Sales of audiobooks are increasing steadily and point to a bright future. Are you ready to self-publish audiobooks?
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.
It lets readers listen to a book while driving, commuting, playing a game on a smartphone, knitting, or even while grinding out their hours at work.
Audiobooks are popular
The popularity is on the move. According to recent statistics, audiobooks are now a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone.
There are now many award-winning titles available in audio, such as Harry Potter and the recent success, Girl Wash Your Face.
Science fiction and romance are two of the most popular genres in this format.
There are also many free audiobook offers around now to entice new buyers.
In another report from Pew, it estimates that one in five readers are now listening to audiobooks.
The data helps to gain a small insight into the audiobook market. It is easy to assume that it is 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 print book paperback version.
But both of these markets are saturated and becoming more challenging to leverage successfully.
Also, ebook subscription services, and in particular, Kindle Unlimited (KU), are eroding authors’ incomes.
In the case of KU, Amazon KDP Select exclusivity is also an issue for many authors who shudder at being dependent on Amazon for their earnings.
The ability to self-publish audiobooks offers a new opportunity for authors to extend their sales potential. And, at the same time, diversify revenue streams.
Well, only a little at present. Currently, Amazon Audible and Apple iTunes dominate the retail market.
However, in the future, this may change as more players enter the market.
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.
It is not as quick and easy as publishing an ebook. So it won’t be for every author.
But for some, it will be worth the time and effort involved.
How to self-publish audiobooks
If you live in the US, you are in luck. Amazon KDP audiobook publishing is relatively easy.
Amazon offers production and publishing through Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to help you create an audiobook and publish the final product.
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. It often creates so many hurdles for non-US self-publishers.
The following quote is 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.
Audio publishing outside of the US and UK
Luckily, there is still a publishing world outside of Amazon.
A growing number of small press and independent publishers offer to find voice actors and produce and publish audiobooks.
Distribution is most often on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
Do your research and look for 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 an exclusivity contract until you are convinced it is a fair arrangement concerning your audio rights.
While some may charge you for the service to pay the narrator, it is worth looking for a publisher that offers a revenue split or royalty share. It is usually a 50-50 royalty rate split of net earnings from audiobook sales.
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, it is possible to record your own audiobooks.
You will need to create an audio file for your book by narrating your audiobook yourself.
Once you have your book audio recorded, you can then self-publish it.
Here is a link to the steps you need to take.
It’s early days for audiobook self-publishing
If you are serious about getting your books out to more readers, or in this case, listeners, then you should be looking at what choices you have.
It can only be a positive move to add an audio version to your ebook and paperback.
From a practical point of view, audiobooks are convenient for book buyers as they allow them to consume a book while doing other things.
This is 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 how you can self-publish audiobooks.
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.
Author’s Footnote: I always try to write my articles from my first-hand experience.
In this case, I can say that I have been through the whole process of finding a great publisher and then waiting for the months it takes for audiobook production.
But finally, it has all been worth the wait to see my finished audiobook released on Amazon, Audible, and Apple iBooks.
It’s also reassuring to see a few reviews arrive on Audible quite quickly. So will I do it again? Oh yes.
Update: Authors need to be aware of Amazon’s policy on audiobook returns. Audible customers can return an audiobook for up to 365 days.