Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Exclusive Club

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, there’s a new member of the million-Kindle-seller club. Author John Locke joins Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins and Michael Connelly in having sold a million copies of his book.

What he did that set him apart is that he sold his Kindle books for 99 cents. That significantly lowers his royalty amount. If you price your books at $9.99, you would get almost $7 per book. But by pricing his books at 99 cents, he got only 35 cents per book. Even with that low percentage rate, he still made $346,500.

Keep in mind that he sold those 1 million books in five months. In the article, one person noted: "In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books."

So, his is a great story, but keep in mind that it’s not the norm.

22 comments:

  1. Yes, I agree. These success stories are great to read about, but self-pubbing is no different to traditional publishing in that there can only ever be one "BIG SELLING AUTHOR" to every 999 midlist authors. Of course, it's always nice to dream that we can be one of those "BSA"'s, but better for our sanity if we keep our expectations realistic.
    Judy, South Africa

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  2. Wow, I'd say he had a pretty good year!

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  3. It's a good story. He also uses twitter very well. I've learned a few things from him about social media.

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  4. I read about this too. I'm continuing to sell e-books for Kindle, but I'm curious. It does look like you get more exposure if you're in the 99c bracket. I'm reducing the price of all my cozy mysteries to 99c until the end of July (I think it takes a day or two to show up after you make a price change). I'll let you know how it works out.
    Ann

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  5. The success story doesn't really surprise me, we'll always hear those. The alarming sentence is the quote you included, that more people will sell less than 100 copies of their book. Ouch.

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  6. Amanda Hocking should also be on that list because she has sold more than a million Kindle books.

    As a self-published author, I can say I am one of the lucky ones who has sold many more than 100 ebooks, but not nearly a million -- yet. One thing I've found is that advertising helps a lot. It costs money, but the cost is worth the results when I sell more than 100 books in a day. Still not quite John Locke and Amanda Hocking territory, but moving up. Hocking didn't sell a million books in a day. It took some time to catch on, and she had nine books to promote. I only have two.

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  7. Can't wait to hear about the results, Ann!

    I agree Ann. Ouch indeed.

    You're right, J.M. It does take time and hard work - and having multiple books out does help.

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  8. I knew about the selling less than 100 books. Actually made me feel good when I sold more than that. Sounds like he really knows what he's doing with marketing.
    Karen

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  9. And his books have been published for a long time. He's no beginner, unlike me with my two books and modest sales. But I have dreams and hopes and keep finding ways to market my books.

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  10. Marketing is such a huge undertaking!

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  11. I know those stories of great success are few among the hordes but it does inspire the rest of us to dream.

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  12. Helen, you stole my thunder! My post this week is about John Locke, too ... however, mine is much less fact based and more about the personal envy. Anyway, great minds and all that ...

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  13. It's an inspiring story! I wish we could all have similar success...I'm hoping to do a direct-to-Kindle type thing at some point in the future. Why do I have the feeling that my income will be a fraction of a fraction of his? :)

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  14. Elizabeth, you have to start somewhere and build from there.

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  15. Christopher, I can't wait to read your post.

    Elizabeth, if you do that, will it bother your current publishers?

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  16. What is his book about? It has to be compelling beyond the price.

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  17. I think it's always important to note this is not the norm, but a girl can dream.

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  18. Hi Helen .. John Locke is an amazing story - there are some great learning posts out there re his route etc.

    He was the one who decided on the 99c route (I think) .. but look what it proved ..

    It's all in the math - as you would say .. I'd say maths!

    Cheers Hilary

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  19. This gives us all hope! I'm looking forward to the promoting and marketing of Opening and Kindle will probably be the main too as that is whre most of my sales of Breakthrough came. We'll see if the iPad can catch up.

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  20. It's inspiring to learn about people who have this kind of success. There's something to be said for selling at a low price when people are afraid to spend much or don't have much to spend on books. At least with ebooks you can afford to do that, unlike print books with the expense involved with them and small profit on sales.

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  21. Helen,

    I just finished John Locke's nonfiction book on how he sold a million Kindle books. He lays out his plan in detail, and he succeeded because he developed and followed an effective selling plan. He just started writing recently, but he started at age 22 knocking on doors selling insurance and within a few months was the top insurance salesman in the state. He has gone on to build several very successful businesses, and he treats his writing like a business. We always hear that, but he shows that it really works when you do it right. I highly recommend his book. I personally am not willing to do what it takes to have his success, but I believe any author can become successful--not necessarily a million books, but a lot by following his advice. In my review on Goodreads, I summarized his main points--one is NOT trying to sell to everybody. Half of the people should hate your books if you want to develop a passionate following among the rest. We always hear target your market, but he describes how to do it. Another very important point is to have a lot of titles so one reader has the potential for a lot of sales.

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