Audiobook Boom Provides Big Opportunities for Publishers
For those publishing houses that don't currently have an audio division to speak of, Goff suggests that the possibility of partnering up with an audio-specific publisher could prove to pay significant dividends. "If you don't have the resources to build [an audio division] yourself," says Goff, "think about teaming up with someone you might already have a good relationship with, or who you've heard good things about, or whose work your admire, and look to strike a deal."
To keep costs down, consider outsourcing to a home studio. There was once a time, Zackman says, prior to the most recent wave of audiobook popularity, that most publishers employed not only a narrator for each project, but also an audio engineer and a director as well.
But in an effort to retain even more of their net proceeds, many publishers—including the most well known houses—are sending their work directly to narrators who work solo from a home studio. "For the most part," says Zackman, "when you reach a certain [professional level], everybody's got a home studio."
Zackman offers up the story of a job she once handled for an especially well-known publisher; she was paid around $4,500 to record a book in its professionally-staffed studio. "Which is good money," she adds. And yet just a few months later, that same publisher paid her a home studio rate of just $2,000 to narrate a similar title, all on her own.
When home studio work comes her way, Zackman completes it in a soundproofed walk-in closet with "very high-end equipment." She cautions publishers "to listen closely to the quality" when someone sends an audio sample, especially if it's from a home studio.
Don't just audition the talent—audition the service provider too. Everyone involved in the exploding audiobook business today is "crazy busy,"as Zackman puts it. "But if you're going to sell them a book," she says, "they're not too busy to be able to answer a couple of questions."
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Dan Eldridge is a journalist and guidebook author based in Philadelphia's historic Old City district, where he and his partner own and operate Kaya Aerial Yoga, the city's only aerial yoga studio. A longtime cultural reporter, Eldridge also writes about small business and entrepreneurship, travel, and the publishing industry. Follow him on Twitter at @YoungPioneers.