How to Market an Audiobook: 19 Tips for Strong Sales in Audio

In recent years, there’s been an audiobook boom on the market, and the need to publish audiobooks has increased for traditional and indie authors alike.

To help authors navigate this expanding industry, I’ve put together 20 tips authors can use to marketing their book.

In this article, you will learn:
  1. Tips for marketing your book before you produce it
  2. Marketing considerations when producing your audiobook
  3. Marketing tips once your audiobook is produced

Note: some of the links in this article will earn Kindlepreneur a small commission if you end up purchasing the product. Know that this does not affect the price for you at all, and all proceeds go straight to the coffee fund.

Considerations Before You Start

When deciding to sell an audiobook, don’t rush into it. You want to ensure you have all your ducks in a row, and that the market is ready for you before you begin.

There are examples where authors have spent thousands on audiobooks, cashing out their savings for the best narrator, only to find that the book didn’t sell well at all. 

Let’s take a look at a few considerations to help you avoid this problem.

Tip #1: Decide if You Should Make an Audiobook?

If you are selling well with ebooks, then yes, you should make an audiobook. If you are not selling well in ebooks or any other format, consider waiting.

While the audiobook market is growing considerably, it’s not replacing the ebook market, and ebooks are by far the most cost-effective way to validate the popularity of your book. 

Ebooks are cheaper to produce, and cheaper for the user to buy, especially if they are part of a program like Kindle Unlimited.

Therefore, if you are not selling many ebooks, then there’s little likelihood that people will like your audiobook better, especially since ebooks are cheaper for readers.

What About Simultaneous Releases?

There is some evidence to suggest that simultaneous releases are really great for sales. And that makes sense, right? Your book gets the most attention at launch, so why wouldn’t it help to have both the ebook and audiobook available at that time.

The downside of a simultaneous release is that you have to pay for everything upfront, without knowing if your ebook or audiobook will sell well.

So generally, I wouldn’t recommend a simultaneous release unless you are an author with a large following and a proven track record of audiobook sales.

For the rest, it’s far better to validate the book with strong ebook sales, then decide to create your audiobook based on sales performance.

Tip #2: Select Good Genres for Audiobooks

Generally, most fiction genres are great for audiobooks. We would especially recommend:

  • Romance*
  • Mystery/Thrillers
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Some non-fiction
    • Memoirs
    • Self-improvement
    • Biographies
    • Historical
    • Health and Fitness
    • Relationships/Parenting
    • Religion/Spirituality
  • MG/YA Genres
  • Poetry/Literary Genres

*Romance can be hit or miss. People love listening to them, but romance readers often read so much that the cost of audiobooks becomes too great. However, there are subscription services that make this more viable. Longer romance novels are also great for audio.

Genres we would not recommend include:

  • Some non-fiction
    • Cooking books
    • Image-heavy books
    • DIY/How-to Instructional books
  • Short Fiction*

*There are cases where short fiction is useful, and we’ll get into those below. But generally, people like longer works in audio format, so it’s best to avoid short fiction, unless it is part of a much larger bundle.

Considerations When Making the Audiobook

If you want to sell an audiobook, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind when producing the audiobook in the first place, long before you’re actually ready to sell it. These include:

  1. Choosing an audiobook narrator
  2. Picking your cover
  3. Using PickFu
  4. Picking your audiobook distribution method

Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.

Tip #3: Choose a Great Narrator

One of the biggest considerations you will have is who to choose as your narrator. Here are some things to keep in mind when doing so:

  1. Make sure they read the right genre: You’ll want to take a look through their material and make sure that they have read other books that match the same genre as yours. Doing so will ensure that they know what they’re doing, and that their audience will likely enjoy your book as well.
  2. Choose a narrator with a following: While not required, it can sometimes help to have a narrator that has a large audience. Often you will get a lot of new readers who are fans of the narrator. That said, if your book is not selling well in ebook format, a popular narrator is not likely to help (I know this from personal experience, unfortunately).
  3. Make sure their tone matches your protagonist: You’re welcome to choose whomever you want as your narrator, but we’d recommend someone who’s tone of voice and general vocal personality match those of your protagonist. If your main character is female, have a female narrator, and vice versa. Take a look through the narrator’s portfolio to see what they sound like when impersonating different voices. Are they energetic, sarcastic, loose, or intense, and are these qualities you want in your protagonist?

