The Answer to Amanda Hocking’s Question

For those of you who have never heard of Amanda Hocking before reading this article, I’ll give a brief background. She is currently a rock star in the e-publishing industry. She was rejected hundreds of times by traditional publishing companies, and eventually got fed up. She decided to self-publish her books on the kindle and the nook, and it was a gamble that greatly paid off. So far, she has published ten books, made over two million dollars, gotten the attention of Hollywood, and has raked in an additional two million dollars from a publishing company who wants her to write a young adult series for them.

I can’t even begin to say how happy I am for her. She worked her ass off and got it kicked numerous times, but used her experiences to grow as a person and eventually take her destiny into her own hands. Her story is also one of the reasons why I decided to self-publish my original fiction.

Her blog contains a ton of useful information as well as links to information regarding the self-publishing industry, including the cons as well as the pros. But getting to the subject of this post, I was reading one of her articles a few days ago and something interesting caught my attention. Apparently Amanda has no idea why her books are selling so well. She claims a fellow ebook author by the name of J.L. Bryan writes in the same genre as she does (paranormal romance), did all the things she did to get his books out there, is a better writer than she is, yet she is selling more books than he is. Why? She doesn’t know.

But I do.

Paranormal romance is extremely popular now but the series that revolutionized it is , as you can already guess, the Twilight series. So the real question is: what makes Twilight so popular?

Stephanie Meyer claims that she deliberately left out a detailed description of her main character so that readers may more easily “step into her shoes.” But not only did she leave out a physical description, she left out a psychological one as well. Bella has no hobbies (save for ones that can make her more Sue-ish), no vision for the future, and no real personality. Therefore, its up to the reader to fill in the blanks and in the process, become Bella. And when we become Bella, we get to experience things that would never happen in real life. The following quotes come from a YouTube vlogger by the name of shmeiliarockie  who is the creator of the vlog “You are Bella.”

“Through Bella we too can have three guys ask us to the dance. We too can get away with simply telling our parents when we’re going out and omitting the details. We can be perfect students without studying. Etc, etc, etc.”

Not to mention we can treat people like shit as much as we want and still have them dote on us like slavish dogs.

“The reader’s desire to become her is the driving force behind the series’ popularity. She (the target audience) wants to be wonderful at everything and loved by everyone. She wants to have a guy look at her with total unconditional love like she’s the only person on the planet. She wants to be accepted and praised for whatever she does because she thinks she can do no wrong. Why can’t the world see that she is perfect and better than everyone else?

“Without this element, Meyer would have never landed the publishing deal. And just because it got published doesn’t mean that the book is good. No, it was a business decision pure and simple. It’s Little Brown’s job to look for a deal that would make them the most money no matter how horrible the quality of the material. I assume that the people at the company aren’t a bunch of idiots. They knew girls would eat it up and ask for more. They sensed its psychological power. That’s why they paid such an exorbitant amount for it. 750,000 for three books is the figure I heard. I mean, damn that’s a lot of money for three pieces of shit.” (1)

I’ve only read the beginning of the first book of Amanda Hocking’s My Blood Approves series, but it was more than enough for me to see that she follows this magic formula.

1. Alice is a teenage blank slate who can’t stop whining to save her life.

Actually I should add something else. Bella and Alice’s only true personality trait is that they are both very insecure and awkward so “any female who has been through puberty is able to identify.” (2)

2. She has no vision for the future until her vampire beloved comes into her life. And said future only consists of living happily ever after with him (this piece of information comes from an Amazon reviewer)(3).

3. Her vampire beloveds are super rich so she doesn’t need to worry about petty things like finding her niche or discovering her inner strength/individuality.

Despite this blatant misogyny, Amanda Hocking is superior to Stephanie Meyer in that she admitted outright that her work is sexist, which is the reason why the female protagonist in her zombie series kicks so much ass. Visit her blog here.

References:

1. shemeiliarockie’s video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8901E62d9vg

2. Why Twilight is Popular

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4uuGvmAxTI

3. Amazon reviewer Pie Grrl

http://www.amazon.com/My-Blood-Approves-ebook/product-reviews/B003HGGHTW/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R1QN9R2USO4AWP

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16 responses to “The Answer to Amanda Hocking’s Question

  1. Interesting view.

    I got a pretty good image of Bella, from Meyer, by what she did describe. That’s why I thought Kristen Stewart made such a good fit.

    I like your spin on the Amanda Hocking story. However, I personally found too many errors and the MS underdeveloped (story still in it’s early stages) to read professionally — and therefore for it to be compelling.

    It’s nice to hear a view on how someone becomes ridiculously successful! Thanks.

    • Thanks for commenting!

      Meyer did give an incredibly detailed physical description of Bella, but it’s not in the books so readers can still forget it while they’re reading it. I think that’s why it can still be so effective.

  2. My Blood Approves reminded me so much of Twilight that I was really hesitant to read her other book, Hollowland. Hollowland is so much better though.

    I’m just glad that she did admit her work was sexist and doesn’t try to hide it. That’s so much better than Meyer. It just sucks that it’s all about making money rather than publishing quality work.

  3. Very interesting! I do think Alice does develop as the MBA series goes on – by the third or fourth book (I forget which) she is starting to question whether happily ever after with a vampire is really that great, and she’s looking for her own agency and purpose. I’ve only read the first Twilight book, so I can’t compare properly, but I get the impression this is something Bella never does. She appears solely focused on marrying Edward, turning immortal, and forsaking everything else in life.

    I do agree that Hocking was lucky enough to tap into the Twilight fanbase – I’m sure it’s been a massive part of her success; having read some of her other, non-vampire works, though, I think another part is simply that she writes easy, candy-esque stories that you can gobble up and enjoy without too much effort!

  4. wioth all this in mind, i continue to revise my book. Damn it I want to write a piece of book eye candy…why is it so hard??? I think we underestimate that it might be HARD to write easily digested stories…ugh.

  5. Very interesting analysis of the Meyer and Hocking success effect – creation of an easy to read, insecure and shallow female protagonist who you can slip into and become without too much effort. I agree with all the astute comments and observations. I read the Trylle trilogy to see what all the fuss was about – disappointed by the same formula. I think the same applies to Anastasia of 50 Shades of Grey – 10 million copies worth of crap erotica, lousy prose, and uninteresting characters. My debut Rhapsody of Restraint, and the sequel due shortly, Rhapsody of Power, has a strong, independent, intelligent female protagonist – a nuclear scientist who sets off atomic bombs within her relationships. I agree with Annika and Lisa – time now for the strong heroines to become best-sellers and I shall keep writing them!

  6. So, it turns out that the very things that I disliked about the book/series are the very ones that make it a mega-seller? I might never have figured that out. No wonder after 50+ books published I’ve never gotten that million-dollar contract. 😉

    Seriously, thanks for the insight. If I could find a twitter link for you on this page, I’d be hitting “follow” now. (If I’ve missed it, I apologize.) Anyway, good job. I enjoyed the post & tweeted it.

  7. I’m with sdsullivan. I hated Bella’s ‘nothingness’. I’m not interested in blank slates. I want to spend time with characters I can actually relate to. Great blog post. I’ll be back.

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