I’m not. Far from it.
Every time I hear of another writer who sold a million ebooks on Kindle, I look to see how he or she did it, because I wonder why them and not me?
Here’s what I’ve learned. Kindle Millionaires Stieg Larsson, Michael Connelly, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins, and John Locke have a few things in common.
1. They write in very popular genres that have a huge audience — sci/fi, horror, fantasy, thriller. None of them writes Westerns, historical fiction, or literary fiction.
2. They are already big or biggish names. Books by the late Stieg Larsson, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and Michael Connelly are often the first books a book buyer will see on walking into a bookstore.
3. Most have been writing for a number of years, perhaps two or three decades.
4. During this time, they have written a lot of books. A few have more than 10 books available on Kindle. All these books come from their extensive backlist, to which they hold the rights. Their publishers helped them build their reputations, and they made money for the publishers. But not being gifted with foresight, the publishers failed to acquire ebook rights. Who knew in 1990 that ebooks would be the hot thing in 2011? Shucks, how many people knew that before the Kindle came out?
John Locke is a notable exception. He is a self-published author of ten novels — crime fiction and mock Westerns. All are priced at $.99.
4. Locke is a very savvy marketer, as is everyone else in the Kindle Millionaires Club. Or else they have market-savvy corporations behind them. They have inviting websites. Some of them blog, and are on Twitter and Facebook.
Locke has the attitude that if he can do it, you and I can be Kindle millionaires, too. He even wrote a Kindle book to tell how he did it. J. A. Konrath and Barry Eisler also say that if they can sell their books in the mega-numbers, you and I can do it.
Why I’m Not a Kindle Millionaire
I believe them up to a point. Beyond that, I’m skeptical of their assumption that anyone can sell a million books — on Kindle or any other medium. Here’s why I probably won’t be among Kindle Millionaires.
1. I write what I must. That means writing about the courageous people who made tough choices to survive and build a life in the West. Especially in Montana. Currently, I write about the Vigilantes of Montana, who tracked down the unknown murderers and robbers making gold seekers’ lives hell.
2. I do imagine a target audience who might like my books, but I don’t pander to anyone’s tastes. In general, my books appeal to people who are interested in law and order, Western history, and Montana history specifically.
3. My niche, therefore, is relatively small. At least it is so far. But I’ve only been a novelist for 3 years, and I’m working on my third novel.
4. As a self-publisher, I do nearly everything myself. For God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, I had the fine help of the CreateSpace people, especially my rep, Whitney Parks. For Gold Under Ice, Craig Lancaster of Missouri Breaks Press was marvelous. (You should really read his amazing novels, too.)
5. Doing it myself is a lot of work, but it’s work I love. Not as much as writing, but it’s interesting and lets me meet people throughout the country and the world.
6. I haven’t priced my books at $.99 because I think they’re worth more. If someone spends $7.99 to buy a book I’ve written, it’ll be the best I can do.
7. Doing my best takes time. I wish I were a faster writer, but I’m not. If I can keep writing for another 20 years, at my current rate I’ll have 10 books on Kindle — or whatever next generation device will exist then. That’s the equivalent output from John Locke.
So I won’t be a Kindle Millionaire. I can live with that if I have my readers’ respect. And maybe even some love.