Why don’t more Indie authors have their work available as audiobooks?

Why aren’t more Indie authors in the audiobook market place?

It’s a question that confounds me.

From the discussions I have had with a number of authors, I think the answer is really quite simple.

Indie authors don’t understand the process that is available to them to produce and distribute their books as audiobooks.

Many Indies have never heard of Audiobook Creation Exchange (“ACX”), the portal Amazon has created to connect authors, narrators and producers with a view toward producing audiobooks. Books uploaded through ACX are distributed to Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

Because Indie authors don’t know about ACX, they often operate under the assumption that audiobook creation is prohibitively expensive. 

It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

To be sure if a person pays a voice over artist and an audio producer to do the work, he may be looking at a big outlay of cash upfront. Fees for these services run in the $200-$400 per finished hour range.  “Per finished hour” is a term of art that means the actual number of hours it will take the book buyer to listen to the book.  If a book runs eight hours, then the fee of $400 per finished hour would mean that the producer/narrator would charge $3,200 to produce the book.  On average a narrator reads a little over 9,000 words per minute.  So a 72,000 word novel would take about 8 “finished” hours.

But ACX offers authors an option that requires them to pay NO upfront costs.  Rather the author acquires narrator/producers by performing a “royalty share.” For an exclusive deal on book distribution, ACX pays the author a fifty percent royalty that escalates as book sales reach certain threshold levels.  So the author agrees to split his royalty payments with the narrator/producer.  At the end of the day, the author retains a twenty-five percent royalty and assigns his other twenty-five percent to the narrator/producer, who only gets paid if the book sells.

This creates a partnership between the author and her producer/narrator, a team concept that causes both sides of the equation to work on book promotion.

ACX also encourages authors to self-narrate their own books in home studios.  I was fortunate this week to be asked to contribute to an ACX blog about author-narrators and home studios. ACX provides extremely helpful information about the process and attempts to demystify it. Although I can testify that the learning curve is steep, it is not insurmountable. The creation of a home audio studio is an option many Indie authors should consider because it gives them the flexibility to narrate their own work and also to act as narrator/producers for other authors.  Here’s what my little home away from home looks like.

Stephen Woodfin's home studio
Stephen Woodfin’s home studio


It is plain but wholly functional.  All one need do is add elbow grease in significant amounts.

If you are interested in learning more about the creation of audiobooks, just drop me a note in the comments, or go to ACX’s site and study up on all the good instructional material there.









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