks, free ebooks, or stealing ebooks have any effect on sales.

In fact, I think freebies promote sales. Which is why I still give away ebooks on my website, even though I'm selling the same books on Amazon and elsewhere.

Copyright can't be enforced in a digital world. Those who try are going to get more frustrated, protective, and paranoid, and ultimately they aren't going to protect a damn thing. Ask the MPAA, the RIAA, and the billions of people file sharing.

EReaders are too expensive.

The Kindle debuted in 2007 at $399. Two years later it's $259. Give it another two years, and we'll see $150, or less.

Tech prices come down. Always.

Books will never disappear.

I agree. There are billions of them on the planet.

But will the printed book remain the main mode of delivery for the printed word?

I doubt it. Anymore than newspapers remained the main form of delivery for news, or CDs remained the main form of delivery for music.

Remember all the music stores? Remember Coconuts, FlipSide, Tower Records, Musicland, and Sam Goody? Where are they now?

Amazon sets the price on ebooks, that's why they're expensive.

I've had a few industry pros echo this. So let's clarify it.


Guess what? I bet Amazon, Sony, and the other etailers would love to open negotiations for fair and reasonable ebook rates, which would result in the price of ebooks going down, which would result in more people buying ereaders and ebooks.

But the print industry doesn't want that.

Ebooks hurt my eyes.

I hear this all the time. And, in the case of standalone ereaders, this is wrong.

E-Ink technology doesn't cause eyestrain. At all. It's as passive as reading paper.

Some lament the tech of ebook readers, saying black and white displays are so 1998. They're waiting for color models.

But the fact is, E-Ink is very technologically advanced, and reading in black and white (or grayscale) is the easiest on the eyes. Include the no-flicker technology, and E-Ink is high tech that just looks low tech.

If ebooks are so great, why haven't they taken off yet?

In one form or another, it can be said that ebooks have been around since 1993. So why haven't they dominated the industry like mp3s?

I believe there are two reasons.

First, there has never been a universal format. I've blogged about this before.

Second, because publishing doesn't want ebooks to dominate the market. Why would they? The traditional role of publishers in this industry is to print and distribute books. In an ebook world, their role would be largely reduced, if not completely eliminated.

If I were a publisher, I'd be doing several things in order to prepare for the future.

1. Drastically lowering the prices on my ebooks.
2. Making ebooks available on my website, so I didn't have to share profits with etailers.
3. Publishing my backlist inexpensively in ebook format, and securing rights to as many out-of-print titles as I could get my hands on.
4. Directing the majority of marketing and advertising dollars toward ebooks.
5. Partnering with etailers and ereader manufacturers and offering them exclusive content.
6. Moving toward a digital future where all ebooks are free, funded by advertising.

But I'm not a publisher. Or an agent. Or an editor, or sales rep, or publicist.

I'm just a writer.

Here's the thing, though. I'm secure I'll still have my writing job in ten years.

Since April, I've sold over 6000 copies of THE LIST on Kindle. It will soon be on Sony, iTunes, and B&N. I expect these numbers to climb dramatically over the next few years.

Now I'm actually contemplating a sequel to this book--a book that was rejected by NY publishers--to release exclusively as an ebook.

That's crazy. That's absolutely crazy. I've dedicated my life to getting into print. I've dreamed of having this career since I was a little kid. I've busted my ass trying to succeed in this business, and have the battle scars to show for it.

I love print books. They're the reason I became a writer.

But my career isn't about printing my words on paper. It's about reaching readers with my words.

If readers want to read my words on a Kindle, I'd be stupid not to give them what they want.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


A few years ago, two of the major bookstore chains went into the publishing business, and began producing their own books, both classic titles and new content.

It made complete sense. Why split money with publishers when you can publish it yourself and make a larger profit?

Yet, none of them ever took the next logical steps--signing a big-name author to an exclusive publishing deal. Or reprinting backlist titles that continue to sell on the used book circuit.

Seems like a missed opportunity. But then, they're retailers first and foremost, and expanding into publishing carries a lot of costs and risks.

