Amanda Hocking is pretty much a normal 27-year-old. She lives with her best friend in Austin, Minnesota, where she grew up and likes to hang out with her mom and stepdad. She has a soft spot for John Hughes movies and plays guitar for a band called the Fraggin Aardvarks. She wasn't able to attend college and instead, after high school, worked as an attendant at a group home for the severely disabled, earning $12,000 a year.Author
The big difference is that, in the past two years, Hocking has become a shooting star of the e-publishing world and managed to earn herself $4 million dollars in the process. "Switched," number one of Hocking's "Trylle Trilogy," is the first of her novels to be released by a publishing house (St. Martin's snapped her up with a $2 million dollar contract last year) and came out this week with an initial print run of 250,000. The trilogy has already sold a million copies in e-book format.
"I stared writing little short stories when I was five or six and haven't stopped since," Hocking told Yahoo! Shine. She tried to publish her first novel when she was 17 but got "rejected a bunch." She's been compared to Stephenie Meyer of the blockbuster "Twilight" series, but her stories have more humor and indie edge. Booklist described the protagonist of "Switched" as "a flawed antihero, which helps differentiate her from the throng of paranormal-romance heroines, and the potential for development, both dramatic and romantic, should make readers anxious for the next installment of the 'Trylle Trilogy.'"
Despite the early rejections, her stories kept flowing and by the time she was 25, Hocking had written 17 novels. "In 2009, I wanted to buckle down and get published," she says. Inspired by a tweet she saw about an author whose e-book had become a bestseller, she decided to experiment with self-publishing-she had nothing to lose. Her first book, "My Blood Approves," debuted on Amazon.com in April 2010. Her goal was to earn $300 so she could travel to a Jim Henson exhibit in Chicago at the end of the summer. By the end of the month, she was selling two to three copies a day. "Starting in June, it was thousands of books a month," she says. Now she sells as many as nine thousand books a day.
What does the breakneck success mean to Hocking? "It's surreal and hard to wrap your head around," she says. "It's hard to know what to expect since it happened so fast. It feels like it could disappear as quickly."
For now, Hocking isn't making many major changes in her lifestyle. "I was living in a rental and bought a house. And when I started self-publishing, my car was dead, so now I have a new car." She also quit her day job to write full time.
When she's ready to write a novel, Hocking "Locks [herself] in her office for 8-10 hours a day until it's done." She advises other aspiring writers to "keep writing. After you finish one piece, write another."
As a kid, Hocking wasn't exposed to many classic fantasy novels. "I did read 'The Hobbit,'" she says, "and I really liked 'The Lord of the Rings' movies." Her favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. "And I love Judy Blume, but I don't know if I could ever write that well." Fortunately for Hocking, she has many decades ahead of her to practice her craft.