Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Do Not Believe John Locke

John Locke is a phenomenon in the independent publishing world, and that cannot be argued.  His books are incredibly successful and he has somewhat legitimized Kindle-only authors.  I don't know if they are any good or not, because the only one I have ever read is "How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months."

I will not argue his talent, deservedness or abilities here.  I might make fun of people who consider them wonderful, much the same as I make fun of people who consider Nicholas Sparks wonderful.  But that's just me being me.

So I read the "How I Sold" book looking to improve my own game and mine it for advice.  There was some good stuff in there.  I saw myself living vicariously through his own lavish descriptions of nonstop success.  The book would have been better titled, "How to Sell 1 Million eBooks Without Really Trying."

I'm not sure if it's John being coy, or playing up to his image, but the guy basically comes right out and says, "I don't really do too much, it all just comes to me easily."

And that is why I'm writing this today.  In the section called "The System, Step By Step" there is one little tiny part that has always stuck in my craw.  John describes the blog that "Changed his life" as a piece he wrote on how wonderful Joe Paterno is (remember this is all before the Penn State scandal, so let's not pick on John for his choice of role models....snicker) and how those 550 words blasted him into the best seller category.

According to John Locke, it was history in the making.  Just by Twittering the title and link to his followers that day, and posting the link with hashtags for #JoePaterno, and sending the link to people tweeting about an upcoming Penn State game, "I started selling books like crazy!"

All these fanatical Penn State people who were oh so desperate to read John Locke's golden words about Joe Paterno could not help themselves, really.  It went viral.

And then Locke turned around and DID IT AGAIN.  This time, he blessed all of Creation with a blog titled "Michael J. Fox and your Loved Ones!"  This blog not only reinvented the wheel, it stopped all of Space and Time with awesomeness.  It was the Godfather IV, but without any immediate family members of the director.     It was George Lucas without a green screen.  It healed the rift between the Muslim and Hebrew Nations.

And the best thing about it was that all he had to do was type a few peeps on Twitter, add in a keywords or two, and post a hashtag.  Bam.  The world flocked to his door.

I say it's all bullshit.

There are oodles of blogs in the blogosphere.  A Google search of "Joe Paterno Blog" brought back over 24 million hits, and a search of "Michael J. Fox" brought back over 10 million.

Now...out of TEN million blogs, somehow people singled out Locke's?

I know I LOOK stupid...but give me some credit.  I know a writer or two or five hundred and NOT ONE OF THEM has ever written a blog that went viral.  In fact, I've never even HEARD of a blog that went viral.  I've heard of plenty of videos.  No blogs.  At least, none that didn't involve pictures of naked celebrities with hacked cellphones.

I believe there is a more logical reason for Locke's success, and more specifically, his blog success. It was pretty obvious once I began to learn more about it:  I think it is highly likely that John Locke (millionaire investor before he turned independent author) engaged in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to drive people to his blogs.  Locke has the money to hire a company to SEO the hell out of anything he writes, including things about Joe Paterno, Michael J. Fox, or tiddly-winks if he wants to.


(For those who don't know, SEO is a way to manipulate Google and other search engines to be directed toward your site.  It uses Keywords and linking techniques and you name it to get your site listed first and drive people toward wherever you want them to go.)

If it happened, I'm faulting him for lying about it.  For making it look like he did this all without giving it any effort.  For being a con man, because if that's what he did, but failed to disclose it while vaunting the wonders of his "system" than a con is what it would be.

I asked him directly if he'd done SEO on his Twitter feed, but so far, no answer.

And John, if you read this, take no true offense to it.  I wish you the best of success in your latest endeavor with unknown author Dani Ripper, where you co-wrote (cough cough) the book with her.  How Tom Clancy of you.


  1. Great post, just one mistake: blogs do go viral, but for all the wrong reasons.

    When a blog goes viral it means that there's something wrong with it. One example is the "All I Want For Christmas is a PSP" blog (mentioned here: It was a marketing-created blog run by Sony's hired marketing guns that was supposed to be a bunch of kids "talking like teenagers" about how "dope" the PSP is.

    People saw right through it, and the blog went viral as an example of exactly how NOT to do a marketing campaign.

    The only other "viral blogs" I can think of are either one-time-use blogs, like "ARG" games for video games, or blogs that are really more like honest-to-god websites (like Stuff White People Like).

  2. This post had me laughing my head off. Locke has shown that being a Kindle success is do-able. However he's catering to the lowest common denominator of readership with his hackneyed novel plots and the terrible (TERRIBLE) cover art of his 'books'.
    Add to that he has the name of a character from Lost and yet looks like Ross Kemp after receiving colonic irrigation.

  3. I wrote a blog post entitled "Riding Roughshod Over Margaret Thatcher's Still-Warm Corpse", and if that didn't generate millions of hits - and it didn't - then I don't know what will.

  4. Bernard: You should read one of his books. They are really odd. The one I read featured a young man and woman team who make their living as assassins. The storyline read like a graphic novel without the pictures. I remember a scene where the guy bawls out the directors of a company in their board room (the guy has a majority stake in the company) and then has noisy sex with the girl up against the board room door with the directors still confined inside. It's weird stuff.