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How Much Does it Cost to Have My Audiobook Narrated?

Updated: Jan 28


You've put your heart and soul into crafting a brilliant book – a labour of love that's taken months, possibly even years to complete. Now, it's time for that creation to unfurl its wings and reach your audience in its most intimate format yet: the audiobook.


Picture this: your readers, curled up on their favourite armchair or tucked in for a long journey, your words weaving stories in their minds, brought to life by the magic of voice.


The question then arises – whose voice should it be? Yours, as the author, carrying the exact nuance and tone as you'd imagined it? Or should you place your trust in a professional voiceover artist to bring a different, potentially richer perspective to your narrative?


This is not a decision to be made lightly. It carries potential rewards, but also challenges that may be more complex than initially apparent. The costs associated with narrating an audiobook can vary significantly, influenced by factors such as the choice between self-narration and hiring a professional, and the payment structure agreed upon.


Whether you choose to step behind the microphone yourself, or hire a professional, let's delve into the ins and outs of audiobook narration costs to help you make an informed, effective decision.


Option #1: Royalty Share

When it comes to the world of audiobook narration, one of the most appealing options for many authors is the royalty share model. This model operates on a principle that is as engaging as your book's most riveting chapter – shared success.


Under a royalty share agreement, the voiceover artist agrees to narrate your audiobook in exchange for a share of the profits generated from sales.


This model can be incredibly attractive, particularly for authors who are working with a tight budget. It requires minimal upfront costs, allowing you to get your audiobook onto the market without having to invest a significant amount of money into production.


However, it's important to bear in mind that this model involves sharing your book's success with your narrator. Essentially, every time your audiobook makes a sale, a portion of the profit will go to the voiceover artist. This could potentially amount to a substantial sum over time, especially if your audiobook becomes a bestseller.


Royalty share agreements are typically signed for a specific duration, usually 7-10 years. This means your voiceover artist would receive a percentage of your profits for that period. Keep in mind, too, that popular and experienced voiceover artists may be less inclined to take on royalty share projects, as these involve more risk compared to upfront payment models.


In short, if you're an author looking to minimise upfront costs, the royalty share model might be a fitting solution. However, you must also consider the long-term financial implications and potential profit-sharing over several years.


Option #2: Per Finished Hour (PFH)

The Per Finished Hour (PFH) model is another popular choice in the world of audiobook narration, one that provides a straightforward pricing structure.


Here, the voiceover artist is paid a fixed rate for each hour of the completed audiobook, regardless of the time they spent on preparation or actual recording.


What is Usually Included in Your PFH Rate?

The PFH rate typically covers the full suite of services required to produce the audiobook, which includes: the narration itself, editing, and final mastering to ensure the highest quality audio output.


This approach offers predictability in terms of cost, allowing you to budget for the entire project right from the start. However, the rates can vary widely, depending on factors such as the artist's reputation, experience, and the complexity of your book.


While the PFH model may initially seem more costly than the royalty share approach, it has a significant advantage. With this method, you maintain complete control over your profits, as the artist's payment is a one-time fee, regardless of how successful your audiobook becomes.


In essence, the PFH model is ideal if you prefer a straightforward, upfront payment structure and wish to retain all future profits from your audiobook. However, it requires a more significant initial investment, which you should factor into your decision-making process.


Option #3: Royalty Share + PFH Hybrid Model

Sometimes, the best solutions are born from a blend of different approaches. That's precisely what the royalty share and PFH Hybrid Model offers – a mix of the best elements from both the royalty share and PFH methods.


In this model, the voiceover artist is paid a reduced PFH rate along with a portion of the book's profits as royalty share. This approach strikes a balance by offering the voiceover artist a guaranteed payment for their time and effort, while also giving them the opportunity to benefit from the success of the book.


For authors, this model might be seen as a middle-ground choice, making it particularly appealing if you have a limited budget but still want to attract high-quality, experienced voiceover artists. The upfront costs are lower than a full PFH agreement, while the potential long-term payouts are less than in a full royalty share deal.


However, as with the other options, this model has its considerations. You'll need to be comfortable with sharing some of your book's profits, and the reduced upfront cost can still represent a significant investment.


Option #4: Narrate Yourself

Embodying the characters and world you’ve conjured up on the page and narrating your own audiobook can be a tempting proposition. After all, who better than the author to share the book's passion, nuances, and hidden meanings?


Taking on the role of narrator does come with certain benefits. It eliminates the need for payment to a third-party voiceover artist, making it the most budget-friendly option.


Furthermore, it can add an element of authenticity to the audiobook that might resonate with your audience, providing a deeper connection between you, the author, and your listeners.


However, before you step up to the microphone, it's important to consider the potential challenges and drawbacks associated with self-narration.


Firstly, narrating an audiobook requires a considerable investment of time and energy. It's not simply about reading your book aloud; you must interpret each character, set the pace, and deliver your words with clarity and emotion. Not to mention the recording, editing, and post-production work.


Moreover, the quality of the audio is paramount. A recording riddled with background noise, poor acoustics, or an inconsistent voice can swiftly turn off listeners. Professional voiceover artists usually have access to high-quality recording equipment and studios, along with the technical skills to edit and master the audio.


Lastly, while you as the author have intimate knowledge of the material, you might lack the vocal training and performance skills to keep listeners engaged for the entirety of the book. A professional voiceover artist brings not just their voice, but their expertise in using it as a tool to captivate audiences.


So while narrating your book might seem cost-effective and personal, it's essential to consider the potential trade-offs in terms of time, audio quality, and listener engagement.


Weighing the Costs: Choosing the Best Option for Your Audiobook


Navigating the terrain of audiobook production can be complex, but understanding the cost implications of each option can help you make an informed decision.


You may choose to share the profits through the royalty share model, or prefer the upfront, predictable costs of the PFH model. Perhaps, the hybrid model strikes the right balance for you, or narrating the audiobook yourself feels most authentic and cost-effective.


Regardless of your choice, it's crucial to remember that the ultimate goal is to create an engaging audiobook that captures the heart and soul of your written work and resonates deeply with your listeners.


If you've decided that a professional touch is what your audiobook needs, I'm here to help.


As an experienced British voiceover artist, I have a genuine passion for storytelling and would love to bring your words to life. You can explore my range of styles and listen to my work in my portfolio. Or feel free to reach out to me with any questions, or discuss your project in more detail at NickyGriffithsVO@Gmail.com.


Should you have a clear vision for your audiobook and are ready to take the next step, you can book my services directly through my online shop.


I eagerly await the opportunity to collaborate with you, ensuring your story engages and enchants your listeners just as you've always imagined.


Nicky Griffiths




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