Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

One Fun Thought

I Think Agents Are a Bad Thing…

For most of you reading this, that is a well-duh.

So it dawned on me that one agent or some publisher could buy this package from Data Guy and with very little work figure out EXACTLY what any agency is making from all their clients book sales. (Not advances, book sales.)

Of course, it won’t include overseas and movie rights and such as I said in the long post before this, but it should be enough information to make any agent or agency in New York quake in fear at this personal information about all their authors getting out.

That just makes me laugh.

I wonder where all the writer’s organizations are sleeping on this right now. That also makes me laugh.

A serious topic, no doubt. But a few places I can see a few giggles in all this mess. Especially what it will do to damage and destroy many agents.


  • Chong Go

    Oooh! That could get interesting. “Agent X, why are they estimating that I made 150k on Amazon alone, but your checks only amounted to 110k? I’d like to trigger the audit clause in my contract, if you please.” Same would probably be even more true regarding authors with traditional publishers.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, it would be a giggle. Amazing every agent in the business is rising up against this. Or writer’s organizations, but so far not a peep.

        • dwsmith

          Never been around sales, huh, AR? (grin) Ever heard of hype? Yes, it still exists in most negotiations. It’s not the agents figuring out what their clients make, it’s the other agencies and publishers who will know to a 95% certainty, as Data Guy said, what they sold. And that’s death to agents in so many ways. And to authors who depend on advances over their sales numbers. This thing Data Guy is doing would be fantastically helpful if he would just pull all names. But since he is not, he’s doing nothing but hurting writers in the service to large corporations.

          • USAF

            DWS wrote: releasing authors’ numbers from sev. sources can be death to authors… “… authors who depend on advances over their sales numbers.”

            This is so very true. I cant tell you how many persons have been ‘unbooked’ by pubishers bec looking at current trends on the pub sales to amz and other b and m stores, they felt author was not pulling enough. It could get worse. Already, as you and Kris know, the advances have for many trad-pubs become abysmal. Unless you are milo, or OJ, and we all know how that turned out. lol. Or like the guy who just released book on trump that pub cant keep in stock. But most hard working authors arent likely to be allowed into the white house for months on end. lol

          • dwsmith

            USAF, spot on. One topic not being talked about much at all anywhere is how the advances for trade authors have fallen through the floor, and the offers for beginning writers are laughable. I heard one writer took a $2,000 advance for a novel from a large trade pub and sold all rights and had an agent on the deal. Head shaking stupid. And a couple major houses are dropping writers who are even Times Bestsellers. Or making insulting offers. A massive change in the industry not much talked about anywhere at the moment.

    • USAF

      that would certainly be a possibility Chong Go

      We’ve run one audit on one of our publishers recently. Owed to us: 24k

      your idea could become a nightmare for the old style publishers, you are right

  • USAF

    thanks dean, i think that the fellow who wants to sell indie stats to big publishers for lots of money that seeming the average indie cant afford– actually can estimate pretty closely advances. There’s a trade news group I belong to [has a bit of a stiff price per year] that uses a code for advances; a good deal is from x to y $, a nice deal is from w to v amounts of money, a very nice deal is higher advance yet, and I think there might be a cat for astronomical deal too. The code is known by all to interpret from the phrasings of the adjectives in front of the word ‘deal.’ Big publishers and medium sized esp who want to see the lay of the land in ‘forthcoming books’ for 12-18 mos out, subscribe.

    Also, of course library journal and esp PW and also not Kinkos’ [aging brain here] but the other one, Kirkus often report advances, or say ‘reportedly the advance was X amount…’
    Easy to gain the info.

