Self-published author joins Kindle's elite million-seller list

An insurance salesman from Kentucky has become the first self-published author to sell one million e-books for the Kindle electronic reader.

John Locke used Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing store to publish and sell his nine novels last year. The part-time writer's crime thrillers and Westerns, priced between 49p and 70p, soon began racing out of the download store.

Locke, 60, has now become the eighth writer to join bestsellers Stieg Larsson and James Patterson in the Kindle Million Club.

His most popular character is former CIA assassin Donovan Creed, "a very tough man with a weakness for very easy women". Lethal People, the first book in the series, was initially released in July 2009 as a small-run paperback by iUniverse, a company that enables writers to self-publish. It was then re-released by Locke as an e-book in March 2010. Saving Rachel, a book in the Creed series, held the top spot in the Kindle Bestsellers list for three weeks and was joined by three other Locke e-books in the top 10.

Locke, who built his own insurance agency in Louisville, Kentucky, has just published his latest bestseller, a self-help guide titled How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months. He earns 25p from each 70p sale and will publish an eighth Creed book by the end of this month, with his third Western, Emmett & Gentry, following in July.

"It's a tough club to get into," the writer said of his entry into the million e-book selling pantheon, alongside True Blood creator Charlaine Harris and crime writer Michael Connelly.

The success of the Kindle is allowing word-of-mouth writers like Locke, who has no major publishing house or marketing campaign behind him, to out-sell the literary world's biggest names. Amazon announced in May that Kindle e-books are now out-selling paperback and print hardback titles combined.

Digital book sales in the UK shot up from £4m to £16m in 2010. Independent writers, offering budget-priced novels in popular genres like crime, can achieve huge success through strong word-of-mouth.

Established writers, used to prominent promotion in high street book chains, don't get the same privilege in the Kindle store. Seven of the top 10 books in Amazon's digital bestsellers list are priced at £1 or less, including a short story by the multimillion-selling thriller writer Karin Slaughter, which is being sold for 49p.

Neill Denny, editor-in-chief of The Bookseller, said: "It's a great achievement to sell one million copies but anyone who buys a novel purely on price is probably making a fundamental mistake. Locke will be bringing in new readers though, who might then pick up a Stieg Larsson."

Denny added: "If lots of people start buying good books at 20p a go that might worry the big publishers. It's noticeable that very few of these self-published authors turn down an offer from an established publishing house."

Earlier this year, Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old star of self-published e-books from Minnesota, signed a $2m (£1.2m) deal with St Martin's Press in New York to write a four-book series in the young-adult paranormal genre.

Arts and Entertainment
Just folk: The Unthanks

music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea