Hocking on Hocking

There's a great interview with self-publishing superstar Amanda Hocking in the New York Times today. She comes across as very natural, likeable, and surprisingly level-headed about her success, which came to her surprisingly fast once she put her books on Amazon:

…Hocking uploaded “My Blood Approves” to Amazon and, about a month later, to Smashwords, a service that makes her books compatible not only with the Nook but also with less popular devices like BeBook and Kobo. (When, in October 2010, it became possible to self-publish directly on Barnes & Noble’s site for the Nook, she did so.) It’s a surprisingly simple process in each case — much like signing up for Facebook. She took the e-leap because she thought that even if she sold her vampire books, there was going to be a reaction against them before they made it into stores.

The first day, she sold five books. The next, five more. “I took screen shots a lot,” she said. Then she uploaded another novel and sold a total of 36 books one day in May. “It was like: 36 books? It’s astounding. I’m taking over the world.”

Soon she started selling hundreds of books a day. That June, she sold 6,000 books; that July 10,000. “And then it started to explode. In January, it was over 100,000.” Today, she sells 9,000 books a day.

Hocking is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. “I’ve seen other authors do the exact same things I have, similar genre, similar prices” — like many self-published authors, she prices her books radically below what traditional publishers charge; typically hers cost between 99 cents and $2.99 — “and they have multiple books out. And they all have good covers. And they’re selling reasonably well, but they’re not selling nearly as well as I am.”

The problem is, now everybody thinks they can be Hocking…or John  Locke…and don't seem to realize that they are exceptional cases. 

5 thoughts on “Hocking on Hocking”

  1. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with this piece. It was a fine profile of Hocking, but added nothing we didn’t already know or suspect. However, it almost completely ignored the main question – the thing that makes Amanda Hocking so fascinating: just WHY and HOW did this woman’s books became break-out ebook bestsellers? I’ve not read her, but I assume her work is solid, although not (initially) so solid that she didn’t get rejections from numerous publishers. So WHY Amanda Hocking, and why now?
    No disrespect to Ms. H, but her origin story/lifestyle is not particularly unusual or compelling. What is interesting is just how she became a phenomenon, and Strawberry Saroyan almost completely bales on that question…
    Or, perhaps, that’s just a writer’s perspective – I’m sure her fans will want to hear all about the origin story/lifestyle stuff!

  2. A fascinating article… these are wild and wonderful times for authors. Not sure how it’s going to shake out, but (thanks to Lee and others) I plan to go along for the ride as well.

  3. @Brian Drake,
    Good for you! Ha ha! What’s wrong with an author trying to shoot for something like that and what’s the harm in it? What does it matter to you or anyone else if a writer has a goal like that? How does it effect YOU if a writer wants to be the next Amanda Hocking?
    IMO, she’s a slf-published author bt she freely admitted to “doing everything that had to be done”, as in (according to her) taking writing classes, studying the market, going to bookstores to see what people were reading and which genres were hot & popular. Her book covers are simple and gothic, and also priced very well. But I just think in the end she knows how to write. She’s a gifted writer that was overlooked. And honestly, it was a blessing in disguise that she was because if she’d been traditionally published I seriously “doubt” she’d be a millionaire. Not earning just 14.9% of royalties traditional publishers are offering (as opposed to the 70% she gets by herself). I think her stories were interesting & tapped a nerve. Then word of mouth did the rest. I personally didn’t think Twilight was very interesting, well-written, and the story seemed “very” unoriginal, no plot twists, ect, but people bought it like it was the 2nd coming of Christ. It was mediocre,dull & so repetitive. But everybody gobbled it up. Go figure.
    Honestly, from what I’m seeing, if you give female readers something to swoon over, they don’t care “how” it’s written or if it even makes sense. Twilight did not make sense. I can’t comment on Amanda Hocking’s books because I have not read them (yet).


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