A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article about 26 year-old Amanda Hocking, who is apparently making ‘millions’ in the e-book market on Amazon.
Being an aspiring novelist, I was intrigued by her success, especially since there’s been nothing but depressing news lately on the publishing front with the collapse of RedGroup Retail, the owner of both the Borders and Angus & Robertson bookseller chains in Australia.
Can a writer really become successful selling e-books on Amazon? Well, Hocking has. She prices her books between 99 cents and $2.99, but gets to keep 70% of all sales. She reportedly sells around 100,000 books a month, so by my calculations that would net her between $70,000 and $210,000 a month. Those are numbers any writer with commercial aspirations would die to have.
Anyway, I looked up Hocking’s blog here, and learned that she is American, and she writes paranormal romance, which means that she probably owes some of her success to that person who wrote a love story between a human and a vampire (and a werewolf). Hocking’s the bestselling author of Trylle Trilogy and the My Blood Approves series.
However, what I found most interesting came from her post on March 3rd, which really put things in perspective for me. I’ll just quote her directly:
Everybody seems really excited about what I’m doing and how I’ve been so successful, and from what I’ve been able to understand, it’s because a lot of people think that they can replicate my success and what I’ve done. And while I do think I will not be the only one to do this – others will be as successful as I’ve been, some even more so – I don’t think it will happen that often.
Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren’t all that different, and I don’t think people realize that. Some books and authors are best sellers, but most aren’t. It may be easier to self-publish than it is to traditionally publish, but in all honesty, it’s harder to be a best seller self-publishing than it is with a house.
I don’t think people really grasp how much work I do. I think there is this very big misconception that I was like, “Hey, paranormal is pretty hot right now,” and then I spent a weekend smashing out some words, threw it up online, and woke up the next day with a million dollars in my bank account.
This is literally years of work you’re seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn’t writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.
I also have this tremendous sense of urgency, like if I don’t get everything out now and do everything now, while the iron is hot, everything I’ve worked for will just fall away. For the first time, I truly understand why workaholics are workaholics. You can’t stop working, because if you do, it unravels all the work you’ve already done. You have to keep going, or you’ll die.
Or at least that’s how it feels.
How about that? I admit, I was one of those people that thought, maybe this is just some girl who got lucky riding the Stephenie Meyer wave, pretty much like how she described it above. But of course, while she must have had some luck along the way (as most successful writers do), she succeeded because of hard work and persistence– not just in writing and editing but also in promoting and marketing her books.
While I do envy Hocking’s success, what I envy most is her determination and sense of urgency. She’s not an overnight success, even if that’s what the media is painting her out to be. She has been writing for years, written 19 books, with 8 novels and 1 novella published. She didn’t get e-published until April 2010, and since then has sold 900,000 copies across 9 titles.
That’s the mental stuff I need to develop — that burning desire to work every waking moment I get, continuously striving to perfect my craft and work.
Kind of like what Charlie Sheen is doing right now — making the most of his life (and winning!).