To Audiobook, or Not to Audiobook

Why did you even ask?

Of course I’m going to make an audiobook out of Miss Mabel’s School for Girls. Which now has 50 reviews on Amazon (in less than one month).

By the way, I did my first book signing. Sold five books, handed out a lot of bookmarks, candy, and I’ve got another one on Friday.


Let’s talk about my thoughts on ACX. And/or Amazon’s audiobook-creating-website that I just chained myself to. ACX stands for Audiobook Creation Exchange.

ACX, audiobooks, Amazon, Audible, self publishing

Photo courtesy

 1st thought- One of my plans from the beginning was to make Miss Mabel’s available in every single avenue I could. Why not, right? Amazon makes it TOO easy. (I have my own suspicions regarding that.) Plus, husband is quite busy and won’t read Miss Mabel’s until the movie rights are bought, so maybe this way I can convince him to at least listen to it. It’s a good thing he’s so handsome and supportive . . .

The big question comes in here: do people use and listen to audiobooks? I think they do. I do. It certainly makes chores more interesting.

2nd thought- I thought it was a pretty easy sign up process because Miss Mabel’s is already listed on Amazon. Basically, I just had to fill out a page like this and try to pimp my book out. Day in the life, really . . .

Courtesy me, and ACX

Courtesy me, and ACX

I chose sarcastic for vocal style because we all know (and if you don’t, you should buy it here so you can find out) that Bianca’s a witty little brat sometimes. Now I’m not so sure that I want sarcasm as the tone, but we’ll see what the narrators Producers come up with.

3rd thought- This page tells you how it works pretty well. Basically, you try to convince a ‘producer’ (narrator) that your book is totally worth their time and effort. If they believe it would be worthwhile, they’ll give you a sample read from your book. If you like it, you sign a deal.


The only thing I can see that may be bad about this whole process is waiting for a Producer to come along that is interested in the story. Since, you know, I’m not exactly Dean Koontz. And then liking what they give. That’s the other thing. If you know anything, you know I’m picky . . .

4th thought- Royalties. Here’s where it got a bit odd. They supply a couple of options: pay per hour of reading. Miss Mabel’s will be about 10 hours long, so if I paid on a 0-50 scale, I’d owe the Producer $500 on finishing. THEN I KEEP ALL ROYALTIES TO MYSELF.


I could do a 50/50 split. HOWEVER: I would be doing a 50/50 split of 40% royalties. Do the math: I’d only get 20% royalties on each book. WTF?! That’s traditional publishing numbers. PUH-LEEZ. I went into self publishing to make money, you know?

ON THAT THOUGHT- if I didn’t have as much faith in Miss Mabel’s as I do now to earn back the $500 it will cost, I could see paying the narrator on a book to book basis. But then if Miss Mabel’s goes crazy and I’m selling books like it’s going out of style? That narrator is going to make bank off my book for a long time, and I’ll only be getting half that.

Side note of importance: Lest you think I’m only going into writing for the money, you’re partially correct. I write because I love to write. It brings me joy. But I spend a lot of time and put ALOT of effort into writing, I better be getting back something from the work so I can keep going.

5th and final thought– I like the process so far because I still have total control. I can still back out and say, ‘Actually, never mind.’ Plus, I get to pick the narrator. Bonus.

THIS IS THE BIG QUESTION: Do you listen to audibooks? As a self publisher, do you think it’s a smart option to offer people when you are trying to sell?

Or, as a reader, would you buy an audiobook to listen to but not the book to read?

Leave. Your. Thoughts.


  1. says

    I reserve listening to audiobooks for the times when I’m handling mind-numbing activities…you know, chores. My mind is blank but my hands are busy. So I plug in the earpiece and listen to an audiobook, time just flies by.
    Since I haven’t self-published yet, I can’t help you on the second part of your question but I’ll give you a sound advice in another area.
    Many books fail as audiobooks because the narrator (producer) was not a good match for the book. I won’t list my bad experiences, but for the good ones Susan Ericksen is the best example. She did a marvelous job as Eve Dallas in JD Robb’s In Death Series. (She also covered Eve’s Irish millionaire husband in a brilliant way, and did a convincing and funny Peabody.)
    Since people pay more for an audiobook, they wouldn’t hesitate to give a book 1 or 2 stars because they didn’t like the narrator. (Actually an annoying narrator can get on the nerves and prompt an erasing of the file.) Pity, since sometimes the book/story itself is great. There’s no way to separate your books from the narrator’s effect on the story. That’s the risk you run in producing audiobooks, it’s not the story you worked hard on anymore, it’s another person’s influence as well.
    So, be picky when you choose a producer. Hear her voice, if possible, for all the main characters.
    Good luck.

