Chirp is the only audiobook sales platform of its kind and one that authors should definitely use if your audiobooks are distributed wide. It is one of the best, if not the best, Audible alternative for selling or buying audiobooks.
But Chirp is trying to be much more than a place to get audiobook deals. It appears to be trying to take on Audible as a competitor. If this is the case, there are a few issues that they will need to overcome first.
For this review, I took a deep dive, testing out the platform for myself, and seeing what other authors (and readers) thought of it. What follows is my conclusion.
- What Chirp is
- How it works for audiobook listeners
- How it works for authors
- The benefits of using Chirp
- The drawbacks of Chirp
- My personal opinion on what authors should do with Chirp
Table of contents
- What is Chirp Audiobooks?
- How to Submit an Audiobook to Chirp
- The Benefits of Chirp
- The Downsides of Chirp
- The Bottom Line: Does Chirp Work?
What is Chirp Audiobooks?
Chirp is a platform run by the same team at BookBub with a similar mission: to provide the best deals to readers and listeners. But instead of providing deals on eBooks, they’re providing deals on audiobooks.
In some ways, it’s very similar to BookBub:
- You sign up for regular emails
- They email you with the best deals for each day or week
- You have the option of following specific authors, genres, and individual audiobooks, so you know if and when those books have a featured deal
- Featured deals are curated by the BookBub team
That said, there are a number of things that are different about Chirp, when compared to BookBub:
- It’s a sales distribution platform, meaning you can actually buy audiobooks from Chirp (even if they are not on sale)
- Deals are not to buy audiobooks on platforms like Audible or iTunes, unlike BookBub where you will be directed to your preferred retailer that has the deal
- You must use the Chirp app to listen to your audiobooks
Chirp is unique among audiobook retailers, because it focuses specifically on deals. However, you can find most traditionally published audiobooks, and a lot of indie published audiobooks, on the platform, available for their retail price. This means that, if you really wanted to, you could pay full price for just about any book that isn’t exclusive to ACX/Audible.
For indie authors who are not locked into exclusivity contracts with ACX, Chirp can be a viable option to sell books by securing those featured deals.
But is it as game-changing as when you get a BookBub featured deal? That remains to be seen.
Chirp is still new, and is still building its audience. But it has a lot of good things going for it, including a great editorial team and the ability to reach a lot of audiobook listeners.
How Does it Work for Listeners?
The process for listeners to use Chirp is fairly simple. You can follow these steps:
- Sign up for Chirp on their website
- Add your genre preferences and select any favorite authors or books for your wishlist
- Download the Chirp app and log in with your signup details
- Watch for daily (or weekly) emails about audiobook deals
- When you find a book you like, purchase it through Chirp’s website
- Download the book onto the app
- Start listening
It really is a simple process, and the app is actually quite intuitive. I was playing around with it myself, and even bought a $.99 book just to make this review. As an audiobook platform, I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the purchase process was.
Now, listeners do have to keep the audiobook on the Chirp app. Or they can listen through a web browser on the Chirp website or through a smart home device like Alexa. I found this to be a bit of a downside, but one that most other audiobook platforms have as well.
How to Submit an Audiobook to Chirp
The process of submission for an Audiobook deal on Chirp is similar to the same process on BookBub. However, keep in mind that Chirp is an actual distribution platform, so there are a few differences.
Step 1: Make Sure Your Book Is Available on Findaway Voices
Findaway Voices is an official distribution partner for Chirp. If you are an indie author, that means you must use Findaway Voices if you want your book to be even eligible for a chirp deal.
If your book is exclusive to ACX, then you will not be eligible for a Chirp deal.
If you use another audiobook distribution service other than Findaway Voices, your book will not be eligible for a Chirp deal.
So assuming you’re not exclusive to ACX, all you have to do is upload your book to Findaway’s platform, and be sure to include Chirp in the list of audiobook retailers where you want your book to be.
Step 2: Visit the BookBub Partners Dashboard
If you don’t have a BookBub Partners account already, go ahead and make one.
Then from your dashboard, under “My Promotions” select “Chirp Audiobook Deals” or visit this link.
Select “Submit Audiobook Deal”.
Step 3: Fill Out the Required Information
You will then get a reminder that your book must be available via Findaway Voices. Assuming that it is, just click the link that says “My Book Is on Findaway”.
You will then come to a screen that asks for more information on your book. You’ll be asked for the following:
- Choose your book: search through their database to find your book. If you’ve listed your audiobook in Findaway Voices it should be searchable here.
- Deal Timing: When you are submitting your deal for.
- Suggested Category: The big overall genre of your book.
- Discount Price: Here you can select the price that you intend to discount your book for.
- Additional Comments: You can add anymore information that you want the editorial team to know.
Step 4: Submit
Once all your details are squared away, you can hit submit and you’re good to go!
You will then wait to hear back from the editorial team to see if your book has been accepted or not. Assuming it is, you will need to keep your book discounted for the specified time.
How Much Does Chirp Cost to Submit?
As of this writing, Chirp does not cost anything to submit a featured deal, unlike BookBub where the price can get quite high. However, this is a limited feature, and Chirp may eventually charge for featured deals in the future.
The Benefits of Chirp
Chirp has a lot of things going for it. But is it still worth it? There are a number of benefits that I see for authors interested in using Chirp.
