To obtain the audio rights on a book, you first have to learn who has the rights: the author, the literary agent or the print publisher. I have found that answering inquiries from individuals is not high on the agenda for some large print publishers. You may wish to start by querying the author about the rights. Like all other facets of your voice-over business and marketing, your research into audio rights may require persistence.
The author may need to research his/her contract. One author told me that she wanted to perform her book, so that’s another possibility that may occur. A literary agent told me that I may be able to offer the author something like $1000 for the audio rights If the author still controls them. However, I’m sure the exact amount depends on the author, the book’s popularity and each person’s skills as a negotiator.
Once you have the audio rights and are ready produce the recording, you also have to consider how you want to distribute the book. Will it be on-line, on CD or both? Books on CD require additional planning and money for the packaging. Will you pitch the book to an existing audiobook publisher who already has a distribution channel or forge your own path?
Recording and editing an audiobook to commercial standards requires a significant commitment of time. A commercial audiobook also requires time and expense for marketing. You may wish to perform books in the public domain for Librivox to gain experience and see how much you enjoy the process before deciding to pursue the acquisition of audio rights for a book. Also, many people gain experience and satisfaction out of volunteering for agencies that produce audio recordings for the blind and print-handicapped. You can search the Internet for locations in your area.
For additional questions about audiobook narration, I encourage you to read this post about getting started in audiobook narration. If you have more to add on the subjects of obtaining audiobook rights, audiobook distribution and audiobook marketing, I would love to hear from you! I encourage literary agents, authors, audio publishers and voice talent to leave comments so that we all can learn from each other.