Amanda Hocking’s Reasons

Read her blog post here about why she took the deal with traditional publishing that she did.

My opinion, from an outside business perspective and a long-term freelance writer, let me say Fantastic!!

Her reasons are spot-on good business, she has decided to add in traditional publishing to get books to her fans, and she is keeping the indie publishing going at the same time. She wants to have a shot at the big brass ring of the big money and she’s going at it in the right way.

She has hired more advisors than just her agent to help, including lawyers and accountants. Very, very smart.

Well done Amanda Hocking. And all writers can look at your wonderful track record and your ability to use the entire publishing system instead of just an area of it as a complete path to success.

I stand by what I have said. Use both traditional publishing and indie publishing.

It is not an either/or situation, but a win/win situation. As Amanda Hocking just proved to us all.

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32 Responses to Amanda Hocking’s Reasons

  1. Steve Lewis says:

    Cool. She’s put my fears to rest. I’d hate to have seen such a talented writer get worked over by the “system.”

  2. Just Passing Through says:

    Sir, do you think there will ever be a time when an author can go after/get the “JK Rowling” money exclusivley through do-it-yourself publishing?

    • dwsmith says:

      Oh, sure, and Amanda would have done just that if she had just kept putting up inventory. No doubt in my mind.

  3. B.C. Young says:

    Good to hear she’s doing both. She’s an inspiration for people like me and if she abandoned the self-publishing route, it would have been a bummer.

  4. Mark says:

    Amanda sure seems like she knows what she’s doing. Good for her.

    I wonder why she’s had so much trouble finding an editor? If she is still going to continue to do some self-publishing, I guess that search isn’t over yet.

    And what she said about being questioned over accepting a seven figure deal is right — times are different.

  5. John Walters says:

    I have to say that all this ruckus over Amanda Hocking’s decision is kind of like a tempest in a teacup. All these people mulling over what she’s up to and when it really comes down to it whatever she wants to do is on her and her alone. Okay, I get it that she’s a bright shining star that shines a light on the whole indie publishing scene, but I hope we can all realize that a mature writer’s decision on how to conduct her business is her own. I believe that you, Dean, approached it from the best angle – to see what can be learned from the situation for other writers. But a writer or any other business person has to stand on his or her own feet, and instead of being yea- or naysayers for others most of us have enough to do to handle our own careers. I too think that the best way for a writer to go is with both traditional and indie publishing – as you mentioned way back early in the “Sacred Cows” series and have continued to espouse. But if someone else wants to go solely one way or the other I have no objection. I will keep on chugging along doing what is best for me.

    • dwsmith says:

      No argument, John. Each writer must make his or her own decisions. We did a “game” in the master class where the writers over the two weeks ran through a possible ten years of a career, making the decisions, seeing the results. It was very informative for each writer to have to make decisions. But the learning came in watching the other eleven make decisions in their careers and the results. Why make mistakes others have made because you don’t spend the time to watch and learn from other writers? Sort of like inventing the wheel with every decision.

      Thanks to Amanda Hocking and Barry Eisler just this week, anyone paying attention and reading their thinking will be more prepared when the time comes for them. And thanks to this wonderful new world of the internet and blogging, and the fact that both of them put their thinking and decisions right out for all of us to see and learn from, we all get the chance to learn.

      I know I have learned a great deal. It’s been an amazing week for the new world of indie publishing, that’s for sure.

  6. Christian K says:

    Also I read a huge hint of, “Hey I haven’t published through these guys, let’s see what they can do for me” in her post.

    Maybe this will be a fantastic experience for her, maybe she will leave disappointed, bitter and annoyed. At this point I really think it’s St. Martin’s to “mess it up”.

    She realizes that she is probably leaving money on the table, but maybe, just maybe that is the right decision for her. I think it probably is the right choice, for now.

  7. J.A. Marlow says:

    Whew. Good for her. :)

  8. Nancy Beck says:

    Good on her. Left a congrats on her blog.

