This is a “future reference” post.
I know a lot of people don’t need this information, but the frequency with which I’m contacted with this particular narration request, through the form on my website, is high enough that I’m posting this so I can refer people to it instead of constantly answering emails with a similar brief explanation.
It happens enough that I’m going to need to school some of you in how copyright and audiobook narration work, as well as what a narrator’s job is and isn’t.
Many of you know that I have narrated a number of audiobooks over the last few years, and some of you already know I’m all about books, especially helping entrepreneurs and experts write and launch theirs.
That said, I don’t go looking for any of the audiobooks I narrate.
It’s been a few years since I’ve tried getting hired for any particular projects. I haven’t auditioned or submitted files to “build my portfolio” to anything, at the time I write this. I have a reasonably steady stream of prospects come to me thanks to my website, and mostly thanks to referrals from colleagues hiring me to do their audio for them.
But it’s not my focus or my main bread and butter. I’d rather focus on writing and helping others with their books as it’s much more lucrative and, more importantly, I don’t need to wait until everybody in my house is asleep in order to write like I have to for recording, nor does neighborhood construction prohibit my writing with headphones on compared to trying to record audio without problem.
I say all that to say I’m selective in what I’ll narrate and have been busy enough for the last year or two that I can turn down work and not lose sleep over it.
But, like I mentioned, I ALSO get a fair number of prospects who write me through a form on my website, and I’m amazed and sometimes gobsmacked at how many people don’t even read the page about my terms, conditions, the niche I look to narrate for, what my rates are etc… but nevertheless STILL waste their time (and mine) writing me without providing me any useful information to make a decision on or skip my criteria and write me anyway. I usually write back asking the same questions as my form says I want to know, and they either never respond, or they are shocked at my price, which, again, is listed on the page they’re writing me from.
“Hey. I’m looking to have a book turned into an audiobook. Can you do that for me and what’s your price?”
Even though my form asks for SPECIFIC information like “tell me about your book — how long is it, what genre is it — did you read the part of this page where I said I don’t do fiction, and that this is a paid-for service and I DON’T do royalty-split or…?”
What I’m getting to is this:
I kept naively assuming if someone was writing me to enquire about narrating an audiobook, it’s because they’re an author or publisher or some other type of rights holder.
About 50% of the people who contact me to hire me to produce an audiobook for them are people who want or need to read but doesn’t exist in audiobook format. This could be truck drivers who want to listen to books while passing them on the road, or students who don’t have time to read a book for their course load.
If you aren’t already aware of Audible, Scribd, or myriad other monthly services with a large catalogue of books available to paying monthly membership, then know this: they exist, and you should avail yourself of them!
But if you find that the specific book you want in audiobook format doesn’t yet exist in that format, then contact the rights holder. This is either the person or company who has published the book or who owns the copyright, which in the world of self-publishing is usually the author."I am sorry, but I am legally prohibited from narrating a book when the person hiring me does not possess the rights to the book." Click To Tweet
The following is sniped from Karen Commins, of Narrator Roadmap, who explains it succinctly,
First, you should know that the copyright owner has exclusive rights in 4 areas:
1. The right to reproduce their work as a copy
2. The right to create or approve derivative works based on the copyrighted work
3. The right to control distribution of the work
4. The right to control public performances or displays of the work
Audiobooks are a derivative work. Audiobook publishers and producers pay the copyright owner to license the rights to produce and distribute a sound recording of the book’s text for a specified period of time.
Those who have not licensed the book but record it anyway are infringing on the copyright.
Karen ComminsAvoid Copyright Infringement During The Pandemic (and Always)
You are highly encouraged to read the entire article at her site.
Otherwise, I’m sorry, but I’m legally prohibited from narrating a book when the person hiring me does not possess the rights to the book.
Plus, I’m certain you’ll save a lot of money buying a $20 audiobook once it’s completed than thousands to hire me directly to read your stock market or nursing textbook for you. As well as cover any of my legal fees if the rights’ holder decided to sue one or both upon finding out.
Telling me “I’m just using it for personal use” doesn’t guarantee it will not fall into the the wrong hands.
Thank you for reaching out to me for audiobook production, and best of luck to you.
P.S. To those of you who have a podcast, merely saying “I don’t own the copyright to music used in my show” does NOT grant you permission to use copyrighted music in your show without seeking permission, either.
But that’s for another conversation.
If you have written excellent an excellent Christian non-fiction book, especially one in the charismatic or Pentecostal niche but that isn’t flaky and/or heretical, and would like to hire me to be your book’s narrator voice, read more info about my rates, samples, and minimum requirements at this link.
Serious enquiries only, and I don’t work for royalty-share or as a volunteer “for a heavenly reward.”