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message 1: by GeneralTHC (new)

GeneralTHC | 27 comments Does anyone know or have any idea how much narrators like John Lee, Scott Brick, George Guidall etc. get paid to record an audio book? I wonder if they get royalties or a lump sum, and if so, how much ya think?


message 2: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 295 comments I wonder this as well. I hope they make a pretty good living off of it, most are so talented and it has to be a heck of a job to narrate an entire book as well as they do.


message 3: by Josh (new)

Josh Brown audiobook narrator is not a high-paying job, unless you are a "celebrity" reader, i.e., movie star, etc.


message 4: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 316 comments Measured by the pleasure most narrators give us, they should be millionaires! I guess the love we have for them is not a usable compensation.


message 5: by ✨Susan✨ (new)

✨Susan✨ (suswelch) | 223 comments I agree they are very important as to the enjoyment of a book.
http://www.ehow.com/info_8093755_sala...


message 6: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 946 comments According to the link Susan posted, a unionized narrator gets $139.25 per hour. That's considerably more than what I make per hour.


message 7: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 224 comments Janice wrote: "According to the link Susan posted, a unionized narrator gets $139.25 per hour. That's considerably more than what I make per hour."

But it's probably not full-time work.


message 8: by Caroline (new)

Caroline | 9 comments There are rates just for recording and "per finished hour" (pfh) rates. One hour of recorded material takes 4-6 hours to create. The $500/pfh rate shown on that link is not what most narrators make.


message 9: by Xe (new)

Xe Sands (xesands) | 358 comments Caroline wrote: "There are rates just for recording and "per finished hour" (pfh) rates. One hour of recorded material takes 4-6 hours to create. The $500/pfh rate shown on that link is not what most narrators make."

Can't comment on specific rates, but Caroline is correct that narrators are paid based on the finished hours of audio. A narrator who is experienced and really cooking along can record at a 2:1 ratio, but often with book prep, research and such, it's closer to 3:1 hours to record a book.

And as Carolyn F. commented, it's not always full-time work. As with any contract work, narrators are at the mercy of the workflow - crazy-busy one month; tumbleweeds the next.


message 10: by GeneralTHC (new)

GeneralTHC | 27 comments Wow! I thought they probably got a lot more than that. I was thinking like AT LEAST $10,000 to have say, Edoardo Ballerini read your book. It's amazing to me they would work by the hour.


message 11: by GeneralTHC (last edited Jul 31, 2014 05:54AM) (new)

GeneralTHC | 27 comments Susan wrote: "I agree they are very important as to the enjoyment of a book.
http://www.ehow.com/info_8093755_sala..."


Now that's more like what I was thinking:

"According to Indeed.com, those working in New York City and Los Angeles (the two most prominent cities for audio book work) earn an average of $43,000 and $39,000 respectively. In smaller and lesser known cities for audio book narration, such as Hartford, Connecticut, and Phoenix, Arizona, the average salary is $35,000 and $37,000 respectively."


message 12: by Karen (new)

Karen White (karenwhiteaudiobooknarrator) | 175 comments I want to chime in and echo what Xe said, we are almost all paid per finished hour, so any rates you see probably are in that format. And years ago, $500 pfh was more common, but very very few narrators make that anymore. We have been victim of price squeezes across the industry. This work does not pay as well as acting work in the broadcast mediums, but is better than most theatre work (where even professional actors work for free these days).


message 13: by Xe (new)

Xe Sands (xesands) | 358 comments What Karen said :) Basically it can be summed up this way: audiobook narration is a labor of love, not a way to make a pile of money.

Had I stayed in the corporate world, I could make more for FAR less work...but it didn't feed my soul. I was fortunate that I could choose heart over money at the time, and work on building a career based on doing what I absolutely love.


message 14: by Fred (new)

Fred Wolinsky | 50 comments There is no standard rate for audiobook narrators. Narrators sometimes work on a strictly royalty-share basis (with no money up front, and their income dependent on the sales). Other times they work on a per-finished-hour basis, with the rate varying widely depending on the narrator, the publisher, and the book.

