There is no better time than now to get your self-published book converted into an audiobook. According to Writers Digest, “audiobooks are predicted to become a $19 billion dollar industry by 2027.” However, many self-published authors don’t know where to start when it comes to recording, producing, and distributing an audiobook. Although recording an audiobook can be a difficult process at times, it is worth the effort in the long run.
Benefits of Recording an Audiobook
Publishing an audiobook of your publication opens up doors to a whole new audience. Increasing accessibility to your book means increasing sales. People love to listen to their books at times when having a physical copy is not practical, such as during their commute to work or at the gym. Some people may never pick up a physical copy of your publication because they prefer to listen to their books. This is a huge group that you could be catering to if you publish an audiobook. Like ebooks and print on demand physical copies, an audiobook will never be out of stock. Customers will always have access to your publications if you release audiobooks. Audiobooks are just one of the many amazing ways to maximize book sales.
How to Record an Audiobook
The first step to recording an audiobook is picking a narrator. Your two options would be to self-narrate or to hire a narrator. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these options.
Self-narration is ideal for nonfiction publications because it can help build authenticity and credibility. Many readers enjoy hearing the author make their own points and speak their own words when listening to a book. According to Forbes, readers appreciate when authors are “adaptable in how [they] share [their] stories.” Recording an audiobook helps authors build their reputations and author brand in the industry.
However, self-narration can be very difficult. To physically record, you would need to either rent time in a professional studio (if you have the budget for it) or buy/rent higher-quality recording equipment to use in your own home. Renting time at a studio would be the easier option. However, if you choose self-narration, you would need at least a semi-soundproofed room, a microphone and filter, headphones, recording software, and a preamp.
Besides the space and equipment requirements, your diction, pacing, and ability to fluently read your book without stutters or mistakes impact the quality of the product and how well it will sell. Of course, you can re-record or edit out minor issues. However, it may impact the time and frustration of getting it just right. Since sound and vocal quality are of utmost importance, it’s not enough to simply read your book. You need to read it well.
Hiring a Narrator
Hiring a narrator is also a great option, especially for fiction publications. Hired narrators are trained to do different voices for different characters that you may not have training for. You can hire narrators through certain distribution platforms or through agency websites like Findaway Voices, Voices.com, or Audiofile. Before selecting a narrator through any of these mediums, ensure that you have heard an audition tape of them reading various sections from your book and are confident that they are right for the role.
Time-wise, if you self-narrate, you should expect to spend generally about 1-3 hours working on every 10,000 words depending on your pace and experience level. According to Backstage Magazine, if you choose to hire a narrator, you can expect them to take 5-6 days for a typical 10-hour-long audiobook.
How to Produce an Audiobook
You cannot simply submit raw recordings to an audiobook distribution platform. This is because most distribution platforms have strict quality standards, and your audiobook can be rejected if things like sound quality or narration are not up to par.
Ways to ensure that your audiobook has the best possible quality for your listeners is to hire an audio editor. An audio editor takes your raw recording and makes appropriate edits for things like pacing, flow, and overall consistency. They may also request re-records of certain sections if necessary and edit those sections before a final quality check and mastering.
If you choose self-narration, you also may want to consider recording a small portion of your book and sending it to a voice coach. Having a professional listen to your recording can be beneficial in many ways. They can give you advice on how to improve your narration and pick up on things that you may not if you have never recorded an audiobook before. For example, they may advise you to change up the pace that you read, how to pronounce certain sounds or letters more clearly, and where you should take a breath. The advice they give you could drastically increase the quality of the audio.
Selecting the Distribution Platform That is Right for You
There are so many ways to publish your audiobook, but this list breaks down some of the most popular platforms and what you could expect when working with each one.
Many authors choose to publish through Amazon ACX and Audible. This is a great option sales-wise because Amazon has a huge customer base, and you can select a narrator through their site. However, ACX does have downsides that authors new to audiobooks may be unaware of. For example, if you intend to use Amazon ACX, a physical or electronic version of your book must already be published through Amazon. The contracts with Amazon ACX could also be confusing; in order to make the most in royalties, many authors choose to sign exclusivity agreements and long contracts with Amazon. Signing an exclusivity agreement would give you 40% of your revenue, but going non-exclusive only garners 25% of the revenue from your audiobook.
Findaway Voices is also a very popular way to publish your audiobook. They have no exclusivity agreements, and the author receives 80% of all royalty receipts, while Findaway receives a distribution fee equal to 20% of royalty receipts. You can work with a narrator on the site or upload an existing audiobook file through Findaway as well. Many authors choose Findaway Voices as it is such a great option for beginners in audiobooks.
Whatever audiobook distribution platform you choose to use, whether it be ACX, Findaway, or another platform, ensure that you carefully read all distribution agreements and terms before agreeing to upload your audiobook to the platform.
The Bottom Line
In short, releasing an audiobook for your self-published work is a great way to increase access to your book and increase overall sales. But ultimately, deciding on recording an audiobook depends on your goals. With an average cost of between $1,000-$4,000 for professional narration and production, thoughtful consideration of potential sales is warranted. If you are a book marketing pro or intend to become one, the expense of producing an audiobook can be justified. If this is your first book of many, a multi-platform approach may be wise. You can always swing back to recording an audiobook once your print and/or ebook sales take off.
Though it may seem like an intimidating process at first, most distribution platforms are very easy to use for new authors, and there are so many online resources available for those who have more questions when it comes to audiobooks.