Once upon a time in April 2010 a girl named Amanda Hocking was sitting sad and frustrated in her tiny apartment in Austin, Minnesota. She had tried for several years to get her books published through traditional publishers but all her attempts had gone in vain. She was penniless and had no idea where her life was going.
Then the Muppets came to her help.
She heard news that an exhibition about Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, was coming to Chicago later that year. She desperately wanted to visit it but she had no money to bear the travel expenses.
She wanted to earn $300, one way or the other and in the process did something that was set to change the publishing industry forever.
She took her novel My Blood Approves and self published it on Amazon. Then she self published a couple of her other novels which were all just sitting on her computer’s hard drive.
In less than two years, she sold more than one million copies of her novels and became one of the few self published authors to do so.
Fortunately for us, she runs a blog where she explains how she sells her books. Let’s see what lessons we can learn from her success. Unless otherwise stated, all of the quotes below are taken from her article – An epic tale on how it all happened.
1) Write a lot
But of course you should write a lot. What else do you expect to do? Want to become a runner, run a lot; want to become a singer, sing a lot; and similarly if you want to become a writer, write a lot.
So how much did Hocking write before becoming successful?
Here is what she says:
“People ask me, “When did you start writing?” And the truth is I never didn’t write. Before I could talk, I would tell stories. When I was younger, I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with the ideas I had, so I had [to] talk and get them out. I was always writing. It never occurred to me until I was about 12 that I would do anything other than be a writer.”
Need help writing? Some people suggest that if you will surround yourself with a particular sort of environment then it will help you stay focused.
I mean if you want to focus on writing then decorate your study room with writing books, print out quotes related to writing and hang them on the walls, take writing related images and use them as your computer’s wallpaper, etc. If you need help you may take a look at these graphics.
2) Read a lot
Again this should be obvious. Most writers I’ve read about, enjoy reading. That’s why they take to this profession. So if you enjoy it, it shouldn’t come as a burden on you.
Secondly it’s very necessary to read good books in order to write good books. How else will you learn the craft?
Here is what Hocking suggests:
“Write a lot, and read more than you write. Learn to take criticism. Edit a lot, and find a good editor. Read On Writing by Stephen King and Joe Konrath’s blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing – all of it.”
3) Have a passion for your work
You need to have a passion for what you are doing. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. There are some bloggers who argue against this notion but don’t listen to them.
You see, in order to become successful you will have to work really hard. You will have to face difficult times and it will be your passion which will survive you when things will become really difficult.
Here’s what Hocking says:
“I decided that I really enjoyed writing paranormal romance. Really. So I knew I wanted to stay in that genre, even if it wasn’t popular. …
I write because I love it, not because I see readers as dollar signs. I am very, very passionate about my work, and I take it very seriously that people are inviting me to entertain them every time they buy a book.”
4) Work hard
Anyone who has achieved anything in life has done so through hard work.
In December 2008, she was making no money and was sad about it when she discovered something. The following quotes are from her post The Magic Hand.
My life feels like a dead end. I’m writing books. Nobody cares. And I say, why isn’t this working? What am I doing wrong?
If you’re me, and I am, you spend a lot of time thinking about how neat Mark Hoppus is and listening to a lot of blink 182 and Fall Out Boy. That led me to this YouTube video, which contains the single greatest piece of advice I’ve ever gotten from anybody about writing, and it wasn’t even about writing. So I watched this video late 2008, and it was a wake up call for me to quit whining and get off my ass.
The advice goes like this. The interviewer asked Hoppus what advice will he give to new bands and he says:
“You have to play music that you love, first of all. You have to play music for anybody that will listen to you. You have to work your ass off. You have to go out there and make it happen for your band.
Because I see all these young bands coming up and I talk to people. And so many times people are like – “How did you get your big break?”.
And it’s like people are sitting back. They write songs and they have a passion to do it but they don’t have the work ethic to do it a lot of time. They are sitting back and they are waiting for some magic hand to come down and pick up their band and make it happen for them. It doesn’t happen like that. You have to make it happen for yourself. You have to call clubs and flier for your shows and put stickers everywhere and talk to other bands.
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