The Atlantic

Letters: ‘All of Us Authors Are in It Together’

Readers weigh in on Amazon’s self-publishing model.
Source: George Rose / Getty

The Authors Who Love Amazon

In July, Alana Semuels wrote about how the e-commerce site has enhanced the possibilities for profitable self-publishing.


Amazon has done a service making self-publishing within reach of everyone. But Alana Semuels’s essay, starting with the subtitle (“The e-commerce giant has finally made self-publishing lucrative”), misleads readers about the true state of things. While self-publishing is a great model for some authors, for many others it is not an option. In particular, journalists, nonfiction writers, teachers, and academics need advances in order to write a book, because they have to take time off from work. Only a traditional publisher gives authors money up front to help them research and write.

Amazon self-publishing is not the panacea Semuels suggests. There are apparently more than 3 million self-published titles up at Amazon, and the

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