Amazon's audiobook creation team (ACX) sent me a survey asking how my experience with them has been. This is what I said, and I mean all of it:
Where to begin. First off, I sincerely hope somebody actually reads this. I have a number of grievances, and honestly, would LOVE to use another service if only one existed. After having used ACX, I'm convinced that you are kept alive only by the life support offered by Amazon, as they have given you a monopoly.
Overall, ACX and Amazon is obviously trying to push costs as low as possible for the consumer not by increasing their own efficiency, but by crushing all margins out of the producer / seller of the book. You grow your business at the expense of the people providing you with goods to sell. Don't pretend you don't already know this.
Also, I've run a software company so I know exactly what's going on in there, and it's appalling. I'd love to talk to someone in person about this, but I suppose your weak attempt at customer service via a single question survey will do for now. Let's begin.
1. You charge 60%. What in the world justifies that? Has anyone there ever created an audiobook? Do you understand the work required to do so? And then you provide, what, hosting?? And charge 60% or more to do so? Hosting is probably 5% of the work that needs to be done, yet you take the majority of the revenue and then have the audacity (no pun intended) to word it as though YOU are paying ME a "generous" royalty. It's offensive to the author who has spent hundreds or thousands of hours writing and editing his book, then hundreds more to create a good audiobook. You've done nothing. Google Drive and Dropbox host files for FREE. I'm beyond offended by your outrageous royalty split.
2. The author only earns 40% IF he records his own book AND agrees to a SEVEN YEAR exclusivity arrangement. Even cell phone service providers aren't so bold. In fact, the only thing in my life I've ever seen with such a long contract length is a mortgage for a house. This policy is, again, outrageous, and as soon as a competitor decides to enter the market, you've made it impossibly easy for them to beat you on service provided to authors.
3. Once I did upload my book, it took you 10-14 business days to get it on Audible. It took me less time than that to produce the entire audiobook. I would absolutely love to know how it takes you 10-14 days to upload some files to a server. Oh and, by the way, the book still isn't on Amazon or iTunes. With efficiency like that, it's obvious you're not spending your 60% very wisely.
4. Once the book was on Audible (PS don't BS and tell yourselves that Audible is a different service and you have no control over it. You're all owned by the same company and are basically the same service, get together and work it out.) I was told I'd be sent 25 promo codes to give my book out for free. Great! Oh but then I read the part where it was going to take 5 business days to email them to me... Again, how could that possibly take 5 days?? What are you people doing in there? Automate this!!
5. Once I did get my promo codes, the email had a list of instructions I'm supposed to give to whoever gets a code so they can actually use it. This is a clear sign of terrible design. If your site is so unclear that you have to send me a list of instructions that I then have to send to people downloading the book, you've blown it. Completely.
6. It is painfully obvious that almost the entirety of Amazon's book, ebook, and audiobook operations are designed to benefit Amazon and further entrench it as the world's only option for books of all formats at the expense of not itself, but the authors. That sentiment pervades all you do and my hatred for your operations has deepened with every encounter as the curtain on your one-sidedness has opened.
7. You tout yourselves as a super consumer-friendly platform, and I know that's how you justify the unbelievable fees you charge. And yet, there is no way to buy an ebook through either the Kindle app OR the Amazon app on an iPhone. Major, major oversight. So, I have to go to my desktop to buy an ebook that I'll immediately send to my iPhone. Please tell me you see the friction here.
There are more. But I think you get the gist. And it seems that, given the incredible number and depth of offenses, your problem is deeper than a list of features. It is systemic. You seem to despise authors, and we feel it through your many ungodly policies.
I truly hope you understand that the only reason anyone uses your service is because Amazon forces us to. If this were left to the free market, you'd be dead.
I'm happy to talk more about this as I truly wish things were different. Let's talk.