The Internet lit up yesterday with the new development over at Amazon—the fact that they’re now giving authors their sales information from Bookscan. If you’re an author with an account at Amazon’s Author Central (if you have a book on Amazon, you’d better have an Author Central page!) then you can now access your sales reports by region and by time period.
The numbers Amazon is reporting are from Bookscan, which is an admittedly incomplete picture of your sales since Bookscan doesn’t report on the entire market. From Amazon: “BookScan combines sales reported by participating retailers, including Borders and Walden, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Target, and Buy.com. Some retailers do not participate, including Wal-mart and Sam’s Club. These data do not include Kindle or other eBook sales, used books sales, wholesale purchases, or sales to libraries.” Many Christian retailers are also not reported on Bookscan.
Nevertheless, this is revolutionary because it’s the first time authors have had access to their own sales numbers without going through the publisher or having a subscription to Bookscan, which authors can do for a reasonable price through some writers’ organizations. But now the numbers are just a click away, and they’re free.
I think access to information is a good thing. Understanding reality and hard numbers can help authors make better decisions about their promotional efforts, and how to spend their time. It can also help you keep a realistic picture in your mind of how your books are selling, and perhaps decrease unreasonable expectations.
However. Call me crazy but it seems to me most writers have enough to obsess over already—and enough things distracting them from the work of actually sitting down to write. How many writers will use this information wisely, and how many will find it to be just one more reason to stress out?
Q4U: Do you think having access to Bookscan sales numbers will help you, hurt you, or perhaps a little of both? How do you think you’ll use this new feature?
Have a good weekend!
Image from LA Times.
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