Do you have a book out on the market? Self-published or traditional you need an audio book to compliment it. Audio books are gaining traction every day and the demand is growing at a tremendous rate. So how do you go about getting your novel into this medium? Here are a couple of beginner guides for doing just that. Personally I have a book coming out in November-December time frame and once it drops I am going straight to Amazon and utilizing their audio book service called ACX. Hope you enjoy and here is a short video on ACX😊
One of the most compelling reasons to publish your book in audiobook form is to expand the potential reach. As WD author Jessica Kaye shares in the opening paragraphs of her book The Guide to Publishing Audiobooks, audiobooks are reaching more people than ever. Here are her thoughts about why you might consider self-publishing your own audiobook.
Why Produce Audiobooks?
At the time of this book’s original publication in 2019, every year for the past six years, audiobook sales have been on an upward trajectory. They continue to be a bright spot in publishing, even as other areas slow down. The 2017 sales survey results released by the Audio Publishers Association, or APA, of which you will hear more later in the book, showed a 22.7 percent increase in audiobook revenue over the previous year, with an increase of 21.5 percent in units sold.
Audiobooks have made such an impact in their visibility that The British Library in London had an exhibit titled “Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound” that ran from October 6, 2017, through May 13, 2018. It was not about the spoken word alone, but that was a part of it.
So here you are, at the cusp of rising sales and increased publicity for the very thing you were thinking would be a smart addition to your business. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, according to some interpretations of the words of the ancient Roman Seneca. Echoing those thoughts centuries later, Branch Rickey has been oft quoted as saying, “Luck is the residue of hard work and design.” Being in the right place at the right time is a more prosaic way of saying something similar. Those words apply to you, today.
SELF-PUBLISHING AUDIOBOOKS FOR NONTRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS AND INDIVIDUALS
The burgeoning of digital recording and distribution, and the consequent diminution in cost of production have allowed authors to transition to self-publishers without the stigma that self-publishing carried in past years. The companies that catered to self-published authors used to be called vanity presses—a pejorative term, at least in the eyes of those in the publishing business. These companies offered authors the ability to see their books in print, but with the catch that it was the author who paid for that metamorphosis from manuscript to bound book, unlike with traditional publishers. Often vanity presses were for works that were not well written, not well edited, and would not have been produced without the services of the vanity press. At other times, they were used for books the authors intended for a specific and limited audience, such as family members. In the past, as today, there were good books that never found a home with a legitimate publisher, just as there are countless talented musicians who never find a record label willing to produce and sell their music. Vanity presses allowed these authors to at least have copies of their books printed. By and large, however, to be self-published was formerly a means of last resort.
That is no longer the case.
A number of authors are turning to self-publishing for various reasons including having the revenue from book sales come directly to them, being able to choose the cover, the timing of publication, and the formats—e-book, hardcover, paperback, audiobook, enhanced e-book. There are also many writers who choose to self-publish because they tried their luck with agents or traditional publishers without the desired results. Some of you who have picked up this guide have already been published by a third-party publisher and now are thinking of doing it yourself. Some of you have already published books on your own and want to branch into audiobook publishing. Some of you have already published or produced audiobooks and want to get better at it and do more of it. No matter the reason you are considering publishing an audiobook, your goal should be to make it a good audiobook. If you don’t want that, why do it at all?
And that’s why this book exists: to serve as your guide to publishing a good audiobook. After all, your reputation and your sales depend on the quality of your work.
Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry. For indie authors or traditionally published authors who have retained their audio rights, now may be the perfect time to consider creating your own audiobooks. Here’s your how-to guide to DIY audiobooks.
If you haven’t heard, audiobooks are the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry. People are listening to books on their phones in the car, while commuting on public transportation, exercising, gardening, cooking and the list goes on. According to the Audio Publishers Association (APA), audiobook sales in 2017 totaled more than $2.5 billion, up 22.7% percent over 2016, and unit sales were up 21.5% percent. The most popular genres continue to be mystery/thriller/suspense, sci-fi/fantasy and romance.
For indie authors or traditionally published authors who have retained their audio rights, now may be the perfect time to consider creating your own audiobooks. Before you dive in, here are some things to keep in mind.
Is Audio Right for You?
Do You Have the Rights?
Audiobook sales are growing, but that doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. If you are traditionally published, read over your contract or talk to your agent regarding the audio rights. If your publisher holds them, it’ll be up to them whether or not they want to exploit that opportunity (though you can certainly make your wishes known—best done through your agent, if you have one). If the rights remain yours, then the decision of whether or not you’d like to pursue the format is yours, too. And for self-published authors, of course, it’s all up to you.
What is Your Genre?
Certain fiction genres perform better than others as audiobooks. Investigate yours: Look at how flooded the bestselling audio lists are in your category, whether or not the same handful of bestsellers dominate there, and how many titles are performing exceptionally well. For example, romance readers are huge consumers of digital content in the genre sometimes consuming two, three or four a month.
Do You Have an Audience?
As with other areas of publishing, a platform is an early key to success—and the stronger your platform in other formats, the better your chances of succeeding in a new one. If you have an ebook that has a strong following and is doing well on digital platforms, investing in creating an audiobook makes sense.
Create Your DIY Audiobook
It’s easier than ever to create and release an audiobook DIY style, and new platforms spring up regularly. For a full-length novel, you can expect to pay, on average, $1,500–$3,000 for your audiobook. Here’s a look at some of the current leaders on the field:
In 2016, ListenUp partnered with Canadian-based ebook platform Kobo to offer special discounts to Kobo Writing Life authors interested in turning their ebook content into audiobooks. ListenUp was developed as a way to extend to independent authors the same services they offer to major publishers at a reasonable cost. They can help you choose a narrator, produce the book and make it available on the various audiobook platforms. Authors retain the rights and receive eighty percent of the royalties for each sale.
Based in Ohio, Findaway Voices helps authors with each step along the way. After you create your account and provide the information about your book, the Findaway team provides you with 5-10 narrator choices. Once you make your choice, the book is produced (takes about 6-8 weeks). Then you can have Findaway distribute it to their 29 different channels or you can take care of it on your own. Authors retain the rights and receive eighty percent of the royalties for each sale.
This is Amazon’s platform that offers an indie audiobook service similar to that of self-publishing an ebook through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). You can narrate the project yourself or hire your own voice artist. Once created, these audio titles are distributed through Audible, Amazon and iTunes.
With ACX, all of the choices require a seven-year commitment. Exclusive contracts get a higher royalty payout (40% of retail sales), but the audiobooks can’t be published on any other platforms apart from Amazon/Audible. With the non-exclusive option the royalty is lower (25% of retail sales), but authors can publish through other venues. There’s also a royalty share option, popular among those with smaller budgets, for which the narrator/producer and the author split the 40% royalties 50/50, with no upfront costs.
How to Reach More Listeners
Once you have your audiobook available on the different platforms, here are a few ideas for ways to reach more listeners:
Link to your audiobook on your website (include sample)
Pitch your audiobook to sites specific to audiobooks (audiobooks.com and audavoxx.com)
Pitch to podcasts
BookBub ebook promotions can spike audiobook sales
Audiobook popularity continues to rise, so now may be the perfect time to provide your readers with the audiobook versions of your stories.
I heard Don Katz, the CEO of Audible.com speak at the London Book Fair back in April. He explained the huge growth in audiobook consumption and said that there are simply not enough audiobooks to satisfy the demand.
But how do you actually get your book into audio format? Author and guest blogger Brendan Foley explains his journey and I’ve added a couple more options at the bottom of the article as this is a topic I am fascinated with and will soon be exploring further.
An audio book by accident
My latest exploration into publishing comes in the form of audio. It all happened from a chance encounter with a good friend who confessed that he hadn’t read my book (an all too familiar situation for an author!). When I pressed him he had a great excuse; “it’s my eyes you see, I find reading tiring, but I have to say that instead, I now listen to audio books. Have you ever considered doing one?”
In truth I hadn’t and until recently I didn’t listen to audio books either. WOW I didn’t realize what I was missing! With my hectic schedule I suddenly found that while driving or doing the washing up I could listen to an audio book. I feel like I’ve cheated time and stolen a few minutes each time I do. If you are not listening to audiobooks I urge you to give them a try.
