Podio, Anyone?

I slipped into the Sauna at the local health club at the end of my work-out the other day. I was alone for the first few minutes, then a man I knew came in, followed by two young men I didn’t know. The man I knew asked me about my book sales, and somehow the conversation wound around to one of the younger men asking me if I’d thought of putting my books on “podio.”

Since I’d never heard of podio, I asked what it was. The young guy said it’s audio books that you listen to on your iPod. He told me the specific device he had, but the name was out of my brain by the time I got to paper and pencil. He said a lot of authors have become bestsellers after getting their start on podio. He was a commuter and listened to podio books and magazines “all the time.” I wanted to ask more questions, but I was overheating and had to get out before I passed out.

Later in the day, I sat down for a little podio research, and started at http://www.podiobooks.com.

There are several negatives, but perhaps the positives out weigh them. Authors donate their work and the books are free to the subscribers. The answer to the question in the FAQ section, “But shouldn’t the author get paid?” is “Certainly! Creative people have a right to receive compensation for their hard work. That’s one reason why we don’t charge authors to be a part of Podiobooks.com, and why we give them the lion’s share of any contribution made by listeners.

“Podiobooks.com is simply one more arrow in the quiver that makes up the writer’s career. To carry the analogy further, writers need to shoot as many arrows as possible in just the right places to ensure they have a writing career, and not just “a book”. This site won’t do that alone. Heck, nothing will do that alone.”

And “Can I donate to support the authors?” The answer is “Please do! You’ll find a donation link associated with every book on the site. When you donate, we’ll give 75% of the donation to the author of the book you have selected.”

Podiobooks has 8367 episodes available for download in 426 titles, and transmit books to 70,403 members. They give author guidelines for producing an audio version, such as using music in the background, keeping each recorded episode between 20 and 40 minutes, which is many peoples’ commute time, and using quality recording equipment.

There were a few other sites I checked. At http://www.booksinmotion.com, people can either purchase the audio or podio version. The book featured on the front page of the site is available on an audio CD for 31.99, or downloadable for $14.95.

A new site, http://www.weread4you.com/ is due to be released in August and promises 20,000 audio books to buy.

Another site you can join is http://www.simplyaudiobooks.com/. There is 15 day free trial, the for your $26.98 so you can get unlimited CD audio book rentals on the 2-at-a-time plan. If you cancel your membership before the trial period is up there is no charge.

There are many options for people. The audio book business is huge. I’ve had several people ask if my books will be available on tape. Besides the commuters, there are any number of people who need or prefer audio. Some are blind, others have lost their ability to read, still others may need their eyes to watch kids at the beach, but can listen to a book. When my mother lost her ability to read, due to dementia, we got audio books for her and she loved them.

Are you a fan of audio books? What are your thoughts?

Christine Husom is the Second Wind Publishing author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River

13 Comments

Filed under books, Christine husom, writing

13 responses to “Podio, Anyone?

  1. My initial, knee-jerk reaction to this is that once again the author is getting short-changed, the shaft, the poop end of the stick.

    A few months ago I was contacted by someone, I think it may have been through Facebook, who expressed interest in obtaining a copy of Backstop. I sent him the link to Second Wind. A short time later he replied that he never buys a book or a CD and could I please advise him how to obtain a copy free of charge. After a few more email exchanges, I gave up trying to convince this guy that I deserved to be paid for my creation.

    So Podiobooks gives the “lion’s share” of donations to the author. How many donations do they receive? Certainly the guy who contacted me isn’t going to donate, nor is anyone else who goes out of their way to pirate copies of e-books or CDs. Face it, some people think that we artists are obligated to share the results of our long hours of labor for nothing. These are the same people who think they are underpaid for the hours they work for their employer.

    That young man told you, “A lot of authors have become bestsellers after getting their start on podio.” Yeah? Who?

    So Podiobooks doesn’t charge an author for a listing; the author must still “invest” to have his or her book put on tape or “digitized.”

    A lot of nefarious vanity presses would have aspiring novelists believe that many best-selling writers got their start by self-publishing and had their work picked up by a traditional publisher. The truth is, that happens only rarely, and it was more likely to happen prior to the digital age, when fewer aspiring writers took that route. Today anyone with a valid credit card can see their work in print, which only makes it more difficult for the rest of us. Most self-published authors sell, on average, about 160 copies, and most of those copies are sold to family and friends. How does making a free download of my book available to 100,000 readers help me become a best-selling author when I’m selling nothing and relying on the promise of an occasional donation?

    I think I see this as just another effort by someone looking to make money off my work.

    • christinehusom

      I think as we move on with more and more electronic devices usage, there will be increased pirating. No doubt in my mind. I’m sure a large number of people have figured out how to get ebooks for free. One of my complaints/concerns, as fewer and fewer paper copies are produced.

      It’s like all the reading devices the companies come out with–they are the ones getting the bulk of the money, not the authors. They have created a “need” in people’s minds.

      I, too, am curious who has moved on to be bestselling authors after getting their books out there on audio/podio.

      Good question about how many do, if fact, send in a donation. I’m quite certain the young man who was giving me the skinny would not be a contributor.

      But then again, all the people on the waiting list at the library for my books do not pay, either. What I count on, to a certain extent, is when people are really excited for your next book, they will buy it instead of waiting for it at the library. That has happened to me more than once, which is cool.

