Guidance. The Business of Audiobooks.



Accessibility to the written word is now a given, thanks to... the spoken word. Whilst there's still debate about whether a story can be conveyed through another's voice, sometimes it's the only way to read. You might prefer to keep your hands free for something else, maybe your eyesight isn't what it was. Audiobooks are not going away and are another way to maximise the markets for your book.


Module Page


Once you've chosen your book, it will be listed here, as in all Modules. Add the Narrator's name here as well as you will need to detail who did this for you. Then, write the brief for your Voice Actor.


Insert your Retail Audio Sample and your Audiobook and Chapter files and their recording and publishing dates and enter the details for the websites that are hosting, retailing or distributing your audiobook.


Finally, log the equipment used to make your Audiobook. Some sites may like to know this.




Links

Audacity

ACX

Anchor   





Intro


Not having an audiobook version of your book might well be the death of your success. Which means you must know how to make an audiobook to fix that.


We’re in the age of podcasts, radio apps, and audiobooks, and now couldn’t be a better time to convert your eBook into an audiobook. But many writers get scared off by the thought of creating an audiobook.


“Isn’t it expensive?”


“Won’t it take a ton of time?”


“How do I even do it?!?”


Thankfully, self-publishing an audiobook now is as easy as self-publishing your book. It has become cost-effective and approachable for self-published authors, and there is a range of options depending on the budget you want to spend on it.


Audiobooks are on the rise, and if you’re an author who’s not pursuing this book format, you’re missing out on an entire audience who could be enjoying your story.


1. Script


If you’re starting from the beginning, you may have no idea how to convert your manuscript from writing to audio. Your first step will be to prep your eBook content for audiobook recording.


This creates a script you can read as you record the audio version of your book. You don’t want to get tripped up while you (or someone else) is reading through the manuscript, so you need to remove everything that won’t make sense in the audio version.


These are the pieces you should go through and look for to cut out:


Delete hyperlinks

Delete captions

Delete visuals

Remove any calls to actions or click here prompts


Once you’ve created your new script, read through it one last time to make sure it all makes sense in audio form.


2. Research


As with your book itself, you need to research which type of voice would suit your story. Male or Female? Young or old? Narration for the voice needs to adhere to similar rules as the written narrative. The same way as genres have colours in design and have different shelves in a book shop, genres have the right tones and the wrong tones when it comes to voice recording. Buy an audiobook in your genre or one by your favourite author and see what kind of voice is used.


And what about background sounds? You might think that if your main character is up on a clifftop, shouting into the wind, a logical soundtrack would be a howling gale, but the rule of thumb is that there are no sound effects or background music in an audiobook. These are all left to the listener’s imagination. A blank soundscape, populated only by the story, similar to a blank page populated only by the story, no images or fluff. Just the story.


3. Who will Record it?


The next step in the creation of your audiobook is actually recording the book. But before you can do that, you have to decide who will record the book.


Here are your choices when deciding who will record your audiobook:


Record the book yourself in a studio. If your research leads to the fact that your voice is perfect for the recording, then by all means, fill your boots and dive in. After all, the author recording it as well? Nice, and it would save a chunk of cash that you could invest in marketing or a video.


Use an automated voice to narrate your story. You know, you can choose Jane or Phil or Adrianne to read text back to you on your PC. Text-to-Voice has come on leaps and bounds since the Hawkingesque efforts of yesteryear. More R2D2 that CP3O. You could understand it but there was no intonation, passion or humanity. Today, it's getting much closer and some online apps almost string a whole paragraph together and it could be a human being speaking. But like cats hear another cat and know its a cat, humans hear a text-to-voice voice and know it ain't human. And this does not make for enjoyable listening. Maybe one day, well, definitely one day, a computer voice will fool us for long enough for an audiobook.


But in 99% of instances, it really is better to hire a voice over artist to record it for you. They change their voice for the different roles within the book. Changing the pitch, intonation and accent to give each character a distinct voice that is identifiable. You may like your own voice and its various strengths but does it work over 100,000 words? This is a very specialised skill that very few people can do well. This has led to many people who listen to audiobooks not only following the work of specific authors but also following the work of specific narrators they like.


DIY in a Studio


As we've mentioned above, if your voice seems perfect for your recording, and at least 5 strangers agree, do it yourself. In addition, if you’re writing nonfiction, particularly a story about your life, you may want to record the book yourself.


And for that, please don't plaster egg cartons and cardboard all over your walls and put a blanket over your head to record. You'll need a professional studio.


Book your recording studio three weeks ahead of time.

Plan for up to sixteen hours of recording studio time.

Plan for at least two weeks of post-recording editing.


Obviously, a longer book will take longer to record and edit.


You can see why self-recording may actually be more costly in terms of effort, time, and money, than simply hiring a pro, who either have or hire similar studios to produce their product for you.


But, if you are intent on self-recording, plan accordingly and give yourself plenty of time to polish, edit, and finalise a professional product.


DIY at Home


If you have the confidence and the voice to create your own audiobook at home and you're just fine with egg boxes and blankets, then here is what you need to know to get started in doing that.


Equipment


A good USB mic. The Blue Snowball condenser mic or the Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone are recommended.

A pop filter. The Earamble Studio Microphone Pop Filter is recommended.

