You’ve written a great book.
Now it’s time to help that book reach as many people as possible.
Publishing an audiobook is one of the best ways Authors can expand their potential audience. Research shows that more readers gravitate toward listening every year. In 2021, publishers’ audiobook revenue grew 25 percent, to $1.6 billion, marking the tenth straight year of double-digit growth.
To tap into that huge market, you’ll need a production company or publisher to help you record your audiobook. Below, I’ll outline the top 21 audiobook publishers and explain what kinds of books they’re looking for and what makes them unique.
But before jumping into the list, it’s worth getting some key terms on the table.
Publishers vs. Production Companies
There’s a big difference between a “publisher” and a “production company.”
Most self-published Authors are in the market for a production company, a.k.a., a company that helps them produce an audiobook. They aren’t looking for a traditional publisher, a.k.a., a company that buys and controls the rights to the book.
With a production company, Authors pay a flat fee, a per-finished-hour rate (PFH), or, in rarer cases, a portion of future royalties in exchange for an audio version of their book.
Typically, Authors have a say in how the narrator sounds. They also get to specify which audio changes they’d like before the book is released. Most importantly, the Author retains all rights to their book and all the profits.
On the other hand, traditional publishers purchase the rights to Authors’ books with an upfront payment called an advance. Then, the publisher has the right to make all the money that comes from the book’s sales (minus an Author’s negotiated royalty).
When an Author signs a traditional publishing contract, they turn control over to the publisher. The publisher produces the audiobook, but Authors have little creative control over the book’s production, distribution, or marketing.
It’s nearly impossible to get a traditional publishing deal. And contrary to what many Authors think, it’s not always the most lucrative option. The trade-off is that traditionally published books have a higher chance of getting media coverage and ending up in major bookstores.
But unlike print books, self-published audiobooks can still be sold through all major retail outlets. Amazon, Audible, iTunes, Kobo, and Apple Books are all available, regardless of whether the book was created through a traditional publisher, a production company, or DIY-style.
If you want to know how to get your audiobook on major audiobook retail platforms, check out this post on audiobook distributors.
The list below covers 21 of the best-known audiobook creation companies. Some, like Scribe Audiobooks, produce books without purchasing the rights, but most companies below fall into the category of traditional publishers.
Scribe Audiobooks is not a traditional publisher, so Scribe Authors retain full rights over their books.
We offer a “done-for-you” audiobook service. Our in-house team works with Authors through the entire audiobook creation process: recording, post-production, and distribution.
In the preparation phase, we either help Authors select a professional narrator for their book or coach them on how to narrate their own book. We also use a program called Pozotron to flag words in the manuscript that might cause pronunciation difficulties during narration.
In the recording phase, a skilled professional ensures that the narration hits its marks, the pronunciation is accurate, and the pacing is good. Any Scribe Author who narrates their own book will also have the assistance of a director.
Next, the book enters the post-production phase.
An editing engineer listens to the recording and adjusts the pacing if needed. They remove any background pops, clicks, or distracting noises.
Afterward, a quality control engineer takes over. They serve as a second fail-safe for your book, ensuring nothing made it past the editing engineer.
Authors then have a chance to listen to the audiobook themselves and make any requested edits.
Finally, Scribe works with a respected audiobook distributor to ensure that the book is available on all major audiobook platforms.
There are several benefits to working with a done-for-you production company like Scribe. The first is that you will have help every step of the way. Authors can still have creative input, but they don’t need any technical know-how for sound engineering or audiobook distribution.
Secondly, Authors control all the rights to their book, which means that they get to use the audio any way they see fit. If you want to give your book away for free as part of a promotion, go ahead. If you want to sell copies on your website, great. You’re free to do with your book exactly as you please.
Moreover, you’ll also retain all profits you earn from your book. Scribe never takes royalties from Authors.
Scribe has produced books in many genres, and we welcome Authors of all types. But we specialize in working with self-published nonfiction Authors.
Audible is the #1 retailer for audiobooks, so most Authors know them as a book distribution platform, not a production company or publisher.
But Audible has many irons in the audiobook fire. They also function as a traditional publisher—buying the rights to audiobooks, which they then produce and publish—and they have their own production marketplace, known as ACX, or Audiobook Creation Exchange.
Audible doesn’t directly produce Authors’ audiobooks. ACX connects Authors with narrators, audiobook producers, and audio engineers. Authors post their books so producers and narrators can audition. They can also reach out to producers with whom they’d like to work.
