Author Resource: Let’s Talk AUDIOBOOKS

A quick edit on 11/5/22: When I wrote this blog post, I was only narrating my own books. Now I’m a professional narrator working on other authors’ books. If you’re interested in hiring me as a narrator, check out this link.

Recently, I asked my author friends on Twitter what they wanted to know about audiobooks. I promised to write a “big, newsy thread” answering their questions.

I quickly realized this is way too big of a topic for a Twitter thread! So let’s jump right into a big, newsy blog post about publishing audiobooks as indie authors.

As with other in-depth posts I’ve done, I’m including a handy-dandy table of contents. Click on any of the topics to jump to the part you want to read. (The links don’t sync perfectly. Scroll up just a bit after clicking the link, to see the beginning of the section.)

Table of Contents

Why should I consider having an audio version of my book?
How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?
Who should distribute my audiobook?
How do I choose a narrator?
Will my book sell well as an audiobook?
When should I release my audiobook?
Should I record my own audiobook? If so…how?
Miscellaneous questions

Why should I consider having an audio version of my book?

Audiobooks are a rapidly growing market. Check out this info from Deloitte:

In 2020, Deloitte predicts, the global audiobook market will grow by 25 percent to US$3.5 billion … in a world where overall media and entertainment growth stands at just 4 percent.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of a rapidly growing market!

Yet many indie authors don’t have audiobooks associated with their printed or digital books. When I click the “Teen & Young Adult” category on, there are nearly 15,000 titles. The same category on Amazon Kindle? Over 70,000 titles.

There’s less competition on Audible than on Kindle. Plus, when you’re an indie author who has audiobooks, you stand out as being more professional.

One more thing to chew on: having audio versions of your books makes them more accessible. I was thrilled when a friend of mine told me how much her daughter with dyslexia loved listening to my book! Visually impaired consumers often love audiobooks too.

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How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?

Authors have told me, “I can’t afford to have an audiobook produced!”

I have good news! There are multiple ways to get audiobooks produced…and one method requires no cash from the author. Let’s go over some of your options, starting with the cheapest upfront cost.

