Monday, February 28, 2011

Misinformation & Corrections

The internet is filled with misinformation. Some of that is about me.

So, I'm going to set the record straight by saying a bunch of things about me and my books that are true, so if you read things other places, you can be all, "Nah, that's not true. Here. Check out Amanda's blog."
  • I'm twenty-six years-old, not twenty-seven, twenty-five, or any other age. 
  • I live in Austin, Minnesota, not Minneapolis. I like Minneapolis a lot. I just don't live there. 
  • I have published eight books and one novella, so there are nine works that you can purchase from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Smashwords. 
  • I've written 19 books. 
  • All of my published full-length novels are available in both ebook and paperback. 
  • Three of my full length novels are priced at $.99 in ebook, and my novella is priced at $.99. The other five books are priced at $2.99. All my paperbacks are priced at $8.99 and $9.99. 
  • I was never traditionally published. I still have not been traditionally published. 
  • A few books have foreign deals in place, but the books have not been published yet.
  • I have an agent - Steve Axelrod - and I've had him since August.  
  • I first published two books in April 15, 2010. Since then, I've sold over 900,000 copies of over nine different books. 
  • I have been on the USA Today Bestseller list but not the NY Times List. (I suspect the Times hates me).
  • I'll be in the April issue of Elle magazine. If my understanding of the magazine industry is correct, that issue should be out sometime in March.
  • The syndicated television program Better TV is interviewing me at the end of March. I have no clue when that will air, and I'm not sure what channel will it air on, because it depends on where you live.
  • My trilogy has been optioned for a film. 
  • I really like sushi. 
  • Michael Wincott is phenomenal.

I'm currenly watching The Social Network for the first time after a long time of avoiding it. Eric is obsessed with it, but my feelings on Jesse Eisenberg are quite complicated. I enjoy neurosis very much, though. The score is enjoyable, although I still believe that Hans Zimmer should've won for Inception

I like to obsess over things that don't matter because it's more fun obsessing over things that do.

The Social Network sorta feels like a music video inter-spliced with rapid fire snark and legalese. I understand why Eric enjoys it.

I'm not sure if I approve of this fella from The Social Network as Spiderman. I'm not sure I don't approve either. I enjoy him. But I don't know if he screams Peter Parker to me. But then again, Peter Parker isn't the kind of guy to scream thing anything, is he? He's Peter Parker.

I digress. If I ever had a point, I've probably made it by now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Oscars

Every year, Eric tries to force everybody he's ever met into Oscar bets with him. I'm pretty sure that I'm the only who's ever beaten him, but every time we got against each other, we're like a point or two away from each other. We love the Oscars.

Here are my picks for the evening:

Best Actor: Colin Firth
Best Actress: Natalie Portman
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo
Best Director: Darren Affronsky (Black Swan)
Best Picture: Black Swan (Eric says it will be The King's Speech, and he's probably right, but I already locked in my vote)
Best Original Screenplay: Inception (I'm not convinced this will win - but it should win)
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Original Score: Inception (this is actually the win I'm most excited about - the Inception score is totally and completely brilliant and NEEDS to win)
Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Foreign Film: Biutiful 
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Art Direction: Inception

I voted on the other categories too, but I really hate voting for them because they're hard to pick. It all feels like guessing to me. I mean, all my picks are guesses, but they're educated guesses at least.

I would love to see an upset with Inception for Best Picture, but I know that won't happen.  Because the academy hates Christopher Nolan. I don't know why. But it's true. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Inception walked away with zero Oscars tonight. But I'm still voting for it.

Also, I'm crazy excited to see what Franco does with hosting. I'm sure it will be a hoot. So... that's that.

Please Help

What you may not know about me is that I love rodents. Hamsters are my favorite, but I love rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, mice, gerbils, and rats. I watched an episode of Hoarders tonight, and this neat place called North Star Rescue took in over a thousand rats. They're working to find them all homes. Also, on the main page of their site, they say the recently took in a lot of hamsters as well.

I've secretly harbored a fantasy for years of running a hamster sanctuary, and it's great to see a place like North Star Rescue working like they are.

I'm too far away to adopt an animal from them or volunteer my time (they're in California), but they have a PayPal button where you can donate money. They also have a list of supplies they need and an address to ship them.

So, if you're an animal lover, and if you can, please donate or send supplies. And if you're nearby, I encourage you to volunteer or adopt a rat or hamster. They really do make excellent pets.

Here's the link for North Star Rescue: click here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pretty Places in Austin & Random Things

It's Saturday night, at 9:30. I'm in my jammies, watching a Lifetime movie with Hayden Paniettiere, and Eric is sleeping on the couch next to me. I'm a very exciting person.

I also filled out forms to go see a dentist, and I'm very excited about it. The dentist sounds very fancy. Eric was making fun of me for being so excited to go to the dentist, but I am.

This movie is scaring me about going to other countries, but it's also makes me want to go to Europe. They have such pretty buildings there. All the buildings here are crap. Well, not all of them. But a lot of them.

I like this place. It's probably my favorite place in all of Austin, MN.

My friend Pete is getting married there this fall, and I'm jealous, because it's such an awesome place to get married. You can't tell from the outside, but they have really pretty starlights and awesome balconies and stuff.  Here's in the inside of the Paramount:

This is the really pretty church/pavillion that my friends Val & Greggor got married in two years ago:

So yep. Those are some pretty places that my friends got/are getting married in Austin, Minnesota.

Also,  I did an interview with a reporter for the London Observer, and the article is out now. You can read it: here. It's about epublishing in the UK. There is one error in the article. It says that I've sold nearly a million copies of Switched. I have sold almost a million books of all my titles together - not just one title.

Oh! And tomorrow, there's the Oscars. But also, Shotime is re-airing Episodes from the beginning. Episodes quickly became one of my favorite shows. It's very funny, and it has people in it from Green Wing. (Side note: Can I get the two series of Green Wing on DVD here in the US? I've only see it available for the UK). And Matt Leblanc is surprisingly wonderful. I really enjoy it.

