How To Create Audiobooks
Audiobooks, along with ebooks, are an increasingly popular way to enjoy books in our busy, technology-saturated era. Offering your book in audiobook format is a great way to put your content in front of a new audience.
Audiobooks Fit Today’s Culture
Audiobooks are on the rise, according to data from the Association of American Publishers. It’s not surprising. We’re busier than ever. More than half of Americans have said in polls that they don’t read books because of time constraints. Audiobooks let you listen to books while going about other daily activities like commuting. What could be more ideal?
Self-publishing authors may either feel like a quality audiobook recording is out of their reach, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, may feel like it’s a project they can easily handle by themselves in their garage. The truth is somewhere in between.
With Izzard’s audiobook publisher services, including access to experienced, professional talent, you can easily produce a top-notch audiobook version of your book.
One of the first decisions to make is whether you, the author, or a professional narrator, should read your audiobook. Most readers prefer professional narration, according to research. The exception might be a personal or family memoir, which readers might enjoy hearing in the voice of the author.
However, it’s important to remember that recording audiobook narration can be more of a performance than a simple reading. Often, this is what appeals to your audience.
For our audiobook version of Bassam and the Seven Secret Scrolls, we hired Mark Deakins, who won Best Voice of 2010. His gripping performance helped the book to be selected as an Audible Hidden Gem, an annual sale featuring a title with high quality but minimal exposure so far. The quality of the narration makes all the difference for an audiobook.
Experience is one key to finding a quality narrator. Deakins has recorded narration for Penguin Random House and has a background in theater. Remember, fiction narration is truly a performance art, so this kind of experience can be very helpful. A good narrator will also spend time preparing, by studying the manuscript.
Not all books are ideal for an audiobook. As you might expect, reference books, image heavy books, cookbooks, and travel guides are not well suited to audio narration.
A lot of book genres are perfect for audiobooks – and not only fiction, also self-help books, history and biography, business, and health and fitness. But of course, fiction like mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, and fantasy are absolutely ideal for audiobook versions.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay for top professional recording at a rate of around $500 on up per finished hour (PFR). In the typical process used to record most audiobooks, you will first find a narrator, pay them to record the book, and then have the files mastered by a sound engineer, winding up with finished audio files that you will own the rights to.
In terms of final quality, the shortcut, self-recording, DIY option is risky to say the least. And in fact, to get the results you need through DIY, it can actually cost twice as much as a professional approach through an audiobook publisher.
When considering the price, it’s important to realize that it takes about six hours to produce a single hour of finished audio. It can take two hours to narrate what becomes one finished hour. Once recorded, an editor will spend about three hours on each finished hour. Quality control will take roughly another hour for each finished hour.
Setting a price limit of $50 PFH will not get you the kind of professional results that readers (or more accurately, listeners) will expect.
As with much of the publishing world, everything goes back to Amazon these days. Amazon owns Audible, and Audible owns the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). When you publish through ACX, your audiobook will be available on Amazon, Audible, and even Apple’s audiobook store.
ACX essentially handles the distribution while you retain the rights to your own work. In a similar way to Kindle Direct Publishing, this offers many of the benefits of self-publishing, but with the access to readers that was once only associated with traditional publishing.
With ACX, you’ll earn a 40 percent royalty from the amount that ACX earns on your audiobook. This means an audiobook priced at $14.95 can ultimately earn you $3 to $4. In contrast, a non-exclusive contract will earn just 25 percent. And remember, the exclusive deal will not only make your book available on Audible and Amazon, but also iTunes.
Finally, don’t forget the details. Your cover art will need to be formatted specifically for your audiobook offering, and ACX provides a detailed set of guidelines for what you will need.
As with other self-publishing, virtually anyone can publish an audiobook these days. But without the support of professionals like Izzard’s audiobook publisher experts, your audiobook is unlikely to offer the kind of quality that it will need to reach bestseller status.
As tempting as shortcuts are, and as accessible as they are in the age of Amazon, these details are what separate successful authors from simply “published” authors. This is at least as true, if not more so, for audiobooks.