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How hot is audio?

Switch Blayde
Updated:

I've mentioned Michael J Sullivan here before. I met him on wattpad and he's a very successful hybrid author, but mostly traditional.

He and his publisher just parted ways over audio rights to his novels. This is an interesting article on why (btw, Robin is his wife): https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/6f1v96/why_del_rey_and_i_will_be_parting_ways/


Now, then, we've heard rumblings that publishers are cracking down on requiring audio rights, but that they are also not willing to increase the advances to account for having them. It was important to find out what the value of these were so we could make informed decisions so we started shopping the various books I have "in the works" to a number of audio publishers and found out...they're worth a lot. Like 7-figures for thee (sic) books a lot. That's MUCH, MUCH more than my first "major deal" (and it was my first 7-figure deal ever). So...I signed up the books, as it provided me a level of stability that is hard to come by in this business. I did so knowing full well that it might jeopardize the print and ebook versions. But it was, as they say making me "a deal I couldn't refuse."

She [Robin] wanted to make sure Del Rey realized that the audio books were sold, so they knew what they could have and what they couldn't -- basically the same as the last contract. As you might have guessed, the response came back that the CEO at Penguin Random House has made a corporate wide decree that states, that editors with their imprints (including Del Rey) are "absolutely, and with no exceptions, forbidden to strike deals anymore that do not include audio rights."

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

Good for Sullivan, in that case. I hope that Del Ray loses a LOT of book deals over that 'absolute' decree striping rights wholesale from authors across the board with little to no information.

I've talked to people about audio books (mainly because I've got some blind friends, and they'd appreciate my books either on "Books for the Blind" or audiobooks, but I know next to nothing about how to hire reading talent (since I'm hem and haw my way through my own books).

Since my older books are HUGE (100,000 to 250,000 words), I'm reluctant to hire someone to read them, even though my newer books are shorter (50,000 to 70,000). My latest book isn't completed yet, and is already 110,000, even without the last three (3) chapters, so I'm once again back in the deep end of the pool.

If anyone else has tried it, I'd appreciate hearing some firsthand info on contracting talent, but since my books don't sell much to begin with, I'm reluctant to invest thousands merely to port them over to audio where they'll likely to worse than my ebooks. :-(

P.S. I may try it with "Singularity", which was a shorter book, just to see whether it pays for itself or not. I may also have to look into recording it myself. If I know how to do it, I have a couple friends with strong voices who've done professional readings before.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
sunkuwan

They are talking in the reddit thread about the "right" voice for audio books. Some authors can have the same ebook or print sales but one has very good audio sales like Sullivan and other have abysmal sales. If one has a serial and the narrator from the first book is bad or not liked, it can tank the audio book sales for the whole serial or even the Author.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I've talked to people about audio books (mainly because I've got some blind friends, and they'd appreciate my books either on "Books for the Blind" or audiobooks, but I know next to nothing about how to hire reading talent (since I'm hem and haw my way through my own books).


I don't know what it's like in the USA, but in Australia many entertainment personalities volunteer their time to the Royal Blind Society to read books to make audio books for them. Some of them get a receipt for their time based on their usual hourly rate and it becomes a tax deduction for them.

The hard part for the RBS is to get the signed approvals to make the audio books in the first place, because many of the publishing houses won't give them the approval free. I have heard of some people striking a non-payment deal with a known entertainer to make an audio book for them and the deal is the RBS gets copies to use free with legal approval and the author gets a copy of the audio book they can also sell. You could try the same thing with someone who is a good reader.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

In response to the thread question, I watch a lot of dashcam videos on YouTube, and a lot of them have the local audio on them. Often, especially with video from a commercial truck, you can hear an audio book playing in the truck. Thus, I conclude there is a big market for audio books.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The hard part for the RBS is to get the signed approvals to make the audio books in the first place, because many of the publishing houses won't give them the approval free. I have heard of some people striking a non-payment deal with a known entertainer to make an audio book for them and the deal is the RBS gets copies to use free with legal approval and the author gets a copy of the audio book they can also sell. You could try the same thing with someone who is a good reader.

I'm not worried about publishers (since I self-publish anyway), and I'm actually more interested in using audiobooks (rather than the "tapes for the blind" American system), since it can be used by ANYONE (and not JUST the blind).

Audio.com makes the process relatively simple, but doesn't alleviate the need to find, negotiate and manage the recording process with qualified readers/speakers.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

In response to the thread question, I watch a lot of dashcam videos on YouTube, and a lot of them have the local audio on them. Often, especially with video from a commercial truck, you can hear an audio book playing in the truck. Thus, I conclude there is a big market for audio books.

Best I can figure, many, many non-readers DO listen to audiobooks, and audios are easy to listen to during long commutes, whereas print books require a substantial time investment. However, I'm still not sure how to interpret that.

For bestsellers, you'd likely sell more, for unknown authors, we likely wouldn't sell diddly! (Just a guess, as I have no evidence of anything at this point.)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Best I can figure many,, many non-readers DO listen to audiobooks, and audios are easy to listen to during long commutes,


From what I've read since reading the article I posted is that audio is the fastest growing part of publishing and keeping some publishers profitable (hence the Penguin hardline).

I also read the big audio market is well educated 25-35 year olds who think single-tasking is wasting their time (the "I'll sleep when I die" crew). So they listen during commuting, but also when choosing what clothes to wear.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I also read the big audio market is well educated 25-35 year olds who think single-tasking is wasting their time (the "I'll sleep when I die" crew). So they listen during commuting, but also when choosing what clothes to wear.

It also makes you question the impact of erotic books (can't 'read' them while traveling with family, but can repeat endlessly in your bedroom (or bathroom if married) once you get home).

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

In response to the thread question, I watch a lot of dashcam videos on YouTube, and a lot of them have the local audio on them. Often, especially with video from a commercial truck, you can hear an audio book playing in the truck. Thus, I conclude there is a big market for audio books.


Most truck stops will have at least a few shelves dedicated to audio books. They're probably one of the larger consumers of them all things considered. You can only listen to so much news/talk radio, and the listening to the radio play music is going to get old when you're doing so for upwards of 11 hours/day in the US (or 14 in Canada) several days a week.

Commuters are another group that is fairly widely known to use Audio Books as well. If you're spending 30 to 90 minutes (each way) working your way through traffic, it provides a way to make that time at least a little "more productive" for you.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


It also makes you question the impact of erotic books (can't 'read' them while traveling with family, but can repeat endlessly in your bedroom (or bathroom if married) once you get home).


Hands free headset. :)

edit to add: I seem to recall catching the edge of some tv news reporting about people watching/looking at porn on their mobile devices while in public spaces. Evidently its becomes fairly common.

Of course, the other fun one is the person who was looking at porn in private, but forgot to clear it out when they closed the device out, and then unlocks the device in a public area.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long
Updated:

@Not_a_ID

Of course, the other fun one is the person who was looking at porn in private, but forgot to clear it out when they closed the device out, and then unlocks the device in a public area.


Or that time my wife asked to borrow my tablet when she went to a conference, and an erotic stories site popped up when she opened the browser. I've since learned incognito browsing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

I've since learned incognito browsing.

Better that, than an incognito marriage. 'D

Capt. Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

qualified readers/speakers.


I'm not really clear on audio books having never listened to one. Is it just someone reading the book for the listeners or is it more like voice acting with multiple readers for the different characters?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Capt. Zapp

is it more like voice acting with multiple readers for the different characters?


