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Be the Monkey - Ebooks and Self-Publishing: A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath [Kindle Edition]

Jack Kilborn , J.A. Konrath , Barry Eisler
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sure, the advent of digital books is the most significant development in publishing since Gutenberg. But what does digital mean really, for agents, publishers, and most of all, for authors? What will the industry look like tomorrow, and what should authors be doing to properly position themselves today?

Examining the history and mechanics of the publishing industry as it exists today, the way the digital revolution reflects recent events in Egypt and the Maghreb, and a completely inappropriate YouTube video featuring a randy monkey and an unlucky frog, bestselling authors (and friends) J.A. Konrath and Barry Eisler show in this 35,000 word online discussion that digital isn't just the future, it's right now.

Konrath, a pioneer in self-publishing, is now making over a half-million dollars a year through his self-published books, and Eisler just turned down a half-million dollar deal from one of the Big 6 NYC publishers to self-publish his latest novel. To find out why and what it all means for you, read on.

Please feel free to repost all or any portion of this discussion with attribution and a link back to the authors.

About the authors

Joe Konrath is the author of more than twenty novels and hundreds of short stories, written under the names J.A. Konrath (the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series), Jack Kilborn (Afraid, Trapped, Endurance, Draculas), and Joe Kimball (Timecaster.) Joe has a lot of names, apparently. He began self-publishing on Kindle in April, 2009. As of March, 2011, he's sold over 200,000 ebooks. On his blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, he has chronicled his writing journey.

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler's bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous "Best Of" lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages. The first book in Eisler's John Rain series, Rain Fall, is now a minor motion picture (kidding, it’s reasonably major) starring Gary Oldman. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and, when he's not writing novels, blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law. You can find out more on his website, friend him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter. He was also in the movie Freakonomics, which he forgot to tell Joe.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 253 KB
  • Print Length: 145 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004SV2IPC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #353,742 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating! 11 Aug. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a must - a very cheap must, at under £1 - for anyone interested in self-publishing. Self-publishing has been transformed from the last resort of the desperate to a viable business model by the advent of e-publishing and high royalties (up to 70%) going directly to the author from distributors such as Amazon (through Kindle Direct Publishing). Many midlist authors are now prospering in a way that they couldn't with traditional publishing, Konrath being one of them (he's now a bestseller); and bestseller Eisler walked away from a $500,000 publishing deal to self-publish having seen trailblazer Konrath's data.

Joe Konrath has a fascinating blog - the Newbie's Guide to Publishing - in which he's often rather aggressive in tone and it's refreshing to read him in conversation with a friend he clearly likes and respects, making for a more responsive and considered dialogue.

Changes in the publishing industry are fast-moving now as the ebook/self-publishing revolution gathers pace. I hope Konrath and Eisler will continue to discuss the issues and publish more conversations if they do.

Recommended.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting discussion 23 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is not exactly a book, but rather a transcript of several online conversation between the two authors on the merits of self publishing. It doesn't contain much advice on how to do so, but rather focuses more on why you should.

The authors' arguments are quite persuasive and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what they said, however, their whole argument seems to be based on the idea that writing is purely about making money. Now of course it's nice to make money and once you are a professional author, I'd imagine most people would like to maximise their income, but nowhere (in these conversations at least) did I get the impression that these guys view writing as any sort of craft or skill or that they are at all interested in seeing interesting, but perhaps not immediately popular works see the light of day.

The authors talk a lot about upping word counts and seem to treat writing much like tending to a machine, which I feel is reflected in their output. I've read works by both these authors and while Barry Eisler's work was solid if unspectacular, Joe Konrath's (while pretty entertaining) really stank of just quickly churned out rubbish for the mass market. There is, of course, nothing wrong with writing entertaining but uninspired fiction - we all like to zone out with a trashy novel now and then - but you would hope that most writers would aspire to something more than just making as much money per word as they can.

