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Audiobook narration

Voice Angel

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hi there!

I'm in the process right now of act, assess and adjust.
I do voicework (meditations, guided audios, etc). I'm in the process of adjusting my business plan for narrating audiobooks by offering narration on a royalty basis only and scrapping my hourly rate completely (hourly = slowlane, I now understand). I have noticed that a lot of authors find the hourly fees for narrators a significant barrier to launching their own audiobook versions.
If I work with a royalty-only set up, it would potentially fill a need for authors to access audiobook narration much sooner rather than later.

The interesting thing is that as soon as I thought of doing it as royalty-only, it switched the focus from the money side of things (hourly rate) to focusing on quality production. I do always my best job anywway, but this kind of pushed the envelope more. I'm not sure if I'm imaginging this, but could it be that the hourly rate comes with a tiny bit of entitlement to it? Meaning that *I know* I'd be getting a fixed hourly fee, but the customer doesn't know exactly what quality they would be receving. Just thinking about this, it's very interesting.

Anyway, would love any feedback, but as it stands am right now reaching out to authors to see if there is indeed the need and tweaking the current production process, so that it can be even better service-wise.

thanks in advance!
 

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MJ DeMarco

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@Lex DeVille does a little bit of this I believe. Maybe he will chime in.
 

Lex DeVille

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I've narrated three books so far and I get a monthly royalty in the amount of $30 - $70 per month. If you're already mostly set up for narration, then it could be a great opportunity, especially if you can afford to pay your bills while building up royalty clients.

It is very easy to get started on ACX.com, especially if you're willing to take a wide range of work.

The two non-fiction books I narrated were short (around 10,000 words each) and they both died really fast. I see almost no profit from them. The third book was a gay shifter romance and it was much longer at 70,000 words. It performed quite well.

Keep in mind there is a different and more complicated standard for editing audiobooks than for guided meditations. You can outsource the editing if you'd like.

All that said, it's not easy to take control with audiobook narration unless you spend a lot of time doing outreach to booksellers who are not using ACX or some other platform for their narration needs.

Guided audios and meditations have very strong opportunities if marketed properly. And here's a hint, if you can do sleep stories you can go viral practically overnight on YouTube. From there you can sell your own products through your own website and take back more control.

If I had to choose between audiobooks and guided audios, I would actually go with guided audios because a lot of people need them and far less people know how to do them properly.

Or you could always do both. ;)
 

Rawseed

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Have you ever though about writing your own guided content and then narrating it?

Or hiring some yogi to write you some guided content. Pay them a flat fee with no future royalties. Then narrate it yourself?

You could even list the yogi as a co-author. So, it would be marketing for the yogi as well.

Your only additional costs would be:
  • Paying the yogi for the content.
  • Getting the content edited.
  • Paying for the cover.
  • Marketing cost.
 
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Voice Angel

Voice Angel

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Have you ever though about writing your own guided content and then narrating it?

Or hiring some yogi to write you some guided content. Pay them a flat fee with no future royalties. Then narrate it yourself?

You could even list the yogi as a co-author. So, it would be marketing for the yogi as well.

Your only additional costs would be:
  • Paying the yogi for the content.
  • Getting the content edited.
  • Paying for the cover.
  • Marketing cost.
Thanks! I actually do write my own meditations and affirmations, and am in the process of writing more.
But that's a great idea about collaborating as well. :)
 
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Voice Angel

Voice Angel

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I've narrated three books so far and I get a monthly royalty in the amount of $30 - $70 per month. If you're already mostly set up for narration, then it could be a great opportunity, especially if you can afford to pay your bills while building up royalty clients.

It is very easy to get started on ACX.com, especially if you're willing to take a wide range of work.

The two non-fiction books I narrated were short (around 10,000 words each) and they both died really fast. I see almost no profit from them. The third book was a gay shifter romance and it was much longer at 70,000 words. It performed quite well.

Keep in mind there is a different and more complicated standard for editing audiobooks than for guided meditations. You can outsource the editing if you'd like.

All that said, it's not easy to take control with audiobook narration unless you spend a lot of time doing outreach to booksellers who are not using ACX or some other platform for their narration needs.

