Friday, March 25, 2011

Amanda Hocking: Massively successful self-published author settles for deal with Olde Thyme traditional, quaint New York publishing house

Writer Amanda Hocking's is an inspiring success story:
Unknown, living paycheck to paycheck in Austin, Minnesota, rejected by publishers all over New York, Amanda Hocking decided to self-publish on ebook platforms only. She sold 100,000 of her works in December, and over 10 months she's more than 900,000. She's 26 and is now making enough money to quit her day job and become a full time writer, in fact she's a millionaire. She's going to be featured in Elle Magazine's April issue, all without what everyone thought was essential to make it as a writer: a big New York publishing house.

She came by that success through a great deal of hard work that didn't stop at just writing the fiction she's sold.
Amanda Hocking isn’t “lucky.” She is entertaining and she knows what all successful writers know. She knows her audience. Intimately. She says, “I’ve been active on social networks and blogs for years.”
“I also send ARCs [advance review copies] out to book bloggers. Book bloggers are a really amazing community, and they’ve been tremendously supportive. They’ve definitely been a major force that got my books on the map.”

“When I first published, I did do a bit of promoting on the Amazon forums, but they’re not really open to that, so I haven’t really interacted there much at all in months. I hang out at Goodreads, Kindleboards, Facebook, Twitter, and I blog. And that’s about it.”
She's a millionaire who worked hard to get where she is, after being rejected by major publishing houses. She is an inspiration and a hero. I don't know if she's a good writer since I've never actually read any of her stuff -- I believe it is vampire stories aimed at young women -- but she is one of my favorite writers right now.

So I was heartbroken literally heartbroken when I read that she was throwing away all of her hard work.
As of Thursday, the former indie author from Minnesota is a vampire-hot New York publishing house property. Hocking has inked a four-book, $2 million-plus deal with Macmillan imprint St. Martin's Press, the New York Times reports. The agreement comes on the heels of what the Times described as a "heated auction" that apparently became a bit too heated for Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins. The first book in the series is set for a fall 2012 release.

But it's unclear how Hocking's royalties will compare with the profits she was reaping on her own. The author has said she was selling 100,000 copies of her nine ebooks every month for as much as $3 a piece; she keeps 70 percent of the revenue per the standard agreement between content creators and electronic vendors like Amazon.
4 books at $2 million-plus, call it $2.1 million, just over $500,000 per book. For the pleasure of dealing with a publishing house, editors, marketing people, etc, etc. Ms. Hocking -- you won without even having to play by their rules. I suppose there must be some satisfaction forcing them to come to you, after the rejections, but still, why would you sully yourself in this way?

Over at her blog, she offers a couple of reasons:
But the big question on everybody's lips isn't what the deal is but why? If I've sold over a million books and made close to $2 million dollars on my own, why oh why would I possibly want to give up rights? How could they possibly offer me more then what I'm getting myself?
It boils down to these points:

1. Readers inability to find my books when they want them. ...

2. Readers complaints about the editing of my books. ...

3. The amount of books I've written and the rate of speed that I write books. If it took me five years to write a book, and I only had one book written, I'd be thinking long and hard about this deal. But right now, I have 19 books currently written. By the time the Watersong series goes to print, I'll still have 19-24 titles at least that I can self-publish.
She also chastises those who question her decision:
If there's one thing I've proven in the past year is that I'm pretty business savvy. I'm practical and level-headed. I've thought this through and talked it over with a lot of different people.
She's right about that. She doesn't need to justify her decision at all -- it's her life, her career, and she should do exactly what she wants.

If someone came along from a major publishing house and offered me $2 million for the next four Arsole Fantüme, Gentleman Immoralist books, I would probably run away in the opposite direction, because that someone would most likely be crazy, perhaps dangerously so. Also, I enjoy running. But after some consideration I would probably go ahead and take the deal, despite the fact that I have made over $100 from the first book already. That is a chance I would be willing to take.

So I suppose I shouldn't judge.

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