Amazon announced today that two more authors had crossed the “one million mark” for their ebooks sales in the Kindle Store. But this time it’s different — for a couple of reasons — and there’s also two fascinating stories about the authors who earned the honor.
Amazon’s newest million-selling author is 68-year-old Janet Evanovich — who’s been writing the popular “Stephanie Plum” series of novels for more than 17 years. The world of digital information had barely existed when Evanovich published her first “Plum” book back in 1994 (when she was 51), but it already represented a big change in her career. She’d started her career seven years earlier, publishing her first novel — a romance — back in 1987. But according to Wikipedia, “After finishing her twelfth romance, however, Evanovich realized that she was more interested in writing the action sequences in her novels rather than the sex scenes.”
Looking around for inspiration, Evanovich ultimately based Stephanie Plum on the bounty hunter played by Robert De Niro in the 1988 comedy Midnight Run, and even followed some real-life bounty hunters to learn about their jobs. (Interestingly, Robert De Niro had also followed real-life bounty hunters to prepare for his role — and 22 years later, was preparing a sequel!) And Hollywood is also finally working on a film adaptation of Evanovich’s own Stephanie Plum novels, staring actress Katherine Heigl (from Grey’s Anatomy) in the title role.
“My books have pizza and cussing and sexy guys,” Evanovich later joked about her formula — and it’s earned her a huge audience of loyal followers. Each of the last 11 books in her series debuted at the #1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list, according to Wikipedia. In fact, according to Amazon’s press release, Evanovich’s latest Plum novel, Smokin’ Seventeen, spent over 100 days on the Kindle Best Seller list — even though it was released just 56 days ago! Before the book was even available, Evanovich’s loyal readers had pre-ordered so many copies, the she obtained “best-seller” status for a full 44 days before the book was even released!
When she heard the news about the million-ebook club, Evanovich made sure to thank her readers, saying she was grateful “and looking forward to reaching more milestones with them and with Amazon in the years to come.” And she added that it was a very exciting distinction, saying “I’m thrilled to join such a talented group of writers who’ve also reached this million-copy milestone.” But when Amazon tracked her down for their press release her first reaction was a simple one-word interjection. “Wow!”
Of course, it’s easier to join the million-sellers club when you’ve written a lot of books — but author Kathryn Stockett did it the hard way. She published her first and only book, The Help, just two years ago — and 30 months later, she’d already sold over a million copies in the Kindle Store. “Kathryn Stockett is the first debut novelist to join the Million Club,” announced Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content, saying Kindle customers “were highly engaged with her book right from its publication.”
There’s also another interesting statistic about Stockett’s novel: it’s sold around 5 million copies (according to an article published Thursday in an Atlanta newsweekly). That means that Kindle ebooks accounted for almost 20% of her sales! “It’s as exciting to see Kindle readers propel a new author’s career as it is to see them add to the success of a long-time Amazon best-selling author like Janet Evanovich,” noted Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content. And it’s an even more inspiring story, since her book’s manuscript was originally rejected more than 50 times.
“After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to New York City where she worked in magazine publishing and marketing for nine years,” Amazon explained in their press release. But there’s another story behind her novel about the maids in a household in Jackson, Mississippi. “I was born in Jackson, Mississippi,” Stockett remembered in an autobiographical article in the Daily Mail, “in 1969, in a time and place where no one was saying, ‘Look how far we’ve come,’ because we hadn’t come very far.” It was just days before her novel was finally published, and she acknowledged her fond memories of the housekeeper who’d looked after her as a child, then writes “I am ashamed to admit that it took me 20 years to realise the irony of that relationship. I’m sure that’s why I wrote my novel, The Help – to find answers to my questions, to soothe my own mind about Demetrie…”
Her story instantly touched the hearts of millions of readers around the world — and her life has been a whirlwind ever since. Last week a movie adaptation of book (starring Emma Stone) appeared in theaters all across America.
And it’s currently the #1 best-selling book in Amazon’s Kindle store.