The best way for an author to start making a profit from their audiobook is to become exceptional at selling! It’s critical that you learn to sell audibooks because they are the most expensive format to create.
This article is for authors new to selling audiobooks. Selling is a challenge for beginner because it’s amulti-step process and each section affects the next. However, in this article I have broken down the steps into easy to understand segments.
Selling audiobooks entails the following:
- Cover Art
- Description or Blurb
- Customer Reviews
The best way to think about selling audiobooks is from the customer’s point of view. Let’s say a customer goes onto the Audible website and browses through the list of audiobooks. The audiobook’s cover is the first thing the customer will see. It must be eye-catching and immediately convey its genre.
After selecting the cover, the customer reads the audiobook’s description. The very first sentence must grab the reader’s attention and get them to read the next sentence, and so on.
If the customer doesn’t know you, they will need social proof or reviews. If the average reviews are good, this person is now your customer. Yeah!
These are just the first three steps to selling your audiobook. The remainder of this article discusses these and several more steps in detail so you will have a better understanding of how to sell your audiobook.
If you are working on your audiobook, usually you already have a paperback and an ebook available. If this is the case, then simply contact your cover designer and have them change the layout of your ebook cover to fit your audiobook. The main difference is that audiobooks are 2400×2400 pixels whereas ebooks are 2560×1600 pixels.
On the other hand, if you have not thought too much about your cover, then read on. Your cover is the most important step to getting customers because it moves the customer to the next step in the selling process.
The purpose of your audiobook’s cover is to catch the customer’s attention. This is usually done featuring a well thought out image. This image must get the listener’s attention and convey the audiobook’s genre.
A space opera audiobook should have a large spacecraft on the front cover. A ketogenic diet audiobook should feature great looking food on the cover. A real estate audiobook should feature something about real estate such as a house, money, tenants, etc.
You may be surprised to learn that the font color and font type also play a large role in establishing the genre. An audiobook about fairy tales may have a more traditional font while a business audiobook may have a modern font. Using contrasting font colors also helps to get the customer’s attention.
What if you are not a graphic designer? I strongly suggest that you do not try to do your own cover. Instead, use a cover designer.
Your designer will need information before beginning the cover design. Go to Audible and look up other audiobooks in your genre. Make a list of links to those that you like. Then go to Fiverr.com (or any other online marketplace) and look for cover designers. You will want to send the designer, your title, subtitle (if necessary), author name, audiobook dimensions, and the list of links for audiobook covers that you like.
On Fiverr, I have never found a designer I liked on the first go. I usually had to try a few before I found one that created a cover I liked. Generally, the prices on Fiverr.com can vary from $5 to $300. Keep in mind that you should spend more than $5 but spending more money doesn’t guarantee a better cover.
If you already have a companion paperback and ebook for your audiobook, then you have already written your description. You could skip to the next section, Reviews. On the other hand, this may be another chance to take a second look at your description.
Your description is your sales copy for your audiobook. Think of your description sentence by sentence. The purpose of the first sentence is to hook the reader’s attention and get them to read the next sentence. The purpose of the next sentence is to get them to read more.
If you have a fiction audiobook, you need to include a:
- Hook to get the customer’s attention
- Description of the protagonist which will be the person to root for
- Portrayal of the antagonist who causes problems for the hero
- Depiction of the goal and the consequences of not achieving the goal
- Social Proof which shows that everyone likes the audiobook
- Call to Action to purchase the audiobook
If your audiobook is nonfiction, you need to include a:
- Hook to get the customer’s attention
- Sentence or two about the customer’s pain point
- Description of how the audiobook could help the customer
- Depiction of how your audiobook is better than the competition
- Open Loop that promises something more if your customer purchases the audiobook.
- Call to Action to purchase the audiobook
Step 1 – Write Your Description
If you know how to write sales copy, then go ahead and write your description and skip to Step 2.
If you don’t know how to write sales copy, I strongly recommend that you try to write it anyway. The reason for this is to help you organize important information that should go into your description.
Make a list of audiobooks similar to yours that you like. Try to write your description using these audiobooks as inspiration. Pay attention to the information they include. If you’re familiar with the audiobook, notice the information they leave out.
Step 2 – Add Keywords
Go back to your list of audiobook descriptions and look for keywords that bring up your competitor’s audiobooks. Look at their titles and descriptions to try to figure out keywords or keyword phrases. Then, go to the search function and see which ones auto-fill because these are actually used by other customers.
