My Audiobook Production Process

my no-cost audiobook production process

Audiobooks are a nice way you can make additional income off the publication of your book. If you have a publisher, they will likely handle the creation of your eBook and audiobook, but if you’ve self-published you can also publish your book as an audiobook and make additional income from your already created content. Always be repurposing that content, boys and girls!

Amazon owns a platform specific to audiobooks, ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), so you can almost seamlessly publish your print book in audio format and make additional income. Every audiobook you make on ACX will be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, and if you grant them exclusive distribution rights, you'll earn royalties of 40%. What’s convenient about the program is that it caters to the tech savvy or the technically challenged. Once you enroll in the program, in order to create your audiobook, you’ll need to either narrate it yourself or allow someone else to narrate it for a percentage of the royalties. If you have a decent voice, the recording equipment or access to a studio, and the time to record and upload your book in sections as required by ACX, then you may consider narrating your own audiobook so you keep the majority of the royalties.

On the other hand, if you’d like to opt to have a narrator voice the audio for your book, that is an available option directly through the ACX program. Your narrator and you will make a deal, and he or she will either get paid per finished hour or get a portion of the earned royalties, and for some that’s a small price to pay to get a book into an audiobook and make additional income from the content. If your shaking voice or lack of tech-spertise is stopping you from creating your audiobook, you are missing out on income. What do you have to lose by allowing a narrator to record the content in exchange for a portion of the royalties you would otherwise not receive if you opted not to add an audiobook? Not to mention, audiobooks are currently part of the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry. According to the American Association of Publishers, 43,000 new audiobooks were produced in 2015 alone, and sales grew by 37.8%. I don’t know about you, but that’s an audience I don’t want to miss out on!

My Audiobook Production Process

Now I’d like to share my audiobook production process for Authorpreneur with you, so you can see how easy it can be to get your book in audio format.

First, I logged into ACX and searched for my book. Once I found it, I claimed it as my own. Since I am the President of Transcendent Publishing, I did not have to verify that I own the audio rights for my book. If you are represented by a publisher, be sure to check with them first. Usually your publisher will oversee the audiobook production process, just as they would for your print book and eBook. However, if you are self-published, you are welcome to claim your books through ACX.

Once I found and claimed my book, I listed the gig for audition. I uploaded the Introduction of the book, and asked narrators to audition to narrate the book on my behalf. If I had the time and equipment to narrate my own audiobook, I could have.  It’s been said that readers prefer the actual author to do the narration, but in my case, it was the month of my book launch, I was busy traveling, and honestly, I don't feel I have the right voice for an audiobook, so I chose to hire a professional narrator.

When I listed my gig, I was able to specify if I wanted a male or female narrator, an age range, and type of voice. When hiring a narrator, you have two options:

1. Pay the narrator per recorded hours (a one-time fee).

2. Split the royalties earned with the narrator (no upfront fees).

It is typically $300-$500 per hour to hire a narrator, and my 170-page book was estimated by ACX to become a 5-hour audiobook, so that would have cost me up to $2500 out of my own pocket to pay upfront. I chose to split the royalties with a narrator instead, and I wrote that in the gig so narrators knew that before they auditioned. Not all narrators are keen to split the royalties, and some would rather be paid per hour, so be sure to specify that in your gig.

I received a few auditions, and then came Raina Marie, who sounded professional, upbeat, and had experience and high-quality equipment, which is important when it comes time for ACX to review and approve your audiobook for sale. They have guidelines that must be followed to ensure the audiobook is high-end and of studio quality.

I made my narrator an offer right through ACX, since they oversee the entire process. She accepted my offer within the system, and told me it would take her about three weeks. It ended up taking just over a month, but I was fine with the wait. I’d rather have something done right rather than have it rushed, and in the publishing industry, minor setbacks are common.

Once she recorded the first 15 minutes, she uploaded it to ACX for my review. I logged in, reviewed her voice, asked for any requested changes, and once it was to my liking, I approved her to move forward with the rest of the book.

Since each chapter had to be recorded in sections and uploaded to ACX separately, I was able to login along the way to listen and check on the progress. Once she was finished uploading the full book, I received a notification from ACX that my audiobook was finished and ready for review.

At that point, I listened, sent my narrator any requested changes, and once it was to my liking, I approved it for sale. Once I approved it on my end, it went into a review process with ACX that commonly takes 7-14 days. Once ACX gave the audiobook final approval, it was released for sale first on Audible, with Amazon and iTunes to follow.

To recap, when it comes time to have your audiobook created, you have three options:

1.  Get some high-quality equipment and narrate the book yourself.

2. Hire a narrator and pay him or her a one-time fee per recorded hours.

3. Hire a narrator and split the royalties.

If you decide to narrate your own audiobook, here is some equipment you may need:

  • High-quality professional microphone (Audio Technica ATR2100 or Blue Yeti are both good options)

  • Microphone stand

  • Pop-filter

  • Script stand

  • Audio editing software such as Audacity or Garage Band

  • Quiet room or home studio without echo or outside noise

Could I have made more money in the long run if I had narrated the audiobook myself? Of course. But the probability of me finding the time to set up a home studio, record each chapter in sections, and take hours upon hours to edit the audio was highly unlikely. And since the other option was simply not to have an audiobook, I figured why not split my royalties with a narrator and get the audiobook out in the world to generate passive income for many years to come?

The best part, I don't even have to worry about paying my narrator royalties. That is already done through ACX--she receives her half and I receive mine. It took less than two months from start to finish to have my audiobook produced and available for sale. It cost me $0 and virtually no effort to have my audiobook created (besides writing the actual book, of course!), so now can you see why you don't want to miss out on getting your book in audio format? 

To learn more about ACX's audiobook production process, click HERE.