How To Make An Audiobook [Ultimate Guide for Independent Authors and Publishers]

Tara Parachuk | June 24, 2023

Woman in a blue shirt standing behing a gold mic and pop filter, delivering an audiobook narration read.

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.

In this article

  1. The Rise of the Audiobook 
  2. Before You Begin: Considerations for Creating an Audiobook
  3. Genres and Book Types that Make Great Audiobooks
  4. Types of Books to Avoid Converting into Audiobooks 
  5. How to Know if Your Audience Wants an Audiobook
  6. Making a Choice Between Creating an Abridged vs. Unabridged Version of Your Book into an Audiobook
  7. Abridged Audiobook
  8. Unabridged Audiobook
  9. Estimating Costs and Timelines for Audiobook Creation
  10. Audiobook Production Activities
  11. Time Required to Record an Audiobook
  12. Average time to narrate an audiobook:
  13. Average time to edit and run quality assurance on audiobook recordings:
  14. Reading speed could increase or decrease your costs, but only slightly
  15. Reading Speed
  16. Line Count and Word Count Estimates
  17. Budgeting for Audiobook Production Costs
  18. Audiobook Editing Costs
  19. Choosing the Right Voice to Narrate Your Audiobook
  20. Types of Audiobook Narration Style
  21. Single Narrator Audiobook
  22. Full Cast Audiobook Narration
  23. Getting Tone and Pacing Right
  24. Tone
  25. Reading Speed 
  26. Narrated by the Author or a Professional 
  27. Benefits of Narrating the Book Yourself
  28. You Save Money 
  29. You Keep Complete Control of the Rights
  30. Disadvantages of Doing Your Own Recording 
  31. Narrating Time 
  32. Editing Time 
  33. Benefits of Hiring a Professional Narrator 
  34. Professional Product 
  35. Saves Editing Time
  36. Voice Matches Subject Matter 
  37. Disadvantages of Hiring a Narrator
  38. Risk Factor 
  39. Making a Difficult Decision
  40. Why Narrate Your Own Audiobook:
  41. Why Hire a Professional Narrator:
  42. AI Narrators as another option for consideration:
  43. Doing Your Own Audiobook Narration
  44. Recording Equipment
  45. Set up an Audiobook Recording Studio Space
  46. Getting Feedback on Your Audiobook Narration Skills
  47. Recording Your Audiobook
  48. 1. Character Cheat Sheet
  49. 2. Loads Of Preparation Time
  50. 3. Listen To The Last Recording
  51. Working with a Professional Audiobook Narrator
  52. 1. Find the voice for your audiobook
  53. 2. Record the audiobook
  54. 3. Edit the audio files
  55. 4. Receive the edited and completed audio files
  56. Publishing, Distributing, and Promoting Your Audiobook
  57. Audiobook File Formats
  58. Top Audiobook Distributors 
  59. Publishing an Audiobook on Audible
  60. Non-exclusive ACX Publication Deal
  61. Alternatives to Audible for Audiobook Distribution
  62. How to Promote Your Audiobook
  63. Voice Matters: How Voice Actors Represent Your Story 
  64. Go Forth and Create an Audiobook!
  65. FAQ
  66. What Is Kindle Direct Publishing? 
  67. Why Is KDP so Popular? 
  68. Do Multiple Formats Matter? 
  69. How We Can Help 

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.

The Rise of the Audiobook 

It’s not just the partially sighted community that responds positively to audiobooks with excellent voice over. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the demand for audiobooks skyrocketed

The early closure of bookstores meant that thousands of people looked elsewhere for their reading content. And because they felt isolated from the world around them, they turned to audiobooks and podcasts. 

Why? Because there’s a singular intimacy that comes from hearing an excellent voice over through headphones that you can’t get with books. Even if you are the type of reader who hears the words on the page internally, there’s another level of emotional proximity to the voice actor talking in your ear.

Before You Begin: Considerations for Creating an Audiobook

Books with a headphone on

There’s a lot to cover about how to make an audiobook. Before getting into pre-production, during production, and post-production there are some other 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 must understand whether your book’s genre will lend itself well to audiobooks. 

You will also need to choose 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 Adults, and so forth.

If you want ideas for what people are listening to and why, check out sites like or

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 are your prospective listeners are
  • Why do 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, or 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 inform your decision before you start recording fully.

