The Blitz

The Rise in Audiobooks

Audiobooks are exploding on the market and now is the time for authors to jump in.

Have you turned your book inventory into audiobooks yet?

First, it’s a billion-dollar industry and growing.

Second, more people are listening to them. In March 2018, Pew Research reported a seven-point increase in Americans who listen to audiobooks.

Another study found drivers admit to listening to podcasts and audiobooks while sitting in traffic.

And yet another study found that Harry Potter was the most listened to book on Alexa in 2017.

Besides the fact that everyone is doing it, providing an audiobook is also an excellent way to exploit the daily commute. Studies show that in the United States today, the typical commute is 24 minutes long.

If you live in Denver, that commute tops 45 minutes! That’s a good amount of time to fill a void.

Even during the pandemic, lockdown and an increase in telework, readers turned toward audio.

While the industry saw a short dip in March/April 2020, audio picked back up during the summer to prepandemic levels. People admitted to listening to ebooks while working out, cleaning the house and taking a walk.

Finally, it’s a great way for readers to get to know you.

Even if you don’t read it yourself, they’ll become familiar with your literary voice. That’s important.

People buy books from authors they know or think they know.

Hearing your book is a way for them to get to know you. Weird sounding, I know, but true.

If you are an author looking to create an audiobook file, you have several options:

  • Record it yourself
  • Partner with a narrator and pay upfront
  • Work with a narrator and pay in royalties
  • Work with a narrator and pay by the hour

Doing it yourself cuts down on a lot of upfront costs and allows you to sell without having to pay narrator royalties. Partnering with a narrator can cost quite a bit.

DIY – If you do it yourself, you need to consider a few things.

Are you comfortable reading your work? Do you have any voice or acting training to help with emotion in your reading? Are you comfortable editing audio? If so, go for it. If not, this really isn’t the time to test your acting chops. But if you decide to go ahead, this is what you need:

  • Editing software. I recommend Audacity
  • A good dynamic microphone. I recommend ATR2100 rather than the Snowball I use for podcasting. It will pick up less extraneous noise.
  • A very quiet space. Recording at your kitchen table isn’t going to cut it. Pad the walls of a small room in your house with egg crates or set up a tent (seriously) and throw a blanket over the top of it. Now, listen for things like the humming of the air conditioning, traffic on the street, or the dripping water at the sink.
  • Decrease noise on the audio file. Before you start recording yourself reading your book, record the “silence” in the room for five to ten seconds. When you’re done recording, highlight that section, go to the Effects menu and click “Noise Removal,” then click “Get Noise Profile” from the drop-down menu. Then select the entire audio on the track and click Noise Removal. Adjust any settings or go with the default, click OK and you’re done. This should help eliminate any ambient noises you may not have noticed while recording.

If you’d prefer to use a narrator, and I recommend it, Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) has an exchange of narrators and producers.

These folks are professionals and will offer you an “audition” reading of your work. Using professionals who are trained to record audiobooks will ensure your book sounds professional and will increase your credibility.

It also cuts down on your learning curve. But it isn’t cheap.

An average rate for a 50,000-word book ranges between $1000 to $2000.

Whether you record it and edit or you partner with a narrator and producer, according to Audible, the file you upload must meet several requirements:

  • Be comprised of all mono or all stereo files
  • Make sure to have opening and closing credits
  • Include a retail sample between one and five minutes long
  • Section titles must be recorded
  • Be a 192 kbps or higher MP3 file
  • Each file must have a running time of 120 minutes or less
  • Measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS and have -3dB peak values


To upload an audiobook file on Amazon, Audible, or iTunes, it must be done through a distributor and the main distributor in the United States is ACX. Create your account, then upload your book cover, input your product description, list price, and distribution options. Then upload your file. Hit publish and market as usual.

Final Word

Offering your book in a variety of formats expands your reader’s potential.

While audiobook creation is not cheap, in the long run it will be worth your while. Keep an eye out on this format.