By April Miller
The audiobook sector is perhaps one of the most popular and fastest-growing segments of the publishing industry. Audiobooks, in the past, were not as much of an attractive investment for indie authors and trade publishers as they are today. The costs of producing, shipping, and creating tapes or CDs were high. Moreover, some books had to be shortened to fit on a tape or CD.
Thanks to technology, the self-publishing game has changed. People listen to audiobooks every day on various platforms. According to Statista, audiobook sales increased from $0.94 to $1.3 billion from 2018 to 2020. The audiobook industry provides numerous opportunities for self-publishing authors. So, you must be wondering if it’s right for you.
1. Determine Whether the Audiobook Industry Is Right for You
If you are interested in self-publishing, two factors can make you a strong candidate for this industry. First, it helps if you have a strong narrative. Second, you appeal to a wide audience.
A strong narrative suggests you have a compelling storyline – whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. The books that perform well in this industry are biographies, memoirs, and business.
Being appealing to a specific audience is also key. If you have a precise target audience, this would be considered a niche.
One thing you’ll also want to consider is the costs. Producing an audiobook can cost anywhere between $150 and $500, whereas a production company can cost up to $5,000. In addition, it can be hard work. So, ask yourself if it’s worth it to you.
2. Find Where to Publish
ACX by Audible
ACX is a publishing platform from Audible where you can post your project and host auditions for narrators. It also allows you to manage your project and publish the finished product to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.
Once you find what you’re looking for in a producer, you have two options for payment:
- Pay a reduced upfront fee and split 50% of royalties.
- Pay full costs upfront and keep 100% of royalties.
Findaway Voices is a solid choice, giving you more freedom while paying a small cost. This platform makes it easy for authors to sell their audiobooks across markets for retailers, libraries, and schools. Unlike ACX, you have more control over your pricing—the only costs you hand over are 20% of your royalties.
Findaway Voices can be exclusive for distribution. Or, you can manage it all from one place, allowing you to match up with audiobook producers.
3. Prep Your Transcript
Typically, an author will have a published print or ebook available. So, the manuscript should already have the final edits and proofreading. If not, you can hire an editor through freelance platforms like Fiverr or Upwork to produce the work for you. Just be sure you make arrangements for this before creating your transcript.
If you already have the manuscript, you can leave it up to the producer for how they will deliver your passages. You just have to ensure you have all the text you want for recording. Audiobooks can either be abridged or not. It depends on whether you like it shortened or want the full audio version of the published book.
Remember: the longer your book is, the more hours it takes to produce the audio—costing you more. So, it might be worth creating an abridged version. If you do so, aim to shorten the manuscript by at least 30% or more.
4. Locate a Narrator
This part may be more complicated than it sounds, but you want to find a narrator who can bring your book to life. When hiring a voice actor, you should know what to look for in terms of style and tone for your characters.
If you’re working with a production company, they’re most likely to send you a match. However, if you’re searching for a voice actor yourself, you can check freelance websites. But you’ll have to be detailed in your assessment for the narration.
Furthermore, you’ll want to know what they include in your signed contract. If you decide to hire a freelancer, find out exactly what the producer will deliver.
If you find it’s worth narrating the book yourself, most of the supplies you’ll need to record include:
- Microphone and stand
- Pop filter
- Recording software
One other thing to consider is soundproofing your home. If noise travels well across the room, you can adjust the sound waves by laying down rugs and carpet tiles or installing acoustic foam tiles on the walls.
5. Review the Recordings and Offer Feedback
Once you’ve spoken with the narrator about your book and style, you can let the production company create the finished product.
If you’ve hired a freelancer, you’ll want to set time aside to play all the audio files. This will ensure there are no mistakes, sudden background noise, or inconsistencies in the way the characters talk. If you hear a mistake, be sure to offer feedback on what you’d like fixed and send it back to the narrator.
6. Engineer Your Audio Files
Once you have the audio recording, the production company will edit the sound files for a final cut. However, if you’re engineering the sound files, this process involves mastering the voice, mixing the music, and refining the overall sound.
A few tips for editing include ensuring that volumes are consistent and removing any harsh noises and mouth sounds. You’ll also want to ensure each chapter has its own file labeled with section headings.
7. Design Your Audiobook Cover
You can either design the audiobook’s cover yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Of course, a good cover design will be invaluable to your promotion strategy. How much you entice listeners to preview your recording sample will depend on how well you make the cover stand out.
Essentially, the audiobook cover should look like the original paperback or ebook. However, you want the dimensions to fit the square specs provided by the major audiobook platforms.
8. Promote Your Audiobook
These days, many authors overlook branding and marketing—a necessity for success. Ensure you spend time creating a marketing plan to reach your target audience and obtain your audiobook goals.
Most listeners find an audiobook worth reading by looking at reviews. If you can find someone willing to give you an honest review, potential readers will be more inclined to listen. Furthermore, giveaways of your audiobook are also a great way to generate feedback and word-of-mouth buzz.
Becoming a Self-Published Author
Audiobook production is no easy feat. It requires a time commitment, money, and perseverance. However, the audiobook publishing industry provides you with significant opportunities for launching your book and making more sales.
As well as being a senior writer at ReHack Magazine, April Miller is an avid follower of current publishing trends and technologies. You can find her work on sites such as KnowTechie, Open Data Science, and the Society of Women Engineers.