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Tips and Tricks: Audiobooks

Amy Leibowitz audiobooks writing advice

The rise in popularity of audiobooks is a great thing. Books we love are now more accessible to a wider audience. As someone who often prefers listening to reading, I’ve relied on my phone to read to me. Obviously this does not provide the nuances of having a live human do it and is less than idea.

Fortunately, many of my favorite authors offer audiobooks, and my library has a wide selection. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always include my favorite smaller-press and indie authors, as fewer have audio available.

This got me thinking about how I would love to have my work be accessible as well as affordable. Last fall, I successfully produced my first audiobook. A couple weeks ago, I was interviewed about the process. I won’t detail everything here, but there are a few things I’ve learned in the process.

1. Start by asking your publisher, if you have one. Even some smaller presses are willing to help produce the books or front the cost, depending. If you have a narrator in mind, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Also, be sure to have it in writing how you will profit-share with your publisher if you’re going on your own. Some publishers don’t expect royalty share because they don’t own the rights (yes, it’s true). Others do. Never, ever do this behind your publisher’s back or without an agreement in place.

2. Choose a work you want narrated. Maybe you only have one, so that’s an easy decision. If you have more, start with something shorter. That will take less time to produce, and you can get a feel for the process before tackling something longer. You may also have more success getting a narrator.

3. Decide if you’ll be producing on your own by hiring a narrator or using a different method. Check out Amazon’s ACX. No, Amazon isn’t always ideal, but in this case, they guide you every step of the way. For a novice, especially if you don’t have your own way to deal with the files, this can be helpful.

4. If you’re going with ACX alone (not just for file upload), don’t be afraid to get picky with narrators. It’s tempting to get excited and want to choose the first person who auditions, but don’t do that! Listen to as many as you need in order to find a good match.

5. Communicate with your narrator, a lot. These are professionals. You’re not “bothering” them to ask for a re-do on word pronunciation or a voice. It also doesn’t hurt to let your narrator know when they’ve really nailed something. Positive feedback isn’t just compliments. It’s a way to tell your narrator what you need more of. Although kind words also do go a long way to build trust!

I found the whole process to be a lot of fun, even though it was hours of work time to get it done. Ultimately, success is up to you. If you put together the right team, you can have a great product in the end. Good luck, and let us know what tips and tricks you’ve found!

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