SCWW author, Linda Lovely

SCWW author, Linda Lovely

Do you hear voices? I do. My characters speak to me all the time. So it’s been great fun listening to the folks who live in my head actually talk out loud. No, I’m not nuts—well, no more so than usual—but DEAR KILLER, my first Marley Clark Mystery, is now an audiobook, and the second in the series will soon start production.

Interested in publishing your novel as an audiobook?

The market is definitely growing. According to a recent New York Times article, audiobooks are a $1.2 billion industry, and the Audio Publishers Association says the annual number of audiobooks published just about doubled in 2012.

Technology’s fueling this explosive growth. How many of your friends have purchased smartphones, Kindles, iPods, or one of dozens of different MP3 players? If they own any of these, they can download audiobooks and listen to them just about anywhere—no CDs required. Downloadable formats now account for nearly two-thirds of audiobook sales.

Author-Narrator Match Service Expands Audio Book Choices

So what kind of investment must an author make to turn a novel into an audiobook? The answer can be zero dollars. However, you’ll probably need to invest 10-20 hours to listen to auditions, prepare audio notes, correspond with your narrator, and “proof listen” to recordings. That time estimate doesn’t include any promotional efforts.

Since most authors aren’t wealthy, the zero dollar option is popular and quite possible thanks to, an Amazon matchmaker platform.

The Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) website has paired more than 25,000 authors with narrators. The site is used by authors who own the audio rights to their books and are willing to sign a seven-year ACX contract, granting either exclusive or nonexclusive distribution rights. No surprise, royalties are higher with the ACX exclusive option, which distributes through Amazon,, and iTunes.

Interested authors list their titles, voice preferences (gender, age, accent, etc), and if they prefer to pay the narrator a flat fee or share royalties (50/50). Authors then post short selections for auditions. There’s no contract or obligation until a narrator accepts an author’s offer.

In turn, narrators can search for the types of books they’d like to record, post audio samples, and list acceptable payment methods and rates per finished hour of audio.

Though I chose shared royalties to eliminate any out-of-pocket cost, I still had more than 40 professional auditions. This excellent response was largely due to the selection of DEAR KILLER as eligible for an ACX stipend. For selected titles, ACX currently pays narrators $100 per finished hour. This assures the narrator pockets money even if a given audiobook garners few sales. The audio version of my 88,000-word, 290-page mystery, DEAR KILLER, runs eight hours, 56 minutes. However, the narrator invests a lot more time than the finished length. My talented narrator, K.C. Cowan, estimates she needed one to one-and-a-half hours to record two to three chapters of my mystery (28 chapters total), and allowed about an hour more per chapter for editing.

As an audio novice, I selected DEAR KILLER’s first pages for my initial audition. Big mistake. In the opening, my heroine’s alone when she finds the first murder victim. No dialogue. For your audition, pick a dialogue scene—or even snippets from two scenes—to hear how each narrator will handle the voices of your main characters (male and female) as well as any tricky/distinctive accents. After I narrowed my selection to five narrators, I asked for a second dialogue reading. Fortunately, K.C. was willing, and I was impressed.

K. C. Cowan, DEAR KILLER's narrator

Have you used or another audiobook production platform? If so, are you happy with your experience?

To listen to the first chapter of DEAR KILLER, go to Part II of this Audiobook Blog looks at more “Lessons Learned.”

Enter to win a free copy of the version of DEAR KILLER by making a comment below!


This entry was posted in Blog, Resources For Writers, SCWW, Writing Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. chaco_kid says:

    Thanks for the great article. I’m always interested in audio and I think a lot of authors are so interesting in self-e-pub-ing that they forget about audio. However with the rise in e-devices, it makes perfect sense to think about and expand in this way. Thanks for again for the tips and the walk through!

  2. C.A. Szarek says:

    THANK YOU so much for this article! This is something that Want to break into, and I had NO clue how or what was out there, or how easy (and low cost) it could be.


  3. I’m very interested in learning more about audiobooks and this post was a good start. I’d never thought about them until a coworker asked me where to get the audiobook of Faith, Hope, and Murder because she never reads books any more, she listens to them.
    Looking forward to Part 2.

  4. Polly Iyer says:

    Good post, Linda. Go, audio books! I have two in production, and I’m excited. I think KC’s voice and inflections are perfect for your book. Sell a bunch.

  5. Bert Goolsby says:

    Linda, as some of us Southerners say, “You ‘learned’ me something. Much oblige.” I will look into this. Sounds promising, particularly for my novel HER OWN LAW.

  6. Jim Jackson says:

    Interesting article, Linda. Thanks.

    Any idea what criteria ACX uses to determine which books are eligible for the stipend.?

    ~ Jim

  7. Linda Lovely says:

    Glad this has been helpful. I’m about to start production on the second book in my Marley Clark Series, NO WAKE ZONE. Much easier than I had imagined.

  8. Thanks for the information. I’m curious – how do books qualify for the ACX stipend?

  9. Linda Lovely says:

    Jim & Ashantay–I’m not sure what qualifies a book for the stipend. My guess is that it’s some combination of number of good reviews (4s and 5s) plus sales. Whether it’s a series may also factor in as that could influence more future sales.

  10. Fran McNabb says:

    Your post was packed with great information for those of us who are contemplating audio books. Good luck with yours and thanks for the link to get us here!

  11. Ellis Vidler says:

    Linda, good explanation of the way to get into audio. I especially like the advice on choosing the right scene for narrators to audition with. I made the same mistake on my first one–very little dialogue in the opening scene. Some narrators were willing to do a little more, but some weren’t. I ended up with an ideal voice for my characters, but it was more luck than judgment. I have two other books in production and am happy with both.

  12. S.L. Smith says:

    Hi Linda,
    Thanks for the ideas. I listen to audio books all of the time. Signed up to have my second novel, Running Scared, done by ACX. Thus far, no auditions. I believe there’s a way to request auditions by specified people, but don’t know how to go about acco,polishing that.
    S.L. Smit

  13. Jacquie Biggar says:

    ty for sharing this insight into making an audio book. I’ve been reading a lot about this lately and was wondering how the costs broke down. Also appreciate the advice on sending in dialogue I probably would have done the same as you 🙂

  14. Beth Browne says:

    Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow! I’ve entered you all into a drawing for a free audiobook from Linda Lovely. I’ll draw on Saturday and the winner will be notified via email. Good luck, everyone!!

  15. Linda Lovely says:

    S.L., you said you weren’t sure how to go about requesting auditions in ACX. You can search for narrators in the ACX database with the qualifications you’re looking for, e.g. age, gender, accent, etc. Listen to the samples the narrators have posted. If you like one of the voices, you can send a message to the narrator through ACX asking them if they’d be willing to audition for your book. If you take this route, be sure to tell them why it’s a good match and how you plan to promote it.

  16. Diane Kratz says:

    Making an audio book for me is a must. My husband who is my biggest supporter drive a truck and doesn’t have time to read. This would be the only way he could read (hear) my book.

    To be honest, I’ve never purchased and audio book. I have a smart phone but didn’t know I could use it for this. Now that I know, I will!

    Thank you for the informative post. I hope you do more on this topic!

    Diane Kratz

  17. Beth Browne says:

    Congratulations Jacquie Biggar! You won the random drawing for a free audiobook of DEAR KILLER from Linda Lovely! Thanks to everyone for participating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *