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E-Book Millionaire Gives Hope to Aspiring Writers March 6, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Misc, On Writing, Websites.
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4 comments

Source: smh.com.au

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article about 26 year-old Amanda Hocking, who is apparently making ‘millions’ in the e-book market on Amazon.

Being an aspiring novelist, I was intrigued by her success, especially since there’s been nothing but depressing news lately on the publishing front with the collapse of RedGroup Retail, the owner of both the Borders and Angus & Robertson bookseller chains in Australia.

Can a writer really become successful selling e-books on Amazon?  Well, Hocking has.  She prices her books between 99 cents and $2.99, but gets to keep 70% of all sales.  She reportedly sells around 100,000 books a month, so by my calculations that would net her between $70,000 and $210,000 a month.  Those are numbers any writer with commercial aspirations would die to have.

Anyway, I looked up Hocking’s blog here, and learned that she is American, and she writes paranormal romance, which means that she probably owes some of her success to that person who wrote a love story between a human and a vampire (and a werewolf).  Hocking’s the bestselling author of Trylle Trilogy and the My Blood Approves series.

However, what I found most interesting came from her post on March 3rd, which really put things in perspective for me.  I’ll just quote her directly:

Everybody seems really excited about what I’m doing and how I’ve been so successful, and from what I’ve been able to understand, it’s because a lot of people think that they can replicate my success and what I’ve done. And while I do think I will not be the only one to do this – others will be as successful as I’ve been, some even more so – I don’t think it will happen that often.

Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren’t all that different, and I don’t think people realize that. Some books and authors are best sellers, but most aren’t. It may be easier to self-publish than it is to traditionally publish, but in all honesty, it’s harder to be a best seller self-publishing than it is with a house.

I don’t think people really grasp how much work I do. I think there is this very big misconception that I was like, “Hey, paranormal is pretty hot right now,” and then I spent a weekend smashing out some words, threw it up online, and woke up the next day with a million dollars in my bank account.

This is literally years of work you’re seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn’t writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.

I also have this tremendous sense of urgency, like if I don’t get everything out now and do everything now, while the iron is hot, everything I’ve worked for will just fall away. For the first time, I truly understand why workaholics are workaholics. You can’t stop working, because if you do, it unravels all the work you’ve already done. You have to keep going, or you’ll die.

Or at least that’s how it feels.

How about that?  I admit, I was one of those people that thought, maybe this is just some girl who got lucky riding the Stephenie Meyer wave, pretty much like how she described it above.  But of course, while she must have had some luck along the way (as most successful writers do), she succeeded because of hard work and persistence– not just in writing and editing but also in promoting and marketing her books.

While I do envy Hocking’s success, what I envy most is her determination and sense of urgency.  She’s not an overnight success, even if that’s what the media is painting her out to be.  She has been writing for years, written 19 books, with 8 novels and 1 novella published.  She didn’t get e-published until April 2010, and since then has sold 900,000 copies across 9 titles.

That’s the mental stuff I need to develop — that burning desire to work every waking moment I get, continuously striving to perfect my craft and work.

Kind of like what Charlie Sheen is doing right now — making the most of his life (and winning!).

Bookstores dropping like Melissa Leo F-bombs March 1, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Misc, On Writing, Social/Political Commentary.
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2 comments

There’s nothing quite like browsing a good bookstore.  I can spend hours wandering up and down the isles, checking out the commercial bestsellers, the award winners and books with covers that simply appeal to me.  I love it.

When it comes to buying books, however, that’s another story.

Books in Australian stores are, for the most part, notoriously expensive.  There are plenty of reasons why that is the case (amongst them the GST, the population size, publishing houses, etc), but what matters is that Australians aren’t buying books from book stores.  Why would they, when they can get the same books for sometimes half, or even a third of the price online?  And now, with free worldwide shipping offered by some companies such as the Book Depository (and I believe Amazon has followed), Australian booksellers simply can’t compete.

I too have been guilty of purchasing cheaper books — either online or I stock up when I am overseas.  I browse Australian book stores to see what’s on offer, and then I take my business elsewhere.  As someone who hopes to one day crack the Australian book industry, I’m not exactly doing my part to support it.  But on the other side of the coin, why pay more when you can pay less?

As many commentators have said before me, there are no easy answers.  But the reality is that Australian booksellers are dropping (or will be dropping) like Melissa Leo f-bombs during Oscar acceptance speeches.

RedGroup Retail, the conglomerate that owns both the Borders and Angus & Robertson chains in Australia (two of the ‘Big Three’ — the other being Dymocks (there’s also a big Kinokuniya in Sydney)), has been in administration since February, and the latest reports claim that plenty of underachieving stores (out of the 26 Borders and 167 A&R stores) will be closed down in the coming weeks.  Don’t think they have much choice, considering they owe more than $160 million to both secured and unsecured creditors.  Unfortunately, that also means lots of staff will be out of jobs.

With more and more e-books flooding the market, are commercial bookselleser no longer necessary anyway?  Will Aussies head back to the stores if the prices are more competitive?  And how can they possibly make book prices cheaper?  The Government and booksellers around the world need to take a good hard look at the way the industry is currently structured and get their thinking caps on.

In the meantime, I’ll hold off buying more books online and wait for local sales.  Such is the life of a poor student.

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