Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
In September of last year we took Simon & Schuster to task for its overweight and excessively detailed royalty statements. “Bloated” was the term we used. “The weight of the package has been known to induce hernias in even the stoutest of mail room clerks,” we observed, urging the publisher to reform its profligate ways. (See Simon & Schuster’s War on Trees)
What a difference one semi-annual royalty period makes. Our criticisms, reinforced by those of authors and literary agents including a committee of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, inspired Simon & Schuster to review its reporting practices and overhaul them from top to bottom. In the first week of March the publisher has opened its “Author Portal,” a dedicated, password-activated website containing PDFs of all statements and offering download and printing options. Furthermore, the statements have been “substantially redesigned” and streamlined.
One author’s statement shrank from 41 pages to 8, and an agent praised the new format as “concise, comprehensive, uncluttered, and easy to understand.” Our agency’s own statements slimmed down from 977 pages – two reams of paper – to 323. But we now have the option to print out any given page or produce a compact digital file to archive and/or email to authors. And because so many of those statements have had zero activity for years, the savings on our resources – and the environment – are tremendous.
Credit should be given where credit is due, and we take our hats off to Simon & Schuster for responding so thoroughly and swiftly to our challenge.