A good one the reader or readers use different voices and tones while reading. I've heard many good one with one reader, and some good ones with multiple readers, and some garbage with multiple readers and garbage with a single reader. The reader / s should use a different voice for each character and another for the narrator, and they should adjust the tone to suit the story development.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp  Not_a_ID
Capt. Zapp

@Ernest Bywater

The reader / s should use a different voice for each character and another for the narrator, and they should adjust the tone to suit the story development.


So it would be like cartoons without the video. Could even add audio effects for the action. :)

Anybody interested in starting an SOL Voice actors group?

Ernest Bywater

@Capt. Zapp

So it would be like cartoons without the video. Could even add audio effects for the action. :)


A sub-plot in Finding Home has the main character signing up voice actors to make audio books of the stories he writes, and the story includes them organising scripts and sound effects recordings to make the audio books.

madnige

@Capt. Zapp

Anybody interested in starting an SOL Voice actors group?


Could this be a section of, or sister-site to, the forthcoming SOL print booksite?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Capt. Zapp

So it would be like cartoons without the video. Could even add audio effects for the action. :)

Anybody interested in starting an SOL Voice actors group?

On a similar note, I've always dreaded book readings, mainly because I can never select a single quote which captures the spirit of the whole book. However, the few I've done have been well received, and people definitely perk up and notice—so maybe I'm not as terrible about reading aloud as I've always believed. My main, problem, is that I can't extemporize when speaking in public. Instead I read from a script, which means I love the 'personal connection' with the listeners.

Crumbly Writer

@madnige

Could this be a section of, or sister-site to, the forthcoming SOL print booksite?

We could call it www.manglingaudiobooks.com. 'D

Replies:   madnige
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

A good one the reader or readers use different voices and tones while reading. I've heard many good one with one reader, and some good ones with multiple readers, and some garbage with multiple readers and garbage with a single reader. The reader / s should use a different voice for each character and another for the narrator, and they should adjust the tone to suit the story development.


My first foray into audio books has a single, male Brit doing the reading. The author also tends to "head hop" a bit between scenes, so the intonation/diction used has a tendency to shift around depending on whose head you're in.

That said, some of the female voices he uses... They almost qualify as insulting to the character in my book. Certainly gives merit to the idea of having at least 2 VA's do narration in a story as far as I'm concerned. One for the male roles, and the other for the female ones.

Rather than having male VA's who trend toward deep stentorian narration trying to mimic the voice of a teenage girl, or younger. They have considerable range and skill, but that one area where their options are going to be limited on what they can do(unless you start doing fancy audio post-processing stuff, which would probably cost as much, or more than a second VA).

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

Also keep in mind that it's not a straightforward hourly rate conversion, as any decent reading would require a prior read-though to become familiar with the book and the characters (so they know what to emphasize and what 'voice' each character requires.

Ideally, a narrator should read each chapter separately, so they'll know about surprises, ironic situations, etc. Though those are difficult to factor into pricing.

There's 'reading a story' and then there's a 'dramatic story reading'. In this case, even if you hire the best speaker available, if he has a bad day/week, it might be for no avail! :(

madnige
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


We could call it www.manglingaudiobooks.com. 'D


...offer versions in different accents -

Valley Girl, Bronx, Chicago, Texas ... (can't think of any more US ones)

Queen's English, Glaswegian, Cockney, Broad Yorkshire, West Country, Brummie, Geordie ...

...then look at where the user is and select the accent they'll have most difficulty understanding - Tha'ken?.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Joe Long
Ernest Bywater

@madnige

offer versions in different accents -

Valley Girl, Bronx, Chicago, Texas ... (can't think of any more US ones)

Queen's English, Glaswegian, Cockney, Broad Yorkshire, West Country, Brummie, Geordie ...

...then look at where the user is and select the accent they'll have most difficulty understanding - Tha'ken?.


Tha' nuws tha' can 'av Welsh an' Irish, plus the US Midwest and Canadian, too, eh.

Joe Long

@madnige

Most of the characters in my story speak varying degrees of Yinzer (Pittsburghese) dialect

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