Some of the headaches involved in traditional publishing just eased up somewhat, at least as far as the authors are concerned. Three of the Big Six publishers have decided to take steps to allow authors to access their sales figures online.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, Simon & Schuster has already developed an author portal that grants not only sales information, but also distinguishes those sales by retailer and by print-vs-ebook, while Random House and Hachette Book Group have announced that they will also launch similar author-centric sites; their author platforms are still in the planning stages and should be available in 2012.
In addition to just sales figures, the publishers will be generating marketing tools to help authors focus their brands towards their readers.
There has been some speculation that these steps have only been taken because Amazon has been providing this information to authors, and not only the authors’ ebook sales through Kindle Direct Publishing’s reports pages. Previously, print edition numbers on Amazon for books not published by the retailer would only tell the authors how the print edition ranked compared to other books for sale on Amazon. With the sheer volume of print edition content available via the retailer, determining an author’s number of total book sales by deciphering the ranking is simply not possible. Therefore, last year Amazon began helping authors determine a large percentage of their sales figures by offering them information through Nielsen BookScan.
Simon & Schuster, however, promises that there was no attempt to undermine the relationship that Amazon is forging with authors by establishing these author portals. It is simply good business and it’s something the authors have been asking for repeatedly. Whereas authors used to have to continuously contact the publisher for current information, now the technology is available that will put that capability in the hands of the author.