    • says

      Great advice! I agree, actually. Despite having separate ‘rating’ tabs for narrators, the voice inevitably makes the book. I see it a lot like a book cover. A bad one will do bad business!

  2. says

    My husband and I both prefer hand held paperback books in general. That being said, we both have times where an eBook or audio book comes in handy. I like audio books on road trips and my husband likes to listen to them while he’s on the train to and from work. I’d definitely say go for it! I suck at math, but the pay one flat rate seems like the better option so far.

    • says

      Flat rate is definitely how I plan to go. Even though someone else would do the math, it all seems FAR too messy for me. I’m a letter people, not a number people, which is why I’m not doing algebra right now 😉

  3. says

    Audio books were the soundtrack of a coast to coast US road trip I took with an ex boyfriend once upon a time. I have to confess I don’t listen to them much these days, but then I don’t drive (and commute by bike) so I don’t have masses of opportunity.

    I would definitely say it’s worthwhile making it available on any and all platforms for sure – what’s to lose?! I’m thinking about podcasting Life is Swede this summer, though probably more as a promotional thing (it would be a free podcast) than a format unto itself…

  4. says

    I think audio books are great, especially when the author reads their story (I enjoyed listening to Stephen King read the Dark Tower). I don’t listen to them very often these days because it’s hard to listen while I work because I get distracted easily, or if I’m at the gym I get frustrated because I can’t listen closely enough to enjoy the story (I’m too busy huffing and puffing :-). They’re ideal for road trips, though, or traveling in general. Hey, that’s it. Maybe I just need to travel more …

    Anyway, congrats on all the early success with your book, Katie. You deserve it!

    • says

      Thanks Dave! It’s really only been this successful because I’ve had such an awesome backbone of people helping me out!

      I actually listen to audiobooks on running while I run. Seriously. It’s so motivational, seriously.

  5. says

    I’m here to tell you that there is a big market for audio books especially among truck drivers. I have a friend who is a truck driver that listens to audio books constantly. Also, and just reading about this recently, the audio book industry has seen a slight peak increase in sales. It is a viable market if you can find the right person to do your audio book. I happen to have a studio so all of my material will be done in house. But the vast majority of writers will not have that convenience. So, I wouldn’t do audio books until whatever book that you want to do market has been out for a while unless you’re going to include it in a package deal for fans. If its been out for a little while, it’s a great way to renew interest and get more out of that particular title. So, it just depends on how you’re going to use the audio book whether or not the expense would be worth it. However, I will say that I would not suggest someone release in audio book of their title if they’re just starting out. It is much better a new author to write and amass a strong enough following first. My two and a half cents.

    • says

      Why do you feel like they have to have a strong following before doing the audio book? Is that just to make sure they get a full return on investment for what it costs?

      • says

        Pretty much. The cost of an audiobook, a good audiobook, can run a pretty penny. I say this from experience. I used to do voice overs and audiobooks as well as DJ for radio for about a decade or so.

        The considerations are:

        1. Do you want sound effects?
        2. Do you want a straight read or different voices for the characters?
        3. How long is the the book?
        4. What’s the turn around time?
        5. How many edits do you want?
        6. Do you want sound editing as well or just the raw files?
        7. Do you want music? At the beginning and end of the book or for each chapter?

        It goes without saying, the more involved you want the project to be, the more money you’ll have to pay. But even with a straight read, no music, no character voices, the editing alone will take a minimum of twice as long as it takes to record it. Personally, I wouldn’t do a book for less that $750 and that would be scraping the bottom. That’s just a straight read with one edit per chapter, meaning you listen to the chapter, write down what you want changed in it and send it back one time only. Almost all people who want an audiobook never factor that in. Extra edits cost. If you rush it, you stand a chance of missing small things. Ears get tired from listening too much.

        One could try to do it themselves but I really wouldn’t suggest that unless they have audio editing experience and the right equipment. Plus…well…they need the right voice. Not everyone’s voice is made for that kind of thing.

        Now, this is not written to discourage so please don’t take it as such. It’s written to give you a clear picture to know what one would be walking into if they decided to go the audiobook route. That’s why I say that it would be better to have a strong following to offset the expense unless you are looking at it as just a marketing tool. It could be well worth it then, though the initial hit would be high.. But you could give it away exclusively to your fans who buy your book, offer it as a limited download, give away free chapter downloads, offer it as part of a package or whatever else crosses your mind. It could be a pretty potent addition ,em>if it’s recorded well and positioned correctly. At that point, the sky’s the limit.

