So you want to make an audiobook, but you aren’t sure where to start. Or, at least that’s how I felt last year when I decided I wanted my novel, In the Mind of Revenge, to reach auditory novel consumers. After doing a lot of Googling, I stumbled my way through it and successfully got my audiobook on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
To save you some heartache, here’s how I did it. Quick – bookmark this before you forget so you can refer to it whenever you need to!
Decide if you’re going to narrate, or if you’d like to hire a voice actor.
If you choose the latter, the easiest way to find the perfect voice is to create a post for auditions on ACX. ACX is the audiobook version of KDP or Createspace. In other words, Amazon’s DIY publishing platform for audiobooks. If you’re narrating your own book, you’ll still need to create an ACX account, you just won’t post a call for auditions.
If your book is already being sold on Amazon, you can simply search for it on the homepage and set up your audition request. Otherwise, click Sign Up Now in the top left corner.
You’ll have to choose how to pay the voice actor. You can pay them a flat fee for the project, or do a royalty share. For more information on how that works, check out ACX’s Production & Payment page.
If you’re going to narrate (Part One): get a good microphone.
If you are hiring a someone to produce your audiobook for you, skip to Step 4. Even if your producer/voice actor is uploading the files for you, there’s some good information you should know in Step 4.
ACX is very particular about their audio requirements. Amazon’s missions statement is to provide the best customer experience in the world, and they make no exceptions when it comes to Audible.
A specific list of audio requirements can be found here. It can be overwhelming at first, but ACX provides a video library to help teach you.
I bought the Blue Yeti Snowball USB microphone from Amazon. After reading several tech blogs and testimonials from podcasters etc., I decided it was the most reasonably priced for the audio quality I wanted. I LOVE it and have used it for several other projects since.
You’ll probably also want a pop filter – it stops your p’s from popping, etc. I bought this pop filter separately, but it looks like you can now purchase the Blue Yeti with a pop filter.
Here’s a good tutorial on how to set your microphone up. There are also brief instructions in the box!
If you’re going to narrate (Part Two): download audio recording software.
I used Audacity to record and edit because it’s free and very popular, which means there are a lot of YouTube tutorials and blogs out there teaching you how to use it. In fact, here’s an introduction video. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux.
There were two important things I found helpful about Audacity in producing good sound quality:
- Noise Reduction. After you press record, wait 7-10 seconds before speaking. This allows you to capture room noise. You’ll be amazed what the microphone picks up: air conditioning, shifting in your seat, cars, etc.When you finish recording your chapter, you can select the 7-10 seconds of room noise and click Noise Reduction from the Effects option in the menu. In the pop up window, click Get Noise Profile. Then, select the entire track, go back to Noise Reduction and fill out how intense you want the reduction to be.You’ll probably have to play with this as the amount of room noise might be more or less than mine. I had a good amount of it, so I set the noise reduction to 38, the sensitivity to 13.5, and the frequency smoothing to 0. I also selected Reduce at the bottom. That worked well for me (you can listen to my sample on Audible and judge for yourself), but adjust it to suit your needs. Too much noise reduction and your audio won’t sound natural!
Note: Leave space at the end as well. ACX requires a certain number of seconds of room at the beginning and end of each chapter!
- ACX requires the volume of your audio not exceed -3dB. That’s so you don’t blow out your listeners’ eardrums. To quickly ensure you meet that requirement, select the entire track, then select Normalize from the Effects menu. I selected the first two check boxes and set the maximum amplitude to-
- You’ll also need to download the LAME encoder with Audacity to be able to export your chapters as MP3s, which ACX requires.
Once you have all of your audio files, it’s time to upload them to ACX and submit them for approval.
If you haven’t already, go to ACX and set up your project. You’ll be asked whether you want exclusive distribution through ACX or not. If you choose exclusive, you’ll sign a 7-year publishing contract. I chose to stick with ACX exclusively, but you certainly don’t have to. If you find you don’t like the terms, check out Jane Friedman’s awesome post on alternative options.
Here’s what no one said in any of their blogs: the approval process can take up to 14 business days. That little fact isn’t even on the how-to page for ACX.
It means you can’t really set an exact release date. Their timeline is loose and, on top of that, there’s a chance they’ll send you back issues with some of your files, which you’ll have to fix and reupload. I just kept my readers updated on the process and where we were in the process to market.
Once your project is approved, it will immediately be available on Audible and Amazon. It’ll make its way to iTunes shortly after. Your sales reports for all platforms will be available in your ACX account.
Use the 25 free audiobook codes Audible sends you to get reviews and market.
There’s a trick to this, however. Unfortunately, if you just send someone the code and they redeem it on their Audible account, they just got a free credit to download any audiobook they want, not specifically yours.
To fix that, log into your own Audible account and redeem your codes here. Once the code is in your account, search for your book. There should be an option to Give as a Gift – click that, then enter the email of the person you want to send the book to. This guarantees they will get your book, and not someone else’s!
I could easily write an entire ebook on this process and everything I’ve learned – this post just scratches the surface. I encourage you to search for a couple more helpful blogs and bookmark them. ACX itself has a lot of resources as well. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to reach out to me via email. I would be happy to help in any way I can.