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
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform