If you pay attention to the publishing world at all, then you have heard the name Amanda Hocking. You likely have also heard the name J. A. Konrath. They are currently the greatest self-publishing success stories circulating cyberspace, but others are not far behind.
Amanda Hocking is 26-years-old and lives in Minnesota. She has already written and published nine books. She started self-publishing them via Amazon’s Kindle last year, and she has sold over 900,000 copies of those nine books, hitting the USA today bestseller list. Seriously.
Last week, New York was knocking on her door. Quite loudly, it seemed. The Big Boys fought a week-long bidding war for the rights of her books. The bid went, as reported by The Times last week, was into the millions. On Thursday, she signed a four-book deal with St. Martins for over two million dollars. Nice.
Amanda talks about her decision on her blog.Very interesting read.
On the flip side, J. A. Konrath started publishing the traditional way with a NY Big Boy. But, as he had piles of manuscripts that NY didn’t want and as the rights of his published books were slowly reverting back to him after having gone out of print, he decided to self-publish via Amazon’s Kindle, too.
Now he makes a healthy six-figures a year as well. And he is not quiet about it or his growing aversion to traditional publishing. He trumpets his success and some of his colleagues’ successes on his blog: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. In fact, he has written so much about the topic, including how and why he did it himself, that he now has a Kindle book out by the same name. 350,000 words from his blog on how he turned orphaned manuscripts into a fine living…and had more time to write.
Sounds like every writer’s dream: to make a good living through your craft and have enough time to keep writing.
Authors across Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of cyberspace are seeing dollar signs. They want a piece of this action, and who can blame them? But as independent authors, you must take the time (and the money) to create a quality product. This means to *hire* someone to make your book cover. Don’t even attempt to do it yourself unless you are a professional graphic designer. Seriously. This means to *hire* someone to edit and proofread your book. You cannot effectively edit your own work.
Even if you do all this, will every self-published author see numbers like these? Unlikely. Just as there are rock stars in traditional publishing, there are rock stars in self-publishing. But I think writers can learn a lot from these models. There are more ways to get your work published than ever before, and self-publishing is becoming more and more viable (and socially acceptable) every day.
New York doesn’t know what to do. Out of one side of their mouth they say they won’t touch it because it’s been self-published. Through the other side they’re offering millions to a self-published author. But this is par for New York Publishing. They change their mind as often as a stoned frat boy changes channels.
No doubt, however, that with the growing popularity of eBooks, self-published and independent authors have a better chance than ever to be seen and to find a readership. With some luck and marketing, they might even be able to scrape a living together. Then if they attract a New York Big Boy in the mean time, they have options and they can get a decent contract on their own terms.
The time of the author is returning.
Do you think that self-publishing is losing its long-held stigma? Why or why not?