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How Much Does it Cost to Make an Audiobook? A Comprehensive Guide

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Curious about the cost of converting your book into an audiobook? The answer varies, depending on your book’s length and the production method you choose. However, once you understand the cost structure, you can decide the best option for your audiobook production. Drawing on my years of experience in the publishing industry, here’s what you need to know.

The 4 Main Options for Producing an Audiobook (Costs, Pros/Cons, & More)

1. Do It All Yourself

Producing your audiobook entirely on your own includes recording, editing, mastering, and exporting the audio files. This is the least expensive but the most time-consuming and risky option.


  • Cost-effective: The primary expense will be your time and the equipment if you don’t already own it.
  • Creative control: You have complete control over every aspect of production.


  • Time-intensive: The process requires significant time investment for recording, editing, and mastering.
  • Quality risk: Without professional skills, the final product may sound amateurish, which could reflect poorly on your brand.

Equipment Needed:

  • Professional Audio Recording Software: Avoid using basic software like GarageBand; opt for professional-grade software such as Pro Tools or Adobe Audition.
  • XLR Microphone with a Stand and Pop Filter: High-quality microphones like the Shure SM7B or Rode NT1-A are recommended to ensure clear and professional sound.
  • Soundproofing Materials: To prevent reverb and external noise, you’ll need soundproofing foam, panels, or a dedicated recording space.


  • Software: $200-$600
  • Microphone and Accessories: $100-$500
  • Soundproofing: $100-$1,000

Depending on your existing equipment, total costs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Renting a studio with a sound engineer could cost $50-$200 per hour.

2. Hire Audiobook Narrators Only

If you can handle audio production but not narration, hire a professional narrator. They will record the audio, which you can then edit and package.


  • Professional narration: Ensures your audiobook is engaging and well-read.
  • Flexibility: You handle production, allowing you to maintain creative control.


  • Time-consuming: Finding the right narrator can be a lengthy process.
  • Quality variability: The quality of narrators can vary widely, especially on freelance platforms.

Cost Structures:

  • Hourly: Generally used by lower-level narrators; costs can range from $50-$150 per hour but may result in lower quality.
  • Per Finished Hour (PFH): A common pricing model where you pay for each completed hour of narration, typically $100-$300 per finished hour.
  • Royalty Share: Available on platforms like ACX, where you pay nothing upfront and split royalties 50/50 with the narrator.
  • Hybrid: Combines a smaller upfront fee with a reduced royalty share, often including a lower PFH rate and a 20-30% royalty share.


For a 10-hour audiobook, expect to pay between $1,000 and $3,000+ for a good narrator using the PFH model. Using ACX or similar platforms can simplify the search process and ensure higher quality.
For a 10-hour audiobook, expect to pay between $1,000 and $3,000+ for a good narrator using the PFH model. Using ACX or similar platforms can simplify the search process and ensure higher quality.

3. Hire a Narrator & Producer

Outsource both narration and production. This reduces your workload but increases costs.


  • High-quality production: Ensures both narration and technical aspects are handled professionally.
  • Reduced workload: Outsourcing most of the work allows you to focus on other tasks.


  • Higher cost: Combining narrator and producer fees can be expensive.
  • Management required: You still need to find and manage both professionals, though the workload is significantly reduced.


  • Narrator: $1,000-$3,000+ for a 10-hour audiobook.
  • Producer: An additional $300-$400 per finished hour.

Total Costs:

For a 10-hour audiobook, total costs range from $4,000 to $7,000. This option ensures a high-quality audiobook but requires initial management effort.

4. Audiobook Production Services

Full-service companies handle everything, offering a turnkey solution. This is ideal for busy individuals with the budget but limited time.


  • Minimal effort required: The service manages all aspects of production, from recording to editing.
  • High-quality product: Ensures professional-grade audio and often includes marketing and distribution assistance.


  • Higher cost: This is one of the more expensive options, but it saves time and effort.


Services typically start at $5,000, which includes narration, production, and often additional services like marketing and distribution.

Key Considerations for Producing Your Audiobook

1. Budget

Your resources are limited. If budget is a concern, avoid trying to do everything yourself unless you’re skilled in narration and production. Instead, consider an ACX royalty share deal.


  • DIY: Only if you have the necessary skills and equipment.
  • Royalty Share: Ideal for those with limited budgets, as it requires no upfront payment but shares future royalties.

2. Time

If time is your main constraint, opt for an audiobook publishing service. Other options require managing contractors or sharing royalties.


  • Audiobook Services: Best for those with little time to invest in managing the process.
  • Hiring Professionals: Requires time to find and manage, but offers control over the process.

3. Return on Investment (ROI)

Think of the ROI in the context of your overall business, not just the audiobook. The real value lies in using the audiobook to drive higher-ticket sales, not in direct sales revenue.


  • Long-term Value: Focus on quality to enhance your brand and drive sales of higher-ticket items.
  • Strategic Investment: Consider how the audiobook fits into your broader business strategy and revenue goals.

How Much Does It Cost to Produce an Audiobook?

Considering all factors, expect to pay between $500 and $7,000 for audiobook production, depending on your book’s length and chosen production route. Remember, your audiobook reflects your brand. Settling for a low-quality product can harm your long-term earning potential.

Choose the best option for your needs, and consider professional services like Best Seller Publishing to ensure your audiobook stands out on platforms like Audible.

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Building a better impact-focused marketing pillar at Dubverse. I like to hack and create solutions the Mar-Tech way. While working I love to listen to Slash, RHCP & occasionally EDM while sipping good espresso.

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