I noticed a comment at the Voices.com blog the other day in response to the message I wrote about in my last post. The comment was left by Rich Roszel, a very talented man I’ve admired for years. Rich was asking about rates for recording audiobooks.
Since no one had replied to Rich’s question, I wrote him an email with a summary of what I learned at the Audiobook Master Class with Pat Fraley, Hillary Huber and Kimberly Brault. (I also wrote a reply to that thread at VoxBlog which included most of my comments to Rich.)
Rich wrote in reply (He’s given me permission to post this):
Many thanks for taking the time to reply. Frankly, I’m astounded at the rates you’ve mentioned. When you say “finished hour,” I assume you mean that if the total audio book length comes to three hours, then your fee for raw tracks woould range from $150 to $1050. At those lower-end rates, it’s hardly worth doing the project. I say that because the time it would take to get an hour of “finished audio” is certainly a good bit more than an hour. Few people, if any, can read through an hour-long script without mistakes and retakes — much less a three-hour long script. With any script, you’ll also want to read through it a time or two and mark it for inflection and pacing. With an audio book, those pre-reads are going to be rather time consuming.I have seen requests for pricing on Interactive Voices that mention word count and page count. I’ve also seen comments from others mentioning that they charge by the page, etc. To me, the most equitable way to come up with pricing seemed to be based on word count. I find that a relaxed read comes to about 175 words per minute. Therefore, I can divide the total word count by 175 and come up with the number of minutes for the read. I can them determine a price. My problem is that my standard pricing is going to be way too high because it’s based on voiceovers for spots or narrations for videos, etc.One recent job was listed as 12056 words or 38 pages. How would you price that if you were doing it? How long do you think it would take to practice and then deliver the raw tracks? Do you think the price you quoted is reasonable pay for the amount of time/work involved?Perhaps I’m spoiled by having done a bit of spot work which, understandably, pays more per minute, but doing a credible job with an audio book takes real talent and, in my opinion, is worth every bit of those higher numbers you mentioned.
I think it’s important to realize that each category of work in the voice-over business has it’s own price structure. As you’ve noted, when you work on a commercial your price per “finished” minute is very high, hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single minute.Industrial/CD-ROM/etc. long-form narration work pays much less per minute, but still hundreds of dollars per “finished” hour.Audiobooks are among the lowest paying per hour of work. As was said in the audiobook master class I attended, no one is getting rich doing audiobooks. A few people are making a decent living, but no one is getting rich. Not even the “stars” of the business. The issue in the audiobook world is that a given publisher can only afford to pay a certain amount for the narration and production because they are projecting that they will sell a specific number of audiobooks. The budget is determined by the audiobook publisher on that basis.