by Robert Gregory Browne

Today on TKZ we’re thrilled to host Robert Gregory Browne, whose latest novel TRIAL JUNKIES is an Amazon #1 Hot New Release.

I practically had to be pulled kicking and screaming into self-publishing.

I came into the book world through the traditional route and was conditioned to believe that the only way into the industry was to write a book, look for an agent, have that agent submit the manuscript and pray that a publisher accepted it.

Once I managed to get past that particular obstacle, I thought the only way to stay in the industry was to write the books my publisher wanted me to write and regularly meet my deadlines.

So when I heard that a few authors had decided to take advantage of the so-called Kindle revolution and start self-publishing ebooks, I thought they had completely lost their minds. Did they really think they could make a living selling books for three or four bucks on Amazon?

Surely they had to be nuts.

But an odd thing started to happen. Several of my friends who had decided to take the leap were actually starting to see their incomes rise. Not dramatically, but this was certainly proof that it was possible to, at least, supplement your income with self-publishing sales.

Yet, I remained on the fence. Not fully convinced that self-publishing was the way to go.

I’m not a particularly greedy guy, but I have to say that there was one piece of news I received from a friend that made me reconsider my position. She sent me an email saying, “I made thirty thousand dollars last month in ebook sales.”

Now, to a midlist writer—even one who has managed to do this job full-time and eke out a fairly good living—that was a number that couldn’t be ignored.

Thirty thousand dollars? Surely she was either fudging the truth or I hadn’t read the email correctly. And if she was making that kind of money, she had to be an anomaly.

Or did she?

I soon started to get reports from other self-publishing friends that they were making ten, twenty, thirty, even forty thousand dollars a month selling ebooks on Amazon.

How could this be possible? I wondered. If I were to self-publish a book would I ever manage to earn that kind of loot? Because, let’s face it, few people go into the authoring business to make money. We midlisters are used to modest advances and modest sales. And most are forced to do the job part-time because their royalties just aren’t high enough.

I went to my financial advisor and I said, “Can you believe that some of my friends are making thirty or forty thousand dollars a month through self-publishing?”

He immediately nodded his head and said, “Sure. What you’re seeing is the cut the publisher usually takes.”

Well, folks, greedy or not, I didn’t need much more convincing. I was already in the midst of writing a new book and decided somewhere around the third act that I needed to forego shopping it around and self-publish the sucker. That book was called TRIAL JUNKIES and I launched it about three weeks ago by offering it for free and giving away 46,000 copies.

And I’m happy to report that a few days after the giveaway, TRIAL JUNKIES hit the Top 100 in Kindle Books and became the #1 bestselling legal thriller on Amazon. As of this writing, it’s still there and I’m keeping my fingers (and toes and eyes) crossed that it sticks around for a while.

Over a period of a few months, I’ve gone from skeptic to firm believer. Not merely because of financial potential, but because I’ve never felt so in control of my own destiny.  I wrote the book that I wanted to write, on my own terms, and handled every aspect of its release from formatting to cover design. That’s the kind of control that no author gets in the traditional publishing world.

Will everyone who self-publishes be as lucky as I’ve been? Probably not. But the odds in the traditional publishing world are no better.

These are new, scary times we’re living in and I can’t yet say that I’m a success at self-publishing—only time will tell that.

But at this point I’m loving every second of it…

Robert Gregory Browne began his career by selling a two-part mystery story, NOTHING BUT THE COLD WIND, to EasyRiders magazine. After more than a decade as a screenwriter, Browne shifted his focus to his first love, novels, and wrote KISS HER GOODBYE, which recently served as the basis for a CBS Television series pilot, starring Dylan Walsh and Terry Kinney.

Rob’s subsequent books are the thrillers TRIAL JUNKIES, WHISPER IN THE DARK, KILL HER AGAIN, DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN and THE PARADISE PROPHECY (as Robert Browne).


  1. I love your cover, and am now headed over to Amazon to press the button. Love the guitar in your photo. And the title, irresistible.

    May you enjoy your independent success as much as your readers love reading your books.

  2. Thanks, C.L. The guitar is a Greg Bennett Avion, one of my favorites.

    As for the title, I’ve had it in my head for over twenty years and finally got to use it. I’m glad I waited. 😉

  3. Brett Battles recommended Elyse Dinh-McCrillis to me as a CE. I worked with her on my anthology. Loved her. Her website is THE EDIT NINJA. I’m having her post here on Jun 28th to share author “habits” she sees in her work & in her reading. She specializes in crime fiction.

  4. Elyse is great, Jordan. Very smart and funny and, if she can get Brett’s typos in shape, she must be a miracle worker…. 😉

    I kid. I kid. Please don’t hit me, Brett.