Now, in the days of ebooks, we have the Kindle, the Sony Reader, the iPhone, and the Barnes and Noble nook.

The savvy, ewise author knows how to get his books on these devices. Mine already are, or soon will be. Kindle in particular makes it very easy to do, and Sony is stepping up as well. I'll be on iTunes soon thanks to IndiaNIC, and B&N thanks to

But Amazon, Sony, Apple, and B&N are missing out on a way to make a lot more money.

Publishers get rich by having exclusive content. Only one publisher has Stephenie Meyer. The others do not.

And yet Amazon, Sony, Apple, and B&N all carry Stephenie Meyer on their sites, for their ereaders. They're sharing the pie.

Sharing is not the main problem. All bookstores share. But in the case of Amazon, Sony, and B&N, they LOSE money on each book sold. Print publishers, in an effort to stave off the inevitable, charge these companies several dollars more for the ebook than the companies are selling them for.

The result? Every time Twilight sells, the etailer loses money. In fact, a good portion of the ebooks sold lose money for the etailer.

If the etailors got wise, they'd try to make deals with authors directly. But they won't, or can't. Because there is a cost and risk associated with publishing ebooks, the same as there is with publishing print books.

This is a shame. I'd love to sign an exclusive ebook contract, and have the etailer promote it. Sell it at a low price, and we'd both make a nice bit of change.

Maybe this will happen in the future. In the meantime, it seems like a smart person, or company, could capitalize on the current situation.

Let's call these people estributors.

In the book world, a distributor such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Partners, or Anderson, is the middleman between the publisher and the retailer. They warehouse the books from the publisher, and fufill orders to the bookstores and bookselling outlets.

What the ebook world needs is a middleman who can facilitate sales between Luddite authors with backlists but no tech savvy, and etailers selling ebooks.

An estributor could contact NAME authors (not self-pubbed newbies) for shelf novels and out of print backlists, arrange for cover art, format for Sony, nook, Kindle, and iTunes, and take a small percentage, say 10%, of the profits for a set amount of time.

The etailers would be making a profit from estributors, rather than hemorrhaging money like they're doing right now. Ebook prices stay low, which the customers want. And authors can concentrate on writing rather than all the tech stuff.

There are millions of out of print books still under copyright but not under contract. Estributors could position themselves to rival the sales of large publishers, if they get in while they can.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Game

Just got back from Bouchercon, and had one of those revelation moments.

When I play, I play to win. That's the point for me. If I lose, I try to learn from it so I can win next time.

Traditional publishing is a game where I'm not allowed to win.

I suppose this is rather obvious. There are too many factors involved--luck being one of the biggies--that are out of my control.

But if I look at my writing career, I've done my best to have as much control as possible. I was the guy who sent out 7000 letters to libraries, who visited over 2000 bookstores, who blog toured over 100 sites in a single month, who gathered 10,000+ names for his newsletter, who talked about social networking before anyone knew what Facebook was.

I think all of this has had a positive effect on my career. I've made some money. I'm still selling books.

But even with my best effort, and with all I've learned, I'm not allowed to win.

Winning involves big print runs and marketing campaigns and distribution. No matter how hard I try, or how well I play the game, those things aren't up to me.

So along comes ebooks.

For the first time, there's a level-playing field. It's no longer about who has 200 copies of their latest hardcover on the Borders New Release table for five weeks at 40% off cover price. It's no longer about huge New York Times ads, or getting a review in People magazine. It's no longer about being available at every Walgreens and CVS.

I have no idea if I'll be able to win the ebook game. There are still a lot of factors involved.

But it's nice to finally feel like I actually have a chance to compete.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kindle Numbers: Traditional Publishing Vs. Self Publishing

I got quite a shock last week, when I got my bi-annual royalty statement.

Hyperion publishes six titles in my Jack Daniels series. They gave me my ebook figures.

Authors are usually quite secretive about their sales and their royalties.

Me? I'm spilling the beans. Here are my ebook Kindle numbers from Jan 1 to June 31, 2009.

Whiskey Sour priced at $3.96: 550 sales, $341 earned.

Bloody Mary priced at $7.99: 180 sales, $381 earned.

