The cost and production that goes into Audio Books.
I realize most readers and listeners don’t have a clue what goes into the production of both a written book and then the audio version.
I for one don’t have much free time to read. I didn’t before I became a writer and now that I am, even less time is available to me. I’ve heard that a good writer will read voraciously—where do they find the time? I can however listen like a fiend whenever I am doing other things—cleaning, cooking, driving, walking the dog etc. Over the years I’ve managed to become quite well read simply because of the plethora of now available audio books. When I turned to writing as a means of catharsis after a big breakdown and life change, my intent was to write audio books. After all, no-one can really pick apart your execution and lack of academics if they are listening. Even misspelled words don’t really matter.
What I didn’t realize was what went into the production of an audio book. I do now, and I’d like to share some of that experience.
I just released my very first audio book. It’s short—much to my chagrin—I love a LONG book! I love to dwell in that world and live with those characters, but it was the best I could do given the costs. Over the past couple of months I’ve struggled to get the next two installments paid for and produced, but I’ve done it despite a five month layup after a broken ankle.
My journey as a writer began almost five years ago. I completed my first full length novel and self-published it. It was a mess—it was the very best I was capable of at the time. I’ve since unpublished it and am about to re-release it after it goes to a professional editor—this is my AdventuresinPayne series and is my baby. It too will eventually get narrated. It should be made into a movie—but that is another whole ball of wax and who knows if anything I ever write will get that sort of attention. I can only dream at this point.
Then I started trying to earn some money as a freelance writer/ghost author. Initially I wasn’t thinking I would write a multitude of different series and storylines—that sort of happened by accident. One of my first ghost assignments was to write about a sexy billionaire romance. I sent in the first ten thousand words of Alpha Awakened and it was rejected. Fine—fuck them—I took it as my own and expanded it. All of a sudden it turned into an ongoing story. Two years later and I have a huge compilation trilogy in this series and am working on book four.
The Alpha was Awakened, the Omega rose up, and a wolf turned into a human—Lumen. Book Four, Cain, promises to be my best yet! I’ve been practicing this writing thing and I’m quite proud of what I am producing now days. All of that didn’t cost me anything but time and lots of hours writing, but I still had my heart set on this audio thing. Expensive! I went to work part time doing what I did for twenty five years—horse training—and I earned enough to get a newbie narrator. You see, the really good narrators, the true professionals—they can garner upwards of five hundred dollars per finished hour. OWCH!
My budget was way too small for that kind of outlay. Let me break it down for you: I need ten to fifteen hours to produce one hour of edited copy for narration. Ideally you want your books in the eight to ten hour range. It takes approximately ten thousand words to make up one hour. So, for a ten hour book, that is one hundred thousand words—and months/years of writing time if you want a truly unique and original story.
Once the narrator gets a hold of this polished nub of work, it will take him/her another four to six hours to produce one finished hour of narration ready for Audible. That’s a mastered, edited version. As the writer, it’s my job to re-listen, over and over, send in corrections—then listen again. This takes as long as the book is long. Are you still with me?
So now we are looking at the twenty to thirty hour range just to produce one finished hour for audio. Needless to say, this is not a lucrative profession. Add in the simple fact if you do not spend hours and hours of self-promotion time, your books don’t sell and you’ve not only invested time, but also money at this point. I won’t even go into the frustrations I still face on cover design and costs. That’s another whole ball of expenses and time.
So, my little Dormant Desires series is finally out. All told the entire compilation cost me roughly two grand, (cash outlay—not hours spent), to get it produced into an audio book. I adore my narrator, he is new and still learning, just as I am—I like it that we are learning together—it’s helped us form a unique bond. Someday soon he will be able to garner the big production rates—I’m trying to afford him now before that happens!
I consider books in general to be a fabulous form of entertainment and especially the luxury of being read to! This is my goal as an author and I hope this helps explain why audio books cost so much. (Also, as the author/owner of the audio title, we only get a partial royalty from the sale.)
Interesting info for Readers who use Kindle Unlimited:
Please scroll to 10% even if you don’t plan on reading till later. Thanks!