Friday, March 25, 2011

Amanda Hocking Fumbles at the One Yard Line!

It's all over the net that Amanda Hocking, Kindle's first million seller (I'm pretty sure) has signed a deal with St. Martin's Press. Two million dollars for four novels. Sounds great. Would I take that money? Absolutely. Wouldn't think more than twice. But what would be right for me could be wrong for her. Two reasons for that: 1 - I've never sold a million in any format or at any price. 2 - I know I can write more novels. Stacks of them if need be.

First, a few assumptions: that St. Martin's Press, part of Macmillan, will continue to insist that they get 75% of ebook revenue and that they continue to insist that their ebooks sell for $10.99 and more, never less. If either of these assumptions is wrong, then maybe this wasn't a colossal mistake.

Why is this a fumble for Hocking? She was on the cusp of becoming a household name and getting 70% of her sales for her troubles. Now she'll be submitting to the traditional publishing process which means if she has a novel ready to go right now, we'll see it early next year at the earliest. Or an editor might say, "Can you rewrite this for a slightly older market?" In that case, 2012 is probably out of the picture... And when the book hits the stores, she'll be seeing $2 on a $25 book (because in the normal contract, there's a penalty if your book sells through a place like Barnes and Noble...Or maybe that's just my contract...). And what are the chances that she'll actually earn out that $2 million? Especially when her Kindle/Nook following is pretty much bound to leave her in droves? Imagine the teens who buy her stuff now and will be shocked to see her next offering out at a $10 markup. All because St. Martin's has to prop up their paperback sales. Which wouldn't start until some months after the hardcover comes out.

What a mess for her current readers. And is it likely that she'll replace those readers with print readers? Don't know. Maybe St. Martins has a plan for doing that... One they haven't yet shared with me.

Of course, if she really hasn't been able to write for all the promoting she's had to do, then maybe this isn't so bad a deal. I'll point however that the promoting work doesn't stop just because she's signed with a traditional publisher. Also, there's a sense in which the effort she's poured into building her name will be partially wiped away. She won't be dominating the Amazon Kindle bestseller's list, for instance. And probably not the other lists for traditional books.

In any event, I've made $15 off of Kindle. Haven't started promoting my stuff yet. Hope to get to that in the Summer. Expect to make at least another $15...


Blogger JD Rhoades said...

Having conquered one world, she set off to conquer another. I hope it works out for her.

She did say on her blog that she was tired of all the promo work she had to do as an indie writer. Since she's one of those few for whom St M's will probably exert themselves (having spent the millions and all), it makes sense for her.

March 26, 2011 9:58 AM  

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