Thursday, August 14, 2008


Joe Konrath has done his very best to step into my shoes, to follow in my footsteps, and I first noticed it while living in Chicago and meeting him at The Red Lion Inn the night of his reading there. What with the snowbanks outside, yes, he literally allowed me to go ahead so that he, wearing sandals, could follow in my boot-steps. Some years later, he stood up as my best man at my wedding to Miranda, and I have had repercussions from famiy ever since who did an intervention on learning my best friend was Satan in disguise. Now I dare to turn over my time at ACME to the man with trepidation mixed with love. Rob Walker

Joseph Andrew Konrath was born in Skokie, IL in 1970. He graduated from Columbia College in Chicago in 1992. His first novel, Whiskey Sour (2004), introduced Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels. Others in the series include Bloody Mary (2005), Rusty Nail (2006), Dirty Martini (2007), Fuzzy Navel (2008), and Cherry Bomb (2009). The books combine hair-raising scares and suspense with laugh out loud comedy.

Joe is also the editor of the hitman anthology These Guns For Hire (2006). His short stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines and collections.

Under the name Jack Kilborn, Joe wrote the horror novel Afraid (2009).

Joe's been nominated for several awards, including the Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, Dagger, and Barry, and has won the Derringer, Bob Kellog, EQMM Reader's Choice, and two Lovie awards.

His blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing (, has had over 400,000 hits since 2005.

Joe is married, has three children and three dogs, and currently lives in a suburb of Chicago. He occasionally teaches writing and marketing at the College of Dupage.


The Myth of the Good Book

No, we're not debunking the bible here. We're talking about the pervasive idea that if you write a good book, it will sell. The writer doesn't have to have an internet presence, or make any public appearances, or do any marketing, self-promotion, or publicity. All the writer needs to do it write a good book and it will magically find an audience.

It makes no difference the years of experience or the amount of success a writer has had, many still believe this.

It's baloney, of course.

As I've said many times on many forums, "good" is subjective. There's no universally accepted standard for "good" because everyone has an opinion. Editors and agents, who believe they know what "good" is, still represent and publish books that fail more often than not. We've all read crappy books that are big hits, and we've all read wonderful books that are now out of print.

"Good" is a really poor indicator of sales potential.

But the myth still persists: Write a good book, and it will sell.

Instead of poking holes in this concept (I'm privy to the "You can write the best book in the world but people won;t buy it if they don't know it exists" rebuttal), maybe we should look at why so many writers feel this way.

1. Naivete. If a writer is only responsible for writing a good book, they don't need to know anything about this mysterious business known as publishing. This offers the artist a nice, insulated cushion from real life, where they feels they only needs to worry about writing the best book they can and everything else will be taken care of for them.

2. Stubborness. It's a publisher's job to sell books. Period. The writer writes, and nothing else. If the writer does their job, the publisher will promote the heck out of it, and the book will find a wide audience.

3. Fear. It's a scary business, and self-promotion is expensive, time-consuming, and difficult. It's much easier for an author to focus on writing than learn the skills needed to become a salesman. Writers get rejected often enough by agents and editors. They shouldn't have to risk getting rejected by readers as well.

4. Envy. We all know a few indefatigueable writers who are constantly promoting heir brands. We don't like to think that perhaps we should be promting our books with equal vigor, instead clinging to the belief that the book should sell itself based on its own merits. It's much easier to attack someone else than blame ourselves.

5. Bad results. Perhaps the writer has tried to self-promote, had a bad experience, and now refuses to do anything else. This is a shame, because we all swallowed some water learning how to swim. Practice makes perfect.

Now let me make it clear that writers do need to write the best book they possibly can. That should go without saying. But in a world with so many forms of entertainment competing for our time and money, in a world where 200,000 new books are published every year but only 1 out of 5 makes a profit, in a world where selling a first book is difficult, but selling a second book is impossible if the first one didn't do well...

Obviously, it is in the writer's best interest to make an effort in selling their books.

Here are some things to remember about self-promotion.

1. People are looking for information and entertainment. They aren't looking for ads or commercials.

2. Sales isn't about selling a book to someone who doesn't want it. It's about finding people who are looking for your type of book and offering it to them.

3. Books sell one at a time, and every effort you make has intangible benefits.

4. Think about the last ten books you bought and why you bought them. These are the strategies you should use when selling your books.

5. Set attainable goals. Becoming a bestseller isn't a good goal, because it is largely out of your hands. Going to three writing conferences and introducing yourself to 100 new people is within your power.

6. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Self-promotion is about planting seeds, and these often take a long time to grow. The longer and harder you work at this, the better you'll do.

If you're a writer who wants to know more about craft, publishing, and promotion, visit my blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing at


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Anonymous said...

That was an excellent, relevant, much needed and worthy post. you are so right on, bro.

Morgan Mandel said...

Hi Joe,
Great post. Welcome to Acme Authors Link. We're happy to have you as our guest.

Morgan Mandel

unwriter said...

You have some very valid points. It us up to the author to sell the book. But the myths are just that. Write with those fears in mind and you'll never sell one. Sell as if you were going to buy. That is what the readers are looking for.


Martin MY said...

First viewing and impressed, your style is flowing and narrative I like that.

Rock on Baby! :)

Helen said...

Excellent advice. Don't wait until the book is published to start learning how to promote or networking. From the moment you decide to write you have to decide to learn how to sell.

Margot Justes said...

Joe,Thank you for posting on ACME Authors.

I really appreciate the sound advice, I have taken it to heart- it is tough for a newbie to get the name out.

Debra St. John said...

Hi Joe, Thanks for joining us today!

Anonymous said...

As ususal your posot is right on. One of the things I see happeneing is that new authors are paying such close attention to those authrs who have been "lucky" enough to get marketing budgets and the like. They look at the best seller lists and they don't see any of those authors doing events or promoting or anything and they allow themselves to be "convinced" that this can happen to them to.

I am always amazed when I get submissions and I delete them and they folow up and I tell them they were deleted and when they ask why, I tell them they did not follow directions, they ask why, I say no marketing strategy, they then say, I won't need one with your publicity staff on the job, or something equally as hysterical. I like to laugh, but come on!

Thanks for putting this info out there once again. You are a frog...prince among...frogs.

Karen Syed

Mary Cunningham said...

Excellent post. I have to single out one thing, though: Books sell one at a time.

Don't know how many times I've heard this from a certain publisher.

Thanks for reminding me.

L.J. Sellers said...

It took me a while to learn how true this is. But now that I know I'm in this for the long haul and the joy of having people read my work (and not the money), I'm much happier. And on the rare occasion when I get discouraged and think I'm wasting my time, I stop and ask myself: What else would I do with my free time? Knit? Watch TV? I don't think so.

Deb Larson said...

Hi Joe!
Thanks for the insightful advice. Promoting is hard work, and never ends! Thanks for posting this week. Come back often!!
DL Larson