June and AudioBooks

By W. Terry Whalin

June is AudioBook Month. This area of publishing continues to expand and explode from everything that I read online and in print, in consumer magazines and in trade magazines. 

For example, I encourage you to read this article from the recent Book Expo America and mega-bestselling author, James Patterson. “Patterson (Crazy House, Hachette Audio) opened his presentation with a declaration: “Listening to an audio is reading. A lot of gatekeepers don't buy into that, but I do.” Noting the audiobook “is only scratching the surface of its potential importance and its audience,” he offered a pair of recommendations. “The first suggestion is that some audiobook people have to go out to Silicon Valley. We need to redesign audiobooks so they can be sold at a better price.” He also advocated for offering an irresistible audiobook package, which “could include, just for example, a John Grisham, a Patterson, Hillbilly Elegy, a Wimpy Kid novel, Alan's new book,” to automobile makers at close to cost if they would agree to put it in every new car they sell.” I found this idea interesting and will be watching the publishing world to see if someone takes James Patterson up on such an idea.

If you are wondering about the viability of audiobooks, just look at these recent statistics:

In 2016, Audiobook Sales Up 18.2%, Unit Sales Jump 33.9% Audiobook sales in 2016 rose 18.2%, to $2.1 billion, and unit sales jumped 33.9%, according to the Audio Publishers Association's annual sales and consumer studies, conducted respectively by Management Practice and Edison Research. This marks the third year in a row that audiobooks sales have grown by nearly 20%. The APA attributed audio growth to an expanding listening audience: 24% of Americans (more than 67 million people) have completed at least one audiobook in the last year, a 22% increase over the 2015.” 

“Among other findings:
  • More listeners use smartphones most often to listen to audiobooks than ever before (29% in 2017 vs. 22% in 2015).
  • Nearly half (48%) of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35.
  • Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year.
  • More than a quarter (27% of respondents) said borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks.
  • A majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57%), followed by in the car (32%).
  • 68% of frequent listeners do housework while listening to audiobooks, followed by baking (65%), exercise (56%) and crafting (36%).
  • The top three reasons people enjoy listening to audiobooks are: 1) they can do other things while listening; 2) audiobooks are portable so people can listen wherever they are; and 3) they enjoy being read to.
  • The most popular genres last year were mysteries/thrillers/suspense, science fiction/fantasy and romance.
  • 19% of all listeners used voice-enabled wireless speakers (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) to listen to an audiobook in the last year, and for frequent listeners, that rises to 30%.”
I hope some of these numbers caught your attention about the importance of audiobooks. I want to finish this article with three ways you can get involved with audiobooks:

1. Listen to audiobooks on a regular basis. The first way for any of us to get active in an area is as a participant. I have written about audiobooks in past articles

2. Use your activity to promote and encourage others to listen to audiobooks. As you complete an audiobook, take a few minutes and write a review. If you examine my Goodreads book list, you will notice a number of these books are audiobooks.

3. Get active creating audiobooks. If you have no idea where to begin, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Richard Rieman's book, The Author's Guide to AudioBook Creation. This little book will help you learn more about the audio book industry and give you resources for launching your own audio products. 

Are you using and creating audio books? Let me know in the comment section.

 W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and the author of more than 60 books including Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success (available exclusively through this website with bonuses even though this book has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews). He blogs about The Writing Life and lives in Colorado and has over 200,000 twitter followers.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Because I am . . .er . . .frugal, I love that there are ways to get our books out there as audio with no money up front. Of course, we must share royalties with the reader/voice person we choose, but hey! Everyone deserves to get paid for their talents! Thanks for the reminder that I need to do this, Terry!

Terry Whalin said...

Carolyn, thank you for this comment. I heard Richard Rieman speak last night and he was saying the production and costs for audio continue to drop each year--with the audience growing. It's a great market for every author. I'm working to get the audio of my Billy Graham book finalized in the next few months and out into the market. Keep at it and I will do the same.


deborah lyn said...

This post is very interesting Terry. Thank you for bringing audio books to our attention. It made me think about one of my essays; one about auto racing that I love to read aloud. But after listening to the guide book's quick narration, I better not read it myself because the outcome from an untrained speaker could sink it. Great subject for another avenue to get our work out there.

Terry Whalin said...

Deborah, I appreciate the feedback. Yes for me with books I believe every author needs to get their book into as many different formats as possible. So they should not just do ebooks but print books and audio books. Different readers consume books in different ways.

Karen Cioffi said...

I agree with Deborah, interesting post. Authors do need as many avenues as possible to sell their books. The statistics do show that it's a sound move. Thanks for sharing this, Terry.

Terry Whalin said...

Karen, I appreciate the feedback.Thank you. Audio continues to grow. One of the keys is for every author to be aware--then figure out how to get their material into audio and the many different methods.

Dr. Valerie Allen said...

Terry - good article re audio books. I have been using ACX for several years and get a good return. I do a 50/50 royalty with the narrator and it works well for both of us. I have four novels, one kid's book, one nonfiction (self-help) and two short story collections all on audio. I also urge authors to have their books in LARGE PRINT and of course, electronic. More about me on Amazon.com/author/valerieallen

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