Audiobook Production Spreadsheet: A Tool For Narrators/Producers

I like to track my production time when I narrate and edit an audiobook. I also like to keep an eye on the pacing of my narration. (Am I speaking too fast or slow?)

This spreadsheet helps me track all of that. I hope it helps you too!

Download a blank version right here for free. (You’ll be taken to Dropbox for your download.)

I suggest you make a copy of the spreadsheet for each book, and keep the blank one in your files too. Every time you start a new book, make another copy.

Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to use it:

Note 10-28-22: I’ve revised this spreadsheet, adding extra features. The link will send you to the new version. The video is NOT updated, but the new version has an Instructions tab that will give you info on how to use it.

Comment with any questions!

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Author Resource: Atticus is a Formatting Software Alternative to Vellum (for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook)

I’m a huge fan of Vellum, software that formats ebooks and print books. It’s fantastic, user-friendly software and one of the investments I’ve been happiest that I made in my writing business.

However, Vellum is only available to Mac users. PC users often subscribe to the MacInCloud service to use Vellum, but for various reasons, many authors consider MacInCloud to be less than optimal.

Enter Atticus, a new formatting software that Dave Chesson from Kindlepreneur is putting out. It’s for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook. Here’s a screenshot:

I’m not planning to purchase Atticus, since I have a Mac and have already invested in Vellum. However, several days ago, I signed up to join their waitlist. I got an email today letting me know the first version of Atticus is available for a “special (secret) price” to early adopters. I don’t want to disclose the price here since it’s not public, but it costs far less than Vellum. It’s a one-time purchase that includes updates.

To sign up and get the chance to purchase Atticus, you can visit

Here are some observations I made as I looked into Atticus:

  • It’s pretty basic right now, but they have other features coming that will enable it to compete better with Vellum. These features will be free for all users. Check out their Roadmap to Launch for more info on the features.
  • It looks like Atticus will only generate ePub and print-ready PDF files. Those are perfect for uploading to Amazon and other platforms/distributors. However, If you want to share your manuscript directly with Kindle users (for instance, your alpha, beta, or ARC readers), you’ll need to convert the ePub to a mobi so they can “sideload” the file onto their Kindle. You can do this on BookFunnel (instructions here—they’re written for Vellum users, but this should work for Atticus users too) or using various free services like

If you decide to try Atticus, I’d love to hear what you think. And may I just say … hooray for a Vellum alternative for non-Mac users!

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Author Resources: Whose Head Are You In? Writing Multiple Points of View

On an ordinary day not too long ago, three characters gathered in a library.

Alpha drew in a deep breath. The scent of leather and paper filled her lungs. Intoxicating. Could there be a more perfect location than an old library?

“Excuse me,” someone said.

Alpha turned. “Hey, Beta! Isn’t this place great?”

Beta glared at her. He’d just been musing about whether he should climb a ladder to the higher shelves, but her thoughts had distracted him. “You’re obsessing over the scent of paper?” he said. “Really?”

“First, stay out of my head. Second, if you don’t understand the allure of old paper, you’re beyond help.”

“Could you both please shut up?” Gamma looked over her reading glasses at the other two. They were always like this, bickering constantly, when all she wanted—

“ ‘Bickering constantly?’ ” Alpha and Beta said in unison.

“How’d you hear my thoughts?” Gamma asked. “This scene is supposed to be in my point of view.”

“Apparently we’re all sharing the scene,” Alpha said. Sensing the silent groans of the two others, she looked at the ceiling, hoping the mythical Author of All Things was listening. “Hey, you! Word Lord! This is confusing!”

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Authors, any chance your characters—or readers—are as confused as these three, as you hop from one point of view to another?

Many of us, at one point or another, choose to write a novel with more than one point of view (or POV). I’ve written two trilogies in third person with multiple POV characters, and I’ve enjoyed the process thoroughly. It’s a blast exploring the thoughts of the hero and the villain or of both halves of a romantic partnership.

Multiple POVs can deepen and enrich narration, but they can also cause frustration for authors and readers. In this post, we’ll discuss how to use multiple POVs effectively. And while some talented authors write first person with multiple narrators, today we’ll focus on writing in third person.

There are two ways to write in third person with multiple POV characters: third person omniscient and third person limited.

When using third person omniscient, your narrator isn’t a character in the story, but they’re privy to the thoughts of every character in the story. Your narrator can give the reader a glimpse of the thoughts of multiple characters in one scene. Here’s an example:

Dan drove slowly, hoping the vase of flowers on the passenger’s seat didn’t topple over. He parked in his driveway and walked toward the front door.

Alma saw him coming from the kitchen window. Her pulse quickened when she saw the flowers. Unexpected gifts were her favorite sort. But she had to wonder if he was trying to make up for some transgression.

As the reader, we “hear” Dan’s thoughts (hoping the vase doesn’t fall) as well as Alma’s (who loves unexpected gifts but doesn’t quite trust her partner).

The second way to use multiple POVs in third-person writing is to use third person limited with multiple POVs. As with omniscient, the narrator isn’t a character. However, with this technique, the reader is only privy to one character’s thought per scene. Here’s the above scene, written in third person limited:

Dan drove slowly, hoping the vase of flowers on the passenger’s seat didn’t topple over. He parked in his driveway and walked toward the front door.

He saw the outline of Alma’s figure in the window. She’d told him a hundred times how much she loved unexpected gifts. He hoped she’d still love these roses when she heard the confession they came with.

In this case, we don’t have any idea what Alma is thinking. However, the next scene could be in her POV, which would allow us to get inside her head after her partner fesses up.

If you choose to write in third person with multiple POVs, you get to decide whether to write in omniscient or limited. I believe that in most cases with most modern books, limited is a better choice than omniscient.Here are several reasons why:

Embrace a Modern Style

  • Omniscient POV is a more classic style, so if you’re writing modern literature for modern audiences, it can easily feel dated. 
  • Limited (with multiple POV characters) is a more modern style. Many of today’s readers like to read one POV per scene, and if you plan to query agents and/or publishers, they may also prefer limited over omniscient.

Avoid Head Hopping

  • Omniscient POV can easily turn into head hopping.
  • What’s head hopping? It’s a when the narrator hops from one character’s head to the next within the same scene. Readers use the term head hopping when POV shifts feel jarring and/or happen too frequently. 
  • It’s possible to write in omniscient POV without head hopping. However, it can be difficult, and even if you think you’ve avoided head hopping, reviewers may disagree.

Immerse Your Readers in Your World

  • With limited POV, readers may more easily feel connected to your story and characters since they’re “spending time with” one character for an entire scene or chapter (or longer).
  • Limited POV is like going to a party and sitting with one person all night, really getting to know them, rather than hopping from one table to the next, having quick conversations.
  • You can give your readers the gift of depth and immersion by spending time in the head of one character per scene.

Go Deep

  • Limited POV allows you to easily shift into “deep” (also called “close”) POV, a subset of third-person POV.
  • In deep POV, you get so deep into your character’s head that the lines between narrator and POV character get blurred. 
  • Example: With a distant (not deep) POV, you might write, “Jarvis took the pickles off his burger. He couldn’t believe they’d gotten his order wrong again.” With deep POV, you could instead write, “Jarvis took the pickles off his burger. They’d gotten his order wrong…again. Unbelievable.” Note how the narration took on the tone of Jarvis’ thoughts. 
  • If you use deep POV within omniscient narration, there’s a good chance you’ll be accused of head hopping. Omniscient narrators need to stay distant so they can shift from one POV to the next without giving readers whiplash. Limited narrators can go deep.

If you decide to write in third-person limited POV with multiple POV characters, here are some tips to help you succeed:

Keep it Manageable

  • There are no hard-and-fast rules about how many POV characters you can use in third-person limited, but a smaller POV cast is often more effective than a bigger one. If you get inside too many characters’ heads, your readers may not connect with any of them. Sure, it would be fun to know exactly what the quirky candy-shop owner is thinking, but if she doesn’t play a major role in your book, she should stay in the background.
  • Some genres tend to have more POVs than others. For instance, if you write epic fantasy, your readers may accept several well-written POVs. If you write romance, your readers may expect only two.

One POV Per Scene or Chapter

  • Only shift POVs at scene changes or when you start a new chapter.
  • If shifting at a scene change, indicate the change with an ornamental break between the scenes. A common ornamental break is three asterisks (***). It should be on a line by itself, centered.

Identify Your POV Character Quickly

  • Some authors include the POV character’s name at the beginning of the scene or chapter, as a heading, like this:

Chapter 1


  • Regardless of whether you use the character’s name as a heading, indicate whose “head” you’re in quickly, so your readers can “center themselves.” For example, instead of starting a chapter or scene with, “Gold, pink, and orange clouds covered the eastern sky,” you could write, “Mei faced the gold-and-orange clouds in the east, letting the sunrise burn away her fear.”

Use Reaction Scenes

  • If you’re used to writing in omniscient POV, it can be hard to give up the freedom of hearing two characters’ thoughts within the same significant scene. You’ve spent an entire book building up to a big kiss, and now you’re supposed to only show it from one POV? Well, yes…but you can follow up with a scene showing the second character’s reaction to the big scene.
  • Example: In the book you’re writing, your two main characters, Ahmed and Rose, get kidnapped. First, show the kidnapping from Ahmed’s POV, focusing on his terror. By staying in his head, you’ll keep your readers on the edges of their seats, totally immersed in the intense scene. Once your poor characters are locked in a tiny cell together, follow up with a scene from Rose’s POV, showing how she’s hiding her own fear so she can comfort Ahmed. 

Let’s go back to the scene we started with. Imagine if we’d stayed in Alpha’s head the whole time. It might’ve gone something like this:

Alpha drew in a deep breath. The scent of leather and paper filled her lungs. Intoxicating. Could there be a more perfect location than an old library?

Her gaze fell on Beta. He was climbing a ladder that leaned against a bookshelf so tall, Alpha had to crane her neck to see the top. The rickety ladder squeaked as his foot moved to the next narrow rung. One of these days, Beta was gonna get himself killed. But if it happened in this place, Alpha supposed he’d die happy.

A gasp got her attention. She turned to see Gamma standing next to a stack of books almost as tall as she was—and Gamma was tall. Her eyes looked huge behind her reading glasses as she examined the pages of an old tome, her mouth gaping.

Beta and Gamma were both so immersed in their tasks, they seemed to have forgotten Alpha existed. It’s now or never

Alpha walked silently toward the southwest corner of the library. Her heart pounded and her mouth went dry as she approached the shelf of forbidden books.

Better, right? As the reader, you got to delve deep into Alpha’s mind, experiencing her time in the library right along with her and seeing her friends from her perspective. Maybe the next chapter will be in Beta’s or Gamma’s POV, but for now, you’re immersed in Alpha’s story.

There are no right or wrong points of view. However, if you’re a modern author planning to use multiple POVs in third-person writing, I encourage you to stay focused on one POV per scene or chapter. Your readers will thank you for bringing them along on a captivating, non-confusing ride…and maybe your characters will too.

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Author Resources: How to Download Booksprout Reviewer Email Addresses

I love Booksprout, a website that allows authors to connect with ARC reviewers. One of the reasons I continue to us them is because they provide me with reviewer email addresses so I can contact reviewers with reminders and information. (I discuss this in more detail in Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel).

But one thing has always bugged me about Booksprout: they don’t give me a way to download those email addresses. I’ve always individually copied and pasted each one into an email, which feels like a waste of time.

Today, I figured out how to easily download the email addresses using a free Chrome extension! This 3 1/2-minute video will show you how.

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Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources: Early Readers Catch the Worms

It’s here! Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel is now on sale in ebook and paperback formats.

Authors, get the book that publishing expert Derek Murphy of Creativindie calls a “detailed guide” that “simplifies the process” of working with early readers.


Empower yourself to build teams of alpha, beta, and ARC readers who follow through and help you write better novels!

Ever throw away an apple because you found a worm inside? Worms slither into novel manuscripts too … weaknesses and errors that make readers want to throw away a book (or trash it in reviews)! But effective early readers catch those worms.

This comprehensive guide will teach you to get results from your alpha and beta readers with these tools:

  • -Practical, step-by-step methods for building and optimizing early reader teams
  • -Simple strategies to improve reader follow-through
  • Access to over a dozen editable templates for communicating with alpha and beta readers

Jumpstart your book launch with early reviews! This book is packed with tips for building an ARC (Advance Review Copy) team, including:

  • -Where to find ARC readers
  • -How to encourage ARC readers to actually leave reviews
  • -A fun way to incentivize ARC readers to find your lingering typos

Whether you’re already published or about to write your first book, Early Readers Catch the Worms will help you crack the code on early reader systems so you can write a novel that readers want to buy.

Get the feedback you need … before you publish.

Organizing Alpha and Beta Reader Feedback

When I get lot of feedback from alpha or beta readers, I like to organize it in one document so it’s easier to do my revisions. This feedback document can get long though! Microsoft Word has a feature called the Navigation Pane, a clickable outline that makes it easier to navigate from one part of the document to another.

This short video (under five minutes) shows you how.

Want more step-by-step instructions and resources that will help you create successful alpha, beta, and ARC reader teams? My new book, Early Readers Catch the Worms, includes…

  • Access to a Resource Pack full of editable resources and templates to help you build early reader teams.
  • Suggestions for how to improve beta follow-through.

Buy your copy of Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel by clicking here!

Cover of Early Readers Catch the Worms

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Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

A New Book…Written Just for Authors

I’m so excited to announce my newest book, a nonfiction manual written just for authors. It’s called Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel.

It’s taken me years to build the effective early reader systems I use for my novels. I’m so excited to share those systems with you!

Empower yourself to build teams of alpha, beta, and ARC readers who follow through and help you write better novels!

