Over the last two months, I’ve covered how to create noise-free audio files and what it takes to produce said audiobook. However, the best voice acting and production values in the world won’t mean a thing if nobody has a chance to purchase your audiobook. As with most things on the internet, the de-facto place to get audiobooks is Amazon. More specifically, the Amazon-owned Audible service. Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is the one way for self-published authors to get their books into the ears of Audible listeners. Still, it’s not the only way to distribute an audiobook.

Having never created an audiobook before, I was worried that my recordings wouldn’t meet the quality standards of ACX. I knew First Name Basis was a test to determine if I could successfully self-publish my book via Audible, but what if they didn’t accept it? I had put in a lot of work to make sure I had created an audiobook I was proud of, but it would be wasted if nobody could listen to it. As a result, I started pondering other ways to distribute my audiobook if the Audible angle didn’t work.

Audiobooks can come from places other than Audible.

While I was elated that First Name Basis was accepted as an audiobook into the Audible catalog, I still wanted to try offering it in a few different formats for my readers. This decision caused me to take the 40% royalty option instead of the 60% Audible-exclusive royalty option. As the rights holder of my audiobook, I can distribute it any way I want to, even if it means missing out on some money from Audible. On the flip side, I can get 100% of the royalties with some of these alternate distribution methods. Sure, Audible is the easiest method for most people to get my audiobook, but I wanted to see if I could create these three other formats:

1. Compact Discs

Yes, I realize most people do not have CD players anymore. The thing is, most of the audiobooks I grew up with were on tape or CD as my family took long car drives across the country. With this in mind, I wanted to see if I could make this audiobook into a multi-CD set. It turns out, with a short enough audiobook, I can. The limit seems to be a six-CD set, as it’s difficult to find packaging that accommodates more discs than that (I ended up using a DVD case that fits six discs). This means my audiobook is limited to eight hours or less. Fortunately, First Name Basis comes in at just under seven hours. The key to making this format work was purchasing the cases, slipcovers, inserts, and CDs from blankmediaprinting.com. Because I could have my original artwork used on these items, I could create a CD audiobook that almost nearly mimics the look and feel of the paperback. While it was a little tedious burning six audio CDs (not mp3 CDs) for each set, I feel it was worth it. The big secret about this one is ordering blank CDs that allow you to write what each disc is so you don’t have to get six separate orders of CDs.

CD and USB versions of the First Name Basis audiobook.

2. USB Card

After I produced the mp3 files for First Name Basis, I realized that most people have USB drives in their car that they can use to listen to mp3s. This helped overcome the hurdle of CDs becoming obsolete. Fortunately, the mp3 files were just over 500 MB in total, so I wouldn’t need a huge USB drive to distribute the audiobook in this format. The trick with the USB method is that I wanted something that still had the look and feel of the cover so people would know that it was an audiobook at a glance. That’s when I stumbled across Vistaprint’s USB cards. I had already made business cards with some of my book covers, so this was a perfect fit for what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, it looks like Vistaprint no longer has this product, but a cursory Google search found a lot of similar options. The one drawback to both this and the CD option is the cost. On average, with coupons, a batch of 25 units costs about $10 to create (with shipping included). This means I have to sell these items for more than $10 to turn any profit. This is why I like the last option for distributing my audiobook…

3. Direct Digital Download

Having all the mp3s for this project made it easy to produce this audiobook’s CD and USB versions. It also meant I could upload a zip file of the audiobook to Google Drive and provide a direct download link for anyone who wanted to purchase it directly from me. This option is the most profitable for me since I can keep the $15 cost for the other two options and pocket the whole amount without needing to create a physical product. It’s why most authors like selling eBooks: little to no overhead. Of course, this option also assumes you have an online storefront where people can buy your books. Personally, I like the free option Square provides as part of its services. I can also sell eBooks directly to customers through my Square storefront, once again netting all the profits (minus Square’s reasonable transaction fees).

The more formats your book is in, the fewer excuses people have not to read it.

Along with Audible, these three options are great ways to get your audiobook to eager listeners. Granted, these options allow you to make some profit from the sale of your audiobook. You put a lot of work into it, after all. Alternatively, you can try uploading it to iTunes as a podcast or using the audio files to create videos to post on YouTube so people can listen to your audiobook for free. In fact, I’m working on getting the first chapter of First Name Basis up on YouTube to entice people to get the rest of the audiobook. Sometimes a little hook is all you need. Ultimately, creating an audiobook is a lot of work, but it’s fulfilling when you find the right format for the right reader.


Did you ever listen to books on tape?
Have you ever used a USB drive to listen to music?
What’s the primary way you listen to audiobooks?

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