Rusty Nail priced at $7.99: 153 sales, $341 earned.

Dirty Martini priced at $6.39: 202 sales, $604 earned.

Fuzzy Navel
priced at $7.59: 152 sales, $341 earned.

That's 1237 ebooks sold in six months. Total money in JA's pocket: $2008.

Why do these numbers vary so much?

I get 25% of the amount received by the publisher. Depending on the deal my publisher makes with Amazon, that can be anywhere from 62 cents to $3 per ebook sold.

We can draw a simple conclusion looking at these sales: a $4 ebook sells 3 times as many copies as an $8 ebook.

Now lets compare these to my self-published Kindle sales. I'll use my four novels for comparison. This is also for a six month period.

The List priced at $1.99: 5142 sales, $3600 earned.

Origin priced at $1.99: 2619 sales, $1833 earned.

Disturb priced at $1.99: 1139 sales, $797 earned.

Shot of Tequila at $1.99: 900 sales, $630 earned.

That's 9800 ebooks sold in six months. Total money in JA's pocket: $6860.

I get 35% of the price I set on Kindle, or 70 cents per ebook download.

We can draw some simple conclusions looking at these numbers.

Ebooks priced at $4 sell an average of 1100 ebooks per year.

Ebooks priced at $8 sell an average of 342 ebooks per year.

Ebooks priced at $2 sell an average of 4900 ebooks per year.

It doesn't take a math whiz to see that the biggest profit is with low priced ebooks.

Now let's play the imagination game.

My five Hyperion ebooks (the sixth one came out in July so no royalties yet) each earn an average of $803 per year on Kindle.

My four self-pubbed Kindle novels each earn an average of $3430 per year.

If I had the rights to all six of my Hyperion books, and sold them on Kindle for $1.99, I'd be making $20,580 per year off of them, total, rather than $4818 a year off of them, total.

So, in other words, because Hyperion has my ebook rights, I'm losing $15,762 per year.

Now Hyperion also has my print rights, and my Jack Daniels books are still selling in print. But they aren't selling enough to make up the $15,762. Especially since all of them aren't regularly being stocked on bookstore shelves.

According to my math, I'd be making more money if my books were out of print, and I had my rights back.

Of course, there are a lot of different factors at play here. Certain titles are more popular than others. Print sales may fuel ebook sales. Ebooks sales may wane (though mine haven't yet.) Branding and name recognition and past customers and fans all come into play, making this damn confusing and far from conclusive.

That said, do I really want to keep signing deals with print publishers?

$3430 per ebook per year isn't really a big number. I've certainly never been paid so small an advance for a novel.

And yet, I'm 100% sure ebook sales are going to go up. I've signed deals with Smashwords to sell ebooks through Barnes and Noble, Apple to sell ebooks as iTunes apps for the Iphone and iPod Touch, and Sony to sell ebooks on their reader. Kindle was just released in 100 more countries. I predict more ebook sales in the near future.

Let's say by the end of 2010 I can make $5000 per year per ebook title by self publishing. I can easily write four books per year.

Again, $20,000 per year isn't enough to live on. But things begin to accumulate.

$20k per year for 4 new books, plus $20k per year for the books I'm already selling, is $40k per year.

But I'm selling more than novels on Kindle. I also have 6 collaborations and short story collections. This year I'm also going to put The Newbie's Guide to Publishing ebook on Kindle.

So now we're looking at 14 ebooks, each making $5k per year. That's $70,000 a year.

And as more people buy ereaders and ebooks, that number can go up. Plus, I publish on my schedule, I keep the profits, and best of all, the rights are 100% mine. So if I want to do a limited print edition, I can. If I want to sell the mass market paperback rights, I can.

Ebook rights began as gravy. I can picture a day when the print rights are the gravy, and authors make their living with ebooks.

Yes, it's still far off. And yes, print publishing is in no danger of going away anytime soon.

But I don't think I'll ever take a print contract for less than $30,000 per book, because I'm confident I could make more money on it over the course of six years than I could with a publisher over six years.

Isn't that bizarre?