  • Royalty Share: Through ACX (more on them in the next section), you can search for a narrator (also called a “producer”) who will record your book and prepare it for sale, then split the royalties with you 50/50 for the first seven years. You don’t have to pay them anything upfront.
    • Upfront Cost: $0. (I’m not including cover art in any of these estimates; you’ll need a square version of your cover.)
    • Pros: No upfront cost. A relatively risk-free way to dip your toe in the audiobook market.
    • Cons: Royalty share producers are often (not always!) less experienced narrators. The experienced, talented narrators who are open to royalty share may only take you on if you’re selling a lot of books already. If your audiobook does well, royalty share may cost you more in the end! And you’re required to sell your book exclusively through ACX throughout your seven-year royalty-share period. (ACX distributes to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.) Only available in US, UK, Canada, & Ireland.
  • Produce Your Own Audiobook: This is what I do, and I’ll go over the ins and outs of it in detail later on in this post. But here are a few things for you to consider.
    • Upfront Cost: Anywhere from $100 to $1000+, depending what equipment and/or software you buy and how you set up your studio. Most people can get a good setup for a few hundred bucks or less. Some people choose to narrate their own work but hire someone to edit the sound files. That may cost about $100 per finished hour of recording.
    • Pros: Fairly inexpensive cost upfront, and you shouldn’t have to buy new equipment very often. Some readers like listening to the author narrate. If you enjoy performance, narration can be fun. You keep 100% of your royalties.
    • Cons: It’s super time consuming. It’s hard to do it well (at the same level as talented professionals). There’s a big learning curve. Some readers prefer not to hear the author narrate.
  • Royalty Share Plus: This is another ACX-specific option. It’s just like royalty share, except that in addition to giving your narrator half your royalties, you also give them a certain amount per finished hour (PFH).
    • Upfront Cost: Whatever you negotiate with your narrator. You may pay $25, $50, $100, or more PFH ($250 to $1000+ for a 10-hour audiobook).
    • Pros: Could be relatively affordable upfront, depending on what price you negotiate. More experienced/talented narrators may be easier to find.
    • Cons: As with royalty share, this could end up being expensive in the end if your book is successful; and you must stay exclusive with ACX for seven years. Only available in US, UK, Canada, & Ireland.
  • Voices Share: This is an option if you use Findaway Voices (more on them below) to produce your audiobook. Narrators can agree to take half their normal hourly rate (PFH) upfront, in exchange for them receiving 20% of total royalties.
    • Upfront cost: Half the narrator’s normal price. I don’t think you’ll find the “bargain basement” narrators on Findaway Voices you might find on ACX. Half a narrator’s normal price will probably be $100 to $200+ PFH ($1000 to $2000+ for a 10-hour audiobook).
    • Pros: Slashes upfront cost in half. Findaway Voices helps connect you to a narrator who fits your book. You can buy out of the contract, though you’ll pay more than you would’ve if you’d paid the narrator 100% upfront.
    • Cons: As with royalty share, this could end up being expensive if your book is successful; and you must stay exclusive with Findaway Voices unless you buy out of the contract. (Keep in mind Findaway distributes to a huge number of retailers including all the major ones, so exclusivity doesn’t really limit your book’s availability. It just means you can’t go directly to any retailers or distribute directly through ACX.)
  • PFH (Per Finished Hour): In a PFH deal, you negotiate an hourly price with a narrator/producer. “Hourly” means the finished product. A 10-hour audiobook may have taken the producer 40 to 100+ hours to produce! You can audition and select PFH narrators through ACX or Findaway Voices or by contracting with a person or company on your own.
    • Upfront Cost: $50 PFH at the very low end up to $1,000+ PFH at the high end, which comes out to $500 to $10,000+ for a 10-hour book. (Few people actually pay $1,000+ PFH!)
      • You can find plenty of talented narrators for $250-$300 PFH and many for less.
      • Findaway Voices also charges $49 to help match you with a narrator, but there are various ways to get that fee waived. Just Google it. Also, according to this post, Findaway has an upcharge of about 15% in addition to the narrator’s fee.
      • If you use ACX or Findaway to contract with a narrator for a PFH deal, you can distribute that book wherever you want.
    • Pros: Some of the best narrators may only take PFH projects. With a pure PFH project, you don’t share your royalties with anyone. You’re free to sell your audiobook wherever you want to and aren’t required to bind yourself to exclusivity clauses.
    • Cons: PFH can get really expensive!
  • Audioworks: Audioworks is available only through Findaway Voices. This is a simple, hands-off way to produce an audiobook. Findaway will choose your narrator and work with them and the editor to make sure the result is a professional, high-quality audiobook.
    • Upfront cost: $450 PFH and up. A 10-hour audiobook will run you $4500 or more.
    • Pros: If you can afford it, this is a simple way to produce a high-quality book. Major publishers use Audioworks.
    • Cons: That whole “if you can afford it” part. You’d better be confident your audiobook is likely to sell a lot of copies if you choose this option (or any expensive PFH option).

There’s one option I didn’t cover here. Some indie authors whose books sell successfully are approached by production companies (such as Tantor) who offer to produce their books as audiobooks. These production companies act as audio publishers, sometimes even offering advances (and generally keeping the lion’s share of the profits). This can be a great, hands-off option for some authors, but I don’t know much about it. We’re sticking with indie methods for this post.

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Who should distribute my audiobook?

I’ll review the two most common options with you, but you can search online to find others.

