It’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these posts because…as authors, we’re not always “supposed” to share the nitty gritty details of how the proverbial sausage gets made.
But in the past few weeks, I’ve received a lot of comments on my page and in my reader group asking when my last four books will be headed to audio.
The short answer is… “It’s complicated.”
First, let me assure you that Defending His Hope and Rogue Survivor are already under contract to be produced in audio. The narrators have the scripts, and they will start work as soon as their schedules allow.
Both books will be available for purchase sometime between February 2023 and April 2023. I don’t have an exact date for you because it depends on a lot of factors.
- Narrator schedules. My narrators are supremely talented voice actors, and they often book up six months or more in advance.
- Preparation. In order to send my books to audio, I read them out loud. To myself. Because phrases that sound great on paper don’t always sound great out loud. This process usually takes me a full week because I can only do a couple of chapters at a time between writing, marketing, and my day job. I also need to provide notes on all the major characters for the narrators and pronunciations of many words (like the streets in Boston or any words/phrases in foreign languages).
- The sheer complexity of recording and producing an audio book. For every eight hours of audio you listen to, the narrators may spend ten, twelve, sixteen, even twenty hours or more working on the book. They have to read the script. They have to listen to previous books if there are past characters they need to emulate (which happens in ALL of my books). Just like it’s impossible to write a book without a single typo or editing error, it’s almost impossible to record a book without a single mistake either. So there are pickups (where they have to re-record a sentence or two or ten). The audio editors and technicians spend hours making sure everything is pieced together properly. That there are no long spaces of dead air between scenes. That there is ENOUGH dead air between scenes. So many little things go into making sure an audio book is perfect for you.
- After I listen to the entire book, maybe send corrections, and listen again, I still have to upload the book onto all the retail sites. This alone takes a full day of my time if not more.
- Then we have to wait for the retailers to push the book to listeners. That can take anywhere from a few hours (on Kobo) to three weeks (on Audible and Apple).
But there’s one other major factor that I have to consider when deciding when to bring a book to audio.
Audio is incredibly expensive. The cost for a single audio book can exceed $4000. That’s money I have to spend up front, weeks (or more) before the audio book is available for sale.
Now, here’s the real kicker. I make less per audio book than I make when you buy the eBook. If you buy my audio books on Audible, I make less than $3 per book. (Note: If you buy them on Kobo, Apple, Google Play, and Chirp, I do make slightly more per book.)
To do the math, that means I need to sell at least 1200-1500 copies of each audio book to break even.
I don’t sell that many audio books.
Two years after I released the audio of Rogue Protector, I haven’t even made back half of what I spent on it.
I am committed to audio. I have terrible vision, and while I’m lucky that it can still be corrected with glasses, that may not always be the case. I truly do understand that for some folks, audio is the ONLY way you can consume my books. Which is why I will continue to release an audio book for every single eBook and paperback I publish. Eventually. When I can afford to spend money I know I *may* never make back.
But please understand that when you ask an author to put their books into audio, it is a significant expense and a major time commitment for them and for all the folks who work to bring you that audio book.
I am truly sorry I cannot bring every book to audio right when the eBook is released. If I could…I absolutely would. <3
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.