Home » Amazon, Audiobooks » Amazon Audiobook Royalties Dropping

Amazon Audiobook Royalties Dropping

28 February 2014

ACX is Amazon’s audiobook publisher.

From ACX.com:

The current ACX royalties and $25 Bounty program will be changing. Effective for projects started on or after March 12, 2014, titles distributed exclusively to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes will earn a non-escalating 40% royalty paid to the Rights Holder (or, on Royalty Share deals, split equally between the Rights Holder and the Producer). Non-exclusively distributed books will earn a non-escalating 25% royalty through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

. . . .

We are lowering the royalties as we continue our mission to accommodate more audiobook productions. Our royalties still remain well above those offered by traditional audiobook publishers. Furthermore, we want to encourage authors, and Rights Holders to promote their audiobooks with the increased bonus payment from $25 to $50 (or from $12.50 to $25.00 on Royalty Share deals).

. . . .

On and after March 12, 2014, only the new royalty structure will be in effect for new projects. However until then, the current royalty structure will be honored for any audiobook offers made before that date that are accepted before the offer expires. In other words, any offers made prior to March 12, 2014 that are accepted before the offer expiration date will earn escalating royalties ranging from 50% to 90% (of unit sales of exclusively distributed titles), or 25% to 70% (of unit sales of non-exclusively distributed titles).

Link to the rest at ACX.com and thanks to J.A. and several others for the tip.

Amazon, Audiobooks

57 Comments to “Amazon Audiobook Royalties Dropping”

  1. At first glance this sounds pretty bad.
    But upon further reflection, this is Amazon telling audiobook publishers to set higher list prices so they can offer big discounts.
    The 50-90% royalty didn’t really provide much room for discounting games.

    • ACX users don’t have the option to set their own prices. Audible/Amazon sets the price based on the length of the audiobook.

      • So, is the pricing algorithm changing, too?

        • It’s sheer corporate greed is what it is. As it is they are discounting many indie audio titles to $1.99. The authors and narrators have to eat that in order for ACX/Audible to grow market share.
          I usually agree with PG about Amazon Derangement Syndrome, but it cuts both way sometimes.
          There is no good way to spin this. I have recommended ACX to a number of authors, something I now very much regret.

          • $1.99 for an audiobook is crazy. If you’d paid the producer and voice, it would take forever to make your money back.

          • Sounds like it’s just not worth it for authors then. Audible may find significant difficulty in even getting authors to participate in the future.

            And you shouldn’t regret recommending Audible to other authors. Their terms were better in the past. Now they’re not. Things change. Just tell those authors that the situation has changed. It’s not like it’s your fault.

            I’ve never really been that interested in Audible. As a reader, I’ve mostly ignored Audible, though they’ve been advertising heavily. No one I know even cares about audiobooks. I guess they must be popular, but they haven’t even been on my radar so far. Now I’m kind of glad because if this continues, they may be less of a big deal in the future.

  2. I got this email. I would have liked a little better reason why. Not really pleased about it.

  3. So, does this mean that ACX/Amazon will now be taking the lion’s share (60%) of the money earned on an audio book? Please correct me if I am wrong.

  4. I’m fine with this if they do a better job of attracting good narrators. It took me six months and dozens of auditions to find an actual professional sounding narrator for one of my books, and he wouldn’t do the 50/50 deal. He’d probably be even less inclined now.

  5. Is this a sign of what will happen to KDP…? Uh-oh. Should we be afraid? Using the excuse that we’re going to lower the rates to accommodate our expenses and oh, by the way, we’re still higher than the traditional royalties won’t cut it when it comes to eBooks.

    • As far as I can see, Amazon has far more competition in the ebook market than Audible does in audio books.

    • I’m sure that’s what everyone’s going to be wringing their hands about for the next few weeks. Corporate publishing rhetoric is nothing if not predictable.

      As for being afraid . . . I mean, why? This isn’t great news, but there’s no real indication it’s a sign of a changing strategy or policy in any other way. I’m not saying Amazon will never alter the KDP program, but until it comes from either a press release or Bezos himself, anything you hear about such a change will be nothing but hot air.

