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Author Topic: Audio books questions (acx, tantor, pricing, royalty)?  (Read 2237 times)  

Online Kristen Painter

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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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Offline Rick Partlow

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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.

Offline Mark E. Cooper

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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

Offline lincolnjcole

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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.


Offline thevoiceofone

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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?

Offline thevoiceofone

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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!

Offline Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake'

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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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Offline thevoiceofone

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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?

Offline Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake'

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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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Offline Usedtoposthere

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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.

Offline Flying Pizza Pie

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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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Offline Mackay Bell

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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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Offline This_Way_Down

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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?

Offline SC

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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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Offline Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake'

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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.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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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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