For the bestselling author, this is all still very trivial. These numbers are chump change compared to the advances they get.

But for the midlist author, I'm beginning to think it's possible to make a living without print contracts.

I've struggled mightily to break into print. And I've made a nice chunk of change on my print novels.

Now I'm hoping those novels go out of print, so I can get my rights back.

I never would have guessed my mindset would change so dramatically in so short a time.


If you're a new author, reading this and thinking about the fame and fortune you'll make on ebooks, I urge you to try the traditional route first. Find an agent. Land a deal with a big NY house. Ebooks aren't there yet.

I'd hate to think some writer gave up on their print aspirations because of something I've said on my blog. I suggest you keep up the agent search, and hold out for that major deal. While I have no doubt others will be able to sell as many ebooks as I have, and probably many more, I still haven't made anywhere near the money I've made by being in print. Plus, everyone's situation is unique, and no writer should compare themselves to any other writer.

Most of all, don't change the future of your career based on one man's ideas. Learn as much as you can about all of your options, do research, get other opinions.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Working With a Publicist by Rebecca York

Full disclosure. I've never hired a publicist. My two main reasons--being cheap and thinking I could do it all myself--aren't really valid, because I frankly never looked deeply into the subject.

When I asked writer Rebecca York about her experiences, this was her response:


There was a time when an author could sit back in her comfortable office and focus on the word processor. Her job was writing the best book she could. Her publisher’s job was printing, publicizing and distributing her book. But things have changed dramatically over the past few years. Today a writer’s also got to do something about publicity, or her book is likely to get lost in the great sea of publications that come out every month.

I’d love the luxury of simply sitting and writing. And give a few lectures a year to enthusiastic audiences. But how are readers going to know I’ve got a book out? Unless they’re poring through future pub lists, I need to let them know they can get the next exciting book in my werewolf series in–October. And hopefully I can also interest some new readers in my work.

A full-blown promotion effort is a lot of work–more than I can do myself. Which is why I’ve hired several people to help me. My latest release is DRAGON MOON, which came out from Berkley on October 6. The heroine is Kenna, a slave from my alternate universe, sent here to help her ruthless dragon-shifter master invade our world. She meets werewolf Talon Marshall and desperately wants to tell him her frightening secret. But every time she tries to reveal her plight, excruciating pains stab into her head. Even as Kenna and Talon fall in love, he can’t trust her. And she struggles to break through the barriers that control her mind. It’s classic romantic suspense, with the paranormal twists I love.

But how do I tell people about the book? I’ve got several strategies, with three different "publicists" who each bring something to my book promotion.

For years I’ve used Binnie Syril Braunstein of Press Kit Communications. I met her because she lives in my local area. Mainly she makes and sends out ARCs of my single-title Berkley releases to readers’ groups and review sites. And recently, to save money, I asked her to send out "teasers" to some of these groups. The teasers were the first seven chapters of DRAGON MOON, and we got a good response from them. Also, some of the review sites have asked me for interviews. Another thing we tried with this book was offering to give away ARCs to people who would post reviews of DRAGON MOON. Again, this got a great response.

Another key part of my marketing plan for DRAGON MOON involves Circle of Seven Productions. I’ve had them produce a book trailer for the past five of my Berkley single-title releases. This time I also bought a special package they offered in conjunction with Between Your Sheets, a weekly e-newsletter that goes out to readers. (I’m one of the participating authors.) Although COS isn’t strictly a publicist, they do a lot of the same things. They made a great video for DRAGON MOON which you can see on my Web site at They distributed it to a lot of outlets on the Web including Youtube.

And the video will also be playing on television stations in Northern California. The special deal with them also included a review, blog entries, Tweets about the video that drove traffic to my Web site, and a podcast. (Which became two podcasts!)

But I was looking for more exposure. For DRAGON MOON, I added another publicist, Dana Kaye, recommended by a friend. Dana’s got media savvy and some great contacts. She’s filled in the blanks in my book promotion strategy by sending a DRAGON MOON press kit to various newspapers, magazines, blogs, radio and television shows. As a result of her work, I’m now writing this guest blog entry. She’s also set up a podcast for me as well as several other blogs and articles. And she’s following up on these contacts.

