Author Topic: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?  (Read 1811 times)  

Offline lostones

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Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« on: March 16, 2017, 01:44:49 PM »
A few questions for you veterans that are familiar with it. Whether that be with ACX or Tantor, or have done it and then given up with audio.

Hi, I've not dabbled in audio yet but I'm looking to do it in 2017.

1. I notice anyone browsing amazon has the option of either getting a trial with audible and downloading for $0 or buying the audio file for $9.99 or higher.  If you have created that file through ACX and paid the audio guy upfront say $1500 for creating it. Based on what i can see from ACX, each time someone buys it or gets it through audible. You would get 40% of whatever it was. So if they buy it for $9.99 you are getting $3.90. I gather that's the same for if they sign up through audible and get it for nothing??? and are you paid that into your account every 60 days like we are with Amazon?

2. For those of you who have gone outside of acx and used a company like tantor ( tantor seems to do an agreement where they offer like $500 for a title and then you get 20% for downloads of that audio, 10% on hard goods of that title) for a 7 years agreement.  Was it a good experience and does that sound fair? How often did you get paid? Would you keep working with them?

3. For those of you who go through acx and do a royalty share with the audio guy. How's that work? Does ACX keep 60% of the 9.99, then you split the 40% with the audio guy? Would like to hear what kind of arrangement/ percentage you have made and what that looks like and if it you are paid that amount every 60 days? or is it quarterly through acx? And is worth it?

4. I know there are some authors who have dabbled in audio but no longer do it as they don't see it as profitable ( or can't make their initial investment back soon enough). Are you considering other companies like Tantor? or such or just waiting until you have enough funds to keep going with acx?

Thanks.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2017, 02:11:28 PM »
I have an agreement with Tantor and another with Podium. I don't know if you can approach them, in both cases they approached me.

I know people who've gone in with ACX and are making LOADS more than I earn ... but I really didn't have the money to invest in audiobooks so I'm not sad that I did it. Also, I know people who haven't broke even, so there is that as well.

Tantor pays you an advance and then a royalty once the advance is earned back. I think you can negotiate on what the royalty rate is. Podium pays more in royalties but there is no advance. I think I'm going to wind up making more money with Podium, but we'll see in 7 years!


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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2017, 02:49:32 PM »
Yes, there are people who are making loads and others struggling along. No different than the ebook market.

Just because Audible prices your book at $9.99, doesn't mean someone is going to buy it at that price. The most common price is $1.99 for whispersync. If you buy the ebook, you can get the audio for $1.99 which returns $0.80 in royalties. On the other hand, someone may buy it with an Audible credit which is $14.99. There are also bounties. If someone signs up for a membership and buys your book first, as long as they keep the membership for 60 days, you will get a $50 bounty.



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Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2017, 04:16:26 PM »
First, ACX pays monthly, just like KDP and CS. The pay 30 days after the month of sales. In other words, whatever audio sales I have in March will be paid at the end of April.

There are a number of payment amounts. depending on if the buyer is an Audible subscriber or not. I sell between 10 and 20 per day usually and my average royalty per sale is $2.88 currently.

To determine if royalty share is a good fit for you, do the math backwards. A good narrator will cost at least $200 per finished hour. ACX uses 9400 words per hour as the average. This will give you a good baseline for straight pay to the narrator. A 94K word book will be about ten hours long and cost about $2000.

So where's the break even for the narrator for this 94K book with Royalty Share? It's a seven year contract. If you average $2.88 royalty per sale, as I do, the narrator will get $1.44 of that. 2000 divided by 1.44 equals 1389 sales for the narrator to earn the same money. Seven years X 365 days equals 2555 days in the contract. 1389 sales divided by 2555 days equals .54 sales per day, or one sale every other day.

If you sell more than one audiobook every other day, the narrator comes out ahead with Royalty Share. And you come out behind. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't even consider doing it, if my goal was to sell only one audiobook every other day.

