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How to Make an Audiobook: 10 Easy Steps for Beginners

Learn how to make an audiobook in 10 simple steps. We cover what an audiobook is and what you need to create your own book easily.
Ortal Hadad
Content Specialist & Blog Editor
Last Updated:
January 23, 2023
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Have you ever thought about making an audiobook? The idea might seem intimidating, especially if you don’t know where to begin. 

The process can be simple and enjoyable with the right tools and guidance,.

We’ll cover the most important steps you should take to produce an unforgettable audiobook. The methods below can be used for audiobooks of different lengths and genres, so you can feel confident about starting your project. By using your creativity and following the process outlined here, you’ll be able to make something you’re truly proud of. 

What is an audiobook?

An audiobook is a digital recording of a book read out loud. Beyond this definition, audiobooks can vary hugely. Just like physical books, audiobooks come in a variety of genres. They include non-fiction, like self-help books and biographies, and fiction such as fantasy and romance. 

Some audiobooks exist only as audio files, but the majority are also available as physical books. An author, actor, or celebrity can narrate an audiobook.

Most audiobooks are available for sale, just like a book from a store. Although, you purchase an audiobook online using a designated app or website. You can also buy audiobooks through a subscription to a platform such as Audible. You can store audiobooks digitally on your phone, computer, or iPad.

Why should you make an audiobook?

Are you a writer wanting to tell a story, or a professional with advice to share? An audiobook is a great way to get your voice out there. Because of the digital format of audiobooks, they can be bought and shared globally. This opens up a huge potential market for your work.

Did you know that 45% of adult Americans have listened to an audiobook? 

Many people love to hear their favorite stories and discover new books in an audible format. The multi-billion-dollar audiobook industry is growing every year. Readers enjoy the benefits of audiobooks. It gives them the freedom to access a great read right from their phone.

The popular nature of audiobooks makes them an ideal option, not only to find an audience for your stories but, to profit from your work. Creating and publishing an audiobook yourself will open doorways to monetization. Why not share the words that matter to you, and even make an income from your creation?

Can I make my own audiobook?

Yes! You can easily make your own audiobook. Actually, an increasing number of authors are doing this. Over 73,000 audiobooks were published in the US, in the last year alone!

There are great options to choose from when recording your audiobook and finding a home for it. With the rising interest in making audiobooks, many recording platforms have begun to offer tools for creating and editing them. After your audiobook has been created, you can self-publish it with a distributor.

The process does require hard work and dedication, but making and selling an audiobook is a straightforward process. This makes it an exciting possibility for anyone with a passion to create audio content.

What do you need to record your own audiobook?

A great story

The most important thing you’ll need for a successful audiobook is a compelling story. This could be a book you’ve written yourself or one you’ve read and want to turn into an audiobook. You should be enthusiastic about sharing it with the world.

A narrator

The person who reads your book could be yourself, or a paid professional. What matters most is that they have a gripping voice that brings the story to life.

Recording equipment

A high-quality microphone is essential for recording audiobooks. Noise-canceling headphones and either a physical or virtual recording studio are also important. This equipment will create the best environment to achieve a great recording.

Recording and editing software

When it comes to recording your audiobook as a beginner, you’ll need a user-friendly recording platform that doesn’t compromise on quality. For post-production, look for a simple but professional editing platform. Some software, like Riverside, offer recording and editing in one place. This makes it simple to produce your audiobook from beginning to end.

We also suggest your platform doesn’t rely on your internet for recording in high quality. There’s nothing worse than internet problems getting in the way! Luckily, a platform like Riverside uses local recording so all files are captured directly on your device instead of over the internet. This means achieving a high-quality audiobook is possible, even if your internet connection flags. 

A budget

The final thing you’ll need before recording your audiobook is a budget. Many potential costs are involved in making an audiobook, such as equipment, hiring a narrator, and book promotion. Before you start, consider how much you’re willing to invest in your project.

