Audio is the fastest-growing segment in publishing. This will likely accelerate as book consumption moves further to digital in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Listens might be down right now but they will be back once the world starts moving again. So, if you have your books out in audio, how do you market them effectively?
In this video, I outline 16 ways to market your audiobook. Watch below or here on YouTube. Full notes with links and examples in the article below if you prefer to read.
The audiobook is just another format, so while there are things you can do to market them specifically, any general marketing activities will also promote your audiobook. For example, if you speak at a literary festival or conference and mention your book, some in the audience may prefer to buy it in audio.
Here are some things you can do to market audiobooks, in particular.
This is an excerpt from Audio for Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasting and Voice Technologies, available now in ebook, print and audiobook editions on all the usual platforms.
(1) Link to and promote all editions
When your audiobook becomes available, make sure you link it to the other editions on Amazon. You can request the link through Amazon Author Central if it hasn’t appeared automatically within a few days of publication.
Create a link on Books2Read.com for all the places people can buy your books, including the various audiobook stores. For example, Books2Read.com/audioforauthors will take you to links for the ebook and audiobook editions for Audio for Authors.
Make sure the book page on your website includes links to all the retailers (You can see all mine here and at the bottom of this post).
(2) Create a landing page on your website for audio and link to the various sites
Make it easy for audio listeners to find you. I have landing pages per book, which include the links to the audiobook retailers. I also have a page for audio specifically, with samples.
This page should be easy to say out loud when you do podcast or radio interviews, for example, TheCreativePenn.com/audio
You can create and use ACX Bounty links for your books. These are unique URLs for your book and can provide extra income if readers use them for the first book they buy on Audible. They are unlimited, and I use them by default on my website.
If you use a sidebar on your main site, or widgets at the bottom, make sure your audio links are prominent to anyone who lands on your page.
(3) Make sure you have an Audible Author Page
If you have books on Audible, you can also have an Audible Author page that lists all your books and includes some information from your Amazon Author Central page. You can then promote this to Audible listeners specifically so they can find all your books.
(4) Use audiograms
An audiogram is an audio snippet played as a small video with a moving waveform over an image. Excerpt snippets from your audiobook and use a tool like Headliner app to create a shareable video that you can use on social media, embed on your website, or use on video platforms.
You can play an audiogram from Productivity for Authors on Twitter at TheCreativePenn.com/audiogram
(5) Use social media to share images and quotes
You can use Canva.com to create appropriately sized images for the various social media platforms. This could be quotes from your audiobook, a picture of a mobile phone with headphones and your book cover, or another image that links through to your audiobook. Share on Twitter and Facebook, pin on Pinterest, and use everywhere you interact online. Remember to link to your audiobook or your main audio page.
You can also use SoundCloud.com to create shareable audio samples that link back to your buy page. You can embed these onto your website or use on social media.
(6) Use paid advertising
If you link your audiobook edition with your ebook and print editions, you can use Amazon Advertising on certain stores to send traffic to your book. If you publish through KDP, click on Promote and Advertise and choose the store on which you want to advertise.
You can also use Facebook Advertising to target audiobook listeners or fans of Audible, iTunes, or other platforms and use country-specific links.
There are lots of other paid advertising opportunities available. Just make sure you learn the best way to use any platform and keep an eye on cost as well as revenue.
(7) Include audio in your email autoresponder sequence
All authors should build an email list. It’s an essential part of book marketing and a way to future-proof your career by always having an independent method to reach readers.
If you don’t have a website or email list yet, check out my tutorials at TheCreativePenn.com/authorwebsite
If you have an email list already, you can share news of your audiobook release and send snippets so people can listen. You can also create an autoresponder sequence of emails sent after readers sign up, offering them promotional audio codes and linking through to your audiobook sales page.
Some email services provide a way to tag customers when they click on links, so you can find out which formats people buy and target them more specifically down the track.
You can also share MP3 audio files with links through BookFunnel.com, which many indie authors already use to distribute ebooks. You could use a sample of a full audiobook, a short story, or anything to get listeners interested.
(8) Use giveaway codes to get reviews
ACX provides Promo Codes for books published with an exclusive deal. You can generate the codes from your ACX sales dashboard and send them to your email subscribers or use them in giveaways to get reviews. Each code can be redeemed for one audiobook.
You can also get giveaway codes on Findaway Voices for Authors Direct, which is also only available to selected markets.
(9) Market to libraries or library listeners
If you use Findaway Voices, you can make your audiobook available in libraries, and this is a win/win situation for you and your readers. It’s free for them to listen, and you still get paid. It’s also good for libraries to license independent books because they are often cheaper to buy and/or use a pay-per-checkout model. You get a smaller payment per checkout, but the library is more likely to digitally stock the book, giving readers more options.
Tell your audience that they can get your book for free at the library. They just need to ask the librarian to order it from the catalog. [Yes, you can get my ebooks and audiobooks for free at the library. Just ask!]
For more detail, check out this recent podcast interview with Mark Leslie Lefebvre on how to get your books in all formats into libraries.
(10) Promote your ebook in order to sell more audio
Once you own the ebook on Amazon, you can upgrade to the audiobook for a lower price, so BookBub deals can be used by audiobook listeners to get great value deals, as my husband does with his favorite fantasy series. Other ebook promotion services are useful as it is sometimes challenging to get BookBub deals.
You can also encourage listeners to use Amazon Audible Matchmaker, which scans your Kindle books and finds matching audiobooks.
Tell your audience about these options so they can get your audiobooks on special. After all, every sale is a good sale!
(11) Use audiobook promotion services
Discounted ebook services are a well-established way to promote free or cheap ebooks, but there are fewer options for audiobooks, although this will likely change as the market continues to grow.
BookBub’s Chirp could be the game-changer for audiobook promotion, but at the time of writing, it is still in the early days and not open to authors in every country. It is for non-exclusive audiobooks, and they partner with Findaway Voices, where you can apply for promotions through the Marketing tab. Check it out at Chirpbooks.com
AudiobookBoom.com enables you to reach a list of audiobook listeners. You provide review codes, and some listeners may leave a review, which can help sales.
Audiofile Magazine has options for audiobook reviews and advertising at audiofilemagazine.com. The Audio Publishers Association has promotional opportunities and also lists resources, reviewers and more on their site at Audiopub.org
Check out this interview with Michele Cobb from the Audio Publishers Association for more detail.
(12) Upload an audiobook trailer or sample chapter on YouTube
I used to think that YouTube was just for video content, but it turns out that many people use it as a channel for listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and music. Although I’ve been doing video on YouTube.com/thecreativepenn since 2008, I moved to audio-only podcasting in early 2019, and my subscribers have continued growing.
Upload a sample chapter with the visual background of your audiobook cover. Include links in the description to the audiobook stores. If you own the rights, you could even upload the whole book and use ad revenue to monetize it.
You can see a sample chapter of Successful Self-Publishing on YouTube at TheCreativePenn.com/samplechapter
(13) Use QR codes to link directly to your audiobook
QR codes can be used with cellphone cameras to link directly to a website page or your audiobook page on a retailer. There are plenty of free sites online you can use to generate a QR code. Then you can add them to physical marketing assets like business cards or postcards to be used at live events, as well as distributing online.
This QR code goes to my audiobook landing page in the print and ebook editions of the book. Use your phone camera to scan the image.
(14) Audio sells audio. Pitch for podcast interviews or buy advertising.
The Audio Publishers Association 2018 survey reported that 55% of audiobook listeners in the US had also listened to a podcast in the last month.
This isn’t surprising, because people who like listening to audio don’t just listen to audiobooks. I might swap between several different podcasts and audiobooks during the day, depending on what I’m doing and what I want to listen to in the moment. I also find a lot of audiobooks through interviews with authors on podcasts.
Part 2 of Audio for Authors covers podcasting in detail, but for now, think about the podcasts you listen to or research the best podcasts in your niche. How could you feature on those shows?
(15) Hire a narrator with a following
Some narrators are so well-known that people follow them from book to book, which bakes in marketing from day one.
They will be more expensive, but if you have a dream narrator in mind for your niche, ask them about availability and rates.
(16) Create more audio products
If you only have full-length audiobooks, try offering shorter works like short stories or short non-fiction. These will be cheaper to produce and purchase, and if you put the ebook out for free or 99c, people can try your audio more easily. You can also publish these shorter audio works for free on YouTube or SoundCloud.
On the other end of the scale, create audiobook boxsets enabling you to reach those people who want a long audiobook. Boxsets are great for promotional deals as they are easier to discount and still make money on, plus they are great value for the listener.
I narrate my own short fiction. Here's an excerpt from A Thousand Fiendish Angels.
I also have audiobook boxsets for ARKANE Thrillers 1-3 (19 hours) and the London Crime series (over 22 hours).
This article is an expanded excerpt from Audio for Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasting and Voice Technologies, available now in ebook, print and audiobook editions (narrated by me!).
Some really interesting info as always Joanna! I will take my time to go through it properly but have one question. I’ve found a narrator through ACX for my 1st in series. Does that mean I have to publish my audio book through them, or could I still do it via Findaway if I wanted to?
Thanks very much.
