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I thinking about audiobook versions of my novels and am looking for advice.
The ACX site is very clear about everything except actual numbers. You appear to have a choice of doing a full production coast deal with a producer or doing a royalty share deal.
So - can anyone tell what sort of cost a deal with an audio produced for a finished product of say a 280 page ebook is going to be - ball park
or what sort of royalty share said producer would go for? I presume this would depend on book sales- my first book passed 300 sales for the first time this month (out since Feb whren I sold 29... woohoo) Some rough guide would be grateful.
Plus general advice - is a fixed price up front where I get to keep all the royalties better or is a royalty share plan better. Overal opiniokns welcome.
thanks
peter
 

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The guide is about 9000 words per hour.

If you pay a narrator, they will charge per finished hour, and their fees will be in the low hundreds, anywhere in between 100 to 400. It depends on their experience, training and their standing as narrator.

A book of 90k words will *at least* cost you $1000 to put into audio, but realistically (unless you're exceptionally lucky to find a good narrator who is building up a portfolio), you will have to pay more, closer to $2000 for a decent production of a full length novel.

Royalty share is... eh. You're highly likely to regret it later.
 

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Your books appear to be quite popular. Good job! Having a series like that, there's a good chance that you'll get excellent results on ACX. I have two books under my name, both of which were royalty split. One languished, one has sold pretty well - enough that it would have been much more profitable to pay a narrator $1500 to produce (65K words). With a three book series (and more to come), I'd pay the freight and be happy knowing that 50% of the royalty would be mine for all the books. At a minimum of $17.95 per book, you only need to sell 15 books a month for a year to get even. You'll probably do that many weekly right off the bat.

My opinion is that audiobooks still have a long way to go to surpass Kindle and paperbacks, but it's going to get much closer in the future.
 

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You can find a good narrator on Upwork for $700 to $1000; it's usually younger talent there who don't always have a big portfolio. I would look into Find Away Voices if you decide to produce it yourself. ACX will stick you in a contract even if you produce it yourself unless they've changed things.
 

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I am currently having a couple of series recorded. The first one is three novellas and the narrator has agreed to a price of 550 pounds (GBP) which is about $700 US. I get to keep the whole 40% royalty. Now, not all narrators will agree to a royalty share deal. It is often true that you get a better narrator if you go for cost up front. ACX also do a royalty share plus, where you pay a reduced amount upfront and still share the royalty. I'm still looking for the bit that tells me how much of a split that would be.

I also have a six book series which is estimated to be 39 hours. The narrator I wanted would have got me nearly $4000 so I've had to settle for someone who will do a royalty share deal. My problem has been finding some English!

If your book isn't too long, I would recommend an upfront deal, otherwise you're stuck with 20% for seven years. You also start to feel guilty if you don't plug the book enough and don't get many sales of the audible!  :eek:
 

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Don't forget the time factor. I did my audiobook through ACX and through the auditions found somebody who was perfect for the job at $150 PFH. He did a great job. Unfortunately, recording audiobooks was his side job, which meant that recording a relatively brief audiobook took a lot longer than I had initially expected or planned for.

On top of that, ACX will helpfully inform you that their "brief" quality control review could take up to 30 business days. If you look around on the forum, you'll see that there's by no means any guarantee that they'll actually get your book through in that time.

All of which is to say, don't spend your rent money getting an audiobook done. You're rolling the dice on something that won't start bringing money back in for months. If you spend a little more I think you can get the recording done more quickly, but there's nothing you can do to get ACX to hurry their review process.

As far as pricing, it's done Per Finished Hour. Rule of thumb is 9300 words PFH. Established professionals start at $250 PFH and go up from there. Quality people who are still working their way in start around $150. Maybe $100. Anything under that and you're unlikely to be happy with the final product.
 

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I agree with the last poster in that you should not spend more than you can afford to lose on this. The series I am having done right now is in response to lots of requests for audible; otherwise, I wouldn't bother right now.
 

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I got a very cheap narrator who is starting out but that I thought was amazing. He charged $60 per finished hour.