  • ACX
    • Distribution: ACX is owned by Amazon/Audible. They only distribute to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.Narrator Connection: Through ACX, you can hire a narrator for royalty share, royalty share plus, or PFH. (See “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” above.) You’re also welcome to bring completed files to ACX that were narrated by you or someone you contracted with outside their system.Pricing: ACX doesn’t give you any pricing flexibility. They’ll price your book, primarily based on its length. And the retail price is not usually the price listeners pay! Instead, expect these prices:
      • Audible members get monthly credits that they use to buy audiobooks. These credits usually cost $14.99 each, but each credit costs less for members on higher membership tiers with more than one credit per month. Plus they offer various special deals if people purchase annually or during a promotion. It’s confusing (and how they calculate royalties on books purchased with credits is even more confusing; more on that below).
      Whispersync for Voice, syncs your Audible audiobook to your Kindle ebook so readers can switch between the two. Amazon customers can buy your Kindle book, then “upgrade” to your audiobook for a discounted amount. For my books (which are all on the long side, over 12 hours), this “upgrade” price is $7.49. (Note that it can take Amazon/ACX time to sync your book. I had an audiobook published last week, and Whispersync still isn’t set up on it.)Lastly, you may occasionally have a buyer who pays retail price on Audible or Amazon (and the retail differs a bit between those two sellers). These prices tend to be high (The Frost Eater is $21.83 on Amazon and $24.95 on Audible), and most audiobook listeners are understandably unwilling pay that much.
    • Royalties: ACX pays royalties in two tiers.
      • 40% of the sales price if your audiobook is exclusive with them (not sold through any other distributors or retailers).
      • 25% of the sales price if your audiobook is not exclusive.
      • Royalties are based on what the purchaser actually pays if they purchase outright. Don’t let that high retail price fool you!
        And royalties on books purchased with an Audible credit are based on the book’s list price, rather than what the member paid for the credit. It’s confusing, I know. More info here:
      • Lastly, I’ll say it bluntly: ACX’s sales/royalty reporting sucks. Their payment schedule is awesome (30 days after the end of the month in which the purchase was made…so I got paid for July sales at the end of August), but you won’t know your exact royalty amount until about the time you’re getting paid. Edit, February 2021: ACX is making some improvements to their reporting.
    • Review Codes: Only If you’re exclusive with ACX , they will provide you with a limited number of review codes so that reviewers can listen to your book for free, then review it. Sorry, no codes if you’re non-exclusive.
      • When your book goes live, ACX gives you 25 codes for use on Audible in the US and 25 for use in the UK.
      • Once at least 10 codes in one market (US or UK) are redeemed, you can request 25 more codes for that market…IF if you’ve sold at least 100 total audiobooks through ACX.
      • Important note: in the past, ACX paid royalties when review codes were redeemed. It was pretty awesome; I made a lot of money by giving away free audiobooks! As of March 26, 2020, ACX is no longer paying royalties on review codes for books published that day or later. (Honestly, I knew it was probably too good of a deal to last forever!)
      • Countries: You can use ACX if you live in the US, UK, Canada, or Ireland. Sorry, Australia and elsewhere!
    • Findaway Voices
      • Distribution: Findaway Voices distributes to what they call “the world’s largest network of audiobook sellers” including retailers, libraries and subscription services.
        • Note: Findaway does distribute to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, but if you prefer, you can distribute through ACX in a non-exclusive agreement (so that Findaway doesn’t take its cut on Audible sales) and use Findaway for other retailers.
      • Narrator Connection: Through Findaway Voices, you can hire a narrator for Voices Share, PFH, or Audioworks. (See “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” above.) You’re also welcome to bring completed files to Findaway that were narrated by you or someone you contracted with outside their system.
