Posted On April 12, 2012 by Print This Post

Listen Up! Romance Audio Books Increase Author Profits with Jennifer Fedderson

We are living in the beauitful age of options and authors have a mind-blogging buffet before them.  Today we have Jennifer Fedderson of AudioLark  Audio Books to tell you more about your options in the world of bringing your books to your readers in a totally different format.  Welcome Jennifer!

Listen Up: Romance Audio Books increase Author Profits!

If your romance novel isn’t sold in audio book format, you’re missing out on a great way to increase your earnings! With the advent of digital audio books and the proliferation of mp3-playing devices, more and more customers are discovering the joys of listening to their favorite novels while they drive, cook, clean, exercise and more.

My name is Jennifer Feddersen, and I opened AudioLark Audio Books in the fall of 2010. Since then, we’ve produced and published over 175 romance audio books in a variety of genres including contemporary, historical, paranormal and many others. Today Cindy Procter-King, the author of Where She Belongs, and RE Chambliss, the narrator who brought Cindy’s novel to life, will help me tell you what to expect when your novel is transformed into an audio book. I’ll also talk about what you can expect with regards to contracts, royalties and audio book earnings.

One of my favorite parts about publishing audio books is combing through submissions to pick out our next lineup. Currently AudioLark accepts submissions year round, but we have two “reading periods” during the spring and fall. Our next reading period starts May 1st. Submissions received before May 1 will be replied to by June 1, 2012. The books we take on at this time will release in January – June, 2013.

Here’s Cindy Procter-King’s take on what it’s like for an author to work with AudioLark:

As an author, I’ve always been interested in getting my books into audio. The problem is, most traditional publishing contracts ask for the audio rights, and then your hands are tied. Whether the publisher pursues audio versions of their print titles is up to them, not the author.

Fortunately, the publisher of my first two books, Amber Quill Press, did not take audio rights. Neither does Five Star/Cengage, the library-edition hardcover publisher that published my 2007 Golden Heart finalist, Where She Belongs, in December 2011.

When AudioLark opened, I jumped at the chance to submit my first two books, which had already been in ebook and print for a few years. Publishing the audio versions gave them new life—and new sales! Head Over Heels, the first audio book I published with AudioLark, became an Audible ChickLit bestseller last summer, and I can still find it in the ChickLit bestsellers for Audible from time to time.

Once AudioLark contracts your book, you submit a pronunciation guide (Word doc or email) for the narrator. AudioLark chooses the narrator or provides a couple of examples of narrators for the author to choose from, depending on the needs of the book. I step out of the process until the narrator is finished reading the book, at which point AudioLark provides me with MP3 proofing files. Because I’m now proofing the book (listening for errors), I listen to the audio files on my computer using headphones and with the PDF of the book on my computer screen so my eyes can read along. When I notice an error that I want corrected or that the narrator has left a production note in the narration, I mark it down much in the way you would with a print publisher and send the list to AudioLark. The corrections are done, and then comes the great fun—waiting for and then experiencing release day!

I’ve had a very positive experience with AudioLark and look forward to working with them on more books. I would thoroughly recommend working to get your titles into audio. It’s another sales venue. People who might never buy your print or ebook might choose to buy the audio version, and what writer doesn’t want more sales?

Cindy Procter-King

My other favorite part of publishing audio books is working with narrators to create the final product. There is nothing as wonderful as listening to a voice actress whose voice and acting style truly complements a novel.

Here’s RE Chambliss talking about her experience in narrating audio books for AudioLark:

When I narrate a book for Audiolark I read the book three times. The first read-through helps me assess what kind of story it is and what kind of people the main characters are. I also look up any words I’m don’t know how to pronounce. I mark up my print-out of the book with all of the pronunciations as well as notes to myself about accents and character traits.

The second time I read the book is during the recording process. I record at home in a little recording studio in my closet. As I read, I try to immerse myself in the story. This is my absolute favorite part of the process. I love trying to bring a story to life with my voice. Whenever I flub a line, I tell the audio editor, “I’m going to do that again,” and then rerecord. The editor will clip the bad take out, leaving the good one.

Then I read the book a third time as I proof my audio. I sit with the print-out in front of me and listen to the whole book while I check it against the text. Any mistakes that I didn’t notice during the recording process, I mark down on my print-out so that I can re-record them correctly. After I’ve re-recorded all the mistakes, I splice the correct versions into the audio files of each chapter and send them to the editor.

The audio editor and the author both check the recording and let me know about anything that needs to be redone. I rerecord those lines and send them to the editor who splices them into the final audio files.

I feel so privileged to narrate audio books for Audiolark and hope that both the authors and the listeners enjoy the final product!

RE Chambliss

Now let’s talk about financial details. What can you expect from audio book earnings? Like traditional book earnings, actual numbers run the gamut. Some audio books sell a fraction of their ebook or print numbers. Other audio books out-sell their print sales. We’ve found that our best-selling genres are contemporary romance, chick lit, and romantic suspense. Audible, the number 1 retail outlet for audio books (owned by Amazon and partnered with iTunes), is advertising hard to increase the general public’s awareness of audio books. This is a great time to get your books into listeners’ hands.

AudioLark now works with Audible under a sliding-scale contract. The more sales a title generates, the bigger royalty percentage we earn, topping out at 90% of net revenues. We charge authors NO fees or upfront costs to publish their audio books, and we now pay authors 50% of the royalties we receive.

Are you interested in getting your romance novel into audio? AudioLark wants to hear from you! Contact Jennifer@audiolark.com or visit our submission guidelines at www.audiolark.com for more information!

***

Do you have books that are in audio format? Do you listen to books in audio format as a rule or is it the exception? 

M/M romamce author, Harper Fox, answers a couple of my most pressing questions about her technique for emotion, characters and settings.

***

Jennifer is giving away a copy of WHERE SHE BELONGS to one lucky commenter!

 

Bio:

Owner and Acquisitions Editor of AudioLark Audio Books, Jennifer Feddersen has produced and published more than 175 audio books since 2010. Specializing in romance audio books, she is also interested in many other genres, including contemporary fiction, mystery, suspense and young adult. When not coaxing authors and voice actresses to meet their deadlines, she’s happiest when bringing order to the chaos that is an unedited voice recording. She splits her time between northern British Coulumbia and the Adirondacks. www.audiolark.com

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33 Responses to “Listen Up! Romance Audio Books Increase Author Profits with Jennifer Fedderson”

  1. I’m very new to audio books, and I couldn’t believe how much I enjoy listening to a book. It’s a different reading experience. Thanks for the interesting look behind the scenes.

    Posted by Shelley Munro | April 12, 2012, 4:26 am
  2. Jennifer – thank you so much for being here today!

    My question is whether certain genres translate into an audiobook better than others?

    Robin

    Posted by Robin Covington | April 12, 2012, 4:42 am
  3. Hi Jennifer,

    I read my book aloud to myself as I’m writing. It does bring it to life.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | April 12, 2012, 5:59 am
  4. Hi Jennifer. Thank you for being with us today. I love listening to books on audio. I was lucky enough to have all my books go to audio and it’s fun to see how the narrators portray the characters.

    How long does it take to record an audio book?

    Posted by AdrienneGiordano | April 12, 2012, 7:02 am
  5. Morning Jennifer!!

    I was a late comer to the audio book world – started just a couple years ago when someone said Harry Potter was on audio. It was awesome!

    I recently purchased my first romance – Amy Atwell’s – on audio, but haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet. Time surely slips by!

    Thanks for a great post!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | April 12, 2012, 7:42 am
  6. Hi everyone,

    I’m Cindy Procter-King, who Jennifer quoted in her article (the writer. Jennifer, myself and Renee, the narrator of two of my books with AudioLark, are all on the West Coast, so hang on tight and Jennifer will be here when she can. My cat woke me up, so I’m here before 7 a.m. my time. Egad.

    If you have any questions for the author’s part in audiobooks, just let me know. I’ll pop in from time to time throughout the day to see how it’s going.

    Cindy

    Posted by Cindy Procter-King | April 12, 2012, 7:55 am
  7. Great information I haven’t seen elsewhere. Thanks. I love listening to audiobooks!

