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Respondents' Comments To Question #14:

How Satisfied Are You With The Earnings You Make Narrating Audiobooks Vs. The Time You Put Into Them?

Respondents to the VoiceOverXtra Audiobook Narrators Business Survey - 2015 made the following comments to Question 14. For the accompanying article, please click here.

  • It's a time filler between better paying VO work.
  • I've only done one so far and have booked two more, but they are all short as I'm building my arsenal to have credits. I've lost out on one good paying job because I had no credits, so I've had one pfh project and the other two are royalty share. The pfh was almost a loss because it took me a long time to get it right, being my first book.
  • The vast majority of writers don't have the resources to pay what should be paid for the services rendered.
  • With all the narrating, editing, and mastering of the audiobook, I receive 20% of the royalty. Sounds okay until you realize runs specials all the time on free membership deals or there are books I've done which no one has purchased. Then, it was all for nothing, which is a lot of time when I could have been doing something else!  But I keep trying!
  • I've only just begun doing audiobooks so the royalties haven't started coming in yet.
  • I look at it as building my skills to work towards the bigger jobs - but it is what it is
  • High effort, low reward. This is no way to make a living unless you are an elite! Unless you have an agent, are established as a money making elite, why would anyone do this as their sole means of making money, is insane.
  • With having to outsource editing, proofing, and mastering, and then self-employment tax being what it is, my gross-to-net is pretty disappointing. If I could regularly receive $500+pfh, I'd be much more satisfied with the money I was making.
  • time to step out and get paid
  • I enjoy recording audiobooks even though the earnings are a disappointment.
  • There is a lot of work involved, and though I love doing it and this is what I want to do, I do feel that the industry is not paying narrators a sufficiently high rate and the way that ACX operates will only drive down rates (and production values) in the long run. This is why I rarely accept audiobooks, anymore. I have to really love the book to take it on.
  • I make a lot more in other VO genres, for a whole lot less work.
  • ACX reduced its Royalty Share and the Stipend is too low.
  • Without the proper planning and technical knowledge, narration can be a lot of work for little or no earnings.
  • Very unsatisfied with ACX's royalty share: 20 percent is too little - especially since these projects require research, narration, editing and mastering.
  • I'm early into this career. I hope to be able to work full-time as a voice actor.
  • The pay does not reflect the skills and time required to produce the finished product. But it's philanthropic.
  • First audiobook. Not selling.
  • I'm very satisfied with earnings if I don't have to edit or master the audiobook. Many union projects are like that.
  • I'm satisfied because I know the potential is there as I improve in my craft.
  • I only do audiobooks when I see something I like with the rate I want - or if I am asked directly.
  • To do it properly for the listener calls for intense commitment, both in carrying the story and in arriving at a completely clean recording. Multiple skills, derisory payment. However, this is my fault by choosing to work with ACX and doing royalty shares. Live & LEARN!
  • Unhappy with the current percentages kept by ACX on Royalties but they really have no competition in terms of marketing and getting the product sold. Its a Catch 22 but I think 60% is beyond greedy along with cutting pricing directly after taking a larger cut considering the time put in to each book. Royalty share will fall by the wayside at this rate.
  • Having just earned an Earphones Award, and now having over 40 audiobooks, I think it's time for me to ask for a raise
  • Having 'paid my dues,' so to speak, I'm beginning to ask for more money, and getting what I ask for. Still, I wish the pay were better, and it is dismal to calculate out a true hourly wage.
  • Still on the low end of the learning curve: therefore time put in is high (primarily editing) so my earnings are diluted. I'm thankful to be able to receive my specified rate (300 pfh), and thus have no place to complain.
  • I just started six months ago and so far things are progressing well. The more I learn about editing, the faster I get, and the more satisfied I am with my time vs. earnings.
  • Recently I completed the BeeAudio Certification Course for Home Studio narration and production. Through it I learned punch-and-roll as well as editing and mastering techniques which have significantly improved by work-to-finished audio ratio as well as confidence in my product. Haven't contracted a book since then, so my new skills haven't had a real world try-out yet - but the business is gathering a head of steam and 2015 will be more profitable.
  • I am actively seeking paid assignments.
  • If the majority of the payment was Per Finished Hour, I would be making a good income. Solely on Royalty Share, the income is not very good.
  • While I'm neutral about it now, I would hope that with more projects being completed more income will follow, especially since I'm approaching my second year narrating audiobooks. I also have a part-time job, so I cannot put as much time into audiobook work as I would like, at this point.
  • I'm definitely narrating at a higher level than I'm getting paid for the Library of Congress projects I'm doing, but I haven't connected with the right people to move up the ladder.
