Authors who publish with Amazon’s 15 imprints are viewed as equal partners, with these publishers taking an author-centric approach that combines the best of traditional and independent publishing. At a SinC Puget Sound program on May 10th that attracted a record number of participants, Thomas & Mercer’s Editorial Director Grace Doyle and Senior Acquisitions Editor Liz Pearson outlined how Amazon’s full-service publishing arm works, its history and its goals.
Thomas & Mercer was established in 2009 as the Amazon imprint dedicated to publishing mysteries, thrillers, and true crime. They currently publish about 100 books a year, and the majority are submitted by agents, but, said Doyle, “Great stories can come from anywhere.”
T&M is particularly interested in books that cross genres to reach the widest possible audience. For example, domestic suspense is currently popular because it combines page-turning excitement with memorable characters and relationships. Some of the local authors they currently publish are Robert Dugoni, G.M. Ford, and Greg Olsen. Working with T&M, these authors are viewed as “customers” and partners, participating in all aspects of the editing, cover design, promotional copy, and marketing. “With traditional publishers, authors are not as involved,” said Doyle.
Not surprisingly, one of the big advantages for publishers, authors, and readers is the massive amount of data that Amazon has access to. Readers’ interests and buying behavior inform both the selection of books to be published as well as how they are marketed. While T&M is primarily focused on reaching the Kindle ebook audience, their books are also published in paperback and occasionally in hardback.
Another difference is that, as Doyle noted, they have no “backlist.” This means that, while a traditional publisher puts out a new list each season and focuses its marketing efforts on the first three months of a book’s life, T&M’s marketing team is constantly aware of a book’s performance and ongoing life through Amazon sales, ranking, and other performance indicators.
Amazon has also established offices in London, Munich and elsewhere to provide all the services necessary to produce foreign editions of their books.
Asked how bookstores respond to books published by the online retail giant, Doyle said that they have worked hard and been successful at building good relations with them. “Our goal is to have our books wherever readers will look to find them,” she said.
They also strive for long-term relationships with their author partners and help them to build successful careers. For further information about Amazon’s imprints, please visit the Amazon Publishing website.