Heads Up on the Book That Changes Publishing

Last week, like a zillion other writers, I received notice of the publication of John Locke’s How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in Five Months.

I bought it.

It fits PERFECTLY with How To Think Sideways and How To Revise Your Novel.

I’ve been focusing heavily on teaching the traditional path to publishing because I’m good at it, I know how to do it, and I know how to show others how to do it. And one look at the Eureka! boards will show you my students are succeeding.

BUT…self-publishing has been as good to me as professional publishing. The only problem is, I can’t teach what I do with self-publishing because my method starts with, “First, sell 32 novels to top New York Publishers…” and ends with writing non-fiction. Not exactly a path most of you have any interest in following.

Certainly not a way to sell your fiction yourself.

EVERYTHING changed when I read John Locke’s book. He made himself into the first self-published million-seller, and then he wrote a book on how he did it. It’s a good book, and the parts he goes into detail on are genius.

But HE DOESN’T COVER EVERYTHING. He has whole vast swatches where he says “You’re going to have to learn how to do this yourself.”

I realized reading through what he’s leaving you to figure out on your own that I ALREADY KNOW this. Every bit of it. The week six lessons are on developing your own personal genre, finding your target market, and writing books to that target. These are steps in Locke’s process.

So the Walkthrough for WEEK 6 of How To Think Sideways—Finding Or Creating Your Market—is going to be be the step-by-step on what John Locke left out and said you were going to have to learn on your own.

His book is available as an e-book via Kindle, Nook, and iBooks, and there are software readers out there you can get for your computer if you don’t have one of these e-readers.

Please understand that I CANNOT and WILL NOT reveal the parts of his system he covers in depth.

He earned his $4.99, and I’m not going to violate his copyright—so to get full benefit from Week 6, you’re going to have to get a copy of John Locke’s How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in Five Months.

This is about building your career yourself—controlling your fiction, making sure that you and your hard-earned career don’t get dumped into professional publishing’s “didn’t do as well as we had hoped” bin after three books. I’ve been there. Remember? It sucks, and here’s the thing.

YOU DON’T EVER have to be there.

This is your path to full-time writing if you want it, and I’m going this route with some of my own work.

This is the book, the system, the process I’ve been waiting for. If it’s what you’ve been waiting for, buy his book and get ready for Thursday, when the Week 6 Walkthrough Talkthrough: What John Locke DIDN’T Cover goes live and I walk you through the rest of how to make his system work for you.

Here are links to buy the book. They are NOT affiliate links. I want the man to keep full price on each sale—this book is that much of a game-changer:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Sold-Million-eBooks-Months-ebook/dp/B0056BMK6K
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-i-sold-1-million-ebooks-in-5-months-john-locke/1103948392
iBooks: From your i-device, go to iBooks and search “John Locke 1 million ebooks”

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22 responses to “Heads Up on the Book That Changes Publishing”

  1. Felicia Beasley Avatar
    Felicia Beasley

    I’m sorry for bringing up a post from so long ago, but I was wondering if you still recommend this book? The new york times posted an article titled Book Reviews for Hire Meet a Demand ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www ) that interviewed John Locke where he admitted to buying several of his reviews. How this affected his success is unknown but speculated that buying reviews indeed contributed to his reaching the times bestseller list.

    I am also curious on your take on buying reviews for amazon to bolster sales. I’m personally against it, I think a book should stand on its own and that reviews should be from legitimate readers, not someone paid to buy the book and leave a review. Your thoughts on this would be lovely because many times you present an argument in ways that I normally wouldn’t see and I do think this is an issue for indie publishing, which I know you are passionate about.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. Wednesday Avatar

      No, Holly does not still recommend him or his methods. Please see her own words here:


  2. mitzim Avatar

    Hi Holly,
    As one who has purchased your clinic bundles and other print courses, is there a way to purchase Week 6 by itself? You mentioned in one of your other posts that lessons will be able to be purchased singly. I also bought Locke’s book and would love to purchase the week 6 lesson from you. Thanks for your help!

  3. Douglas Winslow Cooper Avatar

    Retired, I’m in a different situation from most. My memoir, Ting and I, is a romance, a tribute to my wife, a how-to on home care for a quadriplegic. If I recover my costs, that would be nice. If pricing it at $0.99 for the Ebook would get it read much more widely, that would be my choice. When I see what some overseas workers are willing to work for as wages, I know that an overseas market, if I can reach them, should be significantly affected by price.

  4. DaltonLynne Avatar

    This is all rather interesting. I’m still revising my book and hope to have it final by next year. I’ve toyed with the idea of self-publishing but have always felt hesitant about taking that route. However, I’ve purchased the Locke book you recommend and I will re-visit Lesson 6 for the Walkthrough you mentioned. Perhaps my viewpoint on this subject will change.

  5. Elizabeth J. Baldwin Avatar
    Elizabeth J. Baldwin

    First, I want to thank Holly for publishing a couple of my books; and even better, paying me for the ones that sold.
    Next I want to sing the praises of self publishing because, even though I had a book that made several best seller lists, my big time pro publisher has yet to pay me a dime of the money promised in the contract. We are talking years of time here. Because of cancer and chemo I was less than diligent about hassling them for payment, but I don’t see why I should have to bug them. I fulfilled my part of the contract.
    The past two years taught me life is too short to spend time coping with deal breaking jerks. In the future I’m going to use the courses I got from Holly and John Locke’s book to reach out to a special audience.

  6. Megs Avatar

    I might suggest http://www.deanwesleysmith.com for good info on pricing.