In addition, Dana’s helped me with some other aspects of publicity that I hadn’t used effectively. She linked my Tweets to my Facebook page, made a background for my Twitter page, started me a Facebook fan page, and advises me on my Web presence.

All of the above seems to be working for me. I’m getting a lot of visibility, and I’m not spending a fortune, either. One thing I discovered after doing several book videos with COS is that the shorter ones are probably the most effective. So I’m buying their least expensive products and taking advantage of their media presence. Also, both Binnie and Dana give me excellent value for my money.

In the quest for effective promotion, I’ve learned from my past experiences. Two years ago I hired an expensive publicist and was much less pleased with the relationship. She charged me for her time while she had me paying third-party suppliers for various projects like my Web pages and press kit. Unfortunately, she had a bad habit of getting into disagreements with her suppliers, costing me extra money and sometimes leaving me with not-quite-completed work.

If you’re looking for help with your publicity, find out up front what the publicist will do for you and how much it’s going to cost. Be prepared to be a partner with your publicist. She should listen to your ideas and use them if they make sense. Keep in mind that the most expensive services aren’t necessarily going to be the best for you. And be open to opportunities you might not have considered on your own.


If you have any questions for Rebecca, post them and I'm sure she'll reply.

If you'd like to see her press kit for DRAGON MOON, if posted it HERE.

Friday, October 02, 2009

That About Covers It

I just gave my homepage a much-needed update. It includes:

*Fixing the video on Invader and Invaders, two 16mm black and white comedy horror films I shot back in college, on the Photos page.

*Adding over fifty interviews to the Links page.

*Adding easier contact info.

*Adding new items to the Store page.

*Adding new cover art and material on the Freebies & Ebooks page, and on the For Writers page, kicking off the Great Ebook Experiment.

The new covers are something I've wanted to do for a while. I've had over 10,000 ebooks sales on Kindle, but I've never been happy with the cheap cover art I did myself.

I complained about this a few months ago, and the good folks at offered to make me a cover for Disturb. You can see the obvious difference.

My crummy cover:

The new cover:

Seeing a 25% uptick in sales once I stared using the new cover, I hired a friend of mine to redo my other covers. Here are some of his creations:

I've recently uploaded these covers to Kindle, but it takes Kindle several days to update. So if you'd like to see my original, cruddy covers for a comparison, just search for my books on Amazon.

Everyone has opinions about cover art, but few people are able to articulate why they like something, or why they think it works (or doesn't work.)

I approached the new covers with some specific goals in mind. Whether I reached them or not is open to debate, but here was my thought process.

1. Branding. Each of the new covers has a JK banner on the top, with a blurb in it. Even though the images and styles on the covers vary greatly, I wanted a unifying factor. The simple brand JK does this.

2. Genre. I want the reader to be able to tell in two seconds what sort of book this is based on the cover. With Truck Stop, it's a serial killer/cop thriller. Shot of Tequila is a men's action novel, so I wanted a throwback to the pulps with a Robert McGinnis-type of image. Origin is a monster-on-the-loose book, and The List is a technothriller. I believe each of these covers convey their genre.

3. Professional. My early covers looked self-published, like someone with no talent played around with Photoshop--which was exactly what I did. I wanted the new covers to look like books that big publisher release. Or, in the case of Tequila, released 40 years ago.

4. Reduceable. Amazon, and many other e-tailers, shrink the covers to thumbnail size when browsing. I wanted these to still be identifiable and readable when compressed.

5. Eye-catching. After the initial, two-second impression, I wanted enough detail to get people to look closer. The background of Origin is a bible page. The List has a gene sequence, and a family tree of related events. Tequila has some blurbs, an aged appearance, and a fake cover price. With Truck Stop, besides the blood and the bloody tire marks, the heel on the shoe is broken. Hopefully this makes the reader wonder who owns the shoe, and why it is broken, which is answered in the story.

What are some other things you look for in covers? What makes a cover good or bad? And do we really judge books by their covers?

I'd love to hear your thoughts...