Amanda Hocking

Well, looks like Amanda wants people in traditional publishing to take care of her.

From a long-term professional, all I can say is that she is going to be very upset with the results and in for a very rude surprise. I hope I am wrong. For her sake.

And why she thinks she will have more time to write going traditional is beyond me. Does she think all her fans will suddenly just vanish? Actually, traditional publishing will expect her to do the same amount of publicity and such as she has been doing.  For less money. Controlling fans and such is not a decision of types of publishing, it is an author controlling his or herself and setting limits.

I wonder if she has even talked with any actual bestselling traditional writers.

My sense that this is a “I’m-real-now” decision. Nothing wrong with that at all. Every writer is different and even making millions on her own, she may very well need this sort of pat on the head by a big corporation. But if she thinks it will give her more time to write, she’s in for a very, very rude surprise. It just adds more layers onto what she is already doing. And more people into the mix.

Good luck, Amanda.

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63 Responses to Amanda Hocking

  1. SgL says:

    Consider this a question from someone who is unfamiliar with the publishing industry and agents, but is it possible that with a good legal intermediary that she might be able to define conditions that work in her favor?

    I’m just asking that because I guess I know too many lawyers :).
    They’re expensive, but sometimes if you find a good one, worth it.

    • dwsmith says:

      Again, another myth I’m afraid Sgl. Agents take more of your time than they save you if you just did it yourself. Scary, not logical, but alas true. And sure, as a big fish, she can try to define her conditions. But it takes a person who has been around a long time, like a King or a Koontz or a Grisham or a Patterson or a Roberts to really hold the line.

      Not having an agent for the last six years has allowed me far more time to write, I have gotten deals an agent would have killed, and so much more. Plus I’m not worrying about writing something my agent must approve or that I might fight my agent over. The agent myth is strong, very strong. And I will bet you anything Ms. Hocking is turning over all her income and paperwork on this huge deal to her agent, a person I doubt she has even met more than once or twice. Yeah, that turns out well so often. (grin)

  2. Deborah says:

    Hmm, that was most interesting reading. I don’t know, though. Maybe I’m giving her too much of the benefit of the doubt, but it seemed like a pretty self-aware choice to me, and not looking to be taken care of.

    She likes writing; she likes marketing. She doesn’t like doing the covers or distribution. And now she has a set beta reader/proofer (i.e. editor). So she’s accepted a (if reports are right) seven figure advance and will let someone else do that for her. Plus she’ll STILL self publish other books.

    I have a hard time seeing how this isn’t still the best of both worlds for her.

    • dwsmith says:

      Deborah, it might be. But remember, I am coming from a long history of traditional publishing and from the outside what looks slightly sane and logical isn’t from the inside.

      But she may be one of the lucky ones and it will work the way she wants it to. We can all hope so. But after 25 years as a full professional and working both sides of the desk, I know how things really work.

  3. Alex Fayle says:

    Robin Sullivan over on her blog suggests that maybe Hocking will have an opportunity to make even more money, Rowling-level money.

    She says it’s for the time to write, but then she quotes Nathan Bradford on the amount of money available from traditional publishing so I’m thinking the possible Patterson-level money is the real motivator, not what she says (but if she says it’s for the buckets of cash, she’ll seem greedy and people won’t like her anymore).

  4. I hope for her sake that her contract is short enough that she doesn’t get screwed for too long, but just long enough for her to realize that she did get screwed. If that makes any sense.

    I’ve heard a rumor that Ms. Hocking’s decision was not just about getting someone to take care of the business end and paper distribution into brick and mortar bookstores, but also about looking ahead to movie deals. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that I have considered those points myself, even if prematurely.

    What would you say to an independent author on those points?

    I’ve noticed that Amazon’s POD Create Space has an option that can get me distribution into bookstores, but I’d have to list the paperbacks at $7 to get only 3 cents from each one sold in a bookstore. If I wanted to pocket the same $2 that I get from a $3 ebook, that paperback would be $12.

    Considering that most bookstores would need cajoling to carry me anyway, it’s just not worth it for me or them. The only ones likely to be interested are the local independents, and I can haul author discount copies downtown myself.

    I’ll just sell paperbacks through and set up my own “E-store”, whatever that is. That way my royalty is good even at $7.

