On Amanda Hocking and Self-Publishing

(Here’s to hoping I don’t regret posting this, but at the same time, I do enjoy a good debate!)

I was involved in a discussion a couple of days ago on the Indie Writers United! group on Facebook regarding Amanda Hocking’s writing, and I came out of it so incensed that I had to stop and take the time to write this post. Pardon me if I step on anyone’s toes or if any of this doesn’t make total sense, but I am making a point, I promise! (And I swear I’ll try to keep this short.)

First, I’d like to state that I am in no way envious of Amanda Hocking and her success. I applaud her for doing what she feels is best for her. This is nothing to do with her personally; this has all to do with her writing itself. Please remember the key rule of any author: criticism of the writing does not equal criticism of the writer.

That said, a little history for those of you who don’t know the story of Amanda Hocking (since it seems there are still people who haven’t even heard of her):

Amanda Hocking is a “mega bestselling indie heroine” who has, somehow, managed to sell thousands and thousands of copies of her self-published books on Amazon and B&N and has made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so. She’s been signed to traditional publisher St. Martin’s Press for a purported $2mil advance to write a series of four YA paranormal romance novels. This is, by all accounts, the epitome of success in the indie publishing world.

Except…

It all started a few days ago when fellow indie author Ben White (of the excellent novel The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud) posted to his blog an article entited, “Is it Laziness or Efficiency? Baby It’s Both: Good Writing vs Good Promotion” (go read the whole thing; it’s pretty much my thoughts put down a little more eloquently), in which he puts forward the idea that Amanda Hocking, while a “success,” is not a good writer. To quote White:

I don’t begrudge A[manda] H[ocking] her success or wish her ill or anything like that, and I’m certainly not envious of her position. When I say ‘she’s not a good writer’ I mean her sentences are clumsy, she often uses the wrong word, her characters are flat, her dialogue is cliched, she head-hops a lot and so on. … Additionally, her books are poorly formatted and in serious need of editing; just reading the sample for Hollowland I picked up dozens of basic errors.

To be quite frank about it, I agree with White. Hocking is not that great of a writer. Or perhaps I should say I don’t take her as seriously as I should as a writer, because her editing or lack thereof smacks of unprofessionalism. This segues into my point about indie publishing, though, and it’s something that I feel really needs to be said. There’s no other way to put it either, so here goes:

Just because Amanda Hocking does it, doesn’t mean you should do it.
Amanda Hocking is the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.

You as an indie author will likely never see the sales that Amanda Hocking has seen. She is a perfect case of luck and the “right place, right time” lottery. While I’m sure she has compelling storylines, I found it incredibly difficult to get through even a chapter of either of the two novels I tried to read by her, because every typo, every misspelled word, every missing word yanked me right out of the story as I stumbled to try to figure out just what she meant to say. It made it difficult to get into the story to begin with, and I found my attention drifting away from the book more often than not, rather than having it focused solely on the page in front of me and the characters and their adventures.

From the perspective of both reader and writer, this is something that should never happen.

As an indie author, you are playing the game of writer, editor, publisher, marketer, and every other -er in the business. You are your own employer, and you are your only employee. You are the only one to blame when something goes wrong with your manuscript or your sales or your marketing techniques. You can’t just say, “Oh, my editor fell down on the job,” or “Oh, my publisher isn’t marketing my book like I want them to,” or “Oh, the market just isn’t there for this kind of book right now.” You are the publisher. You are the marketer. You are the editor. And as editor, it is your responsibility to make sure your manuscript is up to snuff.

There’s a lot of talk in the indie/self-publishing world about how indie authors and indie publishers are going to take down the “traditional” publishing houses (such as, for example, Random House, Scholastic, etc.). There’s talk of the abolishment of physical books, of millions of dollars to be made and of having full control over your own manuscript and not having to worry about those pesky editors screwing with your book without permission (never mind that you are required contractually to approve of each and every change to your manuscript, even wayward commas, and if there’s a change that can’t be made, all you have to do is state your case and they’ll roll with it, because, contrary to belief, ultimately, you are the boss of your manuscript).

