John Locke and Donovan Creed By the Numbers

John Locke (presumably a pen name) is the prolific novelist and author of the Donovan Creed suspense novels sold in digital form through Amazon.com's publishing arm Kindle Direct. He was the first self-published digital author to sell over a million copies on amazon.com and was recently featured in a Huffington Post column by Laura Rowley.

As a novelist still way off any bestseller list, a couple of things popped out at me while reading Locke's story:


  • 9: months it took for Locke's first books to "take off";
  • 14: books written since starting his writing career in 2009;
  • 58, age when he wrote his first book;
  • 1,200,000: ebooks sold as of June, 2011;
  • 1,200,000: Donovan Creed ebooks sold through amazon since January 2011;
  • $1,188,000: revenues roughly generated by Donovan Creed ebooks since January 2011 (they sell for 99 cents each);
  • $415,800: revenues earned by John Locke from nine Donovan Creed ebooks from January 2011 to date;
  • $46,200: average revenue generated by Donovan Creed ebooks from January 2011 to date; and
  • $3,080: average monthly income genrated by Donovan Creed ebooks.
The last two numbers are probably the most interesting. By virtually any standard, John Locke is a wildly successful author, whether published through a conventional press, an independent press, or self publishing. But, his revenues earned per book still hover around a level that of an elementary or secondary school teacher. After publishing nine books in his signature series, he's earning about $3,000 per month, or $36,000 per year. This revenue was generated by non-stop marketing over three years and publishing over a dozen books.

This, of course, doesn't diminish Locke's accomplishment. Those of us struggling to make it in the publishing business, including me, are rooting for him because he's breaking down all kinds of barriers for new authors.

Nevertheless, it's useful to have a reality check every once in a while. Locke has "made it" by making a long-term commitment to writing, providing a product readers want to consume, and pricing his books low enough to capture a sizable market, marketing his books in a series format to build a loyal readership base, and incessant personal marketing by Locke.

 

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