This article by Dawn Brookes shows how more people are enjoying the audiobook format.
Many authors and publishers are taking notice of the audiobook market because of its rapid growth (Bookseller staff, 2019). According to the news report in the Bookseller it is the fastest growth area for the publishing industry.
Adapting Writing for Audio
I have changed my writing to prepare each book for audio production. I do this by doing a ‘read-out-loud’ edit to check the book will sound good in audio form. Writing with audio in mind not only adds an extra income stream but actually improves the editing process for each book.
I have worked with a Alex Lee, audiobook narrator to produce four audiobooks in a cosy mystery series, with a fifth due for production in the spring. Our contracts have all been through the Amazon owned Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).
ACX is a marketplace for audiobook creation. People using the site include authors (rights holders), narrator/producers, agents and publishers. ACX also acts as a distributor to Amazon, audible (also owned by Amazon) and iTunes. An author, publisher who has not opted for royalty share–discussed below–can choose to be non-exclusive for a lower royalty rate and distribute through other channels in addition and choose to sell on their own websites.
There are a number of ways for indie authors to use ACX:
- Narrate own audiobooks and either edit themselves or use an editing production company then upload compliant files to the platform
- Royalty share option–choose a narrator/producer and split royalties 50:50. An attractive option for authors with little money to invest upfront although the author will have to sign an ACX exclusivity contract and wont be able to sell audiobooks elsewhere (not a hardship at present as ACX remains the biggest player to date). Not quite as attractive for narrators if the author doesn’t have a track record but lucrative if they do
- Pay per production–the author chooses to pay the narrator upfront to produce the audiobook files and the narrator has not further claim over the title. Good narrators charge $200-$400 per finished hour.
I have always seen audiobook production as an investment opportunity and have been able to afford the pay per production option. Although it can be expensive initially, once the audiobook moves into profit, the royalties are 100% mine. If I had opted for the royalty share option, I would be splitting current profits with the narrator as each book has recouped the initial investment.
There are other audiobook production & distribution companies and now an aggregate audiobook publishers including, Author’s Republic and Findaway Voices, both offer the opportunity to produce and distribute to all other distributors in the audiobook market.
I haven’t used Author’s Republic or Findaway as I opt for exclusivity and a higher royalty rate via ACX. This decision has served me well so far with sales of over 1,400 audiobooks to date, most of these in 2019, adding to my overall author income minus production costs of £750-£1,200 per audiobook. Another advantage of exclusivity is ACX provide authors with up to 100 audiobook codes for the UK and USA that can be given away for review requests (ACX allows this).
The audiobook market remains a growth area and there’s no sign of it slowing over the next few years.
Do you listen to audiobooks? When? Where?