Amanda Hocking: Sell out or saviour?

The British Literati awoke to the news this morning that Amanda Hocking – indie Queen of fantasy and all things e-book had signed a four book deal worth $2 million.

The 26 year-old has already made over $1 million from the sales of her nine ebooks, seven of which are in the Top 100 Paid on Amazon.

Fellow self-published authors around the world have already crowned the reluctant indie-icon  as their guru, but what will they make of this?

For as long as everyone can remember, self-publishing or vanity press, was considered as a route for writers who never quite made it. If you had to pay to publish a book, it was no good, right? W-rong!

The birth of Amazon’s Kindle, Sony‘s Nook,  and many other e-reader devices, changed the face of publishing irrevocably and Hocking was one of the BIG success stories.

Suddenly, writers had the power to publish what they wanted. No commission to agents, no spending years submitting to publishers and papering your study walls with rejection slips; the balance of power tipped very heavily in favour of the scribes.

No longer were the best seller charts dominated by the big names. For the past 2-3 years, indie authors have been creeping up stealth-like on the Pattersons’ and Kings’; silent assassins. (you only have to look at Sugar & Spice for proof of that!)

Hocking has never professed her allegiance to the indie crowd. She has always been proud of her success, but never once committed her future to remaining independent. She talks about that in this article.

So what will her fellow indies think now? What does her deal mean for the all-but-deceased future of DTP (Dead Tree Publishing)?

Just two days ago, it was being written off in a live chat by two top indie authors:

Only yesterday, the sound of indie authors shredding up traditional submissions and jamming up the air-waves calling their agents to dispense of their services could be heard across the globe, to be drowned out only by the clink of large Publishing House shackles hitting the floor as millions of long-imprisoned ink-slingers shrugged off their chains and sang together in a wondrous chorus of ‘Sisters (and brothers) are doing it for themselves’…

Well, Amanda, you’ve really gone and done it now…

Twitter, Facebook and Kindleboards all but crashed today with desperate indies clambering to find out what happened. Where was their Goddess now? Who did they have to hail as the leading light in everything independent? Would their agents’ believe that they had consumed too much wine last night and were just tired after battering their keyboards all day?

Had indie publishing just been delivered the sucker-punch that DTP’s had been sat waiting for?

Amanda (quite rightly) makes no apologies for accepting the deal. She simply justifies it by explaining that she just “wants to write” and I am with her there. As all indie authors know, we are not just writers. Our time is spent blogging, emailing, writing guest posts and generally selling our brand and our books, we actually get very little time to write. So no apologies/excuses necessary Ms. Hocking.

But where are we now?

Has Amanda sold out or has she just saved millions of wanna-be Jones’, Lockes’ or Konraths’ from believing that they can churn out any old story, stick it on Kindle and become an over-night millionaire?

Time will tell. We are writers, if you cut us open, words spill out, not blood.

Amanda is laughing all the way to the bank of Trylle and you can bet the bottom of that pile of dollars, that her blood approves.


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  1. You can’t blame her for taking the deal. Despite the enormous success she’s had, she must still hanker for the recognition that being published by a DTP brings, and this deal is going to make her even more famous. Like she says on her blog, she doesn’t want to spend her whole week doing marketing… And as they are spending so much on her she won’t – unlike most traditiionally-published writers – have to do all her publicity now.

    What are you going to do when you are offered a big DTP deal?! I would take the money!

    • I certainly DON’T blame her for taking the deal Mark – at all! And I don’t believe anyone else in their right mind would turn it down either. Whether she makes as much money as she COULD have remains to be seen, but like you say, the real worth isn’t monetary, it’s your freedom to write. I wish her all the success in the world and I certainly wouldn’t be anywhere NEAR as apologetic for accepting it! 😉


     /  March 25, 2011

    She was a success in ebooks. Why is anyone surprised that traditional publishers want to publish the books of someone who ALREADY a success? If anything this should embolden independent / ebook writers – it is proof that the publishers need us, while we can do just fine without them.

    And heartfelt congratulations, Amanda. Run with it!

