I started work on the Savaged by Systemd audiobook in the summer of 2019, thinking it was short enough to be affordable, long enough to be a legit audiobook, and the right length to listen to on a commute. As an SbS audiobook is completely ridiculous, I planned to release it on 1 April 2020. I had no idea that commuting would no longer be a thing in 2020. Ah, well. I uploaded it to the various stores and forgot about it.
The audiobook was available in every store I could reach, but the biggest retailer is Audible. I supposedly get 25% of cover price on every sale. This is atrocious. They claim to have sold 48 copies, which should get me about $119.
A quick check shows I’ve received less than half of that, because Audible’s policies make the 25% payment optional.
Most of the other stores pay about 40% of cover price, but their sales are negligible.
I have pulled the audiobook from all retailers, effective today. Some stores might still have copies, but as the databases churn they should disappear. Audible in particular is being difficult, because they can’t imagine anyone deciding to stop doing business with them so they don’t provide an “unpublish” option. (I contacted their helpdesk, which gave me the secret email address to contact, who will send me questing to collect three tokens from the Fallen Angels of… well, you get the idea.)
Instead, it’s now exclusively on my bookstore. You can listen in the BookFunnel app, a browser, or download DRM-free MP3.
It’s not that I expected this audiobook to sell millions. It was an investment in exploring audiobook technology. J Daniel Sawyer charged very reasonable rates to record and produce it. I am pleased with the end product. It would be nice if the audiobook would sell enough to repay that investment. That’s impossible if the main sales channel is Audible.
BookFunnel, my ebook distributor, recently opened an audiobook beta. It’s free while in beta, but will cost $10/month when it enters production. That’s enough time for me to test passive sales through my site. Selling 13 audiobooks in a year will let me start to pay back the investment.
Will I do more audiobooks in the future? Unlikely. I’m a fringe author. My books don’t sell enough to justify audiobooks. I could save a bunch of money by using AI narration, but you might as well use your ereader’s text-to-speech feature. Voice actors, real live humans with emotions and inflection and character, are the whole point of audiobooks.
I’ll post a follow-up in a few months.
Also: 1 April pranks should have meat on them. This one generated so many agonized groans that I heard them echo in from all around the world. Worth it.