Review: Audio for Authors by Joanna Penn

Posted May 22, 2020 by Lola in Non-Fiction, Review / 6 Comments

Review graphic

Audio For AuthorsAudio For Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasting, And Voice Technologies (Books for Writers #11)
by Joanna Penn

My Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Non-fiction/ self publishing

Do you want to create, publish and market your audiobooks?
Are you ready to use podcasting to grow your author brand and reach more readers with your books?

Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in publishing with double-digit growth in markets across the world. Podcasting has gone mainstream with listeners consuming audio on mobile phones and in-car devices, as well as through smart speakers. Advancements in voice technology continue to expand possibilities for audio creation and marketing.

With such rapid growth in opportunity, how can you position your books in an increasingly voice-first world?

I’ve been podcasting for over a decade as well as narrating and producing my own audiobooks since 2014. I’m an avid consumer of audio content and I’m also experimenting with AI voice technologies. In this book, I’ll share everything I know so you can position your books and your author brand for the next shift in reader behavior.

You will discover:

Why audio and why now?
The audio first ecosystem
The audio mindset

Part 1: Audiobooks

Types of audiobooks
Writing, adapting and editing your work for audio
Intellectual property considerations for audiobooks
Your options for audiobook publishing and licensing
How to find and work with a professional narrator
Reasons to narrate your own audiobook
Audiobook narration tips
Recording studio options
Audiobook recording, editing, and production
How to self-publish an audiobook
How long does an audiobook take to produce?
How do audiobook readers discover audiobooks?
How to market audiobooks
The money side of audiobooks

Part 2: Podcasting

Why podcasting is important for authors
The difference between audiobooks and podcasting
Types of podcasts
How to research and pitch podcasters
How to be a great podcast guest
Should you start your own podcast?
Podcast prerequisites
Intellectual property considerations for podcasting
Podcasting equipment and software
Podcast structure
How to be a great podcast host
Podcast distribution
Show notes and transcripts
Collaboration and freelancers
Podcast workflow and tools
How to launch a podcast
How to market a podcast
Repurpose your content
The money side of podcasting

Part 3: Voice Technologies

Overview of voice technologies
Speech to text: dictation
Text to speech
Voice assistants, smart speakers and devices
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the future of voice

If you want to position your books and your author brand for audio growth, then check out the book now!

My Review

One of my author friends mentioned she had bought this book, so I looked it up and it sounded like a book I would enjoy reading so I bought a copy and started reading it once I finished my current non-fiction book. Audio for Author is exactly what the title promises, it’s all about audio technology and how authors can use it. From audiobooks to podcasts to other voice technologies like text to speech.

I found this book really informative and I was impressed with how long this book was. A lot of non-fiction books are quite short, which usually works fine, so I was surprised by how long this one was. And even better is that it never feels too long. The author is very to the point in her writing style, so this book has a lot of content and information in it. I feel like the author does a great job of addressing a lot of different topics and facets when it comes to audio and also gives recommendations and links to other sources of where to go if you want to know even more. There are examples when necessary to illustrate a point, but no long winded explanations.

It really feels like the author knows a lot about the topic of audio for authors and is interested in this topic in the way she writes about it. I liked this and the personal anecdotes and references to her own books only exemplified that. There are plenty of links in this book to her own site, books and podcasts, I thought this worked well here. She also links and refers to other authors, books and podcasts. Which is handy if there is something you want to know more about.

I was mostly interested in the part about audiobooks when I bought this book and quite liked that part of the book. I learned some new things about audiobooks and I liked how she advocated for being wide and making books available on other sites as well as that’s something I care about as well. I only have been listening to audiobooks for a year and a few months, so I am still relatively new to this and didn’t know as much about it. So I enjoyed learning more about it and how the process is like for authors to produce their audiobooks. It also had some interesting ideas about marketing audiobooks. I did think there was a bit too much focus on how to produce your own audiobook compared to hiring someone. That’s probably because I think for most authors it isn’t really feasible or handy to do the narration themselves, unless you really want to invest in and focus on that. If you’re only picking this up for the audiobook part do keep in mind that this is only part of the book, only the first 32% is about audiobooks, the rest is about other topics.

