Monday, June 8, 2015

Audio Books for Indie Authors

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Many (including author Joanna Penn) have predicted that audio, via podcasting and audio books, will increase in popularity due to the launch of Apple CarPlay and Google Cars.

And indie authors do have the option to publish to an audio book format through ACX.

Questions to ask ourselves before delving in:

There are a few things to consider before we get started. First of all, are we qualified to narrate our books ourselves (do we have the necessary equipment and expertise…and time…to take it on)?

If we would rather use a professional narrator/producer, would we rather pay the narrator/producer upfront (do we have the cash on-hand) or would we rather participate in a royalty-share option?

Do we want our audio book exclusive to ACX or non-exclusive? My opinion…ACX gets our audio books on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes and ensures us a 40% royalty (unless we opt to share that royalty with a narrator). Although I usually don’t condone exclusivity for authors, here I can’t see the point in going non-exclusive and getting the 25% royalty. Besides, anyone interested in the royalty-share option must be exclusive to ACX.

If we choose royalty-share, are our book sales and social media presence strong enough that our project looks appealing to narrators? If so, we need to pitch our presence and our sales on our audio book audition listing under “additional comments.” We should understand that narrators who consider royalty-share options are taking a tremendous risk in terms of their time—this may result in fewer auditions for us to choose from unless we’re fairly successful authors with a good track record.

We also need to consider how we want our books to sound while being read. More about that below.

Production options:

When we list our book for audition, we have the opportunity to choose what type of voice we’re ideally looking for. This includes gender and age of narrator, but also the style of voice. Here’s a sampling of the style options:

announcer, articulate, brooding, deadpan, engaging, enthusiastic, female narrating a male part, feminine, flirtatious, frightened, girlish, hip, host-interviewer, husky, hysterical, informed, ingĂ©nue, inspirational, intimidating, male narrating a female part, masculine, mature, nasal, perky, raspy, refined, snarky, sheepish, soothing, storyteller, sultry, upper-class…you get the idea.

My thoughts on ACX: Although audio books don’t supply me with a staggering amount of income, the income it does provide is pure profit and a consistent monthly payment. My only part in the process has been choosing narrators, listening/proofing the finished audio, modest attempts at promoting the audio book, and then receiving checks. The narrator, as the producer, has the bulk of the work…taping, editing, and formatting/uploading the finished product.

Have you explored going into audio books yet? Are you an audio book listener?

Elizabeth writes the Southern Quilting mysteries and Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin Random House and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She blogs HERE and curates links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig that are later shared in the free search engine WritersKB.com.

33 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for hosting me today! IWSG is a wonderful resource for authors.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thank you for joining us today, Elizabeth!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Since audio books are on the fastest decline, I think the royalty-share option is the best. Then you're not trying to make back an investment on top of everything else.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Alex--Happy to be here!

Diane--If possible, royalty share makes the *most* sense for authors. No financial investment upfront, that way.

Margot Kinberg said...

This is really helpful! Thanks, both. I think it's just smart for authors to have their books available in as many formats as possible, especially audio. A lot of people prefer it.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Margot--Audio seems to be a popular option for many readers! Thanks for coming by, Margot.

Christine Rains said...

This is a thought-provoking post. I haven't ventured into audio yet, but more and more authors are doing so these days. Yet it is something I'm considering for the next year. Thanks sharing your experience. :)

Pat Hatt said...

I've looked at it, but haven't tried it yet. In the pipeline maybe

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Audio is a great way to reach readers, I think. One of my favorite narrators is Cherry Jones.

Great and informative post, Elizabeth.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thanks for the great information. I've been talking with my publisher about audio books.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Christine--Hope you'll explore it!

Patt--I know...there's so much out there to try, isn't there?

Teresa--I'll have to look her up! I'm just starting to be an audio *listener* now that I have more dead time (exercising, mainly).

Susan--That can be a tough conversation! I know I've had no luck getting audio rights for my trad pubbed books. Best of luck!

Hart Johnson said...

It definitely seems wise for Indie authors, and very intimidating. Thanks for help in how to think about all of it!

