Brandon Sanderson v. Audible

Johne

Senior Member
Staff member
Sep 27, 2005
3,639
1,616
Brandon Sanderson is going after Audible (and he's right to do so). This is dangerous. This is brave. He has the platform to do it. I support Brandon Sanderson.

There's more about the story here:

However, they treat authors very poorly. Particularly indie authors. The deal Audible demands of them is unconscionable, and I’m hoping that providing market forces (and talking about the issue with a megaphone) will encourage change in a positive direction.

Audible’s current terms for audiobook royalty payments are pretty dismal for authors, something that shocked Sanderson enough to take this route even knowing that he stands to lose business because of it.

“If you want details, the current industry standard for a digital product is to pay the creator 70% on a sale. It’s what Steam pays your average creator for a game sale, it’s what Amazon pays on ebooks, it’s what Apple pays for apps downloaded. (And they’re getting heat for taking as much as they are. Rightly so.)” Sanderson explained. “Audible pays 40%. Almost half. For a frame of reference, most brick-and-mortar stores take around 50% on a retail product. Audible pays indie authors *less* than a bookstore does, when a bookstore has storefronts, sales staff, and warehousing to deal with.”

I knew things were bad, which is why I wanted to explore other options with the Kickstarter. But I didn’t know HOW bad. Indeed, if indie authors don’t agree to be exclusive to Audible, they get dropped from 40% to a measly 25%. Buying an audiobook through Audible instead of from another site literally costs the author money.
 
Oct 15, 2022
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Interesting article, thanks @Johne. I was approached to do audio versions of my books, but quickly turned them down upon seeing the cost v benefit of it all. So that leads me to ask a couple of questions here:

1. How many authors in this forum have done audio books?
a. For those who did, what are sales comparisons for audio v print?
b. Did the audio version increase your print sales?

2. Does anyone know recording professionals (equipment, narrators, coaches, etc.)?
a. If so, have you invited them to connect with authors at Christian Writers?
b. Maybe a sub-group within this forum?

3. I've been tooling around the idea of recording myself reading one of my books and posting as a monetized 'podcast' on Rumble. Thoughts?
 

Alley

Superwoman
Apr 16, 2018
7,891
2,127
Don't record your own books. That's the earmark of an amateur. Get a professional.
Not that I am knocking professionals, they are great!

That said, there has been a lot of talk from even some of the more well-known indie authors about using AI to do audiobooks.

But I do agree. Most authors should not do their own audiobooks unless they have a lot of experience in voice production.

Thanks for the article @Johne
 

Claire Tucker

Copyeditor and Proofreader
Jan 26, 2018
2,603
851
@Zee is correct. @Nicola is our resident narrator.

What you might want to look into instead of doing an audio book is releasing the book as a podcast. That is one way you can can narrate it, but I'm not sure how you would monetize it or even you could. The Novel Marketing podcast has some good episodes on this, if you want to research it further.
 
Apr 5, 2019
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Somewhat ironically, The Incomparable Steve Fortune - my audiobook narrator - has just started narrating THE WIZARD'S STONE, my next book.

Amazon is getting out of control. As it stands right now, my ebook will not be available for presale because Amazon, apparently, Amazon doesn't like submissions through Draft2Digital. Amazon only offers something like 40% on an audiobook sale. And - this is the real kicker - they'll mark up your book despite how you price it. The audiobook for THE REVENANT AND THE TOMB was priced at $5.99, mainly for quick sale. Amazon, initially, marked it up to $14.99, then down to $9.99. As far as I can tell, I got NONE of that additional revenue.

And now I'm seeing authors having their accounts terminated on Amazon, no reasons provided. In fact, in one of my Facebook groups, I saw a panicked post as recent as yesterday.

I'm 100% behind Sanderson on this one.

And now that I'm on Spotify, I'm going to start posting that link on my ads, as opposed to Audible.
 
Apr 5, 2019
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Not that I am knocking professionals, they are great!

That said, there has been a lot of talk from even some of the more well-known indie authors about using AI to do audiobooks.

But I do agree. Most authors should not do their own audiobooks unless they have a lot of experience in voice production.

Thanks for the article @Johne

On using AI...

