Thinking of Doing the Audiobook Version of Your Book? by Holly Adams

The Spirit Tree by Kathryn M. Hearst, narrated by Holly AdamsToday we welcome a new guest writer to Writer’s Fun Zone, Holly Adams who is stopping by to chat with us about “Thinking of Doing the Audiobook Version of Your Book?”  Enjoy!


Terrific!! According to the Audiobook Publishers Association:

“Results from the Audio Publishers Association’s latest sales and consumer surveys show a 33.9% increase in audiobooks sold in 2016. Listenership continues to expand. More than 67 million Americans listen to audiobooks each year.”

In fact, audiobook sales in 2016 are estimated to have been 2.1 billion dollars in the US alone. 2016 was the third year in a row that sales increased by nearly 30% over the previous year, and the market shows no signs of slowing down.

How do you know if YOUR book will be listened to?

Well, there are a number of factors.

Genre: Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Romance are the most popular. If your book is in a different category, you may want to do deeper research before you invest.

Target Audience: 48% of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35! Libraries are another major purchaser of audiobooks (for apps such as Overdrive). Is your book already at a library? If so, they are more likely to purchase the audiobook version.

Your Platform & Presence: If you already work hard to get your name out there, your audiobooks will do better. Audiobook sales rely on book sales to a large degree — in fact when narrators are considering whether or not to accept a Royalty Share deal with a Rights Holder, they look at your sales ranking and number of reviews on Amazon.

Your audiobook publishing platform: There are quite a few “boutique” audiobook publishers, a number of well-established large publishers, and then there is ACX, which is a part of the Audible/Amazon giant. There are pros and cons to working with different organizations, and learning as much as you can about your final 2 or 3 choices might make all the difference.

There are other factors, of course, but these are four to think about!

PHEW! So much to consider. But now you have chosen your platform and are good to go! What next?

Choosing a Narrator

Knowing what you like in a voice, or a style you want, or even narrators you like is a great place to start, in part because you are better able to describe what you want to possible auditioners. Or if you are working with a casting director, giving them those descriptions helps them recommend several possible narrators.

Then choose a section of your book (or two!) for an audition. ACX recommends 5 minutes of text, and some people choose 10 minutes, but as tempting as it may be, don’t make it any longer than that. You’ll find you really don’t need to listen to more to know if someone is a contender, and if a couple hundred people audition, you won’t want to listen to 27 minutes of every single one!

Because it is industry standard to do just a short clip, many narrators will only do 5-10 minutes anyway. Auditions take lots of time to do for narrators as well.

If you have it narrowed down to a few narrators but still can’t decide, ask your finalists to record a couple minutes of another section, or give direction/adjustments to a portion of their initial audition and ask them if they are willing to do a re-record.

Make sure any call back is VERY short—under 5 minutes is best.

Oh, and unless you are an actor, it’s seldom a good idea to narrate the book yourself. 😊

Interested in types of contracts and the process of how the audiobook is created? I will talk more about that in a future guest blog post.




Holly AdamsA SAG-AFTRA performer, and a stage and film actress for many years before joining the audiobook world, Holly Adams began her VO (voiceover) career doing radio plays and full-cast audiobooks. Since then, she has narrated books in multiple genres, including romance, mysteries and classics, and has been nominated for Best Female Narrator.

The Spirit Tree by Kathryn M. Hearst is narrated by Holly Adams. Available here.

Connect with Holly Adams




Twitter: @hollyshearwater


You may also like...