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View Full Version : Interview With Amanda Hocking [The Guardian]



gothicangel
01-13-2012, 10:08 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/12/amanda-hocking-self-publishing



The speed of her ascent has astonished Hocking more than anyone. She was so elated to receive her first cheque from Amazon, for $15.75, that she didn't cash it and still has it pinned up on a noticeboard above her desk. "It went from zero to 60 overnight," she says. "Everybody was buying my books and it was overwhelming."

In internet-savvy circles she has been embraced as a figurehead of the digital publishing revolution that is seen as blowing up the traditional book world – or "legacy publishing" as its detractors call it – and replacing it with the ebook, where direct contact between author and reader, free of the mediation of agent and publishing house, is but a few clicks away. There is certainly something to that argument. The arrival of Hocking onto the Kindle bestseller (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/341689031/) lists in barely over a year is symptomatic of a profound shift in the book world that has happened contiguously. Her rise has occurred at precisely the moment that self-publishing itself turned from poor second cousin of the printed book into a serious multi-million dollar industry. Two years ago self-publishing was itself denigrated as "vanity publishing" – the last resort of the talentless. Not any more.



But Hocking's new-found stature as self-publishing vanguardista is not something she welcomes. "People built me up as a two-dimensional icon for something I was not. Self-publishing is great, but I don't want to be an icon for it, or anything else. I would rather people talk about the books than how I publish them."

She also resents how her abrupt success has been interpreted as a sign that digital self-publishing is a new way to get rich quick. Sure, Hocking has got rich, quickly. But what about the nine years before she began posting her books when she wrote 17 novels and had every one rejected? And what about the hours and hours that she's spent since April 2010 dealing with technical glitches on Kindle, creating her own book covers, editing her own copy, writing a blog (http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/), going on Twitter (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/12/@amanda_hocking) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/amandahockingfans) to spread the word, responding to emails and tweets from her army of readers? Just the editing process alone has been a source of deep frustration, because although she has employed own freelance editors and invited her readers to alert her to spelling and grammatical errors, she thinks her ebooks (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/ebooks) are riddled with mistakes. "It drove me nuts, because I tried really hard to get things right and I just couldn't. It's exhausting, and hard to do. And it starts to wear on you emotionally. I know that sounds weird and whiny, but it's true."

Devil Ledbetter
01-13-2012, 10:20 PM
Gothicangel, did you have a commentary on this interview?

I don't care much for Hocking's writing style or her subject matter but that's fine - I'm not her audience. I am not out to tear her down. She has worked hard for a long time to achieve what she has and she deserves credit for that.

But I think no discussion of Hocking gives the full picture until it's pointed out that she owes a tremendous portion of her success to the traditionally published Twilight series. Her books glided in the the coattails of the phenomenon. It left a bevy of undiscriminating readers hungry for more teen vampire romance, and Hocking provided it to them cheap.

If Twilight hadn't happened, Hocking might be just another self-pubbed author with books sales in the low double digits. She capitalized on it, whether knowingly or from pure luck, I wouldn't venture to guess.

Phaeal
01-13-2012, 10:42 PM
Well, a lot of commercially published authors have also ridden on Twilight's coat-tails. That's the good old "Flavor-of-the-Month" phenomenon, which in fact can last for several years.

Hocking might have had a leg up because she was able to charge so little for her books. Understandably, a reader might be far more tempted to try a new writer if she only had to pay a buck or two, rather than ten bucks plus.

Hey, she did a lot of work. Now she's going to let St. Martin's Press do some of it. So she's hardly wedded to self-publishing, as well she needn't be, however SP fanatics may carp.

Toothpaste
01-13-2012, 10:53 PM
What I love about her is that she constantly reminds people how much hard work she put into self publishing. That it didn't just happen to her overnight, that it isn't an easy way to make money, and that there are downsides (like the bad editing). It seems to me a lot of other very successful self published authors gloss over those facts (not all of them, but many), making it seem like: "All you have to do is post some words on the internets and you'll be a millionaire!" It confuses people, and gives them false expectations.

Self publishing is totally viable, but it's not a get rich quick scheme.

gothicangel
01-13-2012, 11:15 PM
Gothicangel, did you have a commentary on this interview?



