You may be reading this post as an already-established author, and contemplating dipping your toes into the audiobook market.
If you are still on the fence, you might want to read this previous post of mine, Should Authors Make Audiobooks — A Narrator’s Perspective, first.
Or don’t. I’m not your mom.
I mentioned in my narration services page a few things that might now need to be qualified with regard to hiring an author for a per-finished-hour (PFH) rate instead of royalty/profit-sharing as it relates to exclusivity agreements with ACX:
You have to agree to a seven-year royalty split agreement with the narrator [when doing royalty-share]. That’s easy to agree to now if you’re short for cash and want to get your audiobook published sooner rather than later. But agreeing to this prevents you from being able to switch to another platform down the road if you decide you want to. Seven years can be a long time if you’re unhappy with this arrangement, and 7-year contracts are no guarantee of return on investment for anyone.
ACX has a monopoly on this, and in recent years they changed their royalty system without notice to authors and narrators. There’s no telling what could happen in the next 7 years — will they lower them yet again? You’re literally taking your chances when you sign up for the monopoly’s rules and payouts.
Since writing that, there have been some other developments in the audiobook market overall. Google Play Books has now started offering audiobooks, and as of September 2017, so has Kobo — who have about 40% market share for ebooks sold in Canada, for those of you that market matters to.
Neither one seems to be allowing direct submissions from independent authors at the time of writing this, although a third-party website like Author’s Republic has apparently confirmed that Google is taking their catalog. However, the catalogue is large enough that there’s going to be delays while Google Play processes all the titles.
Or so someone in an author group I’m in on Facebook says, so take my comment with a grain of salt.
I’ve got an app developer account and an e-book publisher account with Google, and when I first heard of Google jumping into audiobooks, I looked high and low for a way to submit my two audiobooks (as of this writing, I’m currently working on two more).
All of the authors I’ve narrated for have published their books in ACX through exclusive distribution, and while that’s only required for royalty-share agreements, it’s not necessary for authors hiring out their work to narrators on a PFH basis.
In fact, it’s a bad idea if you want to make your book available in other stores.
For the longest time, Audible has been the Facebook or Amazon of audiobooks — an uncontested dominator. But if other markets and the past are any indication, Google could be poised to give Audible and iTunes a run for their money. And authors who have the foresight to take a non-exclusive agreement, and in turn receive 25% royalty on sales instead of 40%, may soon be able to make up that difference in sales from other sources in the years to come.
Only time will tell, but it’s worth taking this into consideration when making your decision about how you’re going to publish and distribute your audiobooks.