A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl

Have You Heard: The Difference Between Audible and Your Local Library

October 27, 2020 Megan O'Russell Season 1 Episode 49
A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl
Have You Heard: The Difference Between Audible and Your Local Library
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A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl
Have You Heard: The Difference Between Audible and Your Local Library
Oct 27, 2020 Season 1 Episode 49
Megan O'Russell

Audiobooks may be the wave of the future, but there are hurdles indie authors need to conquer first. 

If you enjoy audiobooks, especially if you are an Audible member, this episode is important for your listening future. 

The path to great listening experiences is paved by the work of authors and narrators. If you want great audiobooks to continue to be produced, please remember the end of this story will be written by the listeners.

Show Notes Transcript

Audiobooks may be the wave of the future, but there are hurdles indie authors need to conquer first. 

If you enjoy audiobooks, especially if you are an Audible member, this episode is important for your listening future. 

The path to great listening experiences is paved by the work of authors and narrators. If you want great audiobooks to continue to be produced, please remember the end of this story will be written by the listeners.

Megan: [00:00:01] You got a YA book so you could listen to it in the car with your teenagers and you get ten minutes in and you're like, wow, that is a very graphic description of some genitalia.

 

Announcement: [00:00:16] Welcome to A Book and a Dream with Megan O'Russell: an author's adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl.

 

Megan: [00:00:26] Hello, my name is Megan O'Russell and welcome to Episode forty-nine of A Book and a Dream. There are some huge things going on between audiobooks and the indie author community, and I wanted to take some time to explain to you what the problems are, because if you're not super familiar with the way audiobooks and indie authors work, you may not understand what the problem is.

 

Megan: [00:00:50] Now, I want to start off by saying that I love my readers. I love the people who listen to this podcast or view the videos. And I thoroughly believe that you would never willingly participate in any part of this.

 

Megan: [00:01:03] If you are listening to this podcast, watching the videos, if you're reading the transcript on my website, clearly you care about books and authors, clearly you respect it as a storytelling art form. And I'm sure you respect the narrators for audiobooks, too. Unfortunately, there has been some bad information going around, so you might not understand what's happening. Yeah.

 

Megan: [00:01:24] I also believe that about eighty-two percent of people would really never screw someone over on purpose. So if you are another indie author who is listening to this and you feel like maybe the world is stacked against you, most people are genuinely good. They they don't want to hurt you. And it can feel like it sometimes. But don't worry. Have hope.

 

Megan: [00:01:45] Now on to the problem. There are two things that Amazon/Audible have that are programs that look kind of similar from the outside. And those are Audible, which is a monthly subscription where you get book credits, and that's Kindle Unlimited, which is a monthly subscription where you get to read lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of books a month. You could read 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you're never going to run out of books. Both are great programs. They are good values for the readers or listeners, whichever you choose. But there are some fundamental differences.

 

Megan: [00:02:19] Now, the big differences come, as an author, in how we get paid. So, for Kindle Unlimited, if you are a Kindle Unlimited author, you have your books in what we call KU, then there is a big pile of money, a giant puddle, ocean of money at the end of every month. And what Amazon does is they divvy that up to all the authors, depending on page reads. So if you had millions and millions of page reads, you're going to get paid the same amount per page as someone who had two hundred pages. So if you read ten pages of a book and hand it back and then read 50 pages of a book and hand it back, the authors are going to get paid for those pages. They are getting their fair slice of the pie. No matter how much of their book you read, things are very different with Audible.

 

Megan: [00:03:06] So, the way the Audible works is you subscribe and you get a credit for that month. Now, the author who you don't...you download their book with your credit...so let's say you have your Audible credit, you download the tethering that I get paid out from your credit. That sounds like a great system. It is a great system. It's actually a pretty good deal for listeners. Not the best deal, but we'll get to that later.

 

Megan: [00:03:30] The problem with that is with that model is that Audible has an easy return program, no questions asked. They call it an exchange, which is good customer service: if you're not satisfied with a product, exchange it. But the way it's phrased, and the way it's been presented by some bloggers, it starts to sound more like Kindle Unlimited. But it's not like Kindle Unlimited, because let's say you listen to my book and you exchange it. You listen to someone else's book, and you exchange it. You listen to a third book and you exchange it and you're doing it all on that one credit. The first two authors don't get paid out anything. There's not a big pool of it. Only the last author's book you didn't exchange would see any credit for that at all.