Anne R. Allen said...

Great post, Elizabeth! I've used ACX and the experience has been great. I do the royalty share and I've used a very professional narrator who has his own studio.

The only problem is they've cut royalties in half since they started, so the two of you have to split a 40% royalty, so unless you can get "bonuses" for signing up new members, the payment is pretty meager.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hart--It's actually a pretty easy process, I promise. They guide us through it.

Anne--The royalties have definitely decreased. For me, though, I'm looking at it as...this is income I wouldn't have had otherwise. It's the biggest game in town and unfortunately, they hold their content providers hostage! But there currently are no better options. Maybe, when our contracts are up for renewal in 7 years or fewer, we may have more audio retailers to consider.

Stephsco said...

I've been listening to audiobooks from my library for years, but I'd like to do a subscription service like Scribd and listen via my phone and bluetooth in the car.

dolorah said...

I'd prefer to hire a narrator. My voice is aweful, but a trained narrator could likely increase sales.

historywriter said...

I went through ACX to get an audiobook of my historical fiction. Went the royalty share before they changed the %. Since then I've found it hard to get a narrator willing to do the royalty share for my other published novel. I need a female voice. I have sold only a few of the audiobooks. Still, I'm happy with the one I have. I give away codes at book talks and book clubs.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Stephsco--I've heard good things about Scribd. I haven't personally done this, but my understanding is that we can use the Audible app to download audio books onto our phone and listen through bluetooth there, as well. Amazing what we can do with technology now!

Dolorah--Narrators can make all the difference!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I have 21 books in Audio form through ACX -- and Royalty Share was the only way I could do that. Robert Rossmann and Francene Lockett are two of the best narrators I have heard and I have had the rare good fortune of snaring them for many of my audiobooks.

Robert is not only a stage actor, he is a stage director. Francene did work for NPR and her Victorian accent for my Victorian ghoul is stunning. As Donna said: the right narrators make all the difference in the world!~

celinejeanjean said...

I think the royalty share is a great system but sadly it's only available for the US and UK, so those of us outside those countries don't get that option!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Roland--That's a lot of work on ACX! Congratulations. :) Those sound like wonderful narrators, too....it does make a tremendous difference!

Celine--Hoping that ACX makes good on their promise to expand the program!

Karen Elizabeth Brown said...

My sister has been pushing me to make audiobooks, so thanks for the valuable information. It's a lot to think about.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Karen--Glad you're looking into it!

Michelle Wallace said...

It sounds so exciting!
Thanks for the info. When I eventually publish a book, this is something to consider.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for the great information. I've been considering audiobooks, but I haven't taken the plunge.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Michelle--It's pretty exciting to hear your book narrated! Hope you'll check into it.

Tyrean--Good luck to you with it!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Elizabeth and Alex - wonderful post to have up and then all the comments .. I've been waiting to read what others think and the questions they ask! Now when I'm ready .. I have some information to follow ... thanks for the ideas and tips etc ... and the great commenters we have around .. cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hilary--Great commenters, for sure! I've enjoyed being here. :) Thanks, Hilary.

Toinette Thomas said...

This is right on time for me. I've been think about audio books. Thanks for the info.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...


Toinette--Hope it helps! Thanks for coming by.

G. B. Miller said...

I used to lisen to audio books (cassettes) back in the day when I would work the overnight and needed something to occupy myself (had HBO but none of the other movie channels). But even though I picked up a bunch of discounted audio books, I can't bring myself to listen to them. If I'm listening to something that requires most of my attention (i.e. listening to sports on the radio or editing a story) I have to be doing something to keep myself focused.

I treat audio books like an actual book, and whereas you can read a book anywhere, an audio book requires the listener (such as myself) to sit absolutely still, and due to a very mild ADD/OCD disorder, I really can't just sit still when I'm doing something as mundane as listening to an audiobook.

Father Nature's Corner

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. You answered questions I didn't even know I had.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

G.B.: I have a hard time, too. I have to be exercising or doing housework when I listen.

Joylene--Thanks for coming by!