Monday, April 11, 2016

Why Writers Need to Think About Audio Books as a Publishing Must

Last year, I discovered the wonderful world of audio books, and since then I've become a convert, shifting ~75% of my book consumption to audio. And apparently I'm not alone.

According to The Wall Street Journal, in 2014, audio book sales grew +14% to almost $1.5B in sales, making it one of the fastest growing segments in publishing.

Audio books allow readers to engage with books in new ways--while driving, walking or making dinner. And book sellers like Amazon are making big investments behind the medium, predicting more growth and more shifts from print and ebook into the audio space. So much so, that they've invested in over twenty audio-only titles, and commissioned Orson Scott Card to write an adapted dramatization of Ender's Game, complete with sound effects and more than two dozen actors.

So what does this mean for writers?

For one thing, it means we need to start thinking of audio right sales as a must instead of a nice bonus. If you don't have an audio version of your book, you're losing out on a growing and important segment of the market. 

Speaking from personal experience, I've passed on reading several books because they weren't available in audio format. They're still on my to-read list, but as more and more of my book consumption moves to audio, the likelihood that I'll get them dramatically decreases.

For self-published authors, this means investing into audio versions of your stories. Luckily there are a number of ways to approach this. Here's a great article from Publisher's Weekly detailing some of your options.

According to, the growth in audio books may ultimately mean we have to change the way we write, especially for those authors that first release in audio. Complex sentences don't always translate to the audio world. Successful dialogue becomes mission critical. And the addition of sound opens up a whole new realm of possibilities to readers listeners: sound effects, accents, music--where descriptions where once a must, a title written for audio-only can instead show the reader details through sound.  It's almost feels like we're moving back in time to the days before TVs, when radio programming was king. 

I for one am exciting about anything that makes reading accessible to new groups of readers and writers. And as a fan of audio books, I'm excited to see how publishers adapt to the growing trend. 

What about you?

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