How to produce an Audiobook

Audiobooks by Bianca Gubalke on Amazon Audible

Recording your first Audiobook

Once my visionary fiction novel “The Immortal Life of Piu Piu” was published, both in print as a paperback version and as an ebook on Kindle,  the next step was to add the audiobook version.

Why an audiobook?

Obviously, people who are blind benefit greatly from audiobooks, but there are more and more individuals who like to listen not only to music when they drive or commute, go for walks, cook or just want to close their eyes and relax – but also to audiobooks. It’s still a growing market – and an exciting one!

How to record your first audiobook

Would you want a professional team to produce your audiobook start to finish – or do you consider narrating it yourself? What are the options?

As I have a background in filmmaking, I know what a good narrator, music and the whole technical setup and the production itself costs – and it still does today. There are many reasons for this. Think of your favourite movie. There is no separation between images and sound, meaning, both are equally important. That’s how crucial sound is, respectively, the music or the spoken word.

A very strong consideration for me was – and still is for the future – that the right choice of professional narrators adds another layer to my story through their personal interpretations. It becomes alive . . . it becomes fuller, bigger, grows beyond what it has already been. Yes, I’d LOVE to see that happening one day with “The Immortal Life of Piu Piu”!

That’s why I was very excited when reading about Audible on Amazon and the vast online audio production possibilities offered through ACX – from technical expertise to great narrators, including the option of a royalty split. All sounded great – until I understood that this option was not available for those of us who do not live in the US or the UK. Duhh . . . again! Big disappointment!

My journey into alternative ways started. Local productions with actors. Online possibilities. These were soon no option due to escalating exchange rates to the U$ of over 1:15. Various avenues promising to get one’s work onto Amazon that did not really convince me and seemed risky. Long story – and to make it short, I decided to narrate my story myself. Many readers prefer to listen to the author narrating their own work – it’s a way of bonding that I can resonate with. I enjoy listening to authors whose work I love and respect. After all, their voice, their emotions, their breathing is part of them. Frankly, who knows more about the content and finesse of a book than its creator?

Besides, I’ve done interviews and other recordings in the past and, while I’d love my favourite actors to narrate my book for the exact reasons I mentioned before, this beautiful dream won’t happen just yet. So I decided to learn how to record, edit and produce the audiobook myself!

Once that decision was taken, I flew off to the races, set up my little ‘audio studio’ as per instructions, learned how to use Audacity and recorded, edited and converted my Audiobook within about 6 weeks of hard and highly concentrated labour!

Fiction or Non-Fiction

There is a huge difference between recording non-fiction of say 180 pages, or fiction of 358 pages with different characters, suspense-driven moments and times where you just float.  As a narrator, you’re in that other world but you have to ensure that your reader follows you and enjoys the journey.  You want to give it your everything – right from your solar plexus . . .  where you have to carefully control your breathing.  Thank Heavens for my yoga and meditation practice! Then, you have to be energetic all the time – if you’re not, it means a break. You’ve got to stop and refuel. And you do get tired. And you do make mistakes. Everyone does. It means repeats . . . sometimes a whole number of them until it just sounds right. Have others listen into your recording and give you honest and constructive feedback – that really helps, builds courage and confidence . . .  to get through it all! It’s a BIG task!

Besides, to be eligible for Whispersynch on Amazon – meaning that brilliant way where you may read the book on your Kindle and then, later, continue via the audiobook, it will be pick up exactly where you stopped reading before . . . which means that each word has to be exactly as in the book. Utmost perfection, word per word. And no music . . .

Audiobooks by Bianca Gubalke on Amazon Audible

Technical specifications of an Audiobook

As you may have gathered, I finally found an experienced and trustworthy audiobook publisher. This allows me to get onto Audible, iTunes and many other audiobook platforms legally while living outside the US and the UK – against a fair share of my royalties. I converted my audio files into mp3’s, which were then mastered – according to exact technical specifications – by a professional sound engineer. After that, all had to be uploaded following a specific protocol, together with the digital bookcover, a description and other details.

After careful quality checks, the book was – and still is – “Pending our review of your content” for various audiobook platforms.

I wondered how long that would take? I was told: “Up to six weeks.” Oh no, that’s almost Christmas then??

The Immortal Life of Piu Piu available on Audible

Imagine my joy when my Audiobook appeared on Amazon (Audible) after just a few days!!! I’m looking forward to seeing it on Whispersynch as well, which means that it would be eligible for Kindle readers at a discounted upgrade price! So exciting!

Pricing of audiobooks

Talking of prices for an audiobook. These differ from retailer to retailer, but the defining factor is the length of the book – in my case a whopping 10 hours and 49 minutes! You really get value for your money . . . including a magical journey into another world . . .

Here are a few pricing guidelines:

  • Less than one hour: U$7.00 and less
  • 1 to 3 hours: U$7 to U$10
  • 3 to 5 hours: U$10 to U$20
  • 5 to 10 hours: U$15 to U$25
  • 10 to 20 hours: U$20 to U$30
  • Over 20 hours: U$25 to U$35.

At the end of the day, a maximum of 25% of the retail price go to the rights holder (the author/narrator). That’s for non-exclusive distribution.

Need Help?

It takes courage to go on this journey alone – so it’s great to have advice from experienced authors or guidance from experts in the field. Yes, I know – it’s a jungle. I’ve been there. If you need that help or some orientation, do leave a note for me in the comments box. I gladly help!

And if you enjoy a special story, consider my debut audiobook and leave a review! That would be sooo special!