But tomorrow I will be watching the Oscars. I'm very excited to see what Franco comes up with. I just feel like everything that happens will be tweetable and youtube-worthy. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Guest Post from J. L. Bryan

Today I have a guest post from J. L. Bryan - author of Jenny Pox and the newly released Haunted E-Book. He's having a lot of really fun giveaways to go along with the release of his latest book, and he's a great writer, as well as a terrifically swell guy. So enjoy his post, and check out his books.

Lesser-Known Ghosts of the Upper Midwest

For my Haunted E-book Tour stop today at Amanda’s blog, I thought it would be nice if I showed some research initiative and dug up some famous ghosts of the upper Midwest, which must have its share of them, with all those dark forests and desolate dairies.
But if they’re already famous, do they really need more press?  Instead, I decided to talk about some less well-known ghosts.  These ghosts are so little-known, in fact, that you probably won’t find much information about them, no matter how much time you spend researching them. 
So, here they are, in the order in which I invented them:

1.      The Polka Phantom.  Yes, he comes out at least once every Oktoberfest, playing his accordion and trying to lure the innocent out for a polka dance or two.  They say he’s the ghost of Johann Schnauzerhund, the worst accordion player in state history, who was driven from town to town and finally out into the arctic cold of a December night in Minnesota, because his accordion playing really was that annoying.  Late at night, when its more than twenty degrees below zero and you go out onto the frozen Minnesota tundra, if the wind dies down and the full moon comes out, you can still hear his ghost playing the accordion.  Badly.

2.       The Friday Fish Fry Fisherman.  He only comes on Fridays, and only if you’re having a fish fry.  They say the fisherman died on a cold winter night out, not because there was a storm or because he fell into the water and drowned, but because he was using a deep-fryer on the wooden deck of his ship, against the manufacturer’s warnings.  He became drunk and knocked over the vat of hot oil, and his ship caught on fire and sank beneath the water.  It remains there to this day, mainly because extracting it would be expensive and involve cranes.

Now, he wanders out on Friday nights in search of the deep-fried food he was denied in life.  To avoid being haunted by the fisherman, place a small piece of fried fish outside your front door every time you have a fish fry.  This will appease the fisherman’s ghost, but may attract cats.

3.       The Loonie Lumberjack.  This is alleged to be the ghost of Sven Thatguysson, a 19th-century lumberjack known for frequenting the rough “jack” bars in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where drunken shirtless wrestling fights often broke out.  Sven died rolling logs down a river to Lake Superior.  Sometimes he hurls logs at vacationers like that gorilla in Donkey Kong.  Sven’s body was never recovered, and they say that’s why the bottoms of the lakes in Minnesota stay cold all winter.  Because they’re haunted by his ghost.  Not because of the eternal lack of direct sunlight.

4.       The Mount Horeb Troll Ghost. The town of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin is full of trolls.  (I’m uncertain about its proximity to Förening.) Little-known story: one of these trolls allegedly tried to claim an interstate overpass as his own bridge, and got flattened by an eighteen-wheeler while attempting to shake it down for a toll.  Some nights, you can still see him on the overpass, still claiming that no one may cross the bridge without paying him.  If worse comes to worse, throw him a few coins and he’ll leave you alone.

I hope that this guide to very obscure ghosts has been educational.  However, I doubt it.
In the comments you below, you might mention some lesser-known ghosts in your area.  Or make some up.  I did.
Commenting on this post within seven days enters you for The Haunted E-book Tour Grand Prizes, including The Haunted Library and a Kindle (or two!).
It also enters you for the


Today we’ll have a special triple paperback giveaway.  One person who comments within seven days will win three paperbacks: Jenny Pox, The Haunted E-book and Hollowland.
Be sure to leave an email address, blog URL or other way to get in touch with you in case you win. 
Thanks so much to Amanda for hosting today’s blog tour stop!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Jacob Wetterling is still missing.

When I was a kid, I used to lay awake at night a lot, imagining where he might be. I always thought he'd be in Egypt. I don't know why exactly. But I just thought nobody would look for him there, so he might be there, and nobody would know. He might be there alive.

I think less about where he is now. Sometimes I still do. I imagine that he was brainwashed, and he doesn't know who he is. But he's an adult now, and he's far away from who ever kidnapped him. He's a little damaged from the experience, but he's met a nice a girl, and he's going to therapy and moving on with his life.

I don't know if I believe that's true. But I hope it is.

When the FBI began digging up around his neighbor's house last year, I sorta had a mini-breakdown. It occurred to me - like really occurred to me for the first time - that he might not be alive. I watched footage of the farm being exacavated on a news broadcast, and I ended up sobbing uncontrollably. Something about the reality of it was devestating.

But Patty Wetterling held it together. What little she said about it was thoughtful and objective. That woman is my hero. I can't even fathom how she does that. The level of bravery and resilience and poise is astounding.

I was thinking about all the good Patty Wetterling has done for missing and exploited children. She's worked so hard, in spite of so much, and I want to help.

I have a book I plan to release soon. (I'm thinking April, right now). It's called with Lost Without You, and it's about a teenager who goes missing and her friends frantic attempts to find her. When it's released, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center. I'm not sure how much yet, but I will have a definite percentage when I release Lost Without You.

Until then, I encourage you all to look into the foundation and to donate if you can.

For more information on Jacob Wetterling, including an age progressed photo, please click: here.

If you have any information about Jacob Wetterling or his adbudctor, please contact the Stearns County Sheriff's Office (Minnesota) - Missing Persons Unit - 1-320-259-3700.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Some Random Things...

The latest word on the street is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play the Holiday Killer in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.

Eric told me this on Friday, and I was so excited when I found out that I literally tripped on the stairs while running up to get my copy of The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I grabbed it to show Eric pictures of the Holiday Killer, but of course, he didn't care, and just wanted me to show him illustrations of the Riddler.

But still. I'm very, very, very excited.

In more exciting news:

If you're a follower of my blog, you may have noticed my frequent mentions of Eric (the above Eric obsessed with the Riddler). He's my roommate, platonic life mate, and life guru. Starting Tuesday next week, he will also be my assistant.

