Amanda Hocking

The (Twenty)Five-Year Self-Publishing Phenomenal Success Plan

PMF 9 14 13 RezEasy!  Here’s how you find overnight success as a self-publisher…

1.  Write the first three chapters of your brand new soon-to-be-bestselling legal thriller and send a query letter via FedEx to John Grisham’s agent.  Get a phone call back the next day.  Have a new agent in the office ask you to send along the entire manuscript.  Tell her you’ve only got three chapters.

2.  Tell a friend in Manhattan who tells a friend who’s a book agent who tells a friend who buys books for TV.  Have that person want your manuscript for a TV movie, meet with you in NYC, tell you as soon as you finish and get a publisher she’ll make the deal.  Have her mention a six-figure payday.

3.  Start thinking about your fabulous new life and what you’ll do with all that money.

4.  Go back and take a year to write the book, sending Grisham agent chapters along the way that she files and doesn’t look at.

5.  Finally send her entire book and start staring at the phone.

6.  Be on a cruise when a letter arrives from her.  Call and have your Dad (staying with the kids) read it.  Have it be crushingly dismissive.

7.  Be discouraged for a couple of years.  Have life intervene.

8.  Write a political thriller that you plot out with savvy writing group pals.  Finish in six months.  Send out query letters to agents.

9.  Have some ask for chapters, some ask for entire manuscript.  Have one call you and say she stayed up late reading it and loves it.

10. Be amazed and wait for a fantastic offer.

11. Have her call the next day and say her fellow agent asked her not to take it on because the bad guy is African-American.

12. Write a sample for another book for her.

13. Have her send that out to publishers, who either don’t get it or think it’s a joke.

14. Be discouraged for a couple of years.

15. Rework political thriller over and over.  Learn to write better.  Change the bad guy’s complexion.  Make the other candidate female.  Send it out sporadically.  Become really excellent at query letter writing.

16. Write a young people’s fantasy and lots of short stories.  Contemplate other plots.  Do freelance writing for magazines and eventually online.

17. When people ask you when your book will be published, shrug and smile.  When they suggest self-publishing, tell them it’s death to a “real” writer.  Stay discouraged.

18. Read about Amanda Hocking.  Read Joe Konrath.  Read David Gaughran.

19. Do one last pass through political thriller.  Get a professional to do the cover.  Pay someone to edit.  Hold your breath and…

20. Spend the long Fourth of July weekend in 2011 learning to format and upload the book, with the help of your mostly patient IT-wise husband who has a PC.  Argue about italics.  Stress out.  Get it up with KDP, finally.  Stay married.  Become an indie on Independence Day!

21. Sell a few books.  Tell friends.  Be thrilled at reviews from strangers.  Be happy to sell 35 books the first month, then 20, then 10, then…

22. Jump into KDP Select free days when that’s brand new, at the end of 2011.  Be amazed as the counter on the “sales” page clicks every few minutes.  Give away 8,500 on the first day.  Catapult to something like #120 on the paid bestseller list the next day, because giveaways count as sales, and be too green to look and get a screenshot.  Get on Movers and Shakers list twice, and miss it because you don’t know what that means.

23. Make $6,000 the last week of December, 2011, and prepare to be rich.

24. Watch as sales drop slowly from that date until the summer of 2012.  Goose book with occasional free days, with less and less effect.

25. Publish thriller in print in summer of 2012.  Sell few, but enjoy the beauty of holding the book in your hand.

26. Read a short story called WOOL around the same time.  Read the Omnibus.  Read First Shift when it comes out.  Notice that someone else is writing Silo stories for money in the spring of 2013.

27. Become fascinated with following a loose thread in the WOOL saga yourself.  Contemplate writing “fan fiction,” never having read or written fan fiction.  Email author Hugh Howey and tell him about your Silo story.

28. Have WOOLmeister Hugh Howey tell you he LOVES your story, and go ahead and publish the first segment of the Karma series.  Note that even 99¢ ebooks make money when you sell two thousand in your first month.

29. Write and publish the second, the third, and the fourth books in the series.  Make a reliable four figures a month.  Get nervous and balk at writing the fifth.  Worry that the ending won’t live up to your fans’ expectations.  Write it anyway.

