Typically an author mill does the cheapest possible job of production; it sets high cover prices and prints its books "on demand." The books are listed with on-line booksellers such as amazon.com and bn.com, and on the publisher's website. Any marketing, promotion, or physical bookstore placement is up to the authors themselves. While authors are not "required" to buy any of their own books, authors who wish to find readers discover that they need to buy their own books for resale.
The rise of the author mill is based on the rise of the on-line bookselling industry plus digital printing technology such that makes it cheap to produce books using the print on demand business model. The necessary ingredients are:
- Minimal editorial gatekeeping
- Low production costs (acquiring/editing/designing) the book
- Low set-up charges for reproducing the book
- The power to set the cover price high enough to make a profit on a small number of average sales
- A relatively predictable number of sales to the author, the author's family, and the author's friends.
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