This is especially cool for us because his goal in life has been to be a personal assistant. In fact, we've been good friends for like ten years or something, and throughout the duration of our friendship, our mutual goals have been for me to a published author and for him to be my assistant. 

This will be exciting for people who enjoy things I do because Eric will be keeping more organized and helping me do stuff, so I should be better about answering emails. He's also going to be taking over the PayPal stuff, so I think I'm going to expand on that also. I don't know exactly what that will entail, but I'm sure we'll come up with something.

Also, check out how adorable my cat is:

The cute one sleeping is Squeak. The big fluffy butt is Nikki Fris.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Secret

In case you missed yesterday's epic post (and it truly was epic, in the real sense of the word, and not in the fake "epic fail" kinda way), you should check it out: here.

After I made the post, I did the next logical thing: I took a nap and watched Top Chef. I get the biggest news of my career and life, and then I take a nap. In my defense, I was tired, and I've lost my voice. I sound Kathleen Turner with emphysema,

I want to thank everybody for all your undue praise and crazy support. I do really appreciate it, and if it weren't for you guys, I doubt all of this would happening. I just wrote a book. You guys made it popular.

For people asking how this happened, as far as I can tell it happened like this: Terri Tatchell bought Switched and Torn (this was before Ascend came out). I'm not sure what ereader she bought them on, but it was an ereader. She read them, enjoyed them very much, and decided she'd like to adapt them. She emailed me and her agent emailed me, asking if they could adapt them. Her agent talked to my agent a lot. And then a month later, the deal was finalized, and now I'm telling you.

OH! Here's the especially bizarre and true part of the story. I decided I was going to get a Bluray player, but before I even got one, I started buying Blurays (that's the kind of person I am). I was laying in bed one night, trying to fall asleep, and I was thinking about how I don't know why Cloverfield is called Cloverfield. (I still don't, BTW).

So, since I could sleep, I got up, and ordered a bunch of Blurays from Amazon. Amazon kept recommending movies to me, and since I'd bought Cloverfield, they suggested I buy District 9. I took their suggestion, because I saw District 9 in theaters and loved it.

The day - the very day - I got District 9 in the mail from Amazon is the day Terri Tatchell emailed me. Not even kidding.

So the whole feels a bit like kismet to me, and I don't even believe in kismet.

I was reading old blogs the other day, and when I got really serious about writing, my roommate and life guru Eric suggested I try the Secret. He said it worked for Ellen and Oprah, and since I'd tried everything, I decided to try it.

The idea behind the Secret is that you can manifest the things you want by believing you'll get them. I think. I don't completely understand. Eric said I needed to make a vision board with all the things I wanted so that I would put it out for the universe to know what I wanted, and then... I could get them? I don't know.

But I've had the same vision board up in my room for over a year. And here is what's on it: A still from Juno with the words "movie" on it in silver sharpie. A page from one of my books that says "published." A million dollar bill from Who Wants to Be a Millionare the board game with the word "money" written on it. A quote from a magazine that says "I have the greatest job ever" and I wrote "writing" above it. An iPhone. Batman Converse. A boombox. And Pete Wentz.

I just got an iPhone (thanks Verizon!). So other than Pete Wentz, I've pretty much got everything from the vision board. Oh. I don't have a boombox either. I want an old school one like Radio Raheem had in Do the Right Thing. But that's the besides the point.

The point is - maybe there really is something to this Secret thing. Thanks, Universe, for being awesome.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Announcement

I've been sitting on this for what feels like forever (but it's really only been a month), and today I got word from agent that I can FINALLY tell people about it.

The Trylle Trilogy has been optioned for a film. Terri Tatchell - Oscar nominated screenplay writer and Bradbury Award winner for District 9 - is going to adapt the screenplay for the trilogy.

Now, before you get too excited, I'm going to clarify - she's only optioned to write the screenplay. This is no guarantee that this will be a movie. Things fall apart all the time for various reasons. And I have no idea how long it would be before a movie would be released, if it were to even come to frution.

With all that said - I am still very, very excited. Terri Tatchell is tremendous. Regardless of how this all turns out, it really is an honor that she wants to do this, and it's still pretty neat that this happened, even if Switched never becomes a film.

Will Switched ever be a movie? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that I'm very excited, and at this point, I'm cautiously optimistic. Also, Terri Tatchell thinks Michael Wincott is awesome. And she's Canadian. And District 9 was a really rad movie.

So that's some of the big news I've had going on. It is really awesome.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

a bit of reality check...

I wrote a blog a couple days in hopes that I had said everything I could possibly say about publishing, and then I would have one nice big blog that I could point everyone back to when they had questions. (And if you want to check it out, here it is: Pretty Much Everything I Have to Say About How I Do What I Do). But with the recent influx of emails in my inbox and some of the buzz I'm hearing on the interweb, I feel like I have something more I need to say.

Self-publishing is NOT is the easy way out. If you simply want to be published, and do not care if everyone reads or enjoys your work, then yes, self-publishing is easy. If you want to be sucessful and make a living as a writer, then it is hard work. In a lot of ways, I suspect it is harder than being traditionally published.

I'm just under the impression that a lot of people are now looking at this as a Get Rich Quick scheme, and this is no such thing. 

So much of what people are saying about me is, "Look what Amanda Hocking accomplished in a year," when they really should be saying is, "Look what Amanda Hocking accomplished in twenty years." Because that's how long I've been writing, that's how long I've been working towards this goal.

Most of my life has been spent in front of a keyboard or with a pen and paper. I have spent more of my life writing than I have on any other singular activity (with the exception of sleeping). I easily work over forty hours a week, just on writing, editing, networking, reading, etc.

Other ewriters that I know that are doing well - like David Dalglish and HP Mallory, among others - are doing as well as they are for the same reasons. They treat their writing like a career, something they they work hard for every day. If you do not have the time to devote to working at your writer the same way you would a full time job, then the sad truth is that self-publishing probably isn't the right fit for you.

Another thing I'm hearing a lot is that a writer is finishing writing their first novel today and planning to publish it next week. There is no way a first time novelist can have it completed, edited, and formatted properly in a week. That writer may be a fantastic novelist, like truly fantastic, but rushing a product out will only hurt them.

