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Here's What Audiobook Narrators Earn,
And Their Methods Of Compensation

May 21, 2015
See REPORT 1: Levels Of Experience, What And How They Narrate

By John Florian

Who doesn't want to know what their audiobook narration colleagues are earning? We'll tell - albeit anonymously.

Four prolific narrators reported earning more than $100,000 annually in VoiceOverXtra's Audiobook Narrators Business Survey 2015. And nearly 10% are taking home between $50,000 to $99,000 per year for their narration work (which can include editing, engineering and mastering).

But for most narrators, well ... read on. And comments from participants reveal frustration - especially with the royalty share option.

Also in today's report, you will:
  • learn the variety of compensation methods that narrators employ,
  • note the overwhelming popularity of home studios for recording audiobooks,
  • see the frequent use of outsourcing the editing, and
  • link to James Conlan's analysis of data and comments - with observations on trends affecting narrator income.

By far, the home (personal) recording studio is where respondents work. And about one-third frequently outsource the editing - including 16.5% who almost always outsource the tech.

See Comments


A variety of compensation methods is reported by respondents, and many employ more than one type.

Three quarters of them charge a fee per finished hour - at least sometimes - meaning per-hour of recording that is edited to the specs of the agreement with the publisher. It could take many additional hours to create that finished hour, of course.

Also very often used for compensation is royalty share - where payment is received only for royalties earned on sales of the audiobook. Nearly two-thirds of respondents report using this method, and one-third earn with a stipend plus royalty.

Flat fees are commanded by nearly 29%, and a flat fee plus royalty by nearly 8%.

Also, for those receiving royalties, more than half receive 10% to 20% of the book's retail sales.

And for those receiving a fee per finished hour, slightly more than half typically charge $201 to $300 per hour.

See Comments


Good news! Four survey respondents earn more than $100,000 annually for their audiobook narrations - which could include narrating, engineering and mastering.

And 10% earn between $50,000 and $100,000 for their efforts.

But far more common: nearly two-thirds report earning under $10,000 annually for their audiobook narration work.

Another 13.5% take home from $10,000 to $19,999 annually, and 12% earn from $20,000 to $49,999 for audiobook narrations.


Please click here now for James Conlan's 'Beyond the Numbers' analysis of the data and comments - and what the trends indicate for narrator income. 

Also See Report 3: How Satisfied Are Audiobook Narrators About Income?

John Florian is a voice actor and publisher of VoiceOverXtra, the voice over industry's online news, training and resource center. A former print publishing executive and magazine editorial director, he founded VoiceOverXtra in 2007, which today offers the voice over community industry news, how-to features, online and workshop training, the Voice Over Legal guide, and an ever-growing online resource center of articles and links. In 2013, he produced Voice Over Virtual, a major online industry conference.

Jim Conlan has led a dual career for most of his adult life: advertising executive and voice talent. As a founder of Radio Works, he has written and produced thousands of radio commercials for clients all over the country. As a voice talent, he learned from some of the best in the business by directing on an almost daily basis. Jim now devotes most of his time to training voice talent, doing voice over projects, and narrating audiobooks. Some 40 titles are currently available on Audible under the name, James Conlan. "So I wasn't just a co-author of the survey," Jim says, "I was a respondent!"

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Comments (6)
robert mcpeat
7/31/2017 at 5:24 PM
I was in radio for over 20 has changed, and especially since I am older...I want to continue voice acting/narration, I currently narrate a bible app that will launch in 2018...but how can I learn more?
J. Valentino
5/23/2015 at 2:00 PM
Authors are getting people to narrate and EDIT their 6 hour audio books for less than 2 grand now. Pretty soon, it'll be free. I guess with the lame "Royalty Share" option, it already kinda is.

These books are not that easy to narrate and edit. When the audiobook is first released, there's a spike of promotion by the author. This dies down in about a month. So the royalties get lower and lower and lower each month. It shouldn't be the narrator's responsibility to help promote the book, he's already done all this work, and now has to help sell it! Geez Louise. It makes me cringe to think about how narrators let themselves be used.

VO talent who think ACX is one of the good things to happen to the VO business, are poorly mistaken. The benefit is ALWAYS to the author, not the voice talent or the editor.

BTW The only audiobook narrators making over 100,000 are famous actors. Believe me. I know. This is a bunch of bs.
Jeff Gelder
5/23/2015 at 12:29 PM
Great, and very interesting, information. Thanks John and Jim for putting ths together and sharing with the v/o community!
John Florian
5/22/2015 at 9:05 AM
Hi Tim,
Excellent question about location of respondents - and I wish I could tell you. Everything came to us anonymously. I think most responses came from narrators based in the U.S., but we do have a number of subscribers in the UK, too. Perhaps we'll hear from UK narrators on how our data compares with their own experiences.
Tim Bruce
5/22/2015 at 6:39 AM
Fantastic research! Very valuable.
What percentage of respondents are from the US and what from other countries such as UK?
I'm a UK producer-narrator and would be interested to see the differences between territories.
Roy Wells
5/21/2015 at 6:05 PM
This seems to be a very accurate survey. I'm right in the middle where the longest bar graphs are. I very seriously doubt those that claim earning over 100k in this line of work.
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