I want to share a few ideas to help you promote your public domain audiobooks with interesting pull quotes from critics’ reviews, publisher marketing text in your descriptive blurbs, and authentic cover art.
A DEAL You Can Get Any Day And Is Good All Year
The Monday after Thanksgiving is known as Cyber Monday, when lots of people are on their computers shopping for deals. Friends, have I got a DEAL for you!
I spent the morning searching for a special item to add to one of my collections.
This prize doesn’t cost much and can be purchased for the same low price any day of the year.
I’m talking about a library card — not just any library card, mind you, but a non-resident library card.
Of course, you should start your collection of cards with one from your city or county library. Most libraries offer local residents a free card since the library is funded through tax dollars. Learn what your local library has to offer and use it.
However, you’ll discover that getting a non-resident card to a second library system may be very useful since libraries offer different digital services. You’ll want to shop around for 1 or more non-resident library cards that fit your needs.
In addition to the cost of the card, you’ll need to determine whether the library accepts on-line registrations. I viewed at least 2 dozen library sites across the country, and most libraries require you to apply in person.
The cost for a non-resident library card is usually minimal, although some places like Kalamazoo, MI charge a 3-digit figure equating to a resident’s property tax.
Once you acquire the library cards you need, their benefit to your career as an audiobook narrator can be immeasurable in at least 4 ways:
I listen to audiobooks every day. I’m not only listening to the story, but I’m critically listening to the narrator and production quality. Each one is a mini-masterclass in performance technique that aids my own interpretations.
Overdrive, Hoopla, and Recorded Books are the largest services that supply digital audiobooks to libraries. Two libraries with Overdrive accounts choose different audiobooks for their patrons to download. With multiple library cards, you’re sure to find an audiobook you want to hear.
I went shopping for my 2nd non-resident card this morning because I want to read Publishers Weekly (PW) magazine. Sure, I could pay the $180 subscription fee on Zinio.com to get a digital subscription or the $249.99 to Publishers Weekly for them to cut more trees and deliver the magazine to my house.
I’d rather pay much less and support a library at the same time!
I had noticed that my 2 libraries both offer magazines through their Recorded Books portal (formerly Zinio). As an aside, my libraries also have other fabulous options from Recorded Books, such as ArtistWorks for art and music instruction! Neither had Publishers Weekly in their account, so I searched Google for a library that does. I’m planning to head over to a neighboring county tomorrow and pay $30 for a year’s access on their non-resident card.
TIP: Some libraries listed PW in a PDF as an available title, but I had to look at their actual magazine page to determine whether it really was included. If they have it, be sure they are showing the current issue as I saw several sites that indicated it was limited to archives. Also, some libraries have Flipster accounts for their magazines. I don’t know whether Publishers Weekly is available from Flipster.
My library cards can help me achieve my long-held goal of becoming polylingual. (Most people would say “multi-lingual”, but that word wouldn’t fit with my alliteration.) Both of my cards give me on-line access to Mángo Languages. Even if I don’t take an entire course, it’s helpful to listen to these conversations when working on accents for an audiobook.
I got my first non-resident card from the nearby city of Smyrna a few months ago after learning that some libraries give card holders access to the fantastic on-line training site Lynda.com.
While they aren’t audiobook-specific, the Lynda video courses are professionally created and come with a transcript and materials. You can preview the Pro Tools 12 Essential Training at this link, but classes on every popular DAW are available. In addition to courses on DAWs, Lynda offers loads of classes in marketing, social media, web site design, and other topics useful to your audiobook business.
Like the magazines, Lynda is a subscription site. You pay either monthly or yearly. They charge more for the plan that includes the exercise files. When I started with Lynda in mid-2015, I paid $34.99 per month for the courses and exercise files. Last December, I paid a discounted price of $242.89 for a year.
In contrast, my Smyrna Library card cost $50, and I get to take advantage of all the other services from the Smyrna Library as well.
As you can see, the cost savings of the library cards over the regular price of these subscriptions is a DEAL!
Do you have a library card? Please leave a comment and let me know how you use it!
Updated 6/6/19 to change Recorded Books and Zinio references
Karen Commins’s Audiobook Marketing Cheat Sheet
Last updated 27 April 2023
Don’t you just LOVE to market your audiobooks?
I think many people would answer an emphatic NO! to that question, in part because they feel uncertain how to proceed.
This page will give you plenty of creative ideas for promoting your audiobook!
Before we get to those ideas, I want to point out that the author and publisher should do most of the marketing and promotion of the title. Even on royalty share contracts, the narrator’s role in and effect from promotion is minimal. Narrators typically have larger portfolios than authors and have shorter deadlines, making it impractical for a narrator to do prolonged and/or substantial marketing on individual books.
