Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blog Tour, Guest Post & Author Contest: Jon F. Merz - Traditional Or Indie? How About Both?

Jon F. Merz, author of the Lawson Vampire series, is joining us today to promote his new release, The Kensei, published this week by St. Martin's Press.  Okay, so I know what you are saying...Hey, that's a traditionally published book!  Well yeah, but Jon is also self-published and has agreed to give us a little insight into his experience being both a traditionally published and self-published author.  He also has a cool contest too so check out the details at the end of this post.  Without further's Jon!

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Jon says.... There's been a ton of talk lately about the demise of traditional publishing.  Ebooks are the future and writers no longer need New York agents and editors.  The gatekeepers have lost all the power.  Writers are back in charge.  With platforms like Amazon, they can immediately reach out to a waiting audience that will no doubt shower them with riches.

Well, maybe.

Let me state from the start that New York has its problems.  I know this.  And I'll also gladly tell you that I've been mistreated in the past by the corporate machine that is publishing - my series was dropped back in 2003 due to personal problems between the editor and me and poor sales and a lack of publicity.  So I'm not any sort of cheerleader for the traditional model.  My belief has always been if I can cut out the middlemen and get my work into the hands of those that matter - the readers, then all is good.

I turned to indie publishing when my novel Parallax couldn't find a home in New York.  Despite editors loving it, the sales people couldn't figure out how to sell an espionage thriller with psychic suspense elements, so they rejected it.  It was frustrating - the book was great and I wanted it to have a home.  But New York said no.  So I put it out on the Kindle platform and enjoyed thousands of sales.  Customer reviews supported my assertion that the book was a great read.  I was happy with the results.

But I didn't stop pursuing traditional publishing deals.  And here's why: I wasn't seeing enough evidence to convince me that turning my back on New York was a sound move.  While I know that others sell thousands of dollars worth of ebooks each month, I don't.  That's the simple truth.  For me, the business model isn't yet at the point where I can look and state that I can make X number of dollars each year pursuing indie publishing.  But if I keep my hand in traditional publishing, I can definitely tell you what I'll make.  And that security, such as it is, is the main reason I haven't abandoned New York just yet.

Now, that said, if someone can tell me the formula for selling gobs and gobs of ebooks, and I put it to the test and suddenly see my sales exponentially increasing and staying at that rate, then I'll certainly reconsider.  At that point I'd be thrilled to be proven wrong, let me tell you.

But for right now, I'm happy to straddle both realms.  I have an array of stuff for sale that I do independently via Amazon and Smashwords.  I also have traditional publishing deals.  My most recent novel, THE KENSEI, just came out this past week from St. Martin's Press.  I write installments in the bestselling Rogue Angel series from Harlequin/Gold Eagle.  And my agent is shopping around a YA series.

Meanwhile, I carefully monitor the indie publishing trends.  As time permits, I want to experiment and see if I can get my own sales numbers to the point where I am more closely aligned with what others are making.  But for all the cheering that a lot of blogs and forums espouse, the reality of my situation is not ready to go 100% indie.  That may be due to factors I can control - such as cover design and descriptions - or it may simply be that this indie thing works for some people and not for others.

Until such time as I can determine that I can rely on the indie model, I'll continue to pursue traditional deals.  And I'm happy to be playing in both arenas right now.  Publishing is most definitely changing and I get front row seats to both extremes.  If New York ends up going the way of the dinosaur, then I won't be a complete newbie in the indie world.  And if New York figures out how to play in this new world of publishing, then I set there as well.  Yep, I'm hedging my bets.  It's my career, after all.

At the end of the day, we're all content creators.  And our end user is consuming that content in different ways.  As long as I can deliver it on whatever platform they want, I'm happy and so are they.  Would I like to make more money at it?  Absolutely.  And when I find a new formula that works for me, I'll do just that. 

For now, I'm both an indie and a traditional.