Once you have a list of keywords or keyword phrases, go back to your description and try to work those into your description and title. However, the keywords should sound natural in your description. Do not keyword stuff your description or title.
Step 3 – Go To Fiverr.com
Next, go to Fiverr.com (or any other online marketplace) and look for someone who can write blurbs or audiobook descriptions. You will give your badly-written description to the copywriter and have them fix it for you. You should also send the copywriter your list of links to descriptions that you liked.
Looking for a good copywriter is like anything else on Fiverr.com, you may have to try a few out before you find some you can work with.
Reviews serve as social proof to your potential customers. Someone who is on the fence about buying your audiobook may be persuaded by a set of reviews that are both good and not so good. Every author wants the good reviews, but you need the not so good reviews to show that real people reviewed your audiobook. After all, your audiobook will not appeal to 100% of listeners.
Audible Giveaway Codes
Audible provides 25 giveaway codes for the US and 25 giveaway codes for the UK. The purpose of these codes is for the author to give them to listeners who will then leave an honest review. The codes are available in your ACX dashboard.
The way it works is you alert your email list that you have the ACX giveaway codes. However, also let them know that you are expecting an honest review. This means if they like the audiobook they should just leave a couple of sentences to say why. In addition, if they don’t like the audiobook they should also say why.
Once people begin to contact you, make sure you gather their email addresses. Send them the codes and follow them on your dashboard. You should be able to see who has redeemed their codes and who has not. Wait an appropriate amount of time and remind them to leave an honest review.
So what should you do if you don’t have an email list? Read the next section.
This is the most cost-effective way to get audiobook reviews, but it also takes the longest. The way it works is you create an email list magnet. This magnet could be the first audiobook in a series, an audio of a short story, an audio of character biography, etc. It could be anything that is relevant and interesting to your audience.
Use a service like BookFunnel which distributes MP3 files to your listeners. Note that the audio file cannot be longer than 2 hours. The advantage of using BookFunnel is that they will handle the technical issues that your customers might come across.
In exchange for this magnet, the listener agrees to provide their name and email address. Make sure that the email magnet is truly valuable in the eyes of the customer.
Once you have the listener’s email address, stay in contact with them every 1 to 3 weeks. If you are still narrating your audiobook, send them updates on where you are in the production process.
If your audiobook is fiction, send them little pieces of information about the world you are building, interesting tidbits about your characters, and reviews of other audiobooks in the same genre.
If your audiobook is nonfiction, send them some interesting statistics you’ve gathered, one simple thing they can do to address a particular pain point, or updates on when you think your audiobook will be released.
Once your new audiobook is released, email your list and ask them to listen to and review your audiobook. You can send your 50 Audible giveaway codes to your email list and request honest reviews.
On most platforms, the author of the audiobook can set the price. However, Audible does not allow the author to set the price for their audiobook. Instead, Audible/Amazon decides the price of your audiobook depending on its length and the platform (Amazon and Audible) you find it on.
It’s possible to find one price of the audiobook on the Amazon website, another price for it on Audible if you purchase it, and yet another price on Audible if you purchase as part of the subscription model.
Most other platforms like Apple/iTunes, Google Play, Kobo/Walmart, etc., allow you to set the price for your audiobook. In these cases, it might make sense to set the price to free for six months while you wait for organic traffic. Organic traffic means that a customer stumbled upon your audiobook, and then they purchased and review it.
I don’t think this is the best plan given that most audiobook traffic goes through Audible. In other words, there are too few people who will see your audiobook on the non-Audible websites.
Print & Ebook Version
Many authors create an ebook version of their book, some create a print version, and very few create the audiobook. However, a growing number of authors are creating the audiobook and forgetting about the paperback version.
There’s no reason to skip the paperback version. It true that in some genres the ebook far outsells the paperback version. However, some customers just prefer a paperback book. It’s simple to get the ebook formatted for paperback, and you can pay someone of Fiverr.com or some other online marketplace to get it done for you.
Promotion is the process of informing your target audience about your audiobook. The benefits of promotion are to drive more traffic, build sales, and increase brand awareness. Below I focus on several promotion options, but don’t try to do them all at once. As a beginner, you should always concentrate on organic traffic and creating your website. Then, pick one of the remaining promotion methods and focus on that one.
Organic traffic means that a customer is browsing through the Audible store or iTunes and comes across your audiobook. They stop at your attention-getting cover, read your compelling description, glance at your reviews, and purchase your audiobook.