 

Megan: [00:04:20] Now, I'm not saying that you should never exchange a book. There are some times when you absolutely should exchange a book. It's totally necessary to exchange a book, and no decent author is going to judge you for that at all. Let's say that you listen to the sample on the site and you're like, oh, this makes me feel like I'm at grandma's house. How comforting. And you get like an hour into the book and you realize that the reason it made you feel like you were at grandma's house is because the narrator actually sounds like your aunt, who used to call you fat and say mean things to you, so now you can't eat your snack while reading the audiobook because it's making you paranoid. Exchange it. Absolutely exchange it.

 

Megan: [00:04:58] You got a YA book so you could listen to it in the car with your teenagers and you get ten minutes in and you're like, wow, that is a very graphic description of some genitalia. Exchange it. That is totally legitimate. There is no reason not to exchange it. That's what the program is genuinely there for.

 

Megan: [00:05:17] So if you get a book and you're not happy with it, you can get a new one. That's perfect. That's what you should do. Authors don't want you to be unhappy while experiencing their books. It's not good for us, it's not good for you. The problem comes when people listen to the whole book, or worse, listen to the whole book and enjoy it and then exchange it for a new book. That's the problem that we're really talking about. And like I said, I don't think that you are knowingly, that, really, eighty-two percent of people would knowingly do this.

 

Megan: [00:05:49] But there are some bloggers, some financial advisers, and some really important people who are taking the Audible exchange program and presenting it to their blog readers, to their radio listeners, as a life hack, as a rental program. But it's not a rental program, because if it were a rental program, like Kindle Unlimited, there would be a big pool of money and all the authors would just get paid out, and that'd be totally fine. But that's not how it works, because if you treat it like a rental program and you go through one, two, three, four, seven books a month, remember, the only author who gets paid out for that one credit you got for the month is the final author.

 

Megan: [00:06:30] Now, maybe you're like, "But does it really matter? I mean, somebody is getting paid and they're letting me do it." It really does matter because audiobooks are super expensive to produce, especially for indie authors, because quite often, they are putting the money out there from their own pocket.

 

Megan: [00:06:50] So by the time you get to producing an audiobook, you've already written the book, edited the book, re-edited the book, gotten a cover for the book, done a blog tour for the book, cried a couple of times about trying to get publicity for the book, and after all that, you decide you want an audiobook. Now, production costs for an audiobook range from about twelve hundred dollars to, the most expensive I've heard of from an indie author is, eight thousand dollars.

 

Megan: [00:07:18] Yeah, eight thousand dollars out of their own pocket to produce this audiobook, so when they see sales and then people are returning them, which we can see on our dashboards, and it's taking money out of what they need, not to necessarily make a profit, but just to earn back their initial investment. That's heartbreaking for these authors. And authors do count on the income from audiobooks, ebooks, paperbacks as their income. So to have it show up on your dashboard as a sale and then to have all that money taken away because people are exchanging your book so they can get another one, even though they may be loved your book and left you really good reviews. That's awful. And the way that it affects readers is: people are going to stop producing audiobooks.

 

Megan: [00:08:04] If this keeps happening, indie authors aren't going to put their books into audio anymore because it becomes financially unstable situation. So you have a book that you love, that people love, that you're really sure you can sell in audio, but then people keep returning it because they tear through it before the end of the month? Then you're never going to make your initial investment back.

 

Megan: [00:08:27] And not to get too technical in how the audiobook production thing works, there's also royalty splits with authors and narrators. So say you didn't have the eight thousand dollars just sitting around in your pocket to produce this audiobook. You can pay narrators a little bit up front and then you split the royalties with them going forward.

 

Megan: [00:08:45] So that means that narrators are having active income taken away from them, too, with these exchanges. So, yeah, it may seem like it's not harming anyone, but it's actually costing authors a lot of money, and it's harming the future of the audiobook industry because a lot of that work just isn't going to be put out in that medium. There are some ways, if you are an epic audiobook listener, and you're like, well, first of all, "I didn't know I was doing anything bad. I read a financial blog and they said that it was a life hack." It's OK. Don't worry about it. Not knowing what's happening behind the scenes is totally fine. You're not in the author chat rooms. It's cool.

