Since the Kindle’s launch, Amazon has heralded each new arrival into what it calls the “Kindle Million Club,” the group of authors who have sold over 1 million Kindle e-books. There have been seven authors in this club up ’til now – some of the big names in publishing: Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts for example.
But the admission today of the eighth member of this club is really quite extraordinary. Not because John Locke is a 60 year old former insurance salesman from Kentucky with no writing or publishing background. But because John Locke has accomplished the feat of selling one million e-books as a completely self-published author.
Rather than being published by major publishing house – and all the perks that have long been associated with that (marketing, book tours, prime shelf space in retail stores) – Locke has sold 1,010,370 Kindle books (as of yesterday) having used Kindle Direct Publishing to get his e-books into the Amazon store. No major publisher. No major marketing.
Locke writes primarily crime and adventure stories, including Vegas Moon, Wish List, and the New York Times E-Book Bestseller, Saving Rachel. Most of the e-books sell for $.99, and he says he makes 35 cents on every sale. That sort of per book profit is something that authors would never get from a traditional book deal.
Locke is also the author of now bound-to-be classic How I Sold 1 Million E-Books in 5 Months. Of course, rags-to-riches, unpublished-to-bestselling author isn’t a particularly new phenomenon. But to have this occur outside a major publishing house certainly is. One million e-books in just 5 months is a testament to the incredible popularity of e-books – particularly at this low price point. And it is yet another reminder of the shifting publishing – not just reading – landscape.
Pointing to the success of another self-published author Amanda Hocking, GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram suggests that the successes of Locke and Hocking are “another sign of the ongoing disruption of the traditional publishing industry.” Indeed, self-publishing was once viewed as the last resort for frustrated authors. In the future, should such successes be repeated, it may be the publishing industry that gets more rejection notices.