From one self-published author to another (and some hopeful self-published authors), I promised Tom that I would do a report for TCK Publishing about my experiences with producing my own audiobooks. This post will discuss my experience and can help you decide if producing an audio version of your book is worth your time, effort, and money.
For me, it has been worth it. But I certainly haven’t struck it rich by any means. It does seem like a good place to get into considering the increase in audiobook sales that are expected over the next few years (see Tom’s book: Secrets of the Six-Figure Author and this post on audio book and ebook sales figures for a little discussion on these forecasts).
First, a little bit about me. I’m a classic middle class author. As we speak, my Amazon author ranking is about #8,000, which is typical for the last few months. It’s enough to pay the bills. Not good enough to be BFF’s with Tim Ferriss, which is fine really. I don’t even like red wine much. My partner Rob and I also work to help authors self-publish their work, similar to what Tom does at TCK Publishing, at our site www.archangelink.com.
How to Start Creating Audiobooks
Over the summer, Rob and I managed to get an audiobook recorded, mastered, and listed through ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), which lists the books on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. And then we recorded another. And then another. And another. Our sixth should be out any day now.
Your first question is probably “How much money will I make with an audiobook?”
Based on our experience, I would say that a reasonable estimate on how much you can make would be to add 10-20% to whatever you are making with your book on Kindle. If you are making $1,000/month on your best book, you can expect to make an additional $100-200 by making it into an audiobook for Audible and iTunes.
If you have a big blog following or subscriber list, you’ll probably make a little more by signing up to be an Audible affiliate. Their program is pretty cool. You can tell your followers to go listen to your book for free (if it’s a short book) with a free 30-day trial of Audible. They pay nothing. You get $10. $25 if they go on to become paid members. I would also assume that if you are running KDP Select free promotions you might get some extra sales from people who don’t mind paying a little bit for an audio version (just as authors who sell paperbacks and run free days notice a bump in paperback sales during their promotions typically).
Your second question should be “Is my book right for an audiobook?”
If it’s got a lot of pictures in it and relies on those images for step-by-step instructional purposes, an audiobook version is going to be pretty lame. Sure there are some cookbooks on Audible, but seriously. A cookbook audiobook? But if your book has some good information without relying on anything visual, or you have a nice piece of fiction, it’s certainly got potential to be an audiobook.
And the third question I’m sure is “How much trouble is it to make an audiobook?”
It’s some trouble no doubt to do it yourself. But like anything else, once it’s done and behind you, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. A decent audiobook can be created in about 40 hours (based on a 50,000 word book, much less for a shorter book), and really only requires a decent USB microphone (usually $50-100) and a free program called Audacity. That may not produce rock-your-socks-off audio quality, but it’s certainly enough to give your readers a positive listening experience, and enough to get you in the audiobook game. That is, of course, if you have a decent-sounding voice.
My voice is like the sound of swans making sweet love as you can hear in a sample of our best audiobook yet: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FW49BIQ
I spent less than two hours recording this in a hotel room (No, I don’t need any more towels! Go away!), and Rob spent about an additional eight hours trimming and mastering the audio and uploading it to ACX. We’ll probably make over $1,000 from this book in its first year. Not a get rich quick scheme, but clearly worth our time to get done, and you never know, sales might pick up over time as I, and audiobooks in general, become more popular. Plus, my mom thinks it’s “impressive” that I have audiobooks for sale. Priceless. Today’s her birthday actually. Hi mom!
You can learn more about how to produce your own audiobooks and where to get the best rate for having one done for you (if you don’t have the time, desire, or ability) in our new book: How to Create an Audiobook for Audible, currently FREE on Amazon through December 3rd, and still pretty cheap after the 3rd.
How’s that for a book title, Tom? Is that literal enough? Haha.
Rob also put together a video tutorial of how to properly edit and master an audiobook on our Audiobook Resource page at Archangel Ink. If you want to publish on Audible, this is a great resource to check out: www.archangelink.com/wp/audiobooks
How to Make a Book into an Audiobook
Want more free resources to help you turn your book into an audiobook?
Check out these helpful guides on audiobook creation, narration, production, editing, and mastering:
- How to Write an Audiobook Script Like a Pro
- How to Create an Audiobook PDF Companion Document for ACX, iBooks, and More
- Why Audiobooks are the Future of Publishing, and How to Produce and Publish Your Own Audiobooks with ACX
Good luck with your writing everyone! And recording!
Matt Stone is a full-time author that has written and published more than 15 books—both published and self-published, is the founder of 180DegreeHealth, and the co-founder of Archangel Ink. He also narrates audiobooks sometimes for fun.