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John Locke continues to inspire us all with his sales success and his great book for authors “How I sold 1 million ebooks in 5 months” is a must-read if you're serious about this business. I asked John a couple of follow-up questions and his answers are below. Thanks John!
I'm going to give a simple answer because I've written a How To book about this very subject that I may or may not publish. In general, I create the entire book in my head, then write it down, one scene at a time. I don't always type the scenes in order, since I already know the book inside-out. For example, if I have two hours, and the 4th scene will take me four hours to write, but the 8th can be written in two hours, I'll write the 8th scene first. This works because I already know the book inside-out. And when I write, I WRITE! Meaning, I don't waste time on things I can fill in later. I don't need to decide if “Lauren” is a better name than “Melissa.” I don't care if they're dining at an outdoor cafe or at a tasting table in the restaurant's kitchen, or what they're wearing. Worrying about those things suck time. I write the story first. Then fill in the details.
2) How do you identify your customer and how to find them? In the book you go into what to do to attract the customers once you have decided but I think people struggle with the identification. You have that lovely section where you describe your customers in quite soft terms and I have personally tried that exercise, but people would like some further clarification as they are struggling.
This is so hard to answer without a specific challenge. There are several ways to go about it. You can start with an audience, like boxing fans, and write a book like Rocky. Or you can write a book like Rocky, knowing it will appeal to boxing fans. But you don't want JUST boxing fans, you want a certain TYPE of boxing fan–one who appreciates the struggle, the training, the hardship. And when you think about that, you realize your story transcends the sport of boxing. Your book is NOT about boxing! It's about overcoming hardships and obstacles. Maybe those obstacles are poverty, illiteracy, a dysfunctional family, or a single parent trying to survive amid brutal circumstances. And so you write a blog post about that ideal, and the fact that your character happens to be a boxer is really just you saying you've chosen a boxer to be the face of the problem or emotion. Does that make sense?
3) Amazon has announced that it will launch the Kindle in India – how do you see the global market for your books and what do you recommend for authors?
I think books that strike a chord with Americans will strike a chord with most nationalities, because what's funny in America to some people will be funny to some people in India. I have sold the foreign rights to my books in several different languages already, though none of the translations have been completed yet. I recommend authors write their books as if they're relating a story or conversation to a close friend. I believe that type of writing will translate in any language. To answer the second part of your question, I'm focusing on the English-speaking part of the world and have instructed my literary agent to focus on everyone else!
If you haven't bought it yet, check out ‘How I sold 1 million ebooks in 5 months!‘ It's the best few dollars you'll spend on your author education.