To put a better slant on it, consider if you sold two audiobooks per day. The narrator will earn $2.88 every day and so will you. In the lifetime of the contract (2555 days), the narrator will earn $7358.40, or $5358.40 more than had you just ponied up the cash up front. Four sales per day? You pay the narrator over $12K instead of $2K.

Yes, it's an expensive investment. But way too much money is left on the table with Royalty Share.
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Offline lostones

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2017, 04:36:20 PM »
I have an agreement with Tantor and another with Podium. I don't know if you can approach them, in both cases they approached me.

I know people who've gone in with ACX and are making LOADS more than I earn ... but I really didn't have the money to invest in audiobooks so I'm not sad that I did it. Also, I know people who haven't broke even, so there is that as well.

Tantor pays you an advance and then a royalty once the advance is earned back. I think you can negotiate on what the royalty rate is. Podium pays more in royalties but there is no advance. I think I'm going to wind up making more money with Podium, but we'll see in 7 years!

That's the big questions. Are people even breaking even with ACX?

They approached me. Did you manage to negotiate higher than 20% and 10%?

Offline lostones

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 04:40:21 PM »
First, ACX pays monthly, just like KDP and CS. The pay 30 days after the month of sales. In other words, whatever audio sales I have in March will be paid at the end of April.

There are a number of payment amounts. depending on if the buyer is an Audible subscriber or not. I sell between 10 and 20 per day usually and my average royalty per sale is $2.88 currently.

To determine if royalty share is a good fit for you, do the math backwards. A good narrator will cost at least $200 per finished hour. ACX uses 9400 words per hour as the average. This will give you a good baseline for straight pay to the narrator. A 94K word book will be about ten hours long and cost about $2000.

So where's the break even for the narrator for this 94K book with Royalty Share? It's a seven year contract. If you average $2.88 royalty per sale, as I do, the narrator will get $1.44 of that. 2000 divided by 1.44 equals 1389 sales for the narrator to earn the same money. Seven years X 365 days equals 2555 days in the contract. 1389 sales divided by 2555 days equals .54 sales per day, or one sale every other day.

If you sell more than one audiobook every other day, the narrator comes out ahead with Royalty Share. And you come out behind. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't even consider doing it, if my goal was to sell only one audiobook every other day.

To put a better slant on it, consider if you sold two audiobooks per day. The narrator will earn $2.88 every day and so will you. In the lifetime of the contract (2555 days), the narrator will earn $7358.40, or $5358.40 more than had you just ponied up the cash up front. Four sales per day? You pay the narrator over $12K instead of $2K.

Yes, it's an expensive investment. But way too much money is left on the table with Royalty Share.

Good info Wayne, okay so you are paying upfront the audio guy on all your books instead of doing royalty? And its costing you $2000 a book?
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 04:43:38 PM by lostones »

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2017, 04:49:20 PM »
I've thought about maybe getting audiobooks made myself, but I've already decided I have no interest in the royalty share option. There are reasons why I don't think it's good for me as an author, but a big reason is that I don't think it's the most fair way to pay the narrator. Royalty share is asking the narrator to basically invest in your book, but that's your job as the author to do. Narrators deserve to know how much they're getting paid, to do the job and get paid that money, and then move on with their lives and not have to worry about how well your book is doing. If I do ever pay a narrator myself (as opposed to making a deal with an audiobook publisher), I fully intend to pay a flat fee up front, not do a royalty share. It just seems like the more responsible thing to do.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2017, 04:52:56 PM »
$9.99 is a pretty small book. The starting price for my books is around $21.95-$24.95, and they get discounted from there. That's 9-11.5 hours, and around 85000 - 115000 words.

Just to throw more numbers in, on a month with no unusual discounts, I come out at about $4.60 per unit. I'm using ACX, and I paid for narration up front. I hired a narrator at $250 PFH. His rate's gone up with subsequent books; we're at $275 PFH now.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2017, 04:54:44 PM »
That's the big questions. Are people even breaking even with ACX?

