Thursday, December 18, 2008

He Said, She Said...and You Said--veinglory

In the comments on this post TeddyPig said: "Hell, I would gladly publish these type of lists from each ePub and the covers and sales links to each book just to be able to show in as unbiased a way as possible how well the ePubs are doing and who the top sellers of the year were."

And Angela James replied: "Challenge accepted. At the end of the year, Samhain will release the top ten list of sellers at My Bookstore and More, and maybe a few other top ten lists if we can pull them together in the time list."

And no doubt realising that purchasing a book is only part of the story there will also be a listing of which Samhain books reader's most enjoyed. So if you have a Samhain book you particularly enjoyed this year please fill out the survey here. (You can also vote for cover art and share any other opinion you might have).


K. Z. Snow said...

Seriously? A publisher running a freakin' popularity contest for its own writers?

Uhhh . . . how are the scores of authors who don't make the Hit Parade going to feel? I mean, aside from all the obligatory "OMG, congrats! WTG, Zenobia!" how, really, will the nonwinners take this? Doesn't seem like the way to mainline some encouragement to them.

Distributing the results inhouse could be enlightening--I know of an owner who discusses with her writers what sells and what doesn't--but the public pimping of a select group of authors strikes me as tacky and insensitive.

Sorry, but my word mincer is out of order today.

Treva Harte said...

The LI Quad will probably debate this but I've seen what happens to authors who do and don't get on these lists. (Paint a bullseye on the author and see what happens...) I am not sure there is a good way to do this but we will consider it.

Teddy Pig said...

Uhhh . . . how are the scores of authors who don't make the Hit Parade going to feel?

Huh? That is exactly the type of feel good "were a family not a heartless company looking at the bottom line bullshit" that bothers me. This is a business folks! Sales are public matters not corporate secrets.

The only thing that should be a private matter is money. Who gets the yearly bonuses etc etc etc.

Listen I work at a bank in the "real world" and we have sales awards and customer service awards etc etc. Do you think my boss or anyone else in the company is worried about my feelings when I don't get a gold star with my name on it?

OR does the company want to make sure they keep and promote good talented people by publicly recognizing what they do for the company in sales?

I don't know how simply stating the facts of the top ten eBook sales for the year is gonna hurt anyone's feelings but if it does then maybe they need to stop bitching and work harder to get that recognition they are so jealous of.

veinglory said...

Color me naive but I don't see the problem. I will be very happy for the authors whose books have sold well and whose readers vote them a favorite.

I don't expect to be on either list and don't take that personally. Samhain has a great many wonderful books that sell better and have more loyal fans--and I am honored to be part of a larger publishing endevour with them.

My little cup may hold but a quart, but its intrinsic value is not less because of that.

Anonymous said...

Shrug, I doubt I'm in the top ten on either list and I still don't think this is a horrible thing.

Publishing is like a great many other businesses, the reality is, someone will always sell more than you, someone's deal with always be better, etc. Authors need to grasp that if they want to survive. It's ALL a popularity contest on some level, that's what sales are in general.

In the end, as an author you walk away with some important information about what sells and who sells. So you can say, "hmm, well X sells really well and I have an idea, maybe I should pursue it" or, you say, "X sells really well but I don't like writing X so I'm going to be satisfied that I have a place to write Y and people read it."

Regardless, it doesn't change who sells the most so you have to write what you write and go on as you mean to.

kirsten saell said...

I know I'm not going to be on the bestseller list, and I'm not going to begrudge others some well-deserved kudos for their higher sales, but there are some ways this could be problematic.

One has already been dealt with--the survey for the books that wowed readers. I think it's likely that the books that totally stand out for many readers are going to be different than those that sell well to the broadest audience. In other words, being a bestseller is often as much about genre/name recognition/exposure as how good the book is.

The other potential issue is if the marketing/promotional budget of the company was going to be tied into the bestseller list. That is, if your book is already successful, the publisher will push it to do even better, and let other books languish.

I somehow don't think Samhain's company philosophy is like that, though. While I'm sure they would love all their authors to be raking it in, I would expect they will continue to invest in authors and get behind good books, regardless of whether their numbers are spectacular.

Teddy Pig said...

The other potential issue is if the marketing/promotional budget of the company was going to be tied into the bestseller list.