Organic traffic on Amazon or Audible usually isn’t really organic. This is where the Audible algorithm steps in. Nobody (outside of Amazon and Audible) really knows in detail how this algorithm works. The information in this section is based on observational data.
The Audible algorithm places audiobooks in front of their customers that already sell well. The reasoning makes sense. If several customers like a particular audiobook, then it’s reasonable that a new customer will like that audiobook too.
It’s your job as an author to help the algorithm. You do this with a huge email list. On the day that your audiobook appears on the Audible platform you send out your 50 Audible giveaway codes and ask your list to support you by purchasing the ebook. Make sure you ask everyone to leave an honest review.
The algorithm will notice the huge amount of traffic and will begin to show your audiobook to other customers who like similar audiobooks in your genre. If your cover, description, and reviews are all good, these new customers will also buy your audiobook. However, if something isn’t right, your audiobook still will not sell to the new customers. The algorithm will decrease the number of times it shows your audiobook, and eventually, it won’t show it any longer.
Your website is your sales page. You should create an author website that lists all forms of your book (paperback, ebook, and audiobook). This means it should be easy for customers to find your latest audiobook. Your website should also do the following:
- Provide a way for customers to join your email list.
- Display an “About Me” page that should clearly sell you as a qualified author.
- Make it easy for fans to contact you.
This website should also be listed on your social media platforms. If you interview with podcasters or create YouTube videos, your website will assist with selling your audiobook and you.
Paid Advertising & Audible’s Bounty Program
Generally, paid advertising is used to bring a cold contact who may be interested in audiobooks in your genre. Cold contacts are wary of new authors or audiobooks and even good reviews may not convince them. Instead, it’s better to try to get their attention with a free audiobook. The tricky thing is Audible doesn’t allow the author to set the price for their audiobook.
Paid Advertising can work for a beginner whose strategy is to attract customers new to Audible. The way it works is you will need to go to your ACX dashboard and get the bounty link for your audiobook. The bounty system pays an author for attracting new customers to Audible.
If you have placed your audiobook in an exclusive contract on Audible, and you used Pay-for-Production to create your audiobook, Audible will pay you $75 for each new customer. If you have a second audiobook in a series, these customers could purchase it for a credit or full price.
You can use Facebook Advertising to attract new customers. Keep in mind that this advertising method is quite expensive. Don’t do this step until you have a good cover, description, and reviews.
Use SoundCloud to create a sample of your audiobook and insert the sample on your website, blog posts, and throughout your social media pages. The process to create a sample is to upload your retail sample from Audible, your audiobook’s cover, your name, and the narrator’s name.
The way this works is when you promote your website or social media pages, your audience will click on the SoundCloud sample. If they are interested, they can use the link to purchase on Audible.
Interview with a Podcaster
Once your website is set up, start contacting podcasters and asking for an interview. Focus on newer podcasters who might be looking for people to interview… Listen to their podcasts so that you can make sure your audiobook is a good fit for their show. When you do contact the podcaster, make sure you have something to offer either the podcaster or their audience.
For example, you could offer:
- A free copy of an ebook
- A discounted copy of the paperback book
- A biography of your main character
- An infographic from your nonfiction book
During the interview with the podcaster (usually toward the end), you will have a chance to mention your website or direct the audience directly to Audible for your audiobook. In this way, you provide entertainment or information to your podcaster’s audience, and you may potentially get sales.
Another option is to offer sponsorship to the podcaster. You will pay a small amount of money to have you or your audiobook mentioned on their show. As you may imagine it’s very important that the podcaster’s audience is likely to be interested in your audiobook. Also, you should still listen to several episodes to be sure a sponsorship would be a good fit for you and the podcaster.
If you have a social media following on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. or you are building one, this is a possible way to sell more audiobooks. The way it works is you provide fresh new content for your followers. It should be something of value to them. Every so often you mention your new audiobook that is available on the Audible platform.
It is very hard to quantify how well this method works. You cannot track the number of people who order after seeing your social media page. However, this also serves as brand building which will help you sell future audiobooks.
As a new author, you need to take several steps to successfully sell your audiobook. To generate organic traffic, you must focus on your cover, description, and reviews. Additional forms of promotion are dependent on having an author website that sells you as well as your audiobook. After building your website, pick one promotion option and master it.
Which promotion options do you use? Let me know in the comments below.