Ultimately, it will be up to you, but choosing the wrong narrator could make it difficult to market and sell your book to the right readers. So choose wisely.

Tip #4: Optimize Your Audiobook Cover

As with ebooks and print books, the cover will make or break your book marketing. 

It’s common for the audiobook cover to use the same design elements from the ebook cover, but there are a few differences:

  • The audiobook cover is square
  • It usually includes the name of the narrator
  • The lettering will often have to be rearranged

If you are doing a box set, you may need to consider getting a completely new cover, or find a way of adding the designs from multiple ebooks into one square cover without overcrowding things.

Generally, it’s a good idea to get your designer to mock up an audiobook cover when he/she creates your ebook/print covers. That way the effort on your part is minimal.

Tip #5: Use PickFu

I’ve talked about PickFu in other posts, but it’s a service that I highly recommend when choosing titles, covers, and other similar elements in a book.

But did you know that you can also use PickFu to chose your narrators?

This is how it works:

Most narrators will record a free sample from your book if you ask politely. Have several narrators read the same excerpt, then select your target audience in PickFu and have them judge between the different narrators.

You can do the same with your title and audiobook cover as well, if you have multiple designs to judge between.

Check Out PickFu

Tip #6: Decide on Audiobook Distribution: Exclusive or Wide?

Another important decision to make before you publish, is what distribution channel(s) you want to use.

There are two heavy-hitters in this space, and chances are you will want one or both: ACX and Findaway Voices.

ACX is the Amazon-owned company built to connect authors and narrators, and for selling your book online. It caters to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. 

Findaway Voices is a third-party site that lets you create your audiobook with their own list of narrators, but will also distribute your book to most of the other audiobook platforms out there, for a small cut of the profits.

When you’re producing your audiobook, you should have an idea of what distribution method you want.

Exclusive to ACX

If you chose this method, you will have two options:

  1. If you’re low on cash, you can find a narrator willing to do a royalty share option, where you pay nothing upfront. Your royalties will be 40%, but the narrator will split that amount with you 50/50.
  2. If you narrate the book yourself or pay the narrator upfront, you can sell the book exclusively through ACX and receive 40% of the royalties

Another perk to going exclusive is that ACX will give you promotional codes for free books that you can give out to audiobook reviewers, and really help you kickstart your book’s promotion.

Keep in mind that if you choose to be exclusive to ACX, while it does result in higher royalties, you will be locked into a contract with them for seven years, and will not be able to distribute your audiobooks anywhere. 

Wide

If you choose to be wide, then your royalties with ACX will be lower (25%), and you will not have the royalty share option for your book. You will have to find a narrator and pay them everything upfront.

However, going wide offers some big advantages. 

First and foremost, you can distribute your book across multiple platforms beyond Audible/Amazon, and even include them in libraries.

Some of the larger retailers in the audiobook business include:

  • iTunes
  • Audiobooks.com
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Google Play
  • Kobo
  • Overdrive
  • Scribd

As of this writing, Findaway Voices is one of the best options for handling distribution, but also for helping to get your audiobook produced in the first place.

You’re welcome to upload your audiobook to each of the above platforms on your own, but if you need extra help, or don’t want to deal with all that hassle, then Findaway Voices might be good for you, for much the same reasons as using a distribution service like Draft2Digital.

Which Should You Choose?

Honestly, this will depend from one indie author to another.

For some, the increased royalties and ability to cut upfront costs with royalty share, are attractive reasons why exclusivity with ACX is a good idea.

For others, the seven-year contract with ACX is simply too much, and increased freedom of distribution is a much more attractive option.

There’s a lot to be said on both sides, and there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all option. It just depends on your priorities.

How to Market Audiobooks

So you’ve made the audiobook, it’s ready to go, you’re excited to release it to the world. But then what?

The remainder of our tips will go into audiobook marketing strategies that you can use to sell more books.

