Indie Authors: Declaration of Independents Audiobook Contest with ListenUp Audiobooks

By Peter Eder (Foto von Peter Eder) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Peter Eder (Foto von Peter Eder) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Audiobooks are gaining a lot of momentum in the publishing industry. In addition to offering ebooks and print editions, indie authors should consider also producing audiobook versions of their works.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, a recent annual survey of industry trends by the Audio Publisher Association (APA) found that “sales of audiobooks rose 20% in 2015 over 2014, to an estimated $1.78 billion.” Because of this, understandably, audiobook publishers have been creating more audiobooks. The APA said that “the number of titles released by the 20 companies that take part in the survey hit 35,574, a 37% increase over 2014.” Interestingly, adult books, and specifically fiction were the most popular genres, and most people look to purchase unabridged audiobooks.

That sounds great, but how do you go about producing a professional audiobook? If you want to go the DIY route, then ACX is probably the best way to go—they also distribute titles to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

ListenUp Audiobooks

However, a professional audiobook requires a lot of sound equipment (or hiring of a narrator), and many hours of editing. Another option is to work with a team of professionals. One platform that helps indie authors get their audiobooks out there is ListenUp Audiobooks.

ListenUp Audiobooks is an audio production company and audiobook producer in Atlanta, Georgia. The company was founded in 2008 by CEO Chris Fogg, who had a career in music composition and production in New York City before moving to Atlanta to start an audiobook studio.

David Markowitz, the Audio Content Strategist at ListenUp, said that “Today ListenUp has 11 recording studios working with over 150 narrators. They’ve produced thousands of titles for Audible, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Hachette, and Recorded Books, among others.”

ListenUp has also published about 60 titles, including The Man from Muscle Shoals by Rick Hall, which David said Johnny Depp’s production company Infinitum Nihil will be making into a biopic.

ListenUp also works with indie authors. So far the company has worked with about a dozen authors, including Kate Danley, author of Queen Mab.

For authors looking to work with ListenUp, all you need to do is fill out a submission form at ListenUp then contacts to you to explain all the details, and you get a dedicated casting director to read your book and send you narrator samples to choose from. You get to approve the first recorded chapter and then just wait for the final recording. Because ListenUp is small company, David said they’re able to work with everyone individually.

The cost of producing an audiobook depends on the length of the book. However, David said that audiobooks are priced by the finished hour and their standard rate is $450 per hour.

“You can figure a narrator will read somewhere around 10,000 words an hour,” he said. “So a 70,000 word book will end up being approximately 7 hours, or $3,150.”

That may sound high, but keep in mind that it takes time to find the right narrator, it takes multiple takes to record each chapter, and there’s a lot of editing involved. According to Self Publishing Advice, even on ACX it costs at least $200 per hour to make an audiobook (unless you end up doing everything yourself).

Declaration of Independents Audiobook Contest

There is a possible alternative. To help out indie authors new to audiobooks, ListenUp launched their first annual Declaration of Independents Audiobook Contest, which is open to all indie authors.

The winner of the contest will have their book fully produced as an audiobook, and retain all rights to their work.

According to the press release, Chris Fogg said, “The audiobook industry is huge and still growing, but so many incredible stories aren’t available in audio. The Declaration of Independents Contest gives us at ListenUp the opportunity to discover a great story and let it be heard.”

The contest runs from May 27 until July 4.

“And as June is Audiobook Month, what better time, right?” David said.

ListenUp will offer full distribution services to the winner and will promote the winning book through their marketing channels, including their blog, newsletter, Twitter, and Facebook.

David said that a panel of three judges will choose the winning book, based on the quality of the writing, how engaging the story is, and how well it will translate into audio. The judges will be

  • Diane Lasek, Head of Acquitions for ListenUp
  • Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life
  • TBD audiobook narrator

How to Enter the Contest

The contest is open to indie authors with original works of prose in English, up to 70,000 words. There is no minimum word count.

The contest is free to enter and the final day to submit is July 4, 2016.

All genres are accepted, including fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books. Authors must have the audio rights in order to enter, and books must not have already been published in audio format, though they can have already been published in other formats.

Books or manuscripts must be a finalized version so that the audio can be recorded soon after the contest ends.

You must submit your complete manuscript and a summary of your book, no longer than 1,000 words, via email to with the subject line “Declaration of Independents.” You book should be saved as a PDF or DOC/DOCX file and be double-spaced, with one-inch margins and Times New Roman, 12 point font.

The winner will be announced on August 1, 2016. All entrants will receive an email after the winner has been chosen.

For more details about the contest, visit


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