Audiobooks

Good day, PJ Sharon here, coming to you from the snow-carpeted Berkshires. The first snow fall is always so pretty.  First snow picI have a couple of questions for all of you. Do you listen to audiobooks? How do you listen to them? And where do you find them? Best seller’s lists? Specific authors/narrators you love to read/hear? Let’s chat.

I’ll confess that I’ve only listened to a few audiobooks–and always in the car with a tangible CD (or 29 CD’s as is the case for OUTLANDER  which I’ve listened to five times). I’m afraid I haven’t made the leap to the next technological step in the evolution of how we read books and hear stories–digital audiobooks. As in–downloaded them onto my i-pod touch or my android phone, or listened to them directly from my computer. As hard as I try, I’m still resistant to learning/using new technology.

I often feel as if I’m being dragged forcibly into the future. I’m trying not to scream too loudly about it since I know that many people are having great success with audiobook sales. According to the world of publishing, audiobooks are in. Bob Mayer admits to having spent over $35,000 having all of his books turned into audiobooks, and I know Bella Andre thinks they are as untapped a market as the foreign marketplace. I’m pretty sure their audiobooks are selling…I’d love to ask them.

Personally, I’m not seeing it. Maybe because I’m not on any best sellers lists or because I’m not out “finding my audience” as diligently as is needed, but I don’t see my readers buying audiobooks. Whenever I mention that my book is available on audio, I’m asked where they can buy the CD so they can listen to it in their car. Um…sorry…no CD. These are friends and family I’m talking to, however–the folks like me who are always one step behind the latest tech trend. No problem, you say. You write books for teens, and teens in general are glued to the latest and greatest electronic devices. Surley, they must be listening to audiobooks. But once again, they don’t have the buying power of adults. And let’s face it, none of them is likely to spend $17.95 on a digital download of a book unless it’s someone they really want to read/hear.

When I decided to dabble in the realm of audiobooks, I figured I would start with a book that had universal appeal. Many adult readers loved HEAVEN IS FOR  HEROES for it’s sweet military romance, family drama and Thanksgiving theme. It seemed like the right story for an audiobook audience.HeavenisforHeroes_audiobookcover (2013_06_07 00_53_00 UTC)

You can hear a sample of Erin Mallon’s awesome narration of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES here. Just click on the little “listen” arrow beneath the cover picture on the sales page.

With companies like ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), it’s much easier for authors to have professionally produced and fabulously narrated audiobooks. ACX offers two plans. You can either pay up front, which will likely cost you between $1,500-2,000, depending on the length of your book (mine was 78,000 words and would have cost me $1,000). Or you can do a 50/50 royalty share, where you pay an upfront cost (usually half) and then split the royalties until the complete cost of production is paid and I’ve sold a certain number of copies, at which time, my royalty rate increases.. Basically, I paid $500 for an awesome narrator who I found on the ACX site, and I split the royalties. It comes out to a nice little chunk of the $17.95 per copy price through Amazon, Audible, or i-tunes. If you want to read more about ACX and how it all works, the WG2E has several excellent posts here.

On the consumer’s side, If you’re an avid audiobook fan and decide to become an Audible Member, which is around $14.95/month, you’d get the $17.95 price point OR you can use the 1 Credit you get each month and download the book for FREE–or even gift it to someone else. You can also purchase the file from Amazon and get it FREE with a 30-day Audible Trial Membership.

Now, the other difficulty I find with audiobooks is getting people to review them. I don’t know if people who have bought the book have downloaded it and simply haven’t listened to it yet, or if they aren’t inclined to leave reviews on audiobooks. Either way, I can’t even give a copy away to get an honest review. ACX provides five free download codes to give out to reviewers or as giveaways, but finding reviewers for audiobooks seems to be a bit of a challenge. It’s a market that is getting increasingly flooded and some reviewers are backlogged for months. If anyone is willing to listen and review the book, I’d be happy to gift you a copy along with instructions on how to download from Audible, Amazon, or i-tunes. All I ask in return is that you give it an honest review.

If anyone has any suggestions on where’s a good place to market audiobooks or how I can get some reviews, I’m wide open! I’ve even tried to join a Goodreads group of romance audiobook reviewers, but those groups are pretty persnickety about authors promoting themselves. If you aren’t part of the discussion every day, it’s not really cool to just jump in and ask for reviews. And since I hang around mostly with the characters in my head and not the characters on Goodreads, I haven’t found an “in”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on audiobooks. Questions are cool too–if you’re wondering about the process or have questions about working with ACX. I’d be happy to answer them. Have a lovely day!

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8 thoughts on “Audiobooks”

  1. Right. There. With. Ya.

    I wish I had suggestions to give you for marketing! Because it would mean I have them for me, too :). But you nailed it–the issues, that is. Especially the teen market. I can relate to every word you’ve said here.

    I’ve also discovered that a lot–A LOT– of people rely on the library for audiobooks. Because free. And when your book is produced through ACX and *need* their distribution power, you don’t get physical CDs to get into libraries. Catch-22.

    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck in finding some suggestions! I’m subscribing to the comments :). And thank you for posting–it makes me feel a bit better knowing I’m not the only one in this boat.

  2. I used to listen to audio books during my commute. Now I load them on my phone and listen to them while I’m walking or sometimes when I’m doing housework. Honestly, I don’t buy them due to the expense. I borrow them from the library in digital form, which can be loaded directly onto the phone, or I will load the CDs onto my computer and then transfer to my phone. This latter process is cumbersome, but it can be done. As to where to market them or get reviewers, I have no idea! But I will let you know if I think of something.

  3. Hi P.J.
    I enjoyed your article. I have considered doing an audiobook of one of my novels, but the expense versus the actual sales of the end product has stopped me. I enjoy listening to audiobooks, in the car during a long commute and also on my ipod. I do get them from the library, though. Free is the reason. So, then, how does one garner enough reviews and sales of this new venue for book selling. Wish I had an answer for you. Keep writing, and keep sending your work out into the world!
    Lily

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Lily. I think audio books are selling well for established authors and best sellers. But for the rest of us the return is slow. I’ve sold a few dozen since I rwleased the aidio in the spring. Sales hstarted strong but have dwindled the past few months. Just have to keep plugging I guess.

  4. When I drove a LOT, I’d listen to Tom Clancy’s books over & over (at first on tape & later on CDs). Added to that were tapes and CDs from other authors. I’d say over-the-road-long-haul-truckers are a safe bet for Western, Action, Military and Mystery books (geared toward men); however, more and more women are driving “big rigs” now (and more power to them I say) so perhaps some romance books could fit in as well. If you go to a “Love’s” or similar gas-station you’ll see a LOT of books on CDs for sale from $5 and up. Most professional drivers don’t have time to detour into a library so they buy their CDs when they stop for fuel and food. I relies other digital formats are gaining adherents every day, but I think there is still a market for CDs…another possibility would be books to be read to children, when Mom or Dad can’t do it.

    1. Great insights! I agree about the demographic of listeners for audio books on CD. The other group of folks who like to listen in the car are your older generation who day trip a lot–retirees who love to read. But again, not so much the readership for my YA books and not the folks who are listening to digital audio books on MP3, i-pods and such. Not sure why ACX won’t provide CD’s and will only do digital, but I think they are missing out on a huge market. Or they are feeding into the idea that CD’s are on their way out and forcing everyone to get on board with the new technology or risk missing out on great stories. Either way, it means that audiobook sales are not paying off for a lot of us.

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