Back in July, I wrote a post about my reluctant journey into the seemingly overwhelming world of audiobook production and the lessons I learned along the way. I shared my advice for choosing a narrator and selecting the right royalty structure, and warned of some production perils to avoid. Many of you responded to that post with questions about how to market an audiobook. As a former corporate marketeer, your interest in this side of things got me excited— probably because my friends’ eyes glaze over when I say words like “metadata” or “demographics”—so I’ve returned today to address the issue.
As an independent author and publisher, I’m constantly faced with the challenge of how to compete in a crowded marketplace with titles that have big budgets and entire publicity teams behind them. Many shy away from the challenge, chalking it up as impossible, but I’ve learned that you can reach readers without spending big money; you just have to be creative.
Here are nine easy and inexpensive ideas you can try right away…
Just as there are reviewers for print and e-books, there are reviewers who specialize in audiobooks. There are traditional publications, like AudioFile Magazine, which is published in print and digital formats and is dedicated solely to audiobooks, as well as a host of audiobook review blogs that are always looking for new titles. These reviewers can be found with a simple Google search or by perusing directories like the Book Blogger directory, Indie View, or the Book Blogger List.
Don’t forget about your own fan base. If you’ve produced your audiobook with ACX, then you will receive 25 promo codes that you can use to give away free copies of your audiobook in exchange for a review.
>Tip: As stellar reviews come pouring in, re-post them on your social sites to help spread the good word.
Reach audiobook enthusiasts using other audio formats, like radio and podcasts. There are thousands of radio stations and podcasts that offer a variety of programs, which are often looking for guests and experts. Think about the subjects explored in your audiobook and how they could translate into an interesting discussion or interview. Then, identify a list of shows that would benefit from having you as a guest and pitch yourself to the shows’ producers.
For example, my audiobook, Empty Arms, explores teen pregnancy, forced adoptions, sealed records, and their devastating impact on an entire generation of women, so I’ve been targeting programs that deal with women’s issues.
To find radio shows that might be a good fit for your subject matter, check out the Radio Locator database. It’s a useful tool that allows you to search for radio stations by geography or format and then connects you to each station’s website, where you can learn about upcoming show topics and find the producer’s contact information.
For podcasts, visit the Podcasts section of the iTunes store and try searching for different keywords related to your book. You’ll be surprised at the number of shows you find. (Here’s an interview I scored over at The BookCast.)
>Tip: It can be time-consuming to monitor all of the publicity opportunities out there. You might find it useful to subscribe to Radio Guest List, a free booking service that sends you a daily e-mail with current radio, podcast, and television publicity opportunities.
Unlike most radio shows, podcasts are often produced at the expense of the host. As a result, many are seeking sponsorships to help offset their production costs. Sponsorships are generally short messages that are either read by the host or pre-recorded by the sponsor and played during the show. Often times, the cost is nominal but the impact can be strong if you work with shows that reach your target audience.
4. Free Samples
Give people an easy, risk-free way to sample your audiobook. SoundCloud allows you to create a free sample that you can embed on your website, in blog posts, and all throughout your social presence (see mine below). Plus, it links directly to your audiobook’s buying page to allow for easy conversion. This is different than the “free audio sample” feature on Audible because you don’t have to send people over to Audible to hear it.
>Tip: When creating your free sample, be sure to capture a compelling scene that leaves listeners wanting more, so they’re more likely to buy your audiobook.
5. One-Minute Trailer
Many books launch with a book trailer, but where some go wrong is creating a book trailer that is too long. I saw one that was five minutes long! Five minutes is a lifetime, but most people have a minute to spare. By creating a one-minute book trailer, you are promising not to waste the person’s time. For an example, see my one-minute trailer for Empty Arms below.
>Tip: In addition to linking to your one-minute trailer on your website and social sites, try including it in your e-mail signature (along with your free audio sample mentioned above) to maximize reach.
Digital audiobooks can be challenging to sell in person because they’re not a tangible product, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a presence at an event. A postcard-sized promotional card can go a long way in telling people about your audiobook and reminding them to order it when they get home. I use them at book festivals, signings, conferences, and I even keep a few in my purse to give to people I meet when I’m out and about. Online printing services like VistaPrint make it fast and affordable to produce marketing collateral for your audiobook
>Tip: If you aren’t skilled in graphic design, there are budget-friendly services like 99 Designs and CrowdSpring that allow you to submit a creative brief for your project and then have a pool of talented design pros compete for the job.
What groups, clubs, networks, or associations are you part of? Think collegiate, professional, religious, service, and hobby. Do any of your groups have newsletters? If so, find out if there’s a section dedicated to member news. Opportunities like this are a great source of free advertising, yet they’re often overlooked.
8. Social Media Advertising
Social media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, offer low cost, highly targeted advertising opportunities. Ad campaigns are easy to create—they require a little bit of text and an optional image—and they’re budget sensitive, so you can dictate how much you’re willing to pay per click, set a daily budget cap, and stop your campaign at any time, giving you full control over how much you spend.
With regards to targeting, Facebook allows you to filter your audience by location, gender, age, and interests (which include categories like “audiobooks”). These filters ensure that your ad is only being seen and clicked on by people who might actually be interested in buying your audiobook. Since LinkedIn is a social site for professionals, it’s a great place to target business travelers and commuters who might be likely to listen to audiobooks while they’re on the road. Goodreads is another logical place to promote your audiobook because it’s a community of readers. Plus, its ad platform allows you to reach your audience based on the genres and authors they like.
>Tip: Create a unique ad headline and body copy for each audience you target to increase the chance that your ad will resonate and turn into a sale.
The Audio Publishers Association holds the annual Audie Awards (it’s like the Emmy’s, but for audiobooks). The Audies recognize distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment across 30 different categories. Entry fees for this award can be a little pricey ($100 for APA members; $175 for non-members), but this sort of recognition can go a long way in letting the world know about your audiobook.
What other easy and inexpensive ways are there to promote an audiobook?