Audiobooks for Multiple Streams of Royalty Income

This event was about audiobooks, with special guest Jay Brenizer!

Audiobooks: Leverage your finished works (IP) for multiple streams of royalty income.

Link to Slideshare: Digital-Tales: Audiobook Basics for Authors from Jason Brenizer

You’ve written your book, or better yet, you’re knee deep into your series. You’ve skipped the legacy publishing juggernaut because they’re too slow, and the increased royalty rates for going indie are undeniable. And when it comes to virtual and viral marketing, the Big 5 haven’t got a clue. You’re in the driver’s seat and loving it. The pen truly is mightier than the sword! But there’s a whole demographic you might not have considered. What about the people who say, “I’m too busy to sit down and read.” Well, the voice is a rather powerful weapon, too. Enter Audiobooks!

Here are some topics we’ll cover:

  • What do they sell for? (Show me the money.)
  • Where can customers buy them, and where can they listen to them?
  • How many hours will my book be in audio?
  • How do I find audiobook producers/publishers?
  • How long does it take a publisher/producer/narrator to finish an audiobook?
  • The big question… what’s it going to cost me?
  • My audiobook has been produced and published. Now what? How do people know it’s out there?
  • What about timing for a launch? Book first, then audio? Or maybe at the same time?
  • What about movie rights? (Hey, that’s not related to audiobooks!)

Jay Brenizer’s Bio: Once, Jay was a scientist. Not the soft stuff, but physics. Then one day, while carbon-dating the Shroud of Turin — or was it designing microprocessors for Apple? — He chucked it all to become a storyteller.

He studied filmmaking in Prague and acting in NYC. He’s played Jesus, RFK, a WWII Nazi colonel vampire. The 1930’s period film he produced was a festival darling. The Singapore-set SF film he wrote/directed won the Grand Remi at WorldFest — the same as Spielberg’s first award.

These days, he concentrates on audiobook production, voice-acting for video games, and writing science thrillers.

Meeting Notes

Being an indie publisher means you have more control over your catalogue and how your work is available. Audio books are one way you can do that.


  • iTunes
  • (these first three cover 99% of market share)
    • Amazon bought Audible, so that’s really one company.
  • Downpour

Audiobooks used to be served on tapes, or CDs.

But now we have smartphones, tablets, computers—

Apps on all devices make it simple: free audible, iTunes apps on iPhones, Google android apps

Growing competitors:

How to find producers

  • What is a producer? the person who puts the audio production together, including: acting, narration, mixing, mastering, recording intros, adding music, etc.

ACX: Audiobook Creation Exchange

  • Collects sales and royalties
  • The company distributes to the big 3
  • Neil Gaiman uses ACX for his own audiobooks, but also has expanded to help other authors with his “Gaiman Presents” label.
  • This is an exclusive system — you have a few options for royalty rates (us vs. worldwide). But ACX’s royalty rate is that the author gets 40%
  • Marketing is still up to the author — ACX provides some marketing resources

Brilliance Audio

  • They work with big 5 publishers and with amazon’s imprints
  • Still offer CDs and mp3-CD for the retail market
  • They offer both CDs and digital files. But the CDs are still a decent-sized market.

Blackstone & Downpour

  • Downpour produces titles and sells to consumers, similar to
  • Blackstone produces titles and offers audiobooks to libraries
  • DRM free, unlike Audible/Amazon/iTunes
  • Growing reach
  • Hard to reach. Dealing mostly with publishing companies directly.
  • Libraries will go to Blackstone to purchase books

Digital Tales (Jay’s Company)

  • Just as authors have publishing choices, so too do small audiobook produceers.


Average cost of audiobook in today’s market.

How long will my book be? How much will it cost?

  • 100,000 words = 10 hours of finished audio.
  • 100,000 words / 250 words per page = 400 pages
  • 5 – 10 hours: $15 – $25
  • 10 – 20 hours: $20 – $30
  • Safe to say a 10 hour audiobook would sell for about $20-$25.

How long does it take for a producer to finish?

