Audiobooks are a rapidly growing market. In fact, the APA (Audiobook Publishers Association) released data earlier this year saying revenue grew 25% to $1.6B, marking the tenth straight year of double-digit growth.
If you are thinking about moving into audiobook production, there’s some great news. Creating audiobooks is not as difficult as it may seem and you can start thinking about marketing plans from the moment you decide you want your books to enter the recording studio.
How? You can bring your readers along with you on the entire journey of creating an audiobook, so they feel invested in the process from the very beginning. You can start by sharing your excitement about the audiobook format and then move through the process of auditioning narrators, recording, design, and launching your final product.
Here are some other things you can think about right from the start.
If you want to maximise your launch and marketing revenue, we recommend releasing ebook, print and audiobook at the same time. When you do this, you can start talking about all three formats early on, and introduce the process of choosing a narrator well before the release date. The bonus? This also brings the narrator in as a piece of your marketing initiative.
Author and narrator marketing
You can work with your authors and narrators from day one to promote the books they are recording since authors and narrators have their own audience and following. Showcase them on your website, your email and social channels, and invite the authors and narrators of the books being recorded to do the same. By talking about their work, they will create excitement around their upcoming performances and encourage pre-orders. Continue to highlight both the author and narrator after launch as well.
Getting ahead of your marketing in this way will open up marketing opportunities that others may not be considering. For example, before you jump onto Findaway Voices Marketplace and begin auditioning narrators with a sample of your book, you can consider making some bonus content while recording. This is much easier to do while the narrator is already in the studio, and listeners love bonus material. It makes for a great lead magnet for you and the author’s email marketing list. Maybe you release a cut chapter, create a character side story, or even tease listeners with an alternate ending!
Listeners tend to be a different audience than readers, so you’ll want to add an ‘Audiobooks’ navigation item to your company website prior to launch. Doing so makes it easy for listeners to go straight to your audiobook content. You could browse by author or genre, and don’t forget to add sound samples for each title prior to launch using a tool like Soundcloud or the Apple Books widget which has a built-in CTA. You could also create a page that lists the different listening platforms and the various benefits for listeners. Another popular piece of content is to show people how to gift audiobooks during key times of the year. Findaway Voices has an extensive blog post on the topic of giving audiobooks.
Expertly cultivating and establishing an audiobook launch team is one of the first things you should do upon deciding to create an audiobook list. You’ll want to find your fans that love audio as their preferred consumption format. The quantity of people is up to you, but quality is what helps the most here. An audiobook launch team can give advice on narrators, cover design, blurb, word of mouth, email and social posts, and help seed initial reviews on different distribution platforms. For example, you might want to ask different people to leave reviews on Apple, Chirp, B&N, Kobo, Audible or others.
For every title, it’s vital to design an audio cover that fits the requirements of audio retailers and that allows the title and author name to be as easy to read as possible on a small screen. It’s common practice to include the narrator’s name on the cover as well. It’s absolutely fine to take your print and ebook cover design as a starting point, but it will need to be reconfigured as a square design that makes the most of the space available. Make sure you follow retailers’ guidelines to ensure that nothing gets in the way of your audiobook reaching its audience.
The next important thing in marketing an audiobook is the choice of a retail sample. This tells the reader if this audiobook is for them. A lot of publishers will just use the first chapter as a sample, but it’s advantageous to look at this as an opportunity to create a five-minute narrative that really brings a reader into the book and characters. Again, you can involve your launch team in this as well by asking for their opinions.
Creating an audiobook gives you more intellectual property to leverage and monetise the hard work you’ve already invested in acquiring and publishing your print and ebook editions. Remember, there are far fewer audiobooks published every year than ebooks, so you have an opportunity to stand out by starting your marketing efforts while creating them. Audiobooks are a fantastic way to grow your publishing business. Now is the time to get started!
Scott Curry is the Marketing Strategist of Findaway Voices, a platform that empowers authors and publishers to create and distribute audiobooks globally. Scott is a seasoned marketing and advertising executive and also an author himself under the pen name E.S. Curry. For over 20 years, he’s worked with iconic brands around the world, including IMG, Arnold Palmer, Olympics, Fashion Week, and numerous non-profit initiatives.