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Amazon's Kindle Unlimited Is a Boon for Some Authors - The Atlantic

W hen historians come to write about the digital transformation currently engulfing the book-publishing world , they will almost certainly refer to Amanda Hocking , writer of paranormal fiction who in the past 18 months has emerged from obscurity to bestselling status entirely under her own self-published steam.

What the historians may omit to mention is the crucial role played in her rise by those furry wide-mouthed friends, the Muppets. To understand the vital Muppet connection we have to go back to April We find Hocking sitting in her tiny, sparsely furnished apartment in Austin, Minnesota. She is penniless and frustrated, having spent years fruitlessly trying to interest traditional publishers in her work.

To make matters worse, she has just heard that an exhibition about Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, is coming to Chicago later that year and she can't afford to make the trip. As a huge Muppets fan, she is more than willing to drive eight hours but has no money for petrol, let alone a hotel for the night.


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What is she to do? Then it comes to her. She can take one of the many novels she has written over the previous nine years, all of which have been rejected by umpteen book agents and publishing houses, and slap them up on Amazon and other digital ebook sites. Surely, she can sell a few copies to her family and friends? Let's jump to October Over the past 20 months Hocking has sold 1. All by her lonesome self.

Not a single book agent or publishing house or sales force or marketing manager or bookshop anywhere in sight. So let the historians take note: Amanda Hocking does get to Chicago to see the Muppets. And along the way she helps to foment a revolution in global publishing. I've come to Austin, legendary birthplace of Spam the canned as opposed to the digital version , to find out what this self-publishing revolution looks like in the flesh. I can report that, from the outside, it's surprisingly conventional.

Hocking no longer lives in that pokey apartment, but then she's no longer a struggling would-be author. She's bought herself her own detached home, the building block of the American dream, replete with gables and extensions, its own plot of land, and a concrete ramp on which to park the car. But step inside and convention gives way to a riot of colour.

It is just before Christmas, and Hocking has decorated the house with several plastic trees bedecked in lights and two large Santa stockings pinned expectantly over the mantelpiece.

The sofa is scattered with animals, some of the cuddly toy variety and others alive, notably Elroy the miniature schnauzer and Squeak the cat apparently they get on very well. She greets me at the door and, without preamble, we talk for the next two hours about her extraordinary rags-to-riches tale and what it means for the future of the book.

At 27, and with only a few months in the limelight, she is patently new to the fame game. She seems nervous at first, answering my questions in short bursts and fiddling with her glasses; but gradually she relaxes as we discuss what for her has been the central passion of her life since an infant. She was brought up in the Minnesota countryside on the outskirts of Blooming Prairie about 15 miles north of Austin. Her parents divorced when she was young, money was tight and there was no cable TV to wallow in.

I would go to the library, or get books at rummage sales. I got through them so quickly I started reading adult books because they were longer. I remember my mom giving me a box set of five books to last me all summer; I devoured them all in two weeks. It was a way, she now thinks, of coping with the depression that troubled her childhood. There wasn't a reason for it, I just was. I was sad and morose.

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I cried a lot, I wrote a lot, and I read a lot; and that was how I dealt with it. What went in had to come out. The child Hocking began telling her own stories before she could walk. She was forever inventing make-believe worlds, so much so that the counsellor to whom she was sent for depression concluded that her incessant storytelling was an aberration that had to stop.

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Fortunately for Hocking, and for her many fans, her parents took her side in this argument, and she was never sent back to see him. At 12 she had already begun to describe herself as a writer and by the end of high school she estimates she had written 50 short stories and started countless novels. The first that she actually completed, Dreams I Can't Remember, was written when she was She was very excited by the accomplishment, and printed it out for friends and family, as well as sending it to several publishers. I don't blame them — it wasn't very good," Hocking says. Hocking went on to develop an intimate relationship with rejection letters.

She has somewhere in her new house a shoebox full of them. Yet she would not give up. She wrote unpublished book after unpublished book.

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This time it was bound to work. In she went into overdrive. She was frantic to get her first book published by the time she was 26, the age Stephen King was first in print, and time was running out she's now Once she got going, she could write a complete novel in just two or three weeks. By the start of , she had amassed a total of 17 unpublished novels, all gathering digital dust on the desktop of her laptop.

She received her last rejection letter in February Hocking says she hasn't kept the letter, which is a crying shame because it would surely have been an invaluable piece of self-publishing memorabilia. As far as she can remember, the last "thanks-but-no-thanks" came from a literary agent in the UK. If that agent is reading this article, please don't beat yourself up about this. We all make mistakes April 15 should also be noted by historians of literature. Between the gorgeous cinematography, bewitching soundtrack, and fresh plot devices, this may just be my new favorite horror movie.

Obviously, whatever IT is, the monster is spooky in more ways than one. But is that all? Is the monster — the IT — the scariest part of the movie? And it works. Which I want. In fact, modern technology is mostly absent throughout the film except for this thing. It looks like a vintage makeup compact but seems to act like a smartphone-combo-e-reader — Yara even uses it later as a light source, the way you would a phone.

This is what made me look for more anachronisms throughout the film and oh boy there are a lot. Here are the most notable ones:. The hell? At the beginning of the film, a young woman runs out of her house wearing a pair of heels, short-shorts, and a tank top. However, she continues to cross the street, then loops back around to her house.

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When she does this, we see that the lawns on the other side of the street are littered with leaves and the trees have started to turn. As she bolts past another house, there are clearly pumpkins on the porch.

So wait, is it summer or fall? But behind them, it looks nothing like fall or even winter. Why is everyone wearing a coat? One of my pet peeves about horror movie viewers is when they expect all the information to be spelled out explicitly. They seem normal enough. Maybe he left?