J.A. Konrath Success Story: The Journey Of Indie Publishing’s Most Vocal Champion

konrath self publishing success story

“In the ten years I was legacy published, I made about $450k. In the four years I've self-published, I've made over 1.1 million dollars.”
J.A. Konrath is one of the most vocal advocates of self-publishing. This is no surprise considering the frustrations that he encountered while trying to chase his dream of being a writer. His publisher even cancelled his contract for his books supposedly not “having promise”. Most of these books ended up on bestseller lists. Here is J.A. Konrath’s self publishing success story.
“ Those novels garnered over 500 rejections.”
During the ten years that Konrath was trying to jumpstart his career as an author, he wrote over 10 books. This is in addition to investing a lot of time and money not only to get his stories published, but also to promote them.
Years of struggle to make his dream to be a published author finally bore fruit when his first novel was accepted by a publisher. He signed the deal in 2002, but it was not until after 16 months that his book finally got published.
He had finally got published but the J.A Konrath success story had not yet really taken a positive dive. A few stores ordered hardcover copies of his work and given the pricing and the little support he got from the publishers, sales never really took off. This is despite Konrath dropping in on signings, hand-selling his hardcovers and using a big piece of his $33,000 advance in writing conferences and book fairs around the country.
He however continued writing in between. By 2005, he had finished another novel and was ready to get published. He however didn’t sell a lot of books and so there was really not a lot of support from his publishers. In an attempt to earn the trust of his publisher, he visited over 500 bookstores in 29 states just to prove that he could make the sales happen.
His efforts to make his self publishing success story complete prove futile. In fact, by 2007 when he gets out his fourth novel, his contract is cancelled. As he admits, that was a devastating blow to his writing dreams since it meant that there would be no more support from his publisher.
“But I soldier on”
With his contract cancelled and with no support from the publisher, Konrath’s success story went to a new level. He now had to rely on reorders from faithful fans and on sales that he did personally. His efforts bear fruits as he manages to get his books into multiple prints. This is however not enough to get his titles to be picked by another publisher.
He finally decided to change his name to Jack Killborn in the hope of attracting a new fan base. All the while, with the money he had spent on self promotion, his writing career seemed to end…
“Then this Kindle thing comes along.”
When the Kindle came and the opportunity to self publish came along, J.A. Konrath jumped at it. This is so because it simply meant that he not only had complete control over his work, but also that his work could get maximum exposure without necessarily spending a lot of money.
Self-publishing on the Kindle saw his sales go through the roof. It finally made his self publishing success story go a complete circle. He says:
“I got all of my rights back, and my six week Kindle total is $116,000, which is more than the first three-book deal I signed. For those same books.”
“Don't write hoping to quit your day job. Don't compare yourself to me, or anyone else. This is your journey, and it will be unique to you.”
“So far this month I've sold over 10,000 copies of Whiskey Sour. That was legacy published in 2004. From then until I got my rights back, Whiskey Sour sold about 35,000 ebooks. So in 24 days, on my own, I've sold about 1/3 of what my publisher took nine years to sell.”
“Read my blog, going back to 2005. I worked for twelve years and wrote a million words before making a dime, and it took another ten years for me to be making this much money. I've got over fifty ebooks. And I'll cop to a bit of egotism and say I've never met anyone who ever worked harder in their career than I did. So the snide answer would be: Bust your ass for twenty years, with very little reward.”
(J.A. Konrath Quotes)

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