Exciting news — I'm in the middle of producing an audiobook for To Carry the Horn.
I was horrified to hear from one of my readers that there was an automated Whispersync version generated by Amazon. I couldn't imagine how that must have butchered all of those Welsh names! That motivated me into looking into producing my own version under Perkunas Press.
It's been an eye-opener of a journey. First of all, I had to understand that audio comes in three forms: digital downloads (MP3s), CDs with MP3s, and Audio CDs. Then I started looking at cost-to-produce. Sigh…
For my ebook and print editions, I do almost everything myself, even the cover design. This keeps the costs low and allows me to control the business expenses.
Audio is a very different story. Very, very different.
If you use a professional narrator, the costs range from $100 to $400 per finished hour. For this book, estimated at 16 hours, for narrators whose audition recordings I liked, this meant spending thousands of dollars to produce the book. (Clearly I need to write shorter works!) Think how many I would have to sell to break even. The biggest vendor (ACX (Audible)) offers a royalty-sharing option where it costs less up front, but they only support digital downloads, not CDs in either form (that means no libraries and no truck stops) and the best narrators aren't interested in risk-sharing.
The alternative is to do it yourself, as I've done for all other aspects of my books. I would still need a real studio (amateur studios at home are rarely adequate quality), but I could narrate it myself.
I priced local studios and found one I liked to do the recording and editing/finishing work. This week, for three afternoons, I sat there and narrated my book. Over the next couple of weeks, I should finish the process.
I was inspired by looking at Rita Mae Brown's work. She narrated some of her foxhunting mysteries herself and I figured, if she could do it, so could I. Still, I never expected my books to become performance art, so it's a bit daunting. I know I'm not as accomplished as the professional narrators but, on the other hand, I have the best possible understanding of the material, and I can only hope my own narration fades into the background and lets the listener become immersed in the story.
I expect to have an audio version available for the Xmas market. Even finding a distributor for audio in all three formats is difficult (but I've solved that one). If my readers (listeners) enjoy my narration, I'll produce all the long works in audio — this is the test case.
Please let me know in the comments if you have any potential interest in an audio version of my books, just so I can get a handle on how urgently I should produce the other books. I'll let you know in my newsletter when the first one is available, so don't forget to sign up for that if you're not already a subscriber.