Just like our tips to sell more books, this is not a checklist. You shouldn’t try to do everything here. Instead, pick 1-3 that work for you, and do them well. Spend the time to really get good at them, and you’ll find yourself getting better and better.

Tip #7: Play Around With Audiobook Pricing

Now, of course, this tip does not apply to authors who are exclusive to ACX. 

Amazon/Audible keeps a tight lid on their pricing, so you will have no say in that, even if you’re not exclusive.

However, you can mess around with your pricing on all other channels, so if you’re wide, consider some discounts and special offers that might drive more sales.

Tip #8: Apply to Audiobook Promotions (Chirp)

Promotions have traditionally been a staple of eBook marketing since the beginnings of BookBub, but there are not as many such promotional services for audiobooks, primarily because Audible has not allowed authors to discount their books.

However, if you’re wide, there are some options. The biggest promotional service is an offshoot of BookBub, known as Chirp.

If you are wide, a Chirp deal is something you can apply for through Findaway Voices. If selected, your book will be promoted to a huge volume of readers.

Tip #9: Discount Your Ebook with an Audiobook Add-on

Often when you have your ebook and Audible audiobook linked through Amazon, it will give the reader an opportunity to purchase the audiobook for a few more dollars if you buy the ebook first. 

The advantage of this is that this can act as an upsell or bump offer.

Say you get a book promotion for your discounted eBook, and you drop it down to $0.99 or even free. Then even though your book is free, if someone notices that it’s just $7.49 extra to add on the audiobook, then they’re getting a really good deal on an audiobook, even without the ebook.

So even a free book can still make you money if your ebook and audiobook are linked. 

Tip #10: Optimize Ads

Ads for audiobooks can be a little different than advertising to other types of book formats. 

Let’s take a look at different ways to use the most effective forms of advertising for books.

  1. Amazon Ads: Now, you can’t currently run ads directly to an audiobook or on Audible. However, if your ebook and audiobook are linked on Amazon, then promoting one will promote the other. This is especially effective if your Audible book is listed as an add-on to the ebook. If you discount the ebook, then it’s only a little extra to buy the audiobook as well, and this can lead to a lot of ebook and audiobook sales.
  2. Facebook Ads: These ads can function similarly to Facebook ads for ebooks. All you need to do is target the correct genre with your ads, then narrow it down by those who like Audible or audiobooks in general. This should leave you with an audience who likes audiobooks and your genre.
  3. BookBub Ads: BookBub does not have any restrictions on the type of book you include in their ads. So feel free to include audiobooks in your BookBub ads. Here’s some best-selling examples to give you ideas. Keep in mind that BookBub’s audience is one that loves discounts, so be careful about promoting full-price audiobooks.

As with any advertising endeavor, the key is to experiment, experiment, experiment. Once you have measured data, you can begin to control the outcomes.

Tip #11: Never Forget Email

As with any book marketing, your email newsletter will almost certainly be your biggest asset for selling audiobooks.

There are a couple of strategies you should bear in mind when emailing to your group.

  1. Keep a launch promotion schedule: Build hype to your email list ahead of time, to let them know that your audiobook is coming. Consider keeping them in the loop of the audiobook’s production, and maybe even provide a few free samples!
  2. Launch day: Let them know that your audiobook is available for purchase. The more that your audience buys your audiobook, the more likely other people who enjoy your genre will find it too.
  3. ARC teams: Don’t forget to utilize an ARC team for your audiobook. You can use an existing ARC team or form one specifically for audio. If you’re exclusive to ACX, they will give you some promo codes that you can give to your team, and if you’re wide, you can just hand them the audio using a delivery platform like BookFunnel.
  4. Segmentation: Ebook readers and audiobook listeners are often two completely separate audiences, so it’s a good idea to know who of your subscribers belong in each category. You can segment your newsletter by observing who clicks on your audiobook links, or run a poll to see which people prefer, then make sure that you promote your audiobook primarily to those who expressed interest in the medium.

Whatever you do, your newsletter will still be your biggest asset, and its use is still a top tip for anyone who wants to market a book.

