This is a guest post by Kayla Matthews.
So, you’ve achieved the milestone of publishing your book, and that’s a substantial accomplishment.
However, converting that work into an audiobook would give you access to more segments of the market and offer people another option for enjoying what you wrote.
Let’s look at the process for making an audiobook, so you can decide whether it’s the right move for you.
Consider registering with ACX
If you’ve never created an audiobook, it probably feels like you’re diving into a vast undertaking. And, in some ways, it can be. But, ACX is an Amazon subsidiary that aims to make the process as easy as possible by giving authors options.
One of the benefits of getting linked in with ACX is that your audiobook will eventually be available through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.
People who are just getting started can connect with narrators through ACX, then have those people read samples and decide whether to hire them to read the full book.
ACX also allows you to negotiate contract terms with audiobook producers who take care of things like editing and post-production.
Alternatively, you might decide to invest in recording equipment or use some you already own, then provide your completed product to the service.
ACX gives submission guidelines that spell out specifics such as section header requirements and the amount of space at the start and end of each track.
Recording the audiobook yourself lets you keep more of the profits from it. Also, because you know the book better than a stranger would, you might find it’s rewarding to use emotion, tone, and other factors to bring the words to life.
See what other audiobook companies offer
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each company before choosing one because there is no universal solution.
For example, you might prefer to work with a company that takes care of the marketing and pricing for you or handle those things on your own.
Before making a decision and going with a particular company to make your audiobook, determine your overall goals for making your title available in this way.
Maybe you want to appeal to people who are auditory learners and know they retain information best when hearing it as opposed to reading or writing it.
Or, you might want to reach out to disabled people or older adults who prefer to have books read to them instead of consuming written content through physical means.
Once you know what you want to achieve, it’ll be easier to figure out how much you want to spend, as well as whether you wish to do most of the processes on your own or get more help for an additional cost.
Most of the companies let you self-publish audiobooks and only pay for producer and narration assistance if you want it.
Self-publishing could be an excellent way to grow your recognition among your target audience and boost your income.
Decide whether you need a narrator
Perhaps you studied theatre in college and feel that recording your dialogue would be a perfect fit for your skills.
On the other hand, if you’d need to brush up on your knowledge by reading some public speaking improvement tips, hiring a narrator is probably your best bet.
Freelancer sites like Upwork and Fiverr allow you to browse the listings of experienced voice actors who are ready to work. Or, you could post an ad explaining exactly what you need and how much you could afford to pay the person or people involved.
One thing about creating your audiobook through ACX is that it’s possible to make a deal with your narrator to do a 50/50 split of royalty shares rather than an upfront payment. Making that arrangement could be especially attractive if you’re on a tight budget but feel confident about the future sales of your audiobook.
Many of the people who narrate books for Audible—one of the most well-known audiobook companies—are professional voice actors who record material up to 30 hours long. And the recording process is only part of the work they do. It’s also necessary for those narrators to do character research and accurately convey emotions during each reading.
They must understand the subject matter to a degree, as well—especially if the content includes technical words like the names of diseases.
You can buy audiobooks that help you learn to be more charismatic, those that teach you ways to manage your money more effectively, and much more. If the narrators don’t sound convincing as they read, the audiobook won’t be very enjoyable or useful for listeners.
Think about equipment and time investments
Authors who feel ambitious may set up home studios to record their audiobooks. You can do so with an assortment of equipment, including a computer, microphone, and editing software. If your audiobook contains a single narrator voice instead of several, this DIY approach could work well for you.
However, people who live in residences characterised by passing traffic outside, pets, children, or other distractions probably need to create recording booths with material that blocks those sounds during the recording process. If your finished recording includes pops, clicks, or similar noises, the company you publish it through probably won’t accept the audio.
The good news is that you could likely download a trial version of recording software and test it for free before buying the fully functional product.
Don’t forget about the time required to edit the audio tracks after recording, too. You won’t want to rush that process, as doing it thoroughly results in a high-quality product.
Try to have a long-term view when pondering whether to buy or rent recording equipment. If you’ve only written one book and don’t have another one in the pipeline yet, it may not be worth it to spend a lot on the equipment you need to record at home, even if you buy it used or rent it on a short-term basis.
However, if you publish books regularly and want them to eventually all be audiobooks, buying it could be a wise choice.
Make spoken tracks for free on a Mac
People who have Macs and iTunes can turn text files into spoken-word tracks that function on portable devices like smartphones.
Be aware, though, that those are not professional-grade audio outputs. The spoken feedback comes across in a computer-generated voice.
However, you might experiment with turning snippets of your book into audio content with this free method to see if you want to take things further.
Promote your audiobook
Promotional strategies—or the lack thereof—could make or break your audiobook’s potential. Spread the word about it on your social media channels, as well as the newsletter distributed to your readers, if applicable.
If you set your price for the audiobook, as some companies allow, think about making an introductory rate for the first week or month to spur interest.
You might even provide samples of the audiobook that highlight the quality of the work and make people want to hear more of it.
An investment that could pay off
Making a professional audiobook requires financial resources, whether they go towards hiring people to assist—or negotiating a royalty-share arrangement with them—or purchasing equipment for you to use at home.
Other expenses might also crop up concerning the promotional methods used to help people know about the audiobook.
However, you may realise that turning your book into an audiobook facilitates reaching your career goals, especially if you break into new markets and find larger audiences while appealing to people who prefer to hear words instead of reading them.
Kayla Matthews is a tech and productivity writer at Writerzone.net whose work has been featured on sites like MakeUseOf, Finer Minds, VentureBeat and The Muse. To see more productivity stories by Kayla, you can visit ProductivityTheory.com or follow her on Twitter.