I hold the view that the best long-term marketing any narrator or author can do is to narrate or write their next book. Being prolific in your field improves your skills, builds the fan base of buyers (with sales and royalties to follow), and always gives you something new to promote.
In addition, authors and publishers would do well to spend the bulk of their time and money in promoting the BOOK rather than a particular edition of it. Some of the methods on this page will work very well for promoting the book, while others will help you give the audiobook greater visibility, at its release and beyond.
Visibility is the key to strong sales.
Why do audiobooks need greater visibility? I answered that question and many more in the interview I gave to Sandra Beckwith at BuildBookBuzz.com. This interview is a good place to start when you’re developing a marketing plan for your book and audiobook.
Many authors are expanding their distribution platforms to offer their audiobooks on as many sites as possible. The number and variety of distributors is increasing. Each offers different royalty rates, sales data update frequencies, payment frequencies, and promotional support. You may not be able to publish under your company name.
You need to do your research and pick the distributor(s) that best serve your goals. Note that you can be non-exclusive with ACX/Audible and concurrently distributing on other sites. Some to consider are:
I examined 6 popular distributors across 22 points and offered my recommendations in my Audiobook Distributor Comparison Chart, available exclusively to members of my NarratorsRoadmap.com site.
Some authors are selling audiobooks from their own site. They use a service like Stripe.com or PayHip.com to process the payment and BookFunnel.com to distribute them.
Even if your audiobook is only available as a digital download, you can still sell it through independent bookstores (as long as you have not signed any exclusive distribution agreements) by distributing it through Libro.fm. This article outlines a number of ways that Libro.fm helps booksellers promote your audiobook.
Libraries are important for both discovery and sales of your books. The report on this site discusses libraries’ impact on buying and consumers’ relations with books.
Book store and libraries are looking for programming and may be willing or even eager for authors to give a talk in person or in a livestream video. If you want to do a signing but only have digital editions of your book, you could get postcards printed with your book cover and blurb.
My article in the February 2016 issue of InD’tale Magazine, “6 Low-Cost Avenues For Greater Audiobook Sales” lists 7 ways authors can mention their audiobooks on their sites and in their newsletter mailing list (you ARE developing and maintaining a mailing list, aren’t you? Check out this 4/27/23 Bookbub author survey for info and ideas!), references my 2 ACX articles below and offers even more promotional and marketing ideas: AudiobookBoom.com (discussed below), Whispersync (explanation and video below in Other Resources), QR codes, podcasts (see this article for a case study), and radio shows.
Author Melissa Storm has created this video that shows her attractive sales buttons on her site and her links on Soundcloud. She also discusses email automations to send info about your audiobooks to your mailing list.
The best type of author mention might be a Kickstarter project to secure funding to produce the audiobook! While you might not have Cory Doctorow’s reach or results, you can learn from his 3/31/23 article in Publishers Weekly.
Social Media and Other Tactics
I had the pleasure of being a guest writer on the ACX.com blog to discuss audiobook marketing in depth. Both articles and their comments include examples from other narrators and me.
In Part One, I explained some reasons why people are resistant to listening to audiobooks. I then offered 3 ways to make your audiobooks more discoverable to an audience, with related tactics for each: be authentic, be consistent, and be creative.
Note that the category of being consistent includes the idea of creating an annual promotions calendar so that you have reasons to promote the audiobook at times other than the release day. I talked about my promotions calendar as one of my narrator hacks on the APA Webcast in Sept. 2020, which APA members can view on the APA site. As you can see in the picture below, my promotions calendar includes my bi-weekly newsletter to NarratorsRoadmap.com members and bi-monthly newsletter to my mailing list. I insert info about my new releases and upcoming projects in the newsletters to my mailing list.
You might be interested to read this article to see how I promoted a book 8 years after the release date based on something in it.
Part Two contains 4 more ways to promote your audiobooks, including marketing based on any locations in the book. I offer some very specific tactics on 5 social media sites (Goodreads, Twitter, Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube) such as instructions about adding the audio edition to Goodreads and subscribing to my Twitter list of audiobook reviewers and bloggers. Be sure to read my comments for updated info about the Goodreads process. This page gives more detailed instructions about subscribing to and using my Twitter lists to find reviewers.
I created an Evernote check sheet of my minimal publicity actions, which you can view here.
This post from Kate Tilton lists 25 ideas from a March 2015 ACX Twitter chat about audiobook marketing tactics. It includes my organized Storify recap with threaded Q&As.