Absolutely. I could live on my ACX royalties alone.
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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2017, 05:48:06 PM »
I have my series with an audiobook publisher. It's great in that I never have to think about it, but I don't make a ton of money from it. The ebooks still sell well (all ranked below 10k on Amazon US and UK), but that hasn't translated to huge royalty checks. It's a nice bit of extra money but it's not a big difference to my bottom line. I have a friend who has made a lot more than me with the same amount of audiobooks, so I think it varies.

I will probably seek out another audiobook deal for my current series or pay upfront. Probably the former. I don't see any reason to do royalty share.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2017, 05:51:43 PM »
It's a big huge "It depends." If you're not in audio and unless you sell very well indeed, I wouldn't do your own audiobooks unless you can afford to invest the money and not get it back right away. If you can't afford it and need to do royalty share, I'd be very reluctant. The best narrators don't want to do that unless it looks like a great deal for them--that is, if it looks like you're a bestselling author and they'll earn back their investment fast. (Which you'd do a whole lot faster at 40%.)

My audio has cost me $2800-6000 per book (85-135K). In my opinion, my best audio are the ACX books (all my books are in audio). I've done the most quality control on those and selected the narrators most carefully. I also have 4 books through Brilliance and 3 books through Audible Studios. My bestselling books are also the ACX ones.

I do pretty well in audio. Not huge, but I've probably cleared six figures over my investment over the past few years with about 15 books through ACX and selling rights to the others. Bestselling audio genres aren't the same as bestselling Kindle genres. Audio is also very new-release-dependent, and doing very well hinges on getting a push from Audible--which tends to happen more if you have bestselling Kindle books + a fabulous (not cheap) narrator.

Many indies prefer to cut out the guesswork (and just plain work--ACX audio takes time) and just take the deal. Nothing wrong with that.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2017, 06:54:34 PM »
Reading this with interest. I'm a bit different, have my own recording studio so do my own VO for both my nonfiction and fiction. Takes a LONG time to voice a book right (esp fiction) so I currently only have five pub'd with ACX with more on the way. My first four were with the 50% royalty contract (before it went down) so I'm doing okay and it's improving over time.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2017, 06:54:56 PM »
Question for Rosalind (and anyone else who's had books produced by Audible Studios): How much input (if any) did you have in narrator? Were they at least open to suggestion/request if you had one in mind?

One of my big problems as far as doing my own audiobooks through ACX is that the narrator I'd most want to get doesn't do work through there and pretty much only works with the big companies that can rent studio space, pay a producer, etc. He's not one of the ones who does it all themselves. I know there are lots of other great narrators, but it's like with cover artists: I've got my ideal choices and it's hard to think past them unless absolutely necessary.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2017, 07:35:11 PM »
Bestselling audio genres aren't the same as bestselling Kindle genres.

this is the most interesting thing, and I agree.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2017, 06:06:47 AM »
I have a contract with Tantor for one of my books.  Should be released soon, so I'll try to remember to let you know how it goes.
I'm also producing one through ACX, and I'm doing the royalty sharing thing.  I know a bunch of people say not to, but honestly I'm not going to pay a narrator so if I didn't do it this way, I wouldn't do it at all, and it's the narrator's decision to take the risk that we'll make money off of it.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2017, 06:14:49 AM »
First, ACX pays monthly, just like KDP and CS. The pay 30 days after the month of sales. In other words, whatever audio sales I have in March will be paid at the end of April.

There are a number of payment amounts. depending on if the buyer is an Audible subscriber or not. I sell between 10 and 20 per day usually and my average royalty per sale is $2.88 currently.

To determine if royalty share is a good fit for you, do the math backwards. A good narrator will cost at least $200 per finished hour. ACX uses 9400 words per hour as the average. This will give you a good baseline for straight pay to the narrator. A 94K word book will be about ten hours long and cost about $2000.

So where's the break even for the narrator for this 94K book with Royalty Share? It's a seven year contract. If you average $2.88 royalty per sale, as I do, the narrator will get $1.44 of that. 2000 divided by 1.44 equals 1389 sales for the narrator to earn the same money. Seven years X 365 days equals 2555 days in the contract. 1389 sales divided by 2555 days equals .54 sales per day, or one sale every other day.