Once an Author has reviewed auditions and settled on a producer, they negotiate the terms of the deal. Most producers get paid a per-finished-hour rate, but some may agree to an ACX royalty-share program, where they will receive half of the book’s earnings.
The producer then records the book, and the Author has an opportunity to ask for corrections.
When the book is complete, Authors choose between distributing the book exclusively through ACX or non-exclusive distribution.
Exclusivity means the book can only be sold on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Non-exclusivity means the book can be sold through other channels as well, but Authors make a lower royalty rate.
Authors should note that if they create their book using ACX’s royalty-share option, they must distribute the book exclusively through ACX.
In print book publishing, there are 5 major publishers known as “The Big 5”: HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.
The Big 5 are also big when it comes to audiobooks. HarperCollins’ audiobook imprint Harper Audio, is one of the largest audiobook publishers. They release both fiction and nonfiction books.
HarperAudio is a traditional publisher, which means that Authors do not retain full rights to their books.
HarperAudio (and the other Big 5-affiliated publishers below) typically don’t accept open submissions. To publish with the Big 5, you need to work through a literary agent.
4. Macmillan Audio
Macmillan Audio is another member of the Big 5 traditional publishers. Founded as Audio Renaissance in 1987, the imprint’s name changed to Macmillan Audio in 2007.
They publish fiction and nonfiction books from various genres, and their narrators include high-profile actors like Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Billy Crystal.
5. Penguin Random House Audio
Penguin Random House Audio is a Big 5 powerhouse of who’s who in audiobooks.
Their catalog includes books by Margaret Atwood, Brené Brown, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elizabeth Gilbert, John Grisham, George R. R. Martin, Toni Morrison, and Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, and First Lady Michelle Obama.
6. Simon & Schuster Audio
Simon & Schuster Audio is another one of the Big 5. Their catalog includes bestselling fiction, nonfiction, business/finance, self-improvement, inspiration, language learning programs, and original audiobook productions.
Audiobooks published with Simon & Schuster Audio have won five Grammy awards and received twenty-six Grammy nominations since 1989.
7. Hachette Audio
Hachette is the last member of the Big 5. They publish books in a wide range of fiction and nonfiction genres.
Since 2000, Hachette Audio productions have been recognized with over 200 Audie Award Nominations and 47 wins; 24 Grammy® nominations and 9 wins; over 60 Listen Up! Awards from Publishers Weekly; and over 150 Earphones Awards from AudioFile Magazine.
Hachette doesn’t consider unsolicited submissions or queries.
8. Blackstone Publishing
Blackstone Audio is one of the largest independent audiobook publishers in the United States. They currently have more than 30,000 titles.
When I say “independent,” I’m referring to the fact that Blackstone isn’t owned by one of the large publishing conglomerates. I don’t mean that they work with independent Authors.
Blackstone does not accept unsolicited submissions through their website. Any Authors wanting to publish with Blackstone need to submit through a literary agent.
9. Brilliance Publishing
Brilliance Publishing is also a subsidiary of Amazon. Unlike ACX, which functions like a production company, Brilliance follows a traditional publishing model. They acquire the rights to content and then create in-house recordings.
They publish “a range of audiobooks across the most popular genres.” Their catalog runs the gamut from fiction to nonfiction and adult to children’s literature.
10. Dreamscape Media
Dreamscape Media is a publisher of fiction and nonfiction audiobooks and book-based children’s read-along video programs.
After acquiring, developing, and producing content, Dreamscape distributes its audiobooks according to a “library-first” ethos.
Dreamscape sells through traditional retail outlets, but they place great importance on their partnership with Hoopla Digital, a library digital platform with more than 5.5 million patrons.
Harlequin is one of the world’s best-known romance publishers, but their books aren’t limited to romance. Harlequin focuses on books for women in various genres, from women’s fiction to young adult and narrative nonfiction.
Founded in 1949, they became a division of HarperCollins in 2014.
If you want to publish a book with Harlequin, they have specific guidelines, which you can find on their website, WriteforHarlequin.com.
12. Novel Audio
Novel Audio has been creating audiobooks since 2012. Like many of the previous publishers in this list, Novel Audio acquires the audio rights for the books they produce.
Unlike most of the publishers on this list, they accept open and unagented submissions. In their words, “We work with traditional publishers big and small, but also love exploring the new world of self-published work.”
Novel Audio specializes in adult fiction and nonfiction, with the occasional children’s title.