Joanna Penn says
If you have a narrator through ACX, and you have signed a contract, you have to go through with that. But if you pay them outright, and choose a non-exclusive contract, you can then publish on Findaway as well.
Carolyn Mahony says
Thank you very much! I haven’t signed a contract yet. I’m happy to pay her outright but at what point and with who would I need to sign the non-exclusive contract?
It all feels a bit of a minefield but podcasts like yours and Mark Dawson’s certainly go a long way to easing the path!
Joanna Penn says
It’s the exclusivity clause in the ACX contract. You can pay outright, then choose NON-exclusive, and you’ll be able to publish on Findaway as well.
Carolyn Mahony says
Thank you so much!
D. C. says
Great article! Thanks for all the valuable advice. As a voice actor and author who just narrated my first book. I am really looking forward to reading “Audio for Authors”.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks! All the best with your book 🙂
D. C. says
Fantastic article – it is making me excited that I have just started the audio book process for my first book.
Jules Horne says
Massively helpful breakdown – thanks Joanna! I’m waiting for my second audiobook to be processed and need to get promo lined up.
I always love your advice! It’s spot on.
I am having trouble figuring out how to set up my Audible Author Profile. When I emailed Amazon, they thought I was asking about my Author Central Profile which apparently is somehow connected with Audible. But, I don’t know how to get to the Audible Profile to see it and share it.
Do you have some information on this that could help me?
Joanna Penn says
I think Audible just make it automatically, but if you publish through ACX, go to their help first.
W. Lynn Knapp says
Joanna, thank you for the great information. Although I am not an author, I am doing a narration for a friend’s book and we both are novices when it comes to audiobooks. I do have experience with how to use my voice (I have had a radio show for over four years locally and on the internet). With that I really want to give my friend’s book a great chance to reach many more people than on a local level. Here’s my questions:
1) Once I finish the audiobook, do I have to sign agreements with Amazon/Audible, etc. to get the audio on their websites?
2) How is the audio sent to these companies? Is it digital (this will be a huge file)?
3) How are the author and narrator paid? Do we have to have a PayPal account or some other type of account set up? Or can payment be directed to a bank account?
4) Do we need a website for the author or for his book only or for myself as the narrator or one website for all these or no website at all?
These may seem like very “beginner” questions, but that’s what we are and all these are important to getting this business set up properly.
I appreciate any and all advice you feel you can provide.
All the best for 2021,
Joanna Penn says
Hi W. Lynn,
Check out http://www.acx.com and http://www.findawayvoices.com and read their info. You can use either, or both, to get your books onto the various audio platforms and they deal with the distribution to the apps & websites etc. They also have info on the technical requirements. Remember that narration is only one aspect, you also need to produce and master the files to the correct specs. They also have info on payment.
More info in my book, Audio for Authors: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/audio-for-authors/
All the best with it.
John Graham DAY says
I have just completed a 33,500 word novel in rhyming narrative verse entitled Dreams of the Golden Eagle and have just listed it on Amazon Kindle – free preview available.
The 1,404 stanza novel/epic poem has thirty five exciting chapters and thirteen Native American characters. Albeit it is a modern epic poem in rhyming narrative verse, it reads just like an ordinary novel. I am in the process of having it recorded for listing on Audible. Some thirty literary and poetic devices appear continuously throughout the work.
I am an older Australian living in Newcastle, New South Wales and am not au fait with Twitter, Facebook etc.
Can you direct me to an agency or individual who might consider promoting the work for financial reward? There is nothing like it on the internet. A check of modern epics on the internet only reveals, Beowulf, The Iliad, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner etc. It seems the last “modern” epic was written hundreds of years ago
Set prior to the onset of the Indian wars, this epic Native American adventure in rhyming narrative verse, involves a web of murder, mystery, intrigue, betrayal, love, hatred and revenge as a far-sighted and fearless chief in collaboration with the tribal totem, the Golden Eagle, strive to create and alliance between the warring tribes in a concerted effort to thwart the white invasion.
It really is a great story.
I hope you can be of help.
John Graham Day
Joanna Penn says
Hi John, There are some great author sites in Australia that might be able to help you, for example, Sydney Writers Centre and NSW Writers Centre. I’d suggest talking to them as this will be a challenge to market as it is so unique. Wishing you all the best.
Jerry Kennard says
Really useful information, thank you. At the risk of being self-serving, I’d like to suggest my own site, freeaudiobooks.co.uk. This is a completely free service for authors and narrators set up to help distribute Audible promo codes.
Danielle Harris says
This was so helpful! I’m a first author and the information you’ve provided was truly heaven sent. Thank you for sharing. You are a blessing! I now feel like I know what I’m doing thanks to you 🙂