Self-Publishing Success Story: Amanda Hocking
August 30, 2012 by Jane Jonas
After last week’s article on Hugh Howrey and his success using Kindle as a self-publishing platform, I started to notice more of these types of success stories popping up in the mainstream media.
The subject of today’s post, Amanda Hocking, wasn’t very excited when she signed a book deal with MacMillan Press last winter. Where most authors would be dancing giddily, she seemed rather blase. The reason for this is because she had already garnered fame and millions in self-publishing. We’ve noted Hocking’s success in the past, but here we’ll take a more in-depth look at her journey.
Within months of publishing her novels on Kindle, Hocking has become of the best-selling e-authors on Amazon. In fewer than six months, she has grossed approximately $2 million. Her ten novels include the paranormal-troll romance Trylle, a four-book vampire series that begins with My Blood Approves and finally Hollowland. The character-driven books, which feature trolls, hobgoblins and fairy-tale elements and keep the pages turning, have generated an excitement not felt in the industry for a long time.
How did Hocking get started? She always enjoyed writing, and it was a hobby for her all her life. Finally, after some pivotal life events took place, in January 2009 Hocking started treating writing as a job. Before, it was “something I always did . . . like playing video games.” After, she wrote even when she didn’t feel like it. After studying bookstore shelves and researching the industry to see what was published, as well as reading lots of Y.A. novels, Hocking figured out that romance was always popular, but that paranormal elements really helped books take off. My Blood Approves and its sequels emerged from this recognition.
Then, trying to be more innovative, Hocking moved beyond vampires and, in the Trylle series, onto trolls. Why trolls? “I didn’t want to write about shifters or fairies. I don’t really like fairies.” At first, she wasn’t a fan of trolls either — “they kind of freaked me out” — but when she ran across a line in her research that said they could sometimes be attractive, she decided to rethink her position. “They’re not so common, and I thought: No one else is doing this. Let’s go for it.”
When asked about why she decided to self-publish, she says, “I tried to be traditionally published for about eight years. For years, I’ve listened to a lot of indie music and watched a lot of indie films. In high school, I was obsessed with IFC. But when it came to writing, I never thought it would possible to go that way.
Everything I’d heard about self-publishing is that it was impossible to make a living, reach readers, or produce a quality product. But last year, I heard about how some other authors like Joe Konrath and Karen McQuestion are doing well with ebooks. So I thought that I had nothing to lose. I’d written about 12 books when I decided to self-publish, and I thought it would be better than them sitting on my computer. Worst case scenario, nobody would read them, and that’s what was happening anyway.”
The first day, she sold five books. The next, five more. “I took screen shots a lot,” she said. Then she uploaded another novel and sold a total of 36 books one day in May. “It was like: 36 books? It’s astounding. I’m taking over the world.” Soon she started selling hundreds of books a day. That June, she sold 6,000 books; that July 10,000. “And then it started to explode. In January, it was over 100,000.” Today, she sells over 10,000 books a day.
Hocking just released a new book at the beginning of August called Wake which is to be the first of a planned Watersong Trilogy. Wake garnered praise from Publisher’s Weekly, ““[Wake] will please fans and likely win new ones…the well-structured story and strong characters carry readers.” Booklist also praised the new release saying, “Hocking’s novel effectively melds myth and contemporary teen life. High school, family, young love, and mythology all combine to create an easy-to-read paranormal suspense story that will have fans eagerly awaiting new installments.”
What a cool success story! When asked about her advice for aspiring authors, she responded, “Write a lot, but read even more. Learn to be open to criticism. And research as much as you can before making a decision about where you want to see your writing career. The internet is filled with information that will help you become a better writer and make better decisions about publishing.”
About The Author:
Jane Jonas is the CEO of Eyeth Studios, LLC (http://www.eyethstudios.com). Jane grew up in the Bay Area, and has always been somewhat obsessed with technology and literature. Her first efforts at entrepreneurship came in elementary school. At age seven, she used her Apple IIc to write up newsletters with stories and jokes, and then peddled them to the neighbors. That early drive for independence and creativity has never faded. Throughout her career, she has been involved with establishing underground newsletters with groundbreaking journalism stories, interviewing, filming and editing videos, designing and producing websites, and administrating employees. This diverse background led to the formation of Eyeth Studios in 2006. In her spare time, Jane enjoys mothering her two rhodesian ridgebacks, cooking gourmet messes, and reading as much as possible. Her personal website and CV may be found at janejonas.com.