How I Sold a Million Books on Amazon in 5 Months

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OK, so now I’m going to tell you my dirty little secret.

Since March of 2011, I’ve been secretly downloading and reading $.99 Kindle Singles by John Locke.  There, I’ve said it.  I’m a Donovan Creed junkie.

I had only told a few close friends about this little reading problem because I just didn’t see how a busy, professional, mature woman who normally devours business and marketing books could get caught up in a cheesy spy-like novella featuring the adventures of a handsome, likable CIA assassin.

As it turns out, I had been targeted.  Yes, this was all the result of a well-thought-out marketing plan and a turned-around mind-set that propelled an unknown businessperson turned writer into the first self-published author to have sold 1 million books on Amazon.

You see, when I ran out of Donovan Creed novels to download and wasn’t really into the cowboy-themed series Locke has out now, I downloaded the only other book that was available by John Locke – How I Sold a Million Books on Amazon in 5 Months.

5 Reasons why How I Sold Is a “Download Now” Book

  1. It doesn’t have the world’s longest subtitle. This has been a real trend in traditional publishing, and one that I don’t particularly care for because no one can remember a title that’s 26 words long.
  2. It’s $4.99. How can you not download a book with the title How I Sold a Million Books on Amazon in 5 Months for $4.99?  You can’t resist, just for the sheer curiosity factor.  Pair that  with the fact that I’d already read the rest of Locke’s books, and the decision was a no-brainer – CLICK.
  3. It’s short. You’ll get a lot of information, entertainment and insight in a relatively short period of time.
  4. It’s fun to read. Admittedly,  John Locke doesn’t do high-brow writing.  He’s just plain entertaining.  There is something likeable and snappy and ever-so-slightly cheesy about his writing that makes him endearing (to me, anyway).
  5. It comes with a pre-written marketing plan. Worth the price of admission right there.  I’m not kidding:  There’s a marketing plan outline right in the book.  All you have to do is copy it, attach some dates and you’re good to go.

If I tell you any more, I’d have to get Donovan Creed to kill you.  But what a way to go.

Who John Locke Is and How His Mind-Set Affected His Success

Here’s the really cool thing about John Locke (@DonovanCreed) – he’s really an entrepreneur turned writer and author.  Locke had already made his fortune starting and selling a couple of businesses when he decided to start writing.

Locke did all the traditional things writers do.  But then he decided to self-publish.  And when he did, he came upon an insidious obstacle put up by traditional publishers to make self-published authors feel somehow “less than” or inferior because they didn’t choose to participate in the publishing machine.

He goes into a priceless entrepreneurial rant on the term “vanity publishing”

“What they are saying, when an author believes in his abilities to the extent that he’s willing to invest his own money to publish a novel, is that he’s writing for pure vanity!….When I invested my own money to start my insurance agency no one accused me of making a vanity investment.  When I invested my own money to buy a life insurance company no one called it a vanity investment.  When I paid cash for my office building no one accused me of making a vanity investment.  When Bill Gates and Paul Allen invested their time and money into developing code for the Altair computer no one accused them of writing vanity code.

But if Bill Gates and Paul Allen invest their own money to write a book, they’re no longer businessmen, they’re vain and any company that charges them money to publish their book is catering to their vanity!  How absurd is that?”

And with that, you get the mind-altering, business-altering epiphany John Locke had that turned the switch on the sales of his existing books on Amazon and influenced every other book he wrote and published.

In case you missed the message, John Locke is a serial entrepreneur who loves to write.  He also loves to earn a profit from his writing.  He sees writing as a business and the selling of books as a marketing effort.  And this is what he shares in this book.

Who Is How I Sold a Million for?

Glad you asked.  John Locke wrote How I Sold a Million for the 700,000 self-published authors and the other thousands of wanna-be authors out there.  He’s very clear about that.   So if you’ve written books or plan on writing a self-published or ebook, you should have downloaded this yesterday.  It’s available in hard copy too, but I think it’s currently sold out.

Anyone who wants to build a loyal community for their company or product should read this book.  Whether you want to selld a book or a cupcake, the principles Locke talks about hold true.

And so there, I’ve shared my secret with you. Now you know about John Locke, and if you read this book maybe you’ll become an OOU, too. (You’ll have to read the book to find out what that means).

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

10 Reactions
  1. Hey Ivana,

    Wonderful pick. I liked the emphasis about the price. There’s been a number of app books that note that pricing something at .99 is not the silver bullet – your example shows that you can price something reasonably that lets people try your product and still capture the money on the table. It also shows how close certain activities have come — the techniques for writing and selling a book is really valuable given that so many people know have distribution access for content that can be placed in a e-book format.

    Thanks for sharing this (and being so brave with a secret!). 😉

  2. This makes me want to write. With a lot of information available these days, I’ve often wondered why writers still use big publishers. I’ve also often thought that writers can save a lot if they publish their own works.

    I’ve often resisted John Locke’s book but after reading this, I think I won’t be able to resist anymore.

  3. Thanks for that cool review.

    As you know Ivana, my hardcover book will be on store shelves in December.

    I’m wondering if I’m on the tail end of things in traditional publishing.

    eBooks are not very enjoyable to read on a computer screen; I like real books, darnit!

    But…I (we) may have to learn to like the digital variety.

    Our choices may be dwindling in the next couple of years.

    The Franchise King®

  4. @Pierre and @Amelia – This book make me want to write too! In fact I chose this book MORE for the marketing information than any other reason.

    @Joel – When it comes to reading books for review, I certainly prefer a hard copy. The e-reader is great for just, plain reading. But when I’m reading to learn, process or write about something, then I like having pages to turn and write on 🙂

    I’m looking forward to grabbing your book off the shelf!

  5. Thanks for the recommendation Ivana! I just downloaded it and can’t wait to read it.

  6. Can’t say enough about the marketing value here.

  7. Ivana–
    It’s $2.99 now!! And comes at a good time for me as I’m looking for examples of how self-published books can thrive. Thanks!

  8. Ivana – I bought this book a month or so ago and loved it. Very useful indeed, even though I have yet to implement the marketing plan, it gave me confidence and clarity for the self-publishing road.

  9. I’m all over this one. Sounds like just what I need right now!

    Thanks for writing this up, I never knew about John Locke.