What Her Dream Looks Like: Amanda Hocking Signs 7-Figure Deal

Sorry for the blog quietness but I’m busy getting ready for next week and catching up on my frighteningly long To Do list. Normal service shall resume on Monday – with free stuff!

Last week I wrote a blog post, What Does the Dream Look Like? Why This Self-Publisher is Still Pursuing Traditional Publication, in which I explained that, even if it means earning a fraction of the money I would self-publishing, I won’t rest until I have a traditional book deal because that’s what my dream looks like, has always looked like, will always look like.

Amanda Hocking, possibly the world’s biggest selling e-book author, has just signed a four-book deal with St. Martin’s Press reportedly for more than $2 million dollars. Seven major publishers were involved in the auction, with big names like Simon and Schuster, Random House and HarperCollins among the underbidders.

Normally when I hear of someone getting an astronomical deal, the jealousy strings in my heart tighten. Especially if there’s some story about how, up until last week, this Newly Signed Writer had never even thought of writing a shopping list, much less a book, and then she just got an idea (or, save us all, had a dream about an idea), scribbled three chapters on a napkin in a coffee shop and then accidentally dropped the napkin at the feet of a woman who happened to be a Major Literary Agent who, in the space of the second it took to put the napkin up, realized her potential and took her on, and then three days later she had a book deal, a movie option and my dream in her hands.

(Don’t you just hate those stories?)

But this is different. I think this is the first time I’ve heard of someone signing an enormous book deal and been 100% genuinely delighted for them. Hocking is a self-made success story. This is just a deserving reward for all the hard work she did by herself, the books she got out there, and the sales she won. But I also feel a bit sorry for her, because the self-publishing evangelists are already out for blood, stoning her with their “Down with Big Publishing! Death to the Big Six! You’ve gone over to the Dark Side!” rocks, presumably because they’ve forgotten in all of this self-publishing/e-book excitement that we’re only here because we want to write.

Hocking herself knows this, and has already answered some of the questions/accusations she knows is coming. I urge you to go read her post in which she breaks down why this is the way for her to move forward (more time to write, wider availability of print books, better editing, etc.). But it was when I read this bit that I realized just how far from the real reason we’re all here that the self-publishing evangelists have strayed:

“But it is crazy that we live in a time that I have to justify taking a seven-figure a publishing deal with St. Martin’s. Ten years ago, nobody would question this. Now everybody is.”

Well, I’m not, Amanda. I think you are doing exactly what you should be doing, and (for once!) I can say that I am 100%, genuinely happy for you. Congratulations.

6 thoughts on “What Her Dream Looks Like: Amanda Hocking Signs 7-Figure Deal

  1. Christopher Wills says:

    I have read Amanda’s blog and I agree with her reasons and I would do the same; $2 million would make my bank manager smile, although I would wait until it was in the bank and counted before I smiled.

    I wonder what’s in it for the publisher. As far as I know they are unlikely to get that back in print book sales. Dare I suggest publishing companies are getting desperate? Maybe they feel they will get ebook credibility by signing the ebook icon.

    Print book sales are dying. Look at what happened to the music industry. Publishing is a business, it is not a charity and it is not going to survive on the emotions of a few people who keep saying ‘I love the smell and feel of books’. Book sales are down and bookshops are closing. This forces the costs of printing books up, which increases the price of books, which causes sales to go down even more. This is economic reality, not emotion or opinion.

    I think Amanda is great and she has worked hard and is a good writer and deserves every success. But the size of the deal makes me wonder if it is a last extravagant splash of a dying industry.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Christopher I’m sorry but I just don’t buy into this whole bookshops are dying business. (No pun intended there – honestly!) Everyone keeps forgetting that print books currently account for on average 80% of sales. Yes, that percentage has dipped, but only by a small percentage and not in all areas. (Last year, for example, non-fiction was actually up in print sales.) And remember that money is over 4 books, each of which are guaranteed, practically, to be bestsellers. And there’s only 4, so then the publisher, if they and Amanda have got on well, are in prime position to get her next contract, and so on and so on. As you said yourself they’re in business, and while they mightn’t make that money back on sales directly, they wouldn’t be paying it out if they didn’t think it was a worthy financial move in the long term.

      As for the cost of printing books, as far as I’m aware that is going down, especially with the arrival of POD and the fact that it was never that expensive in the first place! (This is why publishers want to charge close to print prices for e-books – because manufacturing was never a major cost for them all along, we just thought it was!)

      And just from anecdotal evidence in my own life: first, I’ve never read a Hocking book, because I don’t read e-books. So I’ll be one of the people buying her print book who has never bought one of her e-books. Second, I think that a lot of e-book buying isn’t taking from print books, but is coming from a whole new group who because they have e-readers and want to use them, are buying more e-books now than they ever would have print books before. This is true of pretty much everyone I know personally who owns an e-reading device.

      As for bookshops closing, shops are closing, period. Here in Ireland there’s many a shopping centre and street that looks like a ghost town. So yes, Borders is gone, but my sister was working for a chain of clothing stores all over Ireland and the UK who went into administration about six months ago and have now shut their doors. It’s happening to everyone. We just hear about the bookstores because there’s a nice enemy – self-publishers and e-books – to put in the headline.

  2. Scott Marlowe says:

    What writer wouldn’t feel a pang of jealousy over this? I do. But I don’t wish Ms. Hocking any ill will. In fact, the opposite, for many of the reasons you state above. The only question now is how long before her current novels start hitting the big screen? 😉

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Well there may have been a momentary pang…! ;-D

      Just so nice to see a writer who has worked so hard get a huge deal, as opposed to one who started trying last week, isn’t it? And I think some of her self pubbed books have already been optioned by someone connected to District 9..? So not long to wait at all!

  3. Lindsay Edmuds says:

    Mainstream publishing will send sales soaring even higher for those 9 or 10 ebooks Hocking has already published. This deal is fantastic for her. Will it be as fantastic for St Martins? That is unknown.

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