Today’s guest blog post, on the topic of audiobooks, is brought to you by multi-genre author Jean Henry Mead.
What’s happening to the Book Buying Market?
Every writer I’ve talked to has said that print and ebook sales are down. Many believe that Amazon’s Kindle Select Program, which offers “freebies,” is responsible for the loss of sales. But there’s another reason: the growing popularity of audio books, which account for a growing share of the market.
Busy people don’t have to forsake their favorite authors because they can listen to them on e-readers, computers and other electronic devices. Audible.com has gone even further with its Whispersync program, which allows the buyer to switch back and forth between reading and listening on Kindle Fire. And I’m not referring to the robotic voices previously available on all e-readers. The narrators don’t just read the stories, they bring the plot to life by acting out each character’s voice.
Granted, men attempting to imitate women’s voices or women imitating men can be humorous, but generally, they do quite well. One of my novels, Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel, contains two short songs, which the award-winning narrator struggled with and only succeeded in adding to the book’s humor.
Working with various narrators can be fun although probably frustrating for them. A talented young woman is recording my children’s mysteries as well as my adult novels. When she asked how the sheriff in A Village Shattered should sound, I told her I envisioned his voice as Clark Gable’s. Bless her heart, she really struggled with that and I know she re-recorded him a number of times before she came up with a voice simulating the late actor.
My audio books are featured at Amazon.com, Audible.com and iTunes as well as in ebook and print editions. Audible placed my first four books on sale for the first month. Two of them are also on Whispersync; one of them my first Hamilton Kids’ novel, Mystery of Spider Mountain, which is currently on sale for only $1.99.
I have more books in production, which will become available later this month, and I check my sales each morning so I’ll know which books to promote. And promote you must, as with ebooks and print editions.
I believe that audio books will continue to grow in popularity because they can be listened to while cooking, cleaning, walking and completing other chores as well as driving. I don’t recommend taking your iPad with you in the car unless you have a holder that will prevent it from falling to the floor, distracting you while driving. Audible gives you the option to download electronically as well as making your own CDs to play while you drive.
The audio company I’m currently with has some 30,000 audio books available and nearly 2,000 freelance narrators to record a writer’s book. Some narrators are better than others and have invested many thousands of dollars in recording equipment, often turning home closets into semi-sound proofed recording studios. So you have to listen carefully to each audition to determine which narrator to hire. They operate on an hourly basis of $50-$400 per finished hour or a 50-50 royalty split. I chose the split because you never know how well your book is going to sell. My novel, Escape, is nine and half hours long, so the hourly rate would have been astronomical.
Many audios are out-of-print books rather than sound track originals, and anyone who owns the audio rights to their books can become a part of the new marketing trend. Listening to my own books has been my ultimate writing goal, and I’m pleased that the dream has finally come true.
Morgen: I love audiobooks (and recording short stories for my podcast) so that was really interesting. Thank you, Jean.
Jean Henry Mead is an award-winning novelist and photojournalist published domestically as well as abroad. She’s the author of 20 books, half of them novels, which include the Logan & Cafferty mystery / suspense series, Hamilton Kids’ mysteries, Wyoming historicals and nonfiction books. Jean’s website is http://www.jeanhenrymead.com.
- and from this blog, my guests who have written on this topic are… Ken Le Salle, and Rachel Cochrane.
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