Author Topic: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?  (Read 564 times)  

Offline Patrick1980

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As we're all aware, the standards of what is needed to be taken seriously have shifted. In 2010, covers made in Photoshop and Paint were common. No more.

I've been perusing the titles of the high-selling, big-name indies. (I'm not using trad-pubbed authors as the basis of comparison here.) It seems that every "big name" indie has an audiobook for most, if not all, titles.

I'm wondering if the audiobook, like advertising, is becoming another winnowing factor? I heard it suggested on a podcast the other day that readers take titles far more seriously when all formats are available. A title without an audiobook screams, "indie author!"

Most of us can manage print and ebooks with few difficulties. But audiobooks are expensive to outsource. (A few grand each, from what I've seen.) If you record one yourself, you need to invest in audio equipment, and the process is very time consuming.

Questions:

1.) Is an audiobook now the new mark of a "serious" title (as high-quality covers became circa 2014?)

2.) Up until now, the emphasis has been on piling more and more content into the Kindle store. Would it be better to slow down, and focus on producing all formats for each title, versus constantly cranking out new Kindle titles?

Where do the rest of you stand regarding audiobooks? Thanks.



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    Online Patty Jansen

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #1 on: August 10, 2020, 03:18:06 am »
    That is seeing the situation ass-backwards.

    People who sell well get audio books made because:

    1. Audio books are a thing and they can sell really well
    2. They can cost a lot of money to produce so if you don't sell terribly well (yet) you have to fund this out of pocket.

    There are plenty (most) of trad books that don't have an audiobook. There are plenty of selfpublished books that sell well that don't even have a print version, let alone audio. Readers don't care who has published a book.

    "Taken seriously"? By whom? I suggest people shouldn't worry about people who want to be "taken seriously" because you get taken as seriously as you behave yourself.

    Offline Jeff Hughes

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #2 on: August 10, 2020, 03:22:25 am »
    No, an audio version is certainly not required before readers will take a title seriously.  The vast majority of books do not have an audio version.

    Readers will take an author seriously when the author takes themself seriously... good writing, good storytelling, good editing, and professional packaging.  Alas, many indie's fall short in one or more of those categories.

    Audio versions are a nice niche.  Any title selling consistently and well deserves the question of whether adding an audio version is worth the time and effort.  But it's most definitely the dog wagging the tail, not the other way around.

    Jeff Hughes

    Offline Patrick1980

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #3 on: August 10, 2020, 03:44:54 am »
    Thanks, Patty, I appreciate your candor. This is one those "I heard it on a podcast" things...Not something that I'm advocating myself.

    If I may extrapolate a bit, then, from what you said: It really only makes sense to have an audiobook done when the proceeds from print and ebook (which again, most of us can manage solo) are high enough so that the investment in the audiobook doesn't put the balance sheet for a given title in the red. If you have to wonder, "will I make my money back?" then wait.

    This might also suggest that while the DIY approach is possible, it isn't the best use of most authors' time.

    I'm experienced with public speaking, and I did some acting in my school days. (My point here being: I'm not shy, or freaked out by the sound of my own voice.) And I find the book narrating process very, very cumbersome.


    That is seeing the situation ass-backwards.

    People who sell well get audio books made because:

    1. Audio books are a thing and they can sell really well
    2. They can cost a lot of money to produce so if you don't sell terribly well (yet) you have to fund this out of pocket.

    There are plenty (most) of trad books that don't have an audiobook. There are plenty of selfpublished books that sell well that don't even have a print version, let alone audio. Readers don't care who has published a book.

    "Taken seriously"? By whom? I suggest people shouldn't worry about people who want to be "taken seriously" because you get taken as seriously as you behave yourself.

    Offline Justawriter

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #4 on: August 10, 2020, 04:46:39 am »
    Thanks, Patty, I appreciate your candor. This is one those "I heard it on a podcast" things...Not something that I'm advocating myself.

    If I may extrapolate a bit, then, from what you said: It really only makes sense to have an audiobook done when the proceeds from print and ebook (which again, most of us can manage solo) are high enough so that the investment in the audiobook doesn't put the balance sheet for a given title in the red. If you have to wonder, "will I make my money back?" then wait.

