“Listen Up!” Now that we’ve addressed key areas in your pre-publication marketing it’s time to move on to exploring how you’ll generate revenue with your writing. In this article, we take a closer look at one of the publishing industry’s fastest growing segments: Audiobooks.
According to the most recent AuthorEarnings.com report, “We think audiobooks will be a huge growth area for self-published indie authors in 2016.”
And it’s no wonder: downloadable audiobooks are one of the industry’s fastest growing segments, for both indie-published authors and traditionally-published authors. (And as we joke, the more traffic on congested highways, the more this will trend up for authors!)
According to the AuthorEarnings report, as of January 2016, Amazon alone was selling roughly 119,000 audiobooks a day — about $2,100,000 worth — which were generating $204,000 a day in author earnings. Yes, over $200,000 each DAY. In shot, it’s a revenue stream you’ll want to fish.
Said publishing expert Jane Friedman in Publishers Weekly, “Authors skilled in multimedia have an advantage over those who release only e-books or print books. Reader discovery increases when you can produce audiobooks, illustrated editions, podcasts, serialization (even if just at Wattpad), YouTube videos, and so on….”
Having an audiobook lets you reach potential fans who don’t have time to read but do have time to listen. It also improves your discoverability, which typically raises the bar on your overall book sales.
Convinced? Let’s get to how it’s done and how much you may need to invest!
How to Create Your Audiobook
Audiobook Creation Exchange – better known as ACX, is the connection to Amazon’s Audible. Here you can find narrators and producers and get your project underway. You’ll need to confirm you own your audio rights if you’re an indie author or arrange through your publisher if you have a publisher.
You’ll create a profile, upload book excerpts and be able to connect with narrators and receive sample recordings from your excerpts to find the right match.
The first step is at ACX is for indie authors to confirm they own the audio rights to their material. Next, authors need to create a profile describing what they’re looking for in a narrator and upload excerpts from their books. What follows is a casting call of sorts — authors can contact narrators, and narrators can contact authors with sample recordings.
Once you choose a narrator you have the option to pay the narrator outright (typically a dollar amount per finished hour of video) OR you can arrange a revenue split, meaning the 40% you get from Audible will be split 50/50 with the narrator, each of you receiving 20%.
Note that both of these options require exclusivity with Audible. A third option is to pay the production fee and have non-exclusive Audible distribution and receive 25% instead of 40%. You can learn more about the cost breakdowns HERE.
Other DIY Options
ACX isn’t the only game in town, of course. Here are several more production/distribution resources to investigate before you make a decision. We’ve listed them alphabetically:
- Authors Republic (distributes to all carriers shown at right)
- Dog Ear Publishing
You might also select to work directly with a recording studio. Studios can help authors cast narrators, typically have good voice actors with whom to work, and will handle your production for a set fee. If you select this option, you’ll need to arrange your own distribution deal.
How Much Does It Cost to Produce An Audiobook?
Unless you select the revenue share option from ACX or arrange a fixed price package, prices per finished hour of audio will vary. According to a recent article in Publishers Weekly, “The Screen Actors Guild stipulates that the fee per finished hour for union members needs to be $225, although many narrators will charge more. A 90,000-word book (roughly 350 pages) will come out to be somewhere around 10 hours of finished audio. Once the recording is complete, production costs run about $75 per hour.”
All this translates to $3,000 – $4,000 minimum for a typical 10-hour completed audiobook. If you’re confident in your ability to move audio product, paying for production will in most cases offer you the greatest flexibility and control over your project.
If you’re unsure of your book’s appeal to the audio market or your ability to market to this audience, then ACX’s revenue share option is the way to get started and dip your big toe into the audiobook market.
Do You Have An Audiobook?
If you are an author who already has audiobooks on offer, we’d love to hear from you with your comments below. Who did you use for production? How was the narration process? What percentage of your overall book sales have been audiobooks?
We encourage you to read the articles below to learn more – and look forward to an increasingly lucrative additional revenue stream as audiobooks enjoy an ever larger share of the book market!
- From Publishers Weekly – DIY: How to Self-Publish an Audiobook
- From The Creative Penn – Audiobook Narration, Production, Distribution And Marketing
- From ACX – For Authors: How It Works
- From WWW – Author’s Republic Offers New Options for Authors and Publishers
- From WWW – Are You Capturing Your Share of Audiobooks Sales?