The Case for Audio

Last week, we discussed how to market your audiobook to listeners who haven’t heard your work. In today’s post, we’re addressing your other target audience: fans of your books who aren’t yet audio listeners. These might be devoted followers or those who have only read one title, but either way, you want to get them listening. But how? Well, the first step might be to find out what’s stopping them.

My first recommendation is to grab the low hanging fruit – your fans who just haven’t given audio a try. Maybe they no longer have the time to sit down and read. Maybe they’re already reading so much of your work that they simply don’t have any more time to read. These fans might be your easiest audience to convince, because one of the best arguments for audiobooks is that you can listen to them when you don’t have time to read. For this audience, you can play up the classic audiobook promotion angle: listen while you drive, listen while you walk, or clean, or garden, craft, exercise, cook, whatever! Your biggest fans may be quick converts once they realize they can consume even more of your work than they thought.

Cheerful girl wearing sweater standingBut what about the holdouts, the ones who say they’ve tried but just can’t get into audiobooks? Readers, I happen to be in a perfect position to help you, because—believe it or not—I was one of those holdouts. Gasp!! I know. I’m a devoted literary nerd, a lifelong ravenous consumer of books, and a longtime fan of storytelling radio programs and podcasts, but I was very slow to come around to audiobooks. I tried one or two, but it just wasn’t the same as reading. The irony? The thing that ultimately made me love audiobooks was the realization that listening isn’t the same as reading—it’s listening. It’s an entirely different way to get lost in a story. Once I started thinking of audiobooks as oral storytelling or audio drama (like a radio play) it suddenly made sense to me. Now, I’m an avid listener, but I approach my listening choices very differently from how I approach my reading choices. A great narrator is particularly important to me, because I’m looking for an extra dimension in my audio—I want theater, I want drama, I want voice acting! This is something important to keep in mind when you’re casting your audiobook, as well as when you’re marketing it. Make sure to highlight what your narrator  adds to the story that the reader won’t get in the print version, because that could well be the thing that drives a listener to pick up your audiobook.

What about those that say they don’t listen to audiobooks because their attention wanders? I get it. Extended listening was a challenge for me, too, and as I was writing this post, I was surprised to learn how many of my audiobook-listening colleagues were holdouts because they too had trouble focusing. Many said they were finally able to enjoy audiobooks when they realized they could listen at 1.5x or 2x speed; others said that keeping their hands busy by playing a game on their phone, or knitting, or painting, made it much easier for them to focus on the story they were listening to. One listener said she now uses it as time to do something creative and fun, playing with modeling clay or coloring while she listens. Another long-time audiobook hold-out told me he listens while he’s driving or exercising, and that a good book will even motivate him to go to the gym so he can keep listening. I love going for long walks, so a good audiobook has become a welcome park companion for me, as an alternative to a stream of shorter podcasts. I can focus if I’m walking at the same time, and the long walk gives me time to get lost in the story. These are all great suggestions for your fans. The key is to highlight ways that your audiobook can enhance the other things they have to do or already enjoy doing.

Lovely young girl wearing winter clothes standingThe last thought I want to leave you with is that listening is a skill, just like reading. We all had to learn to read once, and we know how to hear, sure, but many of us are out of practice actively listening. Acknowledge this fact, and encourage your audiobook holdouts to give it a shot—it takes practice, but ultimately I’ve found that getting lost in good audio storytelling has been worth it. A well-acted, well-produced audiobook is a medium all its own, adding a new dimension to the story that wasn’t there in print. Offer some of the above tips to your on-the-fence fans, share audio samples to pique their interest, and use your referral links to grab bounties on top of earning royalties. You can even offer a promo code on occasion—challenge your fans to give listening a shot for one free book. They’ve got nothing to lose, and you’ve got fans to gain.

3 responses to “The Case for Audio

  1. Great article. Great advice. “Listening is a skill.” I was recently talking to my friend’s nephew who just graduated high school, about audiobooks and mentioned the fact that my mind wonders some times. I told him, ‘there’s no test involved. You get out of it, what you get out of it.’ I feel like when the majority of your reading growing up involves the stigma that ‘you better be ready to be tested on this material’, it’s just another mental hang up that’ll get in the way of starting a book or an audiobook. Thanks for the words of wisdom!

  2. Audible is great for audiobooks.Fantastic!

  3. “The thing that ultimately made me love audiobooks was the realization that listening isn’t the same as reading—it’s listening” –

    Tweeted! 🙂

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