Monday, January 9, 2017

Audio Books - Options, Pros, Cons, Dos, and Don’ts

Several years ago, audio books were tanking faster than mass market paperbacks. EBooks were taking a large chunk out of both and the rest of the market share. But in the past two years, audio book sales have soared. This is the result of lower production costs and more options for listening.

For authors and publishers looking to take the plunge into audio books, there are several options:

Royalty-share platforms - 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?

Pros-
  • 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.

Cons-
  • 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.

While some authors will tackle the narration themselves, most will work either directly or indirectly with a narrator. Both the author and the narrator invest time in the story and consideration is required from both sides. There’s etiquette to consider and dos and don’ts:

Do -
  • 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!

Don’t - 
  • 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?

29 comments:

The Cynical Sailor said...

I recently started listening to audio books and am really enjoying it, especially when I'm working on sewing projects and the like. There's so many books on my reading list that it's a great way to tick some off while getting other stuff done. Cheers - Ellen

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Nice tip about the audio book/characters' voices not sounding exactly as we imagined them. You're right--who knows what the readers expect in a voice...definitely not what we've imagined. I've learned to sort of roll with it and it's worked off well.

I'm glad to be in audio. There's definitely a good market for it out there.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I recently heard how the audio market is really growing, so it's a good idea for writers to consider this for their books. I really love audio books, though I go through phases in reading them.

Stephen Tremp said...

I had a comment on Amazon for one of my books the person listened to it as an audio book and I never did anything audio with any of my books. But hey, I got a three-star rating just the same.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - I like the idea of audio ... and will definitely do it at some stage ... thanks for the links and advice - cheers Hilary

Pat Hatt said...

The whole costly thing puts me off. I'll stick to just written for now.

Christine Rains said...

Like Pat, the cost has kept me away, but it is something I'd like to do in the future if I can. The market is growing, and I've heard authors that have had a lot of success with their audio books.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Elizabeth, after hearing many of McCaffrey's books in audio, I knew no narrator would capture the voices as I'd imagined them.

Stephen, if you've never created one, I'd check on that. Unless that person was listening to it on his Kindle.

Pat and Christine, with AXC there is no cost, which is nice.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Very thankful to have my books in audio now!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Very informative Diane. I have not really considered audio books but I have started listening to them recently and they can be a nice alternative to reading the books. I'll still read the book too but hey, if it gets readers then it is a cool avenue for authors to consider. Thanks for the deets!

Sandee said...

I've not started on these yet. I remember the old cassette tapes that I would listen to while driving from one meeting to the next when I was still working. Way back in the day.

As with everything concerning writing this too is another challenge. I can see why you have these groups. A great way to help everyone find the right and cheapest path.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I know the market is booming, but I don't like listening to audio books. They put me to sleep for some reason. But I wouldn't mind having some of my books on audio to get a chip in that part of publishing.

Juneta Key said...

Great post with things to think about. Thanks for the tips.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Michelle Wallace said...

Great post.
Audio can win over fans who are reluctant/lazy to engage with the written text...

Anne R. Allen said...

Excellent tips. I've found my audio sales have been climbing in the past few months. I work with the royalty-share plan at ACX with a narrator who is very professional and it works great.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

We've listened to audio books for years, particularly before Sirius radio was born. Have always enjoyed them. Life is full of chores and work and duties. It's nice to have an alternative. Thanks for sharing this knowledge, Diane. It's a lot to take in. Sounds involved.

Karen Lange said...

Good to know, Diane! Glad you shared, thank you. Haven't taken the plunge yet, but hopefully someday.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice! I know a lot of my kids enjoy the audio books at school - so great for kids with learning differences - and for many other people too! :)

Barbara Fisher said...

I like to listen to audio books while driving, although it’s not always easy to concentrate (on either the story or the driving), but it is an excellent way of ticking a few more books of my ever expanding TBR list.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sandee, we still have some old books on tape somewhere.

Toinette Thomas said...

I love audio books and would love to have my work narrated; if only I could stop updating it. ;)
Great tips.

Sandra Cox said...

Hi Diane,
With ACX, do you still have to pay the narrator upfront or will some do it just for the royalty split?

Robert Bennett said...

Nice. I might have to save this info for later. I'd actually been considering doing an audio book for Xenophobia once it was done since I love LISTENING to them so much. While the equipment and narrator aren't a problem (I live with a voice actor), I had wondered how publishing might work.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sandra, if you choose the royalty share option, ACX splits it for you.

Robert, there are many ways now to distribute audio books. You have an advantage living with a narrator. (My advantage is I live with an illustrator.)

Lux G. said...

There came a time when I would listen to audio books more than read an actual book.
Nice to know these pros and cons.

baili said...

Here I haven't seen such yet but would love to listen and while doing my chores as this is very useful for people who love reading but find no time for this !
Thank you for sharing this amazing post friend.

Theresa Milstein said...

I have listened to audio books, but I didn't actually know much about them--how well they sell, what's involved, and so on. Thanks for the info!

Magic Love Crow said...

My friend listens to audio books all the time in the car! I have never listened to one.

Gingi Freeman said...

I could never get into audio books, I much prefer the written word.. - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com