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

Estimating Costs and Timelines for Audiobook Creation

After deciding whether or not your title will work as an audiobook, the next question most people have is “How much does it cost to create an audiobook?

If you’re an independent author, chances are you’re looking for the most cost-effective means to produce your audiobook. You may have an idea of what you’re hoping to spend to produce this audiobook or you may not. The good news is that you can create an audiobook in a cost-effective manner. 

One of the most important factors that influences how much it costs to create an audiobook is the word count of your book. This is because word count dictates how much time is required for production, including time to record/narrate, edit, mix, and master.

We’ll explore the options of recording your own audiobook or hiring a professional narrator further on in this piece.

Audiobook Production Activities

Audiobook production time is composed of three elements:

  1. Time to record the narration, including retakes.
  2. Editing the narration file, including adding any sound effects.
  3. Quality assurance check (listening back on the file to ensure it sounds as it should).

Each one of these elements has its own time considerations and, as we know, time is money. 

Time Required to Record an Audiobook

Here’s what you need to know about how long each audiobook production component takes:

Average time to narrate an audiobook:

  • The standard audiobook has 100,000 words
  • The standard audiobook run time is 11 hours of finished audio
  • For every finished hour of edited audio, the voice actor will need approximately 2 hours to lay down the track, including retakes
  • Therefore, the average amount of time to record the audiobook voice over narration is around 22 studio hours (2 x 11 = 22 hours of recording time)

Once your book is narrated, you’ll also need to process the audio so that the end product is crisp and clean. This extra processing time can be completed by either an audio engineer/producer or the voice actor.

Average time to edit and run quality assurance on audiobook recordings:

  • Each finished hour of audio requires three hours of editing, mixing, and mastering (3 x 11 hours of finished audio = 33 hours)
  • Each finished hour of audio also requires one hour for quality assurance (QA) (1 x 11 hours of finished audio = 11 hours)
  • Editing, mixing, mastering, and quality assurance take an average of 44 hours (33+11 = 44 hours).

To summarize, the average 100,000 word audiobook will take 66 hours to create: 22 hours for the narration, plus 44 hours for editing, mixing, mastering, and quality assurance.

Reading speed could increase or decrease your costs, but only slightly

While you might think you could save money by having the narrator read at a hurried pace, the listening experience will suffer, resulting in an audiobook that sounds like a radio commercial.

Reading Speed

  • The average person reads 3 words per second
  • The average person reads 88 words per half-minute
  • The average person reads 170 words per minute

Line Count and Word Count Estimates

For a manuscript that is 12-point Arial, double-spaced, margin-to-margin:

  • There is an average of 13 words per line
  • An average of 21 lines per page
  • An average of 273 words per page

Budgeting for Audiobook Production Costs

How much does audiobook narration cost? Narration costs can vary, but most narrators charge between $200 (on the low end) to $600 or more per finished hour (on the high end). That breaks down to a per-word rate ranging from $0.01 to $0.05.

Check out Voices’ voice over rates to get a sense of the price range of your project. Note that audiobooks are considered to be ‘non-broadcast’ projects.

Audiobook Editing Costs

Essentially, the amount of time spent editing hinges on how organized and talented the voice actor and the audio engineer are. Naturally, fewer mistakes in the audio will result in fewer edits, which is one of the many reasons why hiring a professional voice actor is a great idea. 

Plus, on the editing front, some professional voice actors on Voices will also professionally edit their work, which can often save you from spending more on an audio engineer. 

The average audiobook editing fee is around $50 per finished hour. Audiobook producer Lee Pritchard says the average audiobook in the UK costs an estimated £2963.40, or $3,756.08 USD to produce.

If you have an audio editing background, you could save some serious money by doing the editing through your own software and equipment.

Choosing the Right Voice to Narrate Your Audiobook

Audiobook narration is an absolute marathon. Thousands of words have to be spoken—not just recited but presented with a level of emotion and engagement that will keep listeners enthralled for hours. When it comes to narration, you have a few key choices to make:

  1. What style of narration do you want/need?
  2. Who will narrate your audiobook?

Types of Audiobook Narration Style

Audiobook publishers are mixed on what format works better, as it often varies based on audience preferences. Here are some considerations for each:

Single Narrator Audiobook

Some more traditional publishers believe it doesn’t sound proper to have a full cast of voice actors for an audiobook as it makes the audiobook feel more like a theatrical drama. Many publishers cite the fact that we grew up listening to a book being read out loud by one voice, such as a parent or teacher. Additionally, traditional publishers may source a talented narrator who can pull off multiple voices for each character. 