When narrators work on an hourly basis, it is PER FINISHED HOUR of audio, not per actual hours worked. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, it takes AT LEAST 2 hours (and sometimes up to 4 hours if there are a lot of voices, accents, or other challenges) of studio time to record 1 hour of finished audio. Plus any good narrator first does their prep -- reading the entire book, making notes on characters and voices, researching any accents, characters, concepts, or whatever else is needed. This takes an additional 1-2 hours of work per finished hour of audio. So, the payment per-finished-hour requires anywhere from 3-6 hours of actual work.

Also, while some narrators are strictly performers, more and more narrators (like myself) are working as narrator/producer, where in addition to voicing the book, we also do the editing, mastering, and file conversions to create the finished audio files. In addition to requiring an investment in equipment and additional skills, this takes another 3-5 hours of work per finished hour. So narrator/producers can spend anywhere from 6-12 hours of work for each finished hour of audio (depending on many details of the specific requirements for each book).

As you can see, the “hourly” rates are very deceiving.

Plus, narrators are generally freelance workers. Besides meaning that work is irregular, it also means we have to pay our own taxes (including double the social security tax as compared to an employee), and receive no benefits (no sick pay, vacation pay, health insurance, workman’s comp, or any other benefits). AND, we also have to spend a lot of unpaid time looking for work -- promoting our services, and auditioning for books.

So except for some stars and a small percentage of the top working narrators, most narrators do not make a lot of money at this. And most do not do it as a full-time job. Why then do we do it? Like some other narrators have responded, we have a passion for the work. Yes, we need to eat and strive to get paid a decent amount for our work. But we also enjoy the process and the creative outlet. The feedback from listeners, and from our authors helps to feed our souls.

While I have been in the performing arts most of my life, I have only been narrating books for less than a year. I currently have 18 titles available on Audible.com and a few more in the works. My latest release is a paranormal fantasy by Best-Selling author Tim O’Rourke, “Doorways: A Book of Vampires, Werewolves, and Black Magic.” After listening to the audiobook, the author said, “You really brought the characters to life – it really was amazing.... The voices were perfect and the chapters seemed to burst with life. I couldn't imagine it sounding any better.... Even though I wrote it I got caught up in the story as if coming across it for the first time.” That kind of feedback is part of what keeps us going. We would love to hear from listeners, too!

Kudos to all the narrators out there!


message 15: by Jeanie (new)

Jeanie | 3603 comments As a narrator fangirl, I whole-heartedly support the full compensation of narrators for their work... even though there really isn't enough money in the world to pay for the value I receive from the work of a really good narrator. To the narrators both on this thread and any who might read it, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the joy you bring!


message 16: by Karen (new)

Karen White (karenwhiteaudiobooknarrator) | 175 comments Thanks to you, Jeanie and to all the listeners who are so passionate about quality audiobooks. We wouldn't have much work to do if you all weren't buying them (and if authors weren't writing books, I guess)!


AudioBookReviewer | 70 comments One of my favorite female narrators get $1000 per finished hour. I say good for her!


message 18: by GeneralTHC (new)

GeneralTHC | 27 comments "An unknown actor might earn a few thousand dollars for a book, while stars like Nicole Kidman, who recently narrated Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” for Audible, can be paid in the hundreds of thousands."

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/bus...

I just hope the audiobook revolution so to speak doesn't suffer because they're employing way too many people for too few dollars. There are already a bunch of narrators out there and only a handful of really good one IMO--at least that I've heard, and I've heard a bunch.


message 19: by GeneralTHC (new)

GeneralTHC | 27 comments Also, I hope they don't get sucked in by just the big names either. I mean, just because you're a famous actor doesn't necessarily follow that you'll be a good audiobook narrator. But it's all opinion I guess. A lot of people like Sissy Spacek version of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I wasn't impressed at all. I prefer narrators that are versatile. I like it when they have many different voices and can do foreign accents. I suspect the best narrators are multilingual.


message 20: by David (new)

David Dietz | 149 comments I have to say, I've been slowly and steadily having all my illusions as an actor shattered. I thought recording audiobooks would be good "bread-and-butter" money to supplement my other acting endeavors. Now, it seems to me that there's NOTHING an actor can do that's lucrative... unless he/she becomes a "name" actor. Man, reality sucks sometimes! Well, I'm gonna keep plugging away, regardless. Maybe I can work myself up to Scott Brick territory, eventually...


message 21: by Susan (new)

Susan Keefe | 14 comments If you would like to know more about audiobook narrating from the narrators view point and also read some articles about the subject please take a look at Audiobook Monthly magazine, it's free online here http://www.audiobookmonthly.com/index...


message 22: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 316 comments I'm not sure, Susan. Maybe it would be like watching how sausages are made.


