Success story Stephen Leather
Stephen Leather has had an interesting path to success. A thriller writer who has been writing for long enough to have produced 25 titles, he has diversified over his writing career, with three series characters and books in slightly different genres. He currently writes two series for Hodder, one series featuring Dan 'Spider' Shepherd, a former SAS soldier turned undercover cop and one with a supernatural theme, featuring former plice negotiator turned private eye Jack Nightingale. Leather also self-publishes paperbacks in Asia and also through Amazon and Smashwords, and Amazon also publish five of his books in the US.
He was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Before that, he was employed as a biochemist for ICI, shovelled limestone in a quarry, worked as a baker, a petrol pump attendant, a barman, and worked for the Inland Revenue. All this has given him a vast amount of material.
Leather began writing full time in 1992. His bestsellers have been translated into more than ten languages. He has also written for television shows such as London's Burning, The Knock and the BBC's Murder in Mind series.
His excellent website gives you all the lowdown on this and his consistent sales show that he is popular with readers and publishers alike.
The thriller writer has been very successful in promoting his writing career through ebooks. He was the first UK Kindle success, having self-published three thrillers digitally. In a recent Bookseller interview he calculated that over Christmas 2009 there would be a surge in Kindle ownership and that new owners would be looking for something to put on their new device. 'I knew that the first thing they would do would be to start buying books, and that many would go to the Kindle bestseller list for suggestions. I spent November and December marketing the books so that on Christmas Day I had three in the top five. ' He sold 7,000 copies on Christmas Day and has now sold 350,000 copies of his self-published ebooks.
This was a on-off opportunity of course, but Leather has always been exceptionally marketing-oriented and quick to seize opportunities which others have missed. He thinks that: 'Selling cheap (but good) ebooks has brought in thousands of new readers who have gone on to buy the rest of my books. In effect my low-priced ebooks have been a marketing tool, though it's fair to say that they have also turned into a decent revenue stream too.'
The author also seems to be in a excellent position going forward: 'In a way the timing was perfect for me. I'm old enough to have a long backlist but young enough to be able to produce a lot more books.'
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