Full Cast Audiobook Narration

Other publishers would much rather have a full cast of professional actors to give each character a unique and distinctive voice. Millennials have been shown to gravitate more to audiobooks with a cast of multiple voice actors. Much of the popularity of the full cast option derives from its ability to keep the audience fully engaged for 10+ hours. 

Make sure you research full-cast vs. single-narrator audiobooks to determine what makes the most sense for your listeners. This article breaks down the pros and cons of various narration styles.

Getting Tone and Pacing Right

With more people than ever accessing your content, that makes it is crucial you find the right voice actor to do the voice over work. Here are some things to consider: 


When looking for a narrator to do your voice over, your first consideration should be for the tone and style of your content. Are you looking for someone to be playful? Maybe your story is a thriller.

Different voice actors have different strengths, and some will be better suited to some genres than others. As you investigate candidates for your voice over, pay attention to their experience. It will help you assess whether they have the particular skills you need to do your story justice and engage as many readers as possible. 

Reading Speed 

Another consideration for businesses and authors searching for voice actors to read their work is reading speed.  Reading speed partly depends on how many words there are in a book. 

That said, everyone has a slightly different reading speed, and whether you read faster or slower affects the overall tone and cadence of your book. 

If you can’t find a narrator who pitches things at the speed you want, a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of too slow rather than too fast. People are more likely to become immersed in a story that takes its time, especially if they’re listening while working around the house. 

However, as we discussed, genre and tone also play a part here, and if you need a voice actor for a high-stakes, action-packed thriller, you may choose to err on the side of too fast rather than too slow.  

Narrated by the Author or a Professional 

To help you decide if a professional narrator is right for your product, we weighed the pros and cons of hiring someone versus doing the work yourself. Each system has its advantages and drawbacks and finding the system that suits your work is crucial to creating a successful product. 

Benefits of Narrating the Book Yourself

While there are advantages to hiring a narrator, many authors prefer to do their own narration. 

And while doing the work yourself may take time, it can also be rewarding. So, why should you consider doing your own narration? 

You Save Money 

Like writers, a narrator’s paycheck depends on their ability to produce a product. For writers that’s books, and for voice actors, that’s audiobook narration and related work. 

By choosing to do the narration for your book, ad, or other product, you save money you might otherwise spend on hiring a professional. That frees you up to use the money on other things, like marketing. 

You Keep Complete Control of the Rights

This varies depending on the kind of agreement you strike with a narrator. Typically, people seeking professional voice talent on their work arrange beforehand whether the actor gets paid for the work they do or whether they share the royalties generated by the audiobook. 

Since many authors opt to self-publish with platforms like KDP to keep control of their royalties, it’s understandable that sharing income generated by the success of their audiobook would give them pause. 

This is equally true for businesses that want to maintain control of their produce.

Doing your own narration enables you to keep control over the royalties, as you would with other KDP formats. 

Disadvantages of Doing Your Own Recording 

While choosing to produce your own narration for audiobooks has its advantages, it’s not a perfect system. Here are the most significant disadvantages to doing the work yourself. 

Narrating Time 

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to authors narrating their own audiobooks is the time it takes actually to sit down and read.

First, know what you’re getting into.  The typical audiobook is somewhere between 4-10 hours.  Your voice is likely to get tired after an hour, so there will be lots of starts and stops.  Each time you do, the tone will be slightly different.

And, for each hour of recording, you need to anticipate three more hours of editing (more on that next).

Editing Time 

After narrating time, the other big disadvantage to doing it yourself is the time you’ll spend editing the audio by removing pauses, breaths, and re-takes.

Many people think anyone can narrate an audiobook or host a podcast. After all, all you do is sit in front of the microphone and record. In practice, it’s more complicated. A professional voice actor typically spends three hours editing for every hour of recording you hear. 

