Author Topic: D2D enters the audiobook fray -- OR, is this a reason for the audio price hike?  (Read 3761 times)  

Offline Bill Hiatt

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Whether the $49.95 setup fee is worth it or not might depend upon how many sales an author would get from the channels Voice distributes to that ACX doesn't. At least some of them are probably channels that self-published authors can't upload to on their own--but that won't make much difference if those channels don't generate many indie sales.

Whether D2D's 20% cut is worth it might depend upon how ACX works these days. The only audio book I did was some time ago, but at that point, indie authors couldn't input keywords the way publishers could, or the way we can on ebooks. The result was that indie audiobooks weren't as discoverable. That leads to two questions. First, is it still true that indie authors can't input keywords. Second, can Findaway Voices do it? If the answer to both questions is yes, then the boost in discoverability might be worth D2D's cut. Alternatively, one could go through Findaway directly and save the 20%.

Either way, one would be restricted to Findaway's pool of narrators, but I think that would only be an issue if you were a bestselling indie who might have a shot at a famous narrator.


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Online TobiasRoote

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At the end of the day D2D still only aggregate your books. They don't promote anything for you, they don't encourage avenues of promoting with the sales outlets and you don;t have any direct links with the outlets to self-promote with them. You will get organic sales and anything you can push yourself from Facebook ads etc.,

You could use D2D to test the water, then go direct if you have any sales. One 'assumes' that if you have full control over your audio books, that you can bypass D2D at any stage and gain an extra percentage.


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Offline Huldra

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Yes, I'm also wondering why you'd go through D2D at this point. What am I missing here?

As for circumventing the $49 fee, one could simply get an audio book produced by drawing up a contract directly with reputable narrators and then upload it to Findaway Voices... right? Would also mean you could launch the audio at the same time as ebook/print.

But a set-up fee when they're also charging 20% royalties? Hard no.

Offline KylieG

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Whether D2D's 20% cut is worth it might depend upon how ACX works these days. The only audio book I did was some time ago, but at that point, indie authors couldn't input keywords the way publishers could, or the way we can on ebooks. The result was that indie audiobooks weren't as discoverable. That leads to two questions. First, is it still true that indie authors can't input keywords. Second, can Findaway Voices do it? If the answer to both questions is yes, then the boost in discoverability might be worth D2D's cut. Alternatively, one could go through Findaway directly and save the 20%.

This is a big problem.  My best chance to sell audio books is the link on the eBook's page. If audio books on audible were searchable, it would generate a lot more sales for me.

Offline Mark E. Cooper

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You make the same mistake all authors do: you assume books are interchangeable commodities and the low price is the only factor. If I want the latest Star Wars audiobook narrated by Marc Thompson, and that audiobook is $20, I'm not going  to say, "Gee, I love Marc Thompson and Star Wars, but I think I'll buy this $3 book from some guy I never heard of from a narrator I don't know instead." Now I might go to Amazon to see if they have a lower price on the book I already want, but I'm not going to assume John Doe nobody author's audiobook is a fair swap for the book I really want.

People will pay fair prices for things they actually want. The thing with bargain basement pricing is that while it encourages spontaneous purchasing, it won't REPLACE the purchase of a thing someone actually wants. If I am already buying other things, I might buy the $3 audiobook because it is only $3, but I am not going to buy it INSTEAD of the audiobook I really, really want.

The problem for authors is that they are often too dependent on Amazon for discoverability. You don't know how to reach customers outside of Amazon's algorithms, so you can't fathom the concept that people can make money at higher prices at other outlets. Too many are dependent on the impulse buying consumers instead of people actually seeking out your work organically. I don't pretend I'm rolling in money. Publishing is not my full-time gig. But for over a decade it has provided a nice stable, residual income that allows me the freedom to do what I want.

It is HARDER to make money at higher price points because it requires a lot more marketing effort on the front end. But once you identify your markets and start hitting them, it creates a stable revenue independent of the roller coaster of Amazon's algorithms.

Authors should not hope for Amazon to undercut the smaller markets and drive them out of business. That is not good for authors or customers. WalMart has destroyed the economies of countless communities by deliberately undercutting local markets, driving them out of business, and then squeezing employees (in this case, it would be authors) out of more and more money to increase their own profits because there was nowhere left for the employees to go for other work.


The high/low price point thing will be forever debatable. Ask the people who swear by Kindle Unlimited if they care about the low price point when they're raking in the cash due to volume.

When my books were first whisper synced I broke it every chance I got to keep my royalty high. Amazon countered by making it impossible to break without ruining the ebook's integrity (changing too much). Then I realised I was making a LOT more money due to volume sales when people bought the ebook WITH the audio book, and I was happy.

The destruction of free, the KU 1.0, 2.0 and now the price hike has decimated my audio sales. From a high of 68 audio sales a day, I'm now under 10 a day.

Changes come, and changes go. I've pivoted so much in my time I'm dizzy now.