Ever throw away an apple because you found a worm inside? Worms slither into novel manuscripts too … weaknesses and errors that make readers want to throw away a book (or trash it in reviews)! But effective early readers catch those worms.

This comprehensive guide will teach you to get results from your alpha and beta readers with these tools:

  • Practical, step-by-step methods for building and optimizing early reader teams
  • Simple strategies to improve reader follow-through
  • Access to over a dozen editable templates for communicating with alpha and beta readers

Jumpstart your book launch with early reviews! This book is packed with tips for building an ARC (Advance Review Copy) team, including:

  • Where to find ARC readers
  • How to encourage ARC readers to actually leave reviews
  • A fun way to incentivize ARC readers to find your lingering typos

Whether you’re self-published, traditionally published, or querying agents, Early Readers Catch the Worms will help you crack the code on early reader systems so you can write a novel that readers want to buy.

Get the feedback you need … before you publish.

Supercharge your alpha, beta, and ARC reader systems by buying Early Readers Catch the Worms!

Early Readers Catch the Worms book cover

Common Grammar Errors, Part 2: Italicized Internal Dialogue

This blog series addresses grammar and style errors many authors make.

Part 1 of this series is about how to properly punctuate dialogue tags and action tags. Click here to check out that post.

For Part 2, let’s talk about a related subject: italicized internal dialogue. (The errors here are more in style/tense/point of view than grammar, by the way.)

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Introduction: Internal Dialogue

What is internal dialogue? Internal dialogue refers to the thoughts that occur in someone’s head. Examples: Wow, I look great in this shirt, or How dare my boss say that to me?

A couple of notes:

  • Not every author uses italics for their internal dialogue. It’s a style choice. I like writing in that style, so this blog post is written for others who like formatting their internal dialogue in the same way.
  • Internal dialogue isn’t the only way to share a character’s thoughts! Below, we’ll talk about properly sharing your character’s thoughts in two ways: through italicized internal dialogue and through narration.

Method 1 of Sharing a Character’s Thoughts: Italicized Internal Dialogue

Here’s the easiest way to think about italicized internal dialogue: it’s just like spoken dialogue; it just happens to be in a character’s head instead of spoken aloud!

That means italicized internal dialogue is…

  • …punctuated like spoken dialogue. The one difference is that the spoken part is italicized instead of being “in quotes.” To refresh your memory on how to punctuate dialogue, when to use capital letters, etc., go back to this post.
  • …written in the same point of view and tense as spoken dialogue. Internal dialogue is what your character is thinking at that moment.
    • If she’s thinking about herself, she’ll speak in first-person point of view, even if your novel is in third-person point of view. (She’ll refer to herself as I.)
    • If he’s thinking about what’s happening at that moment, he’ll be thinking in present tense, even if your novel is in past tense.

Here are several examples of italicized internal dialogue:

  • Julio, she thought, you are in a world of trouble! (This would work in a novel written in third person, past tense.)
  • Wow, that is one massive alligator. (Depending on context, this would work in a novel written in third person or first person and in past or present tense.)
  • I can’t believe it’s so expensive! they think. (This example uses singular they as a pronoun. This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • Who drank the last of the milk? Min asks herself. (This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • With effort, I swallowed. I’m gonna be sick. (This would work in a novel written in first person, past tense.)
  • Abby dragged herself out of bed. Who could be banging on my door at this hour? (This would work in a novel written in third person, past tense. Note that we didn’t need a dialogue tag; the action tag told us who was having the thought.)

Let’s talk briefly about first person, present tense.

  • You probably don’t need a lot of italicized internal dialogue if writing in first person, present tense. Most internal dialogue fits right in with the character’s narration. Example: I walk up to the house. I can’t believe my stepmother pulled out my mom’s roses. That second sentence might be internal dialogue, but you probably don’t need to set it apart with italics.
  • There are still valid reasons to use italicized internal dialogue with first person, present tense. Example: I glare at my boss. You are the worst person I’ve ever known. The truth of that thought sears my mind, but I manage to keep the words to myself.

Method 2 of Sharing a Character’s Thoughts: Narration

A character’s thoughts can be relayed by the narrator (if the narrator is privy to those thoughts, such as in first-person, third-person-limited, third-person-omniscient, or “deep/close” point of view).

When a narrator is relaying the character’s thoughts, they come through the filter of the narrator’s description. We aren’t reading the exact words going through the character’s brain. We’re reading the narrator’s description of those thoughts instead.

Even if the narrator is the character (first person), we can still hear the narrator’s description of their thoughts, rather than the thoughts themselves.

Here’s the biggest thing to remember about thoughts relayed by a narrator: they need to be treated the same as all other narration.

That means thoughts shared by a narrator are…

  • punctuated and formatted normally. No italics, no dialogue tags or action tags.
  • written from the same point of view and tense as the rest of the book. Whether you’re in first person or third person, present tense or past tense, stay there if the narrator is describing the character’s thoughts.

Here are several examples of a character’s thoughts, shared by a narrator.

  • She knew Julio was in a world of trouble. (This would work in a novel written in third person, past tense.)
  • He marvels at the massive alligator. (This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • They can’t believe it’s so expensive. (This example uses singular they as a pronoun. This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • Min considers who might have drunk the last of the milk. (This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • With effort, I swallowed. I was about to get sick. (This would work in a novel written in first person, past tense.)

Let’s talk about close or deep point of view.

  • Close or deep third-person point of view is a popular point of view in modern novels.
  • In this point of view, the narrator is so close to the character’s thoughts that there’s some blurring of the lines between narrator and character.
  • Example: Abby dragged herself out of bed. Who would be banging on her door at this hour?
  • Note that the narrator doesn’t say, Abby wondered who would be banging on her door. Words such as “wondered,” “thought,” considered,” etc. tend to be used less in deep/close point of view. In deep point of view, the narrator will often describe what’s in the character’s head without reminding us that’s what they’re doing. We know from the context of the book or scene that the narrator is very close to this character’s thoughts.
  • Let’s go back to that example: Who would be banging on her door at this hour? Note the use of “this hour.” Wait a minute…that’s a present-tense phrase! Narrators in deep/close point of view sometimes use short phrases that the character would use. Basically, the narrator is close enough to the character to dabble in a tiny bit of present-tense or first-person language. Here are more examples:
    • Ivan watched her walk through the parking lot. Why was she here, at his office? (Note the use of “here” instead of “there.” It’s a one-word journey into the character’s perspective.)
    • Suma gazed at the lights strung across the back yard. This would be the best birthday party ever! (Note the use of “this.” Without deep point of view, it might’ve been written as, She knew the party would be the best ever.)
  • Unsure about these deep/close shifts in tense/point of view? You don’t have to use them. The more books you read in deep point of view (and many current novels are written this way), the more these little shifts are likely to become second nature to you.
  • Some authors go so deep in their writing that they use internal dialogue without italics (in third-person writing), and it flows perfectly. Brent Weeks does this really well in his Lightbringer series. It’s not currently my writing style, but maybe someday it will be!
  • One more note: It’s okay not to write a whole novel in close/deep point of view. You might write some parts that are more distant/less deep (such as when describing a new setting), before “zooming in” close to your character.

