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How To Make An Audiobook [Part 1 of A 3-Part Guide for Independent Publishers]

The audiobook industry is absolutely flourishing. Fifty percent of all Americans ages twelve and up have listened to an audiobook, according to a national annual consumer survey by the Audio Publishers Association.

As a result, independent authors are wondering how to make an audiobook as audio-focused experiences continue to change the way we consume content.

There’s also a huge opportunity with the increasing presence of smart speakers in people’s homes. Many smaller, independent authors are looking to Alexa Skills on Amazon Echo or Google Actions on Google Home to publish their audiobooks. 

Even entrepreneurs are riding the audiobook wave. Many are finding books from the public domain and turning those titles into audiobooks

Simply put, if you’re an independent author, the time to make an audiobook is now.

Before You Begin: Considerations for Creating an Audiobook

There’s a lot to cover about how to make an audiobook. This is the first of three posts to help you learn what’s involved in making one. This mini series is broken out by pre production, during production, and post production considerations.

Here is what you will find in this first article on pre production considerations:

You’ve created an amazing manuscript, published your own book, or have just gained the license for an exciting new title, and now you’re feeling ready to create an audiobook! This is an exciting time, full of grand possibilities and many key choices ahead as you aim to participate in one of the fastest-growing sectors of publishing: the audiobook market. 

However, some of the most important decisions that can affect whether or not your audiobook will be successful are the decisions you make before ever stepping into the recording studio or posting your voice over job for that perfect narrator voice.

Namely, you need to understand whether your book’s genre will lend itself well to the audiobook medium. 

You will also need to make a choice as to whether you want to turn the abridged or unabridged version—or both—into audiobooks, too.

Genres and Book Types that Make Great Audiobooks

Select a genre and establish the market you want to record for. Genres include themes such as Non-Fiction, Fiction, Business, Health, Science Fiction, Romance, and so on. Markets pertain to people groups, like Children, Teen, Young Adult, and so forth.

If you want some ideas for what people are listening to and why, check out sites like AudioFileMagazine.com or GoodReads.com.

A visit to your local library might also give you an indication of the kind of materials that are consumed by audiobook fans. A significant percentage of all audiobook sales are generated by libraries and educational institutions, so it would be wise to take a look at what they are offering to their patrons and customers.

Before we dive into how to make an audiobook, it’s worth noting that, according to Audible, certain types or genres of books that usually perform well as audiobooks include:

  1. Health and Fitness
  2. Business
  3. Spirituality 
  4. Self-help
  5. History
  6. Biographies
  7. Romance
  8. Science fiction/fantasy
  9. Mystery/Thriller

Types of Books to Avoid Converting into Audiobooks 

There are also a few kinds of books that don’t typically translate very well into audiobooks. Here are six kinds of books to avoid when making titles into audiobooks (note: Many of these books are image or citation heavy):

  1. Some versions of travel guides
  2. Picture books
  3. Many image-heavy cookbooks
  4. Interior design or home and garden books
  5. Reference books
  6. Textbooks
  7. Quotation/citation books

How to Know if Your Audience Wants an Audiobook

The genre of audiobook and the narrator or voice you choose, whether you record an abridged or the full unabridged version, all come down to knowing your listeners.

Factors to consider are: 

  • Who your prospective listeners are
  • Why they listen to audiobooks
  • Where they listen to them
  • How they listen and the kind of audiobooks they consume most frequently
  • Does your audience listen to their audiobooks while commuting, jogging, or might they prefer to wind down with an audiobook after a long day at the office or while cleaning house? 
  • What purpose does the audiobook serve? Is it a source of entertainment, education, or inspiration? 
  • Do the people listening prefer listening to an audiobook over reading a printed copy of the book?

All of these details are important when it comes to how you position your audiobook on the market to those you hope will become your customers.

Making a Choice Between Creating an Abridged vs Unabridged Version of Your Book into an Audiobook

When making a choice between abridged or unabridged, there are some pros and cons to weigh. Here’s what you need to know about each option, in a nutshell:

Abridged Audiobook

An abridged audiobook is a shortened audiobook that shouldn’t sacrifice any of the major themes and storylines of the book. Abridged audiobooks were extremely popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s when producers thought listeners wouldn’t be engaged for hours and hours of narration.

Unabridged Audiobook

An unabridged audiobook is the full literary work of the author that’s read word-for-word. The audiobook industry is almost exclusively asking for unabridged audiobooks these days.

Read our full article on the pros and cons of abridged vs unabridged audiobooks to fully inform your decision before you start recording. 

Production Considerations Up Next

Once you’ve determined whether your book is well suited to be an audiobook, if its best to provide an abridged or unabridged version based on what you know about your audience, it’s onto the production phase!

Be sure to subscribe to our blog (at the top of the page) to be notified when the second article in this series is released (in about a week.)

Curious about audiobook narration while you wait? Visit our Hire Audiobook Narrators page to check out some voice actor demo reels!

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Comments

  • Avatar for Regine Mae Tejares
    Regine Mae Tejares
    October 8, 2019, 2:57 am

    Cool

    Reply
  • Avatar for Sandra Jones Cropsey
    Sandra Jones Cropsey
    August 8, 2020, 10:19 pm

    Thank you! Lot of information which is especially helpful for a novice.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Michael Malone
    Michael Malone
    November 15, 2021, 4:31 pm

    Thanks

    Reply