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Archived > FYI: My Audiobook Royalties - April 2015

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message 1: by James (new)

James Livingood (paperbackward) | 21 comments Hi all,

So I just started on the Audiobook road (via ACX) and found out some answers I would like to share. Please note, that these are just my personal results: yours may vary. I am sharing, because I wanted this info and couldn't find it anywhere.

I put out a self-help weight loss book at 1hr 15min long (11,515 words). I wanted a professional narrator. I also set it to exclusive to (40% royalty to me). There were A LOT of "Royalty-Share" deals, so I decided to simply pay a flat per produced hour. Once I posted my offer of $50-$100 per hour I had 3 auditions on the same day.

Within 1-2 weeks I had an audio book completed and paid for. My end cost was $78.75 to a PayPal account. The narrator marked it ready and a couple weeks later it hit

As many of you know, price is set by ACX/Audible/Amazon. We authors don't get to set the audio book price. The length of my book dictated a regular (non-discount) price of $6.95.

From there I had sales in three categories:

ALC - $2.27 royalty per book sold
(A la Carte - audiobook units bought by customers not in an AudibleListener membership)

AL - $1.45 royalty per book sold
(Audible Listener - audiobook units bought by AudibleListener members using their membership credits)

ALOP - $1.30 royalty per book sold
(Audible Listener - audiobook units bought by AudibleListener members but not using their membership credits)

The book has nearly earned out inside the first month, however, sales have slowed down to a trickle.

One interesting thing, though, that Audio Books do: I now have a "audio book" sample on both the Good Reads and Amazon pages. That means a potential reader can simply hit the "play" button instead of navigating inside. For those of us that love audio books, and prefer to consume books this way, that play button is a MAJOR incentive to buying the book.

Another note: My fiction is not selling as well as the non-fiction audio book I put out. That is to be expected as I am a unknown fiction writer. (I am an unknown non-fiction too, but when people want a specific topic, the author is less relevant)

Hope this post helps!Let me know any questions and I'll see what I can do to help.


message 2: by James (new)

James Livingood (paperbackward) | 21 comments Quick side note: For those of you who crunched the numbers and saw that 40% does not equal the royalties I got... there is an explanation. There are different tricks uses to retain and build customers. These are discounts, coupons, and more. Furthermore, credits for a year are different than monthly credits (cost wise). I got a solid 40% of all revenue they made off the books.

message 3: by James (new)

James Livingood (paperbackward) | 21 comments One more side note: My fiction books are under an hour (52min & 57min). That could be another reason why they are not selling as well. (I am still learning this market)

message 4: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments This is all pretty interesting, truly, but I would freak out trying to find a narrator I trusted to read my book and not start making up things lol

message 5: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Crane (pamela_crane) | 23 comments Thanks so much for sharing this, James. I've been tossing around the idea of creating an audiobook, but I wasn't sure what to expect the total cost to be and if I could sell enough to make back the cost. I'm a thriller author, so I don't know if that's a popular audiobook genre or not...

How do you estimate the cost based on the word count?

message 6: by James (new)

James Livingood (paperbackward) | 21 comments I did not get any auditions by offering Royalty Deals.

Once I switched to flat, pay per hour deals, I started getting auditions. [95% of ACX authors use Royalty. As a narrator, you never know if those will pay for themselves (making them riskier than pay per hour deals).]

My estimate is about 1 hour = 9200 words. Offering between $50 - $100 per finished hour put me in the top 50% for all ACX finished hour deals.

I've heard that for every finished hour, a narrator spends 1.5 - 2 hours of work. That means the book above probably took 2 - 2.5 hrs for the narrator to complete, netting them about $30 - $40 per hour of work.

I feel that's an honest deal there! They earned a decent amount up front, and I have a book that's nearly earned out.

message 7: by James (new)

James Livingood (paperbackward) | 21 comments Oh, and I get free coupon codes to pass out, which is fantastic! I've been using those to help find reviews and to build my mailing list. (I am giving out codes and Amazon gift codes)

message 8: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Crane (pamela_crane) | 23 comments Thanks for the estimate. I had no clue what to even estimate. My book is about 80,000 words, so that's a pretty hefty investment in the end (between $400-$800, depending on how many hours and the cost per finished hour). I just don't know if I should go for it to expand purchase options, since audiobooks are another sales avenue, but without knowing what Amazon would charge, or where I can promote it, I am hesitant to take the plunge... and which book I should experiment with...?

You've given me lots to think about, James!

message 9: by Sam (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 83 comments I've been wondering about Audible. I signed up for a free account but I haven't made any audiobooks yet. For those of you who use it, what is the typical going rate for a decent professional voice actor/actress?

message 10: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Very good to hear some real-world info. We wondered about an audio book, but the whole issue of voice acting came up because we write fiction.

In a thread on another group, it seemed that people who bought fiction audio books had quite different feelings on that (what was desirable in voice acting), but the impression I came away with was that could greatly increase the time required. We concluded there was no way we could embark on an audio book at this time.

message 11: by James (new)

James Livingood (paperbackward) | 21 comments Pamela:
I would say a 80,000 word book is a touch over 8 hours. Surfing says that fantasy books at that level are around $19.95 for indie publishers. My guess is that would be around $4 - $6 royalty per book sale. You can also go with the $0 - $50 per hour, or even royalty and see if you can find the right narrator for the job.

My opinion is that $50-$100 is the sweet spot. You can find new, hungry talent... but they still have some experience. $200+ per hour is solid talent with a proven record.

