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1
Writers' Cafe / Re: Audio book with ambient sound
« on: December 19, 2017, 10:11:58 AM »
Having produced a couple full-cast audio dramas (music, sfx, multiple actors, etc) as well as straight audio books, I have been surprised by how many people hate radio drama. It sells way worse than straight narration.

2
Writers' Cafe / Re: Format of an audiobook script
« on: October 30, 2017, 12:24:55 PM »
Whatever format you use, remember that you'll need some way to send them corrections (pickups) if you are doing the quality checks.

Do not send line-by-line guidance.

Do provide a brief character background and a complete list of all the characters beforehand. Every character that has dialogue should be listed and a good narrator may pre-record a short sample dialogue for each character so that they can refer back to that sample recording to make sure they are staying consistent, since many narrators work on more than one title at a time.

Do provide pronunciation guidance on non-standard names and unusual or fictional place names.

I usually do this over the phone or webex.

3
Writers' Cafe / Re: Audiobook Questions-Edit: Dual narrators?
« on: July 26, 2017, 10:59:01 PM »
New development:
Has anyone ever used two narrators? ACX has told me I would have to contract the second narrator outside of ACX. I've never done an audiobook before, let alone one where I'd have to contract outside of ACX. Obviously, I can use ACX for both narrator auditions, but I'll have to choose one to contract outside and one to go through ACX. I have...no idea how to do this. I'm getting more and more anxious about this project.
I've done it several times and it's easy, but you will have do pay up front. You have to write the narrator contract outside of the ACX contract. When you have the audio ready to go, you upload it as a "DIY" project where the ACX contract is with you as the audio rights holder. I have some narrators I like to work with but you can also contract ACX narrators directly or use a service like Voice123 which is an audition service for voiceover artists.

I produced this book:
https://www.audible.com/pd/Drama-Poetry/Poems-of-the-Elder-Edda-Audiobook/B016E0TX4S/
and this book:
https://www.audible.com/pd/Classics/Andromache-Audiobook/B00CMUN0GW/
and this book:
https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Island-of-Doctor-Moreau-Audiobook/B00OY21LM6/

pm me for more information.

4
I don't understand why Amazon doesn't just strip out bonus content if that's the new rule. Seems like something they could get their interns to program. At the same time, they should auto-build box sets - or readers should be able to build their own customized box sets.

5
Writers' Cafe / Re: Male authors using gender neutral names?
« on: July 26, 2017, 07:50:09 AM »
Thank you K.B. That was well said.

6
Writers' Cafe / Re: Inside a Click Farm
« on: July 13, 2017, 09:56:08 AM »
There's two aspects here that I think are key enablers - lack of control on accounts (hacked / stolen and fake accounts) and the ability to get benefits from free or freely returned content. I agree with David that there's a lot more that can be done on the Amazon side on authenticating that downloads / page reads are from real accounts and not from either fake (not a human person) accounts or accounts of real people who don't actually have kindles (buy, download, then return = no credit card charge). You'd think with all their fancy-schmancy AI they could figure this out.

7
Writers' Cafe / Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« on: July 06, 2017, 12:06:17 PM »
I'm interested in scheduling your service but I don't see anywhere listed your business name and location.

8
I'd hire a second narrator.

9
Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« on: June 20, 2017, 11:37:06 PM »
I think the KU2 padding thing's interesting and all but as far as the Free store goes, today there's a raft of tiny non-fiction books in the top twenty or so - if you go look at the alsoboughts on those, they also have shown up in the top 20 or so in free in the past few weeks. Like this book which is 12 pages long. These are not new release books either.
This book is #10 in free in the US store
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019QYW88M

I thought we were all done with all that a couple of years ago.

10
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.


11
Writers' Cafe / Re: ACX Marketing ideas
« on: June 15, 2017, 11:22:45 AM »
Put your marketing track on SoundCloud. SoundCloud has an embed widget that will let you put that also on your website, and you can use the SoundCloud link in FB ads. Make sure you remind people that their first audiobook with membership is free (and you want that to be YOUR book, to get the $50 bounty). SoundCloud has a "buy" link which you want to link back to the Audible product page. You can also link in from your ads to the Audible page directly I think. If you're feeling spendy, you can run an ad over on Audiofile magazine. The audio quality on SoundCloud is far, far better than the sample track on Amazon or Audible. If you decide to run video ads, make them short. Like 15 seconds.  I have run audiofile magazine ads in their indie showcase but I can't tell you about the ROI. It is somewhat more of a trade magazine; I don't know how many audiobook fans actually read it.