There is a common misconception that I published the first novel I ever wrote, and that is not true. The first book I ever published was My Blood Approves, and that was the eighth novel I'd written.

Here's a list of all the books I've written, in the order they were written:
  1. Dreams I Can’t Remember
  2. House I Grew Up In
  3. Mistakes
  4. Lost Without You
  5. Violet 1996
  6. Paper Doll
  7. Clandestine
  8. My Blood Approves
  9. Rejection
  10. Fate
  11. Switched
  12. Flutter
  13. Hollowland
  14. Honalee
  15. Virtue
  16. Torn
  17. Wisdom
  18. Ascend
  19. Letters to Elise

The books that have been struck through are books that will never be published, because they're just not very good. The ones that are purple are ones that I think with some editing and time will get to a publishable level. But of the nineteen books I've written, only nine have been published.

Readers are asking for more of my books. So why don't I just throw out any of the books? Because they are not ready yet. And if I put out books that are not ready, I risk alienating readers. I have worked hard to establish a style and a name for myself that readers recognize and enjoy. I would never want to sully that or irritate fans by just throwing out something.

The point is that if you want to be successful with this and have a career as a writer, you need to do all the same work you would do if you were traditionally published. You just need to do it all yourself. The goal of being a professional writer is to produce a quality product, and that product should be indistinguishable from self-published and traditionally published.

I still think self-publishing is great for writers. But writers have to be careful not to shoot themselves in the foot. That means polishing your work and acting professional in the blogosphere.

Another thing people keep asking me is - how do you self-promote? The answer: I don't. I spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, and my blog, but with the exception of my blog, I hardly talk about my books or writing. My blog I do more so because if you came here, I figure you want to know about them, at least sometimes. I mostly talk about whatever I find interesting and entertaining. If I have a book coming out, of course I mention it, but it can't just be a long infomercial.

My tips for marketing online: just be present, be funny, and be kind. Try not to say anything offensive to about anyone. You never know who's reading or if/when it'll come back to bite you.

Also, someone commented on my blog with this:

"I googled you after your name came up in a discussion on Absolute Write (a writer's board). The discussion came about after someone posted about "augmenting" his own sales on Amazon by buying copies of his own book to make it seem like he was a best seller.

The person in question seems to think this is how your books rose in the ranks and that it's the normal operating procedure for self-published authors.

I'm not suggesting argument, but maybe some facts from someone who's actually had success with legitimate self-publishing could help him ou

I couldn't find the thread about this, but the reason I'm mentioning it here is because this is NOT standard practice among legitimate self-published authors. I have never done this. I have heard of people doing this, but every successful self-published author I know has not done this. Which means that it does not really work. You might get a temporary boost in rankings, but unless you get the reviews and word-of-mouth to go along with it, it doesn't really matter. Word-of-mouth is the best way to sell books, and it is something you cannot fake.

There are no tricks or schemes with self-publishing. It's just about writing a good book, polishing it really well, getting a good cover, pricing it right, and putting it out there. There are no short cuts. If you want to be successful at this, you have to do the work.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Why aren't you listening to Young Modern?

I wrote a whole blog and just deleted it. It was a bit of an industry post, but you know what? I don't want to write an industry post.

My shoulder is feeling better (thanks everybody for your well wishes). I do think I'm going to see about getting a massage or something this week, because it's still sore and weird. I also ordered one of those back support things that pulls your shoulders back. I think I slouch too much when I write.

Anyway, my back was feeling good enough so I could some of the writing done that I needed to get done. So yay to that!

But mostly what I want to talk about is how neat Daniel Johns is. Every few months, I remember how much I enjoy Daniel Johns and Silverchair, and I start getting really antsy for a new album. If you caught my Top Ten Albums of 2000 Through 2010 list, then you saw that Silverchair's Young Modern is #1 album on my list.

Look, America, I get it. It's confusing at first. Frogstomp was all grungy, and it was these three pretty kids that look like a cross between Hanson and Nirvana. And then they had Freak Show, which musically was along the same lines, but when Neon Ballroom came out, it started changing. But expect these pretty grunge boys, and Young Modern comes out, it's on a completely different level.

When I downloaded Young Modern, I instantly thought it was a mistake. That did not sound like Silverchair. But it was. Once you get past that it's Silverchair, and you get past that's it not completely what you expected it to be, you realize that it's something even better.

After I got it, I had to set Young Modern away for awhile. I was like, "No. I don't enjoy this." But I was wrong. For some reason, I listened to the album again a few months later, and I've been in love ever since. I just think it's totally and completely brilliant, and the most underrated album in America in the last decade.

Sometimes, when I listen to it, and realize that most people in the US don't listen to it or haven't even heard of it, I think I really need to move to Australia. And that's not drastic at all. The album is so good I would be completely justified in moving across the world to live where the album is appreciated.

According to what Wikipedia told me that Daniel Johns said, they were working on their next album in late 2009. Now, I don't want to rush the process (not that I think I am, because I sincerely doubt Daniel Johns reads my blog), but I am ready for a new album. Beyond ready. 

Also, I am a massive fan of Daniel Johns, but my fandom is very complicated. I can't even explain it. But all my feelings about him are positive, even if I don't understand them. They feel all tied up in other emotions and nostalgia for something that I don't even know what it is.

Anyway - the moral is: Silverchair should come out with a new album. You should all go buy and listen to Young Modern. Daniel Johns is really pretty.

(I unexpectedly find his new scruffed up black-eyed look more attractive than his effeminate pretty look.)

Here's "Straight Lines" by Silverchair for your listening/viewing pleasure (hey, if my mom is reading this, this is the song that's been your ringtone on my phone for the past four years.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pretty Much Everything I Have to Say About How to Do What I Do

Today I planned to blog about Jacqueline Susann, and how she really is a huge inspiration for me (be charming, be everywhere, work hard, and write romance). I think there's some really good advice in there for aspiring authors, and I've been getting a lot of questions from them lately.

But because I really, really need to turn of the internet and get some serious work done, I'm going to keep it brief, but give you the best advice for authors that I have in a nice bullet point form.

