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Last year publishing houses wanted to buy rights to my next four Creed books. A possible couple million for books I planned to write anyway? Talk about validation and prestige! There’d be talk shows, newspaper reviews, feature articles in major publications!

Heady stuff, even for an old war horse like me.

But I said no. I’m proud to be an independent author, proud to be self-published. Those who remember me from my first tweet in late 2009 will tell you I’ve always believed in self-published authors, always believed we could compete with industry giants. They’ll tell you I always supported indie authors by tweeting news and buying books. In some cases I bought three, four, and even five indie books at a time, announced contests, and paid to ship these books to the winners, to help indies gain not just readers, but also much-needed reviews.

It would have been easy to take millions for my books, but my success came from the friends and authors I met on Twitter and through blogging, emailing, and selling books one person at a time. These are my people, and I wanted to remain loyal to those who brought me to the dance. By accepting a traditional deal, I’d have to change my style, raise my prices, slow my publishing schedule. I always wanted to help bring prestige and respect to indie authors. If I went trad, I could talk about how great it was to be indie, but would my walk match my talk?

On February 1, 2012, thanks to Simon & Schuster and their amazing sales force, my self-published book, Wish List, hit retail stores across America and Canada. Thanks to them, we hit a milestone! We’re in!

But the rest is business as usual.

Thinking this a huge story, I hired a national publicist to book TV talk shows, newspaper feature articles and book reviews. But not a single newspaper or TV show in the country was interested in talking to me.

Well, that’s fine. I’ve been here before.

Last time I found myself in this situation I was told social media wouldn’t work. Now I’m being told it might work for ebooks, where all a customer has to do is click a link, but tweets and blogs will never get customers to drive to retail stores to buy a book.

Will you help me prove them wrong? Will you help me prove indie books belong on retail shelves?

As we speak, Wish List is in the stores, on the shelves! But outside our community, no one knows. The competition has millions of publishing dollars behind them. National media marketing campaigns, book tours, TV talk shows, newspaper ads and articles, book reviews and…Wish List has none of that. It’s an indie book.

On paper, the competition holds all the cards. On paper, I don’t have a chance.

But I’ve got something they can’t measure on paper. I have you!

Let’s be clear: I’m not asking you to buy Wish List because it makes a good story for the Indie movement. I’m asking you to try Wish List because it’s a great book at an incredible price! If not, S&S wouldn’t have made the deal. Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, airport bookstores, Walgreens, others—wouldn’t have put me on their shelves.

You’ll enjoy Wish List. If not, one of your friends certainly will. And yes, if Wish List succeeds in stores, S&S and retailers will do more deals with indies.

I need an army of authors and friends. Will you tweet the message? Facebook it? Will you blog it? Will you help me spread the word? If so, we can send a powerful message to mainstream media: INDIE BOOKS BELONG!

On bookstore shelves: WE BELONG!

On best-seller lists: WE BELONG!

In magazine articles: WE BELONG!

In newspaper interviews: WE BELONG!

In media book reviews: WE BELONG!

On TV talk shows: WE BELONG!

I’m asking for your help and support. Because no one on earth has the optimism of an indie author, and no one works harder. And no one believes in themselves more than indie authors, and no one is more determined. And one thing I know and believe with all my heart is no amount of money or power on earth can measure up to an army of independent authors and our friends!

Will you help me spread the word?

