Authors, Do You Want to Create Audiobooks?
Authors, Do You Want To Create Audiobooks?
written by Karen Commins
Have you been considering creating an audiobook of one or more of your titles?
You may be surprised to learn that, until recently, only about 5% of books were made into audiobooks.
In the past 5 years, the industry has grown from around 7000 audiobooks produced each year to over 35,000 in 2015 – an 800% increase. Sales have jumped an average of 20% each year, with the total revenue exceeding $1.7 billion.
Even so, it’s still a new publishing frontier for the majority of authors.
Why You Need an Audiobook
All authors should have their titles in audiobooks for several reasons, and it’s the perfect time to start production!
First, your audiobook can bring your words to a new audience. Some people listen exclusively. Perhaps they are visually impaired, blind or dyslexic, or perhaps they are ultra busy. In any case, people who love to read and people who never read all buy audiobooks.
In addition, your audiobook, like your ebook, is always available for instant download. If someone famous recommends your book or you can tie your book into a breaking news story, you have a product available that people can buy and download immediately. This factor is of even greater importance in this age of instant gratification.
Furthermore, audiobooks can make your work easier to find. If you compare the number of Kindle ebooks in your genre with the number of audiobooks on Audible.com in your genre, you will quickly see a huge disparity. Far more Kindle books are available! From a discoverability standpoint, it’s easier to be a big fish in a lake than a small fish in the vast sea of ebook and print titles.
Of course, the most compelling reason to create audiobooks from your titles is that audiobook sales give you another revenue stream! As I said earlier, audiobooks are now a billion-dollar industry. Authors who do not have audiobooks of their work are leaving money on the table!
Audible.com, the world’s largest distributor of audiobooks, created the site ACX.com in 2011 to help authors easily exploit the audio rights to their books. When using ACX, your completed audiobook will be distributed automatically on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. As audiobook popularity has skyrocketed, other sites such as AuthorsRepublic.com have popped up to offer even more distribution options.
7 Factors to Consider
You'll want to consider these 7 factors when thinking about producing an audiobook edition of your book:
1. Novels and certain types of non-fiction are ideal texts for oral interpretation. Previous Audio Publishers Association (APA) Consumer Studies show that audiobook listeners are very likely to be doing something else while listening to the book: driving or traveling, housecleaning, creating crafts, exercising, or working on the computer.
This recent, widely-shared article expands on that statement, noting that Americans’ obsession with productivity is driving audiobook production and creating new listeners.
Unlike reading a book, which requires one’s full attention, an audiobook allows today’s busy person to experience and absorb the author’s words while continuing to do something else.
One person’s comment in a long-running Goodreads thread sums up the beauty of multitasking with an audiobook:
I rarely just listen. I only listen when I'm multitasking. If I'm not doing anything else, I could just as well be actually reading.
2. Any kind of interaction that is needed with the physical book in order to understand the content may not be a good choice for an audiobook.
Some info could be provided as additional download material, such as illustrations in a PDF document. Still, you can't assume that the listener has a device with a display or that they will take the time to download or view the additional material on their computer.
3. Some printed content just doesn't translate well to audio. A narrator would be challenged to do justice to material that relies on visual aspects like photographs. This kind of material could be a turn-off to the listeners. Examples include:
oQuestionnaires with a point scale or essay questions -- Many personal development books contain assessments and quizzes that need to be worked on paper.
oTextbooks with problems to solve
One of the ACX FAQs lists other types of books that would not make good audiobooks.
4. Audiobook narrators read your book as it is written. You may need to make some changes in the text to make it more friendly to the ear, which keeps the listener in the moment. For instance, if your printed book says "you're reading this book", you might change the verb to be "you're listening to this book."
5. Assuming your book is a good fit for audio, you next have to decide whether to narrate it yourself or hire a professional actor to narrate it for you.
Two observations from an on-line discussion that is no longer available are germane to this important choice:
a) Many people expressed a preference for authors as narrators only for autobiographies or books written by comedians.
b) An important comment in the thread was "how is the book best served?"
My article Should Authors Narrate Their Own Audiobooks? can aid your decision.
6. If you decide to create an audiobook, be prepared to pay for production costs up front in order to attract your dream narrator.
As a narrator and producer, I would be spending a large amount of time with the book -- at least 6 hours for every finished hour of narration. Therefore, a book with a finished time of 10 hours requires 60 or more hours between my team and me to research, record, edit, correct, and master the audio.
This article explains how you can evaluate the production costs.
7. Carefully choose a narrator who best serves your text and fulfills your vision in telling your story. This article gives you 10 points in your listening checklist. Just as all books are not suitable as audiobooks, all voices are not suited to read the same material. Want to hear what I mean? Read and listen to the sound clips in the article Read Me a Story Brad Pitt: When audiobook casting goes terribly wrong.
All of the narrators on RomanceNarrators.com are experienced in producing pristine audio in our private studios. We offer nuanced performances that are unique to the romance genre because we are completely engaged with each word on the page.
For more free resources and links to help you through the audiobook production process, check out this site. If you have questions, please leave a comment below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A professional voiceover talent since 1999, Atlanta native Karen Commins now works almost exclusively in audiobooks. She has narrated over 50 titles and specializes in performing cozy mysteries and sweet romances. She particularly shines at comedic reads and gives an authentic voice to books set in the South and/or starring Southern characters.
In addition to earning a BA in Broadcast Journalism and an MS in Computer Information Systems, Karen has completed extensive specialized training in voiceover and audiobook narration technique, as well as digital audio production. When she isn’t narrating, she writes articles about audiobooks for her blog and other sites and curates and maintains information for authors seeking to create audiobooks.