3 of the Big 6 to Provide Sales Data to Authors

Book Sales

Via The New York Times:

A peek into how the business side of things work: if you're an author with a major publishing house, your main concern is usually in regards to how many books you're selling, and rightfully so.  More books = more royalties. That's simple enough.  Now imagine going to work and not knowing how much money you were making.  This is pretty much what any author at a major publishing house is dealing with as sales data has long been "just one of those things" that are a real pain to get.  And since authors are typically paid on a semi-annual or quarterly basis, the level of frustration is even more severe.

Quite simply: these guys do a job, but they can't tell how well they're doing it or how much they're going to make on their own accord.

Dave Cullen, author of the book Columbine (which you should check out), admits that he has gotten used to to harassing his publisher for sales figures, but always wished he could access the data himself.

Being able to check this information was part of the allure of small and medium-sized houses, however, it wasn't until Amazon's publishing branch did the same that the Big 6 finally broke down.  Simon & Schuster, Random House, and the Hachette Book Group have announced they will be creating author portals where authors and illustrators can check their own sales data, although they assert this is not a response to what Amazon is doing.

Carolyn K. Reidy of Simon & Schuster said that this is an effort to accede to authors’ requests to have immediate access to their sales figures, without being forced to ask their editors or agents to provide the information. 

The timing is what makes me raise an eyebrow.  To quote Dana Carvey's Church Lady character: "How con-VEEN-ient!"

Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing, but it's something that should have happened a very long time ago.  So I guess we'll just wait and see when the other half of the Big 6 decides to fall in line.  Feel free to start an office pool.

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Matthias Jambon-Puillet's picture
Matthias Jambon... from France is reading Cloud Atlas October 21, 2011 - 10:53am

This is so crazy.
You mean authors had to believe their paychecks to know how many they sold ?

Dan's picture
Dan from Santa Monica, CA is reading Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk October 21, 2011 - 5:35pm

That is outrageous. Well, I'm glad they are changing their ways.

I've always wondered why book sales numbers are not public?

Record sales and movie ticket sales are publicized. Why not book sales?