10 Steps on How to Make an Audiobook

There’s no need to feel stuck in the audiobook process. The guide below will break down the essentials and give details on how you can achieve the best results for your audiobook. So why not dive in and get started?

Here are 10 easy steps to follow on how to make your own audiobook:

Step 1: Find a great story to tell.

The most important aspect of an audiobook is the story itself. You can choose a story for your audiobook in several ways. 

You can choose a popular book that already exists and create an audiobook version. This might appeal to you if there’s a book you’ve read and are passionate about. Just make sure you have permission from the author, first. The copyright lies with the author, so you will need to strike a deal with them to use their writing. This often means paying them an upfront fee or paying them royalties from each audiobook you sell.

 Alternatively, there may be a story you’ve written yourself that you’d like to turn into an audio format. As you retain the copyright to your own work, you can go right ahead and start planning the next steps of creating your audiobook.

Step 2: Plan your recording.

Planning how you will record your audiobook is a crucial step. First, consider how long the written book is. One hour of an audiobook includes roughly 9,000 words. An hour of a finished audiobook usually takes 2-3 hours to record.

You can calculate approximately how long it will take to record your audiobook by looking at the length of the manuscript you’re working with. Knowing how much recording time your audiobook needs will help you manage your recording schedule. 

You should read through the manuscript thoroughly before you begin recording. If the book contains diagrams that the listener needs to see, plan how you will reference these in an audiobook. For example, you could provide a file with the diagrams for your listeners, and have the narrator refer to these in the audiobook.

Step 3: Choose a narrator for your audiobook.

Finding a great narrator is important, as their voice will bring your book to life. Depending on your budget and experience, you might choose to narrate the audiobook yourself. While this can be enjoyable, and a cost-saving way of doing things, it’s best to be aware of the skills a good narrator needs before you begin.

These include:

  • Reading out loud in an engaging voice
  • Switching between tones and possibly accents
  • Doing unique character voices
  • Pausing in the right places

 Expert narrators will have spent a lot of time perfecting their reading voice. If you don’t have the time to practice your narrative skills, it’s worth finding a voice actor who can do your story justice.

One of the most popular sites for finding high-quality audiobook narrators is ACX. This website, owned by Amazon, matches audiobook creators with narrators. You can invite narrators from their database to audition for your audiobook, and choose the voice you think fits best. Alternatively, many narrators have their own websites where you can check out their past work and get in touch with them.

Step 4: Set up your recording studio.

Planning to hire a narrator for your audiobook? Before you jump into purchasing any equipment you should reach out to them. Many narrators have their own recording studio and can use their own equipment.

If you’re recording audio yourself, you will need the right equipment. The most important things to have are a professional microphone and soundproof headphones. These will elevate the audio quality of your creation, making your book sound crisp and clear.

There are extra pieces of equipment you can purchase to take your recording to the next level. For example, soundproofing materials will reduce the noise in your recording space so your voice can shine. Pop filters, which attach to your mic stand, soften the plosive sounds in your speech. Plosive letters like p and b make a popping noise when we say them, and this can sound harsh to the ears without a pop filter.

Step 5: Record your audiobook.

The process of recording your audiobook will be different depending on whether you’ve hired a narrator or not. Professional narrators will record the audio themselves and send it to you. However, if you’re planning to narrate your own audiobook, it’s best to use high-quality recording software.

Recording platforms such as Riverside offer a base to record audio and edit your work. Riverside is a virtual studio that streamlines your process by making recording easy. Simply set up an account and enter your studio to start recording high-quality audio.

You will need to record your audiobook in stages to cover all the material. It’s best not to record for more than a couple of hours at a time. Your voice can start to sound tired, and you’ll be more likely to make mistakes if you record for too long. It’s essential to have a clean take of your audiobook. If you make any errors when reading the book, read the sentence again clearly and correctly.

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Step 6: Edit your audiobook.

There are two ways you can go about editing your audiobook. The first is to edit your recordings yourself, and the second is to hire an audio engineer. For self-editing, it’s best to use dedicated editing software to refine your audio. You can use Riverside's text-based editor that uses Ai transcriptions to make audio editing as easy as editing a text transcript.