  • In home studio, it takes so much longer doing it all myself. Doesn't always compute to earnings. Especially when self recording, it seems there should be additional compensation as the narrator is also acting as the engineer. I also think for books that sell very well and break a certain monetary amount, there should be some kind of automatic royalty scale for the narrator.
  • I do it because I love story telling. Narrating a book is sheer joy for me since I do not need the money. Unlike many audiobook narrators, I make my living in other areas like commercial voice over, promos, video games, animation, political spots, movie trailers, and corporate films & videos. Interestingly enough, I used to make $450 per finished hour a decade ago. Management is kicking our ass financially and that does piss me off.
  • So much work for the pay. Ugh. I do it for the love of a book.
  • I have concerns that inexperienced narrators working for below-market rates are driving them down to a less than sustainable rate for the professional. Also, publishers and production companies are expecting more and more work for lower rates.
  • I can do 50,000 words of video narration/elearning work and I charge $5,000. A 10-hour, 90,000-100,000 word audiobook is anywhere from $1,500-$3,000 plus royalties, which can be an additional amount, but so far just doesn't equal voiceover income for much less work!
  • I'm getting faster and learning efficiencies all the time, but I see ACX as good only for experience, credits, and perhaps notice by authors and/or publishers.  At present, I see no way to make a living narrating ACX books.
  • When you're narrating and producing the audiobook via, compensation (whether it be royalty share or $/finished hour) is not reflected in the fee. Only narration is compensated for through in my opinion.
  • I make from $150-220 per finished hour. I record about 2 hrs/finished hour PLUS research and reading the book, which is an additional 25-30% of time. Then there are sometimes over an hour of punches. That works out to be $50/hr. That's ok, not great. I'm not getting ahead with it, especially since the work is inconsistent.
  • I spend a great deal of time preparing and recording what I believe to be an exceptional product, but the authors need to market their books better than they do.
  • Royalty-share only is a bad deal for narrators. We do all the work and absorb all the risk. The rights-holders have no skin in the game.
  • I've only been working with this author for a year.  I've been very satisfied working with her and the amount of work/pay for my first set of books recorded in home and edited by myself. However, I would like to take it to the next level of working with a professional studio and possibly living off of the work I find with audiobook narration. In that, I have not been successful yet, but I haven't tried that hard - yet.
  • I thought audiobooks would be a great way for me to increase my VO income stream, but it has just not panned out that way. The amount of work put into a title simply does not yield a favorable return.
  • I can narrate a 5-minute video for a company from Voice123 and earn $250, which is already A LOT MORE than I have earned from a 6-hour book that I narrated off of the ACX platform that has sold 16 units on royalty share.
  • Only now am I pursuing large publishers in order to increase my income.
  • Creating an audiobook from start to finish, narration, editing and mastering is a monumental task. I don't care what anyone says, or how many shortcuts they've mastered. It is a very specialized skill - actually, two very unrelated skills: the artistic interpretation of narrating, and the technical detail of editing and mastering. Anyone who can do both should be paid top dollar in my not-so-humble-opinion.
  • Per-hour pay is pennies.
  • 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.
  • I have fun recording but editing is tedious, and I don't get paid enough to outsource it.
  • Got to earn my stripes, but there definitely needs to be more than narrating/producing for ACX
  • The ROI is beyond abysmal.
  • Am new to all of this, so I am building gradually and enjoying the process. Anything I get for doing something I enjoy is worth it!! Obviously I have another job that actually pays the bills right now, but I plan on making more in audiobooks as I go along.
  • The ROI is very low, but it is understandable as books do not make much profit for the narrator or the authors
  • The pay and benefits and contracts are not sufficient for time put in. Union needs to step up.
  • As a newbie, the time spent is invested in gaining experience.
  • Of course I'd like to get paid more, but the company I work for is so easy to work with and they continually send me work. I'm only in the biz for less than 5 years and although I do have talent, I'm not a stellar talent. I feel getting $200pfh is fair for now. I do punch-and-roll and that's it.
  • There's no money in it.
  • Some authors/rights holders have little consideration for the work we put into the audiobook, and do not promote them enough to generate sales.
  • At this stage, it is all a learning process.
  • Simply not efficient use of time
  • This is hard to answer! Some books are just not profitable because of all the prep work, but usually I am satisfied. I was aware, going into this, that it probably wouldn't pay well. But, narrating audio books is something that I really want to do. And I enjoy it. Being paid well would be really nice, but I am going to keep doing it none the less.
  • If a project demands a lot of research and is poorly written or is written in a style unconducive to the spoken word (say an academic book), then the ratio of working hours to pay is relatively low.