        • says


          This is exactly, exactly what I wanted! Thank you, thank you! I just needed someone with experience to point me in the right way and tell me the bumps to look out for. You’ve always got my back, friend, thank you!

          • says

            Come on now. You know I got you. :) And if you need anything else in reference to this, let me know. I might be able to hook a girl up if time permits. Or at least point you in a direction where they can.

            Peace and hair grease!

  6. says

    I love audio books – they get me through the crazy amounts of boring tasks! I rarely have time to sit down and read anymore, so I make my way through 90% of literature via audiobooks. I also totally agree that the narrator makes or breaks the book. I’m currently listening to the Harry Potter series by audio and the narrator is so phenomenal! I think I’m enjoying the books more now than when I read them 10 years ago! Congratulations on how great your book launch is going!

    • says

      Thanks Kari! I’m so in love with the Harry Potter narrator! Truly, he did phenomenal. We used to listen to it all the time in the car, so now I can’t even read HP without hearing his voice in my head. I don’t read HP that much anymore just because I feel like it would influence my own writing too much, but oh, I love those audiobooks!

  7. says

    I’m not a good audiobook reader because I’m a visual learner (which means I have to concentrate harder to follow an audio recording than I do to scan a printed or e-reader page). But I have friends who swear they’d never get a chance to read if it weren’t for audiobooks, and lots of people are actually *better* auditory learners and get more out of an audiobook than from reading the printed or e-book version.

    I like the idea of audiobooks, but I don’t think you need to rush it to market, especially since a lot of your existing fans have *just* read MMSFG and won’t necessarily be ready to re-read (or re-listen) just yet. Maybe during the lead-up to releasing your next book would be good, because most readers want to re-visit the earlier book(s) in a series to prepare for the latest release, and audio might be the ideal format to do that.

  8. says

    I don’t listen to audiobooks because, like Kella, I’m a visual person. It’s way too easy for me to just tune out voices and let it become noise. I think this is also why a lot of my favorite songs don’t have lyrics.

    In saying that, I know a lot of people like them. I’ve thought about turning my book into an audiobook, but haven’t really pursued it. I’m not really fond of ACX’s terms, and I haven’t found a service that is more palatable. I’ll probably revisit the idea if/when the demand for an audiobook is there. Until then, I’m slumming it with text. :)

    • says

      If I listen to them for too long, I lose interest and my mind wanders, so I just turn it off at that point. However, some books I really got into, like ‘Born to Run’ (I tend to save my non fiction reads for audiobooks) and could not stop listening to it. I listened to it while I ran, actually, which gave me even more motivation.

  9. Lyssa says

    I love audiobooks and I would totally listen/read to Miss Mabel’s again. I especially enjoy audiobooks when I am doing things that only involve my hands (sewing, chores, etc.).

  10. says

    First of all BRAVO for getting so many reviews in such a short amount of time
    Congrats for your first book signing too.
    I never considered an audio book for my own novel but your post is worth the consideration.
    Best to you

  11. says

    I listen to audiobooks when I walk the dog and clean. It takes me forever to get through them, but I do like them. You definitely need the right narrator though. And it needs to be produced well, I hate when it’s clear that they’ve taken a break and their voice is completely different.
    Good luck figuring it out and thanks for sharing the process a bit cause I was wondering how that worked with self published authors.

  12. says

    I think you got some great comments here. I’ve listened to audio books from time to time and really enjoyed it, but it’s not what I choose most often. I do think it would be great to have it available in every form possible. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision for you!

    • says

      I can only do non fiction in audiobooks. Well, I could probably do fiction. I did once, but I still like to get my dose of non fiction in that way.

  13. tara siddoway says

    I personally have a hard time with audio books. Meaning, my mind usually ends up wandering while listening. But that is me with a short attention span. But for people like Paul, he loves audio books. He’s great at listening while working on something else. He is always listening to something on his iPhone. There is an audience out there for audio books.

  14. says

    Paying a flat fee is definitely the way to go. If it were thousands of dollars to make an audio book, I might think twice but less than $500 seems like a no brainer. Good luck!

  15. says

    I love audiobooks and I do often have both the audio and printed version of a book. Narrator is key. A good narrator can make even a boring book sound interesting, but a poor narrator can make a stellar book sound awful. Easton’s comment is great and so informative. He’s right that there may be tons of edits that are not factored into the cost. I’ve also followed a few writers who have provided free podcasts, in series form, of their novels. One is Mike Bennett who has podcasted a series of short stories as well as a couple of novels (here’s one: Scott Silger is another ( whose hard covers I’ve seen in my local B&N! Both of these authors podcasted their works in progress, as one way to build an audience. Both are very entertaining narrators.

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