Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 8, 2011

Self-Publishing Millionaire

I was planning on writing a blog about self-publishing when I discovered Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old YA paranormal romance writer from Austin, Minnesota, who has reportedly become a millionaire by self-publishing on Kindle.  She tried the traditional publishing route for eight years, before self-publishing via Kindle.  She collects 70% royalties from Kindle for $2.99 books and 35% on their . 99 cents books.  Traditional publishers pay 15% on electronic sales.

Hocking says she’s sold 900,000 copies (mostly electronic) of nine different books since April 2010. If you give her the highest price point and royalty for each book, that would mean she’s made close to $2 million.

The majority of her sales were made since Nov. 2010, and sales exploded around Christmas, when people bought e-readers as gifts. In February, Hocking sold 420,000 copies of her books, which is more than double the amount she sold in the 10 months prior.

Amanda says, “While I do think I will not be the only one to do this –  I don’t think it will happen that often.  It may be easier to self-publish than it is to traditionally publish, but in all honesty, it’s harder to be a best seller self-publishing than it is with a house.”

“I don’t think people really grasp how much work I do. I think there is this very big misconception that I spent a weekend smashing out some words, threw it up online, and woke up the next day with a million dollars in my bank account. This is literally years of work you’re seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn’t writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.

“I also have this tremendous sense of urgency, like if I don’t get everything out now and do everything now, while the iron is hot, everything I’ve worked for will just fall away. For the first time, I truly understand why workaholics are workaholics. You can’t stop working, because if you do, it unravels all the work you’ve already done. You have to keep going, or you’ll die.

“Or at least that’s how it feels.

“There is so much stress in doing it all yourself. The editing is never good enough. And finding an editor isn’t as easy everyone thinks. People thinking an editor is just having someone read through it a few times, checking for basic grammar and spelling, and while that is part of it, it’s also much larger than that. It’s helping tighten up sentences, watching repeated phrases, helping with flow, etc. My books have all been edited – several times, by dozens of people with varying backgrounds – and people still find errors.

“And just so we’re clear – ebooks make up at best 20% of the market. Print books make up the other 80%. Traditional publishers still control the largest part of the market, and they will – for a long time, maybe forever. Ebooks will continue to gain ground, but I would say that we have at least 5-10 years before ebooks make up the majority.  Traditional publishing is not dead.  And all ebooks aren’t self-published. Even if ebooks end up being 80% of the market, at least half of those sales will probably come from traditionally published ebooks. So publishers will still control the majority of the market.

“Nobody knows what makes one book a bestseller. Publishers and agents like to pretend they do, but if they did, they would only publish best sellers, and they don’t.

“Self-publishing and traditional publishing really aren’t that different. One is easier to get into but harder to maintain. But neither come with guarantees. Some books will sell, some won’t.  Self-publishing is great, but it’s not easy. Most people who do it will not get rich, just like most authors signed by Scholastic books aren’t billionaires.”

Read more on Amanda’s blog: Good interview on the Huffington Post:

Now don’t all of you run out willy-nilly to self-publish a book.  The one reason self-publish books fail is due to writers running off to publish their book without doing the preparation needed.  Like Amanda said she spent years working on her books, having many people and editors go over her writing.  If you do go down that path, then do your homework.  You can have a good book that doesn’t make any money, because you signed a contract with the wrong people.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks Kathy. I hope members of both my groups where I am the founder & president will read this. Then maybe, they’ll believe what I have been sharing. I suggested they read your blog daily.


    • Mary,

      Thanks for the support and sorry it has taken me this long to reply. The conference is taking a lot of time. Someday I hope you can join us. We have a few writers coming from your area this year.



  2. Whether digital or traditional, a book needs to be the best to rise to the top.

    I’ve found helpful info about eBooks at:

    I took their webinar about sources for producing and distributing ebooks in order to understand the new technology.


    • Mary,

      Maybe you can write up something about the things you learns about e-books. Any chance?



  3. Great article. she’s right, i bet she really work hard marketing her ebooks. by the way my blog is if you want to check it out. Okay back to Ms. hocking, she appealed to her target audience and hence made load of money. Hopefully more success like her will be told in the future( hopefully i might be one of them)


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