Shocking Hocking: A Young Adult Story
I'd heard of this young, twenty-six-year-old author Amanda Hocking, but I didn't know her story (or her stories, for that matter) until reading this New York Times article "Storyseller," by Strawberry Saroyan, which tells of her rise to e-fame, beginning around April 2010, when she started self-publishing her novels online:
Hocking uploaded "My Blood Approves" to Amazon and, about a month later, to Smashwords, a service that makes her books compatible not only with the Nook but also with less popular devices like BeBook and Kobo. (When, in October 2010, it became possible to self-publish directly on Barnes & Noble's site for the Nook, she did so.) It's a surprisingly simple process in each case -- much like signing up for Facebook. She took the e-leap because she thought that even if she sold her vampire books, there was going to be a reaction against them before they made it into stores.Wow! I should try that. Except that I haven't written any books. Maybe I could find a ghostwriter? That'd be appropriate for the sort of stories that seem to appeal to young adults these days -- vampire tales, werewolf thrillers, zombie memoirs, troll bodice-rippers. Yeah, that's right, troll romances. A heart that thrills for trolls? Hard to imagine. Initially, she herself wasn't heart-thrilled over them:
The first day, she sold five books. The next, five more. "I took screen shots a lot," she said. Then she uploaded another novel and sold a total of 36 books one day in May. "It was like: 36 books? It's astounding. I'm taking over the world."
Soon she started selling hundreds of books a day. That June, she sold 6,000 books; that July 10,000. "And then it started to explode. In January, it was over 100,000." Today, she sells 9,000 books a day.
At first, she wasn't a fan of trolls either -- "they kind of freaked me out" -- but when she ran across a line in her research that said they could sometimes be attractive, she decided to rethink her position. "They're not so common, and I thought: No one else is doing this. Let's go for it."Trolls? Attractive? Those big, dumb, lumbering lugs? I guess you gotta read her books to meet some goodlooking ones, but she writes fast, so the books are ready to read:
Her actual time spent writing a novel, she said, is two to four intensive weeks. "But I say that and people are like, 'Whoa, that's fast.' And it is. But the series I sold to St. Martin's, for example, I've been really working on it in my head for over a year. So by the time I sit down to write, it's already written."Apparently, she does what she does do well:
"She's just a really good storyteller," [says her editor at St. Martins, Rose] Hilliard . . . . "Whatever that thing is that makes you want to stay up late at night to read one more chapter -- she has it."I read this article with my daughter, who's fourteen, hoping to inspire her, and I did see a reaction at this line on how Ms. Hocking spent her teen years:
She channeled her feelings into fan fiction.My daughter stopped, blinked, and smiled. She also writes fan fiction . . . about the singers in the K-pop group Girls' Generation. I don't know if that sort of pop music writing would lead to popular writing, particularly since she writes her 'fan-fic' in Korean. If she's going to make millions for my old age, she'll need to write in English.
Time to work her harder on those English lessons . . .