  • Just getting started
  • Primarily, I'm not satisfied with the way the ACX work has panned out. When I started, ACX was offering a 25% royalty; that got pulled back to 20%. But I also don't think the ACX people make it clear that the narrator isn't getting 20% of the retail price; they're getting 20% of a net price that ACX establishes. So a book I completed that sells for $19.95 gets me a royalty of $1.75, which is 8.8% of the retail price, not $3.99, which would be 20% of the retail price. As usual, the house wins.
  • I feel I have to work pretty long hours to provide the quality both of narration & of the technical raw record to make the kind of annual income which I do. Perhaps I'm not as efficient as other narrators of my experience level, or that I'm simply inefficiently fussy about checking & rechecking my work for the audio quality & the performance quality. Maybe that's normal? There also seems insufficient time in my week to adequately market myself to additional publishers, & use FB, Twitter.
  • I have come very close to making 10K in my first year, and I'm very pleased about that, but wonder how things will go this coming year.
  • I must speed up my narration and editing process!
  • I try to avoid royalty share. If the author was top shelf or very popular, that would be different. But when the sales of a title over a year's time are less than 20, it is not worth it. Even if I was gung ho, and produced 20 titles a year, the pay does not outweigh the time and effort. Especially when I edit and master ALL the royalty share titles. If I were to outsource that task, I wouldn't make anything. It would end up costing me.
  • I am a part-time narrator and I also own another business that is unrelated to producing audiobooks or Voice Over.
  • I have just begun my career and I view my current work as "seat of the pants" training. I have another full time job, so at this point compensation is much less important to me than experience. Working through ACX has been a tremendous learning experience.
  • I wish it were different. I do 50+ books a year to make just a little over 100K. If rates were higher I could relax a little, and let my voice rest. But I don't see it going that direction. I'm thrilled that I have the ability to make that kind of money doing acting and setting my own schedule. So overall, it's a win. I just wish I had more opportunity for rate advancement. But many of the people ahead of me have had to bring rates down to union base, so I don't see that happening.
  • Grateful for the work, but with the time and prep work that goes into the book before you even sit down to record, the per-finished-hour breaks down even less. Especially when you compare it with the fees/royalties received from other forms of voiceover.
  • When I record for audible, I would say less satisfied - the money is less, I don't have a director, someone to help with research. When I am in a major publishing studio, I am very satisfied.
  • Would like an avenue for continued financial growth when coupled with experience and/or the success of the title. For instance, an extra payment after a title sells a benchmark number of copies. Or a royalty which would begin after a title has reached a certain sales profile. This, in addition to payment for production. Narrators are limited in financial growth by the number of titles they can record a year, which is finite. Promotion of a title is encouraged, but does not benefit the narrator.
  • I think we should be paid a little more when operating from a home studio to help offset editing.
  • To earn a decent living, it is working long days, six days a week. I've learned that the voice has a seriously real limit/capacity. If we were paid more, it would lessen the amount of work we have to do to make a living and help ensure longevity and health of the body (vocal chords).
  • The ACX RS is ridiculously low, but the easiest way to audition for commercial books.  My other work is part time and I'm satisfied with the rate since the work is constant and I'm not responsible for proofing, editing or engineering.
  • I know I'm responsible for selecting projects to maximize returns; I'm not good at that yet.
  • At 20% royalty share, compensation for the work put in is paltry compared to per finished hour rate. Unfortunately, this seems to be the trend. Authors want us to basically work for free & get paid at the end.
  • I am still somewhat new as a narrator so I really need to form more relationships with publishers & authors. I am confident my business (earnings) will increase once I do this.
  • Fees are quite low for the amount of work required.
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Comments (3)
mike sloan
12/18/2018 at 7:07 PM
It is now late 2018 and ACX is phasing out bounties and replacing it with what amounts to an affiliate marketing program, so, you have to now use your own specialized links to guide people to open a new audible account by purchasing your book and then you make a bounty!! used to be anyone who opened a new account by purchasing your book made you eligible for a bounty they MUST use that blasted URL to do it... thanks again ACX for making it nearly impossible to earn a bounty!!!
9/2/2017 at 7:58 AM
Authors should be prepared to pay properly for a professional service, just like any other business. It is not the narrator's book so they shouldn't have to wait for possible payment, we don't work for charity it's a business. Absolutely no other business would find this acceptable business practice and it's basically corporate robbery.
9/2/2017 at 7:54 AM
ACX only favours the author and has a terrible scale of payment for narrators considering they are bringing someone's work to life with a professional performance, research and preparation, editing and mastering. They do not value artist at all. Worst than minimum wage. More and more of us are now choosing to avoid ACX even though they at the moment have the monopoly. Financially it's totally unsustainable to actually do the work you love, with a company that shows such little respect for a genuine skill.
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