If you sell more than one audiobook every other day, the narrator comes out ahead with Royalty Share. And you come out behind. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't even consider doing it, if my goal was to sell only one audiobook every other day.

To put a better slant on it, consider if you sold two audiobooks per day. The narrator will earn $2.88 every day and so will you. In the lifetime of the contract (2555 days), the narrator will earn $7358.40, or $5358.40 more than had you just ponied up the cash up front. Four sales per day? You pay the narrator over $12K instead of $2K.

Yes, it's an expensive investment. But way too much money is left on the table with Royalty Share.


And don't forget. If you used royalty share, your narrator owns half of your audiobook forever. THe 7 year thing DOES NOT mean you can sell that audio yourself in 7 years. It means you can have it re-recorded by someone else by paying up front and sell THAT recording, not the old one. In effect, that 7 year royalty share option means in 7 years you can buy your narrator out, or continue on.

I NEVER recommend royalty share. If the book sells well, you will never be free. If it sells poorly, you'll have to start over in 7 years. Save up. Do it right the first time.

All in MY opinion etc ad infinitum

Offline KevinH

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2017, 07:06:48 AM »
Paying up front just seemed like the better play, and in my case it worked out well.  Like some others have already stated, the royalty share option appears to have limited upside; I'd avoid it, if at all possible.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2017, 07:17:04 AM »
For those of you who have the experience, do the audio publishers create audiobooks that are "narration" or do they go for more "audio dramatization" - a trad-pub friend's publisher is getting her UF series into audio through an audio publisher that is casting different VAs for the different characters, but I don't think it's full-on radio drama with sound effects and the like. Audio is still out of my reach, primarily because I can't tell what makes a good audio book, what makes a good narrator, or how to identify the right narrator for a book yet. But it's worth it to start learning about it.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2017, 07:26:46 AM »
but honestly I'm not going to pay a narrator

Why do you say that? You put that statement down without further explanation or reasoning, and it makes it sound like you don't think narrators are worth paying.

Offline Deke

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2017, 07:46:07 AM »
I have only tried audio with The Plot Machine. Read the book myself, had to educate myself on some audio production and file preparation. Not pleased at the split, or the 7-year exclusive deal with ACX, or the fact that they set the price.

But it does bring in some extra spending money each month. I'll probably do the same process with my other books.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2017, 07:54:19 AM »
For those of you who have the experience, do the audio publishers create audiobooks that are "narration" or do they go for more "audio dramatization" - a trad-pub friend's publisher is getting her UF series into audio through an audio publisher that is casting different VAs for the different characters, but I don't think it's full-on radio drama with sound effects and the like. Audio is still out of my reach, primarily because I can't tell what makes a good audio book, what makes a good narrator, or how to identify the right narrator for a book yet. But it's worth it to start learning about it.

You can list a lot of information in the audition details along the lines with what you're looking for. if you want something more performance-like, you can ask. You're not going to get a multi-voice, I don't think, but I did get an audition from someone who did uncanny multiple voices himself.

Offline Kristen Painter

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2017, 08:02:47 AM »
I just crossed 75K audiobooks sold this morning, and I can tell you that a good narrator is absolutely worth what you pay them. A narrator can make or break an audiobook. And audiobook listeners aren't shy about saying what they think in reviews.
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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2017, 08:04:15 AM »
I just crossed 75K audiobooks sold this morning, and I can tell you that a good narrator is absolutely worth what you pay them. A narrator can make or break an audiobook. And audiobook listeners aren't shy about saying what they think in reviews.

Exactly this, and 75k sold is awesome. I'm not quite at 25k yet.

EDIT: I need The Dragon Finds Forever in audio please.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2017, 08:06:19 AM by Mark E. Cooper »

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2017, 08:19:51 AM »
I need The Dragon Finds Forever in audio please.

