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How much does it cost to turn my book into an Audiobook?

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Audiobooks can cost a lot to produce, but there are a few options that you can look into.


Types of Production

Royalty Share

Royalty Share Plus

Direct Narrator PFH Production

Production House

Publisher

Royalty Share

Using a platform like ACX you can find a Narrator to produce your audiobook for you, and then you both split the profits. This means there is no financial output for you. While you can find some seasoned narrators who do Royalty Share, on the whole, they will only agree on an RS agreement if you have proven book sales on multiple titles. If someone is willing to narrate for RS and they don’t ask many questions, they may just be starting out so ensure to listen to their samples (ideally an example of a book on sale) to ascertain quality.

Royalty Share Plus

Same as the above but you also pay an additional PFH (explained below) to get a more experienced narrator.

Direct Narrator PFH Production

This is when you pay a Narrator directly to produce the Audiobook at a PFH rate. Usually, they will source all the aspects of production from the narrating, to proofing, editing and mastering. But always check this with your narrator beforehand. You receive a finished Audiobook to sell on the platforms you wish.

Production House

Basically the same as above, but they are a company that may have a number of narrators on the roaster and can help with casting. Generally cost more than going directly with a Narrator. And we all work from home studios anyway so basically you are paying for the casting process, and for having the whole production organized by a company. Which can have pros and cons.

Publisher

They will produce the book for you in much the same way as a production house, however, they will also finance the production. They may split profits with you, or take all profits until they have made their expenses of production back and then split a percentage. Either way, you will have to shop around for a deal!

PFH

Audiobooks are charged at a ‘Per Finished Hour’ rate. This means you take the finished length of all of the Audio of the Audiobook (Titles, Chapters and Credits etc - called the 'Final Runtime') and multiply it by the producer's PFH rate. This amount is calculated at the end of production, as some books have a faster pace, and some have a slower pace. So the exact fee can only be calculated once production is complete and you have a Final Runtime.


For example, using a rate of $300 pfh:


An average narration is 9,300 words per finished hour.


Therefore, if your book is 50,000 words:


50,000/9,300 = 5.38 hours long.


Total cost for Audiobook Production


5.38 x $300 = $1,614.00



If your book is 200,000 words:


200,000/9,300 = 21.51 hours long.


Total cost for Audiobook Production


21.51 x $300 = $6,453.00


For more info on PFH you can check out this blog post below!


QC

The only other thing that needs completing is Quality Control or ‘QC’. This is usually done by the Author or Client. It is a final listen-through of all of the files to ensure that all mistakes have been caught in proofing and all the files are in the correct order for publishing. If the client wanted me to perform QC, I would charge an additional fee of $45 pfh to complete QC, so a total rate of $345 pfh. But other producers might charge differently.


PFH Normal rates

A quality narrator would not charge less than $180 pfh just for research, narration and $70 pfh for Proofing and Mastering. So a minimum of $250 pfh for decent audio. Anything less and there is a reason they are charging less. They are less experienced, do not have pro-grade equipment for industry-standard quality audio, are doing narration as more of a hobby, etc.

I would say the standard price for an experienced, established professional with studio-level audio equipment and post-production is - well, my rate, as that is where I sit in the market - $225 pfh for narration, $75 pfh for proofing and mastering so $300 pfh (without QC).


If you are paying a production house to produce your audiobook for you, you could be looking at $400 pfh or more.



SAG-AFTRA The Actor's Union

If your Narrator is a member of SAG, you would need to add union fees on top of the PFH fee. These are worked out as 14% of the total PFH fee. The fees go towards SAG-AFTRA H&R (Health and Retirement, allowing your narrator to access health care from SAG and make payments towards their retirement). You would also need to pay a SAG Approved Paymaster to process the payment. This ranges from 5% of the total PFH rate, or a set rate of $50. See more info here - www.skywirepaymaster.com


If you would like a celebrity to narrate your book then the sky is the limit for rates!

If you pay less than standard, then just like any other market, you are sacrificing something in the production. Perhaps the audio quality is less good, or the narrator is not great, or things will be missed in production. Either way, you will be recouping your money from the sales of the book so you want to be comfortable with the product you are releasing.

This is a lot of information and can be confusing! Write any questions in the comments and I will try to get back to you as soon as I can!


Turning your book into an audiobook is a super exciting journey! So whichever route you choose it will be such a brilliant moment when you hear those title credits being read for the first time!


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