Audiobook sales are increasing steadily and point to a bright future.
It takes total concentration to read a book or an ebook. But with an audiobook, a listener can multitask.
This is the key attraction for so many younger readers in particular, as it allows for the consumption of a book while driving, commuting and playing a game on a smartphone, knitting or even while grinding out the hours at work.
The popularity of audiobooks is on the move and according to recent statistics, audiobooks are now a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone.
In another report, it estimates that one in ten readers are now listening to audiobooks.
While the data helps to gain a small insight into the market, it is still easy to draw an assumption that audiobooks are the next logical step for self-publishing authors and small press.
Ebook publishing is now the number one form of self-publishing. Many Indie authors then take the next step and publish a paperback version.
However, both of these markets are now saturated and difficult to leverage successfully.
In addition, ebook subscription services, and in particular, Kindle Unlimited is eroding author’s incomes.
In the case of KU, exclusivity is also a huge issue for many authors who shudder at being totally dependent on Amazon.
Audiobooks offer an opportunity for self-publishing authors to extend their sales potential, and at the same time, diversify revenue streams.
Well, only a little at present as it is really an Amazon Audible and Apple iTunes dominated retail market. However, in the future, this may change.
But, if you are ready to take the next step in self-publishing, then you will need to know what to do to get an audio version of your books out to new readers.
How to self-publish an audiobook
If you live in the US, you are in luck.
Amazon offers audiobook production and publishing through Audio Creation Exchange, ACX.
For authors outside of the US, things are not quite so easy.
This is a very common complaint about Amazon and its US-centric approach, which creates so many hurdles for non-US self-publishers.
The following quote is taken from Amazon’s help topic regarding ACX.
At this time, ACX is open only to residents of the United States and United Kingdom who have a US or UK mailing address, and a valid US or UK Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). For more information on Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN), please visit the IRS website. We hope to increase our availability to a more global audience in the future.
If you live in the UK, Amazon can help you, but you will need to have a TIN. If you are already publishing with KDP, you probably have one.
For the rest of the world, well, Amazon, as it so often does, leaves you out of the cold.
How cold? Well, even though I publish with Amazon KDP, I still have no way of subscribing to Kindle Unlimited because I don’t live in a KU country. Hhmmpphh!
Audiobook publishing outside of the US and UK.
Luckily, there is still a publishing world outside of Amazon.
There are a growing number of small press and independent audiobook publishers who offer to produce and publish audiobooks.
Distribution is most often on Amazon Audible and iTunes.
Do your research and look for audiobook publishers who accept submissions or offer a production service using professional narrators and producers.
As with any decision to use a small publisher, be careful, do your background research and don’t rush into signing a contract until you are totally convinced it is a fair arrangement concerning your audio rights.
While some may charge you for the service, it is worth looking for a publisher that offers a revenue split. This is usually 50-50 of net audio royalty earnings.
It might seem a bit steep, but Amazon ACX offers between 20 and 40% net royalties, so 50-50 is not too bad.
If you would prefer to do everything yourself, it is possible to produce an audio file for your audiobook. Here is a link to the steps you need to take.
It is still early days for audiobooks
If you are serious about getting your books to more readers, or in this case, listeners, then you should be looking at what choices you have to add an audio version to your ebook and paperback. It can only be a positive move.
Simply from a practical point of view, audiobooks are convenient for book buyers as they allow them to consume a book while doing other things. A huge benefit in the busy lives we lead nowadays.
Depending on where you live, investigate the options available to you and give some thought to publishing an audio version. The market is still young, so there is no rush.
However, as with all new markets, getting in early is always better than arriving late.