    Now, movie deals. I know, I should not waste time even thinking about that, but sometimes I do. Yes, I do want them, and I do think that Violet Skies would work well as movies, but we’re talking five years from now at best. Still, we can discuss it for the edification of those who are closer to that point.

    What does an indie author do IF it’s time for a movie deal? Can you just hire a contract lawyer to negotiate for you as a one-time gig? Or is there more to it than that?

    I could say much the same about merchandising, which is another thing that I want eventually. I want to do t-shirts, toys, board games and video/computer games, both with Violet Skies and other IP that I will introduce in the future.

    Yeah, that’s all long-term stuff, but I thought I’d see what you had to say nonetheless.


    • dwsmith says:

      Edward, covering all that in a few upcoming “Think Like a Publisher” chapters. Stay tuned and careful with POD pricing until you read them.

  5. Susan Shepherd says:

    On the other hand, she says she will continue to publish books herself, so this may also be just good business sense. Like you and Kris, Amanda Hocking seems to think that it’s better to have some indie published books and some traditionally published books.

    I agree that she’s not likely to get much more writing time out of this move, but since she seems to be a fast writer, she could probably publish a book a year traditionally and a couple books on her own each year and do really well over the next few years that way.

    • dwsmith says:

      Susan, I also am hoping it works that way. But the go traditional to get more time is just a myth I’m afraid. I wish it wasn’t, but it is.

  6. Steve Lewis says:

    This is really disapointing news, Dean.

    Not because she has a traditional publishing deal-I agree with you that a writer should have as many income streams as possible-but because I think this is, at least partly, the result of listening to her critics.

    Having followed her blog over the last several months, she seems to have gotten more and more stressed over people’s comments about basic grammar, etc. in her novels. This is just a guess but I think that she might have gone traditional in an attempt to stave off the criticism.

    Not judging her in any way if that is the case. I’m just sad if such a strong storyteller has let those voices get in her head. But I’m pretty sure that over your long career, Dean, you’ve seen this countless times.

    • dwsmith says:

      Yup, seen it more times than not. The myths of publishing are fantastically hard to get past and I was no exception in my early days. But since 1975, I’ve watched so many writers come and go because of myths, it no longer really bothers me. Sad and cold, but alas, true.

  7. B.C. Young says:

    What stands out to me is at one point she says “I want to be a writer” as if she isn’t one already. Perhaps its a validation thing for her, along with the feeling that she’ll have more time to write.
    Hey, guess what? I’m a writer, too, and I don’t need a traditional publishing contract to feel this way.
    It’s also interesting that in the same week one author turns down a $500,000 traditional contract to self-publish, another self-published author basically says that traditional publishing is the better way to go.

  8. This saddens me. It was so exciting to watch her succeed on her own. And she could have hired out the editing and the covers for a small fee. Considering her income, she could afford it. She really doesn’t gain much from going with traditional publishing from what I can tell, except the possibility of Patterson or Rowling income which she may have gotten with indie publishing given enough time.

    She already had the possibility of a movie deal. If you read through her older posts, her Trylle trilogy was being optioned. I know that doesn’t mean much until the ink dries on the contract and the movie is done, but being indie didn’t stop her from being optioned. I just have to shake my head. I really hope she gets what she wants out of this, but I somehow doubt it.

  9. Seems a bit premature dismiss her decision as clueless stupidity without knowing her reasons in depth or knowing her contract terms. It seems to me from Hocking’s previous blog entries that she is moving to traditional for the same reason that you and Kris also have books in traditional. It helps her reach a different audience. And she’s right about that. As well she is doing, she is missing a huge percentage of the reading public, and with an advance that size, she will get marketing power behind her books. She said once on her blog “It’s great to be Amanda Hocking, but it’s even better to be J K Rowling. “Sure, it’s a risk and publishing is no fairytale, but now she has the money and resources to make that gamble. And she’s only in her 20s. Plenty of time to bounce back, or switch back to indie if things don’t turn out well. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt for now.

    • dwsmith says:

      Livia, oh I agree, and just got trashed by a lot of you a few months back when I said she was missing 90% of the readership and her numbers are not anywhere near Rowling. So if this is her hope and goal, I admire her. But she flat stated she was doing this to become a writer again and get more time. And that is my worry, her words.

