In a time of global lockdown, more people are discovering audio content through podcasts and audiobooks. In this interview, I talk about the opportunities for authors, how to make the most of audio content whether you write fiction or non-fiction, and what might be coming next in terms of voice technologies. Thanks to Derek Doepker who interviewed me for his community.
You can watch the video below or here on YouTube. Show notes and transcript below the video.
- My backstory and how I got into writing [check out my timeline here]
- The benefits of audiobooks for authors – reach another audience, make more income
- What if you don't like the sound of your own voice? (and how to improve, even if you just want to do more interviews)
- Improve your writing craft by writing for audio and why audio can be part of your creative body of work
- Opportunities for fiction authors in the podcasting space. Ideas for ways to pitch when you don't have a clear niche.
- Is it worth starting your own podcast?
- Voice technologies and how they impact authors
Check out the book, Audio for Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasting, and Voice Technologies, and you can also check out Derek Doepker at www.DerekDoepker.com and www.BestsellerSecrets.com
Transcript of the interview
Derek: Hey, it's Derek Doepker here with Joanna Penn. I'm very excited about today's talk and interview because we're going to be discussing audio for authors. This is something I've been talking about for years.
Joanna has had material out on this for years, but now also a book, Audio for Authors. And I believe that audio, especially when it comes to audiobooks, is something that most authors are going to want to be getting into now more than ever. So we're going to be exploring this.
If you don't know Joanna, and I know many of you do, she is an award-nominated in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers under the pen name J.F.Penn also writes nonfiction, has over 30 books published in 84 countries. (Note from Joanna: It's actually now 149!)
She has the award-nominated podcast, The Creative Penn Podcast, which is one of my personal favorite podcasts for authors. And probably Joanna, I don't think I mentioned this to you before, when I surveyed my audience more than anything else, when I asked them who they listened to and who they check out, your name came up.
Joanna: I'm thrilled. Thank you so much for having this conversation. And I think part of that is I've been around for so long!
Derek: That's part of it. And you also put out really good information for fiction authors and nonfiction authors and it's very strategic.
I've been going through your book and I'm picking up things. I've been doing this for years, but you were pointing out distinctions with audiobooks and things that we'll get into that I hadn't even considered. So very useful tips. If you're considering doing audio, I highly recommend your book and we'll be talking a little bit more about that.
First I'm curious for those who might not know as much about you and I'm still getting to know a little bit about you.
What's your backstory and how did you get into authorship?
Joanna: I did a degree in Theology at the University of Oxford and out of that I joined the consulting world and I started implementing financial systems into large corporates. So this is not a bit of a non-sequitur in terms of its degree, that's a very Oxford thing.
I worked in Europe and then Asia Pacific doing financial systems. And it was very highly paid, but it was just creatively killing me. I got to this point where I was crying at work. I was like, what am I doing with my life?
And you end up with, you've paid your bills, you've got your house and your investments and you're like, what am I doing? I'm only 32 or something and I feel like life is pointless.
So I started writing a book on Career Change and as I wrote that book, I really got into publishing, got into blogging, got into podcasting back in 2009 before it really took off and somehow ended up where I am now. So basically started then writing fiction in 2011.
I left my day job and I've been doing it full-time since 2011 and pretty much have multiple streams of income now. Multi-six-figure business fiction and nonfiction as you said. So it really has been a long, quite a long journey.
I started first writing in 2006. So I don't want anyone to think I'm an overnight success in any form. But certainly, I've just shared my journey at The Creative Penn since 2008, and I've been around since then really.
Derek: My background is as a musician – I got a degree in music – so it's funny how many authors and creatives will transition careers and end up writing and never really planned on it. I didn't imagine I would do that. Doesn't it sound like that was like, you know, what you grew up expecting to do?
Joanna: Not at all.
Derek: It shows that you can learn, you can pivot. Especially, we're currently in and some crazy times as we're recording this and a lot of people that need to adapt and pivot and so it shows that you can learn how to do this.
And at the same time, it's not necessarily going to be an overnight thing. So if you're an author and you've been doing this for three months and you're like, well, I'm not a number-one New York Times bestselling author yet it's okay. It's a little bit of a learning curve.
