Thursday, March 24, 2011

Amanda Hocking's making a whole lot of sense

There's been a lot of buzz about Amanda Hocking on the Internet lately, even today on the Scribblerati e-mail list. I don't know Amanda Hocking, nor have I read any of her books, but I have been catching up on her blog and let me tell you, Amanda Hocking's making a whole lot of sense.

I'm not going to go into her whole life story, you can read her blog for that, but here's the basics. Amanda Hocking is a self published/indie sensation who is making a shit load of money. Here ends the basics.

Why am I so jazzed about her? Because she's one of the few people who seem to truly grasp what being an self published author really means.

She can tell you better than I can, so here's a few bits from Some Things That Need to Be Said

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.

I was blown away when I read this. For one thing, it's incredibly heartfelt and while I'm not as far along in my career as she is, I can identify with the angst she feels. Holding down a full-time job, spending time with my lovely wife, and writing in my spare time already leaves me feeling strung out and exhausted.

As I've gotten closer to the end of my journey with To Kill the Goddess, I’ve often wondered how I would EVER be able to tackle writing book two and living the rest of my life all while doing everything else she talks about. Facing that mountain is enough to make even a self-publishing fan boy like myself that there just might be something to be said for a more traditional route.

But having said that, here's Indie vs. Traditional

This whole ebook thing is going to benefit everyone in a real big way. 

Traditional publishers will not die. Some may suffer, most will adapt. As a breed, they will change, but they will not go quietly into that good night.

Indie authors will also continue to flourish. Some with have great success, some will have no success, but most will do moderately well. Writers will be happier because of this, and readers will be happier with more options.

Midlist authors will go almost entirely indie. I think this move with benefit both the authors and the publishers. In a real way, publishers lose money on midlist authors.

Publishers have for years been in the business of making bestsellers. They put all their money and energy into make best sellers, but the problem is, nobody can actually predict a bestseller. …. So sometimes publishers put money and energy into books that were not bestsellers, and because of this, they lost a lot of money.

That meant that publishers had even less money and energy to give to midlist authors, who suffered because of it and had fewer sales, which meant less money for publishers, who then had even less money, and the cycle goes on.

What indie publishing allows authors to do is grow the way they used to with publishers. Authors can put out books and build a fan base. (Or a "platform" for those who like terminology). They can become bestselling authors before a traditional publisher ever works with them.

Because of this, for the first time in history, publishers have a real way of being able to tell if a book will be a best seller. Basically, because it already is a best seller or is written by a best selling author.

You may ask yourself, "But if I already have a best seller on my hands and I am a best selling author, why would I want a traditional publisher? Aren't they just swooping now that the hard part is done?"

The answer: Ebooks are still only 8-30% of the market. People speculate that in five years it will be 50%, maybe in more than. But for the sake of argument, let's assume that's right. If you're already a best selling author in the 8-50% market, why wouldn't you want to take a chance on being a best selling author in the the other 50-92% of the market?

Let me put it this way: Being Amanda Hocking right now is awesome. But being J. K. Rowling is out of the world. If you're an author, and you've worked your ass off on your books and your career, why pass on a chance at maybe being J. K. Rowling and settle for being Amanda Hocking?

So as you can see, Amanda Hocking is making a whole lot of sense.

There's a lot of people out there on the Internet right now we seem to be saying that either traditional publishing is going to die or that, unless you're incredibly lucky, you're a fool to forgo the benefits of traditional publishers and self publish. People who know me also know that I've been predicting major changes in the publishing industry, yet the more I learn, the more I believe there is room at that publishing table of the future for both indie and traditional authors.

Amanda's argument articulates one possible (dare I say probable?) manifestation of that future.

1 comment:

Tominda Adkins said...

I've read that post of hers, too, and I'm glad she takes the time to offer her thoughts on the matter...but it frustrates me that she mentions the hours of marketing work she does without even hinting at what specific tactics she spends so much time on. What's working so well for her? What's been worth her time, and what hasn't? That info would be so helpful, but I suppose it'd still be a guessing game for all of us. Different things work for different books!