In the past decade, audiobooks have added a new dimension to the content landscape, changing the way content is produced and consumed. Continuing advances in technology not only lowers the barrier of entry for both parties, but also enables hyper personalization.
74,000 audiobooks were published in 2021 across the world, and about 55 million people listen to an audio book each year. This number is only growing as years pass and newer software and gadgets come out.
Why an Audiobook?
Audiobooks take up a passive sensory factor: hearing. This allows us to multi-task. For some, listening to the audio version of a book makes their commuting bearable; others enjoy it while doing household chores, working out, or while driving their car. It also helps pass the time and enrich your mind when doing a monotonous routine. And depending on your mood, you can customize the voice of the recordings, so you are able to stay more engaged for an extended period. Having the freedom to choose different languages and styles of voice per your taste are other boons of contemporary audiobooks.
What Does It Take to Make One?
Assuming you have the manuscript ready, there are two routs you can take: either hire a professional voice actor or do it yourself. The former can take weeks and cost at least a couple thousand dollars depending on the length of the book and production quality. The latter will also eat up a lot of time, effort, and money since you must purchase proper equipment, rent a studio, and spend hours reading the script. And unless you’ve got a knack for it, you’ll be doing a lot of redoes, and regardless of which option you choose, you’ll be needing a professional audio engineer to put the finishing touches on your audio.
When written out, this is what it usually looks like for someone recording their own audiobook:
- Prepare the Script: While slight variations are allowed, some readers tend to follow along to the audio while reading the book, so drastic differences between the audiobook and the paper-based book will hamper the audience’s experience.
- Record: You can search for a freelancing voice actor on platforms like Fiverr and Voice123.com who will charge you per words or performing hours. You’ll need to negotiate usage rights, acting, and any other extras (i.e.; music), and be ready to give feedback as they submit drafts to you. If you are doing it yourself, find a quiet room with no background noise, echo, or reverb (a studio is preferred), get a solid mic, and read out loud the script. It’ll take numerous sessions to get the quality you’d like.
- Edit: This is where you search for an audio engineer to polish up your raw recording. They’ll take out noises, awkward pauses, and edit sound effects so your overall audio is smoothed out and ready for the public’s scrutiny.
- Publish: Your audiobook’s too good to keep it just for your own ears; let the world enjoy, too!
Irrespective of the path you choose the process of creating audiobooks the old way is expensive, time-consuming, and just not a pleasant experience. The pain is further aggravated if after everything, the narration quality is still not on par with your expectations.
What To Do Instead: TTS for Audiobooks
What if there was a way you could create an audiobook in a matter of minutes instead of weeks or months, and spend less than $50 instead of thousands of dollars?
This is where artificial intelligence comes into play: introducing Text to Speech (TTS). TTS tools provide a diverse palette of AI voices that you can utilize to turn written text into natural-sounding audio files that can be downloaded, shared, and streamed. Text to Speech products lowers the threshold of content production by lowering the cost, time, and skillset required to make an audiobook, which in turn helps democratize the content consumption so more audio content is enjoyed by more people.
The past 5-6 years have seen significant improvements in synthetic speech technology that powers TTS, and the voices are becoming more and more real and authentic. We are actually on our way across the “uncanny valley” because these voices can be modulated ever so finely. The AI voiceovers are no longer boring, but rather they can pick up nuances based on the context and emote diverse styles and feelings as necessary. Additional features like punctuations, speed control, pronunciation editing, music, and sound effects make Text to Speech services a powerful tool for making audiobooks.
Advantages of Using TTS for Audiobooks
Cost & Time
As mentioned before, it costs a whole lot of money and time to work with humans to create an audiobook, whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a freelancer. There’s a lot of financial investment upfront, and it’s almost impossible and impractical for anyone to do it for the sake of producing a couple for their own usage. But if you were to use an advanced Text to Speech platform, you can save 90~95% of money and time – imagine cranking out an entire set of Encyclopedia in a day or less.
Most people only have 1 style of voice and speak 1 or two different languages. So, if you wanted to come up with variations of your audiobook, you are going to have to hire a whole squad of voice actors. With TTS, you have hundreds of languages, accents, and voices at your fingertips.
Ease of Use
Production of any content used to require an array of skills. Now anyone can do so using AI voiceovers with just a few clicks. Simply upload your script, choose a voice you like, add music, non-verbal interjections, and sound effects, and voila – you’ve just turned a book into an audiobook.
Making an Audiobook Using Genny
Genny leverages state of the art synthetic speech and generative AI technologies to help you create audiobooks effortlessly. Choose from 400+ voices spanning across 140+ languages, add in pauses and emphasis, adjust the speed, modify pronunciations for your character names and fantasy worlds, mix in animal noises and ambient music, and even control the pitch of your character depending on the scene.
Making audiobooks with Genny is a simple four-step process:
- Upload Script: Upload or copy and paste your script to the Genny workspace.
- Choose an AI Voice: Filter by language, accent, gender, style, age, and emotion from a growing list of 400+ voices.
- Customize: You can leave the audio as it is, or feel free to get as granular as to control the pitch of each phoneme in your character’s speech. Add sound effects like car noises, non-verbal sounds like coughing, and royalty-free background music to put that finishing touch on your masterpiece.
- Save, Render, and Export: When you are done, save your file, render it to the format of your choice, and export.
Boom, you’ve got an audiobook in your hands (or your laptop) in just a few minutes! Go ahead and share with the world.
What If You Want to Create Audiobooks in Your Own Voice?
Genny’s voice cloning service is currently being offered to a private group of users but will be open to the public very soon. It only takes 5-10 minutes of your recording to create a clone of your voice so you can produce tens and hundreds of audio content without having to voice a single word anymore.
My personal favorite example is a father preparing a stack of audiobooks in his own voice for when his young son grows up. His excitement and love could be felt, and it’s an honor and a privilege to partake in such efforts. I can only imagine what this means to both.
What Does the Future Hold for Audiobooks?
Audiobooks will maintain its surge in popularity for the foreseeable future, and with a bigger market comes a bigger expectation: AI technology has enabled the mass adoption of audiobook production and consumption, and now readers (or listeners) who have tasted the abundance, will want something better but with the same availability and ubiquity. Continued research and development in the Text to Speech and AI Voiceover technologies will be needed for the market to ensure producers’ and consumers’ needs are met.
Are you ready to publish an audiobook yourself? It only takes a few minutes with Genny!