Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What I Learned from Amanda Hocking

Thanks for stopping by AJ's Tattered Pages during our Fool For Romance Blog Tour 2011! Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this blog to have your name entered into my drawing, where one lucky winner will move on to the Grand Prize Drawing at the end of the month. This is your chance to win a basket stuffed with wonderful gifts, plus we're giving away a free Kindle!! Hope to hear from you...
Here's What I learned from Amanda Hocking:
If you’re interested in the world of publishing…for that matter if you’re interested in world events at all, you’ve no doubt stumbled across the hub-bub regarding Amanda Hocking, the young, self-published author whose e-books are selling like hotcakes on Amazon.com.
I spent some time on Amanda Hocking’s blog this past weekend, trying to glean some tidbits from her amazing story, and how her novels skyrocketed to the top #100 on Amazon in such a short time. And if I’m being honest (and I think most writers will agree) I was also hoping she might have listed step-by-step instructions that would ensure my career follow her path to success. Sort of a “To Do” list I could print out and check off, so I could be fully confident I was doing all the right things.
No such list exists, but I must admit, after spending some time on Ms. Hocking’s blog, I was surprised by her candor, and I developed a deep respect for this young woman. Here’s what I learned (Editor’s note: these observations were taken from a blog Ms. Hocking posted on August, 27, 2010, entitled Epic Tale of How it All Happened. Here’s the link: http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2010/08/epic-tale-of-how-it-all-happened.html )
1.      Don’t give up. Rejections happen, and just because an editor or agent doesn’t like your submission, that doesn’t mean you aren’t talented or your work won’t find a niche with readers. Although Ms. Hocking’s success is touted as “overnight”, she worked very hard and dealt with many disappointments before garnering such huge recognition.
2.      Listen to constructive criticism. Revise, edit, revise, edit, and then edit some more. In fact, don’t ever assume you’re done editing. Because you’re not. People pay to read your work. Be respectful of their investment and offer them the best product possible.
3.      Work like a factory. Write what you’re passionate about and write often and as much as you can. Ms. Hockings cranked out books in 14-21 days, even with a full-time job.
4.      Give your readers more. Once they have fallen in love with your characters, don’t cut them off. Craft other stories within the same genre, serials and spin-offs. Readers will be waiting to get that next installment.
5.      Don’t be greedy, aka don’t view your readers as dollar signs. Amanda Hocking sells her e-books within a $0.99-$2.99 price range, she says, “Because I can make a living doing it, so I see no reason to charge more.”
6.      Stay current with trends and use all available on-line tools - Twitter, Facebook, blog and website. Contact book bloggers to review your published works. Even if your responses are short, reply whenever readers contact you. Be everywhere on-line that you can.
7.      Take risks. If Amanda Hocking had never “tried” selling her books on Amazon (which she did in hopes to earn enough money to attend a Muppet convention in Chicago–Lord love her), none of us would have realized the height of success a self-published author could achieve.
8.      Stay humble. I was amazed by Ms. Hocking’s lack of bravado. Even at the date of this post (15,000 books sold with a total profit of somewhere around $20K (and yes, I realize the current numbers go wwwaaayyy beyond that) she remained modest, and accredited most of her success to book bloggers and her readers. Had her post been filled with all sorts of condescending b.s., I would have immediately been turned off. Instead, she was very gracious and that made me adore her.
I can’t recommend Ms. Hocking’s books, just because I haven’t read any of her work…yet. But I must admit, after seeing what she had to say, I’m anxious to discover the worlds she's created. I am also thrilled by her success and think she deserves a great big ol' pat on the back. After all, if she can do it, so can we…

Tomorrow our Fool for Romance Blog Tour continues over at Michele Hart's blog: www.michelehart.com/b15-book/htm

42 comments:

Mark said...

I think it's sad that the Publishing Companies have turned a blind eye towards writers and are still looking at their outdated model of publishing. Amazon is one of the few to take advantage of the new technology and embrace all writers. You would think that the big publishing houses would do something similar. By the time they do, it'll be too late. I'm glad that Amanda Hocking did so well. It helps all of us and shows us what is possible.

Mark
wv_mark at yahoo dot com

AJ Nuest said...

Hi Mark! I think you are sooooo right. The big 10 need to adjust their thinking, and soon. Or there is sure to be trouble with their bottom lines in the future.

Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi AJ -
Couldn't agree with you and commenter Mark more.
Blogger/author Bob Mayer usually has some interesting views on this too.

I think we'll see more of what happened to Dorchester happening to the other big houses.

Really good post.

AJ Nuest said...

Hey Jen! I LOVE Bob Mayer's Blog. Read him religiously. Smart guy who's ahead of his time. Too bad the Big 10 aren't ready to listen...

Rebecca said...

Hi AJ,

Very insightful posting (and comments) about the Publishing Companies. Thanks for the intro to Amanda Hocking as well.

