With the audiobook industry now valued at over $1.2 billion, you have a real chance at a piece of the growing pie. But first, you will need an audio publisher to help you record, distribute, and market your work.
In this article, you’ll find the best audiobook publishers and even the top production companies to get your audiobook professionally recorded and distributed on the right platforms.
Audiobook Publishers vs. Audiobook Production Companies
Publishers and production companies shouldn’t be confused as being the same.
When you deal with a publisher, you’re entering an agreement to give up the rights to a book. On the other hand, production companies only help produce an audiobook version of your novel.
Both require some royalty share or cut.
The choice you make between audiobook publishing companies vs. audiobook production companies depends on your objectives and resources.
For instance, publishers might obtain the rights to your material, but they can take care of distribution, marketing, or advertising. They also have a dedicated staff that can aid you in polishing your book.
On the other hand, most audiobook production companies will only record your book. Post-production and editing are also often included if you hire a full-service audiobook production.
Expert Tip: If you already have an audio recording of your book (whether it be nonfiction like self-help or a fiction novel that falls under the fantasy genre) and just need distribution services, an audiobook distributor is what you need.
The Top Audiobook Publishers to Consider
The top audiobook publishers offer a diverse set of services. Some solely publish in audio, while others provide audio, print, and ebook contracts.
Moreover, meeting the exact submission criteria for a publisher is also often a bit more complex. This is because many top publishing companies do not disclose their submission requirements. They also do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, meaning you will need a literary agent.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Simon & Schuster only accepts submissions through accredited literary agencies. However, if you are self-publishing, Simon & Schuster recommends Archway publishing’s services, which include packages for fiction, nonfiction, business, children, color, and chapters indigo.
Penguin Random House Audio
Considering its popularity in the publishing industry, Penguin Random House, like Simon & Schuster, doesn’t accept unsolicited work. That means if you want your novel turned into an audiobook, you’ll need a literary agent.
However, they accept queries via its imprints, including Alibi, Flirt, and Hydra.
HarperCollins’ Harper Audio
HarperCollins also doesn’t allow unsolicited submissions, but you can send your manuscript through its affiliate division called Heartdrum.
Heartdrum only accepts children’s books such as picture books, young adult (YA), and middle-grade novels or manuscripts.
Keep in mind that you can only submit your work to this department only if you’re writing about native, indigenous topics for young readers.
Like HarperCollins, you will need a literary agent representation to submit your book to Hachette Audio. If you submit an unsolicited manuscript, they have the right not to respond. Even queries will not be entertained.
Hachette Audio is responsible for the following audiobooks:
Science fiction, romance, and mysteries are among the works sought after by Podium Publishing. You must go through Podium Audible, however, if you want to publish your book in audio format. This rule also applies if you already have an audio file ready to be submitted as is.
The online submission process, which was active on Blackstone’s website, is no longer open for unsolicited manuscripts. Its submission guidelines require you to work with an agent. Unfortunately, no other information is given without first getting that agent involved.
Harlequin is eager and open to hearing from you but will only accept romantic stories. As of this writing, they accept books that fall under these categories:
- Sexy contemporary line
- Harlequin Desire
- Harlequin Heartwarming
- Harlequin Historical
- Harlequin Intrigue
- Harlequin Medical Romance
- Harlequin Presents (M&B Modern)
- Harlequin Romance (M&B True Love)
- Harlequin Special Edition
- Love Inspired
- Love Inspired Suspense
Keep in mind that these categories have their own guidelines and requirements. For instance, for the Love Inspired category, your book should be 50-000 words long and should have Christian characters.
You can check Harlequin’s step-by-step submission guide for more details.
When working through Macmillan, your book will be transposed by a voiceover professional or a popular celebrity. However, you must work through a literary agency before they consider your manuscript. Fiction and nonfiction titles are accepted.
Keep in mind that once your book is accepted, they will release an audio version only after showing reasonable success as a paperback or ebook. The audio version will copy the original book entirely or get published abridged.
Audiobook Distribution & Production Companies
Since distribution and production companies offer resources to aid you in your own publishing, you’ll find the general submission criteria a bit lenient. You can start with the following list to get an idea of what’s available and where it’s best to start.
With ACX, your audiobook will be accessible through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. You’ll also receive up to 40% royalties as the “rights holder.” However, the revenue split can get as high as a 50/50 split.
At ACX, your account will receive analytics and direct advice from ACX specialists regarding the best way to market your audiobook or engage new listeners.
Tip: You must submit your title in a bid to find narrators who must first choose and accept your offer via ACX’s online platform.
With numerous studios in many locations, Mosaic Audio chooses its narrators through rigorous auditions and public casting calls. Trained directors and audio engineers will manage your recording sessions and rely on advanced equipment.
Unfortunately, their fees and rates can only be discussed through agent inquiries.
John Marshall Media
As an audio production studio, John Marshall Media uses its own talent acquisition to nurture voiceover professionals and audio engineers. You won’t, however, be confined to a specific studio; John Marshall Media also does remote recordings.
The studio has a working relationship with many of the top publishers around the world. Getting a project started with John Marshall Media will require prior association with a publisher but via your literary agent or agency.
Kobo Writing Life
Regardless of the final cost of your audiobook, Kobo Writing Life offers royalty rates of up to 70%.
If you aren’t a US, Canada, UK, or Australia resident, you only earn 20% royalties. Still, your audiobook can get exposure since it will appear in Walmart and be easily accessible via a Kobo tablet. Moreover, authors retain their exclusive rights, meaning your book can be published elsewhere.
Starting the publishing process through Kobo can be done without fees or down payments. However, Kobo’s simplicity calls for you to upload your own audio files. You must do your own recording through another agency or your own resources as a narrator.
There are no services to record your book, but audiobook formats are widely accepted.
With adequate resources to create audiobooks, Findaway Voices gives its authors a distribution network to promote content through. This year, Spotify bought Findaway for a staggering amount of over $100 million.
Findaway’s “Marketplace” is an optional service that allows you to browse different voice talents and hire a suitable narrator based on your budget and other requirements.
Keep in mind that Findaway is not a production company per se; they operate similarly to ACX.
Self-publishing through PublishDrive will get your audio content on Google Play, OverDrive, and Kobo. You’ll get a 50/50 profit split and your own author dashboard to manage.
As for marketing and sales, the tools offered by PublishDrive are likewise accessible from your account, where you’ll get unrestricted access to publishing audiobook or ebook versions of your manuscript.
At Author’s Republic, you get to choose the voice for your book while receiving adequate and useful information on the audiobook process. Moreover, there are over 50 online platforms (including Audible and Blinkist) where your audiobook is eligible to appear.
No prior history or credentials are required when registering an account through Author’s Republic. You must, however, possess the rights to the work you upload. Every author is given access to the site’s simple process of “Create, Launch, Distribute.”
Other Audiobook Distributors and Publishers You Should Check:
Positioning Your Audiobook for Ultimate Success
Working with audiobook publishers opens your novel to the growing audiobook industry. Keep in mind that publishers and production companies aren’t the same. You’ll have to do your due diligence and hire the best literary agency.