Audiobooks are an evolving and increasingly accepted method of digesting literature, so they can be a great asset to any author looking to maximize their reach. That said, it’s easy to treat indie audiobook marketing just the same as you might with print books. While there’s plenty of similarities — and it’s often most effective to promote every format you’ve released your book in at once — there’s a few nuances you need to know if you want your audiobook to soar.
1. Prepare it early
A great way to streamline your publishing process is to prepare and record your audiobook early, rather than treating it as a late addition to your print or ebook releases. This ensures that readers with different preferences or accessibility requirements won’t end up waiting to buy a copy — or worse, forgetting about it before they get the chance.
Another reason for this is that most retailers will link every format on the same page so readers can always find what they want. That’s why online bookstore algorithms tend to prefer simultaneous releases — so your book shows up in readers’ searches across every format.
And, while it’s important to pay close attention to the nuances of different formats, you can always benefit from consolidating your marketing endeavors. You’ll save yourself a lot of time in the future if you let each format benefit off the back of the other to ultimately send your book up sales rankings.
2. Choose distributors carefully
Distributors will affect your potential reach, pricing, and royalties, so make sure to consider your options thoroughly. While it would take a much longer post to cover everything you need to know about every distributor, I’ll outline some popular choices to illustrate the differences before you dive into your own research:
Royalty rate: 40% if you sell exclusively through ACX, 20% otherwise.
Reach: Amazon, Audible, Apple Books.
Pricing: Retailers price based on length. E.g. a 10-20 hours long audiobook might sell for $20.
Production: Audition and hire producer-narrators with ACX. Pay either a reduced upfront fee and split royalties 50/50, or pay 100% upfront and keep royalties. Audiobooks produced through ACX must be ACX exclusive.
Note: If you choose ACX exclusivity the contract lasts 7-years — but there’s a 90 day period when you can back out.
Royalty rate: 32% – 40% from non-Amazon retailers, 20% from Amazon.
Reach: 170+ countries.
Pricing: Author’s choice.
Production: Get personally matched with a producer-narrator. Pay through royalty shares, or pay upfront and keep royalties.
Note: Using Findaway Voices’s production services doesn’t oblige you to use their distribution services.
Royalty rate: Identical to Findaway Voices, plus a $149 – $199 upfront fee (waived for titles produced through ListenUp).
Reach: 190+ countries.
Pricing: Author’s choice.
Production: Choose your producer-narrator from 3 handpicked casting selections.
Now you have an overview of the most important factors to consider, it’s up to you to research and choose whichever fits you best.
3. Ready your reviewers
With any format, good reviews tell curious would-be readers the book they’re considering has been tried, tested, and proven worthy of their time — this is important if you’re self-publishing since you won’t have a traditional publisher’s clout.
Besides securing reviews on popular bookstores (like Amazon) and book review sites (like goodreads), consider reaching out to audiobook specific retailers and reviewers. These are the people who know what makes a good audiobook, and have an eager following to boot, so their approval is always beneficial.
Here’s some of the most prolific audiobook-specific review blogs and magazines:
- AudioFile Magazine
- The Audiobook Blog
- Brian’s Book Blog
- The Audiobookworm
- The Audiobook Reviewer
While these sites aren’t a golden ticket to worldwide fame, given their readership is rather specific, they’re great for pulling promotional quotes that fit what audiobook listeners want to hear. While regular book review sites prove the prowess of your prose, audiobook specific review sites show potential listeners that you’ve given this format as much care as you would a paperback.
4. Create bonus content
Recording extra content as you work makes for great audiobook marketing material to attract new listeners and make your work stand out above the rest. If you’re wondering what makes good extra material, try these ideas:
- An extra introduction or prologue
- An interview with a narrator or character
- Teaser scenes
Content like this draws readers in because it’s an indicator of your book’s quality and ever-appreciated exclusive material. Similarly, interviewing your narrator works well because their connection with the material, and their personality, helps readers invest in the story. (A great example of this is Stephen Fry and his well-loved work on the Harry Potter audiobooks.)
5. Make and share promotional materials
Now we’ve covered everything to do before your audiobook releases, let’s talk about how to share your work and spread the word afterwards. The most effective way is to identify highlights in your audiobook, extract them, then share them on social media, in interviews, and on podcasts.
Podcasts and interviews are relatively easy when it comes to sharing materials because you don’t need to worry about creating engaging visuals. Social media is a different game. So, how can you grab users’ attention on popular author platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook? Start creating interesting visuals by turning audio recording into audiograms — audio clips formatted as a moving waveform over an image — you can create them easily using apps like Headliner or Wavve.
This basic extra visual stimuli is often enough to prompt casual scrollers to unmute and listen — after that you just need to ensure you direct readers to where they can find out more and buy your book somewhere in the post (or in your bio, if you’re using Instagram).
That concludes my list to help get your audiobook in front of listeners. Whether you’ve just started recording, or you’re ready to publish, I hope you found it useful. Either way, I’ll keep my ears open for what you create!
(c) Kim Littler
Kim Littler is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that helps authors publish their books by connecting them with the world’s best publishing professionals.