  3. Everyone should have seen this coming (you don’t sell a million books on your own and then get ignored by traditional publishers). But really? “Where was their goddess now?” You’re joking right? Let’s see, a fellow self-publisher does so well she gets offered 2 million for four of her new books. ZOMG!!! The horror! The terror! Let us self-publishers weep for her…success?

    This isn’t a war. Traditional publishers are not the enemy. Heck, deals like this have already been happening, they’ve just been flying under the radar (H. P. Mallory accepted a six-figure deal if I remember right, and I don’t remember any weeping and gnashing of teeth).

    “Had indie publishing just been delivered the sucker-punch that DTP’s had been sat waiting for?”

    The sucker-punch would have been Amanda’s books falling out of the top 500 within a year, and her languishing in obscurity not long after: the indie poster child vanished and gone without their help. But that isn’t the case. This is the furthest thing from it. This is just the icing on the cake. How can people continually claim all self-publishing is junk, you won’t make any money, and you won’t make any fans, when you’ve got someone like Amanda being given several million dollars? And she won’t be the last either. More and more will follow, and behind them, quietly earning nice, steady incomes, will be people like me, wishing her the best of luck.

    • You’re preaching to the converted David, I am right behind her (and us!) too. I just wondered what the general reaction would be… 😉

      • Sorry, Saffina, just baffled by the people who DO think like this, and they’re definitely out there. Already seen comments by people who say they’re disappointed in her, or that she sold out, or that she’s not as “cool” as they once thought they were for joining “the enemy”.

        Sometimes I just wish I had a reeeeally big mallet I could swing through a monitor screen…

      • haha, I’m with you there! I guess it was always bound to happen and let’s face it, anyone who says that it is anything other than pure jealousy – could use that mallet treatment too! 😉

  4. Many congrats to Amanda, I think any moves being made these days gives us all a sense of legitimacy! And…if the position is open, I am MORE than happy to stand in as super ebook goddess of the indie world! Just need to sell over a million copies…so I’ll be waiting for that call! hehehehe

  5. We all should be so lucky to get such a huge Traditional Publishing deal, good for her and its a deal that no writer would turn down.

    Sell out indeed… A worthy moment of respect for her hard work, and the knowledge that she, and her family are secure for the rest of there lives. Ms Amanda Hocking can now just write without the worry many of us have.

    Congratulations and well wishes is all I have for her.
    Nick Davis

  6. At first glance it looked like AH had packed up her bag of books and headed out of the rebel camp, into the dead tree forest. A leader defecting to the conservatives. On closer reading, that’s not the case. Her back catalog looks like staying in her self-published domain. She’s built a brand that has sufficient following to entice a trad publisher to fork out a whopping 2 mill. There will be a lot of work required all round to ensure that her brand survives the change, avoids dilution and that the small print isn’t a spoiler. Let’s hope that we don’t add AH to the hall of fame that contains Prince, Betty Boo, George Michael and others.

  7. Not a sell out. She’s doing what all indie authors want to do. Self-publishing gives us freedom to dictate what we are going to write, when we are going to write, and how we’re going to make it available to readers. She just set her own terms with the publishing industry.

    She is going to become more of an icon to indie publishing – not less of one.

  8. As co-authors, Saffi and I have constant debates / arguments / slagging matches about what we’d do if we were offered a publishing contract.

    In fact, living on different continents is all that stops us coming to blows sometimes.

    But e-publishing vs dead-tree publishing is NOT an “us and them” issue.

    Make no mistake: we’d both LOVE to see Sugar & Spice on the plinth in Waterstone’s one day.

    We tried to get an agent before we went down the self-publishing route, and self-evidently we failed to do so.

    So we put our book on Amazon Kindle and meanwhile continued (and still continue today) to approach agents in the hope one will find our book a viable commercial proposition.

    I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess Amanda Hocking tried much the same route.

    What’s been interesting for us is that, in just the time it has taken for our current prospective agent to read the paper manuscript, we have sold over 10,000 e -books. And we’re still wating for a response!