Joanna: I think that's one of the exciting things. I know you're very much into self-help and self-development and I am too. And very much everything we do is learning. And it's not like even if you need to learn the craft side, but you also need to learn the business side and some of this technical stuff you have to learn over time.
None of us were born knowing this. You have to learn.
To be a successful independent author, to be a successful creative entrepreneur, I think you have to love the learning process and try things out and just try new things.
And this book on audio is really from over a decade of trying things out in audio and then realizing I knew a few things.
Derek: On that note, what inspired you to want to write this book on audio for authors?
Joanna: Do you know it was my brother who is a capoeira instructor, it's like a Brazilian martial art and a photographer. And he said, ‘Oh, I'm starting a podcast.' And I was like, ‘Okay.' And he's like, ‘What do you know about starting a podcast?' And I'm like, ‘Oh, I might have one!'
My brother didn't really know much about it. And then I realized that to start a podcast, you have to know quite a lot. And the first question you asked about interestingly was music. And as you know, music and intellectual property rights for podcasting are huge.
What I realized is a lot of authors didn't realize around intellectual property rights, around audio, both for podcasting and audiobooks.
Once I started writing things down, I realized that there was a lot going on. I'm also massively into AI. That's the voice technologies part of the book and I've got a voice double, which we might come back to. But then with audiobooks, I've had voice coaching in the last year and have been narrating my own books.
And also what happened in 2019 was a tipping point. Audiobooks have had this double-digit growth for seven years. Audiobooks being the biggest segment in publishing, fastest-growing segment in publishing. We also had over something like over 50% now of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast.
So everything audio is just coalescing into this incredible point in time. And even though those of us who've been doing it for a while, kind of are already there, I realized that maybe this was going mainstream and it was time that indies really got into this space.
And like you, I know a bit of SEO and with my website, what I realized is we all have to optimize for voice search. And so that became another angle.
What I want people to think about as you listen is this is not just about us listening. This is also about people finding us in an increasingly voice dominated world.
Derek: That's a great point because I know there are some people and you talk about this in the book and I know for myself, even though I still consume Kindle books and print books, there are some people who will only be searching for and looking for and consuming audio, whether that's audiobooks or podcasts.
And if it's not on audio, they're not interested. It's hit that point. So it's definitely a timely book in terms of the growth of the marketplaces. If you want to be relevant today, it's going to make sense to also have an audio version of your work. So what are some of the benefits? We can start with audiobooks.
What are some of the benefits that you see for authors turning their book into an audiobook?
Joanna: You mean the reasons why having an audiobook is a good idea? Well, as you say, there are some people who only listen to audio. So that is a market you're missing out on.
Increasingly I don't read blogs anymore, blog posts. I do read the newspaper itself, but I don't read blogs like I used to. I listen to podcasts. And if I find someone who I'm interested in, the first thing I'll do is go on my audio app and see if it's available in an audiobook format. So you're definitely missing out on that.
A big market that I think indies forget is the library market. And this is a great tip for marketing as well. Basically you can say to your audience, you could put in your autoresponder a series on your email list, you can get my book for free, my audiobook for free if you go to your library app and request it.
I think this is a really good hack, especially as you say, we're in an era of Covid-19 and people can't necessarily go get print books and delivery services or stress your library app. eBooks, audiobooks for free, if you go wide with audio. You might come back to publishing, but I use Findaway Voices to get into the library systems.
Another income stream is also really important then for nonfiction authors as you have done and I have done, if you narrate your own audiobook, you stand out and people have your voice in their head. So even if you don't have a podcast or go on podcasts, if you narrate your audiobook, there's a level of trust, a level of knowing.
People might be listening to my voice for the first time in your audience. And I'm obviously British. You've just learned something about me by listening to my voice that you didn't know before. If you've just read my words on the page. And I can bring some energy to it with my voice that I can't do if you're just reading it.
I do think the money is also a really good thing. What I'm finding, especially again with nonfiction is that it used to be ebook was the mass sale, but now it's really quite evenly split for me between print, ebook and audiobook. And also as we move into other markets.
