Most audiobook narrators do voiceover for a living. Because making their next mortgage payment depends on working continuously, recording one book after another, supplementing any down time between narration deals voicing radio or TV commercials, business and educational materials, video game or cartoon characters, etc., they’ll accept just about any gig that’s offered to them.
That does not describe me. My business model is completely different.
Voiceover is not my living. I do this strictly for fun. I am free to be very picky regarding the audiobook narration and voiceover projects I accept because I have a full time day job that pays all my bills. My mortgage is funded and my family is fed long before I step into the sound booth.
Which frees me to treat my voiceover work as a passion, rather than a job.
What I’m Passionate About
If I’d cornered a leprechaun when I was a kid and been offered a single wish in exchange for setting him free, I wouldn’t have demanded a million dollars, asked to be king of the world, or squandered my good fortune selflessly on a cure for cancer or world peace.
I’d have wished every day could be Halloween.
Now, when I was a kid back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Halloween wasn’t about axe murders, serial killers, or crazy people behaving badly. That all came later.
The small town Halloween of my childhood was about ghosts, and witches, and little green aliens on the roof. It was a celebration of vampires, mummies and werewolves, of leather-winged gargoyles hovering at the edge of vision. It was those arctic scientists in the classic movie The Thing (which played every Halloween on PBS when I was young) forming a human circle on the ice and realizing they’d found a crashed flying saucer (“We finally got one!”). It was the leathery, three-eyed Martians from The War of the Worlds. It was Bigfoot’s hairy arm exploding through the window in The Legend of Boggy Creek.
In high school, Halloween was my buddies and me donning full zombie gore to descend on unsuspecting denizens of the Starlight Drive-In during George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.
Year round, like most boys my age, I read the Avengers and the X-Men and Spider-Man comics, but my favorite Marvel hero was always Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts. For villains and anti-villains I studied Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf By Night.
In my imagination, it was always Halloween.
But the 1980s changed the definition of spooky. By the time I grew up and moved to the Big City, the evil trinity of Jason, Michael and Freddie, and their endless slasher progeny, had drained the innocence from my favorite holiday and left it mostly for dead. Crazy humans with chainsaws, knives and axes became the new monsters. To my mind, they were uninteresting, cardboard mock-ups of their supernatural forbears, lacking any dimension of real mystery or fun.
I kept the true spirit of Halloween alive in my heart, loving UFOs and cryptids, haunted houses and The Weekly World News. Hot on the of trail of any suggestion that boring, old reality might not be as static or predictable as it seems, I stumbled through various countercultures of hippie neo-shamanism, crystal gazing New Age-ism, enigmatic Zen Buddhism, and even, eventually, traditional Roman Catholicism, which has a whole cool supernatural depth to it most American Catholics seem to have forgotten or missed entirely (get a real demon in your house and, trust me, you want to call a real Catholic priest, pronto. Accept no substitutions)…
All to say that, in launching this audiobook narration/voiceover venture, I’ve finally set the leprechaun free. I’m waving and laughing as he scampers out of sight through a foreboding forest of dark, twisted trees, the full moon rising in their branches.
My childhood wish has been granted.
Whenever I want, I can close the massive, creaking iron door to the Sanctum Sanctorum (A Dr. Strange reference there) of my home recording studio, fire up the computer, switch off the lamp, surrender to the throbbing blue light of the microphone…
And every day is Halloween.
It’s like the ‘80s never happened.
Your Awesome Book
Your book could be a great match for my audiobook narration/production if it is a nonfiction title in the categories of:
- UFOs/Flying Saucers/Alien Encounters/Ancient Astronauts
- Ghosts/Angels/Demons/Strange Entity Encounters
- Lost/Secret/Occult History
- Quirky Pop Culture/Subcultures/Countercultures
- Weird Science
- Conspiracies/Cover-ups/Secret Societies
- Alternative Religion/Spirituality, especially Gurdjieff/Fourth Way, Castaneda/Toltec, Gnostic, PKD, Esoteric Christianity, also Buddhism
You get the point. I’m open to just about any subject matter that is outside the mainstream.
Sorry, but I am not currently recording novel-length fiction. There are a ton of fantastic novels out there exploring the same cultural fringe that so fascinates me in nonfiction, but I don’t yet feel confident that I could do your novel justice, credibly performing multiple character voices and such. The voiceover artists who do fiction, and do it well, are simply amazing. I love listening to them. I hope to one day be as amazing as they are.
Toward the end of developing my talents as an amazing fiction narrator, I’ve launched a fun little side-venture called Weirdness on the Edge of Town, in which I earn my fiction chops narrating vintage creepy short stories from Weird Tales, Unknown, Ghost Stories and other classic pulp magazines of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ’50s. I’ll read modern stuff, too, when it’s available. If you write creepy short fiction, and would like to hear your story featured on Weirdness, shoot me an email. I’d love to share your work.
To learn more about Weirdness on the Edge of Town, click the link at the top of this page.
