Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Digital Synchronicity

by Libby Hellmann

One of the happy—and unexpected—benefits of going digital with your books is the production of related (or what used to be called “subsidiary”) content at a reasonable cost.

It’s probably most noticeable with audiobooks, although I’m experimenting with foreign translations as well. 

But… back to audio. I remember longing for a company to pick up my Ellie Foreman books on audio, but being told by both my agent and my editor that the series had to be selling at a higher level to interest an audio producer. I also remember thinking that shouldn’t be the case. That, just as people have a wide selection in paper books, that selection should be available in audio, too. I remember being told—by a large audio producer—that it cost thousands of dollars to produce an audiobook back then (this was only about ten years ago, btw.) and I’d have to sell about 50,000 copies per title before they’d consider me.

I have a background in film and video production and used to work for a radio station. I wasn’t an audio producer, but I knew even then that was —er—hyperbole. Large producers typically have their own studios, and after the initial construction costs, production costs are minimal. Yes, a narrator can cost a few thousand, especially if they’re a “big” name, but other than that, audio is the one format that was considered affordable, even before things went digital.

Today the costs are even lower. I produced an audio of SETTHE NIGHT ON FIRE over the summer with a professional narrator for about $1500. But that’s not the best part—at least for authors.

Audible (which is owned by Amazon), in an aggressive move to corner as much of the audio market as they can, has launched a fabulous program, at least for US authors. Through their subsidiary, ACX,  you can list the books (you need to have the rights) available for audio. There’s also a database of narrators, and you can search through them, find a voice you like, and make an “offer” for that narrator to record your book. There are several options as far as costs go, also several options for distribution, and yes, there’s a way for you to pay nothing upfront. Yup. It can be free.

Not a bad deal.

I’m happy to say that over a period of about six months I have now produced TEN audios. All my novels, plus my novella and collection of short stories (which is on special right now for $1.99!)  are now available on Audible.

So far I haven’t seen a similar program for book-to-film or video.  But costs for video production have come way down too. How far behind could it be?

Are you listening, Netflix? I hear you need new content these days. And what better way to create good-will with authors? 

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