      I can hope she is going in, as you say, to get the bigger audience. And I have zero issue with writers working both traditional and indie publishing. In fact, that’s what I teach and suggest. But watching this from the outside, unless Amanda is just embarrassed to tell the actual reasons, saying she wants more time by going traditional is just stupid because that says she has NO IDEA what she is walking into. And saying she wants to be a “writer again” is just stupid because again it shows she has no idea what she is walking into.

      And if I didn’t want her to survive and make this a success so much, I would have just shaken my head, said nothing, and watched another writer implode and vanish into the rearview mirror.

      Going to traditional to get more readers is the correct choice. Going to traditional to get paid promotion for her online books is the correct choice. Going to traditional publishing to make more money is the correct choice.

      Going to traditional publishing to get someone to take care of her is so wrong as to be tragic, going to get more time shows just flat lack of knowledge. And those are her stated reasons.

      And she doesn’t like being talked about all the time as an indie writer, wait, just wait until the real press, the mainstream press get ahold of her when her books start coming out. Indie writers and publishers are a tiny, tiny little world that is easily ignored. Oh, not the big folks, they will not be ignored. And now she has set herself up with this big deal (if it happens) as the poster child of indie writers going into traditional publishing and guess what, every idiot reviewer with an ax to grind will go after her. Her books won’t get a fair read for the most part and that’s sad.

      Those of you who think that things should be fair in publishing, my response about that is that “Fair is in August.” There ain’t nothing fair in this business. It is nasty and does not favor the unprepared.

  10. J.A. Marlow says:

    This makes me sad. There are so many ways the deal can go wrong and so few ways it can go right. I agree with a previous commenter. It’s as if she’s listening way too hard to the critics instead of the other side. Or, is this validation/revenge/whatever of some sort that after all those rejections she was able to get that much money out of the same industry that rejected her so often?

    And did perhaps all the Indies talking about her become too much? That part of the post also flashed up to me. Was that too much pressure of some sort? Does she want the rest of us to go away?

    And, “I want to be a writer.”? She isn’t one already? All those people buying and loving her books and she isn’t one? Wow, then I guess a lot of the rest of us don’t stand a chance? ;) (And yes, I know that isn’t exactly what she meant, but it still made me stop and go “What?”)

    Yes, the post made questions pop up all over the place. Some good, some bad, most in the middle. I have a feeling she’ll clarify some parts in later blog posts.

    I hope it goes well for her. I really do. I hope she had a lawyer look over the terms of the contract to ensure they were for her benefit, not the agent or publisher who would want to tie things up for eternity. But, at the same time, I think she just caused herself a lot more trouble than she realized. It just depends on if that trouble lands sooner or perhaps later.

    • dwsmith says:

      J.A., I think this is a clear example of not really wanting what she wished for. (grin) And yes, so so so many ways this could go south and only a very few ways this will work. That’s the way of traditional publishing I’m afraid.

      Damn I hope I am wrong. I would love to have her lead a new path into traditional publishing, which is sort of what she is doing, and have it work out.

  11. Ty Johnston says:

    Uh … yeeahhhh.

    A little disappointed about this one, but to each their own. I wish Amanda luck.

    For me, unless ALL rights fully reverted to me within a fairly short amount of time (I’m thinking 10 years absolutely maximum with a preference for five years), there’s almost no way I’d sign a traditional deal nowadays.

    And honestly, if such a deal should ever fall in my lap, the first person I’m contacting is my old college publishing law professor who is also an active attorney. The second … probably Dean Wesley Smith, for any advice.

    It might be the Grishams and Kings and Koontzes who have had all the say when it comes to their contracts, but that’s one more factor that’s going to have to change for the trad pubs to thrive, let alone survive, in the new world.

    • dwsmith says:


      If she goes into this deal with her eyes open and no restrictions on her writing and other books and series and an expectation that she is adding in more work, not taking away work, then I would be fine. And if I was her agent and read that post, I would be flying out to see her and having a very clear sit-down conversation about what she is walking into and the time involved. I have a friend right now who got a lot smaller advance and who has lost most of the last three months as publication approaches to this. With really no writing. I have bestsellers who complain about how much time it takes and what is expected from them. I wanted my wife lose months of writing time over just a low-level push on a series.

