Can You Hear Me Now? Let’s Take a Look at Audio Books

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane

 

It’s been awhile since I looked into the current details on creating an audio book. With self-publishing, authors have options these days and I have created my own audio book after a publisher forgot to add those subsidiary rights to the contract. It was a great learning experience and I worked through ACX, which was the first and only way to self-pub in audio back then. These services can merge service providers (voice actors/narrators/production, distributors, & authors) and provide stock contracts between the parties and a means to communicate and create an audio book.

Nowadays, there are more service providers and an author can even consider making their own recording. The first step is to confirm you have your audio subsidiary rights before you proceed with creating an audio book. But once you have done that and your rights are available, an author has options to produce and distribute their own audio book.

Here’s what I learned:

Below are a few service providers for Audio Books to get you started. These are platforms that bring authors together with the people & services you will need.

SERVICE PLATFORMS

ACX.com is a marketplace that connects rights holders (authors, publishers, agents etc) with narrators and producers to enable audio book production. It’s an Amazon company and audio books produced through the site are sold on Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

FindawayVoices.com – can help match you with a narrator, or you can publish your own files separately. They have a royalty share option as well as a pay per finished hour contract. The big difference here is that you can set your own price AND set the price separately for retail and library markets. Plus you can use their Authors Direct app to sell audio direct to listeners.

KoboWritingLife – if you use Kobo to create your work, your audio book is eligible for different kinds of promotion. Kobo sells audio books to its readers, but Kobo also works with its sister company, Overdrive, for library distribution, as well as having distribution deals with Walmart and other companies. You can reach the same markets through Findaway but the additional promotion may make it worthwhile to go direct to KWL.

Do a Combo – A new author might choose to do a royalty split with a narrator/production company. It’s generally a more affordable option, but as far as opting for a wider distribution, you can choose a combo. You may choose to go through ACX but with a non-exclusive contract for Amazon/Audible distribution. You may find wider markets in Findaway Voices. NOTE: If you already have an exclusive royalty split agreement through ACX, you may decide to change that to non-exclusive at the time of renewal. You can download your audio file from ACX and transfer it to Findaway Voices when you have the rights to do it.

Whatever you opt to do, be sure you understand how your audio book will be distributed and how your royalties will apply over the long term.

AUDIO PRODUCTION

You have two choices for audio production. You can choose to record the book reading yourself OR you can hire a professional (and a service provider) to do it for you. Speaking as a former high school drama student, it’s tempting to try a recording, but I know better. Despite the benefits of an author knowing the material and hearing the dialogue in their mind, it takes a special kind of voice actor to pull off a great audio book. Merely reading the words is not enough.

For those of you willing to try it, here’s what you would need to do your own recording.

  • A quiet place to record
  • Equipment/Software
  • Time
  • Technical expertise

Depending on your budget, the equipment and software could be as little as $200, but the biggest investment will be in the time it will take you to not only produce a recording, but the effort to edit in post-production. According to Audible, an industry professional reads approximately 9400 words per hour. If your book is 90,000 words in length, it will take 9.57 hours to produce a recording, minimum. This is NOT a speed reading exercise. To be conservative, you should count on doubling that time to account for retakes, breaks between sessions, and allowing your voice time to recuperate.

I found this great link on How To Make an Audio Book: A Do It Yourself Guide. This is a detailed guide if you are serious about doing your own audio book. It goes into specifics of the equipment you should consider from your computer hardware to microphone, to recording environment, and software. The article goes into depth of one person’s experience and what they specifically used. Very cool. It even goes into suggestions on the opening and closing credits and talks about the image used for the distribution cover. There are also specifics on how to edit. Great stuff.

PROMOTION

FOR AMAZON/AUDIBLE – First off, it’s important for your audio book to appear on the book pages for your other formats. It’s not only important for readers to find all your formats, but if your audio is not linked in all formats, the Whispersync technology (a product of Amazon and Audible) won’t be synchronized between your ebook and audio. That’s a nice convenient feature for readers/listeners. PLUS, once Whispersync is available, the reader can purchase the audio book at a reduced price.

If your audio book is shown on an orphan page where it is not merged with the other formats of your book, send an email to KDP-support@amazon.com & include the links to the Amazon pages for all the formats.

SOUNDCLOUD – This is an app you can get on Google Play/Store that will feature an audio clip of your book once you become a member. It allows you to promote on social media and include a sound clip link to give readers as a sample. A sound clip can be an interesting way to attract new readers if you cross post it on social media and have it on your website book page.

Where to Market Your Audio Book on Facebook – There are a number of Facebook groups you can query to find sites to subscribe and promote your audio books. Here are a few:

Audio Book Addicts 6000+ members

Audio Books! Over 3 Million followers

Aural Fixation Over 3 Million Followers

Other AudioBook Promo Sites:

Audiobook Jukebox – submit your audio book for a review. Reviewers can request your audio book for a review, similar to Netgalley.

Audio Books Unleashed – You load your promotion codes for your freebie giveaways on the listing page, and the site gives one to each listener requesting the audio book.

AudioBookBoom – This is a site that’s the equivalent of BookBub but for audio books.

Audio Book Marketing Resource List – This is a huge list of sites where you can have your audio book reviewed or promoted. Tons of links and includes more Facebook gand Goodreads groups focused on audio books.

Paid Advertising:

BookBub has ChirpBooks, which is an audiobook promotion service for limited time price cuts. They are partnered with Findaway Voices because other distributors don;t allow you to set or change your prices for an audio book. You can sign up to be on the wait list on this page.

You can pay to advertise your audio book in AudioFile’s Indie Press Showcase.