      If I do a podio, it will be another way to advertise. I’ve already spent a lot on that and given a ton of books away. At this point, I am trying to build readership, so I’m exploring different avenues.

  2. It amazes me as well how people assume our written words should be available at no charge. Age of the internet I suppose. I don’t have a clue how we’re going to be able to stop the essential stealing of our work. In some cases it’s good to provide a free copy–exposure and so forth as long as word is then spread. Whenever I donate a copy of STACCATO I tell the receiver that they must tell everyone they know about the book and encourage at least 3 people to actually by a copy.

  3. Hi. I’m the guy that started Podiobooks.com. First, thanks for writing about us and the “movement”. A few points of clarification, if I may:

    Podiobooks are serialized audiobooks. That’s not the same things as getting chapters of an audiobook one at a time. It’s very similar, but not quit the same. It’s about listening over time, and in a “serial” fashion. No, it’s not for everyone.

    Regarding the “young guy” who told you about our site — I’m afraid he’s either misinformed or is mischaracterized: adding your books to the growing collection at Podiobooks.com is most certainly NOT a ticket to a best seller status. While SOME authors have achieved this status — be that NYT, Amazon or some other list — it’s certainly not MOST. And those that did make the grade worked their butts off to do so. Giving away the serialized audibook version was just part of the process.

    I’ll not try and argue with Mr. Guest or Ms. Ledford. I will state that we’re not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. We’re very upfront into the time, energy and effort this takes. We’re also very realistic when it comes to “payoff”. There isn’t a single author on Podiobooks.com that makes anywhere near a living wage from the donations we collect. And those of us that run Podiobooks.com — that’d be me — don’t make anywhere near a living wage from the money we keep. We barely cover expenses. The site wasn’t designed as a money-maker. Not for me. Not for the authors.

    Which leads to the inevitable question of “then what’s the point?” To which I answer “For you, there probably isn’t one”. This path isn’t for everyone. There is no one right way. Yet the model, or similar models, works for some. And it’s to those we’re here for.

    Your comment ends with the correct intent of our site, Christine. We exist to help authors build and grow connections with readers. And someday, they just may buy a version of one of your books. :)

    E.

    • christinehusom

      Nice to see you here, Evo, and thanks for the clarifications. I am seriously thinking of getting at least one of my books on Podio because it seems like a fairly inexpensive way to advertise–it’s just carving out the time, and lining up the reader(s) and equipment to get ‘er done.

      • I’d encourage you to check out our Community section, Christine. It sounds like you’re leaning toward using one or more person to narrate the book for you, rather than doing it yourself. That’s possible and often done, though the much more common route is to do it all yourself.

        We’re fortunate to have a giving community that chimes in with loads of free advice. And some times free assistance. So jump in and see what strikes your fancy. I think you’ll be impressed with how accepting and helpful they all can be.

    • Thank you so much for chiming in, Evo. Don’t get me wrong, I think podcasts are extremely useful to busy “readers” and hope I didn’t mislead you in my comments. I am more disgruntled about the E-book and download movement and how publishers are making a great deal of money off these downloads, yet not distributing sufficient funds to the authors who create the work.

      I am very interested in joining the podcast movement and would appreciate more information on how to make my book available to Podiobooks and your followers.

      • Well, I don’t consider myself a “publisher”, so I can’t speak to the levels of money those who are do or do not.

        Podcasting is easy. Get a mic. Get some free software. Get some cheap hosting. Bing. You’re a podcaster. You may want a decent book to help get you started. I’m partial to Podcasting For Dummies, though I may be biased. You’ll see why when you check out the spine.

        Making a podiobook is a different matter all together. It isn’t easy. Talking in a mic is easy. Narrating effectively less so. And doing so for the dozens of times necessary to get all of your content into the form is that much more difficult.

        Yet it is, for some, very rewarding. Not necessarily with dollars and cents, though that certainly has happened. More so from the audience-building aspects I mentioned before. So if that much works sounds like fun, we’re here to help.

        Click the “Authors” link on our site to get more details. And also click the “Community” link to hear from authors who’ve been through the process and listeners who’ve heard the final product. They’ll help guide you along the way. We are committed to the DIY approach, though there are pros we can connect you with should you decide that you have more time that money. But most of our authors do it all on their own, leaning heavily on the community to help. And help they do.

        So welcome in advance, Deborah!

  4. Deborah: I agree, and I’ve provided free copies of Backstop with the same caveat: that the recipient spread the word by leaving it out on a countertop or recommending it to their clients. But that’s my choice and I have control over it. Maybe I’m being short-sighted, but making it available as a free download to any number of people doesn’t, in my mind, make for sound marketing strategy.

    I may be jaded because I self-published my first book and every month was the same: I received an email from my POD publisher trying to get me to buy a marketing package—$750 to take my book to a book convention in Toronto; discounts to me for buying 100 copies of my own book … It went on and on. It’s no wonder that emerging authors who self-publish never make any money; the only person who does is the publisher, at the author’s expense. When you consider that the average self-published title sells only 160 copies, how can they even hope to make back their initial investment let alone pay for the marketing schemes that do little more than line the pockets of the publisher?

  5. christinehusom

    I will do that, Evo!

  6. How did it go with Evo and Podiobooks? Have you decided to make your books available as an audio version? Would love an update!

  7. Micheal

    Hi there,

    recently I stumble into this website http://www.ikoodos.com they offers alot of audiobooks as others do, at a very affordable price.

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