Audiobooks are awesome! They’re so handy and great for a variety of reasons. I frequently receive inquiries about more audiobook versions of my books. As of right now, I have Of Iron and Gold in audiobook format, which was narrated by the super talented Alexandria Wilde (some know her under another name. 😉)
The Barriers Behind Audiobooks 😖
As much as I’d love to jump into making audiobooks of all my books, there are a few barriers that slow the process down. These barriers or burdens can be extra difficult for indie authors like myself.
The biggest hurdle is the expense of having an audiobook produced. Narrators typically charge by the finished hour, which can range from $100 to $500 or beyond. The better and/or more popular the narrator, the higher the hourly rate can be. Also, some narrators have a production team, who polish the narration at the end.
If your fav 80,000-word-count book takes 8 hours to narrate, then multiple that by $300/hour and we get $2,400 for one audiobook.
Now there are some narrators and narrating companies who offer royalty splitting programs, which cut back on the cost of production. This basically means the narrator or company receives a cut of the royalties for a set amount of years in order to recoup their costs. This can help an author get an audiobook produced. However, for me, I prefer to pay for the full production rather than split royalties.
#2 Recovery of the Cost
Once the audiobook is paid for, the amount of time to recoup the costs for an audiobook can take a while. On average, it can take a year for an audiobook to pay for itself. I can attest to that after having Of Iron and Gold out for a year now. Technically Of Iron and Gold is still paying itself off.
The last hurdle are the actual royalties, which are received from retailers such as Audible, iTunes, Spotify, Storytel, etc. Most of the royalty shares from the retailers are fairly reasonable, except for Audible. Of course Audible happens to be the largest retailer in the audiobook industry.
Audible offers two programs to authors. We can select a 60/40 royalty share (Audible gets 60%, author receives 40% of the royalty) but the audiobook has to be exclusive to Audible (also iTunes is included in this ‘deal’) and not sold at any other retailers. Or the other program is 75/25 royalty share if an author would like to be non-exclusive and go wide with their audiobook. Yes, an author receives only 25% of the royalty and is penalized heavily by selling at other distributors. On top of that, Audible controls the price of the audiobook and has super-secret calculations for royalties. As a reader, you may see an audiobook for sale at $16.99 but that author is probably receiving between $2.50 to $4.00 per audiobook, depending on their share program they chose.
Patience is so Hard 😩
I’m itching every day to have even one new audiobook done for any of my books. I can be impatient, but I’m also cautious. I do have a possible strategy to tackle the three barriers and may test it out with a new audiobook this year. There is no guarantee my strategy will ease the financial burden audiobooks can be. Regardless, hopefully in the near future I can have more audiobooks produced. Huge thank you to every reader who wishes to have more audiobooks made of my books and for also inquiring about them. 🧡