    This might also suggest that while the DIY approach is possible, it isn't the best use of most authors' time.


    Taken seriously by who? I don't think that's true and I wouldn't worry about it. Audio is expensive and in my experience, it didn't make sense to do it until it was a no-brainer--when I made more in one day than the cost of an audio. I have found that audio sales relate to ebook sales. When I tried audio a few years back, I spent almost 1k and it was quickly apparent I wasn't going to earn out for a long time. I was still in the hole when I decided last year to try it again--but this time it was in a new book that was selling well. Even though that audio was more than double the price--I went with a more in demand narrator, and paid $400/hr, it was worth it and in less than two months both audios were paid off. Now I release audio with every new book and they earn out in less than a month. I wouldn't do it until you can easily afford it and the demand is there. Or if you are dying to do it, you could always explore royalty share. I've never done that though. I don't want to tie it up for 7 years and only get half the money. But it is an option, some people love it. And it would let you get into audio sooner---but if your books aren't steady sellers it may be harder to find a narrator willing to do royalty share.

    Offline Decon

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #5 on: August 10, 2020, 05:01:07 am »
    I agree with Patty. It's only worth investing in audio if the book is already selling well to cover the cost of production. Otherwise it's a big money pit. If people read e-books or print books, then it doesn't matter if you have an audio book or not, because those readers are not interested in audio. It's a separate market to be taken advantage of as and when.


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    Offline Amanda M. Lee

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #6 on: August 10, 2020, 05:17:37 am »
    If you don't make money on ebook, you're unlikely to make money on audio. That being said, if you do, I've found that timing the audio to hit at the same time as the ebook and print book means double the revenue on an audio title. I work hard to release everything simultaneously and I've slowly been building up my audio. My next goal is to get it to 30K a month. It's much slower than building ebooks but I've found it's pretty steady. I would eventually like to get audio to 50K a month but it will take years. It's still a goal I'm working on.

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    Offline jvin248

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #7 on: August 10, 2020, 05:45:18 am »
    .

    Audio is icing on the cake.

    They don't call it Birthday Icing, it's Birthday Cake.

    While you may know a podcaster who eats icing out of the can, most need a successful cake under it.

    .
           

    Offline Patrick1980

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #8 on: August 10, 2020, 05:48:17 am »
    Thanks, Amanda, I've been listening to all your old podcast appearances. I'm amazed at your output.

    I am assuming that you don't even try to narrate your own books (?) Lately there has been a DIY audiobook push on some of the indie author podcasts. Joanna Penn, ML Buchman, and some others have doing it. But I guess you would say that it isn't worth your time---kind of like trying to do cover design (?)


    If you don't make money on ebook, you're unlikely to make money on audio. That being said, if you do, I've found that timing the audio to hit at the same time as the ebook and print book means double the revenue on an audio title. I work hard to release everything simultaneously and I've slowly been building up my audio. My next goal is to get it to 30K a month. It's much slower than building ebooks but I've found it's pretty steady. I would eventually like to get audio to 50K a month but it will take years. It's still a goal I'm working on.

    Offline Amanda M. Lee

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #9 on: August 10, 2020, 10:04:51 am »
    I believe that narrating books is a skill, and it is one I don't possess. Besides, it takes upwards of six hours for each finished hour on audio to edit and process. That's like sixty hours of work for a 95K book. I can write another book in that time.

    Amanda M. Lee

    Offline rickchesler

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    Re: Is an audiobook for each title the new "bar" for being taken seriously?
    « Reply #10 on: August 10, 2020, 02:14:32 pm »
    ACX makes it easy; opt for royalty-share and you pay nothing up front, narrator does most of the work. It's true that if the uinderlying ebook doesn't sell well, though, don't expect a lot of audio sales. But sometimes there are surprises. Also, the sooner they are released, while the ebook is still organically charting, the better the audio tends to sell. Mine usually come out a couple months after the ebook and they sell but I have been trying to tighten that time up. Also, I've noticed good audio sales following a BookBub featured deal, regardless of how long the book has been out.
    « Last Edit: August 10, 2020, 03:25:37 pm by rickchesler »

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