Amanda Hocking is The New York Times bestselling author of the Trylle and Watersong series and a lifelong Minnesotan. Growing up, Hocking always loved paranormal and fantasy and read voraciously about monsters and vampires. In her writing, Hocking mixes fun and romance with horror, a recipe that has yielded rich dividends. When she started out as an indie author in 2010, Hocking made headlines by selling more than 1 million copies of her books in a little over a year, primarily in e-book format. That kind of popularity gets noticed. Hocking, whose work got picked up by St. Martin’s Press, shares her varied publishing experiences—and advice for beginning writers—with Kirkus. Ice Kissed, the second book in her young-adult trilogy Kanin Chronicles was published in May. The last in the series, Crystal Kingdom, will be published on Aug. 4.

How did you get your start in writing through the indie route?

I finished my first novel in 2002 and started querying agents with the goal of being traditionally published. Fast-forward to 2010: I had written nine or 10 novels—all of which had been rejected—and then I started hearing about self-publishing. The first author I heard of doing well was Elisa Lorello, who made it to the No. 1 book in the Amazon Kindle store, and then I discovered J.A. Konrath. Since I was getting nothing but rejection, I thought I would try. It’s hard to say exactly why my books took off so quickly. It was a combination of having an online presence, writing the right books, and timing. It all came together to form a perfect storm.

What prompted you to sign up with St. Martin's Press?

There were three main reasons: one, it felt like I was entirely alone, trying to navigate a level of success I was totally unprepared for. Two, quality control. Editing was a huge issue for my self-published books. Covers and formatting also were difficult, and I found preparing the manuscript for publication very stressful. I knew with a publisher, they would take over those aspects. Three, shelf space in bookstores. I wanted to reach every reader I could, and I knew that a publisher would have better distribution.

What’s been the most revelatory aspect of self-publishing for you? WhHocking coverat are the differences you have noticed from the traditional model?

The whole self-publishing process was incredibly revelatory, and I am really glad I did it before going with a traditional publisher. I was able to learn so much more about publishing, what goes into making a book, and the industry as a whole. For the writing, there’s no difference between being with a traditional publisher or self-publishing. My publisher does take over all of the cover art and editing, all the stuff I didn’t enjoy about self-publishing.  

What is your advice to other writers who want their work noticed?

The market has become very saturated. When I started self-publishing, having a book priced at 99 cents was enough to get you noticed, but now everybody’s pricing their books that way. My best advice is to keep writing—getting more books out always boosts sales. Always be polite.

Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelancer with a passion for books.