Soon! Should be live in about a week or so. ;)
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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2017, 08:37:48 AM »
I recently noticed that a number of UF books in my also boughts are available in audio. I'm puzzled by the range in pricing. Some are $9.99, some 14.99, 19.99, 29.99. Why the huge discrepancy? These are all indie authors.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2017, 08:42:53 AM »
I recently noticed that a number of UF books in my also boughts are available in audio. I'm puzzled by the range in pricing. Some are $9.99, some 14.99, 19.99, 29.99. Why the huge discrepancy? These are all indie authors.

Books are priced by length so they must be varying lengths.
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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2017, 09:42:26 AM »
Why do you say that? You put that statement down without further explanation or reasoning, and it makes it sound like you don't think narrators are worth paying.

It means that it's not worth it to me to sink that kind of cash outlay into an enterprise the end rewards of which I'm not at all certain.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2017, 11:15:19 AM »
I recently noticed that a number of UF books in my also boughts are available in audio. I'm puzzled by the range in pricing. Some are $9.99, some 14.99, 19.99, 29.99. Why the huge discrepancy? These are all indie authors.

With audible, price is dictated by them  and is based upon length, BUT if the books are whisper synced with the ebook, the price will be VERY low around $1.99-$2.99

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2017, 12:09:01 PM »
$9.99 is a pretty small book. The starting price for my books is around $21.95-$24.95, and they get discounted from there. That's 9-11.5 hours, and around 85000 - 115000 words.

Just to throw more numbers in, on a month with no unusual discounts, I come out at about $4.60 per unit. I'm using ACX, and I paid for narration up front. I hired a narrator at $250 PFH. His rate's gone up with subsequent books; we're at $275 PFH now.

That's not bad. I plan to hire narrators in the future, but for now I have a few who do the narration for the 50%, and it's worked out fairly well. I get basically half what you get with no up front cost (and I would have barely made up the cost after two years if I paid up front).

Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #29 on: March 19, 2017, 07:11:34 AM »
Good info Wayne, okay so you are paying upfront the audio guy on all your books instead of doing royalty? And its costing you $2000 a book?

On average, yes. My narrator and I started at $200 per finished hour and I've given him a few well-deserved raises to currently $275, PFH. The amount I paid to have each book recorded varied depending on book length from a high of $2775 for my longest fiction, to a low of $813, for my non-fiction on writing and self-publishing. With 12 novels and 1 non-fiction currently produced, I've invested a total of almost $27,000, so far. I've sold a total of 8893 audiobooks, which have paid about $28,000 in royalties. I've been in the black for about a month now.

Had I done Royalty Share, both my narrator and I would have earned about $14,000 so far. We started two years ago, next month, so call it $7,000 per year currently to each of us. Over the seven year Royalty Share contract, my narrator would have earned about $49,000 had I done Royalty Share, instead of the $28,000 I paid up front. And that's if I don't produce another audiobook for five years.
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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #30 on: March 19, 2017, 08:19:02 AM »
To ride along on Wayne's point, you have between now and forever to earn back the production costs of an audiobook. They're not going out of print; you have no time-frame in which it must be earned back or else.


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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #31 on: March 19, 2017, 11:48:21 AM »
It's a big huge "It depends." If you're not in audio and unless you sell very well indeed

Rosalind, two questions

1. So you don't suggest it if the books are ranked 25k and above?

2. Is the only exposure you get for the audios from people finding your book say on Amazon? Or are sales from audios also coming from people browsing audible?

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #32 on: March 19, 2017, 11:54:37 AM »
On average, yes. My narrator and I started at $200 per finished hour and I've given him a few well-deserved raises to currently $275, PFH. The amount I paid to have each book recorded varied depending on book length from a high of $2775 for my longest fiction, to a low of $813, for my non-fiction on writing and self-publishing. With 12 novels and 1 non-fiction currently produced, I've invested a total of almost $27,000, so far. I've sold a total of 8893 audiobooks, which have paid about $28,000 in royalties. I've been in the black for about a month now.

