Get Your Book Selling Wide in Multiple Formats

Should fiction authors be paying attention to the best audio search engine? (Hint: Yes.)

Photo by Lena Kudryavtseva on Unsplash

Exhibit A: Global Ecommerce

Amazon can reach 13% of the global ecommerce market. Kobo (via Rakuten, their partnership with Walmart, and partnerships with other international retailers) can reach 2–3% of the global ecommerce market. Apple holds 1% of the market and Google holds less as its focus has historically been outside of ecommerce.

  • Building a payments platform (Rakuten, Apple, and Google Play have this)
  • Loyalty programs (via credit cards, points, or other rewards)
  • Devices, like phones, tablets, e-readers, in-home and in-car devices

Exhibit B: Audiobooks

Audiobooks is a growing space largely because they are hitting three of these needs.

  • They are largely sold by subscription model (hitting the loyalty/reward need) and not just by Audible. Kobo also offers a subscription program, and Google offers a points program on all digital purchases through it’s Google Play Points program. Several other smaller players like Scribd also offer subscriptions.
  • They are ideal entry points on devices. Ecommerce is shifting to device purchases and Apple and Google have iPhones and Androids all over the world. Amazon, Apple, and Google are also attempting to get devices into homes. Where once people did chores, drove, or jogged in silence or to music, they are now picking up audiobooks to help entertain and pass the time.

Exhibit C: Streaming Audio Content

None of these four companies are the top streaming service, though. That honor goes to Spotify, which has arguably the best audio search engine. I have a small podcast with 80 episodes under a nonfiction pen name and nearly half of the organic traffic comes from Spotify. The next largest service is Apple, with 8%, and Google and Amazon are somewhere in the mix beyond.

Quick Recap

  • Audiobooks are growing. They are increasing the market share of the book industry overall *and* they are chipping away at the ebook and print book pieces of the pie.
  • Companies that want to win in ecommerce *really* like audiobooks because they hit on a lot of nice things that help grow a user base that spends more. Furthermore, the market is still anyone’s game, so these companies are going to invest in selling audiobooks.
  • Devices are where it’s at right now. It’s where ecommerce companies are investing and it’s where customers are moving as well. And distribution through devices is a little different than distribution through websites. There are players in this space that haven’t historically been players in the book industry, but are moving into books for good reason.

What Does This Have to Do With Podcasting?

Well, podcasting is to devices shopping (especially in-home and in-car devices which are hands-free) what blog posts are to retailer websites.

Takeaways:

  • There are some (but still very few) fiction authors experimenting with this right now. Some of them have been podcasting for years. These same authors are heavily investing in audiobooks and have a strong wide mindset.
  • Audiobooks are an important part of your catalog. It’s cost-prohibitive to hire a narrator but those who do will have a leg up in the next five years. And just as ebook sales overflow to print and audio, audiobook sales will overflow to ebook sales. (Sidenote: the audiobook market share wars will likely shake up the hold Amazon has over that part of the book industry).
  • The technology to create natural-ish auto-generated audiobooks exists already. We’re just waiting on a company (Google, maybe?) to make it available to authors and create a realistic pricing model that honors the author’s copyright. These books will likely sell for less than voice-acted narration, but there will likely be a market for it.
  • Podcasting is the new and upcoming blog/website. This is going to be the easiest way to get organic eyes, traffic, and branding. You could try a couple things: free audiobook version with ads, free audiobook version of your first-in-free series (leading to the rest of your paid audiobooks), or a commentary podcast that talks about other related media across television, movies, and other popular books.

Writer, entrepreneur, artist. USA TODAY bestseller. I help people get their big stories, messages, and ideas out into the world at The World Needs Your Book.

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