Is it worth converting your self-published book into an audio book?

Audio books are becoming increasingly popular. People listen to books while driving, exercising, doing household chores or simply relaxing. To have your own work performed is an exciting idea.  But is it worth it for an independent author to make the jump into the audio book market?

Let me start out by saying that making your book into an audio book can be a daunting task. And while audio books are popular, selling an audio editions is harder than selling a paperback or e-book especially as a relatively unknown author.

audio-booksThe first thing you would have to decide is if you want to do it alone or hire someone to help you put together your audio book. While self-publishing an e-book is easy to do yourself, I would suggest getting some help on doing an audio book.

One of the most popular digital platforms for producing and distributing audio books is Amazon’s ACX (Audio Book Creation Exchange).

If you go to ACX, they list the steps for producing an audio book through their site. You can do your own narration and upload it or they can help match you with narrators (called producers on the site).

Producers on ACX are either paid up front (at $200 to $1,000 per finished hour with the average book 8 to 12 hours) or they can agree to split the royalties 50/50 with the author and receive no advance payment. (This option is only available if you do the exclusive option for audio book distribution).

Of course, many producers aren’t looking to split the royalties unless you are a well-established, bestselling author. This means if you are an unknown indie author you will need to shell out your money upfront.

ACX allows you to hear samples of thousands of narrators and you may “audition” them with your own work. (Hint – make sure you select a section that includes dialogue between key characters.)

Once your audio book is complete, ACX will distribute it through the three leading digital retailers for audio book – Audible, Amazon and iTunes. One major drawback is they control the pricing of your audio book (unlike KDP and CreateSpace where you set the price.)

If you grant ACX exclusive rights to your work, your royalty is 40%. If you opt out of the exclusive rights, the royalty rate is 25%.  Keep in mind that Audible is the largest seller of audio books so it might be worth taking the exclusive option.

You also are agreeing to give ACX the right to distribute your book for 7 years no matter if you pick the exclusive or non-exclusive rights. They renew their agreement yearly after that unless they receive written notification of termination of the agreement.

So with all this said, is it worth it do make your self-published book into an audio book? Considering the cost of producing the audio book and the amount of marketing, I would say that it isn’t the right choice of a majority of the indie authors out there. I know for myself that I am just now establishing a following and doing decent with my e-book sales that I don’t want to venture into the audio book market – or at least not yet.