A couple of days ago Shelly Terrell, my friend from Texas, posted a link to an article titled “A Self-Published Author’s $2 Million Cinderella Story” .
Shelly is a teacher trainer and founder of #edchat, a weekly online international chat about education, happening weekly on twitter.
Why did you post the link to this article?
“A friend shared it with me because I am a writer, too. My projects are self-published and I am very keen on the topic of self-publishing. My self-published book, which I distribute online through my blog, got over 7,000 views/downloads in less than 3 years. My book is for educators and I am told in this category if you sell more than 1,000 you’re considered a best seller. It is now going to be published in print. So I guess the story of this self-published author, Amanda Hocking, was particularly relevant to me and I thought others may find it interesting, too.”
Why did you choose the self-publishing route?
“I am a writer and I have always written, starting as a child. I wrote poetry, too. I heard it was really difficult to get published by a publisher. Authors get rejected often. Amanda Hocking also says this in her story. One of my favorite authors, John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” committed suicide at the age of 31. One reason he did this was he suffered depression and I read somewhere that rejections of his writings were a part of it and that he couldn’t handle it. His book was published after his death due to the efforts of his mother. Writers are emotional by definition and some may take all these rejections personally. I decided when I first began wanting to share my writings with the public that I wouldn’t be able to cope with so many rejections, so I didn’t even try to contact publishers and decided to publish on my own work.”
How did you do it?
“Through my blog. I like the connection with the public, so I started to blog a series of posts, which turned into an e-book. I edited it and created an e-book that can be downloaded from my blog. I travel around the world through my work and give talks so I got to speak about the e-book, too. I didn’t expect it to happen, but yes, there are over 7,000 views/downloads of the e-book so far. It is a free e-book, so more people are likely to check out something that is free. When you do go to publishers you have to make an argument to justify publishing your book. Showing that it is popular online is a good argument.”
Do you think that the future of publishing will have to go through online publishing tools?
“I am not sure this is a must, but I think all writers should be familiar with online publishing tools. In poetry only 11% of the thousands of poets out there can actually make a living of it. When the statistics are that low you are right to ask yourself what is the likelihood of being the next huge writer? It does take a lot of luck and also a lot of persistence. Hocking points to that, too.
“I think in the future more people will share their passion for writing online. Maybe not all will make so much money like she did but many will be able to make some sort of an income from it.
I am just happy I did my book the way I did it because for me it was more about getting my word around than making a career out of writing. I feel I have accomplished something.”
Is there something we can all learn from this story?
“That if you love something and you are passionate about doing it – you should do it. Don’t let the rejections and setbacks along the way slow you down. Each of us is making a personal journey. I realized my capacity for handling rejection so I chose my path. You should choose yours. Whether luck played a part in it shouldn’t make a difference”.
What would you ask Amanda Hocking, the 27 year old author, if you had met her?
“I’d like to ask her about her encounter with her audience, about an author connecting with those who read their books and finding out what touched them. This should be pretty special.”