Pay Me Now or Maybe Pay Me Never? Week 14

I turned down an offer for the first time this week. Major Tonality.

But before I do that, did you notice anything untoward in last week’s post? No? In the message I was sent about the bundled books, the initial offer was suggested as $25 pfh. Even if you could get your work:production way down from the 6:1 ratio we discussed earlier, say all the way to 2:1, is your time worth $12.50 per hour? Well, yes. Sometimes. But, I am not at 2:1 yet (more like 3.5:1), and $8.00 is pretty low. I can make that doing fast food somewhere. So I countered with a whopping $35 pfh, which he did agree to. I don’t think that’s too bad for me still being new to the work. My point? You can negotiate your rate! Who knew?

So, Major Tonality. This was a nice guy who had written a book on music theory and wanted some simple scales played on an instrument so the listener could hear the structure of different scales and chords. A very good idea. After we exchanged several messages and I did some test recordings for him, he made an offer in line with what I am getting for other books now. I countered that the recording and integrating of the scales was going to require a fair amount of extra effort, and I would entertain a higher pfh rate, or a stipend. He hasn’t even responded to that yet. My point? If you negotiate incorrectly, or if the other party isn’t in the mood for it, you may lose the project. Two-edged sword, eh?

I picked up five more offers this week. Two of them are for a pfh rate in line with others, and three are for Royalty Shares. I have been looking at this Royalty thing a little bit, and basically I have decided it is a measure of the Rights Holders confidence in their book.

I suspect it was intended to assist people in getting a book produced without an initial layout of cash, especially for the self-published books so plenteous on ACX. There are some books where it seems that is the case, but in my opinion, more of them on ACX are Rights Holders looking for an easy way out – getting their audiobook by putting all the risk of loss on the producer. Anything they sell is pure profit, albeit not as much as it might have been without having to split royalties. If no sales occur, the Rights Holder hasn’t lost anything. The Producer, however, pays that in full.

So where does that leave us Producers? Personally, I take two decision points as of now when I consider a Royalty Share:

  1. Do I like the book? As with the Immortal Warriors book I mentioned last week, there are some works I consider just because of the nature of the book itself. For this one in particular, if I get to be involved in this book I will be able in a small way to honor the servicemen who served in Afghanistan. This is the kind of book in which I can invest myself.
  2. Amazon Sales Rank. I don’t claim to be an expert on this one. I don’t even claim to really understand it even, but for each book on ACX there is the current ranking number that indicates how well that title is selling within its category on Amazon. I did a little legwork to try to understand what this number means, and here is what I was told:
      • If the number is zero, I understand that to mean the book has not sold a single copy.
      • When the first copy sells, the counter which is what the sales rank kind of is, starts to increment up, and continues to increase until another sales takes place. Therefore, this number is sort of an indication of when the last sale took place.
      • There is a complex algorithm Amazon uses to calculate this ranking.
      • Normal people can’t understand this algorithm.
  • If either situation above appeals to me, I will audition for the book. I picked an arbitrary number of 1,000,000 for my upper limit to the ranking number. This number has no significance, except that if a book’s Amazon Sales Rank is above a million, I probably won’t make any money by taking it on as a Royalty Share. Not very scientific, but at least I have a standard to go by. If you can explain the Rank number to us, please leave a comment.
  • And with that in mind, I got three offers on RS books this week. The Great American Protection Crisis (some kind of insurance industry strategy book), Summary: The Body Keeps The Score, and Beat the Praxis (a certification test prep guide). The Summary book is another type of book that is prevalent on ACX. It seems to me to be the audiobook equivalent of Cliff’s Notes. And if you have never used the yellow covered Cliff’s Notes, you’re too young to be reading my blog. Google might have some info for you on Cliff’s Notes (or is it Clif’s Notes?)
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