ACX published a great article on their blog highlighting 7 successful tips and tactics from authors interviewed at 2015 Romantic Times and BookExpo conventions.
You’ll find a growing number of groups of audiobook fans on Facebook. Be sure to read their rules and post promotions only where allowed. A few are listed below, but you can search Facebook for more generalized and genre-specific groups relevant to your topic.
You can sign up to receive the free, 3-times-daily alerts from journalists who are looking for sources for stories at Help A Reporter. I especially encourage non-fiction authors to take this step because it’s a great way to share your expertise of your topic with the media. However, fiction authors and narrators still have many opportunities to pitch their ideas and experience as a source. Review their rules for sources before responding to any of the queries. If a journalist uses your information, you can increase your publicity by sharing your media coverage as I did in this Facebook post.
Share the link to your audiobooks listed on Audible in the most favorable light to you as I explained in this article.
You can add the Audible sample of your audiobook to your web site and social media. If you don’t have the file, you can use this free, nifty utility from narrator Steven Jay Cohen to extract the MP3 sample file from Audible’s site.
If you published your audiobook using ACX, be sure to use the bounty referral links found in your dashboard each time you post about your audiobook.
This article on the ACX blog shows you how to create a 30-day free Audible trial. The free trial may lead to an ACX bounty payment!
Once you have the audiobook in your Audible library, Audible lets you send it for FREE to as many people as you wish! The catch is that each person can only receive 1 book for free. After that point, they have to pay for books sent to them.
Best of all, Audible has created Author pages that take information from Author’s Central on Amazon. This post in the ACX blog explains how to find and share your Author page.
Per this 2019 article on The Verge, ver 100 million Amazon Alexa units have been sold worldwide. This site notes that Amazon Echos have more than 50% of the smart speaker installation base in the US. Not surprisingly, Audible has a list of audiobook-related Alexa commands.
On my AudiobookVillage.com site, you can access my exclusive Reviewers Directory that is searchable by genre and sub-genre and contains contact info, review policies, a link to a sample review and more info for each reviewer.
Publishers and authors can pay to distribute review copies to stores, libraries, journalists, and bloggers through Edelweiss+ and NetGalley.
The Literate Housewife blog offered these tips about submitting requests for reviews. This page from the Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog outlines additional details you’ll want to include in your pitch.
This blog post contains my Storify of an ACX chat about submitting your audiobooks to the premiere industry publication AudioFile Magazine for review.
Library Journal is a major influencer in library sales, as is the Booklist site and magazine from the American Library Association.
Publishers Weekly discontinued its audiobook reviews but started including audio clips with web reviews of the print book. Contact the person named in this article if you’re interested.
AudiobookJukebox.com is an incredible site that indexes thousands of audiobook reviews for all genres. You only have to fill out a simple form to request a review. Reviewers can check the list and request your title if they are interested in it.
AudiobooksUnleashed.com is the brainchild of narrator Sarah Sampino. She automated the fulfillment process of promo code distribution. You load your codes on the listing page, and the site gives one to each listener requesting the audiobook. You can even re-load the codes. A nice value-add is the addition of your mailing list sign-up form.
A similar code fulfillment site AudioFreebies.com created by narrator Amy Soakes allows you to specify whether your promo codes are ACX/Audible or FindawayVoices/AuthorsDirect.
The popular FreeAudiobookCodes.com site (formerly known as AudiobookBoom.com) was developed by audiobook narrator Jeffrey Kafer. It’s like BookBub but is for audiobook promotion. You can advertise your audiobook on this site and use your ACX promo codes to give copies of your audiobook to eager listeners in exchange for a review.
Thanks to the efforts of narrator and audiobook columnist Ann Richardson, InD’tale Magazine accepts audiobooks for review.
Fellow narrator Paul Heitsch created this document that lists sites for audiobook reviews. This Google doc of Audiobook Marketing Resources lists additional reviewers and was created for a panel at the 2017 Romantic Times Convention by narrator Karen White, bloggers Felicia Sparks and Viviana Izzo, and Michele Cobb, the executive director of the Audio Publishers Association.
You can find other reviewers and bloggers on Twitter by subscribing to my Twitter list of audiobook reviewers and bloggers. This post shows you how to subscribe and use the list.
I’ve interviewed several blogger reviewers. You can read those interviews at this link.
In this video, author Chris Fox describes his successful tactic of giving away a significant number of review copies to gain a spot in the top 20 in the Audible category. As I explain in this comment, I advise you against guaranteeing that every person requesting a free audiobook will receive one.