As discussed, recording can be the easy part. Editing takes significantly longer because you must:

  • Edit out mistakes
  • Clean up unnecessary pauses 
  • Remove background noise 

Not only that but if you commit to your own editing, you have to listen to the sound of your own voice for hours. Not everyone minds this, but lots of people do. It can be disconcerting until you get used to it. 

This shouldn’t discourage you. There’s no reason for you not to do your own narration if that’s what you want. But, keep in mind that if you are a novice narrator, you may spend longer than average on post-production edits, and that’s valuable time you could spend on something else, like marketing your material.

So, what are the benefits of hiring a narrator to do the work for you? 

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Narrator 

There are various reasons for companies and authors to decide to hire a professional narrator instead of doing the work themselves. Here are some of the most prevalent reasons people and businesses make this choice:

Professional Product 

Learning to talk into a microphone is an art. It takes time and commitment to learn how to narrate a story in a way readers find compelling. This is true not only of fiction but of ads and podcasts, too. You want to produce something that draws readers in, and learning to do that may take several tries. 

If you take the time to select a narrator who matches the tone of your product, you are more likely to produce a successful audiobook. 

Saves Editing Time

The other advantage of hiring a narrator is that someone else does the editing. Just as a professional voice over artist has an instinct for where to pause or speed up the narrative, someone with editorial expertise can clean an audiobook significantly faster than a novice recorder. 

Voice Matches Subject Matter 

Yet another reason to hire a narrator is that authors can find a professional who specializes in their particular genre, whether it’s non-fiction or romance, software, or ad campaigns. 

Much as businesses and authors might want to narrate their own work, their voice may not suit the subject matter as effectively as a professional’s. 

Disadvantages of Hiring a Narrator

As with producing your own recording, hiring a professional narrator may have disadvantages. 

Risk Factor 

In addition to the expense of hiring a narrator, there’s always an element of risk involved. Narrators do their best to read your work as intended, but it can still feel like a gamble until you hear the final product. 

Making a Difficult Decision

It can be tricky for an author to decide when they should be narrating the audiobook themselves or hiring someone else for the job. We dive into the pros and cons for each option below: 

Why Narrate Your Own Audiobook:

  • No one understands your characters’ voices more than you do.
  • You could avoid potential communication breakdowns or fallout with voice talent.
  • Full financial control of your published book assets.
  • It will likely save you money.

Why Hire a Professional Narrator:

  • They’ll add a level of polish and legitimacy that an untrained voice (or AI voice) can’t.
  • As storytellers, they will bring your characters and audiobooks to life.
  • They’ll possess the technical know-how and familiarity with the audiobook process.
  • Narrators are physically and vocally prepared for hours of recording.
  • Most own their own professional recording equipment and software.
  • Credibility and distribution will be impacted, as fans of the particular narrator may discover your audiobook.

AI Narrators as another option for consideration:

  • Narration projects suited for AI voice would be those not requiring emotion or inflection in the delivery. 
  • It would be very cost-effective in the production phase, but may not garner you much success in the market, especially as you provide free samples of the audio content before purchase. 
  • An AI voice doesn’t have the benefit of bolstering the promotion of your audiobook with the fan following of a professional narrator, nor does it give you the stage as an author to tell your own story, either.

If you’re a public figure, celebrity, or thought leader or have a large following for your special niche, you may want to narrate in your own voice, as people will want to hear directly from you. This may be more common for business, self-help, and health and fitness audiobooks. 

However, you may want to have your book brought to life by another storyteller. This is very common for romance, fantasy, and mystery books.

Whatever choice you make, we’ll provide the steps for each in the next section.

Doing Your Own Audiobook Narration

If you’re an independent author who has the skill set and endurance to record your own audiobook, hats off to you! There are a few things you should know before you start recording. 

Recording Equipment

If you want anyone to take your audiobook seriously, it has to be recorded with professional equipment, not your smartphone or a built-in laptop microphone. Low audio quality will be noticed by listeners and your book’s credibility will be jeopardized if you don’t have these three essentials:

  • Quality Microphone: It’s important you find a microphone that highlights the best qualities of your voice. And just because the mic is expensive doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for your voice. Check out our article on the best microphones for voice over.
  • Pop Filter: Also known as a ‘pop screen,’ this microphone attachment will reduce plosive sounds that are produced from letters like ‘p’ and ‘b’. Here’s a thorough read on how to pick the right pop filter
  • Audio Editing Software: If you have a Mac computer, you already have a free audio editor in Garageband. Read this walkthrough on how to edit on GarageBand. Another great option is Audacity, which is a free audio editing software that will certainly do the trick for recording your audiobook. Check out what the best voice over software is here.

