Amanda Hocking is an outlier and a fluke, writing only for flighty teenage girls. I heard this many times and one day decided to find out for myself, so last week I downloaded a free copy of Hollowland through Amazon. Right away I was impressed with Hocking’s business sense because she clearly knows that hooking an audience is more important than earning a few 35 cent royalties.
But I approached her novel with suspicion and preconceived bias. The title seemed suspiciously close to The Hollow Men by T.S. Elliot, and a quick check on Wikipedia proved that Elliot chose the title of his poem by combining the title of William Morris’ romance, The Hollowland, with Kipling’s poem The Broken Men.
So did Hocking know what she was doing when she chose that title? Then I read the opening line:
This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.
BANG! What a great opening line. She shows me right away that she knew exactly what she was doing when she chose that title, and she has a great sense of humor to boot. From this point on only people in love with that sense of humor will keep reading, and they’ll love the novel too.
Now I’m not saying that Hocking has replaced Elliot, or that Margaret Atwood should be fearful of the competition, but I read the novel and liked it. I admit I’m big into post-apocalyptic fiction so I’m an easy sell that way, although there are a number of indie ePubbed books in that genre that I’ve started and given up on. They were also cheap, but they just weren’t that good. That’s why they’ll never sell thousands of copies.
That’s my point. Hocking’s writing is actually good. It pulls me along and has me wondering what’s going to happen next when I should be concentrating on my own work. So in my estimation, she’s not an outlier or a fluke, she’s just a good writer.
The unfortunate piece of news is that the publishing industry rejected her many times, failing to see that she could make them money, failing to recognize that she was good. I don’t blame them because the slush piles are huge and it’s difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. The happy news is that indie ePublishing allowed Hocking to prove herself.
If I were a publisher, I’d trim my acquisitions department and follow the Amazon bestseller list to find new talent. This is great for them. Why sign a contract with an author if they haven’t proved themselves in the real world?
I can’t wait for the next “outlier” or “fluke” to sell a million indie ePubbed copies on Kindle. I’ll buy their book.