For anyone who just stumbled across this site, my name is Kirk Allmond. I am an indie author, self published, and loving every second of it. I write a series of zombie books called What Zombies Fear. Shameless plugs: www.whatzombiesfear.com, www.facebook.com/whatzombiesfear and even this Amazon link if you’d like to buy a copy.
The above paragraph is, in addition to writing, what I spend most of my time doing. Ok, MOST of my time is spent in the combination of sleeping, working my day job and raising an amazing little boy. I mean the time not spent doing those things. In my couple of hours a day dedicated to “being an author”, I write new chapters for my books, and promote the ones I have already written.
When I first wrote WZF, I talked to a bazillion publishers, and got the same answer every other author gets. Great story, but not interested. I’m fine with that, being an author means learning to love rejection. Every author told me stories of spending years looking for a publisher, but luckily for me, this is 2012. In 2012, publishers are completely and utterly unnecessary. I self published my book, printed it with lulu.com, listed it on Amazon for Kindle, Barnes and Noble for Nook. I put it on smashwords.com, which got me into iBooks for Apple, and in a bunch of other e-reader stores/devices. And I sold a few copies.
Amazon has always been my best sales avenue. B&N is a close second. I started a facebook fan page for the books, and started posting to my wordpress. I (with help from some amazing friends) built a following for WZF. (By the way, have you read John The Aussie’s blogs? Dumb Workers is HILARIOUS!). Chris Philbrook over at Adrians Undead Diary linked to me, and drove a lot of traffic to me. My friend and fellow super-zombie author Mark Clodi gave me volumes of advice and inspiration.
Slowly, things started to fall into place for What Zombies Fear. Sales continue to rise, the following continues to grow. And then in the last month, I apparently hit a milestone. You see, I hit number 17 on the paid horror list in the US, and #1 on the paid horror list in the UK for amazon. Suddenly, publishers are coming out of the woodwork to talk to me. Really? You’re coming to me now? Now that I’m an established convention speaker, an established expert in zombie survival (see my other Zombie endeavor The Zombie Preparedness Initiative). Now that having my book in your catalog would bring in the easy money, now that I have started to build some name value, you’re interested in having that name attached to your publishing house?
I’ve spoken to five publishers since Sunday (today is Tuesday), all of whom approached me. Every one of them has said the same thing, given me the same line. “We handle the formatting, and the uploading to kindle, etc. You still have to go to conventions and book signings, you still have to keep doing everything you’re doing.” (Paraphrased, since its a conglomeration of conversations). My response to every one of them has been the same. It takes about two hours to format a book to publish on kindle. It costs about $100 to find a good editor (HUGE thank you to Doree Anne!) And about $150 for great cover art. For the record, I love going to conventions and book signings. I love meeting fans and shaking hands and talking about zombies, I don’t EVER want to stop doing that.
So, all five of these publishers want a portion of my income forever, for $250 worth of work. WAKE UP PUBLISHERS. You’re going to be joining buggy whip manufacturers, telegraph operators and Ice delivery men in the ranks of extinct occupations, if you don’t change your strategy. The more authors realize how easy and how much more profitable it is to self-publish, the more people will realize that we don’t NEED you.
I do, however, want to partner with you! A publisher has clout. A publisher has contacts in the media, and the ability to help get the word out about my book. THAT is what I need. I need a marketing firm who has access to avenues that I do not. That is where publishing has to go. If you want to stay in business more than the next year or three, that is what all of us need. I’m willing to pay you 5% of my income, if you can increase my profits by more than 6%. See how that works? You sell books for me, and I’ll pay you for doing it. You don’t have to put a lot of up-front money down for me, I don’t need you to pay for 30,000 copies of my book and ship them to retailers all around the world. Promote the hell out of my book. Sell the hell out of my book, and together we’ll earn the money to pay for those huge print runs up front, if that’s a route we decide to take. Creating an e-book is virtually free. If you read it and it’s a good story, why not give new authors a chance to prove themselves in electronic format. If they prove they’re willing to do the work, and their book sells well in e-format, THEN talk about printing. THEN talk about getting in to book stores.
Don’t fight electronic books, embrace them. Embrace them for the diversity they can deliver, and as a proving ground for new authors. I moved 9355 books last month (April 2012). I don’t need to pay you 5% of the profits from that to spend two hours formatting my book, and/or 8 hours editing. But if you can increase my monthly sales to 11,000, or 20,000, or 50,000 then we’ll be talking. Let’s make some money together. You’re not necessary anymore, but you can be of assistance. I’m willing to talk, but you have to stop with the mindset that I need you. You have to stop thinking like you’re the boss. Be my partner.