The problem was I had an e-book, hardcover book, and softcover book, but I had not taken the time to produce an audiobook. I finally decided to make it happen. After all audiobook popularity is growing rapidly, so why not?!
The first thing I did was became clear on my personal pros and cons for moving forward with an audiobook. Then I created a budget for how much an audiobook would cost to produce and, most importantly, I became crystal clear on the specific process for audiobook upload requirements to help me decide on how to create my audiobook.
Basically there are two ways to create an audiobook: have it done for you professionally or do it yourself.
You might think as a book publisher we would automatically recommend hiring professionals to create your book, but that is not the case. The decision should be based on your goals for the audiobook, your time, your talents, and your budget. The good news is that it is much easier now to create an audiobook than it ever has been before.
A second bit of good news is that nowadays you have a choice of several platforms to distribute your audiobook to waiting audiences!
Let’s take first things first: Will you hire the book done or do it yourself? I spoke earlier of getting very clear on your goals for creating this book to help you make this decision.
Let’s say you are or want to be a professional speaker. It would make sense then for you to narrate your own book—to let your speaker voice be heard! The effort will pay you in dividends if you do it well!
On the other hand, maybe your thing is writing and the thought of having to “perform” your book vocally turns your blood to ice. Maybe you would be very happy to hire or share royalties with a professional narrator to voice your story to the world.
I will tell you that it was easy for me to decide to narrate my own book because that book is a big part of my professional speaking business. But you have to make your own decision!
As a side note, preparing my book to be read and then reading it myself was an unexpected and extraordinary experience for me as a speaker. The process helped me reconnect with my book content.
There are several options for how to create an audiobook. You certainly can do it ALL on your own, you can do parts of the process and hire parts of the process, or you can hire it all out.
If you hire it out, you will be paying a studio for their recording setup and time. You will be paying someone to edit all your recorded files and for their time to upload files until you meet the upload requirements for your chosen platform. And you will be paying a lot of money for someone to narrate your book.
Of course having someone else do the work saves you time, but their billable hours will quickly add up into the hundreds and very likely thousands of dollars.
Or you can narrate your book and hire out the tech aspects, balancing money and time.
In my opinion, the pros of DIY far outweigh any cons, especially for book narration.
I had minimal prior experience starting off with narration and editing, but I didn’t let that hold me back. After only a few hours of watching tutorials and making some test recordings, I was ready—no professional recording studio, narrator, or editor needed—this not only saved me thousands but it also made me feel even more proud about my audiobook experience!
Once your “how” to create your audiobook decision is made, you have to decide one more thing before you jump into production. That decision is where you will upload your completed audio files for distribution. In our Write Way Audiobook Tip Sheet, we provide links to several available platforms for you to explore.
Two of the most well-known are ACX/Audible (owned by Amazon) and Findawayvoices.com. They each have their own requirements for audio files, as do the other platforms, so that is why it is important to make your platform decision before recording begins—so you do it right!
The sites also have different requirements for royalties, distribution, and exclusivity. I’ll share more on this in Part II when we talk “tech.”
If you plan to host/sell your audiobook files on your own website rather than through Audible, for example, then be very aware about the pros and cons of this strategy. The audience you’ll be missing from not being on Amazon might be far greater than your limited circle, respectfully.
I’ve seen this done both ways, and I’ve never met someone who recorded an audiobook and earned massive book sales hosting it solely on their own site. If you’ve done it, I’d be happy to hear from you and showcase you in a newly created Part IV for this series!
Before we talk details and step-by-step actions, let’s get solid on the “why” to go to the trouble/expense of creating an audiobook. First and foremost, if you are an aspiring author, current author, or speaker, having an audiobook will impact your book sales and your paid speaking engagements. I’m living proof. I have sold many thousands of books through my speaking and been hired for major speaking events because of my signature book!
An audiobook is simply an additional way for a consumer to “consume” your book knowledge—give them options to consume your book the way they prefer—print, digital, or audio.
Many people are only audiobook listeners right now. Life is busy and they don’t have “time to read.” But because they have a 45-minute+ commute to work each day, they have “time to listen!” I know several people who listen to 2-3 audiobooks per week simply driving to/from work.
Based on statistics from Pew Research, we that that an estimated 67 percent of Americans purchase e-books, audiobooks, or both!
So don’t think of your book preferences, think of your potential consumer’s preferences. If you don’t read e-books or listen to audiobooks, then fine. That’s your preference. Keep buying print books and enjoy them!
But if you’re an author, you should have print, e-book, and audiobook formats available if you’re serious about exposure for your book and book sales.
In Part II of this series, “The Audiobook Decision,” I’m going to walk you through each step of actually creating an audiobook. Whether you do it on your own or have someone else do it for you, you still need to know the steps! Stay tuned for Part II!