No. I just thought it might be worth sharing. It's an interesting read.


What I love about her is that she constantly reminds people how much hard work she put into self publishing. That it didn't just happen to her overnight, that it isn't an easy way to make money, and that there are downsides (like the bad editing). It seems to me a lot of other very successful self published authors gloss over those facts (not all of them, but many), making it seem like: "All you have to do is post some words on the internets and you'll be a millionaire!" It confuses people, and gives them false expectations.




Self publishing is totally viable, but it's not a get rich quick scheme.

QFT.

shaldna
01-14-2012, 12:21 AM
What I love about her is that she constantly reminds people how much hard work she put into self publishing. That it didn't just happen to her overnight, that it isn't an easy way to make money, and that there are downsides (like the bad editing). It seems to me a lot of other very successful self published authors gloss over those facts (not all of them, but many), making it seem like: "All you have to do is post some words on the internets and you'll be a millionaire!" It confuses people, and gives them false expectations.

Self publishing is totally viable, but it's not a get rich quick scheme.

This.

What I like about her is that she's very grounded in terms of her success. She's been very honest about the work it took. I have heaps of respect for her.

Theo81
01-14-2012, 12:28 AM
*sigh* I agree with Toothpaste (again, dammit).

Self-pubbing is not a quick trip to riches. JA Konrath's, on his blog, presented the information that one of his books earns $3.50 an hour. You know what $3.50 an hour is? An 8 hour day at the minimum wage in my country. That's for one of the major names of Self-Pubbing with industry experience, with a lot of books available, not random person who may or may not be able to parse a sentence correctly who's put their work up because they ran out of agents.

Lady MacBeth
01-14-2012, 03:44 AM
What I like about her is that she's very grounded in terms of her success. She's been very honest about the work it took. I have heaps of respect for her.

I agree. She definitely has perspective when it comes to her success. She worked hard and she knows it. I respect that.

iRock
01-16-2012, 05:05 PM
Bottom line: Hocking wrote good books that readers want to read.

All the marketing in the world won't shift a shitty book. And those who want to self-pub, who clog Twitter and Facebook with their constant "buy my book!" noise, would do well to remember that.

fireluxlou
01-16-2012, 06:32 PM
Bottom line: Hocking wrote good books that readers want to read.

All the marketing in the world won't shift a shitty book. And those who want to self-pub, who clog Twitter and Facebook with their constant "buy my book!" noise, would do well to remember that.

Oh allllll the marketting in the world, will DEFINITELY shift a "shitty" book, it will also become many-a movie franchise too. It will also make millions of money. Because tv tropes and writing clichés do sell.

I'm not to bothered by what others choose to read, as long as they enjoy it, who am I to say what is shitty and not shitty? All this snobbery about books. It just makes me think of being in school and there being the music indie snobs who were always bitter and snide to the kids liked dance or pop music. Just tiresome y'know.

Good for Amanda Hocking. She has done pretty well for herself.

iRock
01-16-2012, 06:44 PM
Oh allllll the marketting in the world, will DEFINITELY shift a "shitty" book, it will also become many-a movie franchise too. It will also make millions of money. Because tv tropes and writing clichés do sell.


I should have clarified: I'm speaking strictly about self-published books. The relentless Twitter spam, messaging people to buy your book, begging to do interviews, faking reviews, etc., will never help if you've thrown a shitty self-published book out into the world. Marketing does not make up for inept story, bad writing, and an error-laden product.

Again, I'm talking about self-publishing.



Good for Amanda Hocking. She has done pretty well for herself.I completely agree. She's worked hard and produced stories readers like. And she's got a good head on her shoulders. I wish her continued success.

Torgo
01-16-2012, 06:48 PM
Oh allllll the marketting in the world, will DEFINITELY shift a "shitty" book, it will also become many-a movie franchise too. It will also make millions of money. Because tv tropes and writing clichés do sell.

I'm not to bothered by what others choose to read, as long as they enjoy it, who am I to say what is shitty and not shitty? All this snobbery about books. It just makes me think of being in school and there being the music indie snobs who were always bitter and snide to the kids liked dance or pop music. Just tiresome y'know.

Good for Amanda Hocking. She has done pretty well for herself.

