Posts Tagged ‘ACX’

Audible company logo.

If you’re not familiar with Audible and Audiobook Creation Exchange (aka ACX), let me fill you in. Audible is Amazon’s audio book wing. They distribute thousands of audio books and have just as many subscribers (I’ve been one since 2015). ACX is part of Audible: it’s a places where authors and publishers can hook up with narrators, produce audio books, and then upload them to Audible.

With me so far?

Recently, Audible and ACX have been in a bit of hot water. It’s come to the attention of several authors that Audible has a rather questionable policy on the books. Audible Premium Plus subscribers have the option to exchange an audio book they’ve bought through their subscription within 365 days of purchase! And get this: if an audio book is exchanged within that time frame, the authors or publishers get their royalties deducted for it!

You read that right: somebody can exchange any audio book they buy within a year of purchasing, and the author gets punished for it.

Most people’s reactions to the exchange policy abuse. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

And lately, this has become a huge problem. Many authors, mostly indie authors, have noticed an increase in exchanges and deducted royalties over the past several months, In fact, some have speculated that use of the exchange policy–or should I say abuse of the exchange policy?–has boomed because Audible’s been using the policy in some of their advertising to attract new members.

Spurred by reports of this, the Authors Guild, along with a whole bunch of other author organizations, have drafted a letter to Audible and ACX to get them to, among other things, change the policy and create a more reasonable exchange policy. At the time I’m writing this, the letter has over twelve thousand signatures, and it’s still growing. To quote the letter,

This policy is in clear breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing implied in the authors’ agreements with Audible and ACX as it allows books to be purchased and listened to without paying the authors and narrators their royalties.

Authors Guild Letter to Audible and ACX

Now, I have only have Rose‘s audio book on Audible, and so far as I know, it hasn’t suffered from this exchange policy much. However, I have heard from a couple of colleagues, including some I consider good friends, who are upset by the policy and are considering pulling their works from Audible and ACX because of the policy.

And even if I didn’t know anyone affected by this policy, once I learned about it, it was hard for me to sit still. This is a terrible policy that hurts authors and publishers alike! These are the people that Amazon needs to continue selling through Audible, and yet they treat them this way?

And why is the exchange window a year long to begin with? That’s a terrible business strategy. Can you imagine if a hardware store allowed you to exchange a tool within a year, even if it’s likely been used? Or a shoe store? Or a computer business? They’d be out of business within a year with a policy like that! What the hell, Amazon?

The letter I received from Audible about the change in the exchange policy. Feel free to enlarge and read it in full.

Thankfully, it seems that news of the abuse and the letter made Audible realize their mistake. While they’ve defended the policy, saying that they do monitor for abuse and that such abuse is rare, they are changing the policy effective January 1st. After that, the exchange window is limited to 7 days, and Audible will pay for any exchanges made after that timeframe. They later confirmed this in an email to ACX creators, which I got as well.

And that is good. That is a good change. It’s harder to abuse an exchange policy limited to only a week instead of a year. Still, some aren’t satisfied. In fact, the Authors Guild letter suggests shortening the window to 48 hours. And I like that idea: not only is it even harder to listen to multiple audio books over the course of two days than it is to do over a week, but it should be easier to spot abuse when an account is making multiple exchanges within a two day period.

So, what can you do? Well, you can sign the letter, which at the time of writing is only 440 signatures away from the Authors Guild’s goal. Even if Audible has changed the policy, every signature is a reminder to the company that this sort of malarkey won’t be tolerated by the very people the company needs for products if it continues.

You can also share with other authors and readers. The more people who are informed about the issue, the more people who will be weary and on the lookout for policies and abuse like this. People, and companies, are more likely to be better behaved if they know they’re being watched and kept under pressure.

And finally, if you have or plan on getting an Audible subscription, don’t be the kind of subscriber who does this sort of crap. I’ve only exchanged a book on Audible once, and that was because I thought it was one kind of story, and it turned out to be another. Otherwise, I would never rob another writer of royalties! Instead, keep the book once you buy it, and wait for your next credit. Don’t make someone else lose money just because you want more listening material!

And if Audible doesn’t address the problem, maybe consider giving up your membership. Yeah, it’ll suck to not get that credit for an audio book each month, but it’ll sure send a message to Audible.

