It's a new aspect of the digital publishing industry, now worth $1.6 billion (still peanuts) but growing fast. If you're considering doing an audiobook, I highly recommend the following article by Michael Kozlowski on Good E Reader's blog, click here. You will see that in addition to Amazon's services, there are several excellent alternatives you might want to investigate.
Audio titles so far are relatively few (13,255 titles came out in 2012, up from 4,602 in 2009 - compare that to the millions of ebooks). Audiobooks seem to be the province of affirmed writers with a proven market, like, for example Elizabeth Spann Craig, a successful "hybrid" author ("hybrid" means she has both traditionally published books and self-published titles). She has a hefty number of published books under her belt and writes 3 to 4 books a year, making sure they're available in ALL formats. See here for her own summing up of her experience in 2013.
What is remarkable about her is that she spends (next to) zero $$$ on marketing, does just a little blogging and facebooking and tweeting (plus a couple of giveaways on Goodreads/year) - in short, she doesn't relate directly to her readers as an author. They are more interested in her books than in her, they're fans of her book characters, not of her as a writer or even as a person! This is what she calls "book-centric reader engagement" (and she is engagingly shy and modest about herself). All that means she has to write more books every year to keep it up rather than waste time on book promotion campaigns.
This is where audio-books come in, a format with a rapidly rising audience as more and more people are engaged in activities that preclude reading (for example, all the time wasted driving your car). We've all heard of Audible (acquired by Amazon in 2008), ACX and Podiobooks and I won't go into it here. One of my fellow author friends, Bert Carson, who's just dived into turning all his titles into audio-books, waxes enthusiastic, check him out here. He's got a lot to say about making them (see his "lessons learned" sections).
What I do think is that before you make that extra effort of producing an audio-book you should consider whether it is really worth your while. Which gets me to the reasons for doing audiobooks:
Reason #1: You should definitely do an audio book if you are in Spann Craig's position, where you've "saturated" your corner of the market. If not, you'll find that your audio-books face the same marketing hurdles as all your other formats (ebooks and printed versions) and are in need of selling boosts. Are you ready for that extra-marketing?
But there may be alternatives. For example, producing audio-clips of portions of your book, say a particularly breathtaking passage that could help in marketing your book, though the places to upload your clips are still essentially limited to soundcloud.com, click here to visit. You can set up your "sound" page there and share your clips - also very useful to embed your clips on your blog or website.
Reason #2: with the advent of Amazon's "Whispersync For Voice", it makes total sense. Your readers are able to move from reading to listening and back again without losing the place they stopped reading (or listening). Check it out here. The cool thing is that Amazon provides readers with a discounted audio copy if they buy the ebook first. So what you've got here is a built-in marketing tool. See here author Stephen Woodfin's experience that he very kindly shares on the Venture Galleries blog, an eye-opener.
If you've had any experience with recording your book, please share!
Latest News about my publications:
Crimson Clouds, (new edition) romance the second-time-around (on Amazon, click here for ebook and here for printed version) Just garnered new three 5 star reviews!
Beware of the offer of a printed first version of the book, under the title "A Hook in the Sky", see here. It looks nice and cheap ($10.80!) but it's no longer in print and I have retired it. It's just that the Amazon system is slow to register change...
Luna Rising, the full saga (new edition, 3 volumes) one young man's battle to rebuild the family name (on Amazon, click here for ebook and here for the printed version)
Again, beware of the printed version presented here, it's cheaper BUT that is the first edition (originally called "Fear of the Past") and unless you are a collector of rare editions, don't buy it!
Note: ebook is 40% off compared to buying each e-volume of the saga separately.