Audio book through ACX.com
At Brass Cannon Books we have started publishing audiobook editions of some of the works we have on Amazon Kindle, in a co-production deal with producer/narrators. When we started looking at doing this about two years ago, it was pretty daunting. Audiobooks , unless you narrate and produce them yourselves, are as expensive to make as your first hardbound edition in offset. Several thousand dollars. Why audiobooks? Because this is a whole new audience for your work. There is very little overlap with traditional print readers or e-book readers. If my neighbors in Kern County are an example, the main audience are all those people who do not read at all, but like to listen to a good story while driving long distances. Call it the truck-and-road warrior market rather than the brick-and-mortar one. Seriously. These folks balk at paying eight bucks for a mass-market paperback, but regularly plunk down forty dollars for a new audiobook.
ACX.com is an Amazon.com company and this is a place where their desire to own the universe actually can work for you. Because they also own Audible, which distributes through Amazon and is also on iTunes. Most of the audiobook market now is downloads to the MP3 player and like devices. On ACX there are rights holders and there are producers, who are usually narrators as well or can hire them. And you can hire a producer or make a partnership them to divide the royalties 50/50.
Given that good narrators go from $100 to $1.000 per finished hour and a 100,000 word novel will be about 12 to 14 hours long, it wasn't a hard decsion for us to give up half the royalties. Most narrators there simply want to get paid their fee, but there are some that will take the 50/50 deal because they see the potential of the piece. As rights holder, you control the process. They audition the voices for you. They post samples of their narration. You can also ask for a reading of the first few minutes of your book. The 50/50 deal gives Audible exclusive distribution rights, but your up-front investment is very small. And Audible has a big chunk of the market. Their license is only for seven years. After that you can make other arrangements.
We have been insisting that the narrators and producers read the entire work before we do a deal. We have parts that some people can't handle (sex, violence, politics) or find that there are more voices than they can comfortably do. While this is not a traditional performance, it does require someone who can act and change the tone of the narration to fit the text. There are hundreds of different ways that any text can be read aloud. So you have to choose wisely.
We started with two full novels and three shorter pieces of fiction. There are not many short pirces in the Audible catalog, and we think this might be a profitable niche. Two of the shorter pieces are in production and should be available for download by next month. The text are on Kindle, so we hope that the availability of a Kindle edition will spark the audiobook sale and we note that one writer who has become famous for offering full novels at 99 cents sells the audiobook edition for eleven or twelve times as much.
We take our time reviewing and approving the final product because it has our name on it. We own it. So quality is a concern. Rather than replicate everything on the ACX.com site here, I am going to recommend that you go check it out yourself. It's easy to navigate and easy to use, and it doesn't cost anything to register your work. You should have a Kindle version in the system for them to look at and approve.
Brass Cannon Books