Audacity. Audacity is a free, open source cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. You can download Audacity here.


You could go fancier and get higher-end equipment, but these tools should be more than enough to get the job done.


Location and Space


You want to find an isolated, padded room or recording box. “Room Tone, or “Noise Floor” can bring in all sorts of sounds from around the environment.


Recording in your room is an option but make sure your space is set up for recording and that it is 'Dry.'


You need to make sure you avoid any random noises that might pop up, and any variances in the recording quality.


Here are some tips to help make sure you do that:


Turn off all fans and machines.

Read in a small, carpeted area

Stay a consistent distance away from the microphone.

Be prepared to make mistakes and record sentences over when necessary.

Read the chapter through from start to end.

Keep your voice at a similar level and tone across recording sessions.

Modulate your breathing and don’t hold your breath.

Read from a Kindle or device. No page turning sounds.

Schedule sessions several days apart. Avoid sounding exhausted.


With the Audacity software and your mic, you should be able to get a decent quality recording of your book. But keep in mind that, recording you own audiobook is an exhausting process. It isn’t for everyone.


You have to set yourself up with the proper environment, and set aside the time for recording. If you have never used Audacity or any type of recording equipment before, there is a learning curve.


If this is difficult and your recordings just don't sound right, don't waste the time on 100,000 words of it.


Text-to-Voice


No. Just no.


Professional Audiobook Narrator


For those of you writing a fiction novel, you’ll need an audiobook narrator, as these stories often need a narrator with an acting skillset. Voiceover artists are most often referred to as Voice Actors.


Most authors find that hiring a professional to record their audiobook is the least painful route. You may be concerned about the cost of hiring a pro for voice work, but you may be surprised to learn that the cost can be quite reasonable.


In fact, converting your self-published book into an audiobook using a pro can cost less than half the price of doing the work yourself.


Many freelancers will quote a price of under $500 for a full eBook to audio conversion; so don’t let the perceived high cost deter you.


If you’ve never worked with a freelancer before, you might not be familiar with the steps necessary to find the right talent. First, you’ll need a brief. Close your eyes and imaging the scene in your book. Don't speak out loud but speak in your head as the scene unfolds. What does the narrator sound like. You should know something of this from your research but who is your narrator? Morgan Freeman? Judy Dench? Write these thoughts into your brief. From your synopsis, underline the mood of the novel, the substance of your characters and everything you can to tell your voice actor about the project.


Retail Audio Sample


One of the things you need to script and put into your brief is the retail audio sample. It's probably a thirty-second spot highlighting the excitement and tone of your story. It can later be shared with your future audience on Amazon to pique their interest in your book.


An experienced voice actor should have done these before and should offer some guidance based on the story he's just recorded. It could be a summary of ploy highlights or a killer scene from the story, or a mix of both. You can get creative here but do follow the actor's guidance.


The ultimate goal of your retail audio sample is to intrigue your potential audience. If you can capture their collective attention and pique their interest in your book, they’ll want to hear more.


Your files


So, you've downloaded your .mp3 and .wav versions of your Audiobook. You may prefer to edit the recording into chapters as a separate file so you can send samples. Best to copy the whole file and then chop it up from that.


Next, let's get those files out there.


Publishing and Distribution


There are a few decent Audio based entities, which can package an audio product and get it out to various platforms.

Anchor is pretty good as a Podcast host and can get it out to several platforms but they cater more to radio show formats than whole books. They're a great choice if you wanted to reveal your audiobook story in podcast format, perhaps in an interviews with pieces read by a narrator.


For Audiobooks though, on the Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX, your audiobook will be made available on Amazon, Audible, and the Apple audiobook store.


You retain all of the audio rights, while ACX handles all of the distribution for you, similar to how the Kindle Direct Publishing platform works.


There are a lot of steps, but uploading is a user-friendly and self-explanatory process.


Go to the ACX website.

Log in to your account at amazon.com.

Click “Add Your Title.” [Note: You must have a Kindle ebook published]

Search and find your book then click on “This is My Book” prompt.

Click on the “I have this book in audio and I want to sell it” prompt.

Choose your territory and distribution.

(Note: We recommend the “World” rights options with 40% royalties for the best results.)

Choose the language(s) you’d like to sell the book in.

Agree to the “Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement” terms

Complete the “About My Book” section.

(Note: You can duplicate the content from your Amazon page or create original content.)

Complete the proper copyright information.

Complete the info about the narrator, audiobook publisher, and any reviews.

Click the “add audio file” prompt.

Go to browse for the first section of your audiobook to ensure it was added.

Continue this process until your entire book is uploaded.

Don’t forget to change the chapters and section titles as you go.

Finally, upload your book cover.

Make sure all info from your printed book matches that of your audiobook. Your author name should be the same and the book cover should be the same as appears on your eBook.


ACX will not allow you to continue if there are discrepancies in identifying information.


When you publish your audiobook on the ACX, you’ll earn @40% of their title royalties.


Conclusion


Even if you’ve never done it before, technology makes the process of creating your audiobook easier than you can imagine.


A well-produced audiobook can help you expand your fan base and earn you new readers.


With pro help (or even a little elbow grease on your part), you can have a completed audiobook within weeks, and be on your way to boosting those book sale numbers!



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