Had I done Royalty Share, both my narrator and I would have earned about $14,000 so far. We started two years ago, next month, so call it $7,000 per year currently to each of us. Over the seven year Royalty Share contract, my narrator would have earned about $49,000 had I done Royalty Share, instead of the $28,000 I paid up front. And that's if I don't produce another audiobook for five years.

Wayne or anyone else. how do you prevent people ripping you off?

I.e Someone says i only charge $200 an hour but they drag their ass and take longer so they end up getting what someone might get if they charged $300 per finished hour? I mean, i can''t watch them right? Or is there a set amount where they can't charge over X for X amount of words? Forcing them to narrate in that time frame?

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #33 on: March 19, 2017, 12:00:12 PM »
Wayne or anyone else. how do you prevent people ripping you off?

I.e Someone says i only charge $200 an hour but they drag their ass and take longer so they end up getting what someone might get if they charged $300 per finished hour? I mean, i can''t watch them right? Or is there a set amount where they can't charge over X for X amount of words? Forcing them to narrate in that time frame?


It's not $200 per hour, it's per FINISHED hour. In other words book length (in hours) x rate = how much you pay. Reading speed is pretty standard. They won't screw you by saying 5 words a minute!

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2017, 12:08:30 PM »

It's not $200 per hour, it's per FINISHED hour. In other words book length (in hours) x rate = how much you pay. Reading speed is pretty standard. They won't screw you by saying 5 words a minute!


It's not $200 per hour, it's per FINISHED hour. In other words book length (in hours) x rate = how much you pay. Reading speed is pretty standard. They won't screw you by saying 5 words a minute!

ACX has pretty strict guidelines.

You set the deadlines. The contract will state that the first 15 minutes are due on such a date and the completed book is finished on another date. I usually discuss those dates ahead of time with my narrator so we get a realistic timeline for both of us.

Also, you are allowed two passes through the book. Usually that's the first proofreading and those corrections are sent to the narrator. Then you proof those corrections. The narrator doesn't get paid until you approve the final audio and then the narrator doesn't release the audio until they have received payment from you.

It's a pretty good system.



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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2017, 12:11:15 PM »

It's not $200 per hour, it's per FINISHED hour. In other words book length (in hours) x rate = how much you pay. Reading speed is pretty standard. They won't screw you by saying 5 words a minute!

Understood.

But does ACX provide a standard. i.e If your book is 60,000 words on average you will pay $X to get the entire book done (i.e $2400)

Or does the narrator say upfront how many words he can get done in a finished hour, so that i can figure it out based on my word count?

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2017, 12:18:16 PM »
Understood.

But does ACX provide a standard. i.e If your book is 60,000 words on average you will pay $X to get the entire book done (i.e $2400)

Or does the narrator say upfront how many words he can get done in a finished hour, so that i can figure it out based on my word count?

From ACX.

"On average, most performers narrate about 9,300 words per hour. Divide the total number of words in your book by 9,300 to find out approximately how long your finished Audiobook will be. When you create a Title Profile on ACX, the length is automatically calculated for you, based on the word count you provide."


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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2017, 12:50:41 PM »
Rosalind, two questions

1. So you don't suggest it if the books are ranked 25k and above?

2. Is the only exposure you get for the audios from people finding your book say on Amazon? Or are sales from audios also coming from people browsing audible?
Sales come both ways--from Audible and Amazon.

I don't really suggest or not-suggest. As I said, audio is a different animal, and the bestselling genres aren't the same. I've seen people sell MORE copies in audio than they do in ebook. I'd say--just be aware that it's not a sure thing, and don't spend money you need back right away. I've had books take a few weeks to earn back a $3,000 cost, but I've also had a book take a year to do it. Right now, I've got a book 1 in a series that's done quite well in audio, but books 2 & 3 are very slow movers. So I tend to look at the payback overall rather than per-title.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2017, 09:05:08 PM »
I'm just a small fry, so paying a narrator $2,000 up front was too scary for my questionable nonfiction. I auditioned a few narrators on ACX, chose one for the 50/50 split, and I've done alright. Since my book started at $17.99 it took 445 copies to return $2,000. I'm happy to say I've made more than that in the past two years, but not so much that I regret I'm going to keep sharing $4.50 a copy with the narrator. What the hell, they took a chance on my book, so they earned it.

