You’re published! Your book, or “baby,” is for sale to the multitudes. You know from your fellow authors that the next step is an audiobook version. You begin to look for a narrator to produce your book, but, when you look at the costs, most good narrators are quoting rates upward of $350 per finished hour (PFH). Do you look for a cheaper voiceover narrator? Should you offer a lower PFH? You may think it’s time to panic but don’t. With a few creative steps, you can finance your book project for that quality voiceover narration.
Before discussing funding, let’s examine the logic behind that near $400. PFH rate. What does it cost to produce your book? While you have a deep connection with your project, your voiceover narrator and producer are in business with supporting expenses. I’m not saying that your book is less than excellent. A good production team will make a substantial investment of time and talents to make sure your book become a marketable audio product.
Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) notes that it takes the average voice talent at least two hours to narrate one hour of printed text. But that’s just the beginning. It takes two to three additional hours to proofread, edit, mix, and master one complete hour of audiobook recording. So, while rates ranging from $250-$400 PFH may seem high, with all the work involved in developing your “baby” into an audiobook, the average PFH voice production rates make fiscal sense.
Now that we’ve examined the rationale behind audiobook recording rates, let’s look at a few ways to fund your book project.
Online Grants. Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, a service of the Foundation Center, is a subscription-based program that allows you to search for funding sources based upon a topic, interest, and other criteria. Subscriptions are available for a variety of time periods depending upon your need.
Crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing, as defined by Merriam-Webster.com, is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, especially from the online community. Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.com are two favorite personal online fundraising websites. IndieGoGo is a live crowdfunding campaign platform. The Kickstarter funding platform is specifically for artistic and creative projects through direct external support. Crowdsourcing is a great way to reach out to those who have read or know of your work and would support efforts toward your audiobook production.
Deferred Payments. Consider negating a deal with your audiobook producer to take partial payments. You can develop a contract and set up regularly scheduled payments through PayPal or other sources that allow you to pay your vendor in increments. Be sure to pay the audiobook producer timely to maintain a good relationship.
Charge Cards. While not my first suggestion, if you have cash advance capability or can pay your audiobook producer directly by credit card, this could be an excellent way to cover the PFH rate.
Royalty Shares. Most producers like to have royalty shares in their recording deals. This method gives you the option to pay for a portion of your project over time and negotiate a smaller budget for the initial PFH rate.
Friends and Family Funding. You’ve got to ask. Friends and family may give or loan you the money. Your close supporters may provide all the funds you need.
Local Support. Ask for support from your civic group, organizations, clubs, and church especially if the subject of your book is relevant to your group’s purpose and goals.
In “5 Clever Ways to Raise Money for Your Startup Without Making an Investor Pitch,” CEO and author Tom Walker writes, “Sign up strategic partners early on. There’s nothing sweeter than finding a supplier, distributor, or especially a customer who stands to gain so much from your solution that they are willing and able to help foot the bill.”
Investor Money: Backstage offers “6 Ways to Fund Your Independent Projects” by KC Wright and notes “investors provide funding with the expectation of returns—their initial investment plus a cut of the project’s earnings.” Once your project’s revenues and royalties start coming in, you can return the invested money.
Once you’ve secured your funding, reach out to the most qualified voice actor/producer to develop your audiobook. You’ve put too much time into your project, so it’s no time for bargain shopping. A quality voice narrator will give you excellent service at a fair price. Remember, the voice talent and producer have a business reputation and want to do a good job. It’s better to budget for the best narrator you can afford than to end up with a disappointing final project. This is your baby (or one of your babies). Treat your little one with the best care so it will be a finely produced audiobook that you can be proud.