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Justin Bogdanovitch
What a terrific story, John, and I can't wait to read Wish List and others. Of course I agree with your indie stance 100%. Just keep writing . . .
Mitch Davies
Mitch Davies says:
How does this work? You are an Indie but you have one of the largest publishers placing your book in book stores. Do they buy as a distributor? Do you still print the copies?
Candace Mountain (@candacemountain)
I agree with you 100% John and it is nice to see you out there blazing the trail for the rest of us. Thank you John.
Sharon says:
You bet your ass I will.
Patricia Puddle
Sure will, John. I'll twitter and Facebook right away. You're an inspiration, John.
Ken Rossignol
Just got your email about this new blog, so I sent out a half dozen tweets right away to spread the word that INDIE BOOKS BELONG! Folks are now aware and buying more Indie books than ever before. I spent a couple hours today adding all my books into shelfari, which includes all of your books that I have read and two more of yours that I have bought but not yet read. Good luck and keep plugging away. The landscape is becoming a panorama very quickly, with room for all.
Alex Laybourne
I couldn't agree with you more John. The indie world is making headway but only in the market of elecrtonic publications. The footing there is strong, and it is about time that we made that change to encompass the printed market also. It will be my pleasure to send the message, and join you on this incredible journey. Together we can take on the world of traditional publishing, and if we stand united, (and with the determination you highlight so well) we cannot lose.
David DeWitt
David DeWitt says:
I must say, John, that the first half of this blog seems diametrically opposed to the second half! "If I went trad, I could talk about how great it was to be indie, but would my walk match my talk?" and the next paragraph begins with how you went trad and want us to help promote your traditionally published version of your indie novel? I don't get it? You don't want us to buy it, you want us to try it? You have to buy it to try it, you know! It doesn't like we're in, it sounds like You're in... No pun intended but there it is!
Aishah Macgill
Power to the authors! Power to the people!
Peggy Stinson
Hey John, thanks for the heads up and thanks for continuing your stance. I've resent the link to as many of my personal networks as I can. Haven't yet publishing (getting there) and wishing you all the best with Wish List. Peggy
Darlene Jones
OF COURSE I'll buy your book and of course I'll help to spread the word. Your How to book gave me the courage to self-publish and I'm so glad I did. This is exactly what self-published authors need. And perhaps this can help to counter the KDP Select program, which I believe could be a disaster for authors.
John Rubinek
John Rubinek says:
Mmmm, you're slipping. Before, at least your pleas for purchase were somewhat couched in aww-shucks-this-is-just-me-talking-about-my-life-and-writing fluff. Now it's call for us to buy your books because...then you'd sell a lot of books? Little obvious, no? If anyone has proven the indie model can work, it can only be you. So what's with the battle cry to rally the troops? You're hardly the underdog anymore.
Diane Capri
Diane Capri says:
You're an inspiration to us all, John. Keep up the good work!
Sophie Moss
Sophie Moss says:
This post rocks! I'm always so inspired when I read your blog. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us grasshoppers. Happy writing. :) I'll tweet the message out!
Barbara says:
Hi John, I wholeheartedly agree with you. But can you explain your deal with Simon & Schuster?
Ken Rossignol
After reading David DeWitt's remarks, I have decided to enter some more thoughts. David is right. John, I read your book on how you sold a million ebooks in 5 months. You had good advise and I would say anyone would profit by reading it. Now, however, you have moved on after accomplishing great success. But you expect to be successful in the land of carnage where your stampede has laid waste to many bookstores and major publishers. Do you really expect them to embrace you, the indie-warrior as their saviour? I think you expect too much of them or the mainstream media who are their compatriots in complacency. You sure did the right thing in keeping control of your ebook rights and I hope you do well with S&S.
Theresa says:
Got your back, John!
Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn says:
I love the new banner look John, it looks awesome. I'm keen to find your print books - are they available in the UK? We have Waterstones, not any of the ones you mentioned. Let me know and I'll go find them.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Justin! Will do!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Simon & Schuster is distributing my Donovan Creed books to retail outlets under my imprint, John Locke Books. S&S has been amazing throughout the entire process, and this could not have happened without their help and guidance.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Candace! I hope you'll help me spread the word that Wish List can be found in Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, and airports all over the nation as well as certain Walgreens and Rite-Aid drugstores and other retail outlets.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Sharon! You've already done so much. I'm very lucky to have you in my corner.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Patricia! Help me keep hammering the message, okay? :-)