I’m sorry, but indie authors will never be able to “take down” the traditional publishers with the attitude that some have that “grammar isn’t important if you’re able to tell a good, compelling story” or that “typos are okay.” (While they do happen, and someone will invariably find one somewhere in this post, that doesn’t make them okay.) The traditional publishers, contrary to the belief of indie writers, do not have any reason to take most indie authors seriously with this type of attitude, because all you’re doing is putting out work that enforces the mindset of self-publishing equals sub-par. I actually had someone tell me yesterday that it’s okay to have poor editing in a book that someone only paid $0.99 or $1.99 or $2.99 for! This is incredibly unprofessional and incredibly disrespectful to the reader (you know, the person who’s actually buying your books) and a serious disservice to yourself and your fellow indie authors.

If you want to compete with the big boys, you have to offer a product that actually competes with the big boys. No ands, ifs, or buts about it.

Self-publishing a successful book, even a moderately successful one, requires a combination of creative skills and technical skills: creative in that you can tell a fantastic story with amazing three-dimensional characters and vivid settings that emotionally connect with the reader; and technical in that you can be grammatically and structurally correct, both on the high-level and low-level, throughout the entire novel. There’s no way around this. You can’t have one or the other. You have to have both, and if you call yourself a professional indie author, then this is non-negotiable.

With the attitude I’ve had thrown at me that grammar and great editing aren’t important, and with the apparent reinforcing of said attitude by high-profile, poorly-edited self-published authors like Amanda Hocking, I can honestly say that I can’t see indie authors being able to compete with the traditional publishers anytime in the foreseeable future.

I’m open to debate. Lay it on me! lol

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17 Comments on “On Amanda Hocking and Self-Publishing

  1. I am a writer who is working within the publishing industry, and have seen all kinds of manuscripts cross over my desk, and I agree with what you are saying. I admire each and every person who is willing to put themselves out there and risk criticism and rejection. I am also surprised at the numbers who are not willing to listen to professional advice and get their work edited. Family and friends (unless they are professional editors ) do not count. Having seen the traditional and self-publishing industry from both sides, there is work and rejection either way. I do know that the authors who make it are open to feedback, hire an editor, and are willing to be wrong from time to time. Oh, and they have a firm belief in their book and themselves regardless of what the world thinks of them. Myself, I like a number of the pros of getting self published but I am also aware of what I am up against in the publishing world.

  2. You have hit it on the head.

    That’s the major issue with self-publishing. The author has, in their opinion, a work of art and they rush out and get it published without taking the time to ‘polish’ it up and present something that would be serious competition with the ‘big boys’ as you call them. I’m not familiar with Ms. Hocking’s work but it sounds like she was literally at the right place and time as you state. While she is the exception rather than the rule in regards to her success in her work, sadly, she is not the first author to make serious cash from mediocre work.

    Whomever made the statement that its ok for typos and editing issues in a book that only costs .99-2.99 needs a serious wake up call. What a total moron to make that statement. It doesn’t matter if the reader got it for free or mortgaged their house to pay for it, any novel, book, magazine, whatever, needs to be checked for proper use of grammar, spelling, sentence structure, editing issues and typos. Just because someone self-publishes doesn’t mean that they get some special dispensation from accuracy.

    If the author can’t string two words together in a sentence to make a coherent thought for the reader then stop writing and start studying on how to get it done. If your life long dream is to write then take the time and learn how to do it so the reader enjoys themselves in the fantasy world you create. Don’t make the reader stutter through your work like an old car on a rough road with no suspension.

    I totally agree with Ms. Meigs. If you self-publish, get an editor or several editors and several proof readers to view what you write and check it for the simple things. No one wants to pay money for garbage that looks like its written by a gifted 6 year old who had access to some crayons and construction paper. It doesn’t matter who you are or how great a writer you may think you are, we all make mistakes.

    Case in point, Tom Clancy’s Bear and the Dragon. In one paragraph, there is a mention of a BTR in the next sentence its a BRT. Simple typo yet it still slipped through. Now imagine a newer writer who thinks they caught everything and rushes to publish it.

    In some cases, the author garners a following due to the subject material. As in Ms. Hocking’s case, she writes YA paranormal romance. With the issues as stated that she has with her writing, its highly possible her target audience doesn’t catch them due to their own level of experience with sentence structure.