Adobe Audition and Logic Pro X are strong choices, but there are many editing platforms out there so it’s worth considering your options.

As you edit, focus on removing popping plosive sounds, background noise, coughs, and misread lines. Aim to make your recording well-paced and clear. Your audiobook files will need to meet the specs of the distributor you want to publish with. For example, Audible limits each audiobook file to 120 minutes and has specific guidelines for the noise level of your recordings.

Hiring an audio engineer can be a straightforward way of bringing your audiobook together. Experienced audiobook editors will know the specs of the largest distributors. They will make sure your files are smooth, polished, and fit the requirements for publication by the main distributors. You will need to search for a skilled audio engineer. If you have hired a narrator you can ask them for references, or look at online forums for freelance audio editors.

Step 7: Choose the cover art.

One of the most creative parts of producing an audiobook is commissioning, or selecting, the cover art. If you have a specific idea in mind for the cover, you can hire an artist to make this a reality. Deviant Art and Reedsy have directories of freelance artists for hire. You can also browse artists’ individual websites to see if their style would be a good fit for you.

Another option is licensing artwork for your cover. The artwork won’t be owned by you, and this usually means someone else could license the same artwork for a different product. If exclusivity isn’t the most important thing to you, licensing can be a budget-friendly way to decorate your audiobook. You can browse an artist’s licensable works to choose a design you like best.

Remember that cover art for audiobooks needs to meet specific formatting requirements. These include being a JPG file no larger than 5 MB, with a pixel resolution of 2400 x 2400.

Step 8: Publish your audiobook.

Choosing a distribution platform is the first step to publishing your finished audiobook. Distributors like ACX will take on your audiobook and send it to retailers such as Audible or iTunes. When choosing a distributor, consider how much of a cut they take from each audiobook sale and which retailers they can submit your book to.

Check that your audiobook meets the format requirements of your chosen distributor. From there, be sure to very carefully read the terms of the distribution contract. This specifies how much of the royalties you will get and whether you can publish your audiobook anywhere else.

If you’re happy with the contract, upload and submit your audio files to the distributor. After a review, they will send your audiobook off to retailers. Once you’ve published your audiobook, register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. Having your audiobook copyrighted by them means you can prosecute anyone who steals its contents.

Step 9: Monetize your creation.

Many large audiobook distributors automatically monetize your work. In most cases, for every audiobook you sell, the distributor will take a cut of the profits and pay you a percentage of royalties. This process happens automatically with each sale you make.

Royalties themselves can be divided in different ways. For example, a percentage of royalties may be paid to the author. Alternatively, both the author and narrator may share royalties from a book. 

How this split is decided depends on which distributor you use and your audiobook creation process. For example, if you’ve produced an audiobook using Audible’s ACX website, your royalties will be specified in your contract.

Step 10: Promote your audiobook.

Audiobook promotion comes in many shapes and sizes. You can promote your product yourself by sharing trailers and teaser snippets of the book on social media. Paying to boost these posts on platforms like Twitter and Instagram will show your post to a larger audience. Email marketing and blogging are other great ways of spreading the word about your audiobook.

If you publish with a large distributor, they will do a certain amount of promotion for you. This can include advertising your audiobook as a new release or listing it as a recommendation under a specific genre.

You can pay a person or company for promotion. This can be anything from an ad read to a blog post about your audiobook. Some audiobook creators choose to give a free copy of their work to certain people in exchange for honest reviews. An audiobook with reviews and a high rating will stand out to people browsing for their next listen.

Record your audiobook in the highest quality with Riverside

When it comes to finding the right place to record your audiobook, it’s best to consider your options. There are many kinds of recording software available. However, finding a user-friendly space with powerful high-quality recording capabilities can be a challenge. 