      Someone Amanda trusts needs to talk to her, but my gut sense is her agent, who is a big gun agent in romance, is playing into the myth for her.

      But again, I hope like hell I’m wrong and this works time-wise they way she wants it to in her blog. I’ve just never seen it happen that way unless she has the smarts and business sense of a Koontz or Patterson or King.

  12. EF Kelley says:

    I just don’t see how she’s spending forty hours a week marketing what are already best-selling books.

    Sure, a new book is going to require some work, but, once you’ve found an editor you like and a cover artist you like and a formatter you like (assuming you need a formatter), where’s all this extra labor?

    Is it dealing with fans? That’s going to happen regardless of print. And, if Joe Konrath is to be believed (and he usually is) you’ll be doing a LOT more of that with a traditional publisher.

    Is it analyzing your sales data? Spreadsheet: graph it. Done. Alter prices accordingly.

    Is it dealing with Hollywood? I’d think that’d be a job for your west coast representation. Don’t have one? Just call, tell them you’ve got a producer wanting your stuff, and bam. You’ve got one. There’s some shopping involved, but a lot of that can be done through references.

    Is it all the blogging? I could see that being annoying. But when you’re getting 100 emails a day, surely there’s a topic in there to scratch out a couple thousand words on. Really, the hard part with the blog is figuring out what to say.

    I’m just not seeing the forty hours non-writing work. All the little fiddly things do add up, sure. But forty a week, every week?

    Am I way off base?

    • dwsmith says:

      EF, you are spot on. That’s my problem as well. She just has no idea what she’s getting into the myth that traditional publishers will take care of you and her agent will take care of her is driving her. Clearly. And sadly for her, it’s a myth.

  13. Mark says:

    When you’re 26 and have only had a lot of money for less than a year, and you have never had your book in the bookstores, and there’s interest from Hollywood that may be bolstered by a traditional publishing deal, I can see how it would be really hard to turn down over a million dollars.

    She may very well make less in the long run, but even if she does, she’s making over a million now. And she has an opportunity to make crazy money IF she gets a movie deal (I’d say selling the movie option is almost a foregone conclusion) and IF it gets made and is popular.

    Seriously, I would not be surprised if she sells movie rights for over a million for these four books. Hollywood is all about me-too movies, so I’m sure someone there wants to make the next Twilight movie.

    The cool thing about this is it will really spotlight indie publishing and help people see there are good writers doing this and not a lot of frustrated writers who couldn’t get traditionally published.

    • dwsmith says:

      Not sure why some of you think a traditional deal will help with movies. It won’t. Not in the slightest. Movie deals can come from anywhere at anytime for writers. No traditional publishing needed and often you give the traditional publisher part of the movie deal if you are traditionally published. Depends on contract of course.

  14. I wish her well.

    But what are the chances that any writer will be able to split the rights?

    Give the publisher the right to get books into book stores (which is what they do best) and let the writer take care of getting the e-Book up.

    Now, I know this horse has already left the barn and won’t get back in anytime soon–but it’s nice to dream.

  15. Eileen says:

    I find your line about Amanda feeling the need to be “patted on the head” very condescending. You say we should celebrate that authors have choices and I fully agree. I don’t believe this should mean implying that an author that chooses a traditional deal is doing it because she/he requires validation any more than assuming someone who self pubs does so because they aren’t good enough to break into traditional publishing.

    • dwsmith says:

      Eileen, not at all. And I meant that comment to be condescending, clearly, because I hope like hell that’s not her reasons. I want writers to make good career choices from a business standpoint and if she is doing that, I celebrate her smarts. But from her comments about wanting more time to write, she clearly has no idea what she is walking into. And why should she? In reality, she’s a talented beginning storyteller. But in the world of New York, she’s going to be chum if she doesn’t have a great agent and a real business brain at the level she is walking into. And it will certainly, without a doubt, take a ton more time on her part, so we will see less writing from her. That’s just all facts.

      But if being patted on the head and considered a “real writer” in her own mind is important to her, then I also have no issue. That’s very, very real to a lot of writers. And to be honest, I have no idea if I was as new as she is what I would be feeling about that. I might have needed the pat on the head as well. More than likely. But now I am old and jaded and can stand back and see things. I just really, really want her to succeed is all.