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan Keefe | 14 comments It's actually very interesting Margaret learning about the business and the people behind it.


message 24: by Badbadger (new)

Badbadger | 1 comments I’ve been an audiobook narrator for about three years now and the answer is...it depends.

Current ACTRA rates have artists at a minimum of $266 Per Finished Hour (PFH). This rate does not include studio rental time or editing. However, most narrators work independently and set their own rates depending on their experience and expertise. Independent narrators are also usually responsible for owning or renting any audio equipment as well as editing services. Many narrators choose to do their own editing.

Then, there are a few standard types of contracts that narrators and Publishers can choose to work with.

The first is a PFH rate. This is a flat fee that the Publisher will pay the narrator when the book is finished. We (my partner and I mostly work on dual narration projects) charge $300 PFH for a single book or $275 PFH for a series of 3 books or more.

Second is a Royalty Share + PFH rate contract. This is a reduced PFH rate in exchange for 10-20% Royalties on the audiobook. We charge $200 PFH + Royalties on a single book or $175 + Royalties on a series of 3 books or more.

Third is a Profit Share contract. This is when the narrator takes on the entire cost of the production in exchange for 10-20% royalties. This is a risky endeavour and we are VERY selective of the books we choose to do under this type of contract. We try to do four a year because we want to help new authors out and overtime royalties do add up. Sometimes you make more than you would have at a PFH or Profit Share plus contract, sometimes you never make your money back. This option is a marathon not a sprint. The money trickles in over time and you take on all the risk.

There are also costs involved in producing an audiobook. Equipment and Studio time as well as editing. We pay our editor $75 PFH however, that’s on the low side. We are lucky to have them on board. Many narrators edit their own work. We’ve tried that, it’s time consuming and boring, it’s worth it to pay a pro. We pay the studio $100 PFH. That usual leaves us with $100 PFH in our pockets at the end of the day. There is also a limit on the hours a person can read while maintaining an even quality. We do not read more than 4 hours a day, and most days we read for three hours. This represents about 1.5 to 2 finished hours of audiobook a day. If you do the math, that’s $150-$200 a day.

Audiobook narrating is hard work and it requires skill. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. We are both trained actors who regularly work in theatre, Film & TV, and Voice Over (commercial and animation). Actors are not guaranteed work on a daily basis and we find the flexible scheduling of audiobook narration works nicely around our other contracts. If you have no training or voice over experience expect to work for a lot less until you have built up a catalogue.

We currently make between $600 and $1300 a month on the royalty share projects we have done. I’d say on average we make $800. But that is after 3 years worth of projects.

I hope this helps. When we were starting out it was next to impossible to find any concrete information about pay rates. Just vague numbers like $100-$250 PFH with no cost analysis breakdown. We had to do a lot of trial and error. It sucked! If this helps one narrator or publisher than it was worth the time it took to write. Pay rates shouldn’t be a secret cabal.

One other note for Publishers. The adage “you get what you pay for” applies when hiring a narrator. You can get it done fast, you can get it done well, you can get it done cheaply...but you can never get all three. Keep that in mind and decide which two are most important to you.


message 25: by Contrarius (new)

Contrarius | 323 comments @Badbadger --

Although you're necroposting on a very old thread, I for one really appreciate the information you've left. I am neither a writer nor a narrator, just an audio addict -- but I've always been curious about this. :-)


message 26: by Kandice (new)

Kandice | 43 comments Contrarius wrote: "@Badbadger --

Although you're necroposting on a very old thread, I for one really appreciate the information you've left. I am neither a writer nor a narrator, just an audio addict -- but I've alw..."


Ditto


message 27: by Julesy (new)

Julesy | 84 comments Badbadger - thanks for posting. It was extremely informative! 👏


message 28: by Specs (new)

Specs Bunny (specsbunny) | 388 comments Badbadger wrote: "One other note for Publishers. The adage “you get what you pay for” applies when hiring a narrator. You can get it done fast, you can get it done well, you can get it done cheaply...but you can never get all three. Keep that in mind and decide which two are most important to you.."
Hear hear!!
And thanks for sharing the information with us. Really interesting to read.


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