How to Self-Publish Audiobooks in Stores like Amazon in 2021

As the fastest growing digital format, distribute audiobooks to meet book listeners and increase your royalties. Here’s what you need to know.

Kinga Jentetics |
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Digital publishing soars in 2020, and audio is the fastest growing segment. In the United States, audiobook sales made more than ebook sales (for the first time ever). If you’re looking for new ways to maximize royalties, audio is the format to get into. Let’s review how to bring a book to audio in 2021.


How to self-publish an audiobook


1. Prepare your audio files

If you already have your initial manuscript (assuming in ebook format), the hardest part is over. What’s next is preparing your audio files to be easily accepted into various stores. Do note that audiobook production is a bit pricier than creating an ebook or print book.

It’s important to find a good audiobook narrator to read your book out loud. The average audiobook is about six hours long, so expect to pay an hourly rate of $150-$400 depending on your narrator’s experience. Read these helpful articles about the math behind audiobooks and costs.

You can also look for professional audiobook producers to ensure high quality. Most times, they ask for a royalty percentage of sales.

For some inspiration on how to package your audiobook, check out some of the best audiobooks in 2020 from Audie Awards.

After you have your narration, prepare the files for audiobook distribution:

  • Audio files should be in MP3 formats
  • Cover design should be at least 1400x1400 in resolution

To ensure the best listening experience, most stores require:

  • Your book be separated by chapters
  • All chapter numbers or titles be read out loud at the start of the chapter
  • A chapter does not exceed 120 minutes

Set up your audiobook easily on PublishDrive

PublishDrive helps with uploading not just the content and cover files, but any audio samples and marketing materials used for promotions.

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Double-check that your audio files meet the criteria.

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After uploading all your files, set the chapters for each one to ensure they are ordered correctly.

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2. Publish to stores like Amazon and more

Setting up a strong distribution plan for audio starts with finding the right audience. And we highly recommend you look at not only one but multiple channels. Distributing in all possible stores results in the highest payout.

After setting up your audio files on PublishDrive, simply switch on the stores you’d like to sell in.

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Audiobook Amazon and iTunes are a must. There’s Google Play Store as well, although not available in every country. Listeners are also congregating in other places, like subscription platforms. Audible is a great example, the largest audiobook hub. There’s also Storytel, super popular in Europe for more localized content.

To tap into all possible stores, consider using an audiobook distributor (like PublishDrive). It helps manage everything for you, especially the administration work with numerous stores. And don’t forget to pay attention to royalty splits.

PublishDrive transfers 100% royalties received from stores directly to indies. This saves you over 20% on royalties compared to typical distributors. For example, you would make 25% of net sales on Audible through PublishDrive compared to 20% with others. For Google Play Books, a 50% payout is guaranteed compared to 36% with others.


3. Track sales and collect your earnings

Prep for entering the audio market as a long-term venture, seeing a return on investment after a half year or so. In any gig, you need to track and understand your performance. Doing this with audio helps to figure out what stores and markets are your best bets for pushing promotion campaigns and more. Most audio stores report quarterly sales only – we don’t think that’s enough.

With PublishDrive’s sales reports and analytics, track your audiobook sales data daily. Get pre-made charts and filter with different variants. And of course, collect 100% of your royalties in one paycheck per month.

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Are audiobooks worth it?

Generally, audiobooks are priced higher than ebook and print formats. We already know that it costs more in production, but gives you a better return on royalties. Plus, it introduces you to a completely different group of book lovers. It’s all about expanding your revenue stream and discoverability as an author. (Shoutout to our indie publishers like Red Chair Press with 18 juvenile fiction audio books out!)


Audiobook publishing takes 5 easy steps with PublishDrive.