  • 100,000 words = 10 hours of finished audio
  • 1 hr of finished audio ~ 2 hours of recording + 6–10 hours of editing and mastering
  • To make it simple, each finished hour takes 10 hours of work.
  • 10 hr audiobook * 10 hrs work = 100 hours.
  • It all depends on producer’s pipeline and books being worked on in parallel
  • Don’t forget author edit requests!

ACX process in a nutshell

  • Create an author account
  • Create a project for your book
  • Post the audition script for the narrator applying to produce your book (no more than 5 pages) — Make sure this has the tone of your book, a little bit of every character. Make sure your script is well-rounded.
  • Activate your book (open for auditions)

You may find that you get a deluge of auditions. That’s ideal. You may also find that no one auditions for your book. In that case, you can go search for narrators and contact them individually.

The audition process

Make sure that you, as the author, know what you are looking for, and negotiate terms up front. You may also want to ask your producer to upload work as they go along, which will give you an easier way to monitor the progress of the project.

Tips for picking a narrator

  • Listen first for tone. Does the audition seem to fit your story?
  • Watch the volume levels on the file— you want the audio to be evened out, i.e. mastered properly
  • Listen with headphones on, some kind that block out sound.
  • Listen for noise, humming, etc.

Show Me The Money

Length & Price

  • Under 1 hour: $7
  • 1–3 hours: $10
  • 3–5 hours: $10-$20
  • 5–10 hours: $15 – $25
  • 10 – 20 hours: $20 – $30
  • Over 20 hours: $25 – $35
  • No matter how iTunes prices your book, you will be paid the same amount as you are for Audible “a la carte” sales
  • Royalty rates = 40% of sales

Audible Membership

  • AL = This is a member sale in which an Audible Listener purchased your audiobook using a membership credit ~ $15
  • ALOP = This is a member sale in which an Audible Listener purchased your audiobook with a credit card. We pay you the royalty based on the net sale of that transaction
  • ALC = This is an a la carte purchase made by a nonmember

(These acronyms are used on Audible’s royalty statements.)


  • Use ACX to produce a digital audiobook & have Kindle version available on amazon
  • Customers may switch seamlessly between reading on kindle and listening on audible without losing their place.
  • Reduced prices for our whisper sync voice audio typically ranges from $1.99 to $12.99
  • Immersion Reading – words are highlighted on the Kindle Fire screen as the audiobook is played through the speakers.

Audible Membership Bounty

  • You earn a $50 bounty every time your audiobook is the first purchase of a new Audible Listener member.
  • Bounties are earned in addition to royalties on the sale of your audiobook
  • There are no limits to the bounties you can earn.
  • It’s still early in the game, so this is incentive that Amazon is paying to gain new users.

Two Pricing Models

Work for hire

  • Pay $200 – $400 per finished hour of audio
  • 10 hour aBook – $2000 – $4000
  • At ACX for example, receive 40% royalty rate
  • Retain full rights and full royalty compensation
  • Most small producers have jumped onto ACX for ease of distribution and collections

Partner with producer

  • Split royalties with author 50/50
  • No up front costs
  • At ACX, royalty rates are 40% to author, 60% to ACX
  • In this model, author receives 20% of sale, producer receives 20% of the sale. Author retains copyright.
  • Producer has bigger incentive to market the aBook

Find Listeners

  • Data collected by book launch gurus show that building your platform is more powerful in increasing sales than all other social media combined
  • Offer a free copy to influencers/bloggers/reviewers. At ACX, both author and producer get 25 download codes for each title
  • ACX has a whole section devoted to aBook marketing —
  • The industry is in flux. Keep experimenting and track the results. Rinse and repeat.

Launch Timing

One bok?

  • Release several months apart to have updates to share with your followers
  • Stay fresh in their minds by spacing it out

Multiple books?

  • Maximize your marketing efforts and publish both audiobook and print/ebook at the same time
  • Sales per time spent marketing should increase since you’ll reach two groups of consumers
  • Could help your back catalog sales
  • Royalty per sale could see a bump because of increase in Whispersync purchases

Movie Rights?

  • Get an agent.

Want to learn more about Jay? Visit

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