If you were the CEO of a large company and your board of directors earmarked $20 million to be allocated at your discretion, what would you do? Build a new office complex? Increase marketing costs? Install one of those fancy toilet seats with a built-in heater and satellite radio?
How about give it away?
That is precisely what Audible.com is doing and unsurprisingly, it has nothing to do with altruism.
In 2012, the Amazon-owned Audible.com offered authors a $1 “honorarium” for every audiobook sale made through their website. If attracting the attention of authors is your goal, free money is a slam dunk way of achieving it. There is, however, far more to the offer than its attractive financial component—authors who agree to make their titles available in audiobook format through Audible.com not only reap a buck for every sale, but they additionally receive the expertise and manpower of Audible’s sales and marketing divisions, as well as additional advertising materials for promoting their work. And just for the heck of it, authors get a free copy of their audiobook.
Notice that the preceding paragraph made no reference to the role of the publisher in this financial arrangement. This is because the publisher is cut straight out of the deal. The buck passes freely and without encumbrance from the teeming coffers of Audible to the back pocket of the grateful author. While such an arrangement cannot impede or alter publishing rights previously negotiated between the author and publisher, it nonetheless offers writers a substantial incentive to cut their own side deal.
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