There's no single continuum between a good book and a shitty one. Each book is a basket of various qualities which each appeal to different people in different ways. Dan Brown creates cardboard characters and writes cardboard prose, but these qualities are not what his readership is after. What they want, he gives them brilliantly well.

It's borderline meaningless to say The Da Vinci Code is an excellent book, but if you forced me to it, I'd have to agree.

Although throwing marketing spend at a book can def. help shift the copies you have in your warehouse, you don't necessarily get a phenomenon like Hocking. Those are remarkable to (and coveted by) publishers because you didn't have to spend a lot to make a lot of money. We're more focused on profit than we are on turnover.

Windcutter
01-20-2012, 05:17 AM
Self-pubbing is not a quick trip to riches. JA Konrath's, on his blog, presented the information that one of his books earns $3.50 an hour. You know what $3.50 an hour is? An 8 hour day at the minimum wage in my country. That's for one of the major names of Self-Pubbing with industry experience, with a lot of books available, not random person who may or may not be able to parse a sentence correctly who's put their work up because they ran out of agents.
Well, if you try to assess the same sort of thing using average earn-out for a traditional print book in the similar genre, I doubt the numbers will be in any way amazing. Unless the author is extremely prolific.

scarletpeaches
01-20-2012, 03:26 PM
Bottom line: Hocking wrote good books that readers want to read.

All the marketing in the world won't shift a shitty book. And those who want to self-pub, who clog Twitter and Facebook with their constant "buy my book!" noise, would do well to remember that.Put it this way, I've read some of her prose and 'good' is the last thing I'd call it.

Marketing does shift shitty books.

shaldna
01-20-2012, 04:29 PM
Perhaps the following in more accurate:


Originally Posted by iRock http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6917186#post6917186)
Bottom line: Hocking wrote good books that readers want to read.

Phaeal
01-20-2012, 07:37 PM
Perhaps the following in more accurate:


Quote:
Originally Posted by iRock http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6917186#post6917186)
Bottom line: Hocking wrote good books that readers want to read.


I imagine publishers will allow that books that sell are "good."

;)

scarletpeaches
01-20-2012, 08:54 PM
No, publishers call books that sell saleable.

iRock
01-20-2012, 09:16 PM
Put it this way, I've read some of her prose and 'good' is the last thing I'd call it.



I imagine publishers will allow that books that sell are "good."

;)


Perhaps the following in more accurate:


We're not average readers, and we're fools if we think otherwise. We're inherently biased and our standards are vastly different from the average non-writing reader.

Hocking is smart. She's understood one thing: It's our job to write for readers. They are the consumer. Other writers are just a tiny audience and we're silly if we write solely to please our peers.

So her prose isn't literary quality. Big whoop. She's still done her job extremely well. I'm sure her readers think her books are good.

scarletpeaches
01-20-2012, 09:31 PM
I don't give a rat's arse about not being the average reader. I'd prefer to aim up, not at the level of "good enough"...which isn't.

Well, not for me, anyway.

Kitty27
01-20-2012, 10:07 PM
I like Ms.Hocking. She put in work that I am quite incapable of. I am helping a friend self-publish right now and MY DAMN,this is a lot of work. But she's paying me with chocolate. What can I say? I'm easy like that.

I like her honesty about how hard it was and how she doesn't tout self publishing as the road to riches.

Amadan
01-20-2012, 10:38 PM
We're not average readers, and we're fools if we think otherwise. We're inherently biased and our standards are vastly different from the average non-writing reader.

Hocking is smart. She's understood one thing: It's our job to write for readers. They are the consumer. Other writers are just a tiny audience and we're silly if we write solely to please our peers.

So her prose isn't literary quality. Big whoop. She's still done her job extremely well. I'm sure her readers think her books are good.


Ya know, I'm kind of sick of seeing this. This is not to bash on Hocking, but the idea that "real readers don't care if your writing is any good or not, it's only us writers who notice things like bad prose and flat characterization" is crap. Sure, there are undiscerning readers out there, just like there are people who would rather eat McDonald's than anything else. But readers do notice writing quality even if they don't have the vocabulary or analytical tools to describe it in more detail than a five-star scale.

Dan Brown and Amanda Hocking are popular for the same reason McDonald's is popular. More power to them, but it's not because most readers are too dim to know good prose from fast and cheap.

