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Monday, January 30, 2012

Interview With Amazon Kindle Ebook Star Author John Locke


1.      John, you are the first self-published author to join the Kindle Million eBook Sales Club. To what do you attribute your success? I put my readers first by pricing my books as an afterthought, and wrote a series that struck a chord with a niche demographic. My audience is deeper than it is wide, meaning my readers are fiercely loyal to the characters and story lines. I love my readers, and they know it. And they honor me by spreading the word about my stories. In a very real sense, we've become partners and friends in this writing adventure.  

2.      The sales of The Donovan Creed series have led to a paperback distribution deal with Simon and Schuster, who will bring out the eight-book series this year. Do you think your success is an aberration or a new model for self-published authors? The e-publishing vehicle changed the landscape for self-published authors, transporting us from what we were to what we could become. The Simon & Schuster distribution model is a bridge that can take us to a place we've never been: retail outlets. This agreement proves Simon & Schuster is not only capable, but eager to lead the charge into
the future of publishing, which I envision as more of a partnership between authors, readers, and publishers.

3.      What advice do you have for struggling writers? Believe in yourself. Be unique and outrageous. Create a brand. And finish your manuscript before you start editing!

4.      What do you love most about being a published author? The thrill of seeing my books purchased in stores, and read in airports, and on planes, and by people on vacation, sitting on lounge chairs at swimming pools all over the world.

5.      Where do you see the publishing industry heading? I believe traditional publishers will be less top-heavy in the future. They'll partner with authors and spend less money on advances and promotional activities, which will allow them to sell more books at lower prices. Traditional publishers who put the reader first, like Simon & Schuster, will thrive in the new publishing paradigm.

6.      Any final thoughts? By the time this interview is in print Wish List will be in retail stores across America. To celebrate, we've priced the mass-market paperback incredibly low. Wish List is a wild ride, but one I'm certain readers will enjoy. If I'm right, it's the beginning of a wonderful friendship between us, because we plan to publish the entire series. If I'm wrong and you don't love Wish List, we can still be friends, yes?
Editor’s Note: No doubt Locke is in a good position to sell more e-books. It is believed Amazon sold six million Kindle Fire tablets in just the fourth quarter alone.

64 Hours Into The Past & Future

Technology is a funny thing. It follows a definite pattern.

First, a device becomes optional.  It’s new and some people will pay a high price to be the first to try it. Those initial few first-generation users create curiosity and make others feel they are missing out.

Then we get a wave of devotees who also embrace the product but changes get made based on their feedback and soon a new version of the gadget is introduced.

Now more people sign on and before you know it there’s a tipping point, where a critical mass is reached and now we move to widespread adoption of the device, partly out of curiosity, partly because people see it as helpful.

Finally, the last phase is when the shiny new object now feels like a necessity, even an obligation, where you find it hard to imagine life before it.

It’s a little like dating.  You move from meeting a stranger to becoming their playmate to the moment they fill so many of your desires.  You get to a point where you need them.

We’ve become co-dependent with our technology.  It’s moved from enhancing society to transforming it.  It is spawning a new world, for better or worse.  Change comes at the pace technology delivers it.  If something is created, it will catch on and it will change how we do things.  And there will be no going back and there won’t be an option to avoid it.

The truth is we’re just in the infancy of the tech era. Everything we see or do today likely will no longer exist 50 years from now or will be radically different.  Why?  Five reasons:

1.      Innovation breeds innovation– one idea and invention leads to another and another.

2.      Money – too much money is at stake to remain stagnant.  We need to keep making new things for someone to buy.  Our economy depends on us always needing stuff.

3.      Power – advancements in technology could dictate a nation’s economy and military capabilities, and influence how we run the world.

4.      Curiosity – we’re a curious and inquisitive population and the globe’s mind power has not even been tapped into.  Billions of people are still not wired into the new century.  Once we get more people exposed to modern technology improve the education system we’ll have more bright minds competing to create the next new thing.

5.      Need – aside from greed, desire, power and curiosity, we have needs that hopefully technology will resolve, from curing disease to finding new energy sources to finding new ways to build, share information, or travel.  There will always be a need to improve, replace or create something.

