If you're a self-published author, you might never have even considered the possibility of turning your book into an audiobook.
Authors who are traditionally published generally have audiobook rights and production arranged by their literary agent or publisher.
But as with all other aspects of self-publishing, the onus is on indie authors themselves to tap into this market.
But why should you consider publishing audiobooks as an indie author? Are they worth the effort and costs involved?
We're here to answer those questions by highlighting five key benefits of audiobooks for the self-published author. Let's jump right in!
1. Reach a new range of readers
Audio is a rapidly growing segment in the digital publishing industry. According to Good E-Reader, in 2017, the U.S. alone recorded over $2.5 billion in audiobook sales, with 26% of the U.S. population having listened to an audiobook throughout the year.
This trend is mirrored around the world, with the Big Five publishers stating that the profit of their digital units is largely due to audiobooks.
When you think about it, it's easy to see why audiobooks are growing in popularity.
The main reason cited for listening to audiobooks over reading is convenience – you can listen to a book virtually anywhere, while doing anything from commuting to exercising to cleaning the house.
For those who don't have as much time to read physical or ebooks, audiobooks make it easier to keep consuming stories.
Convenience and necessity aren't the only reasons audiobooks are popular, though; some people simply prefer the format overall, and love the experience of being 'read to'.
This hugely growing market is reason enough for indie authors to tap into the trend.
With audiobooks' popularity and ease of access higher than ever, indie authors can get in right alongside traditionally published authors to get their books in front of fresh eyes (or ears!).
By expanding your reach into the audiobook market, you'll be exposing your books to a whole new range of readers who might never have discovered you otherwise.
Many people who prefer listening to audiobooks tend to stick solely to that format, and would be unlikely to read your novel in ebook or paperback – so why not tap into that possibility and expand your audience?
2. Target a less saturated market
While the audiobook sector has been growing steadily, audiobooks are by no means as popular as standard books or ebooks (not yet, anyway!). But this can be a good thing, particularly for indie authors.
The audiobook market is currently far less saturated than the physical and ebook markets, which means self-published authors have less competition to contend with and can be much more easily discovered.
In highly saturated marketplaces like Amazon, for example, it can be all to easy for an indie author to get lost in a sea of other self-published books – not to mention the big contenders from traditional publishers.
With audiobooks, your books have a greater chance of being discovered off the cuff by new readers, especially if you're writing in a particular niche, genre or subgenre.
3. Increase your potential earnings
If you're looking to increase your sales potential, audiobooks are one great way to do it.
Having another source of revenue as an indie author is always a good thing, and the best thing about audiobooks is that the content is already there ready to go – it just has to be transformed into audio!
As well as increasing your revenue options with audiobooks, you're also diversifying them.
Much like a freelance writer needs a range of clients to balance out their income, authors do well to have diverse income streams so that one channel can 'fill in the gaps', so to speak, when the others are a little quieter.
Yes, the cost of producing an audiobook (primarily the cost of hiring a narrator) can seem a little high, especially if you're not yet a six-figure income indie author.
But it really is a great investment into your future, so look at it that way and take the plunge if you can.
4. Bring new life to your story
Let's say your book has been out for a little while. It's still doing OK, but sales have dropped off quite a bit since the initial burst following publication, and your next book won't be out for a while yet.
Apart from injecting some fresh ideas into your promotion and marketing strategy, what can you do to breathe new life into your existing story?
Transform it into an audiobook, of course!
The mere act of having a professional narrator record your story can give it a whole new lease on life and, as we mentioned above, reach a whole new range of readers. The right audiobook narrator will capture the essence of your characters and your unique writing style, helping you connect with readers in a brand-new way.
5. Gain extra credibility as an indie author
Currently, only a small percentage of indie authors are choosing to capitalise on the audiobook route, and this can give you another advantage in a competitive marketplace: extra credibility.
Virtually anyone these days can create and publish an ebook, which is why Amazon is so saturated with self-published authors. But the same isn't true for audiobooks.
The steps and costs involved in creating an audio version of a book won't be undertaken by every author – but the ones who do definitely stand out.
We're not saying you have to create an audiobook; plenty of authors find success with digital and/or print books alone.
But if you really want to up your credibility as an indie author and offer a professional, comprehensive suite of options to your readership, audiobooks are a fantastic option!
Have you had experiences with audiobook publishing? Do you listen to audiobooks yourself?
Let us know in the comments!