      • Pricing: You can set your own price through Findaway and can even set up short-term promotional deals for some retailers. You can also submit Findaway audiobooks to Chirp, an audio deals site that’s connected to BookBub. Note that ACX/Audible still sets their own prices for Audible and Amazon, even if you distribute through Findaway.
      • Royalties: Findaway Voices pays you 80% of what the various sales channels pay them. What does that mean?
        • Let’s talk ACX/Audible first, since it’s the biggest player in the market.
          • When you publish through Findaway, you’re non-exclusive with ACX, which means they pay 25% royalties. You’ll make 80% of that, which comes out to 20% of the sales price. So on a $15 sale, you’ll make $3.00.
          • To avoid giving Findaway 20% of their royalties from Audible/Amazon, some people distribute directly to ACX use Findaway for the rest of their distribution.
          • Note that iTunes is different. Yes, ACX can distribute to them…but iTunes pays better royalties to books that don’t come from ACX! Books sold through iTunes make a 25% royalty through ACX but a 45% royalty elsewhere. So if Findaway is handling your iTunes sales, you’ll make 80% of 45%…which comes out to a 36% royalty for you. (And before you ask…if you upload your book at ACX and at Findaway to avoid paying Findaway a cut on your ACX books…I’m not sure which distributor handles the iTunes sales!)
        • Here’s the good news: outside ACX, other audiobook sellers pay better! 25% is a really low royalty rate. ACX gets away with it since they’re so big in the market, but from what I’ve seen, most other sellers pay more like 40-50%, and with Findaway, you’ll keep 80% of that.
        • With Findaway, you’ll be part of subscription programs and your book will be available to libraries. Read this article for more info on how this affects your royalties.
        • Findaway will pay you at the end of the month, and their payment will include what retailers have paid them within the last 30 days. So it’ll take about a month longer to get paid than it would with ACX, since Findaway has to get paid before you do.
      • Review Codes: Findaway will give you a limited number of review codes so that reviewers can listen to your book for free, then review it.
        • You’ll receive 30 codes that can be used on the Authors Direct website or app to download your book. (I just got one of those codes from an author, and it was easy to use.)
        • If you sign up for Voices Share (see “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” above), you’re exclusive with Findaway…and that earns you 100 codes! Score!
        • Unfortunately, Audible only allows listeners to review if the listener got the audiobook from Audible or Amazon. That means your Findaway review codes won’t result in Audible reviews.
      • Countries: Anyone anywhere can use Findaway Voices!
    • So…which one should I choose?
      • If you need the lowest-cost narration (Royalty Share), ACX is your only option.
      • I chose to be exclusive with ACX because I knew Audible was huge in the audiobook market, and I wanted to get that 40% royalty on my Audible sales.
      • I also loved those paid review codes; they made it worth it to be exclusive with Audible! But, as I said before, they’re not paying for code redemptions anymore (except for books that were grandfathered in under the old terms)
      • As I read more, I realize there are a lot of other players who sell a lot of audiobooks. I’m missing out on large portions of the market.
      • Exclusivity with ACX lasts for seven years. However, if you are not in a Royalty Share agreement, ACX will release you from the exclusivity contract after 90 days upon request. Findaway even provides a form letter for this purpose!
      • I’m probably going to take the plunge and remove my first series from ACX exclusivity, using Findaway for non-ACX retailers. I may do the same with my current series, once I pass the 90-day mark for my final book in the series.
      • For my next series, I’m not sure if I’ll take advantage of Audible’s 40% royalty for exclusives for 90 days, then switch to being non-exclusive or if I’ll start out non-exclusive from the beginning.

