From Digital to Traditional . . . or Not

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Nov 14 2011

Hello! I am an indie author that published my YA paranormal romance through Amazon’s KDP service. The novel has done remarkably well; I sold over one thousand copies its first month (April), and it is on track to sell about five thousand copies this month. It ranks 165 in the overall Kindle store and #4 in it’s subgenre, behind only Amanda Hocking’s uber-popular Trylle trilogy. My question is this: Do I pursue a literary agent and traditonal book deal, or should I wait it out for the sales explosion that occurs during November, December, and January? (Amanda Hocking reportedly sold 80% of her million plus copies during this period last year) Thanks for taking the time to read this!

There’s no right answer to this question. You have to do what you want to do, and you also need to be aware that Amanda Hocking’s success in that period is in no way indicative of a publishing trend; it’s one year that she’s looking at, and that one year also saw a breakout in digital books overall (a lot of people received Kindles for Christmas last year).

I think you have to do what you want to do for your career and to pursue your career goals. Just as sales could spike in November of this year, they could also begin to drop. Like anything in life it’s a gamble, so what you do has to be what your gut tells you to do. My advice, if you want to eventually get an agent, is to use your next book to do so. Leave your current book on Kindle for now and find an agent for you next work.


8 responses to “From Digital to Traditional . . . or Not”

  1. I want to know, was this the first novel for this person? If so, how'd they get their novel so high up in the first month? My novel has been out a week and has sold five copies. Marketing is a beast, and I don't even know where to start.

    It's called The Deliverer By Jason D. Morrow and can be found on Amazon…

    Any time I try to look up tips for self promotion, all I ever hear about are blogs, facebook, twitter. Obviously I'm doing all those things. It's just so frustrating. I know it's my first novel and I have to give it time. I just want to know what to do during that time other than the writing I'm doing for the sequel.

  2. Avatar Kristan says:

    Thanks for answering this question. I feel like it's only going to become more and more relevant. Also, it seems to imply that a self-publishing venture won't be held against a new author, which is very reassuring. There used to be so much stigma — and I know there's still some, but I think it's great that it may be fading.

    Check out the Writer's Cafe at There is a vibrant self publishing community there, with lots of great tips and advice.

  3. Thanks, Jessica, for posting this advice! I've asked the same question before on various blogs and never got an answer!

    Indeed, the implication is that self-publishing won't be held against the author – it's just a matter of looking for an agent for another book…

    As to marketing for Indies, yes, Jason, it's real hard! But everybody says that it takes anywhere between 6 to 9 months before an e-book sales will take off…So be patient!

  4. Avatar Robena Grant says:

    Interesting topic. One that I often wonder about. It's hard to know which road to take these days.

    And good luck, Jason. Hang in there, it will get better. Thanks for the tip on Writers Cafe, Kristen. I'll look into that as well.

  5. Avatar Anonymous says:

    You gave her good advice. But I'd like to know if agents are, indeed, interested in taking on authors who have either idie pubbed or have pubbed with e-publishing houses. I have read that some agents have done this with some authors. But for the majority I never see anything specific from agents, almost as if it's off limits to discuss. I basically see "query with the work in progress." But if an author has sold thousands of books and has a readership, and there is *always* a work in progress, I never see anything concrete from an agent POV. Are agents interested in these authors?

    You're probably wondering why a successful author with e-publishers would want and agent. It's simple. No matter what you hear or read online, e-publishers are just like traditional publishers. It's all one-sided and geared toward the publisher and the authors don't always know what they are doing. They could, indeed use agents.

  6. Even some of the best selling self published authors have agents.

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