Recently, midlist mystery writer JA K*nr*th, announced proudly that he was going to publish the latest installment of his mystery series with Amazon Encore, the first “big name” (as he put it) author to switch to Amazon.com’s inhouse publisher.
Of course, many writers have been self-publishing on Amazon.com’s Kindle format, some with terrific success. K*nr*th himself feels his new contract is going to be a big deal, and that he’s going to get a strong marketing push from Amazon.
Me, I’m not so sure. For one thing, it seems as though his series was dropped by Hyperion because of flagging sales. The author himself states that his agent tried and failed to place it with a large NY publisher. So is this just a case of talking up a Plan C as though it’s been the winning strategy all along, or of finding a new, wonderful path only after exhausting the traditional choices?
It also raises questions about writerly self-promotion. From the time his first book came out, K*nr*th has been a proponent of promoting the hell out of your work, even when more experienced writers told him it was mostly a waste of time. So what does it mean that he’s… well… retreating from NY publishers to Amazon.com?
* That promotion helped drive sales of his early work, but readers weren’t enthusiastic about the books and it wasn’t sustainable.
* That promotion has very little effect and is mostly a waste of time.
* The downturn in his sales is mainly (rather than partly) to blame on the economy.
* The downturn in his sales is mainly (rather than partly) to blame on a genre slump.
Or none of those things. Or a mix of them. Whatever the cause, it makes me more dubious about hustling for readers than I ever was before. Once upon a time, reading this author’s blog made me feel like a dilettante. Now I’m thinking that I should keep doing the things I’m interested in and skip the rest.
NB: I’m using the asterisks in his name to thwart Google Alerts, because I’m not really interested in having him here. I wish him all the success in the world, but the way he talks online puts me off.