-If you're looking for good advice on how to be a better writer, check out Stephen King's On Writing. It's a great book, and he's a better writer than me, so his advice is more sound.

-If you're looking for info on how to e-publish your books and get into it, check out J. A. Konrath's blog and book A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Also, check out Smashwords style guide for tips on formatting, as well as the Kindlboards.

-If you're wondering how I managed to self-publish and end up being a best seller, you can check out my post about I got started in an epic tale of how it all happened.

-If you're wondering if/how you should publish your book, you can check out a couple posts I did My Thoughts on Indie Publishing and Indie vs. Traditional. And you might possibly want to check out How Everything Went the Opposite of What I'd Been Told.

-I pointed out a lot of great places that helped me out when I started in this, but the stuff I'm showing you is only the beginning. The number one thing you need to do before you decide to publish is RESEARCH. Look up and learn everything you can about everything involved with writing and publishing, even if you think it doesn't affect you. It's vital that authors understand the market and their readers. And if you think you don't have the time or inclination to do that much research, then the sad but brutal truth is that you do not have time or inclination to self-publish.

-And if you want the best piece of advice I've ever gotten, watch this video.  I posted it before, but it really, really bares repeating. You can watch the whole interview if you want, but the question/answer starts at about :55 seconds in and goes until about 2:10, so it's short and sweet. They're talking about music, but it applies to everything.

And, now, I have to step away from the tantalizing interwebs, and go do what I do: write.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fabio... and Some More Promo Stuff, and I Mention New Books, Too

I love Fabio. Not the shirtless blond guy on romance novels. I mean Top Chef's Italian Stallion Fabio Viviani.

Here's how super bizarre my life is: I made the USA Today Bestelling ebook list, and I was thinking that I should write a blog about that, and link to some articles and the TV interview, and talk about ... well, me. But I'd much rather talk about Top Chef.

This season is Top Chef All-Stars, meaning they picked people who'd been on previous seasons but didn't win. And it is crazy awesome. It's all my favorites, and some people who really deserved a second chance at winning, namely Richard Blais, Dale T (who I still think should NOT have been eliminated when he was the first time around), and Angelo.

But, even though I don't think Fabio is necessarily the best chef on the show, he was my favorite. Because he's very funny, charming, and nice. And the accent is kind of adorable. I didn't think so at first, but I love him now. (Somebody else I didn't think I'd like at first is Mike Isabella, but you watch the show for awhile, and you see that's he actually very funny and sweet.)

SPOILER ALERT Fabio got voted off of Top Chef tonight. He really is great for TV, though, so I don't think this is the last we'll be seeing of him. (Hint hint: Food Network and OWN). Meanwhile, he has an ebook out now on Amazon, which you can check out: here. I think it's self-published, which only makes me love him more. But he is still a good cook. Ask Richard Blais. Blais would never lie.

Check out Fabio's adorable "thank you" video he made tonight. He's like the sweetest thing ever.

So that's what happened on the TV tonight that I saw. I also forgot to tape Mr. Sunshine, starring Matthew Perry and it bummed me out. Interesting aside - Matthew Perry was featured in the life section of USA Today Wednesday, along with yours truly. To read that article (the one about me, not Perry), click: here. To read the one about Matthew Perry, click: here.

Also, in further fun news, six of my books made it to USA Today's top 150 ebooks that's in Thursday's issue of the periodical. You can see the full list: here.  So I can officially list Best-selling Author in my title. A big shout out to USA Today for being so awesome with the interview and actually including me in the ebook list, even though I'm self-published. The consideration is very much appreciated, not just by myself, but the indie community as a whole.

I also  have an itsy-bitsy tiny mention in an article in Entertainment Weekly, so if you want to read a little granule about me, click: here. (While you're there, also check out the article about ladies in literary. It makes me sad that only 3 of my top 10 favorite authors are ladies).

And for those of you that like looking at me, here is the KTTC interview that aired last week with the great Tom Overlie. Tom is fab. For reals.

I will also being doing a follow up interview with the Post Bulletin today (Thursday). They did my first ever interview back in May of 2010, but stuff's changed since then, so they're interviewing me again. I have no clue when that one will publish, though.

Also - and I kid you not - I just discovered a thread discussing my books at I think that the right is the proof that I've finally made it.

In case you're wondering what I'm up to other than talking incessantly about myself to the press, I am writing a couple books. I'm trying to juggle two projects at once, and it's a bit harder than I thought.

The first one I'm cowriting with David Daliglish (but he might use a pen name when we publish), and I've never really written a book with another author before, but this is fun. Different, but fun. It's called Ethereal, and it's a paranormal romance. That's about all I want to say about it for now.

The other thing I'm working is something I've been dying to work on for almost a year now. So when I say I write a book in a few weeks, that doesn't mean I come with up an idea and then bang it out the next day. This idea has been percolating for months, and I've finally got it all just right. I'm not sure exactly when you guys will see it, but I can tell you right now that it's going to be fun. It's YA paranormal romance, and the title right now is Wake, but I'm not sure if it will change.

I tweeted this youtube video below a few days ago. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a look. It's a fan made video of their dream cast, and I think it's pretty accurate (although, I'm still holding out for Michael Wincott as Oren, even if I do love Gary Oldman). Plus it has Interpol in it. Me and my roommate Eric were watching it last weekend, and he goes, "Oh wow. This is neat. You have the neatest fans." And I was like, "I know." You guys truly are awesome. Thanks for letting me do what I do!

Oh, and P. S. Contrary to what some things on the internet have been saying, me self-publishing and doing well is not a middle finger to traditional publishers. I'd like to think me doing well isn't a middle finger to anybody or anything. It's feels more like a high five to me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Bloggers Are People, Too

Okay, I'm writing a blog in a response to a blog, so it might help if you read the blog I'm responding to first. In this case, it's this blog: 'Ain't nothing gonna break  my stride': or WTF YAlitchat.

Several things I want to point out before proceeding: That blog was written by April at Good Books &Wine, a person and blog I am unfamiliar with. I was only directed towards this blog because of somebody else's retweet.

