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Fight for unabridged audio rights

7 October 2013

From The Bookseller:

Unabridged audio rights are said to have become a “battleground”, as dedicated audio companies such as Amazon-owned Audible increasingly look to sign rights directly from agents.

Agents meanwhile say they are looking to place audio rights where they can be fully exploited, even if that means bypassing traditional publishers.

Alice Lutyens, audio manager at Curtis Brown, said that selling to dedicated audio publishers produced the best results for authors. “The policy at Curtis Brown is to not grant audio rights to publishers in the head contract, and instead focus on selling the audio rights to independent audio publishers, such as Audible, W F Howes, Bolinda and AudioGo,” Lutyens said.

. . . .

Pandora White, audio publisher at Orion, said the area had become “a battleground” with “a fight all round for unabridged rights”. She said: “Audible is now approaching agents and offering a better royalty. It looks at what titles aren’t available in audio, then goes and looks to get hold of the rights itself . . . It is forcing us to change how we work. We have to emphasise the quality of our product, the fact we can link in to the publicity and marketing of the print book. It also means we’re exploiting the rights more to show agents we can, and our list is growing, which is a good thing.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

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9 Comments to “Fight for unabridged audio rights”

  1. OMG, publishers forced to compete for product with terms, service quality, and actually exploiting all the rights they purchase?! The horror. The horror.

  2. “Audible is now approaching agents and offering a better royalty. It looks at what titles aren’t available in audio, then goes and looks to get hold of the rights itself . . . It is forcing us to change how we work. We have to emphasise the quality of our product, the fact we can link in to the publicity and marketing of the print book.”

    You notice how she’s not saying anything about competing with Audible with better royalties and/or terms. Just excuses on why they should take more and leave the author with less.

    • Well, you can’t really blame them for that. If Audible is trying to cut out the middle man, what can the middle man possibly offer? Not better margins. They have to promise some kind of value-add that makes them a legitimate part of the production chain.

  3. I dropped my agent months ago, so I made a deal directly with Audible for my entire backlist. They are extremely receptive and great to work with.

    Once again, Amazon doing it right.

  4. the article is meaningless without specifics about royalties. What percentage of what is better than…”? Absurd article without the numbers so we can see for ourselves.

    just my .02

  5. Excellent article. I tried to hold back the audio rights in my first traditional contract and was not successful. I’ve sold 40,000 audio books and it makes me insane that the publisher take 50% of all the money earned by doing nothing more than signing a piece of paper. The second contract, I also tried to get audio peeled off. Again no luck.

    I’m writing my next series and I’ve already sold the audio rights (to the publisher who bought my first two) this way the rights are off the table right from the get go. This is the only way I’ve found to be able to keep these rights.

    • You’re building a pretty big name for yourself, though, so I imagine you’ll be able to split off your subsidiary rights in the next few years.

  6. michael, 50% of retail, in royalties is sky high for audio. Is that your deal? If so, it is remarkable.

  7. “We have to emphasise the quality of our product”

    Against Audible? Yeah, I bet you’ve got a better audio product and digital media platform and delivery method, right? Oh wait, you’re publishing through them, too…

    LOL :D

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