After trawling my contacts, a friend suggested that I contact a London based audio book company Creative Content run by two wonderful ladies Lorelei and Ali, to see if they had an interest in publishing. As it happened they did.
My first job was to travel to London and do a reading audition. It’s remarkable when you put on the cans (headset) and start to read your own words aloud. You suddenly realize the mammoth task that lies ahead of you.
For a start, how you read in your head and reading aloud have totally different punctuation and timing. You also become aware of how localized your speech is. As an Irish man I gave the UK director and sound man a few giggles when pronouncing “tree hundread and tirty tree!”. However I got through the audition and got the part to play myself.
Tough but rewarding
A few weeks later I recorded ‘The 5 States of Success’ over two days. It was a mammoth task and one that completely took me by surprise in terms of how much energy, concentration and accuracy was required. I won’t lie to you, like many things in the world of the writer, it was incredibly hard but also incredibly rewarding. Like the feeling you get when you’ve climbed a mountain or labored for some success.
So what did I learn? If you are going to create an audio book here are 10 things to consider;
To read or not to read? For a non-fiction piece it is best if the author reads to add authenticity while a fiction piece often is better read by an actor who can convey the different types of characters that you might have.
Scripting. You will need to rework your book as a marked up script where you add natural pauses and emphasize certain words. You may also have to rework clunky or long sentences.
Practice, Practice, Practice.You cannot practice your script enough if you are going to read your own work. Using Garage Band or audio software record yourself and then critique and rework pieces if required.
With a publisher?I was lucky and got a publisher but then I also wanted to get their scripting, directing, recording and post-production skills. Unlike traditional print houses audio publishers understand digital, therefore I believe are more open to record an indie book that is doing well.
The indie route?With modern software it’s easy to record your audio book so going it alone is an option. However good post-production is needed and you’ll need a content aggregator to upload it to iTunes and Audible, etc.
Have fun! Audio allows you to express your fun side either with your own voice over or through an actor. You also get the richness of emotion conveyed in a way that is hard to do in print.
Beyond CD’s.CD’s got scratched and were clunky to warehouse and because of cost most books were abridged. With modern MP3 files all these challenges are overcome and whether you record yourself or professionally it’s easy to sell and distribute audio books.
Scope.The audio book market now includes not just iTunes and Amazon, but companies like Overdrive that service the library market and colleges. You can get your book featured as part of in-flight entertainment on long haul flights. You can get your book preloaded on MP3 players and so on.
Accessibility. For vision impaired people, those with low reading skills, people without English as their first language, commercial travelers and sales people and many, many more suddenly can access your work. As well as all those who simply prefer the audio format.
A hardcore market. Just like ebooks in the beginning had a hardcore following there is a huge dedicated audio book market that is really only receiving top selling titles. I believe it’s only matter of time before there is a large indie audio following. Stake your claim quick!
I hope that you have found this useful and thought provoking. I hope that you will be encouraged to leverage the great work you may already have written into a new medium. As always live and write with meaning!
… and now some extra material from Joanna.
Introducing ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange
Audible has recently set up ACX which is a marketplace for authors, narrators and audio producers, with the intent to have more audio created and published. If you own the rights to your work, you can submit it here or make some deals to get it produced.
Another fantastic resource for audiobooks is Podiobooks, where you can get serialized audiobooks in a podcast format. You can also record and submit your own books here, another means of marketing. Check out the For Authors page if you want to submit.
Podcasting Fiction to New York Times Bestseller
I know a number of fiction authors who have turned their podcasting success into traditional book deals. I’ve also interviewed quite a few of them. Here’s some further interviews and articles if you’re keen to find out more.
Scott Sigler on how to be a NY Times bestselling author. Scott still podcasts his fiction every week. He is a legend.
Crime writer Seth Harwood on new publishing paradigms and author marketing. Seth recently announced a deal
Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine. Steampunk, writing a series and traditional publishing. Both Pip & Tee started with podcasting and now have stacks of book deals!
J.C.Hutchins on writing thrillers and publishing success for 7th Son, the most downloaded fiction podcast – it’s amazing!