Quick links

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Quick reference

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Audiobook file preparation

Your audiobook files must match these requirements, many of which are needed in order to comply with the diverse systems used by our CrowdPricing Everywhere partners:

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Recommendations

Highly recommended for best user experience, which means better reviews and sales:

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More on ID3 Tags and Track Numbering

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Upload process

From the Audiobook page of the Publish process for your book:

  1. Be sure you have the files ready per the requirements above and all in a single directory.
  2. Click the blue “Upload Intro file” button.
  3. Navigate to the folder where you saved your MP3 files.
  4. Select your Intro MP3 file.
  5. Click “Open”.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for the “Upload Outro file”.
  7. Click the “Upload MP3 file(s)” button.
  8. Select all of your book sections’ MP3 files.
  9. Click “Open”.
  10. Depending on the size and number of files and the speed of your Internet connection, it may take several minutes or even an hour or more to upload. You should see regular progress counter in the “Message” column of the “Recent Uploads” table count up from 0% to 100% for each file.
  11. When the upload completes, you should see an “Active MP3 files” table with all of your files above the blue “Upload MP3 file(s)…” button. If not, look in the “Message” column of the “Recent uploads” table to see what went wrong. Common errors include missing Track numbers, attempting to upload a file that doesn’t end with .MP3, and general audio recording issues like out-of-range volume or noise levels. See Audiobook file preparation for file requirements and our Audiobook Recording Guide for help getting the audio right.
  12. When you have uploaded all parts to your audiobook and believe it is ready to go, press “Ready for Review” on the Audiobook page. When you have finished all the steps for your book, you must also press “Post Book” on the Status page. At that point, we will check your audiobook for any quality problems before posting. Within a couple of business days, you will either hear back from us that it’s ready to go or what changes are needed to process your audiobook.

Note: You can replace or add an individual file at any time. If the Track # is the same as one that you have already uploaded, it will replace the old version.

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Creating audiobook files

This is a technical guide, not a full tutorial. For a how-to tutorial on selecting and setting up your audio equipment and producing a quality recording, please see our Audiobook Recording Guide or Podcasting for Dummies, co-written by our own Evo Terra.

This guide answers some very specific questions on file preparation for inclusion on Scribl.com. If you follow these guidelines to the letter, your audiobook should upload just fine and be of acceptable quality to our shared listeners, customers, and distribution partners.

Note that Scribl is not a traditional publisher. Other than ensuring your book meets our audio quality standards, we do not judge the quality of what you have written, recorded or produced. Our measuring stick for inclusion starts and ends with our audio and technical requirements. Meet those and your book will be listed.



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Helpful tools

There are a lot of great tools out there for audiobook recording and editing. Some that we really like:

  • Audacity for recording and file editing (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
  • Auphonic for adjusting and normalizing your already-recorded audio (web based)
  • Mp3tag for editing ID3 tags and adding a cover image to your MP3 file (Windows)

You don’t have to use these specific options. Like we said, there are a lot of great tools out there. Where we refer to these tools in the instructions, just replace the tool we mention with your preferred version.



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Content requirements

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Length

Each MP3 file must contain no more than a single chapter. At the same time, no single file can run longer than 100 minutes. Assuming your book is a novel, and chapters last for about 15-45 minutes of narration, then this should be straightforward. However, if your book’s chapters are much longer you may have to split each chapter into multiple files.

Files shorter than 15 minutes tend to be a hassle for listeners with too many files for a full-length book. Similarly, files longer than 45 minutes can make navigation difficult. Of course, if your book is very short and a single file, then it’s fine if that one file is shorter than 15 minutes.

You should keep your file breaks at logical break points. If you must break a chapter, don’t just go to the maximum length and cut it mid-sentence or mid-paragraph. Ideally, try to find a scene change or some other reasonable break point. Think about it from the listener’s point of view and treat the break like a commercial during a TV show. Placement matters.

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Content

There are three parts to your audiobook:

  1. Beginning (intro)
  2. Book content
  3. Ending (outro)

Intro and outro sections are generally consistent from every book recorded by the same author, except, of course, for the title of the book and other details that must vary from book to book. Content and production can vary widely from author to author, but they generally include:

Note that the intro and outro will appear at the beginning and end of your book respectively on Scribl.com. If you opt into CrowdPricing Everywhere, then the same will be true on other audiobook sites, like Audible, Audiobooks.com, and iTunes. However, on podcasting sites, the intro and outro will appear around every chapter, so be sure your intro and outro are sufficiently generic to work in either situation.

Intros tend to be well under a minute in length. The shorter the better. Say what you need to say, and then get on with your book. The first words are the first impression you have on your reader. Listeners are rarely interested in the intro and you know what they say about first impressions.

Outros can be longer, but only if necessary. Resist the temptation to have an excessive “credit roll” at the end of the file (author, narrator(s), and music source are fine), or to play the entire track of the music you used for your bed. Be respectful of your listener’s time and storage space for MP3 files. These must start with words that make it clear to the listener that these are closing credits. The outro cannot start with music.

