Should I create audiobooks of my novels?

Most of my own “reading” nowadays is via audiobooks, which I listen to on my endless commute. There are pros and cons to this approach, but in my experience a good narrator can greatly increase my enjoyment of a book. (The main disadvantage is that it’s hard to skim an audiobook.)

It’s not especially hard to create audiobooks nowadays. ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, provides all the resources an author needs–especially the ability to hook up with appropriate narrators. So I just need to decide whether it’s worth the time and money.

The money part is straightforward–narrators charge “Per Finished Hour”, which includes narration, engineering, corrections, and so on. (Many narrators do their own engineering.) So, if your audio book is seven hours long, and the narrator charges $200 per finished hour, you pay $1400.

Depending on the model you choose, you might get as much as 40% of the retail price as a royalty from Audible, the top audiobook vendor. If they charge, say, $20, that’s $8 per book. That’s a breakeven point of about 175 copies–which is not an insignificant number.

On the other hand, there’s synergy and cross-sales and all that good stuff. Maybe audiobooks will help increase my ebook or print book sales. Or maybe not.

Help me out here.