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Investing in Audio

Audio is the next big wave for books. If you have any sort of ear to the ground in the publishing industry, you’re going to hear it from all sides. Audio is the train you can’t afford to miss.

Unfortunately, as an author, it’s a very expensive train to hop on.

For Girl of Glass, which sits at about 60,000 words, the estimated cost for hiring a narrator is $1,800 dollars. There are ways to not pay the narrator upfront and then do a royalty share, but you’re trapped in an exclusive contract with whatever platform is facilitating the royalty share for around seven years. In a world where retail platforms can disappear overnight and technology is changing faster than ever, being locked into only selling through one source for seven years is just crazy.

But $1,800 is a ton of money. I’m not at all implying that narrators are overpaid—they are artists who have trained for what they do—but in the long run, $1,800 for narration is just not sustainable for me. Most of my books are the same length as, or longer than, Girl of Glass. Just to do audio for the books I’m releasing right now would cost me upwards of $27,000. That is a massive amount of money.

I’ve been asked many times if I’m going to do the narration on my own books, and I’ve always given a flat out “no.” The idea of asking readers to listen to me read my own words for hours on end just seems like the most egotistical thing in the world. Like “Hi, let me occupy all your time because I’m super special and deserve all your attention.” What can I say? I have some weird neuroses, but I’m not $27,000 worth of neurotic.

I’m a trained actor. I’ve made my living in theatre for my entire adult life. I have a husband with professional recording equipment who professionally mixes music and also has an extreme interest in voiceover work. I have all the tools. I need to get over it and do the work myself.

Will there be a learning curve? Absolutely. Will there be expenses for set up? Yep. Am I going to have to take lessons/find a mentor? I’m assuming so. Is it going to take a ton of my time? Sooo much time.

But when balancing learning a new skill I can carry further into my writing career with spending what some people would consider to be a full year’s salary on narration, the choice is clear: it’s time to jump into the audio game.

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