And, it was such an easy process with no outlay and no worries about the cash, it remains a good decision for me emotionally - even if in the long run it is costing me money now.  :D


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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2017, 10:45:41 PM »
ACX has pretty strict guidelines...

It's a pretty good system.

Yes. I was terrified of getting ripped off too. But here is how it works. (At the risk of repeating what others have said.)  You only pay for finished hours.  ACX estimates how many finished hours based on word count.  So on my 80,000 word book, they estimated 8.5 hours.  (And it worked out to almost that exactly.) 

You can put your book up for auditions and some narrators will record a small sample so you can pick something you like.  (You can also pick narrators and try to contact them directly, but I liked the idea of people who wanted to do my book.)  I put my book up for audition with a price range of 100-200 for finished hours (no revenue sharing) and almost instantly got several auditions.  One voice I really loved.  (Tess Irondale, she's great!)  I negotiated the deal through ACX for $200 a finished hour.  (Which seemed pretty fair given it takes hours to create each hour.)

Now, here's the key, you don't pay until they are finished and you approve the final audio hours.  So it's not easy for them to rip you off.  (Also, it doesn't hurt to check to make sure they've done some other audiobooks and have a little reputation.)  I suspect they're more terrified you're going to stiff them.  Their only protection, as far as I can see, is that they have to sign off to ACX that they got paid after it was all done.  Then, and only then, your book will be released.  (Probably helps ACX has a monopoly, so there aren't many places writers or narrators can run to if they try to scam each other.)

You do, however, have to be reasonable about asking for changes. At the end of the day, my audio book cost me a little less than $2000 and I'm just thrilled with it.  Kind of like producing a little movie.  I have no idea if I'll ever make the money back, but it's was a really fun experience.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 10:47:20 PM by Mackay Bell »

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2017, 11:19:42 PM »
Not sure if anyone's mentioned this yet, but I can recommend Simon Whistler's book 'Audiobooks for Indies' as a complete guide to the process. Lots of excellent information, covering whether it's likely to be a good idea for your particular book or not and how to go about it. Also, a neat formula for estimating how long it might take to recover your outlay if you pay upfront (22 years for my longest epic fantasy!).
   

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #41 on: March 19, 2017, 11:36:01 PM »
Audio is a fast growing market. The first year I had audio books (about 3 years ago), I made about $15,000. Last year it was $125,000. Though i am not saying you will have a similar experience, it's the future and you should do your best to get in there if you can.
Podium came to me, but used to take unsolicited queries. But they've grown tremendously and may not do so any longer. Audible is definitely agent only - unless you have an existing relationship.
I recommend Audible. They have the greater ability to promote their own products as they own the platform. And their rates tend to be a bit better.
ACX...I think it could be worth the investment if you can afford a top notch narrator. Maybe.... I would do it. But then I already have a audio book fan base. I guess it boils down to what you can afford and are you willing to take the chance?

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #42 on: March 20, 2017, 07:19:43 AM »
I listen to audiobooks a lot. It's probably the format I read most books in these days. I've noticed that a certain number of the books I listen to in audio (like the one I'm currently on, for example) are actually self-published. In a lot of these cases, it's where the author contracted with a company like Audible, Tantor, Blackstone, etc. who produced the audiobook, so the audiobook itself has a narrator I've heard in other stuff and often a more professional-looking cover than the self-published e-book version. The point I'm trying to make is that it may be even easier for indies to blend in with tradpub books so that the reader doesn't notice in audiobooks than in other formats. It's also another reminder how important a great cover is in looking professional. I'm currently listening to the second book in this series. I'd never have tried them if I'd only seen the e-book cover because it looks pretty amateur, but Tantor gave it an uncomplicated but professional cover--one very much like what the author could have done himself by hiring a decent professional cover designer.