A phrase that sticks with me is "when you own a hammer, every problem looks like a nail". I love audio books, ergo, I think everyone should do them. I can tell you, voice acting wise, that I've been very happy. All I had to do was give a little direction in advance and the narrator does well.

For example, in the audition script I have a dialog between main characters. I then tell the narrator some background information and how I want them to sound. That way, when I approve the audition, I already know how they are going to inflect the personalities.

message 12: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Crane (pamela_crane) | 23 comments Great post, James. Really appreciate it!

message 13: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Thanks, James. That shows audiobooks are more accessible than it seemed to us. We didn't investigate how popular audio books are in our genre, as it appeared the cost was prohibitive.

I've heard that some audio books use music (even soundtracks)? (I'm not familiar with them at all.) If that is the case, is it common?

Any words of wisdom on female vs male narrators?

message 14: by James (new)

James Livingood (paperbackward) | 21 comments As an audio book listener, I do enjoy hearing a little music when the book first starts (or ends). Some epic music with the name of the book title... causes shivers when you've waited for the book!

Most audio books I've found don't include any music. Most audio books have a single narrator as well.

There are plenty of places to get free (and royalty-free) music if you attribute it. If you don't feel like attributing the music, you simply pay the artist $20-$30 to use the jingle that way. Here is one example of this.

I've used both female and male narrators. What's great about Audible/ACX is you not only get to specify narrator gender, but also nationality and type. For example, you can request an energetic British woman to read [great for non-fiction] or a man's husky, pausing American voice to read [great for anti-hero]. Perhaps a bouncing Australian accent for a kids book?

I think of what I want the main character to sound like and choose that as my narrator. I then have the narrator test out the rest of the characters during the audition.

message 15: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Thanks James. Much of our motivation for originally looking into this was that we read our books aloud to each other, and we try to write our prose to sound good when read aloud. I've always had a yen to hear them read by a professional (I don't read well -- my co-author does much better), especially in a nice accent.

You've certainly given me a lot to think about.

message 16: by Morris (last edited May 05, 2015 06:12PM) (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) One thing that hasn't been talked about is the stipend ACX will pay the narrator on Royalty share projects...if you qualify. Qualification is based on your sales track-record on Amazon of your eBook. I had 13 applications and decided on the right one, and ACX offered a stipend to the narrator of $1365.00 which they would pay to him upon approving the finished work. Then I got a couple of reviews and decided to do a hard edit and let the stipend offer expire. After I finished with my fourth edition, I tried again and since my sales had fallen flat; the stipend wasn't added again.

I hope this helps someone. I never did get an audiobook because I can't afford 13.5 finished hours that my book would take to produce.

Best regards, Morris

message 17: by Winter (new)

Winter (wdprosapio) | 16 comments Very interesting thread. Does anyone know if there's a way to get onto audible without ACX? I have a voice talent who is interested and who is a friend who is enthusiastic (and talented) about recording for me and who could be a great narrator. Just curious if it's possible...


Winter Desiree

message 18: by James (new)

James Livingood (paperbackward) | 21 comments I know that you can upload your own audio files on ACX. You could also have your friend sign up as a narrator to complete your project.

message 19: by Julius (last edited Dec 29, 2016 04:10PM) (new)

Julius Schenk | 1 comments I've just had my first dark fantasy book come out on audible, via acx royalty split. it's around 8 hours long and the whooping price of $17 bucks. I have 15 sales already mostly AL, i'll let you guys know how that relates to money, as i guess it's like KDP reads, given it's members but they only get 1 book a month.

A note in favor of royalty split, i did it because i had to, but the guy i found was truly great and now he gets some money off each sale he is also promo'ing it.

it's 8 hours long, 80k words, amazon has let my reviews of ebook track aswell, so it looks good.

Tara Woods Turner I make more on Audible than Amazon which I never expected. The Audible sales mean so much more because they are completely organic - no sales, promos or advertising allowed.

message 21: by Brandon (new)

Brandon Bosse | 2 comments Tara wrote: "I make more on Audible than Amazon which I never expected. The Audible sales mean so much more because they are completely organic - no sales, promos or advertising allowed."

Oh really?! How long did it take for the Audible sales to start growing organically? My audiobook has been out a few months, but the only "sales" I've been seeing lately are when people use one of my free codes! LOL

message 22: by Carole (new)

Carole P. Roman Tara wrote: "I make more on Audible than Amazon which I never expected. The Audible sales mean so much more because they are completely organic - no sales, promos or advertising allowed."

That holds true for my son's books as well. I hardly advertise the audio books and we sell a nice amount each month. It was well worth the investment.

message 23: by Anthony Deeney (new)

Anthony Deeney | 437 comments I have both my (fiction) books on audio.

One is a novelette (about 2.5 hrs) the other is a full book (about 8.5 hours) I am pleased with the narrators.

I sell more audiobooks than paperbacks, but that is no surprise I hardly sell any paperbacks. My full book sells more copies than the novelette.

I sell more ebooks than audiobooks.

It is early days, but it seems that overall, my audiobooks make more money than my ebooks. However, it will take some time to recover the outlay.

The process of putting forward your book is one almighty ego trip. Listening to skilled narrators reading your work and complementing (sycophantic?) it is a bit like a drug.

Overall, in the end I am happy with the result.

However, it is expensive and if you go through ACX you are locked in for 7 years. I am not certain about the long term rights of a royalty share deal. Does the copyright revert to the author after 7 years?

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