Will Your Book Make a Good Audiobook?

By Cheri Cowell

One of the hottest new trends for authors is the audiobook. Audiobook sales have had an average of 24.5% per year increase since 2017, and for the Christian author, the demand is intense and supplies are low. So how do you determine if your book is a good candidate for an audiobook recording and how can you take advantage of this trend?

To answer the first question one must know the audiobook listener. Most audiobooks are accessed while commuting. In the high traffic, long-commute areas of our country this can mean anywhere from one to two hours of listening time each way. In a recent poll, the American Audiobook Publishers Association found that 60% of respondents own a smart speaker, and 46% of smart speaker owners have used it to listen to an audiobook, which is up 31% from 2018. 

The average book is between seven and ten hours of recorded narration. The question then becomes, is your book one that tells a story or engages the listener enough to keep them listening for several hours. Some books are simply better when read and pondered. Others are best when read aloud because they build to a climax or challenge the listener, pulling them along. If you aren’t sure, take a poll of your current readers. Ask someone who listens to audiobooks or talk to a professional in the industry.

Another consideration is the appeal of your book for the audiobook buyer. Does it have a title that will attract a buyer? Unlike print books, which often attract because of the cover, audiobooks rely more heavily on titles and descriptions. Does your description speak to the needs of commuters? The commuter is described as highly educated, seeking motivation, self-improvement, and knowledge. They are similar to traditional Christian book readers in that they hunger for spiritual renewal. However, these listeners have unique needs in that they are seeking to live their faith in the corporate world and struggle to juggle work, home, and faith. Does your book speak to these needs? On the other hand, the smart speaker listeners are more interested in parenting, spiritual growth, and even escape.

The last question is a little more difficult. How do you take advantage of this growing trend toward audiobooks? Until recently, the audiobook option was only available to ‘A’ authors who have a publisher willing to sink the money required into it. Enter Audible and Amazon, so ‘B’ and ‘C’ authors now have access to distribution and recording options. The question for many authors is this—how do I find help in getting my book into the audiobook format without spending an enormous amount of time learning the ins and outs? 

The good news is there are a few enterprising companies beginning to offer these services at reasonable rates. (Disclaimer: I offer this service through my company and this is why I can write this article). So, after you do some research and determine if this is a good step for you, look into one of these companies. Speak Up has vetted their publishers, so if they are a part of this family, you can be assured of their high quality and integrity. Regardless of which audiobook publisher you choose, be encouraged—this is a great time to jump into the audiobook market.

Digging Deeper:  Where do you listen to audiobooks? Where do you purchase your audiobooks (ours sell at Audible, Amazon, iTunes, and Walmart.com)?

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A Note from Carol Kent:  Cheri Cowell is one of our July 14-16, 2021 Speak Up Conference faculty members.  If you select the Classic or Premiere Package, you can make an appointment for a one-on-one ZOOM meeting with Cheri to discuss your book project and the possibility of working with EA Books. All of the information you need is here.

If you’re in need of partial scholarship assistance, email Bonnie@speakupconference.com for an application.

If you’d like to “Pay It Forward” and give a tax-deductible donation to the scholarship fund, here’s the link

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