Print? Digital? Audio?
As an indie author, have you ventured into the world of audiobooks yet? If not, are you ready to create and market your audiobook?
Many recent sources say that audiobooks are increasing in popularity among readers, notably in the USA and the UK. While it’s true that audiobook sales are on the rise, the majority of readers still prefer print (even over ebooks).
Regardless of personal reading preferences, it’s hard to deny the importance of audiobooks for authors. Among Best Author Tools authors surveyed, about 30% have taken the plunge into audiobooks.
When self-published authors are ready to turn their books into audiobooks, one of the biggest decisions is whether to narrate the book themselves or hire a professional voice actor and production service. Many indie authors face budget constraints. The decision to self-narrate might seem like the most economical choice. But just like designing your own cover or author website, authors need to weigh the cost of the time involved over the money spent hiring a professional.
Author Narrated Audiobooks
There are many good reasons authors decide to narrate their own books. The decision is multi-faceted and often quite personal.
Among the many advantages, Joanna Penn suggests that doing so can help sharpen your storytelling and writing skills. Additionally, Penn writes, audiobooks provide an additional income stream.
Rob Dircks agrees that authors can do it themselves and he offers some great suggestions for getting started. Of course, Dircks adds that just because you can do it yourself, doesn’t mean you should.
There are many tools to help you narrate your own audiobook. In addition to the obvious hardware tools such as a computer and quality microphone, you’ll also need some good audio recording software.
There are many professional audio editing programs out there, but many indie authors starting in audiobooks cannot justify the cost.
For example, to use Adobe’s popular Audition app, you need a Creative Suite subscription (approx. $250/year). Of course, if you already use Photoshop to create your own covers and marketing pieces and InDesign to layout your print books, you might already have a Creative Cloud subscription. In that case, you already have access to Adobe Audition. If you want to give it a try, this article provides some tips for editing your own narration using Audition.
For non-Adobe users and/or the budget conscious, Audacity is a great open-source (free to download and use) solution to help you record and edit your own audiobook. Audacity generally gets great reviews from users and has been hailed as “the best free audio editor.”
Professionally Narrated Audiobooks
On the other hand, there are good arguments for leaving audiobook narration and production to a professional.
Karen Commins argues that authors are not always the best option to narrate their own books. But some authors are. Many readers prefer author-narrated audiobooks (e.g. Stephen King and Neil Gaiman receive glowing reviews from listeners).
Even if you are up to the task, you need to weigh the costs. Producing your own audiobook may not save you as much money as you think – especially if you end up with a poor quality audiobook.
Authors who prefer not to narrate their own audiobooks and have the budget to hire a professional voice actor for their audiobook project often turn to services such as Voices.
With Voices, you create an account, submit your project details and a sample of your book, then wait for custom auditions from voice actors. This often happens within a day or less. When you’re happy with an audition, you hire the voice actor. You’re then free to get back to writing your next book while you wait for your completed audiobook.
Of course, there are alternatives to Voices.com. Findaway Voices offers a similar service, for example.
Whether you decide to record your own audiobook or choose to hire a professional voice actor to narrate your audiobook, most of the major audiobook distribution services provide resources and tools to help turn your novel into the best audiobook you can afford.
The most popular distribution service to help create and market your audiobook is also a one-stop shop. Amazon.com-owned ACX will help you self-narrate or connect you with a professional narrator. Then ACX will distribute the final audiobook files to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes (now Apple Books).
However, keep in mind that there are alternatives to ACX. Some services offer a wider range of distribution and different royalty options.
For more distribution services, visit Best Author Tools’ Audiobooks Services Directory.
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