Indie Author Traci Hohenstein Signs Four-Book Deal With Amazon

Traci Hohenstein has signed on with Amazon’s increasingly acquisitive imprint, Thomas & Mercer, on a four-book deal, comprised of her indie smash hit Burn Out and three subsequent novels, as yet unpublished.

This is somewhat new ground for Thomas & Mercer in that Traci doesn’t have a huge backlist (Burn Out was her debut), and unlike most of their authors, she doesn’t have some background in trade publishing. In fact, she only self-published her debut title in April, the only work she has released thus far (although the sequel is imminent). Quite the meteoric rise.

I have enjoyed sharing the news here of deals struck by J Carson Black, Michael Wallace, and Scott Nicholson, but this is particularly special given all of the circumstances above, and because I got to share in a little of the excitement when Traci was first approached.

But that’s enough blathering from me. Here’s Traci:


I published Burn Out on April 1, 2011. I thought April Fool’s day was a fitting date to try self-publishing my first novel. That was a short five months ago and since then my world has been turned upside down. My sales went something like this.

124 in April

375 in May

2339 in June

6762 in July

10K in August

In July I finally hit the Top 100 paid sales chart. I have been bouncing around in the Top 10 in Action/Adventure and Top 20 in Suspense sub-categories since June.

Then in late August came the surprise of my life. Thomas & Mercer contacted me and offered a four book deal for the Rachel Scott series including Burn Out. I was floored. I never in my wildest dreams expected Burn Out to do so well let alone attract the attention it has.

Everything happened fast after that. I was introduced to Jane Dystel through another author, Joe Konrath. I signed with her and she has been handling the contract negotiations with Thomas & Mercer.

While I have been writing professionally for over 15 years, mostly freelance magazine and newspaper articles, this was my first stab at publishing fiction. I begin writing the Rachel Scott series after watching the news about missing teenager Natalee Holloway. The idea of a woman who begins a search and rescue company after her own daughter vanishes became a reality when I began to sketch out two stories. The first one, Burn Out, centers around a missing firefighter who is also caught up in her husband’s drug ring. The second book, Asylum Harbor, is about Amber Knowles, a teenager who disappears in the Bahamas while on a spring break cruise. I’m having a lot of fun with this series and anticipate many more Rachel Scott books in the near future.

Burn Out will be re-released under the Thomas & Mercer imprint along with the second book in the series, Asylum Harbor, later this year. Two other untitled books in the series will be released next year. This four-book deal includes a print run as well although the date has not been set.


Thanks to Traci for sharing her thoughts, and my sincere congratulations to her. I would imagine Amazon will be nudging the price upwards a touch, so if you were thinking of checking out Burn Out, you can still pick it up for 99 cents (if you move fast) at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

Paper die-hards can get their kicks for just $8.95, and you can follow Traci’s blog here, catch her on Facebook here, and Twitter here.

So, I don’t know about you, but my first thought was this. If they keep this up, they’re going to have to rename the Thriller & Mystery genre Thomas & Mercer.

Here’s their line-up (or at least all the ones I can remember, I’m losing track now): Joe Konrath, Blake Crouch, Barry Eisler, Michael Wallace, Vincent Zhandri, Ed McBain, Scott Nicholson, J Carson Black, and now Traci Hohenstein’s name can be added to that illustrious list.

On top of that, last month they signed Lee Goldberg’s and Bill Rabkin’s Dead Man series in a twelve-book print, digital, and audio deal which will see a whole host of other writers published under the Thomas & Mercer banner (including David McAfee, Lisa Klink, and Jude Hardin).

In short, these guys are playing for keeps.

David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

38 Replies to “Indie Author Traci Hohenstein Signs Four-Book Deal With Amazon”

  1. Thanks for reporting another indie success story. That is excellent news for those of us on the journey.

    I’m intrigued by the mention of the Amazon imprint 47 North. Where do I get more information?

  2. Techsavvywriter,
    Obviously Amazon is retaining e-rights in the deal. They make and sell a device known as the Kindle. 🙂
    That said, authors do retain key rights, depending on the specific deal they negotiate with you. In my case, i have retained all film, tv and other performance rights. Amazon is publishing the Dead Man in multiple languages and Brilliance Audio is doing the audio books. Amazon also has an author-friendly out-of-print provision that isnt the dead end/pure rights giveaway thats now part of the laughable out-of-print clause that tradtional publishers are offering.

    1. Obviously Amazon is retaining e-rights in the deal. They make and sell a device known as the Kindle.

      I actually didn’t realize that’d be obvious. Isn’t there a difference between having the rights for a period of time and “retaining” them? I’d imagine the author wouldn’t sign away the rights permanently, but at most for a brief duration, or in a limited way.

