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Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Love Story

This isn't part of Zombiepalooza, but it's something I wanted to say. This blog isn't meant to be a rant. I'm not writing from an angry place. And it's not a direct reaction to anything. It's just something I've wanted to say for awhile, and I'm finally frustrated  enough to say something.

Here it is: I didn't sell a million books by selling a million books.

What I mean by that is everybody keeps talking about  how many books I sold and the "phenomenon."I spend more time during interviews talking about sales than I do my actual books. There are so many blogs and tweets and all that talk about numbers and not writing.

The number one question I get is: How did you sell so many books?

Here's the secret: I wrote a book that many people enjoyed.

I did not say I wrote the best book ever written. I did not say that everybody loved it, because some people who read it really hated it. What I did say is that many of the people who read it, liked it. And the people who liked it went on to tell their friends, to blog about it, to tweet about it. People who read it based on friends recommendations went on to like it, and then went on to tell their friends. (And I am so, so grateful to each and every one of those people).

Terri the screenwriter who is adapting Switched, and my current editor at St. Martin's Rose both approached me/agent in early January, before I released Ascend, before I made the USA Today Bestseller list, before I became a story about the numbers I sold.

Both of them found Switched on their own and liked it so much that they wanted to do something with it. Long before I sold a million books.

What I'm trying to say is that in the story about me and my "phenomenal" sales, the part that seems to always get overlooked is the actual books.

It may have been luck that Terri and Rose read Switched, but it wasn't luck that they liked it. It wasn't the $.99 price-tag that compelled them to approach me and Steve. It wasn't even the "inspirational" story about me self-publishing. It wasn't the book cover, either. It was the book.

You may hate my book and think it's total crap. But to ignore the fact that so many people did like it is to deny a major part of this story.

In the end, after all the ways people try to spin my story, it's really just a love story. I loved writing, I wrote a story I loved, readers fell in love with the same characters I did, and I love my readers. That's all there is to it.

50 comments:

  1. And we all love reading your stories, so it is a true love story. Oh yeah, we love you too! (Although if Swear would come out just a little bit sooner, some of us would love you even more;)

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  2. You are the Cinderella story for authors, Amanda. People will be asking you the same questions for years to come. I for one am thankful the doors of the publishing world have been blown open and more authors have a chance to do what they love.

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  3. You were and still are an amazing writer! I seriously enjoy your books and I always talk about you as if your were still the same up and coming author a while back.

    I love your novels very much and I hope to one day buy the hard copies and have them signed by you :) And we all love you, too :D

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  4. I am one of those who only discovered your books after the news stories started showing up, and I decided to check out one of your books.

    It was clear to me after reading the one book that people were responding because you can tell a hell of a story with characters that are well-drawn and that people relate and respond to.

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  5. One thing that Stephen King mentions in "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft", is Amy Tan's comment that no one asks about the language...Personally, I am very happy for your monetary success, but that's not what attracted to me to you...the fact that you showed me a way to get good books out there is what drew me to you. Plus, "My Blood Approves," is the best vampire series I've ever read, and it's my first. I can't wait for "Swear," once I finish "Wisdom,". Wanna know something scary and awesome? Alice Bonham is just like ME!! EEEK!! Amanda, you are a blessing and a star for everyone. Keep shining, and most importantly, keep writing!

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  6. Your books are amazing. I loved your Trylle Trilogy and I'm so pumped to see where you're headed. Switched was the first book I bought on my Kindle last Christmas and I talked again and again about it to everyone I know because of how much I loved the story. When I found out your success, I've only been that much more excited for you because I can tell how much you deserve it and how hard you've worked.
    You are an inspiration, but above that, you're a beautiful writer who I continually watch and wait in anticipation to see where you're headed next.

    Keep it up Amanda,
    Jordan
    ink-puddle.blogspot.com

    P.S. I couldn't agree with you more that it's not just about the numbers.

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  7. Wait. What?! You mean it's all about story? For the writer AND the readers?
    ;)

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  8. Well said, Amanda. The book comes first.

    I'm always hearing your publishing story on forums and in the blogosphere. They seem to think you did it by skillfully marketing yourself. I think you did it by writing a book that many people liked.

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  9. I'm sorry your books get lost in the glitter of everything else. It's insanity really, none of it could have happened with out them--I mean they were the whole point of everything your an author. Duh.

    I do believe that eventually your personal story will calm down; I just don't think it's going to be very soon.Def not soon enough for you.

