Creating your own audiobook can be a fun and enlightening experience, helping you reach new readers and tap into the ever-growing audiobook market. Whether you’re an indie author wanting to self-publish your non-fiction masterpiece, or a self-help guru seeking to inspire via audio, this how to create an audiobook guide will give you an overview of the traditional method, the DIY method, and also how AI can help you save time and money.
Audiobooks, traditionally, have been created by a complex process of hiring voice actors, studios, and other engineers and creatives. It still continues to be done that way. However in just the last year, AI has stepped in and allowed anyone to turn their manuscript and drafts into a professional audiobook.
AI makes creating audiobooks accessible to anyone. From students and hobbyists to indie authors and even the best selling authors who would like to break out of the mold.
Audiobooks: How it’s made
Creating your first audiobook can seem daunting, but following a structured approach can simplify the process.
- Assess Your Resources: Consider if you want to DIY or hire professionals. Also, decide if you’ll narrate the audiobook or hire a professional voiceover artist. Platforms like Fiverr or Freelancer offer various options for voice actors.
- Prepare Your Manuscript: Remove any elements that won’t translate well to audio, such as charts, graphs, or hyperlinks.
- Recording: You’ll need a quiet space with good acoustics, a high-quality microphone, a pop filter, and recording software such as Audacity. Be patient as it can take a significant amount of time to record the entire book.
- Editing and Mastering: This process involves cleaning up the recording, removing any unwanted noise, and ensuring the audio levels are consistent throughout.
- Quality Control: Listen to the entire book to ensure there are no errors or technical issues. You might have to do some re-recording.
- Choose Your Distributor: Consider where you want your audiobook to be available. ACX provides a direct route to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Alternatively, you can choose to publish your audiobook on Speechify Audiobooks. Findaway Voices offers distribution to a wider array of platforms.
- Create a Compelling Cover and Description: A well-designed cover and engaging description can significantly increase your audiobook sales.
- Promotion: Promote your audiobook across social media platforms, podcasts, and other relevant platforms.
How to create an audiobook: The traditional method
This is yet a tried and tested formula and there is a cottage industry for almost every step in the process – from writing to sales and PR. This is yet a good way to create and publish an audiobook , but the cost can be extremely high and the process can be time consuming. Here’s what entails.
1. Book Review
When you’ve completed your final draft, you’d have to submit it to a publisher for a book review. Only if it passes the mustard, will it then move on to the next phase. Audiobooks are an additional cost. Printing a book or even an eBooks is relatively easier.
2. Casting and preproduction
A production company would evaluate your book and based on the number of characters and theme of your book, you’d have to vet and hire voice actors. Either a unique actor for every character in your book of one versatile actor to cover multiple voices. So this is part where you listen to samples of voices and put an actor to a character.
3. Narration and production
This is the part where a studio is leased and the voice actors would have to come in and begin narrating from our script. This can easily take a while as narrators perform multiple takes till they find a voice and tone for their character.
If there are multiple characters, then this process is repeated. Not every take is perfect. Depending on the length of your book this can be a lengthy process. Studio time isn’t cheap and coupled with the narrators cost, the price is quickly adding up.
Pro narrators can narrate a book quickly and save you on time but their costs can be dramatic.
If you’re opting for a professional narrator, consider if a royalty share agreement makes sense for you. This arrangement involves splitting your audiobook sales with the narrator, eliminating the need for upfront payment.
4. Post production
Once the narration is complete there is post production. This is where an editor or a mix down engineer puts all the pieces together, the best takes and in order. Background music and sound effects are added and the levels are set so that the narration is the same volume. One chapter isn’t louder than the other.
At this point if there is a retake necessary, then the voice actor is called into the studio to redo certain parts.
5. Distribution, sales, and PR
Technically, at this point, the audiobooks creation process is complete as you should now have the “master” or the original recording of the final mix or the end product. Here on it’s just distribution, sales, marketing and PR
As you can see, the traditional method of creating a professional audiobook can be expensive and take up a lot of time. There are plenty of companies to help authors with this process and can manage it entirely for you.
This might not be feasible for the first time indie author, or the student, or the mom who says up till 2AM working on her first book. Audiobooks are quite the investment.
How to create an audiobook: DYI in your home studio
Sure, anyone can set up a small home studio on a tight budget and play the voice actor themselves – even get friends and family to chip in on a few voices and have fun doing so. But, without experience and the right studio equipment to record voices, the end quality could be horrible.
While creating an audiobook on your own can save costs, hiring professionals such as audio engineers or voiceover artists could significantly improve the quality of your finished audiobook. Platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer offer a range of freelance professionals who can help you DIY your first audiobook production.
People listen to audiobooks either in their car while driving or with headphones on. Bad quality audio pumped into people’s ears can not only not be enjoyable but it could be irritating and even cause some hart. It is very important that audiobooks have high quality audio.
