Paths to Publishing: An Audio Book by Melissa Snark #amwriting #giveaway

Paths to publishing

December clubbed me over the nose like an unfortunate baby seal. Family visiting, holidays, children on vacation, and two book releases. Battle Cry released to ebook and paperback, and A Cat’s Tale released to audiobook on Dec. 31st.

It took me a while to compose my thoughts enough to write this post.

I’ve been interested in audio books for a couple years but it was a random conversation with a multi-talented friend–my cover designer, Farah Evers–that led to a startling realization. Farah has access to a sound studio and the equipment necessary to produce a music recording…or an audio book.

To break out the market–there are about 238,000 ebooks in the Amazon Kindle store under Romance, and about 30,000 ebooks in the Paranormal Romance sub genre. In comparison, there are 12,000 titles in Romance on Audible. (And less than 2,200 in the Fantasy sub genre at the time of this post.)

I don’t know about you, but I smell opportunity.

I spent a month or so performing an absolute freak out. I badgered Mr. Snark about financing the project, both the associated risk and the potential reward. I almost wore out my friendship with Sheryl R. Hayes with repeated requests for her to listen to audio samples. (Good news! She’s still talking to me. I think.)

I probably drove Farah up one wall, across the ceiling, and then down the opposite. We interviewed potential narrators and eventually hired Lilah Harding for the job. (My thanks go out to Lilah for all of her hard work. It’s very much appreciated.)

The production process itself was nerve-wracking and Farah did all the heavy lifting. I’m going to go out on a wire and do a couple back flips…I freaked out again when I found out that Lilah had started out her vocal career as a sex phone gal. (No offense intended if you’re reading this Lilah. You did a spectacular job.)

I’m going to discuss the implementation of the process, but allow me to begin by stating that I’m an Indie author. A Cat’s Tale was originally published with The Wild Rose Press in 2012. Once the rights reverted to me, I republished the story with a new cover. The only reason I was able to consider making an audio book was because I was the sole rights holder.

There isn’t one route to audio book publishing and I don’t mean to imply that mine is the only way or the correct way. It happens to be the route I chose to follow. There are a variety of options available for getting into the audio book market, and ACX has something for everyone.

For those not in the know, ACX is an “Audiobook Creation Exchange” that is owned by Amazon. It is the only route onto both Amazon and Audible for digital audiobook downloads. It also distributes to iTunes. They offer services to authors in the function of an intermediary between audio book producers and they distribute the audio files. They are not a publisher. They pay 40% royalties to the author/publisher and have a 7 year term.

I chose to pay for my audiobook upfront and out of pocket. At the end of the day, this means that I incur all the risk and reap all the rewards. My producer and narrator were paid upfront in a lump sum once the work reached completion.

ACX does offer an option to authors to hire a narrator and split the 40% royalty in half. Recently, an author explained to me that this is “free”. I countered by saying it’s not free. Under the royalty sharing option, you’re giving up 50% of your 40% royalty for 7 years. If your book does even reasonably well, then that can amount to a whole lot of lost income.

Allow me to ballpark a narrator’s cost at somewhere between $200-$550 per finished hour. A finished hour is probably 2-3 hours of work for the narrator. And about 7,500-8,000 words. (To put it into language an author can comprehend.)

The other author countered by saying that she doesn’t have $3,000 to spend on an audiobook. Fair enough. I understand her position but I’m not willing accept her interpretation that that split royalties are the same as free. Any publishing decision has associated costs and benefits, including whether to go Indie, Traditional Pub, or Small Press.

(For the record, I’m a hybrid author. My romance titles are with the best small press on the entire freaking planet. The Wild Rose Press. Voted Best Publisher of the Year by Preditors and Editors seven years running. Booyah!)

At this point, you’re probably wondering whether it’s paid off. I’ve been asked this more than once over the last month since the book came out. My answer is always the same… It’s too soon to tell.

Maybe next year once I have a solid 12 months of data to dissect. Until then, I’m gonna say, “It’s been a blast and it was worth the risk.”


Have a fantastic day everyone and thank you for stopping by. Leave a comment and I’ll enter you into a drawing for a randomly chosen winner to receive a free Audible copy of A Cat’s Tale.


A cat's tale acx cover frontAlpha werewolf, Jared Kohl, wakes up in a vampire’s dungeon, swearing revenge upon the wily Siamese werecat who lured him there with her sultry lips and the sweetest tail. To escape his undead captor, all he has to do is seduce the skittish puss and show her that trust is often a hot and hard lesson to learn.

Enslaved feline shifter, Josephine Young, has learned the hard way not to believe in anything or anyone – not men, not love, and certainly not the blood-sucking mistress who tossed her into the cage with the hungry beast she’d betrayed. But Josephine does what she must to survive, including tempting the dominant werewolf to give her more than promises.

Imprisoned for their blood, Jared and Josephine fight for survival and discover a passion that neither can walk away from. Can these two predators survive long enough to prove that cats and dogs can be more than enemies?

Amazon via Audible




6 thoughts on “Paths to Publishing: An Audio Book by Melissa Snark #amwriting #giveaway

  1. That’s really interesting, Melissa – thanks for sharing your experience. I know a couple of authors who’ve gone into audio books but haven’t thought of trying it myself yet.

  2. Farah Evers

    LOL It’s a pleasure and an honor working with you, Snark. Continued success with all your projects. If anyone deserves this success, it’s you. You’ve also worked so hard and have invested (and continue to do so) so much into your books. Fingers crossed sales shoot up the roof for you.

  3. I can’t imagine having to give up half the royalties. That seems a bit excessive. I enjoyed your post and feel like I learned from it. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of the audiobook!


      Hi Amanda,
      You’re my randomly chosen winner for an audiobook copy of A Cat’s Tale. Congratulations and I’ll be contacting you via email about the prize. 🙂

  4. Anne Cresswell

    Well after all that, I hope it pays off for you big time, Melissa. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  5. For the record, I am still talking to you. Or at least until you send back my chapter notes. 😉

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