Do it Yourself: A 10-Step Guide to Self-Publishing an Audiobook

The audiobook industry is quickly growing, yet it can seem daunting to authors unfamiliar with the process.

For the past couple of years, I have slowly been turning my repertoire of 50+ works of fiction into audiobooks. I have encountered many roadblocks, from managing flaky narrators to choosing a payment model.

I just finished the production of my 27th audiobook Heart of Gold, which has been a breeze, but it wasn’t always this easy.

1. Determine if the audiobook industry is right for you

The audiobook market is growing, but is it worth it for you as a writer?

Frankly, audiobooks are time consuming — it’s like re-writing your novel. All the hours that go into production and editing can be costly, so you must decide if the audiobook market will be lucrative enough for your books.

This is a personal decision a writer must make by considering a multitude of factors.

Ask yourself these questions: Do I have the time to put into this project? Do I see my novels doing well as audiobooks? Will my fan base be receptive to this new platform?

2. Find your perfect narrator

Easier said than done!

It’s imperative that the narrator you select fits your book because he or she will be telling your story. The voice actor should represent the tone of your characters.

If your book is in first person, the narrator should represent that specific character. Think about how their voice should sound: female or male, sultry or raspy? Make sure you carefully choose because the narrator can make or break a novel.

For my novel Mother Nile, I chose an engaging narrator with a British accent because of his worldly and sophisticated voice. He also just happens to be familiar with the pronunciation of many Arabic words, making him the perfect match for my book, which partially takes place during Britain’s occupation in Egypt.

For those who aren’t writing fiction, but instead a memoir, then perhaps you’ll want to narrate your own book.

3. Correct your audio

This is one of the most time consuming parts of audiobook production because you must listen through your novel carefully.

I’ve come across sound glitches, narrator’s coughing and even the sound of dishes clanking in the background.

You have to mark the time stamp and let the narrator know there is a mistake they must correct.

4. Decide when enough is enough

Sometimes narrators can be difficult to work with; they may miss deadlines, they may make tons of mistakes and technical glitches throughout the narrative, etc.

Sometimes it’s better to drop them and look for a new narrator, as long as it doesn’t go against any contract.

I had originally chosen a different narrator for one of my books before I (thankfully) came across Colleen Crimmins. The original narrator missed lines and had many audio glitches in her work.

Unfortunately, we had to change narrators due to the quality of the work, but in exchange I got a great narrator who did a flawless job.

5. Pick which mistakes enhance your narrative

Audiobooks rely on sound rather than sight, so sometimes narrators will add a word or change a clause slightly because it “flows” better when spoken.

If it sounds fluid and normal, it is okay to let the ‘mistake’ go by, allowing the narrative to sound more colloquial.

As an added bonus, it also saves editing time.


Read the other 5 steps on The Write Life here.