Aerial
01-20-2012, 10:57 PM
Dan Brown and Amanda Hocking are popular for the same reason McDonald's is popular. More power to them, but it's not because most readers are too dim to know good prose from fast and cheap.

I'm not sure the fast and cheap comparison is completely accurate, but I do think the adage "Story trumps everything else" applies here. Readers will overlook a lot of flaws if they are enjoying the story. The only question is how big the pile of "everything else" has to get before a good story is no longer enough, and that differs from person to person.

Aerial

Phaeal
01-20-2012, 11:01 PM
No, publishers call books that sell saleable.

If I were a publisher, "saleable" would qualify as "good" to me -- "good" for my bottom line. St. Martin's willingness to part with an advance of more than two million bucks for Hocking's next series testifies to the press's belief that her writing is "good" enough.

Poor "good," such a promiscuous word. I bet it hangs out by the railroad tracks with "nice" and "bad."

Rhoda Nightingale
01-21-2012, 02:36 AM
Y'know what?

I saw Ms. Hocking's book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble the other day, and the first and only thought that came into my head was, "Good for you, kid. I hope I'm up there next to you one day."

Every interview or blog post I see with her, she continues to strike me as mature, well-grounded, and hardworking, and I plan to support her regardless of the quality of her prose.

Also, I want a Smiley with "What Toothpaste said" on a little sign.

Windcutter
01-21-2012, 08:02 AM
I don't give a rat's arse about not being the average reader. I'd prefer to aim up, not at the level of "good enough"...which isn't.

Well, not for me, anyway.
But a boring book and a well-written book can be the same book even for a discriminating reader.
* * *
As for Ms Hocking, I'll be totally honest, I envy her prolificacy.

gothicangel
01-21-2012, 12:46 PM
I bought my sister a copy yesterday. I picked up up from the coffee table last night and ended up reading the first chapter. You know what? I can see what her readers like about her work.

Not my normal material, but it was quite addictive.

shaldna
01-21-2012, 03:30 PM
We're not average readers, and we're fools if we think otherwise. We're inherently biased and our standards are vastly different from the average non-writing reader.

Hocking is smart. She's understood one thing: It's our job to write for readers. They are the consumer. Other writers are just a tiny audience and we're silly if we write solely to please our peers.

So her prose isn't literary quality. Big whoop. She's still done her job extremely well. I'm sure her readers think her books are good.

I think you're misunderstanding what I was saying. Taste is subjective, and at the end of the day it doesn't matter if I, or you or Jesus think a book is good or not. If it's a book that people want to read then that's what matters.

In the line you quoted me I had struck out the 'good' for a reason - to remove the subjective part of the statement. To say that she writes books that people want to read is more accurate.

Windcutter
01-22-2012, 11:05 PM
I bought my sister a copy yesterday. I picked up up from the coffee table last night and ended up reading the first chapter. You know what? I can see what her readers like about her work.

Not my normal material, but it was quite addictive.
Another interesting point. Her books, it seems, were rejected many times by agents and publishers. How came none of them realized just how attractive for the readers those books could be? Aren't industry professionals supposed to recognize market potential?

BenPanced
01-23-2012, 12:38 AM
They've been known to be wrong on occasion. They are human, despite rumors to the contrary.

Windcutter
01-23-2012, 12:47 AM
But so many of them at the same time?

scarletpeaches
01-23-2012, 01:09 AM
Here's a thought -- maybe they just didn't like her writing. That doesn't make them wrong. It makes them human beings with their own opinions.

You're allowed to not like Hocking's books.

Jamiekswriter
01-23-2012, 01:34 AM
Also it depends on the condition of the MS that Hocking sent in. If it needed a lot of editing to make it tip top, they might have passed because they didn't have enough time to put in for it. Another reason might be the agents had a client with a similar theme and didn't want them to compete against each other.

bearilou
01-23-2012, 02:38 AM
But so many of them at the same time?

How many did she submit to before deciding to self-pub?

What condition was her query in?

What kind of timeline are we looking at for this book? Was she submitting for months? Years? (Which leads us back to the first question)

How much editing did her books go through once she caught on and a trade publisher picked her up? Anyone do a comparison?