      Keep writing. Keep publishing. Keep getting stories out there. Stories have existed for thousands of years, and they’ll continue to long after Amazon has gone the way of Borders. With apologies to Ian Malcom, “Stories . . . find a way.”

    • Sadly, this should not come as a surprise. Once Amazon gains a strangle hold on a market, they put the squeeze on their suppliers. It’s already happening at KDP. Look at the markets where you get paid 35% unless you go exclusive. Look at how Amazon disadvantages authors who refuse to go exclusive by denying them merchandising tools. Exclusivity, 35%, and draconian price matching coupled with threatening emails meant to punish authors who stray from the fold. If there’s further consolidation among ebook retailers in the next couple years and Amazon’s competition decreases, say hello to 25% (non-exclusive) and 40% (exclusive) KDP royalties, assuming even these levels don’t drop further. Amazon could make these changes tomorrow and authors would be forced to take it because authors can’t easily kiss 50% + of their readership goodbye. In such a scenario, indies will lose independence. If anyone wonders why Amazon has been such a fierce opponent to agency pricing, it’s about stripping power from the supplier.

      • Not really convincing. Amazon’s been the dominant player in the ebook market for years, and when you look at the markets where authors earn 35% unless there is exclusivity, those markets–India, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil–are places where the Kindle market is developing. Amazon has a lot to gain from exclusivity in those markets where it is still developing.

        Amazon’s never demanded exclusivity, only rewarded it. And in the beginning, that exclusivity had far greater advantage than distribution beyond Amazon.

        I think Amazon’s position as an opponent to agency pricing was about stripping power from corporate publishers, not from suppliers. Corporate publishers are a handful of Amazon suppliers among many, many more.

        Also, aren’t audiobooks huge compared to text-based ebooks? Most of the audiobooks I’ve downloaded have been split across several MP3s, each of which has been several times larger than any single ebook. I imagine in terms of size and bandwidth delivering an audiobook to a device is rather more expensive than delivering a .mobi.

        • Bandwidth cost has little to do with it. At Amazon’s scale, bandwidth is essentially free. The 10 cents they charge you for bandwidth to deliver your ebook? That bandwidth costs Amazon less than one-thousandth of a cent. I mean that literally; bandwidth is literally that cheap for Amazon and they are literally charging you that kind of markup, just because they can.

        • Is Amazon even paying the bandwidth costs? I’m an Audible subscriber, and when I download an audiobook to my cell phone or iPad, it comes over either my cell phone network or my home wifi connection. Not over the Kindle network. In my case, I the customer am paying the bandwidth cost for the download.

          I think it’s more likely that either this is a profit grab, or we are paying development costs. The cost of developing the ACX website and all associated software has to have been enormous (and probably still is). It’s possible ACX is bleeding money, not bringing enough in to cover its development costs, and this was an adjustment they had to make. Or maybe they have a new project underway that they’re not talking about yet, and we’re footing the bill for that.

          Or maybe they just decided that since authors don’t have a lot of better options for audio books, they’re going to line their own pockets at our expense.

      • Looks like a new market opportunity for Smashwords!

      • Is there some reason to give retail pricing power to Bertelsmann? What?

      • That’s some classic, densely packed FUD. Describe your competitor’s strengths using violent (stranglehold) and negative (disadvantage, denying, draconian) terms [Fear]. Assert, without any evidence, that the parade of horribles has already started [Doubt]. Make up totally bogus numbers and pretend they are the best case scenario [Uncertainty]. Couch your scenario in the terms that strike at the core of your customers’ understanding of their own position and hit at their greatest fear(indies lose independence) [Fear]. Imply that you know the “truth” behind some past action by your competitor that puts them in a different light (like why Amazon opposed agency pricing) [Doubt].

        My point here is not about whether any part of what you say is true. The best examples of FUD weave the truth, half-truths, and non-falsifiable statements into a brightly colored garment to cloak the self-interested nature of the attack.

  6. I have one in production at the moment, so I’m not affected by the change, but I don’t have a problem with this.

    They’ve created another FREE platform for every author to post their project, receive dozens of auditions, select a voice/producer, obtain a finished product and upload it to multiple sites. Even splitting the royalty with the voice/producer, the author is still making 20%.

