How to Make Audio Books
Here’s our guide to making audiobooks. It breaks down what equipment you need and how it’s done.
Your audiobooks aren’t bringing in money and you’re not reaching all your potential readers. The business case for audiobooks makes sense with millions of audiobook listeners around the world.
It’s amazing how fast this is growing. The format for listening to audio changes (remember 8 track players?) but smartphones, MP3 players, and busy lives have produced a great environment for audiobooks. There are now more readers consuming audiobooks than any other format.
Increasingly, I earn a higher percentage of revenue from book sales through audiobooks. Self-publishing audiobooks has never been easier for indie authors. For working with an audiobook narrator, you need the right equipment and expertise.
- Is An Audiobook Right For You?
- How to Make an Audiobook: Considerations Before You Start
- A Guide To Creating An Audiobook
- Preparing eBooks for audio recording
- Choose your Narrator artist:
- Employing an audiobook narrator
- DIY Record
- Preparing Your Homestudio
- When you talk, be comfortable
- Hire a producer for your audiobook
- Genres and Book Types that Make Great Audiobooks
Is An Audiobook Right For You?
Writers who produce audiobooks are able to earn a lot of money. There are a lot of books to read and smartphones to get through for many readers today. Apple CarPlay and Google Auto give car owners access to internet audio.
Therefore, why not let your readers hear your book on the go?
There are several countries where independent authors can publish through ACX on Audible. I was delighted when ACX announced they would be recording The Art of Writing a Non-Fiction Book in Ireland. As an alternative, authors can use audio production services such as Findaway Voices.
You will improve your ear for writing if you narrate a book. Additionally, it will improve the flow of your book. Using clunky, confusing language makes narration difficult, which means you need to make revisions for clarity… and readers and listeners will appreciate that.
How to Make an Audiobook: Considerations Before You Start
After creating your own book, publishing the manuscript, or securing a license for a new title, you’re ready to create an audiobook! You are about to enter one of the fastest-growing segments in publishing, the audiobook market, and there are many choices you will need to make.
It is important to make good choices before you go into the studio. Choose a good voice for your book, and make sure that it has good words in it.
Specifically, you need to determine whether your book’s genre lends itself well to the audiobook format.
In addition to choosing abridged or unabridged versions (or both), you will need to decide which audiobook format you want to use.
A Guide To Creating An Audiobook
Isn’t audiobook production growing at an astronomical rate? If so, why don’t more people make audiobooks?
People think it’s extremely difficult to do, so that’s the first reason. Another reason is the perception of high costs.
However, you can record your own audiobook without much difficulty, and it will not cost you a fortune.
As we discuss the pros and cons of recording your own audiobook and paying for production (having it done by someone else), let’s also look at the two methods of producing an audiobook.
Preparing eBooks for audio recording
You may not know where to begin when it comes to converting your writing into audio. Preparing your eBook content for recording will be your first step.
When you narrate your book, you will have a script you can read. It is important to remove everything that will be difficult to understand in the audio version, so you don’t get tripped up when reading (or listening) the manuscript.
The following pieces should be cut out:
- Delete the hyperlinks
- Remove captions
- Ignore visuals
- If there are any click here prompts or calls to action, remove them
Choose your Narrator artist:
Recording your audiobook is the next step in creating your audiobook. First, you must decide who will record the book.
If you are choosing an narrator, here are your options:
- You should have it recorded by someone
- Your own studio recording
- Invest in audiobook production
- Do it on your own at home
- Invest in a narrator for ACX
Now it’s up to you which option you want to choose.
It may be worth recording your nonfiction book yourself if it’s about your life. It is still possible to hire a narrator if you aren’t confident you can produce a high-quality audiobook.
Fiction novelists will often need narrators with acting skills, so finding an audiobook narrator is a great idea.
Employing an audiobook narrator
The easiest and least painful way to record an audiobook is to hire a professional. Despite your concerns about the cost of hiring a professional for voice work, you may be surprised to learn that it is quite affordable.
An audiobook conversion by a professional can be less expensive than converting your self-published book yourself.
