A twentysomething author from southern Minnesota is winning national props for taking the online download route and selling hundreds of thousands of her young-adult paranormal novels in less than a year's time.

Amanda Hocking, 26, of Austin, is featured in the April issue of Elle as one of "10 brilliant women" in the fashion magazine's Genius issue, which hits Minnesota newsstands next week.

Hocking's fellow "brilliant women" include NASA astrobiology fellow Felisa Wolfe-Simon, BET Network CEO Debra L. Lee and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska.

Last month, Hocking's self-published Trylle Trilogy -- "Switched," "Torn" and "Ascend" -- debuted on USA Today's bestselling book list.

In 2010, she sold more than 160,000 books online, some for as little as 99 cents. None go for more than $2.99. That's a fraction of what off-the-rack paperbacks go for.

This year, she's already hovering around 500,000 in download sales through online outlets such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Apple.

"I am excited about the world now," Hocking said recently on her blog. "I think it's a really great time to be a writer. We have more control of our destiny [than] before -- or at least, it feels that way."

USA Today says that for every $2.99 book that Hocking sells, she keeps 70 percent, with the rest going to the online bookseller. For every 99-cent book she sells, she keeps 30 percent.

Hocking blogged that her success is little more than "one girl who wrote a couple books that are selling well" but is not shaking the foundations of traditional publishing. "That doesn't scare them -- they just want to be a part of it, the same way they want to be a part of any best seller."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482