    Because of ACX, I will have an audiobook at no cost to me, read by an actor with dozens of Hollywood television credits going back to 1984.

    As several of my friends have observed, “sounds too good to be true.”

  7. I just want to chime in here because I’ve done a lot of audiobooks, and I know a lot of the ins and outs of what’s going on here and how it affects both authors and narrators. I’m not a professional, I just have a lot of experience. Anyone could get this experience if they did a handful of audiobooks, so feel free to take this as you want.

    When you publish a book through ACX you DO NOT get an opportunity to set a list price for the audiobook. ACX can set the book to whatever they want, and this list price is then followed by Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. There’s no way around this. I asked them once if I could suggest a price, and they said no (I asked if I could mention a short term sale opportunity if I had an ad on BookBub for an e-book, for example, could I mention it to ACX and get the audiobook discounted that day, too?). They reserve the right to set the price, and that’s the agreement you sign up for.

    You DO NOT get a percentage of the list price. You don’t even get a percentage of the sales price, which sounds extremely confusing. The sales reporting through ACX is ridiculously archaic, too, but that’s another discussion altogether.

    You get paid royalties based on how much money ACX made by the “sale,” of the book. This is confusing, because of how their subscription service works. Customers get a credit every month with their subscription, or they can get credits through other means. You get paid based off of how much that credit cost. So your book might be listed for $25, but if the customer paid $15 for their subscription credit, you’re not getting 50%(25% if a royalty share) of $25, you’re getting your percentage based off of $15. If they buy your book through Whispersync for $1.99, which is something that Amazon and Audible have been promoting as of late? You get your percentage based off of that special promotion price. If the customer has a free credit from somewhere and uses it to download your book, you get $0.

    You also don’t control pricing at all, which was mentioned, but it’s even worse than that. ACX gives you estimates for your audiobooks based on the time-length of the audiobook, with the “minimum” being $6.95. Except that’s not the minimum. They have randomly discounted my books to $1.95 before for no discernible reason. They’ve also set books to $2.95 and $3.95 for no logical reason that I can see, too. And, guess what? I randomly get my royalty percentage based off of that price, even though I was led to believe that the book would be priced higher (not guaranteed, so obviously they can do what they want, but the practice is still kind of deceptive).

    Reporting is also not very transparent, even on the monthly reports they mail to you. I’ve still yet to figure out if I actually get my 25% of the $15 credit on books that are less than $15. I am almost 100% positive I DO NOT, and if someone uses one of their credits on a $7 book, I’m getting 25% of $7 (in which case, the split is extremely bad. $15 credit, I get $1.75, narrator gets $1.75, and ACX keeps $11.50? Um…). I cannot 100% say this is how they’re doing it, but the sales reporting isn’t clear about any of this, and going by my records it appears that this is how they’re doing it.

    Basically, you never know what you’re going to get paid for anything, and no one anywhere can tell you. You have no control over price, and ACX can decide to sell your audiobook for $2 if they want, in which case you’ll never make back your money if you paid for production up front. If you do a royalty share, you aren’t out any money, but that’s a huge “Screw you!” to the narrator, who is basically out time and money, you know? It’s frustrating.

    Another thing to note is that in that original message (it’s since changed, and they removed some of the really offensive and ridiculous statements about “accommodating more audiobooks”) where they note that they pay more than traditional publishers, while this is true, they don’t even pay any of the costs. Traditional publishers pay for the narrator, pay for post-editing, pay for covers, and all of that. Who pays for that stuff through ACX? The authors and narrators, and ACX just sits back and distributes stuff. Distribution is certainly important, but I don’t know why they’re stating that “It’s better than traditional publishers!” as a selling point.

