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Guest Blog Post, Part 2 – Sarah Beth Goer Talks Audiobook Production for Indie Authors

Yesterday, our guest blogger, audiobook narrator and producer Sarah Beth Goer, started discussing the ins and outs of Audiobook Production for indie authors, and what to do if you don’t want to manage your own audiobook editions. Read Part 1 of the blog post.

Today, she’ll talk about whether you’d be better off financially with a publisher, or a producer.

Audiobook Production: What To Do if You Don’t Want to Manage Your Own Audio, Part 2, by Sarah Beth Goer

So, would you be better off financially with a publisher, or a producer?

Let’s start by getting a rough idea of how well your audiobook should sell. Well – there are no guarantees, and paying for production is certainly always a risk, but a good rule of thumb is that if your ebook made enough in its first month of sales to pay for the cost of audio, you’ll likely make a solid return on audio in the long run. (And if the first month of sales would pay for the cost of audio many times over? Well then, your audio should do quite nicely. But again, nothing’s for certain.)

Next – when you’re considering a deal from a publisher, it’s important to understand the numbers. When a publishing company offers you 25% royalties, that means 25% of what they make. Now, we don’t know for sure what any particular publisher’s deal with Audible/Amazon is, but we do know they’re not typically distributing exclusively with Audible/Amazon, and we do know that the industry standard for a non-exclusive deal with a publishing company is 35 to 40%. So when a publisher offers you, for example, a 25% royalty deal, you’re making 25% of 35 to 40%. AKA, you’re making between about 8.8% to 10% on Audible/Amazon. You can compare that to the 40% you’d make if you distributed exclusively to Audible/Amazon on your own (or the 25% if you chose to distribute non-exclusively.)

Now, you might be wondering what kind of marketing a publisher will be doing on your behalf, as you may like to take marketing into account when weighing the numbers. To which I would say – that’s an excellent question! I would not make any assumptions. If you’re expecting to move more units with a publisher than you would on your own, then I encourage you to gather concrete data so you can make informed decisions.

There’s another important factor to consider: audiobook bundles. Just as ebook bundles can be lucrative, audiobook bundles are too. And audiobook bundles cost very little to produce, since the narration and production of everything except the bundle credits is already complete. If you produce audiobooks yourself, you’ll have control over bundle publishing. If your publisher will be producing audiobooks, perhaps inquire as to whether they will produce a bundle on your behalf.

Lastly, I do want to say that managing your own audio can actually take a lot less time than people imagine it will. If you hire a really solid, on-top-of-things narrator who is used to working with indie authors and happy to walk you through the process, you can end up doing pretty much nothing on your end and the process can be as easy as if you’d worked with a publisher or producer.

Yes, of course you do have to invest the time to find that narrator, and the narrator needs to be available to record, and if you need multiple narrators your main narrator may or may not be willing to handle that for you, and if an unforeseen problem comes up you may be the one responsible for fixing it…so yeah, it can be nice to have a producer. But like I said, often, if you’re working with the right person, managing production yourself will go quite smoothly and easily.

Whatever path you choose, I wish you lots of success on your audiobook journey.

Sarah Beth Goer is an audiobook narrator who has worked extensively with business-minded indie authors as well as with major publishers, including Harper, Scholastic, Tantor, and Podium. Notable audiobooks include THE DEVOURING GRAY – one of Barnes & Nobel’s 20 most anticipated YA debuts of 2019, 50 most anticipated YA fantasy novels of 2019, and 29 most anticipated LGBTQA+ YA books of 2019; and NIGHT MUSIC – Audiofile Magazine called Goer’s performance “dynamic,” and “noteworthy” as she “successfully capture[d] the raw emotions of first love muddled by racism and greed.” Sarah is a proud member of the APA, SAG-AFTRA, and AEA.

Sarah has also produced audiobooks for multiple bestselling authors.