Storytel is a very big player in the audio markets moving into the markets that Audible does not already own. What we're finding is in some markets they're going audio first, audiobook before ebook. This is fascinating because we all assumed that the digital adoption goes print, eBook, then audiobook because that's what's happened in America and England to a point.
But what we're finding is people are going print, audiobook and maybe skipping ebook altogether. So if your books are not available like that you're going to struggle to be found.
Derek: A couple of great things that you brought up. One is, probably the most obvious thing for me at least and for some authors is there's this market that we're missing out on if you don't have audio.
You bring up another big point. And that is some of the benefits of doing it yourself. And while this might not be for everyone, I say there's a place for hiring a narrator, if that makes sense. Or things like that. I really love the do it yourself approach for exactly the reason that you brought up and that is you build this connection.
There's this trust factor. And from a marketing standpoint, one of the biggest things, this is a trend in marketing – it's always been true to have this know, like, and trust from who we want to buy from. That's just human psychology.
It especially seems to be more prevalent now more than ever where there's a lot of people who are jaded, they're skeptical, they're not really sure who to trust. And when you can create that connection with someone especially nonfiction, although this might apply to fiction as well, you create that connection. And also it's just a different emotional experience for people to be able to hear it the way the author intended.
I actually have most of my audiobooks I've done myself and I had one, the first one that I had a narrator do and actually got a couple of readers sending me going, ‘I can tell he's not saying it the way you would have said it. Like it's just weird now because I've heard you do it.'
And it's not like it was a bad narrator. It was perfectly good. But that's what can happen when you do your own audiobook is that you build that connection. It can apply to a podcast as well.
Even on that note, one of the objections or the obstacles to doing your own audio, whether that's a, it could be audiobook or a podcast is “I don't like the sound of my voice.” That's one of the big ones that I hear.
What is your take when you hear someone say that they don't like the sound of their own voice?
Joanna: Unless people have told you you are difficult to understand, I would say suck it up. And we all think that. I'm sure you remember when you first started doing audio stuff and you do, you just go, ‘Oh, I can't listen to myself. I won't be listening to this again.' I find it difficult.
But what you have to think as we do as authors serving an audience is how can you serve your audience? And if you can serve your audience by using your voice, then they will get to know, like and trust you a lot faster. And also the human ear, the way we process audio is so much faster than text on a page. And as you see, people will cut right through very, very quickly, any kind of BS and will figure out who the person is quite quickly with the intonation and that kind of thing.
So I really liked that idea. Well, I would say is you can get voice training. You can do online voice coaching, but practice more than anything is the way that you're going to get confident with your voice. Pitch for podcasts in your niche.
And as we said, for fiction for example, my books have a lot of psychology. They have a lot of travel. I have another podcast, Books and Travel, where I interview people about the places behind their books. So if you're a fiction author, you can look at getting interviews on shows that are about the themes and the places behind your books.
For nonfiction, it's much easier because you just go look for podcasts in your niche. And then don't pitch the top podcasts, just pitch some of the low ones down, the people you know who are just starting out.
Practice, practice, practice and you will get some confidence with your voice and with this expression.
And then with reading audiobooks, it's again about practice, like just start reading and you'll figure it out. But having some coaching is good.
There's a fantastic audiobook called Storyteller by Lorelei King, which I highly recommend, which she does all the different sounds you can make. And it's incredible how noisy we are when we narrate.
I'm sure you remember this, lip-smacking and all kinds of things that you didn't realize you do and it doesn't really matter in conversation, but in audiobooks, it matters.
Practice and learning. And then, of course, you can always hire a narrator if you really don't want to do it.
Derek: And it's a natural for us as human beings, and I'm pretty sure it's a near-universal, I won't say everyone, but almost everyone just, it's weird to hear the sound of your own voice because you're used to it obviously in your own head, like resonating through your skull, but you hear it on the recording, you're like that's not what I sound like.
It's the incongruence that creates the issue more so than it actually not being enjoyable to listen to. And I've heard this from some people like I don't like the sound of my voice. I'm like, you sound totally normal, but it's that self-conscious thing.
