And A Warning…
As many of you know, or might have guessed, I spend a great deal of time reading news and information about the industry, both the traditional side and what can be found among all the promotion myths on the indie side. Some of it I pass along, some of it Kris and I talk about, some of it I just file away as information to see trends and so on.
I consider this part of my job. Not for you folks, but because this is how I make my living and if I am not aware of my industry, I will make mistakes.
Now some of you remember or have heard me talk about the value of audio books. I think they are great, but I warn writers about the time sink and the costs for the return. Audio gets great press these days among writers, but reality is that sales are still lagging, and I did a blog a while back about being cautious on trying a Kickstarter campaign for audio. A number of writers did not listen to me and tried it and did not fund. Just a tough road.
Why does audio get such good press? Because it is good press to say something has grown year-over-year at 25%. Wow, we should all jump in. Right? Nope.
Here is the problem. Simple math but you have to know some about the sales in the industry.
25% growth of $100 is about $25.00 extra.
5% growth of $100,000 is $5000 extra.
Sales of audio to paper/electronic books is about the same as $100 to $100,000. The market for audio overall is tiny, thus the ability to have large growth and still make next to nothing. Better off doing books, not audio books. But they can be a nice little cash stream if you can do them without the extreme costs of money and time.
Now, in Jane Freedman’s The Hot Sheet there was something interesting. (You can subscribe, but understand she is focused about 95% on traditional publishing, but still worth it for some tidbits and head shaking things…)
Here is what was said by Jane about Podcasts…
“Podcasts are typically monetized through advertising, sponsorships, and branded content. This can work great for news and magazine publishers, but book publishers haven’t been that successful in that regard—probably because ad sales is not in their DNA. But podcasts can also be monetized through merchandising, publishing book adaptations (of course), selling rights to TV and film studios, and offering live and virtual events or access to the creators.
In the future, book contracts may ask the author for podcast rights.”
Pretty nice summary of ways to make money with a podcast. (Notice a bunch of them were in the licensing area.)
Now note the last line. Traditional publishers have not yet got their greedy little IP fingers on podcast rights. Yet.
And I honestly, looking at the legal side of that, have no idea how that would work in a contract. But even if it wouldn’t work legally, the publishers will try and stupid writers will give it to them. A nightmare in the offing…
So how I looked at that was what fun a podcast would be if done right for short fiction. A poor person’s audio book, basically. With a ton of licensing possibilities. And my mind went spinning off into all the fun.
And then I started really feeling sorry for the first writers to get stuck selling Podcast rights to their new novel, plus all rights for the life of the novel for $5,000. And getting nothing in return.