  16. camille says:

    I couldn’t make out the full details of her current plans, compared to things she said earlier, but if she’s doing it more like she was thinking about earlier, I don’t know that this is all that much of a mistake. (It sounds, though, like she’s going toward the “take care of me” end of the spectrum.)

    I can understand someone of her level of success signing up for a series to see how it goes. She’s young. She can afford to do this. She can and undoubtedly will write lots of other stuff, so as long as her lawyers were smart enough to keep the contract from tying her up, it’s just the work of a year or two that she’s gambling with.

    (Remember, that even if she “loses” millions in potential profits, once she’s paid for her house and has over half a million in the bank/investments, she doesn’t actually have to make money any more — unless she lives on the coasts where the cost of living is higher, and then a million in savings should do it.)

    Me, I admit that if I were tired of doing something, and I had good income, I’d hire people. Salaried or flat fee people, not percentage people.

    • dwsmith says:

      Camille, I agree, she could easily hire people. But I don’t think her decision is a bad one. I just have a hunch she has no idea what she is walking into is all. And my hopes are that she succeeds.

  17. Jeff Ambrose says:

    I guess what I don’t understand — and it’s been mentioned in the comments before — is if all she wants is more time, why doesn’t she just hire a small team under her. I know that Brandon Sanderson has his own company — Dragonsteel Entertainment — and he had an assistant and others (I presume) working for him. And I know that Janet Evanovich has both her kids working for her doing the business things. Even Stephen King has hired help outside of his agent and editor. With the money Amanda’s making, she could easily afford to set up a solid team under her and delegate what needs to be done, with her having the final say for everything. “Go line up some artists for this book.” “Find some editors for that book.” “I want the web site done like this.” Or whatever she wants done.

    But that requires a hell of a lot of work … which leads us back to one of the themes Dean has been talking about for the past several months about writers who want to be taken care of.

  18. Jeff Ambrose says:

    PS — “Fair is in August” is TOTALLY regional. Here in North Texas, August is consistently between 98 and 110 degrees. It’s almost too damn hot to go swimming (my folks’ pool stay around 90 in August).

    For us, “Fair is in November.”

  19. camille says:

    “Why doesn’t she hire people?”

    Even though that’s what I would do, I can understand why that seems like more work. It takes a lot of effort to get started in outsourcing. If you hire a cover artist, that not only takes a lot of decision-making and time, you also have to know that you may have to fire them.

    Hiring a gardener, a roofer, a plumber, a graphic artist, an accountant, a dentist… all of that can be time consuming. But it’s actually more _up front_ effort. Especially if you do get a part time assistant who can help with the hiring of others.

    This is something I learned very slowly at work. I’m not a natural delegator, but over the years we’ve accumulated really good people in our team, and once we had proactive people, they started taking tasks off my shoulders.

    Honestly, the first thing I would do is get myself an intern or two and try them out to hire an assistance. (I’d pay the interns, but it’s easier to let an internship lapse than it is to fire someone.)

    But doing that would require planning and training, and would take a lot of time away from my writing for a long time. If she believes that this will somehow lift trouble off her shoulders right away, I can see why hiring an assistant would not look so attractive.

  20. Dean, those are fair points. Although this conversation has made me realize I don’t actually understand what takes so much time with traditional publishing. Is it marketing? Going over edits? It’s a rather counterintuitive that you’d have less time to write with a traditional publisher (I’m not doubting you, since JA Konrath and many others say the same thing, but I realize I don’t know why.)

    • dwsmith says:

      Livia, it would take a huge and very long post to try to explain why things with traditional publishing take so much more time. It is not logical, as you say.

      Here is the issue as best I can describe it in a short manner. Traditional publishing writers need to do exactly the same thing as indie writers with their Facebook/Twitter/Web Site stuff. So only designing a cover, having someone proof the manuscript, laying out the file and then launching it all on the three major sites and POD. Once you are through the learning curve can take maybe a day, maybe two days work at most. And then it’s done.

