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Self-publishing phenom Amanda Hocking said to be looking for traditional deal


Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old self-publishing phenomenon who sold 450,000 books in January -- of which more than 400,000 were e-books --  is said to be thinking about a new four-book series.

Which she is shopping, the New York Times reports, to traditional publishers. Rumors are that they're biting for upwards of $1 million in a competitive auction.

For those not familiar with Hocking's work, she describes it on her website as "young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy mostly." She's written one series about vampires in Minneapolis, a paranormal romance series and a new dystopian urban fantasy with zombies.

According to Hocking's blog, she's sold an additional 900,000 books since January. That's ginormous. Why bother with a traditional publisher?

Could it be the money? Hocking's e-books sell for 99 cents to $2.99; the author's cut is 70% of the $2.99 books, but just 30% of the 99-cent books. If most of her sales are at $2.99, she's much better off, if her sales figures hold. If the sales are heavily weighted toward the 99-cent books, she's made less than a half-million dollars this year. Which is actually quite good.

Could it be that publishers actually add value? USA Today writes, "Hocking credits her success to aggressive self-promotion on her blog, Facebook and Twitter, word of mouth and writing in a popular genre -- her books star trolls, vampires and zombies." Could it be that a publisher could provide the marketing and outreach Hocking was able to achieve on her own?

On her blog earlier this month, Hocking wrote:

Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren't all that different, and I don't think people realize that. Some books and authors are best sellers, but most aren't. It may be easier to self-publish than it is to traditionally publish, but in all honesty, it's harder to be a best seller self-publishing than it is with a house.

I don't think people really grasp how much work I do. ... The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn't writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which ... terrifies me.

Maybe she just wants to get back to writing. She made that clear.

Hocking continued:

I also have this tremendous sense of urgency, like if I don't get everything out now and do everything now, while the iron is hot, everything I've worked for will just fall away. For the first time, I truly understand why workaholics are workaholics. You can't stop working, because if you do, it unravels all the work you've already done. You have to keep going, or you'll die.

Or at least that's how it feels.

Maybe traditional publishing has another role: providing a kind editor to talk writers off the ledge. It's OK to go to sleep. It's OK to let someone else answer those e-mails. It's OK to get back to writing, and if you decide to step away from the laptop, that's OK too. You're not going to die.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Amanda Hocking at home in Austin, Minn., on March 11. Credit: Robb Long / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed.

wow, never heard of her but, wow, good for her! Making money writing is tough no matter how you do it.

Her writing might not be my cup of tea (I'm a writer, as well), but I have nothing but respect for someone who has been able to garner sales doing what she loves. She found her audience and they're willing to pay for her product. That's all any writer really wants. Anything beyond that is pure gravy.

Well, if as Hocking says, she has "this tremendous sense of urgency", it won't be abated by traditionally publishing, which usually takes about a year from draft to actual book.

Further, if Hocking thinks she's going to spend less time on marketing as a trad pubbed author than she did as an indie, a rude awakening awaits her. A large part of the reason for offering her a million bucks in the first place is because she’s already done so much of the work. And unfortunately for writers, the days of just handing over a sheaf of typed pages and walking away has gone the way of Borders.

And finally, giving up 70% of the take in exchange for the approximately 17.5% an author gets from a trad publisher (for an ebook) sounds a bit steep just to get "a kind editor" to talk you "off the ledge". I know Hocking writes about urban fantasy. But the idea of a modern traditional publisher’s role as stated by Carolyn Kellogg is pretty much of a fairytale.

Don't be fooled by forked tongues, people. You do have to keep plowing forward -- 48 hours a day, 8 days a week. You can never stop. You cannot not answer email. You cannot step away from the laptop, ever. Memory is short, megabytes are long. You are going to die.

I've read every one of her books and to say she's a talented writer is a gross understatement (and I'm completely outside of her target market).

I hope she decides against going the traditional publishing route. To follow her genre, publishers are, IMHO, succubi. And this little gal has way too much life in her to let them suck her dry.


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