Audio Realm Studios Blog

Recording an Audiobook

9 Steps for Producing and Estimating the Cost of an Audio Book

Technological advancements have made books more accessible than ever. In addition to being able to download books onto a mobile device, many individuals use downtime in a long commute in a car or on public transportation to listen to audio books. If you have a book that you want to make accessible to a wider audience, then turning it into an audio recording is a smart move. It’s not enough to sit down and record yourself reading the words, however. You need to understand how to record an audio book and budget for the cost of the project. While recording audio books sounds like an easy job, there are many steps involved, and you may want to consider hiring a professional recording studio to handle the bulk of the work for you. To take your book from print format to audio download-ready, use these nine steps as your guide.

  • STEP 1
    Make Sure Your Book is Ready

Before you can make a recording of a book, you need a book to read! If you are the author of the book, you don’t have much to worry about. On the other hand, if the book is not yours and you do not own the rights to record audio for it, you may need to get permission from the publisher or author beforehand, especially if you plan to make the audio book available for other people to listen to. Keep in mind that you need permission from the entity that owns the rights to the book – so if a publisher has the rights, it might not be enough to have permission from the author. The book itself should be in its final format, hopefully with no more pending edits or proofing. You should also have enough copies available for the people who might need them during the recording process, such as the voice actor and sound editor.

  • STEP 2
    Find a Professional Recording Studio

Before you can make a recording of a book, you need a book to read! If you are the author of the book, you don’t have much to worry about. On the other hand, if the book is not yours and you do not own the rights to record audio for it, you may need to get permission from the publisher or author beforehand, especially if you plan to make the audio book available for other people to listen to. Keep in mind that you need permission from the entity that owns the rights to the book – so if a publisher has the rights, it might not be enough to have permission from the author. The book itself should be in its final format, hopefully with no more pending edits or proofing. You should also have enough copies available for the people who might need them during the recording process, such as the voice actor and sound editor.

  • STEP 3
    Determine if Payment Will Be Royalty-Based or Pay-Per-Performance

Before you can make a recording of a book, you need a book to read! If you are the author of the book, you don’t have much to worry about. On the other hand, if the book is not yours and you do not own the rights to record audio for it, you may need to get permission from the publisher or author beforehand, especially if you plan to make the audio book available for other people to listen to. Keep in mind that you need permission from the entity that owns the rights to the book – so if a publisher has the rights, it might not be enough to have permission from the author. The book itself should be in its final format, hopefully with no more pending edits or proofing. You should also have enough copies available for the people who might need them during the recording process, such as the voice actor and sound editor.

  • STEP 4
    Estimate Audio Book Cost Using Up-to-Date Figures

Once you know if payments will be royalty-based or pay-per-performance, you can gain a more accurate estimate of how much your audio book will cost to produce. There is a common figure floating around that says you can expect to pay around $300 per hour for a voice actor and recording studio, but this is not always the case. You will need to know the rate of pay for your voice actor, which can differ depending on the actor’s popularity and workload, as well as the rate for the studio before you can get an accurate cost estimate. Then you also need to know how long it will take to record and edit the audio book. Good voice actors can generally read at a pace well over 9,000 words per minute. In fact, many audio book guidelines from companies such as Audible require a rate around 9,400 words per minute. At this speed, an 80,000-word book will take over 8.5 hours of recording time for the voice actor, and that’s not including mistakes and re-recordings. The audio editor will also need extra time for editing. Multiply the rate by the number of estimated hours it will take to record and edit, and you have your audio book cost estimate. You can contact Audio Realm Studios directly to find out what our current rate is for recordings. Every studio and voice actor is different, so expect your estimate to differ when price shopping with several actors and studios. Also keep in mind that an estimate is a guess – sometimes, it takes longer to record or edit a project than initially predicted. Be sure to account for extra costs in your audio book budget. Your next step should be to set aside the money for the project.

  • STEP 5
    Decide Who Will Read the Book

If you have not decided yet, it’s now time to either read the book yourself or hire a professional voice actor. Reading a book aloud sounds simple, but it’s harder than you may think. Professional voice actors add a whole new dimension to a book reading by doing different voices for different characters. They also tend to be well-experienced and trained in the delivery of speech, diction, and articulation. While you can save money by reading the book yourself, you are likely better off hiring a professional voice actor if you want listeners to get the best experience from the recording. Sometimes, the type of book in question can help you to decide who will read it for the recording. In general, biographies tend to be read by the people who wrote them. This lends a personal touch and adds depth to the listening experience. Fiction pieces are typically read by professional voice actors.

  • STEP 6
    Record the Book

Now that you have your book, you’ve chosen a voice actor, and you’ve hired a professional recording studio, it’s time to start the recording process. Keep in mind that voice actors can only record for one to two hours at a time, so it could take a week or longer to complete all of the recording sessions, depending on the length of the book. The studio will then need extra time to edit the recordings and put them in your desired audio format. Your studio of choice should be able to give you a conservative timeline for completing your audio project based on the length of the book.

  • STEP 7
    Make the Book Available for Download

Once you have the audio files in your possession, you can burn them onto a CD or make them available for download through your desired streaming or download service. Most companies have strict requirements when it comes to audio book files, so you will want to make sure your recording matches the requirements for the service or company you plan to use. For example, there might be a minimum or maximum restriction on the decibel levels used in the recording. This is another reason why it may be better to use a professional recording studio. At Audio Realm Studios, we can make sure your recording meets the decibel levels as well as any other audio book technical requirements.

  • STEP 8
    Estimate Audio Book Cost Using Up-to-Date Figures

Once you know if payments will be royalty-based or pay-per-performance, you can gain a more accurate estimate of how much your audio book will cost to produce. There is a common figure floating around that says you can expect to pay around $300 per hour for a voice actor and recording studio, but this is not always the case. You will need to know the rate of pay for your voice actor, which can differ depending on the actor’s popularity and workload, as well as the rate for the studio before you can get an accurate cost estimate. Then you also need to know how long it will take to record and edit the audio book. Good voice actors can generally read at a pace well over 9,000 words per minute. In fact, many audio book guidelines from companies such as Audible require a rate around 9,400 words per minute. At this speed, an 80,000-word book will take over 8.5 hours of recording time for the voice actor, and that’s not including mistakes and re-recordings. The audio editor will also need extra time for editing. Multiply the rate by the number of estimated hours it will take to record and edit, and you have your audio book cost estimate. You can contact Audio Realm Studios directly to find out what our current rate is for recordings. Every studio and voice actor is different, so expect your estimate to differ when price shopping with several actors and studios. Also keep in mind that an estimate is a guess – sometimes, it takes longer to record or edit a project than initially predicted. Be sure to account for extra costs in your audio book budget. Your next step should be to set aside the money for the project.

  • STEP 9
    Pay the Voice Actor or Studio Based on Your Agreement

After recording is complete, you will need to pay the voice actor and the recording studio for time and services rendered if you are using a pay-per-performance rate. You probably have a contract with the actor or studio. If you are using a method other than pay-per-performance, you will need to pay following the contract stipulations. Royalty-based payments come in as consumers purchase the audio book.

  • Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labors

Now that the hard work is done, you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Be sure to reach out to your audio book listeners and request reviews in order to spread the word about your project. Recording audio books involves much more than sitting down in front of a microphone. The more experience there is behind the recording, the faster you can get your project finished. For more information regarding audio books and other voiceover recording services, contact our team at Audio Realm Studios today.

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