 

Megan: [00:09:25] But if you're an epic audiobook listener, and you're panicking now because you can't afford six audible credits a month, there are ways around this. First of all, your local library is a great resource. They have a lot of audiobooks, and the way that authors get paid out of library books are different. Either the library can pay us once and pay us more money than we'd sell a normal audiobook for. Or we get a little rental fee, which is kind of like the Kindle Unlimited "I have a pool and here's some money for you and here's some money for you." It's not much, but authors do get paid out of that.

 

Megan: [00:09:56] So renting audiobooks from the local library is a great idea. If you don't have a library card, maybe you don't have a local library and maybe you had a spat with your local librarian at a potluck. I don't know. Whatever it is, if you're not willing to use your local library or can't, you can also look at Chirp Audiobooks (Chirpbooks.com). It's a great program. It's like a book club. If you're not familiar with that, it's a program where they'll email you every day with things in your genre and they're super discounted. Sometimes you can get audiobooks for like a dollar ninety-nine. And again authors, and therefore, their narrators that they hire are being paid out from those funds. So that's a great way to support authors and narrators while saving yourself some money.

 

Megan: [00:10:35] You can also look at Kobo audio books. There's Nook audiobooks. There's all kinds of other places where you're probably going to get the same audio books for a little less money. Some are Audible exclusive, and you can only get them there. But a lot more audiobooks are moving wide.

 

Megan: [00:10:51] So what can you do? Don't return books to Audible if you've enjoyed them, especially if you've enjoyed them and finished them. Use that credit one and done. That's it. Also, if you're feeling super bold, maybe tell people who present renting audiobooks from Audible that it's not a life hack. It's actually hurting authors and narrators and the future of the audiobook industry. Because remember, if authors don't get paid, they're not going to produce those audiobooks, and they're not going to be there for you to listen to.

 

Megan: [00:11:23] Now, for the authors, it can feel a little more dire. But I'm here to tell you that you are not alone. There's a lot a lot of authors who are having this problem right now. And there are resources outside of ACX and Audible. You can look at Findaway Voices. They have other platforms that you can be a part of: Chirp, Kobo, iBooks, all kinds of things. So take a look at Findaway. I did produce my audiobooks through ACX because that's where it was easiest for me to find narrators. But I am also uploaded on Findaway, which allows me to be in those wonderful library systems. So look at that.

 

Megan: [00:11:56] Also, there are a bunch of Facebook groups out there. I'm not going to go through naming all of them here because there's too many. But there are some wonderful Facebook groups that have popped up to help support authors and help try and figure out how we're going to work our way out of this, because authors need a fair deal and narrators need a fair deal, and it's not necessarily Audible's fault, it's a lot of misinformation being spread by bloggers and by people who are, you know, abusing authors in order to create a life hack. So you are not in this alone. Come find those people. They are working together. There are things that will be happening. So be a part of that.

 

Megan: [00:12:37] In non-audiobook drama related news, there are some very exciting things coming up for me as an author, and some of those are about audiobooks. But I will announce that when they are finally approved on Audible. Another fun Audible thing, they can hold your books for months and release them in the wrong order. Yeah, but that's OK. They're going to get out there, and I'll let you know when they do. I also have the last book in The Tale of Bryant Adams series coming out very soon. And also there will be no episode or video for A Book and a Dream next week. I think next Tuesday we're all going to be a little bit busy to listen to podcasts and watch videos about books.

 

Megan: [00:13:21] Maybe, maybe you really need that relief, but I think I'm going to be such a stressed out ball of nerves that I won't be able to record anything productive. So there will be no episode next week. I will be back the week after that. Hopefully, there will be joy and love and light for all. So that is it for me this week. Keep an eye on the social media because I should have a very, very nice cover reveal coming soon.

 

Megan: [00:13:47] Actually, two very nice cover reveals. We got some epic covers coming out.

 

Megan: [00:13:51] There's going to be a blurb for a new series coming up. We have a book coming out in November. We have two more complete collections coming out in November and December.

 

Megan: [00:13:58] There is so much going on. But in the meantime, hold on to hope that eighty-two percent of people don't want to screw you.

 

Megan: [00:14:07] Over 80 percent of people love everyone around them. Eighty two percent of people probably know that I pulled that number out of the air, but it feels right in my soul. So we're going to go with it. Just count on eighty-two percent because it gives you hope.

 

Megan: [00:14:21] It's...it's good. So until next time, take a breath. Try and stay calm. We got this.