Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Writers' Wednesday: Are You Tapping Into the World of Audio Books?

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today's post is borrowed in its entirety from an email I received from Let's Write Books yesterday - but I echo its message of exploring audio books if you're an author and have never considered or seriously looked into that avenue of sales and distribution. Several of my books are available in audio format, and I've both signed with a production company and gone through ACX to produce them on my own. Bottom line: they are one more way of selling your books to an audience. Read on:

Dear Fellow Writer,

Turn your book into an audiobook and watch royalties soar. In 2013, the audiobook market generated between 1.2-2 billion dollars in revenue. Consider this in light of the fact that only 5% of all books have been converted into audiobooks. The market is huge and hungry for more.

Amazon has recognized this opportunity, and is very excited about audiobooks. So much so that they now own Audible and ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), which is their audiobook distribution division (More about ACX later in this newsletter).

Here’s why the market is so hot:

• You can download audiobooks to any phone, tablet or computer. Currently, there are approximately 1.5 billion smart phones in use worldwide (1 out 7 people) and the # of phones + pc’s + tablets + computers shipped in 2013 = approx. 2.35 billion.
• Download instantly = immediate gratification for the consumer.
• Audiobooks are portable: listen in the car/commuting, while multitasking, and on the go.
• Some people prefer to listen to books, & won’t read them.
• Great for kids and those who have trouble reading.
• The average salary of the download audiobook listener is $84,000.

Here’s why you want to turn YOUR book into an audiobook:

• Create additional distribution channels, reach new markets.
• Additional royalties for you.
• It looks professional and prestigious.
• Bundle your audiobooks with books, eBooks, videos, etc.
• No inventory needed
• No shipping required
• Environmentally friendly

Now that you know about the market and the benefits of having an audiobook, let’s look at how to produce one. There are 5 options:

1. Do it yourself
2. Hire a production studio
3. Hire talent directly
4. Share royalties instead of payment
5. Sell rights to your audiobook

The first option of doing it yourself works well if you have a good voice, work well with technology and don’t mind a small learning curve. To do this you will need a good microphone and/or recording software. I recommend a Yeti USB microphone, and free recording software called Audacity, which is fairly easy to use You can download the software here: There are also lots of video tutorials on YouTube for this software. If you have never done this before, make sure your files match the specs of the company you are producing the audio for.

If you don’t want to bother with all of this, but still want to use your voice, a great option is to go into a recording studio. They will record your reading, edit, and provide you with files. Because voice-only files are not too complex, you can easily record in a small, home-based studio and save a lot of money. Check Craig’s List for a recording studio, or consider posting an ad there to find one. Expect to pay between $25 to $50/hr. for a small studio.

The third option is to use a professional narrator. They will handle everything for you from recording to editing to producing the files. Expect to pay $200 to $300 per recorded hour. One recorded hour is approximately 10,400 words. You can find talent on, ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), and Craig’s List. Be sure to listen to their audio samples and have them do a sample of your book based on one or two pages of your manuscript.

The next option is to share your royalties in lieu of payment. This can be set up at To do this, you post your job under the category of royalty shares. You pay nothing, but agree to share your royalties on a 50/50 split. I don’t advise this if you have a short book, or if you have a book you believe will be a good selling book. I do, however, see this as a viable option when you have a long book – say 60,000 plus words, as longer books will generate larger royalty payments, and then it might make financial sense to split the proceeds.

The last option is to sell the rights to your audiobook just as you would sell the rights to your book. You can do this by finding and audiobook agent or publisher. Locate one by searching the web, asking your publisher if traditionally published, and posting on

Now that you know the different ways to get your audiobook produced, let’s discuss As mentioned earlier, ACX is Amazon’s audiobook distribution arm. They distribute to Amazon, Audible and iTunes – the big three platforms for audiobook sales.

You cannot upload to Audible or iTunes without going through ACX. It is possible to upload audios to Amazon directly from Createspace, and you can check this out if you prefer. In order to use ACX, you must have your book as a Kindle or paperback book on Amazon. If your book is not on Amazon, you will not be able to use ACX.

ACX provides a variety of options:

1. Upload your own recording
2. Hire a narrator
3. Hire a narrator for free by agreeing to share royalties
4. Sell the rights to your audiobook

Yes, there is a little learning curve in doing this, but it is very worthwhile. The easiest way to market your book and see more royalties is by expanding distribution. Audiobooks provide a very direct path for accomplishing this.

Action step:
Visit and have a look around.

Keep writing!
Howard VanEs