We’ve all heard the statistics: Audiobooks are one of the fastest growing segments of the book publishing industry—and have been for some time. According to the Audiobook Publishers Association 2022 Sale’s Survey, publishers’ audiobook revenue has seen double-digit growth for the past 10 years. That’s a decade of rapid expansion. It’s no wonder publishers are investing in their audio programs.
But, as with any book format, it’s not enough to simply produce an audiobook and hope it sells. How can we get an audiobook into the ears of the right audiences and build buzz for the format?
If you can, it’s a good idea to launch your book in print, digital, and audio formats at the same time. This will help you pool all of your marketing efforts to reach audiences in whichever format they prefer. They’ll be able to discover your book and start reading/listening right away, regardless of their preferred format.
Whenever possible, be sure that you are making it easy for audiences to discover all book formats. Don’t ask your readers to go search for the format they want—give it to them easily. On NetGalley, publishers can associate the audio and digital review copies (DRCs), helping members easily discover and request their preferred format.
If you’re aiming for a simultaneous release, you’ll have to plan some extra time for the audiobook production. Some publishers are starting to experiment with artificial intelligence (AI) to create early audio files using realistic synthetic voices. Even if your final audiobook will rely on a human narrator, AI can be a good way to share the content of the book pre-publication or to create an early sample for promotional use.
Be sure you’re starting your marketing efforts early, too. At NetGalley, we’ve seen that most audiobooks are uploaded to NetGalley within the one-month period before the pub date. This is shorter than the traditional six-month pre-pub period for print launches and advanced reader copies (ARCs) but longer than it was two years ago when we first introduced audiobooks on NetGalley. Audiobook marketing efforts are evolving as the format continues to gain in popularity. In fact, we’ve heard from some publishers who are beginning to adjust pub dates to add some pre-pub buffer time. They want to be sure to benefit from opportunities to build early buzz. It’s never too soon to start promoting your book in all formats.
Reach Wide Audiences
In the course of writing or acquiring this book, you should have identified your target audience—who is going to be most interested in the genre of your book, the content you’re presenting, or in the author’s style of writing? You’ve probably considered comp titles, researched experts in the field who you’d like to write a blurb, or identified influencers in the category. Are there any audiences you’re overlooking?
Consider existing fans of the narrator or audiobook reviewers (who exclusively review the audio format). Research deadlines for nominating your book for audiobook awards. Don’t forget about booksellers and librarians—even if they don’t carry the audio format in their store or library, they can be some of your most powerful supporters. Many of these types of book industry professionals rely on audiobooks to get through their to-be-read list, and they’re recommending books to readers on a daily basis.
Remember that many people read in multiple formats. They may be reading a paperback before they go to sleep at night and pick up right where they left off by listening to the audiobook during their commute in the morning. At NetGalley, over 100,000 members have expressed interest in audiobooks.
Good Marketing Lifts All Formats
They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and that should be the goal with your marketing efforts, too. If you hold the print, digital, and audiobook rights for your title, there is no competition between formats. Any sale is a good sale. Any review is going to drive interest in the book. Readers are going to gravitate toward the format that they prefer, and it’s your job to make it as easy as possible for them to find it. First and foremost, it means letting them know their options.
Be sure you include the audio format in any marketing you have planned:
- Create a Soundcloud channel with audio samples so you can easily share them via other social media channels.
- Share an audio sample alongside a chapter excerpt when pitching a book for review.
- Include a callout in a print ad to highlight the simultaneous release (“Also available as an audiobook!”)
- Include a QR code on the back cover of a book, or a bookmark that you giveaway at conferences that leads to an audio sample.
- Consider a dedicated e-blast to audiobook listeners to highlight the format, especially if you have a special narrator.
Lean On Your Professional Resources
As an IBPA member, you have access to many resources. Take advantage of your member benefits, which include audiobook production benefits as well as NetGalley benefits. If you’d like to know more about the audiobook efforts we’ve observed from publishers who use NetGalley, take a look at our article at NetGalley Insights.