AI-Narrated Audiobooks Available on Big 5 Retailers: What to Know

AI-narrated audiobooks are now available on all big five retailers: Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play Books, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. If you’re an indie author or publisher considering adding audiobooks to your distribution strategy, good thinking! Audio is the fastest-growing segment in digital publishing, and the growth isn’t slowing down. Here’s what to know about AI voice –

Key Takeaways

  • Auto narration has revolutionized the audiobook production process and is now available on all big five retailers (mostly free to access.)
  • With a booming demand for audiobooks, offering an audio version of your book is a smart strategy for reaching a bigger and growing audience.

AI-Narrated Audiobooks: The Future Is Now

AI has been one of the hottest topics in recent years, accelerating in the publishing industry. We’ve seen plenty of (ongoing) discourse on the impact of AI on authors, from copyright lawsuits across continents to headlining discussions across conferences.

Although there are valid pitfalls and risks to be aware of, we also see the benefits of harnessing AI in the writing and publishing process.

By utilizing AI technology, you can:

  1. Generate new ideas, craft sections rapidly, and edit thoroughly with quality assurance.
  2. Save time and money you’d spend on writing, editing, narrating, and more.
  3. Optimize your publishing business, from writing to audiobook production and beyond.

The above are solid benefits for indie authors taking care of most things. And for audiobook publishers taking care of multiple authors and catalogs, implementing AI is a game-changer.

When it comes to AI-narrated audiobooks, in particular, you can:

  1. Create human-like storytelling previously unattainable with digital voices.
  2. Blend AI and human narrators, customizing a unique experience for your audience.
  3. Cut down on costs and logistics by accessing synthetic narration capabilities from your working computer at any time.

Look, you want to tap into the audiobook market to maximize your reach and selling potential. If the costs and time requirements to create another book format were a blocker, a huge chunk of those issues are now answered with AI voice. If you’ve got a completed manuscript in hand, there’s no reason to be missing out on the audio market.

The best thing about auto-narrated books with these major retailers? They’re mostly free to get done!

Let’s go through what to know for each retailer –

How to Get Started With AI Voice: Big 5 Retailers

1. Amazon

As the leading retailer of audiobooks, capturing 60-75% of the audio market in the US and UK, Amazon is the place to distribute your audio title. To get started, sign up or log in to your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) dashboard and apply to be in Amazon’s Audiobook Virtual Voice Beta program. Apply here.

What else:

  • You do not need to have any ebooks in KDP Select.
  • It takes a week or two to get accepted (although there are no guarantees.)
  • The production process involves choosing your ebook, sampling voices, previewing, and customizing the final touches.

2. Apple Books

You can create a digital narration with Apple Books if you’re selling directly with Apple Books or distributing through its partners like Draft2Digital or PublishDrive. See here for the details on how to nominate your book to its audio program.

What else:

  • Ebook must be on Apple Books, be in English, and fall under categories: romance, fiction, mystery and thriller, science fiction, or fantasy.
  • Nominations are evaluated on criteria such as file quality, content compatibility, and editorial review. (Apple is working on expanding the program to accept more titles.)
  • It can take one or two months to process and review your book.

⭐ How to Use Apple Books Digital Narration via PublishDrive

As one of Apple Books’ trusted partners, you can submit your ebook to Apple’s audio program with just a few clicks on PublishDrive.

  • If you’re already on PublishDrive: Simply go to your ebook settings and enable the channel under the stores distribution list. Your book gets submitted right away.
  • If you’re not on PublishDrive: Sign up, upload your ebook files, and enable the channel at the very last step of your setup (and don’t forget to enable the rest of PublishDrive’s stores.)

To learn more, see this guide on Apple Books Digital Narration.

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3. Google Play Books

Google auto-narrated books option has graduated from beta. Google Play Books has also partnered with Findaway Voices by Spotify, reaching eight other channels:

  • Spotify
  • Apple Books 
  • Barnes & Noble (via B&N Audiobooks) 
  • Kobo 
  • Baker and Taylor 
  • Bibliotheca 
  • Overdrive 

What else:

  • You can download your Google Play Books audiobook files and sell your title elsewhere for the same price.
  • Google’s producing dashboard is packed with a ton of functions, like allowing authors to train on how to pronounce certain words and choose different narrators for different text selections.

See here to get started.

4. Kobo

You can access Kobo’s digital narration feature by filling out this request form. Once you get access, you’ll find the audiobook production process on the Kobo dashboard.

What else:

  • Kobo accepts audiobooks of all kinds, including human-narrated ones, plus the ones generated through Google Play Books or other auto-narrated services.
  • Kobo is rather simple to use compared to other players, providing three voice options. When uploading your title, you can indicate a narrator contributor in your metadata as Read by "Synthesized Voice," "Female Synthesized Voice," or "Male Synthesized Voice."

5. Barnes & Noble

As of now, you can not directly upload an audiobook to Barnes & Noble. However, they accept AI audio titles through Findaway Voices by Spotify.

Findaway Voices is currently responsible for handling all of the company's audiobook distribution. At the moment, Findaway only distributes AI audiobook files created through Google Play Books' auto-narration program. This means that these are the only types of audiobooks that B&N currently allows. 

Best Practices When Using Auto-Narrated Services

To close, here are a handful of best practices to remember when getting your AI groove on:

  • Choose the right voice: You know your content, so consider the tone, pace, and style that most accurately expresses your message. With most platforms, you can choose from a variety of distinct voices. For non-fiction, go for a voice that sounds most like yourself.
  • Tailor for your audience: Tailor your narration to suit your specific target audience. Do you have a children’s books? Is it for professionals? Is it for a certain demographic?
  • Avoid sounding monotone: There are ways to fine-tune your auto-narrated audiobook on most AI software. You can alter the pitch, speed, and volume. Use varying tones and pacing to help your narration sound more dynamic.
  • Look out for pronunciation errors: All in all, you must review your entire audiobook. Look out for pronunciation errors and manually address them with AI tools.
  • Add background music: You can add music to emphasize a certain scene or feeling.

If you decide to take a little detour from the big five platforms, here are AI voice software worth checking out:

  • Murf offers 120+ natural-sounding AI voices across 20+ languages and accents. All you need to do is upload your script to the text editor and then go through the customization features. Price starts at $39 a month.
  • Podcastle is a popular choice for Amazon books as it creates audiobooks compatible with ACX requirements. The software offers 20 different voices (English only) and starts as low as $12 a month.
  • Speechify boasts over 130+ voices and 30 languages. Price starts at $39 a month.

That’s it. Check out how to use AI to write your next book. Happy publishing.

Now You Know How to Create AI-Narrated Audiobooks

What next? Watch just how easy it is to create ai narrated audiobooks and distribute them to thousands of stores around the globe:

✅ Publish audiobook, ebook, and print books under one roof.
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✅ Get royalty reporting support, book promotion services, and more.
✅ Earn 100% of your net royalties (we don’t take any sales commission!)

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