      However, as I am sure Amanda is learning right now, just the phone calls with agents, the back-and-for with this deal brewing, and other aspects of discussions and talk about the deal will take as long as launching a book. And that’s only the beginning. In fact, that has barely scratched the beginning. As the contract gets negotiated, there will be more time spent, then turn in-rewrites, turn-in, conversations with your editor, and at this level, she’ll be having conversations with the publisher and the promotions and sales as well. Long conversations. And then come the copyedits, which she will have to go over carefully and fix, thus another day or two gone, and then the proofs and more gone. And then tons of calls with agent, meetings with sales and dealing with a hundred things from promotions. And this will ramp up to ugly proportions the closer to publication it gets. They will want her to tour, thus another month or two gone, and the blog tour and the interviews and so on and so on. I am not even beginning to cover it all.

      And heaven forbid she has any personality problems along the way with anyone, which for a normal human is impossible to avoid. So she gets in a fight with her editor, or mad at her agent, or hates the publicity person and there goes weeks under turmoil. It takes a fantastically strong person to stand up under all that. And again, I am not beginning to cover it all.

      And that’s for one book. She’s thinking of doing this for four books. As fast as she is, she could write another ten books in the time she will spend on these four books with traditional publishing.

  21. EF Kelley says:

    Hey, Dean, have a look:

    Indie author Debbi Mack is number 36 on the NYT Bestseller List with her self-published title.

  22. Ramon Terrell says:

    I’m new and still new with all this, but it doesn’t compute. Hypothetically, if she wanted to reach more readers, she could hire a publicist, considering the income she now has. She could get connected with the radio and go on as a local author and expand from there. There are so many options she can take with her income and not spend an arm and a leg doing it. With her numbers and such, I can’t imagine what a publisher can do for her.

    The million dollars is quite enticing, for sure. If she were able to ink this deal and have it not affect her future works, she could do this, collect the money, write when she can and continue her indie career and be on top of the world with this huge advance. With her already admirable readership, she needn’t worry about this advance killing her career. She’d need to just ignore the critiques waiting outside with the pitchforks.

    I may be wrong, or naive, but thats my thinking.

  23. JimRage says:

    Sounds like she didn’t spend any time learning the business of writing. That excerpt she used talked about the heaviest of the heavy hitters. I don’t think that was a good example.

  24. You guys are all talking like the deal is done. If it is, it should have been announced by the timeline given in the New York Times on Monday. There’s a lot to these negotiations, which Hocking herself does not know, and I’ll wager she’s shocked.

    The only reason this thing hit the press is because the PUBLISHERS put it out there as a negotiation tool. Usually it’s the writer’s rep who does that, not the publisher. And usually the rep does it to GAIN leverage. Right now, the publishers are feeling like they don’t have leverage. So…there might be a deal. But I’m thinking there might not, not without a lot of wrangling. I wish I were a fly on the wall, so I could hear the conversations, esp. about e-rights. I’ll bet they’re doozies.

  25. Ramon Terrell says:


    I actually forgot the deal wasn’t done yet! It really is going to be interesting to see how this all pans out. Either way, I sure wouldn’t mind being in her position!

    Every time I think about this new world of publishing, I get so excited! Sure, the waters are rough and no one knows truly how things will wind up, but the fact that self publishing is no longer a profane statement, (at least, not nearly to the degree it was just a few years ago) and now it is much more affordable to do it yourself, I can now write as many books a year as I possibly can and not have to wait till I can afford the process. Building inventory has never been so much fun and so rewarding!

  26. Sounds to me like Amanda is — maybe kinda possibly maybe — going to be a “half-and-half” writer: half her product through traditional NYC publishing, the other half through her own electronic distribution.

    Whichever path turns out to be less hassle and worth more money is the path she will eventually gravitate towards. And as she’s said in her own words many times, while many people have tried to prop her up as this Joan d’Arc going to war with NYC, she herself has never claimed the mantle. She just likes to write and make money. So it’s not like she’s betraying principles or anything.

    I can see doing “half-and-half” if only because I don’t see myself ever not sending stories to Analog while Stan Schmidt is editing.

    And it is a dream of mine to become a Baen author some day.

    Beyond selling to Stan and Toni… I am not sure I have definite aspirations — besides just making my family some good money.

