Monday, January 10, 2011

Amanda Hocking on Self-Publishing and Selling 100,000 Books in One Month

Let me start by saying that I've grown very interested in self-publishing, so much so that by the end of this year I plan to self-publish if not one of my titles, but two I haven't sold yet. If you visit JA Konrath's blog: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing,you really should, especially if you want to know what self-publishing is all about. You can see the success not only for him, but other authors, some who just started self-publishing this year and are not only sellling 1,000 ebooks a month, but some are selling over 10,000 or more.

Amanda Hocking is one of them. She sold an eye-popping 100,000 ebooks last month! When I saw this I didn't believe it. But then Amanda showed her sales on her blog and that's when I knew, self-publishing enables those writers another outlet to publisher their work, especially if they have been rejected by agents and traditional publishing for years. And the majority of the authors that are self-publishing didn't have a following or were known by the public. Amanda only started self-publishing in April 2010, less than a year and look how much she has accomplished.

I welcomed Amanda to do an interview with me, which she accepted. We talk about her success, the pros and cons of self-publishing and our favorite John Hughes movies.

If Amanda is any indication of what self-publishing is like, agents and the Big Six publishers should be very worried. Why would an writer go to such lengths, spend the time and energy knowing they may get rejection after rejection, when they can take the time in researching the self-publishing world and perhaps make enough money they can keep themelves withouth paying an agent or letting the publisher take a cut?

KB: For those who may not be aware of who you are, please tell us about yourself.

Amanda: I’m 26, I’ve lived in Minnesota all my life, and I write books, primarily young adult and paranormal romance.

KB: The world of publishing keeps evolving, and because of this, writers and authors are using other avenues to publish. What made you decide to self-publish?

Amanda: I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I toyed around with ideas for other careers, because I knew that writing wasn’t a sure thing. But even when I thought about career choices and went to college, I was still writing, and I still kept trying to get published.

I wanted to be a published author, and when I heard that people were selling books, reaching readers, and making a living publishing through Kindle, I decided to try it.

KB: Self-publishing has grown by leaps and bounds, and there have been many success stories. You’re one of them. Can you tell us how your sales have been since you started self-publishing? Is it true that last month you sold of 100,000 books? Is that even possible? *KB is very jealous*

Amanda: Last month, I did sell over 100,000 books. That is not an average, though. I have eight books out in three different series in a very popular genre, and a ton of people just got Kindles and Nooks for Christmas.

I published to Kindle in April 2010, and I haven’t sold less than 1,000 books a month since May. From June to October, I averaged around 5,000 sales a month. In mid-November, my sales really started to take off, and it hasn’t really slowed down since.

KB: If a writer wants to self-publish, what advice would you give them? How hard is it to self-publish?

Amanda: I would recommend writers researching a lot before deciding what is the best way to go. Joe Konrath’s blog has tons of advice about self-publishing, and that’s where I got most of my information.

Also, a bit part of the reason why I think people like Joe Konrath, Karen McQuestion, and I have been successful is because we had a number of books written before we published. Some authors are doing terrific with one book, but that is something to keep in mind.

KB: Please tell us what your books are about?

Amanda: My bestselling series is the Trylle Trilogy, and it’s a paranormal romance about a girl who discovers she’s a changeling. Hollowland is probably my best reviewed book. It’s young adult and paranormal romance, but it’s about zombies, and it doesn’t shy away from the horror that goes along with that. Then I have the My Blood Approves series about vampires in Minneapolis.

KB: What are the pros and cons to self-publishing?

Amanda: The biggest pro and the biggest con are really the same thing. It’s all on you. You get to decide everything and change anything. But being the writer, the editor, the cover artist, the publicist, etc., can get a bit taxing.

KB: What would you say to those critics who thumb their nose at self-publishing?

Amanda: I don’t know how anybody can completely disqualify self-publishing anymore. No, it’s not right for every author or every book. And yes, there are some really poorly written self-published books out there. But there are a lot of really great books and a lot of really great authors making a decent living with self-publishing.

KB: Because you’ve been such a success at self-publishing, would you still want to be published with a traditional publisher, or as some say the big 6? Honestly, I don’t see why you would since you’re doing very well for yourself.

Amanda: Self-publishing is awesome. No doubt about it. What it has done for me is nothing short of amazing, and I am grateful for it every day.

