stack of amazon book orders

That’s what Sramana Mitra, writing at Forbes magazine (last month), thinks. Mitra believes that publishers must be treating their authors very badly, because most authors make little money on most books.

Well, guess what: hardly anyone makes money from book publishing — except for UPS. (So, yeah, the industry needs to be reworked. But is Amazon really a panacea?)

Anyway, Mitra figures that if we just take out all those unnecessary bits that keep draining money from authors’ pockets — you know, like agents, editors, designers, marketers, publicists, printers, sales reps, and hand sellers — why, that would just leave a ton more money for the writers!

Mitra, by the way, is “a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies and writes a business blog, Sramana Mitra on Strategy. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” So what exactly does she predict?

Let’s say, in the new world, Amazon becomes the retailer, marketer, publisher and agent combined and takes 65% of the revenues, offering 35% to the author–we end up with a much better, fairer world.

Vertical integration is where Amazon is headed. Jeff Bezos is a shrewd business man. I would be very surprised if he hasn’t figured out the inefficiencies of the book publishing business and Amazon’s opportunity.

The company recently announced it would require all print-on-demand publishers to use its BookSurge print-on-demand service for their books sold on Amazon.

Over the next few years, Amazon likely will use its power to build direct relationships with authors and gradually phase out publishers and agents. It will first go after the independent print-on-demand self-publishers and get the best authors from that world. Amazon will then take on the large publishers.

For decades, the publishing industry has taken advantage of authors. Amazon: authors are counting on you to turn the table!

So all you up-and-coming authors with your first novels, get ready to pitch that manuscript directly to Amazon! Oh, and don’t forget to get yourself a really cute author photo.


And it won’t hurt (much) to do some homework: check out books for writers here and here.


Image via Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO.