My Experiences of Self-Publishing an Audiobook by Linda MacDonald – guest post

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Linda MacDonald to the blog. Linda is talking about self-publishing audio books.

Early in 2016, I became aware of shifting UK attitudes towards audiobooks. Previously, they were considered to be the fiction medium of choice only for the visually impaired. Now, they are being marketed to everyone, especially those leading busy lives on the move.  

 I had always believed my first novel Meeting Lydia would work particularly well via audio, and like most indie authors, I’m constantly searching for something new or different that may help sales figures. Later in the year, when I attended a Self-Publishing Conference in Leicester and discovered there was a session on audiobooks, I signed up to find out more.  

 The session was run by James Peak of Essential Music and an hour later, I had acquired a rudimentary understanding of what was involved, the welcome knowledge that it might be affordable and a burning excitement to hear my written words adapted to the format.  

 How does it Work? 

Cost is a significant factor for most people and as with indie paperbacks and ebooks, the amount of ‘self’ in the self-publishing of an audiobook is the key variable that affects this. The cheapest option would be to act as one’s own producer, narrator and editor. But unless you already have the technical equipment (a condenser microphone and a quiet, well-behaved computer), and a noise-free room with no flat walls, even this option is not free. You will also need a reading style that does justice to your writing, competent editing skills and the ability of an audio engineer to check the technical aspects of the production. 

At the other extreme, for the less technically minded like me, all these services may be bought, either through an independent production company, or via one of the two main audiobook distributors: the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) or Author’s Republic  The websites of both these companies give comprehensive information about the way they work. If you choose an independent production company, costs may be significantly reduced if you provide your own narration. Authors are encouraged to consider this because they know their work better than anyone and provide an authentic voice. Alan Bennett is an example of someone who does this to very good effect.  

 A more recent development between the two extremes above, is when partnership publishing companies offer an audiobook creation service alongside their eBook and print options.  They are able to offer the service more cheaply than an independent production company, but it is more expensive than DIY.  Troubador Publishing has recently started offering this service and details may be found here: 

 For me in 2016, this latter option was not available and at the end of the conference session, I had a chat with James Peak. This led to further emails and phone calls and eventually I gave the go-ahead to Essential Music to produce Meeting Lydia as an audiobook. With so many different characters in the book, and a lot of dialogue that would benefit from changes in tone or accent, I decided to use a voice actress. James recommended the very talented Harriet Carmichael. I adapted the manuscript and then the production was left in the hands of the company. Beyond checking the files – ‘proof-listening’ – and sending a note of any significant anomalies to be re-recorded, there was nothing more for me to do until the files were sent to ACX for a quality check and uploading. I chose to give ACX exclusive distribution rights which means the book is sold only via Audible, Amazon and iTunes. A non-exclusive deal is also possible, but for a lower royalty share. Author’s Republic distributes more widely.  

 At this point marketing kicked in. I designed my own press release and sent it to local media, some national media and to radio stations where there was potential for local interest. Next, I turned my attention to social media marketing and it quickly became evident that there are many more US audiobook readers and specialist reviewers than there are in the UK. Germany is also way ahead in its consumption of audiobooks – including those written in English. In time, I believe the UK will also catch the audio bug. Meanwhile, I signed up for US and UK virtual tours and had a new bespoke cover designed.  

 I have no regrets about adapting Meeting Lydia for audio because despite the competitive market, I’m optimistic that we are on the upsurge of a wave that has yet to peak and in the future I see many more book lovers adding audiobooks to their busy lives. It was also fascinating to hear an actor interpret my writing. It brought  the novel to life in a way I hardly dared believe was possible. 

 Key Points to Consider 

  • Know your limitations with technology.  
  • Do you need a voice actor or will you do your own narration?  
  • Does any part of your original text need to be adapted for audio?  
  • To what extent will you allow a producer to extemporise, or must they stick rigidly to the text? 
  • Does your cover need to be adapted or redesigned? Audiobook images appear square online and while some book covers adapt easily to this, others look ‘chopped’ and less professional.  
  • Be clear about Rights. I was advised that the narrator should be paid a one-off fee for the recording with no further claim on royalties. Producers may also be paid either a one-off fee or via a shared royalty agreement. If using the ACX platform with exclusive distribution, the shared deal means a royalty split of 20% each as opposed to full 40% royalties to the author. 

Linda’s latest novel, Meeting Lydia was published on 22 March 2018.

Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in their kitchen. Old childhood insecurities resurface, stemming from a time back at school when she was bullied. Jealousy rears its head and her happy marriage begins to crumble. Desperate for a solution – and introduced by her daughter to social networking – she tries to track down her first schoolgirl crush, the enigmatic Edward Harvey. But Marianne is unprepared for the power of email relationships …

(covere and synopsis from Amazon).

Linda MacDonald is a former psychology teacher who has published four novels with Matador. She is originally from Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham, Kent. Linda’s continuing journey may be followed via Twitter @LindaMac1 and Facebook  Meeting Lydia is available via Amazon/Audible

This article first appeared on the Troubadour website and has been updated by Linda. Troubadour and Linda have both given permission for the updated article to be shared here.

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