30. Come up with more Silo stories than you have time to write.  Decide not to spend your whole life writing ebooks set in the WOOLiverse, tempting as it might be.  Start plotting a new sci-fi dystopian series of your own.

31. Concoct your recipe for keeping on keeping on, and plan to find that amazing writing-for-a-living success in… about four more years, after doing a lot more of this:

Write for joy.

Write for yourself.

Write for fun.

Write quickly.

Write a lot.

Write short.

Write and publish and forget about it.

Write as though you are already the successful author you will be.

Remember that success is not about the money. 

It’s about the amazement of taking what’s in your wild and unpredictable imagination and sharing it with others.  

It’s about living in a time when we can get our words out to the entire world for virtually nothing. 

It’s about the joy of creating something that never existed before.

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Can You Make Money Self-Publishing?

Why yes! It takes hard work and it doesn’t happen instantly, but you sure can make significant money by self-publishing. And often far more than you can make after getting a deal with a traditional publisher.

Here’s the list, with numbers, updated from the last time that I identified authors selling over 50,000 self-published titles. This comes from a blog titled “Self-Publishing Success Stories,” and all credit goes to that blogger… who mysteriously has no name… and who did the original work of compiling it via a thread over at the Kindleboards.

The asterisk indicates that the writer has also been published traditionally. There are no doubt even more names that should be on this list. If you know of one, please drop me a line and I’ll add it.

All hail these successful self-published authors!