But ebooks only make up 20-30% of the market (and some would argue I’m being generous with that number). I’m not going to ignore possibilities to reach the other 70-80% of readers. With that said, it is hard to think of a deal that could compete with what I’m already doing myself.

KB: How long does it usually take you to write a book?

Amanda: On average, 2-3 weeks to sit down and actually write a book. That doesn’t include the time to outline before I write it or the time to edit it after. Outlining usually takes about 2-7 days, and editing really depends on what the books need. Some require less edits than others, so it varies.

KB: I understand you are a John Hughes fan. What’s your favorite movie of his? Mine is Sixteen Candles.

Amanda: Probably Pretty in Pink. It used to be Breakfast Club, and John Bender is still my favorite John Hughes creation. But I just think Pretty in Pink is more fun.

KB: What are you favorite authors or books you enjoy reading? If you could sit down with any literary character and have dinner with them, who would you choose?

Amanda: My favorite authors are Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Douglas Addams, Alan Moore, Richelle Mead, and Jeph Loeb. I could probably read Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut or Survivor by Palahnuik every day. I love those books.

Out of any literary character, I would pick Batman. I’m counting graphic novels as literary. If that doesn’t count, then I would pick Patrick Bateman, or maybe Ford Prefect.

KB: Can you tell us about any future projects you’re working on?

Amanda: I’m trying to start editing a couple other books I wrote a couple years ago, and start the sequel to Hollowland. I’ve got about a hundred ideas of things, but that’s too many to list.

KB: What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?

Amanda: Lazy, quirky, and obsessive.

KB: If you had a choice between a sparkling angsty vampire or the happy go lucky werewolf, which one would you pick to be with and why?

Amanda: Toughest question ever. I’m admitting something publicly for the first time ever – I do not like werewolves. I don’t know why not. I should.

I guess I like Michael Sheen in Underworld and the Dr. Pepper guy in An American Werewolf in London. But otherwise, I’m just not into them. Otherwise, I would pick happy over angst any day.

With that said, in the Twilight world, I’m Team Charlie. Bella’s dad makes the series for me.

You can find Amanda at her website and onn Twitter: @Amanda_hocking.

Interested in buy Amanda's books? You can find them on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as other on-line stores that sell e-books.

Have a question for Amanda? If so leave a comment here for her to answer.


Penelope said...

Great interview! I applaud any author who has the chutzpah and determination to self-publish. It takes a huge amount of work, but if your story is good, it's great to have more control over your own literary destiny.

Congrats to you, Amanda!

The scene in Pretty in Pink where Ducky dances to "Try A Little Tenderness" is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. That's a keeper!

here's the youtube link....

Fran Friel said...

Lovely interview. Thanks for sharing the juice.

Seleste said...

The amount of work you've put in is inspiring. I'm with a few epublishers (as this me and the YA author me LOL), but I'm really considering taking a closer look at Konrath's work just to see what I can take away from it for myself.

Congrats on your success, and I hope it continues!

Jill Sorenson said...

You can write a full novel in 2-3 weeks? Wow. Clearly you are some sort of genius book whiz.

Interesting interview.

Christy Pinheiro said...

Katie, I'm so glad you decided to self-publish. I hope you do it. I'll never go back to a day job.

As for the time frame-- 2-3 weeks sounds like a very short amount of time for a book, but if that's your full time job, well...

I can write a non-fiction book in about 60 days. The editing usually takes 3-4 weeks, or more, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

That's when I'm writing full-time, 30-40 hours per week.

Remember, Dan Poynter (the father of the self-publishing movement) wrote his first book, Hang Gliding, in 30 days. It's sold over 130K copies since it was printed back in 1973. Not too shabby for 30 days work.

HistoricalRomanceJunkie Rita said...

Lovely Interview =D
Wishing you continued sucess, Amanda.

HistoricalRomanceJunkie Rita said...

Oh, and I am a total Breakfast Club girl!!!!!

I had the hots for the sporty asswad! He could duck tape my butt anytime he likes.....(disturbing? probably!)

orannia said...

Great interview Amanda & KB - thank you!

RK Charron said...

Hi Kate & Amanda!
Thank you for the excellent interesting interview. I really enjoyed learning more about Amanda & her writing journey.
All the best,

Deepali said...

Great interview, I really got a good sense of how Amanda writes and her self-publishing story.