Tag Archives: amanda hocking

Hates Gonna Hate (NaNoWriMo and Beyond)

So I was listening to the Story Wonk Daily podcast this morning with Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens. (Who are always hilarious, by the way. If you’re not a regular listener, you’re missing out!) They’re in the middle of their month-long NaNoWriMo theme as they do every November. NaNoWriMo, if you don’t know, stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is simple: you pledge to write 50,000 words (the equivalent of a rough draft of a book) in one month. A great way for people who are thinking of writing a novel and haven’t otherwise found the wherewithal to sit their butts down in front of the computer to write. You get to do daily word count check-ins, gain badges to mark accomplishments, and have a participant pool of thousands cheering you on. It’s like a writer’s marathon that lasts all month long.

I’ve never gotten to do it myself, because my timing is always off. I’m usually just at the end of writing a novel — and in the low-word-count, polishing stage — and thus not ready to start something new.  Also, to be honest 50,000 words a month is pretty much par for the course for me when I’m on deadline. As some people have suggested, “Every month is NaNo month for you!”

But I digress. In this podcast, Lani and Alastair were addressing the NaNoWriMo haters. Evidently some people are putting down the program, saying that people are only participating out of the “challenge” mentality and not to hone their craft. Much like someone might try to run a Marathon for fun–to say they did it–rather than take it seriously and properly train all year etc. They say they’re not “real writers” if they only write one month out of the year and that the whole thing basically is an insult to those who take their craft seriously. Oh and the amount of crap they produce, they lament, clogs the inboxes of agents and editors for months to come. 

To me, it seems pretty harmless. (And I’m guessing agents and editors have crap filled inboxes every month of the year!) And if it gets people excited about books and writing–well, that’s a good thing, right? I actually spoke to a woman at my RWA meeting on Tuesday who said she had been waiting 30 years to write a book and never put one word down on paper. Now she’s about 25k into her novel, thanks to NaNoWriMo and man, you should have seen the glowing look on her face as she talked about it. She was SO HAPPY! So proud. So enthusiastic. It was as if she could barely stand still because she wanted to go home and write some more. It was awesome.

And you know what? It doesn’t hurt me a bit, as a professional writer, to have her succeed. In fact. I love the idea that there’s a new writer in the world who loves the process as much as I do. Just like I’m pretty sure the men and women who win first place in marathons wouldn’t take the time to hate on Betty Sue and her friends who walked 23 out of the 26 miles, but managed to cross the finish line all the same. I bet they’d be cheering.

In any case, to bring this topic back to theme of this blog, I think a lot of writers have the same perception of self-publishing. They lament the idea that anyone can throw up any book they spent 12 days working on and make it available for anyone to buy. They say they’re afraid of badly edited books full of typos and misspellings clogging up the online bookseller shelves, making it impossible for a “real” book to stand out.

But you know what? I don’t think that’s what they’re really afraid of. I think they’re more afraid that one of these self-published newbies might actually have a hit. A commercial book that people LOVE that New York, for whatever reason, rejected. There are so many good books out there that just didn’t have the commercial appeal or the right submission timing that, put in the hands on the right readers, will explode with popularity. And those authors who weren’t “good enough” for New York will suddenly find themselves making money hand over foot. More money, likely, then their traditionally published counterparts. I know I keep bringing up Amanda Hocking, but damn, she’s such a good poster child for this. She decided to take charge of her career. Put her rejected novels online. And now she’s a millionaire. (One NY is suddenly paying a lot of attention and money to.)  

Now I’m not saying there aren’t books out there that don’t deserve to be published. I’m sure there are thousands. And I’m not saying quality isn’t important and that anyone should just throw any old book up online. But I am saying this: don’t discount a writer or try to question his or her legitimacy just because their methods are different then yours. Maybe his bestseller will be written in one month during NaNo. Maybe her rejected novel will hit the NY Times eBook list. Or maybe they’ll never write anything ever again. Who cares? It’s got nothing to do with you!

My best advice to writers–whether on the NY Times list or just starting their first NaNoWriMo. 1) If you write, you are a writer.  2) If you finish a book, you are a novelist. (And you’ve done something 99 percent of the population can’t do.) 3) Stop looking at what everyone else is doing and keep your eyes on the prize.  4) Figure out your goals and pick the best path you can to reach them–whether traditionally or by other means. And finally 5) Don’t give up! And don’t let the haters get you down!