Don’t let the perceived high cost deter you from hiring a freelancer for an eBook to audio conversion; many will quote a price of under $500.
Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the steps involved in finding the right freelance talent if you have never worked with one before. Your first step should be to create a proposal.
By providing your proposal, you are helping to outline the work needed. It is important that you include in your proposal the scope of the proposed work and the terms of your offer. Creating audio samples for potential freelance narrators is the next step. You can hear an example of your retail audio here.
You will need an extract to woo a potential narrator. For a sample chapter, they will record it for you. Consider the following points as you review this sample:
- Are their tone and voice in sync with yours?
- What do they do with unusual words?
- Is there anything odd going on in the background?
- Is their narration slow or fast?
Another option is to record yourself in a studio. You might find that self-recording is more costly in terms of time, money, and effort, especially if you pay for professional studio time.
If you plan to self-record your audiobook, allow yourself plenty of time.
To produce an audiobook, here is a good timeline:
- Three weeks before you need the studio, book it.
- In-studio recording of your book is recommended. Allow yourself up to sixteen hours to record in the studio.
- During post-recording editing, allow two weeks at least.
The following times are only guidelines; once your project starts, your project’s timeframe may change. Recording and editing a longer book will take more time.
Plan your schedule accordingly and leave plenty of time for polishing, editing, and finalizing an excellent final product.
Preparing Your Homestudio
The location of your studio is more important than the equipment you use. Recordings can be done in a small room or even a closet in your home or apartment. In the end, I chose my home office. As part of my echo reduction measures, I closed all curtains and blinds and placed towels on the wooden floor and desk to dampen echoes. Regardless of which solution you choose, keep background noise to a minimum.
Put away your phone.
Your computer needs to be free of distractions and loud sounds. If you don’t want friends or family to know, allow them some time to go out
Then, you need to position yourself correctly.
- Keep your microphone directly in front of you, instead of to the right or left
- Turn it 45 degrees away from your mouth and tilt it at 45 degrees
The ideal recording session lasts at least an hour, since you have to set up, warm-up, and get in the zone.
When you talk, be comfortable
Athletes stretch before a big race to run faster. Don’t forget to warm up before narrating a book.
Before you edit the chapter, read it aloud. You can record yourself and listen back to the first read-through.
You’ll sound better if your voice is warmed up. As well as adding color to your narration, you’ll learn when to pause. It’s easier to read aloud when you know what you’re saying.
Sometimes you have to cough or clear your throat when you’re narrating. So make sure you always have a bottle of water with you.
Here’s a resource to help you sound professional.
Don’t drink sparkling water when you’re narrating. I shouldn’t have drunk sparkling water because I burped into the mic.
Audiobook Recording Tips:
In order to result in the best recordings, you should check for random noises and ensure that the recording quality is as good as possible.
Here are some tips to help you make sure you do that:
- Before you begin, turn all fans and machines off.
- You should read in a small room with carpeting
- Avoid being too close to the microphone.
- Errors should be re-recorded when necessary.
- The entire chapter must be read from beginning to end.
- The tone and voice level should remain the same during the entire recording session.
- Relax and do not hold your breath when you are breathing.
- You can read this book on a Kindle or other device. It does not make any sounds when you turn the pages.
- Plan your sessions at various times throughout the week. Avoid sounding exhausted.
Using Audacity software and your microphone, you should be able to record your book reasonably well. It may seem ideal to record your own audiobook, but it’s a demanding and exhausting process that not everyone can handle.
Recording effectively requires a recording environment and time. You will lose weeks of production time if you have never used Audacity or other recording equipment before.
As a result, you may want to hire a professional for the first audio book, learn as much as you can, and then extend your skills.
Types of audiobook files
There are three ways to save an audiobook. The WAV files, MP3s, and M4Bs are all included.
These are the three common audiobook file formats and how they’re typically used:
1. WAV Files
The WAV file is a standard way to store audio on computers. By adding WAV file extension to audio files, Microsoft created a format for storing audio data. When mastering a file, audio engineers find that it is relatively easy to break up WAV files that don’t have any compression. For each separate WAV file, any digital recording program saves a .name file, which usually marks a chapter or recording session. WAV files are mastered by audio engineers and exported as MP3s or M4Bs.
