From author Josh Lanyon:
I spend a lot of time and energy — and money — on adding audio books to my considerable backlist. By the end of this year, I’ll have spent something over $20,000 commissioning audio books through ACX and Audible.com. I’ll have a total of 15 audio books, 12 of which I’ve personally commissioned.
. . . .
ACX is a division of Audible.com (which is owned by – surprise! – Amazon.com). ACX is something new and innovative in audio book production. It’s a creation exchange, a sort of go between for rights holders (that would be authors) and audio book producers (narrators/production companies). The finished books are either sold exclusively through Audible, Amazon and iTunes for a 50% royalty rate OR the rights holder declines the exclusive deal and gets a significantly lower royalty rate and has to go through the hassle of listing their work on Amazon and iTunes and other vendors all by their lonesome. You can pay for production outright – which is what I’ve done in all but one case – or you can try to find a producer/narrator to take a royalty share with you (in which case you have no choice but to make your audio book exclusive to ACX/Audible for seven years).
. . . .
Now lest it sound like my problem is audio book sales, no. Not at all. I saw my first two titles earn out within a couple of months of going live, and that was what decided me that ACX and Audible looked like a pretty solid investment.
. . . .
According to Audible’s website:
Whispersync for Voice is a breakthrough technology that allows you to switch back and forth between reading a Kindle book and listening to the companion Audible audiobook without losing your place.
. . . .
I should have given it a thought, though, because it creates a problem for ACX customers, and by ACX’s customers, I mean authors and narrators. I mean me. Amazon, in its perennial quest to crush all competition through loss leading, came up with the idea of encouraging readers to try out these whispersynced audio books by knocking the price of audio books down to $1.99 if the (current version) kindle ebook is also purchased.
Now that’s a terrific incentive, no question. Here’s the catch. The author has zero control over the pricing. Although it’s communicated as though Audible is doing us a huge favor with this bedrock pricing, they don’t allow us to opt in or out. That pricing isn’t isolated to first books in a series or a certain percentage of an author’s backlist. As far as I could ascertain speaking to ACX, it isn’t time limited. It isn’t optional.
And the plan is to make the entire Audible catalog (those books linked to kindle editions, anyway) available through whispersync.
Now, it’s obviously not whispersync, I have an issue with. I’m all for technological advancement – I’m even for pricing incentives. And I guess if my publishers were footing the bill for my audio book production, I wouldn’t mind only making…say, thirty to fifty cents an audio book. I wouldn’t be thrilled, but it wouldn’t be a bad investment. It wouldn’t be costing me money that could have – apparently should have — been invested elsewhere.
Yes. Costing me money. Let’s say I’m paying $2000. to produce an audio book, and the first month I sell maybe 100 copies netting around $10.00 each – of which I receive my 50%…so $500. I don’t earn back my production costs. And within the following month or so, the book is whispersynced and now kindle readers can buy the audio book for $1.99. My cut would be half of that.
Oh! And if I’m doing a royalty share with a production company, we’re each splitting that .99 cents.
Link to the rest at Josh Lanyon