One day robots will rule the world or become partners with humanity.  We’ll clone ourselves, not with flesh and blood, but with metal and plastic robots or what I call “think boxes.”  These units will think like us, but not be us.  They will take our experiences, style of life, ideas and passions and use them to live online in some form.  Imagine if you had the ability to social network but not do it yourself?  Your computer can be your surrogate and mimic you so that you’ll have an online persona.

On the other hand, do we need all of this technology in our life?  Until we learn to make love, not war, and value people over things, and unite under one approach to government and society, technology won’t save us.  It may help us live longer, but not better.  We’ll do things faster but accomplish less.  Technology presents a true enigma for us.

Smart Phone Missing
I forgot my smart phone Friday night. As I left the office at 5:30 pm and hopped on the subway to Grand Central Station I searched my bag frantically for it.  Nowhere to be found.  I thought back and retraced my steps. I recalled leaving it in my office to recharge.  I was relieved I didn’t lose the data on my phone, or worse, have it fall into the wrong hands.  But I also was relieved to know I’d go 64 hours until I would have it back in my palm. I felt a burden lifted.  I didn’t have to check anything, respond to anyone, or feel the need to fill an available second to search for something that wasn’t important to begin with.

This past weekend, while phoneless, I found myself more at peace.  I was no longer checking news, sports scores, emails, texts, voice messages, weather, time and all the other stuff that I constantly track. Life didn’t end – it began. I don’t expect to give it up permanently because society no longer allows for that anymore than I can walk around without a credit card, clothes or a driver’s license.  The phone is part of who I am, but I needed a vacation from it.  Breaks are good.

One of the things I did this weekend was visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the nation’s greatest institutions in the history of the country.  I took my family to explore the Egyptian exhibit.  My seven-year-old son wanted to see mummies.  He couldn’t get enough of it.  He was fascinated with 4,000-year-old dead people.

It’s always fun to feed the curiosity of a kid because not only do you see their mind growing, you get to pass on whatever knowledge you have.  It’s an opportunity to shape the next generation and leave a legacy. But it’s also a chance for me to learn new things as I reacquaint myself with stuff I thought I learned before.  The experience today was eye-opening because I noticed that the ancient civilizations that no longer exist stand testament to the likelihood our current world won’t exist forever.

It’s hard to think that way, but it’s true.  Things will change radically.  Whatever was, is no longer, so whatever is, won’t be.  Not just people will come and go, but whole countries and cities.  It could be war, steroids, disease, aliens, technology – or all of them – that will drastically alter our planet.

I tried to look at the tomb paintings, the artifacts, the hieroglyphics, and the statues and realized that everything has changed.  Today we think change means going from a paper book to an e-book or a shoe store gets replaced by a bar or our house is heated by solar energy panels. Those changes are nothing compared to what is to come.

I don’t know if I’m comforted by such a notion, or depressed, or fearful.  But it doesn’t matter how I feel.  The world will change without my approval or assistance.  But perhaps what shall remain are the values, principles and traditions every generation acknowledges as worth upholding  Will we still value love, children, dogs, a sunrise, freedom, creativity, peace and art?  Or will be devolve into something subhuman, some tech-human hybrid that loses its way?

At the museum’s gift shop I stumbled upon a book entitled New York:  Lost City, a wonderful book filled with rich text, and old photos of structures that once dominated the city’s landscape but no longer exist.  Just as we look at the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Coney Island, Central Park and other landmarked buildings with marvel today, it is likely 50, 100 or 200 years from now these iconic places will perish.

Maybe there’s some lesson in all of this. Maybe it tells us about how to see life and live it.  We can’t hold onto things that we think define us.  Our world is not defined by a building, a cell phone, or a sports team.  Our world is defined by what we think and feel, what we experience and imagine and by the people we connect with - not online but on a deeply personal level.

Step away from our gadget, your cool car, your favorite pair of shoes, your 900-inch TV set and for a day or two look around you and see that life really is about a whole lot more than these things.  Don’t get rid of them but don’t worship them and don’t fall a slave to them.  Balance is needed, between thing and person, reality and fantasy, news and entertainment, nature and science, sun and moon.

My 64-hour journey concluded this morning, and I feel awakened by it.  I have no doubt I will soon fall into old patterns but I also believe enough of me changed this weekend to approach life a little more fully and less seriously, for as time goes by all that my world is shall no longer be.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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