The primary content area should be all story or other book text. You can use some sort of audio cue to denote scene changes, if they occur within a file. You can also use appropriate sound effects. Note the word appropriate. If you are not sure how to use these effects, you should use these sparingly and with subtlety or not at all. Anything that breaks the listener’s immersion diminishes your book, and that includes distracting audio or sound effects. Of course, when done well, great sound effects with an actor for each character, and a powerful musical score can turn your audiobook into an incredible tour de force.

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Tech specs

There are lots of right ways to format audio files. Because we distribute through virtually all the audiobook outlets via CrowdPricing Everywhere, our formatting requirements must be a synthesis of all of them. Please don’t ask us to make exceptions. We won’t. The specs on this page are set to ensure that your MP3 files are as compatible as possible for our shared customers and with all the major audiobook outlets. If you’ve done something different for other distribution services in the past for a book you are posting with us, you’ll need to go back to your master files and encode, tag and name your files to our specifications before submitting to Scribl.

And if you don’t understand what we’re asking for, then you may be jumping ahead. Read our Audiobook Recording Guide or grab a book on how to create MP3 files (shameless plug: we recommend the aforementioned Podcasting for Dummies).

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Encoding

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Audio quality

We cannot stress enough the importance of producing a recording with consistent volume levels and low noise. Short of writing your book in the first place, getting these right will be the hardest part about recording an audiobook.

The basic audio requirements for us to accept your files are:

If you are having trouble achieving these levels, check out our Audiobook Recording Guide

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ID3 tagging

The only ID3 tags we need are the Track and the cover art.

For the intro and outro files we ignore the Track field.

For all the content files (everything other than the intro and outro), the Track field MUST be numbered in order across all your files, starting with 1, then 2, etc. We support up to 499 MP3 files and tracks per book. The Track field is the ONLY data we use to order your chapters for the listener. If you are working with Audacity, this is called the “Track Number” and available under File | Edit Metadata before Exporting to an MP3. In Mp3tag, just open and select the MP3 file in the file list on the right and enter the Track number in the Track field on the left side of the screen, then save the MP3 to capture the change.

Because books are typically rectangular, but MP3 images are always square (300 x 300 pixels), you will need to produce a square version of your cover at 300 x 300 pixels @ 72 DPI that looks the way you want it for your audiobook. We recommend zooming in on the cover image, and leaving out all text except for the title. Make the title big so it is visible at the small size of an MP3 cover image. If the names are short, you might be able to get away with keeping the author’s name or even adding “Audiobook” and including the narrator’s name on the image, but keep in mind that at 300x300 pixels, text will be small and hard to read. If your cover image is not square, then make sure any unused space is transparent in your graphic editor, or it is likely to be filled in with black or white pixels by the MP3 file to make it a square.

Mp3tag will allow you to apply the cover image. Just select the MP3 files in Mp3Tag, right click on the cover image in the lower left, select “Add cover…”, browse to your image, and Open it. Be sure to Save the MP3 after adding the cover.

We populate all other ID3 fields based on the data you submit for your book on the Details step (Step 1) of posting your book. We will overwrite whatever is in those ID3 fields.

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File names

Use whatever filename is helpful for you to recognize your files. We rename all files for listeners, so the file names you use are for your reference only.


Why are we such sticklers for this stuff?

Because we’ve been doing this for a very long time and have a pretty good handle on how people enjoy consuming audiobooks. Over the years, we’ve heard authors come up with some very interesting thoughts and ideas about how people listen – or how they might listen – to their books. In every case, these authors have been making assumptions based largely on how they themselves like to listen.

Just like with author-set pricing, those assumptions are nearly always wrong.

The reality is that people have different ways they want to listen. You cannot cover them all. Do not even try. Your job is to provide the files in such a way to allow the maximum enjoyment for the maximum number of people. If you follow the guidelines set forth in this document, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Part of our job is to figure out ways to make it easier for your potential audience to listen to your book. We’re doing a good job, but it’s a changing world. We will keep working at it to get better and better. That may even mean we need to come back to you in the future with some changes. So you really, really, really want to hold on to your master files. Storage is cheap. Or stick ‘em on a DVD somewhere. Just make sure you have an archive that you can easily manipulate in the future.

OK, ready to post your audiobook? Go ahead and make it available to the world!


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Additional info

As mentioned previously, this is not a complete guide on how to record, edit, and publish an audiobook. There are lots of guides like that out there, but we recommend Podcasting for Dummies. Then again, we may be a little biased. For specific hardware recommendations and recording instructions, you can also refer to our Audiobook Recording Guide

If you’re struggling with getting your encoding settings right even after going through all the steps in our Audiobook Recording Guide, check out Auphonic. It’s an automated tool that takes your raw .WAV or .AIFF file and will – like magic – convert it to match our 44.1 kHz, 192kbps, Joint Stereo requirements.