According to Writers Digest, audio books make up the fastest growing publishing platform. And like ebook and print book publishing, audio book publishing is affordable and accessible to indie authors. Using a royalty-share option through Amazon’s ACX, an indie author can have an audiobook recorded for nearly nothing, sharing the income earned off audio sales with the narrator.
However, what many indie authors may not know is that you can get an audio book publishing deal in which the author may earn an advance, and the publisher takes care of everything to create the audio at their expense, and pays a royalty similar to how traditional book deals work.
If you have a traditional book deal and your publisher doesn’t have audio rights, you can seek an audio book publisher as well.
Text of this video plus the list of publishers are below.
How to Get an Audio Book Publishing Deal
1. Build a track record of sales of your book.
While you can self-publish your audio book on your own regardless of how well your ebook or print version is doing, most audio book publishers will want to see that your indie book has a track record. Is it selling? Does it have more than just a few reviews? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific sales number, ranking, or review count. I know an indie author who’s first book in her series sits a 330,000 sales rank with 56 reviews and she got a deal with an audio publisher.
2. Gather your book’s information
While you might not need to submit a full synopsis or written manuscript, the publisher will likely want the following information:
~ Your Name
~ Book title
~ Book genre
~ Publisher (if not you, you’ll need to prove your publisher doesn’t have audio rights)
~ Link to your website
~ Information about book sales: This may include linking to a bookseller or gathering information from your distribution resources
3. Write a query or introduction letter
This is the first and best chance you have to grab the interest of an audio book publisher. Here is a quick and dirty tutorial on writing a query:
Hook Publisher Immediately. First, start with their name. Next, wow the agent. The first few sentences of the query letter are crucial in grabbing the attention of publisher. The hook should be intriguing and engaging, making the publisher want to know more about the book. The hook could be a tagline, a logline, a question, a quote, an anecdote, a factoid, or a short statement that highlights the uniqueness of the book.
Provide a BRIEF Plot or Book Summary. Start by telling the publisher about the genre and word count, then give a short summary that reads like a blurb. It needs to have the elements of the story or topic told in the same voice and tone as the book. But keep this short. It’s not your synopsis or proposal.
Indicate the Target Market. Don’t simply state general genre or topic readers (e.g. romance readers will love…). Do your research and get specific. List similar books to help the agent understand who the ideal reader is.
Tell the Publisher About You. The good news for fiction authors is that you don’t need previous writing experience to get a publisher. Of course, if you have it, even if it’s in a different genre or non-fiction, tell the agent. This will let the publisher know that you understand deadlines, editing, and the publication process. But if you don’t have writing experience, share about you and why you wrote this book. Also let the agent know if you plan to use a pen name.
Offer Brief Overview on How You’ll Market. Today, authors must be involved in selling their book. In fiction, you don’t have to have your platform set up yet (although it doesn’t hurt), but you do need to show that you understand that you’re a part of the sales team. Share a few things you plan to do to market your book such as social media, events, book clubs, etc.
Let the Publisher Know What You’ve Attached. This is where reading the submission guidelines is crucial! Whether you’re emailing and attaching materials, or submitting through Query Manager and uploading, only send what the publisher asked for. It could be just a synopsis. I could be the synopsis and three chapters.
End with a Thank You and Closing. Let the publisher know you appreciate their time and consideration, then close with your name.
Read and Re-Read Before Hitting Send. Check and re-check your submission for errors before hitting the “Send” button. Having grammar or spelling mistakes will make you look unprofessional. Consider asking a friend to proof the pitch for you, including your synopsis, proposal, and/or sample chapters.
4. Consider getting an agent
Many agents are now taking on indie published clients to sell additional book rights for audio, but also foreign and movies. While these are all things you can DIY, there can be an advantage to having an agent to access publishers and navigate contracts. Plus, some publishers below prefer to or only work with agents.
When querying agents, you’ll want to follow the same guidelines as above.
Audio Book Publishers
Many of these publishers you can submit to on your own. Those with an asterix will also work with agented authors. Some will only work with agented authors. A few are not currently accepting submissions, but could open up in the future.
Audible * – Audible is currently closed to submissions (as of this writing, June 2022: Update, still closed September 2023), but you can check back at a future date to see if it’s open again. Note, this is different than self-publishing your audio to Audible through ACX.
Blackstone * – Prefers to work with agents
Brilliance Publishing *(also owned by Amazon) – It’s not accepting submissions at this time, but check back.
Dreamscape – Dreamscape publishes audio, but also provides distribution services for audio, movies, and more.
NovelAudio – Says it likes to work with traditional and indie authors, including backlist books.
Podium * – Podium is popular with indie authors, especially in the romance and fantasy genres.
Oasis Audio * – Has indicated it is more responsive to submissions through an agent
Penguin Random House * – The big publishing houses normally publish audio through their own published resources, but there is some indication that Penguin Random House accepts submissions for audio books, but only through agents.
W.F. Howe – UK publisher that publishes audio books in many catagories and genres.
Is there a romance audio publisher I don’t have listed? Let me know in the comments below.