So you can read my books

Friday, November 8, 2019


C. Lee McKenzie emailed me:

I’d love to know more about how you did the audible. It’s something I hadn’t considered until hearing your book.

I thought if Lee had questions, many of you might have as well.  So here goes:

It can be expensive --

There is a price per finished hour of audio – which can vary from $200-$400.

So for a 90,000 word book, this would come out at around 10 hours of finished audio – costing between $2000 and $4000.

This may sound steep –

{Only $1.99 if buy the Kindle book}

but a 10 hour finished book will have at least 75 hours of solid work behind it – 

recording, editing and final quality check (it takes 10 hours just to listen to it!).

If you divide it out, this is paying the actor about $27 per hour on the lower rate – 

which is not not excessive for a professional running a business.  

You shake your head, "How hard could this editing be?"

Editing an audio book is a painstaking job –

removing the errors from the recording 

and maybe adding in pauses for effect or cutting long gaps to smooth out dialogue.

In addition you have to be listening out for and then remove, 

all the strange wheezes and pops, coughs and clunks and stomach gurgles that somehow get onto the track.

Add to this the removal of odd external street noises (police sirens, dogs barking etc) 

which are inevitable if you do not record in a sound-proofed room or have a directional mic.

There is some art involved in this –

deciding to leave a noisy breath in the middle of a sentence or

 removing one from the beginning of a phrase will depend on the flow and context of the passage.

Many authors have not planned in advance for a paragraph to be read aloud 

and this makes the job of the recording artist quite a challenge.

 Frequently there are gaspings as the poor actor struggles to get in enough air after a long sentence with many sub-clauses or commas!



(Lee ask your publisher if you have the audio rights to your books.  

If not, ask them if they could grant them to you since they are not going to use them.  

To use ACX you must own the audio rights to your book.)

For those of you who haven’t visited ACX – you should –

it is a brilliant uploading service for independent producers and authors.

They allow authors to advertise for the type of narrator they would like (accent, age, style etc) 

and provide an audition text for any interested party to use to record a sound test. 

The auditions come in, the author selects the one they like best and then the narrator goes off to do the work.

  It is a really simple utility to use 

and it marries authors and producers up and handles contracts, payments, sign offs etc 

and then gets the finished job up onto Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

They offer all sorts of payment options for producers –

including royalty splits and they then handle the payments to you when the book sales start flooding in….

With this option your outlay is minimal – you are just sacrificing half your future royalties.

But since the narrator is looking at continuing to be paid, she/he is motivated to do her or his very best work to spread "word of mouth." -- so to speak.

On the other hand -- 

when you as an author offer a royalty share deal to a narrator, you are asking them to work for free.  

Hopefully, it will pay off eventually, but that’s not guaranteed. 

The narrator is taking a risk – 

it could really pay off, given that there’s no upper limit to what a royalty share title could earn. 

However, it could completely flop, and if it does, the narrator is out of luck.   

Many quality narrators will no longer do Royalty Share for that reason.


The option of paying a low per-finished-hour rate, such as $50 – $100 per finished hour, 

plus royalty share, to cover the cost of editing or at least provide a baseline pay 

for the narrator in case the audiobook sales don’t come through spectacularly. 

This is referred to as a “hybrid” deal. 

The way this would work through ACX 

is that the author and narrator would create a royalty share contract, 

and then the author would also pay the narrator the agreed upon rate.  

The hybrid arrangement seems to be a “sweet spot” for a lot of other narrators I’ve talked to –

the best of both worlds. 

This would be a good thing to be prepared to offer if you don’t have the budget 

to offer a pay-for-production deal, but want to attract a good quality narrator.


2. Create an account (click on the big Get Started button after admiring Neil Gaiman for a minute)

3. This account works with your Amazon account - so you'll have the same sign in and password

4. Creating an account here is very similar to creating an account on any e-book platform - just follow the directions and fill in the info

5. Confirm you own the rights to your titles. 

This is similar to adding your books to your Author Central account, sort of an is this book yours? within ACX and then you confirm if it is or isn't.

6. Next comes the bit I found the most tedious - creating your title profile

a. Post a cover photo (don't worry, it's not the FINAL cover art)

b. Post a description

c. Post an excerpt for narrators to audition with

d. Post a write up of anything else potential narrators and producers need to know -

for example, I stated that I needed a female narrator that could handle doing a proper British accent.

e. Post word count, territories (most will be Worldwide like with e-books)

f. Choose your royalty.

 This is where you decide if you are going to pay an upfront hourly rate or royalty share.

Obviously, if you pay's going to cost something.

If you do the royalty share, you don't pay anything upfront, but you do split all of your royalties with the narrator/producer 50/50.


Audible takes 60% of the price.  
You and the narrator 
get 20% each of what is left.

 I chose to share my royalties, and in fact am happy to share my royalties. 

I honestly feel like my narrators put just as much work into creating the audio books as I did writing the books!

 7. Now your title profiles are listed on ACX for narrators and producers to peruse. 

(A lot of the narrators are also the producers.)

You can wait for them to come to you, but I have no patience, 

so I started listening to narrator auditions right away. 

(Go up to Search and click on Narrators for hire.)

If you have any more questions, friends, just email me.  :-)

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