How do you as a writer know if they are not doing that already if you never see a published bestseller list from the ePublisher?

This is what gets me. This fear of transparency from the ePublishers.

USA Today publishes their bestseller list all the time for the traditional press. Nora Roberts sales gets listed in with John Grisholms in a great big old end of year pile. Different publishers, different genres and yet the world does not end.

My thing is if the ePub themselves are not recognizing the right things, the hard work, the endless promotion, the conferences attended, the chats held, that some authors are doing well and the sales that should create then who and what are they awarding?

This is not about a popularity contest. This is about an ePub doing the smallest of things really and giving back to the writers who work their butts off.

This is about recognizing who is doing the work and selling the eBooks and in my opinion publishing a bestseller list and letting an author know publicly they were a top ten bestseller for 2008 for Samhain or Loose Id or Ellora's Cave or Liquid Silver... so they can add that to their resume. That is a pretty nifty deal. Sure not everyone will get to do that but for the authors that do I think it is well earned.

kirsten saell said...

This is about an ePub doing the smallest of things really and giving back to the writers who work their butts off.

Thing is, a not so hugely promoted, competently written m/m paranormal romance will almost always sell much better than a spectacularly well-written, oh, let's say f/f medieval historical, or m/f/f zombie romance, even when the author works hard to promote it. That is to say, bestsellers are not necessarily bestsellers because they are great books, or because their author pounds the virtual (or real) pavement--in fact, many books sell well right out of the gate, with almost no promotion at all, simply based on cover, genre, blurb, and the ability to hit the right note at the right time.

It's often less about promo and more about broad appeal, and some genres (they keep telling me over and over and over) will never enjoy that broad appeal.

That said, I am in favor of a top ten list--partly for the reasons you've suggested.

But I honestly don't think a top ten list should be only about rewarding authors' efforts. It should also be about transparency, and provide an indication to other authors of what works, both genre-wise and in terms of promo, and what new authors can expect from the publisher.

Ann Somerville said...

This is not about a popularity contest. This is about an ePub doing the smallest of things really and giving back to the writers who work their butts off.

What it's about, as all these reader voted competitions are about, is which authors can urge their supporters to vote stuff the most enthusiastically. It has no credibility to me, so when I posted about it as a dutiful little author (lest I be seen as not being a good team player, cough cough) I didn't mention my books at all, and honestly don't give a shit if anyone votes for any of them.

I voted for K A Mitchell's Collision Course in both of the fiction categories, Emily's Wolfkin cover in the best of year thing, and my own Interstitial cover in the other, simply because I believe Anne Cain's gorgeous work is the best on the market and those genuinely are the loveliest covers I've seen. There might be nice ones in the het covers but I pay no attention to those.

I think the entire exercise of showing best sellers or most popular covers is pointless and going to lead to wank. God knows what will happen if they run this next year, considering the authors they've just acquired - if anyone knows about vote stuffing and manipulation, they sure do.

kirsten saell said...

Heh, Ann, I'm not just going by your comments here at EREC. But have it your way. I stand corrected. Consider my comment amended: Unlike you, I do give a shit of people vote for my work.

But only if it's deserving.

Teddy Pig said...

That is incorrect, both of them are your fellow authors at Samhain.

veinglory said...

Apologies for the blank spots. Many blogs don't moderate comments but I do, soley on the basis of removing any content I judge to include a personal insult. I appreciate your understanding on this issue. :)

Summer Devon said...

I know I'm not one of the top sellers there but I'm cheering like crazy for those who sell lots of books and that's true for all of my publishers.

They keep my bosses thriving and happy (and heck, it's easier to cheer for best-selling epubbed authors. They don't get the huge advances that suck up funds for mid-listers in NYC. Or at least I don't *think* they do.)

Summer Devon said...

Huh. Part of my comment is gone. It was all about how my cheering was actually selfish thinking on my part.

Anne D said...

I would be interested in these lists from a purely business perspective ie What's selling well and where. Would be nice info when it comes to deciding on where to submit and the like.

And I sure wouldn't mind the ego stroke of ending up on one. But I won't hold my breath :)

Would be nice to see some figures with that top seller data. It would quite possibly give certain areas of the publishing industry a bit of a shake up...