  5. I decided to pass on Thrillerfest. I love New York, so when I’m in New York I like to SEE New York, not be stuck in a hotel all day.

    I’m on the fence about Bouchercon. It’s probably too late to get on any panels, so…

  6. I’m doing Bouchercon this year. Love that conference. I’m on a great panel with Heather Graham, Lori Armstrong & CJ Lyons. Mystery Mike is hosting our pre-panel signing with his “BOOZE & BROADS” theme. I’m sooooo there.

    Shots, anyone?

    Elyse is great. Let’s see if Brett chimes in. Ha!

  7. I loved Trial Junkies and am on pins and needles waiting for Trial Junkies #2.

    Am crossing my fingers for your huge success also, andksojclsjolsmcdip0879&%&(*0.

    Nevermind – too hard to type.

  8. Hey, I’m a great copy editor (with other people’s work) I’d be happy to read the drafts for you and point out all your spelling errors, I do it all the time for my kids. 😉

  9. Rob, the only problem with living in the Top 100 for a while is that it’s such a euphoric feeling and you never want it to end, and then once you drop down, all you can think about is getting back there again as soon as possible.

  10. Terri, I may take you up on that!

    Thanks for the fix, Kathryn. 🙂

    Casey, believe me, I’ll probably cry and start throwing things when I slip out of the Top 100… 😉

  11. Kindle only for now, anonymous, but I don’t copy protect the files, so the download can easily be converted to be read on your favorite ereader.

    Print coming in the future.

  12. Why only the Amazon universe? Plenty of us have Nooks, too (not to mention other brands).

  13. Welcome, Rob, to our band of merry men and women!

    I am still howling over the response of your financial advisor to your question. Smart guy! The sharp hire the sharp.

  14. Catfriend, as I said above, I don’t copy protect my books, so they can be converted and read on any device. Amazon also has apps for every computer and for the iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets.

    But if you have a Nook, simply drag the Kindle file into Calibre (free) and convert it to an epub.

    The reason I went Kindle/Amazon Select for the first three months is because they offer a free promotional period—a period that proved invaluable to the marketing of the book.

  15. I have a friend, a total unknown, who started with her NaNo novel and makes a steady $20 – $25 per day. Not megabucks, but a real boost to her income. So, I believe it 100%

    Am off to check out Trial Junkies!


  16. Good! That makes one talented writer inviting….Rob Gregory Browne.

    Okay…all seriousness aside, this Browne guy seems to know what he’s doing. I’ve read a couple of his books. You should too.

  17. Hey, Rob, what do you get with Amazon select besides a fancy UI where you can schedule free days in advance? As far as I can see, that’s it. You can change your price any time you want, and in fact, if you decide to do a free day on another platform, you’re required to switch your price on Amazon. Is that piece of UI worth not shipping at BN or Smashwords?

    How many of your readers have Calibre? How many of those folks even know it can be used to convert books to alternate formats? (Even the Calibre devs state that it isn’t meant as a conversion tool. They expect it to be a library management and reading tool.)

    Yes, I have a Kindle app on my Ultrabook laptop, but I’d much rather get something for my Sony reader that works as expected without a lot of horsing around. (This from someone who does all her own ebook conversions for the eformat and print.)

    In my humble opinion, Amazon Select is about making your stuff exclusive to them in return for nothing. But maybe I missed some fine print somewhere that describes additional benefits. Regardless, good luck with your book, and welcome to the world of indie publishing.


  18. Kathy, it’s true that you can make your book free by using the price matching method, but it’s a difficult way to do it and doesn’t allow for scheduling.

    With Amazon Select I can schedule a beginning and ending date and plan for the promotion accordingly.

    Since Kindle is the dominant platform, I think the exposure the giveaway afforded me has been well worth the exclusivity period and judging by the number of books I’ve sold and Prime Library borrows I’ve had (which also pay), I don’t think this move was a mistake.

    Also, based on what others have told me about their sales on B & N and Smashwords (which pale in comparison to Amazon), I think I’m okay.

    I do, however, plan to expand to other platforms after the 90 days are over. And I think the Amazon exposure will help those sales as well.

    And any savvy reader who looks at the stats on the book’s Amazon page can see that the “Simultaneous Device Usage” is unlimited, meaning there’s no DRM. And I’m sure to tell readers who ask that conversion is an option.

  19. Congrats on taking the plunge, Rob! I’ve been toying with the idea myself, although I’m currently locked into so many contracts with traditional publishers that it’ll be awhile before I find the time. But it’s good to hear positive news from the other side!

  20. Thanks, Michelle. I was locked into contracts as well for a while there. In fact, I was trying to meet a deadline on a book as Trial Junkies was being launched. An interesting couple of weeks… 😉

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