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Old 05-15-2018, 06:02 PM   #16
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I’m on Facebook with quite a few authors who produce their own audiobooks that are in the Romance Package. One has spoken to an Audible VP and her response is to tell her readers that she will no longer produce audiobooks. She can’t afford to. Audible have a 7 year tie in the Romance Package and they won’t release authors or books. They have no solution to the abysmal royalty rates and no ideas on how to improve things. The end result will be less new audiobooks produced.
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Old 05-15-2018, 07:40 PM   #17
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I’m on Facebook with quite a few authors who produce their own audiobooks that are in the Romance Package. One has spoken to an Audible VP and her response is to tell her readers that she will no longer produce audiobooks. She can’t afford to. Audible have a 7 year tie in the Romance Package and they won’t release authors or books. They have no solution to the abysmal royalty rates and no ideas on how to improve things. The end result will be less new audiobooks produced.
@Josieb1. I had a quick look at this, and the contract terms are terrible. Authors have a 7 year initial term for their Audible books. But once they enrol in the Romance Package, they can't unenrol. They are stuck for the term of their agreement. I don't know how obvious this was made when they were signing up, but I suspect if it was not highlighted in huge bold flashing letters many authors would have just assumed that it was like KU, where books can easily be taken in and out.

The agreement concerned is the Catalog Subscription Service Agreement. Clause 3 reads:

Quote:
Term/Termination. This Agreement will be effective upon your enrollment, and will continue with respect to each Work until the corresponding license and distribution agreement or book posting agreement for such Work expires or is terminated (the "Term"). If the Term ends and/or a Digital Audio Product is no longer available in a Catalog Subscription Service, any subscriber who has selected that Digital Audio Product for listening during the Term may continue to access it until they return it or their subscription terminates, subject to Audible's continued payment of Catalog Subscription Royalties as set forth in Section 1 above.
This is the sort of stuff I would expect to see from the Big 5, not from Amazon through Audible. It sounds like the business model for the Romance Package is not viable. I also expect that this treatment will severely damage Amazon's relationships with any Romance Author unlucky enough to have enrolled in the program, and many of their friends and colleagues.

Yet another example of what can happen when you don't read or understand the terms. I suspect many of the authors concerned simply trusted Audible, which has proved itself unworthy of that trust.

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Old 05-15-2018, 08:25 PM   #18
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First, any author who agrees to a contract without knowing what's in it shouldn't complain later on. Second, what about the exposure some authors get because of their books being included in the package?
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:34 AM   #19
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First, any author who agrees to a contract without knowing what's in it shouldn't complain later on. Second, what about the exposure some authors get because of their books being included in the package?
Both good points. But of course author's are not lawyers, and I'd imagine that even many who did read the agreement would not have understood the implications. A very harsh lesson.

And yes, there may well be some benefit in the exposure. I doubt it outweighs the costs of virtually giving away the audiobooks. With a new untested program like this leaving Audible so much control committing for up to 7 years was a grave risk. One I suspect Audible was well aware of in drafting the terms.

The lesson is very clear. Get a lawyer to look at the agreement. If you can't afford one at least look through it very carefully yourself and get some of your more knowledgeable friends to as well.
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:08 AM   #20
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Both good points. But of course author's are not lawyers, and I'd imagine that even many who did read the agreement would not have understood the implications. A very harsh lesson.

And yes, there may well be some benefit in the exposure. I doubt it outweighs the costs of virtually giving away the audiobooks. With a new untested program like this leaving Audible so much control committing for up to 7 years was a grave risk. One I suspect Audible was well aware of in drafting the terms.

The lesson is very clear. Get a lawyer to look at the agreement. If you can't afford one at least look through it very carefully yourself and get some of your more knowledgeable friends to as well.
And that's why authors have (or should have) agents who are trustworthy.

As far as your earlier comment about it being what you expect from big 5 publishers but not Amazon/Audible, I think it's very typical of Amazon. Amazon likes to play hardball with their suppliers and authors are suppliers to Amazon. Walmart was famous for that sort of dealing with their suppliers and Bezos uses Walmart as his model. Anyone who thinks that there is a difference in behavior between Amazon and any of the big 5 publishers (or frankly, most large corporations) is, IMPO, engaged in wishful thinking. Most large corporations will do what they think they can get away with as long as they think it helps their bottom line.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:06 PM   #21
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And that's why authors have (or should have) agents who are trustworthy.