I was on a livestream with Shad Brooks (Shaderversity) - trust me, it was purely by accident - where he was promoting his comic adaptation of his book Shadow of the Conqueror. His pitch video was narrated by the same guy who produced and narrated his audiobook - a big, award-winninh narrator who also did a bunch of stuff for Brandon Sanderson.

More than a few people remarked how they hated the sound of AI voices, referring to the narration of the pitch.

Now, the person in question I am referring to IS NOT AN AI VOICE - he is an actual human being. But, his narration comes across as very processed and very clean to the point where people think it's an AI voice. As the reaction to it denotes, some people don't like hearing that. They want a real narrator.

AI may seem like a good idea, because it's inexpensive. However - at least for the time being - it lacks some of the rougher and unique qualities a decent voice actor can provide.

And, for the record, The Incomparable Steve Fortune is far, far better than Shad's narrator. Period. End of Discussion. He also costs less.

Not that I'm biased, or anything...
 
Apr 5, 2019
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I AM an amateur... 🤣 Maybe I'll read the prologue or first chapter and post as a teaser, then y'all can tease me. ;)

My thoughts on this:

I get that doing an audiobook is expensive. I'm having a second one done. I'm projecting to spend something like $1,400.00 to do THE WIZARD'S STONE.

However, as I stated on an audiobook panel with some other audiobook pros, to do a professional audiobook, you need decent equipment. By the time you get the gear, set up a studio, and figure out how to process the gear, you'll spend 3x as much as you would hiring someone on Fiverr.

Then, you have to face the audiobook audience that has been spoiled by listening to professional narrators. Their reviews of your homebrew audiobook will not be kind.

I originally started down this road by trying to narrate a sample chapter of THE REVENANT AND THE TOMB. My results were undisputedly awful. I mumble. My pronunciations suck. Later, I concluded, that a Brit would be better suited to narrate my fantasy novel than an American - just my opinion.

Now my pessimism about doing your own audiobook is based on the assumption that you're a newbie with audio and have a poor reading voice and style. If these are untrue, then you can ignore just about all of my warnings. But, if any of them apply, there are ways to get into an audiobook for very little money upfront. Findaway has an "author share" option where you spend less up font, but bull in a much lower royalty on each sale.

Or, you can save up what you need, and then just produce it with those funds. ACX has an estimator. Find a narrator rate that you can afford (rates range anywhere from $50 / finish hour to $500 / finished hour) and estimate how much it'll cost.

For a rough idea, I generally write chapters around the 2,500-word range. That's roughly 15 finished minutes or 1/4 of a finished hour.
 
May 24, 2017
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Thanks for the mention, @Claire Tucker , @Zee, and @carolinamtne ! I gave up on Audible after I spent 80 hours producing a book that had been scammed. I had no idea the people hiring me on ACX did not own the manuscript.
There is Audiblegate too.
I am working hard to edit and produce Leoshine, Princess Oracle in audio. There have been so many circumstances beyond my control to stop production. I am determined to finish and then I will upload to Findaway. They seem to have better controls on who uploads manuscripts.
The interesting thing about AI is that younger listeners are getting conditioned to it. They listen to more recorded stuff than live human voices. They can't tell the difference. I won't be surprised when, 25 years from now we are talking like AI, without inflection or warmth. Someone should write a story about that ...
 

Zee

Mar 1, 2019
3,840
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Wow, I didn’t know that. Suppose I’m too old…if that’s true, it will mean the final extinction of the regional accent, if nothing else.
 

Alley

Superwoman
Apr 16, 2018
7,891
2,127
Wow, I didn’t know that. Suppose I’m too old…if that’s true, it will mean the final extinction of the regional accent, if nothing else.
I've heard talk that the AI stuff is trying to do that too.

There is also talk of making voices able to sell. Example: Make a Hollywood voice of a famous actor where you can pay to have it narrate your book, and the AI will piece together their voice from existing audio.
 
Apr 5, 2019
1,837
1,336
I've heard talk that the AI stuff is trying to do that too.

There is also talk of making voices able to sell. Example: Make a Hollywood voice of a famous actor where you can pay to have it narrate your book, and the AI will piece together their voice from existing audio.
I'm pretty sure the smart actors have their likenesses trademarked.

That should include voice, as many of them are voice actors as well.
 

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