  3. I stumbled upon both your work, & Amanda’s, about 6-8 months ago. I enjoy the post apocalypse/zombie genre you both write about, particularly from the female perspective.Yes, self published books often have many, many mistakes, which I usually ignore if the story line captures my attention. I’ve read two books from each of you, which I’ve throughly enjoyed. I’ve been eagerly waiting for your next book. One note of caution, usually a profession’s ethical code expects that stones are not cast against a fellow colleague. Live & learn. Good luck with future novels. Susan

  4. I totally agree. My work is my baby. I want it to be as perfect as I can get it.
    And that requires beta readers who will tell it like it is, and having it edited.

    It’s a matter of personal pride to me that my work not only works on an emotional level,
    but looks professional too.

    Nothing against any other authors and all the best wishes for their success, but publishing
    first drafts–that look like ass–is not how I play the game.

  5. Nicely said. One thing that was said to me, that’s been stuck in my head, is that it doesn’t matter about the quality of your writing so long as you entertain people. So long as your story is good. To a certain extent I kind of half-agree with this, story is important–although personally I need strong, interesting characters and good dialogue to keep me interested in a book; it doesn’t matter how strong the story is if I don’t care about who it’s happening to. But more than that I keep coming back to the issue of ‘respect’. Respect for yourself, respect for your work, which has your name on it, respect for your readers, respect for the language you’re using, not just in your writing but every day, and, when it comes right down to it, respect FOR the story.

    If you have a story to tell, no matter what it is, I think, as a writer, you have a responsibility to tell it in the best way possible. To write it as best you can, to edit it and edit it and edit it and then proof it and proof it and proof it until it’s as polished and error-free as possible. Why? Because typos, clumsy sentences, basic errors, dull dialogue, flat characters, missing words and so forth are a BARRIER to the story. Maybe I’m silly and old-fashioned but isn’t good writing something we should all be striving for? Is ‘good enough’ the new standard? Isn’t the WAY we tell stories just as important as the story itself? I think it is, but others disagree–and strongly, at that. I’m also disappointed that apparently ‘criticism’ isn’t allowed now, at least as far as some are concerned. If you dare to suggest that a writer’s work is lacking then automatically you’re a ‘hater’ and clearly have some kind of agenda. Somewhat ironically, Amanda Hocking herself is rather lovely about criticism and accepts it with grace and with thanks–which is why, like you, I think she has ‘potential’. Especially now that she’s working with a traditional publisher, hopefully with an editor who knows what they’re doing.

    I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that my own books are perfect and error-free, but I think they’re at least up to the standard of most traditional publishers. In fact, my secret goal is to be BETTER than the majority of traditionally published books. The last paperback I read (not naming names) was around 50k and had seven errors in it (that I noticed). None of them major, none of them particularly distracting, but they were there. To me this is acceptable–not for myself, I’d be horrified at an error/word ratio of 1/7000.

  6. First, the comment about not casting stones at fellow colleagues…what? In most every profession, no matter what they are, there is criticism of all kinds and types. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer, a banker, or a writer. Everyone is pushing and shoving to be heard above everyone else, and you just have to hope that the person throwing the stones at your big glass house is at least using pebbles and not boulders.

    That said, I find this all very agreeable. Any artist in any field knows that to present good work, you must first take pride in your creation. What sort of pride do you have if you’re more worried about getting out there to hock your product than you are about polishing it up so it’s the best it can be? Even with an editor and many beta readers, mistakes may still slip by, this much is true. Though there is a difference between an error that you can gloss over and very blatant mistakes that were clearly not cared for enough to correct. As an avid reader (and a fellow writer), I intend to pay my hard earned money for the best possible piece of work that I can get hold of. I don’t care if I’m spending $.99 or $99, the price shouldn’t come in to play with the quality.

    You get what you pay for does not necessarily apply to all facets of life. The choice to self-publish is a wonderful option, though it is not for everyone. Those who find great success with it really are usually in the right genre at the right time, with the right niche of readers spreading their work like wild fire. That said, the choice to self-publish is a wonderful option, but one that should be taken just as seriously as traditional methods of publication through major name power houses. No matter what method you use, what route you choose you go to present your work, you should at least have the presence of mind to polish and shine it before you throw it out amidst the wolves.

