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Self-Published Authors: Are Audiobooks an Ingredient in Your Content Mix?

`What's hot in publishing,’ you ask? Audiobooks are on FIRE!! Not only are they on everyone's mind, but they are in everyone's ears as well.

As an author or hybrid publisher, you may know that audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry. What you may not know is why you need one and the best ways to create your audiobook.

Let's start with the facts because who doesn't like statistics?

  • Audiobooks sales are expected to reach almost 2 billion dollars in sales in 2022.

  • Audiobooks have had double-digit growth over the last seven years, and the growth has increased primarily because of the pandemic.

  • In 2021 almost 50% of Americans have listened to an audiobook.

  • 57% of the listeners are below 45 years old.

  • Fiction books account for almost 40% of audiobook sales.

  • A new market has developed for shorter (1-3 hours) audiobooks.

  • The home was still the dominant place for listening (45% on their smart speaker).

The bottom line for independent authors? More Americans are listening to audiobooks than ever before. And more and more of those audiobooks are self-published.

4 Reasons Audiobook Sales Are Booming (and how you can jump on this bandwagon)

Growth Reason 1: Technological Improvement

Technological advancements have made creating audiobooks simpler and less expensive (although not cheap), even for self-published authors. With the proliferation of in-home recording studios due to COVID, narrators have sped up delivery times because they do not need to rent studio space. There are now services that will guide you through the process of narrating your own book and correcting any noise or mistakes you might have made. Lastly, the improvement in Artificial Intelligence (AI) voice-over is remarkable. Although it's not quite a human voice yet, we are not far away from this becoming a reality.

Growth Reason 2: Greater Sales Opportunities

The ability to stream content has also had a significant influence. Audiobooks are much more accessible than in the days of cassettes and CDs. Smartphones and smart speakers are ubiquitous, allowing listeners to listen to audiobooks anytime and anywhere. Portability, the ability to multi-task, and the ability to listen wherever you want are the top three reasons cited for why people enjoy this format.

Growth Reason 3: Social Media, Creative Marketing, and Success

  • Success breeds success, which accounts for the rise in the popularity of audiobooks. As more audiobooks sell, publishers push to have more audiobooks created.

  • Social media behavior and crosstalk of narrators, influencers, and celebrities (who are authors themselves), as well production studios all hyping their current books have amplified the audiobook buzz. And please don't forget Amazon’s purchase of Audible and their constant advertising.

  • The combined marketing efforts of the above groups (including video and interviews on how they created their audiobooks) have generated enough of a buzz to get the attention of the American Publishing Association (APA), which has designated June as Audiobook month. They are working to give away approximately 2 million free audiobooks that will reach untold millions of new listeners.

Growth Reason 4: Audiobooks are reaching a completely different market

The appearance of audiobooks created a whole new segment of ‘readers.’ When we think of reading, most of us in the publishing industry think of cuddling up with a good book for a few hours of downtime, but this is not the audiobook audience. They exercise, do chores, and commute while listening to their books. Yes, there is an overlap, but audiobooks have opened up the book world to people who aren’t readers or who were physically unable to read before. Parents and children have also come to love the ease of listening to books.

Paths to Creating an Audiobook for Self-Published Authors

Before we look at the advantages and disadvantages of the three proven methods of creating an audiobook, let's discuss the most critical factors in the process: the quality of the sound and the file structure. To be accepted by Audible strict requirements must be followed, so it would be wise to know what you are getting involved with before starting.

Path 1: Record it and produce it yourself

This is your least expensive option, but unfortunately, it is also the most difficult unless you have the following skills:

  • The ability to record the entire narration

  • Engineering all the sound files to meet requirements

  • The expertise to package all the files into an audiobook

Path 2: Record it yourself and hire an experienced audiobook engineer

In this scenario, you still must narrate the entire book, but instead of producing it yourself, you would hire someone to engineer and package all the files into an acceptable and finished audiobook.

Path 3: Hire a full-service audiobook production company

Although this path is the most expensive option, it's the right one for most authors. High-quality narration is an art, and it takes time, practice, and patience to master it.

Deciding which path is right for you isn't complicated, but it's essential to think carefully about each step in the process and how each path changes the variables.

No matter what path you choose, it's still important to make an audiobook part of your literary repertoire.


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