I first heard about Amanda Hocking by following former agent Nathan Bransford on twitter. He wrote a blog post about how even Amanda Hocking didn't consider herself a true example of e-book self publishing circumventing traditional publishing.
So a little back story. Amanda Hocking is a 26 year old writer who, through the process of multiple rejections and trying to find a home for her YA paranormal trilogy, decided to go through the self-publishing route on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. In the link I provided earlier, she talks about how much work it is and how her lack of writing time is seriously curtailed because of the "everything else" she has to do to get her books up.
But that doesn't diminish the fact that Amanda, by pricing this ebook series between 99 cents and $2.99, sold over 450,000 copies of not only this trilogy, but another 4 book series about vampires that she self published. In January of this year ALONE. That's right. 450,000 copies in ONE MONTH. 99% of those sales were ELECTRONIC. She keeps 70% of all revenue from books sold at the $2.99 price point, and 30% of all 99 cent sales. She's now a millionaire.
Now Amanda will be the first to say that she could never have predicted that they would be this popular. But she also said that she worked really, REALLY hard to get the books to the point where they could take off like this. She also said, and I quote:
Everybody seems really excited about what I'm doing and how I've been so successful, and from what I've been able to understand, it's because a lot of people think that they can replicate my success and what I've done. And 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.
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. I think there is this very big misconception that I was like, "Hey, paranormal is pretty hot right now," and then I spent a weekend smashing out some words, threw it up online, and woke up the next day with a million dollars in my bank account.
This is literally years of work you're seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. 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 sucks and terrifies me.
So as we celebrate this for her, listen very carefully to what she has to say. Decide for yourself if that is what you're willing to give to get published. It's hard work, no matter how you slice it. And while e-books may be a solid part of the publishing future, and the ability of individual authors to self-publish not only their family history, but more mainstream novels that haven't found a publishing house, the amount of work involved is tremendous.
By the way, the writing still has to be good. I purchased her "Trylle Trilogy", and it's good. It's well-written AND edited. We have to do the same sorts of thing we would if we go a more traditional road. There are never any shortcuts to anything worthwhile.
Over the next few weeks I'm going to share the four main types of self-publishing out there. I hope you find it as fascinating as I have.