Major Publishers to Give Authors Online Access to Sales Data

Posted on October 23, 2011

In a move to counter Amazon.com's move into the book publishing business, several New York publishers are offering their current authors direct access to book sales data. Amazon.com offers its authors access to Nielsen BookScan's tightly guarded database which can tell an author exactly how many of her books were sold in Omaha, Nebraska on October 20th. Authors generally never get access to their actual sales figures and it makes them very frustrated.

The New York Times reports that Simon & Schuster, Random House and Hachette Book Group are all making plans to give their authors access to detailed sales data. Simon & Schuster has already created a website for its authors. Random House and Hachette will most likely have their author portals up and running in 2012.

Authors can track how their book is doing on Amazon.com, but that only tells them part of the picture. To get hard sales data on hardcover and paperback sales, authors must rely on their publishers. Most authors would prefer to simply log into a site every day and see how sales are doing, without having to hound their editor.

The author portals are highly confidential: authors are instructed by Simon & Schuster not to share data with anyone but their agents. We think this is a major step forward for authors. Authors should have instant access to their sales data. Now the trick will be avoiding obsessive checking of sales figures at 3:00 a.m.