You can also do a pre-release giveaway of a mp3-CD of your audiobook on Goodreads. But if you are on the exclusive contract, you can't distribute after the contract goes into effect. You can pre-release a pre-loaded audio player with your book on it also as a raffle type prize if you are into that sort of thing.

my soundcloud page (used to be in my sig)
https://soundcloud.com/mondello-publishing

12
Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone Use Findaway Voices for Audiobooks?
« on: June 14, 2017, 12:07:29 PM »
I signed the distribution contract with Findaway on several of my non-exclusive ACX titles. Yes you have some control over pricing, but it is not completely straightforward as there are also membership plans at some of their distribution partners if I recall correctly and also library distribution pricing which is a different beast. I don't have the specifics in front of me as I write this unfortunately.  They pay out quarterly (but Voices might be on a different payment schedule). I have enough sales so that it will be statistically meaningful when eventually I get a sales report from them. I am not on Findaway Voices however, just a straight distribution contract. 

ETA: I see that they did get me distributed over to Barnes & Noble audio which is cool. That retail price is the price I set for them, so yay team! It is way less than the Audible retail price ($20 vs $7). In theory it will work out to the same payout for me.

title distributed to B&N via Findaway
https://www.nookaudiobooks.com/audiobook/161003/poems-of-the-elder-edda
distributed to Audible via ACX
https://www.nookaudiobooks.com/audiobook/161003/poems-of-the-elder-edda
distributed to Google Play via CD Baby
https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Various_Artists_Poems_of_the_Elder_Edda?id=Bl7tc7ewsizu3pqzk6sxnjpjpke
MP3-audio CD distributed (by me) to Amazon via CD Baby
https://www.amazon.com/Poems-Elder-Edda/dp/1940650046/ref=sr_1_1_twi_aud_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1497467703&sr=8-1&keywords=poems+of+the+elder+edda+CD





13
Here's one option.
1) Do the audio outside of ACX. Use Voice123 or another site to hire your narrator.
2) Release the ebook and simultaneously release the audio into ACX as what they call a DIY production.
ACX is not super-speedy but the Audible version should be available to customers within about ten working days from your ebook launch.

I'm not sure why the preorder method would not work however.

14
Writers' Cafe / Re: When to AudioBook?
« on: May 29, 2017, 01:44:40 PM »
On the ACX exclusive contract, with no royalty split (40% of retail), I would say the actual average royalty works out to about 25% of retail list. Most sales aren't retail full price but member sales, either members using their credit or using extra purchased credits. The actual payout is like Select where there's a monthly pool and royalties are calculated based on pool sales using a secret formula. But the Audible retail price can be pretty high so that works out to a reasonable number (the retail price depends on length but they also will start discounting books that don't sell). The ratio of the royalty from member credit to retail however seems to be fairly stable over time.

Like Cassie I have audio titles that far outsell their print or ebook counterparts.

I agree with Chris about pay up front. Based on your numbers it seems like a good option although I'd probably do book 1 but option the narrator on the series. Even though I grumble about the royalty arrangement, I have to admit that Audible actually does mass marketing and they also offer a $50 bounty on new members who select your book as their first member purchase.

15
Writers' Cafe / Re: Tantor and Podium are they worth it?
« on: May 25, 2017, 01:43:41 PM »
I produce audiobooks - you can msg me for more info.
 
I will tell you that physical audiobook sales at least for me are really low (but not zero); a couple years ago for me it was around 10% or so and now it maybe is a couple percent.  I don't have any contracts thru Tantor or Podium but they are both reputable and Tantor has been around for a long time. Audible seems to have most of the market; they are the only company that actually runs radio spots to promote audiobooks. The bunk of my revenue comes through ACX sales and of that, about 1/3 are the new member bounty payments. That's something to think about with other companies that have a membership program; ACX pays the rights holder a $50 bounty for every new member that signs up with your title as their first purchase. Another wrinkle as was touched on above is the rights for your cover; ideally that will be the same cover as your print/ebook edition but you may need to negotiate for that. For an ACX royalty split, a lot of narrators have gotten burned on low-performing titles and there is a problem which is that the audio title and the print/ebook should release more or less simultaneously, but if you have no track record, the narrator is taking a lot of risk, and in some genres, audio sales can be way less than the ebook even when taking into account the relative pricing.

I don't like using "net" vs. "gross" because many of the distribution partners have membership models so it is very hard to calculate a retail per unit price. There really isn't such a thing. The better comparison is revenue vs. upfront cost (production cost).

You're never going to get a copy of the audio as you never owned the copyright for it; you only provided a license to the audio publisher to make a derivative work of your book, but after the contract is up you can go make your own audio version. The audio recording has its own separate copyright as a sound recording copyright.