By the time I was finished I was left with rather an unpleasant feeling that, while I hope that self publishing will allow many more great writers a wider audience, the majority of successful ones may be more in the vein of these two.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Monkey Business 13 Jan. 2013
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
The publishing world is going through, to use an overused cliché, a tectonic change. The advent of online and electronic publishing are changing the way that we consume and promote published words in the greatest such shift since Gutenberg.

"Be the Monkey" is a book-length conversation (or in fact a series of conversations) between the best-selling authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath on several topics relating to the current state of the publishing industry, and all the advantages of publishing your own works without the mediation of the large publishing houses. Konrath in particular has been writing and blogging on this topic for years, and Eisler has been "walking the walk" of self-publishing for quite some time as well. In fact, Eisler's own testimony might be the most persuasive argument in favor of doing self-publishing: he has turned down a half a million dollar book deal from one of the six major publishing houses. He has figured out, and correctly it seems, that being hamstrung with a contract did not make much sense for him any longer, either financially, or in any other respect. The freedom to choose your own book cover, distribution channels, marketing initiatives, and the price of your own books are too powerful of considerations to be left to third parties. Eisler's one big point, to which he returns repeatedly, is that historically the single biggest service that the publishing houses provided was the distribution networks for the physical books. With the demise of traditional bookstores, scaling back of libraries, the advent of Amazon, digital publishing, and printing-on-demand services this one big advantage for publishing houses is all but nonexistent.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  59 reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great manifesto making the case for Indy digital publlishing 26 April 2011
By HDTV shopper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed this speed read of a dialogue between two successful writers who, over beers, make the case that all writers should cut out the "legacy publishers" who control paper-based book distribution that leaves authors with a mere 14.9% royalty. Joe and Barry make the case for self-publishing your $2.99 ebook, which turns it into an impulse buy that gives the writer an astounding 70 percent royalty. The impetus for this dialogue appears to be Eisler's much ballyhooed decision to turn down a $500k advance from St. Martins' Press to self publish his next book.

The authors make a compelling case here that legacy publishers overprice their digital offings to protect their antiquated power structure, but are as clueless as the record industry was until Apple changed the dynamic forever. Seems lthat Joe and Barry are having a great time, not just hanging out with each other and tossing out inside jokes, but they're absolutely certain of their convictions.

All of it is highly engaging to writers, especially those whose works have fallen out of print, but what's left unexplored is how the hell a digital-only writer can stand out amidst the ever growing whitte noise, especially if the mainstream media is disincentivized to promote digital books. It's a small complaint, since the rest of the information is so valuable. The fact that they actually get paid for this conversation (99 cents!) makes it a profitable experience for both sides . . . it's self-evident proof that the business model works.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not a monkey, it's an ape. 9 Jan. 2013
By The Many-Angled One - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Be the monkey" in the title refers to a youtube video linked in the text of a chimp (a type of ape, NOT a monkey) forcing a bullfrog to perform an unnatural act on him. The point is that self-publishing through venues like Amazon, Smashwords, et cetera is superior to publishing through "legacy" publishers. In the business relationship between author and publisher, the publisher is the monkey and the author is the bullfrog. As authors, we are told to regard ourselves as businesses creating a product, and the publisher's job is to market and distribute our product. They're your business partners, just as your local supermarket is a partner for the businesses that make the goods stocked on the shelves. The legacy publishers have had too much power in the relationship, and this has resulted in the usual monopolistic abuses. With the invention of eBooks and the rapid sale of eBook readers, the power is swinging back towards the author as small business owner - and the dinosaurs' days are numbered. Perhaps like the dinosaurs they will learn to fly and evolve into birds. One thing is for sure, the revolution is upon us and the monopoly power of the legacy publishers is rapidly eroding.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for aspiring self-publishers 1 Dec. 2011
By Alain B. Burrese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
"Be The Monkey" makes sense after you read this eBook, but "EBooks and Self-Publishing: A Conversation Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath" describes this eBook much better. When reading, you must remember that this is a conversation between two authors, who are also friends, so you find some kidding and joking around, a little self-promotion, and a lot of practical and motivating advice for anyone wanting to enter the world of self-publishing, especially self-publishing electronic books.