    Absolute MINIMUM costs if you get a SAG-AFTRA narrator (which is probably what traditional publishers do) is $225 per finished hour. You have a 5 hour audiobook? That’s a little on the low side, but reasonable. That’s going to cost you at least ~$1,100, plus cover art if you have to hire someone for that. If ACX decides to randomly price your book at $2 and pay you $0.80 per copy, you’re looking at having to sell 1375 copies before you BREAK EVEN. And then you get some profits. This isn’t an extreme outlier example, either, because I know people that have had this happen to them (more than once). It’s a lot harder to sell 1375 copies of an audiobook compared to an e-book, too. For the average person, I’d guess that it’d take close to 2-3 years (not even joking or exaggerating).

    • Great summary, Cerys. I’m one of those people who are extremely in the red for audiobooks at this point, and every time I see an average royalty of about $1.25 on an audiobook, I wonder what happened to their MSRP of $19.99. I had an audiobook hit their Top 100 when I ran the eBook free for a KDP Select promotion, and due to Whispersync I made less than $200 from those sales. I won’t be doing audiobooks in the future because of it, regardless of how lucrative the big names say it is.

    • Ho ho. It looks like even Amazon can stumble. I see a niche opportunity just *begging* to be exploited.

      • Pretty much.
        It sounds like the ACX guys (at Audible) are running off a BPH model (percent of net, with net = whatever they say).
        Sounds like a good time for a Bezos ‘?’ email.

    • Question: What are the rules on taking one’s book down from ACX? Meaning, if I have audiobooks up on Audible, Amazon, iTunes, through ACX, can I take the audiobook down? Do I own the files? I assume I do but one should never assume. If I have books up via ACX, and in a year something better comes along, can I take my books down to put them up elsewhere, or does ACX control that too?

  8. This makes me wonder if maybe Amazon is seeing Audio as the next big thing and is wanting to push hard on the market. If they are wanting to shift volume and do what they did with digital, this might explain why they don’t want a scaled royalty that grows with sales.

    Still, and I;m a big fan of Amazon, this is worrisome. A bit of a reminder that they can and will reevaluate business models as they go.

  9. Makes me wonder if Amazon will be dropping their ebook rates. Not a good sign.

  10. Amazon makes mistakes, but this is the first truly BIG bone-headed move I’ve seen from any Amazon-owned company. I’ve communicated my displeasure to them in an email and in a post on their blog, where the reaction has been scathing.

    Combined with their arbitrary discounting of audiobooks — as low as $1.99 if the ebook edition has “Whispersynch” enabled (and mine does) — and it becomes virtually impossible for an indie author or narrator using ACX to make back the considerable fixed studio costs ($2600 in my case) without selling tons of audiobooks for years.

    My first book was a big Kindle bestseller, and the audiobook did pay for itself. However, that was before the deep discounting, and before this new deal-changer, which slashes royalties by 20% and removes other incentives. ACX has eliminated any reason for me to use their service to produce future audiobooks — the primary reason now being my distrust.

  11. Is there a way around this? A different company to produce the audiobooks but still be able to sell them on Amazon (and other venues)?

    If there isn’t, there will be. Indies are used to getting a reasonable royalty rate now, and good return on investment, and controlling things more – there will be a way around anything perceived as unfair.

    The big thing here is always going to be what the consumer is offered. If there is no audiobook available on Amazon – can a writer put a link to her own website and offer one there? If not in the Kindle version, then in the print version? And on her website?

    Someone will be creative.

    • IIRC you can do direct audiobook sales of your own recordings through Createspace, and I know you can through iTunes. I’ll investigate when I get home, if I think of it. 🙂

      • I would be interested in hearing the alternatives because ACX is not available to authors outside the US. If you can go through Createspace and iTunes I would be most interested. Of course I would have to find sources here in Canada that offer audio services.

      • You can do MP3 files, but they are listed under the music tab. I wonder if you could use the process to create an audiobook anyway?

      • I have two CDs of lectures I’ve given that I sell in the MP3 store and physical CD via Createspace.

        The process was very straightforward. It required more graphics than an ebook (Cd face, jewel case front/back, booklet, etc) and you have to save the audio files in a special audio format which was easy to do.

        The big limitation is the length. You only get ~80 minutes for a CD and I don’t believe you can do multiple CD sets. It was months ago when I set mine up through CS so it might be different now.