    I've said this before, but you should know I'm a super fangirl. It's kind of rediculous, but I don't like you because you were an internet phenom. I like you because you wrote books I like to read (and reread) characters I want to make out with, AND MOST OF ALL how cool you have stayed.

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  10. I am sorry that people are not focusing on the right aspects. It is never about the numbers, it is always the story. I love the way you write, and I love the books you have written. Huge fan!! I do believe that you got to where you are today, because the power of word of mouth. That is how I found your books, through a book blog. I love the worlds you have created, and I will continue to pick up your books because of the way you paint a world with your words.

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  11. I have to be honest --- I've never read your books, though I intend to do so. I obviously read about you on the yahoo home page, but I never thought you became famous because of how many copies you sold. I figured someone has to be really talented to be where you are with your books and even in your life. No one gets as far as you do unless they are committed and exceptionally skilled. Keep up the great work, Amanda! You are an inspiration!

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  12. This is exactly why I tell people about you. I love how clearly you get your ideas across but more importantly the fact that you write because you love it. One of my favorite things I loved that you said in you FAQ was that you sell books for $3 or less because you can, because you want to write so people have something to read! Keep doing what you love and reminding people that you do it because you love it! :)

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  13. This post is so awesome.

    There is so much hot air blown about self-publishing, especially by folks like J. A. Konrath, and it's almost all about sales. You hear so much about sales this, money that, it's all about the dollar signs. It's so, so rare to read about the books themselves. Publishing shouldn't be all about the money. It should be about giving great books to the readers.

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  14. Congratulations on having the wisdom to know what's really important. I can't imagine surviving a long term career being obsessed with numbers. It would eat away at the creativity until there was nothing left. As a fifty book veteran of traditional publishing, I know whereof I speak. You're never going to please everyone, so please yourself and invite those who love what you do along for the ride. The numbers thing will blow over eventually, and someday the focus will be where it should be, on the work. Congratulations on your success!

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  15. "I loved writing, I wrote a story I loved, readers fell in love with the same characters I did, and I love my readers. That's all there is to it"

    And there's the whole truth and nothing but the truth about it. Thanks so much for posting this...and it didn't come off at all ranty. Seriously, thank you for bringing it back to the books.

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  16. Great post. I love that you write because you love to. That's the way it should be.

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  17. Wait...you mean that writing is more important than marketing?! *g* You've done a thing that only a handful of indies have managed (out of a hell of a lot more than a handful who're trying), I don't think you're ever going to run out of questions from people who don't get that the writing came first. Best of luck, you're handling it with a tremendous amount of grace.

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  18. I imagine you needed to say that Amanda. Good for you. I'm glad you got it off your chest. I bought Switched before all of the hoopla. It's a great story, I enjoyed it very much.

    What I admire most about your story is that you worked your butt of at a full time job, while writing full time as well. You hung with it and made it happen. That's the part of your story that I love.

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  19. You're so awesome.

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  20. You are right. That needed to be said!

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  21. You are an amazing author, I love all your books! So much that I have told all my friends about you. Thank you Amanda for just being you, honest and down to earth.

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  22. Funny how writing something you'd like to read resonates with others more than writing something you think others would like. It's also funny how that point is so often overlooked by measurements of success.

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  23. I think the question makes sense and is fair. People want to replicate your success. I am not on the receiving end of the question, so to be honest I cannot see why it bothers you so much. I think there are a lot of author out there who have read your books, loved them, hated them or are ambivalent to them. But perhaps either way they felt inspired by your personal journey and would like to somehow duplicate it.
    I don't know, I guess I think it is flattering. It speaks to what an amazing feet you have accomplished. I don't think it takes away from your books. I have read all your book and have enjoyed most of them, BUT your little empire is crazy.
    I think you deserve every bit of your success AND I am not calling you bratty by stating any of the above . . . I guess I just view it from a different perspective. I am taking it more from the stand point of "own it" and for get the rest.
    I know you love your fans and you work very hard at your craft your sales are just further proof of that.
    Cannot wait for next book. So I can had to your numbers and leave more people flabbergasted, asking, "How does she do it?"

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  24. I hope the my blood approves series gets made into a movie.

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  25. And this post is why people love you, Amanda.

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  26. Amanda, I think your words needed to be said. Writers forget that too, just as the public and the media forget. If you want to sell books, you have to write books. Period.

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  27. This is a terrific non rant. And to add to that, with all the ebooks and blogs telling writers how be a successful self publisher, the biggest part left out is about writing a book readers will love. It's all about SEO and twitter followers and social media and tags. As if that is enough.

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  28. Thank you, very nice post, your site would be followed , it give me a big view .
    And welcome to my blog ,
    which is about hid conversion kit.
    have a nice day .

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  29. I really think Americans are obsessed with financial success and less about enjoying what you do. People want to hear about people that make millions.

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  30. Thank you so much for this! Writers have been getting unbelievable pressure from agents and publishers to develop their platform and have solid numbers before getting a book deal. I've been *ahem* ranting against that on my blog (and er... *shuffles feet* on an agent's blog).

    But this is exactly what I've been saying - that sales aren't about numbers. They're about word of mouth. And the only thing that creates that word of mouth is a great book.

    Thank you! *hugs*

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  31. You're a good writer, you wrote a book that millions connected with. Phenomenal storytelling creates a phenomenon. :)

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  32. You have really become my favorite author. :) I have re-read the Trylle Trilogy and My Blood Approves series over and over! (Super excited for Swear to be released) Its definitely not about the number of books you sell. I read your books because they are amazing and inspirational:) You inspire me to become a writer! Keep up the fantastic work!

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  33. You inspired me to not be afraid and push myself towards the things I want in life. I want to be a writer and be self-published at least for the time being. I just sold my first 56 books at ZomBCon this past weekend and a little part of that is because you inspired me to write the kind of zombie fiction I wanted to read!! Hollowland was a great book. You are a phenomenon not because you sold all these books but because you had the perseverance and courage to push yourself to have the life you wanted.
    You are awesome! Thanks for inspiring me.

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  34. When I read about internet marketing, SEO, sales pages, squeeze pages, social media marketing, email marketing, etc I often think that it's that more like someone created a product that people liked and wanted to buy. It's really that simple and yet difficult.

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  35. This rant is very well written and commend you for keeping your composure. It's sad how so many people are trying to spin your story into what they want it to be. Congrats on ypur success, and keep up the good work of putting your all into your stories. Much Success.

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  36. It's obvious to me you have a wealth of fans who can't wait for that next book. For me, that's what writing has always been about. Touching the hearts and souls of readers, keeping them up all night reading your book. Many writers, including myself, are in awe of your sales. You're an entertainer extraordinaire. Congratulations, Amanda! And continued success.

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  37. I have purchased every book of your available on kindle version the first book I purchased was trylle. and it was because at the time it was .99 that was perfect for me I read it and bought every other book because they were inexpensive excellent reads!!!! And honestly After reading the first books in the series you have written I probably would have paid more to read the remaining in the series your smart and articulate you know how to write a story that as a reader we become entranced in. I enjoy all of your books keep up the good and work and the numbers will follow forget about the idiotic jealous morons who want to ask how you sell so many books. People dont need to hate on your top spot! Go Amanda cant wait for the next books to come out!

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  38. I agree, people see success and forget about the love and sweat that goes into it. They only see the numbers. Writing a novel recquires you connecting with the characters you create and through that connection make the novel enjoyable enough for others. Fans are born and as they spread the message of your work, more read it. Such a thing won't necessarily make you or your work famous. But that's what it takes to get novels read. Success is icing on the cake. And I'm happy to see that you got a lot of icing Amanda. Never forget what brought you into writing in the first place. It wasn't selling a million books, it was love of the craft.

    I wish you all the best. Love from me and Jamaica!

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  39. I am so glad you said that Amanda!! It needed to be said. You are a WRITER, a lover of your craft. You do it because it gives you something that you can't get any place else on this earth.

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  40. Switched is a great piece of story and I'm eager to read and review the rest of the books in the trilogy.

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  41. Amanda this is perfectly interesting article about the love.
    Nice to share this post.
    Thanks
    Story Corner

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  43. One of the keys to reading your books or really any fictional book is to not get too turned off by the negative reviews on Amazon. It seems many people just like to write a negative review. It stopped me from reading some books I later read so now I try to read reviews of 3 - 4 stars. I mean when I read Harry Potter and then some of the negative comments on Amazon. a light bulb went off. I read what the books about and decide if I'll like it. If I review a book it's one I liked or I don't review it. Hmmmm - Maybe that's a small rant by me?

    Reading a book that tells a good story is what it's about.

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