Amanda Hocking has made $2 million self-publishing e-books, yet she signed a book deal with a traditional publisher. Image: CC evilhayama/Flickr

Amanda Hocking, known as the “Kindle Millionaire,” is a 26-year-old author who has figured out how to sell more than 1 million copies of her self-published e-books. Hocking and several other authors are making more money with self-published e-books than those they have written that are controlled by publishing houses. But Hocking, who has made about $2 million from self-publishing, recently signed a book deal with a publishing house for a $2 million advance.

How to become a Kindle Millionaire

Amanda Hocking, the Kindle Millionaire, only started self-publishing her e-books about a year ago. Her vampire romance potboilers have made her the best-selling independent author in the Amazon Kindle store. She has been selling about 100,000 e-books every month for between 99 cents and $2.99. Amazon takes a 30 percent cut for every sale. She maintains high turnover by regularly cranking out fresh novels and novellas. Hocking’s most popular titles are the books in the “Trylle Trilogy,” which go for $2.99 each. She also self-publishes her work at the iBooks Store and for the Barnes & Noble Nook. But because she wears all the hats, Hocking has worked harder and longer than typical writers.

How self-publishing pays off

For some authors, self-publishing pays better than working with traditional publishers. Thriller writer Barry Eisler, who has written a number of New York Times bestsellers, recently turned down a $500,000 deal from a traditional publisher because he wants to self-publish his next novel. In his blog, author Joe Konrath explains why self-publishing has the potential to pay off more. Konrath sells about 7,000 self-published e-books per month on Kindle. His top six titles each average 833 sales and $1,700, per month in revenue. His best selling e-book controlled by a traditional publisher has sold 2,631 downloads since 2004, earning him $2,200, or about $34 a month. The traditional publisher sells Konrath’s ebook for $4.69 on Amazon and pays him $1.17. Konrath sells his self-published e-books in much higher numbers on Amazon for $2.99 and makes $2.04. Because his traditional publisher prices the ebooks too high and returns such a low royalty, Konrath is losing money on the deal.

Can the Kindle Millionaire find paper and ink success?

After being dubbed the Kindle Millionaire and touted as an existential threat to publishing houses, Hocking signed with St. Martin’s Press, a subsidiary of Macmillan. she’s getting a $2 million advance for the next four books of her vampire romance series. On her blog, Hocking explained her decision by saying she wanted to spend her time writing, not handling emails, formatting covers or hiring freelance editors. She’ll also benefit with a wider audience from traditional media outlets. But Kiri Blakeley at Forbes wondered if Hocking, who made it big by being fast and cheap, will translate to the paper and ink world. It could be difficult match her 99 cent e-book success with real books that command up to $30 for hard cover first editions.

Sources

Forbes: http://blogs.forbes.com/kiriblakeley/2011/03/24/kindle-millionaire-amanda-hocking-goes-traditional/

New York Times: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/self-publisher-signs-four-book-deal-with-macmillan/

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/09/konrath-ebooks-sales-top-100k.html

Melville House Publishing: http://mhpbooks.com/mobylives/?p=29044

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