by Roohi Sahajpal
Long gone are the days of sending demo tapes to record executives or trying to get publishers to read your latest novel. Call it a digital uprising or the new business model for success, but more and more women are taking their talent -- and ideas -- online. They're creating their business and brand, on their own terms. Let's take a look at some of the self-made women who found success using the Internet.
Amanda Hocking might not be a household name like J.K. Rowling, but the 27-year-old American author surprised the literary world with her rise to success by self-publishing her paranormal fiction. After being rejected by publishers for years, Hocking put her novels up on Amazon in April 2010 and since then has sold over a million e-books and made millions of dollars. "It went from zero to 60 overnight," she told The Guardian. "Everybody was buying my books and it was overwhelming." Although Hocking's success stems from selling her books online, she's now signed a $2.1 million publishing deal with St. Martin's Press and Pan Macmillan.
Felicia Day went from slaying vampires on tthe TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer to creating, writing, and starring her own popular web series, The Guild. Since 2007, the series has garnered over 80 million views on YouTube, and Rolling Stone named it one of the Internet's best serial shows. The first season was financed solely by Paypal donations from fans. Soon the show partnered with Sprint and Microsoft and made a deal with XBOX 360, giving Day creative control of her show.
Kelly Oxford's story of Internet success is like a modern-day digital fairytale. The 34-year-old mom of three from Alberta, Canada, started out tweeting 140-character doses of humor each day, but then got hired by NBC to write a television pilot and inked a book deal with Harper's Bazaar. She's racked up over 400,000 followers on Twitter. Celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and Roger Ebert have praised Oxford for her quick wit. "It's heartening to know that somebody with nothing other than the quality of their tweets can become very popular and actually make a living as a result of it. It's like Twitter was invented for Kelly Oxford," said Jimmy Kimmel in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. Oxford has now relocated her family from Calgary to Los Angeles to work on her Hollywood projects.
Amanda Palmer broke away from her record label in 2008. Four years later, Palmer turned to crowd-funding website Kickstarter to help with the costs of distributing Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra’s new record. Her campaign ended up being the website's most successful ever, raising over $1.1 million. "People will understand that crowdfunding is a concept that can make art and life and energy possible where it wasn't possible before...and we're off to a running start," she told Gothamist in June.
Probably the most recognized name on this list is Lady Gaga. The famous pop singer has been a winner on the social media front, using the Internet to become one of the biggest stars of her generation. Gaga became the first person to get 20 million followers on Twitter. She has over 1 billion views on YouTube and launched her own social network, Little Monsters. Social media and online marketing company ThinkTankDigital was the first to launch Gaga’s online presence. “She took great pride in engaging directly with her fans across every medium available to her,” co-founder Tynica Battle told TheNextWeb. “I would definitely say that that plays a very large role. It’s also not just touchy feely stuff. If you look at it, she does very obviously draw attention to everything that she needs to promote, so you won’t find too much fluff. It’s still orchestrated even though it’s personal.”
Images of Felicia Day, Amanda Palmer, and Lady Gaga via Wikimedia Commons; images of Amanda Hocking and Kelly Oxford via Twitter.