Simon & Schuster gives its authors sales data access
Writers who publish with Simon & Schuster were introduced Wednesday to its new author portal, which provides access to sales information about their books and a central set of tools for connecting with readers.
The sales information that authors can see includes the last six weeks of book sales from a variety of sources, divided by format. There are separate screens for e-book sales, hardcover sales, paperbacks and audiobooks. Those figures come from a number of different kinds of booksellers.
The data come from different sales channels, including mass market stores, national acocunts and warehouse clubs. These data are aggregated: Authors won't be able to see how many of their books sold at, say, Target versus Barnes & Noble, but they will be able to review those numbers overall.
Simon & Schuster is the first major publisher to publicly launch a sales information service for its authors. But it is not the first company to do so: That nod goes to retailer Amazon, which began providing access to Neilsen BookScan sales figures to authors in December 2010.
That move was met with both enthusiasm and dread. Authors were once insulated from the day-to-day business of bookselling, with months passing before seeing their royalty statements. Curious writers might ask their agents sooner, who would then check with publishers; agents could frame the information to cushion the authors' egos, if need be, when reporting back.
Simon & Schuster has also introduced an agent portal, which showcases similar sets of sales information. It's doing one thing that Amazon is not: including lifetime sales of its books, in addition to the running six-week sales window.
It's telling that Simon & Schuster's author portal includes a set of tools to help manage online interactions with readers. Increasingly, the former province of publishers' marketing departments has been offloaded to -- or taken up by -- authors themselves.
Now authors can see exactly how their books are selling and try to figure out what they can do to help boost their sales. That's what the other components of the site address: how authors can use online tools to market their books. That includes updating websites and how to best use sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Simon & Schuster is offering something it is calling "web boot camp," with a schedule of tutorials for authors who need a little hand-holding entering the online universe.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Image: Screen shot of Simon & Schuster's Author Portal. Credit: Simon & Schuster