1. Rachel Abbott
2. Susan Alison – “over 50k at the end of last month” (Feb 2012)
3. Dani Amore
4.*Bella Andre – more than 400,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
5. Melody Anne – over 150,000 (Feb 2012)
6. Daniel Arenson – The “Song of Dragons” series sold its 50,000th copy on March 2, 2012
7. Jake Barton- 83,712 books sold (March 2012)
8. Robert Bidinotto – 58,260 (Feb 2012)
9. *J Carson Black – more than 300,000 books sold (November 2011)
10.*Cheryl Bolen – 145,000 sold (March 2012)
11. Kathleen Brooks – 50,015 paid books with most coming from the last 2 months (March 2012)
12. Catherine Bybee – nearly 200,000 of the novel “Wife By Wednesday”
13. Sarra Cannon – 62,400 books as of March 17, 2012
14. Karen Cantwell – 86K as of March 2012
15. Ruth Cardello
16. Darcie Chan – more than 400,000 ebooks sold (Nov 2011)
17. Ann Charles
18. Mel Comley
19. Shelly Crane
20. Martin Crosbie – 66,716 books sold (March 2012)
21. *Blake Crouch – total unknown (“5,000 sales a month”)
22. Chris Culver – over 550,000 (Dec 2011)
23. David Dalglish – more than 175,000 (Feb 2012)
24. Susan Denning – “To date, I’ve sold over almost 60,000 Kindle copies”
25. Saffina Desforges – Sugar & Spice sold over 100,000 ebooks (Sept 2011)
26. Mainak Dhar – 85,600 (Jan 2012)
27. Sandra Edwards- about 90K (since July 2010) as of March 2012
28. *Ellen Fisher – over 100,000 as of Feb 2012
29. Penelope Fletcher – over 50,000 as of Feb 2012
30. Tina Folsom – over 300,000 books sold (October 2011)
31. *Marie Force – more than 200,000 sold in the last year (March 2012)
32. Melissa Foster – more than 150,000 in the last 9 months (Feb 2012)
33. *Barbara Freethy – 1.3 million self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
34. Eliza Gayle – roughly 65,000 books in 2011
35. Jenny Gardiner – over 80,000 ebooks (Dec 2011)
36. Debora Geary – total unknown (1 of the top 10 Kindle Select authors for Jan 2012)
37. Abbi Glines
38. *Lee Goldberg
39. Joel Goldman
40. Allan Guthrie – over 63,000 as of March 2012
41. *Gemma Halliday – over 1 million self-published ebooks sold (March 2012)
42. Liliana Hart – over 80,000 as of Feb 2012
43. Michael Hicks – close to 100,000 as of March 2012
44. Amanda Hocking – 1,500,000 ebooks sold (December 2011)
45. Sibel Hodge – “in the last 6 months alone I’ve sold over 40,000 ebooks”
46. Debra Holland – over 50,000 books sold (March 2012)
47. Sheila Horgan – well over 80,000 as of Feb 2012
48. Hugh Howey- more than 100,000 sold (March 2012)
49. Delle Jacobs – total unknown
50. Nancy C. Johnson
51. Ty Johnston – over 60,000
52. Andrew E. Kaufman – 53,984 sold in 31 days (during the month of March 2012)
53. Selena Kitt – “With half a million ebooks sold in 2011 alone”
54. *J.A. Konrath – more than 500,000 ebooks sold (November 2011)
55. Eve Langlais – over 56,000
56. B.V. Larson – over 250,000 books sold (Dec 2011)
57. *Stephen Leather – “selling close to half a million eBooks over the past 12 months” (Nov 2011)
58. Jason Letts – almost 50,000 as of Feb 2012
59. Victorine Lieske – more than 100,000 books sold (May 2011)
60. John Locke- more than 1,100,000 eBooks sold in five months
61. Terri Giuliano Long – more than 80,000 ebooks sold (Jan 2012)
62. *Carol Davis Luce – 100,000 sold (January 2012)
63. *CJ Lyons – almost 500,000 ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
64. H.P. Mallory – more than 200,000 ebooks sold (July 2011)
65. C.S. Marks
66. M. R. Mathias – over 50,000 sold (June 2011)
67. *KC May
68. *Bob Mayer – 347 sold in Jan, 2011 to over 400,000 total sold by year’s end (Dec 2011)
69. David McAfee – 54-56K range as of March 2012
70. Stephanie McAfee – “the e-book sold 145,325 copies from January to August 2011”
71. Carolyn McCray – over 50K and on track to sell over 13,000 ebooks for the month of March 2012
72. Karen McQuestion – more than 70,000 sold (***September 2010***)
73. Courtney Milan
74. Addison Moore
75. David Morrell
76. Rick Murcer – in only four and a half months, 135,000 ebooks sold (as of August 2011)
77. Scott Nicholson
78. Anne Marie Novark – more than 70,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
79. Shayne Parkinson – over 50,000 as of Feb 2012
80. Aaron Patterson – total unknown
81. Aaron Pogue
82. Brian S. Pratt
83. *Michael Prescott – more than 800,000 self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
84. Rose Pressey – over 54,000 since April 2011
85. T.R. Ragan – 239,592 books sold (March 2012)
86. J.R. Rain – more than 400,000 books sold (Sept 2011)
87. Terri Reid – more than 60,000 ebooks sold (August 2011)
88. Lexi Revellian – over 54,000 (March 2012)
89. Shadonna Richards – 51,790 ebooks as of March 2012
90. Imogen Rose
91. *Kristine Kathryn Rusch
92. Nick Russell – over 104,000 of Big Lake (March 2012)
93. Jonas Saul – over 50,000 ebooks sold
94. L.J. Sellers – total unknown
95. Amber Scott – total unknown
96. *Michele Scott (AK Alexander) – more than 100,000 books sold in two months
97. Tori Scott – 84,772 as of midnight 3/15/2012
98. Kathleen Shoop – over 50,000 books sold since May 2011 (as of Jan 2012)
99. Christopher Smith
100. *Dean Wesley Smith
101. Katie Stephens
102. Andy Straka – over 50,000 in the past 10 months
103. Michael J Sullivan – more than 90,000 sold before books retired and republished
104. Denise Grover Swank- “almost 60,000 books with my four books since last July (March 2012)”
105. Vicki Tyley – 100,000 (January 2012)
106. Louise Voss & Mark Edwards – 50,000 ebooks sold in the month of June (2011)
107. Heather Killough-Walden – over 500,000 books sold (Dec 2011)
108. Michael Wallace – 80,000 (Feb 2012)
109. Kerry Wilkinson – more than 250,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
110. Nicole Williams – near the 100,000 mark for her trilogy (Dec 2011)
111. Zoe Winters – more than 50,000 ebooks sold independently
112. Rachel Yu – more than 60,000 ebooks sold (Feb 2012)

That’s pretty amazing. We can figure that many of those books earned about $2 per sale (at a conservative price of $2.99 per book), so this 50K number means the authors above are looking at $100,000, at least. There would also be expenses involved in editing, cover art, formatting, etc., depending upon how much of that was paid for versus done by the author or by volunteers. Still, the profits are impressive by any measure.

