Creating Your Audiobook: Part II
This is Part II of my “Creating Your Audiobook” series. If you haven’t already reviewed Part I, click here to do so. Part II builds on what I’ve previously shared in Part I.
As we emphasized in Part I of this series, more people are purchasing audiobooks than ever before. In fact, 67 percent of Americans purchase e-books and audiobooks.
So regardless of your personal preference towards purchasing audiobooks or e-books, know that the majority of Americans do. By not having an audiobook or an e-book, you’ll be missing out on potential massive book sales!
The good news is that once you have your print book completed, converting it to e-book is simple and inexpensive. Write Way Publishing Company can help you with both. Visit their website at www.WriteWayPublishingCompany.com
Recording an audiobook can be simple and inexpensive as well—if you do it the “Write Way.”
We also emphasized in Part I that there are many options to record an audiobook. You can opt in to pay a studio for their recording setup and studio time. You can have someone else narrate your book for you. You can also have someone edit all your files to ensure they meet upload requirements.
Of course having someone else do the work saves you time, but their billable hours will quickly add up into the hundreds and very likely thousands of dollars. AND in my opinion, the pros of DIY far outweigh any cons. Plus, you’ll gain extraordinary experience by doing it yourself. I did!
If you’ve reviewed Part I in this series, you already understand my personal opinion on “why” you should have an audiobook as well as the pros and cons of doing it on your own. In this post, I’m going to outline the most important steps for “how” to actually create an audiobook. Along the way I’ll be sprinkling in my own experiences and perspectives so you can learn from what went well … and what didn’t! #Youarewelcome
And whether you plan to “do it yourself” (DIY) or hire a studio or narrator, you need to be familiar with the audiobook steps required.
1. First, I recommend listening to several audiobooks in your genre to benchmark and study their style, pace, vocal inflection, etc. Listen to audiobooks of authors you want to be like and are akin to. While listening to them, take notes on what you like and don’t like. Be very clear with a vision for how you want your future audiobook to sound. Here’s a link to an audiobook I recommend 😊
2. Select which audiobook platform/company you want to submit files to. This will determine upload requirements. There are numerous companies to pick from and it can quickly seem overwhelming, but don’t get frustrated. When I investigated audiobook options, I actually hired a coach to help me determine which company was the best for me. An hour phone call was all I needed for clarity! So if you’d like, schedule a coaching call with me and I’d be happy to talk you through pros and cons based on what your goals are as well.
Your goals are key because different audiobook companies have different distributions, different royalty disbursements, and different requirements! Personally, I went with ACX because the requirements were easy to understand and I wanted my book to be distributed on Amazon.com through Audible.com. ACX is one of the most recognized platforms that uses Audible to distribute through Amazon.com. ACX is also free.
In part I of this series, I briefly outlined why you should not upload your audiobook files to your own website. I do not recommend that strategy, even for folks who might have a decent following. You'll end up missing out on Amazon exposure in the long run.
3. Whatever audiobook platform you decide to upload through, know their requirements. For example, with ACX the upload requirements are clearly laid out on this link. I referenced this page over a dozen times when I was recording and editing my audiobook. Before recording, I also recommend you study this “Audiobook Tip Sheet” (click here to download) from Write Way Publishing Company. It’ll walk you through how to prepare your book, your mind, and your body to optimize your recording and avoid costly mistakes in both time and money.
4. Prepare your book manuscript to be read as an audiobook script. If you complete #1 above and listen to other audiobooks, then you will quickly understand why this is important. Any great audiobook is not just a recording of someone reading a book out loud. Instead, an audiobook script is customized to be read, and listened to, as an audiobook. And I highly, highly recommend you prepare the script, not someone else doing it for you.
Not much needs to be customized, and I would estimate roughly 90-95 percent of a print book manuscript can remain the same. There are portions of a print book or e-book that should not be included in an audiobook recording. (Again, contact me if I can help.)
5. Decide if you will be recording your audiobook or if you will be hiring a narrator to record for you. From my experience, and most certainly if you’re a professional speaker, or want to be, your audiobook should have your voice, not someone else’s. If you have a “brand” in your professional career and credibility is important to your image, which it should be, your audiobook should have your voice. I’ve done my own research on this, and I can’t recall anyone I’ve ever spoken to who preferred listening to someone different than the actual author.
Plus, hiring a narrator will at minimum will require hundreds of dollars, if not thousands. The industry average for professional quality narration is $250 to $350 per finished hour and a “finished hour” generally is 2 to 3 times longer than a narration hour. Hiring someone else will also require hours and hours of your time to interview and select the right person. This in itself will be a laborious process for you. By the time you find the person you “think” you want to record your book, you could have already recorded most if not all of it! Plus, you’re relying on someone else and “hoping” they sound as good as you want them to sound. I have nothing against professional narrators and voiceover folks, but when it comes down to authorship, branding, and speaking, my opinions are based on my own 20 years of experience—if you are, or if you want to be, a speaker, do your own narration.
6. If you decide to record your audiobook on your own, which I recommend, you’ll either need to hire a studio that can provide the space and equipment, or you’ll need to “hire yourself” and make your own studio. I recommend “hiring yourself” and investing in your own equipment. It’s not too expensive to purchase the right equipment and you’ll be able to use that same equipment for so many other purposes—like podcasts, webinars, various audio files, and more.
