Successful e-book author Amanda Hocking has signed a six-figure deal with a traditional publisher, St. Martin’s Press. No sooner was it announced, some haters emerged in website comments sections. I’m pleased to say that most people were happy for Ms. Hocking—as they should be—but of course there were some trolls, one of whom said she was a sell-out and a traitor to the digital revolution’s cause.
The haters are wrong about that and here’s why: Ms. Hocking got to be a big-time author because of e-books, but she never signed up to lead a revolution. She just signed up to get readers for her books. Good for her! The traditional publishing model is useful to big-time authors and due to her solitary efforts, she is a big-time author. The larger issue is that publishing often falls down when the author’s success does not qualify as stellar.
I don’t see that this deal speaks to the limits of self-publishing at all. The deal must have been sweet because, as I pointed out not more than a week or so ago, with her 70% cut through Amazon, publishers would have to back up a truck full of money and provide an army of logistical support to justify any deal with that author. St. Martin’s is one of the few publishers big enough to provide that scale of mucho macho mojo. Hocking tried to get published the traditional way first and mainstream publishing turned her down. She proved herself worthy doing it her way. Now she can focus more on writing and less on the business side of publishing. Writers love to write first, and most of us only become entrepreneurs by necessity and circumstance.
Look deeper into the implications of this deal. Amanda Hocking didn’t sell out. Traditional publishing did. Hemorrhaging money fuel due to Wall Street’s global economic destruction spree, publishers cut back on editors and squeezed the mid-list authors. They failed to adapt to the changing digital environment to preserve the old media model as long as possible. Many of those mid-list authors got squeezed right into self-publishing. For those with some experience and an entrepreneurial bent, the water over in digital publishing can be nice and warm.
Another author, Barry Eisler, recently walked away from a $500,000 deal because he decided he could make more on his own. Also, good for him. One of the joys of self-publishing is maintaining control and choice. Whether you choose to stay outside trad publishing or sign a contract, you’re making the best choices for you.
Amanda Hocking didn’t sell out. She made traditional publishing buy in.
(And she’s consistently more gracious about it than I would be. )
- Amanda Hocking: Sell out or saviour? (saffinadesforges.wordpress.com)
- Self-published writer Amanda Hocking signs seven-figure four-book publishing deal (teleread.com)
- Barry Eisler turns down $500,000 advance to self-publish, as Amanda Hocking negotiates with major publishers (teleread.com)
- Published Author Goes Self-Published, As Self-Published Author Considers Big Publishing Deal (musicbusinessheretic.wordpress.com)
- Media Decoder: Self-Publisher Signs Four-Book Deal With St. Martin’s (mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com)
- E-book author parlays DIY success into major deal (sfgate.com)
- A Tale of Two Authors (booksquare.com)
- NYT Best Seller Barry Eisler turns down $500,000 advance in favor of Self Publishing (myliteraryquest.wordpress.com)
- Phenom: Amanda Hocking (flaauthor.wordpress.com)
- Amanda Hocking and Self-Publishing (whatever.scalzi.com)