The Atlantic

The Authors Who Love Amazon

The e-commerce giant has finally made self-publishing lucrative. But does its dominance come at a cost?
Source: Tsering Topgyal / AP

For most of Prime Day, Amazon’s annual sales bonanza, an unfamiliar face topped the site’s Author Rank page: Mike Omer, a 39-year-old Israeli computer engineer and self-published author whose profile picture is a candid shot of a young, blond man in sunglasses sitting on grass. He was—and at the time of this writing, still is—ranked above J.K. Rowling (No.8), James Patterson (No. 9), and Stephen King (No. 10) in sales of all his books on Amazon.com. His most recent book is ranked tenth on Amazon Charts, which Amazon launched after The New York Times stopped issuing e-book rankings, and which measures sales of individual books on Amazon. (The company does not disclose the metrics behind Author Rank, which is still in beta.)

Omer is one of a growing number of authors who have found self-publishing on Amazon’s platform to be very lucrative. While he may not be as familiar a name as the big authors marketed by traditional publishing houses, and may not have as many total book sales, Omer is making an enviable living from his writing. Sales of his first e-book, Spider’s Web, and its sequels, allowed him to quit his job and become a full-time author. Now, he makes more money than he did as a computer engineer. “I’m making a really nice salary, even by American standards,” he said.

After the success of Omer’s first book series, Thomas & Mercer, an Amazon imprint, published his most recent book, a mystery called , which was also promoted on Amazon’s First Reads, a new subscription service in which the company recommends a handful of books

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