Author Topic: ACX royalties drop?  (Read 16279 times)  

Offline Moist_Tissue

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #50 on: December 29, 2014, 08:56:26 AM »
Isn't $16.50 pretty close to $15?  For a professional full-time narrator who has invested in training, microphones and recording equipment, sound treated studio environment and may or may not need to hire an editor or proofer once they're done recording, making $1.50/ hour more than the high school kid delivering his pizza is a joke. And the pizza kid is guaranteed payment at the end of his shift, it's not dependent on the long range sales of the pizza.

Would you work for $16.50 an hour?

That's not a state minimum wage. There are a handful of jurisdictions (maybe 3) where a $15 minimum wage passed. My first job at Amazon paid me $15 an hour, so yes, I would work for $16.50. Washington State's minimum wage is the highest of all states at $9.47 (D.C. having the highest in the nation). There are a ton of hard working people making less than $16.50 an hour. I understand wanting to be paid a living wage, but there are many, many hardworking and qualified people not making $16.50 an hour.
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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #51 on: December 29, 2014, 09:35:40 AM »
Isn't $16.50 pretty close to $15?  For a professional full-time narrator who has invested in training, microphones and recording equipment, sound treated studio environment and may or may not need to hire an editor or proofer once they're done recording, making $1.50/ hour more than the high school kid delivering his pizza is a joke. And the pizza kid is guaranteed payment at the end of his shift, it's not dependent on the long range sales of the pizza.

Would you work for $16.50 an hour?

That "high school kid" delivering your pizza is probably:

A. not a kid. Probably an adult who has been unable to find full time employment
B. is most likely paying out of pocket for his own gas and maintenance on his vehicle and not getting fully compensated by his employer
C. assuming, of course, his employer classifies him as an employee and not an independent contractor. Which means he may not even be getting minimum wage, but a flat rate for each delivery he makes.

I'm all about people being paid a fair wage. But engaging in class-ism and assuming working class people aren't "worth" as much as you doesn't sit well with me. Particularly considering the number of very hard-working friends I have who would right now kill for a job that paid $16.50 an hour.

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Offline Mike McIntyre

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #52 on: December 29, 2014, 09:42:12 AM »
Also keep in mind that you will be splitting that 50/50 with the narrator, so you're only getting half of that, unless you've paid your narrator outright and then you keep all the 40%.   

Audiobooks can make you good money if you think you move decent numbers.
I paid upfront. It's a chunk of change, but I weighed that against the 7 years of a 50/50 split and the potential upside of going it alone. Then again, that was before I knew about the value of credits, whispersynch, and the potential for Audible to slap a deep discount on it at any time.


Offline daringnovelist

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #53 on: December 29, 2014, 09:56:56 AM »
That "high school kid" delivering your pizza is probably:

A. not a kid. Probably an adult who has been unable to find full time employment
B. is most likely paying out of pocket for his own gas and maintenance on his vehicle and not getting fully compensated by his employer
C. assuming, of course, his employer classifies him as an employee and not an independent contractor. Which means he may not even be getting minimum wage, but a flat rate for each delivery he makes.

I'm all about people being paid a fair wage. But engaging in class-ism and assuming working class people aren't "worth" as much as you doesn't sit well with me. Particularly considering the number of very hard-working friends I have who would right now kill for a job that paid $16.50 an hour.

While I usually agree with Julie on this -- and I do in terms of regular wages -- we have to remember that this is a freelance hour.  It's NOT a wage.

As with those pizza delivering involuntary independent contractors, the real wage you earn as a freelancer/independent contractor is closer to half what the hourly work wage is.  Because there are expenses, and down time and sick leave and all the things that are normally covered by the employer.

So when someone is charging 16.50 per billable hour, they are likely making 8.25.

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Offline timothymckean

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #54 on: December 29, 2014, 10:18:12 AM »
I'm all about people being paid a fair wage. But engaging in class-ism and assuming working class people aren't "worth" as much as you doesn't sit well with me.

I didn't intend any class-ism, just perspective on what someone's time, skill, and experience are worth.

Quote
Particularly considering the number of very hard-working friends I have who would right now kill for a job that paid $16.50 an hour.

Why haven't they signed up at ACX? It's free to make an account.  Right now there are about 100 titles offering at least $100 pfh. 

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #55 on: December 29, 2014, 10:31:41 AM »
While I usually agree with Julie on this -- and I do in terms of regular wages -- we have to remember that this is a freelance hour.  It's NOT a wage.

I get that. I actually don't disagree with the greater point. But when a person decides to compare freelance wages to regular wages, and then makes a slap at people who work for those regular wages, that needs to be pointed out. He could have very easily simply noted that he has expenses that need to be covered as well as his time and made a much more valid point. He's NOT someone working for an hourly wage. He is a business person. So there is no reason to compare himself to someone working a blue collar job. It just rubs me the wrong way because there is this not-so-subtle assumption that people who do manual labor or work in blue collar industries are "unskilled" and "uneducated" and therefore "unworthy." But this is probably all a discussion for another thread.

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Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #56 on: December 29, 2014, 10:52:03 AM »
Man, if you guys knew what most VAs (not just narrators, but voice actors in general) got paid and how sporadic the work was...

Let's just say that if it were my main source of income, I would shank a man to make a regular $16.50 an hour. Shank him in front of his mama.

Like authors, no one really wants to pay VAs, they're an inconvenient speedbump to having that thing they want and as such, they'll pay as little as they can get. And if you're not in a huge city, well say hello to unpaid hours sitting and waiting for a recording studio (the only studio--the only ROOM that can do it) in the entire county to free up.

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Offline daffodils321

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #57 on: December 29, 2014, 11:31:47 AM »
Not only authors. Narrators too. ACX visibility is based upon Amazon visibility, I am quite sure that the KU algo change blew my audio out of the water. I saw it happen overnight, a week before KU went live, sales fell off a cliff. ACX can afford out pain though, because Legacy pubs have finally woken up and are flooding into Audible. That's great for the customer, not so much for indies.

What do you mean by Legacy pubs? The Big 5 publishing backlists?

Offline Rosalind J

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #58 on: December 29, 2014, 12:35:26 PM »
Yes, ACX titles are now competing with Audible Studios books, traditionally-published books, and Amazon-published books (which are available to borrow via KU, as ACX titles are not). Audio buyers seem to be more traditional, more attracted to tradpubbed books. All of those entities will also have a voice advocating for them that Sales & Marketing at Audible will be listening to in making their merchandising decisions. That's why I don't mind WhisperSync at all. Those "bonus borrows" make my books more visible on Audible, and visibility is key.

I have to say that, if I were making the decision today, I wouldn't be doing audio versions on my own unless I were already selling very, very well. And if you are selling very, very well, Audible Studios or another audio publisher may well approach you for your audio rights--which is, of course, a much smaller royalty, but also doesn't carry the huge risk and cash outlay. An interesting tradeoff. In the long run, you may well still come out ahead doing the audio yourself, but--it's expensive! (Unless you do royalty share, and I think many narrators are becoming justifiably wary of royalty share.)

I'll also say that, in my experience and looking at the books that are doing very well in audio, having a top-quality narrator is well worth the money. Excellent narration makes a so-so book good, and a good book great, which can make you punch above your weight in audio and attract some more of that Audible pixie dust that is "merchandising." Narration is half of the audio listening experience, and great actors (because that's what they are) don't come cheap. You're competing with Audible Studios, which I believe pays $300 PFH and keeps those top professional narrators well-employed (job security). My 2 cents.

Offline JeffreyKafer

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #59 on: December 29, 2014, 12:38:52 PM »
I released my first audiobook three weeks ago and as of today have 695 sales. I was thinking I was already well into the black until I read this thread.

I still think you will be in the black. WS is touted as the worst thing ever created (right behind KU), but over the 50+ royalty-share titles I've narrated, I'm still averaging $2-$3 per unit (Which would be double for you, if you paid outright)
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 12:40:59 PM by JeffreyKafer »

Offline JeffreyKafer

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #60 on: December 29, 2014, 12:43:19 PM »
I'll also say that, in my experience and looking at the books that are doing very well in audio, having a top-quality narrator is well worth the money. Excellent narration makes a so-so book good, and a good book great, which can make you punch above your weight in audio and attract some more of that Audible pixie dust that is "merchandising." Narration is half of the audio listening experience, and great actors (because that's what they are) don't come cheap.

You are my new best friend.

You're competing with Audible Studios, which I believe pays $300 PFH and keeps those top professional narrators well-employed (job security). My 2 cents.

The Union rate with Audible is actually $225 +12.5% to the actor's Pension and Health fund. Other publishers have different agreed upon rates.

Offline Mark E. Cooper

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #61 on: December 29, 2014, 12:48:43 PM »
What do you mean by Legacy pubs? The Big 5 publishing backlists?

Yes.

Offline Rosalind J

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #62 on: December 29, 2014, 03:59:21 PM »
You are my new best friend.

