Blog Sommelier: Pairing ‘Agent Orange’ And Howey

Image - iStockphoto: Igorr1
Image – iStockphoto: Igorr1

Orange To Writers: ‘Amazon is no big rock-candy mountain of authorial freedom’

The interests of the self-publishing cheerleaders have been well served by their subsidy from Amazon over the past few years but, from where I’m sitting, it looks to me like they are cheering the creation of a world where Amazon will turn the world’s authors into piece workers, endlessly feeding the content monster for a few pennies.

The literary agent who goes by the pseudonym Agent Orange is someone whose identity I have independently verified. While I normally don’t use unnamed sources, this party — who freely documented his or her situation for me when I asked years ago — has consistently pushed important buttons in the #publishing community.

As on this occasion, you usually will find her or his essays in The Bookseller’s blog section.

Frequently, Agent Orange’s intent is to point up perceived shortcomings in the established publishing industry. An agent known for such insurrection could end up drawing retaliation against his or her clients — at least, this is what she or he has told me. Hence the cover name.

In Author Vs. Author, however,  Agent Orange looks at “how divided the global community of authors (inasmuch as there is such a thing) has become,” writing:

The schism is between the comparatively tiny percentage of successful, published “legacy” authors (Authors United) and the great, largely submerged rump of  “self-published” authors. Like any civil war, it is a bitter fight.

He or she questions whether self-publishing through Amazons’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is really independent, saying it gives the lie to the idea of the Internet as “a wonderful pluralistic organic primal soup.”And Agent Orange’s contention about independent authors in this piece is twofold:

  • And she or he also concludes that self-publishing authors may be too close to an Amazon that is offering the equivalent of subsidies: “It is not just that Amazon is virtually the only route to market (65%+ in the US, 80%+ in the UK) but, more significantly, even though it does not pay advances, Amazon subsidizes every author published through KDP: the more successful the author, the larger the subsidy.”

Agent Orange writes:

The indie cheerleaders of the new world order of self-publishing need to ask themselves what happens when (if) Amazon succeeds in destroying the “legacy” publishing industry? Do they really think that Amazon will continue to be their friend once it has no threat from publishers and deems them to be of little use? What happens when its investors start demanding serious returns, and Amazon stops subsidising indie authors?

What brings me to propose to you a pairing of Agent Orange’s questions for indies and a new essay from the #author-activist Hugh Howey is that Howey has questions, too, questions for Amazon, and sharp ones. Howey’s article followed Agent Orange’s by a couple  of days.

We must wonder if Agent Orange isn’t left wondering right now whether the Howey-led authorial camp really is quite as comfortable on the Seattle campground as has been thought.

Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: Your Blog Sommelier: Pairing ‘Agent Orange’ And Hugh Howey

Originally published by Thought Catalog at



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