2. MP3 Files
MP3 files are another type of file type which you can generate for most audio clips. It is a smaller audio file type and most common audio format for mobile phones. The mass adoption of MP3 files helped grow audiobooks into the booming industry it is now.
3. M4B Files
M4B files store audio and are also known as MP4s. iTunes stores audiobooks as M4B files. During playback, you can pause and resume playback using M4B files. The current position of a MP3 file can’t be saved when you stop the audio file.
Hire a producer for your audiobook
An audiobook can be produced by a professional. It is best to consult a producer if this is your first time recording an audiobook.
To record her book Business for Authors, Joanna Penn, for instance, selected Andy Marlow as her producer.
Producers can ensure the audio tracks are of the highest quality and that the final files are mastered for loading into the production machine.
Audiobook producers [audiobook engineers] can be found on sites like Fiverr and Upwork.
Enter “audiobooks” into the search bar on Fiverr or Upwork, then click “Search”.
If you don’t have strong editing skills, send your files to a professional. It will fix any errors you miss and facilitate mastering. Your narration will be faster as a result.
I hired an editor to prepare my audio files for ACX on UpWork. This cost me around $200. He also exported each chapter as a separately labeled audio file.
Several years ago, I was a radio producer. Inexperienced audio engineers require up to four times more time to edit a file than novices or even experienced engineers.
For example, a 15-minute audio file can take an hour to edit. The list goes on.
To edit a six-hour audiobook, I would have needed 24 hours. Instead, I would rather spend this time writing, blogging, or watching Netflix.
If you want to hire an audio editor or engineer:
- You should hire an English-speaking editor or audio engineer who is experienced with ACX books
- Establish a project or hourly rate you can afford
- To begin, send them an example chapter to review
- Make an agreement regarding the services you’ll receive. For example, I asked my editor to export the finalized audio files for me.
- Before you narrate large parts of your book, have a sample audio file checked for quality, background noise, and other issues
Get your editor to use a short jingle from Audiojungle as part of the introduction and conclusion.
Proof Your Audiobook
A proof is just as important for an audio book as for a digital or paperback.
I listened to the chapters of the audiobook on headphones. Also, I asked another person to help.
In the spreadsheet, I noted and entered all issues I found, such as popping sounds, wrongly spelled sentences, or clunky edits.
I rewrote some sentences in some cases. After that, I handed all this over to my audiobook editor for editing.
We both saved a lot of time by using this spreadsheet.
Publish Your Audiobook
Once I had completed the audio recording, I uploaded every m4b file to ACX for approval. In addition to contacting my book cover designer, I requested that she design a cover for the audiobook I was making.
To grab the attention of potential customers, I also uploaded a three-minute sample of a chapter that would be relevant to the book.
Uploading an audiobook to ACX is no different from uploading photos to Facebook. If your audio engineer keeps your audio files title corresponding to each chapter, it will be easier for you.
I received approval from ACX in about ten business days, and my audiobook went on sale after that. After contacting ACX support directly, I was able to resolve a few issues with my title description.
You can attract reviews by offering free copies of your recently published audiobook.
Genres and Book Types that Make Great Audiobooks
Determine the genre you want to record in and the market you want to target. A wide variety of genres are available, such as Non-Fiction, Fiction, Business, Health, Romance, Science Fiction, and so on. Children, Teens, Young Adults, and so on are all people groups that have their own markets.
Look at audio file magazines and communities, such as AudiobookCommunity.com and GoodReads.com, to find out what people are listening to and why.
Success Kit for Audiobooks
You might also consider visiting your local library to get a better idea of the materials audiobook aficionados consume. Library patrons and educational institutes account for a significant portion of all audiobook sales, so it is prudent to examine their offering.
Before we dive into how to make an audiobook, it’s worth noting that, according to Audible, certain types or genres of books that usually perform well as audiobooks include:
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