And you have a great tip in the book where – and I've said this to like and you brought it up here – let other people give you feedback. People can give you objective feedback. It's up to your readers if they go, yes, I enjoyed listening to this, I'd listen to it. That's what really matters.
Sometimes as authors and business owners and just in life in general, get out of our own way and be like, it's not about what I like as much although that's can be important at times. It's not about what I like. It's do my readers enjoy it? They do. Okay. So it's going to be what's in service to them.
And another issue that you mentioned in the book Audio for Authors. Another challenge is, and this applies that we can even go bigger picture than just audiobooks is, well, this is taking me away from my creative work. And I thought that was a really interesting observation.
I hear that a lot from authors, whether it's doing audio or even just marketing. I just want to write and create. I don't want to do the audio and the technical and the marketing and stuff like that. So you had a great mindset about that.
What would you say to someone who has the concern that audio will take them away from creative work?
Joanna: I'm glad you asked that question. I think people who ask that question don't actually realize how creative the audio process can be. So both you and I prepare work. When I do my podcast today, I spent about two hours writing my podcast introduction, which doesn't exist in any other form other than audio. So I'm creating, part of my body of work as a creative is my podcast. And part of my creative body of work are my audiobooks.
And also I've got to tell you as a writer, writing for audio makes you a better writer. It is an incredible way to improve your craft because you are suddenly very aware of the repetitions, not just the repetitious words, but the repetitious sounds that you have in your writing.
And also you think you've edited well enough and you've used a proofreader and an editor on your book and then you read it out loud and you realize that you could have done a much better job.
What I found now is the writing and editing for audio is making me a much better craftsperson in both fiction and nonfiction. I actually rewrote three short stories for audio because I realized that they could be so much better. And this is a big tip.
If you want to be a better craftsperson, then read your work out loud, not just for your own self because yes, some people do that as part of the editing, but not if someone's listening. If you actually read it as a performance, you're going to find things you wouldn't have found.
And also if you think about the reader, for nonfiction for example, you'll realize that you could have explained it in a better way or this is a really long sentence because I haven't got anywhere to breathe for example, or this is just 18 bullet points. I really need some examples or it will help you be a better writer.
So yes, the other thing is writing for audio first or writing audio projects like audio drama, audio originals, these are now going to be a valid way for independent… well not just independents, but for writers to make more money and create more things in different ways.
This market is just starting to open up, but I certainly look forward to writing an audio drama as an adaptation of one of my novels.
Derek: I love the way you described it as improving your craft because that's what I've noticed as well. And also, you brought it up earlier, this mindset, like this is part of your personal growth even, right?
It's almost like the more someone doesn't like the sound of their voice and talking and maybe aren't sure about wanting to speak up, it's like those are almost, that's even more of the reason to do it because you start to, we can go very deep, philosophically and personal development wise, but it's like you find your voice, you open up, you get into the expression and you connect more deeply with your work.
And so by having this channel as a speaker, whether you are fiction or nonfiction author, by speaking up and sharing your work out loud, it will help you both improve your craft of writing and how you write things and how you word things.
For me as a musician, I hear the rhythm now, when I do it out loud that I don't necessarily catch in my own head. I hear the rhythm and the flow. And so you improve it in that way. And then you also improve just on this maybe an inner confidence. Some authors are going to notice, they feel more competent as they get into this as they're finding their voice, as they're getting voice training, which is another form of a personal development.
Joanna: Yes, connecting deeply with your work. You hit the nail on the head there. If you have to go back through your work again and really look at it from, like you said, the rhythm and as a musician you would hear this even more.
There are some incredible audiobooks that you just think, Oh, I wish I could write like that because they are almost music or poetic and we are an audio species. We told stories around the campfire. People didn't read them.
We're so attuned to this way of getting information and storytelling. That it is a very deep form of creativity. I just think that we're at this moment where most authors don't realize it yet, but I think it's going to happen. I think this is a new kind of audio consciousness that's going to happen. This is really like day one for this stuff.
Derek: It reminds me of being a little kid. I want someone to read me a story. That's your first exposure and we're so hard-wired for story. But like you said, it's not necessarily reading it versus hearing it and hearing the stories.
