How John Locke Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months

By Scott Lorenz
Westwind Communications
Book Marketing

From the beginning of his time as a self-published author, John Locke knew he would not be able to keep up with the “big boys and girls in their arena of hardcover and paperback books.” He did not have any financial backing from corporations, print advertisements, nor could he sell his books for as little as the “big boys and girls” did. So, he turned to the wonderful world of eBooks, which enabled him to sell his books for about 99 cents.

In his book, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!, Locke discusses his four keys to success. His first rule is to have a plan both for writing books and marketing said books.

In an interview with Ivana Taylor or Small Business Trends, Locke explained that it is better to have a project goal, rather than a sales goal. Granted, your ultimate goal is to sell books, but it is important to see your books as a project rather than just dollar signs. “A wonderful project goal for a starting author would be to get five, 5-star reviews for his or her book. That’s a significant goal when you’re starting out. Without a specific goal like this, you won’t do the necessary things it takes to achieve it.” Once you have a specific goal, you will be able to more efficiently work toward that goal and market your work accordingly.

The second rule is to know your target audience. You must write to your audience, blog to your audience, email specific members, and build loyalty with your target audience.

The third rule is to take a business approach to your work. Learn how to efficiently write, publish, and price your books and then you can turn your books and your characters into a brand. Lock stresses that you must think of your books as employees and always be sure to maximize your profits.

By developing his character Donovan Creed into a brand, Locke has given a face to his franchise. From hearing the name Donovan Creed so much, the character became famous even before people had read the books. Locke uses the name in all web aspects. For example, will route you to Locke’s website, while will route you to his first blog, and will take you to his second blog. Locke’s email is [email protected] and his Twitter name is @DonovanCreed. The Donovan Creed brand is everywhere John Locke is. This way, readers feel they can connect even more with the author and the specific character.

The fourth and final rule is to use your tools properly. Be careful and sure that you are using your books, website, social media, and blog properly. Important things to consider when developing a website include driving your social media followers to your website. More specifically, drive them to your work and your contact info. This way, you can connect with your fans on a personal level and convert them into loyal fans and, ultimately, put them on your Guaranteed Buyer mailing list.

Twitter is an excellent and free way to create a viral circle. In his book, Locke gives an example of how to utilize Twitter hashtags to generate buzz about blog posts. In the example he gives in the book, he is promoting a blog post about Michael J. Fox. Instead of simply tweeting something like, “Check out my latest blog post on Michael J. Fox here (insert URL),” he included hashtags. In one tweet, he used #MichaelJFox and #Parkinson’s in another. This way, while he’s promoting his specific blog post, Twitter copies the hashtagged category so your tweet can be seen by anyone seeking the hashtagged category. That way, when other people are tweeting about Michael J. Fox or Parkinson’s disease, they could potentially come across your tweet, read your blog post, and promote you because they liked what they read. Instantly, you’re increasing your viral circle.

Locke explains that as an author, you should be setting goals for yourself and your book that are low enough to achieve and high enough to be relevant and drive you to succeed. A great way to guarantee book sales is to develop a list of Guaranteed Buyers. Think of the people who have already vowed to be lifelong fans of your work and shoot them all an email.

In a New York Times article about book reviews, titled “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy” written by David Streitfeld, it was revealed that “Mr. Locke commissioned Mr. Rutherford to order reviews for him, becoming one of the fledging service’s best customers. ‘I will start with 50 for $1,000, and if it works and if you feel you have enough readers available, I would be glad to order many more,’ he wrote in an Oct. 13 e-mail to Mr. Rutherford. ‘I’m ready to roll.’

Mr. Locke was secure enough in his talents to say that he did not care what the reviews said. ‘If someone doesn’t like my book,’ he instructed, ‘they should feel free to say so.’ He also asked that the reviewers make their book purchases directly from Amazon, which would then show up as an ‘Amazon verified purchase’ and increase the review’s credibility.

In a phone interview from his office in Louisville, Ky., Mr. Locke confirmed the transaction. ‘I wouldn’t hesitate to buy reviews from people that were honest,’ he said. Even before using, he experimented with buying attention through reviews. ‘I reached out every way I knew to people to try to get them to read my books.’ Many of the 300 reviews he bought through GettingBookReviews were highly favorable, although it’s impossible to say whether this was because the reviewers genuinely liked the books, or because of their well-developed tendency toward approval, or some combination of the two.

Mr. Locke is unwilling to say that paying for reviews made a big difference. ‘Reviews are the smallest piece of being successful,’ he said. ‘But it’s a lot easier to buy them than cultivating an audience’.”

Locke’s system begins with writing the best and most original book you can. Create recurring characters that will drive a series. After all, your audience will develop relationships with your characters and be eager to see them progress. In addition to your characters, create memorable scenes within your book. Once you’ve developed your work, display your best book reviews for your target audience. Some of your best reviews will be from your Guaranteed Buyers. A great way to obtain these positive and credible reviews is to email your fans to write a review and to plug your upcoming work.

Bottom Line: Pick up John Locke’s book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! and you will be well on your way to higher earnings and increased book sales.

About the Author

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers.His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC Nightly News, The New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications book marketing approach at or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz at or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist.