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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some Things That Need to Be Said

Oh, the internet is saying so many things about me. I don't understand why the internet suddenly picked up on me this past week, but it definitely did. My inbox has been flooded and I jumped up over 1,000 followers on twitter. Which was just in time for all my Charlie Sheen retweets.

The past few days have mostly been spent with me answering emails (and not writing - which makes me sad).

Meanwhile, I've been reading things written about me here and there, and hearing what everybody thinks this all means. I've been thinking about what I wanted to say about everything. Well, I've come up with it, and I have a feeling it will be a very long post.

I am not going to rehash things I've already talked about. Like how this happened. If you actually read back in my old blog posts, I was blogging as everything happened. I've publicly written down exactly what I've done. So if you're really curious about all that, check out my FAQs and scroll through some older blogs. I've got it all laid out.


What I'm about to say next is something I've been debating how to say. I think it needs to be said, but I know that I need to word it carefully. I want you all to know that I don't think I'm super awesome special or anything like that.

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.

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.

There is so much stress in doing it all yourself. The editing is never good enough. And finding an editor isn't as easy everyone thinks. People thinking an editor is just having someone read through it a few times, checking for basic grammar and spelling, and while that is part of it, it's also much larger than that. It's helping tighten up sentences, watching repeated phrases, helping with flow, etc.

And it is really, really hard (or at least, it has been for me) to find an editor that can do all that. My books have all been edited - several times, by dozens of people with varying backgrounds - and people still find errors.

Here's another thing I don't understand: The way people keep throwing my name around and saying publishers are "terrified" of me and that I really showed them.

First of all, no publisher is afraid of me. That's just silly. I'm one girl who wrote a couple books that are selling well. That doesn't scare them - they just want to be a part of it, the same way they want to be a part of any best seller.

And just so we're clear - ebooks make up at best 20% of the market. Print books make up the other 80%. Traditional publishers still control the largest part of the market, and they will - for a long time, maybe forever. Ebooks will continue to gain ground, but I would say that we have at least 5-10 years before ebooks make up the majority.

Saying traditional publishing is dead right now is like declaring yourself the winner in the sixth inning of a baseball game when you have 2 runs and the other team has 8 just because you scored all your runs this inning, and they haven't scored any since the first. 

And all ebooks aren't self-published. Even if ebooks end up being 80% of the market, at least half of those sales will probably come from traditionally published ebooks. So publishers will still control the majority of the market.

I just don't understand writers animosity against publishers. So much of what I've been reading lately has made me out to be Dorothy taking down the Wicked Witch.

Publishers have done really great things for a really long time. They aren't some big bad evil entity trying to kill literature or writers. They are companies, trying to make money in a bad economy with a lot of top-heavy business practices.

Almost all of my favorite books were traditionally published. All my favorite authors - Kurt Vonnegut, J. D. Salinger, Jane Austen, Richelle Mead, Chuck Palahnuik, Bret Easton Ellis, Jeph Loeb - were all traditionally published with the exception of one - J. L. Bryan.

Which brings me to another point.  As much as my name has been thrown about, I haven't seen J. L. Bryan's name mentioned. He's the author of a fantastic young adult paranormal romance called Jenny Pox. Like my books, his is priced at $.99 EDIT: It's $2.99 now. But it was $.99 earlier. Like me, he has several other titles out. Also, like me, he has paperback versions of his book available and he reaches out to book bloggers. In fact, he just did an intensive blog tour for the release of his latest book The Haunted E-book. I even included an excerpt of Jenny Pox at the end of my book Ascend, because I like his writing so much, and I want other people to read it.

With all of that said, Bryan sells less books than I do. I don't know how many exactly, because I haven't asked, but I can tell from his rankings that it's not as many.

What's my point in all of this? By all accounts, he has done the same things I did, even writing in the same genre and pricing the books low. And he's even a better writer than I am. So why am I selling more books than he is?  I don't know.

That's the truth of it. Nobody knows what makes one book a bestseller. Publishers and agents like to pretend they do, but if they did, they would only publish best sellers, and they don't.

I guess what I'm saying is that just because I sell a million books self-publishing, it doesn't mean everybody will. In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books. I don't mean that to be mean, and just because a book doesn't sell well doesn't mean it's a bad book. It's just the nature of the business.

Self-publishing and traditional publishing really aren't that different. One is easier to get into but harder to maintain. But neither come with guarantees. Some books will sell, some won't.

Don't get me wrong - I am excited about the world now. I am proud of what I've accomplished, and humbled that so many people have embraced my books. I think it's a really great time to be a writer. We have more control of our destiny before - or at least, it feels that way.

I love what I am doing now. I hope to continue self-publishing for a long time to come. I am immensely grateful to all my readers, book bloggers, and to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Apple for all the work they've done publishing my books and getting the word out there.

But I just think everyone should be realistic about this. When J. K. Rowling became the world's first billionaire author, I didn't go, "Ha! I will publish now, now that I see an author can make that much money doing it." (Admittedly, I was trying to get published when that happened, as I had been for the past seven or eight years).

That's all I'm saying. Self-publishing is great, but it's not easy. Most people who do it will not get rich, just like most authors signed up at Scholastic books aren't billionaires.  Traditional publishers are not evil any more than Amazon or Barnes & Noble are evil. Things are changing, hopefully for the better, but it is still hard work being a writer.

315 comments:

  1. Keep your head up, you do amazing work and anyone with negativity should keep it to themselves. Hope you find time to write more! I've read everything! And recommend your books to everyone! :)

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  2. BTW you made Fark.com so that might explain a little bit of your jump today.

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  3. I understand and I've seen how hard you worked. In fact, Wes said he wanted to do a few graphic novels and try to self-publish them. I told him that he would have to work really really hard if he wanted to be successful. He said he understood, but honestly, I don't think anyone who hasn't seen it first hand really understands how much work goes into what you've done. You are amazing! I mean it!

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  4. As a reader/writer who fell into the category of "I read a book blog for the first time that mentioned your Trylle series and then saw that it was only .99 for the first book so I bought it...." I was encouraged by your stories and I have spent the last several days reading yours and other author blogs. I have felt encouraged and inspired by your success, but I can definitely see that you have worked your arse off to get it. I think that you make very valid points and from my point of view I never saw you or your success or anything that you have mentioned reflect a negative view of traditional publishing. I don't know what that's worth, but even before you wrote this blog, I got it, I still get it, and I'm still totally inspired by you. I don't know if that made any sense or if I just wanted a reason to jump up on the soapbox for a minute. In the end I can appreciate your need to post a reality check, hope you get more time to write soon...okay I'm getting down off the soapbox now.

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  5. I just came across your story today in one of the forum I visit on the daily basis. Congratulations on your success and its great to hear that your hard work and perseverance finally paid off. Like everything else, it takes time, dedication, passion, and hard work to see success.

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  6. Wow you are incredibly level headed and humble Amanda. Excellent baseball analogy, you make a good point.

    I think if there's one thing the big publishers should take away from your success it's the price point.

    With eBooks a cosumer is one click away from buying a book, like a song. It's become an impulse item so they should try to price it as low as possible and try to make money on volume.

    I'm not saying they should do this with superstar authors like Stephen King but maybe if they have a unknown new author like you were once they could try selling their books for 99 cents instead of rejecting them outright.

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  7. Having self-published I can say it's VERY hard, and I certainly didn't wake up a zillionaire :P
    But I can understand people's excitement - it's tied in with the wave of new technology and people are only just starting to embrace e-readers in big numbers. Your work helps to give that technological boom a face.
    And no doubt your success is inspiring for a lot of people - not because of any perceived wealth, but that you've managed to reach your readers in a different way.
    I agree with your points about traditional publishing - no point demonising publishers - but I think the publishing model is changing, and for the better.
    But if anyone reading about Amanda's experience thinks they'll strike it rich, then they obviously haven't published a book yet - it's hard yakka!
    BTW Amanda, try Australia - we have loads of great editors :-)

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  9. Well written and sobering. I've been following the self-publishing explosion at first skeptically and now excitedly. My only concern has been that the lack of controls means the value of proper prose will go down. But you bring up an excellent point -- for a writer to make it, you have to work hard. A fluke success will always be just that.

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  10. Simon Sinek, in his TED Conference speech, How Great Leaders Inspire People to Action ( http://www.hulu.com/watch/219276/tedtalks-simon-sinek-how-great-leaders-inspire-action#continuous_play=on ) discusses why many people fail when attempting to succeed.

    He describes two perspectives. The first is the outside-in approach. A person wants to be a success so he or she looks at who is doing well and mimics what they are doing. They are only concerned with what they have to do in order to prosper. I believe this relates to your assertion that people see you, become excited and think they can easily duplicate your success.

    The other approach is the inside-out approach where people take a path because it is their passion, it is their cause and their mission. They are concerned with the why.

    Sinek elaborated on why people identify with the why and not with the people who just want the fame, money and accolades. For instance, he used MLK as an example. He asserted that 250,000 people showed up in the August heat to hear his "I have a Dream Speech" not because of MLK but because what he stood for and represented was what they stood for and represented. They weren't following MLK they were following their own inner compass.

    I wrote all of this to say that regardless of the success achieved it is the intention behind our actions that largely determines the degree of satisfaction the striver will get from following their path as a writer. If it is just for the money, fame and accolades then satisfaction will probably be low regardless of the outcome.

    But if it is for the love of writing and expressing a voice in you that must get out then regardless of commercial success or failure the person achieved their mission in writing and any benefits that result is 'gravy.'

    It is the 'spirit,' for lack of a better word, behind the writing that compels other to read and urge others to do so. They do it because they identify with it and see themselves.

    I'm just 'sayin.'

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  11. Amanda, I believe customers purchase your books because you are a genuine person. I'm a former police officer and can tell that right away about you. Customers like people who are real. Good job, keep it up!

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  12. Just relax and don't worry about what people say. You did this because you love writing and it make's you happy that's all that matters!!!

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  13. Your traffic went through the roof because John Gruber (daringfireball.net), a major Apple tech blogger with a huge audience, linked to your story...at least, that's how I found out about you.
    Haven't read any of your work yet, but I have to say, your story is truly inspiring, if not for your financial success, then because you've found a way to express yourself artistically without the interference of well-meaning producers/managers. This is the dream of many a creative, and I suspect what many find so enchanting and alluring about your own personal narrative.
    Continued success...

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  14. Great post, Amanda. I know what it's like to try and get published, although I've been more successful than most (so far). I watched self-publishing take off, and at first was very sceptical. I now feel it is a viable method, but worry that the gems will get lost in the ocean of mediocrity. Genre reviewers and bloggers can help with that, as shown by your success. Well done.

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  15. This is awesome. But as long as you are speaking (if only briefly) of editing, I feel obliged to point out that baseball teams score runs, not points.

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  16. Hey, great post. I picked up your story today via a twitter RT of a story that is on business insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/amanda-hocking-2011-2).
    There is a huge parallel with what is happening with indie authors now and what has happened with indie musicians a few years ago when MP3's and self publishing options became mainstream options.
    It's awesome - you are a brilliant ambassador for indie creatives everywhere.

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  17. A lot of indie authors have a long history of rejection by trad houses that they are still stewing over. Why else would they have the attitude that they are evil, or along those lines? It's nice to see that you really could feel the same way, but you don't. No hard feelings, and that's great!

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  18. I agree with almost everything you say. However can I be forward and suggest you don't try too hard to over analyse your success? The prospective writers amongst us know how hard you work. We marvel at the number of books you have got out in such a short time and we realise that our efforts pale by comparison. We know you have been writing for years because we also have been writing for years - I've been writing longer than you have been alive. We understand from our own efforts the amount of time you are putting in to marketing and it inspires us. To us you are an example. But we are also realistic; we know that few if any of us will get anywhere near your success; that's life, I accept it.
    Don't let the media ruin yor life; they are not important. In the UK the media build people up. Then they make up stories about them. Then they destroy them. The media doesn't care because their business is to sell stories (spooky).
    If you will take some advice I suggest you be nice to the media but ignore what they say about you. The most important things in life are friends & family, and then maybe work (especially if you're a workaholic :)); don't let the media get in the way of that. Celebrity is littered with the ruins of former stars who spent too much time worried about what the media thought about them; down that road surely lies ruin.

    I've probably said too much, and overstayed my welcome but as an objective observer I think you should understand what's important in life and you should be happier than you seem to be. Keep writing and blogging and we'll keep reading and buying.

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  19. Congratulations on your success , to be honest i had never heard of you until, i mentioned on a forum that i was writing a book which has been completed but now needs to be refined due to my lack of vocabulary due to leaving school early and never being much of a reader. Although i did write my book (as a result of many trippy dreams via giving up smoking after 27 years) one dream stuck with me so i decided to act on it , who knows the future? but if you can look at yourself in the mirror and accept you gave an honest effort perhaps you are already a winner, with not much internet skills i was able to at least put the introduction on the web .......TheHarlemCafe.Com offers just a slight introduction to my book. At this point i wish all well and Amanda ongoing success. Movies last for ninety minutes .....a story lasts a lifetime, regards , rod

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  20. As a writer who's pubbed by small press and indie pubbed, and still trying to break into the NY market, all i can say is: Well said! It's true - what makes some books more popular than others? I think it's a lot of luck and word of mouth, as well.

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  21. I think your books sell well because they appeal to a broad range of people. While you classify your books as YA, us "older" folks can pick it up for a thrilling "quick" read. They also sell because you know how to tell a story.

    We as the reader can see what you see, the imagery and emotion are conveyed very well in your writing. I can't speak for everyone, but that is what I look for in a book. You also choose the right excerpts for your books. While I can't speak to everyone, if that little paragraph doesn't appeal to me, I won't buy the book.

    I won't lie, I saw a .99 book on Amazon about Zombies, I figured what the hell, it's only a buck and it sounds interesting. I read Hollowland in a couple of hours, I was enthralled and didn't put it down. As soon as I finished it, I headed back to Amazon to search your name to find anything else you had written.

    Keep up the great work, your books are spectacular.

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  22. Good post, Amanda. It's important that folks like yourself remind all of us newbie indie's that the odds are still greatly against us.

    For me, I understand that and I certainly do not expect to be able to even quit my day job. For me, the joy of all of this is that I have a chance. Not a great one, but a chance.

    I think the anger you hear coming from people like me is that before, when traditional publishing was the only viable alternative, we didn't have a chance. Well, the odds were almost zero. Getting a book published was akin to hitting the Mega Millions jackpot.

    It's about empowerment and hope.

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  23. You seem to have and old soul to go with your young age. I too am self published and found out right away that the marketing is much harder than the writing. To get the word out is exhausting and some days you wonder if it's really worth it, when all you really wanted to do is write.
    I have heard new writers say that they want a publisher, because they don't have time to self publish. What they don't realize is that unless you are a big name they don't do a thing in marketing for you. Your book is on a shelf somewhere hoping someone finds it. You still have to do the work, with no budget, that falls to you.
    You have done a great job, even with a publisher, editors make mistakes. I too have had my books edited several times, by good editors and there are still mistakes. I didn't have thick skin when I started this. It still bothers me so much to hear bad things about my books. It's like calling my baby ugly!
    But thanks to you, there is hope and excitement to keep going. Thank you.

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  24. Well said and, like all of your posts previous to this, you are doing a fantastic job of documenting the journey. You're actually the inspiration behind me doing the same on my site.

    And I can say with a degree of certainty, that NOBODY that ever said, "I'm going to write books and make money!" ever did.

    We write because we love it. When it becomes a business, we love it a little bit less, sure, but having it pay the bills sure doesn't suck.

    Good onya girl.

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  25. I'm a professional freelance book editor. I'm happy to help you if you're interested. You can contact me at jhaydenrose at yahoo dot com if you're serious about needing a new editor and you'd like more information.

    This blog entry was informative and well-written... being an editor, yes, I did notice a few typos & redundancies. But nothing that would need a major fix. :)

    It is interesting to hear the strides being made in the world of online publishing. My agent just sent my book proposal out to publishers this past month (I collaborated on a title with a client), so I'm going about things the traditional way. But the climate is changing so rapidly, I believe that e-books are just going to become an even more viable market in the future.

    I look forward to reading more of your work. Congratulations on your success! But never let it get in the way of your writing -- remember, you can always hire an assistant to help with the marketing while you write!

    Sincerely,

    Hayden

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  26. I love your books and I have bought and read them all! Oh my, how I want more of them to read! Keep up the fantastic writing! You are very talented....I am totally hooked on your work!

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  27. I absolutely love what you have done and have shown a lot of authors that have only known how to go the "traditional" route that maybe there is another option for them. Thank you for all the great books that you have put out, you can tell all the attention that you gave to them because you focused on details.

    I saw you on the Detroit new the other night, I was like OMG I'VE READ ALL HER BOOKS!! I was super excited that the Detroit are was hearing about you, I think you are talented and that everyone needs to read your books. That's just my opinion.

    You are a great writer and don't let the media or others comments rip you down. =)

    Avid reader,
    Noel

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  28. Hey Amanda, Great post.

    Just wanted to say that you mentioned not having as much time for writing, and although I can't quite put myself in your position--it seems that maybe the pendulum has swung too far in one direction at the moment.

    Of course it will swing back, but maybe you need to insulate yourself slightly from the media attention and fan mail, etc.

    I was talking with my wife recently about how accessible ebook authors are, and you specifically. You're SO damn accessible, but maybe there's a reason why Stephen King doesn't just chill on Twitter and IM and his blog chatting with folks?

    It's great that you do it, but seems maybe there is a price to pay, and it might be too high. You might be getting too big for this sort of daily and hourly communication with fans and media.

    I dunno. Just a thought.

    Aaron
    epubmanifesto.blogspot.com

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  29. Everything you said is honest, mature, brave, and true.

    Amanda, what you said about the stress, and about not being able to write -- I know this feeling and I'm not on a best-seller list (yet! *smiling!*). People do think this is "easy" -people think of it as "Not Work" - it devalues what we do, and the sacrifices we make. I've been told "Oh, Kathryn's hobby is writing." Hobby? Oh dear! Do you know what I've given up? Do you know the hours I've put in? The sweat, tears, rejection, highs lows and everything in between. The Discipline it takes!

    And when someone goes "viral" the tension can only be racheted up, the exposure the "double-edged sword." And if you balk a little, then it comes across as being "ungrateful" or something of the sort. When instead it's only "let me breathe a little here; give me a little room; let me figure all this out."

    You write - that's the best part, isn't it? Sure, money is good -it buys things! :-D But, don't let all this stress you out so much that the words back up - I know this feeling! The "I have to measure up - I have to top what I've done- I can't go 'backwards' now - I have to prove something now." You don't owe anyone a thing -you really don't. You 'owe' only yourself your best, just as you've always done.

    From one author to another (and I'm old enough to be your mom actually *laugh*) - just find that quiet space, that wonderful place you had before everything went crazy, and create your words and worlds and characters that you love so much. Everything else will work itself out - and remember, You did this - You are not a Fake - You are not going to be "found out" - you created something people love and if they hadn't of loved your work and found it "worthy" you would not have sold so many books, okay? It doesn't mean good writing and good books are sometimes not found out or are ignored or fall through the cracks, that's just this business of books - but it means that if you are doing this well it is because you did good work . . . so congrats and brava to you!

    Now, go write! :-D

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  30. I found you spot-lighted on Twitter and what you have done was interesting.Then I followed you and bookmarked your blog.
    It's not easy to manage yourself under significant pressure, but I think you can make it and
    I will check your books in the future.

    from Japan

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  31. I have to say that it isn't all that you do to get your books out there. I know you do work hard at that but you're stories are awesome. I had heard about them from a Goodreads review and once I got my Nook for Christmas it was the first ebook I bought because of the price and the interesting Trylle concept. Then I was hooked on your stories and writing! I have read everything except the zombie one--*shivers*. But I may read it because I am such a fan now. I have since recommended your book to everyone who will listen and everyone that has read it has taken me up on the suggestion loves it too. I don't think anyone would be able to be sucessful without kick@$$ stories. I think anyone who has read your book doesn't wonder why you are so popular. Don't worry about what "they" say there are always people who want to explain your success as a fluke or easy so that fit it into their narrow view of the world. You are an awesome writer who I for one am so glad you self published becuase even though there is no doubt in my mind you would have been published--it may have taken decades and I am glad we didn't have to wait.

    Jody

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  32. Thanks for this post. I found my own success through self publishing. I never expected to end up with a 3 book contract with Tor, but that is what happened. A lot of authors ask me how to replicate my success, but the reality is that luck had a lot to do with it. Other writers can do exactly what I did and still not have the same results.

    Congratulations on your success, btw! It's awesome!

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  33. Very well said. You're doing a great job, your paving the way for others, and you should be proud of what you've accomplished. This is a great post though to bring everyone back to reality in regards to how much hard work has to be put into self-publishing with no guarantees of success. Very well written post. Your hard work all those years is paying off. :)

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  34. I think you're trying too hard to clear up the misconceptions and it's hurting you in the process - although I admire your determination to help other authors in the process. You'll never be able to dissuade the naysayers, the jealous people, those who don't have a clue about how much work you've put into writing, from attacking your success. Do what you do best and let the rest go.

    Laura Eno
    A Shift in Dimensions

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  35. Actually Jennie Pox was $2.99 when I got it for my NOOK the other day, but that is still pretty cheap and I like the work!

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  36. Well said and please keep writing. I also greatly enjoy your suggestions of other writers and books, so thanks!

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  37. Amanda, You books are amazing and you should keep doing what you do. There are plenty of people who think everything is easy and you will never have to work for anything.You've done great work! I look forward to your next book.

    Lastly very few people do what you do, i mean how you pull people in and reference things that our generation understands. The anorexic Daniel johns and converse and plenty more.

    Keep your head up!

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  38. Your true fans will wait as long as it takes for you to get another book out, so relax and let your creative process do what it needs to between the marketing and travelling. Look at Jean Auel and Diana Gabaldon.. their books take years to come out for the series that they write and they are good each time. Don't let people pressure you into making the next book fast because if it flops, you might lose more readers than if you'd taken your time. Keep up the great work and keep growing in your writing!

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  39. You are my hero. This post is 100% made of awesome. That is all.

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  40. Timing is everything. I just purchased your first two books for my Nook this past weekend. Was scrolling through B&N looking for something new and found them. I'm excited to read them.

    I'm sorry for any negativity you've received. That's disappointing, and hopefully not something that will occur often.

    And I really hope you find some time to write! *laughs*

    Louise @ Between the Covers
    http://www.betweenthecoversblog.net/

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  41. I think you need to stop worrying so much about how people perceive you or your success. Just be happy that you have success. It is not your responsibility to explain repeatedly to everyone that they may never reach the same success as you. You don't know what the future holds for anyone. Someone else may very well have similar success or better for having been inspired by your story. It is not for you to dissuade them from trying. You've let people know all the work that went into it and if they are foolish enough to think you just woke up one morning with a million dollars then that's their problem. I hope you realize that a large part of the draw for people is the fairy tale side of it. Indie writer makes it big!You should embrace that and not try to distance yourself from it.

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  42. I am a fish out of water when it comes to computers. I resisted them all my adult life until 2002 when the only way to submit a screenplay to a certain contest had to be done through computer. Everything I know about using them, and it isn't much, is from the women who work at our local library. I know you have said that you used Lulu to create one of your books and then submitted to Amazon. Why can't we just create the book on Amazon, get ISBN there? See, I told you I'm not great at computers. I tried reading Amazon's instructions. It's Greek to me. Until I learn more here's a link for you and or others when they a have a minute to listen to some poems and vlogs I uploaded on to You Tube. At least I just learned how to do that.And just got my first video camera. A Flip. http://www.youtube.com/user/danpeak?feature=mhum
    Yahoo! You're doing great Amanda. keep on keeping on. It's Women's History Month. Take care, Danielle Notaro

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  43. Fantastic post! It's refreshingly honest. I own an independent press that is slowly growing and am about to publish more authors. I guess I've gotten lucky with finding an excellent editor by just asking (on a message board for author/publishers many years ago). My editor is expensive but worth every penny as she ensures my work is the best it can be before publication. She does a LOT more than the proofreading that most people think editing is.

    A good editor checks for consistency and clarity; reworks awkward writing/sentence structure and so much more. I have always had a team to help me, however, even when I was just publishing my own work. Self-publishing (to me) didn't mean you actually had to do it all yourself. It meant that the author had more control of his or her work. After all, writing the book is the easy part.

    Congratulations again on your success. It sounds like you've been working very hard for a while and deserve it. Isn't it funny how what people think is an "overnight success," is something that was really many years in the making?

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  44. Thank you for this, Amanda, it's nice to have the reality check. I haven't decided if I'm going to self publish or try the traditional route. But it's nice to see the issue from all possible angles.

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  45. Unfortunately with our society and people in general you know you have become successful when people no longer only have nice things to say. As your fan I only have positives to say and support for you, but people are essentially self centered and jealous and jealousy is so ugly. As you know so many authors try years and years to find success and don't so I'm not surprised at 'haters being haters' and when they see you and know they can't even fathom your success their insecurities start running wild which is directly linked with negative spewing. Keep it up we have your back and we wouldn't even care if you did think you were superior... ;)

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  46. What you said here, Amanda, is precisely why you're such a success...you've worked beyond hard - and at all aspects of your career - to get where you are.

    Yes, what sells is a big "who knows"...but you, as a fabulous writer and a self-confessed workaholic, are responsible for your success because you've worked harder than hard to position yourself for that success.

    Well done!

    And that's why I'm celebrating you and your books!!!

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  47. Nobody wants to be made into a symbol — especially when your name may be used to misrepresent what you actually feel.

    Glad you set the matter straight.

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  48. Well done, Amanda. Don't forget that talent is just as important as hard work. You are able to tap into your muse; don't sell that short. You have a gift. That's what its all about.

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  49. My mother just started self-publishing and the only reason she is selling her books as well as she is is due to the fans she has built up these past five years, while with a publishing house.

    So my advice for you is dont let yourself stress over the marketing as much, make time for yourself and writing like on the weekends. Literally step away from the marketing all weekend. That's what my mom tries to do.
    Or find another writer to have a 2 hour writing session every other day.

    So keep at it and you WILL find a balance!

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  50. I think people hate publishers because they're GATEKEEPERS. Sure, they promote your book and get the word out if you're a big name, but the flip side is that they take a bit of the cut. Like you said, you as a self-publisher do have expenses as well (such as editors). Same thing with independent musicians. With a label, they (meaning the musicians) don't have to promote themselves, seeing as the label does that already, but they take less of a cut on the final product. I would think that it's the same thing with a book publisher: the publisher promotes your book and hires editors to edit your book, but you take less of a cut on the final books. In both instances, self-publishing doesn't include your own marketers, and that's why it would be harder as a self-publisher, because a self-publisher would also have to do the marketing.

    As for the comment that there will still be publishers in 5-10 years even with e-readers, yes and no. Ever since the CDs were first converted to MP3, the labels were still standing because they had mostly distributed their music to physical stores and the music creators had yet to sell directly to their fans like with iTunes. While record stores still exist, they do in smaller number and are more "niche" places. I predict the same for paper books: That they will still exist, and the most popular books will be from publishing houses, which would also still exist, but there would be much less of them and they would be made more irrelevant.

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  51. Hi Amanda! I discovered your blog after finding "My Blood Approves" on Amazon, and I find my own thoughts resonating in your words here.

    In 2007, my novel One More Day was purchased by Wizards of the Coast. I worked with their editing team to perfect my manuscript, and I really think that their help was invaluable.

    Sadly, they canned their line of fiction before my book could ever see the light of day. If you're interested, I wrote at length about my experiences in the traditional publishing world here.

    I recently published it myself on Amazon. The response has been really good, and honestly the control and power we can have over our own work is tremendous. While you can earn a lot of money through traditional publishing, I'd have to say that most new authors receive next to or no help in marketing, with the possible exception of some ARC's sent to reviewers.

    That was what I was going to get -- that's it. Any other marketing was going to be my job.

    If we writers have to not only produce the book to begin with, pouring ourselves onto the page, but then also do all the marketing ourselves, on our own dime, then honestly why should publishers be getting 70% of what we make?

    This is particularly true when you consider how e-books have rendered distribution and the production of physical books unnecessary.

    Some authors will hit a home run out of the park and score a big advance, but most won't. And in return for that big advance, we are giving up all our rights and pretty much kissing any hope of royalties goodbye.

    Thank you for writing well and for spreading the good word about the Kindle. Thank you for this blog and all the advice I've found here.

    Best,

    Nick
    One More Day: A Modern Ghost Story

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  52. Your comment about how much work it is, and how it leaves you no time to write, sure hit home with me. I'm with a small publisher, but I'm doing the work many low and mid list authors must do, self published or not. And it takes an enormous amount of time and effort. I haven't written a word of a novel in several weeks. Sometimes I feel as if my head is going to explode with trying to keep up.

    I applaud your comments about writing and publishing. And I'm in awe of your level headedness. (probably not a real word.) And I hope for your sanity that you can find a way to keep writing and produce the books that your readers love, because I assume those are the books you love to write.

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  53. Amanda,

    Great point! And I'm glad you decided to post it. Lots of work must go into getting your work into the hands of readers when you do it yourself. On the other hand, I have friends who are with traditional publishers, but still have to do their own promotion.

    Some people think they're ready for publication when they're not and become bitter with traditional publishing as a result.

    I'm glad you touched on several points. I look forward to reading your work. :-D

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  54. Hi Amanda,

    May I call you Amanda?

    I ran across your story a week or two ago and thought it was great. I'm not really in your demographic, but as an ELA/Reading/Literacy teacher, I celebrate literature that reaches out to those not enthralled with the traditional literary cannon.

    Now I see the stupid controversy wrapping itself around you and I'm disgusted. You have no need to apologize or justify yourself to anyone.

    Our country seems to have a love/hate relationship with those who actually achieve the "American Dream;" great success through their own hard work. They root for you to make it, but once you do they can't wait to tear you down. Unfortunately, you are now experiencing that down side.

    I could ramble on for pages, but all I really want to say is I hope you enjoy your success and continue to live the art that got you there. Don't let the jealous or small minded bring you one moment of doubt to cloud your days.

    Best wishes,
    Snowball

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  55. I came across your name because of all the news. After reading this post, I just wanted to say that you have a great attitude and are quite humble. Great job! You should be proud of yourself.

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  56. I'm reading Hollowland. It's not my usual choice of recreational reading, but I'm enjoying your novel.

    I'm both a writer and an editor. There is NO WAY that I would ever do a final edit on my own novel-in-progress. I have read many self-published works that obviously were not edited by a professional. That's sad when you think about how much those writers paid to publish their books, only to end up with a product that will not sell well.

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  57. Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for the reality check! You've hit the news big time, which is how I found your blog. Speaking as a novelist who has been weighing the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, your honesty and insights are very helpful. Thank you for posting so much about the process and your success.

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  58. Humbling and refreshing at the same time. I agree with you, it takes an incredible amount of hard work and persistence with either route. And you're right, no one can predict which books will be best sellers, and which ones will flop. It's nice to see such a frank and honest post on the situation. That being said, it's too bad that you felt the need to 'clear the air', but that's the business I suppose. Everyone is trying to dissect your success and formulate a model.
    Best wishes!

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  59. What a fantastic post - I am so impressed with your writing based on this alone. I hope you manage to get a conventional publishing house to support you and take over the marketing and editing so you can get on with the writing. You seem to be uniquely sensible about the business and art of literature (and I say this as someone who worked as an editor for ten years and am now a professional, published writer).

    Don't rush to be modest about your work, though. Spelling is not the point; repeated phrases don't do any harm to lots of writers. Your work sells because it's good enough. Well done.

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  60. Amanda, keep up the great work. As I see it there is no controversy, however, I'm not on the receiving end of all the #$%^ that's being thrown at you.

    You are an inspiration to millions of people, yes millions.

    Oh, and please keep posting so that we can follow your never-ending story.

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  61. Very informative post! I've been watching your books travel along Amazon's bestseller list and it's been educational all the way around! Thank you for sharing with us about your journey!

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  62. a) You are extremely awesome!

    and

    b) Please, please, please, don't ever stop writing!

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  63. I first found out about you a few days ago through on article published on Huffington Post. I searched for your blog and I searched for your twitter. I'm one of those new (thousand) followers you've gained as of late. I also added your pal/roommate -- you two are very interesting.

    Thanks for the info.
    It's back to writing for me!

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  64. Fabulous, well-reasoned post, Amanda. Very excited about your success and even more so now I've read this and had a glimpse into who you are and how well you understand the business and realities of publishing.

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  65. Great post! And just for the record, I think you're super awesome special. ツ

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  66. Thank you for a rational discussion of the pros and cons. I have wrangled with the issue, although not so eloquently and not from experience, on my own blog. As a fledgling writer but a lifetime business person I could see the business side and until now had not read such a realistic assessment.

    Congratulations! I hope you have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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  67. Nothing else to add to what others have already said, but you sound really thoughtful and interesting and I hope everything keeps going well.

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  68. Nice post. And add another voice to the JL Bryan recommendation.

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  69. Amanda - until two days I had no idea who you were. Now you're sort of my hero. Not just because of your success, but your insight into your current situation and how well you seem to be handling everything that comes at you.

    Wishing you much more success in the future!

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  70. Amanda, I totally feel the same way about marketing. I enjoy it, but it takes an unbelievable amount of time and organization. I would like to explain some of the bitterness that exists concerning traditional publishers. I have been trying to get published since 1986. I have been told by between two or three dozen agents and editors that my characters were memorable, my work was skillful, but my book was either too mid-listy or the characters weren't black enough or there was no market for contemporary black fiction. Yes, dear. I have been doing this a LONG time and have been given bad advice and poor excuses by some well known names in the industry. Yes, they took me seriously enough to send me personalized responses. And yes, I have been represented by a prestigious agency. What this tells me is that I am a good writer, but my work was not bestseller material, and they did not wish to take the time to develop me as agents and editors once did back in the day. Regardless of whether or not this is the result of economic issues or a demanding bottom line, that is still 24 years of my life. I have a feeling that, like me, other good writers have spent decades beating their heads against the wall. And they are happy to see someone leap over that wall. Even if no one ever recreates your success, it is vindicating to those of us who have been trying to for half our lives. Publishers Row is the one who, for a change, is being told they are not the only game in town.

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  71. I've only just "discovered" you when Amazon recommended Hollowland to me, so I bough it and dove right in. I love it. Then, coincidentally, Anne Rice posts an article about you on her Facebook page! I'm definitely excited to finish this book and move onto your next, as I am just now finding out about your series'. Good job girl, you deserve all the success you've worked so hard for! Keep writing!

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  72. You name-checked JEPH LOEB!! How cool is that???

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  73. Awesome post. Level headed and honest, you said something that needed to be said. Congrats on all your success.

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  74. Amanda - (as someone who self pubbed an ebook online twelve years ago with not 1/100 your success) I applaud you for everything - especially for talking about what it is really like.

    As long as writers write because they love telling stories enough will be right with the world for the rest of everything to fall into place. May you sell another 1 million and keep your wonderful perspective.

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  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  76. "I just don't understand writers animosity against publishers." –A. Hocking.

    I agree, Amanda. I have written it many times on Konrath’s blog, and each time get lambasted by the rather small group of zealots on his anti-publishing crusade: any form of publishing for any author at any time is welcomed. With open arms. And a kiss! He has such venom for the fact that his writing was not picked up by traditional publishing (recent works), that he’s ready to flick matches on the “houses”. And he wants everyone else to join in the bonfire!

    Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote, “It’s not the snake bite that causes death, it’s chasing the snake that drives the poison to the heart.”

    I know you read Joe, and he’s a cool guy and writes some pretty gory stuff with swell covers and all, but doesn’t it get downright old to flame the traditional publishers, day after day? I'm sure you'd agree.

    I find your take on it refreshing. If some traditional “gatekeeper” decided to publish one novel a year—hell, one novel a decade!—and it wasn’t mine, or yours, or Joe’s, who cares? Thanks for supporting authors, Ms. Gatekeeper.

    Thanks for a lively post, and a positive beam of sunshine with regards to anyone and everyone that supports authors, Amanda.

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  77. Amanda. I just wanted to say that you're an inspiring young woman. I'm an older person (gasp just turned 40!). So I've been around the block. Rejection letters. Horrible experiences working for people in publishing. I pretty much had given up. Put all my old writing away because I felt old, useless, and untalented.

    Then I read your story. And it was so amazing..so inspiring. I've dusted off old stories and have started to edit them. Yes, I'm going to e-publish them. I'm realistic. I don't expect your level of success. However, I don't want you to underestimate how POWERFUL you're story is. What you represent to so many is hope. I suspect many will do as I've done. Give it another try. Not for fame. Not for glory. Not for money. But just to be heard. Just for the LOVE of it.

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  78. I think your success is phenomenal and the amount of work you put into everything is obvious. You're right that you just don't know who will be best sellers and who won't. As many others have pointed out, it's about the writing and not the money. We need to get over focusing on how hard it is to get published/be successful and just move forward with the work simply for the love of it. Kudos!

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  79. I bought the first book of yours (that I read) because it was $.99 and I had heard all the buzz about you. I bought ALL the rest of your books because the first one kicked ass. I've spent every night for the last 2 weeks reading my way through the Trylle and My Blood Approves Series. THAT said, writing is HARD. People who don't do it, don't get it.

    I am currently going the traditional route and have signed with a reputable agent and I can NOT imagine doing EVERYTHING myself. I would be having full on anxiety attacks 24/7! Hats off to you for working your butt off! You deserve every bit of success and I'm hoping you get to sit down and write soon. I'm jonesing for the next My Blood Approves!

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  80. Amanda, we are just all really proud of you and many indie authors are talking about your success because it's just awesome.
    We know you have worked really hard, and we know you continue to work hard. It's just that you are helping change other people's attitudes to indie publishing. I'm pro-publishing in all forms like you, and think that the market is big enough for all of us. More readers in any form is more readers - fantastic!
    Please keep writing, and please keep blogging too :)
    Thanks for the inspiration, Joanna

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  81. Well, said. I'll take so-called traditional publishing no matter how bad the contract, if indeed there even is such a thing, any day. It comes with credibility. That's priceless.

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  82. In the end it is not about what a book costs in dollars and cents. It is about what it costs you to read it in terms of time, and emotional/intellectual energy. I think in the end writers write because they want to invest in the sum of human thought that elevates and values life. In that sense, whether you self-publish, or are with an indie or mainstream publisher, I don't care. Keep your eye on the goal, and sleep well at night.

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  83. Amanda, thanks for this post so full of wisdom. You've a truly impressive work ethic, and a wonderfully level-headed attitude. I hope things continue to go marvellously for you - and I hope you continue to find joy in your writing (and time to write!)

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  84. Thank you for showing the hard work that goes into your "overnight" success. I have seen many (not all) self published authors that sell an amazing amount of books and make it sound like it was easy. And "if you do what I did you can too!"

    Nice to see someone come out and tell it like it really is! None of us know what is going to trigger our rise to fame, if it happens. We all write differently, we all try the same promotions. But something will spark, we just don't know what.

    You made it and are one of the few voices of reason out there. Thanks again.

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  85. :-) Maybe you made it because you are sane and intelligent. I've got to say, this post has done more to persuade me to read your work than all the hype I've been reading. Good luck with the next one.

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  86. I have not yet had the chance to read your books, but I will now. Keep your head up and no matter what you do KEEP WRITING!! The world needs more authors and so what if you are not everyone's cup of tea?? (and I work in a bookstore!)
    You worked your bum off to get this far and you should revel in your success- do not for a single second think that you do not deserve it.
    This may sound odd, but I am very proud of you. You worked so hard at this (for years) and found a way to get your writing out there (and writing is NOT easy)and deserve every single moment of your success.

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  87. Showers of iridescent smiles at your doorstep, Amanda. Your grasp of the oddities of success and randomness of appreciated talent are firm. Being a writer means having homework every single day of your life~

    Happily ever after always depends
    on where you choose
    to end the story.

    Professor SunWolf [who tweets as @WordWhispers and @TheSocialBrain]

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  88. Amanda,

    I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head on so many points when it comes to the publishing and bookselling worlds. You are a great example of what the possibilities are of the new avenues opened up for writers. eBooks do not replace the need for Publishers, but open a new avenue to reach readers. Publishers actually benefit a great deal since they can see actual performance prior to entering into a print agreement rather than relying solely on "instinct".

    What is also great is that authors have more choice. Maybe it's better to just continue in ebook format. Maybe build up funds and then go to print. So forth and so on.

    You are a great example of possibility in a world where there are a great deal of barriers. eBooks break down many of those barriers. Success is always your own darn fault. When it comes from the heart as it obviously has in your case . . . chances for success are dramatically increased. Great job and all the best on your continued successes.

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  89. Amanda,
    I've been following the posts and the articles written about you and they completely underestimate how much hard work you put into this business. But I guess you know you've made it when everyone begins to harass you right? Please hang in there, you have such a talent and you're such an inspiration to everyone to do what they want and do what they love. Don't lose your passion for writing in the midst of the chaos, you got this. And your fans are here for you every step of the way.

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  90. Wow. Just wow. Totally agree that all the promo sucks the writing time out of your day/week/month/year. GOOD FOR YOU for staying grounded, and hang on/enjoy while the ride lasts. You deserve it!

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  91. I know exactly what you mean.

    'nuff said.

    RL

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  92. I am amazed and I am not. Deep in my heart I know anything is possible if you want it bad enough and are willing to work hard for it. Thank you for working so hard and sharing your light with the world. I am very happy for your success. Much love to you.

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  93. I just read an article about you today and it's my first encounter with your fabulous works. You're a true inspiration to others: working hard for what you believe in, no matter how many refusals, turndowns and deceptions.

    I just want to say continue your work. Not many people have to see their dreams come true.

    And by the way, I'll try a novel too! :)

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  94. I'm one of those nasty "traditionally" published authors and I have to say: Amen, sister. This is, hands down, one of the smartest, most honest takes on writing and publishing I've ever read. ANYONE who wants to publish should read it.

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  95. ARGH, you reminded me, I still have Jenny Pox on my Kindle waiting to be read! So many books, so little time. *sigh*

    Don't let the naysayers get ya down, kiddo. Spend your time doing what you love. That's all that really matters in the end.

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  96. Your wonderfully, well-said post should be read by all writers ---published and not-yet-pubbed. I admire your honesty and your undying pursuit of your career. The over-the-top publicity that is haunting you right now will pass, so dont let it get the better of you. You've accomplished what you set out to do, and that's something alot of people wish they could claim.
    Wishing you the BEST!

    Hugs,
    Kari Thomas
    www.authorkari.com

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  97. Thanks for a great post, Amanda. It should be required reading for anyone planning to publish a book through any means.

    John Gilstrap
    www.johngilstrap.com

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  98. Amanda, I've just heard of you and have not read your books. But I am pleased to see that you are providing such thoughtful and honest insights on this topic, which happens to be a specialty topic of mine. Best of luck maintaining your balance, navigating the media frenzy and taking care of you and your best interests.

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  99. Amanda,
    I agree with a lot you have said, but I have to disagree with you regarding your comment regarding "more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books"

    I formed the Indie Book Collective (@indiebookIBC or www.indiebookcollective.com) to overcome some of the major hurdles that indie authors have to breaking into the market.

    We have several programs to help indie authors, free workshops on how to use social media to your advantage, Blog Tour de Force, Sustainable Sales, and Bestseller for a Day.

    While I am no phenom like you (and you are correct phenoms just happen, there is no predicting it), I did sell over 1,500 last month and will most likely continue to sell over 500 copies a month.

    I would love to catapult into a phenom status, but I am also realistic that is beyond my control.

    I do feel however there are definitive things that an author can do (we have now done the Bestseller for a Day several times with great success and now have several authors in the Sustainable Sales beta program) to directly affect their sales and indie career.

    Your friend might want to talk with us :-)

    There is no way to predict or create a phenom, however there are ways to create yourself a significant income generating sales platform :-)

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  100. Congratulations Amanda! You've done a great job and you deserve your success!

    Please don't let the "time vulures" eat up all your writing time. Set limits. You're the only one who can. You need to have time to write, and we both know it's not just because you want the money. You have great stories to tell!

    Thank you for the insight into your brand of "workaholism." I'm forwarding this url to friends with whom I've discussed this issue for many years. Perhaps with your insight, we will see something in our own "workaholics" that we have missed before.

    Best wishes - Jan :)

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  101. Congratulations!
    I have never written anything in a comment section before but after reading your story in a German online newspaper (www.spiegel.de) I felt that your story was inspirational enough to move me out of lethargy.

    All the best,

    jim

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  102. You're right, finding a good editor isn't easy. You're also right, editing is much more than punctuation and grammar. Now that you've made a good name for yourself, you should have freelance editors knocking on your door. I'm one of them, but I can't find a way to contact you one-on-one, so this post will have to do.

    I specialize in paranormal romance, so I think it would be worth the time in your workaholic day to check out other books I've edited at www CaroCarson com.

    Congratulations on your success. You have a gift, the ability to tell a story, and you got your stories into the hands of people who wanted to read them. Brava.

    Cheers,
    Caro Carson

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  103. Everyone wants to be a huge success, but few realize the new level of challenges that success brings. Thanks for talking so candidly about your experiences all through this crazy roller-coaster ride (I've been following you since last summer). Don't lose heart or let it get you down. I'm excited for your success, and know you'll find a way to balance both the demands of being so visible as well as find the time to keep enjoying your writing.

    And if you're looking for another editor, you can contact me through my publisher's website and I'll be happy to refer you to mine.

    p.s. Love the fish at the bottom of the page!!

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  104. Outstanding advice. I really appreciate your humble tone as well. If you'd come out and tried to make us believe that it was easy and anyone could do it, I would have written you off immediately, but you are so right about the amount of work it takes. I wish continued success and am looking forward to reading your books :)

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  105. Wow, Amanda. First things first. You're a writer from start to finish. You say things all writers wish they'd said. You write stories we all wish we'd written. You also talk about subjects we skirt around, and can't just put into words. You. Are. A. Writer. Your success is not surprising, bit definitely inspiring. Keep up the fantastic work!

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  106. As an author currently published with a traditional publisher (my current series is published with Little, Brown and my next will be published by Penguin/Dial), I can say that the promotional work is exhausting all around. I've been very lucky to have tremendous marketing efforts put behind all of my work, but I still suffer from "it's never enough" stress.

    I'd say I spend AT LEAST as much time marketing (updating Facebook, Twitter, and my website, emailing bloggers and readers, answering interview questions, devising contests and giveaways, etc, etc.) as I do writing. I'm slowly pulling back, but it's so hard not to be scared about potential fallout in sales. I try to remember something a good freind of mine (also a published author once said to me; "At some point, it has to be about the writing."

    Thinsg will calm down for you, hon, and you'll be able to find more balance. For now, try to enjoy the ride and remember to stay true to yourself and your reasons for being in this business. If it's the writing that moves you (as it is for me), try to give yourself some space and time and have faith that your readers will just be grateful for a new Amanda Hocking book.
    *hugs*

    MZ

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  107. But aren't you just some overnight sensation? You banged out something on your keyboard, uploaded a file or two and now you're a millionaire! Sounds like an infomercial where we all need to do what she's doing so we can be millionaires too. Well how annoying must it be to have people actually believe this when in reality you've spent over a decade or so giving your life over to this? I'm sure it is frustrating. In life, we cannot control what others think or do. Just be you b/c so far that's working!

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  108. Well said, Amanda.

    I applaud your hard work, because that's what got you here.

    I think Kevin J. Anderson said it best when he said: "the harder I work, the luckier I get." :)

    Tom

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  109. Amanda, you are an inspiration to many people. You are a success. Can't you just accept that?

    Paul

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  110. Hi Amanda,

    I know I'm weighing in late, but for what it's worth, just pace yourself. I'm sure right now the pressure on you must be intense. I think you're handling it with amazing poise. Unfortunately, writing time will get cut into, due to interviews and other obligations. Things I can only imagine.

    Always remember, take care of yourself first. You need to take care of yourself to stay healthy, or it'll make everything else more difficult. And set aside time to write, even if it's only a page a day.

    Just keep on doing what you're doing. You're doing great! Take care!

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  111. Also, FWIW, people will think what they will, unfortunately. I hate to say it, but while I (and other commenters) know that you've worked hard for this, many people won't be persuaded no matter what you say.

    It's not up to you to change their minds. Don't place that burden on your own shoulders. You're not responsible for what other people think. Got it? :)

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  112. Amanda Cost Savings for Businesses. Own unique software for all Brazil. @istotal http://bit.ly/hRp4Zi Reduces costs.

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  113. The confrontation indies vs traditional publishing is an example of trench warfare: ongoing and unlikely to end because they're fighting over the same territory and neither is planning to go away. The indies are the guerillas: the cause is personal, less overhead & lighter army, adapting quickly to the terrain & moving faster against the trads' heavy artillery and blanket bombing capacity. Enough with the war metaphor.

    The coming of ebooks has weaved a melody in counterpoint to this pattern. Ebooks are a further advantage for the indies, cutting publishing costs drastically & along with the web, lowering the entry barrier to publishing in general by leveling one part of the playing field (the getting it out there part). A lot of the bad hype about traditional publishing is just about rooting for the underdog against large & heavily vested interests. This stance is both as natural for a majority of people as it is humane, and remains so even in cases where the "big bad guy" portrayal is mistaken.

    Though its been coming down the tracks for some time and still has quite a way to go, the paper to ebooks market shift has made itself felt, dramatically, this spring. We're led to believe that it was part of the mix that brought down Borders. When something this big goes south, the people involved get worried & defensive. Suddenly DRM strategies start to look good again even though the rout of the music industry shows how hopeless a road that is. But with their profit margins threatened, the "big players" no longer seem to be thinking very clearly. And so they hit on libraries as a possible profit & rights "leak" (most recently Harper Collins). And there, I'm sorry, but they are the "big bad guy", basically keeping books out of people's hands by subverting the ethic and infrastructure of public service.

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  114. Don't worry, I wont read your books. That way you get more free time :)

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  115. Every artistic genre goes through the phase of digital vs. whatever existed prior. We are experiencing the same thing within photography. Sometimes sole successes breed exceptionalism that make people think that the same thing is possible for all when truthfully (and statistically) it is not. I am glad that you pointed that out.

    It's great to know of any artist that has success at what they love so good for you. It is tiring to know that artists continually have to explain that their work is not done overnight and the amount of work it takes to get where they are. It is interesting how such explanations are never needed for other fields, just art. Been there...so I see why you shared that.

    eBook sales are hard. I self-published my first one this year and I did not expect to get rich. it was a labor of love and it's nice that some readers decided to read it. Thousands or millions of sales I didn't expect at all so I am glad I released it despite having a small audience and writing within a very specific non-fiction niche.

    Thanks for the great words in this post. Good stuff. Best of luck with you in all that you create and achieve.

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  116. I totally understand about the hard work and I am going through it myself being a self publish author. I just posted on my blog right before I read yours. But I love it even if I only sale one copy. Keep it going. Self published authors need to encourage each other.

    Much Success

    -C.S.

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  117. Brilliant analysis. As a former book publisher in Italy, I totally agree on the fact that publishers don't have a clue about why a book becomes a best seller and another doesn't. Publishers usually create many explanations for bestsellers, but always at a later stage.
    As you say, self-publishing requires self-promotion, self-marketing, self-everything, which can derail the inner connection with the book and the creative process.

    Also, the need to be present and active in social media is in my opinion exposing prematurely the seed of creativity to light. Seeds, at least initially, should grow in the soil and in darkness. Silence is a luxury which can't be enjoyed in the world of continuous information flow.

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  118. Very well said, Amanda. I also think getting known, and becoming popular, comes about through heavy promotion and self-promotion, going down any avenue you can find. The more people who know about you, or find you intruiging, the more you will become known.

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  119. You are wise and thoughtful. Keep your chin up and give yourself time to do the work you love. This post is another indication that you've done the hard work necessary to create your own success. People criticize because they are insecure about their own paths and scared of the level of commitment it takes to see their dreams become reality. It's about them, not about you. Be well. You deserve happiness.

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  120. I just ran across a site about Amanda's recent notoriety and was impressed by what I read. Am even more so now. That was an excellent post, and spot on.

    If I could add something about the antagonism between new writers and publishers; it might stem from how publishers often produce anything from a recognizable name, regardless of content (e.g., the Snooki effect). That includes other legitimate authors. I've started books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, David Baldacci and Lee Child that finally had to be put down with a well-deserved coup-de-grace due to their horrific craft. These are all good writers, mind you, but they also wrote some real stinkers. To know how much work goes into a book, as Amanda has so honestly experienced and shared (including agents, publishers, editors, marketing people, booksellers, etc.), and to have nobody speak up about the actual quality, is criminal.

    That said, it's the publishers business and they can do what they want. But it's a bitter pill knowing someone spent an extraordinary amount of work to write a good story, and got pushed aside for someone else who phoned it in. And on my dime, to boot.

    Again, Amanda, I'm impressed. Your perception is refreshing, and I hope you ride this wave to great heights.

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  121. Amanda, I completely understand that drive to keep pushing, not resting a minute because the moment you slack off the world will collapse. I recently had a venture fail, but not through lack of work. I hadn't taken a day off in a year and a half until I finally told myself that I had to stop and breathe.

    I'm probably not the best example of it, but I'm now sitting in a little French cottage I rented so that I can focus on my writing. I'm still a workaholic because it's not something you can give up after doing it everyday for so long, but I am learning to slow my pace bit-by-bit. I'm still working hard but am steadily adding in important aspects to life like regular meals, taking walks, and reading a book for enjoyment; things I hadn't done for much too long.

    You're doing wonderfully, so don't worry if things do tank after a bit. It has nothing to do with your hard work and determination. You've already proven that you are a huge success. Now I'd suggest taking a few moments to enjoy it. :)

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  122. First on all, congrats on all your success so far. I've recently found your story and found it very inspiring. Who doesn't love a success story, right? :)

    While I think a lot of what you say is true, I do think you're just being either nice of naive about why traditional publishers might be worried.

    Sure, everyone wants to make a buck, whether it's a paperback publisher or an e-book one. The reason they should be scared is that with many e-book selling platforms, authors control more of their own destiny. No longer do I make 5 or 10 cents of every dollar from my manuscript. If I go the e-book route, I can make 60 or 70 cents on the dollar instead. If I was selling against someone who could undercut me that much, I would certainly be scared, and they should be too.

    I'm sure most digital publishing success stories are also published in book form eventually too because it's a cheat sheet for risk analysis. If an author is selling hundreds of thousands of e-books, it's much less of a risk to take a chance on a particular unknown author.

    You're absolute right that regardless of delivery format of your writing, most people will not be as dedicated and successful. Like they say, if success were that easy, everyone would do it. I think the point people are trying to make is that for those who DO have the persistence and determination to market their own writing digitally, and are successful at it, they stand to lose billions and billions.

    So anyone still paying me 10 cents (or less) for every dollar earned off my intellectual property when I can earn 70 percent with someone else and 100 percent if I do it myself from my own website, might not be "evil" per se, but they certainly wouldn't be my first choice, and THAT is why they should be scared.

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  123. Jane Friedman tweeted your blog and I found it very helpful.
    I have had trouble trying to get published and I feel that the publishers expect us to be so professional but yet they can just throw our hard work away without even comment. I have yet to even get a response and I have spent so much time and effort doing research on how to send it, who to send it to, etc. It is disheartening, so I can see why they would cling to your success because right now I would rather spend my time selling my book than trying to get a publisher to notice me.

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  124. "I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn't writing a book...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."

    This is so, so true, and for those "traditionally" NY published, too. "Easy" should be considered a profane four-letter word when it comes to publishing. Writing a book is a creative endeavor, but everything after that takes the same amount of time/energy/effort as running your own small business. Kudos to you for your success, and for your very practical, thoughtful post on the realities of publishing. It's a great business if you love writing, but I'd never recommend it to anyone as a get-rich-quick scenario.

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  125. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I am happy you have found a corner of success. You are right to feel an urgency to get back to work writing.
    Get your groove back on, if it is wearing a baseball hat until it rots - set daily goal to accomplish the draft of the next novel. Editing is painful and slow. Get three copies to three editors and let them go at it. Perhaps they even chat. You have gained a level of notoriety that you may have the luxury to use. Do it and keep running with the work.
    Stay the course.

    I don't have the freedom to write for a living as of yet. I wish you well.

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  126. I think this post is extremely eloquent, articulate, and much needed. Thank you for putting your voice into the fray. Thank you for saying how much effort you put into making your work a success (Bravo, by the way. Serious, serious congratulations.)

    I think that success is partly chance, some luck, and Mostly Work. You've shown that. I think you've shown that there IS an acceptable alternative to traditional publishing, but not that it's the "easy way" or the "quick way." Just a different way. There will always be work to do.

    Best of luck to you in the rest of your career. Through your success AND your hard work..you're an inspiration.

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  127. Thanks your this. I hope it will weed out some of the get-rich folk who decide to try self-publishing. It's hard work to sell well no matter where you do it. Congrats on your work paying off!

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  129. I’ve worked in publishing for 25 years, 10 of them as an editor for midsize book and magazine publishers before self-publishing my own books (10 books so far, if you count a second edition of one). I agree with everything you say. Some additional points:

    When I was an editor (I rose from copyeditor to senior/project editor), I was not “out to get” authors. I believed in their projects, I fully supported authors in every way I could as an editor, and they appreciated it.

    Most copyediting and rewriting is done by freelancers, at large publishers under the supervision of a project editor. I’ve hired freelance editors and I’ve been one myself. It’s hard to hire a good freelance editor, because most good editors want to eventually move up to a more senior, in-house position. So you see a ton of resumes from people who are either inexperienced, or who are burned out but could not manage to move up. The best editors gravitate to large publishers who will give them steady work, are sure to pay on time, and fully understand the publishing process. Often, freelancers assume self-publishers will do none of these things and do not want to work with them. (This is also true of freelance graphic designers and marketers. ) I do all my own editing and yes, that is entirely possible. The assumption that no one can see their own work objectively simply is not true. (As an editor, I worked with some authors who turned in manuscripts that were perfect except for a few typos.) I highly recommend that self-publishers buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style and a book on the copyediting process, read them thoroughly, and refer to them often. I also recommend that they take any editorial courses or workshops offered in their area.

    Yes, I believe that large businesses will continue to dominate publishing. I don’t think large publishers are dead and I don’t believe print books are dead. I only publish offset print books, which preserves me from a lot of piracy that might otherwise occur. (Yes, pirates can scan a print book but it’s harder than copying a file.) It also preserves me from a lot of the erroneous and exploitive reader expectations of “your work should be dirt cheap because authors write only for fun and printing is the only publishing work or cost.”

    I’ve settled down into a routine of, spend a couple of months mostly on promoting a book when it first comes out, then the “do 20 minutes of marketing every day” rule. I publish niche books that will never be bestsellers, but which sell slowly but steadily for many years. I could spend all my time marketing them and although the audience is inherently limited, I’d sell more books. But I need to write new books to keep my business going and furthermore, to keep my sanity. I love writing. I like a variety of other publishing tasks. As a self-publisher you have to like doing many different things and furthermore, like any small business owner you need to work more than 40 hours a week. I feel marketing is OK, but I am just not willing spend my whole life on it, and I am not willing to do things I dislike the idea of (for example, there’s no way you could get me onto TV or radio).

    Best of luck. You deserve it.

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  130. Hey guys,

    Self-publishing has ALWAYS been possible. I've been doing it for 19 years, without ever producing an e-book or a POD book. I've known self-publishers ever since I started to work in the publishing business 25 years ago. There are numerous websites that list famous self-publishers--Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, and many others.

    Yes, more people are self-publishing because technology has made it easier. Not just e-book software, but print-on-demand services and page-layout software.

    But are large publishers "scared"? There is zero evidence of that. They have far more money, far more employees, and far more industry clout. They dominate distribution and review media. They can afford to offer authors an easier publishing method, that is, write the book and let the publisher do the rest. And they can and do produce e-books and print-on-demand books.

    OK, larger publishers (and small ones too) expect authors to do increasingly more marketing. Still, if you think it's hard to write books and hold down another job to support yourself until, years later, you can afford to write full time, wait till you try to find time to write the book, design it, lay it out, index it, proofread it, market it, fill orders, do bookeeping, and more. Including a myriad of little tasks like getting CIP data and bar codes, and registering the copyright.

    I think I've earned more from my books than if they had been published by a larger publisher--and I've had offers for some books. But I can fully understand why many, if not most, authors do not want to self-publish.

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  131. One last--I completely fail to understand the slogan that publishers (whether large or small) are trying to "keep books out of readers' hands." The whole point of spending a year producing a book and a great deal of time marketing it is to get those books INTO readers' hands. However, publishing is a business and publishers need to make a profit to keep on getting books into readers' hands. Likewise, writers need and deserve to be fairly paid, just like members of all other professions.

    Sorry, but charging for a book, or limiting loans of an e-book to the average number of times a print book can be loaned without replacement, is by no means the same as "keeping it out of readers' hands."

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  132. great post. i reposted this with a recommendation at our collective space "kaffe in katmandu" (http://kaffeinkatmandu.tumblr.com/) - perhaps you have a minute to drop by. we'd love to have you as a member but, as you already said, you must be drowning in demands on your time right now. i hope you manage alright & i'm looking forward to checking out your books and not just your PR! cheers from berlin!--marcus

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  133. "And it is really, really hard (or at least, it has been for me) to find an editor that can do all that. My books have all been edited - several times, by dozens of people with varying backgrounds - and people still find errors."

    Thank you for that. I find myself in the same boat. I don't think most people realize what a task it is to edit 50,000+ words.

    I tend to feel that urgency too with getting things out there but luckily I can reel myself back in before embarrassing myself. Hence, I have just one item in my catalog.

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  134. Hi, Amanda,

    Good on you for working so hard. It's the hallmark of a true professional. I know what it takes to build a readership: years of grueling work. You've earned this.

    Your blog post is dead on. I wish you continued success! Just remember to take breaks to stretch, etc. I've written professionally for 30 years, and it's tough on the body and mind. Eat well, exercise often, and stay grounded.

    Jeanne

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  135. Someone commented that there's zero evidence that the big publishing houses are scared.

    Um, not from this pro writer's point of view. My perception is that they're scared scatless.

    Jeanne

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  136. Jeanne,

    I think publishers are experimenting with a variety e-book sales and marketing models. That is not the same thing as being scared, by a long shot.

    Sorry, but we self-publishers are not a victorious army. Nor is there any need for us to feel like one. Traditional publishing and self-publishing can coexist perfectly well. So can e-books and print books. New technologies often do not wipe out older ones. We still have radio, even though we also have television, movies, and DVDs.

    There's no war here. I feel no hostility to larger publishers. I'm just getting on with running my business and so are they.

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  137. I agree that regular publishing is not dead and it shouldn't be but the industry has morphed into something more encompassing, which I find inspiring. The publishing world has simply expanded to include other viable venues and regular publishing does not have a total stranglehold over writers now with all the other options out there. THAT is what is so exciting and THAT is why a success story like yours provides hope and excitement for other writers. People are happy for you.

    I certainly do not see you as someone battling the regular publishing industry but rather as a person who opted to try another route and who is now finding success at it. That does not mean anyone should forever only try one option. That is the beauty of it that there are so many choices to pursue now and we as writers can try them all if we so choose.

    Writing is hard work, no matter what method you use or venue you opt for. Editing is a pain but necessary. There is no guarantee of success but you can’t have any success in any form if you do not try. It is not some magical formula. It is work. But the point of all the hullabaloo that has followed your accomplishment is that it is POSSIBLE and your success has shown that. Most writers write because they love to write and hope for some success at the endeavor at whatever level they are aiming for, be it financial, name recognition or purely the excitement of being in print. Congrats and continue to grow!

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  138. I really dig how you keep it real! Try not to worry so much about what others think of you, though, or it'll eat you alive... believe me, I do it all the time and I'm not even famous or anything! I do understand that you're just trying to set the record straight about your actual thoughts and feelings behind your success and the possible success for other authors out there. And I know how cliche this sounds, but just keep doing what you enjoy doing and focus on the work you truly care for. You can always delegate tasks to your faithful assistant, family, and/or friends who would be more than willing to help (myself included). I read what you mentioned about how difficult it is to find an editor. I know I've told you before that if you'd like me to, I could help edit your books. I understand it has to deal with a lot more than just grammar and spelling and punctuation - believe me, I do. If you ever want to give me a shot, just holla atchyo Pete. If not, that's cool too. I'll quit pestering you about that now, though. Try not to work too hard, and realize that if you don't keep putting out books at the same rate you have been, your success won't just fizzle away. I think it is good to make your fans wait every once in a while, otherwise people can get too demanding and have all these unrealistic expectations. Like, what if NIN put out a new CD every few months for me to enjoy, then decided they needed to take a break? If I were a true fan, I would understand how much they had had to sacrifice to keep working at that rate, and I would be happy for them for taking a much-needed break. Anyway, back to you - it's about quality, not quantity - so don't worry about rushing and work-work-working to pump out more and more books faster and faster. Keep doing things at your own pace. People who truly enjoy your books are willing to wait; they won't just give up on you or on reading what they enjoy.

    I love you lots, forever. Let me know if I can do anything to help de-stress things for you. <3

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  139. Remember, you'll never make everyone happy... and that's okay, the only person you need to worry about is yourself. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that doesn't mean you have please them all. However, your "self-defense" was well said.

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  140. Not only are you not ever going to please everybody, but eventually you'll have to put some limitations on your accessibility so that you have time to write, and then certain people will whinge on about how you're all stuck up now. You just have to develop a thick skin and keep on writing.

    "My books have all been edited - several times, by dozens of people with varying backgrounds - and people still find errors."

    I worked for a children's book publisher many years ago. The editing/proofreading process went as follows:

    The writer turned in a MSS.
    The editor edited it.
    The MSS was proofread by 1. a copy editor, 2. the copy chief, 3. the editorial assistant, 4. the editor.
    The above step was repeated no less than three times.
    The book was laid out.
    The layout was proofread by 1. a copy editor, 2. the copy chief, 3. the editorial assistant, 4. the editor, 5. the managing editor.
    That process was repeated a second time.
    The layout went to the printer, and the blues (this was a long time ago) came back and were proofread by 1. the copy chief, 2. the editor, 3. the managing editor, and 4. the production assistant.

    THERE WERE STILL ERRORS IN THE FINAL BOOK. I mean, yes, there is a difference between a well-edited book and the other kind, but there is NO book that contains absolutely no errors. NONE.

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  141. I clicked on a FB post from Anne Rice that, if I remember correctly, led to a Huffington Post article. That could have contributed to the surge in followers for you lately. Anyway, I was both fascinated and curious, so I checked out your books on Amazon and bought one. I am just getting ready to give it a whirl!

    In addition to that, I just wanted to say that despite your humility in the above post- what you have achieved is amazing and inspirational. Although I am confident that there is no precise roadmap to success for you, or anyone else, to dole out to the world, it is simply your example that provides hope for the rest of us. It must be a challenge not to get frustrated when it seems as though the only story anyone wants to report about your life is a magical fairytale that undercuts all of the hard work you have invested into your success. Don't worry about it; oddly enough, people do know better and as much talk as there has been about 'luck' any writer who doesn't put in the work should not expect 'magic' to happen for them. I wish you the best and am looking forward to a good read!

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  142. Amanda, this is such an excellent and measured response to all the furore surrounding your success. I don't have much to add to the comments above but just wanted to say congratulations on your success, it's very clear that you've worked very hard indeed to achieve it and I hope you find a way to bring your writing time back to the forefront.

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  143. As a self publisher, I loved your Blog, you deserve all the success you have. Well done and thank you for sharing this with us. Sell a few more million....! x

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  144. I myself having workaholic tendencies, I want to suggest to you to take it easy. Try not to let it all get you so worked up, that it will keep you from doing the one thing that you actually want to do.

    I suppose the thing you prefer doing is to write, to create the many stories in your head and put them on paper. Not doing this will get to you in the long run. From experience, I know you can get physically ill by overburdening yourself with work that you prefer not to do.

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  145. No one knows what makes a bestseller. You nailed it.

    Congratulations on your sales. I hope the trend continues for you.

    If you ever need a good line editor, drop me an email. It would be my pleasure to edit you.

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  146. Thanks for this balanced post. The only thing I'd disagree with is your statement: "Nobody knows what makes one book a bestseller. Publishers and agents like to pretend they do, but if they did, they would only publish best sellers, and they don't." Having spent 25 years working at major publishing houses, I can tell you that publishing people are the first to admit (the really honest ones, anyway) that they don't know what makes books into bestsellers. There are days when that's incredibly frustrating (you do everything you can do and the book doesn't perform up to everyone's hopes and expectations), and days when that's incredibly exciting and inspiring (a book breaks out and becomes a roaring success against all odds). There are so many variables, and as you point out, even when all the variables seem to be in place, some books work better than others. There are days of cheering and days of shaking your head in mystification and days of holding your head in exhaustion. And that's the same whether you're in traditional publishing or self-publishing - as you say. If you don't want to wade into those waters, don't try either one. But there can be some really fun and interesting and dedicated and passionate and smart people out there in the waves with you, all hoping to catch the big one. Publishing is not a place to put your expectations so much as a place to put your hopes.

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  147. As William Goldman says, "Nobody knows anything."

    The only sure thing to say is that book publishing is the hardest game in the world. And of course, even that's not a sure thing to say.

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  148. I LOVE this post.

    I heard a quote from a British comedian Frankie Howerd yesterday it went like this,"When you've got it you're worried about losing it and when you've lost it you're worried about how to get it back."

    I'm at the stage of worrying about whether I'll get it at all LOL

    People get luckier the harder they work - yet some people can work themselves into the ground and they'll still never get lucky. But unless something is tried we'll never know what would happen.

    And I am partner in a small (teeny tiny) Indie publisher trying to be a good publisher and it upsets me when people diss 'publishers' - because it is VERY hard work and mostly done for love with a vague possibility of money somewhere if we manage to get something right.

    We're all in the same place trying to do the same thing - get fantastic work out there and please the readers. I am delirious when anyone manages it - it is like watching a lovely flower bloom.

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  149. I think yours are selling because of the hype of you doing it on your own, with the stigma of 'fighting'... controversy sells, rather then the context of your book.

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  150. I think it needs to be clarified that not all publishers are the same and while most are professional and committed to their authors, not every publisher has their authors best interests at heart.

    Much like "buyer beware" authors need to be aware and research their publishers before signing.

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  151. Hi Amanda. I'm the girl under the rock still reading books in the flesh. Don't tell anyone, but I don't even have an e-reader. GASP. I've been holding out because I just love my books and I'm hoping to one day become a hoarder and get featured on that show. So anyways, I never knew who you were until today. But I think what you've done is simply remarkable. Sometimes we don't have to dissect everything to find out why something happened. We just need to be grateful and humbled that it did. Sounds like you're just that. Congrats!

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  152. There aren't many writers out there who would even imagine you have achieved what you have without tremendous hardwork. Don't take on board the negativity. The ball will eventually find its own speed and you can get back to allocating your writing time. Very best of luck to you.

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  153. As someone who works in traditional publishing for both new and established publishers I see how much time and effort they put into producing great books that people buy. The author does not pay for any of the design, editing, printing, or marketing so a publisher is assuming most of the financial risk. This is often overlooked when people talk about the evil publishing industry.

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  154. Thanks for a very balanced and sensible blog post, Amanda.

    Part of the problem is that most aspiring writers know very little about the commercial publishing world. And, if their submissions meet with nothing but form rejections, (which, statistically, most do) a fairly large percentage of those aspiring authors begin to take rejection personally, envisioning some Wicked Witch conspiracy in Manhattan that's out to make sure they never see their names in print.

    Feeling pissed off is normal -- nobody likes being rejected! (And yes, published authors get rejected, too, but most aspiring writers don't realize that.) But when writers start taking it personally, all their professionalism and business sense goes right out the window.

    Viewing the NY publishing world as elitist and cruel, heartless and incapable of recognizing good writing often makes these aspiring authors totally give up on commercial publishing. They embrace "self-publishing," believing it's the great equalizer -- but, of course, that's an illusion, because, as you pointed out, it's the WORK, the WRITING that counts. And the writing isn't equal in quality. A lot of self-published books just aren't very well-written.

    What's even more unfortunate is that "self- publishing" venues are where the scammers set up shop. Commercial publishers can screw authors over, no doubt about it, but they don't steal an author's hard-earned money. Scam agents and publishers aren't agents and publishers -- they're con artists. And they DO steal hard-earned money.

    Anyone who is considering self publshing needs to be cautious and thoroughly check out the reputation of any agent, publisher, or editor they're considering submitting to.

    Writer Beware is a volunteer "watchdog" group sponsored by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. All our information is free, and we double and triple-check everything.

    www.writerbeware.com

    Again, thanks for such an honest post, Amanda, one that will help educate writers on the realities.

    Best,

    -Ann C. Crispin
    Chair, Writer Beware
    www.writerbeware.com

    aka
    A.C. Crispin
    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom
    Disney Editions
    Release Date: May 17, 2011
    www.accrispin.com

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  155. I think a lot of people don't understand how much TIME and ENERGY goes into self-publishing a book, or even just promoting your own book that has been published by a traditional New York publisher. 99% of books out of New York have almost NO ad/promo budget, which means it is up to the author to spread the word, and many authors just aren't equipped to do so. Congratulations on all of your success!

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  156. Having experienced the countless rejections from publishers, cartoon syndicates, magazines, newspapers, etc., I have found solace and personal enrichment in the process of creating, whether it's writing a good story, gag, or comic strip to drawing a pleasing portrait or giving one of my ceramic creations to a friend for their birthday.

    When the joy of creating is diminished, or worse, snuffed out because of the pressures and stress of being accepted, it is time to take a deep breath, and be thankful and proud of yourself.

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  157. Way to be the sensible one, girl. We should all keep emulating THAT.

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  158. What a thoughtful post. Thank you.

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  159. Only someone who has never been published by a traditional publisher could think they weren't evil. Take it from somebody who has been published in paper-and-ink many times--you NEVER want to get involved with those people. If you sign a contract with one of them, you'll soon find out how many ways they have of taking the money your books earn and leaving you with as tiny a share as possible. And you'll still have to do all the work you do now, including writing, editing, and promotion. I also disagree with your timetable, because within five years at most, there will be as many paper-and-ink publishers as there are companies making vinyl records. And good riddance!

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  160. Amanda, take a few deep breaths. Now that you've had some well deserved success, try to enjoy it, though you're probably right to be nervous about letting up. You can probably afford to get some infrastructure behind you, but don't pay it on a percentage basis. ;-) (Unless you want to do some income splitting with family members...)

    You're a shining example for young people to emulate: someone who insists that paying the dues is necessary and required.

    I don't read in your genre, but I read the sample for Switched, and it was gripping.

    Cheers, and good on ya, girl!

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  161. Definitely hard work being a writer. Thanks for closing with those words.

    I've made my living from writing since 1993 and it's never easy. You need to change, morph and adapt to the changing dynamics of the publishing industry and the economy.

    Good on you for making it as a self-publisher. We're having a discussion on self-publishing on my writer's blog over at:
    http://doreenisthewizardofwords.blogspot.com

    I hope you'll drop by and comment.
    Doreen Pendgracs

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  162. Create, and share. Create, and share.
    And so it goes...

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  163. Thanks for the shout-out, Amanda! I think upgrading my book covers has had a strong effect just recently. There's so many things to get right and so many things to keep improving, but it's a great journey :)

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  164. Great blog, Amanda. First off - I'm very happy for you and think it's simply thrilling the way your books have taken off. And second, as someone who is out there with both my own self-published ebooks and books with Grand Central Forever, I know *exactly* how much work goes into putting out books. If I could somehow figure out how to get 25 hours out of each day, that would be really, really great!

    The hard work has definitely been worth it, though, because right now 2 of my self-published books (GAME FOR LOVE and LOVE ME) are #37 and #41 on BN.com's bestseller list. It's really, really thrilling to get such lovely response from readers who wrote me for years asking me to write these books!

    Personally, I'm a big fan of both e-self-publishing and traditional/legacy publishing in paperback. It's my hope that both will thrive; basically, that the more people read, the more they'll want to read. :) That's what I've noticed with myself, anyway - the more books I buy on kindle (a lot!), the more books I end up buying in paperback, too.

    :) Bella Andre
    http://www.BellaAndre.com

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  165. THANK YOU for writing this! As someone who works in publishing, it's very frustrating seeing the reaction from both within and outside the book business. I try to explain to people (case in point: bit.ly/ckYQBj) that even if self-publishing is the future, it won't become the present until readers find a way to filter out the good from the bad. It is simply impossible for someone outside of the business to imagine the dreck that lands in the slush pile, the same dreck readers would have to wade through if there were no publishers. Readers think that because they managed to find something cool one time that it's so easy for a self-published author to put something out there and get discovered, when it's still terribly difficult. Unfortunately published authors have to work hard to get publicity these days, but it's still much harder for those that are self-published.

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  166. An important post that needed to be written. Thank you.

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  167. Amanda, I am happy and enthused for you and about you b/c I love your writing in the My Blood Approves series - just haven't gotten any farther. (I am miffed u don't follow my blog) I have no intent on trying to duplicate your success for which I am sure you have worked like mad. I am or have been a painter and it can take months to complete a tiny painting so I get it. You are doing a great job and if people call you names just remember that there's no such thing as bad exposure.
    These people are obviously jerks or nuts, but they don't know you so since they don't know you personally try not to take it that way.

    Your devoted fan!
    Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust

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  168. Hey, whats wrong with being an inspiration? They will come to your blog, read your story, and maybe, be better for it. I think you would make a great role model.;p

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  169. As another indie author who is making a very nice living, thank you, but certainly no zillion dollars, I just want to say thanks for laying out the truth so nicely. It's not about them vs. us. It's about hard working authors finding their place in the world, and still getting to do what we love most to do.
    And yes, most indie author aren't going to sell thousands of books. I wish they could, but it's not going to happen. When someone approaches me with the notion that they can surely make lots of money if I can, and all I have to do is give them the secret handshake, I can't tell him anything more than to get busy because he's got a lot of hard work ahead of him.

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  170. I love this post as much as I hate it. You are exactly right, your success will be singled out by others who just want to make a buck. However, people like me, who have spent years dreaming of writing a book, finally have the inspiration to put something together. You have shown us that with a lot of effort, it can pay off. Many of us had been sitting here quietly wondering if it would be worth all those hours. I thank you for stating that it might not be, but the fact of the possibility remains. People can still earn a living with their own talents.

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  171. I agree with gfxm, this post is inspirational.
    I came to your blog because I saw something on the internet when I was looking up information on self publishing on the kindle. I recognized your name from Kindle's bestsellers and I'm nosy about other people so I wanted to look into Amanda Hocking.

    So, I'm still not sure about self publishing, but I do know now that either path is hard f'n work and I'm excited to really get down to editing and polishing my stories and trying my hand at publishing instead of on fictionpress and whatnot.

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  172. Recently read an article that mentioned you, and I just had to stop by. I think it's great what you're doing. Publishing is really changing, and it's awesome to see talented writers out there getting the recognition they deserve, even if they don't have a contract or house behind them. I wish you the best of luck and hope to see a lot more from you in the years to come!

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  173. I absolutely cannot imagine being this successful while doing it all independently. You're incredible.

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  174. Amanda,

    I have to admit I hadn't heard of you or your books until you were mentioned by one of the dozen or so fans of my first book and I was curious to find out who this Ms. Hocking is and why williewit on Amazon UK was talking about you. And then a writer I respect very much, Douglas Jackson, pointed his Facebook friends in the direction of your blog here. All I can say is, well done, great perspective and I wish you not just continued success but joy in what you do.

    Best,
    Alan Hutcheson
    (who has never read, much less written, a vampire book in his life, but just might see if a Wodehouse style one might be fun!)

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  175. I can relate to being terrified of not having the time to write with all the marketing. I don't think any writer takes to putting words on a page because they want to market, but it is a part of being an author these days.

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  176. I understand what you're saying, but I can also tell you why J. L. Bryan's book doesn't sell as well as yours: the title and the cover. It can't be easy to sell a book called Jenny Pox, and the covers of the book do nothing to fix that.

    Although your success is the exception for now, consider this: Amazon sold more Kindle books than books in any other format--including paperbacks--in the last quarter of last year. Borders went bankrupt and is closing 150 stores. Barnes & Noble has been closing stores, too, including a large one opposite Lincoln Center in NYC. Paper books have already been replaced by ebooks on cell phones in Japan. Your estimate that it will take 5-10 years for ebooks to overtake paper books in sales here seems overly cautious. I would be surprised if it didn't happen by 2013.

    As for whether new writers should attempt to get their books traditionally published or should self-publish, there are advantages and disadvantages of each.

    The main advantages of working with a publisher include the following: an advance, which with today's market is likely to be less than $10,000; an editor, who should be able to help make the book better, but there's no guaranty; a professional cover, which should help sell the book although, again, there's no guaranty; the chance to get the physical books into bookstores, although probably for just a few months before it's remaindered; a better likelihood of getting the book reviewed by top reviewers, although once again there's no guaranty.

    A traditionally published writer would have to work equally hard to promote his book. Plus, that writer would have to wait at least two years for his book to reach brick-and-mortar stores (which judging by the way things are going might not even exist in two years). And the biggest kicker: publishers take 50% of the electronic and new and future media earnings for your book forever. Even though your book will no longer be available on store shelves and out of print, the publisher will still be taking half of your earnings from it.

    Of course, this is only what happens if you're lucky enough to get a publisher. For most, the traditional route is an exercise in futility. It was for you until you decided to do something about it.

    The main advantage of self-publishing ebooks is also the main disadvantage: it's all in your own hands.

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  177. I am a new fan and I have to say I love your work. More importantly I love how you keep your fans connected with your thoughts and concerned. I love how you mentioned J.L. Bryan in your post and how you had an excerpt of Jenny Pox in Ascend. That shows that you are a wonderful person and you would like to help others and you don't just care about yourself. You are right in saying it is a good book. I loved his writing just as much as I love yours.

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  178. Amanda you are one of the most humblest human beings I know and that's what makes you even greater. I think the thing is you have done what a lot of authors would love to do so they talk about you, they google you, they want to follow in the same footsteps and like you mentioned above, it's not going to work for all books. I know you have spent a lot of time branding yourself and that I believe is the secret. It's not going to happen overnight with any new author. It takes years and a lot of authors don't want to wait years. With that said, even though self-publishing is hard work for the author, the pay scale is much higher. IF THEY WORK AT IT. Like you've done. I have been published every which way but loose and the #1 top selling book was my self-published ebook. Not only was it self-published, it was an ebook before the ebook fad took over (published in 2007 I believe). So naturally when I say that, people are going to say well it only goes to show you self-published and ebooks are selling better than print. Truth of the matter is, it's the subject matter. One of my books was a children's ebook which did nothing, an anthology published in 2004 which sold but not as well, another paperback whose publisher went bankrupt and a cookbook whose publisher wasn't well can't say right here but the self-published ebook taught authors how to write an ebook based on something people would want to know about, publish it and promote it. Interesting, huh? Well that's why it sold better. So like you said, not everyone is going to become millionaires like you. Like I've always said, we (my company) don't sell your book, a good book sells your book. It doesn't matter what you do, how you hype it up, if it's not a good book, it ain't going anywhere. Anyway, I just found your blog and still I'm very much in awe of you no matter how much you hate it, lol.

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  179. I checked Bryan's sales stats on novelrank.com for Jenny Pox. Last year he averaged sales of 31 a month and spiked the last month of 2010 (starting at only 12 sales during its release month and 58 sales in december)

    This year if he keeps up the spike he will easily average 230 sales a month.

    Since he's selling his eBook at 2.99$ and making 70% profit at 2.09$ a sale he should be making around 480$ a month just off that one book alone. These stats though are solely based off Amazon sales and do not include Nook or Smashwords. Also I only did the math on his eBook not the paperback.

    On most of your (Hocking's) books you seem to average 500-700sales a month per book some obviously higher than others but all seem to get equal attention (excluding anthologies and novellas)...note I only calculated the sales off Amazon US and not the sister sites...both of you seem to make 20-35% extra sales through Amazon UK for example.

    So you are outselling him, through Amazon anyway but I think that with enough time he'll definitely catch up :D I don't see why he wouldn't if he is as good a writer as you claim him to be n.n

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  180. Hi, Amanda! You seem like a smart girl and a good writer, and you're right. People don't appreciate the fact that you're basically a small publishing house unto yourself. Sure you're taking home the lionshare of the money, but you're also doing ALL the work--the marketing, the editing, the follow-ups, AND the writing. For authors going the traditional route, the baton is passed. For a price. So it's the whole time-money debate.

    I wish you all the best and continued success. Take care, and get some rest once in a while, OK? :o) <3

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  181. I'm glad I discovered your blog. It certainly isn't easy self-publishing. I think all of us who have stepped into that world have come to realize that. It's a hard, long challenge, and you'll have great days and sometimes even more horrible ones. You'll get rejected, you'll feel like sometimes it may not be worth it. Marketing and trying to make a name for yourself is certainly not easy. But it's important to remember that you have to keep fighting, and be thankful for the successes along the way. ^_^ Don't worry girl. You can do it and already ARE doing it. You truly are blessed and it will be all right.

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  182. Shevi - You're right about the book covers, which why I'm in the process of changing them over (some new ones at http://jlbryanbooks.blogspot.com/2011/03/new-book-covers-and-last-chance-to-get.html).

    Emery - Right now, I sell 1500 copies of Jenny Pox a month. Hopefully the new cover will help increase that :)

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  183. This was truly made of Awesome. I've had your name thrown at me and suggested to me by a dozen well meaning friends for 'see, you could do this' and I try to point out 'it's not that simple' but I think you've said it far more articulately and, because of what you've done, more convincingly than I ever could. Thank you for this.

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  184. Great post, Amanda, and congratulations on your success. I couldn't agree more that being a successfully published author (whatever the road to publication), is incredibly hard work, and only a percentage of that work (maybe the minority?) is actually writing.

    The process can be stressful and exhausting. It can be mind-numbing and soul-sucking at times, thrilling and heartening at others. It's a lot of work to tell a story when storytelling is a business. And it most certainly is a business.

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  185. Amanda - maybe it's time to stop reading everythin written about you on the internet. Like the actor who asks a friend to read all his reviews after the first night and show him only the good ones. Keep doing what you're doing and don't worry about the internet chatter. You sell enough books to know that your work is valued.

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  186. Amanda, I've bought your books because they are a good read. As others have said, you need to stop reading what people say about you. Some will be good, some bad, and the negative is usually driven by envy. Given the number of titles in your list, you are a hard working author/writer. Just write your books, touch base with others in your blog or other blogs, but focus on what makes you happy. You owe no one an explanation.

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  187. I have to say my respect for your work just went up several notches when you said that you had worked hard to find a good editor and that the books had been edited. A lot of the self-published authors I've met at cons chose the self-publishing route because it spared them the agony of professional critique and revision or because they weren't willing to make the changes that editors said would bring the book up to a professional level. And their work really showed that lack of editing. So big kudos to you for holding yourself to a high standard. And congratulations on the success. You've certainly earned it.

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  188. Congratulations. You certainly seem to be a more grounded and honest person than another ebook blogger I won't name who tends to be consistently full of it.

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  189. Amanda,
    Thank you for being so honest. I recently self-published my first novel while feverently working on the second and spending so much time networking! Promoting ones writing is alot of work. It does take away from writing time and yet it is so necessary. Thank you for being honest about the years it has taken you to reach this point and the continue hard work required to maintain it.

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  190. Another great post in a long line of them.

    After self-publishing my first e-book, I had a flashback of all the things I had to do to market my very first "traditionally published" e-book that came out more than 5 years ago. Back then, e-pubbed books where considered crud and very few people wanted anything to do with them, which made marketing extremely difficult. Today, it's a little different, in that e-books are a more acceptable way to publish. However, the same old same old still applies. You have to put your name out there and work the marketing machine to a pile of smoking ashes to get anyone to notice. Even then, most of it is being in the right place at the right time. I agree that the majority of us will not be rich from our self-publishing endeavor. But, it sure feels good to be empowered to decide our own fate. :-)

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  191. Hi,
    do you think to translate some of your books in other languages? I'd like to read your books in italian, although today we don't have the Kindle store in amazon.it and we need to buy the ebooks in the US store.

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  192. Hear about you on another blog. Congrats! Will read up on your journey.

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  193. > With all of that said, Bryan sells less books than I do.
    ...
    > more people will sell less than 100 copies of their
    > books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books.

    a good part of the burden of editing can be eased by
    learning the rules and writing it right (i.e., correctly).

    when you're talking about _numbers_, you use "fewer"
    instead of "less". i've had to learn that, because i make
    the same mistake all the time. so internalize that rule...

    -bowerbird

    > http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/less-versus-fewer.aspx

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