The Girl Who Self-Published Online & Made Millions

online business ideas

Amanda Hocking’s publishing success story started online.

This week’s cool business idea highlights an online self-publishing success story. 


After years of trying to get published (and getting rejected), “hungry” would-be novelist, twenty-six year old Amanda Hocking, took matters into her own hands and started looking for online options. (A girl after my own heart!)

It took only a few months after self-publishing online, for Miss Hocking to sell thousands of book copies and collect a hefty financial reward.


How It All Happened

She talks about it in entertaining detail at an epic tale of how it all happened, but I’ll summarize it in short for you here with a bullet list, because I’m told readers like bullet lists:


  • Amanda tried and tried to get published via the traditional offline publishing process with nada, zilch, zero success (don’t worry, she makes up for those zeros later);
  • She studied the market and changed her genre, but still didn’t get published;
  • She continued to get rejected by publishers despite changing genres;
  • She continued to write;
  • A Tweet lead her to online publishing inspiration and education;
  • In April 2010, she published two books of the Tryll series online and by the end of  May sold 624 copies;
  • She continued to self-publish more books, hired an editor and illustrator and when August came around, she’s sold 15,000 books and made approx $10,000!
  • Jump forward to January 2012. According to an interview with the Guardian, Amanda sold 1.5 million books and raked in $20 million – without an agent, publisher or any marketing sales force. She did it all by herself…online.


Her Success Recipe

Amanda attributes her success to her writing — which she describes modestly as writing “that isn’t terrible” — and to a mixture of good pricing, pleasant book covers, recommendations from book bloggers, and her accessibility to readers on Twitter, facebook, goodreads, Amazon, & KB. She also points out she always tries to respond to readers.


But what I really like about Amanda is that she’s a  true breathing, walking, talking example of “Do What You Love”. Here’s a girl who follows her heart. Check-out what she says on her blog:

So I’m just going to say up front: I truly appreciate every reader who has bought me book, even the ones who hated it and gave it one star. I write because I love it, not because I see readers as dollar signs. I am very, very passionate about my work, and I take it very seriously that people are inviting me to entertain them every time they buy a book.


Modest and passionate as she is, Amanda does work at churning out the books. The last impression she wants to make is that self-publishing online is an easy get rich quick scheme. As pointed out in the Guardian interview:

She also resents how her abrupt success has been interpreted as a sign that digital self-publishing is a new way to get rich quick. Sure, Hocking has got rich, quickly. But what about the nine years before she began posting her books when she wrote 17 novels and had every one rejected? And what about the hours and hours that she’s spent since April 2010 dealing with technical glitches on Kindle, creating her own book covers, editing her own copy, writing a blog, going on Twitter and Facebook to spread the word, responding to emails and tweets from her army of readers?


Although, online tools such as online publishing platforms, book blogger networks, and social media helped Amanda finally get published and read, it certainly wasn’t a push-button affair. But I suspect Amanda’s passion for publication and the positive feedback of snowballing sales gave her some wings!

What’s next for Amanda?

With sales, success and loyal readers under her belt, Amanda has since relinquished part of the reigns over to the traditional publishing world who once refused her entry. She signed up in the US with St. Martin Press, in the UK with Pan MacMillan, and now has an agent to represent her.


Her first trilogy, Trylle, once only available online has since been republished both online and in paperback and is available at many retailers, with her next upcoming series Watersong soon to follow. 


And success continues with Media Rights Capital buying the rights to Amanda’s Trylle series with the intention of making it into a movie. And of course there are more books waiting in the pipeline.


So, once again we see how the internet opens doors. With some creativity, initiative, and some elbow grease, maybe you too can write your own success story through online publishing or other means.


As for Amanda, she’s a true heroine of online self-publishing. But, her success is not too surprising. She possesses the right kick butt attitude. Her approach to writing her novel Hollowland exemplifies this perfectly:

I was going through a zombie phase, and I wanted to write a book where a girl kicked a lot of ass. I like damsel in distress, but after MBA I wanted the girl to take care of herself. So I wrote Hollowland in 21 days.


Wow. You go girl!


So what about you? How could you fit some of the online tools and business concepts Amanda used into your own success story? Leave a comments.


To read about more cool online business ideas, go to Online Business Ideas.



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6 Responses to The Girl Who Self-Published Online & Made Millions

  1. I love the fact that we can self-publish now. I would encourage any new author to start at self-publishing and gain a following. When you have your audience, you can do anything.

  2. Hi Ferdi,
    Yes, the internet has opened doors for authors and self-publishing. Just think of all the writers who are making a living at it. But also all the information and entertainment we as audiences have access to, which we once wouldn’t have.

  3. Good post. If you want something, you just have to keep trying – it will HAPPEN!

  4. Miss Hocking is adamant that she’s an exception and certainly not an advocate of becoming rich publishing online. And that may be true, but her story’s inspiring because, like you say, it shows us that you can achieve what you want as long as you stick with it and keep trying – no matter if it’s publishing online or training horses. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. […] like Amanda Hocking, you want to entertain people doing what you love, which in her case is […]

  6. […] around 1% of those that start an online business succeed should be indication enough that there is more to it than just the will. There is also the attitude information and […]