  7. Nina Paules Avatar

    Hello Holly —

    I’ve read John’s book. You are correct. His system is sound. How sustainable it is for most authors, I don’t know. But, the fact still remains — it is a *good* system.

    What I do know is that he didn’t make $.35 on each $.99 book he sold on Amazon.

    Amazon charges a delivery fee ($.15/mb) against royalties. The average fee for a 90K word book is about $.09 give or take a penny. Which means that John made closer to $.26 on each book. Of course, that still comes out to (assuming all 1 mill copies were sold by Amazon) a cool $256,700. Not bad for 5 months.

    Then again, Amazon made $733,500 off of him in the same 5 months. (assuming all 1 mill copies were sold by Amazon).

    Now, if John had priced his titles at $2.99 (which would have put him in the 70% royalty category) and sold only 1/2 as many (500,000) copies… he may or may not have become the first best-selling self-pubbed author in 5 months, but his total royalties would have been $1,001,500. (yup, just over 1 million dollars). Amazon’s take would have been $493,500 — about 67% less.

    That’s the value of a $.99 title sold on Amazon.

    Just my $.02.

    1. Jenna Avatar

      Nina – Wow, thanks for that breakdown. That puts the numbers into a very interesting perspective. (And I’m the kind of person who needs that picture painted.)

      1. Nina Paules Avatar

        Thanks, Jenna! I too was pretty wow-ed. Really put the $.99 book into perspective for me. ~Nina

    2. Holly Avatar

      As noted, his business model is beautiful.

      He set his pricing for what HE wanted to accomplish—to have a bunch of best-sellers. Keep in mind he already had lots of money, so making a living as a writer wasn’t a priority for him.

      For a writer who needs to write to live (and count me in that number), keep the business model but lose the price.

    3. Lynda Avatar


      Holy cow, but your breakdown makes me feel greedy. I recently read the stupidest book ever, that I bought off of Amazon for $.99. Now I must be fair here, this book was so bad it was hilarious; I feel I got my $.99 worth with it. So I’m reading your breakdown, and thinking of this crappy book, and I’m thinking, “I could do that. I could write a moronic book and charge $.99 for it. It’d be a snap!” But then again, I’m too much of a perfectionist to do that. Thanks for posting!

      1. Holly Avatar

        I’m going to ask you to consider what you’ve written above, and give me the best answer you can to the following question:

        In specific detail, how is creating something that is the product of your own mind, your own effort, and your own skill and putting in on the open market in exchange for payment “greedy.” Even if you did a piss-poor job, something less than your best effort, something that would gain you nothing but derision and little reward…how is this “greedy?”

        Please take the question seriously, and answer it with every skill and resource you have available to allow me to understand your statement.

  8. claudsy Avatar

    I’ll have to look into this asw soon as I ccan find that particular software you’re talking about. My conputer is my only electronic reader, I’m afraid. Thanks so much for the heads up. This may be just what I needed.

    1. Danzier Avatar

      He’s got a paperback edition for $10; I’d reccommend getting that one if you like marking up your textbooks. 😀

  9. Danzier Avatar

    I bought it on my iPod–and I’m on page 85/374, and I’m completely sold on the idea of getting an e-reader or iPad or something similar. The iPod can’t put enough words on the screen at once for me. 🙂 So far his book makes a lot of sense.

  10. RebeccaG Avatar

    Yay! Just bought a copy, thanks so much!

  11. Catie Rhodes Avatar

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve requested the sample chapter be sent to my Kindle, which I always do. The face of self-publishing is becoming more and more interesting.

  12. Glynis Smy Avatar

    Holly, thank you for an informative post. I am teetering on the edge of self publishing and the book sounds useful. It is priced at a reasonable price too.

  13. Evanah Fox Avatar

    Hi Holly
    I just bought this e-book due to your recommendation. I have barely begun to read it. I am disappointed to hear about $0.99 fiction sales. I think where was a time when it sounded good for an author and a reader.

    Enter Kindle spam.

    Enter the fact that 1000 true fans (or any number of fans that doesn’t span the world or at least half of China in numbers) and that royalty is nothing. I highly recommend a read of Zoe Winters’s pricing discussing on All Indie Publishing (not linking because I don’t want my comment to be marked spam.

    I think that $0.99 e-books are not the way to go for full-length works of fiction within my own genre, at least – paranormal erotic romance. I won’t buy $0.99 e-books because I don’t want to chance crap and I believe that fiction should cost $2.99 to $12.99 in e-book format.

    However, it is important to note:

    This is based on my market research within my genre: people will and are paying more and expect to pay more – and that’s okay.

    This is based on research that I don’t expect every person with a Kindle to buy my book – paranormal romance is a niche audience.

    This is based on the fact that I want to build a fan based and not attract e-book hoarders. I want my e-books to be chosen, read and open up the opportunity for an additional work to be purchased again.

    Just my $0.02. Am digging further into his e-book now and I hope that it will offer great advice, nonetheless.

    1. Evanah Fox Avatar

      Ahhh, well, I definitely see sound advice in this e-book. Again, thanks for the recommendation, Holly!

    2. Holly Avatar

      He doesn’t recommend pricing your books at .99. He prices his at that because he was starting from nothing and wanted to make buying them a no-brainer.

      I already have a readership. I think I’ll be pricing mine around three bucks. Still massively better than the publishing houses are doing—but enough to prevent me from getting the Kindle Slap on royalties, where if you price too low, you only get 30%, instead of 70%.

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