    I dont know Dean, Ive given lots of thought since this all surfaced. And I see several layers of issues. IMO, ‘selling’ of friends who dont want to be opted in to a biz that sells huge aggregations of many persons’ works, treating the authors who supported dg and howey to date, seemingly now seen as scrum to be fed to the big guys. I hae thought we were all ‘for’ each other re indies. Now I find I’m shark food? lol

    Sure anyone can find out lots of stats about any small or large biz. I think however that is not the issue. Keeping with fish motifs, it’s a red herring, way off the actual issues

    Another issue: How amz will see this scraping from their pages. Dont know.

    And also imo, whether big pub will trust the backgrounds of the two principles . I say this with no rancor, but noticed and found it odd that at dataguy site, comments seemed to be being removed. And sadly I found a long rant by hh he had published on his webpage a few years back that was a vulgar ad hominem diatribe against a woman author, ending with ‘s_ _ k this b_ _ _ h

    I dont know what to think.

    Just speculating, but if I was a big publisher I’d look for impeccable creds to pay out good money for timely financial analyses that MUST be utterly dependable –and in this climate of #metoo and #thisendsnow– I’d want to work with people who are, well, mature… and with a track record of such.

    Just my opinion It seems one thing to be a an author who does as she/he pleases with themselves and others including what seems like a person who runs a website and censors comments… it’s a free world. But Im not sure that’s what I’d choose for serious stat/calc partners on ongoing contract.

    I also know from being on ‘the inside’ that dohle and others including bmi have ever mounted their own in-house whatever, in order to cut out the supplier from outside.

    And perhaps most potentially death dealing: I dont think, knowing dohle who is shrewd beyond shrewd, would be interested in having the SAME data he paid a premium for– shared with HIS competitors.

    Just dont know Dean, but I hear you loud and clear across several sites and agree. Like you, we sell many places including BOR, which is not recorded anywhere except in our accounts, and our income there is nothing to overlook. We have other outlets as well including dozens of foreign publishers, which are not recorded at AMZ, not to mention corp and special interest gatherings we are invited to several times a year, which also offer significant sales

    If anything, I think that anyone attempting to say what people like us sell/bring will ever be way off the mark for they dont have access to our proprietary numbers that flow through us only. In that sense, any representation of our sales, would in fact, be falsified.

      • USAF

        you said it. Thanks dean for bringing it and staying with it on updates

        and youre right about Times bestsellers, and to add to that, it has been true since foreve that good sales on one book with big publishers with nyt big profile in the list, in no way guarantees a better advance next time. The revolving door for editors and persons like VPs of the imprints beiong beyond fickle ‘guessers’ instead of inspired visionaries… and have dwindling amounts to spend as decided not by those with good publishing track records, but counters of green beans, and as you know, the dwindling staff and digs of the big pubs are no longer grand as they move to buildings more economical with smaller sq footage. What was, is no more. in more ways than one. But I think the oppty for indie publishers continues to expand. Our sales in toto of both trad pub , our own marketplace, and our digital life, hold steady and increases steadily each year. We shall see. Ran a business through five recessions and thankfully came out ok each time. We’re used to cycles. No Sweat. Best to you and Kris, always. Keep kickin’ it DWS

        • dwsmith

          Thanks. And wow are you right about what was is no more. My days in traditional publishing now feel like ancient history, which to many it is, considering I sold my first short story in 1974. But so far I like this new world a ton better because I like the control. And not waiting for someone to do something. (grin) So thanks. Onward we go.

  • Kate Pavelle

    I must admit that I’m not thrilled about Bookscan, and my data being out there for people to see. This could be my Eastern Bloc background speaking, but I rather liked the *gray market* of book publishing. I want to present an image of my own choosing and not have it undermined by some bots somebody paid for.
    I know what my sales are, the IRS knows, and the rest of the people are welcome to buy a book and see if they like it.
    But maybe I’m just being paranoid. It just seems like privacy is so very 1984 these days.

    • USAF

      youre A+ Kate Pavelle. I get it. My fa was e’eu, and the idea of invasion of privacy only preceeded removal of other rights as well, including freedom to assemble, earn a living, etc. Hang in there.