Big Week for Indie Writers

John Locke

John Locke

In the past week we have learned two significant things concerning the world of publishing; John Locke became the first Indie writer to sell a million ebooks on Amazon, and author J.K. Rowling is set to release her Harry Potter series as ebooks – from her own website!

First to John Locke and a million ebooks. Only eight authors in total have sold a million ebooks on Amazon, and John Locke is the first Indie author to do so. Soon after reaching this milestone, Locke released an ebook titled “How I sold a million eBooks in 5 Months,” for $4.99 on Amazon. (An amazing marketing opportunity, which he acknowledges in the book)

Well, I had to satisfy my curiosity, so I plunked down the $4.99 and purchased the ebook version. (Marketing strategy at work!) About 3 hours later, I had read the entire book. By reading the book, I felt I got to know John Locke a bit. John and I have never met, nor have we ever exchanged any email or gotten connected through social media. Through this book alone, I got a feeling for John’s determination and discovered him to be a very gifted strategist when it comes to selling things.

John describes his plan in detail in this book, and how the plan evolved that allowed him to become the first Indie author to reach this level of success. The main takeaway from this books was that his achievement was not an accident! It was a well thought-out plan, and John executed it with a degree of confidence that allowed him the success he envisioned.

I won’t go into details about the plan. If you are interested, my advice is to buy the book and hear about it from the man who thought it up, experimented with it and then made it successful. However, one of my favorite portions of the book is where John tells about what didn’t work  – and the things he tried prior to putting this plan into place.

I enjoyed this book, which in and of itself is a great marketing tool, and which John acknowledges within the pages. $4.99 will get you the story of how he sold a million ebooks, or $9.99 will get you a paperback copy.

Keep in mind that the title is NOT “How YOU can sell a million ebooks in 5 months.” To do that, you would have to approach the plan with the same determination and marketing savvy as John did. However, I think there is a lot of very useful information in the book, and all self-published authors would do well to put this in their knowledge bank and start collecting interest on it…

In other news relevant to Indie publishing, JK Rowling announced this week that she will be launching a new website called “Pottermore” and will be selling ebook versions of the Harry Potter series, along with other works, directly from her own website.  It is thought that the print publishers may have a small marketing role to play, and that retailers are in talks with the author to assure their e-book formats are covered. Details still yet to come.

JK Rowling

JK Rowling

Now this is really big news. The Harry Potter series has never been available in ebook form, so who knows how many readers new to the series will get involved with the ebook versions? And of course, with a fan base the size of Rowling’s, the possibilities are virtually endless. Just image the traffic that can be generated to a site where the Harry Potter books, much less the world of Potter and Hogwarts will be made available along with new works and other value-added materials?

Apparently, the ebook series will be available in various ebooks formats where customers can purchase and download directly from the site.

I say Kudos to JK Rowling. She has played the game with traditional publishing and has come out a big winner. Now she can leverage that success and see where a super-indie publishing can take this idea. I’m rooting for her, and waiting to see how the story plays out.

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Discovering New Authors

Joe and Donnie

J.A. Konrath reacts to Dark Justice by Donnie Light

I was reading a blog post yesterday about the “positive aspects” of being rejected by agents and editors. This blogger was touting the “growth” that can be experienced by an author by being rejected by the traditional publishing establishment.
The basic idea was that when an author gets rejected, the rejected author should take that as a signal that his/her writing is just not good enough yet, and therefore try even harder to hone their skills as a writer and produce a better book next time.
This blogger did mention that almost every successful book out there has been rejected, and that rejection is just part of the process. Of course there are countless stories about agents and publishers who passed on a book, only to find that book eventually becomes a bestseller.
My take is that this current system of submitting to agents and publishers, allowing your book to dwindle on the slush pile with little hope of getting a decent look from a qualified reader, is just totally messed up and inefficient.
My own book, Dark Justice, has been down this road. I gathered nearly 100 rejections before just letting the book sit on my shelf for a few years gathering dust.
Then, along came ebooks.  I had been reading ebooks myself, so it finally dawned on me that maybe Dark Justice could find an audience among ebook readers.
Since then, Dark Justice has sold a couple of hundred copies in both ebook formats and as a POD printed paperback. It’s getting an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 on Amazon. I’m getting reader feedback, all of it positive. I’m even getting e-mail from readers who bought the book or borrowed it from their libraries, telling me that they are looking forward to reading my next book.
That is music to an author’s ears, and I love it that people are enjoying my work.
By no measure is Dark Justice a bestseller. I don’t have the power of a national sales campaign behind me, nor any big corporations out there pushing my book. But I have some readers, and they seem to be very hapy readers, which is the best incentive for me to finish my next book and find yet more readers willing to take a chance on an unknown author.
My experience with publishing Dark Justice myself has yielded far more in terms of feedback and building my writing skills than all of rejections from the publishing establishment.
I would love to get a traditional publishing contract for my next book.  But this time, I will not submit for years and adhere to each agent and publisher’s personalized requirements.  I’ll give it my best shot, and once again move to self-publishing if a traditional deal cannot be reached in a few months.
There is a change coming that is going to turn the existing model on its head.  I hope to be there, front and center, when that happens.

Upcoming Book Signing Events

On Saturday, December 5th, I will be appearing at the following sites to sell and sign copies of my novel, “Dark Justice.”

11am – 1pm Pecatonica Public Library. 400 W. 11th Street, Pecatonica, IL. 815-239-2616

3pm – 5pm Book World Bookstore. 1834 S. West Ave, Freeport, IL. 815-232-7323

I hope to see you there!