As far as your earlier comment about it being what you expect from big 5 publishers but not Amazon/Audible, I think it's very typical of Amazon. Amazon likes to play hardball with their suppliers and authors are suppliers to Amazon. Walmart was famous for that sort of dealing with their suppliers and Bezos uses Walmart as his model. Anyone who thinks that there is a difference in behavior between Amazon and any of the big 5 publishers (or frankly, most large corporations) is, IMPO, engaged in wishful thinking. Most large corporations will do what they think they can get away with as long as they think it helps their bottom line.
You mean of course literature majors with no legal or business qualifications and a built-in conflict of interest should break the law by giving their poor clients legal advice on contracts. Agents are on the way out, with very good reason. And trustworthy agents is almost an oxymoron.

Amazon is certainly no Saint. One way in which it has distinguished itself in the past is by taking a longer term view and a wider one. And a Big 5 publishing contract is vastly more onerous than an Apub one, let alone KDP terms. Amazon is not giving authors more favourable terms out of the goodness of its heart. It is doing it because it is good business. What Audible has done here is not. Nor are the Big 5's contracts including the current rights grab mentality.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:14 PM   #22
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You mean of course literature majors with no legal or business qualifications and a built-in conflict of interest should break the law by giving their poor clients legal advice on contracts. Agents are on the way out, with very good reason. And trustworthy agents is almost an oxymoron.

Amazon is certainly no Saint. One way in which it has distinguished itself in the past is by taking a longer term view and a wider one. And a Big 5 publishing contract is vastly more onerous than an Apub one, let alone KDP terms. Amazon is not giving authors more favourable terms out of the goodness of its heart. It is doing it because it is good business. What Audible has done here is not. Nor are the Big 5's contracts including the current rights grab mentality.
Most agents, if they are not lawyers, have lawyers on staff or at least on retainer. As far as conflict of interest, as far as I know, agents are paid as a percentage of what the author makes on a deal. They want to maximize their return as much as anyone else. If an agent screws an author over, word gets out. Hiring a good agent is mostly word of mouth anyway. Sports figures hire agents, many people hire agents when they are selling or buying a house. All the same incentives apply in those situations. If you don't trust your agent, then hire a lawyer yourself to read the contract.

With Amazon, the key thing to remember is they where they are in the cycle. Back when they were trying to establish market share, they were giving customers great deals. Now that they control the vast majority of market share for both ebooks and audiobooks, that generosity goes out the window. We saw it with how they treat indie authors and KU, and have seen it in a number of similar situations. When they think they have the whip hand, they play hard ball.
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Old 05-23-2018, 02:24 PM   #23
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Authors are being let out of the Romance Package contracts. It’s been posted on Facebook.
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:27 PM   #24
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@Josieb1. Nate has a little more on his Digital Reader Blog at:

Romance Authors

I'm not surprised. It's a potential public relations nightmare for Amazon and it's a sign that they may recongnise the value of treating these authors well in a genre they seem to have come to dominate. But from Nate's report it seems to be pretty well a case by case basis at the moment, with no general announcement. Nevertheless they seem to be doing the right thing in letting authors out of the package despite likely not being contractually obliged to do so. I suspect that this is the beginning of the end for Audible Romance, at least in its present form.

@pwalker8. I overlooked responding to your last post.

So far as literary agents are concerned, they differed from most of the other agents you mentioned in that they were virtually compulsory for an author to even get a foot in the door. Now there are practical alternatives the market will eventually decide their fate. Personally, I expect few will survive and fewer still thrive in the long term.

Amazon is certainly no saint. It is a corporation that of course acts in its own best interests. Amazon has acted badly in some respects towards a very tiny minority who it suspects, in some cases wrongly, of having acted in bad faith towards them. I criticised this behaviour in other posts. But the fact is it still treats most of its customers and its authors well.

We can only wait and see what happens to Amazon as it progresses further along what you call the cycle. All our worst fears may be realised, though there are indications that Amazon are in it for the very long term, and have recognised that treating its customers (and its authors) well is in its own interests. As there seems to be no realistic prospect of serious competition at the moment and their steady growth continues, it seems we are going to find out.

