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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Order Up...With Audio On The Side

Last year I won a giveaway for a copy of a cozy mystery. When the package arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find not just a book but a companion audio disc of the author reading her novel! I stuffed the book onto a shelf and popped the CD into a player. We had a terrific time, this author and I, both in our kitchens. I was cooking dinner; she was baking…and solving a mystery. Not long after that I downloaded an audio file of Sherlock Holmes stories and just recently I listened to the first chapter of an Irish mystery which I can hardly wait to purchase so I can hear the rest of the tale. I’m hooked on audio, and I’m not alone.

According to the Audio Publishers Association 25% of Americans listen to audio books. The demographic is well-educated, median-income consumers who also read more books annually than the average non-listener. The Association of American Publishers states that downloadable audio books accounted for 81.9m in sales in 2010 with physical audio books bringing in 137.3m. And this doesn’t include all those teens attached to their listening devices! Is there a market for audio books? You betcha! Would you like to get in on it?

If you contract with a traditional publisher your agent can make all the arrangements; indie, small-press or self-published authors listen-up.You will need:

A quiet place to record

A good quality studio microphone (sometimes called a pod-casting mic)

Audio recording and editing software

Someplace to market your audio book

Software for recording, editing and converting audio files is available via download and there are several choices. Two of the most popular are Audacity and WavePad. Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing, it is updated often and you can choose from “stable” versions or Beta versions. WavePad offers both free versions and professional versions. Depending on your computer system and the desired result you might choose to use more than one editing program.

Once your audio file is ready it will need to be available for purchase. Digital Content Center and PayLoadz offer file storage, automated delivery, shopping carts with multiple payment options. CDBaby works with both digital downloads and physical CDs. They handle distribution and sales to Amazon, iTunes, and other outlets. (Note: iTunes has exclusive agreement with and will pull anything labeled “audio book” that isn’t through Audible).

Will offering audio books suddenly make you rich? Not likely, but you’ll gain exposure to readers who may not stumble upon you otherwise. Not every novel is available in audio format, but audio lovers scour over all the novels offered. If they like the audio chances are they will purchase the book, or eBook, and recommend your book to family and friends.

By Robyn Chausse

Thank you to Scott Swift of darktimetales for sharing his experience.


  1. This post really jumpstarted my thinking. Although I dislike audio books for myself, I know there are scads of people who love them.

  2. The websites you listed are great. I didn't know you could create audio and store it for free or a minimal cost. Thanks.

  3. Hi Sioux,
    Yes, where I live everyone commutes at least 45 min to work which, with traffic, is more like 90 min. I ran across a study somewhere that said that listening to audio books while stuck in traffic cut down on road rage.

    Hi Kristi,
    Neither did I, for some reason I was envisioning stacks of CDs waiting to be shipped--not fun! I was trying to figure out how to sell a digital file. Glad you like the sites!

  4. Glad you shared this info!
    I know some people who are fans of audio books.


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