As a writer, Jon has published over a dozen novels including four Lawson Vampire adventures (2002-2003) with Kensington's Pinnacle Books, the Jake Thunder mystery/thriller DANGER-CLOSE (2004) with Five Star Mystery/Thorndike Press, and eight installments in the internationally bestselling adventure series Rogue Angel (2006-present) with Harlequin's Gold Eagle line. His latest thriller PARALLAX debuted in March 2009 as an exclusive ebook.  His short fiction story "Prisoner 392" (appeared alongside Stephen King in FROM THE BORDERLANDS, 2004, Warner Books) earned him an Honorable Mention in 2004's Year's Best Fantasy & Horror edited by Ellen Datlow. Jon has also co-authored two non-fiction books: LEARNING LATER, LIVING GREATER with Nancy Merz Nordstrom (2006, Sentient Publications) and THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO ULTIMATE FIGHTING with Rich "Ace" Franklin (2007, Alpha Books/Penguin/Putnam). Jon's next Lawson vampire novel, THE KENSEI, debuts in January 2011 from St. Martin's Press

Find Jon on the web:

Find Jon's indie titles:
Smashwords / Amazon / B&N

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The Kensei (Lawson the Fixer, #5)
by Jon F. Merz

Release Date: January 18, 2011
Saint Martin's Press

Meet Lawson. A cynical, wise-cracking vampire charged with protecting the Balance between vampires and humans, he is part cop, part spy, and part commando -- James Bond with fangs. Lawson mixes shrewd cunning with unmatched lethality to get his job done. He tries his best to dismantle conspiracies, dispatch bad guys, and live long enough to get home. InThe Kensei, a battle-weary Lawson heads to Japan for a little rest and some advanced ninja training. But he no sooner steps off the plane than lands in the midst of a Yakuza turf war orchestrated by a shadowy figure known as the Kensei. With the help of Talya, a former KGB-assassin, Lawson must put a stop to the Kensei’s organ trafficking networks, prevent the creation of an army of vampire-human hybrids, and save his own skin in the process.  Buy it at Amazon or B&N.

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The Kensei Contest Details:

Send Jon proof-of-purchase (or a copy of your receipt if you bought online) that you’ve bought a copy of THE KENSEI and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the sword used by actor Brandon Stumpf in the official book trailer for THE KENSEI. Brandon will be starring in the TV series based on the novels, THE FIXER.  If you win, not only will you get the sword, but a certificate of authenticity, and you can even have it autographed by Brandon and Jon. Each copy of the book counts as one entry, so if you buy three copies of THE KENSEI to give as gifts to friends and family, then you have three chances to win the sword. And yes, ebook sales count as entries, too... One winner will be drawn on May 28th, 2011
You can send your entries to:

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Thanks for joining us today Jon!

1 comment:

  1. ...or it may simply be that this indie thing works for some people and not for others.

    Such is the crux of publishing in general. I have an essay on this from years ago. In the end, it's all about what works for you in this business and then running with it. That was my mentality several years back when I was getting knocked for self-publishing, and such is my mentaility now when those who did the knocking are self-publishing because "they can't get a publisher." It's not "adapting" or the "evolution of the industry." It's reality. A sad but true one. ebook have been around for years.

    Sour grapes? Yes and no. That's being honest.

    All what's happening is a reversion to the publishing biz when the biz first started long ago: writers producing their own material and getting it into the hands of readers.

    The problem with the indie model as touted by others is they're only doing half of what they could do. Even you, Jon. :) Shoot me a note sometime and we'll talk. We go back all the way to that vampire web-movie thing so you know it's all good.

    In the end, it's about weighing where the benefit is for one's career: NY or small press or self-publishing. Each have its pluses and minuses. Each can do well with a project in its own way, depending on the project.

    If you want more info, read the essays I posted on my blog here: Some of the info is slightly dated, but the main thrust of each article remains true.



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