Today’s article is an epic, 2,000-word conversation with Karen Commins, a professional audiobook narrator and Audible Approved Producer in Atlanta who has given voice to more than 50 audiobooks, including ROAD TO TARA: THE LIFE OF MARGARET MITCHELL by Anne Edwards. Karen has completed extensive specialized training in voiceover and audiobook narration technique, as well as in digital audio production. She has written numerous articles that educate authors about audiobook production and promotion for Digital Book World, InD’tale Magazine, and the Audiobook Creation Exchange blog. Learn more about Karen, listen to audio narration samples, and watch her helpful videos for authors on her website.
Karen loaded our conversation with plenty of links to more helpful information and resources, so be sure to click through on them so you don’t miss anything.
How to promote your audiobook
Pour a cup of coffee . . . make a cup of tea . . . and prepare to learn about how to promote your audiobook. The questions are mine; the answers are Karen Commins’s.
What makes promoting audiobooks different from promoting books in other formats?
In my view, the biggest obstacle to audiobook promotion is the fact that the majority of people still haven’t actually listened to one!
Persuading someone to try a new format can be a tough sell because a recent Pew Research Center study revealed:
- The typical American reads only four books of any format in the past year.
- While audiobook consumption has increased significantly in recent years, only 18 percent of American adults say they listened to an audiobook in the past 12 months.
Active readers and even authors commonly list one or more of these three reasons for not listening to books:
- They fear the narrator might be boring, like a droning teacher in school.
- They think they need a special player for listening.
- Listening to books is perceived as being lazy or cheating.
I offer these points to counter those objections:
Regarding narrators: You can listen to the narrator sample before you commit to listening to the whole book. With several hundred thousand audiobooks available in all genres, you’re sure to find someone whom you want to tell you a story.
About playback devices: Gone are the days of special players! Audiobooks now can be played on any smart phone, tablet, or computer. As a result, audiobooks have become mainstream entertainment enjoyed by millions of people.
Cheating concerns: Clinical psychologist Daniel Willingham concluded that your brain processes information the same way regardless whether you read or heard it. Rather than being a negative experience like cheating, hearing the oral version of the story adds enormous value to the text because:
- The listener enjoys the musicality and emotion in the language.
- One’s listening and concentration skills improve.
- A person absorbs the author’s words and message while doing something else – audiobooks are a multi-tasker’s best friend!
- Language skills and/or subject retention can be strengthened by listening while reading along with the print book.
What’s the first step you take when you start to promote an audiobook?
I look up the book on Amazon to see if the audiobook edition is listed on the book’s page. I’ll explain why shortly.
If I find the audiobook is shown on an orphaned page (it’s not included with the other book’s formats), I send an email to KDPfirstname.lastname@example.org to request that the editions be combined. I include the links to the Amazon pages for both the audiobook and the Kindle and other editions.
The audiobook must be paired with the other editions on Amazon for three inter-related reasons.
First, some people buy audiobooks exclusively. If they are looking for the book, they will see the audio edition is available on the same page.
Second, the editions need to be connected before the audiobook can be a candidate for the Whispersync technology created by Audible and Amazon. Whispersync synchronizes between the Audible audiobook and the Kindle e-book so that you can effortlessly switch between them. You could read the e-book in your house and then listen to the audiobook in the car starting right where you left the story! I created this 3:04 video to demonstrate how Whispersync works.
Finally, once Whispersync is enabled on your audiobook, people can purchase the audiobook for a reduced price once they buy the Kindle e-book. If you run an e-book sale, and especially if BookBub lists your book as a Featured Deal, you could see a major uptick in related audiobook sales!
I listed additional preliminary marketing steps that I take in my Evernote Publicity Template. If you’re an Evernote user, you can save this note to your notebooks.