Now, I'm not published but from what I remember reading about the process in general, it's not a science. It's not a thing that you can take a book, plug it into a machine and grind out result to pass or not.

'it has X kind of characters, Y kind of plot, Z level of writing...churn it up and let the machine spit out the rating for the PDG appeal to the market sector of YA. It ranks low on the chart of sales potential, therefore give the work a pass'

There are a lot of factors involved and we aren't privy to many of the reason why an agent passed. But it's a mistake to think 'well, if the agents don't like my book, they must all have the taste of goats'. There may very well have been some issues, serious issues, that caused the agents to give her book a pass when it crossed their desk, or it could have been any other number of circumstances that constantly crop up on conversations like these.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-23-2012, 05:17 AM
Eh, shit happens. That's all any of us can figure. When it works, it works. And she put in a hell of a lot of work. That helps too, overall quality notwithstanding.

Windcutter
01-23-2012, 09:21 AM
Here's a thought -- maybe they just didn't like her writing. That doesn't make them wrong. It makes them human beings with their own opinions.

You're allowed to not like Hocking's books.
Do agents love all the books they represent? I mean... if I'm an agent and I see this book that I think will become a bestseller, am I going to pass on it just because I'm not in love with it?

How many did she submit to before deciding to self-pub?
I don't know the answer to other questions but I believe I saw something like "I subbed for years" in one of her interviews.

Also it depends on the condition of the MS that Hocking sent in. If it needed a lot of editing to make it tip top, they might have passed because they didn't have enough time to put in for it. Another reason might be the agents had a client with a similar theme and didn't want them to compete against each other.
No idea obviously, and I've only read one of the books. There were typos and some mistakes. Nothing awful (I'm a pretty tolerant reader when it comes to such things), but it was hard to believe a pro editor polished it.

And yes, the agents thing is pretty random. Once I had two agents request and then reject a full, and their rejections looked like this:
Agent One: I liked it because of A, but I have to pass because of B.
Agent Two: I liked it because of B, but I have to pass because of A.

scarletpeaches
01-23-2012, 02:52 PM
Do agents love all the books they represent? I mean... if I'm an agent and I see this book that I think will become a bestseller, am I going to pass on it just because I'm not in love with it?That's the philosophy of some agents, yes. They don't want to waste their time trying to sell a book they don't love, when there are so many others they'd prefer to work with.

Like I said -- agents are allowed to not like Hocking's work. I don't expect many are weeping into their cornflakes at having passed her over, given how many other, better, writers there are out there.

Torgo
01-23-2012, 03:21 PM
It's also possible that the only effective way to sell Amanda Hocking's books at the time she was selling them was directly to an audience that trade publishers weren't able to access, for whatever reason.

Cyia
01-23-2012, 03:24 PM
Another interesting point. Her books, it seems, were rejected many times by agents and publishers. How came none of them realized just how attractive for the readers those books could be? Aren't industry professionals supposed to recognize market potential?


She wrote in a glutted market (Paranormal, with one series being vampires, specifically). The books appeal to someone who likes that particular sort of book, but there's nothing to really set them apart or above the other myriad of Para books out there from a marketing standpoint.

She did sub to many agents, even had requests for Switched, but if you'll read what she's said about it, the version she self-published isn't the one she queried. She took the feedback she got from those agents, improved the manuscript, but decided against resubmitting (for whatever reason). So while the final product wasn't exactly edited, it was polished beyond what most self-pubs seem to be.

The ironic thing is, had she been published, I doubt the popularity explosion would have been the same. Her biggest asset is the ability to turn out readable prose in high quantity with a fast turn-over. Had those million readers needed to wait the usual stretch of months-to-a-year between volumes, I'm not sure they would have.

That's not a comment on her abilities, just perspective on the difference in markets. Impulse and bulk buys fueled her overall success. If she hadn't been able to release what she wanted, when she wanted, that success would be on a different slant.

Momento Mori
01-23-2012, 03:28 PM
Windcutter:
But so many of them at the same time?

Yes, because (to quote William Goldman) nobody knows anything and no one can possibly tell what is going to be a bestseller in advance.

Look at J K Rowling - the only publisher to offer her a deal on Harry Potter was Bloomsbury, which was then a small, niche press.