Tip #12: Experiment with YouTube, Soundcloud, and Other Social Media

Audio is a versatile medium, and you can use clips of your audiobooks in many different ways.

Try putting small sound bytes from your book on the social media platform you use the most. YouTube and Soundcloud are especially good for audio.

You could even put whole chapters up on YouTube or Soundcloud, though bear in mind that you can only do this if you are wide with your audiobook and not exclusive to ACX.

Tip #13: Request at Library

Did you know that most libraries and library apps like Overdrive will let you request audiobooks?

If your audiobook is wide (it doesn’t work with ACX exclusivity), then you can request that your library get a copy. 

Not only will this result in royalties for you, but it will lead to more people finding your work.

Tip #14: Audiobook Giveaway Codes

If you are exclusive to ACX, they will give you several giveaway codes. If you give one of these codes to an audiobook listener, they will be able to download a free copy of your audiobook so they can leave you a reaview.

This also registers as a sale in Audible’s algorithm., meaning it will boost your sales rank. That, combined with the reviews you should get if you’re giving away the promotional codes, should lead to increased sales.

Sadly, this is not an option for those who go wide with their audiobooks.

Tip #15: Shorter or Longer Products

When creating audiobooks, most people think you just produce the book, then you’re done.

But there are ways to “sell your sawdust” or find other creative ways to use audio.

One big option is to produce box sets of your audiobooks. All evidence suggests that audiobook listeners love the massive 25+ hour audiobooks because they feel like they’re a good deal.

For example, Brandon Sanderson’s books have been consistently among the bestselling titles of all time on Audible, due to the fact that some of them are over 50 hours long.

If you can package all the audiobooks you’ve produced in a series into a box set, you’ll have one of those massive products to offer people.

On the flip side, producing shorter fiction (while not as valuable to Audible members using a credit), can still allow readers to get a sample of your work without paying much for it. 

This kind of shorter audio work can also work in a podcast format, allowing people to get a free glimpse of what you do. Doing this could get readers hooked, so they will hopefully buy your longer works next.

Tip #16: Physical Copies of Audiobooks?

While not common today in the digital age, there may be some who actually want a physical hard copy of your audiobook.

Plus, unboxing a crate of these can be great for social media, or for special signing opportunities in your local bookstore.

It’s difficult to find opportunities to produce these if you are self-publishing. But if your book is published through a publisher, then you should definitely find ways to use these physical copies to your advantage.

Unboxings, giveaways, and signed copies are where we would start.

Tip #17: Promote in Podcasts

Audiobook listeners are audio listeners. That means that other audio-related marketing opportunities are likely to be your best bet to promote your book.

Try scheduling podcast interview opportunities, where you appear on someone else’s podcast to discuss your book and the topics it covers.

This is an almost essential strategy if you are publishing a non-fiction book. There are probably many podcasts in your niche that would be happy to have you appear.

However, it can also be a viable strategy for fiction authors as well. There are many book club and book genre podcasts that might be happy to host you.

And if all else fails, consider starting your own podcast on the topic related to your books.

Tip #18: Use QR Codes

QR codes stand for “Quick Response Codes” and are tiny images that are scannable by a smartphone. When someone scans one of these codes, it leads to a link that you chose when setting up the QR code.

This can be a great way to get people to find your audiobook, especially if you place it in the back of your print books. 

You can also consider adding them to bookmarks or other promotional material, or posting them in your local library. 

There are many ways that you can include QR codes, and Kindlepreneur has you covered with our very own QR code generator for authors. Check it out!

Tip #19: Select the Right Categories

You can choose up to three different categories for your Audible books, and you can change these by emailing ACX. You can browse Audible’s potential category list here.

Your categories are crucial to your book appearing in the correct place on Audible, so we recommend you pick categories that fit your book perfectly.

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Conclusion: How to Sell More Audiobooks

So far we’ve covered marketing strategies you can use before your audiobook is produced, while your audiobook is in production, and afterward.

But what tips are your favorite? Personally, I find that 1, 10, 11, and 17 are mine. I recommend picking one or two and really digging in deep to make it effective.

If you can do this, I have no doubt that you’ll be selling audiobooks in no time.



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