You wonder if an audio version of your book is a good idea. Maybe you listen to audiobooks – perhaps a Harry Potter book with Jim Dale doing over 150 different voices – and you think, it’s probably way too complicated and expensive. Not necessarily!

Don’t make these common audiobook mistakes:

1. You Underestimate Audiobooks Popularity

At a time when eBook popularity is waning, audiobook listening on Audible grew 38% last year. Audiobook sales growth is up 20% worldwide 2 years in a row. Listening on smartphones is the fastest growing way people are enjoying audiobooks and automakers such as Honda and GM are now including audiobook apps from Audible and iTunes in their new cars.

Audiobooks also have their own fan base, so it’s a way to sell more books!

2. You Overestimate What Creating an Audiobook Costs

As recently as 10 years ago, audiobooks could cost $30,000 or more to produce. Getting a recording studio, voice actors, audio editors, music rights and more meant that a major publisher would be needed.

Now, thanks to the growth of self and independent publishing in the audiobook world, and the explosion in the number of narrators with home studios and editing skill, high quality audiobooks can be produced for less than $3,000. If you are willing to share your sale royalties with a narrator/producer, the upfront cost can be reduced to several hundred dollars or less. Amazon created ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, to make it easy for you to find narrators for both fiction and non-fiction titles at relatively low cost.

3. You Settle for a Good Voice Instead of an Actor

When choosing a narrator, you can easily be seduced by a beautiful voice. But what you need to look for is a voice ACTOR, who can distinguish characters by subtly using different vocal tones and inflections and glide easily into the changing emotions of your story. For non-fiction, a skilled narrator can hold your interest for hours by talking to you, not by reading to you out loud.

4. You Narrate It Yourself  When You Shouldn’t

There are a few good reasons to narrate you own book:

  • It’s your book and your words, so you can tell your story best. You know your characters, your story or subject, and the thinking behind your words better than anyone else.
  • You keep more money. If you pay a narrator, you will either share royalties or pay them upfront to produce your audiobook. When you narrate your own book, your audiobook royalty payments go to you (after your publisher or Amazon take a big chunk of it.)
  • You can be your own narrator if you have acting or radio/TV experience or have done lots of public speaking.

None of the above? Then get a professional to do it. It really is a lot harder than it looks, and do you really want the bad reviews that come from a poor narrating performance when listeners judge you against the professionals?

5. You Don’t Promote Your Audiobook

It’s great to produce an audiobook, but if it falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Your audiobook needs to be shouted out to your fans and new listeners.

  1. Include an audiobook sample in all promotions. The “retail sample” required by ACX is ideal for this. Your book cover and audio clip can be used in all social media and your website.
  2. Request listener reviews from all your contacts and use a review service like Audiobook Boom.
  3. Create a promotional video like this one for my book. You can engage a book trailer expert or use a resource like Animoto for less than $100.
  4. With future books, try to time your audiobook release with the print and e-book versions, so all of your efforts can simultaneously share your promotion efforts.

rr_300s_dpi (1)Richard Rieman of is the author of The Author’s Guide to AudioBook Creation,” an audiobook self-publishing expert and top Audible narrator. He has narrated dozens of titles on Amazon, Audible, iTunes and more. Richard also produces audiobooks for authors voicing their own audiobooks and consults authors seeking a narrator.