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How do I choose a narrator?

Before hiring a narrator, you’ll want multiple people to audition (unless you already know a narrator who’s the perfect fit or you’re contracting the whole thing out to a company who chooses a narrator for you).

ACX and Findaway Voices both have systems set up to connect you with narrators who will audition for your book. The process can vary depending what system you’re using to pay your narrator (royalty share, PFH, etc.) and where you’re finding your narrator.

I’ve heard authors who use ACX give this piece of advice: don’t just wait for people to find your book and audition. Listen to narrator samples on ACX, and invite the ones who are great fits to audition for you.

Head back up to the “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” topic. It has the links you need to get started.

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Will my book sell well as an audiobook?

I’ve heard this piece of advice a couple of different times: If your book isn’t selling well as an ebook, it probably won’t sell well as an audiobook. If it is selling well digitally, it’ll probably do well as an audiobook.

I think that’s mostly true, across genres. But there are some notable exceptions.

At times my 43-hour trilogy ominbus, The Complete Sun-Blessed Trilogy, has sold better than the ebook. A lot of people love long audiobooks, especially when they’re using Audible credits to buy them.

Speaking of my massive omnibus…Early in my career, I saw some really solid advice:

When sales slow down for the individual books in your series, put the series (or part of it) into a “box set” (ebook and audio) and see if you can rejuvenate sales.

I did that with my Sun-Blessed Trilogy, and my audiobook has far outsold the individual audiobooks. The ebook “box set” isn’t a huge seller, but it does much better in KU than the individual books do. KU and audiobooks can both really help a lagging series if you create “box sets.” Here’s an ACX tutorial on how to make an audio box set.

I can think of a couple more exceptions to the “books that sell well as ebooks will probably sell well in audio” rule .

  • A short book may not sell well, even if its digital and/or paper versions sell well. With Audible credits (a source of a lot of sales), listeners pay the same amount for a 30-minute book as a 30-hour book. Most listeners won’t use a credit for a very short book.
  • It doesn’t matter how well they sell digitally or in hard copy…most “visual” books (like graphic novels and cookbooks) shouldn’t be made into audiobooks!

One more note about sales: the audiobook market is smaller than the ebook market, and you’ll usually sell fewer audiobooks than ebooks. However, because audiobooks tend to cost more than ebooks, authors often make a higher average profit per audiobook (even taking into account the lower royalty percentages for audio).

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When should I release my audiobook?

Should you release an audiobook at the same time you release the ebook and paperback or later?

Some people like having separate release dates so they can rejuvenate interest in a book after it’s been out a while.

I tend to think releasing at the same time is best. You can take advantage of that launch momentum! My goal is always to have the audiobook for sale on launch day. I did break that rule for my most recent release, but I plan to have the next audiobook ready by launch.

Here’s the catch.

  • ACX doesn’t let indie authors choose their own release date. (Insert sobs.) You have to upload the audiobook and wait for it to be approved through quality control. When it’s approved (which used to take two to three weeks but is taking more like a month these days), the book heads to retail. (Major edit, February 2021: At some point, ACX quietly started allowing those with books exclusive to ACX to set pre-orders. Click here for details.)
  • Findaway does allow you to set a release date…but some retailers may still release before that date.

I try to submit my files to ACX at least a month before my launch date…preferably five weeks before.

When I’ve done that, the book has always been approved and for sale well before the ebook release date. It gives me time to start bringing in some early audio reviews. (Audiobook reviewers are welcome to post on Amazon too!) Then on launch day, I can advertise that the book is available in “ebook, paperback, and audiobook.” (Edit: See above if you want to do a pre-order instead.)

In reality…most indie authors release the ebook and paperback, then release the audio when it’s ready. You can decide how you want to do it. That’s the beauty of indie publishing!

Should you release an audiobook on a book that’s been out a while?

If the book is selling well, go for it!

If the book isn’t selling well, I’d suggest not putting a bunch of money into an audiobook. You may have trouble selling it. You could always try to find a royalty share narrator so you don’t have any upfront production cost.

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Should I record my own audiobook? If so…how?

There are more reasons to say NO to recording and producing your own audiobooks than to say YES. See the “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” section for a rundown of the pros and cons.

But let me go into more detail about one of the cons: narrating and producing your own audiobook can be incredibly time consuming.

ACX says it takes an average of 6.2 hours to produce one finished hour of an audiobook. Somewhere else, I’ve seen an estimate of 4 to 10 hours per finished hour.