    If there is more money in electronic self-press, then that’s where I will focus most of my effort. But I have this hunch that I won’t necessarily have to choose if I don’t want to. Not until Baen morphs into a corporate bean-counting house (not sure what act of terror would be necessary for that to happen) or Stan retires from Analog — again, not sure what would cause that to happen, other than Stan’s passing away.

    I’m just glad the murky cloud of disdain is lifting from the world of (electronic) self-publishing, because now writers don’t have to put up with the antics and tediously unprofessional methods that dominate the traditional model — methods all pros become painfully aware of, and have just had to put up with for the longest time.

    Ultimately you have to hope that when enough pros have ditched the traditional model — or at least self-pubbed enough very good projects to take enough profit away from an industry already cutting it close to the bone — that the NYC publishers are forced to reform their ways. Agents too, frankly.

  27. David Barron says:

    Sometimes it’s easier to run a corporation than join one, especially when you’re the one making the widgets.

  28. Terry Mixon says:

    Some of my thoughts have been covered by other commentors, but I wanted to put them forward anyway. We’re seeing authors step away from traditional publishing with the expectation of making more money, like Barry Eisler. We’re also seeing self-published authors (or indie if that’s the word you choose to use) like Amanda Hocking and Michael Sullivan signing or looking at traditional deals.

    I say that both are valid options, if done for the right reasons.

    I agree that going self published is going to make more money for the author than a traditional publishing deal. That said, there are valid marketing reasons for a very successful self published author to go after a traditional deal. They might not be for the money, and if so, that’s the author’s choice. But they could be for market share and name recognition.

    Amanda Hocking might be selling a dump truck full of books, but most people wouldn’t know her from Eve. A big traditional publishing deal could change that. Ditto Michael Sullivan.

    Then their self published books, past and planned, might achieve more success than if they never did the deal. More to the point, they might make more money faster by getting a big deal and getting wider print readership, even losing all the money they would’ve made if they went it alone.

    Some people have been dismissive of self published authors who commit what they feel is a cardinal sin. I think there are myths in self publishing, too, and thinking a traditional print deal is no longer worth considering, for the right reasons, is one of them.

    Use all the tools and avenues open to you with your eyes open for the advantages and disadvantages. Don’t instantly dismiss those ideas that don’t fit your comfortable worldview. Like the authors that dismiss self publishing and don’t see the flaws in the agent system.

    • dwsmith says:

      Terry, I totally agree. Both are great options. And that’s what I hope I have been saying as clearly as possible. Indie publishing is new and untested in any way, traditional publishing has its issues that can mostly be avoided with good business practice.

      Each writer needs to make their own choices. My choice is to do both, but because of control, I am leaning toward indie publishing more and more. But again, that’s just me.

      And I have zero issue with Amanda Hocking taking a big deal. Good for her.

  29. Mark says:

    News is out. She signed with St. Martins that is “beyond” $2M.

    Ok, even if she could make more self-pubbing those four books, how could she turn that down? That’s so much money.

  30. joemontana says:

    Well it seems like it’s done – SMP is her print pubber now.

    I think it’s cool that a kid that age gets herself a million bucks worth if a deal and makes it and everything – good for her.

    What I don;t get is the whole ‘I am sick of not having time to write’ crap. Stop blogging then. Stop promoting books that are already making you a millionaire. Get off the internet and write the next book.

    I know Konrath and Dean and the rest are idiots, they know nothing about the business, but when they say your best promotion for you work is your next book, I have a funny feeling they might know what they are talking about…

    SO I guess i’d be kissing my social media habit good-bye, stopping my self promotion that ate up 40 hours per week and hiring someone to do layout and covers at a few hundred bucks a pop while I continued to sell a zillion copies of my ebooks already available and then I’d start writing more.

    Yup, I knew it, that just sounds alot stupider than signing ove r a percentage of MY Money to an agent and locking myself into a contract.

    Man Dean had taught me nothing :)

  31. Annie Bellet says:

    Here’s the deal:

    Looks like the bidding went well past 1 million indeed.

    My hope is that, since she has a good work ethic and writes quickly, she’ll put out other books in the time it takes St Martin’s to put out these four.

  32. Mark says:

    “Yup, I knew it, that just sounds alot stupider than signing ove r a percentage of MY Money to an agent and locking myself into a contract.”

