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Audible Promises to Patch Sinking Audible Romance Payments With Bonuses

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

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Mark Williams – The New Publishing Standard March 3, 2018 um 8:28 am

The acclaimed voracious consumption of romance readers needs to be explored further before we throw that idea about too often.

If Reader A reads four 150-page romance novellas per week and Reader B reads one book in the same week but it’s the 850 page Game of Thrones, who is the more voracious reader?

I just went to the Kindle store and randomly selected a romance novella series. 77 pages, 62 pages and 97 pages. Reader A could read this series three times over and not read as much as Reader B, but reader A would be declared the voracious reader.

A look at the erotica romance sector and countless titles ranging from 19 to 40 pages are bulking out Kindle Unlimited. Voracious Romance Reader A could get through 21 of those 40 page romance titles and still not match Reader B’s reads.

Not in any way to denigrate these titles, but assertions that readers of genre A are more voracious than those of genre B need to be tested.

Disgusting Dude March 3, 2018 um 9:09 am

The term voracious is commonly understood to refer to unit consumption (and purchase/payments) not page counts.

Mark Williams – The New Publishing Standard March 3, 2018 um 11:52 am

Agreed, DD, and that meant something at a time when books came with spines and minimum lengths were observed.

But now we are not comparing like with like, so the voraciousness we talk about really only matters in subscription services, and is of course why Amazon changed to page read payouts for indie titles.

It makes no sense for Amazon to pay the same royalty for a 19 page read as for a 850 page read when a subscriber can read 44 of the former in the same reading time as one of the latter.

This in turn impinges on the debate about the ebook market.

When we compare print and ebooks we are again not comparing like with like, because there are no print equivalents of, for example, the 19 page micro-titles that we see in KU.

Which means when we talk about 80%-90% of the romance market being digital that does not in itself mean the print romance market has collapsed, and is in part simply that the romance sector has enlarged with new content for which there is no print equivalent.

Disgusting Dude March 3, 2018 um 1:01 pm

The term gained currency when subscription services rose under per-unit payout rules. Oyster died with them but Scribd still follows it so following unit sales is relevant.

It is also relevant when comparing tradpub sales to indie sales because the pricing disparity render currency-based calculation moot. Each unit sold is one decision made by a consumer to read that story and not another.

That is useful information. If 90 percent of the decisions to spend go to Indie romance that is not meaningless just as it isn’t meaningless that some 90% of available minority-focused books in the US are self-published.

Everybody can interpret the numbers however they see fit but the numbers do have intrinsic meaning.

Until every book is priced on a per page basis, unit count is going to be a common denominator for many comparisons and rightfully so.

Felipe Adan Lerma March 3, 2018 um 10:36 am

Mark – I didn’t realize so many Romance titles were that short, interesting – thanks!

Brandi March 6, 2018 um 1:36 pm

Just like every genre, there are novelletes, novellas, short, medium, and full length novels.whats he’s referring to is a novella. And they fill a demand with romance readers who want short reads and read several titles a day.

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Sabrina Jeffries March 7, 2018 um 2:31 pm

I would also point out that romance readers (especially historical readers) tend to prefer longer books, so there are plenty of them reading one historical (averaging from 250 to 500 pages) a day or every few days. That’s voracious, in my book. And while Game of Thrones is a good example of a long sf/f novel, there are plenty of much shorter ones. In fact, there’s more of a tradition of short fiction in mystery and sf/f. So it’s hardly fair to compare one very large sf/f novel to one very small romance novelette, neither of which may be representative of their respective genres as a whole.

Margaret Mallory March 7, 2018 um 2:35 pm

Thanks for writing about this. Any update on those bonuses? #ImWaiting #ChecksInTheMail

Nate Hoffelder March 7, 2018 um 2:43 pm

I’m following a thread on KBoards and so far there’s no new info

Shirleen Davies March 7, 2018 um 2:53 pm

Is anyone aware of authors who have been successful at pulling out of the Audible Romance program? I see comments in other groups saying they are trying, but nothing about anyone actually being released.

Nate Hoffelder March 7, 2018 um 3:14 pm

I have not heard that anyone has succeeded, no

Tammie King March 8, 2018 um 11:09 am

I read romance and most of the books I read are between 200 and 400 words. I read about 10 to 15 books a month. I used to read more, but I have a job and a variety of hobbies. I read more than most of my friends and family.

Cheryl Bolen March 8, 2018 um 11:52 am

I totally agree with Sabrina. Those voracious who read historical romances, which are 250-500 pages, do consume one a day. The industry’s own sales data demonstrates the most voracious readers are romance readers.

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