I’m what you call an early adopter. Way back when in the Stone Age of Romance — you know, before 2000 — I loved audiobooks; you know, those CD versions you could get from the library. There was something about someone reading me a story that really clicked. Maybe because I’m from Ghana and we have a big oral tradition. Or maybe because if you get the right narrator, it’s like a movie in your ears!
When I started writing, I might not have known much. Honestly, I knew next to nothing. But I knew it was probably smart to have my books available in as many formats as possible. Any way a reader could find me, I wanted them to find me.
Fast forward to today, and I have 29 audiobooks with more on the way. I’ve sold some audio rights, tried my hand at going direct with audio on Audible and Kobo, and I’ve even tried cool audio distribution channels like Findaway Voices. And over the years I’ve sold more than 30,000 audiobook copies.
Would I recommend other self-published authors turn their books into audiobooks? Absolutely. Here are my top five reasons why all indie authors should produce audiobooks.
1. Increase author revenue
Did you know that audiobooks are projected to be a $3.5 billion industry in 2020? Yep folks, that’s a B, not an M.
I know a lot of authors think of audio as readers buying an ebook copy then an audiobook copy. And that’s really a small percentage. The key to remember is that while there is some of that, for so many “readers” audio is the only way they read. Whether it’s a lack of time, a long commute, or a blessed way to avoid screens after distance learning, audio is the sole source of stories for many readers.
That means if you aren’t producing audiobooks, that’s an income stream you’re not seeing.
For me, depending on the month and the promotions I’m running, audio revenue can amount to anywhere between 12-20% of my revenue each month. If I didn’t have that I’d be missing out on the bottom line. As my Ghanaian mother likes to say, “What? Nana! You don’t like money? Don’t leave money on the table!”
2. Reach a wide audience via audio discounts
One of the greatest things about being an indie author is control — from blurbs to covers to, you guessed it, pricing. With ebooks and paperbacks, pricing is a simple matter. Set your price and off you go. You can even get fancy and set different prices for different series, and run discounts whenever you want.
Audio is a little trickier. If you sell your rights, then you have zero control over pricing. It’s up to the publisher to put your audiobooks up for sale or submit them for awesome promotions like Chirp Deals. If you produce your own audiobooks and are exclusive to Audible, then while you have more control, you miss out on one key aspect: price. That is set by Audible.
Now if you get fancy and distribute via Findaway Voices, it’s a whole new world! You set the list price and the discount price whenever you want for how long you want. Sale promotions are run through Chirp, BookBub’s audio arm.
Discounting is a great way to generate a high volume of audiobook sales, just like with ebooks. As an example, I’ve done a few Chirp Deals this year, most notably Ransom (a sports romance) and Tempting in Stilettos (a sexy contemporary romance).
I wanted to test out different price points to see what worked best for me. The general idea is that the cheaper you go, the more units you move and the more money you make in the long term. But from this experiment, it was easy to ascertain that the sweet spot for me is $1.99.
Ransom ran to the Romance category on 2/17/20 at $1.99, selling 719 copies.
Tempting in Stilettos ran to the Romance category on 5/11/20 at $0.99, selling 998 copies.
Another finding: Doing a sale of an audiobook in a series is a terrific way to get listeners to pick up the rest of the series!
3. Cater to readers who prefer audiobooks
I have a confession to make. I have old eyes. Which, to be honest, is shocking as I am only 29… several times over. The point is, for readers who might be sight impaired, audio is a great alternative!
There’s nothing worse than wanting to grab the latest book I’ve been dying to read, but after a long workday, my eyes are toast. Even my glasses don’t help. But with audiobooks, I don’t miss a release… unless of course my favorite author hasn’t gotten the book up on audio yet, which is just tragic.
And let’s be honest, with all the changes to how we live, work, and go to school, audiobooks are a fresh escape. They pull readers into a new world in a completely different way. Who doesn’t want to be transported to London in the middle of a heist by a dashing British narrator? (By the way, Shane East does a fantastic job in Big Ben if you love a sexy Brit.) It’s the best kind of escape… especially these days, when so many of us are stressed or have to navigate distance learning.
4. Have more content to get existing fans excited
One important thing to remember is audio gives you more chances to talk to your readers! Like every author out there, I struggle for content — for newsletters, social media, the whole thing. But doing audio gives you the opportunity to share something else exciting with your people.
Example graphic created for social media.
Remember, all steps of production are fascinating for readers. So get them hyped up. Tell them when you book your narrators. Tease your readers with tidbits like the start and end of recording sessions. Ask your narrator to film themselves reading. And when you have your finished product, you can even create some audio sample snippets and share them with your readers.
5. Boosted marketing potential thanks to amazing narrators
Some narrators are literal rock stars, especially in the romance space. After all, their voices bring book boyfriends to life! The names Shane East, Sebastian York, or Zach Webber can elicit a moan of dreaminess from listeners. And if I say the name Andi Arndt, I’m usually met with a sort of bouncing giddiness. Narrators help bring fictional voices to life.
Most narrators are happy to record videos of themselves in the studio working. Sometimes they’ll even do a Facebook Live, and share updates about your audiobook on their own social media or newsletters. And that means you’re not in this book marketing world alone. It’s an amazing partnership.
I hope you see the potential of audio now. I hope you can also hear my Ghanaian mother telling you, “Don’t leave money on the table!”
Give me a show of hands, who is ready for audio? Tell me in the comments below!
The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of BookBub.
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Click to tweet: Self-published authors! Have you turned your books into audiobooks? This fantastic article from @NanaMalone explains why you should. https://bit.ly/2H9qONM
Click to tweet: Wow, 12-20% of this self-published author’s monthly revenue comes from her audiobooks! #WritingCommunity https://bit.ly/2H9qONM