For authors and publishers looking to take the plunge into audio books, there are several options:
ACX is one of the largest, and it also offers producers for hire. With royalty-share, the distribution company keeps a portion of profit and the narrator and author/publisher split the rest 50/50.
Hire a producer and narrator - this can be done on your own (using a company like CDBaby for distribution) or through a company that will do it all for you like Infinity Publishing or Dog Ear Publishing.
Produce and narrate yourself - for those with the resources and equipment to complete an audio book for uploading to a distribution platform. After paying the distributor, all of the profit goes to the author or author/publisher.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of audio books?
- Exposure - There are a lot of companies distributing and selling audio books now. Plus there are fewer audio books, so you are more visible to buyers.
- Another source of income - Multiple streams of money is better than all of your eggs in one basket, and it’s an additional boost to your current income.
- Reach a wider audience - There are people who don’t read a lot of books. Some may not have time or they struggle with reading. You’ll reach non-readers, active people, and those with poor vision.
- Always in stock - Like an eBook, your audio book is always in stock.
- Cost - The biggest one comes from producing the book yourself or paying someone to narrate and/or produce. Unless you are doing royalty-share, you have to weigh the cost (usually in the thousands) versus return on investment.
- Time involved - An eight hour audio book requires an average of sixty hours to produce. Narrators often take several weeks and if you’re doing it yourself, it could take even longer.
- Promotions - Audio books aren’t instant sales. The author and publisher still have to promote the titles just as they would a print or eBook.
- Provide pronunciations, character accents, and character descriptions. Make it easy for the narrator to do his or her job.
- Expect professionalism. The narrator should provide a quality product in a timely fashion.
- Plan marketing with the narrator, especially if it is a royalty-share project.
- The key - communicate!
- Accept shoddy or extremely late work. The narration should be high quality and delivered on time as promised.
- Expect perfectionism. The audio book will NOT sound exactly as you imagined it. The end result will be the narrator’s interpretation, just as a movie is the director’s interpretation. Remember, your readers will also have formed an idea of the character’s voices and doubtful those match up with yours, either.
- Be overly demanding. You do not want to be a pain to work with! Like any industry, word gets around. No one wants a miserable experience.
The audio book market is wide open and booming - weigh your options and be prepared. Are audio books right for you? Have you already taken the plunge?