How to Make an Audiobook

By Nancy Cohen



Audiobooks are booming, and you could be gaining an entire new readership of people who prefer listening over reading. According to the Audio Publishers Association, audiobooks have had eight years of double-digit growth. People listen to them while driving or doing chores or exercising. Some folks have vision problems and rely on audiobooks for the stories they love.

Providing hours of entertainment isn’t the only reason why you’ll want to jump into this market. You’ll give readers more format choices for your book, add another source of royalties to your income stream, and expand your mailing list. But getting your books into audiobook format requires a learning curve same as indie publishing.

Choosing a Payment Plan

Before getting started, decide if you want to sell your rights to an audiobook company or if you want to do it yourself. If you choose DIY, look into Findaway Voices and ListenUp in addition to ACX. Since I’m most familiar with ACX, that’s what we’ll be discussing here.

You’ll also have to decide upon a payment plan. Can you afford to pay in full per finished hour, or will you split royalties with the narrator?

Even if you pay per finished hour, you will have to decide upon an exclusive or a non-exclusive contract. With the former, which is mandatory if you’re doing royalty split, ACX sets the price and distributes to Audible, Amazon and iTunes. If you go non-exclusive, you can upload your audiobook to another distributor. There you can set your own price and participate in special promotions. But don’t fret if you make a mistake. Read your contract to see how you can change your terms.

Getting Started

Create a free account at https://www.acx.com/. Put your book’s ISBN or ASIN number into the box and claim the title. Revise the book’s description as needed. Submit your author pitch under “Additional Comments.” Its purpose is to entice a narrator to work with you. Include your awards, social media sites, and marketing plan. Then you’ll select what type of voice you want in a narrator.

Submit a Script

Your sample script should be about fifteen minutes long. Have it include narration and dialogue as well as a conversation between two or more characters. This doesn’t have to be a continuous passage. Be sure to send notes explaining the context or offering brief character sketches.

Auditions and Narrators

Once you’ve submitted your book’s profile, you are ready to search for a narrator. They’ll seek you out with auditions. Or you can search among the ones on ACX and invite them to audition. You’ll get notified by ACX when an audition is waiting.

Read the message from the narrator who sent the audition. Can she spell correctly? Does she sound enthusiastic about your project? Check her social media sites to see if she does any marketing. A newer narrator might be more interested in building her career and would likely cost less, but does she have a background in acting? You want a performer, not someone who will merely read your book aloud.

Next listen to the audition. Can you distinguish between the different characters? Is her voice too low or too raspy? Too fast or too slow? Can you hear breath sounds or other undesirable background noises?

After you’ve decided on a narrator, you’ll agree to a schedule. Then make her a formal offer on ACX. You’ll need a deadline for the first fifteen-minute sample and one for the entire production.

Reviewing your Files

 Listen and follow along with the text. Look for missing or extra words, mispronunciations, missing lines, words that may be spoken without the right inflection. Make sure the characters sound right. For corrections, note the page in the pdf file and the time stamp in the audio track.


Once you give final approval, the audiobook goes through a quality review process before going live. Along the way, you’ll upload a 2400 x 2400 cover.


You’re given promotional copies of your audiobook to use in soliciting reviews. Mention that you have review copies in your newsletter and on your social media sites. Look for sites such as AudiobookBoom where you can attract reviewers. You can also join multi-author giveaways at AuthorsXP or Booksweeps. Remember to mention your narrator in your marketing promo.


Putting your book into audiobook format is a gratifying effort. It’s amazing to hear your characters come to life in a whole new way.

To request a copy of Nancy’s full workshop handout on Audiobooks, email her at nancy@nancyjcohen.com.

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Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. These books have won numerous awards along with her nonfiction titles, Writing the Cozy Mystery and A Bad Hair Day Cookbook. Active in the writing community, Nancy is a past president of Florida Romance Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Florida Chapter. When not busy writing, she enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising and visiting Disney World. Visit her at NancyJCohen.com


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