The Self-publishing Success Story of Amanda Hocking
Amanda Hocking is known as the writer who made millions by self-publishing online. Amanda Hocking started her success story when she decided to self-publish her unpublished novel on the Kindle.
Amanda has since sold several million eBooks (growing every day) and is the pin-up for how a self-published author can succeed without the help of a publishing company. Amanda Hocking is a young American writer of paranormal romance young-adult fiction.
One year after receiving her last rejection letter, Hocking’s The Trylle Trilogy was optioned by the film financier Media Rights Capital.
How Amanda was an Unknown Writer Who Succeeded as a Self-published Author
Employed as a group home worker until 2010, she wrote 17 novels in her free time. In April 2010, she began self-publishing them as eBooks. By March 2011, she had sold over a million copies of her nine books and earned two million dollars from sales, previously unheard of for self-published authors. In early 2011, Hocking averaged 9,000 book sales each day.
Hocking’s published work, originally self-published, consists of ‘My Blood Approves,’ a vampire romance series; the ‘Trylle Trilogy,’ which covers a teenage girl’s journey of self-discovery in an urban fantasy setting; and Hollowland, a zombie novel.
The New York Times characterized her novels as ‘part quirky girl-like-Hocking characters, part breakneck pacing, part Hollywood-style action and part bodice-ripping romance – they are literature as candy, a mash-up of creativity and commerce’.
In March 2011, Hocking signed her first conventional publishing contract for four books, at a price of two million dollars, with St. Martin’s Press. It concerns her new young-adult paranormal series called ‘Watersong’. Book one, ‘Wake’, was released in August 2012. All three books in her previously self-published Trylle Trilogy were also sold to St. Martin’s Press.
Amanda Hocking’s Advice for Aspiring Writers?
Write a lot, and read more than you write. Learn to take criticism. Edit a lot, and find a good editor. Read on Writing by Stephen King and Joe Konrath’s blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing – all of it. Be professional and polite always, even when people say they hate your book (and people will). Check out the Kindleboards. Everyone knows everything there.
Amanda Hocking’s Road to Success
- In February 2010, Hocking received her last rejection letter, which was from a publisher in the UK.
- Entered self-publishing after reading about author Elisa Lorello who self-published her novel Faking It, which made it to the top 100 in the Kindle store.
- In March 2010, Hocking published the first of her eBooks, My Blood Approves, part of a romantic vampire series set in Minneapolis.
- During her first month of self-publishing, Hocking sold 2 or 3 copies of her e-book per day.
- In April 2010, she started following tips by the self-publishing guru J.A. Konrath.
- Amanda posted her next two books in the series in May 2010 and started using self-promotional techniques like giveaways and polls.
- Amanda contacted book bloggers and her sales exploded, shooting up to 4000-6000 for that month.
- She released a book trailer for My Blood Approves and she also started interviewing and promoting other young adult authors herself.
- In July 2010, Hocking posted Switched, the novel featuring a troll heroine, to Amazon. It became Hocking’s best-selling book.
- She had sold more than 10,000 books by her 26th birthday on July 28, 2010. And by August’s end, she was making $9000.00 per month.
- Amanda signed with the well-known literary agent Steve Axelrod.
- In October 2010, for the release of Hollowland, the first in her zombie series The Hollows, she went into promotional overdrive, holding a ‘Zombiepalooza.’
- In December, J.A. Konrath, the successful author whose self-publishing tips she originally followed, blogged about how Amanda was creaming him in sales.
- By February 2011, Hocking had self-published seven novels that not only made USA Today’s Best-selling books list, but stayed on the list for 50 weeks.
- By March 2011, Hocking’s Trylle trilogy was up for auction with major publishers. She signed a $2 million dollar book deal with St. Martin’s Press.
- In 2011, she sold her 1 millionth book for the Amazon Kindle – one of only 11 authors to do so.
What Amanda Did to Succeed:
- She never gave up!
- She self-published via Kindle.
- She self-published with eBooks.
- She already had multiple eBooks written allowing for quick follow-up.
- She was motivated by the success of fellow self-published authors.
- She did not allow only selling 2-3 eBooks / day discourage her.
- Amanda learned from self-publishing guru J.A. Konrath.
- Uploaded her manuscript to Smashwords to allow her book to be read on multiple platforms.
- Contacted bloggers to help promote her eBooks.
- Amanda used self-promotional techniques like giveaways and polls.
- These bloggers loved Hocking’s books and told all their friends.
- Amanda knew she needed help so signed with literary agent Steve Axelrod.
- Amanda was proactive in marketing and promoting her eBooks.
- Amanda also promoted other authors’ zombie stories and novels on her blog, publishing excerpts and offering giveaways which further boosted her sales.
- Amanda attributes her success to her fans spreading news of her books by word-of-mouth.
- Amanda started treating writing as a job, not a hobby.
- She began combing bookstores and doing industry research to see what was getting published and selling.
About Amanda Hocking in her Own Words
I live in Minnesota with my dog, three cats, and my fiancé, Mike. I used to live in Austin, a.k.a. SPAMTown, USA. They invented SPAM here, and the town is quite proud of it.)
But I recently moved to Rochester, which isn’t that far away from Austin, and that’s good because I couldn’t ever be that far from my best friend/assistant/viceroy, Eric.
I do many things, most of them lame and boring, but the thing I get paid to do is write young adult books.
All three books in my Trylle Trilogy – Switched, Torn, and Ascend – were originally self-published, but were re-released with St. Martin’s and Pan Macmillan internationally with new bonus content in early 2012.
The trilogy has also made the USA Today Bestseller list, the New York Times Bestseller list, and was recently optioned for a film by Media Rights Capital with District 9 screenwriter Terri Tatchell adapting the books for screen.
My young adult four-book series Watersong was released with St. Martins’s and Pan Macmillion, and they recently acquired my newest trilogy, the Kanin Chronicles, which should be out this year. My zombie series, The Hollows, has been adapted into a graphic novel by Dynamite.
I also enjoy Red Bull, Jim Henson, Batman, Jane Austen, Star Wars Legos, and I absolutely hate long walks on the beach out of my intense fear/hatred of wet sand
My favourite authors are Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Alan Moore, and J. D. Salinger, but I don’t write anything like them.
I have an obsession with River Phoenix, and I’ve seen Silence of the Lambs more than any other movie, even The Dark Knight. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every American movie that came out between 1980 and 1990, and I’ve loved them all. My favourite movies are The Dark Knight, Labyrinth, Up, My Own Private Idaho, Pretty in Pink, Empire Strikes Back, Back to the Future II, The Crow, and American Psycho.
My Blood Approves series:
- My Blood Approves (March 27, 2010)
- Fate (April 15, 2010)
- Flutter (May 25, 2010)
- Wisdom (August 22, 2010)
- Letters to Elise: A Peter Townsend Novella (December 19, 2010)
- Swear (TBA)
- Switched (self-published 2010, with St. Martin’s January 24, 2012)
- Torn (self-published 2010, with St. Martin’s February 28, 2012)
- Ascend (self-published 2011, with St. Martin’s April 24, 2012)
The Hollows Series:
- Hollowland (October 5, 2010)
- Hollowmen (November 8, 2011)
- Virtue (May 27, 2011)
- Forgotten Lyrics (October 30, 2012)
- Wake (August 7. 2012)
- Lullaby (November 27, 2012)
- Tidal (June 4, 2013)
- Elegy (August 6, 2013)