There will be at least three in-house reader reports on your proposal. They form the basis for the contract we offer. Some focus on the writing, others on the potential sales—the idea is to get a range of views. You can see them on your Book Details page. All our in-house readers have years of experience in the publishing industry.
- We ask the readers to comment on what contract level they think the book should be; more in Chapter 6. The Managing Director makes the final decision, and takes the reports into account. Although most of the time the decision will follow the reports, there are occasions when it will go against the majority verdict.
- The reports can sometimes be logged within a day or two, although there is a minimum five-day default built into the system between the proposal going out for review and a contract being offered. It is extremely rare for a book to be out for review longer than two weeks.
- The comments are there for you to use or not, as you wish, in finalizing the manuscript. There is no need to reply to them, and we don't get into lengthy discussions on them, but if there is a particular point you need to comment on that may affect our decision then please feel free to use the Contract queries section of the Author Forum.
- "Marketing platform"; this might be referred to—it is just current publishing jargon shorthand for "how well-known you are." We do not take this to the extremes that many publishers do (e.g. minimum qualifications for publishing—a website with 100 unique visitors per day or/and 5000 Twitter followers, or/and 5000 friends on Facebook, or/and five main speaker conference slots/whatever—but it is, inevitably, a factor. There is a useful post on it here: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/build-a-platform-start-blogging/how-to-build-a-marketing-platform
- A reader might refer to Nielsen Bookscan figures. This tracks sales of all titles through bookshops in North America and the UK, as they happen across the till. Nielsen is only reliable for the last half-dozen years or so; titles published prior to that are likely only to have sales recorded since then. Sales figures do not include ebooks, sales to libraries, sales through supermarkets, purchases by wholesalers such as Ingram, sales of used books, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sales, pre-orders—orders for a book before the book is released. Overall, it is reckoned to account for 70% of sales, though it varies a lot across different titles—some have a much higher proportion of non-trade sales than others. It has transformed retail buying. Basically, you cannot make up numbers any more. Shops buy on sales track records, on the author’s previous sales figures, which take them a few seconds to look up.