Authors, Grab Your Share of the Growing Audiobook Market

You’ve created print and electronic versions of your book. Congratulations. But why stop now and miss out on the $2.5 billion audiobook market?

“There is a growing perceived or actual ‘scarcity’ of time people feel they can spend sitting and reading,” says David Wolf, founder of audiobook production company Audivita Studios, “which presents an opportunity for authors across the spectrum.”

Including you. So, let your fans listen to your book while they’re running errands in the car, walking their dog in the park, riding the stationary bike at the gym, and drifting off to sleep.

Finding Your Voice (or Someone Else’s)

First, Wolf says, you’ve got to find the narrator, who may or may not be you, “based on the capacity of the author to actually perform the reading, which is not as easy as it seems.”

In the nonfiction world, if you are the voice of your brand, the recognizable connection to your market, then he recommends considering doing the narration. “Audivita has an efficient system to produce and record authors remotely from the comfort of their home or office. However, if you don’t have the time or the ability, or if it’s not critical that you are the voice, then consider hiring a voice actor.”

Audivita will do a casting call and hire a professional voice actor for you.

Then come

  • Post-production: Editing; removal of outtakes, retakes, and unwanted audio; and applying noise reduction, equalization, and audio compression
  • Final audio mastering process: Ensuring that the technical specifications comply with the requirements of Audible, Amazon, and iTunes
  • Uploading

The entire process, including designing the cover, takes six to ten weeks.

Going It Alone

If you plan to narrate on your own, you need the right resources and recording equipment:

“Most authors are not really equipped to handle the entire process themselves because of the audio post-production standards and specs. That said, I have worked with authors who have a high-quality microphone, a platform to record themselves doing the raw (source) recordings, and the ability to “self-produce” their own performance.”

If you’re one of these authors, you’ll leave your recording in a Dropbox folder set up for the project. Audivita will take it from there.

Recommended technology for the author-read scenario:

  • the AT2020USB microphone ($149 on Amazon)
  • a set of headphones or ear buds so authors can hear themselves in the headset while performing and take remote directions

For audio recording, he recommends software such as Audacity that is available for free online.

How Much Does Audiobook Publishing Cost?

Pricing strategies may differ among audio service providers. At Audivita, the quoted budget for the author-read option is $.10 per word.So, a 50,000-word book would cost $5,000 to produce, turnkey, including setting up the audiobook for online retail distribution.

Typically, narrator cost can range from $100 to $350 per finished hour of audio. The final finished running time for a 50,000-word book will be about 5.5 hours.  Many professional narrators include the editing and post production in that cost.

If they don’t include the editing and post production, that can take 32 hours at a studio hourly rate range of $50 to $100.

So, for a 50,000-word book, figure a ballpark total cost estimate might be $4,000 to $6,000, depending in part on whether Audivita casts talent or records the author remotely.

Uploading Your Files

When the final audio and cover files are ready, upload them to any of the over thirty retail distribution channels that support Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, and provide all the metadata. Avoid channels that require you to sign exclusive agreements.

With each one you use, you’ll want to set up an account for your audiobook like you did for your OD and ebook on Smashwords, Kindle, and IngramSpark (see “Independent Publishing: Are You Ready to Own Your Destiny?”).

Among the most popular platforms:

  • ACX:  Seen as a necessary platform because it provides to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. But don’t sign their exclusive agreement even though it guarantees you a higher royalty. Exclusivity means you can distribute only on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, and only through ACX.
  • Findaway Voices: Distribute to some forty audiobook retailers, including Apple, Scribd, Audible, Google Play, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Baker & Taylor. You can get onto Findaway’s distribution network and earn 80% royalty from all sales even if they don’t produce your audiobook.
  • Authors’ Republic: An aggregate distributor. You go to them with your completed audiobook and they distribute it. They pay 70% royalties across over fifty channels, including Audible,, and iTunes.

No matter which platforms you use, you can also sell directly from your website. Unless you sign an exclusive agreement.

Charging for Your Audiobook

Name your price for audiobooks that you sell through your own private channels but, “Each retailer of your audiobook independently prices your product and determines such price in their sole discretion.”

Pricing on Audible, for instance, is generally based on audiobook length, from $7 for under an hour to $25 to $35 for over 20 hours.  

Selecting an Audiobook Company

In selecting an audiobook company, look for referrals from other authors. Call the company to ask questions. Make sure you have a comfort level and confidence with the process, the people, and the budget.

Do as much as you can on your own but don’t nickel-dime. You don’t want your independently produced audiobook to look independently produced.

Remember: An audiobook requires its own ISBN. (See “Own Your Own ISBN and Barcode”.)

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This piece was adapted from Ken Wachsberger’s You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You. Ken’s other books may be found here and here. For book coaching and editing help, or to invite Ken to speak at your meeting, email Ken at [email protected].

Schedule your complimentary 30-minute coaching and editing session now.

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