John Locke, author of the Donovan Creed series of thrillers, was the first indie author (and is so far still the only one) to join Amazon's Kindle Million Club alongside such well-known bestselling authors as James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Michael Connelly, and Janet Evanovich. Locke's Donovan Creed series has sold 1.2 million kindle ebooks so far this year (all at $0.99), and made it onto the New York Times ebook Best Seller List.
Many think that Locke signed a traditional book deal with Simon & Schuster, and has turned away from his Indie roots. Not so! This is a strictly a distribution deal.
According to MediaBistro's GalleyCat,
"Locke will continue to publish the eBooks and will produce the print books under his imprint John Locke Books, while Simon & Schuster will handle sales and distribution of the physical editions of the Donovan Creed novels."
To get a sense of what this deal means from a larger publishing perspective, here are several articles that look not only at Locke's new deal, but at recent publishing trends, unconventional book deals for Indie authors, and new publishing pathways being carved out by traditionally published authors, like J.K. Rowling.
There have been a number of signs this year that the publishing world is changing dramatically.
In March we had Barry Eisler, who had sold many books through conventional deals with major publishers, decline a six-figure deal with a major house. At first, Eisler was going to self-publish, but then he decided to take a (presumably) six-figure deal to be published by Amazon instead.
Amanda Hocking, who had started (like Locke) as a startlingly successful self-publishing author, accepted a deal with a major house to continue her career, pretty much the opposite of Eisler’s originally-intended path (although closer to what he actually did in the end).
Then J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, announced she was creating her own online destination, Pottermore, to deliver ebooks. Rowling is apparently not just disintermediating her publisher from her ebook sales; she’s leaving out many of the online retail channels as well. (...read more)
Locke isn’t the first self-published author to strike a deal with a traditional publishing house after becoming well known for his e-books. Amanda Hocking — who became the poster child for self-publishing on the Kindle after she made more than $2 million from a series of young-adult novels she wrote and published in the past year — signed a $2-million deal earlier this year with St. Martin’s Press, a unit of publishing giant Macmillan, to write a new series of young-adult novels .
In a blog post that she wrote about her deal, Hocking said something that drove home just how much the industry has changed: she said that she chose to accept the $2-million offer from St. Martins even though she knew she could probably make more money by self-publishing the books. “I am fully aware that I stand a chance of losing money on this deal,” she said. While some readers criticized her for “selling out” to a traditional publisher, Hocking said she had good reasons for doing it. Among other things, she said she wanted the kind of fame only top-tier authors get:
I want to be a household name. I want to be the impulse buy that people make when they’re waiting in an airport because they know my name. (...read more)
The End is Nigh
A Newbie's Guide to Publishing JA Konrath
This is an important deal, because up until now publishers steadfastly refused to give up erights.
But now they have. And there is no turning back.
Here are some things we'll see happening soon.
Big authors will fight to keep their erights. They can make 70% on their own vs 17.5% through a publisher. They have the leverage, and will use it. If Locke, whose print sales numbers are unproven and open to speculation, can demand to keep his erights, Stephen King and James Patterson will make the same demands. They're watching Locke, and Pottermore. If enough Big Authors follow suit, the Big 6 won't be able to recover.
Publishers will start offering better royalties for erights. They have to. But they'll never be able to offer better than 70%. As I've stated for years, the value of a publisher is their lock on print distribution. When print distribution doesn't matter because print sales are so tiny, there will be no reason for any author to sign with the Big 6. (...read more)
Publishing is changing. Fast. How do you keep up? By reading. By staying up-to-date with what's happening in the industry.
I love keeping up with the latest news on ebooks, authors, and publishing trends, and will continue to share what I learn in my weekly Top 10 eBook Articles for Authors post, my eBook News reports (like this one), and on twitter, but you need to gather information from multiple sources.
Here are a few publishing focused resources to keep an eye on:
International news website of book publishing and bookselling
News and opinion on the changing world of book publishing
The first word on the publishing industry from MediaBistro
The Idea Logical Company
Exploring publishing's digital transition