Set up an Audiobook Recording Studio Space

Every voice over actor needs to have that quiet sanctuary where they can get in their groove and not be disturbed. The reality is, that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to set up a soundproof studio to begin recording. 

Do you have a decent-sized closet or tiny crawl space? You can quickly and cost-effectively convert that room into your recording space. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind when setting up your recording space:

  • Filter External Sound: Take a look at your doors, windows, or any other entry points in your recording space. See how much external noise is coming through them. Cracks under doors are the most common and can be soundproofed with a plastic sweep.
  • Double Up On Drywall: Many studios add another layer of drywall on top of the original layer to reduce sound transmission. A more cost-effective option is soundproofing your space with bags of insulation and spreading them out around the room. The cheapest option is loading a closet with clothes (on hangers) and stuffing it with as many pillows and blankets as possible.
  • Thick Carpet: You’d be surprised how much of a difference a thick carpet can make with noise reduction. The thicker the carpet, the better for recording quality. You can also hang up strips of carpet on your walls, windows, and doors to dampen noise. 

Get the full low-down on the do’s and don’ts of soundproofing a room before you start recording your audiobook.

Getting Feedback on Your Audiobook Narration Skills

Before you start recording, you need to make sure you have a strong enough voice to give your audiobook the best shot at success. To do this, you’ll need honest feedback from others over whether or not you’re able to provide a believable and engaging listen.

Rafe Gomez, the co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing, narrated his own audiobook ‘What’s In It For ME? A Powerful New Interview Strategy to Get You Hired in Today’s Challenging Economy,’ which landed coverage on various high-profile outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, and NY1. Rafe says, “It’s important to share a sample of your read with friends and family to see if your voice is entertaining and professional enough to carry the audiobook.”

“To get a sense of whether or not your voice is audiobook appropriate, share a one to two-minute passage of your read with friends and family and listen to their feedback,” he says.

“While your audiobook content may be great, your audiobook voicing skills may not, so it’s crucial to be honest with yourself about your capabilities.”

If your sample read passes the test of others, you’re good to start recording.

Recording Your Audiobook

To record your audiobook, you need to have a script version of your book actually to read from. You would think a printed version of the manuscript would work for the reader. However, the shuffling of pages creates background noise that can be hard to edit afterward. Audiobook narrators often use an iPad or Tablet of the book to read to avoid the added noise of physical paper.

Once you have your recording equipment and studio space set up,  it’s time to record your audiobook. Here are a few unique strategies to keep in mind before you press that big red ‘record’ button:

1. Character Cheat Sheet

Well-known audiobook narrators Suzy Jackson (Jodi Picoult, Gordon Korman, and Dean Koontz audiobooks) and Jim Dale (Harry Potter) both said they make a character cheat sheet that shows each character’s traits and denote each character by color on their manuscript. If you have a horde of heroes and villains, this will be key.

2. Loads Of Preparation Time

Many narrators will take two to three weeks to prepare for an audiobook recording before they step into the booth. You have to make sure you’re ready for countless hours of isolation and ensure you don’t go into autopilot. It’s also key to prepare your voice and body for such a long read, especially if you’ve never professionally voiced an audiobook. The last thing you want to do is strain and lose your voice early on in the recording process. Stretching and vocal exercise breaks need to be planned throughout the recording process. 

3. Listen To The Last Recording

All great narrators listen to their previous session to make sure they’re in tune with the pace, volume, and tone that they were using for the book in the last recording session. Consistency is key to keeping an audiobook believable and engaging. Also, there’s nothing worse than having to re-record hours of audiobook recordings to realign tone. 

Working with a Professional Audiobook Narrator

Most authors end up teaming up with a professional voice actor to narrate their audiobook. Being able to deliver a compelling, consistent, and professional read for hours’ worth of audio content can be extremely difficult for an independent author who is often untrained in the art of voice acting and narration. From providing near-flawless performances that help cut down on editing time and costs to bringing your character or story to life in ways you could only dream of, professional voice actors offer many advantages.

