Happy Friday, everyone! I'm pleased to announce that we have author D.H. Aire with us today! I met up with him at Balticon this past weekend where we shared some helpful tips, talked about delving into the world of audio books, and discussed his new release, Sleeping Beauties and Beasts! (I have to say, the cover is baddass!)
D.H. has some great reflections to share regarding an audio book panel he attended at Balticon. If you're an Indie considering releasing your books on audio, you won't want to miss this post!
“Why Do Storytellers Need A Narrator?” was a not a well-attended session at Balticon 53, but it should have been. It was intended for Indie authors like me or those who might one day be. Then again, it gave me more opportunity to ask questions and consider what the, by-and-large, authors and now also narrators, who put together audio books for others were sharing.
First of all, I’ve published more than fifteen novels since 2012 when I got a contract from a small publisher for my first novel. I’ve been thinking about the audio book market for a long time, but from what I’ve been hearing the investment in my time was going to be that of writing a book—and frankly I have a day job and feel I need to stay focused on getting out that next novel.
The panelists were: Melissa L Hayden, Mike Luoa, Paul E. Cooley, Staira Huchton, August Grappin, and Veronice Giguer, who moderated. What the panelists list August Grappin shared is they voraciously listen to audio books which is far less time consuming that reading. August listens to 30 books a years and has a 45 minute commute to work, which provides the perfect opportunity to listen to a book.
Veronica shared that a narrator does all the work of not only narrating the book, but editing and packaging it. ACX, the Amazon audio exchange, is one of a number of places authors can commission audio books. She also shared the options for hiring a narrator, paying an hourly fee for the finished number of hours of the audio book, doing a shared royalty, or a hybrid. She explained that the professional rate, meaning hiring a professional actor, is $250 an hour; however, rates are typically as low as $60 a finished hour.
The panel also shared that audio books of longer reading lengths are more popular than shorter. The attractive length begins with 8 hours. I asked the panel how long a 100,000 word book would take and the consensus, as people read at different paces, was a minimum of 12 hours. At the $250 an hour professional rate, that begs the question, will I even make my money back—if I even had that much to invest in having the audio book done?
Apparently audio readers often buy through subscription services and the royalty the writer sees can be quite small, but if you are writing Romance, no problem, those audio books sell better than any other genre.
The panelist stressed that the audio market opens your books up to an entirely new audience, who may very well buy your print book, too. But more importantly, reviews you get on your audio books, add to your overall number of reviews and as the author you can give away audio book to get reviews, particularly to services who may only charge a fee of $12 for the privilege to offer to their reviewer list. Melissa Hayden reviews audio books a lot and in her reviews, she reviews the book and the narrators work.
I shared with the panel that I write series and asked if there was an advantage to that or not? They shared often audio readers will hold off buying books until there are four or the series or trilogy is complete, then they buy them all. That gave me pause, I’ve heard that particular manta about print book buyers, too, but I haven’t seen a rush of buyers for my complete seven book series. I see steady progression in buying and reading of the books, though. So, I’ll need to “see to believe” that, I guess.
Another point the panelists stressed was that audio book listeners follow narrators they like, no matter if the book is well reviewed or not. Which leads me to the most important point, as pointed out by Staira Huchton, the author needs to know what kind of voice and voice abilities they are looking for. Paul E. Cooley does reporting type narration, others like Staira can do other voices. Mike Luomo stressed that what voices are needed changing suddenly can catch a narrator short.
The voice you are looking for matters and all the panelist shared that we could go to their websites and hear samples of their work.
Though, I found the session helpful, the cost versus return on investment still concerned me. And the idea of investing $3,000 or more… August hearing my hesitation said, “You can also do the first book in the series and based on the response go from there.”
True, but I still was not convinced, so I went to the Balticon Dealers Room and talked to an author I had heard on another panel, who has been doing audio books. She was not pleased at the low royalties on ACX, nor were her initial sales “gangbusters,” as they might have hoped. She also had audio books of less than 8 hours—and they were not selling as well as those over 8 hours. But her narrators, how much was she paying, whether on ACX or through other avenues? Her answer was $60 to $75 a finished hour on the audio books over 8 hours, more for the far short lengths, which, were in the $150 an hour.
So, hmm, it’s possible for the cost of a book cover, to hire a narrator to do audio books of my novels, not investing thousands and spending the time it takes to write another novel in the process. The royalty stream might then have a rate of return that makes it build my audience further.
I’ve still things to consider such as ACX has a seven year exclusive, but they currently are the largest market for audio books and somehow I don’t think that is going to change, at least not for some time.
Check out D.H. Aire's latest book! Sleeping Beauties and Beasts is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle!
Welcome to the world of Highmage's Plight, where magic vanquished science long ago - and where now humanity is "on the ropes" and twisted fairy tales may be their only hope!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
D.H. Aire has published 15 novels and has another scheduled for publication later this summer. His love of history and archaeology have found expression in his writing of his epic fantasy/sci fi Highmage's Plight and Hands of the Highmage Series, which includes: For Whom the Bell Trolls, Of Elves and Unicorns, and Goldilocks and the Three Dwarves. His twisted sense of humor find expression in his Dare 2 Believe Series. Aire is a member of SFWA and an Indy author. You can follow him at: Twitter @dare2believe1, Facebook (Dare 2 Believe), and www.dhr2believe.net.