Tuesday, January 28, 2014
AuthorCare Begins With Transperancy
Today we read Hugh Howey’s blog post ‘Bread and Roses’ on what he believes the Authors Guild should be focused on and an author’s perspective on today’s marketplace. His views will not be shared by all, but they convey a frustration that is often felt by many, not necessarily on the activities of the Guild, but on their position within the market.
It is a given that we have to both encourage authors and reward them. Yesterday they often could secure healthy advances and had a clear measure of their sales and expectation of royalties. If there was an issue they could instigate an audit. Today they increasingly see a net receipt environment where they can often lose the distinction of sales and revenues and performance between the different channels. There is also is an increasing tendency by some to create a catch all bucket called ‘special sales’ and the author may be left with a feeling of ‘take it or leave it’ and potential frustration.
Does the reward match their expectation, exceed it, or disappoint? Some publishers will work hard to manage expectations, communicate openly and explain the results, but others may only supply consolidated entries on their statements.
Digital sales in particular should be transparent to all. Everyone should be able to track sales in real time and calculate revenues accordingly. However, that isn’t often the case and sales reconciliation across digital channels isn’t always easy for publishers, let alone agents and authors, and some publishers even outsource the process to specialist. Imagine, an ebook licence is sold today. There is no reason why with today’s technology that can’t be reported either in real time or near time to the copyright owner. There is no reason why every online retailer can’t supply a standard feed. Alas that isn’t the case.
When we look at Amazon’s KDP self publishing facilities, the author sees sales as they accumulate and can see payments due, which are then paid monthly direct into their account. Even if we ignore the percentage of receipt paid as being significantly higher than that paid by publishers, the transactions are transparent and the money often flows quicker.
Today we see a growing self publishing movement and although many make little money, they often feel that they are at least able to seen what sales they make. In creating an open and relatively transparent service, the likes of Amazon are also nurturing trust and swaying authors to follow them. Getting them back into the traditional publishing process may be harder than some imagine.
Customer service and Authorcare begins with communications and transparency and the one thing that counts is the reward in units sold converted into royalty paid.