      • You cannot push audiobooks through Createspace. You can, however, use other disc-based POD services to get physical (not downloadable) audiobooks into Amazon. You can also use distributors like Overdrive, Big Family, and Open Road to push into Audible as a publisher instead of as an indie.

        -Dan

    • There are several audiobook companies who can provide distribution to audible and iTunes. Sort of like how Smashwords does business. Not sure what their royalty structures are, though.

    • I’m using Spoken Word.

  12. Remember when PG mention BATNA? What’s your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement? If you have a better option for audio books, take it. If you don’t, you have to decide if the ACX offer is better than nothing.

    Anyone who thinks this has anything to do with ebooks and KDP is just confused. I’m sure there will be people spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about Amazon and pointing to this as proof (proof, I tell you) that Amazon is preparing to lower royalty rates for KDP. It’s already happening over at DBW. It’s total BS.

    Here’s how to think about this type of corporate action, generally. Out of the infinite possibilities, corporations have a very limited set of realistic choices, due to competitive pressure, the legal and regulatory regime, corporate strategy, etc. If your future is tied closely to a big corporation, you can’t ignore the range of realistic options and you can’t worry about the crazy stuff. I have experienced this first hand in my career, which was for a time inextricably linked to Microsoft’s decisions. We used to call it dancing with the elephant because the elephant might step on you without even realizing it.

    So what do you do? You make informed decisions. There’s no right or wrong, just an opportunity to give yourself better odds, no matter what the elephant does. No matter what you do, you still roll the dice every day. You are playing backgammon, not chess.

    In this situation, you have to ask yourself if this decision gives you any new information about Amazon, KDP, etc. The answer to that is a resounding no. The surface similarities (changes in royalty rates in their favor) hide the completely different places that ACX and KDP have in Amazon’s strategy. If I’m right about that, the best response for a writer is to change nothing and completely ignore all the B.S. that will inevitably ensue. If you think I’m wrong, I’d love to know what new information you think this gives us about Amazon and KDP.

    • Thanks William,

      As usual the voice of reason. With both translation rights and audio rights I have made the decision that I do not want to do these independently (contracting with translators, narrators, etc.). Neither am I willing to sink a lot of money out front for either of these. Therefore, without an ACX, I would not have audio books.

      But if I were younger, didn’t need 8 hours of sleep, I might very react differently, and from my experience with KDP, if indie authors stop signing up because of this–ACX will respond–I am assuming with more advertising opportunities.

      What I haven’t heard much about in the discussion is the stipends that ACX offers selectively to attract top level narrators. This didn’t exist when I did my first book, and I am hoping that future books might qualify.

      But I sort of assumed that the changes in royalty rate were related to their estimation of the costs on their end (which I assume are much higher than for ebooks) and their need to make enough money to warrant paying those stipends, etc.

      Unlike ebooks which helped sell ereaders and Fires, and KDP Select which helped sell Prime, audio books don’t sell hardware per se–they sell people on the benefit of subscribing to Audible. In this context the rise in the bounty an author gets for convincing someone to sign up for audible makes perfect business sense.

      Again, echoing William, how this works for you as an author is a very individual decision, but I don’t think it makes sense to assume that the goal of Amazon through ACX is to push away or even exploit indies, nor do I think it has anything to do with KDP plans and indies.

      M. Louisa

      • It’s ridiculous and insulting if they truly are taking 10% away from all future ebooks to fund the production of a select few audiobooks which they deem worthy of a stipend. “Hey, this other book is superior to yours, so we’re going to take 10% away from your pathetic book to fund it.”

        Of course, I don’t know if that’s the actual reason for this move, but the possibility is being tossed around.

      • It should be noted that the “bounty increase” is actually a decrease, deceptively mentioned as an increase by ACX for whatever reasons.

        As it is now, the bounty is $25 for the first THREE audiobooks a person downloads as a new subscriber. That’s $75 total.

        In the future it’ll be $50 for the first ONE audiobook a person downloads as a new subscriber. That’s $50 total.

        Yes, technically as a single author/narrator, you might end up making more with the $50 since someone might not use their first 3 credits to download all your books, but on the back end and in general, this is a decrease in money spent/offered by ACX.