So as we go and we talk about audiobooks and by doing that, and you also, we touched a little bit upon podcasts. I'm actually going to start by saying with podcasts, I've talked about this, I think it's big for some, it's going to be more obvious for nonfiction authors to have your own podcast or go on a guest and we can talk about the differences.
But I'm curious, even just right out of the gate looking at, for fiction authors, what would you say if someone's like, well, I'm a fiction author. I'm not sure, either starting a podcast or going on one and those are two different things.
I actually don't know what to say to fiction authors. I think there might be opportunities to either go on podcasts with your own. But I'm not sure.
What benefits can a fiction author get by going on as a guest on a podcast and then also potentially even starting their own podcast?
Joanna: There are so many angles for fiction authors. It's actually better than for nonfiction really.
Because with nonfiction you've written, like I've written a book, Audio for Authors. I have a very small number of podcasts I can go on around that and my own being one of them. But with my fiction, there's a number of different levels.
There's the author themselves. For example, if your other job is maybe you've had a health crisis. I know an author who has a health crisis, so she's gone on health and fitness podcasts to talk about her health crisis. And the book that came out of that was a novel. So it's about her.
And then you've got places. I mentioned my podcast ‘Books and Travel' where I talk to authors about place. For example, I interviewed an author, David Penny, who writes about medieval Spain and we talked about Moorish Spain and also his historical novel set in that area. So places and setting is another example.
I've got a friend who writes books set on yachts, which is so great. And he just goes on all the yachting podcasts to talk about boating. And then eventually, because he's an expert, most fiction authors are experts in the areas that they're talking about. But you almost have to have a nonfiction spin on your topic.
I've been on podcasts about psychology and dreams because I've got Carl Jung in one of my novels. Cartography because I talk about maps. So what you've got to think is, what are all the themes, the places, what about me? Anything that ties into the book.
For example, I've been on a grief podcast talking about death and writing about death because I murder people in my books. So can you see how there are so many ideas for podcasters?
And then with podcast fiction, there are a whole load of podcasts that will do short stories. So you can have one read out by a professional narrator. You can submit your stories to story podcasts, you can do audio drama as we mentioned, you can do podcasts around a niche.
The romance niche has loads of podcasts where they interview romance authors for example. There are all different kinds of ways. I want everybody to think out of the box in terms of who you could talk to and what you could talk about. And just really go think about everything and then have a look at these niches. But really only pitch those people where you feel some kind of connection because otherwise you'll just, it will be a waste of time.
As a podcaster, I get probably 50 pitches a week now of which so many are just wrong. Hey, podcaster, would you like to talk about credit cards? No, I don't want to talk about credit cards, you crazy person!
You need to pitch the right people and come up with a couple of headlines that they might want to talk to you about. That's really useful. That would be good.
And then in terms of starting your own podcast, I would say the default position is don't start your own podcast! I have two podcasts, but I really, really love it. If you love audio and you listen to podcasts all the time, that's a good sign maybe you might want to start your own.
But then the other thing is you have to be in it for the long haul or it's just going to be tumbleweed. You have to build an audience as a podcaster. It takes quite a lot of work as a lot more work involved. But for me, it's the basis of my business. It's my creative body of work.
But I did not know that when I started the podcast and my ‘Books and Travel' podcast, which is just a year old now makes no money. It's a labor of love. It has a tiny audience. But I started that because I wanted to talk about other things and I needed some way to do that somewhere creative to do that. So I think you need to very much examine why you want to start a podcast if you want to start one.
And it's certainly not the money and it's not the fame. And then secondly, but that definitely pitch, definitely get your voice out there as a podcast guest. That would be 99% of people listening should pitch as a guest. Only 1% should probably start their own show. I don't know if you agree with me though.
Derek: I actually wasn't sure. I've been on the fence about that. I do interviews like this. I have a lot of material that I could upload as podcast material. The thing that's held me back is partly what you're saying it's like, well, I got so many other things on my plate. Am I going to be in this for the long haul? Am I ready to make that commitment?
