Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry. And the demand for audiobooks will remain strong. Younger generations love audio, a habit they will retain as they grow older. Therefore, audiobooks are something we should consider.
But audiobooks are also expensive to produce, much more so than e-books and print books. So before jumping on the audiobook bandwagon, authors should proceed with care. It can be a huge investment that takes a long time to produce a return, if at all.
Some successful indie authors have worked out revenue-share agreements with book narrators, where the narrator doesn’t charge anything upfront and agrees to split sales revenue, often 50-50. But narrators only make these revenue-share agreements with authors who have a history of selling books. Therefore, this option is unavailable to many writers.
This means if we want to have an audiobook, we need to pay the production costs ourselves. This price can be several hundred dollars per finished hour of audio. And though the author will keep 100 percent of the book sales, they also take on all the financial risk.
But technology stands poised to revolutionize audiobook production. Already, tools exist that can produce a near-perfect text-to-speech rendition of a book. But currently, major book retailers prohibit the sale of these automated productions. I’m confident this will change.
Even more exciting is the future possibility of a computer being able to cost-effectively sample our voice and then produce a narrated book that sounds like us. I don’t know how soon this change will happen, but it will occur.
Personally, I’d love to have all my books in audio, but it’s not a good business decision for me right now. But that will change, and when it does, I’ll produce audio versions of all my books.