How to publish an audiobook: Everything you need to know

How to publish an audiobook: Everything you need to know

I got my story as an ebook and printed book. Should I make an audiobook too?

Maybe you ask yourself this question whenever you come across other authors’ audiobooks. The answer is short: If you have such an opportunity, YES. After all, the audio gives additional chances to reach a wider audience, which means more fans, popularity, and sales.

Today, we are here to tell you more about how to publish an audiobook, from recording to promotion. Let’s start!

How does audiobook growth continue?

The latest annual survey by the Audio Publishers Association has revealed a double-digit increase in audiobook sales. The 28 member companies reporting to the APA had income gains of 25% in 2021, bringing the estimated industry total to $1.6 billion in 2021. Thus, the 2021 jump in audiobook sales shows an increase of 12% than in 2020.  Audiobook titles published in 2021 also increased to nearly 74,000 titles, a 6% increase over 2020. The most popular genres among audiobooks are science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, suspense, and romance.

What about Spotify?

Spotify entered the audiobook arena last year and bought Findaway, an audiobook distributor. Everyone can listen to stories for a subscription as podcasts or music. However, this year the situation is going to change. The owners of Spotify plan to sell audiobooks separately from the subscription. It will likely be a dedicated store where users will pay for the titles.

CEO Daniel Ek noted that audiobooks would be a massive opportunity in their many forms. Therefore, the company will use this chance to the maximum and play to win.

In June 2022, Spotify also acquired Sonantic, specializing in AI-generated text to voice production. It opens up great opportunities since Audible has not been their failure to accept AI-narrated audiobooks. If Spotify starts doing this, it will be a huge move. 

However, Spotify is still a newcomer to the audiobook world. Now, to sell your book here, you should use the services of Findaway Voices. Perhaps Spotify will offer additional features for authors in the future.

Why should you publish an audiobook?

Even if you don’t write science fiction or romance, audiobooks are a great way to get more readers. They allow you to reach a larger audience. Some people don’t like or don’t have time to read, but listening to a story can be an excellent alternative.

Modern people like to listen to audiobooks because of their ability to multitask. They can listen to their favorite stories while walking, cleaning, cooking, playing sports, or relaxing. Today, people don’t need a separate record player, as a mobile phone is enough.

Self-publishing an audiobook: Where to start?

The audiobook publishing process includes recording the story, its distribution, and promotion. Also, as with traditional publishing, don’t forget about audiobook cover design.

Let’s start with the recording.

Recording

First of all, the voice strongly affects the popularity and desire to listen to the book. It can both attract readers and repel all kinds of desires. Of course, recording a story yourself is much cheaper than hiring a professional narrator and a studio. However, considering the above factor, evaluate your abilities and decide: Is the result worth the savings?

While you’re thinking, we’ll tell you about both recording options.

Independent recording

First of all, it’s a great way to save money. After all, the most considerable expense is the purchase of a microphone. Unfortunately, the voice recorder on the phone will not work. Also, you may need to buy some audio editing software or hire a professional to remove mouth sounds and noise.

Here are some tips to make your self-recording as successful as possible:

  • Warn your family and roommates that you are recording an audiobook.
  • Turn off unnecessary appliances and close windows and doors.
  • Don’t move because the distancing and approaching of the announcer’s voice will be noticeable on the recording.
  • If you make a mistake or get stuck, rerecord the chapter again.
  • Read from an electronic device; otherwise, you will have to remove the sound of rustling pages manually.
  • Be patient.

We also have prepared a list of equipment that will come in handy:

Thus, the cost of self-recording an audiobook can be close to $300 or more.

If we talk about the average 70,000-word novel, its audio version lasts about 10 hours. To record such a book, add at least another 10 hours, considering the rerecording of some parts and editing. Be ready for it.

Professional narrator

If you are not confident in your abilities or do not have time, it makes sense to hire a professional narrator. Upwork says such services will cost $25–$55 per hour. You can also search for the perfect narrator on the Voices website, where you can immediately listen to them speak.

How do you find the perfect narrator for your book?

  • Consider your target audience. If you’re writing children’s books, a gruff male voice is unlikely to be what you need. And vice versa: A gentle female voice is not the best option if you write detective stories or suspense.
  • Explore previous work. Perhaps some narrators have already had experience with your genre.
  • Ask the potential narrator to read 1 chapter of the book. You may have to pay extra for this. But this way, you will better understand whether a professional is right for you.

After recording the book, you have to edit the audio. In particular, pay attention to the following points:

  • Make sure all chapters are separate files.
  • All volumes are in the same range.
  • There are no extra noises and mouth sounds.

Before you distribute your book, make sure you have a stunning cover. First, it should match your genre and catch readers’ eyes. You can choose one of the different types of design: Stock photo manipulation, illustrated cover, 3D modeling, or premade book cover. 

