A Kindle Success Story

Bob Mayer book cover art - Body of Lies

There was an inspiring story in Amazon’s newsletter for self-published authors. (You may remember that for a birthday present, I published a short ebook for my girlfriend with pictures of her dog!) But
in a section of the newsletter called “Your Voice,” Amazon lets one of their self-published authors share a big success story. And this month, that author is Bob Mayer, who sold nearly half a million ebooks in 2011!

He was born in the Bronx, according to his biography on Wikipedia, and he’s published over 33 novels (under his own name, and four different pen names!) Mixed in with the action adventures are some thrillers and sci-fi stories that build on his Special Forces experiences, including a popular series called Area 51 I found his story inspiring — and very compelling!

Bob Mayer shares his experiences with Kindle Direct Publishing….

I am a former Green Beret having served with 3-11-2012 10-43-17 PM 2 recon and Special Forces teams. I then went on to serve as a writer and instructor at the JFK Special Warfare Center & School at Fort Bragg. Needless to say I didn’t have the typical writer background, but my military background inspired the content of my future writing. 

I started writing all the way back in 1989 and I bounced around between the big six as a mid-list author, selling well enough to not be dropped but yet not relevant enough to be important to them even when I hit the NY Times Bestseller List. I’ve come a long way since then, and started a small publishing company in 2010, but was still with a Big 6 publisher. I made a decision that I was going to go 100% Indie in January 2011 and it really took off once I jumped in.  From 347 eBooks sold that month, I ended the year with over 400,000 sold!

I have published over 50 titles under my name and my Robert Doherty pen name and have sold over 6 million books (most since going to eBook).  However, self-publishing is not as easy as it seems: It requires your devotion and attention. In my opinion it’s a full time job. Besides the writing, it takes a tremendous amount of time to do the promotion, marketing and technical aspects. I’ve got a few other authors that I’m working with to get out there because they have to focus on the writing and we take care of the business aspects. I have Jen Talty to help me with all the formatting — in fact we even published a book about how we are doing this:  The ShelfLess Book: The Complete Digital Author.

I interact with the author community through Kindle Boards and with the readers through Twitter, my blog, appearances and go to other people’s blogs making comments. Joe Konrath and I post on each other’s blogs; we try to build a community of readers. I think the most effective way of marketing my books has been linkage. To give you an example, I had a series (Atlantis) that was similar to the show ‘Lost’ so I linked to the ‘Lost’ page and blogs in a relevant manner and that helped my page’s relevance tremendously from an organic search perspective. I try to link my books to something in media or something in history as I write Factual Fiction’stories based in history and facts with a fictional element thrown in.

I have nothing but good things to say about KDP and Amazon. They have dramatically changed the world of publishing.  No longer is distribution controlled by a select few.  Readers Rule!  I’ve seen Amazon sell motorcycles!  I wouldn’t be surprised if they started selling other things no one would have expected, soon. And that’s the key:  they’ll figure out how to do it, because Amazon is active rather than reactive.  Amazon was founded in 1994 and went online in 1995.  Only 17 years online.  I ask myself how much had I changed my business model in 17 years.  Truly not much until January 2011 when I went 100% indie and committed to the eBook.

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