Thursday, March 10, 2011

Monday Morning Marketing Tip - March 7, 2011

Rob Eagar's Monday Morning Marketing Tip
is written to help authors, publishers, and organizations
spread their message like wildfire.

This week's focus:
A big complaint among published authors is the torture of waiting up to six months to get royalty statements from publishers to determine their actual book sales. Imagine if a chef had to wait six months to find out how much food his restaurant sold, or an artist waiting six months to find out if a gallery ever sold one of her paintings. This ridiculous delay hinders authors from gauging the effects of their promotional efforts - and keeps publishers in control.

Fortunately, those dark days are over, and the solution appeared from an unlikely hero...Amazon. In an incredibly generous gesture, Amazon started offering the official Neilsen Book Scan retail bookstore sales data to all authors - for free!! Yes, I said this information is free!

Starting a few months ago, Amazon began to provide the Nielsen BookScan sales information, which includes the actual nationwide book sales information from major retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, Target, Borders, Waldenbooks, Deseret Book Company, Hastings, Follett College stores,,, and some independent booksellers. Stores currently not included are WalMart, Costco, and religious chains, such as Family Christian Stores, Parable, and LifeWay. Nielsen estimates that their BookScan data captures around 75% of the total print book sales in the U.S. retail market. However, their numbers only reflect printed book sales, not the e-book versions.

In addition to the Book Scan sales data, Amazon also provides each author with a national map that displays where their books sold during the past 30-day window, with a lag time of about a week. You can see a list of the top cities across America where books are selling the most. Plus, you can view a graph of the Amazon sales ranking history for each of your books.

The benefit of this data is you can now see if your book sales peaked or dropped over time based on your promotional efforts. This free service from Amazon is the closest thing to real-time aggregate sales data available to publishers, and it's not cheap information. Major publishers can pay over $100,000 per year for this same data. So, the fact that Amazon lets author gain access at no cost is truly amazing.

To review the sales data for your books, go to: and setup a free author account. You will be asked to prove that you're the author of your books and create a bibliography of all your titles. Once you're account is setup, you can log-in and find a tab at the top of the main page that says "Sale Info." Click on that tab and see your actual sales history for the past 30 days, which may be exhilarating or depressing. However, it's better to know the truth from Book Scan than obsess over Amazon's the faulty sales ranking system.

Enjoy this new feature from Amazon. They may be the enemy to some people, but they've just proven that they're a friend to authors.


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© Rob Eagar 2011. All rights reserved.

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