Guided audios and meditations have very strong opportunities if marketed properly. And here's a hint, if you can do sleep stories you can go viral practically overnight on YouTube. From there you can sell your own products through your own website and take back more control.

If I had to choose between audiobooks and guided audios, I would actually go with guided audios because a lot of people need them and far less people know how to do them properly.

Or you could always do both. ;)
Thanks for the great advice and feedback!

I've recorded an audiobook and yes, the editing was a real mofo timewise. I'll be doing my own audiobook this fall.

I've done a ton of guided meditations for a Cali app company so the sleep stories suggestion is fantastic. I can certainly do those!

You guys have given me a lot to work with, thanks :)
 
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Voice Angel

Voice Angel

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I've narrated three books so far and I get a monthly royalty in the amount of $30 - $70 per month. If you're already mostly set up for narration, then it could be a great opportunity, especially if you can afford to pay your bills while building up royalty clients.

It is very easy to get started on ACX.com, especially if you're willing to take a wide range of work.

The two non-fiction books I narrated were short (around 10,000 words each) and they both died really fast. I see almost no profit from them. The third book was a gay shifter romance and it was much longer at 70,000 words. It performed quite well.

Keep in mind there is a different and more complicated standard for editing audiobooks than for guided meditations. You can outsource the editing if you'd like.

All that said, it's not easy to take control with audiobook narration unless you spend a lot of time doing outreach to booksellers who are not using ACX or some other platform for their narration needs.

Guided audios and meditations have very strong opportunities if marketed properly. And here's a hint, if you can do sleep stories you can go viral practically overnight on YouTube. From there you can sell your own products through your own website and take back more control.

If I had to choose between audiobooks and guided audios, I would actually go with guided audios because a lot of people need them and far less people know how to do them properly.

Or you could always do both. ;)
Thanks so much!
I launched 4 single audios over the weekend and also an album bundling the 4.
Sold 1 single and 1 album the next day. It's the first time I sold them directly and not through a third party - it felt great! Just waiting for the "echo" as I want more than anything for them to be satisfying for the listener!
I'm looking into other places to launch the audio, will start with itunes, cdbaby, etc.
Working now on more scripts... :)
 
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MTF

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As a self-published author, I don't see much value in the royalty share option. Let me explain why—and please don't think of my post as disrespectful because I do appreciate audiobook narrators a lot; I just would never do a royalty split with them.

If an author doesn't have any money and wants to produce an audiobook, they might seek your services. You'll spend at least a few days, if not a couple of weeks depending on the length of the book, to narrate it.

Most of the time, their book will not succeed and you'll end up making $10 per month from a title (with dozens or hundreds of hours invested in production).

If it does succeed, they'll never do a royalty split again because they'll be able to pay for production and pocket 100% of revenue. But the problem is that even if it does succeed, you're splitting income 50/50, so even for a book that's successful (making, say, a few thousand dollars a month), it's still not that much for something that happens rarely.

For your as a narrator, this means that you're limited to working with new authors who, even if they become successful, won't do another audiobook with you as a royalty share.

The only exception would be if you're a well-known narrator with a large following, but that's mostly limited to actors and other celebrities who can generate a lot of sales for the author simply because they're doing the narration.

If the only thing you bring to the table is narration, then IMO for an author it's not worth a 50/50 split because it doesn't cost more than perhaps a few thousand dollars (depending on the length of your book) to get an audiobook narrated.

It just doesn't make mathematical sense for an author to save, say, $1000 on an audiobook production in exchange for giving up 50% of income. Better to pay upfront and get 100% so that even if the book doesn't perform well they'll recoup their investment in half the time.

I do like the idea of creating your own content and I'd focus on this over doing narration for others. People who have a unique, developed voice are incredibly rare and their products can be one-of-a-kind productocracy type of a business (Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough come to mind). If it's something people listen to more than once (like guided meditations), that's even better because if you end up distributing your work to streaming services you'll have consistent passive income.
 

Lex DeVille

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As a self-published author, I don't see much value in the royalty share option. Let me explain why—and please don't think of my post as disrespectful because I do appreciate audiobook narrators a lot; I just would never do a royalty split with them.