The Union rate with Audible is actually $225 +12.5% to the actor's Pension and Health fund. Other publishers have different agreed upon rates.
Thanks for the correction! So that's about $255 altogether. But Audible can offer the narrator steadier work, which matters. I've found that the narrators I'm interested in tend to charge about $300 PFH minimum.

Offline JeffreyKafer

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #63 on: December 29, 2014, 06:19:05 PM »
Thanks for the correction! So that's about $255 altogether. But Audible can offer the narrator steadier work, which matters. I've found that the narrators I'm interested in tend to charge about $300 PFH minimum.

Yep, we charge higher than scale because we have to outsource our editing and proofing. When we narrate for Audible and other publishers, we just narrate and they do all the post production work.

So on ACX, if we want to make union scale, here's the breakdown:

$225 pfh to the narrator
$75 pfh to the editor/proofer
12.5% to Pension and Health (Actors deserve to have healthcare and retirement)
5% to the paymaster service (This is not optional as the union requires it)

So if you're paying $300 pfh, you're getting a good deal considering that the actor has to eat the P&H and the payroll service fee. Hopefully others can see why paying your narrator $100 pfh is really putting the screws to them.

Offline 555aaa

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #64 on: December 29, 2014, 11:13:52 PM »
The market for print and e-books is far larger than for audiobooks. US publishers netted about $27B in 2013 (of which about $14B was Trade), but about $1B in audiobook sales (per APA). The number of titles available on audio is proportionately limited, but the potential for a breakout success is also limited. So when an author looks at spending thousands of dollars on narration, that expenditure has to be weighed against putting those resources into building their sales in the larger marketplace, not just whether they will break even. It has to recoup not only the production cost, but the lost market share in the e-book and print market had the same dollars been spent either on promotion or developing new work.

Offline daringnovelist

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #65 on: December 29, 2014, 11:23:18 PM »
The market for print and e-books is far larger than for audiobooks.

I have a feeling, though, that Amazon is changing that with these Whispersync deals.  I never bought audiobooks before because I couldn't afford them.  But when there is a whispersync deal, I buy them all the time.

Right now, the authors and publishers are feeling the pinch (and so is Audible and Amazon) in that they aren't yet making up for the loss of higher revenue from the existing high-paying audience -- but that's exactly what the publishers said about low priced ebooks.  We indies understood at that time that Amazon was building a new audience.

This will stabilize, and after that I do think that we'll see a bigger audience that can support a lower price.

Unfortunately, when Audible cut the royalty rates, that was a double whammy to both authors and narrators. -- but worse for the narrators, who don't earn anything from the ebook when there is a link there.  They could have had better timing.

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Offline Mark E. Cooper

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #66 on: December 29, 2014, 11:33:30 PM »
The market for print and e-books is far larger than for audiobooks. US publishers netted about $27B in 2013 (of which about $14B was Trade), but about $1B in audiobook sales (per APA). The number of titles available on audio is proportionately limited, but the potential for a breakout success is also limited. So when an author looks at spending thousands of dollars on narration, that expenditure has to be weighed against putting those resources into building their sales in the larger marketplace, not just whether they will break even. It has to recoup not only the production cost, but the lost market share in the e-book and print market had the same dollars been spent either on promotion or developing new work.

I spent rough $33,000 on audio production in 2014. I would spend at most $5000 on an entire year of marketing and probably not close to that. I do replace covers when I think trends are drifting from where mine are aimed etc. Anyway, despite the the costs, I'm in profit. Audio has slowed for me now, but it is still 35% of my overall income. The last time I looked, Jan-Dec 2014 Amazon stores were 55%, Audible 35%, Google 6%, and the others stores took the rest.

So all in all, Audio had been well worth the cost FOR ME. But not all genres sell the same. I have found my sci-fi makes up most of my audio sales, followed by my two YA titles, and my two Urban fantasy/shifter titles bringing up the rear. I pay $325pfh and was aiming for $300 when I first started researching audio. There are opinions either way, but I can only say that I'm very happy with the results. I listen to a LOT of audio, and I know what I think quality audiobooks should sound like.

Production costs are why royalty share is there. If a narrator won't take classic royalty share, perhaps offering a one time up front fee plus royalty share will tip the scales in your favour. So if a book would normally costs $2500, perhaps offering $1000 plus a shorter term of royalty share would work. Of course, that sort of thing would require contracts outside of the ACX system, and that would personally put me off. I am all for the easy peasy life of clicking ACX buttons :P

Offline JeffreyKafer

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #67 on: December 30, 2014, 01:43:07 AM »
If a narrator won't take classic royalty share, perhaps offering a one time up front fee plus royalty share will tip the scales in your favour.

