Publishers: What are they really good for? 26 year-old self-published author Amanda Hocking is apparently raking in some big money and her distribution method of choice — low-priced ebooks sold directly through websites like Amazon and Kobo. Employed as a group home worker in Rochester, Minnesota, Hocking began self-publishing her 17 novels as e-books in 2010. By March 2011, she had sold over a million copies of her nine books and earned two million dollars from sales, previously unheard of for self-published authors. In early 2011, Hocking averaged 9,000 book sales each day. In March 2011, Hocking signed her first conventional publishing contract for four books, at a price of two million dollars, with St. Martin’s Press.
Her blog: Amanda Hocking’s Blog highlights her popular series of novels, but of particular interest is how she approached the challenge of getting them out there to the public without the benefit of having a large publishing house behind her.
Amanda is generous enough to provide some insight into how she got to where she is today as an author: Pretty Much Everything Amanda Hocking Has to Say on Self-Publishing Taking the time to edit her own blog, Hocking dutifully answers questions from fans regarding her multiple best-sellers and expresses her own opinions regarding the best path to success as a self-supported author.
- Success in any domain is unpredictable. “… While I do think I will not be the only one to do this — others will be as successful as I’ve been, some even more so — I don’t think it will happen that often,” she writes.
- Self-publishing and traditional publishing are branches on the same tree. “Self-publishing and traditional publishing really aren’t that different,” Hocking says. “One is easier to get into but harder to maintain. But neither come with guarantees. Some books will sell, some won’t.”
Considering the break-away success of – authors like Rowling and Meyers, I think it’s well worth exploring what Hocking has to say about the current climate of the publishing industry. Whether or not her fiction is your cup of tea, there’s something to be gleaned from Hocking’s ability to harness the power of emerging technologies in realizing her ambitions.
- “With all my books that are currently self-published, I just went to the retailer and uploaded the books directly to Amazon for the Kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook. For iBookstore, Kobo, the Sony eReader, etc, you can’t upload directly to the site, but you can publish them through the third-party publisher Smashwords. For more information about that, I would highly recommend going to Smashwords. They also have a really fantastic guide on formatting ebooks. For paperbacks, I went through Createspace, because they were the easiest to use and most affordable.”
In addition to showcasing her considerable catalogue of titles, her sight is a meeting place for readers to interact with her on a personal level. In a FAQ on her main page she takes the time to respond to queries and feedback from her many readers. Here’s a sample of the kind of answers she provides:
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, I’m represented by Steven Axelrod at The Axelrod Agency, Inc.
Do you read the comments on your blog?
Yes, I read all of them. I don’t comment back that often, though, because I don’t enjoy the format of it. I also tend to write blogs at night, and when I wake up, there’s 20 comments, and I feel bad commenting specifically to one or two people, but not all the people that comment. I also read every comment on Facebook and all my @’s on Twitter.
What is the next book coming out?
The Watersong series is complete now, as are the Hollows comics, with a graphic novel coming out in print sometime early 2014. The next book I have coming out is the first book in my new trilogy, the Kanin Chronicles. I’m not sure exactly when that will be out, but it should be sometime in mid-2014. I also contributed a short story to the anthology Grim – which is retellings of Grimm fairy tales and includes fabulous stories by lots of fantastic authors including Claudia Gray, Julie Kagawa, Jackson Pearce, Christine Johnson, Jeri Smith Ready, Ellen Hopkins, and many, many more.Grim will be out February 25, 2014.
Can you tell me about the Kanin Chronicles?
It’s a spinoff series from the Trylle trilogy, and it takes place four years after the end of Ascend. More information will be coming out when it gets closer to coming out, but I can tell you that I really and truly love how the series turned out.
How many books are in the Watersong series?
The Watersong series is a quartet – Wake, Lullaby, Tidal, and Elegy, and all four books are out in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio book. Tidal and Elegyactually just recently came out in paperback, so that’s exciting.
Wait. I thought Switched and the other Trylle books were already out. Are these new books in the series?
No. Switched, Torn, and Ascend were previously self-published, but St. Martin’s bought the English world rights to them in early 2011. I unpublished all three books in mid-2011. Since then, they’ve gone through an editing process and are being re-released in both ebook and paperback. Switched came out January 2012, TornFebruary 2012, and Ascend April 2012. There are still only 3 books in the trilogy.
How are the Trylle books different from their previously self-published versions? Are they different?
There are some differences, yes. The most notable will be fewer errors, since they’ve had a more intensive editing. They’ve been polished up and smoothed out, with a few things elaborated on. There are extended scenes, and the third book even contains an additional chapter. But there isn’t alternate ending for the series. All the character’s fates remain the same. Additionally, each book contains a brand new, never-before-published short story.Switched has “The Vittra Attacks” which sheds some light on how the Vittra came after Wendy and what they plan to do next. Torn has “One Day, Three Ways” (my personal favorite of the three stores) which shows how three different characters spend a pivotal day from the book. Ascend has “Ever After” which illuminates what becomes of the characters a bit more after the end of the book, and it’s set roughly a year and a half in the future. I suspect that “Ever After” will be the fan favorite of the three short stories.
Learn more about Amanda Hocking at Smashwords
Interview with Amanda Hocking via The Reading Cafe
Watch Amanda Hocking’s Writing Tips on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=darBkzWLTo0