Amanda Hocking is Not a Fluke

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.

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WillowRose

I’m going to disagree. I do find Amanda Hocking “a fluke”. I’m currently reading Switched and although it’s the only story of hers that I’ve yet checked out, I find her characters annoying. I won’t go into detail for the sake of spoilers. But too much in the story happens for the sake of “being convenient”. Some of the characters don’t seem to be sure of their own “character”, switching up the tone of their personalities from one chapter to the next for the sake of it “being convenient”. The only conflict that seems to be going on is the “will she get the guy or not?” conflict. And some things just don’t make any sense, like why an overprotective brother well into his twenties tries beating people up that upsets his sister but then cries over the phone when she tells him she isn’t coming back. I think the writer forgot the brother was a man and not a mother. And if he was really that concerned about why she wasn’t coming home, why didn’t he call the cellphone back that she had called him from? The writer makes it a point to mention how many times the girl “twirls her thumb ring” but forgot to mention why the brother didn’t bother to try calling the number back.

It takes a lot of styles and a lot of stories to make the world go round. But when someone in their mid-twenties strikes it rich by writing a story that anyone else could have written and than gets called “the next JK Rowling” when they should be called “the next Stephanie Meyer” instead, it’s frustrating. Amanda Hocking is a go getter and made it happen. That’s what she should be getting credit for.

Is her story really that amazing to be put above other struggling writers trying to get their stories read? No. Did luck land in her favor putting her on a pedestal? Yep. And to me that’s called “a fluke”.

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