Everyone is talking about Amanda Hocking and her $2 million deal with St. Martin's Press. The news has even reached Europe and the United Kingdom, and everyone has advice for her.
In a recent post by Alan Rinzler in his blog The Book Deal agents and writers offer their advice and opinions on what Amanda Hocking can expect and whether or not she's right. My grandmother always used to say that advice is free and you get nothing for free. It all comes down to second guessing Ms. Hocking's choice.
As I've said in previous posts, Ms. Hocking has done what's best for her. Whether or not that turns out to be right will be determined over the next five years while she tries to earn out her advance. Either way, win or lose, she will gain what most writers only dream of -- entry to the publishing world at the top of the heap instead of having to work her way up from the bottom through the midlist and eventually, if ever, to the star ranks where marketing and publicity roll out the red carpet. With two million dollars at stake, there is no way St. Martin's Press will drop the ball on this one. They have too much invested.
Some of the most interesting comments came from an author who got the star treatment and an agent.
Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, from Harper Collins, cites being on the road nearly nonstop to publicize and market his book, much of the money coming from his own pocket. It resulted in 1.5 million book sales, but it was undoubtedly a hard slog, but he warns, "But don’t think it gets easier because you have a big publishing house behind you now! I’m constantly struggling with the balance between marketing, family, and writing my next book." If Ms. Hocking wants more time to write, with $2 million on the line, she may find it in short supply. It may be a good thing she isn't married and has no children. That will lessen the choices a bit.
Sandy Raihofer of the David Black Literary Agency weighs in from the agent's, or at least her, perspective. "Hocking says she welcomes the editorial process a traditional house can offer. YES! That’s validation of the process that’s been in place for decades — if not generations — for honing a manuscript. Not to mention the amount of editorial work we agents do in order to sell a work, and sometimes on the back end as well." I wonder if Ms. Raihofer is cheerleading for agents because she believes the do a lot of the work in packaging and "honing a manuscript" or because she wants to believe it. Most of the authors jumping ship for self-publishing are doing so because they are dissatisfied with the "services" rendered by publishing and agents, and not just because of the money, although that is definitely a factor.
I've worked with several agents over the years on previous projects and I can say I got very little input or honing from only one agent.
Ms. Hocking is today's news and she is a hot topic for several blogs and tweet-fests. I'm sure she is a little tired of the limelight and just wants to get back to writing. While her meteoric rise to fame and fortune has fueled considerable debate, her success has also inspired writers in both camps to jump into publishing -- indie and traditional -- secure in the knowledge that if Amanda Hocking can do it, so can they.
When the furor dies down, I wonder whether or not Ms. Hocking will end up in obscurity or if she will find herself in calmer waters writing and touring and making the most of everything she has earned and been offered. No doubt there another rising star is about to crest the horizon and Ms. Hocking will be last month's flavor. Whatever happens, Ms. Hocking seems like an intelligent and savvy young lady with a glowing future ahead of her and I wish her well.
I think it was Winston Churchill who said something like, "We have established what you are and are now merely haggling over price." If one of the big 6 publishers offered me a four book deal, I don't know how much it would take for me to sign on the dotted line. There would have to be some major changes to non-compete clauses and pricing, and there would have to be a really big budget for marketing and publicity, in addition to a healthy dollar amount. I'd have to get some pretty major concessions and I'm not sure they would play ball. I guess I'm still haggling over the price.
In the meantime, I have covers to choose and a proof to check and a critique to work on. It's Monday and just another day in the week for me. I'm still slogging my way up the publishing hill.