How big a deal is it when a bestselling author like David Morrell decides to skip traditional publishers altogether and announces that he is going direct to Kindle with his new full-length thriller, which is available today in the Kindle Store along with six of his backlist titles including six that were out of print?
It is a very, very big deal.
I thought it was a pretty big deal in February 2009 when Amazon announced that it had signed Stephen King for a Kindle exclusive book deal with Ur, and I was subsequently jazzed when Anne Rice made noises about going direct to Kindle and Joe Konrath pulled his popular Jack Daniels series from traditional publishers in favor of an exclusive direct-to-Kindle deal for the series’ latest, Shaken (Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels Mysteries).
And I apologize for being a teensy bit self-referential in pasting in this paragraph from p. 92 of the August 2008 paperback print edition of The Complete User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle:
Since I ordinarily come at these things from a bookselling perspective, I’ve been thinking for a while that the time should come soon when Amazon should arrange with Stephen King or J.D. Salinger to release his or her next book for the Kindle 60 days ahead of print, and then keeping doing this about once a month. Of course Amazon already knows that: nothing sells TVs like must-see TV.
After all, this one is not rocket science, and David Morrell is not Stephen King or J.D. Salinger. In fact, for these purposes, he’s better than King or Salinger. Why? Well, King is just that, the King, and his success as a fiction writer is so relentless and otherworldly that very, very few hardworking fiction writers are going to see him as an example.
Morrell? Yes, he has written over two dozen novels, made gazillions from film adaptations, and sold a ton of books. But his success is not so inaccessible that other writers won’t look at his decision to go "direct to Kindle" and decide that maybe they should do the math for themselves.
Morrell is not the first to do this, but he’s the biggest yet to bring out a new title this way. Konrath does not need his Morrell’s validation, but one effect of Morrell’s move is that a lot fewer people are going to refer to Konrath as "an exception" and a lot more are going to start calling him a trailblazer.
More and more authors are going to follow this trail, and they will soon be making more money and achieving more stable success than would have been the case if they had remained in what will increasingly be revealed as the sad, diminishing little world of the traditional publishers. And of course, for every popular author who decides to go "direct to Kindle" there will be thousands more Kindles sold.