Author Topic: Audio books - need advice  (Read 427 times)  

Offline AliceS

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Audio books - need advice
« on: January 11, 2018, 11:56:20 AM »
I was planning on doing audio books for my series that is selling until I checked out some comments on an ACX blog post. One narrator said he wanted to see a marketing plan before he would consider auditioning for a royalty share. So now I'm worried that my sales are too prawny to start worrying about audio. Despite all the "leaving money on the table" rhetoric, it there a sales figure one should hit before going to audio?

So I thought I would try to revive the 2 audio books I already have. Both were done about 4 years ago, before I knew what I was doing marketing-wise. Both books (mystery) rarely sell in any format. I wanted to do the Soundcloud thing on my website, but I don't know what a marketing sample is. I don't think I ever downloaded one. I checked ACX and it makes recommendations about what to choose for a marketing sample, but not how you make/get one. Can anyone give me simple instructions on that?

Thanks!


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Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 12:08:59 PM »
If your titles were published on ACX, there should be an audio sample loaded. It'll be at the very bottom of all of your uploaded files. For my non-fiction I generally go with the introductory chapter. So if you have your work recorded in chapters and the first chapter is under five minutes, that can be your sample. Otherwise, you'll need to edit a longer audio file down to five minutes using a program like Audacity.

If you do royalty share then your sales are going to be a factor since the narrator is taking a risk on you. You can always choose to pay up front instead but do run that risk of not selling enough to pay for the production. I went heavy into audio in 2016. One of those titles had barely sold anything in paperback or ebook but earned out in two or three months and is still selling monthly. (Non-fiction title) My romance titles sell monthly as well, mostly through wide distribution on Authors Republic because of library borrows (I suspect), but have yet to pay for themselves. So how you'll do is a bit hard to gauge. I suspect short non-fiction is an easier risk to take than fiction and that it tends to sell better long-term than fiction, especially if you're exclusive to ACX.


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Offline Annie B

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 12:32:23 PM »
Early on I did some royalty share and I feel badly about it now since none of those books sold well then and don't sell much now (a couple I managed to get a bookbub on, which did help a bit in audio too).  My rule now is I don't do audio for anything that sells less than 500 copies a month (and I generally pay up front now, so that the risk is on me and not the narrator doing hours and hours of work). 

So I think it is fair for a narrator to want a marketing plan if they aren't getting paid per finished hour, because it's a huge risk. Making an audio book is not a quick thing and they would be investing many hours for potentially no return. That's not very fair, imo. Better the author take the risk unless you can prove it will have a high chance of making decent money.

Offline AliceS

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 12:33:21 PM »
Thank you Cassie - it was right where you said it would be. Now I need to play around with it and figure out what I'm doing!


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Offline AliceS

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 12:38:03 PM »
Early on I did some royalty share and I feel badly about it now since none of those books sold well then and don't sell much now (a couple I managed to get a bookbub on, which did help a bit in audio too).  My rule now is I don't do audio for anything that sells less than 500 copies a month (and I generally pay up front now, so that the risk is on me and not the narrator doing hours and hours of work). 

So I think it is fair for a narrator to want a marketing plan if they aren't getting paid per finished hour, because it's a huge risk. Making an audio book is not a quick thing and they would be investing many hours for potentially no return. That's not very fair, imo. Better the author take the risk unless you can prove it will have a high chance of making decent money.

Thanks for sharing that. It gives me a number to shoot for, which is exactly what I needed to hear. And I suppose if I'm not selling that many books a month, I should be thinking about marketing and not expanding into other formats.

Yes, I understand that it is a risk for them and I feel bad for my early failures, too. Since I can't front the money right now, maybe I should wait until I can.


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Offline morrighansmuse

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 01:12:19 PM »
Some narrators will accept a hybrid RS arrangement where you cover the cost of production, ie. proofing, and editing and it's usually a fraction of their regular PFH rate. So if a narrator normally charges $250 - $300 PFH, they may request $100 PFH to cover those costs. It's an agreement between you and the narrator and not part of your ACX contract but it covers the expenses they incur up front especially on the eventuality that your audiobook won't sell.

Offline AliceS

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 01:20:07 PM »
Some narrators will accept a hybrid RS arrangement where you cover the cost of production, ie. proofing, and editing and it's usually a fraction of their regular PFH rate. So if a narrator normally charges $250 - $300 PFH, they may request $100 PFH to cover those costs. It's an agreement between you and the narrator and not part of your ACX contract but it covers the expenses they incur up front especially on the eventuality that your audiobook won't sell.

Good to know, but I don't think I would go that route.


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Offline Lorri Moulton

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 03:59:43 PM »
There are some great narrators on ACX, who will do a royalty split.  I think it's a combination of your marketing, your story and their availability. :)

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Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 06:44:40 PM »
Math is a wonderful thing. You can easily calculate how many audiobook sales are needed to make a straight payment more profitable to you than profit-share. I can save you the trouble, it's about one sale every other day, or about 1300 over the seven years of the profit-share contract. That's based on my own numbers of what the average audiobook sale has earned over the last three years. Other genres may vary. My first two audiobooks have already surpassed that. In three years. So, the next four years are 100% profit, over what I'd have made through profit-share. The first is more than double that, so it's been in the black for over a year. Books 3, 4, and 5 are close to passing it, and books 6-10 will pass it before this year is over. Maybe even 11 and 12.
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Offline S. C.

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 07:12:21 PM »
Also consider that if you go the royalty share route, under ACX terms you still have to negotiate with the narrator to get out of the contract at the end of the 7 years.


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Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 07:22:38 PM »
Also consider that if you go the royalty share route, under ACX terms you still have to negotiate with the narrator to get out of the contract at the end of the 7 years.

I had heard this, too, but wasn't able to find anything in the terms that said that.


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Offline AliceS

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 06:40:03 AM »
Math is a wonderful thing. You can easily calculate how many audiobook sales are needed to make a straight payment more profitable to you than profit-share. I can save you the trouble, it's about one sale every other day, or about 1300 over the seven years of the profit-share contract. That's based on my own numbers of what the average audiobook sale has earned over the last three years. Other genres may vary. My first two audiobooks have already surpassed that. In three years. So, the next four years are 100% profit, over what I'd have made through profit-share. The first is more than double that, so it's been in the black for over a year. Books 3, 4, and 5 are close to passing it, and books 6-10 will pass it before this year is over. Maybe even 11 and 12.

Thanks Wayne, and congrats. That must feel good to get past the spend and start earning on those books.

There's so much to learn with marketing and distribution. Everyone is pushing audiobooks now. But my sales aren't up there yet. Thanks to you guys giving me real numbers, I can make a more realistic plan. Sometimes I try to push out of my comfort zone to learn the hard stuff and it's not something I need/am ready for.  Looks like I should spend my time on writing and marketing for now.


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Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: Audio books - need advice
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 03:06:58 PM »
If it's any consolation, I didn't produce the first audiobook until after the first five books in the series were released. And then, I only produced one as book sales could afford it, so I never dipped into my own money. The second didn't come until a month later, and the third two months after that. My narrator didn't record for a new release until book nine.
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