Your self-published book is finally finished. You lovingly and painstakingly nurtured it over many months, maybe even years, transforming it from a few scrawled notes into a sleekly bound thing of beauty. There’s nothing quite like holding a copy in your hands, reading through it a few dozen times, and feeling enormously proud.
Well, actually, there is something like it… hearing it as an audiobook.
I recently recorded my self-published book, Let It Out, about my approach to singing, and then released it for sale on Amazon. Here are some things I learned along the way about creating an audiobook.
Which Way Do You Go?
Right off the bat, I’ll say that making an audiobook is not for every author. But bear in mind that audiobook sales continue rising and are outperforming print sales. People are more plugged into their electronic devices than ever and are listening to a lot of books.
The question becomes how to go about creating and narrating your audiobook. You have a few options:
- Do it all yourself – recording, editing, equalization, uploading.
- Record your voice and have another person edit the tracks.
- Hire a studio and engineer.
- Have someone else narrate and produce it.
Producing and #narrating your #audiobook isn't for every #indieauthor> Is it for you?
I went with option one. I already had the equipment (nothing fancy) and I kept full creative control. Just know that this option takes time. A lot of it.
There’s a big learning curve. But it’s not impossible. Many people have done it. Why not you?
Just set aside plenty of time. It won’t take anywhere near as long as writing your book, but allow a few weeks to a few months. My audiobook took ten weeks, working part-time.
I’ll cover DIY first and talk about hiring a studio and auditioning voice actors a bit later.
Narrate Your Audiobook Yourself
Recording your book with your own voice lends your work authenticity and “genuineness”. You get to do it all your way.
But DIY means what it says. You produce the entire project. You do everything, unless you can pay someone to help or maybe exploit a family member.
The Time Factor
If your book is 40,000 words, that translates into about 4.5 to 5 hours of finished recordings. (My own book is 53,000 words and the audiobook running time is 5 hours 40 minutes.) But you will be narrating for much longer than 5 hours. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll rework some sections, you’ll start again after interruptions.
Then there’s the many hours of editing and EQ work and mastering. For every hour of raw material, allow 5 to 6 hours of editing.
Before You Begin
Decide which platform(s) you want to use for selling your audiobook. There are many and their numbers are growing. Each has its own rules about how much you’ll earn and technical specifications for recordings.
I used ACX because it’s part of Amazon, the largest distributor of them all. People download the audiobooks through Audible. (By the way, distributors set the selling price for you based on running time. Saves you figuring it out.)
When you're ready to begin narrating your audiobook, here's what you need:
Good Tips From Those Who Have Done This Before
When You Think You're Done
Before you upload, listen to the entire thing again and follow the text. For example, I found that I had been inconsistent with the gaps between sentences from one chapter to the next.
Hiring a Studio
A studio costs around $100 to $200 an hour, sometimes more. And editing takes about five times longer than the time spent recording the raw material. If you’re in the position where you can afford that, you’re lucky. Be prepared to spend at least $5,000.
If that cost doesn’t deter you, or your printed book sales are strong enough that it’s a worthwhile investment, you’ll get a professional audiobook product much quicker than you could do yourself.
Many authors aren’t confident in their abilities to record and produce their audiobooks. Or they don’t like their own voice in recordings. So they go on ACX and ask registered voice actors on there to audition. (As a singer and vocal coach, I’m accustomed to voice work and have no problem hearing myself on recording.)
As the author, you get to choose from the auditions you receive and negotiate a contract. You can even request specific voice types, accents, energy levels, characteristics, etc. Contracted actors not only supply the vocal recordings using their own setups, they are also producers responsible for quality products. So choose wisely.
You decide how an actor/producer gets paid, likely based on sales you make. Choose between flat rate per finished hour of material and royalty share.
If nobody auditions, there are a few possible reasons:
Good luck with your audiobook. You can do it! Just allow time and enjoy learning the process.
As always, when in doubt, talk to the best in the indie publishing help game to give yourself the best chance of emerging with a brilliant print book, eBook, and audiobook.