At Riverside, we can offer you a professional online studio space to set your creativity free. Take a look at our key features to see if we’d be a good fit for you:

High-quality audio resolution

Create audiobooks in high resolution seamlessly. With Riverside, you can download uncompressed WAV audio files that capture audio at up to 48kHz.  

Record separate audio (and video) tracks 

With separate tracks, you can record each participant’s audio on individual files. This gives you more flexibility with editing. You can easily adjust audio levels of one speaker, without affecting the rest. 

Invite up to 7 speakers to record together

Easily invite multiple narrators to collaborate with you in Riverside’s digital studio space. You can invite guests, or assign a producer who can work behind the scenes without being recorded. If you want to host a live reading, you can invite up to 1000 audience members. 

Local recording for top-quality audio

With local recording, your footage is recorded on your computer instead of over the internet. This means you can download studio-quality content, without having to worry about a bad internet connection! 

Magic Clips tool for easy content repurposing

With Magic Clips, you can break up your recording into bitesize sections. This is ideal for sharing trailers, chapters, and snippets to tease the content inside your audiobook. All you need to do is click on the Magic Clips button, and let Ai find key moments in your recordings, then turn them into short shareable snippets. Afterwards, you can share your clips across social media platforms to promote your audiobook and reach a wider audience.

Text-based Editor

Our Editor tool is designed to make your life easier. With AI transcriptions you can easily navigate and edit through your recording. Any text you delete in your transcription, automatically removes the corresponding audio in your recording. The editor also includes tools to fine-tune your audio and stitch together separate tracks.

Mobile App

The Riverside mobile app is free to download on both iOS and Android. Our app provides a simple and professional interface so that you can record wherever you are. You can join or host recordings straight from your phone or iPad.

Automatic Transcription

Need a transcript of your audiobook? With Riverside’s transcription software creating one takes only a few clicks. You can get an instant transcript of your recording and download it as either an SRT or TXT file. Our crisp audio recording capabilities increase the accuracy of your transcripts.

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FAQs on How to Make an Audiobook

How much does it cost to get a book turned into an audiobook?

How much money you’ll spend on making an audiobook depends on the process and equipment you use. For example, you can make an audiobook with a very small budget. By using a free audio recorder, such as Riverside, and narrating the book yourself using equipment you already have, you can save on costs.

However, the majority of audiobook creators need a budget to cover at least some of these costs: buying the rights to record a book, equipment, software, hiring a voice actor, commissioning cover art, and paying to promote the audiobook. How large your budget needs to be, depends on how much you are willing to invest in these areas.

How much do audiobook narrators get paid?

Audiobook narrators with little or no experience are often paid a low rate, to begin with. However, a narrator with a portfolio of work to their name can expect to earn more money. Narrators can be paid per hour of finished audio, in royalties from the audiobook, or a combination of both.

Experienced audiobook narrators earn approximately $200 per hour of finished audio. The royalty shares a narrator receives can vary greatly from book to book. They also depend on whether the narrator is being paid per hour of finished audio they record.

Can I record an audiobook and sell it?

You can absolutely record and sell your own audiobook. The process varies a little depending on whether you’ve written the audiobook yourself, or if you want to make an audiobook version of a pre-existing book.

If you’re interested in learning how to record and sell an audiobook, you can find out how to do so right here in this article. Read through our list of the 10 easy steps for making an audiobook to find out more.

Do I need to copyright my audiobook?

An audiobook should be copyrighted to prevent others from stealing its contents. Audiobooks are protected under the copyright act as sound recordings.

If you ever needed to sue for copyright infringement, you would need to have registered the copyright of your audiobook with the U.S. Copyright Office. The copyright of an audiobook recording is different from the copyright of an e-book or printed version.

Do audiobooks sell well?

The audiobook market is a profitable one and made an estimated $1.6 billion in sales in 2021. Whether your audiobook will sell well depends on several aspects, including the quality of the recording and how well the audiobook has been marketed.

One of the biggest deciding factors of an audiobook’s profitability is if a printed version of the book has been a bestseller. Popular paperback books often achieve high sales figures as audiobooks.

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