  9. Sarah Allen says:

    I very much agree. I’m definitely still learning about the publishing industry, but from what I know she has made some incredibly smart decisions. I like the win/win idea…that makes a lot of sense.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  10. Amanda seems to be very level-headed, and I’m glad to see that she is setting the stage to capitalize on her 15 minutes of fame, to move on from what could easily have been a flash-in-the-pan success to something much longer-term. I was pleased to read that she will continue to self-publish, while extending her brand into legacy publishing.

    Very smart.

    As for indie authors hitting J.K. Rowling numbers without the help of traditional publishing, John Locke is the one to watch. Unlike Amanda, who clearly had a long-term plan to get some of her works out through NY publishers, John Locke has stated that he never intended to go that route, and perhaps he never will.


  11. I’m glad for Hocking, really; she seems to be going into this with open eyes, knowing she might lose money on these books compared to self-publishing them, but consciously deciding that the increased visibility and the chance to become a household name is worth the risk.

    I’m also really glad she’s not just trusting her agent to broker the deal, but bringing in lawyers and accountants (because, honestly, I’d rather have a LAWYER negotiate a contract than someone with no formal training in contract law, no matter how well connected, well intentioned, or intelligent).

    And if someone came along and said “we’ll offer a contract on your own terms, for a new series, and won’t get our paws on your current self-published series” I’d probably jump on it, too – after feeding it to the best IP lawyer I could afford – even if I thought I’d lose money on that series.

    The increased public profile could potentially lead to more sales of the self-pubbed works, which could make up for anything lost on the trad pubbed series.

  12. Well, at first I was not sure how to take this post about Amanda Hocking vis a vis your last post about her. I had thought it had gone down the memory hole. Then I read your replies to comments in the last post, and your post here became contextualized. They are well worth the read, folks, if you’re wondering about the same thing I was.

  13. Alex Fayle says:

    It’s good to see that she’s indeed a sharp business woman as well as a popular author. Why not go for that 90% of the market that’s print books, especially since she’s doing it with her eyes wide open?

  14. Jacqvern says:

    Well, she is very good at taking business decisions and implementing them. She proved that once more.

  15. EF Kelley says:

    I especially liked this quote:

    “What happens if they screw you over in a contract, steal all your money, and keep your erights forever? Then they do. I like the books St. Martin’s bought. And I believe in them. But if I lose money on them, I lose money on them.”

    Eyes open. Decision made. Die cast.

    Almost poetic.

  16. Nice post, Dean. Agree 100%. Amanda is sure savvy for a new writer. I bet after the rights revert to her on the St Martins books she self pubs them and really cleans up.

  17. EF Kelley says:

    One wonders just how attached either party is on the reversion clauses. I wonder if she’d walk away from the deal if they never reverted. Similarly I wonder if St. Martins would withdraw the offer if she remained adamant.

    Any anecdotes or experiences with that, Dean?

    • dwsmith says:

      Oh, the reversion clause will be tied to sales speed and other factors way down the road, all different from contract to contract. But these days you sell a book to traditional publishing, pretty much plan on not getting it back. Shortest time I could see that happening now, if at all, is ten years. But more than likely, since publishers have no idea how things are going to change, they are wrapping up everything and building that backlist.

      So if you are a fairly slow writer, you might be better served to go indie, but if you are fast like Hocking is, what difference does four books make in the overall scheme of things?

      Back to my point about writers needing to get out of “Book as Event” thinking. A book is not an event, it’s just one link in all the many novels and stories a writer will write. Nothing more.

  18. Yeah, I knew that as soon as I typed it. Very sad. I guess she’ll have to continue to self pub to make another $2 million. Poor, girl.

  19. I’m very excited by all this and what it means for writers – the best of both worlds.

    • dwsmith says:

      Adrian, it really, really is, and writers, all of us, no longer have to fear a publisher just dropping our series and leaving our fans out in the cold. Now we can do something about and keep making money.

  20. Rob Cornell says:

    I’m glad you posted this, as it addresses a sort of tangent question I have. In Hocking’s case, it makes sense why she is moving to legacy publishing. Big publishing house means big push, big money, big distribution.

