Audiobooks have been on the rise for the last few years. As a book lover, you probably know that. Consider these statistics, though:
- Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment of the book publishing world, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- The Audiobook Publishers Association (APA) reported, in its 2017 annual survey, a 33.9-percent increase in the number of audiobooks published compared to the year prior.
- At a panel at Book Expo (book publishing conference) 2017, the rise of audiobooks was discussed and David Burleigh of OverDrive noted that audiobook lending is up 27 percent since 2014.
- Audiobook listening is growing specifically among 25- to 34-year-olds, according to the APA.
What does this mean for you as an author-entrepreneur? Does this mean you need to find a production studio, hire a professional narrator, and shell out a few thousand bucks to produce an audiobook in addition to your print version? Nope. But you shouldn’t immediately write off the idea of an audiobook, either.
"The Audiobook Publishers Association (APA) reported, in its 2017 annual survey, a 33.9-percent increase in the number of audiobooks published compared to the year prior." - @jodibrandon
One Size Does Not Fit All
The truth is, just as people learn differently, people consume content differently and they prefer to read differently. Some people won’t read on an ereader and will only read print books. Some people don’t listen to audiobooks. (I listen to nonfiction audiobooks but find that I don’t comprehend fiction the same way and have a harder time following the story. What gives? I don’t know!) If you want your book’s content to be able to reach the largest audience possible, the more book formats you offer, the better. This is especially true now that audiobook lending from libraries and other sources is available, as evidenced by the bullet point above.
"If you want your book’s content to be able to reach the largest audience possible, the more book formats you offer, the better." - @jodibrandon
Let’s Do This
Let’s say you do want to produce an audiobook. Where do you even begin? You have decisions to make on two levels:
- DIY or professionally produced?
- Audible (Amazon) or not?
Let’s start with production and then talk distribution.
Audible runs ACX, Audiobook Creation Exchange, which is, essentially, a meeting ground for authors (aka rights holders) and producers. Authors receive auditions from narrators and ACX handles the contract, royalties, and distribution. There are two options: pay for production and royalty share. Check out the ACX site for more info.
Having an audiobook professionally produced, with a professional narrator in a recording studio, can be expensive and is not in every author’s budget. Finding a suitable recording space is difficult, though, unless your house was built with soundproof walls. (And if it was, why?!?) I have had a couple clients who recorded in a walk-in closet with lots of blankets on the ground to reduce echo. Can you tell when listening that the audiobook was not recorded in a studio? Probably. Do people really care? Nope. Neither has received any complaints or negative reviews about sound quality.
Bottom line: Get the best equipment you can afford (microphone and USB preamp), figure out when your space is recording-friendly
With fiction, a professional narrator is a benefit especially because of dialogue. With a nonfiction book to benefit your business, though, “know like trust” is so important that recording yourself can be helpful.
Please note: I am not suggesting that all you need are you, a quiet room, and your smartphone. I am, however, saying that you can produce an audiobook yourself — without breaking the bank.
It’s not time for a nap yet. Once your audiobook is produced, you need to distribute it. If you’ve researched self-publishing at all, you know the big decision to make is “to Amazon ot not to Amazon?” As I tell all of my clients: You want to be on Amazon. That’s where people go to buy things. You just don’t need to be exclusively on Amazon. If you distribute exclusively, your royalties will be higher, yes. But will your reach be better by distribution to more platforms? Only you can decide. There are pros and cons for each option.
Have any other questions about audiobooks? Let me know in the comments. I’d be happy to answer them for you.