Audio Books – Obvious next step, or a bridge too far?

My fellow Firebound Books author and the creator of the bestselling Eastern Kingdom Chronicles and the Whistler Novels, T.J Garrett discusses audio books and whether they are the right choice for every writer.

Since commissioning the audio narrative for my book DEAD AGAIN, I have had two predominant thoughts. Firstly: “Oh my god, I can’t wait to get my first audio book published.” Secondly: “Bloody hell this is expensive; I hope it isn’t a waste of money!”
Audio books are great, and they are getting very popular. With the success of Audible, a lot of indie authors are choosing to go down this route. But is producing an audio book a necessary step, or even practical, for everyone?

Is It Necessary?

If you’re not selling eBooks, I doubt producing an audio version will do you any favours. At the end of the day, audio books are just another format, and much of the same marketing rules and trending concepts apply to their sales. It is possible, I suppose, to have a successful audiobook career and not sell eBooks, but if you’ve tried selling eBooks, and haven’t been successful, then what makes you think audio will be any different? I think the point I’m trying to make is, audio books will not boost a flagging career just because they are a different format; you still need to market the product, and you better be good at that before you spend the huge amounts of money required to produce a good quality audio book.

Is It Practical?

Audio books take a long time to produce. Unless you have a narrator in your pocket, waiting on your manuscript, the lead time for an audio book is at least twelve weeks. For most of us indie writers, getting the books on the shelf is the most important stage of our business, so waiting another three months for an audiobook may not be practical. Yes, you can release the audio book later on, but you’ll miss out on all your initial marketing. Also, where do you advertise your audio book? To my knowledge, there are no Bookbub-type services for the audio book industry. The best form of advertising appears to be within the Audible App, and that is bloody expensive!
Note: If you know of any advertising funnels for audio books, let me know!

The End Game
Why are you making an audio book?

Yes, it’s a great ego boost to have someone read out your manuscript and have it “aired” on sites like audible – it’s kinda like the poor man’s version of having Hollywood knocking at your door. You’re making a multimedia version of your work, but is it going to make you any money? Don’t forget, if you have a series, you are going to have to have all your other books recorded, too. If you have three or four books, you’re looking at least a five-grand production budget – and that’s based on the cheap end of the spectrum. You need to think seriously before undertaking this endeavour.

What are the Advantages?

To be honest, I don’t know. I haven’t released my book yet. All I have at the moment are a lot of what-ifs. What if I’m wasting my money? What if I can’t find a way to advertise? What if nobody wants it? This process has taken me right back to the initial decision I made when deciding to become a full-time indie writer. I hope it will work. I hope people will like the recordings and buy lots of the audio books. I hope I’ll at least make my money back. But at the moment, it’s all just questions and doubts.
I’ll let you know what happens after I’ve released the book (June 2017)

For more information of T.J’s work check out his website at – www.tjgarrett.com

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2 thoughts on “Audio Books – Obvious next step, or a bridge too far?

  1. ACX offers royalty share – which is what it says on the tin. You split the royalties between narrator and author. It does leave a lower royalty share but means you don’t have to fork out the money in advance. There are narrators who won’t work for royalty share but many do, and you can find eminently suitable narrators.

    I think it’s worth it.

  2. Eranamage summed it up nicely. In this industry, it’s all a crapshoot but I remember that I lost out on a potential sale because my book wasn’t available in an audiobook format. So, you cannot say for certain that because an author hasn’t sold many e-books that they won’t sell many or any audiobooks. If you do the royalty share, you pay nothing up front except whatever monies you were going to spend on marketing anyway so a bird in the hand is worth to in the bush.

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