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Ken! I appreciate your support.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Alex! We are stronger by every recruit to our banner. I literally cannot do this without your help.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi David, My intention with the post is to explain how I could have gone trad, but prefer indie. I am still indie, and control all aspects of my product. But my distribution agreement, if successful, could lead to many more such deals between trad publishers and indie authors, and demonstrates a way for indies to finally make it into bookstores and receive interviews and reviews from mainstream media. As for "trying" my book? That's sales code. I used to sell insurance. I think it comes across better to ask someone to try your product than to buy it.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Help me, Aishah! I need your help! People need to check out Wish List. Let's tell them! :-)
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Peggy! All help is greatly appreciated. Best wishes for your book. Let me know when it comes out!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi Darlene! Thank you times ten! You deserve to be an officer in my army!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi John, Before, it was just me. This deal will certainly help me, but it's much bigger than that. It could be a game-changer for indie authors, so I'm going all out. I know of two other indies who might be right behind me with similar deals and you can bet I'll blog hard to get people to buy their books as well. They're not underdogs either, but I'll do all I can to help them set retail sales records.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Diane! Best wishes.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Sophie! Your help will make a difference. Every tweet helps!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi Barbara! S&S is distributing my books to retailers under my imprint, John Locke Books. They are also providing an array of services I could not handle on my own.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Theresa! With you and your friends by my side, we can achieve amazing things!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi Joanna! Thank you so much. I notice it's not available at Waterstones, however, it is available online. I would greatly appreciate it if you get a chance to try it. Here's the link, great discounted price: Best wishes, Joanne, you've always been one of my favorite authors and bloggers.
Wendy says:
You're a good bloke, John, and an inspiration. Consider your word spread via any means I can.
Tracy TC
Tracy TC says:
Tweeted and shared on FB. REALLY wanted to load Nook book right away but will head out tomorrow to buy at a bricks & mortar store. Good luck!
Martin Holzke
Great article, John, and surely will share on fb and LinkedIn etc. Exactly why we started self-publishing and offer help with it to other authors. Independence and doing it my way is worth more than anything to me. Not hit the millions yet though, so would be keen learn some marketing "tricks" from you or even have you review some of our books. I'm really the techie guy, not the sales person...
Gerry McCullough
Huge congratulations, John! It's great to see a fellow Indie writer doing so well. Yes, indeed we belong, and the publishing/reviewing world needs to recognise this. My own book, Belfast Girls is way behind yours, but at least it's approaching its first 3000 sales, and the delight of seeing your books do so well has encouraged me to keep my expectations high. (You can buy Belfast Girls here, by the way! )
Claudia Jackson
Hey John, I just had to drop a note here so that folks know that @NovelHelp (a.k.a. me) and especially Telemachus Press SUPPORT both you and your new adventure with Simon & Schuster. We could not be more thrilled! And, I want people to know that even though I already have all of your books, both paper and eBook (in numerous file types), I am still BUYING "Wish List" because I vote and show support with my dollar! In fact, I am so proud of what you are doing that I bought copies of "Wish List" for some of my friends (the price is right - less than a cup of fancy coffee)! How could I not?! It is a numbers game. You have opened many doors, but in order for those doors to remain open for indie authors, "corporate america" will need to see the financial returns on their investments. I am very happy to see that S&S is not only innovative, they are open to new horizons! So. . . everybody! We are not just supporting John, we are supporting Simon & Schuster! And all indie authors!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi Wendy, I really appreciate that. Best wishes!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Tracy that means the world to me. I'm very impressed, and so appreciative.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Martin, every FB post makes a difference. Thanks, and best wishes with your books.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Gerry, and best wishes for wild success with Belfast Girls!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Claudia~ Your comments show once again the incredible support authors can expect from Telemachus Press. You guys are the best publishing house in the world, as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for your continued loyalty and support!
Alan Spade
Alan Spade says:
