If you’re a self-published author or small publisher and want to start publishing audiobooks, you need to master the art of writing a great audiobook script, especially if you write non-fiction.
Think of the audiobook script as the audiobook version of your eBook or print book.
The First Thing You Must Do Before Writing Your Audiobook Script
The very first thing you need to do is a final edit of your manuscript. Making changes to an audiobook after it’s published is FAR more difficult, time-consuming and expensive than making changes to an eBook or print book. To save yourself a ton of time, money and frustration, make absolutely sure that your book has been professionally edited and proofread and that you are 100% certain it is finished and ready for narration.
Sending your audiobook script to a narrator before finishing editing is a huge mistake, and it’s definitely a mistake you can easily avoid by thinking ahead.
Three Questions to Make Sure You’re Ready for Audiobook Publishing
Ask yourself these three simple questions to see if you’re ready to get your book published as an audiobook:
- Has your book been professionally edited and proofread?
- Have you edited your book yourself at least twice before starting to write the audiobook script?
- Have you done everything you possibly can to make your book the best book it can be?
If you can confidently say, “Yes!” to all three of these questions, you’re ready to start writing your audiobook script.
How to Write Your Audiobook Script
Now that you’re ready to start writing the audiobook script, you’re going to need to decide which file to start with. We usually start writing our audiobook scripts by converting our eBook file into an audiobook script because it tends to be easier to edit than most print book files, but you can decide which file is best for you.
Once you’ve decided which file is the right one to get started, save a duplicate copy of it and name it “audiobook script” so you can easily find it later.
Once you have your audiobook script file ready, it’s time to start making changes to convert that eBook or print book file into a professional audiobook script.
Here are some common elements of your book you will want to change when converting your eBook or physical book into an audiobook script.
Updating References to the Book
If your book says,
“Refer to the image on the next page.”
You’ll definitely want to change that for the audiobook script to something like:
“Refer to the image in the Audiobook Companion document that comes free with your purchase of this audiobook.”
Not sure what an audiobook companion document is or how to create one? Make sure to read our detailed blog post on exactly how to create and deliver an audiobook companion document to your listeners via Audible and other digital audiobook retailers.
Anytime you see a phrase in your book that refers to the book itself or features of the book like charts, images, indices, appendices, table of contents, copyright page, title page, book cover, etc., you want to make sure that you reread that section and change it if needed to provide more clarity for the listener.
For example, if your eBook file says,
“More details on our research and data can be found in Appendix A at the end of this book.”
You will want to rewrite this sentence to something more like this:
“More details on our research and data can be found in the Audiobook Companion document or on our website at www.yoursite.com/book-materials”
Because an audiobook is a completely auditory experience, visual components of your book need to be put into an audiobook companion document so that readers can see your charts and data and get the information they need.
Every nonfiction author should definitely consider adding an audiobook companion document in order to better provide the audiobook listener with the extra information they need that isn’t easily understood through narration alone.
For novels and works of fiction, you probably won’t need an audiobook companion document, but you may want to include one if you have created a map of the world or other visual elements that will help the reader better connect with your story.
What About Books that are Very Visual?
TCK Publishing client Kevin Horsley had a runaway bestseller on his hands with Unlimited Memory, but was very skeptical about publishing it in audiobook format simply because the book is so visual. There are plenty of images in the book to start, but also the amazing memory strategies he teaches in the book require visualization in order to work most effectively.
We worked with Kevin on revising the audiobook script and creating an amazing audiobook companion document so that audiobook listeners could really learn and master the techniques he teaches in the book.
We decided to add this “Note to the Listener” to the very beginning of the audiobook script to immediately inform listeners about our unique approach and how we had their best interests in mind when creating the audiobook:
“Note to the Listener
Using visualization can help improve your memory. That’s why this audiobook comes with a free PDF companion document including all the pictures, charts and visual information that are included in the print and eBook versions of this book. You should receive a free copy of this PDF companion document wherever you purchased this audiobook.
If you did not receive the PDF companion document, you can download it for free from my website at www.supermemory.co.za”
Preparing Your Narrator
While you are making your edits to the audiobook script, make sure to take note of any words that may be rare or hard to pronounce, especially technical jargon, foreign words, acronyms, and your name. Create a list of these difficult-to-pronounce words and send them to your narrator ahead of time so they are prepared. This will reduce the time it takes to edit the audiobook after it’s been narrated.
If you have a large list of words, simply record a video or audio file (mp3) of you pronouncing those words correctly and send that recording to your narrator.
Once you have written your audiobook script, created your audiobook companion document and prepared your narrator for challenging words, you’re all ready to send the script to your narrator and get your audiobook published!
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.