What Are Authors Worth?

authors customers readers book publishersIf many authors today are better at figuring out exactly what their publishers are worth to them than the other way around, it’s largely out of necessity.

One reason few publishers can assign a dollar value their authors, according to marketing expert Murray Izenwasser, is because they tend not to factor authors into the rigorous accounting they apply to the rest of their customer base: readers, libraries and institutions, distributors and retailers.

But the “truth is that authors are one of publishers’ most important customers,” Izenwasser says, even though many publishers have been slow to treat them that way.

Here’s how to do the math and why it matters.

Related: Simon & Schuster Moves to Offer Authors More


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Over the course of recounting the publisher’s travails, Ellora’s Cave founder Tina Engler claims Amazon may have held down certain titles’ discoverability, in her view setting in motion the controversy that ensued last year over alleged delays in payments to authors. Today, Engler echoes Macmillan CEO John Sargent’s call for publishers to find alternative distribution channels beyond Amazon.

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