13. Oasis Audio
Founded in 1999, Oasis Audio publishes inspirational and self-help books. They’ve expanded their focus to include Bibles, nonfiction, fiction, children’s, and business audio titles.
Today, Oasis Audio publishes more Christian and inspirational titles than any other audio publisher in the US. Their mission is “to publish stories and other content that uplifts, inspires and encourages positive values and personal growth.”
14. Podium Publishing
Podium is an audio publisher dedicated to emerging storytellers. They finance, develop, produce, and distribute audiobooks in many genres, including mystery, thriller, young adult, and nonfiction.
But their specialties are science fiction, fantasy, and romance. They are also proud to have “been a pioneer in bringing the popular sub-genres of Gamelit, LitRPG, Progression Fantasy, Wuxia, and Xianxia to the fore.”
Podium focuses on independent audiobook publishing and primarily acquires titles from self-published Authors.
15. Recorded Books
Recorded Books is an audio imprint of RBMedia, the world’s largest audiobook publisher. Recorded Books currently has a catalog of more than 40,000 titles in a various genres.
They typically acquire titles from Authors represented by a literary agent.
16. W.F. Howes Ltd.
W.F. Howes Ltd. is the UK’s leading audiobook publisher, and they also fall under the umbrella of RBMedia.
W.F. Howes Ltd., which releases around 100 new audiobooks each month, is not an audiobook production company.
W.F. Howes Ltd. has a series of imprints under which they release different genres of books:
- Clipper features best-sellers and award-winners.
- Lamplight features traditional titles in feel-good genres like family sagas and cozy mysteries.
- Rosa features romances and sweeping sagas.
- Jammer features mass-market fiction and non-fiction with wide appeal.
- Nudged features stories for children 0-12.
17. Naxos Audiobooks
Naxos Audiobooks began in 1994, focusing on classic literature, like Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Homer. It quickly gained a reputation for its recordings, which often featured notable actors like Juliet Stevenson and Kenneth Branagh.
Over time, the label broadened its list to selected contemporary fiction classics. Naxos also publishes adult nonfiction titles in history, religion, and philosophy genres.
18. Upfront Books
Upfront Books is a publisher specializing in nonfiction audiobooks. They also pride themselves on bringing technical books to audio, and they’re able to set up custom websites and apps for Authors.
The contact section of Upfront’s website states, “If you’re an author or literary agent, we will normally reach out to you if one of your books may be a fit for publication by Upfront. That said, we do review submissions at set intervals.”
19. Deyan Audio
Deyan Audio is one of the old-school audiobook production companies, and they’ve been around for more than 30 years.
Unlike traditional publishers, Deyan won’t purchase the rights to your audiobook. Instead, they produce audiobooks for clients for a per-finished-hour rate.
Their full production package includes narrator casting, recording and direction, audio editing, mixing and mastering, quality control, and reformatting.
20. Mosaic Audio
Mosaic Audio is a full-service audiobook production company located in Los Angeles.
Established in 2009, Mosaic has historically recorded books for traditional publishers and individual Authors. However, they aren’t currently accepting projects from self-published clients and only work directly with publishing companies.
21. John Marshall Media
John Marshall Media is a production company that frequently works with major publishers, but Authors don’t need a contract with a major publisher to hire JMM’s production services.
John Marshall Media doesn’t specialize in a given genre. They produce fiction, non-fiction, educational literature, and everything in between.
Authors who hire John Marshall Media will work with vetted voice actors and audio engineers. The company provides script preparation, pronunciation-handling, recording, and final delivery services.
Choosing an Audiobook Publisher or Production Company
Before deciding on a specific company, it’s worth asking which type of audiobook producer is best for your book.
Do you want to work with a traditional publisher, which means having less financial and creative control but potentially more exposure?
Or, do you want to work with an audio production company to create a stellar audiobook that you can use to suit your specific needs?
We always tell Scribe Authors to determine their objectives before starting their book. That means figuring out what they want readers to get out of the book, but it also means coming up with a clear answer to the following question:
What do you want to get out of writing your book?
Do you want to get more media exposure? Make as much money as possible? Find new clients? Build your platform within your industry?
Whatever your answer is, let it be your guide as you select a publisher or production company for your audiobook.
Most Authors realize that they don’t need the prestige of a traditional publisher. They’d rather have more freedom with their book.
If that’s the case, your best bet is to choose an audiobook production company like Scribe Audiobooks. We will help you create a professional book without asking you to relinquish control of your story.