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11 People Who Had A Great Year In 2011

11 People Who Had A Great Year In 2011

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The Tuesday before Christmas, this was exactly the topic on NPR as I drove to work. “Who had a good year in 2011?” They were looking for general answers for people, places, companies, and things. I realized that every answer I wanted to call in with was tied to the literary world, so I decided to borrow their topic and make a list.

Here are 11 people who had a great year in 2011. We’ll count down from ten (if you do the math, that means there’s a tie somewhere).

10. Jeff Bezos– had a fantastic year and so must have Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. The Kindle picked up more steam than ever before and made it onto the threat radar of The Big 5 publishers. They launched the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s first color Kindle, as well as the Kindle Lending Library. At least $6 Million has been set aside for the lending library next year, giving great benefits for Indie Authors who give the Kindle an exclusive for at least 90 days (this is where you’ll first find my NaNoWriMo novel, tentatively titled Perish).  The Kindle Fire’s exclusive grab of certain classic digital comics prompted Barnes & Noble, in an unwise move, to try and boycott certain printed comics in protest. By doing that, they obviously drove those sales to  Even the hate they received from other book sellers meant good things for Amazon. It meant that the competitions is scared.

9. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman– We were excited over the 2010/2011 transition to hear that film adaptation of The Hobbit had been green-lit and that Peter Jackson was set to direct. The announcement that Martin Freeman would portray Bilbo Baggins was met with cheers and almost no criticism. Then it was announced that Benedict Cumberbatch, who broke out in Sherlock last year, won the role of the voice of Smaug (as well as the voice of the Necromancer). These two men have been filming in paradise (New Zealand) all year and finally, in the last weeks of 2011, we got a peek at the fruits of their labour. Tolkien fans have nothing but hope for these two films and nothing but praise for the casting choices. Congratulations, boys!

8. Bob Harras– Bob, the editor of DC Comics, took a BIG risk in 2011. What could be worse than a stagnant pool of fans? Pissing-off that pool. When DC comics announced a complete universe relaunch this summer, there were skeptics. Marketers worried that DC fans would see the move as a big middle finger. After all, who wants to see the comics they’ve followed for years start over from square one? What enthusiast wants to start over with stories that are taking it slow and spelling it out to drawn in newbs? Luckily, DC’s move went well. They saw a huge surge of sales from old and new fans and the surge has kept up through the fall and early winter. They had the chance to anger a lot of people (like my husband, who is not OK with grey-area Superman), but they won more fans than they lost.

7. Neil Gaiman– Neil Gaiman got married this year. Twitter nerds rejoiced at the nuptials of Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, singer of the Dresden Dolls. On top of matrimonial happiness, Neil saw some great career highs in 2011. The American Gods 10th anniversary audio book was recorded and released. A pilot for a series based on the hit book is in pre-production for HBO. There are too many other wins for Gaiman this year, so I’ll just point out one that Gaiman will surely remember for the rest of his life– Neil got to write an episode of Doctor Who. Mind you, he originally wrote it for Season 5 (2010). It was bumped to Season 6 and Gaiman was given the opportunity to work with a new character, Rory Williams, who Gaiman’s script ironically dubbed “the pretty one.” Neil’s episode, “The Doctor’s Wife”, is a fan favorite that aired May, 2011 and featured a personified version of the Tardis, called “Sexy.”

6. Kathryn Stockett– Back in 2009 Kathryn Stockett finally published The Help. It was one of those stories that got pitched to countless agents and editors before finally being accepted. In 2011 the film, starring Emma Stone (Zombie Land, Easy A, and upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man), received a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That may not be a stellar rating when compared to films like Toy Story 3, but the critics who liked it must have been the ones who mattered. The critics who didn’t like it seemed to share the pointless complaint that the people who would benefit most from seeing this film (racists) wouldn’t see it. It preaches to the choir. So what? It’s still important. Despite the 25% of naysayers, The Help wrangled the most SAG award nominations (four) this year and made the short list of predictions for most of the other major awards shows this upcoming season. This is great for Stockett, who gets to rub elbows with the Hollywood elite and benefit from a book-sale bump. The Help, with a little help from the #1 film release, became the #1 New York Times best seller as well as the best seller on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for both eBook and Paperback. Cha-ching!

5. Rooney Mara– This uncommon actress started off 2011 at the Academy Awards. You may remember her as the girl that got away in the best picture nominee, The Social Network. She gives Mark Zuckerberg a severe tongue-lashing in the opening scene. If you’ve ever had to reject an arrogant nerd who is claiming that you’re dumping him because of the nerd part and not the arrogant part, you will love this speech. This year Rooney Mara stars in the American adaptation of Stieg Larrson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The early reviews for David Fincher’s film are incredibly positive for both Mara’s performance and for the film as a whole. It’s the self-proclaimed feel-bad movie of the year. Even if it doesn’t yield any awards this winter, I would guess it was worth it to snog Daniel Craig on camera.

4. Harry Potter Fans– I cheated here by choosing a group instead of an individual. I could proclaim that JK Rowling had a great year, but I think the fans reaped the biggest benefits. Early this summer we were teased about a thing called Pottermore, and this July the beta opened. I still have not gotten in, but friends who have entered, thoroughly enjoyed the experience. True fans always jump at the chance for more Rowling-created content. On top of the Pottermore news, fans got news of a West-Coast theme park and got the final movie in the 8-film series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the best film yet. Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman earned oscar buzz and 96% approval on Rotten Tomatoes from critics. Fans were a bit tougher on it, giving it a 92%. The 3D conversion was the first example of good 3D I’ve seen in cinema and Alan Rickman kept breaking my heart. It was beautiful, well-paced, and aside from angering me with implications of uncanon Luna/Neville love, it was perfect.

3. Terry Strickland– Artist, Terry Strickland, is the CEO of Matter Deep Publishing and shot the cover photos for the Olympia Heights series. She is an amazing artist and will be launching her first art book in 2012. 2011 has been a good year for Terry Strickland. She was featured in 8 magazine and news articles, including American Art Collector and Poets and Artists. She was a finalist in multiple art competitions and won the cover contest for the March 2011 issue of Professional Artist Magazine with her portrait “Voice of the Tiger” (seen below). She showed at a number of galleries, finding great success at the Women Painting Women show in Charleston. She already has a number of shows lined up for 2012. Terry Strickland blogs about her art at

2. Amanda Hocking– At Christmas 2010, sales exploded for Amanda Hocking, who reached the estimated $2 Million mark in sales in April of this year. She joined the Kindle Millionaire club and became an idol to independent authors. Hocking drew some criticism for signing on with an established publisher, but she maintains that she did it so that she could focus on writing more and less on marketing. How did she do it? She put out a ton of books that people (teen girls) want to read and made herself super available on social networks. You can follow Hocking on Twitter, where her witty tweets entertain nearly 10,000 followers. Amanda Hocking is a name of hope in my house. She proved that you don’t need a Big 5 publisher to make it big.

1. Blake Northcott– In 2011 Blake Northcott put out her first book as a Kindle Exclusive. Vs. Reality is a comic-book style novella. It’s the first of a series that has been put on hold because of even more success. Northcott’s 20,000 follower Twitter army helped to boost her sales and made Vs. Reality one of the top Kindle books. For a few shining hours, Vs. Reality was ranked higher than Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on the Kindle charts. In England it is in the top 10 for comic/superhero books. Even better, Blake’s success through social media wraps up 2011 with a book deal for a werewolf series that promises to be nothing like Twilight. Luna will accompany a TV pilot that is being pitched to the major broadcast networks. Blake is another inspiring example of a self-made author. And she’s hilarious, too.

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