Have you thought about turning your newly published book into an audiobook? There are a couple of different things to consider before jumping in. Like translations, creating audiobooks can cost a pretty penny. Though once established it can increase your bottom line, help you reach another audience, and give you more visibility. Let’s look at some of the different aspects of audiobook creation and what you need to know.
The Cost to Produce an Audiobook
When calculating the cost of audiobooks, there are generally two ways to compare. One is a royalty share based system, while the other you pay up front in a pay per produced hour rate. Each site will have their own way of doing things or offer the choice, but understanding each can make a big difference to the amount you pay up front. It’s also important to understand how you profit from each of the choices.
Royalty share means that you work with a narrator without paying a large fee upfront. When the job is complete, and the book goes for sale, you share the royalties. This is a great choice for those starting out and unable to afford the cost of full pay per hour production.
There are however a few things to keep in mind. First, not everybody is willing to do royalty sharing, so your pool of narrators may be smaller. This is a good opportunity for those new to narration as well as those who are new to the process. You can get your feet wet without a big investment. The negative to this arrangement is that you lose a chunk of your sales, and if you have a big hit right out of the gate you may have paid back your costs faster doing it the other way.
Pay Per Hour
Pay per hour is generally a rate you pay for narrated, edited, and produced audio that passes quality checks. There’s obviously a lot more work that goes into this, and more of your experienced narrators work with this method.
How much will it set you back? Voice actors make names for themselves just as authors do, and there will be some that have worked enough to charge extremely high rates. Though, the general population when sorting through narrators at sites like Audible (ACX is the production end) tend to run in the $150 to $400 per hour rate.
Consider that if you have a book that will be 10 hours when completed, you’re looking at a big chunk of change. So that voice actor that charges $300 per finished and produced hour may end up costing you $3,000 to produce upfront. Of course, in this instance, you don’t split the royalties on your sales, because you’ve paid upfront.
When choosing how to produce your book, you can use one person, or if you have alternating points of view in your book, you might choose two people. Take in mind, these extra circumstances will most likely increase your bottom line. Each platform handles details differently, so be sure to compare them to decide which is best for your book.
Audiobook Platforms: Should You Be Exclusive or Go Wide?
There are a couple main platforms you’ll hear about most often when talking about audiobooks. If you’re an indie author, you may have heard about Audible (ACX), Tantor Media, and Findaway Voices. While there are other producers out there, these are the three that will most likely be discussed on writing forums for indie authors.
They each have a strong reputation, are well known, and handle different aspects of audiobooks. Let’s look at the basics of what you need to know about these platforms.
The author end of Audible is called ACX
, which is where you log in and handle the details of hiring somebody to read your book, production, and other details like payments. There are two ways to go when it comes to ACX, exclusive (which used to have a 7-year exclusivity clause, though it’s become a bit more flexible) or wide. ACX was an obvious answer early on, because Audible was the only big audiobook game in town. If you wanted to be found, it made sense to go that route.
Audible was purchased by Amazon a couple years back. Prior to that, they were the easiest way to get your audiobook onto Amazon. Today, obviously since Amazon owns them, that goes double. But, keep in mind that there are other avenues now to get your book distributed.
The other large mammoth in the room is called Findaway Voices
. When they entered the game, they opened up a wide range of options that helped authors find wider distribution. They also have options to help with narration and production, but their distribution channels are non-exclusive, which people find appealing. One of the downfalls is it may take a tad bit longer to get on some retailers such as Amazon.
While some authors work with Tantor Media
, they are more in the production end of the audiobook creation via voice talent. There are benefits in being distributed to multiple places such as libraries, online retailers, and more, so Tantor is an option to distribute to an even wider audience.
Is it Worth the Risk?
Visibility is always a gamble. While some people look at audiobooks as another means to reach their fans and grow their bottom line, the upfront cost can be a big hurdle for many. Is it worth the risk? For some it is. Many say that one way to measure if it makes sense to create an audiobook is by looking at how well your ebook/paperback book is selling. If it’s a hot seller, audio should do well, too. But, not everybody agrees, and others found sales to be worth it even if it was a steady stream rather than a breakout hit.
Another thing to consider is pricing. ACX has a different pricing requirement that is tied to their program. They offer a subscription service and an ala carte service for their buyers, and sometimes the price of your book is set for you.
With Findaway Voices you have more control over your pricing and may have better movement with more flexibility in that area. It’s easier to adjust pricing for promotional sites, such as using a newsletter promotional service such as the newer Chirp Books, which is related to the ever popular BookBub.