The explosion in the use of smart phones, tablets and ereaders has had an enormous impact on the audiobook market, so much so that now most audiobooks are downloaded rather than bought on CD in store. With voice-activated speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod storming the market, the audience for audiobooks is set to grow rapidly.

Of all the ‘book’ formats, audiobooks has historically been the most difficult and costly to produce for publishers. For self-publishers, the barriers to entering the audiobook market have been both the high cost of production and the technical challenges faced when producing an audiobook.

With the audiobook market now starting to expand significantly, Matador offers a high quality, lower cost audiobook publishing and distribution service to self-publishers. Lower cost, however, does not mean poor quality; in common with all the other services we offer, our audiobook publishing service offers top quality production values, with narration by professional actors and voice-over artists.

AudioBook production

Producing an audiobook chiefly involves hours spent in a studio with a book being read and recorded. Reading an average novel from cover to cover may take seven or eight hours, but recording the same book may take twice that time; the person recording the book needs to know it before it is read out loud, they need to know the characters, what happens and when, they need to understand the tone and pitch of the work before it is read aloud. Then when recording, actors are human too, they stumble, get the inflection wrong… cough!

Once recorded, the sound engineer has to edit the resulting audio so that all those extraneous bits are removed; and they have then to produce a set of audio files that meet the requirements demanded by the audiobook retailers. That isn’t just technical requirements, though they can be complex, but a requirement for a quality recording presented professionally.

Our audiobook production service uses a commercial recording studio and engineer, with all narration carried out by working professional actors. You can see and hear all of the artists available on this website. For practical reasons and reasons of quality, we are unable to offer author-narrated audiobooks. More detailed information on audiobook production can be found on our Audiobook Factsheet.

Production cost

Our audiobook production service is outlined below, but first let’s look at the costs involved, so you can decide whether to read on! The cost of production is determined chiefly by the length of time it takes to record a book, and that is obviously influenced by the word count in your book. We thus base our production costs on a book’s word count, as follows:

Up to 40,000 words*: £1450.00 *(equates to around 150 typeset pages)

Each additional 1,000–10,000 words*: £160.00 *(equates to around 40 typeset pages)

Note that all costs quoted are VAT exclusive.

Production process

The first step in the production process is to choose an actor to record your book. We offer a range of voices to suit different sorts of book. Opposite you can see those actors available, and listen to clips of them reading aloud; simply choose which actor you feel would be best to narrate your book. Note that an audiobook will use only one voice to record (eg. you cannot have multiple actors, each for a different voice).

Once you have made your choice of narrator, we can confirm availability and the likely production timescale (remember, these are working actors with their main job being in TV, film or on stage, and they may not be available immediately).

We then ask you to complete a questionnaire about your text, providing a brief for the narrator. This covers things that you feel the narrator should know, like any accents characters have, particular passages where you would like a certain tone, and so on.

The recording of an audiobook will usually take place over a few days (as an actor’s voice cannot narrate for eight hours solid!). Then the sound engineer needs time to edit the files and create the finished recording. Once we have the completed recording, a copy is sent to you for checking. We advise you to listen to the whole audiobook recording, and check for anything that is missing (note that this check is not to comment upon the actor’s voice, nuance, pace etc, it is purely to ensure that no text has been omitted during the recording). We allow up to an hour of studio time for necessary re-recording of missing text, and then the final recording is produced. Overall, the process usually takes around six weeks.

Cover artwork is usually recreated by us from your book cover to conform to the retailers’ requirements.

For authors who wish to distribute and sell their audiobook themselves, that is the end of the process. Many authors, however, ask us to distribute their audiobook to retailers on their behalf.

VOICE-OVER ARTISTS AVAILABLE

Choose who you want to narrate your audiobook from the voice-over artists available:

Sebastian is an extremely experienced actor and voice-over artist. He recently appeared as 'Joey the Wig' in EastEnders and has been seen in many leading parts on TV. He has played Wilfred Owen in Wilfred Owen & Siegfried Sassoon Out of Battle for the BBC, and leading roles in two of the BBC's Play for Today series. He is perhaps best remembered for his role as 'Dick' in Flambards for Yorkshire Television. He is about to embark on a UK-wide theatre tour of ‘Calendar Girls’.

Voice Type/Suitability
Older male, voice of authority. Suitable for all genres.

Alexander's acting credits include The young Guvnor in The Guvnor for BBC TV, the Butcher’s Boy in a TV adaptation of A Christmas Carol WAG TV, Lord Schofield in The School, for Avalon TV, Ronnie Winslow in The Winslow Boy with Newpalm Productions, Paul in Motortown at the Palace Theatre Westcliff, and Dame Sexy Sarah in Sleeping Beauty at the Bocking Arts Theatre.

Voice Type/Suitability
Young male voice, suited to children’s books and comedy.

American actor Mike Muldoon’s film work includes Obamaland, G.I. Jesus and When Seconds Count. He regularly appears on stage in both LA and New York in productions such as The Three Sisters, Life With Ike, Caravan and Mixed Signal. He is a regular voice-over artists for both training films and advertising.

Voice Type/Suitability
American voice suitable for all genres.

Audiobook Distribution

The two main audiobook retailers by far are Audible (Amazon) and Apple (iTunes). We distribute and sell through both platforms, with two options: exclusive distribution, which means that an audiobook will be sold exclusively through Audible and Apple, for which a higher royalty rate of 40% is given; or non-exclusive distribution, meaning that you can also sell your audiobook outside Audible and Apple, but a reduced royalty rate of 25% is given by them.

Note that, to distribute any audiobook, you must already have either a physical book or an ebook available for sale. Distribution of an audiobook must be for a minimum time period of six months.

For audiobooks that we are distributing, we shall supply a Matador ISBN. If you are distributing your own audiobook, then you will need to supply your own ISBN. Note that we cannot distribute audio books that do not carry a Matador ISBN.

Distribution cost

Matador makes a one-off charge of £40 for distributing an audiobook through its retailer network for two years. We also take 15% of the net receipts on sales made. The sale price of your audiobook is yours to set, within the parameters allowed by the retailers, and we will usually advise on what we feel it should be.

Audiobook pricing

As with books an ebooks, audiobooks have a general price bracket within which retailers expect to see an audiobook priced. An audiobook can carry a Recommended Retail Price (RRP), but the actual sale price is at the discretion of the retailer. We can advise on the cover price. Note also that the RRP will have tax at the local rate added by the retailer (as audiobooks are sold worldwide, this will vary depending on which country the sale is made in). The retailer accounts for any local taxes on sales to the relevant countries’ tax authorities.

What next?

Your Initial Quotation from Matador may already have given a costing on audiobook. If you want to go ahead then just let us know by email. Authors who have previously published with Matador should email us and we can confirm costs from your book’s word count.

If you have not published with Matador but have published elsewhere, then as long as you hold the rights to your work, we can still help you publish your audiobook. Either send us a copy of your book electronically (as a PDF or MS Word file), or let us know what the word count is in your book. We can then confirm the costs to you.