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The big news in the world of book publishing this week has been that self-published author John Locke has joined the select group of eight writers who have sold more than a million e-books on Kindle. The geek in me is greatly thrilled by the fact that Locke shares his name with the famous English philosopher, who is called the “Father of Liberalism.” The idea that we make our own selves seems like a fitting philosophy for a successful self-published author, right?

Image courtesy of Amazon

Other than the thrill of the name, the news about Locke has raised some other points to ponder as well:

  • As a commercial writer trying to keep a blog going, I am in awe of Locke who has managed to promote himself without the aid of an agent or a publisher. How does he manage the time? It must take relentless effort to reach his million-books in 5 months mark! As those who read this blog know, I believe in social media marketing – in the power of Facebook and Twitter. And I also know that these outlets take time. Locke’s achievement is all the more impressive to me because of this awareness.
  • Does Locke’s success mean that traditional publishing is dead? There will be many inspired by Locke’s story who will try self-publishing and self-marketing – there will be some who will succeed. But there will be many who will not. The journey of a self-published writer can be long and lonely, much like that of a typical self-published blogger I imagine. To work towards success without props or feedback is not for everyone, and so there will be those who decide enough is enough. So, I don’t really see publishing houses closing down this month!
  • I do think the move toward e-books is going to be relentless. Writing, editing and publishing have become easier with technology. We see that selling can also be simplified with a focus on e-books. As buying, reading and reviewing also becomes seamless and part of this process, hard-copy books are going to be the purview of quaint people called book-lovers. It is a bit like the vinyl vs mp3 debate – there is beauty, and there is practicality. While beauty will be cherished, practicality will win the everyday!