    She sold four books for more than $2M. Print still represents the bigger market, so getting into the bookstores — and you can bet her publisher will promote her too — will expose her to a new market segment.

    If Barry Eisler had been offered more than $2M for four books, we might not be talking about him going indie.

  33. joemontana says:


    I concede the point that she get excellent money and the deal was sure sweet!

    My beef is that she claims the move was about reducing her work load. It just doesn’t add up.

    I really don’t see where getting a 2 million dollar deal paid out over years and years and giving up 15% to an agent is BETTER deal than selling hundreds of thousands of ebooks and keeping all the money.

    It a GREAT bit of $$$, I just don’s see an advantage to 2million over probably a 3-5 years (4 books) for someone who can earn that money without splitting it with someone else and ceding control of certain things to them.

    Again, I am not saying you are wrong – I just don;t think I would do it,

  34. Mark —

    Then again, if Barry Eisler hadn’t walked from St. Martins, I suspect we might not be hearing about such a big number for Hocking at the same house. They have a budget and calender slots to fill.


  35. Ramon Terrell says:

    I think that maybe she’s going for the “bird in the hand” and not the one in the bush. Even if she doesn’t earn back the advance, she is financially set, and at the worst case scenario, she still has her indie books when all is said and done. I’m all about indie publishing and do it myself, but this is a doozy. I also think she is saying its about writing more because she doesn’t want to say its a lot of money to pass up. People can be fickle and might think negatively about her for that, so the safe thing to do was say it frees up her time to write more.

    Just my guess. Nothing else seems to make sense.

  36. Deborah says:

    Like everyone else here, I wish her all the best. :-D And will watch eagerly to see how it turns out.

    Admittedly, though, while logically I completely understand the rationale of those who are hedging bets by saying this might be a mistake and saying how bad they feel for her, *emotionally* I’m having trouble summoning a heck of a lot of sympathy for a two MILLION plus dollar mistake. :-D I just can’t manage to feel bad for her. ;-)

    • dwsmith says:

      Deborah, got to wait until the fall of 2012 to find out. I wonder how different this publishing world will be by the time this first book comes out. I wonder if she even noticed the date on that.

  37. Ramon Terrell says:

    I’m really hoping she negotiating a heck of deal that won’t prevent her from writing under her same name with her indie stuff. I really hope this works for her. I love to see people make things big happen. Its just great to see and is also inspiring. That said, good eye on that date, Dean. One thing for certain, she’s in an admirable position, and if she play this right, this could be a dream come true even bigger.

    I just cross my fingers for her. (and secretly pray for at least a fraction of her success. ;)

  38. She has a new post up today that goes into more detail about her decision, and is also more plain-spoken about her over all goals: “I want to be a household name,” is one. Also, if I’m reading it right, it sounds to me that she’s sold a four book series that she has already written (“I like the books St. Martin’s bought”) and plans to continue self-publishing and writing new work at her current pace — does anyone else read it that way?

  39. camille says:

    Actually, Amanda wasn’t doing all that much promoting. I think what’s become overwhelming is the reaction – she’s getting fan mail, and reporters, and newbies asking questions, and ‘friends’ wanting to interview her, and agents and offers….

    She kept a relatively low profile, but fame overtook her. I wouldn’t be surprised if a part of her motivation was to STOP being the poster child for indie publishing.

  40. Annie Bellet says:

    The deal doesn’t look like it will restrict her from writing other books and putting them up. Here’s her response/blog on the deal:

    • dwsmith says:

      Great post by her and her reasons are pretty business sound, which I am relieved to be honest. And having the advisors she listed is great as well.

      She did it right and for the right reasons.

      So now, Amanda Hocking has become the poster child for making a ton of money indie publishing and then making a very sound and reasoned deal to go both traditional and indie publishing at the same time.


      • dwsmith says:

        Wow, has this been a week in publishing. A stunning week for moving indie publishing forward in more ways than I can count.

  41. I’ve been wondering if Hocking signed a non-compete contract that would preclude her from further self-publishing. Apparently not (or if she did, she hasn’t figured it out yet). She’s quoted from a blog post in Publisher’s Marketplace as saying: “I have a few titles lined up this year [to self-publish] and I’ll have more in the future.”

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