The other thing is the really important part - I did not and have not read any of the #YAlitchat from February 2nd. It's because of that that I've been hesitant to comment on this blog, but it's been bothering me for a week now, so I've decided that I've got to say something.

If you didn't read the blog (which you should), I'll just explain the main points. YAlitchit is basically just a discussion on Twitter where people talk about young adult books. It's pretty self explanatory. According to what April says in her blog (which I have not confirmed), some things were mentioned in the YA lit chit staying (and I'll quote from her blog):

"People honestly think bloggers don’t sell books. People seem to also think negative reviews are unprofessional." 

"Towards the late middle/end of the chat, the tweets were flying about negative reviews and book bashers and blah-di-blah. If ever there is a pet peeve I have, that peeve is people telling me I can’t write about something I didn’t like."

"And, OF COURSE we get tweets that seem to me to be completely on the fringe. I.e. ‘bloggers who bash books should be blacklisted‘ and ‘bloggers should never bash an author’s writing"

And again, I'm going to encourage you to read her blog if you haven't already done so. Go. Hurry. I'll be here waiting when you get back.

The reason I debated on comment is because I didn't read the YAlitchat, so I don't know what exactly was said, and I don't like commenting on things I'm not certain of, and the reason I don't go back and read it, is because I knew it would really, really make me angry, and I didn't want to write an angry rant blog.

But I'm bothered enough by this where I feel like, as an author, I need to say something.

Book bloggers have saved my life. Book bloggers absolutely without a doubt sell books. I can prove it to you. In May, I sold just over 600 books. In June, I sold over 4,000. In May, I had no reviews. In June, book bloggers started reviewing my books.

And the truth, a lot of the reviews I got in June for My Blood Approves were 3-star reviews, and it STILL sold . Because they were solid, well-written reviews that explained what they liked about it and what they didn't. They were honest, and that's important, because then readers trust them. Readers won't buy books from people they don't trust, and so reviewers need to be honest. They need to say when they didn't like something. They need to say what they want to say.

Seriously. That's just a totally insane concept to me. Clearly book bloggers sell books, and they do it all for FREE. They're only payment is "free" books. Really think about that. Their payment for selling my book is getting to read my book. And they work their butts off.

Writing reviews is really, really hard. I mean in-depth reviews that explain what worked and what didn't. That's incredibly difficult. I don't know how they do it. I couldn't do it. Nor would I want to. These people are super human.

They're juggling families and jobs and school and pets and dishes, and they make time in their busy schedule to not only read a book but review it. That astounds me. I'm in awe of their drive.

Julie Brazeal at A Tale of Many Reviews has probably sold at least a thousand of my books herself. She's been like a one woman fan club. Alex Bennet is my self-proclaimed #1 fan, and he's only fourteen, and he's writing blogs, doing video book reviews, going to school, AND on top of that, he's writing his own stuff. I have no idea how he has time to sleep.

There's so many more book bloggers, too many to name. (And I'm sorry if I didn't mention you. My brain shorted out, but I know there's A TON of you who have helped me, but I feel a bit like I'm about to give an Oscar speech, and they just started playing the wrap up music. My mind isn't working, but THANK YOU).

And that's not even counting all the people who take the time to review my books on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, or all the people I don't even know about who are telling their friends and family. I get emails and comments from people all the time saying they heard about my books from their friend/sister/daughter/brother.

I honestly don't believe I've ever sold in a book in my life. The book bloggers, the readers, these are the salesmen. These are the people out there selling my books by talking about them honestly. And I am so, so, so grateful for them. Unbelievably grateful.

When I send out ARCs, I want an honest review. That means sometimes people don't like my books. And that's fine. I know that when I sent it out.

Book reviewers have to be afforded the right to be honest, even if it means being negative, otherwise it defeats the whole purpose. Readers trust their opinions because they're honest, and if readers don't trust them, they won't read the reviews or buy the books. So nobody wins in that situation. Everybody needs them to be honest, including authors.

Now, I will say that there is a difference between saying "I hated this book" and "I hate the author and think they're smelly and stupid and hope they die." And any reputable book blogger would never say the latter, and if they did, authors probably would stop sending them ARCs, as they should. It's one thing to review a book. It's another to attack a person.

So, no, I'm not defending personal attacks, but writing a negative review on a book doesn't equate a personal attack

So that's all. That's the end of this. April really said it all best in her blog. I just felt that since book bloggers have done so much for me, I wanted to stand up and say that, as an author, I agree with those sentiments and I support you guys. I know how much work you really do, and I appreciate it immensely.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Indie vs. Traditional

Lately, I've heard a lot of talk over the internet about going indie or going traditional in terms of publishing. More and more people are suggesting going indie, while some people still believe traditional is the best for long term goals.

But I'm going to let you guys in on a little secret: This isn't an either/or situation. You guys are both on the same team - Team Writer.

I've talked a bit before on my feelings about indie publishing (see: My Thoughts on Indie Publishing), and my thoughts haven't changed much over time.

Here are some other things I'm going to say:

I don't actually know how my sales stack up other authors. I have a pretty good idea how I compare to other indie authors, but I literally have no clue how many books traditionally published midlist authors sell or even best sellers. No clue. So I can't actually compare my sales to other authors, because again, I have no clue.

I also know that ebooks only make up a small portion of the number of all books sold. Depending on who you ask, that percentage is as low as 8% or as high as 30%. I don't know the exact figure, but I do know that huge portion is still paperback and hardcover.

J. K Rowling has no books in an ebook format (she refuses), and yet, I would guess (again, speculation, since nobody sends me print outs of their book sales) that she probably sold more books yesterday than I did. Maybe not, but even if she hasn't, she has still published less books than I have, and hasn't published anything new in four years, so even if she did sell slightly fewer books than me yesterday, that's still impressive.

What that means is A) J. K. Rowling is a very good writer, and B) there's still a lot of sales in traditional publishing. Print is not dead.

What that boils down to is product placement. Paperbacks get more sales simply because they are there. I run to Walmart to pick up socks, and then I see the shiny cover of a new book staring at me from the end of an aisle, and I grab it.

So here's my theory on the future of publishing, which may or may not be wrong:

This whole ebook thing is going to benefit everyone in a real big way. 

