I love following news in the publishing industry, and instead of soaking it all in, mentally noting “that’s interesting,” and moving along, I’m going to soak it all in, mentally note, “that’s interesting,” and then write down my thoughts on it occasionally. This is one of those occasional posts.
Most of you know I decided to indie publish my new book, SHADES OF TREASON. I sometimes talk in vague terms about my reasons for this, and one of those reasons is–or was–the lack of information authors receive from their traditional publishers.
THE SHADOW READER books were published by Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House. I totally adore Ace. Their books are awesome, and they publish some of my favorite authors. But I was always frustrated by the lack of information I received on my book. Friends often asked me, “How is your book doing?” My answer was always, I had no clue. Aside from looking at reviews and my rank on Amazon, I really did have no clue. Authors receive royalty statements twice a year, about three months after a reporting period. So even though THE SHADOW READER came out in October of 2011, I didn’t have any clue about October-December sales until April.
That might not seem like a big deal, but in terms of seeing how certain efforts on my part effected book sales (and I’ll be honest here and say I didn’t do a lot of huge promo stuff for any of my books; just small things here and there), I had zero way of knowing. The royalty statements were always vague, too. They didn’t say when or where something was sold. They gave me one number for ebook and one number for print books for the entire six month period. What can an author do with that?
So at the end of June, when I received an email from Penguin Random House telling me to sign up for their new Author Portal, I was excited. It was one of the first things I did when I returned home from our Alaskan Cruise. And after clicking around in the portal and watching some of the how-to videos, I have to say I love it. This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to see from them. Sure, they only report sales every week, but that’s probably a good thing (says the person who may or may not be obsessing over her hourly Amazon sales and ranking 🙂
The site also has a form to submit pirate links! I still feel like publishers should have staff dedicated to searching for those links and shutting them down as a service for their authors (so their authors have more time to write books), but maybe with the sheer volume of authors, that’s impossible. Anyway, this form makes it so much easier. Prior to this, I would have to email my editor, and she would forward the links on, something I never did because it was work for me, work for my editor, and… well, I have the absurd paranoia about getting on people’s nerves, and I tend to be way quieter than I should be on everything. (More on that in a future post.)
But the thing that’s kind of weird about this development is that, had I not received an email from Penguin, I would have had zero clue that this Author Portal existed. I follow a good number of industry blogs and listen to a lot of podcasts, but apparently, this news wasn’t big enough for any of them to mention it. Perhaps because I follow mostly indie authors/professionals? They’re always eager to point out everything traditional publishers do wrong, but I think it’s unfair not to point out something that a traditional publisher is doing right.
So I’ll point it out. Kudos to Penguin Random House! And THANK YOU for the Author Portal. The lack of information I received prior to the Portal was one of the big reasons I decided to indie publish my new series. This move makes me think yall are moving in the right direction. Just get rid of that pesky we’re-going-to-take-all-your-rights-forever policy, and I’d love to submit my next series to you. 🙂