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How to create and sell audiobooks

by Vervante •

Audiobooks are a fantastic growth market for authors and entrepreneurs looking for new ways to expand their audience, boost their income and increase their influence in their unique market.

In addition to providing a new revenue source, audiobooks open new markets and new audiences to you that you might never have reached otherwise. And audiobooks allow you to reach a greater audience to increase your discoverability and boost your credibility as an author.

In today’s market there are more opportunities to share an audiobook than ever. Sure, you can list yours on Amazon Audible – and we can help you with that. But big-name services like Amazon come with big commitments. For example, authors who use ACX to produce and sell audiobooks only on Amazon Audible and iTunes are entered into a 7-year exclusivity agreement and share royalties with the producers.  

In an industry that often requires extensive contracts and staggering fees, we don’t recommend locking yourself into a long-term contract that limits your options. Many authors today are choosing to record their own audiobooks and retain control of their products and royalties by using other venues such as:

  • Podcasts
  • Google Play
  • CDs
  • USB flash drives
  • Downloads from your website or shopping cart

When it comes to building a business, nothing is quite as powerful as selling or sharing products in a way that allows you to collect customer contact info and cultivate loyal connections. Selling audiobooks, physical books, or any product from websites or shopping carts you control allows you to do that. Handing your products over to Amazon does not.

(For more details regarding the pros and cons of using Vervante as opposed to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (aka CreateSpace), Audible, and similar online retailers we recommend reading this article.)

How to list your audiobook on Audible

If you love Audible and want to list your book there, Vervante offers Audible listing services. Working with Amazon’s ACX program, we can list Vervante author’s audiobooks on the Audible service. If you want the option to both sell on Amazon AND through your own website or other options, you can have the best of both worlds by selecting their non-exclusivity contract that allows more freedom, but with lower royalties (see details below).

Audiobook technical requirements

Audiobooks files must adhere to the following requirements in order to meet ACX standards and be published through Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Even if you are recording your own audiobook to sell on your own website, following these guidelines will ensure a high-quality audiobook that your audience will enjoy listening to.

Audiobook files must:

  • be consistent in overall sound and formatting
  • include opening and closing credits1
  • be comprised of all mono or all stereo files2
  • include a retail audio sample that is between one and five minutes long3

Each uploaded audio file must:

  • contain only one chapter/section per file4
  • each file’s section header must be read aloud5
  • have a running time no longer than 120 minutes
  • have room tone at the beginning and end and be free of extraneous sounds
  • measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS and have -3dB peak values and a maximum -60dB noise floor
  • be a 192kbps or higher MP3, Constant Bit Rate (CBR) at 44.1 kHz

More audiobook technical details

  1. For opening and closing credits, at minimum opening credits must note the name of the audiobook, the name of the author, and the name of the narrator. Closing credits must at least say something to the effect of “the end.”
  2. Mono files are strongly recommended. We recommend mono for audio consistency and ease of uploading.
  3. The sample file is what potential customers will use to preview of your audiobook before purchasing. Each sample file should start immediately with narration, not opening credits or music. No explicit material is allowed.
  4. Opening credits and closing credits must be their own separate files. This helps listeners to easily navigate between sections.
  5. Reading the section headers aloud helps listeners know what section of the book they are listening to without having to look at their player.

More details about ACX requirements can be found online at ACX Video Lessons & Resources.

Audiobook Sales Recommendations

QUALITY CONTROL: Be sure to schedule a full quality control listening session to your audiobook before submitting the files. Do it yourself, hire or have someone listen to the audio in its entirety from start to finish to ensure all edits are done properly and the audio matches the book. This is crucial to avoiding errors that can hurt your reputation.

SELLING FROM YOUR OWN WEBSITE: If you make your audiobook available for purchase and download from your own website or shopping cart, you retain the full proceeds from each sale. This can be done digitally, or by sending your customers the audiobook on CD or USB thumb drives.

SELLING THROUGH AMAZON ACX: Royalties for audiobooks sold through ACX via Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes are dependent upon the distribution and production options you select.  If you choose to distribute exclusively to these three channels, you will earn 40% for the duration of a 7-year exclusivity agreement. If you choose to produce the audiobook using the Royalty Share option, you will earn 20%. If you choose to distribute your audiobook non-exclusively, which means you retain the right to sell your own audiobook through other retailers (including yourself) you will earn 25% and retain the right to distribute your recording at your discretion.

Download our free audiobook guide

More information about distribution, sales, royalties and more can be found in our free Audiobooks Expert Guide on the Vervante website.

How to list your audiobook for sale

If you want to sell or share an audiobook and would like to talk to one of our audiobook publishing professionals, email sales@vervante.com or schedule a 1-on-1 phone call by clicking here.

Your book deserves a voice – let us help you share it with the world!