audiobooks.jpgLast week, Rosemary Hutchison spoke to the Gettysburg Writers Group about audiobooks. She is an avid listener of audiobooks and researched how indie authors go about producing audiobooks. She and her husband, author Will Hutchison, were considering turning at least one of his novels into an audiobook.

I had my first novel turned into an audiobook years ago. How long ago, you may ask? Well, it was so long ago that the audiobook was put out on two cassette tapes. Also, I was given the task of cutting my book down to fit on three hours of recording time, so needless to say, it was not an unabridged version like today’s audiobooks are. I’m not sure I even have a cassette player in my house to play that old audiobook.

My, how things have changed!

According to the Audio Publishers Association, the audiobook market totaled $2.1 billion in 2016, which was up 18.5 percent from 2015. It was the third consecutive year that the market grew by nearly 20 percent.

Here are seven items that Rosemary came up with when considering e-books.

What type of audiobook do you want to do? The typical audiobook is narrated by a professional reader. You pay for and download the audiobook to your device and you can listen to it at your leisure. The most popular site for this type of book is Audible.com. The other form of an audiobook is a podcast that you stream on the internet. This is generally a free service.

Is it a good idea? Rosemary said one very attractive aspect of audiobooks is that the market is not overcrowded. This means it should be easier to attract readers than it is for print and e-books.

How much does it cost? This could be why there aren’t as many audiobooks as print and e-books. Rosemary estimates that at the low end, it will cost $5,000 to produce an audiobook. While there are royalty sharing options that reduce the upfront expense, the audio engineer cost is a separate fee. Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is a popular site that matches authors with narrators. It will also provide audio engineers for the books.

How to choose a narrator? Some fans of audiobooks look for books narrated by their favorite readers, according to Rosemary. This makes the choice of a narrator very important. Will your narrator need to do accents or both male and female voices? “A truly great narrator is an actor who can make every sentence, regardless of how banal, sound exciting and appealing,” Rosemary said. As you listen to narrators auditions, think about whether you would want to listen to that voice for hours.

What happens after the book is recorded? Having the narrator record your book is like writing the first draft of the book. Then you send it to a sound engineer, who serves as an editor. The engineer polishes the recording to regulate the pacing and volume. The audio engineer charge can range from $500 to $15,000.

How about the cover? If you are making an audiobook of an existing book or e-book, use the cover of that book.

How do you promote an e-book? Your author platform becomes the basis of your marketing efforts. Audiobooks do have some drawbacks. For instance, you can’t do an audiobook signing or sell them at a festival. On the other hand, you can stream clips to websites. Play to the strengths of audiobooks as you market them and be creative.

In the end, Rosemary and her husband chose not to do an audiobook because it seemed that thousands of copies would need to be sold to begin making a profit.

If you’re considering adding audiobooks to your offerings, ask Rosemary’s questions about your book and see if it will be a good fit for you.

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