And probably more than anything else, I think I want to launch this thing big, but I'm not even sure if that's necessary. You mentioned in the book, like you just started ‘The Creative Penn' and episode after episode, it grew over time. And my mindset, I'm like, Oh, I gotta like if I'm not going to do a big launch, I shouldn't even start a podcast.
I'd be curious just to your thoughts on podcast launches.
Joanna: I think that's the same as being an author. I write books because I love writing books and I've written over 30 books and yes, they've had some success, but basically it's just one book after another for years. And the only reason we're talking is because I've been doing this for like 12 years.
So this is the thing, I think podcasting is the same. There are lots of courses you can buy on how to launch a podcast. John Lee Dumas has done an incredible job [Entrepreneur on Fire]. And he makes a lot of money and does really well, but very few people will be John Lee Dumas or Pat Flynn or Tim Ferriss, in terms of these things.
I think what you have to consider is how do people want to hear me? The fact that you already do this means that people do want to listen to your voice. You probably are in a good position. If you have an email list, if you have a niche, you have a niche, you have books. You could easily slot it into your world.
But yes, it takes a lot of work and as you say, it takes work to do, and it takes work to be dedicated to it. And if you're not, people can tell because it's a very sophisticated listening audience.
You've been on lots of shows as well, so that's a good way in. But it is a difficult choice. And what I would say to people it's a bit like being an author, do you want to do this for the long term? And if you do, then yeah, it's worth putting the time in doing all the stuff. But if it's just your one book or your one or two books and you're not going to do this as a career, and in the same way with a podcast, if it's going to be less than 10 episodes, then just don't bother.
Derek: Perfect. And what I took away from this, and if I were to give a practical takeaway is that, most authors just about any author it sounds like, can find some angle to get on as a guest. And that's what I say, because you're leveraging the fact they've already built an audience. They've already done so much of that work.
I'm a big believer in that power of leverage; go on to other people's platforms. And yes, build your own tribe, bring people back to your email list and things like that. But you don't necessarily have to start your own podcast, at least be a guest.
And I would say that a lot of people, if you start being a guest on podcasts and feel into it, you might be able to go, okay, for sure I can be a guest. Do I want to do this now myself and be the host? You'll get a better feel for that the more you've been a guest on other people's podcasts.
Joanna: And then, of course, you can do solo shows. I just did a solo show on ‘Books and Travel' about the importance of home in difficult times as we do the Covid-19 thing.
And that's a very creative expressional essay, but again, the audience for that can be pretty small. Consider doing things for creative reasons if you really enjoy it.
Derek: That actually reminds me, one of the things I like about being a guest on a podcast as well as other types of interviews and different things is that a lot of times I come up with ideas or insights by talking to someone else that I don't necessarily come up with if I'm just staring at a blank screen going, what do I want to write about? What do I want to talk about? There's not that stimulus of having someone else there.
So again, maybe this is more a nonfiction thing, but as knowing the nonfiction space, at least for myself going on as a guest of podcasts actually say this is a great way to come up with more content ideas, book ideas, material that you can create that might not self-generate, if that makes sense, right? By having that interaction with someone else, that's another great way of actually, again, as you've said, it actually taps into your creativity and helps you with more creative output.
Joanna: And as an introvert, you actually get to have a conversation with a real human.
Derek: Yup. And that's a good point for those who are like, well, I'm kind of introverted. I'm a hardcore introvert.
Joanna: Me too.
Derek: And so I would reframe it if anyone's thinking, well, I'm an introvert. I find talking to most introverts is actually, they tend to be comfortable actually more with one-on-one conversations where I shut down, not honestly shut down. But if I'm in a big group, I'm kinda like, Oh, okay, I'll just kind of sit back and watch. But if I'm one-on-one, it's a lot easier for me to connect with just one person.
Joanna: Exactly. And it's just you and me here when I'm on my own in a room and you're on your own in a room. So for introverts, this is actually perfect.
Derek: You also talk about voice technologies and this is something that I really do not know much about, but as technology advances, I think there's going to be a lot of opportunities here.
Can you familiarize me and everyone else listening, what are these voice technologies that are emerging?