Here’s the thing. A narrator/producer on ACX might’ve made dozens of audiobooks. You and I haven’t! Newbies tend to take longer on tasks like this.

I didn’t keep good track with my first audiobook, but I bet it took me about 12 to 15 hours per finished hour.

I recently released my fifth audiobook. I’m down about 8.75 hours per finished hour for recording, editing, and mastering. My 12.5 hour audiobook took me over 109 hours to produce. (That doesn’t count setting up to record over and over and over or uploading files!) And that was my fastest production yet.

What takes so long? It’s not the recording. It’s the sound editing. You may be shocked how many little noises your mouth makes once a microphone picks them all up and you’re listening to them through headphones! Then there are breaths that may need to be removed or deamplified. And there’s noise reduction and equalization and normalization and…is your head swimming yet?

(You can record the audio and hire someone to edit for you. I don’t know much about that, so I can’t give you any advice on finding a good editor.)

I enjoy producing audiobooks. But it’s intense, tiring work. Editing the sound can be hard on your hands and wrists because it’s repetitive computer work. Recording can be hard on your voice. If you choose to do this, make sure you know what you’re getting into!

In most cases, I don’t suggest recording your own. But I had some reasons to say YES.

  • My background is in speech and theatre, so I figured it might be a good fit. (While some authors of fiction books do a “straight” reading without any character voices, many listeners expect character voices these days.)
  • I enjoy learning new skills.
  • I thought it would be a creatively gratifying project.
  • I wanted a high-quality production…without paying much for it!

If you think recording your own audiobooks might be for you, keep reading.

Let’s talk about your recording space and your gear.

A walk-in closet can make a great home studio! The clothes act as sound-dampening material. I use my little walk-in closet with a blanket draped over the door over a small wall that doesn’t have clothes on it.

There are plenty of other options for recording spaces. I’d suggest you search online for terms such as “audiobook recording studio” or “home voiceover space.” Some people have posted videos on YouTube with their suggestions.

As for recording gear, you’ll need the following:

  • A USB microphone or an XLR microphone (XLR is the typical, three-pronged mic plug.)
  • If you use an XLR mic, you’ll need an audio interface. The interface is a little box that connects via USB to your computer. You plug the mic into it.
  • If you use an XLR mic, you’ll also need an XLR cable. The USB mic will likely come with a cable.
  • A mic stand (the type that stands on the floor or the type that sits on a desk)
  • A pop screen (like this)
  • Studio headphones for editing and, if you want, for recording (like these)

What kind of mic do you need? There’s not one answer to that question. I will say this: while you can spend several hundred bucks on a mic, a lot of people use mics that cost $100 or less. Do your research first!

I’m going to suggest you check out some resources to help you hunt down the right mic.

  • Making Tracks: A Writer’s Guide to Audiobooks (and How to Produce Them) by J. Daniel Sawyer, an audiobook producer. Well worth the $10 Kindle price!
  • Audiobook Recording: A Beginner’s Guide to Producing Audiobooks Using Audacity by Krystal Wascher
  • Search online for “audiobook microphone reviews” to find tons of info.

I’ve tried a few different mics, and here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Most condenser mics are “large-diaphragm condensers,” and they have a very bright sound. That could be great if your voice is growly and rumbly and a little too warm. My voice is already bright, and my condenser mic brightened it further. Also, large-diaphragm condensers tend to pick up every little sound, which makes for more editing.
  • Dynamic mics tend to lend warmth to your voice. This is great for me…not so great if your voice is already too warm or muddy! They also tend to be more forgiving, not picking up quite as many unwanted sounds. However, my voice tends to “pop” a lot more (for instance, my “P” sounds) with a dynamic mic…even with two pop filters between my mouth and the mic! Edited to add: While I loved how my voice sounded with a dynamic mic, I’ve switched to a shotgun mic because the dynamic mic I used didn’t pull in enough signal. I had to boost the volume too much in post-production. I love my shotgun mic!
  • Shotgun mics are highly directional; they don’t pick up as much “outside noise” as many large-diaphragm condensers. Depending how you position a shotgun mic, it can be fairly forgiving with mouth noises. I use a shotgun mic now.

