Amazon Courts Young Adult Author

Amanda Hocking, author of paranormal romance young adult fiction, has earned her place in publishing history. Last week, Amazon made a $2 million bid to publish a four-book series by the 26 year-old self-publishing wunderkind. The bid was unsuccessful - St Martin’s Press was the successful bidder - but Amazon’s bid was the highest in dollar terms. The move signals a shift in Amazon’s business model - no longer content with being the conduit to publishing, the behemoth is now moving to become a publisher. This marks the first instance of Amazon competing with major traditional publishers for the work of a author with a substantial audience.

Hocking began writing paranormal romance novels for young adults after her shifts as a personal care attendant in eight to 12-hour shifts. “I drank a lot of Red Bull and I ate a lot of Sweet Tarts,” she admits in a video interview. Working at a furious pace, she wrote 17 novels before she began publishing them online because she’d “read an article in early 2010 saying that people were making money off of it.” Hocking stresses that her success is not overnight - “I don’t think people really grasp how much work I do,” she writes in an essay. “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.”

In the video, she describes her business model with the same disarming candour: the first novel is priced at 99 cents, the second at $2.99, and the prices rise with subsequent instalments. Her sales have created a whole new template for online publishing: she sold “a couple of hundred” books in May to “six or seven thousand in June”. In December, she sold “about 100,000.” In less than a year, she’s sold more than a million books online.

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