      1. By retaining, I didn’t mean to imply they are holding on to them forever. They are holding on to them for the duration of the contract (until the book becomes out-of-print, when they relinquish all rights). This is a publishing agreement, not a permanent buy-out of rights.


  3. Excellent post. This provides incentive and encouragement for self published writers like myself. Though I’m not striving to win a publishing deal with a large publisher, I will certainly listen to those who approach me. I’ve said for some time that the business model for traditional publishing needs to change. Congrats to Traci!

  4. I knew this was in the offing and am very pleased for Traci. But obviously, in addition to writing a great book, the key is to have Jeroen Ten Berge do your covers :-).

    He does Traci’s, and lots for me, Barry, Joe and Blake.


    1. Looks like we have discovered the elusive Stage 2 from the Self-Publishing Business Plan!

      Stage 1 – Publish
      Stage 2 – ???
      Staqe 3 – Untold Riches!

      There must be magic pixie dust in those covers…

  5. Has Amazon signed any authors outside the Mystery/Thriller genre?

    Also–Is this author retaining any specific rights, like, say–e-rights?

      1. The sf/fantasy/horror imprint is called 47 North.

        I hadn’t heard of that new imprint, Lee. Where did you get the information?

  6. Congrats to Traci and thanks David for sharing the news! The game is certainly changing, and it’s an exciting time for those of us wanting to go indie (and maybe grab those bigger deals along the way!) I’m looking forward to joining the foray in December.

  7. Hey Tracy, wow! Congratulations!!

    I just finished Burn Out 2 days ago, and enjoyed it tremendously. I made one of my patented video reviews giving it, of course, 5 stars, only haven’t managed to upload it yet!

    I’d better hurry up…

    I love to hear these success stories! Thanks, David, for bringing us more good news.

    1. Austin, yeah, you could say that.

      Amazon offer:

      *extremely equitable royalty splits with the authors
      *digital release before paper
      *very fast print production time
      *full creative control
      *no stupid non-compete clauses preventing you self-pubbing other stuff
      *clear and fair contracts
      *unparalleled marketing push (email blasts to targeted customers, ads on home page etc.)

      Pretty much the opposite of a standard deal with a large publisher

      1. Thanks for your explanation of what Amazon are offering, David. As you say, the above list is the opposite of what a large publisher would offer. My recent royalty cheque generously reported that I am getting 5% of the proceeds of all my sales for my three erotic novels which have been selling well in hard copy for well over ten years now.
        Despite my ability to write best-selling novels, my publisher don’t want any other books by me. Go Figure!
        Indie publishing is the future for me, my only regret is that I did not join the ebook revolution three years ago!

      2. That might be overstating it. While it’s true that Amazon-published books won’t be on-sale at the other e-retailers (like B&N, Apple, Sony etc.), they will be in bookstores. It seems to have been forgotten by many commentators that Amazon have been publishing books for some time now, and they have been stocked by booksellers (including indies, and Barnes & Noble). Some booksellers may decide to boycott Amazon-published books, but that strategy may not be sustainable if Amazon keep scooping up bestsellers (especially those like Tim Ferris).

        I think most booksellers will decide whether or not to stock the book in the usual way: based on the terms and their estimation of its ability to sell.

        I think the only real loss in terms of channels is not appearing in Barnes & Noble as Apple and the rest don’t sell many books anyway. From the author’s perspective, you are losing a reasonable share of your potential digital market by giving Amazon exclusivity, but you are gaining so much more.

        Any deal will have pros and cons. Just as self-publishing does. I think the trade-off here is an overwhelmingly positive one for the author. Amazon will shift way more copies for her to more than make up for any loss on other channels. And if some bookstores don’t stock her book, well, they probably weren’t going to stock a self-published book before she took the deal anyway, not on any kind of terms that would have been viable for her. So, to me at least, it’s all gain for her.

  8. Congratulations to Traci. I’ll pick up her eBook today. Great things can happen to indies. 🙂

    I just received my hard copies of a movie options and purchase contracts, for three of the eBooks in my young-adult angel series, and the entertainment lawyer I wanted has agreed to represent me.

    Also, a major Christian publishing house contacted me about acquiring the rights to put them out in paperback, and this has all happened since my first eBook released May 23rd, 2011 and the second on July 1st.
    Well, back to work. I have lots of writing and editing to do.

  9. Really interesting! The world of self-publishing/indie-publishing/trade publishing just seems to get more layered as the year goes by!

    Congratulations to Traci on her tremendous success! That’s fantastic.

    I better go pick up my copy while I can! 😉


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