Bishop Hill – Authors Event

Joe and Donnie

J.A. Konrath reacts to Dark Justice by Donnie Light - photo by Paula Guttilla

The “Gathering of Authors” event held in Bishop Hill, Illinois, has been over for a week now and I’m just getting around to writing about it.
I am so glad that I was invited to this event, and so glad that I attended.
It was definitely a learning experience for me, and it was a great learning experience at that. I met some truly talented and amazing people at Bishop Hill.
There were about 15 authors at Bishop Hill, most of wich attended both days of the event, some that could only attend one of the two days.
Some of the highlights of Bishop Hill include; Hearing Lawrence Santoro read from his current project and picking up his book, “Just North of Nowhere.”
I also met Andrea Jones, author of “Hook and Jill,” which is a novel that takes place in Neverland, after the stories we are all familiar with. Sounds very interesting – check it out here.
And of course, I got to hang out with J. A. Konrath who graciously helped me out and continued to teach me more about publishing and writing. He also introduced me to some people that I may not have met otherwise.
All in all, I had a great time at Bishop Hill and hope to be invited back again next year.
Oh, and the public is invited to this event – as all of us authors would like to have someone other than each other to sell our books to! So plan on coming to Bishop Hill next year and plan on meeting some great people and having a good time!

Bishop Hill – Gathering of Authors

Hi All,
The “Gathering of Authors” event at Bishop Hill, Illinois is almost upon us. Weekend of October 24th and 25th, noon until 5 PM each day. Please take advantage of this event and come join in the fun at the historic village of Bishop Hill. Check out the Bishop Hill website for more details.
There will be many authors on hand for the event, signing copies of their books and being available to answer questions and take comments from readers. Among those in attendance this years will be;

J. A. Konrath – Author of the Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels thrillers. J.A.Konrath (Joe) also writes under the pen name “Jack Kilborn” and has recently released a novel titled “Afraid,” which I assure you, will make you very afraid if you read it. Check out J.A. Konrath’s website for more details.

Sylvia Shults – Author of both Horror and Romance novels, including “DreamWatcher,” (horror) and “Timeless Embrace” (romance) among many others. Take time to check out Sylvia’s website and look around for yourself. Several on my TBR list. Free Novella and short stories for those who dare…

Lawrence Santoro, author of “North of Nowhere” will be attending the event as well. Check out this Lawrence Santoro’s blog for more information on his work.

Lilli Setterdahl, author of “Maiden of the Titanic.” Check out Lilli’s website for more.

Donna Bessera, author of the Twirly Shirley series of children’s books.

Also in attendance this year;
David M. Youngquist is the author of various Ghost stories, including Ghosts of the Illinois Canal System.
Marc Wilson, author of “Hero Street.”
Ray Paul, author of “Shards.”
Tom Steele, author of “The Pied Piper of Sweden”
Monica Morris, Author of “Rory’s Song.”
George Olsen, author of “The Elemental Prairie.”
K.S. Krueger, Author of “Traegonia, The Sunbow Prophecy.”

“A Gathering of Authors”

Bishop Hill

Bishop Hill

I have been invited to attend a literary event in the scenic and historic village of Bishop Hill, Illinois. There will be numerous Midwest authors in attendance, selling, signing and reading from their work. I will be selling and signing copies of my novel, Dark Justice. I hope you can plan to get away for an afternoon on either Saturday, October 24th or Sunday, October 25th and make a visit to Bishop Hill. The event runs from noon until 5 PM on both days.
I will post more detailed information as it is available. In the meantime, check out the Bishop Hill website and their calendar of events at www.bishophill.com
Hope to see you there!
~ Donnie

21st Century Farmer’s Market?

Last weekend, while doing some marketing research, I stumbled across an author named Seth Harwood. Seth has recently gotten a novel published, called “Jack Wakes Up.”
I have not read Seth’s book yet, but after reading a bit about Seth, I was introduced to a book publishing concept that I had not heard of – “serialized podcasted books.” It seems that Seth was a fan of audiobooks, and learning from a few authors who had done this before, Seth recorded his book in the form of podcast “episodes.”
A few clicks later in my research, I was directed to a site called PodioBooks.com “PodioBooks” is the term coined to mean POD-cast audIO Books.
Here’s the basic model; an author writes a book, then records “episodes” in the form of a podcast MP3 file. When the episode is finished, it is uploaded to podiobooks.com. From there, listeners can browse from available episodes and download them to listen to at their leisure – for FREE. Users can subscribe to a book, and then set the frequency of the downloads which can happen automatically. Once a day, or once a week – whatever works for the user.
Not all books on the site are completed works. This is indicated to the user while browsing. If the author has finished recording all episodes, then the work is labeled finished. If the author has not yet recorded the entire work, the book is labeled as such.
I mentioned that all of this content if free – but users can donate money for the books they consume, and are encouraged – not forced – to do so. If a user listens to a book and then donates money, they are asked to identify the book, as the author gets 75% of the donation. The remaining 25% goes to the website to help defer costs.
It seems that Seth and others have built a fan base by giving away free podiobooks, which in some cases helps the author get a tradional publishing contract.
After reading about this model, it reminded me of an old-fashiond Farmer’s Market. The farmers work hard to grow their produce, then bring them to market to sell to consumers. They may even give away free samples to the crowd. In this case, the author writes a book, records the episodes, and then brings it to market at PodioBooks.com. Selling to the consumers directly, and perhaps giving away free samples to entice people to buy (or donate) and hopefully generating a fan base for future works.
Nifty idea. I like it. I plan to record my book and submit it to podiobooks.com…