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 are a range of options depending on the budget you want to spend on it.
Here are the exact steps you need to follow, and our suggestions for turning your book into the next big audiobook.
1. Prep Your eBook Content for Audiobook Recording
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. Record Your Audiobook
The next step in the creation of your audiobook is actually recording the book. You have a few choices for this step:
- Hire someone to record it for you.
- Record the book yourself in a studio.
- Work with an audiobook producer.
- Do it yourself at home.
- Hire an ACX narrator.
Option 1: Hire a Freelancer to Narrate Your Audiobook
Most authors find that hiring a professional to record their audiobook is the most expeditious and 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 for this service 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 proposal. The purpose of your proposal is to help delineate the work that’s needed. You’ll want to make sure to include the scope of the work and terms of your offer in your proposal.
Your second step is to create sample audio content to share with potential freelance narrators.
This is your “retail audio sample.” The purpose of your retail audio sample is two-fold:
- It can be shared with potential narrators during the freelance-hiring phase, and
- It can later be shared with your future audience on Amazon to peak their interest in your book.
Have some fun creating your retail audio clip—it can be anything you want it to be! You may opt to read a full chapter, or simply condense a summary of plot highlights. The ultimate goal of your retail audio sample is to intrigue both potential narrators and your potential audience. If you can capture their collective attention and peak their interest about your book, they’ll want to hear more.
Option 2: Self-Recording in a Studio
Your second option for creating an audiobook is self-recording in a studio. Realize that self-recording may be more costly in terms of effort, time, and money, especially from the paid time to use a pro recording studio.
We recommend that you block out a significant amount of time to complete your self-recorded audiobook. Here’s a good timeline for self-recorded audiobook production:
- Book your recording studio three weeks ahead of time.
- Record your book in-studio. Plan for up to sixteen hours of recording studio time.
- Plan for at least two weeks of post-recording editing.
Of course, these times are just guides; the time-frame may change once you start your project. Obviously, a longer book will take longer to record and edit. Plan accordingly, and give yourself plenty of time to polish, edit, and finalize a professional product.
Option 3: Work with a Producer
The third path to creating an audiobook is to hire a professional producer. If you have never recorded an audiobook before, working with a producer would help you through the technical difficulties.
For example, when Joanna Penn did the recording for her own book Business For Authors, she hired professional producer Andy Marlow. A producer for your audiobook can ensure the quality of the audio tracks as well as mastering the file for the final production load.
You can find audiobook producers [audiobook engineers] on freelancing sites such as Fiverr or Upwork. Go to Fiverr.com, type in audiobooks, and select the “mixing and mastering” option on the left side. This will give you plenty of choices for finding audio engineers, editors and producers.
Option 4: Do it at Home
Many authors feel very close their work and would rather the content be told in their own voice. This is particularly true if the book is focused around personal stories or a family memoir. There are many books that do sound better when told from the voice of the author.
Do you have the confidence and the voice to create your own audiobook at home? If yes, then here is what you need to know to get started in doing that.
If you are a podcaster or music recording talent, you may already have access to the necessary equipment for recording your audiobook. If not, what you will to get the job done is:
- 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 “silent.” If this is difficult, hiring a producer in this case would be a recommended option.
Next 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 and 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 that add weeks to the audiobook production.
For these reasons you may decide to hire someone for the first audiobook, learn what you can, and then try it for your next book.
Option 5: Hire an ACX Narrator
The final option that may be the simplest is to hire a narrator and producer directly from ACX.
They have that option built into their service for writers, where producers submit auditions for reading your audiobook and then you can choose who you want to work with. Then once the book is published, you share some of the royalties with them, depending on the agreement you come to.
If you don’t want to do the recording yourself or pay for everything up front, this could be your best option. You can learn more about it directly on the ACX help for authors page.
3. Upload Your Audiobook to Audiobook Creation Exchange
Now that you’ve recorded your book, either by yourself or with the help of a freelancer, you’ll need to upload your book to Audiobook Creation Exchange (“ACX”).
When you publish on the ACX, your audiobook will be made available on Amazon, Audible, and the Apple audiobook store. It’s the only place you need to go to make sure your audiobook gets heard by as many people as possible. 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.
While there are a lot of steps, uploading is a user-friendly and self-explanatory process.
Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to upload your audiobook:
- 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.
What royalty is paid on ACX?
When you publish your audiobook on the ACX, you’ll earn between 20%-40% of their title royalties. If you work with a producer, then you’ll have a royalty share with them, and the rate that you receive is dependent on how your producer is compensated. If you work by yourself you keep the whole 40%, if you split it with a producer, you could each earn 20%. It all depends on how you decide to share it, and you can read more details on the ACX site.
Also, a quick heads up: Your audiobook will not post immediately. ACX will hold your submission to confirm that all is in order before it posts you audiobook. Don’t be alarmed if you see an ACX note telling you “This title is: Pending audio review.” That’s a normal part of the process and not something wrong on your end. When ACX approves your book, you’ll then have the green light to sell the audio copies online.
For a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the entire process—from production to distribution—check out ACX Author’s page.
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.
Don’t be deterred by the idea that creating an audiobook is outside of your wheelhouse—we promise it’s not! 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!
Want more on how to create your own audiobook? Start with our in-depth tutorial with Derek Doepker:
Then check out these other helpful resources:
How To Record And Create Your Own Audio Book For ACX Audible by Kevin Kruse