I demand that you read this New York Times Magazine profile of self-publishing (and now mainstream publishing) phenomenon Amanda Hocking. Now, I know what you are thinking: who in the fuck are you, Lt., to disappear from our lives so rudely, and then show up again one day making demands? But trust me, it's for your own good.
It's for your own good because the article goes on and on (just like my blog posts, though you have to admit you missed me and my discursive style) and yet winds up making Ms. Hocking sound kind of dumb (I'm not saying she is, but the portrayal was not flattering) and - much more importantly - explains absolutely nothing about her that would be of interest to anyone (and thank you, Sierra, for letting me know that bold, and not italics, underline, asterisks, or - god forbid - ALL CAPS - is what I should use for emphasis in cases like this).
For example, is her writing any good? Based on the article, my guess is that it is not. It's "candy," something people can turn to to escape from thinking. (And look, I know a lot of us don't have the perfect lives, but is being forced to think too much really the problem in contemporary America?) But maybe it is. After all, people are buying her books. (One day I want to address head-on this "people buy it so it must be good" thing. It's half-right but - like so much else - not very informative. And we can throw up our hands and say "good" is subjective but that's not helpful.)
Here's another: does she know what she's doing? Whether her writing is "good" or not, she's doing something that appeals. Does she know what it is and why it works? We learn a bit about the development of her style from the piece, but not enough.
Here's another: why did her books take off? The way the article describes it, she uploaded her first book and one day five people bought it, and then she uploaded more and soon thousands of people were buying them. So...um, did she do any marketing? I know, I know, you can't always explain these things fully. But with anyone being able to publish online, how did she get noticed? She doesn't come across as especially business savvy or some kind of social media guru. So what was the secret?
And another: why did she decide to move to a mainstream publisher? She is asked, and answers, this question in the article without really providing an answer. There's been a lot of handwringing about this in the blogosphere, but I don't want some guy's speculation about why she did it, I want to know from her why she did it.
And a final one: why did New York publishers reject her so much? (I put this one last because this is the one you and I, my friends, have already agonized over so much ad nauseum.) That being said, why did the reporter not ask Ms. Hocking to pull out some of her rejection letters, and call up some of those agents and ask them. Heck, maybe Amanda Hocking's big problem is that she just can't write a query letter.
So, was this article just extremely poorly-written (or written by a reporter with no analytical capabilities whatsoever), or are these questions somehow obscure or uninteresting to people? I've read it and understand Ms. Hocking's appeal and success no better than I did beforehand. Do you think Ms. Hocking is being deliberately obfuscatory about her strategies and techniques? Is the reporter just thick? Or - I know it's incredibly unlikely but I'll throw it on the table - is your intrepid blogger, the Lt., missing something here?