Don’t let this happen to an author you know.

How not to pay an author

There's a lot of buzz in the author community regarding Amazon/Audible’s relatively new practice of encouraging listeners to exchange audiobooks for no charge up to a full year after purchase. This is even possible for someone who has listened to the entire book.

Here’s the catch: when an audiobook is returned (or “exchanged”) on, the author does not receive any royalty for the book. Audible’s policy of unquestioned returns means their customers can read entire books without the author receiving any compensation.

Authors have no objection to customers listening to 10 or 20% of the book to sample it, and then returning it if it’s not to their taste. Nor would we object to Amazon absorbing the loss if they want to allow unlimited returns.

Also notable is that Amazon/Audible has hidden this data on returns from authors/publishers. There is no report that shows it. Until recently, authors had no idea that Audible was essentially giving away their work for free.

Narrators too

It is even more egregious that some indie authors who produced their audiobooks through Amazon’s platform, ACX, are stuck in 7-year exclusivity agreements and can’t take their work out of Audible or bring it to any other platforms. These authors have royalty share agreements with their narrators, which means that narrators are also shafted when fully-read books are not generating any royalty.

For more information…

This excellent blog post goes into this and related issues in much greater detail.

Publishing wide

My own books are published “wide,” meaning they are not exclusive to Amazon (with the current exception of two ebooks that I am taking wide in December 2020). You can purchase my ebooks and audiobooks at most any retailer where these products are offered, including Apple Books, Google Play, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo. Likewise, my paperbacks are available through any bookstore. All you have to do is ask for them 😎.

Three of my audiobooks are currently even offered for free at Apple, Google, etc. But it is my choice to give them away, not Amazon’s.


Let me end with this: if you want to get audiobooks and ebooks without paying for them, all you have to do is use your local library. Overdrive, Hoopla, and Biblioteca, for example, all pay royalties to authors for any books borrowed. This way you can get your books free and the author also gets paid. A win/win! If the book you want doesn't appear to be available, just ask your local librarian. They are the nicest people and will bend over backwards to help you.

Thanks for listening!


#audiobooks #authors #publishing

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