Or Dan Brown - his publisher had been thinking of dropping him before THE DA VINCI CODE came out because his books weren't selling in big numbers.

Or then there's Michael Morpurgo - War Horse was published almost 30 years ago and was selling in decent, if unspectacular numbers until the National Theatre did an adaptation a few years ago.

Also see Phillip Pullman, who'd been a solid midlist children's author until HIS DARK MATERIALS became the first children's novel to win the overall Whitbread Award (now renamed the Costas).

Or Hilary Mantel, a respected literary writer who sold fairly well until WOLF HALL became a phenomenon.

Hell, look at Stephanie Meyer, who Amanda Hocking is basically plugging into - her books weren't an instant phenomenon - the book had been released for 6 months with a completely different cover before the sales suddenly took off.


Windcutter:
Do agents love all the books they represent?

There are undoubtedly agents out there who don't care so much about the books so long as they think they can sell them. Personally, I'd have a problem with that because in my opinion (and it's only my opinion), an agent should have an investment in your career as much as in your sales. Someone who only took you because they thought they could sell you is equally likely to drop you the moment you stop writing books that the market may obviously want. I was at a book launch for one of my agent's other clients last week and was talking to a client of hers who's written 4 books that my agent loved but which hasn't sold yet my agent keeps on with her because she loves her writing and is sure that something will get past acquisitions. Writing and publishing are brutal worlds and that kind of support is invaluable.

Note that this isn't the same as agents who are aware of a trend and looking for books in that vein - an agent who wants a really good YA dystopia right now isn't going to take absolutely anything that comes in, they'll still want to care about the manuscript.

Most agents want books they care about because it makes it easier to pitch them to editors.

MM

gothicangel
01-23-2012, 07:19 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/jan/23/live-webchat-amanda-hocking

Amanda Hocking is hosting a web-chat on The Guardian's website Tues 24th Jan, 1-2pm.

Windcutter
02-03-2012, 01:18 AM
That's the philosophy of some agents, yes. They don't want to waste their time trying to sell a book they don't love, when there are so many others they'd prefer to work with.

Like I said -- agents are allowed to not like Hocking's work. I don't expect many are weeping into their cornflakes at having passed her over, given how many other, better, writers there are out there.
That's interesting, I thought it was much more pure-business for the majority. I mean, it's not like many people are in love with annual balance sheets or a new brand of corn chips they are trying to promote.

It's also possible that the only effective way to sell Amanda Hocking's books at the time she was selling them was directly to an audience that trade publishers weren't able to access, for whatever reason.
That's an interesting thought. Though they seemed more like typical YA paranormal stuff to me. Although I've only read one of them so of course I can't say for sure.


The ironic thing is, had she been published, I doubt the popularity explosion would have been the same. Her biggest asset is the ability to turn out readable prose in high quantity with a fast turn-over. Had those million readers needed to wait the usual stretch of months-to-a-year between volumes, I'm not sure they would have.

That's not a comment on her abilities, just perspective on the difference in markets. Impulse and bulk buys fueled her overall success. If she hadn't been able to release what she wanted, when she wanted, that success would be on a different slant.
Yes, she's amazingly prolific.


In 2009 she went into overdrive. She was frantic to get her first book published by the time she was 26, the age Stephen King was first in print, and time was running out (she's now 27). So while holding down a day job caring for severely disabled people, for which she earned $18,000 a year, she went into a Red Bull-fuelled frenzy of writing at night, starting at 8pm and continuing until dawn. Once she got going, she could write a complete novel in just two or three weeks. By the start of 2010, she had amassed a total of 17 unpublished novels, all gathering digital dust on the desktop of her laptop.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/12/amanda-hocking-self-publishing
17 novels in less than 2 years!
And they say she wrote Switched in "barely more than a week". I've read that book, it can't be shorter than 75k.

Actually when you mentioned the glutted market, I remembered my short experience with e-publishing (not self-p). It was several years ago, and the most successful authors were the ones who could produce many shortish books over a short period of time. Like, hook the reader and then feed them more and more stories, don't let them get away and start forgetting you.