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Old 05-23-2018, 10:20 PM   #25
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@Josieb1. Nate has a little more on his Digital Reader Blog at:

Romance Authors

I'm not surprised. It's a potential public relations nightmare for Amazon and it's a sign that they may recongnise the value of treating these authors well in a genre they seem to have come to dominate. But from Nate's report it seems to be pretty well a case by case basis at the moment, with no general announcement. Nevertheless they seem to be doing the right thing in letting authors out of the package despite likely not being contractually obliged to do so. I suspect that this is the beginning of the end for Audible Romance, at least in its present form.

@pwalker8. I overlooked responding to your last post.

So far as literary agents are concerned, they differed from most of the other agents you mentioned in that they were virtually compulsory for an author to even get a foot in the door. Now there are practical alternatives the market will eventually decide their fate. Personally, I expect few will survive and fewer still thrive in the long term.

Amazon is certainly no saint. It is a corporation that of course acts in its own best interests. Amazon has acted badly in some respects towards a very tiny minority who it suspects, in some cases wrongly, of having acted in bad faith towards them. I criticised this behaviour in other posts. But the fact is it still treats most of its customers and its authors well.

We can only wait and see what happens to Amazon as it progresses further along what you call the cycle. All our worst fears may be realised, though there are indications that Amazon are in it for the very long term, and have recognised that treating its customers (and its authors) well is in its own interests. As there seems to be no realistic prospect of serious competition at the moment and their steady growth continues, it seems we are going to find out.
Can't say that I've heard of very many ball players in the US who don't have an agent. They sign with an agent before they ever get drafted. Most people use real estate agents as well, so I'm not seeing the big difference. I would say that things like Amazon's actions will push more authors to either seek agents or at least lawyers who specialize in such things.

Most people with agents (ball players, actors, writers, the list goes on and on) tend to hire them for a reason. Not very many people like to give up 10 percent or more of a contract just because. Given up 10 percent of your contract hurts. Getting stuck with a lousy contract because you didn't bother hiring an agent and didn't do due diligence hurts even more.
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Old 05-23-2018, 11:49 PM   #26
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@pwalker8. In the case of authors seeking to be published I suspect that reason was to get publishers to at least take a look at their manuscripts, since such publishers rarely accepted direct submissions of such manuscripts. And by the way, the most common percentage I have heard mentioned in conjuction with literary agents is 15%. And treating agents and lawyers as being interchangeable when it comes to advising on contracts is quite simply wrong. The vast majority of agents are simply not qualified to give such advice. And they are especially ill-suited to do so given that their business relies for its existence on the goodwill of publishers and their people. If it comes to a choice I would suggest that it would be hugely tempting for an agent to throw a writer under the bus on contract terms rather than lose the confidence of publishers.
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Old 05-24-2018, 03:05 PM   #27
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@pwalker8. In the case of authors seeking to be published I suspect that reason was to get publishers to at least take a look at their manuscripts, since such publishers rarely accepted direct submissions of such manuscripts. And by the way, the most common percentage I have heard mentioned in conjuction with literary agents is 15%. And treating agents and lawyers as being interchangeable when it comes to advising on contracts is quite simply wrong. The vast majority of agents are simply not qualified to give such advice. And they are especially ill-suited to do so given that their business relies for its existence on the goodwill of publishers and their people. If it comes to a choice I would suggest that it would be hugely tempting for an agent to throw a writer under the bus on contract terms rather than lose the confidence of publishers.
I doubt either of us are going to change our mind on this one barring new evidence, so I'm just going to let it drop. I suspect a lot of this depends on where you live and what authors you listen to.
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Old 05-24-2018, 10:00 PM   #28
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@pwalker8. Agreed. We'll just bore everyone to death.
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Old 05-25-2018, 05:25 AM   #29
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@pwalker8. Agreed. We'll just bore everyone to death.
I've never let that stop me in the past!
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:21 PM   #30
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I am "trying" to go through my Audible WL. The site has recently become slower than molasses in January! So far I have found 6 titles that are no longer in the program. (And try to delete one, the whole page refreshes....the web site is garbage!)

Also - does anyone know how much an author makes from a library audiobook sale? If the library buys a copy and 300 people listen to it, surely it can't be much more than what they get from the Audible Romance package. Is there any data to show that library audiobooks are more profitable than ARP books, both of which are loans, not purchases?

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