I’m always inspired by the success of crime novelist John Locke. He’d already made millions of dollars in insurance and estate businesses. But he decided that next he’d like to become a best-selling ebook author — and then he did!
And last week, Locke notched another victory, when he signed a deal with Simon and Schuster to distribute print editions of his ebooks. “There are many paths from author to reader,” Locke said in a statement, “and any path that puts the reader first will be successful.” It’s a special moment when a traditional print publisher can join together with an ebook author, and Simon & Schuster’s vice president of client publisher services issued a statement showing the’d recognized that they shared a common goal. “We are very excited that we can now help to expand John’s readership to include those millions of readers who still savor the joys of sitting down for a few hours of entertainment with a traditional paperback book.”
Locke got their attention by becoming only the eighth author to sell one million ebooks in Amazon’s Kindle store in June, and the first one to do it as a self-published author! (“It’s so exciting that self-publishing has allowed John Locke to achieve a milestone like this,” Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content announced at the time, adding that they were “proud to welcome him to the Kindle Million Club.”) But I admire Locke just as much for the clever business decisions he’s made both before and after his success. Interestingly, Simon and Schuster is distributing the print editions of the books. But their publisher is going to be…John Locke. Print editions of his books will be be available by February “wherever physical books are sold,” according to last week’s announcement, but the publisher of all those printed editions will all be “John Locke books”!
And that wasn’t his only clever decision. John already had another book ready to go in June when he finally sold his millionth ebook in the Kindle store. It was called “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!”, and it’s still one of Amazon’s top 40 best-selling how-to books in the “Health, Mind, and Body” category (and the Self Help/Success category). In fact, it’s currently the #2,636 best-selling item in Amazon’s entire Kindle Store. And since he’s priced it at $4.99 a copy, Locke is earning a lot more than he did on his 99-cent crime novels.
But John also found another way to extend his success: he hired himself an agent. According to last week’s announcement, Locke was represented in the agreement by Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, a firm whose client list boasts five different Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, including B. D. Colen, Thomas Finch, and three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Walt Bogdanich. And they also represent actors Richard Dreyfuss and Valerie Harper, plus Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa on The Simpsons, TV personality “Judge Judy” — and U.S. President Barack Obama. Now they’ve added John Locke to their list of clients, and lined up an impressive Simon & Schuster distribution deal.
I liked how they described John’s own career on their “clients page. “John Locke attended Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, went into insurance sales, and broke every company sales record, becoming an Area Vice President of the company by age 21. He moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he built his own insurance company. At age 35, he purchased Consolidated American Live, changed the name to Freedom Life Insurance Company, and appointed more than 6,700 insurance agents in 34 states. He owns two insurance marketing firms and owns and operates 13 million-dollar-plus real estate entities.” And of course — he also sold one million ebooks in Amazon’s Kindle store.
But as impressive as it seems, remember that other authors have found big success in the world of ebooks. “It’s not the first time a self-published author has entered into a deal with a major publisher,” notes one technology site, citing reports of a $2 million deal for 26-year-old “paranormal romance” novelist Amanda Hocking. I think the real significance of both the Hocking deal and Locke’s own success is that they’ll inspire other authors to enter the world of self-publishing.
And who knows what original ideas we’ll see in the next round of self-published ebooks!