    If she gets by with it, and she’s satisfied with herself and the state of her work, more power to her. I wish her success while she can get it. I just don’t approve of slinging stuff out there for a quick buck, when it’s not ready or presentable.

  7. The funny thing is, I agree with your general sentiment that people who self-publish need to be conscientious about the quality of their work, take the time to polish it, and do whatever they can to publish the best possible book. Not only because they ought to have personal standards and a sense of pride in their efforts, but also because it’s unfair to sell work that you haven’t honestly invested your very best effort into.

    What I don’t agree with is a) the wisdom of choosing to label a colleague as a bad writer, and b) the idea that you must produce impeccably edited and well-written work in order to “be successful”. You assume that your definition of “success” is universal, but it’s clearly not. I would argue that Amanda Hocking has been incredibly successful, despite the admittedly non-stellar editing of her books. The facts are the facts, and you can’t argue with hundreds of thousands of readers, millions of copies sold, millions of dollars offered for a trade publishing contract, etc., etc. Amanda Hocking is successful.

    Disclosure: I’ve never read an entire Hocking novel. I purchased “Hollowland” and read the first few chapters, but haven’t completed it yet (I love zombies, but don’t read a lot of YA). While I definitely noted the editing problems and writing weaknesses, I didn’t find the book to be on the level of “OMG! This sux0r! I can’t read this!” Quite frankly, I recognized the appeal of her storytelling, and understood why she’s found so many readers. Right place at the right time? Please. If you think that just anybody can find the success she has simply by being at the “right place at the right time”, even with a horrible book containing a horrible story, you’re nuts. The simple fact is that her stories obviously resonate with people. You can think whatever you want about her editing, but she exists as undeniable proof that impeccable editing is NOT necessary for success (which I define as a combination of building a large readership and earning a lot of money).

    As far as the wisdom of labeling Amanda Hocking as a bad writer, I’ll just say this: you are entitled to your opinion, but you need to remember that you’re not the arbiter of what constitutes good writing or success. Yes, everyone is free to leave reviews of books they’ve actually read, but that’s not really what you’re doing. You’re going on a tear about an author who has a book within a similar genre as you, who is much more successful than you, and quite honestly, whether it’s the case or not, it looks a lot like sour grapes. There’s nothing wrong with blogging about your fervent desire to see self-publishers hold themselves up to professional standards of quality, but calling out a specific author is simply bad form. Yes, it happens within the literary world, for sure. Stephen King trashed Stephenie Meyer, in one well-known example. Then again, Stephen King is wildly successful and well-respected in certain circles. He’s earned the right to judge other writers (even if many folks felt that his public denunciation of Meyer’s skills was in poor taste). I still think it’s unnecessary, but when you’re a literary giant, you get some leeway.

    You? Not so much.

    Why do you care about Amanda Hocking? Her success and/or lack of editing really doesn’t affect you. She has won over an incredible number of readers, and by posting this stuff, you’re implying that people who enjoy her books are stupid, essentially. Does this help your own writing career in any way? Will it hurt hers? Again, why do you care?

    Even as a trade published author with a zero-tolerance policy for poor editing in my own books, I’ve got no interest in publicly trashing an author far more successful than myself who has managed to achieve her status even with (as she herself admits) questionable editing. At the end of the day, she’s just a person who loves to write–like me–and who is still quite young and inexperienced with publishing–as I once was–and snarky comments from random writers on Internet blogs aren’t going to improve her writing. Time, practice, and her new access to professional editors will. She’s successful because she’s a great storyteller–and she has the rest of her life to continue getting better as a writer (as is true for all writers).

    • Thank you for your response. I’d like to take a moment to address a few things you said in your response. My comments are inserted below (your original comment is in italics).

      The funny thing is, I agree with your general sentiment that people who self-publish need to be conscientious about the quality of their work, take the time to polish it, and do whatever they can to publish the best possible book. Not only because they ought to have personal standards and a sense of pride in their efforts, but also because it’s unfair to sell work that you haven’t honestly invested your very best effort into.
      I’m glad to see we’re on the same page with this. However…

      What I don’t agree with is a) the wisdom of choosing to label a colleague as a bad writer, and b) the idea that you must produce impeccably edited and well-written work in order to “be successful”. You assume that your definition of “success” is universal, but it’s clearly not. I would argue that Amanda Hocking has been incredibly successful, despite the admittedly non-stellar editing of her books. The facts are the facts, and you can’t argue with hundreds of thousands of readers, millions of copies sold, millions of dollars offered for a trade publishing contract, etc., etc. Amanda Hocking is successful.