Provide narrators with a few paragraphs—if not a page—of text for them to read from, and consider also providing a digital copy of the manuscript so that they may review the contents before committing to an audition. By doing so, only the most interested of the qualified narrators will respond.

Independent author John Wilker, who created the ‘Space Rogues’ series, says there were a few reasons why he wanted to have a professional voice actor narrate his series.

“One, I lacked the equipment so that the investment would have been significant. Two, I wanted to focus on writing the stories, and narrating my own would have taken, from my understanding, a fair bit of time. I’d rather have a pro do it,” he says.

“The narrator is a pro, not only equipment-wise but skillset. I wanted my readers, or listeners, to be greeted with a professional-sounding story.”

John Wilker, Creator of Space Rogues

There are four basic steps in hiring and working with a professional narrator or multiple narrators:

1. Find the voice for your audiobook

There’s a reason why J. K. Rowling opted for legendary British narrator Jim Dale to voice all 300 characters in the seven Harry Potter audiobooks. You know your characters intimately and know the voice of each, as you brought them to life. That’s why it’s important to find the right professional voice actor who can bring your characters’ voices to life. 

Luckily at Voices, we have the world’s largest selection of professional voice actors at your fingertips. You can easily search and listen to talented and unique voices from around the globe for your audiobook project with our amazing selection of audiobook narrators

Check out these audiobook sample scripts to get an idea of how to give artistic direction to professional voice actors: Nonfiction, fiction, young adult fiction

Once you have found your narrator, settle upon the final price and deadline for completing the recording. It is also recommended that you have the narrator agree to a full buyout, which means that you wholly own the rights to the recording and do not need to pay the narrator any royalties derived from future sales.

2. Record the audiobook

Once you have selected the voice actor or actors you want to voice your audiobook, they’ll need to start recording for you. 

It’s extremely common for professional voice actors to have their own home studio and editing equipment. Some will also offer editing services along with their voice over work for your project. Do keep in mind that because of the volume of audio files with audiobooks, the voice talent will be charging much more than they would for just recording the audio files for you. 

It’s advised that you seek a more accomplished audio engineer to edit your audiobook files, instead of getting a voice actor to edit after the fact. Most voice actors are used to editing much smaller and less complex audio files. 

When it comes to recording sessions with the voice actor, how involved you want to be in the recordings will dictate the process. Typically, a few preliminary phone calls are set up to ensure you’re on the same page with the voice actor. The book’s background, your vision for the audiobook, and any preferences on pacing and tone will be important to establish. 

Back then, most recording sessions were directed in person and in-studio. These days, tons of voice over work is done remotely, making recording sessions much more affordable by reducing travel costs and studio fees. Live, remote-directed sessions are possible but are typically leveraged by creative directors of large-scale projects. For an independent audiobook, it would be better to brief the voice actor fully and then set them free to record the first few pages—or chapter—and see what’s produced. 

Find out how to give the best voice over direction to voice actors and how to give voice over direction to multiple remote voice actors.

Once you get the recorded files and are pleased with the final product, you’ll have to pay your voice actor for their work.

3. Edit the audio files

Now you need to edit your audiobook files.

You have three options: 

  1. Edit the hours of audio files yourself 
  2. Have the voice talent edit the audio after the recording session 
  3. Have an audio engineer master the files

For maximum quality, you’ll want to get a professional audio engineer to polish your hours and hours of audiobook files properly. 

Discover the four main benefits of outsourcing your audiobook editing before you decide who’s going to edit your ‘baby.’

4. Receive the edited and completed audio files

Once all your audio files are edited and mastered, it’s important to ensure the finished product meets your expectations. 

The audio files will need to be formatted for the final destination. This might be for a CD or, more likely in 2023, formatted to specification as an audiobook for distribution on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. 

 This is also the stage where you’ll know if the recording is one large file, in chapters that follow the book, or audio chapters every five minutes—an important formatting aspect to understand depending on your distribution! 

Make sure you store your audiobook files on an external hard drive and not just on your personal computer. All it takes is for your computer to crash for your audiobook files to be erased! 

Now your audiobook is ready to be uploaded and distributed. 

Publishing, Distributing, and Promoting 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? 

One of the first considerations for distribution is to ensure that your audiobook file format enables your target audience to 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:

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 or M4B files.

