Audiblegate: an author's perspective - Ava K. Michaels
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 author’s outlook.
I'm author T.M. Bilderback, and I had the privilege of interviewing author Ava K. Michaels, whose titles can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=digital-text&rh=p_27%3AAva+K+Michaels&s=relevancerank&text=Ava+K+Michaels&ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1
I jumped right in with questions. Ava’s a busy woman!
(1) What are your best-selling titles in general, and what are your best-selling audiobooks?
“I have quite a number of books published, so it can depend on what I’m focusing on promoting, month to month with ads, but, on the whole I’d say my Vampire’s Thirst series does well, together with my Highland Wolf Clan series. The rest of my books/series can compete with them, depending on what I decide to put money into regarding features in newsletters etc., but those two are a staple for me, and for readers who seem to love them.
Regarding audiobooks, well, that’s hard to know. I have my Thirst ones done via ACX myself, and my Black Rose Chronicles are through Tantor. However, reporting is bad with both of them, but if I had to pick, I’d say A Vampire’s Thirst: Victor is the bestselling one.”
(2) When did you first suspect Audible of not accurately reporting your sales and returns?
“Well, that’s a loaded question … I’m an ex-banker, and to be honest, you’d think I’d be able to understand my reports from ACX/Audible … right? But, the truth is, I just could not get to grips with them, not ever. I tried, hard, but even when I asked my daughter, who is also in banking, to go over them with me … we couldn’t make heads or tails of them! They just didn’t make sense to me, so I gave up. Then, I began to see posts on Facebook from someone, Susan May, and I began to read them … and it was about ACX/Audible and payments/reporting … and I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment.
I realized it wasn’t me being dumb, it was them not reporting things properly … and them BAM … something else hit me … returns. Where were they? I’d never seen hide nor hair of them in my account … ever. How could that be? Surely that couldn’t be right? But, aye, it was, and, aye, the more I saw and read of Susan’s posts, I realized something was definitely wrong with my statements. That’s when I knew I had to look into this further.”
(3) Did you suspect Audible of not paying the sales amounts that they promised to pay?
“Indeed I did, Michael. So much so I joined Susan May’s group Fair Deal for Rights Holders & Narrators to garner more information. There’s a wealth of information in there, and the more I learned, the more data I managed to get for my own accountant to use to do a deep dive on my own statements. Another accountant, Colleen Cross, also revealed just how bad the statements/payments were. Anyone can find out about it on the Audiblegate website Audiblegate.com … Colleen’s posts there will enlighten anyone to just how bad it is, Her Messy Maths one is truly shocking!
Not only that, I started to ask my own questions too. I sent multiple emails to ACX/Audible asking for information, far too many to count … asking them to audit my account, using the information from my own accountant, asking for data on returns in my account, etc etc, but, to date, I have had nothing solid back from them. Well, nothing but empty promises that my requests have been passed on … but to who? Because I can categorically state I have had NO solid response or answers to anything. Even when I asked for information on arbitration … I received nada, nothing, zip! How they can get away with this, is beyond me.”
(4) When you found out that Audible was cheating you, how did that make you feel?
“I felt … disgusted, upset, and more than a little angry. They make so much money from us, and pay out so little, and yet, they are still cheating on that amount. So, how are we supposed to feel about that? I, for one, want justice for all of us who have been left feeling the same as I do. We deserve nothing less than to be paid for our hard work.
The fact is, my audiobooks have been ‘on sale’ for long periods of time by them and I have repeatedly asked them to stop this practice, because I am then paid an even smaller pittance. They refuse to listen to me, and this is a practice they do all the time … they are truly shocking in the extreme in how they act toward us. Just another example of how they manage to cheat us and don’t pay what they should. Disgusting doesn’t come close to how I feel about their business practices.”
(5) Are you continuing to release audiobooks to Audible?
“No, absolutely not. I’d been planning to start looking for a narrator for my Highland Wolf Clan series, which has eight books in it, but not now. All of this has left a decidedly bad taste in my mouth, and I will not use ACX/Audible for any of my books again.
In fact, if I’m being honest, with all the turmoil right now, I’m not sure when I’ll start to think about producing anything else. I’ve made so little out of the titles I do have up that it’s really not a viable option for me. I’ve also got to think of it with a business head, and if I have no trust with a ‘business partner’, or can’t make a return on an investment, in fact, if I can’t even recoup money, then it’s a no brainer.”
(6) At this point, what would you like to see happen with Audible?
“It’s not fit for purpose, plain and simple. I’d like to see authors/narrators repaid for monies lost, and for returns we should not have had to pay for. I, for one, have not given them permission to continually sell my audiobooks ‘on sale’ or at ‘cut price’ for long periods at a time, months on end, and thereby only receiving a fraction of the price I should. They should repay monies lost by this nefarious practice, and for any other unsavory practices brought to light. But, all in all, I don’t see them surviving the catastrophic events unfolding. There are too many incidents coming to light, in my opinion, that make them unviable…”
(7) Assuming the fact that we only have Audible’s word on sales, will you ever be able to trust them again?
“In one word … no, nope, nae, never … oops, sorry, more than one, but had tae get my point across!”
(8) Please tell us anything else that you’d like for us to know.
“I’ve never been part of something like this before. I work hard, very hard, keep myself to myself, and try to help others whenever I can. However, when I figured out what was going on, when I found Susan’s group, and the accountant pointed out to me what the heck was going on with the invaluable information uncovered by Colleen Cross … I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.
I’m enraged with what’s going on, at the utter disrespect I’ve received from my interaction with them … I’ve emailed countless times to ACX/Audible for answers, yet I’ve received nothing.
All I can say is this … their continued silence to my valid questions speaks volumes.”
You’ll notice that Ava called me “Michael”. The “M” in “T. M.” is Michael, and I answer to my middle name, and it’s what my friends call me.
Interview by T. M. Bilderback (but YOU can call me Michael!)
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Authors and narrators earn money by entertaining. When a company comes along and basically steals creators’ hard work, it impacts everyone… including readers.
Stay tuned – more interviews will be coming! Meanwhile, keep reading (or listening) and enjoying works from your favorite authors and narrators!
And to authors and narrators: if you have an Audible horror story and would like to tell your story, please contact me! I’ll email a list of questions to you, and you can use this forum to tell your story. When you email, please put “Audible Horror Story” in the subject line: email@example.com
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Authors and narrators: if you have an Audible horror story and would like to tell your story, please contact me! I’ll email a list of questions to you, and you can use this forum to tell your story. When you email, please put “Audible Horror Story” in the subject line: firstname.lastname@example.org