2.27.2006

From the source: Publishers Market Place deal reports

An earlier post wondering if all deals get posted at Publishers Marketplace, and the ensuing comments, brought the head of PM to the Snarkosaurium. Herewith Michael Cader's comments:




In our experience, there is no single reason people do or not not post deals to PM.com, and to try and simplify that process will only lead to incorrect conclusions.Relative newcomers should understand that PM.com itself has had a transformative role in how deal information is viewed and used, and that process is still very much underway.

Deal reports used to be almost entirely ego and/or initiative. Which meant they were both sparse and inconsistent (among other things). Our driving idea from the beginning was that there were multiple important business purposes to be derived from a consistent presentation of deal data, distributed widely throughout the community. "Transparency" is not something the book business was immediately comfortable with, and there are still many who resist it--even as, over time, the abundant benefits become clearer to those who participate rather than simply make assumptions.

When we started, the deal flow was small. For five years now, it has grown month after month--and still, as Miss S. notes, it comprises only a slice of overall activity. (Let's say it was around 4,000 transactions in 2004; 5,000 in 2005; headed for 6,000 or more in 2006; etc.)

Reporting parties are not just agents; we get deals from editors, publicists, authors themselves, foreign purchasers, sub-agents, and film agents. Over time, deal records become a big part of the functional resume of agents, editors, and other licensors; they signal your buying interests (and client styles) to the market; and most importantly they drive collateral activity--foreign sales; film/tv interest; media leads; submissions; and more. And in the macro sense, a more transparent marketplace is a smarter and more efficient marketplace, in all kinds of ways.

No disrespect to Ms. Gerritsen, but my sense is that the main reason certain big authors (and it is not all by any means) don't have their deals reported is because they are often renewals of existing contracts, or they have multi-book deals in the first place, or the web of relationships--foreign publishers, interested film parties, etc.--is already so mature that eliciting additional interest and attention produces unwanted leads rather than driving productive contacts. For better or for worse, there's little that's hidden about the finances of the most successful authors (even though I empathize with the impulse); you could learn a lot more about the earnings of a big author by running a few simple calculations from their Bookscan figures than you would ever get from a PM.com report--where our quirky deal scale is designed to encourage a useful level of financial information, without requiring full disclosure.

Yes, there are a small number of agents and agencies who will not report as a matter of longstanding (e.g. pre-PM.com policy), though even those agencies will sometimes have their deals reported by the publisher, or the author, or a foreign buyer. But no agency of scale does not participate--run a search on ICM, William Morris, Trident, Writers House, Janklow Nesbit, Inkwell, Sterling Lord or others and you will find ample entries. Not their entire line of business for sure, but still a large number of reports.

6 comments:

Mark said...

It's how I found out the book I'd been working on for four years had been sold by someone else.

tess gerritsen said...

My literary agent always asks if I want my deals announced. And if I say no, she won't. A number of the agency's seven-figure clients never seem to show up on the deal radar. I myself squirm at the thought of announcing my own deals, for the reason I mentioned earlier: financial privacy. My domestic deals have been two-book contracts, so it's not as if they're too complicated to report. It's just that I, and other authors I know, feel uncomfortable doing so.

Yes, it's absolutely true that anyone with access to Bookscan numbers can probably figure out what an author is earning. But I'm not worried about industry insiders knowing the truth. The problem is that Publishers Market Place is so darn PUBLIC -- so that your deals are known to not just agents and editors, but also to reviewers and jealous writers. Yes, there is sometimes a backlash. Reviewers love to light into authors who make more than the reviewer thinks they deserve. It's unfortunate, but there it is.

I'm a paying subscriber to Publishers Market Place and I love reading it. I also think they kindly disguise the high-end deal amounts by lumping everything over half a million as a "major" deal. Meaning that even if you sign a 10 million dollar contract, it's still called, simply, "major." Because of that, I think that releasing deal information there isn't as much of an invasion of privacy as it might be.

But it still gives me pause.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Tess G!
People can be very touchy about what they think other people should earn. I can understand not wanted your info posted.
Successful authors don't need PM. It's the agents(wanting to attract more clients) and prospective clients(looking for agents in their genres), and editors on the way up. Not authors already successfully selling. Centralized advertising.
Not a bad thing, but let's acknowledge in whose interest PM is.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't care WHO got the money, I just want to know WHAT got the money, i.e. which agency is buying what kind of story and how much they are paying for it.

spaulson said...

Anonymous #2: Agents don't "buy stories". They take on representation of novels, get publishers to buy the novels (via the publishers' in-house editors), and take a cut of the payment that goes to the authors.

I agree about wanting to know WHAT instead of WHO, though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to both Miss Snark and Michael Cader for posting/sharing this information.

I'm another who reads the PM deals to se who's selling what type of book. It's all very well looking at an agency's website to see what genres they represent, but I also want to know if they're SELLING much in that genre. PM is invaluable for this.