How to Make an Audiobook [Part Three] – How to Publish, Distribute, and Promote Your Audiobook
Now things are getting real. You took the time to understand how an audiobook would work for you. You produced it and either narrated it yourself or hired a professional to do it for you. And now, you have a fully finished audiobook! But where will it live and how will people actually listen to it?
This piece covers:
One of the first considerations for distribution is to ensure that your audiobook file format enables your target audience to actually download and listen to the content.
Audiobook File Formats
There are three common audiobook file formats: WAV, MP3, and M4B files.
Here’s more on each of these file formats and how they’re typically used for audiobooks:
1. WAV Files
A WAV file is an uncompressed audio file that’s become the standard for storing audio on computers. The WAV file format was created as an audio file extension by Microsoft. Uncompressed WAV files are easy for audio engineers to break down during file mastering. Any digital recording program that uses WAV will save a ‘.name’ file for each individual WAV file, which usually represents each chapter or recording session. Once an audio engineer masters the WAV files, they are exported and converted into MP3 files or M4B files.
2. MP3 Files
MP3 files are the final file format for most audio clips. MP3 files are a lot smaller and this file type is a common audio format for smartphones. The mass adoption of MP3 files helped grow audiobooks into the booming industry it is now.
3. M4B Files
M4B files are also known as ‘MP4’ or ‘audiobook files’. Audiobooks that are downloaded from iTunes are packaged in the M4B file format. Other media players use M4B files to store digital bookmarks to let you pause, resume, and playback audio. MP3 files can’t save where you’ve stopped in the audio file.
Wondering how Voices helps authors and publishers create audiobooks? Check out some of the awesome audiobook projects we’ve been a part of.
Top Audiobook Distributors
Here are some of the most active, high volume audiobook distributors:
- Audible, Inc.
- BBC Audiobooks America
- Canadian Broadcasting Company
- Live Oak Media
- Penguin Group
- Random House Audio
Publishing an Audiobook on Audible
One of the best places to start is by publishing your audiobook on the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), the Audible-owned website. ACX is a marketplace for authors, agents, publishers, and rights-holders to choose how to produce and distribute their audiobooks on major online retailers like Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
ACX will host your audiobook files, the cover art, and online metadata for listeners to find the audiobook through online searches.
It’s super easy to set up an ACX account. All you need is an Amazon login and your tax information. Once you upload your tax and bank account information, you can start uploading your audiobook on ACX. You’ll then upload the audiobook files and the audiobook cover art. Once your audiobook is uploaded, it’s ready for you to start promoting it to your target audience!
Check out this awesome video by Gutenberg Reloaded on how to upload your audiobook to ACX.
Non-exclusive ACX Publication Deal
If you want to take advantage of other audiobook channels beyond ACX, you’ll have to sign a non-exclusive publication deal with ACX. This means more flexibility and further potential reach, but much lower ACX publication royalties.
Alternatives to Audible for Audiobook Distribution
If you do want to keep your options open, here are three awesome channels to consider beyond ACX:
Audiobooks.com is the second largest audiobook publisher for audiobooks sales, only behind Audible.
Overdrive gets audiobook authors into libraries across the U.S., a huge opportunity for any independent author. Overdrive is extremely picky on who they select to allow on their platform. They don’t even consider authors unless they’ve published a minimum of 12 audiobooks.
Downpour comes in behind Audible and Audiobooks.com for audiobook sales. Downpour requires authors negotiate a deal to be published on their platform, whereas ACX lets authors upload their audiobook and start selling right away.
Explore the full list of the top audiobook publishers and distributors here.
How to Promote Your Audiobook
Once the audiobook is published, you’ll need to promote it like crazy.
These days, there are countless ways for independent authors to promote their new audiobook for free, or at least in an extremely cost-effective manner. Here are three of the most common audiobook promotional strategies for independent authors:
1. Launch a Website
Creating an official website for all of your titles should be a first step. Adding the audiobook versions of your books into an online hub is a fundamental component to establishing baseline credibility within the publishing industry. This is the easiest way for everyone to locate your full body of work.
2. Start a Blog
A blog is a great way to connect with your target audience. It’s extremely easy to add a blog section on your website and it serves as a free platform for promoting your audiobooks. You don’t have to wait until you’ve published your audiobook to start a blog, either. There’s tons of value in creating blog posts that are related to the audiobook or publishing industry or even posting opinion pieces on more granular topics within your area of writing expertise.
3. Create a Social Media Following
Choose what social media channel makes the most sense for you as an author and for your audiobook audience. For some, it may be LinkedIn and Instagram, while for others it may be Facebook and Twitter. The important part is that you don’t just promote your new release tirelessly and annoy your followers, but offer your audience valuable industry tips or interesting side-stories from your writing adventures.
If you chose to hire a narrator, they may have a fan following that could bolster the success of your audiobook, too. Be sure to follow up with narrator when the audiobook goes live so they can share it to their following as well.
4. Seek Podcast Interview Opportunities for Yourself and Promote Your Audiobook to Those Audiences
Doing a bit of PR for yourself as an independent publisher is a great way to attract listeners to your newly released audiobook.
Look for podcasts that cover topics you can speak to, or that target a similar audience as your audiobook and seek an interview opportunity with them. If you have some marketing budget set aside for promoting your audiobook, consider podcast advertising! You are delivering ads for an audio product (your audiobook) through an audio channel (podcasting) to an audience who enjoys the listening experience.
5. Audiobook Cover Art
One item that can’t be forgotten is your audiobook’s cover art. This valuable element of your branding and promotion strategy is one that can really help your title stand out.
Accompanying your audiobook will be the book cover, which is similar to the album artwork. It’s possible that the artwork will be the same art featured on the cover of the book, however you may run into some licensing fees if you choose to do so.
The alternative is to have an image designed and laid out for you by an artist or graphic designer.
The audiobook cover is your primary graphical promotional tool and is a vital component for visually enticing potential listeners to preview your audiobook and then to proceed and make the purchase.
Most publishers use the same cover art from the print version, though some authors will get a graphic designer to make unique cover art for their audiobook version.
Some authors also use this cover art for their promotional merchandise. They use customized designs and cover arts like these to make their own merchandise which helps them earn as well as promote their audiobooks.
Go Forth and Create an Audiobook!
We hope you feel much more equipped to go out and make your first audiobook and would love to hear about your experience, so be sure to come back and share your story with us! Any tips and tricks that really worked for you? Did you voice it yourself or did you hire a professional narrator?
Leave a comment below!