And if you do enjoy an audio book purchased through Audible, make sure to review or at least rate it afterwards. Trust me, ratings and reviews left by readers help both new readers and the writers who put their books on the site. I speak from personal experience on that!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Thank you for reading this far and giving a damn about this problem. I hope you’ll consider helping out authors and stopping abuse of Audible’s exchange policy.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving and pleasant nightmares!

My latest article from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors is Finding a Narrator on ACX. I gained a lot of experience in the matter over the four months it took me to find mine, so I thought I’d share that experience with a helpful article. Perhaps it’ll get noticed by the company, like the last article I wrote on them did. If so, I hope they don’t think I’m a girl again when they tweet about it. That was hilarious, but I don’t like to be mistaken for a woman when I’m not at a costume party or have some other good reason to cross-dress.

Anyway, check out the article if you have the chance. And while you’re there, check out some of the other articles on Self-Pub Authors, which is written by independent novelists and designed to help you write, edit, publish, and market on your own while saving money and maintaining quality. Believe me, it is great. I wouldn’t write for it if it wasn’t.

That’s all for now. Have a great day and I’ll see you later, my Followers of Fear. Preferably I’ll see you with good news while I’m at it.

RC cover

It’s been a long time in the making, and a lot of work since I announced that I was planning on turning Reborn City, my science-fiction novel, into an audio book back in August. I listened to a lot of audio samples, contacted a bunch of potential narrators, and even received a couple of auditions. But as of today, I am very pleased to announce that Reborn City has a narrator!

If you’re unfamiliar with Reborn City, it’s a dystopian science fiction novel that follows Zahara Bakur, a Muslim teenager who’s forced to join a street gang called the Hydras, and her involvement in a strange plot involving the gang’s superpowered leaders and the shadowy corporation that rules the city they live in. The novel contains themes of Islamaphobia, racism, gang violence, drug addiction and several others.

It also is a world that has much more resemblance to our own than Hunger Games or Divergent does (just look at the refugee situation these days and how some governments have responded to refugees these days) and I like to think it makes a little more sense than those books.

The audio book will be narrated by Barron Bass, an actor and voice artist based out of New York (check out his website here). I heard some of his samples on ACX, the website I’m using to produce the audio book (see my article on that site here). I liked what I heard, and I started corresponding with him. Once I heard his audition, I had a pretty good feeling I’d found my man. After some more weeks of correspondence, I sent him an offer and he accepted.

Our esteemed narrator, Barron Bass.

Now, I’m hoping we’ll have the whole thing done by early March, but I’m flexible. If Mr. Bass needs more time, I’m willing to give it to him. You can’t rush perfection, after all.

So I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next, which following the production process on ACX is that the first fifteen minutes of the book are recorded for my approval. After that, I give some feedback, and we work chapter by chapter on the book. Once it’s all done and it’s uploaded onto Amazon, Audible, and iTunes, I’m hoping a lot of people decide to check it out and take a listen. Maybe leave a few reviews while they’re at it.

And if RC does well, then maybe I’ll do Snake as well, and any other book I decide to publish from here on out. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I’m going to go do my happy dance. Have a good rest of your day, my Followers of Fear. I know I am.

I’ve often compared being an author to being the God of a fictional realm. And to some degree that is true, but it doesn’t mean we’re almighty. Often times the story you start writing won’t turn out to be that story. It’ll change or need to be changed. The personalities of the characters will act and react in ways that you didn’t think they would, or you find yourself not liking where the story goes. No matter what you do, this story isn’t going to go the way you imagined. And when that happens, you need to rethink the story a bit.

It’s kind of like one of those dance routines on a dance show (I used to watch So You Think You Can Dance). Often with those dance routines, they’re trying to tell a story. In this metaphor, you and your story are working together, using words and images as dance moves to entrance the reader and get them to watch the whole routine, aka read the whole story. But of course no routine starts out perfect and along the way there needs to be changes. And sometimes those changes need to be rather dramatic if the entire routine is going to work. Maybe its a few moves that need to be changed, other times the costumes need to be changed, and every now and then the song needs to be changed as well. Otherwise this story just won’t work.