If an author doesn't have any money and wants to produce an audiobook, they might seek your services. You'll spend at least a few days, if not a couple of weeks depending on the length of the book, to narrate it.

Most of the time, their book will not succeed and you'll end up making $10 per month from a title (with dozens or hundreds of hours invested in production).

If it does succeed, they'll never do a royalty split again because they'll be able to pay for production and pocket 100% of revenue. But the problem is that even if it does succeed, you're splitting income 50/50, so even for a book that's successful (making, say, a few thousand dollars a month), it's still not that much for something that happens rarely.

For your as a narrator, this means that you're limited to working with new authors who, even if they become successful, won't do another audiobook with you as a royalty share.

The only exception would be if you're a well-known narrator with a large following, but that's mostly limited to actors and other celebrities who can generate a lot of sales for the author simply because they're doing the narration.

If the only thing you bring to the table is narration, then IMO for an author it's not worth a 50/50 split because it doesn't cost more than perhaps a few thousand dollars (depending on the length of your book) to get an audiobook narrated.

It just doesn't make mathematical sense for an author to save, say, $1000 on an audiobook production in exchange for giving up 50% of income. Better to pay upfront and get 100% so that even if the book doesn't perform well they'll recoup their investment in half the time.

I do like the idea of creating your own content and I'd focus on this over doing narration for others. People who have a unique, developed voice are incredibly rare and their products can be one-of-a-kind productocracy type of a business (Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough come to mind). If it's something people listen to more than once (like guided meditations), that's even better because if you end up distributing your work to streaming services you'll have consistent passive income.
Doing my own content is likely the only way I will continue this in the future. You're absolutely right about the time commitment from the narrator's end.

Everything I've seen in the narration groups on FB says that very few narrators make a great living as narrators. They do this as a passion and as a hobby.

Those who do make great pay with royalties are constantly doing cold outreach to authors they think they can strike a good deal with. They do not find all of their clients through ACX.com. They go to the source.

Also, most of the narrators I spoke with offer a combination of services. They do audiobooks, radio, voiceover and anything else they can get their hands on to keep money coming in.

Also, most narrators are broke.
 
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Voice Angel

Voice Angel

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Aug 12, 2019
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As a self-published author, I don't see much value in the royalty share option. Let me explain why—and please don't think of my post as disrespectful because I do appreciate audiobook narrators a lot; I just would never do a royalty split with them.

If an author doesn't have any money and wants to produce an audiobook, they might seek your services. You'll spend at least a few days, if not a couple of weeks depending on the length of the book, to narrate it.

Most of the time, their book will not succeed and you'll end up making $10 per month from a title (with dozens or hundreds of hours invested in production).

If it does succeed, they'll never do a royalty split again because they'll be able to pay for production and pocket 100% of revenue. But the problem is that even if it does succeed, you're splitting income 50/50, so even for a book that's successful (making, say, a few thousand dollars a month), it's still not that much for something that happens rarely.

For your as a narrator, this means that you're limited to working with new authors who, even if they become successful, won't do another audiobook with you as a royalty share.

The only exception would be if you're a well-known narrator with a large following, but that's mostly limited to actors and other celebrities who can generate a lot of sales for the author simply because they're doing the narration.

If the only thing you bring to the table is narration, then IMO for an author it's not worth a 50/50 split because it doesn't cost more than perhaps a few thousand dollars (depending on the length of your book) to get an audiobook narrated.

It just doesn't make mathematical sense for an author to save, say, $1000 on an audiobook production in exchange for giving up 50% of income. Better to pay upfront and get 100% so that even if the book doesn't perform well they'll recoup their investment in half the time.

I do like the idea of creating your own content and I'd focus on this over doing narration for others. People who have a unique, developed voice are incredibly rare and their products can be one-of-a-kind productocracy type of a business (Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough come to mind). If it's something people listen to more than once (like guided meditations), that's even better because if you end up distributing your work to streaming services you'll have consistent passive income.
This is very insightful, and I don't find it disrespectful at all. You've addressed several angles that I didn't think of.

I'm going to be creating more of my own content and gearing it to needs I pick up on in the community.

Thanks for the great advice here!
 

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