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SHOULD YOU PUBLISH AUDIOBOOKS?

Indie authors often start their self-publishing careers with ebooks and paperback formats. It seems however that the growth in abooks (audio) could give a compelling reason for an Indie author to look at expanding the range of formats offered. If you haven’t tried it yet, the following extract I discovered in, How Authors Sell Publishing Rights, might help you to decide to have a go.


Apparently abooks were something trade-publishers and indie authors couldn’t or wouldn’t undertake due to the high production costs of creating the tapes/CDs. Added to this was the storage and shipping costs. Often, books had to be abridged to fit within the tape/CD limits. As such publishers tended to look down on the level of clientele who purchased abooks and some of these attitudes still prevail. According to The Bookseller, only 7% of books have a corresponding abook.


However, today, sales in abooks appear to be growing faster than any other format.


This has been due to digital downloads and subscription model production costs reducing. Thus, retail prices are lower and more people are listening to books while doing alternate pursuits; such as driving, exercising etc. Listeners don’t have to stay still, any longer. And with the advent of technology like Kindle’s Whispersync it enables readers to switch between abooks and ebooks without losing their place. The best is that new technology makes the cost of producing an abook much more manageable for indie authors as everything is digital. Authors and narrators often work together on a royalty-splitting basis, thus lowering the upfront cost to the writer.


While there is always room for the print version ebook and abook formats have a place so every author should consider jumping into this market.


So, which Books are best for Audiobooks?


It seems fiction takes 77% of the market, with adult titles outselling children’s by nearly nine to one. Listeners buy abooks based on genre, with mysteries, thrillers, and suspense being the most popular. These are followed by historical, biography, memoir, and general pop fiction (APA 2015 consumer survey). And, the majority of listeners prefer non-abridged versions.


Kit is estimated that a full-length, unabridged abook can run from four hours for a very short book (eg Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) to over twenty hours for sci-fi and fantasy novels.


It is reported that an abridged version, costs less to produce but will not work with services like Amazon’s Whispersync, especially where anything more than 10% difference from ebook to abook is unacceptable. Consumers do prefer unabridged versions.


Will You Still Control Your Audio Rights?


Firstly, you need to confirm if you have licensed your print and ebooks to a major publisher, and check whether your contract grants the publisher audio rights or not. If you have granted your audio rights, then you need talk to your publisher to confirm if they intend to create an abook.

It’s worth noting that Trade-publishers have been slow in adopting abooks so many are sat on audio rights they are not using.


In 2014, Futurebook found that while 90% of trade publishers sell ebooks, only 40% sold abooks. If your trade-publisher is not utilising its audio rights, talk to them about releasing those rights back to you.

However, some trade publishers, are entering the audio realm and starting their own audio imprints, such as Penguin Random House. Baker & Taylor started Acoustik, which is also available for libraries although they do not have a large catalogue, and according to Kirkus it is “far from perfect”. Hachette has an audio imprint but chooses to produce only the most commercial of its own backlist.


Simon & Schuster has S&S Audio, but it is overwhelmingly mainly its own backlist. Therefore, if, as an indie author, your ebook does well and gets picked up by a trade publisher, there is a chance that they might produce an abook too. However, it’s quite unlikely that you will get a direct deal for an abook.

Because trade publishers have been slow to adopt abooks, they have left an opportunity open for indie authors to fill the void. Are you ready to give it a try?