How to create an audiobook: With AI
AI can solve a lot of the (expensive) challenges in creating an audiobook. The most expensive and time consuming process is the actual narration – the intake of the audio. Voice actors will sometimes have to do multiple takes. Each take costs money. It is studio time, engineering time, and the voice actor’s time.
With AI, every take is a perfect take. In fact there is no such thing as a “take”.
Prepare your manuscript
As you would, with publishing a paperback, ebook, or audio book, you’d prepare your manuscript.
Upload your script
You’d the sign up for a voice over app like Speechify Voice Over. And upload your script. AI Voice Over automatically detects paragraphs and breaks them up into “blocks”. This allows you to later on get block level control. You can even get word level control if you wish. More on why this is important, later.
Audition your voices
Unlike hiring voice actors, with AI you have 100s at your finger tips – ready to narrate your story in the way you want them, no, it, to narrate. And when you want it to narrate it. AI works on your timeline. Just scroll through the voices and hear samples.
Select an actor for each of your characters – all for the same cost. Unlike the traditional method where every voice actor comes with a price, with AI you can choose to have 100 voice actors for no additional cost.
Add background music
You can also add royalty free background music. Choose beautiful scores to play quietly and then add another track to augment tension and suspense. Increase the volume or decrease it. Music is key to a good story. It’s one of your characters, guiding the plot and the underlying emotions.
Every paragraph is a block and every piece of music is also a block and all of these blocks sit on a timeline. Audio is a time based media. You can easily drag the text or the music blocks on the timeline so you can add pauses with mysterious music or just silence. You are the director and producer.
There is a zero learning curve. Everything is in your browser and easy to just drag and drop.
Export audio file
When you are happy, export your audio and listen to it. Should you need to make edits, make a note of the timestamp and then fix those sections and then your final file is ready to be exported.
Benefits and Advantages of Creating Your Own Audiobook
Creating your own audiobook allows you to retain complete control over your work, from the choice of the narrator to the final tweaks in post-production. It gives you the flexibility to represent your vision as closely as possible. Additionally, if you’re an indie author, DIY audiobook production can be a cost-effective way to enter the audiobook market.
Another significant benefit of creating your audiobook is the potential to reach new readers. With the increasing popularity of audiobooks and the expansion of distribution channels like Amazon, Audible, and social media platforms, you can significantly widen your audience base.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Produce My Own Audiobook?
Absolutely. With advancements in technology and a plethora of resources available online, DIY audiobook production is not just feasible but also practical. You can control every aspect of your audio version, including choosing your own audiobook narrator, selecting the recording equipment, and making the crucial decision on how to distribute and sell your final product.
How Do I Make an Audiobook for Free?
Creating an audiobook for free can be achieved with the use of audio recording software, like Audacity, and AI voiceovers. AI voiceovers offer a budget-friendly alternative to professional voice actors. You can find high-quality AI voiceovers that mimic natural speech patterns convincingly, though you’ll need to ensure that your selection fits the tone and style of your book.
When it comes to recording, remember to find a quiet recording space with minimal background noise. Utilize a pop filter for clearer sound quality, and if you’re recording your own voice, maintain a steady, clear voice throughout the entire book.
Once your audio files are ready, use Audacity or other similar software to edit and enhance your audio content. While this does require some technical proficiency, there are numerous free resources online to help guide you.
How Much Does It Cost to Turn a Book into an Audiobook?
The cost of turning a book into an audiobook varies depending on the approach. If you opt for the DIY route, the costs could be minimal. However, if you hire a professional narrator and audio engineer, costs could range from $200 to $400 per finished hour of audio.
How Do I Make an Audiobook and Sell It?
Once your audiobook files are ready, it’s time to think about distribution. The Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is a popular platform that connects authors, narrators, and audiobook producers. By self-publishing through ACX, your audiobook can be distributed through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.
Before uploading your finished audiobook, ensure that you have an attractive book cover and well-written description to entice potential listeners.
How Do I Upload an Audiobook to YouTube?
Uploading an audiobook to YouTube can be an effective way to reach new audiences. However, YouTube is a visual platform, so consider creating visuals or hyperlinks that enhance the listener’s experience.
Remember to convert your audio files into a video format (like MP4) and ensure that the audio quality is preserved during this process. Also, note that long audiobooks may need to be split into multiple videos due to YouTube’s upload limit.
What Do I Need to Know About Audiobook Publishing?
Once your audiobook is ready, you’ll need to choose a distributor. ACX.com is an excellent platform if you’re targeting Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Ensure you understand their terms regarding audio rights, particularly whether they demand exclusive rights or permit you to distribute your audiobook elsewhere.
Also, be aware that you’ll need to convert your audiobook into the appropriate format. For example, ACX requires 192 kbps or higher MP3 files, while other distributors may need WAV files.
Finally, remember that creating a high-quality audiobook requires an investment of time and resources, but the rewards can be tremendous. With a well-crafted audiobook, you can reach new readers, increase your book’s accessibility, and tap into the lucrative audiobook market. So, get started with your first audiobook today, and watch as your stories come alive in this exciting format.