Written by A Guest Author

Make More Money With an Audiobook

By Amanda Nicholson

Making money as a self-published author isn’t always easy, but having your book available in more formats can help introduce readers to your work. One way of doing this is by having your book adapted into an audiobook. If you’re unsure how to do this, or think it might be too costly, here are some suggestions.

How to get started

The first step is to find a voice artist. There are several places to find someone to narrate your book. If you can afford to pay upfront, Findaway Voices is an option. They let authors find narrators for their book and if you use them for distribution, your audiobook will be available for readers/listeners to purchase from over 40 retailers.

Another option is ACX, but their distribution is limited to Audible, Apple and Amazon, unless you’re willing to accept a lower royalty rate, in exchange for having the freedom to distribute your finished audiobook to more retailers.

What if I can’t afford a narrator?

Although paying for a narrator means you get to keep more royalties, it does have risks. You have to sell enough copies to recover your costs. So, if you’re looking to create your first audiobook, there are ways to reduce the financial risk.

Read the book yourself

If you have a great reading voice, recording yourself reading your book might be the right option for you. ACX and all reputable distribution websites have technical requirements you will have to meet. Nobody wants to listen to audiobooks that sound like they were recorded in the bathroom or with background noises, unless these are sound effects related to your book. Any audiobooks with sound effects will be more performance-based, but as a newcomer to this format it’s best to keep things simple. So, you should have the right equipment (high-quality microphone, pop filter, shock mount…) and a quiet place to record. If you live near a main road, have a noisy family or neighbors, recording your own book will be challenging, if not impossible.

Royalties only

There is another option. ACX offer several choices when looking for a narrator. You can choose to pay outright, a mix of payment upfront and royalties, or royalties only. There are a couple of things you should be aware of. You will be paid lower royalties because you will share with the narrator. You will also have to convince the narrator that working on your book will be worthwhile for them. Their role involves more than just reading your book, and it can take weeks or months for them to complete the audiobook. ACX ask you to give a brief marketing plan when you approach narrators on a royalty only basis. So it’s crucial to have solid ideas about how you will help to sell the finished product.

Why expand to audiobooks?

Readers have their own preferences over the format of the books they read (or listen to) and the more formats you provide, the more readers you can cater to. Specifically thinking about audiobook readers, there are several reasons for their preference.

  • For blind or partially sighted readers, audiobooks are a quicker way to read and be absorbed by the story. Having a real person read the book is often more immersing than listening to one of the many read-aloud options available on computers and other devices. Even the best ones sound too distanced and robotic.
  • Readers who lead active lives might prefer audiobooks in gyms, on public transport or while driving if they are still able to concentrate and drive safely.
  • Some people get headaches or migraines after reading for a while. The book may be gripping and they want to continue reading, but can’t. Audiobooks are a better alternative for them.
  • Other people just struggle to get into a book by reading words on a page or e-reader. The right narrator can help them envisage the scenes and bring the characters to life. This is why it’s so important to listen to a few auditions before picking someone to read your book. You want to ensure the narrator captures the voice of your characters.

It’s worth getting one of your books adapted, as this can set you apart from authors whose work is only available digitally and in print. This also helps you figure out if this is a viable option for the rest of your back catalogue.


Bio: Amanda Nicholson also writes as Amanda Steel. Her novel, Ghost of me was a finalist in the 2020 Author Elite Awards. Amanda writes fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Her work has been published by Writers Weekly, Introvert Dear, and Jericho Writers. Learn more about her writing here: https://amandasteelwriter.wordpress.com

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