ACX is getting greedy – shame on you!

Starting March 12th, 2014, ACX will begin its new royalty share payment system. Gone is the 50% royalty, and kiss the escalator royalty rate system good-bye as well. From that date forward, all newly produced audiobooks using the royalty share system will only earn a 40% commission. And even if you sell a bazillion audiobooks, that rate will never ever change.

(Understand this: you, the narrator, won’t get 40%. You split that with the author. So you’re only getting 20%.)

Why, you may ask, are they doing this? In the yellow box below is the official text from ACX.

Please take note that the quote in the yellow box below is the original text from their website. They have since updated the text to sound more… how shall we say… gentle? (You can see the updated version here: ACX’s website)

But here is the original announcement:

We are lowering the royalties as we continue our mission to accommodate more audiobook productions. Our royalties still remain well above those offered by traditional audiobook publishers. Furthermore, we want to encourage authors, and Rights Holders to promote their audiobooks with the increased bonus payment from $25 to $50 (or from $12.50 to $25.00 on Royalty Share deals).

Hold on a sec!

Let’s actually break this down…

Point #1:

“We are lowering the royalties as we continue our mission to accommodate more audiobook productions.”

How does lowering the royalty rate encourage more people to produce audiobooks for ACX? Isn’t that backwards thinking?

Personally, I would think that raising the royalty rate would encourage more authors to submit their works to ACX for narrators to produce. And that would also encourage more narrators to audition for jobs.

Point #2:

“Our royalties still remain well above those offered by traditional audiobook publishers.”

My reply: so what?

You are NOW taking more money out of my pocket and the pockets of thousands of other audiobook producers and authors.

(And what’s the difference between “traditional audiobook publishers” and other audiobook publishers anyway?)

Point #3:

…we want to encourage authors, and Rights Holders to promote their audiobooks with the increased bonus payment…

What ACX is actually saying is that they want the narrators and authors to invest extra time and energy outside of the audiobook production process to become advertisers for them!

“But David” you say “ACX will pay you $25 (you only get half of that $50 bonus) if someone joins Audible and buys your audiobook.” That’s true. But that person must purchase your audiobook first!

It won’t always happen that way. You won’t always get your $25. But Audible will get a new subscriber from your unrewarded marketing efforts.

And remember: because that person subscribed, Audible will be making money off of that person LONG after you got your $25.

Do you see? ACX is just trying to get the authors and producers to become their marketing force for them.

Let’s put this another way:

Apple’s App Store only takes 30% of a sale to cover costs.
ACX is now taking 60%!

App Store developers enjoy a 70% profit.
ACX Authors and narrators now only get 20% each.

ACX didn’t write all the books for sale, nor did they record and edit all of the audiobooks there. But they want 60% of the money.

I could be wrong

I’ll admit that maybe I’m flying off the handle here. Maybe I am wrong. I’ve been wrong before.

So I open the comment section below to anyone (especially someone from ACX) who can show me using good ol’ math to prove me wrong.

Show me that this new rate system really is in the best interest of the authors and producers who work very hard to create the audiobooks that we love to listen to.

If no-one can prove me wrong, then I’ll have to agree with what audiobook narrator Bettye Zoller said in a recent webinar:

“ACX isn’t the only game in town.”

9 Comments

  1. The only thing a lower commission rate will do is force more narrators to audition only for jobs that are “pay for production” or that possibly have a stipend with the royalty share.

    Authors who only ask for royalty share might just see their titles sitting in the ACX audition library indefinitely.

  2. This is so terribly sad.

    It’s already extremely difficult to make a living as an audiobook narrator. And now it will be even more so.

    Is ACX just preying on the young narrators who will do anything to get noticed?

    Is this a kind of “forced lowballing”?

  3. We need to stop auditioning for royalty share only books. We need to show ACX that its decision to cut our salary won’t go unpunished. If we just throw up our hands and say “no choice” and keep auditioning as usual, then ACX wins.

    And if they win, then they can lower our salary again and again and again.

  4. “Authors who only ask for royalty share might just see their titles sitting in the ACX audition library indefinitely.”

    “We need to stop auditioning for royalty share only books. We need to show ACX that its decision to cut our salary won’t go unpunished.”

    I agree with both these statements, and I’m on the writer side of the equation.
    Given ACX’s frequent claims that they want to stimulate the production of audiobooks, this is a bonehead move. It will certainly discourage the creation of new books, especially with more and more people reporting a long wait to break even under the old, more favorable contract.
    It really discourages authors who might have the cash to pay up-front instead of royalty-share, to green-light a project.

  5. I’d like to point out a slight inaccuracy…ACX is not raising the money for bounties in order to improve the chances of you advertising for them…they’re cutting the bounties by 33%.

    Currently, they pay out $25 bounties over the first 3 books somebody purchases. Starting March 12, they’ll pay out $50 bounties for the first book. So, they’ll pay out twice as much 1/3 of the time.

  6. Blaine,

    I guess I’m confused here. ACX’s website says:

    “a bounty of $50 will be awarded to the royalty earner every time your book is the first purchase of a new AudibleListener. Under the previous program, a $25 bounty was awarded every time your book was one of the first three purchases by a new AudibleListener”

    It says every time your book is the first. So as long as many new customers buy your book first (as a new AudibleListener), then you’ll get that bounty over and over.

    Am I misreading it?

    But it’s a step backwards in any case, because your book has to be the first purchase and not “one of the first three purchases”.

    So you’d better make sure your customers buy your book first or you lose that bounty.

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