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Is Self-Publishing Audiobooks A Sound Investment?

Sales of audiobooks have doubled in the last few years due to the popularity of digital downloads and a host of celebrity voices, which have entertained us over the years. Famed actress Reece Witherspoon recently added credibility to this field, when she signed to read for as-yet-unpublished Harper Lee novel, “Go Set a Watchman” (the… [Read More]

Is Self-Publishing Audiobooks A Sound Investment?

Sales of audiobooks have doubled in the last few years due to the popularity of digital downloads and a host of celebrity voices, which have entertained us over the years. Famed actress Reece Witherspoon recently added credibility to this field, when she signed to read for as-yet-unpublished Harper Lee novel, “Go Set a Watchman" (the follow-up ’To Kill a Mockingbird.’)

Reece Witherspoon

Reece Witherspoon

But what about self-publishing authors who’d like to test the waters, but have meager budgets to make this type of investment? Can they also distinguish themselves in this space? Or is the extra expense in production a deal-breaker for indie authors?

Today we’ll explore a few platforms that will allow you to self-publish audio editions of your content under a few different formats and payment models.

Common Mode

Is Self-Publishing Audiobooks A Sound Investment?

Paul Fowlie

Paul Fowlie, owner and producer of Common Mode heads up a team of audio editors and engineers located in the NJ/NYC area. In talking with him today regarding how he prices out a audiobook for a self-publishing, he noted it “depended on the word count of the book, who the narrator will be, the extent of post production — there is no staIs Self-Publishing Audiobooks A Sound Investment?ndard price.”

“Our first preference is to be hired by the authors, but we understand that most authors aren’t able to take the risk — so if we feel an affinity for the author and/or the material, we are likely to work for a lower rate if there are budgetary constraints,” says Fowlie.

Common Code has also supported two crowdsourcing campaigns, one on Kickstarter and one in Pubslush, in order to help authors fund the cost of production.

Booktrack

Is Self-Publishing Audiobooks A Sound Investment?Booktrack, an industry leading global technology firm has taken a slightly different approach to audiobook publishing. Instead of narrations, this platform enhances the eBook experience by adding movie-style soundtracks and ambient audio.

“Readers around the world will be able to buy Booktrack eBooks and enjoy a

Is Self-Publishing Audiobooks A Sound Investment?

Paul Cameron

unique and immersive reading experience with a soundtrack across most of their favorite titles and on all of their devices — tablets, computers, and smartphones,” said Paul Cameron, CEO & Founder of Booktrack about the new service.

“Booktrack is a new category unto its own. By making the Booktrack platform easily accessible to create, read and sell, we hope to engage a whole new audience of not only readers and writers, but also of music and media lovers. Maybe we can even get teens and young adults to put down that device or video game controller and read a book — with a soundtrack!”

With this software, writers have two options to create their own Bookrack. They can use the Booktrack Studio Platform – selecting from a selection of over 20,000 free-to-use music and ambient audio tracks – to create their own Booktrack work for FREE. Or they can work with a Booktrack Sound Engineer, to define the creative process and create a unique original soundtrack, designed to enhance their eBook, based on their personal preferences.

The average cost of the latter approach is about $1000 per book or 1.8 cents per word.

Amazon’s ACX

Is Self-Publishing Audiobooks A Sound Investment?Amazon’s self-publishing platform ACX is sought after by a good number of indie authors who are also looking to test the capabilities of producing an audiobook.

Initially, it requires very little startup expense and the final product is distributed alongside the author’s Kindle and paperback editions. With this service, the royalties go directly to the author and/or the voice talent, dependent on the option selected. The monetization model that’s the most popular is where the author doesn’t pay the narrator or the production costs upfront, but rather agrees to earn a significantly smaller royalty.

However as GoodReader’s Mercy Pilkington points out, “producing an audiobook, even with the tools that ACX provides, isn’t a simple process. The author essentially morphs into a producer, for all practical purposes, and even authors who have the drive to produce their audio editions can find the task is a little beyond their capabilities.”

Time is money. . .

For those that don’t have the time to invest in the ACX’s learning curve, Common Mode’s service might be the easier solution. According to Fowlie, “We can take care of uploading to whatever distribution channels are involved.”

“There is no extra charge — I don't believe in any hidden charges or additional charges after the initial deal is made, so there are none,” adds Fowlie.

So, hopefully today’s look at these three platforms has whetted your appetite to try your hand at publishing an audiobook. It’s definitely an additional means to distinguish your work from those of your competitors publishing in the same genre. For those who’ve already tested these formats, we’d love to hear your feedback and words of advice?

Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks.com as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear bi-weekly on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.

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3 thoughts on “Is Self-Publishing Audiobooks A Sound Investment?”

  1. There is a huge risk in creating an audio book with anything less than a professional voice-over artist. You can do it yourself or even have a text-to-speech program generate the voice, but the quality is greatly compromised. It’s the equivalent of publishing a book without proofreading or using >shudder< automated translation software. The listener experience just is not the same, and it's your reputation on the line.

    1. Profile photo of Ron Callari Ron Callari says:

      David, thanks for the input. I agree with the risk factors you’ve noted. That’s where solution platforms like Common Mode, Booktrack and ACX come into play. All three of these services offer self-publishing authors an opportunity to test these waters in a professional and affordable manner — without putting their reputations on the line.

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