One other thing I've noticed--and I don't know how many other audiobook listeners share this trait--is that I'll very often buy audiobooks based primarily on them being narrated by a narrator I've heard before and liked. Most of the mystery/thriller books that I listen to are because I like the narrator, since that's sort of a tertiary genre for me in terms of my overall interest. So that's definitely something I plan to keep in mind if I ever do use ACX to make my own audiobooks. Getting a popular or even semi-popular narrator (someone who has done at least one reasonably popular series, for example) can bring over potential readers who may not otherwise be overly inclined to check out your book.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #43 on: March 20, 2017, 07:37:44 AM »
One other thing I've noticed--and I don't know how many other audiobook listeners share this trait--is that I'll very often buy audiobooks based primarily on them being narrated by a narrator I've heard before and liked. [...] Getting a popular or even semi-popular narrator (someone who has done at least one reasonably popular series, for example) can bring over potential readers who may not otherwise be overly inclined to check out your book.

This is an excellent point, although the popular narrators are also generally the expensive ones.
   

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #44 on: March 20, 2017, 07:46:01 AM »
As a listener, I agree that the narrator makes a big difference in what I purchase. I just bought one because the narrator was Jim Dale.

My latest narrator has over thirty books on Audible not counting mine and she charges $200 pfh. I think that's about right for a popular narrator and what we can expect to pay for non Jim Dale level.



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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #45 on: March 20, 2017, 08:12:15 AM »
Findaway (who makes the Playaway player) also has distribution options for indie authors and small publishers. I've signed recently with Findaway and am in the process of getting them my content. Their big market is libraries. They pay quarterly.

I also do independent distribution through CDbaby to iTunes and Google Play. My revenue through that stream is maybe 10% of my ACX revenue. I sell far more in audio than any other medium. I always pay narrators up front and last year audio was profitable for me (I netted more in audio revenue than I spent in narration and licensing fees).

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #46 on: March 20, 2017, 08:45:49 AM »

2. Is the only exposure you get for the audios from people finding your book say on Amazon? Or are sales from audios also coming from people browsing audible?

As a general statement, a lot of people are audible members, and go there first.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #47 on: March 20, 2017, 08:52:35 AM »
As a general statement, a lot of people are audible members, and go there first.

That was what I thought (I was an early adopter, a very early Audible.com subscriber). Then I took down two books on Amazon but left the audio up.

Sales vanished. Zero.

The next month, I put the books back up on Amazon--and bingo. Sales started immediately and completely recovered. To my surprise, most people (all people, in fact) were finding the books on Amazon, not Audible.

If I look at my Amazon.com and Audible.com sales ranks on a book, they're often quite different. Before Audible put the Amazon reviews in a tab, I used to always look for a new book on Audible, then open a new browser window and search for the book on Amazon to check the reviews. Now I can see everything right there on Audible, so I'm MORE likely to search only on Audible. But I think there's a whole group of people who don't do that. They just buy from Amazon, especially if the book is WhisperSynced.

Two audiences, perhaps. But if my research is any indication, the Amazon audience is bigger.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #48 on: March 20, 2017, 03:58:45 PM »
This is an excellent point, although the popular narrators are also generally the expensive ones.

Unfortunately, a few of my favorite narrators are actually rather famous film/TV actors, so they're not really available at all. Of the narrators where narrating is their main gig, not all of my favorites even take indie work. So for a lot of my books (the ones I'm planning to put out in the near future), I'll probably wait a while to see if I can get interest from an actual audio studio, just in the hopes that I could get one of my favorite narrators. I may do ACX later, though. I'll just have to see how things go.

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Re: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?
« Reply #49 on: March 20, 2017, 04:29:45 PM »
Quote
They approached me. Did you manage to negotiate higher than 20% and 10%?

I did not negotiate a higher royalty rate ... and I can't tell you what my royalty rate is as it is against my contract.

I might try to negotiate more in six years when the contract ends.


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