Haters Gonna Hate, Writers Gonna Write

NaNoWriMo and Kvetching

Don’t Knock NaNoWriMo

How to interpret NaNoWriMo rage

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Choosing your role models: Gemma Halliday

There are a lot of articles appearing on blogs and in newspapers these days about authors raking in thousands of dollars a month by putting their backlist or frontlist eBooks up online. Usually these articles are really interesting reading–especially since many of these authors are actually talking real numbers and real money–which is hardly ever done in traditional publishing. They’re also usually pretty inspirational and get me very excited about the possibilities that are out there in the wild, wild west of digital publishing.

But, I realize, I also have be careful, when reading these articles, to look at who’s writing them and what their background might be. For example, it’s amazing that Barbara Freethy just sold her one millionth eBook. Or that Maya Banks is banking $35,000 PER MONTH on digital sales.  And how many freaking books has Amanda Hocking sold now? (By the way – reading and LOVING Hollowland!! Currently free on Kindle or Nook.)

But those aren’t necessarily realistic goals for me. Barbara Freethy is a #1 NYT Bestselling romance author. Maya Banks is also a NYT Times bestseller and has been writing erotica ebooks for years through online publishers. Amanda Hocking started from nothing–she was completely unpublished and built her empire entirely through digital means. (Until recently when she scored a 7 figure contract from St. Martin’s and will add print to the mix.)

None of these authors have the same background as me, so it’s likely my experiences in the epublishing world will differ from theirs. So I try not to create goals based around these success stories. Instead, I look for authors with similar backgrounds. Midlist authors who still publish with traditional publishers but have delved into epublishing to put their backlist online and maybe started doing some frontlist on the side.

"Smart and Stylish!"

And I’ve finally found the perfect poster child! Gemma Halliday. She actually started publishing around the same time as me and though she does mysteries, we have a similar chick lit style. In fact, her editor asked me to do an author blurb for her first book, Spying in High Heels.  (Which I loved and called “Smart and stylish!”)

And lest you think Gemma is just a good writer–she’s also an amazing person. When my house burned down in 2005 and I lost everything, she volunteered to help coordinate a huge writer auction on my behalf. I owe her big!

Well, now it seems that good karma has come back her way. Last year, she put her backlist online as ebooks as well as some new frontlist titles and recently posted a huge milestone. 500,000 ebooks sold–in one year!!  So amazing! I’m really proud of her! (She talks about how she did it — really simply with no upfront expenditure! – here.) And just FYI, she didn’t quit print to do this. She somehow manages to keep up her print contracts and self-publish as well. Exactly what I aim to do.

Talk about a perfect role model. A girl who came from the same humble publishing roots as me. Probably suffered lost royalties from her publisher as I did. But she didn’t cry over spilt cash. She made it back…and then some! Now this is the kind of writer I need to emulate.

Will I be able to also sell 500k next year, just because Gemma and I have a similar background? Who knows? But at least I’ve found someone in my sphere to model myself after and look up to. Someone who has been there, done that, got the “publishing sometimes sucks” t-shirt–but didn’t give up. And is now living the dream.

So Gemma – congratulations on your milestone! I’ll be hopefully following in your footsteps soon! 🙂 And the rest of you? Go check out Gemma’s eBooks. I guarantee you’ll get a great read–and she’ll get closer to her next milestone. One million books!



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Friday Roundup

eBook Deals

Amanda Hocking is giving away the first book in her “Hollows” series on Kindle.

RITA award winning author Nikki Burnham releases “Shot Through the Heart” – her digital first young adult romantic comedy novel.  

eBook News

The Wall Street Journal adds an eBook bestseller list to their weekend edition. (Both an eBook only list for fiction and nonfiction and a separate list that combines eBooks and paper books.)

AAP reports eBooks are standing strong at 20 percent of reported trade sales.

Around the blogosphere

Andrew Shaffer says “quit bitching about eBook prices, you damn cheapskates!”

PJ Hoover talks “marketing madness”

Barry Eisler addresses the fear of an Amazon monopoly

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