I started writing this post months ago around the time when I was having two of my books turned into audiobooks. The first one was PFH which stands for Per Finished Hour and that’s when you pay the narrators an hourly rate for the finished product. ESEW ended up costing me $2400 for two narrators at $300/hour. My royalties under a 7-year exclusive Audible contract is 40% from whatever price Audible sells the audiobook for. I have no control over pricing. At all.
The second audiobook is a royalty share or RS agreement after the narrator approached me about turning LA into an audiobook. In hindsight, I was in a high from having approved the initial contract for ESEW that I barely even looked at the terms of the agreement between me and the narrator. She told me she’d charge me $100 per finished hour (reduced from her regular PFH rate) to cover proofing, editing, and whatever else. I didn’t even think much of it and said yes so out of pocket, that cost me $900 and we still have to split the royalties which means we both get 20% for each audiobook sold. Like the PFH book, I have no control of pricing at all for 7 years.
Three months after the first audiobook was released, I’m realizing that it’s going to take me some time to recoup my investment on ESEW. Probably two years at the minimum, maybe five years maximum. For LA, since it’s RS, that means I split royalties for seven years and that $900 I’ll probably get back in a year and a half at the earliest or up to three years.
Yes, audiobooks don’t sell as much as people think they do. Not mine, at least.
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but audiobooks belong to the realm of those who are established. Unless I put my books in the Romance Package where it may be added to the romance collection of books, rated according to “heat level” and I get paid for minutes listened in a KU-like arrangement and get paid quarterly starting 2018, I won’t really see much profit for at least two years.
It doesn’t help that customers can return audiobooks for up to ONE YEAR of purchase and so my sales stats always has negative figures to represent each return. One day I’m up two sales, the next I’m down three. It’s frustrating but what can you do?
Does this make me want to rush out there and have more audiobooks done?
Not unless I come up with the money first and pay narrators up front in a PFH arrangement. With union minimum being $225 PFH, I’m looking at, at the very least, $250 PFH.
Narrators also don’t want to do RS deals unless it’s hybrid. But even then, they kinda take on that project with a healthy dose of cynicism that it’s turned me off from having any more made. That’s what happens when you’re in an FB group of narrators and authors. You learn just how terrible many narrators see authors – that we’re clueless and want them to work for peanuts or hardly anything at all. Or that we just take advantage of them or that they deserve more credit than authors give them.
I know it’s a business deal and while, sure, I can raise the money for LR to be turned into an audiobook but to wait at least two to three years to see a return on my investment? I don’t think so.
So if you’re wanting to have an audiobook made of your novel, save your pennies and choose a PFH arrangement. Or better yet, wait until a company like Tantor approaches you about turning your book into an audiobook. Sign their contract and focus on writing the next one.
Unless you’re lucky finding a good narrator with a following not minding a Royalty-share agreeement, it’s all PFH they want and I don’t blame them. If I were a narrator, I would, too.