From the earliest days of self-publishing, scammers have been looking to make a buck. From paid review scams to enticing followers to download books simply for the pages views, there’s no end to the ways people have taken advantage of these opportunities in a negative way. Every time a platform offers a new feature, someone figures out how to game the system, leaving legitimate, dedicated authors and indie presses left to suffer the consequences.
Audiobooks are no different.
One of the main issues with the self-publishing audiobook space is that anyone can do it… a common complaint about self-publishing in general. But in this case, it literally means anyone. Someone using the pre-installed voice recorder app on their smartphone can “narrate” an audiobook and list it for sale on Amazon. Those same unscrupulous scammers can dash an author’s dreams with their shoddy work, some of which keeps authors locked in for seven-year royalty share deals (depending on the platform).
So what is a serious author to do? For that matter, what is a genuinely talented voice-over actor to do?
In both cases, it’s important to know your options. Depending on the platform you use to distribute the audiobook–Amazon’s ACX being one of the largest and most user-friendly–the experience can be rewarding or terrifying. Since there’s little oversight into the content of audiobooks or the quality of narrators (and anyone can claim to be a professional narrator), it’s truly a buyer-beware marketplace. Scams such as gibberish recordings have also cropped up recently, making a lot of consumers wary about investing in an unknown author’s work.
This is one area where great reviews can really help, though. With the right sort of verified feedback from happy readers, authors and narrators alike can see a boost in their respective careers. As for readers, it’s vitally important that they read the reviews and take advantage of samples before buying in order to avoid a growing number of scams.