Secondly, the audiobook cover has its technical requirements. At the same time, each platform may have its peculiarities. Here are the general rules:

  • Size: 2400 pixels x 2400 pixels
  • File size: less than 5 MB
  • Format: JPG format
  • Resolution: 72 pixels per inch (ppi) minimum
  • Color: 24 bits per pixel minimum (8 bits per channel), RGB
  • Contents: Title and author’s name are obligatory. Also, you can add the narrator’s name or slogan.

Given a large number of features, it makes sense to hire a professional designer who will make a suitable cover at once, considering all the parameters.

Also, don’t forget to include a book description that will help potential listeners decide to choose your story.

How to distribute your audiobook?

There are online platforms where you can upload and publish your audiobook. Let’s discover the most popular of them.

ACX

ACX is an Audible company owned by Amazon. With it, you can distribute to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. However, keep in mind: Authors who publish through ACX cannot set the price of their audiobook. The company sets the following cost:

  • Under 1 hour: under $7
  • 1-3 hours: $7-10
  • 3-5 hours: $10-20
  • 5-10 hours: $15-25
  • 10-20 hours: $20-30
  • Over 20 hours: $25-35.

However, despite this limitation, ACX is a top-rated platform with many users who can become your potential listeners

ACX pros:

  • There are tons of resources to help self-narrators
  • ACX provides audio files
  • It allows hiring an ACX narrator
  • You can benefit from the Bounty Program.

ACX cons:

  • It pays low royalties
  • There is a lack of availability to markets outside the US and UK.

Kobo Writing Life

Kobo Writing Life allows self-publishers to download, promote, and sell eBooks and audiobooks. Self-publishers interested in promoting their audiobooks here will receive distribution on Kobo.com, Walmart, Indigo, and Bol.

As for the payment, audiobooks pricing is slightly more complicated than ebooks. The royalty percentage thresholds are as follows:

  • 35% royalties for audiobooks priced at $2.99 or lower
  • 45% royalties for audiobooks priced over $2.99.

Kobo Writing Life pros:

  • You can set your prices in 16 currencies
  • There are exclusive promotion services.

Kobo Writing Life cons:

  • Getting payment can be a long-term process.

Findaway Voices

Findaway Voices has built a reliable global distribution network covering more than 170 countries worldwide. The company has a unique partnership with Draft2Digital that allows authors to easily connect to Findaway Voices through their account and quickly start creating a new audiobook or distributing an existing one.

Findaway Voices pays authors 80% of the royalties they receive from retailers.

Findaway Voices pros:

  • It offers over 40 retail and library partnerships across the world
  • You can hire a professional narrator
  • There is a transparent pricing structure.

Findaway Voices cons:

  • If you already have a ready-made audio file, the system may offer to choose a narrator anyway. It will be necessary to solve this issue through technical support.

How to promote your audiobook?

Congratulations! Your book is ready and published. However, to listen to it, people should know about the audiobook existence. That is why promotion matters. Here are a few ways to do it.

Facebook groups

Social networks will come in handy. In particular, Facebook includes many groups dedicated to audiobooks, where subscribers share their finds and preferences:

Use this opportunity to offer your work. Don’t forget to include a short description of your story.

Podcasts

People who listen to podcasts are already part of your target audience who like to multitask: Listen to stories while doing things. So promoting audiobooks through podcasts makes sense. However, keep in mind that you have to pay for it. Here are some podcasts to look out for:

YouTube book reviewers

It’s another good channel for promoting audiobooks. Book bloggers have their influence, and thousands of followers listen to their opinions. In addition, there is a great chance to hit your target audience by choosing the right reviewer. You can also contact one of the most popular YouTubers, for example:

Conclusion

Can’t wait to start recording an audiobook? We are glad to hear that. Let’s summarize what you need to succeed.

First, it is quality audio with a great voice and diction without unnecessary noise. It depends on your capabilities and desires: You can record the book yourself or hire a professional narrator. Don’t forget to take care of a stunning audiobook cover and description.

Next, distribute your book using one of the online platforms, such as ACX, Kobo Writing Life, or Findaway Voices. Don’t forget to promote your book; otherwise, potential supporters won’t know about your incredible story. Use Facebook groups, podcasts, or book reviewers on YouTube.

Have you already had experience with audiobooks? What was the most challenging part? Please share with us in the comments.

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Glen Dahlgren
2 months ago

I recorded my own audiobooks, and I recommend doing it to every author that can. One comment about the article: don’t re-record the entire chapter if you make one mistake. I spend my recording time including lots of takes of various lines and then editing them into the perfect version of the chapter—but be prepared to spend a lot of time with editing software like GarageBand (free on Mac and probably the best tool for the job).

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