Insurgent Creative: Zacharius Q&A

Insurgent Creative

Insurgent CreativeSay what you will about Joe Konrath (and I certainly have). Bombastic, self-aggrandizing, relentlessly abrasive, triumphalist one-true-wayist guru of self-publishing, his style grates on many. And yet, to be scrupulously fair, he isn’t often wrong. He was an early adopter of the Insurgent Creative model, a C-lister who took his rights-reverted published novels and self-published, along with other rejected manuscripts, and has made a shedload of money as a result. He is open with his numbers (screen caps of Amazon earnings reports), and, if you can wade through the bullshit posturing, a lot of his advice is solid.

His latest effort, though, is a real eye-opener.

Here’s the skinny: A traditionally-published author posted openly about what she’s been paid. She then took it down, because it was a violation of her contract’s non-disclosure clause. Lexi Revellian blogged about it, complete with a captured grab of the original post, and then that blog entry was mentioned on The Passive Voice blog (which if you aren’t regularly reading, you should be).

In the comments of the The Passive Voice post, Steve Zacharius, the CEO of Kensington Publishing (the largest of the independent publishers outside of the Big 6, or 5, or whatever the hell they are now), responded to several comments (which is, itself, kind of unbelievable).

So, Konrath decided to use his blog to respond to Zacharius’ comments, point for point.

…and that’s when it took off. Steve Zacharius responded via email (and gave Konrath permission to put his answers on the blog). So Konrath updated the blog post with the new responses.

Zacharius responded again. And again. To date, there have been 4 rounds of back-and-forth between Konrath and Zacharius, becoming a HUGE conversation between self-publishing and traditional New-York-based legacy publishing. And some of what Zacharius says is a real eye-opener for any writer weighing the options of shooting for a traditional publishing contract, or life as an Insurgent Creative.

Read here — it’s going to take a while, but it’s worth every minute: “Questions From Steve Zacharius, CEO and President of Kensington”


Insurgent Creative: Write. Publish. Repeat.

Insurgent Creative

Insurgent CreativeOne of the projects that I’ve had churning around in the background is a revamped version of ePublishing 101 — a project that Phil Reed and I did some years ago. The original version was very game-industry specific (since the industry was an early adopter of digital publishing), so my plan is to expand the material to account for the current digital publishing boom.

My plans, however, are definitely going to have to change somewhat, due to the recent publication of Write. Publish. Repeat., which is unquestionably one of the best books on the topic of independent publication that I’ve ever read. My own efforts will definitely need to be stepped up to clear the now much-higher bar set by this book.

Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt, two of the folks behind the excellent have written a clear, no-hype, no-bullshit examination of how to make a solid, full-time career as an independent author-publisher. No get-rich-quick schemes, no promises of millions, no political agendas about the superiority of self-publishing and blind ignorance of traditional publishing — just a clear discussion of the steps needed to make a living as a writer who releases their own stuff.

They break down the terms you need to be familiar with, debunk the usual myths, and give you step-by-step advice on topics ranging from creating professional product (how to avoid looking like an amateur, from pre-production, through writing, and into post-production), to marketing (building relationships, having conversations with your readers, etc.), to building what they refer to as “product funnels”(intellectual properties that lead customers from one purchase to the next in a natural progression).

A lot of this material is the same sort of stuff I’ve been talking about for a while, via these Insurgent Creative blog entries. Even with my familiarity with the tenets involved, I still found this to be an incredibly valuable resource, simply due to the examples and tips they provide — and they often suggested methods surrounding the concepts that I hadn’t considered.

I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. If you are looking at making a full-time living as an independent author-publisher, you need to read this.

Insurgent Creative: Matt Wallace’s First Year

Insurgent Creative

Insurgent CreativeMatt Wallace is a former professional wrestler, and current novelist, screenwriter and all-around purveyor of awesomeness. A year ago, he decided to release his novel, The Failed Cities, independently.

Today, he posts an examination of the first year of the book’s release, providing a look at sales numbers, his promotional and production choices, and more, all with links to additional posts discussing the various decision points along the past 12 months.

One of the interesting elements in his Year One study is his thoughts on collaboration with traditional publishing — where the author releases the digital, and contracts with a publisher for the print edition. He sees this as a model that is coming, despite his own experiences with trying to lead the horse to water:

I decided to use The Failed Cities as a proof-of-concept and pitch another book to larger publishers. I sent several proposals to some mid-range publishers basically saying, “Hey, I did this, we sold this many. I can produce/promote digital copies. You can produce physical copies. They’ll each promote and feed the other.”

They reacted like I was insane, of course. Publishers make huge bank off digital rights at the moment. They share criminally little of it with authors who are in general ignorant, frightened, and happy to give their money away. Publishers aren’t giving that up to some schmuck with a few thousand sales.

Only it’s not insane. It’s not insane at all. Louis CK did the exact same thing with HBO with his last one-hour special. He told them they could buy and broadcast the special, but he needed to be able to retain and sell the digital himself. It wasn’t worth it to him otherwise. If they didn’t agree he’d walk. They agreed.

He’s Louis CK and I’m Matt Wallace so the publishers told me to go screw. I get that. My numbers are too small and it’s too soon.

I’m of the opinion that this is a business model that a lot of smaller publishers should be looking into — partnering with author-publishers on the release of print editions of independently-released ebooks. Not the old “vanity press” model, where authors are duped into fronting the costs of production and un-distributed books end up filling the author’s garage, but a true business partnership — publishers licensing the rights to an existing work, to handle the production and distribution of the print edition. The large publishing houses are more interested in partnering with scummy scam artists like Author Solutions, so it will have to be the smaller publishers who move quickly and offer this valuable service — and it’s already starting to happen (as demonstrated by Wallace’s release of a limited edition hardcover of The Failed Cities in partnership with Murky Depths).

So head on over and check out his Year One report. Being an Insurgent Creative is all about being able to adapt, and having more information makes that process much easier. Be small, think big, move fast.