The lack of wait in self-publishing is awfully tempting, though. Waiting for a year between a deal and a release seems to be so long. By the way, is it me or are those periods getting longer? I remember a lot of people who used to announce a sale and then get their book released 6 or 8 months later. Now a year of waiting seems to be rare, it's more like 18 months or even 24, at least for the first book.

Windcutter
02-03-2012, 01:25 AM
Hell, look at Stephanie Meyer, who Amanda Hocking is basically plugging into - her books weren't an instant phenomenon - the book had been released for 6 months with a completely different cover before the sales suddenly took off.
I'm still trying to decide whether it's scary or cheery. Because it can make one hopeful, but, on the other hand, it's so irrational.



There are undoubtedly agents out there who don't care so much about the books so long as they think they can sell them. Personally, I'd have a problem with that because in my opinion (and it's only my opinion), an agent should have an investment in your career as much as in your sales. Someone who only took you because they thought they could sell you is equally likely to drop you the moment you stop writing books that the market may obviously want. I was at a book launch for one of my agent's other clients last week and was talking to a client of hers who's written 4 books that my agent loved but which hasn't sold yet my agent keeps on with her because she loves her writing and is sure that something will get past acquisitions. Writing and publishing are brutal worlds and that kind of support is invaluable.MM
I think it's also a matter of luck. You can meet an agent who's mostly driven by sales, but they will fall in love with your writing anyway. Or the other way around. Or they pick up your book because it fits the trend but love your other books because even though they aren't as promising, they are more to the agent's taste. Or you suddenly change your genre and write to a trend, and get dropped like a hot coal, because your agent hates this new genre and doesn't want to work with the books she dislikes so much. Omg it's worse than playing poker, at least there you know what a winning hand looks like. Sort of. xd

Torgo
02-03-2012, 05:28 AM
That's an interesting thought. Though they seemed more like typical YA paranormal stuff to me. Although I've only read one of them so of course I can't say for sure.

Yep. So it's not so much what she was selling as how.

Momento Mori
02-03-2012, 02:49 PM
Windcutter:
I'm still trying to decide whether it's scary or cheery. Because it can make one hopeful, but, on the other hand, it's so irrational.

Yes, but then people are fundamentally irrational IMO. You really don't know what's going to catch the public's imagination at any given time. :)


Windcutter:
I think it's also a matter of luck. You can meet an agent who's mostly driven by sales, but they will fall in love with your writing anyway. Or the other way around. Or they pick up your book because it fits the trend but love your other books because even though they aren't as promising, they are more to the agent's taste. Or you suddenly change your genre and write to a trend, and get dropped like a hot coal, because your agent hates this new genre and doesn't want to work with the books she dislikes so much. Omg it's worse than playing poker, at least there you know what a winning hand looks like. Sort of.

To a certain extent, but you can make your own luck by doing your research or by going to events where you know agents are going to be so you can meet them, get to know their tastes and whether they're the type of person you can work with. And a lot hinges on how the conversation goes when you get The Call, which is the best chance you've got to have a full on conversation about how they see the relationship going. I see a lot of authors who are so excited to get The Call that they sign up even though there were things the agent was saying that they didn't agree with.

MM

Phaeal
02-03-2012, 07:24 PM
It's also possible that the only effective way to sell Amanda Hocking's books at the time she was selling them was directly to an audience that trade publishers weren't able to access, for whatever reason.

You hit that bull's-eye so hard it's still screaming.

Hocking was able to sell her self-pubbed books for prices as low as 99 cents. This was a good ploy, since it encouraged readers who MIGHT like her material to go ahead and give it a try -- hey, less than a buck, what's to lose?

A trade publisher couldn't have afforded to do that, and trade publishers are the ones who pay enough to make sales worth an agent's time. But now Hocking has built a big audience. Now she has a great ready-made publicity hook -- "poor" kid makes it big in self-publishing! No wonder Steven Axelrod was willing to represent her. No wonder auction insued. No wonder St. Martin's is willing to risk its money on reissuing the Trylle books and publishing a new series.

The question is: How many of her readers are loyal enough to start paying bigger bucks? Enough, from the looks of the NYT list, where St. Martin's $8.99 edition of Switched has remained in the top five children's paperback list for the last three weeks. It would be interesting to know how many people buying the trade Switched are supportive fans and how many are new readers lured by the hype. Even more interesting will be the reception of her new series.