November 29th 2020 Update

Good news and bad news this week, so let’s get to it. I have Queen’s Journey up to 100,000 words and a bit extra, which isn’t quite where I wanted it for this week, but given the holiday in the United States, I’m not surprised, either. What surprised me was that I got my writing done on Thanksgiving, then Friday I couldn’t get more than about 100 words out. Hopefully I’ve recovered by Monday.

On a positive note, tomorrow the ebook of the Mantles of Power Omnibus comes out, I’ve put together a bundle of the audiobooks that’s working its way through Audible’s system, and I got the cover art for Queen’s Journey back, so I’ve put up a pre-order on the latter! I should warn that in an excess of caution, I chose to put the pre-order date for the end of April, but I fully expect to move it to January, assuming my editor is available and the book doesn’t end up over 180,000 words. I think it’ll be closer to 120,000, but that’s a guess. Anyway, the Amazon affiliate links are below, followed by the Queen’s Journey cover art.

Now, on to the news that isn’t as good. As of the time of this writing (early Saturday) I’m still waiting on Audible to put Hives & Heroism up for sale, and even after calling them directly to ask what’s going on, they couldn’t give me a firm date on when it’d be available. I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to any of you that I’m not happy to be going on over 50 days after I submitted it to them and still not having it up for sale.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only issue involving Audible that has me concerned and frustrated. I’m not going to go into all the details, I suspect you don’t want to know, but the essential point is that rather than going exclusively into their distribution (which goes to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes), I’m going to be going non-exclusive with each title as they come out of their exclusivity period, which is one year after release, and putting them up on other audiobook stores as soon as I’m able to. The only exceptions are with Ancient Ruins, Spells of Old, and Halls of Power, which are locked into exclusivity for a full seven years due to how I produced them.

If things don’t change with Audible in the near future, I will be faced with a hard decision. Either I stop producing audiobooks, and realize that I’ve spent over $40,000 USD producing the ones I have to-date (I did not pay for Ancient Ruins, Spells of Old, Halls of Power, The Avatar’s Flames, Queen of Ice, or The Obsidian Palace, or the number would be much higher), or I’m going to have to boycott Audible and put my audiobooks up elsewhere. There’s a service I use that has audiobook delivery in beta that looks promising, so I could give direct sales, but I don’t have details on it yet, I’m trying to work out options after running into this realization on Friday.

I just wanted to let everyone know where things stand there.

10 thoughts on “November 29th 2020 Update

  1. Cool! Pre-ordered Queen’s Journey! I must say that cover has me intrigued, can’t wait! Worst case scenario, isn’t that terrible for me (though I’m obviously hoping for sooner).

    The bad news actually does intrigue me (I blame the business major in me lol). If you got to boycott, I say boycott! I have no strong loyalties to anything, Amazon, so it affects me little. I only hope (if you choose to continue) that I can listen while driving

    Hope you have a great week and continued writing ability!

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  2. It’s /exceedingly/ likely to be in January, though if a miracle occurs, I could get Queen’s Journey out in December. That’s very unlikely at the moment, though. The main issue is figuring out editors, as it seems like whenever I find one I really like, their schedule fills up for months in advance. *shrugs*

    Regarding the bad news, if you want to see part of it, you can find some of the stuff on The Author’s Guild site here, with an open letter I signed: https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/sign-our-letter-and-tell-audible-to-stop-charging-authors-for-returns/

    The other part for me is that they take an enormous part of the royalties, while service has declined dramatically. If I had a direct storefront (which /is/ a possibility), even if I lost 20% of the revenue from the payment companies, I would make more money per-sale selling the audiobooks for $8 than I do off a sale on Audible.

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  3. Geez! I didn’t realize it was that bad! I knew some of Amazon’s (and affiliated companies’) policies were poor but never to that extent. Like I said, I have no strong loyalties to Amazon&Co, so whatever you decide is fine for me. I have 2 hopes for your future writing career and, if they don’t come true, I’ll still be reading them the old fashioned way *shrug*

    It also makes me very glad to only be a hobby writer and literally have no interest in being rewarded *matrix dodges those bullets*

    Thank you for the information!

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  4. Part of the issue is just lack of transparency. Like, I signed up for ACX/Audible knowing that when I am ‘exclusive’, I only get 40% royalties. However, as far as I knew, that was based off the list price. In truth, the numbers are far closer to 20%, as each Audible credit counts as far less than the list price, so on a $24.95 audiobook, I tend to average about $5/sale.

    I didn’t really begrudge that when they had really good service, if I’m being honest. It’s the lack of transparency for me to make accurate business decisions, the deduction of royalties for exchanges that they push as a feature, and the poor service that have pushed me to this point.

