I should have written this post ages ago. I owe the author.
No, John Locke has never intentionally done anything for me that I know of. Not consciously, anyway.
Instead, John Locke has shown me how to be a better . . . person.
You might think John's a self-help writer, or maybe he writes about faith. Nope.
John Locke writes action novels, and great ones. He develops some awesome characters, especially the hero of his action novels, Donovan Creed. Creed is an anti-terror assassin, but, no, John Locke isn't teaching me to kill.
John Locke's teaching me to love people more.
The reason John Locke's readers have made him the most successful self-published author in history is simple: he loves his readers first.
Here's how John shows his love to those readers:
John Locke Respects His Readers' Time: I read a lot of business books. I end up hating most of them, even the ones that teach me something valuable. I hate them because they usually take 40,000 words to tell a 10,000 word story. Being self-published, John Locke doesn't fill his books with extra words just meet some artificial word count quota. He just tells the story. When the story's done, he puts down the pen and gives his gift to the world. Even on his blog, John writes only when he has something you want to read. Posts about once a month, and his posts are usually under 600 words.
John Locke Helps Others: How? Well, for one, he uses his fairly significant Twitter following (http://twitter.com/donovancreed) to promote others people work more than he promotes his own. In fact, it's hard to find a tweet of his that pumps his own books. He uses his popularity to increase attention to people who deserve more attention.
John Locke Adds Fun: How cool is it to know your work makes people smile? Well, that's exactly what John does for a living. Sure, he calls himself a writer. But writing is just a vehicle for his true mission. His mission is clearly to bring happiness to people. My guess is that God smiles when we make others smile--less so when we amuse ourselves.
John Locke Cares About His Customers: In How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, his book on self-publishing, John reminds me of Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want. John and Derek both believe in putting customers (readers) first. You can feel it in the Donovan Creed novels. You'll think that John wrote them just for you. In fact, I sometimes feel jealous when I hear that he's sold millions of copies of his books.
John Locke Writes About People: He writes about both the ordinary and the bigger-than-life, but he writes about real human beings--their wants, their pains, their worries, their joys. On his blog, John promotes everyday heroes: Joe Paterno, Michael J. Fox, a guy in a Subway, and his mom. These stories remind me how little I do for others--how many opportunities I miss to make life better.
That last quality--writing about people--means the most. You can't write about people unless you understand and appreciate people. This love of people drips from John's novels, even from the assassins' words. The good characters in John's books give; the bad ones take.
Some readers might get all balled up in John's use of language, adult situations, and violence. Too bad. His stories are fully human at a time in history when too much emphasis lands on other, less important, things.
I will try to be more like John Locke. And I can't imagine a higher compliment than that.
P.S. You can learn a lot about John Locke from his fabulous book on his writing strategy: