Do you want to learn how to sell audiobooks online? We’ve got you covered.
We are currently in the midst of an audiobook boom. While physical book sales may be on the decline, audiobook sales are on the rise.
You can take advantage of the growing popularity of audiobooks by recording your own and selling them on your website or through marketplaces like Amazon.
In this post, you’ll find a complete beginner’s guide that will walk you through the entire process of selling audiobooks online step-by-step, from market research to recording the audio, preparing it for sale, and more.
Plus, we’ll even share some powerful online audiobook promotion strategies you can use to generate tons of sales fast.
Ready? Let’s start!
Why sell audiobooks online?
Audiobooks are one of the best digital products you can sell online. This is why:
- Undersaturated market. The market for print and e-books is oversaturated, making it difficult for amateur authors to compete. But there’s still plenty of room in the audiobook market, making it a great option for new authors trying to make a name for themselves.
- Market longevity. Audiobooks have grown in popularity in recent years and this trend is likely to continue in the future. And unlike other product categories that can go out of style, audiobooks will likely always be in high demand.
- High income potential. The great thing about selling audiobooks is that the sky really is the limit when it comes to earning potential. Many audiobook sellers are content to earn a modest passive income. But you never know. If you end up creating a bestseller that really takes off, you could make millions.
- No production costs. Unlike physical products, once you’ve created your audiobook, you can sell it an unlimited number of times with no additional production costs. And you also don’t need to own any physical inventory, which reduces your overhead.
How to create your audiobook
The first step to selling audiobooks is creating the product. If you have already recorded the audiobook, feel free to skip this section. But if not, keep reading and we’ll show you how.
research the market
Before you invest time and money in recording an audiobook, you need to make sure you have a solid business plan. And all good plans start with careful market research.
This could mean browsing Audible’s best-seller list to see what kinds of audiobooks are selling well, or analyzing your competitors to reverse-engineer your marketing strategies.
During the research stage, you will want to consider questions such as:
- What genres of audiobooks are the most popular?
- What audiobook genres are the least competitive?
- Is there space in the market to make sales?
- How can I differentiate my audiobook from the competition?
- Who are my target readers?
- What do readers of my target genre expect from an audiobook? (eg, what kind of tone/narrative style do they prefer?)
- What factors do audiobook listeners consider when searching for a book? (eg description, cover, etc.)?
- Where do most people buy audiobooks? (eg Amazon, iTunes, Google Play)
- How should I price the audiobook? (And at what price do my competitors sell?)
- How should I market my audiobook?
Once you’ve done your research, you should have a pretty good idea of the type of audiobook you want to sell and how it will generate sales.
Choose a book (or write your own)
The next step is to choose the book you want to make an audiobook out of.
You have two options here:
- You can write your own book.
- Instead, you can use someone else’s book.
If you’re not a great writer or just don’t want to spend months writing a book from scratch, the latter option may work, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, you can’t just go back anything book into an audiobook and start selling it.
You must obtain the audio rights to the work, which usually means negotiating some type of royalty agreement and signing a contract with the publisher/author.
One way to do this is register as a narrator in ACX or a similar platform. Then, find the books you want to convert to audiobooks, and submit a few recorded minutes of the manuscript through an audition.
If the author/publisher is interested in working with you, they will send you an offer and you can negotiate a deal. For example, you could collect 50% of the royalties in exchange for the production of audiobooks.
Another option is to buy a PLR (Private Label Rights) ebook on an online marketplace like the PLR store. PLR eBook licenses usually include resell rights that give you the right to convert it into an audiobook and sell it through your own store, but Always check the fine print before buying to be sure..
The only time you don’t need to get audio rights is for books that are already in the public domain. When a book enters the public domain, its copyright expires, so anyone can creatively reinvent it for free, even turn it into an audiobook.
As of this writing, books in the public domain include any book published before 1927 (but you should probably do your own research to be sure). It’s also worth noting that tons of books enter the public domain every year, so new opportunities are constantly opening up.
For example, The Great Gatsby entered the public domain in 2021. And there are already a ton of audio narrations on the web.
If you choose to write your own book, keep in mind that some genres are better suited to audiobooks than others.
You can’t really turn DIY books or cookbooks into audiobooks, for example. We recommend sticking to popular genres like crime, sci-fi, YA fiction, etc.
Another advantage of writing your own book is that you can also sell eBooks online in addition to audiobooks and thus reach a larger target market.
If you want to go down that path, check out our roundup of the best platforms for selling eBooks.
Note: Remember that I am not a lawyer. While we’ve discussed some copyright law issues above, you’ll need to do your own due diligence. I cannot give legal advice. If you are not sure, consult a legal professional.
record your audiobook
Once you’ve chosen your book, you’re ready to start creating your audiobook.
Again, you have two options:
- Record and produce the audiobook yourself
- Hire a professional storyteller
Both methods have pros and cons, which we’ll explore below.
Hire a professional storyteller
The quality of the narration is very important when it comes to audiobooks.
It is the voice of your narrator that captures the listener’s attention so that they are fully immersed in the story. It’s what brings your characters to life, creates a sense of place, and evokes emotion.
So naturally it’s important to choose the right voice for your book. And most of the time, a professional storyteller will do a better job than you can yourself.
If you choose to outsource the task to a professional storyteller, the best thing to do is to use ACX. As long as you own the audio rights to your book, you can register as a rights holder and invite producers to audition.
Then, when you find a storyteller you want to work with, negotiate a deal with him.
Storytelling/production cost will vary from project to project. If you want to pay a flat rate, expect to pay anywhere from $200-$400 per hour completed. It should come to around $1,000 – $3,000 total, depending on the length of the book.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to invest so much up front, you can agree to pay the narrator a share of the royalties. In royalty-sharing agreements, the money is divided between the audiobook publishers (narrators) and the rights holders.
ACX isn’t the only place to find a storyteller, either. You can also find narrators on voice acting sites like Bodalgo and Voiceovers.com and independent marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr. But keep in mind that the quality of candidates on these platforms is second to none.
record it yourself
The main advantage of recording the audiobook yourself is that you won’t have to pay or share royalties with anyone else. In addition, you also have more control over the narrative and complete creative freedom when it comes to pacing, articulation, etc.
The downsides are that the finished product may not sound as good as calling in a professional.
And there are some pretty steep up-front costs, too, since you’ll need to invest in some professional recording gear (your iPhone mic won’t cut it).
we would recommend Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Package. It’s reasonably priced and comes with everything you need, including an audio interface, good-quality condenser microphone, pop filter, professional headphones, microphone stand, cables, and other accessories.
Once you have your equipment, find a nice quiet place to record. Obviously, a professional recording studio would be ideal. But if you’re recording at home, try to find a space with good acoustics to minimize echo and unwanted background noise.
It’s worth reading some of the best practices for audio narration before getting started. You will need to think about things like rhythm and use your voice creatively to help with characterization and set the tone.
You should also make sure you position your mouth correctly (it should be about 6-12 inches from the microphone), monitor your breathing, and always do a sound check before you start.
Do not try to record everything in one recording. Break it down into manageable sections and record it little by little. It will put it all together and clean it up during the editing stage.
Note: Please note that to include your audiobook in ACX/Audible, you will need to meet some pretty demanding specifications. Make sure you’re familiar with these before attempting to produce an audiobook yourself.
Edit your audiobook
Next, you’ll want to edit your records.
For this you will need some kind of audio editing software or DAW (digital audio workstation). Ableton Live, Audacity, and Reaper are a few options worth checking out.
Once you have the software, open the registries to clean it up. There are many things that go into editing, but they can include removing background noise, breath noises, and microphone clicks; volume equalization, vocal EQ/filter addition, credit addition, etc.
Then save it in a suitable format. If you plan to sell your audiobooks through Audible/ACX, you’ll need to create a separate file for each chapter.
At this point, you should be almost ready to start selling. The last thing you need to do is prepare your cover art, write a description, and get any other additional materials you need to get your audiobook out for sale.
How to sell audiobooks on your website
The best way to sell audiobooks online is through your own website.
That’s because when you sell through your own online audiobook store, you keep 100% of the profit.
By comparison, when you sell through a third-party marketplace like Audible or iTunes, audiobook distributors typically earn a large portion of the revenue from sales in the form of royalties or other fees.
Selling through your own eCommerce store also gives you more control. You can set your own prices, implement your own sales channels, and design your website and product pages however you like. Plus, you have the option to monetize your site in other ways in the future.
And don’t worry, creating your own online store is easy. Here is how to do it.
Step 1: Sign up for Sellfy
sell is an eCommerce platform designed for creators who sell digital products like audiobooks (that’s you).
It is very easy to use, affordable, and does not charge transaction fees. Plus, it comes with unlimited storage and bandwidth and offers some nice features like built-in print-on-demand compliance.
