After I published this post yesterday, today I saw this article announcing that Amanda Hocking had, indeed, signed a four-book deal with St. Martin's Press in New York, reportedly for $2 million. As she said in her blog, she's a writer: "I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full time corporation. ... I am spending so much time on things that are not writing."
Well, for most indie publishers, that's the reality of becoming a publisher as well as an author--you do a lot of things other than writing. But it's not a whole lot different if you become a traditionally published author from what I know.
So, if you're an aspiring author whining about building platform--doing all the social networking, speaking, and other promotional activities required to create a built-in readership for your book, best to get out now or give up your skewed idea of what it means to be a self-published or traditionally published author. It's not just about writing. It's about being a business person as well.
If you self-publish, like Hocking, you'll deal with designers, publishers, formatters, etc.--unless you do it yourself. And that's a huge time sink.
Plus, I have news for Hocking: She still will have to do some of what she's been doing...but not as much. She will not have to deal with formatting covers, that's for sure. Hopefully, she won't have to find her own editor, although some traditionally published editors do have to take on this task. She'll still have to promote, answer emails, work with editors...and deal with all those people at the publishing house. No more uploading books to Kindle, though.
That said, you can try simply writing your way to a readership if you don't want to do any of this business stuff. Some have managed, but they are mostly fiction authors, like Hocking.
In the meantime, why not ask yourself two very important questions:
- Am I willing to do what it takes to become an author? (In other words, do the other things besides write--which helped Hocking get her deal...)
- What do I do every day that doesn't involve writing and that takes me away from writing already? (We'll revisit that subject tomorrow...)
[The Hocking traditional book deal story was also covered in Forbes , which I discovered this just after I wrote this post, and Kiri Blakeley basically said the same thing I say here: Hocking is giving up less work than she thinks.(You can also read about the deal in the New York Times.)]