How Amanda Hocking sold 1.5 million on Amazon: I’m revealing the secret!

You might have heard of Amanda Hocking, the indie superstar who sold 1.5 million on Amazon and got picked up by a big house and signed a movie deal for her Trylle Trilogy.

This is the exact quote from her explaining how her sales exploded after the book bloggers spread the word:

Then in June, something truly magical happened. I discovered book bloggers. I had no idea such people existed. They just read books and write about them. And I don’t mean “just.” These people take times out of their busy lives to talk about books and have contests and connect with followers and writers and other readers.

These guys are honestly my heroes. I’m a little in love with all of them.

I asked several if they would be interested in reviewing my books, and most of them said yes, even if they didn’t generally review self-published work.
Then something surreal started happening. My books were selling. Like, really selling.

Here is the whole story in her own blog: http://www.hockingbooks.com/an-epic-tale-of-how-it-all-happened/

She mentioned she owes her great success to book bloggers in many interviews as well. So, many indie authors took the cue and started flooding book bloggers with review requests. But the thing is, she didn’t approach the book bloggers, she asked people to review her book in her own blog. She started blogging in 2009 and had been very active. She talked about herself, her life, her books. She interviewed indie authors on her blog. She published a load of books on Amazon, and answered the questions of her readers. She also talked a lot about movies and music. She interacted with people and wrote in a very sincere manner, as a friend. She built a reader base over the months, ran giveaway contests, did author interviews and promoted other authors.

This is the blog post where she asked the book bloggers and Amazon reviewers to review her new book: http://amandahocking.blogspot.fi/2010/07/switched-free-books.html

Look at the comments. Dozens of people said they are interested in receiving a review copy. They asked for it. So she didn’t go around pestering book bloggers, she already had a whole bunch of them among her followers and she got them interetested. After these people reviewed her new book on their blogs, Amazon and Goodreads, her book sales have exploded and avalanched from there.

I think as indie authors we all have a lot to learn from Amanda Hocking’s experience. There really is no secret recipe to it: Be active in the blogger scene and the social media, interact with people, write sincere posts, write about your life, write like you are writing a letter to your friends. Write comments to other bloggers. Find the people who are reading your genre and interact with them, but refrain from promoting your book. Promote their blogs, their books, do author interviews featuring other indies in your blog, be a nice person. Chat with other authors and bloggers on social media, ask how their day has been, what they are reading, actually care about people (this comes natural to me cause I’m an extrovert and very friendly by default, but it’s really not a hard thing to do!) You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You will meet some awesome new people in the book scene and make friends.

If you act like a human being and not a spam bot, people will eventually ask to review your books. I myself would rather promote a friend than a stranger. I promote the books of people who are nice to me on Twitter and help me out in my writing journey. Not even one of them asked me or offered ARC copies, I purchased all of the indie books I review or plan to review soon. I wanted to be nice and I believe in supporting indie authors, so I purchased the books of the indie authors I have befriended and I review them as I read. If a friend offers an ARC and asks for reviews, I will drop everything else and give their book the first priority. If a random stranger contacts me for a review, they will wait for a long time. That’s basic human psychology.

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32 thoughts on “How Amanda Hocking sold 1.5 million on Amazon: I’m revealing the secret!

  1. What a fantastic post!!!! Thank you so much for this. So many people are looking for instant success. They think that just because they write a book, it’ll make them millions. When I wrote my first book, I knew nothing about the publishing industry. I thought I’d find a quick agent, get a quick publishing contract, and have a quick million dollars in my bank account. Easy, right? Wrong. It didn’t take long before I learned that being an author is all about patience and hard work.

