Indie Author J Carson Black Agrees Publishing Deal With Amazon

J Carson Black has agreed a three book deal with Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s new thriller and mystery imprint. The deal will include her bestselling thriller The Shop, as well as two yet-to-be-released titles.

This is very interesting news.

For those who don’t know J Carson Black, she is the author of seven titles, and first self-published in June 2010. She didn’t see significant sales for months, and only really took off in April this year.

And take off she did. She is closing in on 250,000 e-books sold – most of those in the last few months, and many of those at $2.99 or higher.

Now she has been picked up by Amazon, joining authors such as Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler, and Blake Crouch in the Thomas & Mercer stable.

Here is the announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace:

Self-published author of four Amazon Kindle Top 100 bestsellers, J. Carson Black’s THE SHOP, a story of the Manson-style murders of a superstar and four contestants on the set of a reality show in Aspen, Colorado, to Courtney Miller at Thomas & Mercer, in a three-book deal, by Deborah Schneider of Gelfman Schneider (World English).

Exciting stuff.

For those worried about their own sales figures, you should know that even after eight months of being on sale, J Carson Black was still selling in small numbers.

In February 2011, she sold 137 books. The following month she sold 1,280 books, and the month after that – April – she sold over 10,000. But that stunning rise didn’t prepare her for what happened in May – over 70,000 books sold. That rate of 2,000 a day or so has pretty much held up through June and July.

There are a number of interesting things about this deal.

J Carson Black’s agent – Debora Schneider (Jeffrey Deaver & The Devil Wears Prada) – spent two-and-a-half years submitting The Shop to publishers, without success. They eventually decided deciding to self-publish it.

The Shop has sold very well (around 65,000 copies), but it is not J Carson Black’s top seller – Darkness On The Edge of Town gets that honor. Amazon obviously feel that the market isn’t saturated yet for The Shop, that they can take its sales to another level again, and that there is a huge untapped market for it in print.

Remember, Amazon have amassed mountains of data on the buying patterns and preferences of their customers.

The deal will also include two new thrillers, and Amazon must be keen to see what level they can push sales to when they get in at the ground floor.

The sky is the limit for J Carson Black, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. She is very active on Kindle Boards, and always takes the time to help other writers, no matter how “green” the question is.

She was also one of the first writers I asked to contribute to Let’s Get Digital, and one of the first to respond. I’m just going to quote a little from what she had to say there:

They say writing is a solitary business, and that’s true when it comes to writing the book itself. But I’ve had a lot of help getting to the milestone I reached today. At the time of writing (June 5, 2011), I’ve sold a little more than 100,000 Kindle e-books—and that’s just for the year so far.

There are many reasons for this, but the pivotal moment for me came last summer when my husband Glenn decided to (a) get my rights back from my former publishers, and (b) put those books up on Amazon Kindle.

Without that step (which I initially thought of as a waste of time—I made one sale in June and 2 sales in July) we’d still be looking under the couch seats for change. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Glenn, because without him none of this would have happened.

Now J Carson Black will have Amazon on her team too. And like other Thomas & Mercer authors, this deal won’t stop her self-publishing either. She has three reverted backlist titles that she hopes to release in the Fall.

But this deal is special to her, and to her agent. When I spoke to J Carson Black earlier today, she had this to say:

The Shop went to all the best people in the best neighborhoods, and was turned down flat.  My agent, the incredible Deborah Schneider couldn’t believe it. She loved that book, thought it would sell instantly.  She’s been in the biz for a long time, and she was sure it would be a hit.  So this is vindication for both of us.  She spent two-and-a-half years trying to sell it, but I think things have tightened up so much in New York it’s very hard for anyone to break in–or in my case, break back in.

Vindication indeed.

David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

37 Replies to “Indie Author J Carson Black Agrees Publishing Deal With Amazon”

  1. I recently interviewed this talented writer and you’re right in saying what a nice and generous person she is. This good fortune couldn’t have happened to a more deserving writer.

  2. I have one of the best agents in the business. We’ve been together since 1995 or so and he’s tried selling four of my novels and one nonfiction title over the years with absolutely no success (I’ll be sending him another novel shortly). I’ve come to the conclusion that New York only pays lip service to wanting “new voices” and “new ideas.” Unless you’re “famous” (as in reality TV famous or just went through high-profile drug rehab), they really aren’t interested.

    So, e-books are the best thing to have happened to me. Now, if my books are rejected, I can bypass the gatekeepers altogether and go it alone. And let’s face it: If these editors and publishers truly knew what they were doing, publishing wouldn’t be in the mess it is today and self-publishing wouldn’t scare them as much as it does.

    1. Indeed.

      Writers have more options than ever before. Publishers will have to embrace the future and improve the terms they are offering if they want to keep their writers, and attract new talent. They are dragging their feet in both areas, and that will cost them.

    1. I asked her just that question when she was on the Kindle Summer Book Club Facebook chat ( ). Like many successful authors, there was no one thing that she could pin it down to. It looks like that tricky beast – word-of-mouth – again. Obviously, she has several titles out which readers enjoy in their droves. So a selection of strong titles seems to be a prerequisite. She has superb covers too (which she redesigned just before her boom), which tie the books to the genre perfectly. The whole package has to be strong. You have to get the word out. Then you need a little luck. But if you have all the right ingredients, and you work hard, and you get a break, once that word-of-mouth starts spreading, and you can keep adding new titles, the sky is the limit.

  3. Another great success story of a self-published author using their success to get a publishing deal. But according to the forum that shall not be named this never happens…congrats to J. Carson Black – Thomas and Mercer keeps picking up winners!

  4. Could not happen to a nicer person! Not only only is she a great writer and hard worker, she is always ready to encourage other writers. I am honored to call her one of my writing pals. 🙂

    AND – she is the second writer in the Summer Book Club to get a major publishing contract! That anthology was just released about a month ago. First Mark Edwards and Louise Voss and now J. Carson Black. Woo Hoo! US UK And don’t forget – J Carson Black’s story is in David Gaughran’s amazing book Lets Get Digital (free PDF version on this website!).

    Go get ’em J Carson Black!

    1. Cheryl, you are quickly becoming my favorite person on earth. Now just don’t you go and supplant my husband! He’s still Number 1, but you’re closing in on him! (Just kidding, Honey!)

      1. Okay, girl. Now I know you are telling a lie. Because I could never create the covers that he does for you. I think his status is safe.
        The two of you are a great team. So fun watching all of your success!

  5. Congrats! An exciting time for the book industry. Things are changing at the speed of light and it’s fun to watch. Thanks, David, for keeping us posted on new developments. Keep up the great work 🙂

  6. Fantastic news — and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. Congrats to J! This is inspiration for all of us.

    We are living in interesting literary times…

  7. I couldn’t think of a better person for this to happen to… as you said David, she’s active on KB, always lending an ear and offering advice.

    This is such an exciting thing to see.


  8. A heartfelt CONGRATS to J Carson Black. You’re right, she is an incredibly nice person. Always willing to help a newbie and offer encouragement. I wish her much success.

    Her story is truly an inspiration.

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