Offline Al Stevens

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When you compare the decisions buyers make, it isn't whether they'll choose an expensive best-seller over a bargain price on a book written by an unknown. It's whether they'll choose an expensive unknown that they can't even find over a cheap one listed on an Amazon product page. Of course, thinking that is the mistake all authors make. :)

Offline M M

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This is a deal-breaker for me. Good grief!

I have three stories, soon to be four, that need audiobooks. I've been in contact with both Books-In-Motion and ListenUpAudio for eBooks. If the prices are reasonable, I'll go with either. But, if there's a set-up fee, that will definitely shut that producer out.

Indies are being squeezed across the board, and charging a set-up fee for an audiobook is ridiculous!

I totally agree. It's just a money grab and unfair.   They already get a 20% cut.


Offline Bill Hiatt

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Come to think of it, is the setup fee D2D's or Findaway's? If it is D2D's, any indie author who wanted it could simply go direct to Findaway. D2D's blog post isn't clear on the point of whose setup fee they are alluding to. Both D2D's cut and Findaway's production costs are discussed in the same article.

I'd ask myself, but I really don't want to start up a conversation with Findaway unless I'm ready to do an audiobook, which I'm not at the moment.  Perhaps someone who is ready to produce an audiobook could ask about Findaway's price structure. That question should make clear whether the setup fee is on their end.


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Offline David VanDyke

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People keep saying 20% cut, but that's 20% of gross.

If the net is 40%, then 20% off is a loss of 50% of net. So, if all else were equal, that's a 50% drop in author earnings. Add to that a further drop if the author chooses to lower the audiobook price to compete or promote, and we are facing a lot of disappearing earnings, and possibly another race for the bottom. Once thing I like(d) about audiobooks is that they got the best of both worlds in some measure--the benefit of the ebook race to the bottom (permafree is a good driver of audiobook sales via discovery) but the prices remained higher and nobody could undercut.

Can most authors offset all that earnings loss with greater volume? Probably not. A few will out-compete the rest, but generally, this will probably cause the haves to get more and the prawny to get less, i.e., consolidation--which may be beneficial for the distributors, but not us.


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Offline Mercedes Vox

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Come to think of it, is the setup fee D2D's or Findaway's? If it is D2D's, any indie author who wanted it could simply go direct to Findaway. D2D's blog post isn't clear on the point of whose setup fee they are alluding to. Both D2D's cut and Findaway's production costs are discussed in the same article.

I'd ask myself, but I really don't want to start up a conversation with Findaway unless I'm ready to do an audiobook, which I'm not at the moment.  Perhaps someone who is ready to produce an audiobook could ask about Findaway's price structure. That question should make clear whether the setup fee is on their end.

I just asked both Findaway and D2D this question via Twitter. I'll report back with any replies.

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Offline M M

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I wanted to give an example so you can see exactly how the math works, because it's a bit deceiving until you crunch the numbers.


From the FAQ
An 80% Royalty for Authors
As the author or publisher, you keep 80% of all royalties Voices receives, which vary by partner, channel, and business model. The royalties Voices receives from its partners are within the following ranges:

A la carte: 40% to 50% of list price
Subscription: 30% to 40% of list price
Audible: 25% of the sales price (Audible's standard, non-exclusive terms)

*****

Now let's break that down:

The gross percentages are broken down into the three categories (authors, D2D/Findaway, and platform) so that you see the real numbers we end up with.  I am using the low range to illustrate but the high end isn't much better. This is what it looks like:

I am starting with Audible since this is where the bulk of the sales are:

Audible keeps 75% and distributes 25%
Author and D2D/Findaway split remaining 25% at 80/20.  That means that your "80%" is actually 20% of list price (.8 x .25)
Author 20% of list
D2D/Findaway 5% of list

Subscription:
Platform keeps 70% and distributes 30%
Author and D2D/Findaway split 80/20 of the remaining 30%.  That works out to 24% for you (.8 x .3)
Author 24%
D2D/Findaway 6%

A la carte:
Platform keeps 60% and distributes 40%
Author and D2D/Findaway split 80/20 of the remaining 30%. That works out to 32% for you (.8 x .4)
Author 32%
D2D/Findaway 8%
 
There are a few other things you have to factor in:

You also have to pay a $49 per title fee on top of this if you produce through Findaway.  Yet you are the one working with the narrator to produce a final  sale ready audio product.

You are paying up front for production and bearing all of the risk, yet you are compensated a very small %.  Consider how long it will take to break even on your investment. Especially since...

You have no control over the selling price.  Some ACX titles are $1.99.  20% of $2 will take a long time to earn back your production costs plus a $49 fee.  Let's assume you paid $200 per finished hour for an 8-hour book.  That's $1600 plus the $49 fee.  $1649/.20 per audiobook royalty at 1.99 means you need to sell 8,245 books to recoup your costs.  If you think you will do that volume, great.  It's good to have an idea of what your sales could be in audio and do a similar comparison.

Yes, you will probably sell them at higher prices, but what if you don't? Think of what your worst case scenario is. Can you afford that?

