Yes, I am one of those authors who keeps a Google search alert saved for their books. And yes, most of the alerts tell me I’ve been pirated.
No, I have not uploaded an audio version of my debut to SoundCloud, and if you pay someone who has used an AI to create one from my freely available writing, then, well … we’re both chumps, I guess.
There is reasonably decent free AI audio made available by me via Fictionate. If you take the time to Like or Comment, I get feedback there, which is nice. That’s the bit I greatly dislike the pirates taking. My dopamine.
A great human-narrated first edition audio is available for credits on Audible (I don’t get paid for them, because that was a format I did through my small publisher and Audible locks us all into that, so while I got the rights back to my books, I couldn’t get the audio–the narrator will earn, though, so feel free to support Kathryn). I would love to re-record it and my future books for accessibility (hence why my books are available free in a bunch of places), but I can’t afford a narrator at this time. My money is going into the visual mediums (covers), for now. I have considered recording myself, but I need to write first in what little time I have to give.
Basically, be wary of audiobooks on these random platforms that just allow people to upload with no checks and balances. I’ve chosen not to make money out of most of my readers (hoping for some superfans one day). It stinks that others would make money out of my work when I have chosen not to. It makes it very tempting to go “F it, I’m just gonna put a $ value on it all”. But then I remember the people who, for whatever reason, can’t access a library or afford to buy. Are my words going to feed them? No. But perhaps they’ll get a laugh or a cry out of it, and that’s part of being human, too. I don’t begrudge other authors keeping a price on their words, either. We all have to eat (and laugh, and cry, and love). I’m in a position where I can eat, and I have a fairly reliable roof over my head, and so this is how I give back. I do hate being taken advantage of but, I guess, that is also a part of being human. So, I suppose I should sit with that. We’re all humans trying to human the best we know how. I choose compassion.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for sitting with me while I worked this out.
I will write. I will write the words I can learn to love. If other people like or love those words, all the better, but I won’t find those people if I keep my words to myself. But marketing is also yick. We live in a broken system with some amazing tools of communication. There are those who will bleed us for everything we have. I don’t want to be a part of their club. Some middle ground might be the most sensible place to be. But while people choose to sit at that awful, mega-greedy end of the spectrum, we can’t balance that out by sitting in the middle. I’m going to choose compassion again.
I’ll have to think about it again tomorrow.