    Posted by Marcia Richards | April 12, 2012, 7:57 am
  8. Jennifer,
    Thank you very much for the excellent information. Wishing you continued success!

    Posted by Diana Cosby | April 12, 2012, 8:51 am
  9. I would love to have my books in audio.

    Posted by Caroline Clemmons | April 12, 2012, 8:59 am
  10. Hi All,

    I’ll be popping in several times today and will try to answer everyone’s questions.

    Robin – we’ve found contemporary romance, romantic suspense and chick lit do quite well. Historicals are popular, too. Audio book listeners tend to like to get into a story and look forward to spending time with an audio book, so longer novels do well.

    Adrienne – the length of time it takes to record depends on the narrator. Some narrators do every line three or four times. Others do almost a “straight” read. I have one narrator in particular whose accuracy is almost uncanny – he just reads straight through with very, very few errors. I figure that 8,000 to 10,000 words = 1 hour of finished audio time.

    Caroline – I encourage any author interested in getting into audio to consider submitting their manuscripts to audiolark (if you retain audio rights!) Our next “reading period” is in May and we’ll respond by June 1 to all submissions received by May 1.

    I’ll be back soon!

    Posted by Jennifer Feddersen | April 12, 2012, 9:40 am
  11. Hi everyone-

    If you have any narration questions, feel free to ask!

    Adrienne- When I’m planning how long it’s going to take me to record something I budget an hour for every 4000 words. Usually, I can record more in an hour than that, but I like to be conservative when I’m planning because I want to make sure I have enough time. Plus it really varies. Some writing is tougher for me to read accurately than others. But the recording time is only a part of the time I spend on a book. I also prepare ahead of time so I know all of the pronunciations, etc., proof my work afterward, and then record and edit in any retakes that need to be done.

    I’ll check in later it see if anyone has any questions for me. Oh and I also have to say that both Jennifer and Cindy have been so great to work with! :)

    -Renee

    Posted by R.E. (Renée) Chambliss | April 12, 2012, 10:29 am
  12. No questions. Just waving hi to Jennifer, Cindy, and Renee!

    Renee, I love love love the narration you did for my upcoming audiobook. You truly made my heroine come alive. It was uncanny how much you actually became her. Amazing!

    If anyone is considering audio (and you should!) I highly recommend working with AudioLark. It’s been a great process.

    Posted by Amanda Brice | April 12, 2012, 11:41 am
  13. It is so much fun working with all kinds of narrators and getting to see them take on the roles of the characters.

    Each narrator is so different in the way they approach recording.

    One of my favorite parts of editing is when a narrator either starts laughing at herself (her own mistakes), or her kids walk in, or her cat starts meowing….we take that all out, of course, but I begin to feel like I really know the narrators as I edit them.

    Having edited Renee’s narrations a number of times I feel like I could just drop by for tea sometime….:)

    Posted by Jennifer Feddersen | April 12, 2012, 2:23 pm
    • That’s so interesting. I never knew whether that stuff ended up in the files they send you before editing. I mean, I guess it makes sense. I’d just never thought of that.

      Thank you both for this fascinating look at what you do!

      Posted by Amanda Brice | April 12, 2012, 2:42 pm
  14. Yikes! I’m late to the party!

    What an interesting post – with the pronunciation guide, etc., this reminds me of when I used to be a newsreader at CRIS radio in Chicago, which is aimed at people who are blind or visually impaired: http://chicagolighthouse.org/programs-and-services/independent-living-services/chicagoland-radio-information-service-cris

    Audio books are a WONDERFUL resource for the visually impaired, but I know a lot of my friends prefer to listen to audio books rather than reading books in paper or ebooks.

    My husband and I like to listen to them when we’re on long driving trips.

    Thanks so much for giving us this behind-the-scenes look at the world of audio books!

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | April 12, 2012, 4:11 pm
  15. Hi Jennifer, thanks for the great insight into the recording process for audio books. For the past year, I’ve been listening to audio books on my commute to and from work. They’re great!

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | April 12, 2012, 4:31 pm
  16. My question is for Jennifer and RE Chambliss…what kind of experience does one need to narrate books? Do you take voiceover or acting classes?

