I listen to audiobooks constantly. I’m not kidding. When I’m doing work around the house, driving, even in the shower – I have a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. I’m addicted. I borrow them from my local library, so I don’t have to pay for them. It’s an amazing service that anyone can take advantage of. Truly, I’ve never paid for an audiobook.
As a publisher, you bet that I’d like to provide audio versions of my authors’ books. And, I’m learning that there are many different ways to go about producing your audiobook and distributing it. Let’s talk about the options.
Recording Your Audiobook
There are a couple of options when it comes to recording your audiobook. You can do it yourself or have someone else record it. If you choose to hire a narrator, there are a couple of different routes to take:
Royalty Share – If you select a narrator from ACX or Findaway Voices, you can choose to share the royalties from audiobook sales as payment. The distributor will take care of royalty payment.
Payment Upfront – You can also simply hire a narrator and pay them upfront for their services. Then you’ll keep the royalties from any audiobook sales.
When selecting a narrator, make sure you keep in mind what kind of narrator you need for your book. Should it be male or female? Do they need to speak in an accent, in any portion of the book?
I’m a huuuuge fan of DIY. And I believe that it’s absolutely possible to record a high-quality audiobook in the comfort of your own home. You just need a microphone, recording/editing software, and an insulated, soundproof recording studio. If you don’t have a studio, you can use your closet. Clothes on hangers are wonderful insulation.
Author Gail Weiss Gardner recently recorder her memoir, creating a studio out of her closet. You can see her setup in the above photo.
“It was fun. The sustained voice projection and focus brought me deeper into meaning behind the words,” Gail told me.
I think that’s a very important point – make sure you’re having fun while you’re recording!
When choosing the DIY route, you could rent time in a professional recording studio. They’ll provide the equipment, recording software, and they’ll edit the audio files to make sure they’re perfect.
Gail did a little combination of DIY and using a professional. She recorded her book in her closet-studio, and then sent the audio files to a sound engineer to be edited. This is a great solution, because editing audio files can be very time consuming. I really like this hybrid option.
Recording and Editing Software
For those of you who do choose a complete DIY route for recording, there are many different recording and editing programs available. Audacity is very popular and is free (at this time). Reaper is also a low-cost, easy to use program.
Take a little time to play with your program of choice. Do several test recordings and practice cutting and pasting, changing the volume, and adding various effects. You can reduce background noise, if necessary – but hopefully not, since your well-insulated closet should have prevented that!
If you need help, there are plenty of YouTube videos that can help you if you run into any problems.
Tips While Recording
Stand while you’re recording your chapters. You’ll be able to breathe more deeply, and your voice will sound better.
Speak slowly. There’s no need to rush, and you’ll be easier to understand.
Read from an e-reader, not a paper copy. You don’t want the sound of turning pages to be recorded.
Each chapter must be one MP3 file, so try to record one chapter during each session. It’s possible to combine audio files during editing, but if you can do one chapter at a time, editing will be a little easier.
Every audiobook publisher has specific guidelines – make sure you review and adhere to those guidelines.
If you mess up while recording, don’t worry – you can clap your hands or make a loud noise to make that spot easy to find when editing.
Don’t try to record the entire book in one sitting. It can be exhausting! Schedule a fixed amount of time, and take breaks as you need them.
Ah, the dilemma – do you publish your audiobook exclusively with Audible (aka Amazon, aka ACX)? This is completely up to you. Just be aware that Audible requires. A seven-year contract. This means that you can’t sell your book via any other avenue.
An alternative to this seven-year commitment is using There are other audiobook distributors who are happy to sell your book. One example is Findaway Voices, and they will even distribute your book to Audible! Plus, a bunch of other outlets.
I’m actually excited about selling audiobooks directly to readers from my website. I plan to use my PayPal account in conjunction with BookFunnel (a service that delivers ebooks and audiobooks in various formats).
No matter which distribution method you choose, don’t forget about the marketing! You won’t be able to sell your wonderful book if people don’t know about them!
Thank you to Gail Weiss Gaspar for sharing her experience with me! Please visit her website here, to learn about her book Carrying My Father’s Torch.