Indie Publishing in Fiction: Who Upped the Ante?

Is the Amanda Hocking Era Over?

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I don’t mean Amanda’s career. She’s a natural story teller, the most talented YA author I have read on my Kindle.  I hope she goes on to the heights.

No, I mean the Amanda Hocking Kindle Era.

Like Amanda, I’ve been writing all my life and have a considerable backlog of books to polish up and publish. But I could never produce the way she did when she first began on Kindle and rose to fame.

According to her, weeks of Red Bull-fueled nights of relentless writing resulted in three series that were released on demand by her growing number of fans. Sleep was the enemy and she pushed through it.

I, on the other hand, have not got this ability. I am quite a bit older than 26 – the age she was when she performed this feat – and my mind would refuse to cooperate with such extreme conditions.  So more power to her!

She did inspire me to self publish on Amazon and Smashwords though. Being a DIY kind of gal, this appealed to me, I haven’t made much money at this stage, and am daunted at the work required to get my books noticed in the ever-growing Amazon slush pile, but I know my stories are worth the effort. I chose to start small and move incrementally, which is what this blog post is about.

But Why is it the End of an Era?

The thing about Amanda’s pace of writing books, and I have heard her discuss this, so I’m not being catty, is that her books were not edited. At all. But she was selling to teenagers, who seem to be much more forgiving about this sort of thing if they like the story. Todays teenagers are the generation who do not know of a time when computers did not exist and who got the first Kindle Readers in their hot little hands. They bought Amanda’s books for their Kindle readers, loved them and the story goes on.

When I decided to try this e-book thing out, I published a few short stories that had been published elsewhere. It was a beta test. It takes me a while to get the hang of technology so I needed a chance to play around with Kindle and Smashwords and see what it was all about. My stories went public. Then, in the interests of science, I published two novellas: a very old story (2004) Memento Mori and a newer piece The Lady in Yellow. People downloaded The Lady in Yellow in droves from Smashwords. I was shocked! It attracted good reviews with one major complaint: it should be developed into a novel. (This is what I am doing, along with Memento  Mori. Being an early experimental work written when I was coming out of my Poet phase, Memento Mori has always had problems. But I love it and so do a few other people.)

My reviewers have been adults. They are a lot harder on an author than teenagers. Had I not had the ease of self publishing — had I contemplated sending the novellas out to agents and publishers — these would not yet have seen the light of day. I just wanted to see what would happen. Lucky, so far—no disasters.

Too many authors have been throwing their novels up there when they are not finished or  developed. I am shocked when a writer says they will produce four novels in one year to keep their sales funnel pumping. Maybe they have the time and the talent I don’t have but I don’t think they will be able to get away with that for much longer.

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The E-Book Ante has been Upped.

Like Facebook, originally created to attract teens, Kindle readers are falling into the hands of adults. Adults who READ. Educated, READING adults who have zero tolerance for bad grammar, sloppy execution and typos. Serious, sophisticated READERS who will cut you a new one on your Review Page for producing books that fall below traditional publishing standard.

If you want a career, it would be a good idea to take this change very seriously. Too many bad reviews citing shallow characters, plot holes, bad pacing, bad grammar, and those demonic typos, will not only sink that book, but any books that come after. Short of changing your pen name, you won’t be given much grace for changing your ways.

Thank you Amanda Hocking for opening this door. But as she has breezed through it, those of us who have followed have found a thorny path that may lead back to traditional publishing where the serious readers find their serious, even on Kindle, books.

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