These days (November 2022, when I’m editing this), I use a Rode NTG5 shotgun mic. It’s $499 on Amazon (I know, yikes), but I got it for about $150 cheaper on Reverb, a resale site for music/sound equipment. I love it; it’s definitely my favorite of the mics I’ve tried.

When I used a dynamic mic, I used a Sennheiser E609. It runs about $100 on Amazon. I didn’t buy it; my husband already had it. It’s made to mic instruments, but he’d heard it worked well for voices, and it does give my bright voice a nice, warm tone.

In the Making Tracks book I linked to above, the author suggests trying a Shure SM-58, one of the most popular vocal mics out there. It’s another dynamic mic. We have one of those too (benefit of being married to a musician!), and I tried it. I liked it a whole lot, almost as much as the Sennheiser. It runs about $104 on Amazon.

I started out with the AKG P220 mic, a large-diaphragm condenser mic. I got it as part of this bundle (which included all the items I listed in the must-have list above), currently priced at $350. The mic alone runs about $160 on Amazon. It’s a nice mic but was too bright and unforgiving for me. I sold it to recoup some of my cost.

All the mics I’ve tried are XLR mics. Some narrators use USB mics, which eliminate the need for a USB interface box. And while I’ve read that USB mics don’t produce the same quality of sound as XLR mics, many narrators use them with good results.

What about software?

The four audio recording/editing/mastering programs I hear mentioned most often are Audacity, Adobe Audition, GarageBand (for Apple devices only), and Reaper.

Exploring software options in detail is beyond the scope of this post or my expertise.

I use Audacity because it’s free, open-source software that does everything I need it to do. GarageBand is free too, but its capabilities are more limited. (Some producers love it though!)

The learning curve for mastering and editing is steep. That’s why I’ve put together five in-depth video tutorials, totaling 2.5 hours+, on using Audacity to create audiobooks. These are the videos I wish I had when I was starting! Check them out here.

Edited to add: As of late 2022, I’m using Adobe Audition, and I love it.

You’ll need to meet the Audio Submission Requirements before uploading. Here they are for ACX and for Findaway Voices.

Here are a few room-noise standards I use for my books. (Yours may vary.)

  • Just over 0.5 seconds of room noise (no noise except the slight, ambient hiss in all recordings) at the start of a chapter
  • Just over 3 seconds of room noise at the end of a chapter
  • 3 seconds of room noise for a mid-chapter scene break (signified by *** in my manuscript)
  • 1 second of room noise between the chapter title and the first paragraph

These times are never perfect in the recording; I get them just right during editing.

How do I upload my audio to ACX and Findaway?

Both platforms make it easy to bring your own audio files and upload them, bypassing the hassle of finding a narrator.

However, I don’t upload to ACX as an author. Instead, I created an ACX narrator account because one day, I may want to narrate for others. I want my own audiobooks listed as credits on my narrator account.

So I have two ACX accounts, my author account and my narrator account.

  • When I’m ready, I start my project in ACX as an author. I indicate that I’ve already chosen a narrator.
  • I send an “offer for production” to my narrator account. I offer myself $1 per finished hour, because the website doesn’t allow me to ask my narrator to work for free!
  • In my narrator account, I accept the offer.
  • There’s more back and forth throughout the process. I use different browsers for my narrator and author accounts to make it easy to switch between the two without logging in and out.

There may be an easier way to do this, but this way works.

My last piece of advice if you’re considering narrating your own audiobooks? Join my Authors Who Narrate Their Own Audiobooks Facebook group. It’s got a ton of great information in it, and it’s a supportive environment.