To sign up, visit Sellfy.com and choose a plan. You can start with a 14-day free trial and then upgrade to a paid plan when you’re ready (we recommend the starter plan).
Then sign in and follow the setup wizard. Choose to create a new Sellfy storefront and you will be taken to your dashboard.
Step 2: Upload the audiobook
From your dashboard, navigate to Products section and click digital product > Add a new productthen load the audiobook.
Next, choose a price (we recommend between $10 and $25, but it depends on the length of your book and your business plan), add your abstract and cover, and click Save the product.
Now your audiobook will be active on its own product page in your store. But you’ll need to connect a payment processor (like PayPal or Stripe) before you can start accepting payments, which you can do from save settings section.
We also recommend connecting a custom domain name. You can buy a domain from any registrar (for example, GoDaddy). It is up to you which domain name to use, but we recommend that you keep the title of your book/series or, if you are the author, your name.
Step 3 – Customize your storefront
You can change the look and feel of your store by choosing a theme from Sellfy’s theme library. Again, you can do it via save settings eyelash.
Alternatively, you can create your own unique design from scratch by opening Store Customizer.
In addition to the layout, you may also want to change other settings such as embed options and email integration.
Once everything is set up the way you want it, you can start driving traffic to your site and making sales. We will cover some strategies that you can use to generate traffic in no time.
In connection with: The 10 best platforms to sell digital products (comparison)
How to sell audiobooks on marketplaces
The only problem with selling audiobooks through your own website is that it’s hard to make sales if you don’t have a customer base or audience to sell to.
That is why most audiobook producers choose to distribute their books on popular online shopping sites and marketplaces as well. This way, you can reach more potential customers and diversify your income streams.
The most important marketplaces to sell your audiobooks are Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Collectively, these platforms account for the vast majority of all audiobook sales.
The easiest way to get your audiobooks on these platforms is through ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange).
Basically, it’s a distribution service that publishes your work on all the major audiobook marketplaces for you, then pays you royalties on your sales each month. Instead, they take a large chunk of your sales revenue.
The amount you earn in royalties with ACX depends on whether you grant exclusive or non-exclusive distribution rights.
If you grant exclusive distribution rights, you’ll earn a 40% royalty on sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, but you won’t be able to sell the audiobook anywhere else (even on your own website).
If you grant non-exclusive distribution rights, you’ll only earn a 25% royalty on sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, but you’ll retain the right to distribute elsewhere.
We recommend non-exclusive distribution. So you can sell through your own site and keep 100% of your profits earned through that channel, while continuing to reach customers through popular marketplaces. It’s the best of both worlds.
Market your audiobooks
You shouldn’t just put your audiobook up for sale and expect to make money. It is also important to put effort into promoting it to drive sales. Here are some marketing strategies you can try:
- influencer marketing. Distribute free copies of your audiobook to popular influencers in your space, like YouTube book reviewers, bloggers, etc. If you’re lucky, they might listen to you and recommend you to their audience, which will help boost your sales.
- limited time offers. You can use Sellfy’s discount feature to set limited time offers and promo codes. You can even make the first audiobook in a series available for free to help you grow your following, then when you’ve built an audience you can charge for sequels.
- Share clips on YouTube. Upload the first two chapters of the audiobook to YouTube with a nice thumbnail and optimize it for search. Then, add a CTA and a link to your online store in the description that users can click to purchase the full version once they’re engaged.
- Junk mail. Sellfy comes with powerful built-in email marketing tools that you can use to collect leads and nurture them with automated email campaigns. This can help convert more website visitors into paying customers. But remember, dedicated email marketing software will offer additional functionality.
- Paid Ads. If you’re happy to invest in your success, you might consider running a paid ad campaign through Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc. In paid ad campaigns, you’ll typically pay per click, so it’s important to optimize your website and audiobook. conversion listings to maximize your return on investment (ROI).
This concludes our beginner’s guide on how to sell audiobooks online.
Now, you should have all the knowledge you need to launch your online business.
Remember that the most important factor that will determine whether your audiobook is a success is the quality of the story and narration. So focus on creating a great product that people do. want to listen and the rest will be easy.
And if after reading this you think selling audiobooks is too much work, you can always try selling other digital products like PDFs or other audio files. Here are some blog posts that can help you get started:
- How to Sell PDFs Online: The Complete Guide
- How to sell audio files and sound effects online
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