Sunday, June 7, 2015

How to make any ebook an audiobook with text-to-speech conversion apps

Rys Rising - Books on Google Play

Audiobooks let busy people enjoy fiction or nonfiction, but not everything is produced as an audiobook. Fortunately, text-to-speech software technology allows you to convert ebooks into an audiobook. This opens up many more titles to audiobook listeners, and might even save them some money because ebooks tend to be priced lower than audibooks. Audio production generally costs quite a bit. This is why only two of my novels are audiobooks instead of all ten of them.

Now I can offer some solutions to frustrated audiobook listeners who'd like to enjoy more of my novels and works by other authors as well, even if audiobooks are not available.

The Free Route

Your Kindle, Android tablet, or iPad already has some text-to-speech capabilities. This functionality is built into ebooks at the Kindle or Google Play stores.

For example, you could download one of my free ebooks such as Rys Rising: Book I from Google Play. The app on an Android device that displays Play Store Books includes a "real aloud" feature. This is freely available, but the result is an audiobook as read by Stephen Hawking. The robotic voice does not allow for much of an audio experience. But this can be improved.

You can enable a "high quality" voice for your text to speech in Google books. This article at CNet explains how to turn it on. This text-to-speech capability is also freely included as part of the ebook.

Information on setting up text-to-speech on your Kindle tablet or app is also widely available. At eHow you can find some easy directions. For a Kindle ebook to work as an audiobook, you'll need to see first if its text-to-speech is enabled. This information will be in the product information section on the Amazon page. Many of the Kindle apps for various devices also have text-to-speech.

I started exploring text-to-speech options when one of my audiobook listeners inquired about whether I would produce more audiobooks. Matt had enjoyed Union of Renegades and The Goddess Queen and wanted to keep listening. Although at this time I cannot finance any more audiobook productions, I suggested to him that he look into the text-to-speech options. Then he could listen to any of my books by simply buying the ebooks. Because some of my titles are free, I told him to download a free one at Google Play or Kindle and see if he liked the experience.

He wrote back to me and reported that he had decided to go with a paid app that read ebooks to him.

The Paid Text-to-Speech Route

Matt informed me that he had chosen to use Voice Dream, at a cost of $9.99, because he found a narrator voice there that suited him. For an additional app charge of $4.99 he loaded "Amy" Ivona as the voice to read my novels to him. The app also gave him the ability to select words and fiddle with pronunciation. Names and some of my magical fantasy terms sometimes needed adjustment. He has subsequently gone on to buy the rest of my novels and enjoy them as audiobooks. Thank you, Sir!

After hearing about the existence of paid text-to-speech products, I did a little exploring. You actually have many options for converting ebooks to audiobooks. Some simply read the book to you. Others will output an audio file for you to use.

This article at TechRepublic provides a thorough overview of five text-to-speech conversion apps. Prices range from $30 to $50, but they usually offer free trials. If you prefer audiobooks, the investment in apps and specific narrator voices could offer a good return. You'll greatly expand the books available to you in audio and buy them at lower ebook prices.

If you'd like to start experimenting with any of the free or paid text-to-audio conversion resources, you can download three of my books for free from most ebook retailers.

To get ebooks without any DRM, I recommend downloading free ebooks from my website Brave Luck Books or visiting Smashwords. At both place you'll access multiple, DRM-free formats of my novels.

A note from Tracy Falbe: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.