Typical Errors and How to Fix Them

Error 1 (the one I see most often by far)

  • Mistake: Jessika strolled through the garden. She’d never seen such vibrant roses. They were prettier than ever this year.
  • This is italicized as if it’s internal dialogue, but it’s written as past-tense, third-person narration.
  • Two valid corrections: Jessika strolled through the garden. She’d never seen such vibrant roses. They were prettier than ever this year. or Jessika strolled through the garden. I’ve never seen such vibrant roses. They’re prettier than ever this year.

Error 2

  • Mistake: I think I’ll have a salad, Lam thought.
  • The dialogue tag shouldn’t be italicized.
  • Correction: I think I’ll have a salad, Lam thought.

Beth nodded and smiled. I bet these authors are writing some amazing books.

(See what I did there?)

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resource: Let’s Talk AUDIOBOOKS

A quick edit on 11/5/22: When I wrote this blog post, I was only narrating my own books. Now I’m a professional narrator working on other authors’ books. If you’re interested in hiring me as a narrator, check out this link.

Recently, I asked my author friends on Twitter what they wanted to know about audiobooks. I promised to write a “big, newsy thread” answering their questions.

I quickly realized this is way too big of a topic for a Twitter thread! So let’s jump right into a big, newsy blog post about publishing audiobooks as indie authors.

As with other in-depth posts I’ve done, I’m including a handy-dandy table of contents. Click on any of the topics to jump to the part you want to read. (The links don’t sync perfectly. Scroll up just a bit after clicking the link, to see the beginning of the section.)

Table of Contents

Why should I consider having an audio version of my book?
How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?
Who should distribute my audiobook?
How do I choose a narrator?
Will my book sell well as an audiobook?
When should I release my audiobook?
Should I record my own audiobook? If so…how?
Miscellaneous questions

Why should I consider having an audio version of my book?

Audiobooks are a rapidly growing market. Check out this info from Deloitte:

In 2020, Deloitte predicts, the global audiobook market will grow by 25 percent to US$3.5 billion … in a world where overall media and entertainment growth stands at just 4 percent.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of a rapidly growing market!

Yet many indie authors don’t have audiobooks associated with their printed or digital books. When I click the “Teen & Young Adult” category on, there are nearly 15,000 titles. The same category on Amazon Kindle? Over 70,000 titles.

There’s less competition on Audible than on Kindle. Plus, when you’re an indie author who has audiobooks, you stand out as being more professional.

One more thing to chew on: having audio versions of your books makes them more accessible. I was thrilled when a friend of mine told me how much her daughter with dyslexia loved listening to my book! Visually impaired consumers often love audiobooks too.

Back to Top

How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?

Authors have told me, “I can’t afford to have an audiobook produced!”

I have good news! There are multiple ways to get audiobooks produced…and one method requires no cash from the author. Let’s go over some of your options, starting with the cheapest upfront cost.

  • Royalty Share: Through ACX (more on them in the next section), you can search for a narrator (also called a “producer”) who will record your book and prepare it for sale, then split the royalties with you 50/50 for the first seven years. You don’t have to pay them anything upfront.
    • Upfront Cost: $0. (I’m not including cover art in any of these estimates; you’ll need a square version of your cover.)
    • Pros: No upfront cost. A relatively risk-free way to dip your toe in the audiobook market.
    • Cons: Royalty share producers are often (not always!) less experienced narrators. The experienced, talented narrators who are open to royalty share may only take you on if you’re selling a lot of books already. If your audiobook does well, royalty share may cost you more in the end! And you’re required to sell your book exclusively through ACX throughout your seven-year royalty-share period. (ACX distributes to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.) Only available in US, UK, Canada, & Ireland.
  • Produce Your Own Audiobook: This is what I do, and I’ll go over the ins and outs of it in detail later on in this post. But here are a few things for you to consider.
    • Upfront Cost: Anywhere from $100 to $1000+, depending what equipment and/or software you buy and how you set up your studio. Most people can get a good setup for a few hundred bucks or less. Some people choose to narrate their own work but hire someone to edit the sound files. That may cost about $100 per finished hour of recording.
    • Pros: Fairly inexpensive cost upfront, and you shouldn’t have to buy new equipment very often. Some readers like listening to the author narrate. If you enjoy performance, narration can be fun. You keep 100% of your royalties.
    • Cons: It’s super time consuming. It’s hard to do it well (at the same level as talented professionals). There’s a big learning curve. Some readers prefer not to hear the author narrate.
  • Royalty Share Plus: This is another ACX-specific option. It’s just like royalty share, except that in addition to giving your narrator half your royalties, you also give them a certain amount per finished hour (PFH).
    • Upfront Cost: Whatever you negotiate with your narrator. You may pay $25, $50, $100, or more PFH ($250 to $1000+ for a 10-hour audiobook).
    • Pros: Could be relatively affordable upfront, depending on what price you negotiate. More experienced/talented narrators may be easier to find.
    • Cons: As with royalty share, this could end up being expensive in the end if your book is successful; and you must stay exclusive with ACX for seven years. Only available in US, UK, Canada, & Ireland.
  • Voices Share: This is an option if you use Findaway Voices (more on them below) to produce your audiobook. Narrators can agree to take half their normal hourly rate (PFH) upfront, in exchange for them receiving 20% of total royalties.
    • Upfront cost: Half the narrator’s normal price. I don’t think you’ll find the “bargain basement” narrators on Findaway Voices you might find on ACX. Half a narrator’s normal price will probably be $100 to $200+ PFH ($1000 to $2000+ for a 10-hour audiobook).
    • Pros: Slashes upfront cost in half. Findaway Voices helps connect you to a narrator who fits your book. You can buy out of the contract, though you’ll pay more than you would’ve if you’d paid the narrator 100% upfront.
    • Cons: As with royalty share, this could end up being expensive if your book is successful; and you must stay exclusive with Findaway Voices unless you buy out of the contract. (Keep in mind Findaway distributes to a huge number of retailers including all the major ones, so exclusivity doesn’t really limit your book’s availability. It just means you can’t go directly to any retailers or distribute directly through ACX.)
  • PFH (Per Finished Hour): In a PFH deal, you negotiate an hourly price with a narrator/producer. “Hourly” means the finished product. A 10-hour audiobook may have taken the producer 40 to 100+ hours to produce! You can audition and select PFH narrators through ACX or Findaway Voices or by contracting with a person or company on your own.
    • Upfront Cost: $50 PFH at the very low end up to $1,000+ PFH at the high end, which comes out to $500 to $10,000+ for a 10-hour book. (Few people actually pay $1,000+ PFH!)
      • You can find plenty of talented narrators for $250-$300 PFH and many for less.
      • Findaway Voices also charges $49 to help match you with a narrator, but there are various ways to get that fee waived. Just Google it. Also, according to this post, Findaway has an upcharge of about 15% in addition to the narrator’s fee.
      • If you use ACX or Findaway to contract with a narrator for a PFH deal, you can distribute that book wherever you want.
    • Pros: Some of the best narrators may only take PFH projects. With a pure PFH project, you don’t share your royalties with anyone. You’re free to sell your audiobook wherever you want to and aren’t required to bind yourself to exclusivity clauses.
    • Cons: PFH can get really expensive!
  • Audioworks: Audioworks is available only through Findaway Voices. This is a simple, hands-off way to produce an audiobook. Findaway will choose your narrator and work with them and the editor to make sure the result is a professional, high-quality audiobook.
    • Upfront cost: $450 PFH and up. A 10-hour audiobook will run you $4500 or more.
    • Pros: If you can afford it, this is a simple way to produce a high-quality book. Major publishers use Audioworks.
    • Cons: That whole “if you can afford it” part. You’d better be confident your audiobook is likely to sell a lot of copies if you choose this option (or any expensive PFH option).

There’s one option I didn’t cover here. Some indie authors whose books sell successfully are approached by production companies (such as Tantor) who offer to produce their books as audiobooks. These production companies act as audio publishers, sometimes even offering advances (and generally keeping the lion’s share of the profits). This can be a great, hands-off option for some authors, but I don’t know much about it. We’re sticking with indie methods for this post.

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Who should distribute my audiobook?

I’ll review the two most common options with you, but you can search online to find others.

  • ACX
    • Distribution: ACX is owned by Amazon/Audible. They only distribute to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
    • Narrator Connection: Through ACX, you can hire a narrator for royalty share, royalty share plus, or PFH. (See “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” above.) You’re also welcome to bring completed files to ACX that were narrated by you or someone you contracted with outside their system.
    • Pricing: ACX doesn’t give you any pricing flexibility. They’ll price your book, primarily based on its length. And the retail price is not usually the price listeners pay! Instead, expect these prices:
      • Audible members get monthly credits that they use to buy audiobooks. These credits usually cost $14.99 each, but each credit costs less for members on higher membership tiers (more than one credit per month).
    • Whispersync for Voice, syncs your Audible audiobook to your Kindle ebook so readers can switch between the two. Amazon customers can buy your Kindle book, then “upgrade” to your audiobook for a discounted amount. For my books (which are all on the long side, over 12 hours), this “upgrade” price is $7.49. (Note that it can take Amazon/ACX time to sync your book. I had an audiobook published last week, and Whispersync still isn’t set up on it.)
    • Lastly, you may occasionally have a buyer who pays retail price on Audible or Amazon (and the retail differs a bit between those two sellers). These prices tend to be high (The Frost Eater is $21.83 on Amazon and $24.95 on Audible), and most audiobook listeners are understandably unwilling pay that much.
    • Royalties: ACX pays royalties in two tiers.
      • 40% of the sales price if your audiobook is exclusive with them (not sold through any other distributors or retailers).
      • 25% of the sales price if your audiobook is not exclusive.
      • Royalties are based on what the purchaser actually pays. Don’t let that high retail price fool you!
      • Lastly, I’ll say it bluntly: ACX’s sales/royalty reporting sucks. Their payment schedule is awesome (30 days after the end of the month in which the purchase was made…so I got paid for July sales at the end of August), but you won’t know your exact royalty amount until about the time you’re getting paid. Edit, February 2021: ACX is making some improvements to their reporting.
    • Review Codes: Only If you’re exclusive with ACX , they will provide you with a limited number of review codes so that reviewers can listen to your book for free, then review it. Sorry, no codes if you’re non-exclusive.
      • When your book goes live, ACX gives you 25 codes for use on Audible in the US and 25 for use in the UK.
      • Once at least 10 codes in one market (US or UK) are redeemed, you can request 25 more codes for that market…IF if you’ve sold at least 100 total audiobooks through ACX.
      • Important note: in the past, ACX paid royalties when review codes were redeemed. It was pretty awesome; I made a lot of money by giving away free audiobooks! As of March 26, 2020, ACX is no longer paying royalties on review codes for books published that day or later. (Honestly, I knew it was probably too good of a deal to last forever!)
      • Countries: You can use ACX if you live in the US, UK, Canada, or Ireland. Sorry, Australia and elsewhere!
    • Findaway Voices
      • Distribution: Findaway Voices distributes to what they call “the world’s largest network of audiobook sellers” including retailers, libraries and subscription services.
        • Note: Findaway does distribute to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, but if you prefer, you can distribute through ACX in a non-exclusive agreement (so that Findaway doesn’t take its cut on Audible sales) and use Findaway for other retailers.
      • Narrator Connection: Through Findaway Voices, you can hire a narrator for Voices Share, PFH, or Audioworks. (See “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” above.) You’re also welcome to bring completed files to Findaway that were narrated by you or someone you contracted with outside their system.
      • Pricing: You can set your own price through Findaway and can even set up short-term promotional deals for some retailers. You can also submit Findaway audiobooks to Chirp, an audio deals site that’s connected to BookBub. Note that ACX/Audible still sets their own prices for Audible and Amazon, even if you distribute through Findaway.
      • Royalties: Findaway Voices pays you 80% of what the various sales channels pay them. What does that mean?
        • Let’s talk ACX/Audible first, since it’s the biggest player in the market.
          • When you publish through Findaway, you’re non-exclusive with ACX, which means they pay 25% royalties. You’ll make 80% of that, which comes out to 20% of the sales price. So on a $15 sale, you’ll make $3.00.
          • To avoid giving Findaway 20% of their royalties from Audible/Amazon, some people distribute directly to ACX use Findaway for the rest of their distribution.
          • Note that iTunes is different. Yes, ACX can distribute to them…but iTunes pays better royalties to books that don’t come from ACX! Books sold through iTunes make a 25% royalty through ACX but a 45% royalty elsewhere. So if Findaway is handling your iTunes sales, you’ll make 80% of 45%…which comes out to a 36% royalty for you. (And before you ask…if you upload your book at ACX and at Findaway to avoid paying Findaway a cut on your ACX books…I’m not sure which distributor handles the iTunes sales!)
        • Here’s the good news: outside ACX, other audiobook sellers pay better! 25% is a really low royalty rate. ACX gets away with it since they’re so big in the market, but from what I’ve seen, most other sellers pay more like 40-50%, and with Findaway, you’ll keep 80% of that.
        • With Findaway, you’ll be part of subscription programs and your book will be available to libraries. Read this article for more info on how this affects your royalties.
        • Findaway will pay you at the end of the month, and their payment will include what retailers have paid them within the last 30 days. So it’ll take about a month longer to get paid than it would with ACX, since Findaway has to get paid before you do.
      • Review Codes: Findaway will give you a limited number of review codes so that reviewers can listen to your book for free, then review it.
        • You’ll receive 30 codes that can be used on the Authors Direct website or app to download your book. (I just got one of those codes from an author, and it was easy to use.)
        • If you sign up for Voices Share (see “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” above), you’re exclusive with Findaway…and that earns you 100 codes! Score!
        • Unfortunately, Audible only allows listeners to review if the listener got the audiobook from Audible or Amazon. That means your Findaway review codes won’t result in Audible reviews.
      • Countries: Anyone anywhere can use Findaway Voices!
    • So…which one should I choose?
      • If you need the lowest-cost narration (Royalty Share), ACX is your only option.
      • I chose to be exclusive with ACX because I knew Audible was huge in the audiobook market, and I wanted to get that 40% royalty on my Audible sales.
      • I also loved those paid review codes; they made it worth it to be exclusive with Audible! But, as I said before, they’re not paying for code redemptions anymore (except for books that were grandfathered in under the old terms)
      • As I read more, I realize there are a lot of other players who sell a lot of audiobooks. I’m missing out on large portions of the market.
      • Exclusivity with ACX lasts for seven years. However, if you are not in a Royalty Share agreement, ACX will release you from the exclusivity contract after 90 days upon request. Findaway even provides a form letter for this purpose!
      • I’m probably going to take the plunge and remove my first series from ACX exclusivity, using Findaway for non-ACX retailers. I may do the same with my current series, once I pass the 90-day mark for my final book in the series.
      • For my next series, I’m not sure if I’ll take advantage of Audible’s 40% royalty for exclusives for 90 days, then switch to being non-exclusive or if I’ll start out non-exclusive from the beginning.

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How do I choose a narrator?

Before hiring a narrator, you’ll want multiple people to audition (unless you already know a narrator who’s the perfect fit or you’re contracting the whole thing out to a company who chooses a narrator for you).

ACX and Findaway Voices both have systems set up to connect you with narrators who will audition for your book. The process can vary depending what system you’re using to pay your narrator (royalty share, PFH, etc.) and where you’re finding your narrator.

I’ve heard authors who use ACX give this piece of advice: don’t just wait for people to find your book and audition. Listen to narrator samples on ACX, and invite the ones who are great fits to audition for you.

Head back up to the “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” topic. It has the links you need to get started.

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Will my book sell well as an audiobook?

I’ve heard this piece of advice a couple of different times: If your book isn’t selling well as an ebook, it probably won’t sell well as an audiobook. If it is selling well digitally, it’ll probably do well as an audiobook.

I think that’s mostly true, across genres. But there are some notable exceptions.

At times my 43-hour trilogy ominbus, The Complete Sun-Blessed Trilogy, has sold better than the ebook. A lot of people love long audiobooks, especially when they’re using Audible credits to buy them.

Speaking of my massive omnibus…Early in my career, I saw some really solid advice:

When sales slow down for the individual books in your series, put the series (or part of it) into a “box set” (ebook and audio) and see if you can rejuvenate sales.

I did that with my Sun-Blessed Trilogy, and my audiobook has far outsold the individual audiobooks. The ebook “box set” isn’t a huge seller, but it does much better in KU than the individual books do. KU and audiobooks can both really help a lagging series if you create “box sets.” Here’s an ACX tutorial on how to make an audio box set.

I can think of a couple more exceptions to the “books that sell well as ebooks will probably sell well in audio” rule .

  • A short book may not sell well, even if its digital and/or paper versions sell well. With Audible credits (a source of a lot of sales), listeners pay the same amount for a 30-minute book as a 30-hour book. Most listeners won’t use a credit for a very short book.
  • It doesn’t matter how well they sell digitally or in hard copy…most “visual” books (like graphic novels and cookbooks) shouldn’t be made into audiobooks!

One more note about sales: the audiobook market is smaller than the ebook market, and you’ll usually sell fewer audiobooks than ebooks. However, because audiobooks tend to cost more than ebooks, authors often make a higher average profit per audiobook (even taking into account the lower royalty percentages for audio).

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When should I release my audiobook?

Should you release an audiobook at the same time you release the ebook and paperback or later?

Some people like having separate release dates so they can rejuvenate interest in a book after it’s been out a while.

I tend to think releasing at the same time is best. You can take advantage of that launch momentum! My goal is always to have the audiobook for sale on launch day. I did break that rule for my most recent release, but I plan to have the next audiobook ready by launch.

Here’s the catch.

  • ACX doesn’t let indie authors choose their own release date. (Insert sobs.) You have to upload the audiobook and wait for it to be approved through quality control. When it’s approved (which used to take two to three weeks but is taking more like a month these days), the book heads to retail. (Major edit, February 2021: At some point, ACX quietly started allowing those with books exclusive to ACX to set pre-orders. Click here for details.)
  • Findaway does allow you to set a release date…but some retailers may still release before that date.

I try to submit my files to ACX at least a month before my launch date…preferably five weeks before.

When I’ve done that, the book has always been approved and for sale well before the ebook release date. It gives me time to start bringing in some early audio reviews. (Audiobook reviewers are welcome to post on Amazon too!) Then on launch day, I can advertise that the book is available in “ebook, paperback, and audiobook.” (Edit: See above if you want to do a pre-order instead.)

In reality…most indie authors release the ebook and paperback, then release the audio when it’s ready. You can decide how you want to do it. That’s the beauty of indie publishing!

Should you release an audiobook on a book that’s been out a while?

If the book is selling well, go for it!

If the book isn’t selling well, I’d suggest not putting a bunch of money into an audiobook. You may have trouble selling it. You could always try to find a royalty share narrator so you don’t have any upfront production cost.

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Should I record my own audiobook? If so…how?

There are more reasons to say NO to recording and producing your own audiobooks than to say YES. See the “How much does it cost to produce an audiobook?” section for a rundown of the pros and cons.

But let me go into more detail about one of the cons: narrating and producing your own audiobook can be incredibly time consuming.

ACX says it takes an average of 6.2 hours to produce one finished hour of an audiobook. Somewhere else, I’ve seen an estimate of 4 to 10 hours per finished hour.

Here’s the thing. A narrator/producer on ACX might’ve made dozens of audiobooks. You and I haven’t! Newbies tend to take longer on tasks like this.

I didn’t keep good track with my first audiobook, but I bet it took me about 12 to 15 hours per finished hour.

I recently released my fifth audiobook. I’m down about 8.75 hours per finished hour for recording, editing, and mastering. My 12.5 hour audiobook took me over 109 hours to produce. (That doesn’t count setting up to record over and over and over or uploading files!) And that was my fastest production yet.

What takes so long? It’s not the recording. It’s the sound editing. You may be shocked how many little noises your mouth makes once a microphone picks them all up and you’re listening to them through headphones! Then there are breaths that may need to be removed or deamplified. And there’s noise reduction and equalization and normalization and…is your head swimming yet?

(You can record the audio and hire someone to edit for you. I don’t know much about that, so I can’t give you any advice on finding a good editor.)

I enjoy producing audiobooks. But it’s intense, tiring work. Editing the sound can be hard on your hands and wrists because it’s repetitive computer work. Recording can be hard on your voice. If you choose to do this, make sure you know what you’re getting into!

In most cases, I don’t suggest recording your own. But I had some reasons to say YES.

  • My background is in speech and theatre, so I figured it might be a good fit. (While some authors of fiction books do a “straight” reading without any character voices, many listeners expect character voices these days.)
  • I enjoy learning new skills.
  • I thought it would be a creatively gratifying project.
  • I wanted a high-quality production…without paying much for it!

If you think recording your own audiobooks might be for you, keep reading.

Let’s talk about your recording space and your gear.

A walk-in closet can make a great home studio! The clothes act as sound-dampening material. I use my little walk-in closet with a blanket draped over the door over a small wall that doesn’t have clothes on it.

There are plenty of other options for recording spaces. I’d suggest you search online for terms such as “audiobook recording studio” or “home voiceover space.” Some people have posted videos on YouTube with their suggestions.

As for recording gear, you’ll need the following:

  • A USB microphone or an XLR microphone (XLR is the typical, three-pronged mic plug.)
  • If you use an XLR mic, you’ll need an audio interface. The interface is a little box that connects via USB to your computer. You plug the mic into it.
  • If you use an XLR mic, you’ll also need an XLR cable. The USB mic will likely come with a cable.
  • A mic stand (the type that stands on the floor or the type that sits on a desk)
  • A pop screen (like this)
  • Studio headphones for editing and, if you want, for recording (like these)

What kind of mic do you need? There’s not one answer to that question. I will say this: while you can spend several hundred bucks on a mic, a lot of people use mics that cost $100 or less. Do your research first!

I’m going to suggest you check out some resources to help you hunt down the right mic.

  • Making Tracks: A Writer’s Guide to Audiobooks (and How to Produce Them) by J. Daniel Sawyer, an audiobook producer. Well worth the $10 Kindle price!
  • Audiobook Recording: A Beginner’s Guide to Producing Audiobooks Using Audacity by Krystal Wascher
  • Search online for “audiobook microphone reviews” to find tons of info.

I’ve tried a few different mics, and here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Most condenser mics are “large-diaphragm condensers,” and they have a very bright sound. That could be great if your voice is growly and rumbly and a little too warm. My voice is already bright, and my condenser mic brightened it further. Also, large-diaphragm condensers tend to pick up every little sound, which makes for more editing.
  • Dynamic mics tend to lend warmth to your voice. This is great for me…not so great if your voice is already too warm or muddy! They also tend to be more forgiving, not picking up quite as many unwanted sounds. However, my voice tends to “pop” a lot more (for instance, my “P” sounds) with a dynamic mic…even with two pop filters between my mouth and the mic! Edited to add: While I loved how my voice sounded with a dynamic mic, I’ve switched to a shotgun mic because the dynamic mic I used didn’t pull in enough signal. I had to boost the volume too much in post-production. I love my shotgun mic!
  • Shotgun mics are highly directional; they don’t pick up as much “outside noise” as many large-diaphragm condensers. Depending how you position a shotgun mic, it can be fairly forgiving with mouth noises. I use a shotgun mic now.

These days (November 2022, when I’m editing this), I use a Rode NTG5 shotgun mic. It’s $499 on Amazon (I know, yikes), but I got it for about $150 cheaper on Reverb, a resale site for music/sound equipment. I love it; it’s definitely my favorite of the mics I’ve tried.

When I used a dynamic mic, I used a Sennheiser E609. It runs about $100 on Amazon. I didn’t buy it; my husband already had it. It’s made to mic instruments, but he’d heard it worked well for voices, and it does give my bright voice a nice, warm tone.

In the Making Tracks book I linked to above, the author suggests trying a Shure SM-58, one of the most popular vocal mics out there. It’s another dynamic mic. We have one of those too (benefit of being married to a musician!), and I tried it. I liked it a whole lot, almost as much as the Sennheiser. It runs about $104 on Amazon.

I started out with the AKG P220 mic, a large-diaphragm condenser mic. I got it as part of this bundle (which included all the items I listed in the must-have list above), currently priced at $350. The mic alone runs about $160 on Amazon. It’s a nice mic but was too bright and unforgiving for me. I sold it to recoup some of my cost.

All the mics I’ve tried are XLR mics. Some narrators use USB mics, which eliminate the need for a USB interface box. And while I’ve read that USB mics don’t produce the same quality of sound as XLR mics, many narrators use them with good results.

What about software?

The four audio recording/editing/mastering programs I hear mentioned most often are Audacity, Adobe Audition, GarageBand (for Apple devices only), and Reaper.

Exploring software options in detail is beyond the scope of this post or my expertise.

I use Audacity because it’s free, open-source software that does everything I need it to do. GarageBand is free too, but its capabilities are more limited. (Some producers love it though!)

The learning curve for mastering and editing is steep. That’s why I’ve put together five in-depth video tutorials, totaling 2.5 hours+, on using Audacity to create audiobooks. These are the videos I wish I had when I was starting! Check them out here.

Edited to add: As of late 2022, I’m using Adobe Audition, and I love it.

You’ll need to meet the Audio Submission Requirements before uploading. Here they are for ACX and for Findaway Voices.

Here are a few room-noise standards I use for my books. (Yours may vary.)

  • Just over 0.5 seconds of room noise (no noise except the slight, ambient hiss in all recordings) at the start of a chapter
  • Just over 3 seconds of room noise at the end of a chapter
  • 3 seconds of room noise for a mid-chapter scene break (signified by *** in my manuscript)
  • 1 second of room noise between the chapter title and the first paragraph

These times are never perfect in the recording; I get them just right during editing.

How do I upload my audio to ACX and Findaway?

Both platforms make it easy to bring your own audio files and upload them, bypassing the hassle of finding a narrator.

However, I don’t upload to ACX as an author. Instead, I created an ACX narrator account because one day, I may want to narrate for others. I want my own audiobooks listed as credits on my narrator account.

So I have two ACX accounts, my author account and my narrator account.

  • When I’m ready, I start my project in ACX as an author. I indicate that I’ve already chosen a narrator.
  • I send an “offer for production” to my narrator account. I offer myself $1 per finished hour, because the website doesn’t allow me to ask my narrator to work for free!
  • In my narrator account, I accept the offer.
  • There’s more back and forth throughout the process. I use different browsers for my narrator and author accounts to make it easy to switch between the two without logging in and out.

There may be an easier way to do this, but this way works.

My last piece of advice if you’re considering narrating your own audiobooks? Join my Authors Who Narrate Their Own Audiobooks Facebook group. It’s got a ton of great information in it, and it’s a supportive environment.

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Miscellaneous questions

Should I ever hire multiple narrators for one book?

If your book is narrated by multiple first-person narrators, it makes a lot of sense to hire multiple narrators. It’s not a must, but it often works well to do it that way.

In other cases, you don’t need to hire multiple narrators. You may choose to, especially if you have multiple third-person “deep” or “close” points of view, and each one has a very different voice.

Normally, you’d want the same narrator for each book in a series. However, if each book has a different main character, you may consider changing the narrator, especially if the main characters aren’t all the same gender. It’s up to you.

Sometimes, people hire multiple narrators to voice various characters’ dialogue. In my opinion, this can be problematic if one narrator is voicing most of the characters and only one or a few characters have different voices. There are “full-cast” audiobooks where every character has their own narrator, but that type of production is out of reach for most indies.

If you’re using the built-in contract/system on ACX, you’ll need to contract with only one producer, who can then subcontract with one or more narrators. It’s probably best to do it this way, letting someone else handle the hassle of making sure all the narrators’ files sound similar. Much better than you, the author, cobbling together a book that’s been produced by various narrators.

Note that if you’re using Royalty Share through ACX, you can only use one narrator per book and per box set/omnibus.

How can I make it more likely my audio files will be accepted by ACX or Findaway?

Before I convert my files to .mp3s, I use an awesome, free program (donations are accepted) called 2ndOpinion to make sure my .wav files meet ACX standards. You can pass along this resource to your narrator, and you can use it for Findaway standards too.

When I upload the files to ACX, I listen to the very beginning and very end of each chapter to be sure it’s the right file and that it’s complete. I do a lot of double- and triple-checking. I don’t ever want my files to be out of order or for any to be missing!

If you’re not narrating your own work, you’ll need to do at least one listen-through of the whole book to catch any errors.

What’s the best way to distribute review codes and get reviews?

I’ve found a few good ways.

  • I distribute my codes through StoryOrigin, a totally free service. They even remind reviewers to follow through! I seem to get more reviews this way than when I do all the distribution and reminders myself.
  • Again through StoryOrigin, I connect with other authors in Audiobook Review Group Promotions. We all have our audiobooks shown on one snazzy giveaway page, and we each promote the giveaway to our readers (through mailing lists and social media). This way we’re helping each other connect with new listeners.
  • Offer review codes to your mailing list and/or Facebook reader group. Send reminders to review or let StoryOrigin remind them.
  • Offer review codes in the Audiobx Facebook group (and any similar groups you find). I’ve connected with several new fans this way! Note that Audiobx doesn’t let you use StoryOrigin or any method that requires an email address from the listener. You’ll need to DM the codes to the listeners and follow up with them individually.
  • One note: If you use RoyaltyShare or RoyaltyShare Plus with ACX, narrators get review codes too! You can encourage your narrator to distribute those codes.

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Wrapping it up

Please comment below or find me on Twitter if you have any more questions!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources: Organize Your Marketing Links


Don’t have time to read the whole blog post? Here’s the too-long-didn’t-read version:

  • Save time by saving important links (like sales links to your books on Amazon) in a note-taking app that syncs across your devices. You can then copy and paste the links into social media and other marketing.
  • Suggestions for free note-taking apps: Google Keep, Microsoft OneNote, Apple Notes.

Let’s Jump In!

As indie authors, we often share links on social media and in our other marketing.

We can end up wasting a lot of time pulling up these links over and over! Someone wants a link to your Amazon sales page, so you go to Amazon, search for the book, copy the URL, and paste it in. What a pain.

Thankfully, it’s quick and easy to organize your links in a note-taking app that you can access from various devices. Then you just have to pull up your app, copy the link, and paste it where you need it.

First, let’s talk about what links you might want to save. Then I’ll give a few note-taking app suggestions.

What Links You Might Want to Save

I’ll show you two screenshots from my link list.

This is a list I’ve built over years. Your list will likely be way shorter than mine when you start it.

Start with a few important links that you share most often, like your book sales links. When you go hunting for a link and realize it’s one you may share multiple times, add it to your list!

Screenshot 1 shows:

  • Links pertaining to my books, organized by series.
  • Links to important posts and pages on my website.

Screenshot 2 shows:

  • Social media links and “short links” (using a link shortener like I use these “short links” in my Twitter pinned post.
  • Other links that don’t fit anywhere else.

You may organize yours differently. Do what works for you! Honestly, I didn’t add headings to my list and get it in order until today. I had a big, not-very-organized list before then, and it still worked great.

Hot Tip for Sharing Amazon Links:

Don’t use a big, long, ugly Amazon link for your books. Use a nice, “clean,” shorter link.

Here’s an example of a long, ugly link: For various technical/marketing reasons, you don’t want to use links like this. (Just Google “indie author Amazon clean links” if you want to read more.)

And here’s a link to that same book, but the short version.

How do you get the pretty link? Go to your KDP Dashboard and hover over “View on Amazon.” Then click the country code for the link you want.

Don’t have a KDP dashboard? No problem. Search for your book on Amazon. Copy the link. Then delete everything in the link EXCEPT (Note: the ASIN is a 10-digit string of characters identifying your product on Amazon. See my example above. Also, some product URLs say “gp” instead of “dp.”)

Test your link and make sure it works, then paste it into your list!

Note-Taking Apps

If you don’t have a note-taking app, it’s time to get one! I’d suggest you consider three criteria:

  • Price. It’s nice to start with a free app (even if it’s one with paid upgrades).
  • Easy to use. You can use this same app for other purposes. For instance, I use my Notes app to jot down ideas “on the go” for my WIP.
  • Syncs on multiple devices. This is important if you use multiple devices to post on social media and to communicate with potential buyers. For instance, I use both my phone and my laptop all the time. I want my links available on both.

I asked the Twitter #WritingCommunity what apps they’d suggest. I’ll share some of their suggestions, and my own, below.

I’m choosing options that are totally free. If you want to see all the suggestions I got (including apps with paid upgrades), click on any of the Tweets below to read the whole thread.

Google Keep

After @jaime_dill suggested Google Keep, @DreamingAria_, @RR_Wondering, and @RivRains all agreed it’s a great option!

It’ll sync between multiple devices on different platforms…whether you’re taking notes on an Android phone/tablet, an iPhone/tablet, or a laptop (through a Chrome browser plug-in or the Google Keep website).

And yes…it’s free.

Click here to check out Google Keep, or search for it in your device’s App Store (or in Chrome).

Microsoft OneNote

After @suedeyloh suggested Microsoft OneNote, @NAndreatiWrites and @C3D_TomR mentioned it too!

OneNote works on iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, Windows computers (as an app), and other computers (on the web)…all for free!

Check out Microsoft OneNote here.

Apple Notes

We’ve covered a Google/Android option and a Microsoft option. Let’s discuss the Apple option for Apple devotees like me!

Apple Notes is free. It doesn’t have a ton of features; if you’re looking for a fully-featured Notes app, you may be better off with other options.

However, if you’re entrenched in the Apple ecosystem like I am (my two primary devices are an iPhone and a MacBook), it works really smoothly.

Geeky note: Apple Notes also works with Siri. I can’t tell you how many times a month I say, “Hey, Siri, add to shopping list milk” (or whatever item I need).

Like most Apple apps, this one’s best if you use primarily Apple products. There’s no Android or Windows app. You can, however, access it on non-Apple computers through the iCloud website. It comes pre-installed on Apple devices.

Wrapping it Up

Do yourself a favor: keep all those important links in a Notes app that syncs across your devices! You’ll save yourself headaches and make your marketing a little easier.

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!