      You have obviously misread something, because your definition of Amanda Hocking’s success is exactly what I said above: selling hundreds of thousands of copies of books = success. Please check paragraph 2 in Ben White’s post (linked in the OP above — which is precisely why I linked it) for the definition of success I was going by, which is, as he said, “purely in terms of sales.”

      Disclosure: I’ve never read an entire Hocking novel.

      Ironically, neither have I. I was unable to finish due to the distractingly bad editing.

      I purchased “Hollowland” and read the first few chapters, but haven’t completed it yet (I love zombies, but don’t read a lot of YA). While I definitely noted the editing problems and writing weaknesses, I didn’t find the book to be on the level of “OMG! This sux0r! I can’t read this!”

      And this is you. However, I and many other readers have attempted to read her work and found the large amounts of editing problems enough to throw us completely out of the story. It’s incredibly distracting and, I can imagine, makes many people less likely to attempt to read any more of her books.

      Right place at the right time? Please. If you think that just anybody can find the success she has simply by being at the “right place at the right time”, even with a horrible book containing a horrible story, you’re nuts.

      No need to insult me by calling me “nuts.” And I never said her writing was “a horrible book containing a horrible story,” as you say. And she was very much in the right place at the right time, just as Stephenie Meyer was. Post-Harry Potter, many HP fans looking to find something new to read after the release of book seven and the culmination of Harry’s story picked up Twilight because they wanted a new series to follow, which is primarily why you have so many fans of both series. And Hocking rose to her fame primarily after the release of the final Twilight book, largely because many Twilight fans were looking for a new thing to read. Series are big right now. Also, might I point out that Hocking was one of the main benefactors of the recent renaissance (for lack of a better word) of YA literature, and she benefitted by pricing her books so cheaply and marketing said books so well. Due to the hunger for YA literature in general, she was definitely in the right place at the right time, just as Meyer was.

      The simple fact is that her stories obviously resonate with people. You can think whatever you want about her editing, but she exists as undeniable proof that impeccable editing is NOT necessary for success (which I define as a combination of building a large readership and earning a lot of money).

      While “impeccable editing” is, as you say, “NOT necessary for success,” (because, let’s face it, mistakes happen) it certainly helps one look like a professional and helps the big boys, as I called the traditional publishers in my original post, take you much more seriously (general “you,” not you in particular). Self-published and indie authors seem to have a real lack of understanding of how the traditional publication industry looks at self-publishers; I can assure you, they do not take most indie authors seriously when said indie authors fail to present themselves/their work in a professional manner. Besides which, lack of editing (and man, have I seen some whoppers) indicates to a publisher or an agent that the author is likely lazy, and that’s the last first impression you would want to give a potential agent or publisher (if that, of course, is one’s goal; if it’s not, feel free to give your readers as poorly edited a manuscript as you feel the need to).

      As far as the wisdom of labeling Amanda Hocking as a bad writer, I’ll just say this: you are entitled to your opinion, but you need to remember that you’re not the arbiter of what constitutes good writing or success.

      Never said I was. And I didn’t say she was a “bad writer.” I said she wasn’t a good writer. There’s a difference, oddly enough. Best example I can think of is J.K. Rowling. She’s not a bad writer. She’s not a great writer either. Structurally, even Rowling could use some work (at least, in regards to her sentences; Order of the Phoenix would have benefitted from a better editor, and I’m not the only HP fan to say so). HOWEVER, Rowling, while not a great writer, is a good storyteller. And I think that’s what most people are confusing here. Hocking may very well be a great storyteller, and I will concede that point. However, due to her not-so-great job at editing and her failure to rectify that, I was completely unable to find out how great of a storyteller I keep hearing she is because I kept having to stop and decipher just what the crap she meant by this mistyped word or that missing word or that awkwardly phrased sentence. It runs the risk of pulling the average reader out of the story when said reader has to stop and study the sentence and figure out, “Okay, what in the world does that mean?!” A reader wants a smooth, unstuttering reading experience. I am definitely not the only one with this problem, and it’s not exclusive to Hocking’s work.

      Yes, everyone is free to leave reviews of books they’ve actually read, but that’s not really what you’re doing. You’re going on a tear about an author who has a book within a similar genre as you, who is much more successful than you, and quite honestly, whether it’s the case or not, it looks a lot like sour grapes.

      To put it very bluntly, I couldn’t give two shits about Hocking’s success. While I applaud her said success, and while I wish her well in all that she does, we are not catering to the same audience, and therefore there are no “sour grapes” involved. Her zombie novels (beginning with Hollowland; I understand there’s a sequel coming out) are geared towards a young-adult audience. If a young adult audience latched onto the zombie trilogy I am having published, however, I would have to be worried; considering the sex, the swearing, and the violence in particular that’s present in my novels, I wouldn’t want the young-adult audience Hocking caters to to read my books. It’s not intended for them.

      Hocking is the example I used because she’s the self-publisher that is the most familiar and most prominent and the one with the most problems that I’m encouraging indie authors to avoid. She’s the example I used; she is, ultimately, not what this post is about.

      There’s nothing wrong with blogging about your fervent desire to see self-publishers hold themselves up to professional standards of quality, but calling out a specific author is simply bad form.

      I’m not calling her out. See my previous comment. I’m using her as an example of what not to do if you’re attempting to present yourself as a professional. Hocking got lucky; I can assure you that there are and will be very few Hockings in the self-publishing world. I hold no delusions to think I will be one of those, because I’m well aware I’m not and will likely never be. I’d be content with selling well-written, decent quality books for whatever readers I can convince to pick them up.

      Yes, it happens within the literary world, for sure. Stephen King trashed Stephenie Meyer, in one well-known example. Then again, Stephen King is wildly successful and well-respected in certain circles. He’s earned the right to judge other writers (even if many folks felt that his public denunciation of Meyer’s skills was in poor taste). I still think it’s unnecessary, but when you’re a literary giant, you get some leeway.

      You? Not so much.

      I was unaware you had to be “wildly successful and well-respected” and a “literary giant” to state an opinion. However, considering my original post was not a critique of Hocking but I critique of indie/self-publishing in general with Hocking as a familiar example (and, honestly, the first that comes to mind without having to wrack my brain or dig through my nookBooks), your point is kind of moot there.

      Why do you care about Amanda Hocking?

      I don’t.

      Her success and/or lack of editing really doesn’t affect you.

      Au contrare, it does potentially affect me and other indie authors who would like to present ourselves as on par with the traditional publishers in quality. If a well-known indie author is going to publish a book with sub-par editing, it sets in peoples’ minds that sub-par editing is part and parcel of self-publishing and, therefore, all self-published books have sub-par editing, are unprofessional, are poor quality, etc. I’ve heard all the arguments and I’ve read all the arguments on why many people don’t read self-published books. (I have even read multiple requests on the B&N Book Club forums for B&N to take PubIt! books out of the search results so customers don’t have to see them unless they choose to search out the PubIt! books in particular!) Self-publishers who expect to be taken seriously have a long, uphill battle to fight, and careless editing by self-published authors like Hocking (and others) do nothing but negate the hard work the serious self-pubbers are putting into their attempts to get noticed.

      She has won over an incredible number of readers, and by posting this stuff, you’re implying that people who enjoy her books are stupid, essentially.

      I never once said anyone was stupid; those are your words, not mine. This has nothing to do with her readers and, for that matter, has nothing to do with Hocking. It has everything to do with self-published authors, of which Hocking has, essentially, become the seeming standard.

      Even as a trade published author with a zero-tolerance policy for poor editing in my own books, I’ve got no interest in publicly trashing an author far more successful than myself who has managed to achieve her status even with (as she herself admits) questionable editing.

      And there’s the rub, as the saying goes. Two points here:

      First, I am not and did not “trash” Hocking. I think you need to reassess your definition of “trashing an author,” because, considering the post had nothing to do with Hocking and is, by your own admission (and hers) addressing something even she says is a problem with her books, it’s far from trashing. Heck, in that light, it couldn’t be considered 100% to be a criticism, since I’m essentially repeating something Hocking herself has already said.

