What you can do with Audiobooks as a Self-Publisher

audiobooks-300x300With the rise of MP3 and podcast technology, audiobooks have become much more popular than they once were. Rather than having to lug around an old cassette tape, you can put audiobook recordings directly on your phone and take them anywhere. Websites like Audible or Audiobooks.com have made a business out of offering direct downloads of books, comedy albums, interview archives, and even language instruction.

It may seem like a difficult process to record and publish an audiobook, but it’s actually much easier than you think, and it can do a lot to widen your audience past those who who have the time to sit down and read the written word. We’ll talk about the nuts and bolts of how to record an audiobook version next week, but in the meantime, here are some ways in which you can incorporate an audiobook into your marketing strategy for your book.

[image credit: Userbyes.com]

Why should you make an audiobook version?

  • The audio maven community is rapidly growing, but as of now the market for audiobooks is substantially smaller than the market for ebooks or printed books. Just think; there are millions and millions of self-published ebooks on Amazon, but only 100,000 or so audiobooks on Audible. This makes the audiobook market much easier to break into, because audio fans are always looking for the newest book to fill their time (one of the great things about audiobooks is that you can be stuck in traffic or washing dishes and still be reading!) and once you’ve hooked those fans, they’re be more likely to buy printed or ebook versions as well.
  • In addition to self-professed “readers” who are just too busy to pick up a book, you’ll also be accessible to many intelligent, passionate fans who are “non-readers.” This isn’t to say that they don’t like reading but that they may be unable to because they struggle with blindness, dyslexia, slow reading speed, or old age that affects their vision.
  • As weird as it sounds, sometimes listening to someone (or yourself — many authors like to record themselves reading their books) read your book aloud can alert you to problems within the text. See a typo while you’re reading? Fix it for the print version! Something sound out of place? It’s easy to change before you publish. (for this we recommend publishing both your digital or print version and the audiobook simultaneously, or at least begin recording before you’re done printing).

Release it on popular audiobook websites

Audible is by far the biggest audiobook resource on the internet, and by becoming a partner through Amazon’s ACX platform, you can upload your own audiobook onto the website easily.

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iTunes is also a great place to release an audiobook, of course, as is Amazon’s CreateSpace — just as you can self-publish a book, you can self-publish an audiobook album, with each chapter as a separate track.

If you’re publishing your ebook to be read on a kindle, you can even incorporate Whispersync, which allows you to switch seamlessly from ebook to audiobook

Package it with your ebook

Some people use one version of their published work as a bonus incentive for buying another version. For example, when you buy a Marvel comic book magazine, sometimes you’ll get a free code to download the digital version of the same comic. If you want to specifically target sales of your printed book or of your ebook, you can offer a free download of the audiobook (this would work especially well with Whispersync).

Release your book as a podcast

Podcasted audio books, or Podiobooks, are usually released one chapter at a time as a serialized feed on iTunes, Podiobooks.com, or any other podcast catching program. Most Podiobook authors release these chapters for free as a means of promotion and audience-building, and several successful writers have gotten traditional book deals for printed versions of these books after the fact. The pioneer of podiobooks, horror and science writer Scott Sigler, will sometimes record and release first drafts of his novels, then publish a full print version and audiobook with “bonus” content.


[Image credit: NY Times]

It may seem counter intuitive to release your book for free over small increments, but never underestimate the power of a grateful and passionate fan base. If your audience is invested enough in your content, they’ll be much more willing to buy books they’ve already technically read to support you. Of course, you can also switch up some of the content in each version as Sigler does, but but this is not always necessary to convince fans to buy your published work.

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One thought on “What you can do with Audiobooks as a Self-Publisher

  1. I listen to audiobooks when I drive for a long distance. I would absolutely listen to indy books if they were available. My fear is having to listen to someone who thinks he/she didn’t need an editor, who then reads his/her own book aloud poorly. I know that sounds pessimistic, but not every writer can (or should) design cover art, either.

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