    Thank you for your honesty with this post. So many authors are looking for the easy way to promote their books so they resort to spam and desperate pleas to book bloggers. I understand the desperation that comes with marketing a book. It’s frustrating. It’s difficult. Building a fan base doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. What Tricia said! Although I published my first book after oodles of years of publishing and bookselling experience and it’s still been a long, hard slog to build a fan base! I’m so glad you expanded upon your comment on my blog post, Leona, and have provided the full story about Amanda Hocking’s success. The publishing world is certainly a lot different now than when I was working in it. We’re all having to make up new ways to get ourselves noticed in this internet world. But it’s not rocket science and we can all learn a few lessons from Amanda, and from your example, Leona. Thanks for posting this!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Reblogged this on Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing and commented:
    Here’s a great blog post outlining the hard work and years it took for Amanda Hocking to become an overnight success in the publishing world. If you’re reading this article hoping to find the magic bullet for your own similar success then here’s a hint – there is no magic bullet! Just a lot of hard work, years, ingenuity and acting like a nice, supportive human being!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Just make sure you ask the book blogger from the right genre and please accept it when we say no. There are many reasons such as being swamped and having time blocked for other blogging projects. I review crime fiction, true crime, and historical mysteries only.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I am using my blog and fellow bloggers to help promote my second book in January- hopefully will have better results than with the first, which got good reviews from fellow writers and friends, but didn’t sell that well. This is encouraging since you can count me discouraged… Thanks, my SRA.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on DeAnna Ross and commented:
    This blog about Amanda Hocking’s success speaks for itself. Marketing is about building relationships and being genuinely yourself in doing so. If there were a ‘secret’ to success, this seems to be it and at the end of the day, doesn’t it make the most sense? You don’t buy stuff from telemarketers or agressive sales people in stores… why would you expect others to do so online? Yes, it takes time. Lots of time. Time you might have been writing a few extra books in… but if no one is reading your stuff, does it matter how many books you’ve written? So get out there, engage, and meet your future fans! And thanks for this blog Leona & Amanda. You rock. Be sure to follow their blogs when you visit their pages!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: How Amanda Hocking sold 1.5 million on Amazon: I’m revealing the secret! | Michaelphelps1's Blog

  8. Reblogged this on Gayle Mullen Pace and commented:
    Here’s a wonderful blog post from Leona’s Blog of Shadows, where she discusses how Amanda Hocking sold 1.5 million on Amazon. Amanda Hocking is an indie author success story, one that many indies would love to duplicate. What the following blog post illustrates is the beauty of simplicity. Ms. Hocking wrote engaging blog posts, interacted with others, and made a place for herself on the internet. That’s the true secret of her success–along with writing books that people wanted to read. Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Brilliant post, truly brilliant! I have several friends who are convinced that they are the next big thing and expect overnight success as a result. It just doesn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love my book to fly off the shelves and be a huge success, but I don’t ‘expect’ anything. Everything requires hard work and putting the effort into and yes, being a genuine and nice person. Spending every second of every day just in high promotion mode is a sure way to turn people off of you and your work. People can smell the air of desperation a mile away! Just be yourself, be natural, interact with people in a genuine way, not just as a way of hoisting your book on them. Lol, I’ve chatted to the lovely Tricia Drammeh on this same subject, as we both know people who are just too pushy, even when they are doing signings, they wander round the shop pouncing on customers, you just can’t do that. A really really brilliant post, Leona, thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€ x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the kind words! I remember seeing the mention of the pushy indie authors pestering the customers at bookstores, it was in the comments section on Tricia’s or Susan’s blog. I think the pushy behaviors in real life need to be covered in a separate blog article. Maybe we should all get together and do some kind of ‘blog tour’, running a series of posts about these topics? I think it’s high time we-as bloggers- start the mission to educate the indie community about these things, as a community service.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Great post and so much truth in it. I haven’t the time to do justice to blogging the way I would like to but I’m a great believer in forgetting the ‘media’ side of it and just being social. I like blogging, chatting and interacting. I don’t have the time to do it justice and I am unlikely to build the momentum required to achieve Amanda Hocking style numbers of followers but people do follow my blog and they do take time to chat and I try to return the favour by chatting to them and visiting their blogs. Of all the social media things I do, blogging is definitely the best bit. All marketing is just applied charm, sure there are other ways, but applied charm is the longest lasting and the one that wins you customers for keeps. That doesn’t mean I’m particularly charming (phnark) it’s more like anti-charm but in the long run I firmly believe that being genuine and being yourself is the way to sell books.

    Lovely post. Thank you very much.

    Cheers

    MTM

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I had NOT heard about this. However, I just start a new blog specifically to review self-published works. I’d LOVE it if people spammed me with their review requests! I could use the followers ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Pingback: How Amanda Hocking sold 1.5 million on Amazon: I’m revealing the secret! | Writer's Resource Blog

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