Thanks to my friend Rosi Hollinbeck for sending me a link to the latest episode in the ongoing eBook “explosion.” (Be sure to check out Rosi’s excellent blog, The Write Stuff, at: http://rosihollinbeckthewritestuff.blogspot.com/ ).
Amanda Hocking, the poster-girl for rags to riches in eBook publishing, sold the rights to an upcoming, four book YA fantasy series to St. Martin’s Press for a reported $2 million dollars. http://tinyurl.com/4l2kddj
One year ago, Hocking, after repeated rejections by traditional publishers, uploaded two books to Amazon, hoping to make several hundred dollars by October to attend a Jim Henson exhibit in Chicago.
Something in our national character loves pathfinders and likes to see “ordinary people” get ahead, especially when they have Amanda Hocking’s humor and sense of irony. Too bad Oprah is going off the air; that would have been a fun interview.
Several other points come to mind:
- This is confirmation of the buzz I’ve been hearing, most recently at a local agent’s workshop, that good ebook sales have become another viable avenue into traditional publishing – arguably with better odds for some kinds of books than the query-an-agent route.
- A critique group friend who runs her own small press and follows the publishing industry reports that genre fiction does especially well in the ebook format. I would imagine it has to do with the price spread: $9.99 these days for a paperback at Barnes&Noble vs. $0.99-2.99 for Indie ebooks. Are the “official” books better written? Based on my limited sampling, in general they are, but not in every case. One nice thing about Smashwords.com is that you can sample half of the text of their ebooks before purchase, so you pretty much know what you are getting.
- Most surprising to me is that segments of the writing community do not get it either. Case in point: I just got a card announcing the 19th annual “Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards,” which completely ignores the world of ebooks. (Can we say it? “Hard-copy is sooo last year!”)
A few years ago, I attended one of the better writing conferences. I booked some appointments with editors and agents, but I wasn’t really trying to sell anything; I wanted feedback on my WIP. I had several plot ideas and wanted to sound them out, and it was very valuable overall. Other people were suffering in the job interview mode, all their self-esteem on the line with their manuscripts.
I made a mental note to myself – my manuscript is not my self. I forget it from time to time but the principle is still valid.
I truly enjoy the brave-new-world of ePublishing because it supports that realization by giving me a look behind the curtain. Traditional publishers and even Writer’s Digest are run by busy business people who are doing their best but sometimes miss the boat and make mistakes. I find it refreshing to find we have a thriving alternative that few of us even knew about six months ago.