    But when it comes to the question of whether to e-pub or legacy pub for the rest of us common folk, where do small presses fit in? In other words, say a respected small publisher offers me a $1,000 advance on a book I could e-publish myself, what’s the right decision? How do you weigh that decision? I don’t currently have any novels traditionally published, but I do have one e-published. Sales have been pretty minor and I know I need to build up my digital shelf space to start encouraging more sales. I could start that right away with another completed novel, or I can wait to hear back from this small press, then (if accepted) wait another 18 months or so to have the book on shelves. Since this is small press, we’re not really talking big money or wide distribution.

    I guess I could sum up my question a little more easily: Where do small legacy presses fit in to today’s world of publishing for authors?

    • dwsmith says:

      Rob, sure they do. And there will be more and more small press publishers coming along with a clear image of what they want to publish and great editing.

      The key for me is how long they want the rights for. If I can either sell nonexclusive rights or get automatic reversion rights in two years, I would use a good specialty press myself. But if the small press wanted the same kind of stuff a traditional (legacy) publisher wants, nope. Not a chance. I can make more money in two years at minimum sales than they can do for me.

  21. Camille says:

    Why does Amanda Hocking have so much trouble finding an editor?

    I’ll be honest, and tell you my reaction is that she doesn’t. She’s the poster child for indie writing, and “everybody knows” that indie writers have poor editors.

    There’s a whole huge crew of critics out there who feel that the main thing anyone should comment on with indie books is formatting and editing. It doesn’t matter if the book has actually been previously published and professionally edited — these critics will talk endlessly about the editing if they know the book is self-published.

    And when I say ‘critic’ I don’t mean snarky people with bad attitudes. I mean people who are indie publishing groupies too. It’s just a preconception.

    I’m not saying that any of us can’t benefit from the input of the right editor or beta reader — just that there’s a lot of mindless criticism out there from people who actually don’t even know what editors do (or that there are so many different kinds of editing).

  22. I’ve read two of her books. They didn’t look any less edited than most NYC novels I’ve read. They seemed maybe a little less…mature?…in their writing (not talking about the target audience) than some writers I’ve read, but solid and fun. I have no doubt I’ll be reading more of her work in the future.

    Personally, I think the complaints were mostly from folks who saw an indie succeeding and simply wanted something to point at and show why it was a bad idea.

  23. John Walters says:

    I’m glad that question about small presses came up because I had that question too, at least in the back of my mind. Your answer, Dean, makes sense. If the contract is good – and I can imagine a small press being a little more open to negotiation than an overwhelmingly large business – and reversion could be fairly prompt, publishing first at a small press could be a way to put out a sort of preliminary “special edition”. If sales take off, fine. If not, in a few years the writer could self-pub and keep it up in the Magic Bakery.

    There’s only one snag I see in this scenario, and that is the generally long delays in replies after submission. I don’t know about the experience of others, but publishers large or small seem to hold a book (or query) for many months before replying. Multiple submissions would help, perhaps, but I, for example, have one novel (three chapters and synopsis) out to six (fairly large) publishers and have been waiting a long long time to hear back. The question the writer needs to ask himself or herself is whether the delay of the submission process is worth it. Sometimes it might be, sometimes not.

    I’ve learned one lesson, though, that I will never forget – don’t wait for a reply – start writing the next one – and the next and next.

  24. Nichole says:

    I’ve been following her story and I think she made a great choice! Even if I didn’t think so, it wouldn’t be any of my business anyway. :P

    I do wonder, though, if it would have been possible for her to sell print-only rights. Or in the future if this deal worked out if she could sell print-only rights to her backlist. One of her main concerns was getting her books to fans who couldn’t currently access them in bookstores. Selling print only rights would allow her to keep her huge ebook sales, but get the print books widely distributed.

    Do you think this would be possible in the future? Would it even be a good idea? Also, it’d be hard to separate the work being done for the print book by the publisher from the ebook work she’d do alone. Eg: would she be able to use the publisher-edited print version of the manuscript for the ebook?

    There are so many possibilities!

    • dwsmith says:

      Nichole, not a chance of only selling print rights. No major publisher would do that I’m afraid, with ebooks becoming such a huge percentage of sales. Just suicidal for the publisher.

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