Amanda Hocking is a 26-year-old self-publishing millionaire

Same as traditional publishing isn’t for everyone, neither is independent publishing. Authors like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, James Patterson, and on and on the list goes—they wouldn’t be who or where they are without traditional publishing.

But independent publishing today is less stigmatized than ever, and quite honestly, it’s downright business-savvy. J.K. Rowling is self-publishing her Harry Potter series in e-book format. You know she’s going to make a killing off that. Barry Eisler recently rocked people’s minds by turning down a $500,000 two-book deal to publish the books himself. Seth Godin has said he’ll never traditionally publish again.

These are big names in writing who are shirking the way things have always been done, and again, it just makes good business sense.

Even if you’re not an established author, it can work wonders for you. In fact, especially if you’re not an established author.

Take Amanda Hocking. She’s 26 years old, she self-published nine books that went on to sell a total of a million copies (mostly e-books), and she recently sold a book to St. Martin’s Press for $1 million.

Here’s the New York Times article about that, and below are a few highlights from it:

“I’ve done as much with self-publishing as any person can do,” Ms. Hocking said in an interview on Thursday. “People have bad things to say about publishers, but I think they still have services, and I want to see what they are. And if they end up not being any good, I don’t have to keep using them. But I do think they have something to offer.”

Amanda is 100 percent correct. Publishers and the concept of traditional publishing—these are good things. The way things are today has made it much harder for them, and they’ve made some decisions that maybe shouldn’t have been made here and there, but traditional publishing houses are still the pillars of the book world. And we suspect they always will be. They offer things that self-publishers don’t, and can’t, and for someone like Amanda, it makes perfect sense for her to pursue traditional publishing.

She’s self-published nine books. She’s sold a million copies of her books. She’s only 26. That’s ridiculous, it’s amazing, and she should take that fat $1 million contract. If anybody’s earned it, it’s her.

“I think a lot of authors are looking at self-publishing as a way to perhaps make a certain amount of money sooner rather than later,” [Matthew Shear, the publisher of St. Martin’s Press] said. “But a publisher provides an extraordinary amount of knowledge into the whole publishing process. We have the editors, we have the marketers, we have the art directors, we have the publicists, we have the sales force. And they can go out and get Amanda’s books to a much, much bigger readership than she had been able to get to before.”

And our final highlight:

Ms. Hocking’s legions of fans were so shocked by the news earlier this week that she was shopping her books to traditional publishers that she felt compelled to explain herself on her blog.

“I want to be a writer,” she said. “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.”

She said that perfectly: Being a self-published writer is to be a full-time corporation.

4 Responses
  1. Although I don’t completely disagree with the quote from Matthew Shear at St. Maarten’s Press, I do think it is a bit disingenuous. A self-published author has access to professional editors and cover artists who work on a freelance basis, so I don’t think in this regard, traditional publishers are providing something that is not easily obtained by self-published authors.

    Shear is correct that traditional publishers have an army of publicists, marketers and a sales force at their disposal, but unless you are already a big name author, few mid or low-list authors are given the full advantage of these services.

    I completely understand why Amy Hocking accepted the $1 million contract and went with a traditional publisher for her next book, but for most of us who can only dream of a $5,000 advance, I don’t think traditional publishing makes a lot of sense.

  2. I can’t help thinking it’s a big ol’ scam. Is there room for all these writers. Anyone can write.

    ‘The Cat sat on the mat and ate a mouse’s tail.’

    I could publish that and sell it. Only joking. I’m bringing out a comic book and I suppose there’s 89 million of those available too.

  3. I have a book coming out soon. About me! Inspector Sauce. Oxfords most Dysfunctional Detective.

    It’s a comic book. In fact that was me being referred to in the comment above. I have 3, possibly 4 fans around the country.

    I’m a living success. Hang on, i’m just going for a pint. See you soon.

  4. Hey Dan—you’re right, anybody can write and sell something. But it’s really hard to write something good, and it’s never easy to sell anything these days.