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Amazon No Longer Pays Royalties on Audiobooks Redeemed With ACX Promo Codes

For the longest time now Amazon has provided authors and publishers who distributed their audiobooks though ACX with promo codes that could be given to reviewers, shared with friends, and otherwise used to promote an audiobook.

It had been SOP for Amazon to pay a royalty when a promo code was redeemed, but that policy ended today. Kirsten Oliphant Posted this in her FB group earlier today:

To summarize, Amazon will still give you the promo codes, but they will no longer be paying when the codes are redeemed. Which, TBH, is only fair; I can’t think of a good argument in favor of paying creators to promote their own works.


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Roland Denzel March 26, 2020 um 6:33 pm

The only good reasons for ACX to do it (I think) was to encourage more audiobook production and to try to keep authors exclusive to ACX.

It also encouraged narrators to participate in the royalty splits, since they could make money on the book from their own fans, even if the book wasn’t selling like hotcakes.

Disgusting Dude March 27, 2020 um 8:02 am

One or two books at a time?
Unless authors were abusing the system and giving out dozens of copies to collect the fees it shouldn’t have amounted to enough money to move the needle. Maybe somebody abused the system or maybe somebody at Amazon realized it had the potential for abuse.
Courtesy copies aren’t sales so why ever pay royalties anyway?

Miss M March 27, 2020 um 12:45 pm

Just like in earlier KU days, of course there eventually were black hats who discovered ways to exploit the system, apparently by loading masses of junk books which are now clogging the system. Some authors on Kboards are complaining of up to two-month lead times for their books to go live.

On the good news side, ACX is upping royalties during the Covid-19 crisis.
Copied from Kboards:

“Additional Royalty Support To reduce the financial impact of COVID-19 on the creative community, we are temporarily paying an additional 5% royalty on all sales of your ACX audiobooks through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes for sales during the months of April, May, and June. If you distribute your title exclusively through ACX, your total royalties will temporarily increase to 45% during this period (22.5% for those choosing Royalty Share), and for non-exclusively distributed titles, your total royalties will temporarily increase to 30% on sales during this period. "

"What are the changes to the Promo Code Policy?
Updates to the Promo Code Policy Effective March 26, 2020

Today, we are making changes to our overall Promo Code policy and features to address an unfortunate pattern of misuse of the system. The Promo Code program can continue to help you garner early reviews for your work that will inspire customers to purchase your audiobook and to provide visibility and tracking into your marketing campaigns. While the vast majority of authors, publishers and producers using ACX are genuinely working in good faith to publish and promote their audiobooks, a small minority have engaged in fraudulent activity to exploit the program. This misuse has led to an unprecedented volume of newly created accounts, increased account activities and content submissions, resulting in significant production delays to the detriment of the ACX service and community. Updated terms are below:

Promo Codes are a benefit for Rights Holders of exclusively published audiobooks and Producers who accept projects under Royalty Share terms. The Promo Code tool is one way to drive marketing support for your title(s).
For titles published after March 26, 2020, royalties will not be paid on any Promo Code units redeemed.
You can get up to 50 codes per title per marketplace (Audible US and Audible UK). Rights holders will automatically receive 25 codes per marketplace (Audible US and Audible UK) upon publication, and can generate an additional 25 codes after 10 of the initial promo codes have been redeemed AND 100 qualified purchases have been made for your catalog of titles. A qualified sale is any sale that is paid for by an Audible customer.
We’re rolling out new features to the Promo Code Dashboard…etc"

Guido March 28, 2020 um 4:33 am

I find this way of communicating very unfair.
1) if somebody hijacks the system why they are still in the community showing their dashboard (and selling sill online courses? The most odious thing is to see a training course sellers to pontificate their bullshit now. Most of the publishers know their names. Why ACX does not?
2) If Amazon shares lost during Covod-19 it is unfair to rise for 3 months the royalties at +5% and demonetizes the promo codes from one day to another to adjust the losses.
3) ACX has books in pending for many many months. In this case, the legit book owner is penalized for their own disorganization.

Unfortunately, this is the game. ACX is the master and to what it wants with the community, with the help of several servants.

Chet Simms December 12, 2020 um 3:10 pm

Most ACX narrators are left with books that are not typical best sellers. It’s a struggle to sell books, from unknown authors and also unknown narrators (we after all audition competitively for the opportunity to make audiobooks). I am one of those unknown narrators. I started narrating for ACX in 2013 after having done a lot of work for Librivox. To date, I have narrated 135 books and have sold 7000+ copies, only from those I can see in my dashboard. My highest seller has been more than 900 copies. The lowest seller (there are a couple) have not sold any books.

Those are books that are sold through royalty share. It’s likely that if I added all the books that I did for direct payment–this number probably close to 10000 total sold.

Getting something for promo codes is the only way some books sell at all. '

Here’s where the problem happens. There are many, many books that are fraudulent. By this I mean, somebody cuts and pastes pieces from other books and merely creates many email addresses to redeem the codes. There are many who also do a (poor) use of Google Translate to create audiobooks of books written in another language (a lot of self-help books or pseudo-science books make up this genre).

I have been caught in a couple of scams like this. But now, I can ferret out these books pretty quickly, even when I am searching through books looking for books to audition for. How come ACX can’t do it?

They keep 60% of the proceeds for every book sold. It’s pretty pathetic! I once pointed out a book to ACX that was clearly fraudulent. ACX came back and said that they did not find anything wrong with the script. I don’t think the rank and file there are the brightest bulbs in the Christmas box.

If I cannot receive monies from promo codes. There’s no reason to do it.

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