Switched: the easiest way to get rich

Amanda Hocking, prolific author of young-adult paranormal romance novels, is a self-published, self-made millionaire. How’d she do it (and how you can too).

This may be the very last thing I ever write for RVANews, as I’ve decided to become a millionaire self-published author. The steps are, apparently, pretty simple:

  1. Go to Wal-Mart and figure out what books people are buying.
  2. Quickly write similar stories, exchanging tropes liberally but keeping within the same genre. Also, make sure you increase the sexy times by 25%.
  3. Self-publish your stories as e-books in the iBookstore or Kindle Store.
  4. PROFIT$$$
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you own a life-sized replica of Han Solo encased in carbonite.

Even if I never saw myself as the next great romance novelist, I can’t pass up such a great opportunity to snatch some low-hanging fruit and make some bucks. And I know what you’re thinking: “But Ross, how can you, a man talented in many things, rise to the top of romance-novel success with practically1 no experience in bookwriting?” To you I say: does it even matter?

Actually, Susan Howson said it best when reviewing Breaking Down, Part 1:

Why not make a crappy movie? Think about it! Every die-hard Twilight fan is going to see this film and the sure-to-be crappy one after it, no matter what. So why spend the time and, more importantly, the money to hire decent actors or cultivate the talent of the ones you’ve got?

I mean, right!? Why bother to write something of merit when you can churn out saccharine paranormal romance novels and make a pretty penny?2 It’s not that this is a new idea, either: I grew up reading stacks of fantasy novels that were just awkwardly distilled3 versions of Tolkien. And guys, this is OK! Some of my most beloved books are dogeared copies of the Dragonlance Legends series. Who cares if Twilight is the written equivalent of a bag of Doritos? I read/ate that thing in one sitting! Of course there is value in fantastically crafted books like Gone with the Wind, Moby Dick, or The Princess Bride, but that doesn’t obviate the need to curl up with a pile of crap once in a while.

Amanda Hocking, prolific author of young-adult paranormal romance novels, has taken this idea of “write shit, make money,” exploited it, and now she’s a millionaire twice over (at least). In early 2010, tired of receiving rejection letters from traditional publishers, she decided to self-publish and uploaded her books to the Amazon Kindle Store–she sold five books that day. Last June she was selling 9,000 books a day…that’s something like $81,000 a day!! Hocking is rolling in the dough, and she does actually own a life-sized replica of Han Solo encased in carbonite.

Think what you will about the quality/content of her books, she’s a genius, and she’s fascinating. You really should read this interview with her over at the New York Times Magazine, it’s full of amazing bits like how her success was inspired by Mark Hoppus from Blink 182.

One of Hocking’s bestselling novels4, Switched, is your basic teen romance chockablock with angst, fight scenes, sexual tension, and paranormal elements. It’s basically Twilight…but with trolls. Switched perfectly executes rule #2 from above: trolls instead of vampires.

Protagonist Wendy Everly is a teenager, and one of those beautiful, pouty teenagers that doesn’t realize that she’s a total smokedog.5 She lives, and has a strained relationship with, her aunt Maggie. Her dad’s dead and her mom tried to kill her when she was five. Oh, and she’s a troll–well a “Tryell” in Switched parlance.

And this is the main difference between Switched and Twilight: the former moves at a lightning pace compared to the later–and it’s not like Stephanie Meyer is a master of subtle exposition. Hocking wastes no time in laying out the particulars of the story, and before you know it Wendy is whisked away to Trolltown6 by her sullen and vaguely dangerous protector, Finn. Once there, she discovers she’s not only a troll but the crown-princess troll. And her true, troll mom is a total bitch! Some things never change.

You can predict the whole thing, from the awkward love triangle to the (kind of) climactic fight scene and subsequent rescue by Finn. It’s nicely packaged and easily digestible–just like Doritos!7

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Why you should read this book

Did you like Twilight? Did you just finish reading War & Peace and your brain desperately needs a respite? Do you have an enormous collection of troll dolls? I’m not sure there are actually a ton of reasons to read Switched, but there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to not read it.

Why you should go do something else

I guess you could theoretically find a better use of your time, I GUESS. But, if you detest the paranormal romance genre, this probably isn’t your game.

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  1. Aka literally. 
  2. That’s not a disparagement of you, potential Twilight fan–I am one of you! I own all of Stephanie Myer’s Twilight books–some in hardback.8 
  3. Terry Brooks, I’m looking at you. 
  4. At time of press, Switched ranked 2,137 out of all paid e-books in the Kindle Store and #52 in the Teens > Love & Romance category. 
  5. Sound familiar? 
  6. It’s not really called Trolltown, but it might as well be. 
  7. That’s actually not true on either count. Still delicious though! 
  8. This was before I went all-digital and started reading everything on my iPad. 
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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

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