No, this won't teach you "how to" self-publish, you will need different resources for that. However, this book will tell you "why" you might want to go the self-published route, and provide some publishing knowledge, some facts and figures, and a healthy dose of motivation to go the indie route.

I actually talked with Barry last summer about a lot of the information covered here, and just now finally purchased an e-reader so I can more easily read electronic books. I liked what both Barry and Joe said here. Some reminded me of Barry an my conversation, and other stuff just motivated me more, and reassured me, that my choice to enter the indie self-publishing realm is the right choice.

There are three main parts to this eBook, each being a separate conversation. The first is a conversation about the rise of eBooks and self-publishing. The two of them make a lot of sense and have a grasp of the publishing industry. Part two addresses some questions that came up from the first conversation, and the third part discusses the deal Eisler made with Amazon's new imprint after turning down a deal with SMP and announcing he was going to self-publish his newest novel "The Detachment." While Eisler was accused of being hypocritical for making the deal, he explains how it was business and how the deal with amazon was not like the deal he walked away from with one of the big legacy publishers.

This book is for anyone interested in self-publishing vs traditional publishing, anyone who still holds the old notions about self-publishing, and anyone who is self-publishing and wants to know they are on the right track, or at least the right track for some, and most likely many more. Highly recommended for aspiring self-publishers.

Review by Alain Burrese, J.D., author of the soon-to-be-self-published novel "Lost Conscience."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legacy Publishing? What's that? 7 Oct. 2012
By Robin C. Piggott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a straight from the hip, behind the scenes, account of the experiences of two very successful Authors, both of whom sampled the rocky road of Legacy Publishing. They decided that there just had to be a better way.
The book is in the form of a recorded interview and conversation and contains plenty of "Quips `n Quotes" which are both entertaining and informative.
While it's no doubt an essential prerequisite when publishing a non fiction "this is my story, warts an' all" type of book, to be factual and economical on fluff, the injection of real life humour is what makes a book inspirational and thought provoking. Of course if you are a serial procrastinator (hint), the thought provoking elements of this book might not lead to any action ...on the other hand, where there's a will there is always hope, if not a crystal clear pathway.
This treatise (for it's a mammoth read!) on the do's and don'ts of self publishing and the why's and wherefores, is totally compelling reading for the "about to publish my Book on Kindle" writer. It's a very long and absorbing read, rather like a text book on steroids written by two comedians! (Try working that one out!).
Joe turned down what appeared at the outset to be an awesomely lucrative deal from a Legacy Publisher, in favour of self publishing. Not a few heads were turned in the process like a scene from the exorcist. A bold move in the face of the Traditional Publishing cognoscenti. One he won't regret I am sure. Those of you out there in the Kindle Kosmos won't regret Joe's move either, since it very clearly marks the beginning of the end of Legacy domination. Let's have three resounding cheers for the pioneers Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler.
Altogether a most illuminating read (for which read Great Polar Exploration). You'll need to plan well before tackling this book; like suitable outdoor clothing, a supply of long life sandwiches and a pack of Flares for rescue in the case of your disappearance! A back pack of Evian wouldn't go amiss. This book should give hope (maybe glory) and confidence to all those Writers and Authors whose pile of rejection slips now reach the Study ceiling. Wonderful book...get to it!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much Food For Thought 7 Jun. 2011
By jwmanus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've been following this conversation on the The Newbie's Guide... blog, but I wanted to download it for my Kindle so I could carry it around and read it whenever and where ever I felt like. Much value for a very low cost. Every writer who is pondering self-publishing, indie publishing, digital publishing, whatever you want to call it, needs to read this, visit Konrath's blogs, check out all the links and EDUCATE themselves. Thank you, Joe and Barry. Could have lived without the monkey and the frog, but I'm not so easily traumatized, so it doesn't matter. What does matter is that info like this will go a long way toward my making an informed leap when and if I decide to make it.
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