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | April 12, 2012, 4:40 pm
  17. Thanks for the peek behind the curtain! I love hearing details about these processes, and I’m impressed with the efforts Audiolark puts into making a high-quality product.

    Posted by Natalie J. Damschroder | April 12, 2012, 5:14 pm
  18. Hi Jennifer,

    Acting and voice acting classes are a great way to start, but there is a lot of information online about narrating, as well. If you want to give it a try, I recommend starting with Blue Microphone’s “Snowball” mic and Audacity software, which you can download for free. Audacity is pretty easy to learn to use, and as you play with your own recordings, you’ll learn a lot.

    I also recommend listening to LOTS of audio books to learn about pacing and voicing characters straight from the pros.

    Hopefully Renee will pop in with more ideas.

    Posted by Jennifer Feddersen | April 12, 2012, 5:34 pm
  19. Thanks, Becke, Tracey and Natalie – it’s fun to “be” here!

    Posted by Jennifer Feddersen | April 12, 2012, 5:35 pm
  20. Hi Jennifer T.- Most narrators come to it from acting, but you don’t have to. I’m also a writer and got into narration after I podcast my first novel. Then I started narrating for various short fiction podcasts. You can also volunteer to read for LibriVox (http://librivox.org/) which produces audiobook versions of books in the public domain. That’s a great way to get some practice. And I second Jennifer F.’s suggestion to listen to a lot of audiobooks.

    Jennifer F.- You’re welcome for tea any time! And I’m glad you like hearing the mishaps! I know I cracked up about something in the last book I did for you. The cheerleader? The Czech accent? I can’t remember what it was!

    Posted by R.E. (Renée) Chambliss | April 12, 2012, 9:48 pm
  21. I was looking over the Audio Lark website and got a bit confused over the numbers mentioned in different places–

    1. I understand that there are two ways to do this, which include the ‘total control’ method (Audio Production) and the submission method. For the submission method, I am a little confused about the royalty rates:
    http://www.audiolark.com/authorpublisher-services/submission-guidelines/ says you pay 50% of net revenue for audio book sales, but
    http://www.audiolark.com/authorpublisher-services/ says you pay 20% of net revenue.

    Are they not talking about the same thing? Why are the rates different?

    2. In regards to costs for Audio Production:
    http://www.audiolark.com/authorpublisher-services/audiobook-production-and-distribution-services/ says you charge $220 per 10,000 words, but
    http://www.audiolark.com/authorpublisher-services/ says you charge $200 per 10,000 words.

    Which rate is the right one?

    Posted by Sen | April 12, 2012, 9:59 pm
  22. I was looking over the Audio Lark website and got a bit confused over the numbers mentioned in different places–

    1. I understand that there are two ways to do this, which include the ‘total control’ method (Audio Production) and the submission method. For the submission method, I am a little confused about the royalty rates:
    — On your Submission Guidelines page, it says you pay 50% of net revenue for audio book sales, but
    — On your Author/Publisher Services page, it says you pay 20% of net revenue.

    Are they not talking about the same thing? Why are the rates different?

    2. In regards to costs for Audio Production:
    — On your Audiobook Production & Distribution Services page, it says you charge $220 per 10,000 words, but
    — On your Author/Publisher Services page, it says you charge $200 per 10,000 words.

    Which rate is the right one?

    Posted by Sen | April 12, 2012, 10:00 pm
  23. Hi Sen,

    That’s what happens when I update the website instead of having someone more on the ball do it.

    Both royalty rates and expenses are going up (isn’t everything these days?).

    So, the correct author royalty is 50%. This reflects a brand new contract with Audible that pays us much better than previous ones did.

    Our production cost for authors and publishers who choose to pay for production rather than submit their manuscripts for publishing is now $220 per 10,000 words. I believe we’re still the best deal out there for production.

    I’ll get the website fixed to reflect that!

    Posted by Jennifer Feddersen | April 13, 2012, 9:35 am
  24. And the winner is . . . Sen! Congrats!

    Posted by Robin Covington | April 15, 2012, 6:47 pm

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