Amazon is taking over the world.
Okay, I exaggerate. But seriously – have you noticed how Amazon is creeping into every part of our lives?
And now Amazon is on a mission to get Alexa, its voice-enabled personal assistant, into every home. According to voicebot.ai, Amazon has sold over 20 million Alexa devices.
What’s all this got to do with books? Well here’s a thought for you… users can listen to audiobooks on Alexa devices.
Not that we need a new platform for audiobooks. The rise of audiobooks long pre-dates voice technology. Yet, I’m willing to bet a chunk of money that voice technology is going to further boost audiobook sales.
So, late in 2017, I decided to jump on board and create my first audiobook. At the time, I had five Kindle books on Amazon. These were providing a nice regular income stream.
I decided it was time to add another income source. Audiobooks.
Now I’ve done it, I wish I’d started earlier. The process was much easier than I expected.
In this article I’ll walk you through exactly how to make an audiobook version of your Kindle book. And the best part – it’s completely free!
Why Make An Audiobook Version Of Your Kindle Book
Before we get started, let’s delve a little deeper into why you want to make an audiobook version of your title. Here are the five top reasons to create your audiobook now:
1. Reach new people.
Some people prefer to listen to their books. There are folks out there who aren’t going to buy your book if you only have it available in eBook or paperback.
By offering your content in audio format, you reach people who otherwise wouldn’t find you. Simply put – your book (and name) appear in more places. You get additional exposure and more chances to be found.
2. Less competition than Kindle books
There are over three million titles in the Kindle store. In contrast, there’s around 350 thousand titles in the Audible store.
This means less competition in your niche. Which makes it a lot easier for your audiobook to stand out.
3. Increase sales of your other formats
Amazon displays all versions of your book on the same Amazon book page. This is how it looks:
This does several things. Having more formats increases your credibility as an author. Additional formats can also make your Kindle book (which is typically cheaper) seem more desirable. The net result is more sales of your other book formats.
4. They are easy to create for free
I was surprised by how easy it was to make and publish an audiobook. In this article I’m going to show you how you can do the same. If you follow this process, you can publish your first audiobook with a few hours effort and for zero dollars.
5. Make more money
More sales, of course, means more money from recurring book royalties. Once you’ve done the work of getting your audiobook out there, the income is passive. It’s also nice to diversify your business by adding a new income source.
One or more of these reasons may have grabbed your attention. So, let’s get to the step-by-step instructions to make your first audiobook.
I’m going to walk you through how to publish an audiobook on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes using ACX. ACX stands for Audiobook Creation Exchange. It’s a marketplace where authors and narrators can connect to produce audiobooks.
Note, this article assumes you already have an eBook (or paperback book) published on Amazon. If you haven’t published your eBook yet, then check out my ultimate guide to self-publishing here.
How To Make An Audiobook: The 7 Steps
There are seven steps to make and publish your audiobook. They are:
- Step 1: Prepare Your Manuscript
- Step 2: Set Up Your Title Profile On ACX
- Step 3: Listen To Auditions
- Step 4: Hire A Narrator
- Step 5: Listen To First 15-Minutes
- Step 6: Approve Audiobook
- Step 7: Get Paid
IMPORTANT: These steps assume you share royalties with your narrator. This is how you can make your audiobook quickly and for free. However, when you do a royalty share deal you give ACX exclusive distribution rights. Meaning you can’t sell your audiobook anywhere else. Also, because you’ve entered a royalty share you can’t create another audio version of your book for 7 years from the date of production.
In short, you’re locked into Amazon’s platform for quite some time. This is okay by me – but I realize it bothers some people. My goal is to reach as many people as possible as quickly as possible. But if you have any issues with giving ACX exclusive rights then don’t do a royalty share. Instead, pay your narrator upfront or record the audiobook yourself.
Step 1: Prepare Your Manuscript
Start by preparing your manuscript for recording. Your book may include links, images, and other features that won’t translate to audio. Create a copy of your manuscript and then edit the following:
- Review each link and either remove or replace with text. For example, I might replace a hyperlink with: “You can download the free workbook that accompanies this book at: sallyannmiller.com/coachbook”.
- Remove any images and any text that references an image. Someone listening to your audiobook won’t be able to see images and you want to avoid confusing the listener.