Hello John, In foreign countries like France, your progress and the ones of others writers like Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath are closely watched. In France, we are not the most advanced concerning the new deals with traditionnal publishers (perhaps I made a little understatement there). Nevertheless, I have made a post on my blog on the subject : The title ? “John Locke, an exemple to follow.” Sorry for the people who don’t understand it, it’s in french. Best wishes, Alan Spade
Transient Drifter
I'll confess, I never heard of you before today, but just reading this post has been uplifting. As I seek out how best to deal with my own written works, it is so useful to see how others have overcome the system and are making a difference for their fellow writers. Thank you for your openness, and willing spirit. Best of luck :)
Don Rieck
Don Rieck says:
Well, I discovered the Donovan Creed books three days ago, and have just finished the second one. I'm heading to O'Hare tomorrow for a three day trip, and if I see it there I will pick it up. Go Indies ! Friggin Neal Stephenson's newest at $14.99 is what drove me over the edge, and I'm delighted with what I've found (Locke, Eisler, Konrath, etc, etc, etc)
Kathy S. Collier-Mehl
Hi John: I love the way you set this up and made it so easy to share, and so simple and easy to place on my blog. I am thrilled to share this post, and I must tell everyone how you helped me to become an indie author through Telemachus Press by your book, "How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 months." Thanks for your help and your good example. You are awesome. Also, thanks for helping to break the barriers. I'm with you 100%. Looking forward to purchasing and reading "Wish List." K.S. Collier Author of "The Veil"
Diane Patrick
Diane Patrick says:
Hi John, I just bought your book last night at Safeway in Canada. I had never heard of you but I was looking for a book to read and picked up yours. I read the back cover and was intrigued by the fact that you are a successful independent author so I thought I'd give it a try. Out of curiosity, I looked you up and found this rather appropriate post. Anyway, just thought you'd like to know that you are reaching someone beyond your regular audience and fans.
Regina says:
Hell, yeah I will. ;-)
Mark Edward Hall
Just bought Wish List, John. I'm an indie author trying to make a splash and have always voraciously supported the indie community. I've followed your rise and wish you all the best in the future.
The Accidental Revolutionist « Writing to Marketing
[...] such as John Locke, have rejected the offers, feeling strongly about the indie revolution and the benefits of being an [...]
J.R. Rain
J.R. Rain says:
Good luck to you, brother.
Fred Gratto
Fred Gratto says:
John, I'm interested in what you're doing to establish credibility for self-published authors, since I am one. This scenerio reminds me of when community colleges first appeared on the American landscape in the 1960s. They were rediculed and regarded as second rate. No one wanted to go to a community college unless you couldn't get into a "real" one. Well, forty years later, community colleges are considered one of the best ideas in the world of higher education, where I work. No longer are they viewed with distain. With your lead and success John, I expect self-published authors to gain greater success and respect, and I'll bet it won't take 40 years.
Red Tash
Red Tash says:
I am shocked and angry that talk shows, news, etc. wouldn't have you on. Another sign that traditional journalism is sleepwalking. Sad.
Jim says:
I've read your books and am hooked. Keep writing, John! Jim
Routines for Writers » Post Topic » Promoting Your Book – and More
[...] Another article from John Locke about how he created his success: “An Army of Authors and Friends” [...]
Donald Everetti
Donald Everetti says:
I have read all of your books and reccomend them to everyone. As a newbie to the indie-publishing world you are an inspiration to us all who hope that we can make a living doing what we love. Any idea when all of your titles will make it on the shelves? The complete set would make great mother/father's day- to-Christmas gifts!
Michael Stegmayr
Perfect John, we should make this a worldwide movement. Germany is with you. Best regards from Munich - Michael
Mark Barham
Mark Barham says:
Thanks for doing this John. You truely are an inspiration and point the way forward. I only hope that at some point I can emulate your success; life is difficult for the self published crowd and its great that someone has succeeded in making the 'big boys' sit up and take notice!!!
Hey John. This is so cool! I was out late the other night picking up some groceries when I noticed your name on one of the books. I thought, oh me must have signed with a big six. There's no other way he could have a book on the shelves at my local grocery store where they only stock bestsellers. So I picked it up and looked inside to see your imprint John Locke Books. I wasn't sure what that meant so I came to your site and found this blog post explaining it. Man, this is exciting! I hope your book The Wish List does great so it opens up this avenue for more self published authors Way to go John, thanks for carrying the torch forward for us into uncharted territory! I wrote up a little blog post about it encouraging people to go out and pick up a copy on my website here:
Kenny Davis
Kenny Davis says:
Thanks for the books, John. But what am I gonna do now, I've read them all. Keep 'em coming, I'm liking Emmett Love as much as I like Donovan Creed.