As the owner of an “indie” recording studio called Straight to Audio Productions, I'm often approached by writers who want to know if they should turn their novels into audio books. The popularity of audio books is on the rise so there is definitely an audience for this form of media. However, there are a couple of things I would encourage writers to consider before heading down this path.
Authors who are working with an agent or publisher should consult with their representatives before making any plans to produce an audio book. For self-published writers or those who don't have a broker, there are a few key matters to deliberate. First, decide who your audience is. This might sound like a silly issue, but the answer will give you a better understanding of how to best proceed. For example, if you have written a short story which may only be of interest to a small group of listeners, you might want to record it yourself. If you believe your story has mass appeal and you're willing to invest some money, you could hire a professional to produce it for you. Chances are, there is a studio in your home town which can help you accomplish this, or you can utilize some of the services available on line.
The good news for do-it-yourselfers is that the cost of producing audio books has dropped dramatically. Like many studios, I use ProTools to edit my productions. ProTools is remarkably user-friendly and offers lots of features to help editors achieve broadcast quality audio. Want to try before you buy? Check out the free editing programs offered by Audacity www.audacity.com or Cool Edit Pro www.softpedia.com.
If you're not oriented towards audio editing, there are lots of great companies to do it for you. I highly recommend ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) www.acx.com. ACX connects writers with narrators and studios. This is a great place to listen to potential narrators and shop around for the best studio to produce your audio book. Better yet, if your product meets the standards of ACX, you can apply to sell you work as an mp3 download on Audible.com www.audible.com.
Once you have hired the talent to voice your project and a studio to produce it, the next thing is to figure out is how to deliver your audio book to listeners. With Jitters-A Quirky Little Audio Book, I produced it in “wave” format which any cd player will recognize. Jitters was 6.5 hours long which meant it required six cds to accommodate the wave format. The discs were professionally replicated and professionally packaged. The product looked fantastic, but this was an expensive route to take.
When I produced Yikes! Another Quirky Audio Book, I tried a different approach. Once again, I had my product professionally manufactured, but this time I did it in mp3 format which greatly reduced my cost. Yikes! is10.5 hours long which would have required at least ten discs to be available in wave format. I believe many audio book fans are listening on devices like iPods so making Yikes! available as an mp3 seemed to make more sense anyway.
There's never been a better time than the present to turn a novel into an audio book. The cost of producing audio books had gone down while the quality of sound has improved. Through programs like Audible.com and Amazon.com it's easy to make the finished product available to the public. Better still, both Audible.com and Amazon.com offer lots of free tutorials to help you increase the size of your audience. The only other piece of advice I can offer is this: enjoy the journey!