Some of these authors have gone on to accept traditional deals with established publishers so that they can concentrate on the writing part. Famously, Amanda Hocking has a multi-million dollar deal for some of her books, but has also retained the right to continue self-publishing those books she prefers to.

All right, writers, are you suitably inspired?

Now, back to your keyboards!

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Works in Progress

“I Dream of PIA” (for The Robot Chronicles anthology, available July 25, 2014)

3149/ 3000 words. 100% done!

"Sand Song” (a novella set in Hugh Howey’s SANDbox)

8,627 / 10000 words. 87% done!

"The Terminal” (a dark futuristic short)

2383 / 2000 words. 100% done!

“ROCKS 1” (the first episode in a dystopian series)

5675 / 10000 words. 57% done!

“Salt & Pepper Mystery #1” (Book one of a cozy mystery series)

22379 / 40000 words. 56% done!

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My Books

Karma of the Silo: the Collection (Karma Omnibus)
Karma lives in the Silo, deep underground. She lives with a man whom she barely knows and with a name she doesn’t remember choosing. When visions come to her about another husband, another way of life, and another world, Karma struggles to discover what came before.

Cleaning Up: a Silo story (Karma)
Five years have passed since the airlock slammed shut on the 4,000 souls condemned to live in the Silo. Karma can remember now that there was a time before--before she was locked into this cylindrical tomb under the earth. But all she can see of the outside are dead hills and the dark clouds swirling through what remains of a toxic world.

The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn't sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the other residents seem content. Except for the ones who jump to their deaths from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones who are pushed.

Last Walk: a Silo story
The kids are fighting in the Silo—gangs engage in battles between the Up Top and the Down Deep, with the Mids caught in between. There are too many young people without work. They ink themselves with primitive face tats and guard their territory against incursions from below or above.

Deep Justice: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma has endured twenty-five years underneath the earth. Her path in life—a path she never bargained for—has included marriage to a man she never chose, whose powerful position forces her to hide her memories of the time before.


Rising Up: a Silo story (Karma)
After a hellish three months locked in the private inner sanctum of IT, Karma and her family emerge, bloodied and forever changed. Rick is a man who is no longer in control. Mars has become the power in the Silo.



Silo Saga: SILO SECRETS: Daniel
Daniel is sixteen now, and he can count up to one hundred. He can go all by himself up and down the two levels of the Silo between his home and his job. Daniel knows he's not as smart as some people. But his mother told him he was smart enough to help her, so it must be true. He always believes his mother. His mother is a doctor.

Running
THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN... Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jerusha Hutchins, folksy charmer and blonde beauty, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party.

Till Death Do Us Part: a short story
Join Harold and Rosemary as they bring together their family and friends for a night of celebration before a long-planned trip... and see just how this journey ends. Mix a little Dorothy Parker and a little Shirley Jackson, add a twist of David Sedaris and a pinch of O.Henry, and out comes a satirical romp. "Till Death Do Us Part" is a 3,000 word short story. This is a sophisticated take on the way people fool themselves. More New Yorker magazine than Asimov.

The Terminal
To be published next week!





Looking for Lance
A pinch of Dorothy Parker and a twist of O.Henry go into the mix to make this Fitzgerald short a bracing sip of satire. There is a free sample of RUNNING, her best-selling Kindle political thriller, at the end of this story.

Jungle Moon
Another quirky short story from Patrice Fitzgerald about love and the ways people connect. When Felicia gets a special birthday request from her husband Herman, she can't believe what he's asking her to do. Will she say yes? This 3,000 word short story explores the nature of a happy marriage, compromise, and passion. A four-chapter sample of Fitzgerald's best-selling political thriller, RUNNING, is also included.

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