The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 5: The Game Changer – by Robert W. Walker, continued.

Recently Ellen DeGeneres gave away free Kindle readers to her entire audience for their summer reading. Not long before that, Kindle sales spiked for Mother’s Day. And prior to that, Easter. And prior to that a whopping three million in sales for Christmas! This is a huge audience for writers, and it is growing every day.

Meanwhile USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and The Huffington Post, along with every major news outlet (and Ellen DeGeneres!) are all talking about The Kindle Revolution and the looming demise of traditional publishing as we know it. However, traditional publishers move like glaciers when it comes to a new idea, and they have scoffed at eBook publishing and denigrated it for over thirty years. But with the advent of the state-of-the-art Kindle reader, “the times they are a-changing.”

In this month alone—and there are seven more days in the month—I have sold seven hundred books from my various series on Kindle.  In all my thirty years in traditional publishing with paper books, I never sold these kinds of numbers in one month out of brick-and-mortar stores. Why not?

Paper publishers limit their advertising dollars to one percent of one percent of their writers. They use those dollars to make mega-stars of celebrity authors like Sarah Palin, as well as promote others who correctly have earned their status, but no longer need the promotion: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, and more. But where one King is crowned and given huge budgets for advertising, 1500 other authors are “promoted” as I was—put quietly on the shelf in the hope someone finds them.

With my Kindle books I have no one to blame but myself if they fail. I write the copy and the book description. I write the ads. I do the PR and the marketing. Decide on title, size of my name on the cover, the cover art, the book design, price (so important now!), and publication date.

In the past, when a book died on the shelf, it was my numbers that failed—despite the fact all of the above was done by the publisher. I had virtually no input on the committee decisions made about my books, but I was ultimately the one “at fault” in the end if my sales were punk. But now, I am responsible for it all—and I accept that responsibility gladly.

I began publishing Kindle titles at the urging of my best friend, Joe Konrath who has blogged extensively on the NEW economics created for both authors and readers since the advent of Kindle publishing. Joe’s blog—A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing—is filled with great information on this subject. (Kris says: I have asked Joe to chime in here. Still hoping!)

Any aspiring author interested in more information should look into:

Some other important observations:

  1. My wife, Miranda Phillips Walker has her suspense novel, The Well-Meaning Killer, on Kindle. And as an RN, she has published a seven-page information-filled tale about how to kick migraine headaches! Authors can publish eBooks of any length, because with eBooks there is no page limit or requirement!
  2. Book descriptions are extremely important to sales. They should be interesting and exciting, enticing prospective readers to buy. They should fill in the traditional Five W’s – who, what, where, when, & why. An author’s blurb must be the best short story they’ve ever written!
  3. High quality cover art is critical. My son is a graphic artist; his company is http://www.srwalkerdesigns.com For a sample of his work go to Amazon.com and search for Robert W. Walker to see 44 examples! (Kris says: Jimmy Thomas is a romance novel cover model with a brilliant business plan. More on him and other new entrepreneurs later – I promise!)
  4. Publishing on Kindle is free.
  5. Before you publish, get a good, professional editor (see below) to vet the manuscript you wish to publish. There are many freelance editors available online. I put nothing on Kindle that has not first been heavily edited!

Robert W. Walker — Download 20 pages of Children of Salem FREE at: www.robertwalkerbooks.com

Kris says: Enjoy your Memorial Day holiday! On June 3rd I’ll post an article by Richard Adin – author of “An American Editor” blog – about the importance of professional editing. See you then!

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7 Responses to “The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 5: The Game Changer – by Robert W. Walker, continued.”


  1. 1 Paisley Kirkpatrick 05/27/2010 at 11:16 AM

    Your articles are so interesting, Kris. Are you going to keep them someplace where we can go back and re-read them? There is so much to learn. I don’t have a Kindle or anything similar so this is all new to me. Thanks for the facts.

    • 2 kristualla 05/27/2010 at 4:43 PM

      ALL my blog posts are available here. Down in the lower right corner is the “Past Posts” drop-down box. (And it looks like I’ve been darn consistent with my twice-a-week goal!)

      If you highlight the post text and right click, you can copy them and paste them into Word to keep.

      Does that help?

  2. 3 Pauline Baird Jones 05/27/2010 at 12:48 PM

    Many thanks for more great information! I’m checking out the kindle group, though the sheer size is intimidating. also sent the migraine link to my family who a) have kindles b) migraines! thanks for that!
    Pauline
    http://www.perilouspauline.com

  3. 5 Paisley Kirkpatrick 05/27/2010 at 5:15 PM

    Thanks, Kris. I see the and will definitely keep them posted.

  4. 6 Anthea Lawson 05/27/2010 at 5:40 PM

    Thanks for hosting for this very interesting set of posts and discussions, Kris! It’s great to see what authors are able to do with the changing technology.

    I would, add, however, that for the VAST percentage of new authors, going independently digital is like turning yourself into a grain of sand and flinging yourself onto a ten-mile beach. Both Robert Walker and Joe Konrath have strong platforms and decent reader visibility. It’s great that Mr. Walker can sell 700 books in a month — but there are thousands of authors who will not sell a single copy, because they are invisible and indistinguishable from the other thousands of grains of sand already out there.

    Self e-publishing is totally viable, for some. For others, it may well be an exercise in extreme frustration – especially if they go in with starry-eyed visions of selling hundreds of copies of books in a month.

    The established e-publishers (especially in romance) have strong followings and increased visibility for their authors. If you’re considering going digital, remember there are other options out there than self-publishing. I’d urge everyone to consider how much time and energy they have to put into promotion, how strong their author presence and platform are, and the pros and cons are of going it alone as opposed to hooking up with one of the established e-presses.

    • 7 kristualla 05/27/2010 at 9:55 PM

      Anthea – you make a VERY good point! Independent e-publishing success 1.) is NOT an overnight proposition, and 2.) requires a ton of promotional work on the part of the author.

      Joe Konrath reached this point after 6 years. REALITY CHECK: it’s NOT about selling books, it’s about building a readership. That takes time. There is NO other “quicker” path.

      And it takes MULTIPLE books! If all someone has is one manuscript, they are exactly like that grain of sand.

      Your point about publishing with an established e-pub is VERY good advice for the new author and their first book. Thanks for chiming in!


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