Traditional publishers will not die. Some may suffer, most will adapt. As a breed, they will change, but they will not go quietly into that good night.

Indie authors will also continue to flourish. Some with have great success, some will have no success, but most will do moderately well. Writers will be happier because of this, and readers will be happier with more options.

Midlist authors will go almost entirely indie. I think this move with benefit both the authors and the publishers. In a real way, publishers lose money on midlist authors.

Publishers have for years been in the business of making bestsellers. They put all their money and energy into make best sellers, but the problem is, nobody can actually predict a bestseller. People pretend they can, but they can't really. So sometimes publishers put money and energy into books that were not bestsellers, and because of this, they lost a lot of money.

That meant that publishers had even less money and energy to give to midlist authors, who suffered because of it and had fewer sales, which meant less money for publishers, who then had even less money, and the cycle goes on.

What's also hard is that most bestsellers don't come from first time books. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, like J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. But most authors start out with moderate sales and they become a bestseller by putting out more titles and building a fanbase over time.

Publishers gambled on new authors knowing that their first book probably wouldn't be a smash hit but they would grow them over time.

Unfortunately, from what I understand, publishers haven't had the time or money or maybe just the inclination to do that as much as they used to. Many authors, if their first books weren't smash hits, were then left without a publisher for future books.

What indie publishing allows authors to do is grow the way they used to with publishers. Authors can put out books and build a fan base. (Or a "platform" for those who like terminology). They can become bestselling authors before a traditional publisher ever works with them.

Because of this, for the first time in history, publishers have a real way of being able to tell if a book will be a best seller. Basically, because it already is a best seller or is written by a best selling author.

You may ask yourself, "But if I already have a best seller on my hands and I am a best selling author, why would I want a traditional publisher? Aren't they just swooping now that the hard part is done?"

The answer: Ebooks are still only 8-30% of the market. People speculate that in five years it will be 50%, maybe in more than. But for the sake of argument, let's assume that's right. If you're already a best selling author in the 8-50% market, why wouldn't you want to take a chance on being a best selling author in the the other 50-92% of the market?

Let me put it this way: Being Amanda Hocking right now is awesome. But being J. K. Rowling is out of the world. If you're an author, and you've worked your ass off on your books and your career, why pass on a chance at maybe being J. K. Rowling and settle for being Amanda Hocking?

Also - and here's the best part - there is no real risk.

I'm going to tell you a story about Ann Author (get it?). She has written an ebook called Bestseller Book. To get a bestselling book, Ann Author has epublished a few other titles, like Not-Quite-Bestseller Book and Another Good Book.

Ann Author's Bestseller Book gets noticed by publisher Big 6 Trad Pub. They offer her an advance - which at this point, may actually be smaller than what she'd make in 3 months off of Bestseller Book - but it will offer more services to her book, like editing, covers, advertising, and shelf space in brick and mortar stores. This will take some pressure off her, since until that point, she's had to do all the work herself. Ann Author has also managed to create buzz around herself and her book, along with a dedicated fan base, so Bestseller Book will most likely sell well once it hits stores.

At this point, the story plays out in two ways. One - it all goes well, she sells millions, moves in next door to J. K. Rowling.

Or two - Bestseller Book is not a bestseller book anymore. It bombs. Big 6 Trad Pub actually loses money on her. It's a sad day all around... or is it?

Because meanwhile, Not-Quite-Bestseller Book and Another Good Book are still selling like hotcakes in ebook format.

Side note: Big 6 Trad Pub may have a had clause in their contract about having first dibs on future works, and this I'm not a complete expert on. But my understanding is that if Ann Author writes another book, she has to show Big 6 Trad Pub first to see if they want it. If they don't she can go to another publisher and see if they want it, and if they do, she has to go back to Big 6 Trad Pub so they can counter offer before she can take the deal with the other publisher. But I really have no idea how that would work ebooks (and this is why it's important to have a good agent to make sure you get the best contract with the least restrictions you can!!!).

Even if you assume that in this worst case scenario poor Ann Author has a complete crap contract and Big 6 Trad Pub has the erights to Bestseller Book for the next gazillion years, and she has to play stupid boomerang with publishing clause about future works (which will go quicker if she has a good agent), eventually she can publish more books.

But her other books, Not-Quite-Bestseller and Another Good Book are still paying the bills. This is even better if Ann Author has more than three titles in her pocket when she signs up. And then, eventually, she can go on to write and publish as many books as she wants. Ann Author can continue to be a best selling author, even if the Big 6 Trad Pub thinks she isn't.

That was the worst case scenario for Ann Author. But the reality is that an author with a number of titles selling well and a large fan base should continue to be a best seller with a large fan base no matter the platform.

That's how this becomes a win/win situation for writers and publishers. Publishers no longer have to gamble or put money out on books that don't earn it back. They can pick best sellers from the indie world and do what they do best - sell best sellers in paperbacks and hardcover.

Indies, of course, can choose to stay indie or take offers from publishing. All authors should weigh that choice themselves, based on their own goals and books, because it varies person to person and situation to situation on what is best for an author and their books. But the point is - they have a choice. Ann Author can say no to Big 6 Trad Pub and still be a best seller. 

Meanwhile, authors who couldn't find a home with publishers or have more midlist sales will continue to have sales without fear of being dropped or ignored by publishers.

And readers, who had authors they loved fall of the face of the earth when publishers dropped them, now get to read new works from them, as well as find back-listed titles of old favorites, and find new authors for cheap.

Indie will be a place for authors to grow and flourish and connect with readers in a way that was never possible before. Publishers will publish fewer books and be more selective about it, but they'll be able to save money and make more money this way.

In the long run, everybody wins. Authors and readers have more freedom than ever before, and publishers have an easier way to sort through the slush pile.

And as for people who say the slush pile is too much for the reader - readers are not idiots. Most really bad indie books are obvious from the go. Without even sampling, it's pretty easy to spot a book that will be positively dreadful by the cover and description and the other reviews.

Yes, some indie books will have more problems than traditionally published books, especially with proofreading, but if the story is engaging, most readers will forgive minor errors. Most readers are willing to accept an error here or there in return for an engaging story at a low price (though no author should be lazy or sloppy). What readers will not ever stomach is being bored. 