Good luck on the release of JEZEBEL'S WISH! I love the countdown clock!

Rebecca

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks Rebecca! Glad to pass the info along!!

jenlowery said...

Hi, AJ, I agree with the comments posted so far. This was an inspiring blog for me. As an aspiring writer who has dreamed of being published since she was 12, I have worked hard, but rejections stopped me for a couple years and I went through a sort of writer's block. Thankfully, I'm out of it now and revising my GH finalist ms and two others I gave up on. Inspiration comes in many forms and this blog and Ms. Hocking's story are wonderful. Thanks so much.

DarleneLF said...

Great tips AJ, thanks for sharing them. Very insightful and gives hope to those who've been knocked down in this tough industry.

Mark said...

Hi AJ. While I was looking for a publisher for my first book, I got to talk to a lot of people. I was told that the big publishers are a business and that writers should look at them that way. They are in it to make money, so they look for books that will *sell*. To highlight this, I was told to just look at the latest fad of vampires. All it took was one book to make it big and everyone else started looking for writers who had similar stories.

So, you could have the best story out there, but not get published because the big publishers are looking for specific things -- stuff that they know sells. Which is their business model.

Amazon came along and blew that right out of the water. Amazon came up with a much better business model of publishing every writer for a percentage of sales. They make money no matter what. And yet, the big publishers are still holding out on the old model. Sort of reminds me of the music industry missing out for the longest time. Too many of the old guard are in charge and aren't changing with the new technology. Sad, really.

Writers are going where they're wanted now. Look at Amanda Hocking and Konrath. Lot of authors out there that are doing well without publishing houses. Good for them! :)

Mark

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks, Jen! Yes, we need to find inspiration wherever we can - I know! Congrats on your Golden Heart finalist status. Whoo Hoo!!

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks for stopping by, Darlene~ As writers, we most definitely need to stick together!! :-)

AJ Nuest said...

Hi Mark, The thing about the Big 10 is that they make 90% of their profit from 10% of their authors, and generally, are unwilling to change that formula. Check out Bob Mayer's Blog, The Writer Warrior. He's brilliant, and talks a lot about this very subject. The real problem here is that the Big 10, because they are unwilling to change with the times, are shooting themselves in the foot. Where will the next generation of authors come from if they don't give us mid-listers a chance? And by the time they figure it out, it'll be too late, because most of us will be either self-publishing or going with smaller, independent publishers that are willing to give us a chance. The only tragedy I see here is the fall of so many book sellers. It breaks my heart to know that independent bookstores are closing, and that the way of the printed book is soon to be a thing of the past.

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks, AJ, this is great. Amanda is a legend in the indie world. A real inspiration. When I got the rights back for my 2007 Wild Rose Press book, I decided to take the plunge and self-publish. I'm so glad I did. My sales on Kindle are amazing. I highly recommend publishing your backlist on Kindle. I'm so pleased with my sales that I'm considering publishing something new on Kindle. But I'll hire an editor first. Editing is very important if you decide to self-publish. Thanks again for the post.

AJ Nuest said...

Good point, Cara! And thanks for sharing your great success story about self-publishing. The paradigm is definitely shifting. If those of us who choose that path offer our readers the best product possible, the stigma of "self-published work being crap" will soon fade.

Mark said...

AJ, thanks for the pointer to Bob Mayer. I'll check it out. I agree the Big 10 are shooting themselves in the foot. And yes, I definitely don't like seeing book sellers falling. Where I'm living, there are very few used book stores and very few new book stores. I'm hoping that when the economy comes back, more book stores will open.

wlynnchantale said...

I think I saw a tweet about her. I was absolutely blown away by her success. Persistence pays off.

AJ Nuest said...

Hi Telly! Glad to see you here!! And if the Lord has been meaning to teach me anything, through the world of writing I've learned much persistence and patience. I whole-heartedly agree!!

Jill James said...

AJ, I've read several of her blog posts. She has worked really hard for her success. Bravo!!

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks Jill! I'm both amazed and thrilled by Amanda Hocking. What a trail blazer!

arialburnz said...

Great post, AJ! Amanda is definitely my latest heroine these days. Her humility, her encouragement, her drive and passion to do what she loves to do, and taking risks. It amazes me that she quit her day job after two very successful months with the attitude: "I wanted the chance to be a full-time author for awhile, even if it only ended up being a few weeks." She hasn't looked back.

She's very inspiring and it's GREAT to hear Cara is doing the same thing. BRAVA!!! I'm polishing up some novellas to put out there on Kindle, myself. I'm very excited!!

Keep on writing, everyone!

Arial Burnz

"Never give up! NEVER surrender!"
~Tim Allen playing Jason Nesmith playing Commander Quincy Taggert in "Galaxy Quest"

Linda Morris, Romance writer said...

