Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Marketing Makeover: How Amanda Hocking Really Did It

Guest post by Scott Lorenz

Amanda HockingAmanda Hocking, as I’m sure you know, is a bestselling ebook author on Since uploading her first ebook in the spring of 2010, she has grossed about $2 million. She’s got 10 novels under her belt, all of which fall into the paranormal-romance category. The prominent entertainment company, Media Rights Capital, optioned her four-book Trylle vampire series.

Clearly, she’s had great success self-publishing her ebooks. So, it was a surprise when Hocking decided to sign with St. Martin’s Press, which is a very established publishing house.

Hocking has openly explained that she suffered from depression for the vast majority of her life and turned to writing as a sort of escape. She finished her first novel at 17, titled Dreams I Can’t Remember and was turned down by each of the 50 agents to whom she’d sent her work.

Not long thereafter, she caught a clip on YouTube of the band Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus encouraging American youth to make their dreams come true. Hocking admits having a sort of aha moment and realized that she could not wait for her dreams to come true. She had to put forth the effort and make them come true.

In 2009, Hocking began to treat writing as a job rather than something she did for entertainment. She wrote a few more novels, sent them off to agents, and still received only rejections.

In April 2010, Hocking uploaded her novel My Blood Approves to Amazon, then later to Smashwords, then directly on Barnes & Noble’s site. Hocking started selling books, first a few a day, then as she uploaded more of her work, she managed to sell 26 books in one day in May. These days, the author is selling 9,000 books a day.

Just how did she do it? Well, the stories she writes are an obvious piece of her success. Her novels combine action and romance with a dash of quirk and topped off by Hocking’s creative style of writing. Additionally, by selling ebooks, Hocking was able to sell the books for far less money compared to a traditional bookstore book. People were more inclined to spend the 99¢ or $3.00 to read her work instead of dropping upwards of $15.00 for a book off the shelf of a trendy bookstore.

Hocking has a very blasé attitude in regard to her success and rapid writing. When asked just how she manages to complete her work so quickly, Hocking responds on her blog, “I don’t know. I just write a lot and drink a lot of Red Bull.”

Hocking also suggests that writing paired with reading more than she writes was instrumental in her success. She made sure to edit her novels a great deal in order to get them just right. Learning to take criticism was useful to Hocking’s success because she was able to understand that although her books weren’t for everyone, they did have an audience.

Taking a look at her blog, Hocking describes herself as an obsessive tweeter. John Hughes mourner. Batman devotee. Muppet activist. Unicorn enthusiast. Fraggin Aardvarks guitarist. Author of the USA Today bestselling Trylle trilogy and the upcoming Watersong series.

She actively updates her blog, so her fans always have something new to read. This past October was Hocking’s second annual Zombiepalooza! on her blog, which ran for the entire month of October. Hocking explains that while she especially enjoys zombies, Zombiepalooza is really a celebration of all things horror and Halloween. Throughout the month, there were guest posts, giveaways, and other fun goodies, such as the ultimate Halloween Playlist.

John Kremer recently mentioned Amanda Hocking in a seminar about blog tours. Amanda Hocking inspired him to name a particular type of blog tour a Blogpalooza. John got the name from Hocking, after her first Zombiepalooza in October 2010.

In his seminar, John also explained a few of Amanda’s stats, which were affected dramatically by Zombiepalooza. Before Zombiepalooza, Amanda had been selling about 3,000 to 5,000 copies of Kindle ebooks each month. She sold about 20,000 total before October 2010. In December 2010, after Zombiepalooza, she sold 100,000 copies in the month of December alone. In January, she sold 450,000 copies of her Kindle ebook novels.

In February of 2011, she made the USA Today bestseller list. By the end of February, she had sold 900,000 copies of self-published Kindle ebooks. In March 2011, her book sales totaled over 1 million copies, and she subsequently sold the rights to four of her books to St. Martin’s Press for $2 million.

Some were surprised by her decision to sell her book rights, but Hocking has explained that in order to be a billion-dollar author, she needs people to buy her books at Wal-Mart. In order to get her books onto shelves, she had to partner with St. Martin’s Press.

Says Hocking, “I'm a writer. I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation. I am spending so much time on things that are not writing.”

“I like writing. I even like marketing, especially when it comes to interacting with readers. And I don't mind editing. I just don't want to run my corporation, because that takes away from writing and everything else that I actually enjoy doing,” concludes Hocking.

After gaining so much success, Amanda has been able to seize unique opportunities. For example, she was a featured speaker at Comic Con in San Diego. Additionally, she was able to buy a life-size Han Solo figure from Star Wars, which was encased in carbonite. The life-size figure is rare and was something Hocking had her eye on for quite some time. The unique purchase was due in great part to the success of her Zombiepalooza.

In addition to her own blog, Hocking has separate blogs for her book Virtue, My Blood Approves, The Hollows series, as well as a blog dedicated to soundtracks for her various books. Hocking follows dozens of blogs herself. Having blogged since April 2009, Hocking has had nearly 2 million page views. Check out Amanda’s blog to learn more about her, her work, and to see release dates of her upcoming books at or her Facebook fan page.

The bottom line: Amanda Hocking is an incredibly talented author. She has achieved great success in her career, largely due to marketing her novels so effectively. Amanda began writing ebooks and now has a multimillion dollar book deal. Her talent for both writing and knowing how to market her books has enabled her to become a wildly successful author. Amanda Hocking has helped pave the way for authors to follow in her footsteps without the traditional gatekeepers of publishing being involved.

Scott Lorenz

About the Author

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is president of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, Time, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman's World, and Howard Stern, to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications' approach to book marketing at Contact Lorenz at 734-667-2090. Email: Follow him on Twitter @aBookPublicist.
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