This is growing in popularity with narrators as audible gets tighter with their stipend program. Many narrators who wouldn't take on a straight royalty share are more interested in a pfh plus royalty scheme.

Offline VydorScope

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #68 on: December 30, 2014, 03:11:23 AM »
This is growing in popularity with narrators as audible gets tighter with their stipend program. Many narrators who wouldn't take on a straight royalty share are more interested in a pfh plus royalty scheme.

This is how my first book went since I had the stipend, and now I feel really bad for my narrator. Book 1 is permafree as an ebook, because it is my funnel into my series. I have the sales of seven other books to cover that free book. Calculated gamble that has worked out very well in the ebook world for me.

When the stipend came, I had narrators coming out of the woodwork for small upfront cash+royalty share. The book hit, was selling well at $19.99, and then.. BOOM whisper synced to $1.99. So do the math...

20% of free+$1.99 = 40 CENTS a sale.

Ouch.

For ME it matters little as I was zero out of pocket, and I have already written off the first book as a loss leader. The narrator took most of the risk in this case, betting on ACX's stipend magic I guess.

I was hoping to make enough off book 1 to pay for book 2, which will not happen now. Even If I sell 500 copies that is only enough for what, maybe ONE hour of book 2? Not even at some of the prices mentioned in this thread so far. So doing the simple math, book 2 would need FIVE THOUSAND sales of book 1 to cover its production @ 200pfh.

Now, I already paid for book 2 out of pocket... wanting it out before Christmas, but the example shows that right now audio is far from a sure thing. FAR.


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Offline Mark E. Cooper

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #69 on: December 30, 2014, 03:41:51 AM »
This is how my first book went since I had the stipend, and now I feel really bad for my narrator. Book 1 is permafree as an ebook, because it is my funnel into my series. I have the sales of seven other books to cover that free book. Calculated gamble that has worked out very well in the ebook world for me.

When the stipend came, I had narrators coming out of the woodwork for small upfront cash+royalty share. The book hit, was selling well at $19.99, and then.. BOOM whisper synced to $1.99. So do the math...

20% of free+$1.99 = 40 CENTS a sale.

Ouch.

For ME it matters little as I was zero out of pocket, and I have already written off the first book as a loss leader. The narrator took most of the risk in this case, betting on ACX's stipend magic I guess.

I was hoping to make enough off book 1 to pay for book 2, which will not happen now. Even If I sell 500 copies that is only enough for what, maybe ONE hour of book 2? Not even at some of the prices mentioned in this thread so far. So doing the simple math, book 2 would need FIVE THOUSAND sales of book 1 to cover its production @ 200pfh.

Now, I already paid for book 2 out of pocket... wanting it out before Christmas, but the example shows that right now audio is far from a sure thing. FAR.

It's not that bad, Vince. 500 sales in your example. Maybe 50 will be WS. If that weren't true, my average Royalty wouldn't be $4.80 but would instead be $1 and it's not.

Offline BokkenRecord

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #70 on: December 30, 2014, 03:59:05 AM »
Mark - your figures are given as payment per hour of finished recording. Typically how many words do you find that works out per hour?


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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #71 on: December 30, 2014, 04:09:46 AM »
Mark - your figures are given as payment per hour of finished recording. Typically how many words do you find that works out per hour?

I am not Mark, and there are lots of factors but here:

Book 1 - 8 hours 44 mins, 85,110 words
Book 2 - 8 hours 46 mins, 87,760 words

Average for those numbers : 9840 Words per hour.

So probably guess 9000-11000 words per hour based only on that small sample.
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Offline Mark E. Cooper

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #72 on: December 30, 2014, 05:09:04 AM »
Mark - your figures are given as payment per hour of finished recording. Typically how many words do you find that works out per hour?

I just had a look. My narrator seems pretty consistent and reads 9,500 words per hour

Offline VydorScope

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Re: ACX royalties drop?
« Reply #73 on: December 30, 2014, 05:11:14 AM »
I am not Mark, and there are lots of factors but here:

Book 1 - 8 hours 44 mins, 85,110 words
Book 2 - 8 hours 46 mins, 87,760 words

Average for those numbers : 9840 Words per hour.

So probably guess 9000-11000 words per hour based only on that small sample.

I just had a look. My narrator seems pretty consistent and reads 9,500 words per hour

Not far off from mine then. So perhaps the range is 9000-10000 words per hour.
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