T. M. Bilderback
Audiblegate: a narrator's perspective - Alicia Rose
Updated: Apr 28, 2021
By now, most of you have heard about Audiblegate. You know that Audible is not on the up-and-up about audiobook sales, returns, and compensation given to authors, rights holders, and narrators.
Needless to say, this behavior has affected how authors are producing audiobooks, and how these audiobooks are distributed.
But, today, I’m going to look at how this behavior has affected one narrator’s outlook.
I had the privilege of interviewing narrator Alicia Rose.
How long have you been narrating audiobooks?
“I accepted my first narration project for ACX in early February 2015 – so I’ve just crossed the six-year milestone. The first few months with ACX were so exciting, especially when I saw my page go from 0 book sales to 100, 1000 and continuing, I felt reassured I had achieved one of my ‘to do’ actions - securing a future income through ACX earnings. Back then I concluded that if I worked hard I would be laying the foundation to being independently financially afloat and that I would continue to reap the rewards of the preliminary hundreds of hours of labor (without pay) that I was putting in. I believed I was beginning a fortuitous journey.”
Do you narrate on a royalty-share basis?
“Yes, to date I have completed 44 books on the ACX platform, and they are all royalty-share.”
When did you first notice that the sales numbers weren’t adding up properly?
“In absolute honesty the first thing I noticed was the creeping changing date of when monthly payments were received. I made an initial enquiry about this as long ago as November 2017. In the first months of committing to the ACX platform I would receive royalty payments always on 21st of the month, occasionally the 22nd. Then I noticed payments coming into the bank account around the 25th, then the 26th of the month. Then a few months later payments were made on the 28th and 29th of the month. In my humble opinion this is an underhand continual incremental increase in the duration for waiting to be paid. ACX and Audible are receiving immediate payment for millions of purchases of audiobooks – and that money in their banks, is producing incomprehensible amounts of interest for them, increasing their wealth, while we, the creators, are left waiting for any meagre payout they decide to allocate us.
As it stands today, I now find I am receiving pitiful payment around the last day of the month or even ongoing into the next month on the 1st or 2nd. I don’t recall this type of payment behavior happening when I was working for, say, Royal Mail or London Litigation Companies. Your date of pay is your date of pay and it remains the same every month with anomalies only around bank holidays or yearly events like Christmas and Easter.
I also find it hard to swallow that the ‘bounty scheme’ was not transparent enough and this was from way back at the start of my relationship with ACX. A $50 bounty was shared between Author and Narrator for bringing in a new customer to ACX (i.e., the customer bought one of the books either I or the author lead them to do so via a personalized link) – and we then had to wait 60 days to receive this payment.
ACX and Audible had received the money immediately upon purchase of the audiobook, so why were we made to wait 60 days (other than for them to receive the interest on the growing stash they had in their banks).
I remember sending them an email to ask about this, noting to them I. had sold over 1300 books yet only 16 were bounties. There was absolutely no way of knowing if they were cheating and not giving true reflection of books sold through the leads I provided. The monthly summary and statement were mind boggling and I couldn’t make solid sense of the figures. I’d always been quite astute at numbers, but their documents had me shrinking into a logic of ‘maybe I should just trust their accounting’. What a big mistake that was.”
When you found out that Audible was cheating you, how did that make you feel?
“On one hand I felt vindicated, because I knew my instinct was telling me they were crooked. On the other side of the fence I felt insignificant. I felt my hard work had all been in vain. Or rather I had been used to make others rich, and by ‘others’ I mean the already privileged, silver spoon, ‘push you out of the way to get to the lifeboat’ type of humans. Those people who sleep every night knowing their privileged lifestyle is being had on the back of the creators, the creatives, the talented, the hardworking and usually poor because we have ethics and morals and don’t want to rip off good souled people. In six years of being a narrator I should have earned enough to step up a rung in lifestyle, to secure owning a home maybe. Instead, averaging it out I’ve probably received only about enough to cover the cost of paying for the equipment used to start up this career of Narrator in the first place.”
Have your projects through ACX/Audible dropped off?
“For sure they have. I did get one request at the start of this year to produce a fiction novel and I honored it because I wanted to, and because it gave me something to focus on while the evident shift of lunacy of world corrupt power was taking place, but I no longer actively search their database looking for titles.
Have you begun offering your narration services through other outlets?
“I’m looking into it. At present I’m stepping back to reflect on this whole process. I’m jaded in this area of my creative life because having been on the receiving end of the ACX villains (or that should read non-receiving because they’ve robbed from me) it seems to be they are inhumane machines that covet only their next major power status achievement and they are rotten to the core. Are other outlets any different? Are there distributors who are transparent and fair?”
What would you like to see happen with Audible?
"Shut them down for good. It won’t happen though because they’re all in the pockets of the blue bloodlines up there in their power status rafters. They buy their way into and out of anything they choose because they can, they have no morality, ethics, no soul. It’s a funny parody and I do have to laugh, for when us rats at the bottom trade criminally, we get stopped immediately, all assets frozen and even potentially get incarcerated. Why is it not the same playing field up there in the highest tier of commerce?”
Other audiobook distributors offer royalty-share projects. Will you ever do a royalty-share project again?
“I’ll test the water when I’m ready. I must build trust first. There are some incredible people on this planet doing amazing things to shine light on the horrors of corporations such as ACX and Audible. It’s such a pity because six years of my narrative work now sits on their platform and I don’t particularly feel like advertising any of it because I have totally lost the drive and ambition to increase their riches one cent further.”
Please tell us anything else that you’d like for us to know… and I mean, anything that you feel would be of interest!
“ACX and Audible do not do many quality checks. They offer no protection to Narrators for the status of some of the Authors. They do not check the content of the books they peddle. They do not ensure tax documents are in order for Authors joining the platform. Just last year I completed a project for a gentleman author, a nice enough book which took me circa 30 hours to complete. No pay up front, stepped into a Royalty Share agreement.
Put the book into the ACX Audible quality control where it sat for a year. When I questioned why, I was told the Author’s tax documents were incomplete and they could not release the book for sale until this was sorted. I asked them why they had not checked all of that before they allowed the Author to use the platform. They responded with a condescending email along the lines of telling me to sort it with the Author. Thus, my 30 hours of work amounted to Zero pay through no fault of mine.
At this moment in time I would like to advise any newcomer Authors and Narrators/Producers to dismiss ACX and Audible as a viable platform for their work and or career springboard. They are a despicable conglomerate who lie, cheat, steal and laugh all the way to the bank.
Instead, think about starting up independently, keep your own management, be your own boss. The internet has far reaching possibility to do it alone, without need for the criminal middleman.”
Interviewer: T. M. Bilderback (but YOU can call me Michael!)
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