You need to sell copies to make the money back, but it can work because you get quite high commissions from audiobooks. I don't advertise my audiobook specifically, but I've found that roughly for every 5-10 people that buy my ebook, 1 will get the audiobook. I've about made my money back in a few months and my sales aren't anything unattainable.
 

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Audiobooks can be a great secondary source of income. I sell well, earning in the mid-six figures a year on audio alone, so I'm fairly familiar with what works and what doesn't. As a rule of thumb, if you can afford to produce an audiobook (roughly $2500-3200 for an eight hour book), then your ebooks are probably selling well enough to mean your audio will sell well too.

Books that are 8 hours long or longer sell better than shorter books because subscribers are reluctant to use a credit for shorter works. If your books are short, putting them into an audio box set is a good alternative.

My narrators run $300 - $380. Cheaper narrators, IMO, can cost you more time and more money because if they aren't editing and sound mixing their own files, the book may not pass Audible's quality control. If you have to hire an outside editor to do this, you're going to spend more money. A good narrator is worth their price.

I also never suggest anyone do royalty share. If the book sells well, you'll lose money. Also, your rights are tied to that narrator for the life of the contract. I also don't suggest Findaway or any other vendor outside of Audible because that also means a cut in royalty percentage.
 

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PenNPaper said:
I also never suggest anyone do royalty share. If the book sells well, you'll lose money. Also, your rights are tied to that narrator for the life of the contract. I also don't suggest Findaway or any other vendor outside of Audible because that also means a cut in royalty percentage.
The royalty is better going direct with Audible, but they haven't been incredibly kind of authors lately. Several authors (myself included) have been waiting months for their Audiobook to be reviewed with no feedback at all from Audible. I've had my book up for review since March.

In terms of sales, I've had good luck with Chirp. So while I'm waiting for Audible to get their act together, at least I've had some sales (1,000+) to earn my money back.
 

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scottdouglas said:
The royalty is better going direct with Audible, but they haven't been incredibly kind of authors lately. Several authors (myself included) have been waiting months for their Audiobook to be reviewed with no feedback at all from Audible. I've had my book up for review since March.
That is so depressing to read. Mine isn't even finished recording yet, so when am I likely to get it up for sale? Don't answer that; it was not a serious question.
 

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Just to mention about royalty share as no one has really said anything positive about it so far. If you get a popular narrator with a following of their own, then it can make it worth your while. I came across narrators that had Youtube channels with 100k subscribers, so they can drive sales with you as well. I also had a very successful author say that most of his audiobook sales were initially driven by the popularity of his narrator, as he was an unknown author at the time.
 

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Andy_Blinston said:
Just to mention about royalty share as no one has really said anything positive about it so far. If you get a popular narrator with a following of their own, then it can make it worth your while. I came across narrators that had Youtube channels with 100k subscribers, so they can drive sales with you as well. I also had a very successful author say that most of his audiobook sales were initially driven by the popularity of his narrator, as he was an unknown author at the time.
That's very true. One narrator who auditioned for my six book set had a radio programme and even had a video interview with Alan Alda. I was tempted, but I particularly wanted a female narrator for this series. I'm keeping him in mind for future projects though.
 

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I splurged and paid up front for six audiobooks this summer. Not sure if this is still the case, but at the time narrators were very hungry. Many are actors who can't work in any related field other than voice acting during the pandemic. So I was able to find a really excellent narrator for $150 per finished hour. (In contrast, to find the same quality narrator last year, I paid $400 PFH). She worked with her own editor (paid for out of the $150 PFH) and was a major pro.

The other narrator I booked this summer was also $150 PFH and also did a great job, but I had to do a bit more handholding since she'd never produced an audiobook before. A good question to ask if you don't want to do this handholding is, "Do you have a relationship with an editor?"

Both narrators were chosen out of the couple of dozen who auditioned on ACX. Then I launched the audiobooks non-exclusive and uploaded them to Findaway for immediate gratification since ACX seems to take at least a month to okay audiobooks nowadays.

To cut a long story short --- if you have the cash, now is a good time to be hiring narrators.
 
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