        It should ALSO be noted that the bounty is especially deceptive because you are not exactly gaining $25 if someone downloads your book as one of their first. They receive that book for free, so you do not get paid for that book. Instead of getting paid, you receive the bounty. This still averages out to a higher profit than if you got paid for the book, but it’s not a free $25. It’s losing $X and then gaining $25, for a net of $25 – X (or 50% of that in the case of a royalty share).

    • Exactly. The audiobook market is niche when compared to the KDP market. And in line with the idea of corporate decision making, one huge component of that consideration of how a new action will impact reputation.

      I’ve seen nothing to indicate there’s possibility Amazon will change KDP royalties. I’m not saying they’ll never do so, but as William said, fear-mongering and propaganda are really the only things that could correlate anything in this announcement to KDP.

      • I don’t know if audio is really a niche market anymore. It’s growing. I have friends now who read exclusively audiobooks. One of them has Parkinson’s and it’s easier for her not to have to turn pages or swipe a screen, and the other likes to listen to audiobooks while she’s exercising or doing housework.

        Did anyone see Michael J. Sullivan’s recent comment on a Dave Farland post, where he said his sales used to be 30% print, 45% ebook, 25% audio, and now they are 8% print, 47% ebook, and 45% audio? He may be an outlier, but WOW, that is a much higher percentage for audio than I had expected.

        http://www.davidfarland.net/writing_tips/?a=345

    • I think it’s also important to keep in mind that in a contract demanding a period exclusivity, your BATNA might be something that doesn’t exist yet but may become an option in the mid- to near-future. ACX doesn’t currently have much competition, but as others have pointed out, the market is rife for an innovative small company to swoop in and steal ACX’s business. It’s a bit of a gamble, deciding to hold out for a deal or a market/technological shift that may never pan out, but fortune favors the patient.

    • Frankly, Ockham, I expected more from a Texan than lay down, roll over, and die.

      • Who said anything about laying down, rolling over, and dying? I’m all for fighting for impossible causes (my sister once bought me a t-shirt that said “Help Stop Plate Techtonics”). But you have to pick your battles. This seems to me to be a very strange place to make a stand. Is there some grand principle involved here? If they were retroactively changing royalties, I would be manning the barricades. I’ve just seen too many minor kerfluffles described in apocalyptic terms.

        • They’re not retroactively changing royalties, but don’t you think this is a little fast? They didn’t seem to give authors a whole lot of time to adjust. That’s a little concerning to me (and I don’t do audiobooks).

  13. I’ve always been a bit leery about ACX. I remember talking with Nathan Lowell at lunch during one of Dean Wesley Smith’s writing seminars on the coast, and him saying he could not afford to accept a deal from Audible because it would require going exclusive, and he made too much money from putting his books up for free on podiobooks. When ACX subsequently reared its head and I looked at its terms, I kept hearing Nathan’s voice in the back of my head, whispering about that limitation. I don’t have the $ to pay for an audiobook production yet, and I didn’t like the notion of profit sharing because of the exclusivity requirements, among other reasons. And, frankly, I was also leery because ACX is owned by Amazon. I love Amazon, but I don’t want to have all my eggs in their basket. So I figured I’d wait on audio until I’d saved up enough, or made enough from books, to be able to afford it, and then I’d use another distributor. Lately I started to rethink that decision, and after it more consideration I figured it couldn’t hurt to give ACX a try with a title or two. 25% of something is better than 0% of nothing, which is what I’m getting from audio so far. Then this happened. Makes me think I was right in my initial assessment.

    I’ve heard of several people closing their audible.com accounts in protest of this move. I love audible, but that may be a good idea. There are other places to get audiobooks.

  14. An article giving the point of view of a voice actor. This announcement has them angry, as well: http://www.voiceactorsnotebook.com/acx-is-getting-greedy-shame-on-you

    • Yeah, this has to be rough on them. By doing a royalty split, you’re asking them to potentially work for free. That’s part of the reason I’ve held off on this, I don’t think I have a large enough portfolio of work to convince a narrator I’m a good investment yet.