      Second, she has essentially admitted that she has “questionable editing” in her books, as you put it. With this acknowledgement in mind, why has she done nothing to rectify it? It doesn’t take that long to go through a manuscript yourself and correct mistakes. And if grammar/spelling/typos/missing words is a weakness for her, perhaps she needs to find someone outside of these sub-par editors she’s supposedly been hiring to comb through her prior manuscripts and correct said errors, then reupload them. If she’s unwilling to do that, perhaps she should pick up some grammar and linguistics books and keep them nearby when she’s writing in the future. I myself admit freely I have a dictionary, a thesaurus, and two style guides nearby whenever I write, and there’s no reason for any author (not just Hocking) to not do something similar, even if just keeping it close on further edits.

      At the end of the day, she’s just a person who loves to write–like me–and who is still quite young and inexperienced with publishing–as I once was

      Are you implying that I do not love to write? I’ve been writing since I was eight years old and telling stories for longer. I think I might have a lock on a love for writing. I have, additionally, taken the time to educate myself in the business of publishing, up to and including subscribing to Publisher’s Weekly to follow the industry; further, I have even worked in the industry. Part of self-publishing is being educated in the industry, especially if you’re serious about it. And writing is, essentially, not only a craft but a business. There’s no ands, ifs, or buts about that.

      –and snarky comments from random writers on Internet blogs aren’t going to improve her writing. Time, practice, and her new access to professional editors will.

      I see no snarky comments about Hocking in my original post. Perhaps you have an odd definition of snarking. Further, if Hocking is unable to take criticisms of her work, then perhaps she is in the wrong industry, because many, many reviewers and readers are going to make comments on her works in the future (and likely already have) that are far worse than anything I could say.

      I’m willing to give Hocking’s professionally / traditionally published work a try when it comes out; however, if her current poorly edited self-published work is an indicator of the future self-published work coming from her, I will not be reading anything she puts out herself unless her standards are raised.

      You’ve managed to turn a post about how indie and self-published authors need to make sure their work is edited to a good, professional standard into a “you’re hating on Amanda Hocking” post. Judging by the other comments I’ve received, I think you’re the only one who totally missed the point.

  8. I was on the thread in Indie Writers Unite early this week—And I will say Jessica that at first I was wondering why the issue of “typos” and AH was so heated?

    It is heated because—generally “Typos and Published” just don’t go together— AH proved that theory wrong.

    I ask—Is there no sense of embarrassment here for those who have typos?

    I am in independent author and I will work my hardest to rid my work of errors! Yours—Laura Yirak

  9. This may come off as arrogant and condescending, but I doubt the people who read these run of the mill YA paranormal books (like Amanda churns out) really care about grammatical errors. Hell, most of them probably don’t know any better anyway. These kinds of books are marketed to kind of readers who obviously love to read the same old tired story lines driven by shallow characters who have no reason for being.
    I have read some AH’s work out of curiosity and I can’t say that I enjoyed what I had read. In one of her books she had fat fingered a numeral in the middle of a word, how do you not catch something like that with ANY word program?
    I have three books out and all three I went over meticulously before send them off to print. Sure, you can’t catch EVERYTHING but the kind of typos I found in her work was just ridiculous to the point of me writing it off as just laziness. When you put your work out there, expect every and any level of criticism to come your way. Personally I think she is a terrible writer and I could careless if she has a publisher. The only reason why she does is because she sold a lot of books and they see her as a sure thing. Art largely takes the back burner in publishing, it’s all about the almighty dollar at the end of the day.

  10. On Amanda Hocking’s blog she brags that she wrote her vampire novel My Blood Approves in 15 days. She then tells us that she wrote Switched in a week. I read excerpts of her books on Amazon, and it’s easy to believe she wrote them as fast as she claims. Her books are absolute crap, they make Harlequin Romance novels look like Shakespeare. Personally I believe she deserves all the contempt she gets from serious authors, whether they are less successful than her or not.

    Even taking into account P.T. Barnum’s adage that “You’ll never go broke understimating the intelligence of the American Public” I’m still baffled that anyone could sell such crap to thousands of readers. Amanda Hocking’s career is the literary equivalent of a Youtube video of dogs farting that gets ten million hits. You simply can’t explain or duplicate that kind of success.