1. Unique distribution model
Chirp is the only platform of its kind to be an audiobook distributor with an emphasis on deals. Most other platforms use a credit or subscription service of some kind.
And while I think Chirp could benefit from an add-on plan like this that would allow for people to have a more affordable way of picking up titles that are not and might never be discounted, it currently sets itself apart by focusing head-on on those featured deals.
This is also good news for authors, because obtaining one of those featured deals could be a huge benefit, especially as Chirp continues to raise its audience.
2. Ease of Use
While using Chirp, I found that the ease of use (both for readers and authors) was quite good.
The app design, as well as that of the BookBub Partner dashboard, is highly intuitive, and it’s fairly easy to figure out what to do in order to make your submission.
3. Price Control
One of the best benefits of Chirp (and being wide with audiobooks in general) is that you have price control.
Good deals are likely to move the needle when trying to sell audiobooks, and traditionally the prices have been locked by Audible, so we previously had no control over discounts.
When you go wide, that changes, and with Chirp, you can really take advantage of a discount if you can get a featured deal, because they have the audience to deliver.
4. BookBub Curation
Chirp is run by the same editorial team that runs BookBub, and this is by far the biggest advantage that Chirp has over any other audiobook platform.
BookBub is insanely huge, with millions of subscribers, and while not all of those people have transferred over to Chirp, it’s safe to say that BookBub has a solid platform from which to initiate change.
Not only does the Chirp/BookBub team have a great audience, but they are also highly experienced in the field, and know what to look for in a good book.
I personally found myself enjoying their curated lists on the Chirp website, things like best history audiobooks or funniest audiobooks. And that’s just bonus content. Their deal selections have just as much care put into them.
Overall, I’d say Chirp is starting from a position of strength, and has the chance to become a serious contender to the giant elephant in the room, Audible.
The Downsides of Chirp
While a promising start, Chirp still has a few hurdles to overcome before I would call them the savior of audiobook sellers. Some of these are nitpicky, but are big things that I think Chirp could improve on if they want to compete with Audible.
1. No Way to Sell Direct
In order to sell a book on Chirp, you must be partnered with Findaway Voices. This is fine, until you realize that Findaway Voices gets a small cut of your income.
For a lot of people, this wouldn’t be a problem, but if sales on Chirp really begin to take off, some authors might want to sell to them directly to earn better royalties.
2. Only available in U.S. and Canada
This is something that is likely to change as Chirp gains traction, but currently the platform is only available in the U.S. and Canada. Anyone in the U.K. or any other country will have to wait.
That said, this is a common occurrence whenever a new service comes along. Assuming Chirp continues to do well, I think it’s just a matter of time before we see it in other countries.
3. Contains DRM
Again, this is a problem that almost all other platforms have. DRM (digital rights management) is an encoding process that keeps you from making lots of copies of your audiobook.
What this means for Chirp users is that they can only listen to the audiobooks in the Chirp app.
Personally, I think it would be nice to have a way to download the book and load it onto my Apple Books app, or burn it to a DVD or whatever form one might want to use to consume audiobooks.
Sadly, this is not possible.
4. Limited Pricing Structures
Chirp is a full-on audiobook marketplace, with most of the audiobooks you would expect to see from traditional publishers and indie authors publishing wide.
I myself couldn’t help but peruse their selection of Star Wars books, which is just as good as any other audiobook platform.
That said, if I wanted any of those Star Wars audiobooks, I would either have to wait until a deal became available, or pay full price for them.
Paying full price would cost me at least double what I could get on Audible.
So unless you have the patience of an Egyptian pyramid, or a whole lot of money to spend (doubtful if you’re using Chirp because of their deals), then getting your hands on these books is kind of out of the question. If I wanted to collect all those Star Wars books, I’d be out of luck, and better off with Audible or some other audiobook platform.
I think Chirp could benefit from some kind of alternative pricing structure that would allow people to get these books at a competitive price. This could be either a subscription or a credit system like Audible uses. Or they could simply price all of their books around the same price as an average Audible credit.
This may or may not happen. Having a subscription kind of goes in the face of what BookBub/Chirp stands for.
And yet, I’m guessing 90% of their library will probably never have a featured deal. What do you do about the people who don’t want to pay full price on those? I’m pretty sure Chirp doesn’t want people to go to Audible instead.
Basically, I think it would be good to find a way around this.
The Bottom Line: Does Chirp Work?
I would love to be able to comment on whether or not a Chirp deal is effective at selling books, but there are just too many variables to say with certainty. You’d have to have a good cover, a good description, and we have no idea what Chirp’s audience is like, or how much it’s likely to grow.
That said, I think there is a lot of hope for Chirp, despite a few nitpicky details that I believe set it back a bit. To sum up:
- A unique distribution model
- Ease of use
- Price control
- BookBub curation
- No way to sell direct
- Only available in U.S. and Canada
- Contains DRM/not available outside the app
- Limited pricing structure
I believe that Chirp has set itself up to be the best platform for audiobook deals.
I further believe that authors who are wide will benefit greatly from a featured deal on Chirp.
However, if Chirp wants to go after Audible in the audiobook market as a whole, I think they have a number of hurdles they will need to cross before it’s ready to do that.
But overall, I think authors should definitely make use of the platform if your audiobooks are wide.