A new self-publishing success story emerges

But what (if anything) can authors lose by opting for online self-publication?

Topics: E-books, Amazon.com, Books,

A new self-publishing success story emergesBestselling e-book author John Locke.

Twenty-six-year-old self-publishing sensation Amanda Hocking made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed that the then-unsigned author (she now has a contract with St. Martin’s Press) had managed to sell more than a million copies of her paranormal novels — once rejected by publishers — as e-books.

Now another self-published author reached a significant milestone: John Locke — not the 17th-century philosopher, but the thoroughly  21st-century thriller-writer — sold his millionth e-book on Amazon.

Locke sells most of his works for 99 cents each (although his “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!” costs $4.99), and he can now boast membership in the same (very small) authors’ circle as Stieg Larsson and James Patterson — two more of the nine individuals who have sold more than a million Kindle volumes.

The product description for Locke’s “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks” certainly doesn’t sell the author short. Indeed, after a list of Locke’s accomplishments (“every seven seconds … a John Locke novel is downloaded somewhere in the world”) comes the proud statement: “All this was achieved PART TIME, without an agent, publicist, and at virtually no marketing expense!”

On the one hand, it’s very hard to argue with the numbers; it’s clear that, in some ways, both Locke and his readers have benefitted from the author’s lack of publishing or marketing costs. Another thriller writer, Barry Eisler, very publicly turned down a six-figure contract this March to light out into the world of e-books on his own — partly because the move allowed him to cut out an expensive middleman. (“I’m confident I can do better financially over the long term on my own,” he told The Daily Beast at the time.) And in addition to the financial benefits of self-publishing, Eisler and Locke both clearly relish the freedom they gain by working on their own: “I like the idea of being able to walk away from writing if it stops being fun,” Locke has told the AP.



On the other hand, publishers, editors and agents do not exist solely to sap money from writers; they also work to improve the manuscripts they receive. An interesting reaction to the self-publishing phenomenon in this vein comes from the English novelist Harriet Evans, who wrote the following in the Guardian last week, partly as a response to the online conversation between Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath in which Eisler initially revealed his intention to opt for self-publication:

[It's] noteworthy that not once in [Eisler and Konrath's] entire discussion does either of them mention who’s going to a) structurally edit or b) copyedit their books if they’re published online, except fleetingly as an outsourced resource they can pay for. And this is representative of a larger view across the spectrum of online publishing where the author, not a publisher, controls the process. That’s fine by me – as long as you’re not going for posterity or longevity, because though I am an avid consumer of all kinds of writing on the web, I firmly believe there’s a big difference between a book published online by the author and one prepared for publication by a publisher, and it goes to the very heart of what books and literature mean to us. …

Who knows whether Gone With the Wind would have been as successful had it been called, as it originally was, Pansy, after its eponymous heroine, Pansy O’Hara, before Margaret Mitchell’s editor at Macmillan persuaded her to change the name to Scarlett?

In light of Evans’s words, it’s more than worth revisiting the wonderful blog post Amanda Hocking wrote this March, when news of her self-publishing success began rocketing her to international attention. Here’s an excerpt:

Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren’t all that different, and I don’t think people realize that. Some books and authors are best sellers, but most aren’t. 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 was like, “Hey, paranormal is pretty hot right now,” and then 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. …

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. … Self-publishing is great, but it’s not easy.

Emma Mustich is a Salon contributor. Follow her on Twitter: @emustich.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>