According to a Business Insider article by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, 26-year-old Amanda Hocking made the jump from blogger to full-fledged indie publisher via Amazon's Kindle Books marketplace. She's currently ranked as the top-selling "indie" writer, meaning she isn't signed with any 20th Century publishing entities.
Through social media promotion and absolutely no overhead, Hocking has hawked thousands of copies of her Twilight-esque teen fiction.
According to the article and Amazon's generous royalty payout scale, she's pulling in 70 percent of the profits on her work after shelling out 30 percent to Amazon. According to Insider, the 100,000 copies she sells a month go for $0.99 to $3, so she could pull down millions a year just by cutting out agents, publishers and old-fashioned wood pulp.
"By comparison, it's usually thought that it takes a few tens of thousands of copies sold in the first week to be a New York Times bestselling writer," Gobry wrote.
While the comments on the article and around the Internet are extolling the virtues of a direct consumer-to-producer line, it's not all good. Hocking can make a lot of money selling her books online and is arguably better off without a publishing contract. But as the Kindle and eBooks become more ubiquitous, authors like Hocking get drowned out by the noise of an ever-growing back catalog of literature. The more content that isn't filtered, the harder it is to find stuff you like.
That's not to say that Hocking's work couldn't stand out—for fiction fantasy, it isn't terrible—but it's more likely she's popular on Kindle because of there aren't nearly as many books available virtually as there are in the real world ... yet.