And on a final note - indies still need agents, unless you plan on purely publishing ebooks forever. If you ever want to do foreign, film, audio, or any thing else with your rights, including working with enhanced ebooks, you really, really should get an agent.

And to answer a related follow up question I get a lot - agents do not get money from deals they do not broker or their agency doesn't broker. Meaning I made the deal to publish my books on Kindle and nook myself, so my agent doesn't get any of the royalty. So don't worry about an agent messing with your eroyalties. That's not how it works.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

anyone lived in a pretty how town

I like e e cummings a lot. The titles of the My Blood Approves series are all taken from the poem "since feeling is first" by e e cummings.

So I really like this video because it reminds me sort of e e cummings (particularly the poem "anyone lived in a pretty how town, ") and it's a little steampunk-esque. So it's fun and pretty and enjoyable to me. As such, I'm sharing it with you.

And I analyzed my writing on some website by copy and pasting five chapters from Ascend, and it says that I write like one of my favorite authors. And it's since it's on the internet, it's completely true and accurate. That's always fun, right?

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Best Things in Life are Batman

Last night, I dreamt that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I got a really cute dog. Some kind of pug mix, and it was super cute.

So I woke up today, thinking about what a swell guy Joseph Gordon-Levitt is, and I tried to convince Eric to let me watch Inception tonight (but failed - we're watching Buried now). And then I learned the most magical wonderful news ever - Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to be in the new Batman!

Me & Eric are hoping he's the Riddler, but really, I don't care what he is as long as he's in it. (There is actually a video floating around on the Youtube of me drunkenly sobbing over Robin Williams possibly being the Riddler instead of JGL).

I am pretty sure that the third Batman film is going to be the greatest experience of my entire life.

I love Batman. A LOT. Probably too much, but I don't care.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some Promo Stuff & Motion City Soundtrack

Some info:

My KTTC interview (the NBC affiliate out of Rochester, MN) will be on Thursday, February 3rd at 10 PM. I've been told it with be on the KTTC website at some point, but I'm not sure when. I'll have links and what not when it is up (assuming I'm not horrible in it).

The interview I did with a reporter for USA Today should be in the edition on sale next Thursday, February 10th. That's not completely certain yet, but that's what I've heard so far.

And I got this tweet today:

I'm pretty excited about that. I do in fact mention Motion City Soundtrack a couple times in My Blood Approves (Jack and Alice talk about them and go see them at First Ave), and I also listened to MCS a bunch while writing Hollowland (mostly "Disappear"). And I put "Always Running Out of Time" by Motion City Soundtrack on the soundtrack for Honalee.

Now I am going to continue watching Top Chef, and then go to bed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

101 Movies You Must See Before You Die

On the internet, I found a list of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. It was a very long list. I went through it, but I hadn't seen that many movies before 1950, and it had several movies I suspect were fake.

So then I found the list 101 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and I've seen 93 of them. What does that prove? That I watch a lot of movies.

A Clockwork Orange
A Fish Called Wanda
American Dreams
Annie Hall
Antonia's Line
Apocalypse Now
Before Sunset
Being John Malkovich
Blade Runner
Bonnie and Clyde
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
Carlito's Way
Chariots of Fire
Cinema Paradiso
Cool Hand Luke
Dead Poet's Society
Dog Day Afternoon
Enter The Dragon
Fiddler on the Roof
Forest Gump
Four Wedding and a Funeral
From Here to Eternity
Gone With The Wind
Talk To Her
House of Sand and Fog
In The Name of the Father
Jean De Florette
Lawrence of Arabia
Life is Beautiful
Lost In Translation
Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Express
Mississppi Burning
Monty Python's – The Holy Grail
My Fair Lady
Mystic River
Once Were Warriors
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
Rebel Without A Cause
Remains of the Day
Saturday Night Fever
Saving Private Ryan
Scent of a Woman
Schindler’s List
Singin in the Rain
Star Wars
Taxi Driver
The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
The Deer Hunter
The Dirty Dozen
The Falcon and the Snowman
The French Connection
The Godfather
The Graduate
The Great Escape
The Killing Fields
The Lord Of The Rings
The Lion King
The Magnificent Seven
The Matrix
The Mission
The Odd Couple
The Pianist
The Rocky Horror Picture show
Shawshank Redemption
The Silence of The Lambs
The Sound of Music
The Sting
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Usual Suspects
The Untouchables
West Side Story
When Harry Met Sally
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Zorba The Greek

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Faculty is awesome

I, for one, am glad Kevin Williamson is so busy lately.

I watched The Faculty tonight, and let me tell you something - I love that movie. I have it on VHS somewhere, and the soundtrack is tucked away in box of CDs (probably near the VHS). I just got the Bluray for it, and it's an excellent choice.

Do you ever watch movies when you're a teenager, think they're totally awesome, then go back and watch them years later and go, "Wait. What?" (*hint hint nudge nudge* Reality Bites *cough cough*) Well, thankfully, The Faculty wasn't one of those movies. It's as fantastic as I remember it being, and it's always a pleasure to seen Bebe Neuworth and her never ending gams.

If you're not familiar with Kevin Williamson, he made a few popular gems in the late 90s and early 00s, like Dawson's Creek, the first two Screams, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, and Cursed.

He also did Teaching Mrs. Tingle, which I believe was loosely based on Killing Mr. Griffen by Lois Duncan. Mrs. Tingle had a lot of issues though because it was set to release right around the time that the Columbine shootings happened, and then everything changed, and I think it suffered because of that.

But anyway - the moral is Kevin Williamson has been working on The Vampire Diaries and Scream 4 - both of which I'm very excited about, and I'm thrilled to see him so busy lately because I love his work.

When he first started getting a name, I remember a lot of people criticizing him for his similarities to John Hughes, which I think is just crap. I do think he built on the platform that John Hughes created, but what's wrong with that?

I enjoy Kevin Williamson. I'm looking forward to Scream 4 (not as much as my roommate, who is literally counting down the days at this point). And that's all I have to say about that.