And there are other things to consider that I haven't mentioned to keep it simple. But from a purely financial perspective, it doesn't work for me.  I am bearing all the risk but getting too small a portion of the reward.

Now, I am not saying that the ACX offering is great, but when comparing the various alternatives you need to do an apples-to-apples comparison.

I am pleased to see a competitor in this space and I hope more players emerge. And I am sure that D2D/Findaway have determined a fee structure that works for them.  I would do the same.  It may not work for all authors though, depending on your sales volume. I am not trying to criticize, only to provide some transparency on the offering, because when you get into percentages of gross and net you sometimes end up with quite different results.  Each of us has to decide for ourselves, but I hope this breakdown helps you to arrive a well-informed solution that works best for you.


Offline JB Rowley

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Yes, M M, your breakdown was very helpful. Thank you.


Online TobiasRoote

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I wanted to give an example so you can see exactly how the math works, because it's a bit deceiving until you crunch the numbers.


Thanks, I'm in line with most, initially excited at the prospect of a competitor to ACX/Amazon, but totally unprepared to sacrifice that much royalty to the greed of the platforms. Another disappointment :/


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Offline Mercedes Vox

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I just asked both Findaway and D2D this question via Twitter. I'll report back with any replies.

Both D2D and Findaway confirmed on Twitter that the $49 admin fee is charged by Findaway. This fee applies to production only, so you don't have to pay it if you provide your own audiobook.

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Offline Bill Hiatt

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Both D2D and Findaway confirmed on Twitter that the $49 admin fee is charged by Findaway. This fee applies to production only, so you don't have to pay it if you provide your own audiobook.
Thanks for the info!


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Offline Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake'

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I'm thinking of trying it for a book that's been dead in the water. When I promo it, it sells well, but otherwise, it's dormant. I'll have to take it out of Select but I'll also do an AMS ad when the audio goes live.

Thinking.


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Offline Kate.

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I'm thinking of trying it for a book that's been dead in the water. When I promo it, it sells well, but otherwise, it's dormant. I'll have to take it out of Select but I'll also do an AMS ad when the audio goes live.

Thinking.
You don't need to remove books from Select to do audio. =) The exclusivity clause only applies to the ebook format - the audio and print versions can be sold in as many retailers as you like.

Offline Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake'

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You don't need to remove books from Select to do audio. =) The exclusivity clause only applies to the ebook format - the audio and print versions can be sold in as many retailers as you like.

Except that the book has to be distributed by D2D to at least one of its vendors.



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Offline Kate.

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Except that the book has to be distributed by D2D to at least one of its vendors.
Ah, I see! I didn't read that part. It definitely puts a cramp on Select authors, then.

Offline Bill Hiatt

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Except that the book has to be distributed by D2D to at least one of its vendors.
If you want to leave Select anyway, that's no problem. If you'd rather stay in Select, it looks as if you could go to Findaway directly with no problem.


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Offline Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake'

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If you want to leave Select anyway, that's no problem. If you'd rather stay in Select, it looks as if you could go to Findaway directly with no problem.

True, but this book has never done anything in Select. Time to try it wide and this is a good reason to get my rear in gear and do it.



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Offline 555aaa

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I am currently on distribution with Findaway (but not Voices). The statement above that you don't control retail pricing above isn't true. You can set pricing but only on those partners who support it (one single retail list price). There is also library pricing which can be set on a unit purchase price or a 'per-checkout' type of pricing.

The $49 per title setup isn't unreasonable IMHO but is this a D2D fee or a Voices fee? Audio files are a lot bigger and there is a lot more crank-turning involved in packaging up an audiobook than an ebook or even a print title, and Ingram already charges a similar amount for print set up.

You can go to Voices without using D2D I believe. Not sure what exactly D2D does that Voices doesn't do.

http://findaway.com/findaway-voices

I am already on ACX and so Findaway won't distribute to them but there are other partners that I previously didn't have a way to distribute to, so it's gravy for people not on the ACX exclusive contract.


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I know that many thought the $49 fee was unacceptable. I'm sure this response from D2D today is due in major part to that vocal concerns.

"Exclusive for Draft2Digital Authors

D2D authors can use Findaway Voices without the $49 admin fee!
No upfront fees. You keep all your rights. And no exclusivity. Ever."

It's good that they listened, isn't it?




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Offline T. M. Bilderback

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I know that many thought the $49 fee was unacceptable. I'm sure this response from D2D today is due in major part to that vocal concerns.

"Exclusive for Draft2Digital Authors

D2D authors can use Findaway Voices without the $49 admin fee!
No upfront fees. You keep all your rights. And no exclusivity. Ever."

It's good that they listened, isn't it?

It's GRRRRREAT!

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Offline notjohn

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I agree. But won't those buyers get wise to the lower prices? Whispersync discounting could kill off those outside marketplaces, and maybe that's its purpose.

That does seem to be Mr Bezos's working philosophy.
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