    All that said, my standard for audiobooks has been simple for this entire time. As long as overall I’m making a profit on them, I will continue making them. That will not change.

    Also, there *are* plenty of places you can put up books that treat you better. Amazon is just the biggest storefront at the moment.

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  5. It’s the adage, “fat and lazy.” I don’t begrudge any company for wanting to make a profit, but when it hurts/inconveniences, customer and/or creator/worker/custom hire, then I have a problem with it. Lack of transparency is often the first step, unfortunately. (Better stop here, lest I get worked up lol)

    Oh! I know there are many places for publishing (whether it be free or paid). Great for aspiring authors, but I doubt I’m one of them/you. *shrug* I’m writing because I realize that child me (I’m younger than you but still an adult) wasn’t wrong in her wants, and one was to write a book/story. Actually, I’m highly likely to get another bachelor’s (good at current, but it’s dreadfully boring) after Covid gets controlled

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  6. Yup, I’ll leave the business discussion where it is myself. Probably for the best, either way.

    As for publishing, it isn’t the right approach for everyone. Heck, I have stories I write for myself for the pure enjoyment of it, and which will never be shared. At least, not if I have anything to say about it!

    And go you, on the bachelor’s! I took a single semester at a university before I realized I really didn’t have a goal going there, so it was a really expensive way to spend time in a place I didn’t enjoy. I admire those who have the drive to do it, though.

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  7. Same! Anything fanfictiony or anything else designated nope, stays RIGHT on my computer lol. I only write fanfiction when I need a template to grow from and compare to. Good example would be writing fights. They are my absolute weakest point of writing. I guess while I’m on that topic, is there any advice (besides practice) you’d say to keep in mind when attempting those scenes?

    Thank you for that! This time I’m doing it for me (assuming I’m OK with cost), not my family! I’m excited! Also thank you and sorry for taking up your time!

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  8. I’ve never really written fanfiction, or had much interactions with fandoms myself. The closest I’ve come is RPs where some of us were playing canon characters, and some were custom, but I found that I chafed at the limitations, in some ways.

    As for fight scenes… my focus is generally on only conveying the information the character can see, and not making them feel like they’re sitting back, watching as everything unfolds. Unless they actually are, of course. Instead, I focus on what I’ve seen in movies, practice sword fights, and things like that. Long, drawn out duels don’t really happen unless one person is deliberately trying to draw it out and is significantly more skilled than the other person, or if they’re both almost perfectly matched, and even then the fights may end in an instant when someone makes a mistake. Also, I try not to over-describe combat strategies because the character is (generally) an expert, not me. I try to ensure that it’s detailed enough that the reader can understand what’s happening, but not so detailed that experts in the field will be resisting the urge to throttle me. I do that with most subjects, honestly.

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  9. Queen’s Journey preordered. I was surprised at the April date until I remembered you had said previously you were going to pad the release date until you had better information from your editor as to schedule. Looking forward to it!

    In regards to Audible, I’d heard about the issue from another author… I agree with the previous poster that ‘fat and lazy’ may be applicable. Might also be “we’re the biggest, so we do what we want” as well. While I don’t listen to audiobooks, it’s a shame to see such a lack of transparency in Audible’s business dealings with content providers. (OTOH, in regards to what you’re paid vs what Audible’s paid, I am sadly not shocked as I used to work for what was then a major bookselling chain, and the markups on physical books was outlandish.) Hopefully the Kindle folks aren’t treating you the same way. (Don’t tell me, I’d rather bask in ignorance…)

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  10. The reason for the long pre-order timeline: Amazon will revoke pre-order privileges if you push back the release date of a pre-order. Now, they’ve temporarily discontinued that due to COVID, but I’d rather not risk them changing and me not noticing. In fact, they used to not let us set up pre-orders more than 90 days in advance, while Traditional Publishers could do as much as a year. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to it myself! And it’d better be done before the end of January… I have audiobook recording scheduled for February or March!

    As for Audible, I’m not going to speculate on why they’re not performing. It’s unfortunate, and I don’t want to claim that it doesn’t sadden me. It does, because it worked relatively well for a long time.

    As for Kindle, it’s actually relatively sane, comparatively. Now, Kindle Unlimited is… weird, but for ebook and paperback sales it’s very transparent and the royalties are fairly predictable. 35% for non-exclusive, 70% if it’s in Kindle Unlimited (less a small amount based on file size for bandwidth). So, for Hives in Heroism, I earn $3.44 for a sale in the United States. If people read the book in KU, it’s a long, complicated explanation, but for most of my books, I make about as much for a read-through as I would from a direct purchase. Compared to how much I’ve heard that traditionally published authors get per sale, I think it’s pretty good.

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