My latest heroine is Amanda Hocking. You may or may not have heard of her, so for those who are unfamiliar with her name and what the hype is all about, I'll give you a very brief description: She's making thousands of dollars (close to being a millionaire, if not already) self-publishing her YA (Young Adult) vampire romance novels through Amazon.com for the Kindle. She started last April 2010 with her blog (click on her picture here to visit said blog) and since then she has sold about 900,000 copies of her books (<–In this link, she addresses this fact and others, such as how much she is charging, etc.). She'll tell you all the details on her blog, but in short, she's charging anywhere from $0.99-2.99 per eBook (more for the paperback versions). Do the math, she's making a lot of money.
If you want to know more about her, her point of view and what she's doing, I highly recommend visiting her blog.
So, on to my post. Why is she my latest heroine? Because…
She is Pursuing Her Dreams and Making a LOT of Money Doing It
I've read on the blogs back and forth about how she is “cheapening” her novels by selling them for so little. Quite frankly, the rants I've read about her along that vein just seem to be writers who are jealous they didn't come up with the idea first OR that they've experienced the slings and arrows of the publishing industry, received rejection after rejection (we ALL do, so they are not alone), and even though they are published, they aren't getting the numbers she's getting or what they hoped to receive for all their hard work. (NOT to say Ms. Hocking hasn't done a lot of hard work. Read her blog and she'll tell you she has. Having been through what I've been through in marketing and getting my name out there, I KNOW she has.)
The funny thing I find about their rants as they even admit to not reading her books, so they're commenting on something they know nothing about. (In all honesty, Ms. Hocking's writing is a bit amateurish structure-wise, but so far, from what I've read, she has a good story to tell. The story is outweighing the poor grammatical structure and lack of art with words…but that in itself can be artistic…just not what the big publishers would print. But I digress.)
She's Honest About Who She Is and What She's Doing
She has admitted her writing is not stellar and she's admitted there are plenty of other people doing what she's doing that are better. She's humble in saying she doesn't know why she is more successful than they are (based on her ratings in the Amazon.com charts). She knows she's writing in a very popular genre and due to her sales, she's in the ranks with Stepanie Meyer and Sherrilyn Kenyon (Ms. Kenyon is in the adult category, but still vampire/paranormal romance).
She's Sharing Her Information with the World
Ms. Hocking has stated on her blog exactly what she is doing, the ups, the downs, and her process. She's not withholding anything. We can learn from her example.
She's Motivating Me to Get My Stuff Out There!
This is the big part of all this for me. As a writer–and having been a technical and web site copy writer–I've learned that writing is a job and you can earn money from it. Is everything I write art? No. What's my goal as a writer? To get paid doing what I love to do. Will it cheapen my writing if I decide to sell my stories through Amazon.com via the Kindle for $0.99-2.99? HELL no! Especially since the lower sales will create volume purchases. In today's economy, people are much more willing to spend 99 cents than they are to spend $8.99. One blogger stated that Ms. Hocking is cheapening the value of writing in general because she's “peddling” her books for a buck. However, when you look at the volume of downloads, add those up (minus the Amazon.com cut and government taxes), she's still making more money than some of the best selling authors on the NYT's list.
One must look at the work they put into their project and weigh the price they get for it. I used to make wood burned gifts and items and the time and effort that went into selling them could not be compensated for selling them at 99 cents a piece. I would have definitely sold a LOT more, but it wasn't worth it. Why? Because each item could only be sold ONCE at 99 cents. I would be busting my tuckass making items for 99 cents and really have nothing to show for it because of time, cost and materials going into it and getting little in return. However, with a book, you can sell tons of copies for 99 cents…it's one monumental effort that keeps on paying and collecting.
I plan on putting more of my stuff out there in the venue that Ms. Hocking has and I will also still pursue traditional publishing venues. Why? Because I'm enjoying it and because going the traditional publishing route is making me a better writer while my self-publishing venue will allow me to pay my bills.
That's my two pence…