Is Converting a Book to Audio Worthwhile for Indie Authors?

Good question…

Like any ebook/paperback or hardcover version of any book, it’s always a gamble. From what I’ve deduced from researching the subject at some length, it boils down to three things. The first is how well written is the book? That said, not every well written book sells as most seasoned writers can attest to, when pressed. The second crucial factor is how well known is the author? The third, and most important factor for an Audio book to suceed is, how accomplished is the narrator chosen to read it?

For the narrator to simply read the words on the page isn’t good enough! The last thing you as the listener want is to fall asleep listening to someone drone on, without any enthusiasm for what they’re doing. In the end all that really matters as far as the narrator is concerned, is are they truly versatile. I’ll give you a ‘for instance’. I’m currently listening to a ‘classic’ – The Confidential Agent  – a book I attemped to read several years ago, written by the late Graham Green, narrated by the distinguished English actor Tim Piggott-Smith. Tim’s range of character voices is truly amazing! 

Thanks to him, he brought out the hidden gems Green inserted into the book, such as brief glimpses of understated black humour I’d missed in what I’ve always considered to be a rather dull book. So dull in fact that I distinctly remember falling asleep on more than one occasion while reading it. But I persevered…

I also have two versions of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The dvd version is ably read by Rob Inglis. Now for the fox amongst the chickens; I now have the ebook audio file of The Hobbit, read by none other than the English actor, who most lovers of Tolkien’s tales of Middle-Earth automatically associate with both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I give you Andy Serkis, who brought Gollum to life in more ways than one on the silver screen. While I enjoyed Rob’s interpretation, like Tim Piggot-Smith reading the Confidential Agent, Andy Serkis truly brings The Hobbit to life as only he could!

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Several of my fellow Indie writers have, and are, producing audio versions of their books in an effort to sell their works to the already over supplied market place. What they are doing is laudible, but its not for me. Until I write a book that the reading population of the world takes to in their millions, I see little point in having any of mine converted for the audio market. In my opinion my titles are good, but not good enough to warrant conversion to audio.

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To give you an idea of how well Audio books are doing in the US, Canada, and here in the UK. Click on the following link. The Good Ereader.

Having read the article, you should also be aware of the following: A typical audiobook made from a book that doesn’t sell very well on Kindle (less than one copy per day), will probably make $50-100 per month if you list it through ACX (Audible Creation Exchange, an Amazon company). It really depends on genre and subject matter.

One last thing for any of you contemplating entering into the audio sector – Audible never pays authors the stated “royalty” rate. Instead, they base the “royalty” on “Net Sales,” a number so heavily manipulated by Audible, that these “Net Sales” adjustments amount to a 50% deduction from the retail selling price.

I’ll leave you with one final thought – No one can ever predict how well any book no matter the genre, or in what form you purchased it, will do in one of the toughest, most over-subscribed industries today, that of books…

More later,

Jack

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