I've read several posts on Amanda Hocking and there is a lot to admire in her story. I have to admit, though, that I'm a bit disturbed by her suggestion that writers should "write like a factory" and crank out books in a few weeks even with a full-time job. I realize she's young and doesn't have a family, but sheesh, that is an incredible pace--one that makes me wonder about the quality of her work. I admire her openness to editing and revising her work, but how much of that can she really be doing if she's only spending a few weeks on a novel?

AJ Nuest said...

No, no Linda, let me clarify. That was MY interpretation, not Ms. Hocking's. She stated in her story that she worked like a factory, cranking out stories, but none were getting published. I took that to mean that even though she was working full-time, she dedicated herself to her craft whenever possible. Too often, I let myself get distracted and before I know it, a week has passed and I've not created anything new. I needed to hear that from her, to sort of re-focus myself on the ultimate goal...getting the words down on paper. Other writers are always asking her (or at least I saw many questions) how she writes a story so fast. She sets her own pace, and so should every writer, but in the beginning I too wrote several stories very quickly without editing them. Thankfully, the emotional aspect was strong enough the stories ultimately got published. But not before I spent months and months working through all the mistakes I had made. My mistake. I should have explained better. Hope this clears up what I meant. Sorry!

AJ Nuest said...

Love your Tim Allen quote Arial! Yes! Yes!!

Pamela S. Beason said...

Good post. I certainly agree with being persistent, hardworking, and willing to revise, and I celebrate anyone's success. I find the social media both liberating and burdensome; with a full-time job and a real life that involves a lot of outdoor activities, it's hard to find the time to tweet and blog and write!

www.pamelasbeason.com

AJ Nuest said...

I know, Pam. A person can get really lost, spending time doing social media. And I'm not even that adept at all the different resources. It's definitely a balancing act!

Linda Morris, Romance writer said...

Ah, I see. That makes me feel slightly better about my own (relatively pokey) pace. ;o)

Mark said...

Galaxy Quest was great! Back to another great, Amanda Hocking. But, she put in a lot of hard work to get where she is now. She writes about it here:
http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2011/03/some-things-that-need-to-be-said.html

She even mentions that she put in an exhaustive amount of time on marketing. I guess to most, it seems like a quick success, but really, I'd guess she put in years of hard work.

Mark

AJ Nuest said...

I feel your pain, Linda! Gone are the days when I could wind up entire chapters in one sitting. Every once in a while I hit a creative spurt, but now, since I know all the "do's" and "don'ts", it takes me much longer to work through even just a few pages. Of course...in the end, I probably spend a lot less time fixing all of those technical issues I didn't know beforehand. :-)

AJ Nuest said...

There is no doubt that the woman has a flair for marketing, Mark. And offering her books in the price range she did was pure brilliance...for so, so many reasons, not the least of which was showing her readers she appreciates the value of a dollar.

rbooth43 said...

As a reader, I agree with the comment "Give your readers more. Once they have fallen in love with your characters, don’t cut them off. Craft other stories within the same genre, serials and spin-offs. Readers will be waiting to get that next installment." Great Post!

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks, rbooth. I never realized the power of the spin-off until I became an author, even though I read a lot of series books. Thanks for stopping by!!

Judy said...

This was a very interesting post. Thanks for all the tips.

Judy
magnolias_1[at]msn[dot]com

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks for stopping by Judy! Glad you could join us.

Lynne Roberts said...

Great post, AJ! I think even small press published authors can learn from Amanda's advice!

Thanks for sharing!

AJ Nuest said...

Hi Lynne! I'm so glad you stopped by. Seeing Amanda's success was truly an eye-opener for me.

Sandra Koehler said...

Amanda gives indie writers the respect they deserve; there is so much talent out there; I'm glad it's finally being recognized. There are so many great entertaining writers other than the 100 or so recognized by the major houses. And some of those have lost their edge over time. Ms. Hocking is a millionaire now because she didn't give up and she writes for the hot young adult market. Alison Chambers

Kay V said...

I am so thankful that I have been invite dto participate in the Kindle contest becaus ei have met wonderful new people that are extremely interesting. I may hav enever heard of any of these folks so- YAY God for all this talent!

SaturnMoonie said...

Wow, that is amazing!!! Very impressive, and it shows how hard work and determination pays off. :) Cute blog, btw! Hehe.

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks for visiting Sandra. I agree and obviously so does the market. If the Big 10 isn't willing to take a chance on hot new artists, they will still find a way to get their work out there...and who loses? Those less inclined to step outside the box!

AJ Nuest said...

Hi Kay! The talented and amazing people I have met since becoming an author is truly awe-inspiring. I am blessed to know each and every one! Thanks for stopping by.

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks for the compliment SaturnMoonie! I've had so much fun hosting this blog today. Great comments, great people and a lively discussion. Who could ask for more??

Susan Yates said...

Your blog and website look fantastic, AJ--good work! I've been reading about the Amanda Hocking phenomenon too. Really amazing! Hope her success is catching :)