      Amazon is good to their customers, they’ll put them ahead of vendors every day of the week. Guess we’ll see if they decide losing content creators is better for their customers than whatever their plan is.

  15. I have two titles on ACX exclusive distribution. I paid for production of both and thus had the option of exclusive or non-exclusive distribution. I opted for exclusive, lured by the 50% royalty with escalators. In retrospect, that was a big mistake. My rationale at the time was that I’d earn my money back that much faster. That hasn’t happened, even though I’ve sold a fair number of units. Between the discounting, the whisper-sync pricing, and other factors, I’ve yet to break even (though I’m close). I also concur with the statements of others here than the royalty statements are somewhat confusing and opaque (not NEARLY as good as KDP).

    However, the biggest problem is the difficulty in regard to promotion. You have no control over pricing, and the only way you can distribute review copies is to beg codes from Audible and then pass them along. I’d much prefer to just send potential reviewers audio files. You pretty much have zero control with ACX, and I think that goes against the grain for most indies (it does for me, anyway). If they decide to promote you, I’m sure it can be lucrative, but there’s really no way you can help yourself significantly. In short, it’s a helluva lot like trad publishing. You do the deal and hope for the best. At least, that’s been my experience.

    One thing I think a lot of people overlook when dealing with a huge company like Amazon, is that it’s not really one company, at least as far as day to day operations go. I’ve seen the same things with other companies I’ve where I’ve worked or consulted. The companies get so big, that their separate parts take on different cultures, usually from the experiences of the employees they recruit. I suspect KDP will continue with their current corporate culture, but the Amazon Publishing subsidiaries are already beginning to morph toward the traditional publishing model. My best guess it that ACX will take it’s own path, no doubt heavily influenced by the experiences of the personnel it recruits. Perhaps at some point Jeff Bezos will weigh in and control all the various subsidiaries going in different directions, but unless he does so, I suspect we’re going to see any number of “Amazons,” and some of them are not going to be near as friendly as the one we all like. Just my $.02.

    • Is the exclusivity exclusive for LIFE? How long do you have to agree to their exclusivity? How does that work?

      • No, it’s not quite that bad. It’s seven years as I recall. To be honest,I agonized over that a bit. I would have preferred three to five. On the bright side, I’m about two years in now, so it’s not forever.

      • The exclusive contracts and the non-exclusive are both 7 years, I believe. After that, they renew yearly, and you can notify them that you’d like to end the contract. If you do a royalty share, the narrator can also notify them if they want to end the contract, too, so it can end for multiple reasons if you’ve done that.

        After that, I’m not entirely sure how that works if you want to go from Exclusive to Non-Exclusive. If you did a royalty share, you’d need to talk to the narrator about that. If you paid up front, then it might be something like ending the contract and then doing a new one as non-exclusive. Someone at ACX might be able to just flip a switch or whatever and turn your exclusive contract to a non-exclusive one without having to do an entirely new contract, though I’m not sure they’d ever want to because new contracts would fall under the new royalty rates (which would be worse than what you have now), so if they let you keep the same contract but made it non-exclusive, they’d make less money.

        I’d like to think they are decent enough not to care, especially if you’ve had your audiobook listed with them for 7 years, but now I’m not sure and have severe doubts about that.

        The contracts do auto-renew if you don’t contact them, though, so if you definitely want to get out of your contracts at the 7 year point, you’d need to set a reminder to send an email to cancel it. It won’t just randomly happen.

  16. Add me to the list of those who would love to see an entrepreneur give Audible some competition (Smashwords?).
    As a small audio book publisher, ACX’s terms chaffed my independent spirit when I first read them, and here in Colorado, the so-called ‘bonus’ plan is not allowed, so I opted to use Payloadz.com, a sub-company of PayPal, to sell the downloads of my books. Payment is instantaneous, the percentage kept by them is infinitesimal compared to the draconian 40%, and best of all, you get to set your own price.
    If an author is being ‘encouraged’ to market their own titles anyway, then why not market for yourself and keep a great majority of the profit? It works for me.

    There can be an alternatives. Sometimes they may be hard to find or new ones need to be created, but when a company becomes too much of a bully, then it WILL happen.

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