With more than 500,000 ebooks sold, self-published mystery, thriller & horror novelist JA Konrath is a huge writing/publishing success by anyone’s standards.
The loudest and most controversial voice in self-publishing, Konrath has had his share of detractors over the years, but for every one of his detractors, he has several hundreds of fans who respect his advice and hang on to his every word.
Love him or hate him, Jay’s advice is sound. What’s more, I doubt that many who argue his logic have sold as many books as Konrath has.
I had the privilege of speaking with Konrath a few days ago. In the following Q&A, we talk writing and publishing, and he reveals a little about the man behind the books and blog.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LATEST NOVEL “STIRRED.”
It’s a fun idea. What if Patterson’s hero, Alex Cross, chased after Harris’s bad guy, Hannibal Lector?
That’s what Blake Crouch and I did. I took my hero from seven novels, and he took his serial killer villain from three novels, and we pitted them against each other.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU AND YOUR CO-WRITER (BLAKE CROUCH) TO WRITE STIRRED, FROM THE FIRST DRAFT TO THE FINAL?
We’ve been working on it for six months. It’s a long book, over 100,000 words, but it is packed with action, humor, and suspense.
WHICH OF YOUR TITLES HAS ENJOYED THE MOST SALES? AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S YOUR TOP SELLER?
TRAPPED by my pen name, Jack Kilborn, is my bestselling title, with over 90,000 sold. I have no idea why. I just keep writing the best books I can, and luckily some readers connect with them.
HOW MANY HOURS PER WEEK WOULD YOU SAY YOU SPEND WORKING?
If I’m on a deadline, I can work 60 hours. If I’m between projects, maybe 25 to 40.
HOW MUCH OF THIS IS SPENT ON ACTUAL WRITING?
About half, unless I’m on a deadline. Then all.
DO YOU HAVE A DAILY PAGE GOAL? DAILY WORD GOAL?
Nope. I write when I can, and when I have to.
IS THERE ANY PART OF THE WRITING PROCESS THAT FRUSTRATES YOU?
Proofreading. I get cross-eyed when I’ve stared at the same finished manuscript for the millionth time, trying to spot errors.
WHAT PART OF THE WRITING PROCESS DO YOU LIKE THE MOST?
The writing part. I get to do what I love and get paid for it. How lucky is that?
YOU’VE SAID THAT THERE’S A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF LUCK INVOLVED WHEN IT COMES TO SALES SUCCESS. PLEASE EXPLAIN.
All we can do is write the best books we can, and market them as best we can. The rest is out of our hands. Sometimes books sell like hotcakes. Sometimes they don’t. That’s the luck I’m talking about.
We live in an era when media is omnipresent. Everywhere you look there is entertainment, often for free.
Luck plays a factor in any success, whether it is music, film, TV, games, videos, or ebooks. Just keep at it until you get lucky.
WHERE DO YOU THINK MOST NEW WRITERS GO WRONG WITH MARKETING/PROMOTING THEMSELVES? (WELL, ASIDE FROM NOT DOING IT ENOUGH, IF AT ALL?)
1. Social media is a dremel tool, not a hatchet. Use if delicately.
2. Don’t pay for advertising. It doesn’t work.
3. It isn’t about what you’re selling. It’s about what you’re offering. Your goal is to find people who are looking for your kinds of books, not pushing books on those who don’t care.
4. Never do anything that doesn’t work on you.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE?
Fate is a future you didn’t work hard enough to change.
ANY ADVICE YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE TO ASPIRING NOVELISTS?
Never give up.