The fastest growing segment of the book world is – hands down – audiobooks. I first thought about having my work produced as audiobooks after the London Book Fair of 2017. The advantages of having an audiobook are plentiful. Besides being the fastest growing segment, more younger readers listen to them (a segment I struggle to reach), and commuters (who are not necessarily readers) listen to them.
As an indie author, there are basically three ways to produce an audiobook: (1) ACX (owned by Amazon) (2) Findaway Voices (or another aggregator), or (3) do-it-yourself solutions.
By this I mean finding a narrator yourself and having the audiobook produced by them and then uploading the audiobook to whatever distribution channels you decide upon. I have to be honest here. I didn’t even consider this option besides thinking ‘Nope! No freaking way!’ Not only is it a lot of work, but I have no idea what I’m doing. I barely have time to keep to my writing and marketing schedule as it is. I certainly don’t need to add this type of project to my to-do list.
With ACX, you audiobook is made available on audible.com, Amazon and iTunes. If you grant Audible exclusive distribution rights, you earn a 40% royalty. ACX offers three options for audiobook production: pay for production, royalty share, or do it yourself.
Pay for production. If you pay for production of the audiobook, then you keep all royalties and control of the distribution. If you go for the non-exclusive option, you earn 25% royalties. This allows you to upload your audiobook on other retail websites.
Royalty share option. The advantage of the royalty share option is the lack of out of pocket expenses. Your audiobook is exclusive to Audible and your earn 20% royalties (with 20% going to the producer). You are locked in to a seven-year term with Audible, though. There’s also a new royalty share plus program, which grants you access to a higher tier of producers for a one-time payment.
According to Findaway Voices, it has the largest network of audiobook sellers, including both retail and library channels. The team guides you through the production of the audiobook. They suggest narrators, manage the production, and prepare the digital files for distribution.
Sound great, right? But hold up. With Findaway Voices, you need to pay for the production yourself. My audiobook (55,000 words) cost € 1406 to produce. That’s a heck of a lot of sales I need to make before I break even, which is totally freaking me out.
Hybrid Royalty share (aka Voices Share). As an author you pay half of the normal cost of audiobook production in exchange for sharing 20% of royalties with the narrator. You can even buyout the royalty share. As this product launched after I had begun production of my audiobook, it wasn’t an option for me. I may consider it in the future, though. I like that the royalty share is 20% instead of 50%.
Royalty rates. The royalty rates vary depending upon the retail channel, but Findaway retains 20% of all royalty receipts.
Why I went with Findaway
Using ACX seems like a no-brainer. With the royalty share option, you can literally get an audiobook made and distributed without being opening your pocketbook. Ching! Ching! But there’s one teensy weensy problem with ACX – it’s only available in the US and the UK. Okay, I thought. Not a problem. I can use the address of one of my sisters. But then I discovered, you need a bank account in the US or the UK. Getting a bank account in the US when not living there is almost as difficult as getting a bank account in the EU as an American.
I did a bunch of research and read a lot of blogs of others who had decided to go with Findaway. I’m comfortable with my decision, but I will be waiting to see how well my current title sells before having a second title recorded.