16
Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon removing ARC reviews?
« on: May 15, 2017, 12:05:24 PM »
I understand you don't like it. But Amazon has not so far discouraged it. In fact, the opposite. They've encouraged ARCs. Their imprints use and encourage ARCs as well. If you don't want to do it, don't, but there's nothing wrong with it according to Amazon. It doesn't seem OK to bash other authors as unethical, gaming, or manipulating rank (rank?? How?) for doing something that is permitted and ENCOURAGED by Amazon.

Sure, it's a great tool for authors but it's a lousy tool for readers. Amazon has this systemic problem with review inflation site-wide and ARC "launch teams" make this worse. The average e-book star rating is 4.5, even when you go down into books in the million + ranking. Positive early reviews are the entry point into the most successful paid ad platforms, which incentivizes early glowing reviews. And those promo sites have a vested interest in moving shoppers OFF of Amazon as the discovery platform and onto their own platform, so it actually works to their advantage that the product discovery capability of Amazon is crap.

I posted on this before - even toasters have an average star rating around 4. People don't tend to give mediocre reviews and they also have invested emotional value in their purchases and don't want to say something like gee, I really wish I'd been a smarter shopper and not bought this toaster.  There are smarter ways to manage reviews and reviewers which generally involve suppressing or weighting reviews. But most Amazon customers object strenuously to having their reviews removed; so Amazon is in a lose-lose situation; to make reviews more meaningful, they need to be weighted somehow but they don't want customers to have the bad experience of having their reviews removed. The whole situation right now is a giant morass of quicksand.

17
Writers' Cafe / Re: ACX for non-USA, UK Authors - Bad news
« on: May 13, 2017, 10:32:46 PM »
Incorporate a US company.
You just need to work with a US producer / narrator who is willing to do the royalty split for you. I have done this as a producer for non-US authors. It's not like Joe's program; it's independent production. You still own the book rights and can always stop a misbehaving producer from profiting from your book as you can dispute their rights with ACX, but you have to trust them to be honest with you on the sales data (just like any publisher/author relationship).

18
Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon removing ARC reviews?
« on: May 13, 2017, 10:23:04 PM »
About 'effing time. ARC "street team" reviews have been yet another reason to avoid indie author/publishers. You can see these in the sales data - they have splurgy launches with gushing reviews far outside the "natural" rate for that sales rank, and then they plummet into obscurity. You also see this as a reader - you keep seeing the same fanboy/fangirl reviews, for each book, within a few days of publication. Readers don't expect authors to have a "launch team" primed to dump a pile of glowing reviews out on release day.  If you were buying toasters, do you think that the toaster company should have a launch team of fans poised to leave a few dozen glowing reviews of their new toaster? It's no different.



19
If you are using an audio publisher who in turn uses ACX, ask about bounty payments for new subscribers. I currently run about 2% of all unit sales as bounties, which is a significant part of my revenue. Suppose I make $2 per sale, and I make 50 sales, that's $100, and then one of those is a bounty, that's an additional $50. So that's $50 of a total revenue of $150 which is a  third of my total. I do better than most on the bounties; no real reason that I can think of. I always market towards non-Audible members.

I pass on bounties just like any other royalty payment, based on whatever contract terms I have with the rights holder.

As a reminder, within ACX, the bulk of unit "sales" are member purchases which are paid via member credits, and publisher compensation for those sales is based on total pooled monthly sales and membership - the exact numbers are not actually disclosed in typical Amazon fashion. They are not retail sales; a 40% royalty rate on the retail price will thus turn into about 23% of retail in a typical month; and for non-exclusive, the 25% non-exclusive rate for member purchases gets discounted down to about 13%.

If you distribute via a music aggregator, you can actually really get 70% of retail, which is what Google Play offers. But there is no real infrastructure to distribute there, and typically you have no price control, but pricing is usually around $10 retail. I also distribute through Findaway and they have reasonable terms but they only report quarterly, and they also have a retail plus discounted member pricing model. So I frankly am not completely sure what to expect there (they also do library sales).

I would suggest you make sure what is being negotiated is your percentage of the publisher revenue per title, not the percentage from some abstract retail price, which by the way they may not have control over, since some distributors change price at a whim (including Amazon).  If a publisher is on the normal ACX non-exclusive distribution, they are only taking in about 13% of retail on the average unit sale at Audible.

FYI here's the link for Findaway voices:

http://findaway.com/findaway-voices

20
Writers' Cafe / Re: ACX for non-USA, UK Authors - Bad news
« on: May 11, 2017, 11:57:38 PM »
Companies that aren't withholding the foreign tax on treaty countries like Australia are committing tax fraud. The US company is the withholding agent, so for example Joe's company should be withholding 5% of the share of royalty that it passes through to an Australian client because that's the royalty tax treaty rate if I recall correctly. When my company distributes audio for a foreign rights holder, we are doing it under license, so we will withhold based on the treaty rate, and there is no way to foist this off on the foreign author since they are under no legal obligation to file US taxes. The obligation is on the pass-through agent which is the company holding the contact with ACX.

21
The question is what is in the contract in terms of the audiobook rights at the expiry of the book rights. The ACX contract is between the rights holder and (your publisher currently) and ACX (and possibly the narrator) and not you, as you are not currently the rights holder. Frankly I don't think that they can in good faith enter into the ACX contract without securing rights from you for the seven year term, however your contract might have given them these rights for some longer duration or maybe it wasn't specified to be time-limited, in which case they could go ahead as they see fit. After the three years, you could produce a different audiobook of the same title, because the audiobook copyright is actually a separate thing from the book copyright. The copyright on the book also doesn't fully cover the audiobook because that has a separate sound recording copyright. You can have book X with your copyright, and then have audiobooks Y and Z of book X, each with separate sound recording copyrights. And the ACX contract is very poor about discussing this, BTW.

If you are planning on seeking reversion of your rights within the seven year ACX contract terms, I think I would send a letter to the publisher referring to the ACX contract terms and stating that you plan to challenge the ACX contract after three years. But you might instead offer a counter-agreement to give them seven years by taking a royalty from then off of ACX for years 4 through seven. That would make the most sense to me. Its also much clearer when they do not use a narrator under ACX's royalty share agreement since that creates a third party whose rights are poorly defined in the ACX contract after year seven. Tell them they have to do a DIY contract with ACX, where they are the agent collecting audio royalties, and then you get such-and-such share of all audio royaltyies after your rights revert.



http://www.acx.com/help/audiobook-license-and-distribution-agreement/201481900



22
Writers' Cafe / Re: You Aren't Writing Enough SF
« on: May 11, 2017, 12:17:48 PM »
Thanks for the data, Dolphin. I'd toss you some herring if I had some.

23
Writers' Cafe / Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« on: April 23, 2017, 06:13:19 PM »
Once you get past a basic level of competence it's not about the writing anymore.  Personally I suspect that the "other" is mostly randomness, so if you want to call that luck, so be it.  A lot of it has to be random - here's what I mean. Author A has a great book and a great marketing plan and when they launch, it so happens that there is a 'gap' in the presentation of competing product at the level where their book is visible. Author B launches the next day, but at the same time, author C has a big hit launch and author B gets no visibility at all. That's luck. So you say, that's random. Say that there's a 10% chance that author A's launch is so good that it will push that author's career forward a little. Obviously, that will average out. But it also means that mathematically, a small fraction of authors will have that same favorable poker hand over and over. For it to happen three times in a row, that's a one in a thousand chance. Four times, one in ten thousand. But one in ten thousand is about the ratio of successful authors to non-successful authors. So that says it's all luck. There HAS to be some small fraction of authors who randomly hit ideal launch conditions over and over. Of course, it seems to them that they are brilliant, just like stock traders who have a run of successful trades believe in their own brilliance. They have to be at the level of competence to advance into that random opportunity gap, but these gaps have to happen and randomly, some authors have to have it happen to them several times.

I don't think it's all luck, but I think it's a lot more random than a lot of authors are comfortable with. It is not a meritocracy, and it's on the way to becoming a war of money.

24
Writers' Cafe / Re: Audiobook narration critique
« on: April 07, 2017, 01:10:11 PM »
I'll do an 8 minute sample for free. I have a small business producing audiobooks. I'm a professional engineer and I can check your audio for ACX compliance also. Message me.

25
Yes, the whispersync pricing is a major problem - especially when the whispersync price can be obtained merely by borrowing the book in KU and not even reading any pages. I really wish iTunes would open audiobooks up to indies.
You get on iTunes via ACX. You can also distribute to iTunes using a music aggregator such as Bandcamp or CDbaby. The latter two will also distribute to Google Play. I get a 70% royalty on Google Play and iTunes for audiobooks via music aggregators, although the retail price is fixed.

I wasn't able to follow Mark's link but I don't like the ten minute audiobook idea.  The only ones I know about offhand are some short poems, usually with a celeb narrator. Ten minutes is about 1,600 words. However, ten minutes is like a song download; I don't see a problem with a pricing scale that just puts ten minute or less at a fixed price like a music download, if we got the standard music rate of 70%.

What I really don't like is if that turns into streaming pricing. I get some streaming revenue from audiobooks via iTunes Match and Google Locker. The way that these work (Google Locker for example) is that when people store your audio in their cloud account and then play a track, you get a stream payment for it, because Google Locker can't tell if the track was licensed (bought) or not. These are as low as 0.15 cents in the US, per track play.  As long as audiobooks stay priced in terms of downloads and not streams, audiobook producers and authors can make a living at it.

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