The Deal – My Author-Friendly Business Model
The Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is an Amazon.com publishing platform that allows authors and audiobook narrators/producers to get their audiobooks distributed through Audible.com (an Amazon company, and the world’s premier seller of audiobooks), Amazon.com, and iTunes. Between those three outlets, a book distributed through ACX will reach close to 90% of the audiobook buying public, the only important exception at the moment being libraries, but I hear they are working on that.
The major downside of ACX distribution is that, in exchange for making your book available to pretty much the whole planet, Amazon keeps 60% of every sale.
The major upside is that ACX distribution makes your audiobook available to pretty much the whole planet. You might be able to negotiate a better royalty elsewhere, but without Audible, Amazon and iTunes, how will anyone ever know your audiobook exists? Pursue non-ACX distribution, and you’ll get a larger slice of a far, far smaller pie. Don’t be fooled. It doesn’t add up.
If you’re not already familiar with ACX and their various audiobook publishing options, take a few minutes right now to surf over to their website and read up on it.
ACX publishing option #1 is: Royalty Share with Exclusive Distribution to Audible. In a nutshell, with the royalty share option, the producer (me) records, masters and uploads your book to ACX at no charge to you. Every time the book sells, ACX keeps 60% for their troubles, then splits the remaining 40% down the middle and sends each of us half. You get 20%, I get 20%. ACX pays each of us independently, so there is never any haggling between us. Once the audiobook is uploaded, it’s a passive income stream for us both.
20% may not sound like much, but do the math. An 8 hour audiobook (a pretty average length) sells on Audible for around $15. That’s $3 for each of us, which is really pretty good. Longer books sell for more, so on those we each make more.
Authors complain on the Internet that the ACX audiobook royalty is inexcusable when Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) grants a 70% royalty on independently published eBooks. But if you’ve ever published an eBook through KDP, Smashwords, Lulu or any other publishing platform, you know it’s rare these days to get more than 99 cents for any title. So, sell an eBook, make 70 cents. Sell an audiobook, make $3 and up. I think it’s a great deal for what you get in exchange – global distribution with no upfront cost, no ongoing overhead, no remainders, and no hassle.
The non-royalty-split publishing options on ACX pay from 25% to the full 40% to the author, but they require you to own all rights to your audiobook recording. For that to happen, you must either record and master it yourself (renting studio time and hiring a sound engineer, or equipping your own home studio and learning to work the soundboard, neither of which is cheap or easy), or else pay your narrator/producer a one-time fee to record and master your book on a fee-for-service basis. Standard one-time fees range between $100 and $200 per finished hour, so an 8 hour audiobook would run you on average 8 X $150 = $1,200.
Predictably, most authors find the royalty share publishing option appealing, because there is no up front cost to them. Perhaps also predictably, most narrators/producers prefer to get paid up front, just in case your audiobook doesn’t sell.
But I am following a different business model than most audiobook narrators. I not only prefer the royalty share publishing option, it’s the only option I’ll accept for these reasons:
- If I’m crazy about your book and excited to produce the audio version, why would I throw a $1,200 roadblock in your path? I’m doing this for fun. That’s not fun.
- We’ll both make money in the long run, as my great recording of your great book takes off and sells steadily over the years. And, in all honesty, I’m personally more concerned about “the long run” than I am about right now. I have plenty of money to meet my needs today, but I’m just a few years away from being eligible to retire from my day job and draw a nice pension. Audiobooks never go out of print (so we’ll both make money indefinitely), and a long term passive income stream from audiobook royalties seems likely to be more valuable in retirement, as a hedge against future inflation, than a one-shot twelve-hundred bucks would be today.
Indie Authors Welcome
This probably goes without saying, but just in case you were wondering… Indie Authors Welcome. I am definitely open – and, perhaps, primarily open – to recording books by authors who are bypassing the “Big Five” traditional publishers and releasing their own books through CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, Lulu, etc. Ours is the greatest time in history for creative individuals to zoom right past the gatekeepers of every industry and make their own success. I’m a gleeful gate-smasher myself, and I zealously support your charge against the Establishment. Liberté, égalité, fraternité! Viva il Indie!
Cover Design and Book Promo
It’s worth noting here, in case you don’t click around the rest of the site, that, as part of my author-friendly business model, if I am recording your audiobook, I will design a cover for you free of charge, and send it to you properly sized to be used for both your audiobook and eBook. If you don’t like what I send you, no problem, don’t use it. No hard feelings. If you like it, though, it’s yours to keep forever and use as you will. If your book is already published in paper or eBook and already has a cover, I can resize/adapt your current cover to use for the audiobook, or come up with a completely fresh audiobook cover design, whichever you prefer. I will also record a book promo for you free of charge. Check out samples of both elsewhere on this website.
If share my passion, agree to my terms, and would like me to consider your book for audiobook production, click the “Contact” link at the top or bottom of any page on this website, and send me an email. I will respond within 48 hours, usually a lot quicker.
(Opening music credit: “Assignment,” by BoxCat Games)
(Opening music credit:“Heat Haze” by Lee Rosevere)
(Opening music credit:“Snowmen” by Kai Engel)