With double digit increases in sales annually, audiobooks have become a staple in the publishing industry. Bringing your stories to life on audio is the best way to maximize your potential audience and create a wonderfully engrossing experience. Whether you are just gathering information or are ready to dive in, I hope this Q&A will help demystify the audiobook creation process. Note: I will focus solely on audiobook production using ACX (Audible’s audiobook marketplace owned by Amazon) but I am happy to chat about all the other options 😊
It takes about 6 hours to produce 1 finished hour of audio
How to approximate the number of finished hours in my book?
The average number of words that can be read in one hour is 9000.
=> Number of finished hours = number of words in your book / 9000
For example: 63,000 words = around 7 hours of finished audio
Where will my audiobook be distributed?
ACX lists the audiobooks on Amazon, Audible and iTunes for retail sale. If you would like to distribute to other channels (libraries, schools…), you can select a non-exclusive contract with lower royalties.
How much does it cost to create an audiobook?
With ACX, your expenses are largely dependent on what you choose to pay your narrator. Rates for narration can be structured in three ways: pay-per-finished hour (PFH), royalty share (RS) and royalty share plus (RS+).
PFH: In a PFH scenario the RH buys out the audiobook production for a fixed fee (based on the final audiobook length) and retains all net royalties. ACX has tiers of payment from which the rights holder can choose. An experienced narrator will start at around $250PFH.
RS: There are no upfront costs for the RH. The RH and the narrator share a percentage of the profit from the audiobook sales. This can be up to 40%, split between the two (meaning the narrator and the rights holder each get up to 20% of the profits). Keep in mind that many audiobooks are purchased from Audible with credits – meaning lower net royalties. Because the Narrator has to make the upfront investment in time and production costs, the RH should make sure they communicate about their sales perspectives (ebook sales are a useful indicator) and marketing plan in order to attract the most qualified talent.
RS+: A hybrid of PFH and RS where the narrator agrees to perform the audiobook for royalty-share plus an additional pay per-finished-hour rate – typically to cover post-production costs (editing, proofing, mastering) – which can range anywhere from $75PFH to $125PFH
How can I find the right voice for my story?
An RH can list an audition on the ACX marketplace but they should be prepared to be swamped with offers. The more specific you are with your project description, the better. A more strategic approach is to seek out the right voice either directly on ACX's narrator list or even on social media. If your ideal narrator is not available, they are usually happy to give you alternative recommendations from their own network.
Where can I find more information?
Please feel free to contact me with any questions! I am always happy to jump on a call or send you a short complimentary audio sample of your material
French-American audiobook narrator and VO. Paris born, San Francisco living, Japan lovin'. Find out more.