Step 2: Set Up Your Title Profile On ACX
The next step, is to create your profile on ACX. This is where you find someone to narrate and produce your audiobook. Think of ACX as a publishing platform for audiobooks with an added feature that allows you to connect with narrators.
- Log on to ACX using your Amazon user name and password. Make sure you fill out your name and address, bank information and tax information up front. Otherwise you won’t receive royalties once your audiobook is complete.
- Click the “ADD YOUR TITLE” link in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
- Use the search box to find your published book on Amazon. Click “This Is My Book”.
- A pop up window will open. Select “I’m looking for someone to narrate and produce my audiobook.” Then agree to the ACX terms and conditions.
- In the next step, you create your Title Profile. You want to get producers excited about working with you so that you attract lots of high quality auditions. ACX pulls in your book description from your Amazon book page. Edit this to make sure it’s compelling and works for an audiobook.
- Next, complete some basic information about your book and the narrator you’re looking for (for example their gender, language, accent).
- The “Additional Comments” field is your opportunity to sell your project to producers. Don’t leave this blank. Since you’re offering a royalty split, you want to emphasize your audiobook’s earning potential. You can do this by sharing information about you and your book. Here’s an example:
“My book helps people start earning money from freelance writing. It’s the third book in my Paid To Stay Home series. My book inspires readers and provides practical steps so that they can start their freelancing business and earn their first $1000.
The Kindle book has 92 five-star reviews on Amazon and has been downloaded 5051 times as at 3/8/2018. It has also been a bestseller in three Amazon categories.
I have an engaged email list of over 1000 subscribers and will be promoting the audiobook on my blog, email list, and social media.
I’m looking to work with a producer who shares my passion for helping people make money from home. If you’re able to engage listeners with your vocal talent and skills, please send me your audition. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you in partnership.
- The next thing you need to do is upload an audition script. I prefer to upload a PDF or WORD file. ACX recommends you keep the audition script short – no more than 2-3 pages of your manuscript. You don’t need to select the first chapter. Instead, choose passages from your book that are more challenging. You want to get a feel for each narrator’s talents and whether they’re a good fit for your book. When you’re done, save to move to the next page.
- You now need to enter some basic distribution information. Including the number of words in your book, how you’ll pay the producer (select Royalty Share if you don’t want to pay upfront) and distribution. For royalty share, you must select exclusive distribution. As explained above, this gives ACX exclusive rights to distribute your audiobook. Once you’ve entered everything, click “Save & Continue”.
- Finally, you can review your title page and make any last-minute changes. When you’re happy, click “Post to ACX”. This posts your title to ACX so that producers can audition to narrate your book.
Step 3: Listen To Auditions
Once you post your title to ACX, you should start receiving auditions within the next 24 hours. ACX sends you a message every time someone submits an audition. You can listen to auditions by logging onto ACX and clicking on your book title. This takes you to the auditions tab:
You can listen to auditions directly on ACX or download an mp3 file to listen to offline.
You can also invite people to audition by browsing producer’s profiles on ACX. If you find someone you like, click the Send Message button on her profile and ask them to audition for your title.
However, this isn’t necessary. For my first book, I received nine auditions within 48 hours. All the auditions were high quality and three matched the style I was looking for. I made an offer to one producer and she accepted the same day.
To make the best decision when selecting a narrator, listen to the entire audition. You want to hear how the narrator reads your words. Then, go with your gut feeling. Is there the right level of emotion and expression? Is the narrator, the right fit for your work? Would a listener enjoy hearing the voice?
Step 4: Hire A Narrator
- When you find a narrator you like, make them an offer by going to her profile page. Then click the “Make Offer” button.
- Next, select “Royalty Share” or enter a pay rate if you want to pay upfront. For a Royalty Share deal, you must select Exclusive distribution. This means the audiobook will only be available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Royalties of 40% will be paid on Exclusive distribution projects. When entering a Royalty Share contract, the 40% will be split between the you and the narrator. Thus, you will receive 20% of the royalties from each sale.
- You also need to set a deadline for the first 15 minutes and the full manuscript. Here’re my deadlines for a 20-30K word book:
First 15 minutes: One week from offer
Full Manuscript: Five weeks from offer
You may want to allow more time. Especially if this is your first audiobook or if your book is longer than 30,000 words.
