GalleyCat contributor Jeff Rivera interviewed self-publishing success story Amanda Hocking for mediabistro.com’s So What Do You Do? feature.
When asked about why most writers who self-publish are not able to achieve what she has, she replied:
A lot of authors tend to over market or they don’t take criticisms very well. They think that their book is perfect. They don’t want to get bogged down with editing or covers, because they think their book is so good. Or they market too hard. All they do is talk about their book and nobody wants to hear, ‘Buy my book.’ They want to have a conversation with you … Also, new writers respond to negative reviews and have great catastrophic meltdowns. You can’t respond to reviews at all except to say ‘thank you for reading the book.’ That’s the best you can do; otherwise, you’re just going to look bad even if the reviewer is totally out of line.
Hocking (pictured, via) self-published almost fifteen books and sold more than 1.5 million copies of her books and was inducted into the Kindle Million Club alongside veteran authors such as James Patterson and Nora Roberts. All of this lead to a $2 million deal with St. Martin’s Press for her forthcoming young adult Watersong series.
What do you think? Is Hocking’s assessment accurate?
Several members of the media industry have responded to Hocking’s interview including FinePrint literary agent Joy Azmitia, Drop Dead Healthy author A.J. Jacobs, True Blood actress/novelist Tanya Wright and picture book author/illustrator Jacquie Hann.
Joy Azmitia: “Digital authors can’t upload an inferior book, price it at $0.99, and expect to sell a million copies or expect to get a book deal from a trade publisher. The digital book must be well-written and it has to have marketing behind it. Digital authors are competing with bestselling authors and even mid-list authors, whose works have found new life as e-books. Authors such as Amanda Hocking and John Locke are the exception to the rule because of the editorial work, marketing, and campaigning they’ve put behind their books, despite the odds. They’ve managed to have the right product in the right format at the right time.”
A.J. Jacobs: “I think Amanda had some great points. To me, one of the biggest challenges for writers right now is trying to balance doing social media and writing. Too much social media and you’ll never finish your book or article. No social media and you’ll go the way of the medieval monks who scrawled illuminated manuscripts. I still haven’t figured out the right mix. Not even Google seems to have the answer.”
Tanya Wright: “I’m a big fan of Amanda Hocking and applaud what she’s done in the indie publishing world. She’s also been quite generous in how she’s achieved her goals, which is great, particularly as it relates to the thorniest prong in the side of the indie book author: marketing.
“Many authors are trying to get where you are but are failing miserably’ may be a true statement for those writers with less of an entrepreneurial bent. It’s just not enough to write a book (no matter how great it is!) without figuring out a way to connect to your audience–that is, of course, after you’ve figured out WHO and WHERE they are. Some writers believe all they have to do is write and never think about marketing. When you’re an indie author, you can’t assume that someone will magically find your book, tell someone else and word will swell and spread like wildfire. Marketing an indie book is not for the faint of heart; it takes relentless determination and discipline. A full time job (in addition to all your other ones, including writer, mom, etc) but it can be done!
Hats off to Amanda. She rocks!”
Jacquie Hann: “I think what Amanda Hocking said about self published writers not wanting to edit is key. Self published authors have to work much harder to make sure their books are solidly written since they do not have a team to help polish the story. It is true that now anyone can publish a book, but in order to get it read it has to be well written. It is important for writers not to get ahead of themselves and worry about marketing before they have crafted a good book.”