Is Your Book Audiobook Worthy?

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in publishing right now, and suddenly every content creator wants a piece of the action. So, how does an independent author or publisher decide if a title is audio-worthy? The short answer is that there is no magic formula, but there are some proven methods that can help improve your chances of bringing an audiobook to market and turning a profit.  

Books Not Suited for Audiobooks

One way to decide if your content would work well in the audio market is to figure out if your content has features that will make it an audio bust. If your book meets any of the criteria below, you may want to save your resources for another opportunity:

  • Your book has a lot of photos, maps, or other graphics that are critical to understanding the text.
  • Your book does not function in a linear way. For example, guidebooks, cookbooks, and other informational text where it is not essential to read from beginning to end.

Audiobooks for Children's Books

Assuming your content does not meet the criteria above, your title may be a viable candidate. For publishers of children’s picture books, consider:

  • Creating audio for picture books can work very well as a read-along eBook, with audio embedded directly into the eBook.
  • There are plenty of educational companies, new apps, etc., that are begging publishers to build audio for them to market as part of new and exciting interactive eBooks.
  • In terms of a straight audiobooks, picture books are very challenging because so much of the text is directly related to the images.
  • Picture books are also very short, meaning they end up with teeny-tiny list prices.

Budgeting for an Audiobook

The next important thing to consider is your budget. Do you have the financial resources to produce an audiobook? Will you have enough left over in your budget to market that audiobook as well? 

  • The longer your print book is, the longer your audiobook will be, and thus, the more expensive it will be to produce. Conversely, shorter books will cost less to produce.
  • Note on pricing with respect to length: major audiobook resellers set the price for your audiobook, and length is an important determining factor. This can create a bit of a budget paradox, as longer books cost more to produce, but may net more revenue due to their higher list prices.

Compare Other Books in Your Genre

One step that every author should definitely take is to find a comparable title and see whether that title has been produced as an audiobook. If it has, that’s definitely a step in the right direction. But does it sell well? Try to find out. Contact the publisher if you can. If the book was self-published, reach out to them. Check out e-retailer websites and look for best-sellers in your genre. Any information you can glean will help your cause.

Ask Your Fans

Finally, ask your customers. Deciding on whether or not to produce an audiobook is a great way to engage with your customer base. In fact, it may help with your book marketing and help you sell your existing title even if you don’t end up producing an audiobook version. If your customers want it, they’ll tell you. And if they want it, the odds are, others will too, so ask them via social media, your author website, email marketing, etc. Let them tell you how they'd prefer to consume your content.

Here’s a quick review—answer these questions and you’re ready to go!

  1. Does your content work as an audiobook?
  2. If your content is a children’s book, are you ready to sell outside of traditional audio channels?
  3. Do you have the budget to produce and market your audiobook?
  4. Are titles similar to yours succeeding in the current audio market?
  5. Do your customers want your audiobook?


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Brett Hodus

Brett Hodus is the President and co-founder of Book Buddy Media. Book Buddy offers a full range of publisher services including the most affordable professional audiobook production in the U.S. Book Buddy produced over 1,000 market-ready audiobooks in 2016 for a variety of authors and publishers.