Audiobooks are an alternative to printed books and eBooks which are growing in favour at a very rapid rate. Put simply, an audiobook is a voice recording of the text of your book.
Producing an audiobook, however, is more complex than it might seem. Every chapter and all of the separate front matters, such as the copyright page, the dedication page, and so on, must be produced as a separate file and must fulfil some specific audio requirements such as decibel level, tone, and so on.
Just the task of capturing a quality voice recording alone can be an expensive process. The most common method is to engage someone with a good speaking voice to read the text. Findaway Voices, one of the providers in this field, estimates the cost of a voice recording of 50,000 words of text to be between $1,000 and $2,000. Other sources put the cost of recording 80,000 words at, potentially, upwards of $5,000. Clearly, this is a truckload of money for a self-published author to come up with.
There is a window of hope, however. You can undertake to do the recording yourself.
It will involve a small outlay of dollars to acquire decent quality recording equipment (perhaps somewhere between $100 and $300, though you can spend much more if you choose to). Just speaking into your computer’s microphone will not meet the audio requirements any of the respected publishers of audiobooks will require. You need a quality microphone that is fit for purpose, along with some specific attachments or add-ons. You will also need a quiet space free from interruptions to undertake what may be a fairly lengthy recording project.
It will also involve a fairly significant time commitment. It is estimated that an 80,000-word manuscript will take 9 to 10 hours to narrate. But that is an estimate for people who do such narration regularly. You can be sure it will take much longer than that if you do it yourself. Nonetheless, it can be done, and many are now choosing to go down this path. The internet is full of good tips and advice about some of the pitfalls to avoid as well as tricks of the trade that will help you achieve a quality result.
You will need some software to record your efforts and to facilitate management, review and fine-tuning of the recordings you make. Fortunately, you can download free software (Audacity) that will do this from the internet. Apple’s Garage Band application, which is provided free of charge with most Apple desktop and laptop computers, will also do the job very competently.
You will also need a separate cover for the finished product which has different parameters than the ones you may have used for your print edition or eBook. An audiobook cover is square. Keep this in mind when you are organising a cover for your print edition and/or eBook, as it will be a simple matter to create a square version suitable for an audiobook at the same time.
Once you have recorded all the necessary files and have reviewed and fine-tuned them to meet the parameters required, there are several service providers that can publish and distribute your audiobook for you. As with print and eBooks, these service providers will then pay you a percentage of the royalties on any sales.
The Best Combination
In my view, having researched these matters thoroughly, and taking into account my own experience after having self-published 11 separate publications, is that the best option is to proceed as follows.
- Publish through Amazon KDP. Use this for purchasing any ‘author copies’ you require as they are the cheapest provider, especially when the combination of print cost and postage is taken into account. Publishing charge: none other than a percentage of your royalties.
- When that is done, also publish through IngramSpark. Publishing charge: a one-off fee of US$49 plus a percentage of your royalties.
- Once you have published your paperback with IngramSpark as well as Amazon KDP, consider whether there is any merit in publishing a hardback edition as well with IngramSpark.
|The combination of Amazon KDP and IngramSpark is also recommended by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) as offering the widest distribution for your books.|
- Publish through Amazon KDP. Sign up for their KDP Select service for three months (during this period you cannot publish your eBook with anyone else). Utilise the unique marketing options available under the KDP Select service during the three months. Publishing charge: none other than a percentage of your royalties.
- At the conclusion of the Amazon KDP Select three-month period, discontinue KDP Select but otherwise leave you eBook on Amazon KDP.
- Then, upload your eBook for publication through Smashwords as well. This will enable you to access the range of useful marketing features offered by Smashwords. Publishing charge: none other than a percentage of your royalties.
- Then, upload your eBook for publication through Draft2Digital as well. This will enable you to access the range of useful marketing features offered by Draft2Digital. Publishing charge: none other than a percentage of your royalties.
- At some future stage, you should at least consider the viability of creating an audiobook edition of your publication. At this stage, only consider this if you are prepared to make a small investment in equipment and a fairly large investment in time to produce and QA the necessary files.