Best-selling Amazon self-pub author Amanda Hocking clears up misconceptions
March 14, 2011 | 1:50 am
Amanda Hocking, who I mentioned the other day as an example of a best-selling self-publishing e-book writer, has an interesting and long blog post in which she tries to clear up some misconceptions in the way that Internet media have been covering her story.
She worries that people seem to think she has some kind of a magic bullet—that she’s making money hand over fist for just writing some stuff down. In fact, she explains, there’s actually a lot of hard work involved.
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.
She is also bemused by seeing people claim that publishers are “terrified” of her, as this new force in self-publishing e-books that somehow demonstrates publishers are no longer necessary. She points out that e-books are only 20% of the market at most, and not all e-books are self-published in any event.
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.
She notes that even she isn’t sure exactly why her books are so popular—she points to one of her own favorite self-publishing authors who isn’t doing as well as she is—but he’s doing exactly the same sorts of things she does, in the same genre. Nobody knows what makes any given book a bestseller, she explains—because if there was some way for publishers to tell in advance, they’d only publish bestsellers.
And she warns that a lot more people will sell less than 100 self-published e-books than will sell 10,000, let alone a million.
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 [J.K. Rowling’s US publisher] 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.
Words to remember. I suspect that there’s a tendency on many people’s part, including my own, to assume that there’s some sort of magic formula for success: you write something good, then you turn around and sell it on-line. And then, as the South Park joke goes, “PROFIT”. It’s actually kind of refreshing to see that Amanda Hocking is no exception to the truth that behind every bestselling author lies a whole lot of work.