Paying for Audiobook Listeners

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Paul Whybrow

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Jun 20, 2015
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Cornwall, UK
For any of you who followed my marathon through audiobook production, you may be interested in what happens when an audiobook is released into the wild to be hunted down by avid listeners! :rolleyes:

I published my five Cornish Detective titles on Audible, which is the audiobook division of Amazon’s KDP. Doing so involved passing the quality control checks by Audible’s vetting arm ACX. As described in previous posts, this is excruciating, mainly because of ACX’s woeful inefficiency; it takes four to six weeks for your sound files (one for each chapter) to be scrutinised. Once accepted, your audiobook appears on Audible’s shelves.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to sell 173 units in two months without doing much promotion via social media. That’s considerably more sales than for the eBook and POD Paperback versions.

What a writer always needs is reviews, as reviews drive sales. If I buy a book or when I was able to borrow a library copy, 99% of my choices followed reading a review.

The history and practice of paying for reviews of digital and hard copy books is murky and can soon become expensive:

The Indie Author's Guide to Paid Reviews

With audiobooks, for each title that passes ACX’s standards, a writer receives 50 Promo Codes (25 USA, 25 UK) which are intended to be judiciously handed out to readers who might well give a review. As you might expect, there are commercial ways of encouraging fans of audiobooks to give reviews, which is done by using companies that distribute the codes for you.

I spent days checking on various outfits that do this, including:

Audiobook Boom! - Free & Sale-Priced Audiobook Deals in your Inbox ….$12 per title...based in the USA, so likely more American reviewers.

Audio Freebies – Promo Codes for Free Audiobooks – Audiobook Giveaways / Audible Free Promo Codes / Audiobook Marketing / Author Narrator Audio Book Requests $10 - $35 (for multi-listing)

Home - FreeAudioBooks.co.uk.£10 per title

From reading about using Promo Codes on Reddit and Quora, it seemed that authors got more requests for American codes than British, but I chose to go with Free Audio Books that’s located in the UK, mainly because most of my marketing will be based on Cornwall and its image. I liked the openness of their approach to doing business. Their service can be free, if you hand out the Promo Codes yourself, or for a tenner a title they’ll do that for you—with a limit of 20 codes for each title. I chose the paid option, looking at it as paying 50p for promoting a book. The name of the game is to get myself known as a crime author and my Cornish Detective series as entertaining listens!

I signed with them two weeks ago, and, up until noon today, 13 codes have been handed out by Free Audio Books. I hope that reviews will be left on their website, but there’s no way of forcing that to happen.

One aspect of the process that’s really puzzled me, is which titles have been requested. Maybe I’m a finicky reader, but if I luck onto a crime series that I enjoy, I like to read the early titles first, so I get a sense of the protagonist’s history or an ongoing story arc. Of course, ideally, a series book should be enjoyable as a stand-alone too. What’s surprised me, is that six people asked for the last book, but only four wanted the debut. So far, no one wants the second story!

Their choices might be down to the cover blurb. Book 5 is set in the art colony of Saint Ives, so perhaps those who chose it are interested in paintings.

Nine audiobook fans are from the UK, with only four from the USA, so my tentative marketing plans to concentrate on Cornwall’s reputation might be a wise move.

Have I finally done something right?!

I can’t help wondering what the listeners of my audiobooks are doing while they listen….

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