A New Million-Selling Author!

George R R Martin - Game of Thrones book cover

Time magazine put him on their list of the 100 most influential people in the world. But yesterday, author George R. R. Martin joined an even more exclusive club. He became one of just 11 authors who’ve sold more than one million ebooks in Amazon’s Kindle store!

“Groucho Marx once said, ‘I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member,'” Martin joked when he heard the news, “but even Groucho might have made an exception for the Kindle Million Club.” In a press release from Amazon, Martin acknowledged that “It’s a real thrill to be inducted into this one. There are no dues, no meetings, and I’ll be in some wonderful and exclusive company.” He thanked his editors, his publishers, and Amazon.com, “and most of all, my readers.

“I owe this to everyone who ever read one of my books and recommended it to a friend. Thanks… and keep reading.”

Like many of the Kindle’s other 10 best-selling authors, Martin has written a series of popular books — the “Song of Fire and Ice” series. And the sales for that series are still going strong. (Amazon reported that “A Dance with Dragons,” the series’ fifth book, debuted at #2 on the Kindle best-seller list when it was released in July — and counting its pre-order sales, it’s already racked up more than 100 days in the top 50!) “An elaborate series like this is great on Kindle,” announced Amazon’s vice president for Kindle content, “because you can turn the last page of book three at 10:30 at night, then buy book four, and be on its first page at 10:31!”

It’s a big milestone when an author sells their millionth ebook, but if it feels like happening more often — you’re right. 14 months, only one author had ever sold one million ebooks — Stieg Larssen — but since then Amazon’s presumably sold a lot more Kindles. My guess is that popular authors are finding that their ebook sales are increasing at a faster rate in Amazon’s Kindle store. Here’s a list of the other 10 authors — along with the month when they joined Amazon’s “Kindle Million” club.

10. Kathryn Stockett (August)
 9. Suzanne Collins (June)
 8. Janet Evanovich (August)
 7. John Locke (June)
 6. Michael Connelly (June)
 5. Lee Child (June)
 4. Charlaine Harris (May)
 3. Nora Roberts (January)
 2. James Patterson (October of 2010)
 1. Stieg Larsson (July of 2010)

I tried to dream up a good way to visualize the progression — and I came up with the two grids below. Imagine twelve squares on a calendar (where each square represents a year). Every time there’s a new million-selling author, I put their number in the middle of that month. (Steig Larssen, the first million-selling author, is represented by a big, black 1.) Following that pattern, here’s how the last six months of 2010 would look.

Just two authors joined the Kindle million-sellers club in the last six months of 2010. But then here’s the first nine months of 2011.

At this rate, there’ll be 20 million-selling authors by next spring!

But I have to admit that I have a special affection for this story – and for a strange reason. Just last month, I included a picture of George R. R. Martin in a blog post about the future of bookstores. Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show had done a mock interview on the subject with their correspondent John Hodgman. (You may know Hodgman as the balding man who plays the PC in Apple’s “I’m a Mac” commercials…) In the segment, the correspondent was suggesting ways to help bookstores survive in an ebook-dominated future — and right in the middle of the skit, Martin himself had turned up in a very funny fake picture!

“…instead of hosting readings, why not host exciting live writings? Bring the author in, tie him to a desk, and make him write a novel to order. Customers can shout out their own ideas while pelting the writer with $4.00 scones. It’ll be fun!

George R. R. Martin not finishing that new “Game of Thrones” book fast enough for you? Well maybe some hot chai latte down his neck will speed him up.

Coffee dumped on George R R Martin at a bookstore (Daily Show)

But while researching this story, I discovered that the Daily Show comic is actually a big real-life fan of the author. In fact, when Time magazine selected Martin for their “100 most influential” list, it was Daily Show correspondent Hodgman who wrote Martin’s blurb. In a poignant finish, Hodgman wrote honestly that Martin didn’t need any endorsement from him, but “I’ll still feel compelled, like all those fans of The Wire, to pull you aside and tell you that Tyrion Lannister is the best character in fiction since Stringer Bell and that if you have not read these books, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

It’s always nice to see an author who really connects with his audience, and draws an intense loyalty and a passionate following. And sometimes it feels like the author himself is very aware of the special trust
he’s been given — like he’s trying to live up to it. At the end of Martin’s statement about his millionth-ebook sale, he made a point of telling his loyal audience that “The best is yet to come.”

One thought to “A New Million-Selling Author!”

  1. I just recently bought a Kindle, back in July. The first book I bought on it? A Song of Fire & Ice – since then I’ve bought the rest too! I’m not surprised Martin’s in the Top 10 Authors on Kindle. What with Game of Thrones being such a hit on TV and Kindle really taking off this year. Good for him!

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