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Love him or hate him, Joe (“J. A. “) Konrath is a mystery/crime/thriller/horror author who has become one of the most vocal proponents of self-publishing eBooks. You might disagree with what he has to say about the changing paradigm of book publishing and retail, but you certainly can’t ignore the guy. He has perhaps become best known for his blog, which covers his own efforts at getting his books and stories published and sold, and for his relentless, indefatigable defense of self-publishing eBooks. (If you are at all interesting in writing professionally, you really do owe it to yourself to at least check out his blog.)

This is a mammoth collection of Konrath’s old blog entries, some covering his self-promotion efforts for past books, though most concern various aspects of writing, publishing, and Konrath’s current efforts to self-publish his work as eBooks on Amazon and other sites. There’s quite a lot to wade through, as the material goes back years, to the start of Konrath’s career. You will want to take some time to cruise through the entire collection. The blog entries are presented chronologically within certain very broad topical categories. In each section, I found the entries from the last couple years most useful, as Konrath’s views have changed over time. For the first few years of his career, he was a staunch defender of traditional publishing, though as he dipped his toes in the self-publishing/eBook world, his opinions began to change. Now, Konrath says that anyone who publishes their work with a traditional publisher is, essentially, a fool. I’m not sure that I’d personally go quite that far, but Konrath’s case is presented so convincingly that it’s hard to disagree with him.

Do you need this collection? After all, it’s really just a nicely-formatted compilation of all of his old blog entries, with links to all of the entries comments and so forth. No, you certainly don’t technically need to buy this eBook, as it really is all available for free online. But it’s a lot easier to read it all in one place, and frankly, it’s cheap enough that I don’t think you’ll mind paying for that convenience if you plan to read a sizable chunk of his blog.

I give this ebook collection 4 stars out of five, though that may be a bit generous. I’d actually like to see this one receive some editing, proofreading, and an update. Since this collection came out, Konrath has actually written quite a bit more on the topic that’s not included here. I’d also excise all the early material in which Konrath badmouths the ebook craze (in hindsight, those entries are kind of ironic). He’s fully repudiated that view by now and is one of the biggest proponents of self-publishing ebooks. Since Konrath began his blog, he’s witnessed a real paradigm shift in publishing, and we’re all along for the ride. A new edition that focuses solely on tips for self-pubbing ebooks and includes all his comments on that since the publication of this edition would result in a much stronger, more tightly focused, and, ultimately, useful volume. Something like that would get close to 5 stars from me. The problem with the collection is that while it’s interesting as a more-or-less historical artifact on one author’s views of publishing over time, it’s really only the entries from, say, 2009-10 onward that are relevant to today’s publishing environment. I will say this, though: Konrath’s blog and this collection, have been instrumental in helping change my own views on eBooks as a phenomenon – they are here to stay, folks, and whether we like it or not, they are only going to grow at the expense of physical books. Konrath’s an fun, engaging writer, and his blog has made me read a half-dozen of his books. Say what you will, but Joe Konrath is a pretty savvy guy.

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Review copyright 2011 J. Andrew Byers