Audiobooks are all the rage in the publishing industry, with platforms such as Audible and Apple Books offering listeners thousands of options. If you’re an author, the first thing to know about publishing an audiobook is that it’s nothing like that of e-books and paperbacks. Let’s take a look at the industry and the process of how to sell audiobooks.
Should I make an audiobook?
To put it bluntly: yes, you should.
Sales of audiobooks are booming. According to the Audio Publishers Association, the audiobook industry has seen double-digit revenue growth every year since 2012.
The popularity of audiobooks coincides with the rise of podcasts. Consumers like audiobooks because they can listen to a story while commuting or working out. Audiobooks draw a broader audience that includes visually impaired readers. In addition, most e-readers offer a listening option for audiobooks.
Clearly, the market for audiobooks is strong and shows no signs of slowing.
Creating and selling an audio version of a book you’ve published (or plan to publish) will give you yet another outlet for your work while giving your audience more options from which to choose. Your readers will thank you later!
How do I make and sell audiobooks?
There are two main ways to make an audiobook: hire a professional narrator or narrate it yourself.
Hiring a narrator
Given the popularity of audiobooks, it’s no surprise that there is no shortage of narration jobs. Resources such as Audiobook Creation Exchange, Findaway Voices, and Voices.com have databases that connect authors with professional narrators.
Hiring a narrator will add to the cost to your audiobook creation process, but it’s worth it to find the right voice for your book.
Narrating it yourself
The most compelling reason for narrating your book? No one knows it better than you.
In order to narrate your book, you need the proper equipment. This includes a microphone, soundproofing foam (or a small, quiet space to record), an updated computer, and recording and editing software.
The three standard audiobook file formats are WAV, MP3, and M4B. Once you have your audiobook in the appropriate format, you can focus on selling and marketing your book.
How do I sell audiobooks on Amazon?
One of the most popular platforms for authors, publishers, and agents is Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) on Amazon, which produces and distributes audiobooks on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
If you have an Amazon account, you have an ACX account; it’s that simple.
ACX takes you through every step of the audiobook creation process, including hiring narrators if needed.
With ACX, you have the option to publish exclusively on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes and receive 40% of the royalties. You can also retain the right to publish elsewhere, and potentially reach a wider audience, while receiving a 25% royalty rate.
What kind of books make good audiobooks?
Some genres are better suited for audiobooks than others. Novels are a natural fit. Cookbooks, not so much.
That said, audiobooks don’t have to begin as a piece of creative writing. Podcasts can be audiobooks, too.
How can I turn my podcast into an audiobook?
Podcasts and audiobooks are both audio files, essentially. Compile your podcast episodes into one file (in WAV, MP3, or M4B format) and distribute it as an audiobook through ACX or another platform.
If your podcast is broken up by seasons, you could turn each season into an audiobook. Consider narrating an introduction to each episode or chapter, as well as a beginning and end for the entire podcast.
How should I price my audiobook?
Audiobook pricing depends on the distribution platform.
Audiobooks are typically more expensive than e-books and paperbacks, ranging from $20 to $30. This is partly because of the time and equipment required to create and sell an audiobook.
If you publish through ACX, the platform sets the price based on the length of your audiobook. It starts at under $7 for a book that’s less than one hour long.
With other distributors, you set the price. Findaway Voices, for example, has an interactive pricing calculator that helps you determine the retail and library list price for your audiobook.
Here are some factors to consider when pricing your book:
- Narrator cost (or the time it takes you to narrate it yourself, plus the cost of recording equipment and sound editing software)
- Length of the audiobook
- Royalty percentage (you can calculate your profit based on this)
- Cost of marketing and promotion.
How do I market my audiobook?
You can begin to market your audiobook while you’re making it.
Post photos of the audiobook creation process or snippets of recording and editing sessions on your blog or social media.
Once your book is published, keep spreading the word. Send an email to your readers or post soundbites — spoken excerpts from your book — that give potential readers a taste of what to expect.
How can I use PickFu to create audiobooks?
PickFu is an online polling platform that you can use to split test titles or cover art for your audiobook, or to gather feedback on marketing copy.
You can also use PickFu to choose your narrator — an important part of the audiobook process. After all, how your audiobook sounds can make all the difference in how much your listeners enjoy it.
Here’s how to run a PickFu poll to choose a voiceover:
Record potential narrators reading the same excerpt from your book. Next, upload the voiceover samples to the PickFu platform. Then, select a target audience of audiobook listeners (or other relevant audiences).
Respondents will not only vote on the voiceover they liked the most, they’ll submit written comments explaining their pick — all in a matter of minutes.
The PickFu team knows this works because we did it ourselves.
We needed to choose a narrator for a series of instructional videos we made. So, we asked a 100-person panel to rank six voiceover samples from favorite to least favorite.
We had our answer within minutes. And thanks to the written comments of our panelists, we understood exactly what our audience wanted from our instructional videos.
Choosing the right voice is an important step of the audiobook creation process. It is also one of many areas where PickFu can help bring your project to fruition and help you sell audiobooks. Head to the PickFu site to learn more.