Amanda Hocking & DexRaven – Part 1

Posted on March 27, 2011 by


Letter WritingAmanda Hocking is a wildly successful, industry-challenging e-book author. DexRaven is an unpublished writer.

The online publishing community is so very small; there are a lot of blogs out there but only a few seem to have the right mixture of humour and expertise that appeals. A humming cloud of small-time and unpublished writers hovers around a few big players at the centre, vying for their attention and sometimes getting it.

I am reminded how small the community really is when a person like Hocking finds her way to a blog like DexRaven’s and not only reads it, but writes a long comment in response.

It is not a flattering post. DexRaven is careful to say that he likes Hocking’s books, careful to point to positive reviews he left on Amazon, so that there can be no confusion: after reading her blog, he simply doesn’t like Hocking very much. Hocking’s comment is, in return, full of hurt and anger.

The only thing that strikes me about the confrontation between these two, given I have never read any of Amanda Hocking’s work (which must change, and soon) is that her reaction is sincere: she’s deeply affected by DexRaven’s opinion, if not deeply wounded by it. Her comment, to my eyes, speaks of a person who didn’t expect any such opinion as a result of her actions — especially given DexRaven’s readership, which is too small to warrant Hocking’s response from a marketing standpoint.

It also says that Hocking may not be used to her fame and fortune; she hasn’t developed the thick skin that celebrities require to get through the day. Every person who knows something about you judges you — it’s an inescapable part of being a social animal with a thinking brain. If millions of people know about you in varying degrees, there will be millions of opinions. One of them is bound to be deeply hurtful.

Judging solely by Hocking’s response, I believe that DexRaven is mistaken in his judgment of her. She is unused to the speed and magnitude of change in her life, not whinging about it. She cares about what people think of her. There is a possibility that this is a stunt by Hocking to make people care about her and buy her books, but there is also a possibility that Russell’s teapot is out there somewhere.

But this…this is all preamble.

What grabbed me by the throat and pulled me forward into writing this post is that I am wildly curious about DexRaven’s book. Here, look at his first Amanda Hocking post:

I can write this book I’ve been lazily plugging away at. I have publishable shit sitting in folders, 1-2 drafts away from a final draft, just waiting for me to polish the last few bits and send it out into the world.

I know saying this could come across as cocky. I don’t mean it to. I just know I can write. I’m not Hemmingway or Salinger or even King or Rowling, but I know I can tell a good story. Good enough that folks would pay to read them.

At this point he didn’t know that Hocking would read his blog. But even after she did, he didn’t delete or change his post. He didn’t even change it to spell “Hemingway” correctly.

I know you think I’m taking the piss — I’m not. I want to know, I need to know: is the tone of his jealousy justified? Is he publishable?

I’ve lately conceived a bottomless hunger for unproven work. It’s mostly a matter of psychology; I want to see what makes writers tick, how they make quality judgements about themselves. I’ve written in isolation for so long that when a bait like this is dangled in front of my nose I can’t help but investigate. What does “good writing” mean to writers? How do they apply quality judgements to themselves, and are those standards carried over to their judgements of others?

Ah…this may sound a little strange to you; I feel a bit of explanation is in order.

I focused on language philosophy and epistemology at university because it fascinates me. Creative writing is something I feel capable of judging in terms of quality, and I am experiencing insatiable academic curiosity now that I am surrounded by opinions regarding quality (an elusive beast at best) from every viewpoint in publishing.

I am learning a great deal about the publishing industry, but writers are elusive and slippery creatures; they seem to distrust other writers. I will ask anyway: DexRaven, if you would be kind enough to send me a brief example of your writing I will be very grateful.

Posted in: Books & Writing