Joanna: One thing is the smartphone that people use. A lot of people are now using voice search. So they might say, ‘Hey Google, what's the weather today?' Or they might speak to their Apple Watch. I wear an Apple Watch and I'll say, ‘Hey, Siri, what's the weather today outside' or whatever. ‘What temperature do you cook the chicken at?' So that's a voice.
Oh, now Siri just responded!
Derek: Live demonstration.
Joanna: Live demonstration. But that's a good example, right?
People are using their watches, their phones with their voice. This is a voice technology. Most of us will type, but I know quite a lot of people who now will only speak. I'll text with speaking into my phone. I use dictation. There are lots of things where we are using our voices to interact with the device.
[Note from Joanna: Post COVID-19, we may be in an even more voice-first world as people avoid touchscreens and prefer voice activation.]
Then, of course, there's Alexa, which is Alexa and Google Assistant and Apple Home Pod, you know ‘Hey Alexa, find me an audiobook on habits. What's Derek's new audiobook?' There are lots of ways that we're interacting with devices now. The Alexa software and the Google software, etc, it's not just in a smart speaker now. It's in lots of different things.
In your car, you might ask Alexa to find a new station or there are so many ways that we're interacting with voice technology and this is impacting search. The way that people will ask things with their voice is different to how they type. And that's impacting SEO and it's also impacting the way we find things because if you think when you type a search into the computer, it's going to come up with a whole load of stuff. Whereas if you ask for the answer, you only get one answer. So this is going to radically shape up online advertising as that becomes more common.
And then in terms of what we're talking about, audiobooks and podcasting. Probably the biggest thing is the voice synthesis and AI narration. At London Book Fair, which didn't happen this year, there was a press release went out from Deepzen.io with Findaway Voices has released the first AI-narrated audiobooks that are being sold on the platforms, not Audible. Audible has rejected them, but Apple Books and some of the other big ones.
I've got a voice double because I have so much audio out there. Basically, it will mean (hopefully) within 18 months you could license my voice to read your audiobook for you. Or you could license someone really famous, which might be a better idea! There'll be a completely different way of creating.
It's going to bring down the cost of creating audio tremendously. It's going to mean an explosion of audio content because so many books are not available in audio right now. And also it's going to help the markets where there are fewer audio narrators, say foreign language markets for example.
I've used AI translation to create other forms of my books [+ human editing! Article here.]. I know we're almost out of time, but what we're looking at with AI and voice technologies is a massive growth coming up. And this is another reason I want my voice to be in people's heads because I want my voice to be licensed. I want to be a recognizable voice brand as we go forward into this new world so hence why I'm interested.
Derek: There's a couple of big things I got from that. What I took from that is there's going to be, as you mentioned, an explosion of growth in audio as these technologies advance. Right now we're already seeing the growth of audio. We have been for years. More and more people are getting into audiobooks and podcasts and the double-digit growth year after year.
Right now we're in this prime time of audio. And if anyone's looking at this going well, ‘Did I miss the boat?' No, now is the time to get in and learn about, especially before we see this next big explosion of audio with these technologies knowing that that's coming up, having the foresight to see that and seeing the opportunity that's about to emerge.
To me that says, okay, if you're not already in the audio world, now's the time to learn about it. Now's the time to get comfortable with it. Now's the time to establish yourself through audiobooks and or podcasts, certainly being a guest on podcasts and all the more reason to check out your book, Joanna, Audio for Authors.
How can people learn more about you and your book?
Joanna: Come on over to thecreativepenn.com, Of course, I have The Creative Penn Podcast which people can find on all the usual platforms and on Twitter @thecreativepenn. Everything's there.
Derek: I recommend if you're listening to this check out the book Audio for Authors from Joanna and it goes deeper into, so you'll learn more about the why behind it, but also very practical tips for everything from audiobooks to podcasting to voice technologies.
I took away some things, some notes in there, especially about doing the narration and little changes, like I wasn't making some of those, I kind of intuitively made some changes, but I go, Oh yeah, I probably could rephrase some bullet points and make it easier to listen to. So you get some really practical good tips inside that book and I highly recommend checking it out.
Thank you so much, Joanna, for being here.
Joanna: Thanks for having me, Derek.