Now some of you may be thinking, “He’s treating the story like a living person.” Well, why not? If the Bible is the living Word of God, and if the Constitution is a living document, why can’t a story being written in a notebook (paper or digital kind) be alive either? Many authors know what I’m talking about, they feel that the story is a being working with them as it gets laid down on paper, that it is having as much say as what’s put down and what’s not. Rather than resist it and insist that the story obey its Creator, it’s better oftentimes to just listen to the story and see what it says.

I had this situation occur to me on the short story I’m working on now. I finished the outline thinking it was going to turn out great. Unfortunately after ten-thousand words I started to realize that this story was not what I wanted. I mean on the outline the story was still good, but while writing it out I just couldn’t get into it. At the same time, I could hear the story in my mind, speaking to me. It said I shouldn’t give up on it (like I would do that, this is a good story in concept) but that I should explore a new angle for it.

So I took a break. I thought about it. And I found a new angle to tell the story with. I wrote out an outline today and got a couple pages in without any trouble. It’s a good start, though how well that goes for the rest of the story depends on a number of things. Like how I feel about the story. And how the story feels about the direction we’re going in.

Writing a story, like making a movie or performing a play or producing an album, is a collaboration, and all involved need to be in sync in order to make the story truly work. Sometimes that means acknowledging that, maybe even if only subconsciously in your mind, your story is alive and you need to work with it, not just on it. The results that occur when you do are truly spectacular.

Do you ever feel like your collaborating with another person when you’re working on a story?

What’s that like for you?

Oh, and an update on the audio book of Reborn City: I have posted it on ACX, the company I wrote an article about last year. I’ve also contacted a few narrators I’ve found on the site who I think may be able to give that right touch of magic for RC. Hopefully at least one will respond within the next few days, and then we can get to work on producing some audio book magic. Exciting right?

Of course if you want to get some RC action now, you can check out its page here and then find links to where it’s available. Enjoy!

Well my Followers of Fear, I have to get up extra early if I’m going to get to Munich on time tomorrow, so I have to make this super quick. I just want to let everyone know some very big things they can look forward to in the coming months. So if you’re wearing hats, hold onto them. Or don’t, but be aware that a wind might blow them away while you’re not holding onto them.

Reborn City will become an audio book

Yeah, it’s happening. After a lot of deliberation, asking a ton of people (including all of you a couple of posts ago), and listening to Battle Royale on my phone at work (my favorite novel these days, read my review here), I’ve decided to produce an audio book of Reborn City, which is probably my most popular work among my current published books. In truth, I’ve wanted to do an audio book for a while, but I think now is the best time to start working on one. And with ACX being such a great company to do it with, I think I can trust them to help me make this a reality.

Now of course this’ll take some time to do, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up that this’ll be out by the holidays. I may not even start work on it till I get back to the States. But it will happen eventually, and if the audio book is successful, I will produce Snake and The Quiet Game as audio books as well, as well as any future novel or short story collection.

So get ready for some awesome sci-fi gangster action during long car rides, because this is going to happen.

I’m putting together a new short story collection

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and it did seem for some time that I was going to put out one known as The Dead and the Dying (which still might happen someday, who knows?). But now I’ve actively begun to put together a new collection of short stories and novelettes I’m calling Teenage Wasteland. And you don’t need to be a detective to guess what the theme of this collection is: teens in horror stories!

Even if you’re only just mildly acquainted with horror,you’re probably aware that horror stories often feature teenagers as protagonists (or as easy victims). And I have a lot of stories, both published or otherwise, that have teenagers in them. I think a collection featuring teenagers in horror situations would be very interesting and fun to assemble, so I’m going to work hard to make that happen. Already I have four stories, and I hope to get between eight and thirteen stories in this collection, each featuring protagonists between the ages of twelve and nineteen. And as this collection is assembled, I’ll post updates on my progress, so keep an eye out for Teenage Wasteland, coming soon!

And yes, it’s like the song. I’ve always been rather partial to that song. But as long as I don’t put “by The Who” or quote lyrics in any of the stories, I can’t get in trouble, right? Right?!

 

Well, that’s all for now. I’ve had a pretty good week, which was needed after the disaster that was last week. I even made a new friend today (Oh good for you! You made a friend! thinks everyone as they unintentionally do an impression of my mother). And tomorrow I’m heading to Munich, so I’ve got to head to bed so I can be ready for that. With that, good night and pleasant nightmares, my Followers of Fear. See you on Sunday, when I tell you all about my time in one of Germany’s most famous cities.