Should Authors Publish Audiobooks? And Other FAQs


Sales of audiobooks are booming. With global sales at $4 billion a year, many authors are wondering if they should jump on the audiobook bandwagon. But creating an audiobook takes time and patience, so is it really worth the hassle and, if so, how should authors go about it?

First of all, authors need to be aware of the growing trend toward audio content, more generally. According to Exchange Wire, audio content is set to explode, with consumers choosing podcasts and radio over traditional forms of content, like articles and even infographics. Audio content can be consumed on to go, making it the perfect medium for busy people.

So, what does the trend towards audio content mean for authors? Well, if more people are choosing audio than ever before, it gives authors the opportunity to reach new audiences. Don’t forget that there are millions of people out there who cannot access print books because of a disability or impairment. There are plenty of people, too, who just don’t have the time to sit down and read. Ultimately, the more people you can reach, the more chance you have of boosting your sales.

Another benefit of creating an audiobook is that it gives you the opportunity to create an additional buzz around your work. If you’re new to publishing, you’re no longer limited to having one book launch. There’s plenty of scope to have two launches: one for your print or eBook and another for your audiobook. There’s no time limit for an audiobook launch, either. You can reignite interest in your book, no matter how old it is, by turning it into an audiobook. The key point to note is that reaching more people will have a positive impact on your sales.

However, when it comes to audiobooks, not all works are created equal. Books that contain a lot of images or provide readers with a set of detailed instructions, like a cookbook, are less suited to the audio format than stories or other types of long-form content. If you’re keen to create an audiobook, then you need to think carefully about whether or not it’s the right medium for your work.

If you’re going to invest time and money into your books, you might feel it’s better placed in marketing your existing work, rather than producing something new. But remember that creating an audiobook also means that you are creating another stream of income. In the longer term, this may be just as lucrative as a traditional book, if not more.

Investing in this trend doesn’t require any specialized knowledge. A publishing services company can produce an audiobook for you. AuthorMAG’s parent company, PublishEdge, helps authors produce audiobooks. Unlike other production companies that take a cut of royalties, PublishEdge charges a fixed fee and authors keep the entire royalties.

If you’re a tech-savvy author, you might prefer to create and produce an audiobook yourself. There are many tutorials, like this one. But to produce something of high quality, you’ll need a decent microphone and access to recording and editing software. Audiobook building software is another piece of tech you’ll need to invest in, to ensure the best possible experience for your reader. Price up these different tools before you start, you don’t want to run out of capital to see it through to completion.

One of the real benefits of this technology is that you have total control over the narrative voice. Many audiobook production companies have their own actors on payroll, so you can listen to a range of voices to find what works best for your work. There’s also the option of using your own voice, a friend’s voice or even hiring your own talent. Spend time thinking about the kind of voice you want to use. Unlike traditional books, where your choice of language is everything, the narrator of your audiobook will set the tone for your work. Experimenting with different voices is crucial if you want to make a lasting impact on your reader.

Frequently Asked Questions about Audiobooks

Is There a Market for Audiobooks?

According to Pew Research, more than 21% of Americans listen to audiobooks. That’s a 3% jump from the previous year.

How Big Is the Audiobook Industry?

The global audiobook industry was valued at $4 billion in 2020, and according to industry experts, it’s estimated to grow to $20 billion by 2030. It’s currently valued at around $5.3 million.

Do People Buy Audiobooks?

Since audiobooks allow people to consume content while basically doing any other task, they’re becoming quite popular.

Based on our observation, audiobooks have especially increased in popularity in the last three years. It seems that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns directed more people’s attention towards audiobooks.

Should Authors Narrate Their Own Audiobooks?

There are pluses and downsides to authors narrating their own audiobooks. Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons.


  • You save money on using a narrator.
  • It adds a personal touch to your book. It allows you to voice your characters the way you want your readers to hear them.
  • It allows you to emphasize parts of your book you want readers to listen to.


  • It might not look or sound professional, especially if you don’t have a clear and crisp voice.
  • It’s a bit of a learning curve if you have no working knowledge of recording and editing sound.
  • It can be time-consuming.

If you want to narrate your own audiobook, here is an article on how to record an audiobook yourself.

How Do Audiobook Royalties Work?

Depending on the platform you use, you can get paid royalties for every purchase of your audiobooks, every download, or every minute someone’s listened to it.

But most platforms pay authors either 40% or 25% royalties for what consumers paid for your audiobook. Let’s say you use Audible to publish your audiobook. If your book is an Audible exclusive, then you get 40% royalties. If you publish on other platforms, Audible gives you only 25%.

If a platform offers unlimited subscription options, then authors whose books were downloaded get their share from the pot.

How Do I Price My Audiobooks?

Audible (ACX) suggests authors price their audiobooks based on its duration and their recommended pricing is below:

  • < 1 hour: $7
  • 1–3 hours: $7–$10
  • 3–5 hours: $10–20
  • 5–10 hours: $15–25
  • 10–20 hours: $20–30
  • > 20 hours: $25–35

Can You Self-Publish an Audiobook? (How do I sell Audiobooks?)

Yes, you can self-publish your audiobook. It is similar to self-publishing an ebook. You upload your audiobook files to one of the many audiobook aggregators and they will distribute your book to audiobook retailers. Here is a list of audiobook aggregators.

Do I Need an ISBN for an Audiobook?

It depends on what format you plan to release your audiobook.

First, understand that all formats of your book will need separate ISBNs. That being said, digital audiobooks and ebooks don’t require ISBNs. However, you can still opt to get one. And we highly recommend getting them for your digital audiobook if you plan on publishing it through a third party like a distributor or trade publisher. This is because an ISBN can be used to help keep track of payments.

Also, any audiobook sold through Audible, Amazon, or iTunes gets a number assigned by Amazon. So, you don’t need to purchase an ISBN for them.

Physical CDs are the only audiobook format that require an ISBN.

What Makes a Good Audiobook?

A lot goes into a good audiobook. Based on our experience, here are a few characteristics that make a good audiobook


Just as with a regular book, your audiobook’s content needs to be valuable and sustain your readers’ attention.

Additionally, your content needs to be easy to follow along and remember.

Here’s where you should consider what’s audiobook-worthy. If your book is loaded with complex information such that readers need to “page back” to previous chapters to better understand your content, then it’s not appropriate for it to be an audiobook.

Listeners appreciate clear-cut, no-fluff content that’ll keep them engaged as they listen to your book.

Clear and Well-Paced Narration

You could have mind-blowing content but terribly narrated.

Good narration requires a clear voice and well-paced speech. What this means is that not only does your author need to sound nice, but they need to read your content at a pace that’s clear and understandable.

Choosing a narrator with a good voice, clear-sounding speech, and a well-paced narration can enhance your content and make it more palatable to your listeners.


Ultimately, audiobooks give authors the opportunity to connect with their readers on a deeply personal level; a level that traditional print really cannot match. With audiobook sales showing no sign of slowing down, the decision to get on board with this new technology should be high on your list of priorities and shouldn’t be dismissed as a fad or trend that won’t go the distance.

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