Self-Publishing Audiobooks: Why Should You Consider It?

As WD author Jessica Kaye shares in the opening paragraphs of her book The Guide to Publishing Audiobooks, audiobooks are reaching more people than ever. Here are her thoughts about why you might consider self-publishing audiobooks.
Publish date:

One of the most compelling reasons to publish your book in audiobook form is to expand the potential reach. As WD author Jessica Kaye shares in the opening paragraphs of her book The Guide to Publishing Audiobooks, audiobooks are reaching more people than ever. Here are her thoughts about why you might consider self-publishing your own audiobook.

Guid to Publishing Audiobooks

Why Produce Audiobooks?

At the time of this book’s original publication in 2019, every year for the past six years, audiobook sales have been on an upward trajectory. They continue to be a bright spot in publishing, even as other areas slow down. The 2017 sales survey results released by the Audio Publishers Association, or APA, of which you will hear more later in the book, showed a 22.7 percent increase in audiobook revenue over the previous year, with an increase of 21.5 percent in units sold.

Audiobooks have made such an impact in their visibility that The British Library in London had an exhibit titled “Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound” that ran from October 6, 2017, through May 13, 2018. It was not about the spoken word alone, but that was a part of it.

So here you are, at the cusp of rising sales and increased publicity for the very thing you were thinking would be a smart addition to your business. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, according to some interpretations of the words of the ancient Roman Seneca. Echoing those thoughts centuries later, Branch Rickey has been oft quoted as saying, “Luck is the residue of hard work and design.” Being in the right place at the right time is a more prosaic way of saying something similar. Those words apply to you, today.


The burgeoning of digital recording and distribution, and the consequent diminution in cost of production have allowed authors to transition to self-publishers without the stigma that self-publishing carried in past years. The companies that catered to self-published authors used to be called vanity presses—a pejorative term, at least in the eyes of those in the publishing business. These companies offered authors the ability to see their books in print, but with the catch that it was the author who paid for that metamorphosis from manuscript to bound book, unlike with traditional publishers. Often vanity presses were for works that were not well written, not well edited, and would not have been produced without the services of the vanity press. At other times, they were used for books the authors intended for a specific and limited audience, such as family members. In the past, as today, there were good books that never found a home with a legitimate publisher, just as there are countless talented musicians who never find a record label willing to produce and sell their music. Vanity presses allowed these authors to at least have copies of their books printed.[1] By and large, however, to be self-published was formerly a means of last resort.

That is no longer the case.

A number of authors are turning to self-publishing for various reasons including having the revenue from book sales come directly to them, being able to choose the cover, the timing of publication, and the formats—e-book, hardcover, paperback, audiobook, enhanced e-book. There are also many writers who choose to self-publish because they tried their luck with agents or traditional publishers without the desired results. Some of you who have picked up this guide have already been published by a third-party publisher and now are thinking of doing it yourself. Some of you have already published books on your own and want to branch into audiobook publishing. Some of you have already published or produced audiobooks and want to get better at it and do more of it. No matter the reason you are considering publishing an audiobook, your goal should be to make it a good audiobook. If you don’t want that, why do it at all?

And that’s why this book exists: to serve as your guide to publishing a good audiobook. After all, your reputation and your sales depend on the quality of your work.

Jessica makes a compelling rationale for offering your title in audio form, but if you’re asking what’s next? Get excited. In the 10 chapters of her book, Jessica walks you through each step of producing your audiobook. From double-checking that you have the rights to create your audiobook, to contracts, to finding a narrator and recording, to distributing, Jessica covers all the critical topics that you need to consider before diving into the world of audio publishing.

Read about Jessica’s experience directing Carrie Fisher for her Grammy Award-winning audiobook, The Princess Diarist.

About the Author

Jessica Kaye is an entertainment and publishing attorney at Kaye & Mills ( and a Grammy Award-winning audiobook producer. She serves on the boards of the Audio Publishers Association and the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America (MWA.). Jessica owns Big Happy Family, LLC, an audiobook distributor ( She created and co-edited the anthology MEETING ACROSS THE RIVER (BloomsburyUSA, 2005) and contributed a story to OCCUPIED EARTH (Polis Books, 2015) as well as to the new anthology CULPRITS (Polis Books, 2018.) She is the author of book The Guide to Publishing Audiobooks(F+W Media/Writers Digest Books, 2019.)

[1]Legitimate publishers do not ask the author to pay to be published. If you have an offer for your manuscript which includes a demand for monies from you, that is not a contract you should sign. It is perfectly legitimate for you to pay to have your book printed, but be aware that makes you the publisher. This is the modern version of a vanity press. This differs from audiobook publishing, however, where you may very well need to pay to have your book transformed into an audiobook.

Poetic Forms

Rannaigecht Mor Gairit: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the rannaigecht mor gairit, a variant form of the rannaigecht.


The Writer, The Inner Critic, & The Slacker

Author and writing professor Alexander Weinstein explains the three parts of a writer's psyche, how they can work against the writer, and how to utilize them for success.


Todd Stottlemyre: On Mixing and Bending Genres

Author Todd Stottlemyre explains how he combined fiction and nonfiction in his latest book and what it meant as a writer to share his personal experiences.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Take a Trip

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character take a trip somewhere.


Making the Switch from Romance to Women’s Fiction

In this article, author Jennifer Probst explains the differences between romance and women's fiction, the importance of both, and how you can make the genre switch.


Stephanie Wrobel: On Writing an Unusual Hero

Author Stephanie Wrobel explains how she came to write about mental illness and how it affects familial relationships, as well as getting inside the head of an unusual character.


Who Are the Inaugural Poets for United States Presidents?

Here is a list of the inaugural poets for United States Presidential Inauguration Days from Robert Frost to Amanda Gorman. This post also touches on who an inaugural poet is and which presidents have had them at their inaugurations.


Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 554

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a future poem.