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Miscellaneous questions

Should I ever hire multiple narrators for one book?

If your book is narrated by multiple first-person narrators, it makes a lot of sense to hire multiple narrators. It’s not a must, but it often works well to do it that way.

In other cases, you don’t need to hire multiple narrators. You may choose to, especially if you have multiple third-person “deep” or “close” points of view, and each one has a very different voice.

Normally, you’d want the same narrator for each book in a series. However, if each book has a different main character, you may consider changing the narrator, especially if the main characters aren’t all the same gender. It’s up to you.

Sometimes, people hire multiple narrators to voice various characters’ dialogue. In my opinion, this can be problematic if one narrator is voicing most of the characters and only one or a few characters have different voices. There are “full-cast” audiobooks where every character has their own narrator, but that type of production is out of reach for most indies.

If you’re using the built-in contract/system on ACX, you’ll need to contract with only one producer, who can then subcontract with one or more narrators. It’s probably best to do it this way, letting someone else handle the hassle of making sure all the narrators’ files sound similar. Much better than you, the author, cobbling together a book that’s been produced by various narrators.

Note that if you’re using Royalty Share through ACX, you can only use one narrator per book and per box set/omnibus.

How can I make it more likely my audio files will be accepted by ACX or Findaway?

Before I convert my files to .mp3s, I use an awesome, free program (donations are accepted) called 2ndOpinion to make sure my .wav files meet ACX standards. You can pass along this resource to your narrator, and you can use it for Findaway standards too.

When I upload the files to ACX, I listen to the very beginning and very end of each chapter to be sure it’s the right file and that it’s complete. I do a lot of double- and triple-checking. I don’t ever want my files to be out of order or for any to be missing!

If you’re not narrating your own work, you’ll need to do at least one listen-through of the whole book to catch any errors.

What’s the best way to distribute review codes and get reviews?

I’ve found a few good ways.

  • I distribute my codes through StoryOrigin, a totally free service. They even remind reviewers to follow through! I seem to get more reviews this way than when I do all the distribution and reminders myself.
  • Again through StoryOrigin, I connect with other authors in Audiobook Review Group Promotions. We all have our audiobooks shown on one snazzy giveaway page, and we each promote the giveaway to our readers (through mailing lists and social media). This way we’re helping each other connect with new listeners.
  • Offer review codes to your mailing list and/or Facebook reader group. Send reminders to review or let StoryOrigin remind them.
  • Offer review codes in the Audiobx Facebook group (and any similar groups you find). I’ve connected with several new fans this way! Note that Audiobx doesn’t let you use StoryOrigin or any method that requires an email address from the listener. You’ll need to DM the codes to the listeners and follow up with them individually.
  • One note: If you use RoyaltyShare or RoyaltyShare Plus with ACX, narrators get review codes too! You can encourage your narrator to distribute those codes.

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Wrapping it up

Please comment below or find me on Twitter if you have any more questions!

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7 responses to “Author Resource: Let’s Talk AUDIOBOOKS”

  1. Carol Neelands Avatar

    Great resourses! Thanks so much!

    1. carolbethanderson Avatar

      You’re welcome! I’m glad it helps!

  2. Carol Neelands Avatar

    Do you know if findaway deals with and other Christian Audio publishers?

    1. carolbethanderson Avatar

      I doubt it, only because it’s really easy to send your Findaway book to ALL the retailers they distribute to, so I’d be surprised if they’re using specialty retailers like that (retailers that wouldn’t accept the majority of audiobooks on their platform). But that’s just a guess. I’d suggest checking out the Findaway website. 🙂

  3. Dianne DeMille Avatar

    Wonderful information.

  4. Fred Roth Avatar

    Very interesting tips. I’m going to try to record “Fighting the Promise,” and I need all the help I can get.

    1. carolbethanderson Avatar

      Good luck! Be sure to join our Authors Who Narrate Their Own Audiobooks FB group.