The second part is all about podcasts and it was actually the part about podcasts that I learned the most from, simply because I knew almost nothing about podcasts. I do realize I am listening to a podcast on Youtube, but as it’s shown as video I never realized it was actually a podcast. While I am sure a podcast is not for everyone and for a lot of authors this probably isn’t something they want to invest in, I do think this book gives a good overview of what it’s like to host a podcast and what is involved. And even if you as an author aren’t interesting in hosting your own show, I think it’s nice to know what involved in it and there also is enough information for if you want to be a guest on a show and how to handle that. Or even find podcasts you want to listen to.

I like how the author is clearly enthusiastic and loves podcasting, but also mentions that it is a lot of time and effort and only recommends starting one if you also enjoy doing it. It felt to me like she painted a very realistic picture of the whole process with showing what was involved and addressing all the things you have to think of. I think it’s good to know what’s involved so everyone can make a well informed decision about whether this is something for them.

I enjoyed learning more about podcasts and before I finished the book I had made an account on a podcast site and looked up some podcasts so I can give that a try. I never considered podcast before, but now that I know I enjoy audiobooks I think I might enjoy podcasts as well.

The book was neatly structured, from the chapter headings to the way smaller headings were done in bold. The whole book had a clear structure with different parts and within those parts chapters about different topics. The chapters aren’t too long and at the end of each chapter there is a list of questions that basically goes over what you learned in that chapter. I like this way of recapping the chapters, although I would’ve preferred an actual summary or exercises, but that’s my personal preference. At the end of the book she lists all the sources, books, articles and podcasts she mentions throughout the book as well as summing up al the questions form the end of the chapters again.

One thing I never really considered is how different audio is from written media. I’ve mostly found audiobooks the same way I find books, but I think that’s also because I am not only audio focused. I just want to find books whether that’s in audio or ebook and it’s more important that I can find a book on a site I use than in which format, unless it’s a series I already have a preference for. I never considered how some people might prefer that format and don’t even consider your book if it’s not in audio. This book really makes you see things from an audio first point of view.

To summarize: I really enjoyed this book and found it very informative. This book deals with everything from audiobooks to podcast to other voice technologies. There is a lot of information and content in this book and it’s quite long, although it is split up in different parts for the different topics. I like how these different topic where combined in one book and all related to how an author can make use of audio, but if you’re only interested in part of those topics you might get less value from this book. The part about audiobook was great and I learned more about the whole process of producing them and what’s involved as well as the marketing side. I hardly knew anything about podcasts, so that’s definitely the part of the book that I got the most new information from and I am now excited to give podcasts a try. I liked the authors writing style and how this was very to the point. I also liked how the book was structured and how it was easy to read. I am planning to read more of this author’s books and check out her podcast after reading this one. All in all I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to authors who want to know more about audio in general.

4 Stars


You can also read my review on Goodreads, Bookbub and Amazon.

Do you listen to audiobooks and podcasts? What’s your favorite thing about listening?

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6 responses to “Review: Audio for Authors by Joanna Penn

    • It really was interesting to read more about these topics especially now that I enjoy listening to audiobooks. It’s great to know a bit more about the author side of things.

    • I’ve only been listening to them for 1.5 years or so, before that I didn’t listen either, but now i enjoy them :). It was fun to learn more about the author side of things in this book.

  1. An excellent review, Lola – and very helpful:). I am considering turning my space opera series into audiobooks and I’m glad that you found it informative – but I really want the focus onto how to find a professional narrator, rather than doing it myself. I don’t have the time or the resources to read it myself.

    • Thanks! It really was an informative read. From what I know and what this book also recommends is going through Findaway Voices or Audible’s program to find a narrator for your book, those are the major two options. I think only for a small group of people narrating your book yourself works. I am sure you can contact narrators directly as well, but I have no clue how that works. And then there are audio publishers like Tantor Audio and a few other such companies that can do audio, not sure if you can contact those yourself, but I’ve heard of some authors who got contacted by them.

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