Amanda Hocking: The Mockingjay of Indie Publishing

Strong reactions have come  from the Indie Publishing industry. Some people are happy for her, some are angry with her, and many others are trying to understand why she did it.

I haven’t read the reactions on twitter because I haven’t been on there lately. Every free moment is spent editing Claimed by Desire. When I finally read about the deal, my first reaction was, Amanda Hockings is Indie Publishing’s Mockingjay.

I recently read The Hunger Games Trilogy  and I think it is one of the best series of books  ever.

I know everyone did not read The Hunger Games, but if you didn’t, you should. At it’s soul, it’s about a revolution against a tyrannical and evil organization who abuses it’s powers and it’s people. A girl (Katniss) unwittingly becomes the face and symbol of the revolution. The key is she didn’t want to become the mockingjay, (symbol of the revolution) she never decided if she was for the revolution or not.  Her actions were her own however, when they were successful, she became a sort of figurehead. Throughout the story, Katniss was pushed further and further into being this symbol, going further into her duties of the mockingjay, doing propaganda television spots when she really didn’t want to.

I think Amanda Hocking is Indie Publishing’s Mockingjay. She’d defied the capital (traditional publishing) and even turned them down before. She was something other Indie authors looked up to, who they wanted to emulate as traditionally published authors want to emulate Stephanie Myers, Stephen King, J K Rowlings etc. She was the light that guided indie authors. She’d become the symbol of a revolution when she neither wanted to be or even totally believed in it.

However, we do not live in a fictional society and Amanda hocking did not want to be the mockingjay. All she wanted to do was write so that’s what she’s doing. She wants to be an author, not a marketer, cover designer, editor etc (although she will have some of those duties with whomever she does business with.) She may want access to movie’s and a larger distribution. As she said in the article:

“I’ve done as much with self-publishing as any person can do,” Ms. Hocking said in an interview on Thursday. “People have bad things to say about publishers, but I think they still have services, and I want to see what they are. And if they end up not being any good, I don’t have to keep using them. But I do think they have something to offer.” NY Times

I disagree and think you can do with self-publishing what you strive to do. However, because she didn’t believe, she couldn’t. I think her success caught her off guard. She didn’t self publish because she necessarily believed in it (Katniss participated in the Hunger Games because she had to and she did what she did at the end because she thought it was her only way, not to defy the capital), She did it because it was an option for her books “out there.”

I hear many people defend Traditional publishers, saying there is enough room for self publishers and Traditional publishers to get along. Many people also ponder why Indie’s are so angry with Traditional Publishers and I agreed, until I read further down the article and saw:

Publishers, weary of hearing about their disposability in an age when writers can self-publish their work on the Internet and sell it on Amazon.com, said they were vindicated by the news….

Matthew Shear, the publisher of St. Martin’s Press, said that he wanted “pretty badly” to win the auction for Ms. Hocking’s books…

“I think a lot of authors are looking at self-publishing as a way to perhaps make a certain amount of money sooner rather than later,” Mr. Shear said. “But a publisher provides an extraordinary amount of knowledge into the whole publishing process. We have the editors, we have the marketers, we have the art directors, we have the publicists, we have the sales force. NY Times

If Traditional Publishers were interested in “sharing” the industry with Indie Publishers, why would they feel vindicated. For some reason, the above quote rubbed me the wrong way. It just didn’t sit right with me. I felt Traditional Publishers were in competition with the entire Indie Publishing industry and in essence wants to crush it, end it, and by taking Amanda Hocking they feel a sort of victory (vindication). They are using the “cut of the head and the rest will fall strategy”. That is one of the reasons the Indie Publishing Industry is upset.

There are a few more things people may get upset with. Prices will increase. A traditional publisher is not going to release her books for the $.99 and $2.99 that Amanda priced her books when she self published. For avid readers, instead of spending $11.96 for 4 books previously, they will need to spend apx. $39.96  because the books are traditionally published (if the publisher priced the book at $9.99). For those on a budget, it’d be a stretch.

To many people this won’t mean much, but her terrific cover artist is now out of a client. Now, she may have gotten more clients because of working with Amanda Hockings, but lets not forget the industry that Indie Pubs have created. Instead of the production of a book being kept in house of the big publishers, money is spread out. Indie Publishers are creating jobs for cover designers, website designers, book designers, printers, etc. I totally agree with diversifying and spreading out money. It helps the economy and there will be more people to pay $9.99 for an ebook.

People are angry, I understand, but I also understand Amanda. It goes back to the age old dilemma. When there is change, there usually needs to be someone a leader that helps usher in that change. Whether it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the working class people in America or Apple/Itunes for the music industry and computers, Amanda Hockings was the beacon for Indie Publishers. Leaders are usually weighed down by the hopes and dreams of many people, as well as expectations of these people. You lose yourself and what you become is this symbol for others. You are no longer what you started out as, but what other people want you to be.

Do you take back who you are and be a little selfish but find satisfaction in YOUR life or do you go for the cause, lose yourself and wholly become the symbol, knowing forever more, you were one of the major people that helped usher in this change?

Ms. Hockings has made her choice:
“I want to be a writer,” she said. “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.”

NY Times

So now, will a new Mockingjay Please stand up.

Tell me what you think!
Louise Behiel says:

great blog. I wasn’t aware of the chatter about her deal (can you tell I’m new to all this?) But you shared an interesting perspective. Always, in the end, it’s a personal preference.

Interesting analogy. She really did become the mockingjay symbol and still is. Everything she does in publishing is scrutinized. It would be really hard to write and let your creativity flow under the microscope like that.