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. 

M4B Files

M4B files are also called ‘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. 

Top Audiobook Distributors 

Here are some of the most active, high-volume audiobook distributors:

  • Audible, Inc.
  • BBC Audiobooks America
  • Canadian Broadcasting Company
  • ChristianAudio
  • 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 audiobooks on major online retailers like Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. 

ACX will host audiobook files, 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:

1. is the second largest audiobook publisher for audiobook sales, only behind Audible.

2. Overdrive

Overdrive gets audiobook authors into libraries across the U.S., a huge opportunity for any independent author. Overdrive is extremely picky about who they select to allow on their platform. They don’t even consider authors unless they’ve published a minimum of 12 audiobooks.

3. Downpour

Downpour comes in behind Audible and for audiobook sales. Downpour requires authors to negotiate a deal to be published on their platform, whereas ACX lets authors upload their audiobooks 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 audiobooks 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. Start with the 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 can really help your title stand out. 

Accompanying your audiobook will be the book cover, 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 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 art like these to make their own merchandise which helps them earn as well as promote their audiobooks.

  1. Launch a Website

Creating an official website for all your titles should be the first step. Adding audiobook versions of your books into an online hub is a fundamental component of establishing baseline credibility within the publishing industry. This is the easiest way for everyone to locate your full body of work.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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 choose 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 the narrator when the audiobook goes live so they can share it with their following as well.

  1. 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 with them. If you have some marketing budget for promoting your audiobook, consider podcast advertising! You deliver ads for an audio product (your audiobook) through an audio channel (podcasting) to an audience who enjoys the listening experience.

Voice Matters: How Voice Actors Represent Your Story 

You must trust the actor doing the voice over for your work because they will become the voice people hear as they read hard or soft copies. In no small part, they represent the story an author tells. 

Not only that, but the sample of their voice over may be the deciding factor in whether or not listeners purchase or respond to the work. There’s a strong link between the voices readers hear and the books they read, just as there is between listener and podcast host. That makes it crucial you find the right voice over talent for the job. 

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 worked for you? Did you voice it yourself or did you hire a professional narrator? Listen to some audiobook narrator demos now!



What Is Kindle Direct Publishing? 

Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing service. It allows businesses and authors to upload their material to Amazon and recently has expanded to include a variety of formats, including:

  • Large print 
  • Audiobook 

Because KDP bypasses traditional publishing houses, the impetus is on brands and companies uploading their work to ensure they correctly format everything from audiobooks and podcasts to large print manuscripts.

With that in mind, it can be useful to hire professional voice over artists for your product. That way you can be confident not only in the quality of the product but in a high level of listener engagement. 

There are many advantages to using KDP to publish, market, and create content. Here are some of the main benefits:


One of the most immediately obvious is that depending on the plan companies sign on to, they can earn substantially more royalties on their work than through a traditional publishing house. 

More Autonomy 

KDP also gives content creators complete control over their work. This means they have the power to design their own covers and decide between voice over artists for audiobook editions of their work. They can even do their own voice over, if so inclined. 

Ease of Use 

KDP isn’t the only option for people who want to oversee the publication of their work themselves, but it’s one of the easiest. The process for uploading material, whether PDF or voice over, is intuitive. Additionally, its overheads are low, making it an effective business model. 

Do Multiple Formats Matter? 

Depending on the content you create, you may wonder if multiple formats and voice overs are necessary. But there are good reasons for considering it as part of your brand. 


There are many good reasons for launching your product in multiple formats. The biggest of these is accessibility. Authors understandably want their book to reach as many people as possible. eBooks and audiobooks help you do that. 

Both formats provide accessible alternatives to print books for readers who may be:

  • Partially sighted 
  • Print-disabled 

Large print books are heavy and expensive to produce. And while KDP does offer a large print option, it also offers more affordable alternatives. One of these is for audiobooks or podcasts. The only catch is that you need to find the right person to do the voice over or learn to do it yourself. 

How We Can Help 

We have a wide range of experienced audiobook narrators carefully curated to help you find the voice best suited to your product, whether it’s an advertisement, book, or something else entirely. 

Our voice over actors can read in various languages and will help ensure your product reaches as many people as possible, as effectively as possible.

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


  • 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.

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