    So to answer Mark’s question, if a publisher offered us so many millions to hand over the rights to our work I’d be on the next camel across the Sahara before you could say David Livingstone, and I’m certain the ink would already be dry on Saffi’s half of the contract when I got there.

    But having gone from nowhere and nothing, with an unknown book, an unknown name and no publicity machine, into the Kindle Top ten alongside mega-stars like Steig Larsson (53 million books sold), we would not now just sign the first contract that came along, for the undoubted pleasure of having our book available in paper format.

    We’d want to be sure the publisher believed in it (and us) enough to ensure it didn’t become just another statistic in the failed books catalogue, because there was no effort by the publisher to make sure the reading public knew it existed.

    Writers write for two reasons: because they want to, and because they want to be read.

    Amanda Hocking understands that. I can’t imagine money was the reason Amanda put her first book on Amazon, any more than it was for us.

    We did it because we wanted to be read.

    Just like Amanda Hocking.

    By signing the contract Amanda is ensuring her works will reach a far wider audience than just those who can read e-books. Sure, she’s making big money too, but she was already a millionaire from her e-books, and could easily match the advance she’s being given by sticking to e-books. The e-book market can ONLY get bigger.

    What Amanda has done is pure genius.

    She’s held out long enough and worked her own brand hard enough to be offered not just money, but the full and undivided attention of a major publishing house’s publicity machine.

    And in doing so she has freed herself to do what is most important for her and her readers.

    To write.

  9. Good for you Amanda. Congratulations and best wishes for the next stage in your career.

  10. Desperate indies. Let’s see an indie is offered a TWO MILLION DOLLAR contract by a big 6 publisher and that causes indies to be DESPERATE?

    You’re delusional.

    • @ JR – the ‘desperate’ was in reference to ‘desperate to know what the world thought to the news’ not – desperate as in the state of the indie writer…

      I am an indie myself, I wasn’t being derogatory. I completely agree that indie’s are leading the way. Our book out-sold Patterson weeks ago!

      Chill out and read the blog properly before commenting hey?

  11. And as for indies “churning any old story” I suggest reading that piece of dreck “Toy” that Patterson has for sale — yes form a Big – that has one of the lowest rating on Amazon for any novel, and tell me again about indies being no good. And I’ll laugh in your face yet again.

  12. Amanda is a shining star whether in the Indie firmament or Trad Pubbed. I think she has very valid reasons for doing what she’s doing and in any case, she doesn’t need to justify it to anyone. I’m thrilled to see this sort of thing happening. Boyd Morrison, HP Mallory and now Amanda Hocking. I’m sure there are others out there as well that we just haven’t heard about.

  13. Saffi/Mark – I really think you should submit to more than one agent at a time. I know the rules say you shouldn’t do that but they are SO slow that you might be waiting months… I’ve been there! When I got my agent it was after a sustained period of submitting to EVERY agent in the Writers’ Handbook.

    Tell them how many you’ve sold. Show them Stephen Leather’s comment on my blog post (the Gordon Ferris one) about how you two are the first true UK stars of Kindle publishing. Hit them with the stats. Now is the time to strike because the UK agents will be looking for their Amanda Hocking…

  14. In my opinion, she is neither a sell out or savoiur. She didn’t sign up to be the poster child for anyone, she is just a talented writer who made the best decision for her. She writes good stories, and now she will have editors and authors to help her focus more on her book and less on typos and catchy looking covers. I wish her all the best.


     /  March 27, 2011

    Hi – I have commented on Facebook about this but to add my tuppence-worth, Ms Hocking did the right thing. Money frees an artist to devote his or her life to persuing their craft. Right now, I work in IT as my day-job and it’s really hard going to sit down at another computer in my spare time (after having spent 8 hours a day on a work computer) and actually write but that’s what I have to do. I understand the difficulty and demands writers have in the early stages of the arc of our careers.

    As for the naysayers, they exist in all walks of life. Success when its hard won and well earned should be applauded as it serves as an example to us all.

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  3. The Amanda Hocking Effect: She didn’t sell out. Trad publishing bought in. | Chazz Writes
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