I love ACX.com and I am all in with my fiction there, but I'm also a podcaster and after years of doing my own interviews and audio, I decided to read my own non-fiction audiobook, and sell it direct!
Recording the book
I live in a basement flat with pretty good acoustics for audio i.e. no high ceilings or wooden floors, so I knew it would be OK to record here. If you want to record yourself and distribute professionally, you are likely to need a studio, but I went ahead at home and just stopped if it got too noisy.
I am not hugely technical and I didn't want to do much post-processing, so I focused on a quiet background. You can sort out noise in post-production, but ideally, you want a clean read, which is why so many podcasters and audio people record in padded cupboards!
I had Scrivener open to the book and read from the screen chapter by chapter. I saved each audio file at around 20 minutes and managed two or three per day.
I actually found it was really tiring to concentrate, plus my voice struggled so I drank a lot of peppermint tea to keep it going. When I made mistakes in the file, which was at least every couple of minutes, I would clap loudly and then be silent for a few seconds. This creates a visible spike and space on the file so you can find the bits to clean up without having to listen to the whole thing again.
Yes, you WILL make mistakes. It is not easy to read a book aloud! I have renewed respect for my audiobook narrators.
I decided to make the audio more interesting by adding my own little comments at the end of some of the chapters, giving the people who bought that version a little extra something. I also found a few bits I wanted to change as I read the book aloud, so I did update the ebook files as I read. It's great to read aloud for that final proof-read!
Editing and QA process
I then used Dropbox to send the files to my virtual assistant who listened to the audio to check for any other issues. I left in things that were natural speech but removed clear errors e.g. when I had left the same section in twice, or a little burp from too much tea!
After the QA process and final edits, I put the files together to create six files of one hour each.
I also included an intro and outro little piece of music which makes it sound professional. I get all my royalty free music from Incompetech, an amazing site with loads of music options.
Then I used Auphonic.com to level the sound and add the metadata and tags so it looks nice in your mp3 player.
I decided to package the 6 audio files with the DRM free ebook files in Kindle and ePub formats as the final product. I made the cover on the left with Canva.com, a fantastic tool for creating images.
Selling the file
I've talked about your options for selling direct before.
My choice is to use Selz.com to package the audio files with the ebooks in Kindle and ePub formats.
I also set up a discount code which is in the back of all the ebooks and print books so those who have already bought the book in other formats can also get the audiobook version if they like for $5 reduction. Click here to go straight to the audio sales page on Selz so you can see what it looks like.
In the first 13 days, I've sold 16 audiobooks directly at a total of $305.53, and also 24 copies of the ebook directly at a total of $119.76.
It's not going to buy me a house but it's also not bad for the first couple of weeks and in a direct sales channel that I only introduced recently!
The 24 direct sales of the ebooks may ‘cannibalize' sales from the ebook platforms but I get a closer relationship with my customers and I get the money within a week, instead of waiting a couple of months.
It's early days and I expect Business for Authors to be more of a constant seller, as my book, How to Market a Book, is as well.
The book is mostly evergreen material so I don't expect to have to update it for a while. I'm definitely considering recording my other non-fiction books as well. It is a time investment but I think they will be pretty constant sellers. I'll keep my fiction on ACX.com but for non-fiction, I think I prefer this option (but I reserve the right to change my mind!)
Here's one happy customer, Henry Hyde:
“What a fantastic resource you have created. I’m really glad I bought the audio version with the extra downloads, and your little asides are lovely, reinforcing how very human and surprisingly humble you are despite your amazing achievements.
I’m going to have to listen to the whole thing again, this time in conjunction with the written version and workbook … My head is buzzing with ideas … I’d recommend this book to anyone running any kind of creative business, not just writers and publishers. A massive round of applause for what is bound to become the go-to reference work in the field.” Henry Hyde
You can listen to a 20 min sample on SoundCloud, or click play below. You can also find out more or buy the audiobook package here.
Update for Dec, 2014 – EU VAT Tax on Digital Products
On 1 Jan, 2015, the EU introduced new VAT tax laws that impact anyone selling digital products to the EU – that includes authors who sell books or courses direct. Essentially, VAT is now calculated based on where the customer is located, NOT where the seller/vendor is located. The tax varies per country and to be compliant, businesses need to collect 2 pieces of evidence proving location. Previously, there was an exemption limit for small businesses but this law gets rid of the limit so anyone selling anything and making any revenue above 0 must pay this VAT. Many of the companies above will help with sorting out this tax information, but many small businesses are pulling down their direct sales – myself included – until the law is revisited for small businesses. For more information, please read this article.
I'd love to hear your comments on this topic. First of all, do you like to listen to audiobooks read by the author? Do you want to try doing this yourself and do you have any questions?