Online publishing has thrown open the door for authors everywhere to launch their work to the world, without the need for a traditional publishing deal. This free-flowing market has nurtured authorship in an unprecedented way, and – importantly for us Aussies – removed the ‘tyranny of distance’, allowing direct access to the major markets of the US and UK. And we’ve taken to it like ducks to water, happily splashing around in the same pool of publishing opportunity as our cross-ocean counterparts.
But while Aussie authors have ridden waves of publishing success through text, our uptake of audio has languished. One reason? Although the Amazon gods granted Antipodeans the ambrosia of KDP publishing, they haven’t been as forthcoming with access to Amazon’s free-for-all audiobook publishing arm, the Audiobook Creation Exchange (or ACX.com), which isn’t available for those outside the US, UK, Ireland or Canada.
Lucky for us, there are a number of alternatives offering ACX-comparable services or providing a conduit to ACX-access for Aussie/NZ authors and narrators.
So it can be done! But how? And (possibly more importantly) at what cost?
Generally, the only thing you need to find is the right narrator. Experienced audiobook narrators take care of everything, delivering retail-ready audio files. Your only tasks are (a) to give your narrator enough information early on so they produce an audiobook you love, and (b) to arrange the cover art.
To find your narrator, you’re no longer limited to listing a project at ACX, and can now list auditions at Findaway Marketplace (though this will force you into distribution through Findaway) or at NarratorList.com and/or AussieNarrator.com (both allowing you to find a narrator before deciding on a distributor). These services are free, and allow you to not only post auditions, but also reach out to narrators yourself.
Experienced audiobook narrators are a wealth of information for first-time-audio-authors, and most will happily explain the process and options. One option is whether to distribute ‘exclusive’ (which puts your audiobook at Amazon, Audible and Apple only, for a larger slice of royalty pie) or ‘wide’ (for distribution to an additional 30 to 50 retailers, plus library services).
Another option is how your narrator will be paid. You can pay up front and then reap all the royalty benefits yourself; you can enter into a Royalty Share arrangement where you pay nothing and then share royalties with your narrator; or you can do a combination of both, where you share royalties plus pay a small fee up front.
Each finished hour of audio contains around 9000 to 9500 words, so a 50,000 word book will translate to an audiobook of five to five-and-a-half hours. For a professional-sounding production, each finished hour of audio requires around eight hours to produce, so that 50k manuscript will be 40 hours in production, including a pre-read, script mark-up, recording, edit, proof, re-record/re-edit any corrections, master and upload as finished files. Because it’s such a labour-intensive, multi-step process, typical costs per finished hour of audio range from AUD$300 to $400, making cost up front for that 50k book around $1500 to $2200.
The sizeable cost for paid-up-front productions is the other reason Aussie authors have balked – mistakenly believing that ‘pay nothing’ Royalty Share contracts are only available through ACX. This is not the case. Distributor/aggregators, including Voices of Today, Audiobooks Unleashed Distribution and Spoken Realms, are available to Aussie authors and all distribute audiobooks via Royalty Share into the same markets as ACX and Findaway Voices. And interestingly, these distributors do something ACX can’t – provide royalty share contracts for audiobooks selling ‘wide’.
So despair not, Aussie authors! There are numerous ways to get your work into audio, including for no up-front cost.
For more info, check out the FAQs for Authors page at AussieNarrator.com, or come along to RWA’s short course Turn Books Into Audiobooks, running from 7 November 2022.
Course Dates: 7th of November to the 4th of December
Cost: $55 members, $66 non-members
Venue: Online – RWA Moodle Platform
For more information and bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/BXHNY
About the Presenter
Amy Soakes is an Australian audiobook narrator working in Australian, UK and US accent narration. She runs popular audiobook websites NarratorList.com, AussieNarrator.com and AudioFreebies.com, and is on the executive committee at VoicesOfToday.org.