- When you’ve filled everything out, submit the offer. Once the producer accepts your offer, send them your full manuscript in PDF or WORD format so that they can record the first 15 minutes.
Step 5: Listen To First 15-Minutes
Your producer will record and upload the first 15 minutes of the audiobook. You can either approve this or provide feedback. When the sample is approved, the producer will record the full project.
The first 15 minutes is an opportunity to make sure you both agree on how your book should be produced. For example, make sure the accents, pacing, tone, and pitch are what you’re looking for. Here’s how to listen to the first 15 minutes:
- Log onto ACX and select “Projects” from the upper left corner.
- Next, select the “In Production” tab.
- Finally, click the name of your book. You can listen to the 15-minute audio sample on the next page. Then either approve the audio or send a message to the narrator.
Once you approve the first 15 minutes, your narrator will record the full manuscript.
Step 6: Approve Audiobook
When your narrator uploads the full audiobook, you receive an alert. You want to listen to the recording from beginning to end. Take clear notes of any mistakes or issues. You can listen to the recording from the ACX platform.
If you find any mistakes in the Audiobook, send them to the Producer to have corrections made. Or, if there are no issues, approve your audiobook. You can send change requests as follows:
- While logged into the ACX website, click “Projects” in the upper left of the screen.
- Select the “In Production” tab.
- Click the name of the book and click the “Request Changes” button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
- A message window will appear where you can type your requested changes and send them to your narrator.
Make sure you’re crystal clear with any revision requests and always include the chapter and time at which they occur. Here’s an example of a change request I sent to my narrator:
Chapter 4: Time 9:59
You say “coach” instead of “client”. Please would you change “your ideal coach” to “your ideal client”.
Your narrator makes the revisions and you receive a message once she uploads the changes to ACX. If necessary, you can request up to two rounds of revisions.
Make sure you listen to the corrections and when you’re happy, approve your audiobook. When you approve your book, check the book description and upload your cover art. You can find the specifications for an audiobook cover on the ACX help pages here. Either ask your cover designer to create a cover file or follow these straight forward directions to make the cover yourself.
Step 7: Get Paid
After you approve the recording, Amazon checks your audiobook quality. ACX then distributes your audiobook through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
It can take up to 10 days for ACX to check the quality of your audiobook before it appears for sale. You receive a notification from ACX once it’s officially in the stores.
It’s probably a good idea to promote your audiobook at this stage. Tell your email subscribers, contact influencers, share on social media. Get the word out about your new audiobook.
Though as I mentioned, I did no promotion for my first book on Audible and it still did well. I share the exact results a little further down.
ACX sends royalty payments in the last week of the month following the end of the billing period. For example, you receive January’s royalties at the end of February. You can view your sales and earnings by logging onto ACX and clicking the “View Sales Dashboard” in the top right corner.
That’s it. You now have a published audiobook and a new income stream!
Results From My First Audiobook
Okay, you might be wondering whether all this is worth it?
The short answer is one hundred percent yes!
In fact, I wish I’d made audio versions of my books sooner.
First, it’s not a lot of work. It takes me less than one hour to set up my book and hire a narrator. Then, I allow another three hours to listen to and approve the recording. That’s about four hours effort over a month or two.
Without any promotion at all, my first audiobook was purchased 68 times in the first two months.
Why didn’t I do any promotion? I’d love to pretend this was a test to find out whether my audiobook would sell without any promotion. But the real answer is I was lazy. My first audiobook went live on December 22 – three days before Christmas. We were on our way to the UK to visit family.
I chose to enjoy the Holiday season before worrying about doing any promotion. I was pleasantly surprised when I logged into ACX and saw sales of my book in such a short time.
Now, I’m not saying your first audiobook will sell without any promotion. It helps if you already have a Kindle book that’s doing well on Amazon with plenty of five-star reviews.
I’ll do more testing this year with my other audiobooks and share what I learn.
At the end of the day, creating an audiobook is an excellent way to diversify your income and reach more people using content you’ve already created.
What do you think? Do you plan to publish an audio version of your book?
If you’re inspired to self-publish your own books, check out my ultimate guide here. It walks you through the exact steps to write and publish a nonfiction book that flies off the shelves.