sign up for our

Home Shop Subscribe Advertise Articles Directories Classifieds Calendar FAQs Contact Us Login

Are Audiobook Narrators Satisfied With Pay?
60% Say NO - Especially About 'Royalty Share'
June 16, 2015

See Report 1: Levels Of Experience, What And How They Narrate
See Report 2: What Narrators Earn, Methods of Compensation

By John Florian

VoiceOverXtra's Audiobook Narrators Business Survey 2015 - conducted earlier this year - found more than half of the respondents to be dissatisfied with earnings vs. the amount of time they put into narrating and editing the books.

However, another 40% are "somewhat satisfied" or at least "neutral" about it, and the remaining 3% are quite happy with what they're taking to the bank.

Among the many scores of comments about pay:
  • "High effort, low reward."
  • "So much work for the pay. Ugh. I do it for the love of a book."
  • "It depends on the book. Some books require a great deal of preparation and others do not. For some books, the money earned is hard earned, for others it's a walk in the park."
  • "Solely on royalty share, the income is not very good."
Yet livings are being made:
  • "I'm thankful to be able to receive my specified rate - $300 per finished hour - and thus have no place to complain."
And newcomers to narration tend to be most concerned with learning the craft:
  • "As a newbie, the time spent is invested in gaining experience."
Here's the overall consensus:

Settle back for a run through comments from respondents at all levels of experience (click here) ... enjoy report co-author James Conlan's observations below ... and tell us what YOU think in this article's COMMENTS section!

Why Are Narrators Not Satisfied With Pay?

By James Conlan
Audiobook Narrator, Voice Actor & Coach
Survey Reports Co-Author

Uh-oh. If there are clouds on the horizon, it’s in the number of narrators who aren’t satisfied with their pay.

This is especially true of those who narrate mostly under a royalty-share agreement. Ironically, the target for much of this dissatisfaction is Audible, the ones who opened up the market to independent publishers and home studio narrators.

As many survey respondents noted, Audible retains 60% of every sale, splitting the remaining 40% between the rights holder and the narrator. Add to this Audible’s habit of offering specials on titles – including deep member discounts and free deals – and this 20% royalty often takes a long time to accumulate into a viable income.

Many respondents also pointed out that home-studio production involves research, recording, proofing, editing, and mastering – all of which may result in a ratio of four or five hours work for every finished hour.

Even when a narrator is working at maximum efficiency, the total effort is hard to justify for some.

Some respondents believe that sales - and therefore income - would improve if independent publishers and authors did more to market their audiobooks. But even authors whose printed and e-books sell well don’t seem to have much motivation to promote the audiobook version of the titles.

There are a few narrators, of course, who do enjoy a pretty healthy annual income. But one such respondent complained about having to narrate over 50 titles a year to earn that money – not a way to stay fresh and focused on a project.

Also See Report 4: How to "break into the majors."

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!"

Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success
Tell Us What YOU Think!
Please Note: Since we check for spam, there will be a slight delay in the actual posting of your comment.
Your Name:
Your Email Address (will not be published):
Your Comment:
Your Comment:
Security code:     
No comments have been posted yet. Hurry, and you could be the first!
Back to Articles
Inspiring interviews help your VO career
Email alerts to new VoiceOverXtra articles
Get your bi-weekly dose here ... all things VO!
With Sean Daeley and Paul Stefano - check it out!