Authors are still reeling from the shock at how low the Audible Romance royalty rate was last quarter. While Audible has announced that they've fixed the royalty rate, they do have a bandage they will apply to the gushing financial wound inflicted on romance authors.
Earlier today Audible announced announced in a closed FB group for romance readers that it will be paying bonuses to authors who had audiobooks in Audible Romance last quarter:
To our Romance Community, regarding Q4 2017 Audible Romance Package Earnings:
In the short time since the launch of Audible Romance in November 2017, we have been focused on growing the audience for authors and actors whose works are included in the package. We created the offering to increase the reach and audience of romance audiobooks by bringing the works of authors and narrators to romance fans in an innovative, all-you-can-listen model that meets the needs of their voracious consumption patterns. We are happy to announce that in the first few months of the offering, customers are listening to content included in the Romance Package at rates that exceeded our initial projections. However, this has affected royalty payments in unintended ways.
To celebrate and thank participants in the early days of the first-ever all-you-can-listen service dedicated to romance audio, we are offering an early adopter bonus on top of Q4 2017 royalty earnings of the Package. Bonuses will be allocated based on how much customers listened to the authors' titles, and we will be distributing these bonuses within the next few days. We anticipate that as the program grows, royalties from the Package will reflect an additional revenue stream on top of unit sales. We are also examining the Romance Package based on current and projected listener behaviors to ensure we grow a sustainable offering that supports authors, narrators and romance fans alike. We remain focused on continuing to attract listeners with a pioneering new service that revolutionizes romance audiobook consumption.
Audible has not revealed how much they will be increasing the payment to authors, nor have they said whether authors will be released from the program early.
Audible was contacted before this post was published, and had not responded.
The one-time bonuses are nice, but it doesn't address the fundamental problem with Audible Romance, which is that romance fans consume stories voraciously.
The thing about Audible Romance is that Amazon took a market where it both dominated and generated a tidy profit - romance audiobooks - and then disrupted that market with a flat rate subscription service, thereby cutting retail sales (according to several independent reports) and effectively putting a cap on what authors could earn from the program while also letting subscribers use as much as they want.
This led to an entirely foreseeable outcome of an extremely low royalty rate last quarter where authors were paid 57 cents when am AR subscriber finished a ten hour audiobook.
That rate is so low that it has authors trying to leave the program ASAP, and has other romance authors reconsidering whether, given the expected low rate of return, they want to release audiobooks at all.
Would you blame them if they decided it wasn't worth the investment?
image by ActuaLitté