I was amazed at all the new things online for authors who might want to retain their subsidiary rights for audio books. I listen to audio book almost every night. It’s a relaxing way to fall asleep – like someone reading you a bed time story in the dark. I also love that retailers, like Amazon, give readers a discounted price for the audio book addition to your library. I’ve gone back to my reading list to see if some of my fav authors have audio book sold at a good price. Things have definitely changed for the better for audio books.

For Discussion

This post is only the tip of an iceberg for all the resources available for audio books and an author’s options. If you have any audio book experiences or resources to share, please put them in your comments. 

Share some of your favorite voice actors/narrators.

Share some of your favorite audio books.

The Curse She Wore – Available for Pre-Order – Releases Feb 10, 2020.

Trespassing on Fate’s turf comes with a price for two broken people–a price they never see coming.

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

23 thoughts on “Can You Hear Me Now? Let’s Take a Look at Audio Books

  1. Jordan, I just wanted to pop in and tell you that I’m reading Blood Score right now, and I can’t put it down. A spicy thriller with a classical violinist… you had me at hello… lol.

    • Ha! Thank you, Joanne. I love the characters, especially Gabe. The Audible audio book of Blood Score has a very talented voice actor – James Patrick Cronin. What an actor! The first time I heard the opening chapter by Cronin, it gave me chills.

        • Finished the book in one sitting — very interesting characters all around. Great book, and I appreciated the clean, uncluttered writing style. Nice pacing. Glad that you made an audio version.

          Audio books are a great idea, particularly for elderly folks who were once avid readers but have developed issues with vision that make reading books tedious or impossible. Audio books are also great if one is busy and wants to listen to a little bit of a book while cooking dinner or performing some other household task. Some folks might enjoy audio books while relaxing in the tub. Audio books don’t have to replace regular books, but they are certainly a way for people who don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything they want to squeeze in a few more books… and that can’t be a bad thing!

  2. Excellent summary, Jordan.
    I started putting my books into audio at the strong recommendation of an author friend just about 7 years ago. Back then, ACX was just about the only option, and it was “easy” to find decent narrators with a royalty share (ACX paid them a stipend), so you could get books into audio for virtually no cash investment.
    Now, with so many other options, I’d advise anyone moving into audio to look at the pros and cons of all of them before taking the plunge.
    Thanks for the marketing tips. For me, finding listeners is the biggest challenge. My “fans” seem to be readers. I’ll look into them.
    As for favorite audiobooks? I can’t process by listening. I’m not an auditory person. My brain doesn’t work that way. But I love my narrators! 😉

    • I looked into the cost of doing an audio book as I had done with ACX and the expense has gone way up. It surprised me. My recent research compelled me to post about it. Authors on some of my loops love Findaway for its flexibility on pricing and its distribution. I have a couple of books I would like done. Thanks, Terry.

      • What I’m doing now is avoiding exclusivity and publishing both to ACX and Findaway. The library sales at Findaway make up for any lost revenue from the reduced royalty rate with non-exclusive. The ‘cheapest’ way to use Findaway is to upload the files, not use them to find a narrator. They tack on a 15% “service charge” — or at least they did. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do when my 7 years is up for the first series I did at ACX using royalty share.

  3. Very detailed post on audio books. Thank you. While I personally hate listening to books on audio, I can’t deny their increasing popularity so it’s something an author has to be knowledgeable about (like a million and one other things. LOL!)

    • I know, right? I feel like a juggler with someone tossing me a chain saw to add on. I have always loved audio books. I’ve taken them on camping trips, not only for the drive part, but for the camping part at night in the tent. Now I listen to them in the dark as I fall asleep. Relaxing for me. Bonus if the voice actor is good. Thanks, BK.

  4. Wow. Excellent resource for audio, Jordan. Thanks for this. I’m not in the market at the moment, but will bookmark this page for future use.

    • I like keeping my audio/film rights. I’m not always successful but I have a couple of novels that my previous publishers didn’t get their hands on. Like any creative project, it’s fun to put one together and make the decisions. BUT YOU HAVE TOO MANY GOOD THINGS ON YOUR PLATE. 🙂 Thanks, Sue.

  5. Excellent overview, Jordan. As an Indie author, it’s the missing publishing piece for me. But one thing I’m not seeing here—and am very interested in—is the (apparently) coming trend in text-to-audio and/or AI for audio. Especially due to the costs of traditional narrator productions, any thoughts on that? Thanks.

    • I can’t imagine an AI/text-to-speech application that would replace a great voice actor. Narration isn’t just reading words on a page. Voice actors bring accents, differing voices between characters & varying degrees of emotion. They add so much. I feel the same way about too much CGI in movies. But thanks for the interesting notion, Harald.

      • I can say that at least for next decade or so AI is not very likely to get far into believable narration. It is still quite unnatural sounding when applying emotion or the multitude of little tells the human voice is capable to express things beyond mere words.
        That said, it is only a matter of getting a few billion more samples of humans conversing to eventually get those AIs close enough for some.
        Which is why I am slowing transforming myself into a cyborg, so I can legally be the AI voice of the future.

    • Your work is VERY good, Basil. You’ve done many books for brother Gilstrap. I’ve wanted you for a book of mine–probably THE LAST VICTIM–but I haven’t gotten far in my research on where to get it all done. I was hoping you’d pop in.

  6. Wow. That was a master’s class in audio books! Thank you I listen to audio books while I drive (a lot). A mix of fiction, history & biography. The voice actor is crucial to the experience.

  7. I adore audiobooks and usually have one playing while I’m working around the house. Lately, it’s been more non-fiction, but a brilliant narrator can pull me right into a novel.

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