BookBub has announced ChirpBooks, its audiobook promotion service for limited time price cuts. You need to distribute your audiobook through Findaway Voices in order to fulfill orders from Chirp because other distributors don’t allow you to set or change your audiobook price. You can submit a Chirp deal on this page. You can even promote your Chirp listing with a BookBub ad. This webinar explains how to apply for and maximize your Chirp deal. Both authors and narrators can even add “Follow Me on Chirp” buttons and icons to your web sites as described in this article.
This article shows 12 BookBub audiobook ads that they say achieved high click-through rates.
You can pay to advertise your audiobook in AudioFile’s Indie Press Showcase.
If you’d like to run Facebook ads for your audiobooks, Melissa Storm covers them in her paid course.
You can use the Bookfunnel service to advertise and deliver short audio to others. Delivery of complete audiobooks is still in beta.
In this article, audiobook narrator and columnist Ann Richardson explores many of the awards available for audiobooks. I want to highlight 3 awards programs to make you aware of their deadlines:
- The Call For Entries in the annual prestigious Audies competition, sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association, usually begins in late June.
- The Voice Arts Awards, presented by the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences, has entry deadlines (before late fees) running from May to August each year.
- The Independent Audiobook Awards accept submissions from mid-October to mid-January.
As Audie winners commented in this article, you can update your cover art to show the award designation and the audiobook’s description to include information about its awards.
When I was a guest on Stephen Campbell’s The Author Biz podcast to talk about audiobook marketing and promotion, I mentioned the ripple effect of BookBub ads for ebooks. As I demonstrate in this 3:03 video, Amazon has created technology called Whispersync that enables you to seamlessly go between the ebook and audiobook or even immerse yourself in both concurrently. Many avid listeners will acquire an Amazon Kindle ebook when it is free or heavily discounted in order to buy the Audible audiobook on Amazon at a lower price. In fact, the ripple effect is so high that the money made on the audiobook royalties following the promotion oftentimes pays the cost of the BookBub ad!
Audiograms are short videos that consist of an audio file added to a picture, like the one shown below. The visible audio wave on the image(s) can be attention-getting on social media. Be aware of the video duration limits set each social media platform.
In this article, narrator and publisher Steven Jay Cohen explains their use and a free audiogram generator named Headliner. I used the service Wavve.co to create the audiogram in this tweet. Wavve lets you create one 1-minute video per month for free; they offer a sliding scale of prices for additional videos. The site allows you to choose different shapes and colors for the wave form, and the support team was super responsive when I ran into an issue with the progress bar not lighting as expected.
You could include your audiograms or other audio samples in your messages sent to your mailing list. This article, which is aimed at podcasters, discusses that audiograms seem better at building brand awareness on social media more than generating click-throughs to the product.
You also could run a contest associated with a new release. This email from narrator Scott Brick gives a great example you could follow.
It’s important to size graphics appropriately for each site. To create interesting and unique images, you might want to use the graphics on BookBrush.com, which has various template book-related mock-ups, or Canva.com.
You could also make or hire someone to produce a video trailer to promote the audiobook. I’ve written text and created a trailer describing the audiobook and others like this one and this one where I used a snippet from the audiobook’s narration and timed the videos and images to go with it. You can share your videos anywhere you’d share an audiogram. Unless you already have lots of followers, though, be aware that getting eyeballs on your trailer could require its own marketing plan!
You might decide to hire someone to help you with specific marketing for your audiobook. Prolific narrator-turned-author Karen White offers an array of services and packages at her site HomeCookedBooks.com.
Members of the ACX Narrators and Producers group on Facebook may also want to check the FAQ in the group’s pinned post. I created the FAQ from that group’s discussions, and it contains 5 excellent discussions about audiobook marketing that may reveal additional tactics. Note that you must have a profile on ACX in order to join the group.
I also recommend that you join the Marketing Audiobooks Wide group on Facebook. Authors and audio rights holders discuss tactics that have worked for them.
Obviously, marketing is such a broad topic and is subject to one’s availability and creativity that I couldn’t possibly write about or include every idea.
For instance, I don’t have much to say about Pinterest. I pin the audiobook cover on a board of my titles, and I like seeing which titles have been re-pinned. Authors and publishers also use Instagram and other sites to promote their titles.
Rather than being on every social media channel, I stick with the few I enjoy using. It takes time to build a following, and I hold to the belief that “scattered thinking leads to scattered results”!
You’ll find good examples of many tactics discussed in this post in this Bookbub article. Author Penny Reid described her experiences with using these ideas in this post on the BookBub blog.
By steadily employing multiple techniques from this page to promote your audiobooks over time, you’re sure to have consistent sales!