Fionnuala Barrett is Senior Audio Editor at HarperCollins, where she creates audiobooks for authors as diverse as Gail Honeyman, Stuart MacBride, Dawn O’Porter, Joanna Cannon and George R.R. Martin. She is also the chair of the working party for the 2018 LoveAudio campaign for the Publishers Association. LoveAudio 2018 will run from 11 to 17 June.
Everyone agrees that audiobooks are the most exciting and fastest-growing area of publishing today; according to Nielsen’s most recent stats, download numbers have doubled in the last five years. Savvy retailer strategies have contributed to this, as well as great strides from publishers, with HarperCollins’ Total Audio policy leading the way – every frontlist narrative print book that we publish gets an audio edition, with the same publication date as all other formats.
Fantastic growth, a better range of titles and genres than ever before … and yet there are still plenty of people who haven’t tried audiobooks in years, and indeed quite a few who think they still come on tape!
As an audio publisher, my aim is to get the message out to a wider audience about the ease, convenience and range of the format and, ultimately, to make audiobooks the natural choice for anyone who wants to fit more storytelling into their lives.
This was my thinking when I spearheaded the LoveAudio initiative in June last year – the UK’s first cross-industry celebration of the audio format, bringing audiobooks to a broader range of people.
I suggested to the audio publishers’ committee of the Publishers Association that we work together on a week-long social media campaign to celebrate the format; a low-cost initiative that, with contributions from as many players as possible, would amount to more than the sum of its parts. Enthusiastically received by the PA audio group, we brought our various activities together using the short and simple hashtag #LoveAudio. Running on a shoestring, the 2017 campaign proved a resounding success, with an estimated 16 million impressions.
Plans are now building up for an even bigger and better campaign in 2018 – including a branding refresh and a new website. The centrepiece of HarperCollins’ activity for the campaign is the launch of bestselling crime author Cass Green’s latest book Don’t You Cry as an audio first, publishing the audio edition ahead of the print and eBook editions. In addition we will be hosting a range of masterclasses within the company to give colleagues elsewhere in the business a greater understanding about the tech developments revolutionising this area. With greater involvement of the library sector, led by Bolinda and WF Howes, we will be hosting events around the country – all to bring the audio message to even more people.
LoveAudio is a fantastic chance to shout loudly and proudly about audiobooks. If you are reading this and have never tried an audiobook before then take this opportunity to give it a try; if you’re already a convert, then pass the message on to a newbie who doesn’t know what they’re missing!