    • “On Amanda Hocking’s blog she brags that she wrote her vampire novel My Blood Approves in 15 days. She then tells us that she wrote Switched in a week. I read excerpts of her books on Amazon, and it’s easy to believe she wrote them as fast as she claims.”

      This ^

      A week is not long enough to write a book of any decent sort of quality. I read the first few pages of Hollowland to see what all the fuss was about, and ended up wanting to set my eyeballs on fire.

      Also, I hate this whole “Trashing other authors is a big bad no-no, you horrid meanie!” attitude that’s hovering about the publishing world just now. Criticism is not trashing, but it seems these days to be taken as such.
      Which is probably one of the reasons there are hundreds of awful first drafts shuffling their illiterate way onto Amazon.
      No one is telling these ‘self-pubbers’ how bad their stuff really is. It’s all about the friendly pats on the back and ego stroking.

      The bottom line is, anyone can write a good story.
      But authors get paid to be skilled writers *as well as* good storytellers.
      That’s what makes this a profession instead of a glorified hobby.

      And the damage badly edited self-publishers are doing, is undermining not only self-publishing, but writing as an entire profession.
      And that’s something we should all be pretty concerned about.

      • “And the damage badly edited self-publishers are doing, is undermining not only self-publishing, but writing as an entire profession.
        And that’s something we should all be pretty concerned about.”

        Great point!

        I am not an author/writer/aspiring writer (which will be abundantly clear after reading this post). I happened to stumble across this blog while doing research on AH after reading a TIME article. The extent of my writing skills are left to emails, journaling and the occasional reply to a post. However, I am an AVID reader. I LOVE to read and I read all types of books. I see good writing as an art form. When someone starts to “dummy” down literature and lower the standards then you begin to nullify it as an art form.

        I for one have no problems reading an entertaining fluff book from time to time, but books that have horrible grammar, obvious spelling errors and lazy plot/character development doesn’t do it for me and I am VERY worried that this will become the standard for future writers.

    • “On Amanda Hocking’s blog she brags that she wrote her vampire novel My Blood Approves in 15 days. She then tells us that she wrote Switched in a week. I read excerpts of her books on Amazon, and it’s easy to believe she wrote them as fast as she claims.”

      This ^

      A week is not long enough to write a book of any decent sort of quality. I read the first few pages of Hollowland to see what all the fuss was about, and ended up wanting to set my eyeballs on fire.

      Also, I hate this whole \”Trashing other authors is a big bad no-no, you horrid meanie!\” attitude that\’s hovering about the publishing world just now. Criticism is not trashing, but it seems these days to be taken as such.
      Which is probably one of the reasons there are hundreds of awful first drafts shuffling their illiterate way onto Amazon.
      No one is telling these \’self-pubbers\’ how bad their stuff really is. It\’s all about the friendly pats on the back and ego stroking.

      The bottom line is, anyone can write a good story.
      But authors get paid to be skilled writers *as well as* good storytellers.
      That\’s what makes this a profession instead of a glorified hobby.

      And the damage badly edited self-publishers are doing, is undermining not only self-publishing, but writing as an entire profession.
      And that\’s something we should all be pretty concerned about.

      • Ha. Quite ironic that I’m sitting harping on about editing, and my comment appears to have bungled itself up with random slashes everywhere. Maybe that’s karma for me “trashing” Hocking…

  11. I’m only 15 and picked up Switched at the library because of the beautiful cover and the little gold circle with ‘Multi million best seller’ in fancy writing. I thought it would be amazing. I gave up after the third chapter. Hocking blatantly stated facts about the characters instead of weaving them into the novel so readers could figure things out for themselves. It was a massive 360 on ‘show don’t tell’ that left me feeling slightly offended. For all the people saying that her YA target audience don’t care about good writing, you’re wrong. I’m obviously part of the intended readers and I was cringing through each page. I picked up so many typos and grammatical mistakes, it was appalling. Also the dialogue was tedious and more than 50% of the banter between characters could have been cut out for an easier read. Basically, it doesn’t matter who your target audience is, part of being an author is writing to impress not just entertain.

  12. Two words, Stieg Larsson.

    65 Million copies sold, very poor writer, great story.

    65M people is not white noise.

    E L James, Stephanie Meyer, poor writers.

    All professionally edited by a big house

    Really begs the question?

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