The Audiobook Red Herring

bigstock_Audio_book_14340599-e1330386218724As a self-publisher I’m always interested in other formats to produce my work in. The more formats you have available the more you will hopefully sell. It’s simple business economics.

I’ve read about self-publishers recording audiobooks for a while now and it’s been something which I’ve always had in the back of my mind. You do hear some good things about it and there is definitely a committed market which are almost evangelical about the pros of listening to books. So, I thought I’d peel back the covers…

I didn’t peel back very far before I quickly replaced them and crept out of the house hoping that I didn’t wake it up. You see, the problem is that the costs just don’t seem to add up. Not for me anyway, not with the volume of books I’m likely to sell.

Don’t record it yourself

The one thing you read everywhere is DON’T READ IT YOURSELF. I guess it’s the typical car crash that’s caused by an egotistical author who wants to do things on the cheap and believes that they’re just as good as the professionals. NEWSFLASH, you’re not.

It’s the same scenario as the front cover of the book itself. If you want your book to look like a Primary School project then do it yourself and good luck with trying to gleam some kind of credibility from it. However, if you’re actually serious about writing as a career and want to appear just as professional as the big boys then you’re going to have to get someone else on the job.

An actor and a producer are needed in order to do the thing justice. I’ve looked around on Google and I can make out that you can expect to pay about £250/hour. I read somewhere that 8,000 words equals about an hour so do the maths. For my novel, it would be about 10 hours. £2,500


Royalties seem to be around 50% to start with so that would mean that I’d have to be sure of selling around 350 audiobooks just to break even. Now, I don’t know about you but I see the audiobook as a kind of marketing gimmick. A perception of quality, if you will. It would look good as an option but most people will still prefer to actually read their books.

I just can’t see how the numbers can add up. The last thing you need as a self-published author is something going out on to the market that’s sub-standard and the only way you can get this to work is if you push it out in an amateur way.

By the way, if you do record it yourself then Audible (the Amazon of audiobooks – owned by Amazon of course) won’t accept it anyway, so good luck selling that chocolate teapot.

I believe that the next level up of self-published authors can maybe consider such luxuries but for the pond feeders like me, this is one trick that I can’t replicate from the big boys.


5 responses to “The Audiobook Red Herring

  1. I do most of my consuming of fiction, via recorded books… largely because I spend a lot of time in a car. Even if I’m only going 10 minutes to the grocery store, I’ll listen to my audiobook, rather than a radio station… so it’s not necessarily large CHUNKS of time, but rather a lot of TOTAL time in the car. And over time, I’ve come to truly enjoy having someone ‘read me a story’. So I’m not sure I agree that people will still prefer to read.. but having said that, the cost analysis is striking, and disappointing, and leaves little room for argument.

    • The cost situation is disappointing, you’re right. I used to be in a band and had a CD out for a while, I’d like to put another CD out there but I guess I’ll have to wait.

      It can be a stepping stone towards my first film premiere of one of my stories. The first Audio CD will be a milestone. 🙂

  2. barbara johnson

    I ALWAYS have a book on CD going in my car. Going to pick up my grandchildren, I listen to my favorites. Taking them home with me, I listen to children’s books. Around town, I listen – if even if only for 10 minutes. I don’t always buy them, some are from the library, some from rental program, like Cracker Barrel. And I buy my favorites. But I always listen.

  3. For a self-published author who actually CAN read well, or who has a well trained actor among his or her friends, I think an audio excerpt podcast, or a reading of something else the author has written, might be good on the writer’s website as a sales promotion device. Perhaps a full audiobook won’t pay for itself, but let’s look for other ways to use audio for folks like Laurie and Barbara. By the way, the worst audiobook novel I ever heard was read by the author (John Le Carre) who simply could not handle women’s voices. I plan podcasts for my new site (may I mention it here?) Michael, if you strip out my url, please leave the opening comment.

What d'you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s