** For example, recently during a Zoom video conference call with the president of a company where I will be speaking, I was asked how my audio on the video call was so crisp and clear. I told him I was using the microphone that I used to record my audiobook. He then not only bought my audiobook but he also ordered 100 copies of my hardcover book for the event where I'll be speaking! #BOOM. That one order paid for the audiobook recording equipment! (Note: This is one of many situations that inspired me to write this post!)
If you want to make your own studio, here is a list of the equipment I used:
* Tascam recorder
* Sennheiser shotgun microphone
* Microphone stand
* Memory card
* Audacity (audio editing software – free!)
Total DIY investment: ~ $550 or less (plus now you own the equipment)
Investment if you record in a studio: ~ $750+ minimum (if cheaper, don’t use them!)
Investment if you record in a studio + their editing: ~ $1,500+ minimum
Investment if you hire a narrator + studio + studio editing: ~ $2,500++ minimum
7. Record a 5 to 10-minute sample of your audiobook and listen to it several times. I recommend you have others listen to it as well. This is the time to make changes to your recording style, pauses, vocal inflection, pace, overall energy level, etc. If you desire to make any changes, record another sample and listen back to it again and again. Do not continue recording the rest of your audiobook until you are pleased with your sample!
This is also the time to listen to audiobooks from other authors you’ve listened to. Look back at your notes. Download the “Audiobook Tip Sheet” (click here to download) from Write Way Publishing Company if you haven't done so already. It’ll walk you through how to prepare your book, your mind, and your body to optimize your recording and avoid costly mistakes in both time and money.
Once you are pleased with your sample recording, submit a sample to your selected audiobook platform/company for approval as well. For example, if you use ACX, you can send them a small sample for approval before you begin recording the entire audiobook! They’ll respond and inform you whether or not your sample meets their specifications. How awesome is that?! If your sample is not approved, you will receive explanation and have the chance to resubmit files after making corrections.
*** Important … imagine not following these steps above and going forward with recording your entire audiobook only to find out it was done improperly? I’ve met people who have done this and it is common! They didn’t know what they didn’t know and as a result, they experienced massive frustration and made costly mistakes. Don’t let this happen to you! I also know people who became so frustrated during the audiobook recording process that they gave up and never even finished. Again, don’t let this happen to you. When you feel like you want to quit, send me an email for some coaching support and help! I’ll help you break through that frustration.
8. Upon approval of your sample file, which might take a few days or weeks, you will be ready to record the remainder of your book. But before doing so, you’ll need to brush up once again on your audiobook requirements because it has likely been a few weeks. If you use ACX, here are their requirements one more time. As you record each chapter, I recommend stopping the recording and downloading the audio file just to ensure the files are recording properly.
** A HUGE mistake I made was recording roughly half my book only to find out later that a glitch occurred and nothing had been recorded. I was furious—at myself—for a mistake that could have been avoided if I had simply downloaded each chapter separately and at one sitting. I encourage you to do this chapter by chapter download!
If you’ve already read the “Audiobook Tip Sheet” I recommended, then you already know to not expect reading your book perfectly. You will make mistakes. You will need to take deep breaths and extra pauses at times. This is perfectly fine. You’ll just need to edit out those extra pauses, mispronunciations, room noises, and slight mistakes once your recording is done. One strategy I found helpful was to pause at least 3 seconds after any mistake so that I could easily find it on the audio file later for editing. (Remember, I used free Audacity for editing.)
Other advice about recording is that you want to try and record everything within 1-2 days, in the same setting, wearing the same clothes. Don’t wait 1-2 weeks in between recording sessions because something will likely be different that will affect your audio file. You need the audio files to sound exactly the same. Otherwise they will not be approved.
How long should it take to record your audiobook? It depends! My 175 page book (28,000 word count) took a total of just 11 hours to record. That included a wasted 2-3 hours of mistakes that I’ve hopefully helped you avoid!
9. Once all your files are recorded, it’s now time to edit those files. As I mentioned, I used Audacity. I had never used Audacity before recording my audiobook, and it was a quick learning curve. Do not let Audacity intimidate you. It’s very user friendly and you will only use 5 percent of all the bells and whistles it offers. Audacity provides lots of quick tutorials for beginners and so does YouTube. In about one hour, you can learn what you need to know to edit your audiobook with Audacity—I did.
And once you know how to edit audio files through Audacity, you have experience for so many different purposes! Feel better? DIY! You won’t learn anything if you hire someone else to do it for you.
10. Once all your files are edited to proper specifications, it’s now time to upload your files to your selected platform. When I uploaded my files to ACX, it was quick and easy. Two weeks later, I received an email from them stating that my audiobook had been approved and had already been linked up to my Amazon sales page with my print book and e-book. To see all my book versions in one place was incredible–click here. #Done
If for any reason your files are not approved, then you will be informed why and then have the opportunity to make editing corrections. Simply upload the revised files.
11. Enjoy having your audiobook available on Amazon along with your other book formats. You’ll benefit for years to come and should most definitely see a boost in book sales simply by having an audiobook and knowing how to leverage it.
I hope these steps and my guidance have been helpful. What I’d emphasize the most to you is that YOU CAN DO IT! Whether you do it on your own or you hire help to record and/or edit your audiobook, you can have an audiobook!
If you hit a wall along the way and need some help, simply reach out to me. I’m happy to schedule a coaching call to answer any questions and help you break through that figurative wall.
“There’re always reasons not to do something, so focus on the reasons why you should!”
In part III of this series, “Creating an Audiobook,” I’m going to share tips from other audiobook authors.
To contact me, Kevin@KevinCSnyder.com
To visit Write Way Publishing, visit www.WriteWayPublishingCompany.com
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