One of my clients received what we thought was the golden ticket – an amazing agent agreed to represent his thriller. This agent is one of the top sellers in the business, and he immediately submitted my client’s book to the top editors at all the major publishing houses. Days later, the rejections poured in containing all completely different (and sometimes contradictory) reasons for passing on the book. After many almosts, there were just as quickly no more editors and houses to whom he could submit. The golden ticket was no more.
This is more common than you think. While many think that getting an agent assures a publishing deal, the most successful agents sell only twelve projects a year. That’s a pretty small number when you think about it.
But we could go on and on for years about the state of publishing and the subjectiveness of the business, as my writer/editor/agent friends and I often do. The topic of this piece, however, is not about the heartbreak of all that, but of next steps. My client is self-publishing, and we’re hoping that with a great product will come sales.
What Jim learned in doing his research on the subject was the rise of audiobooks. It turns out that Andy Weir, self-publishing author of the widly successful book The Martian, was discovered thanks to his audio book. A small audio book publisher found Andy’s book online, and acquired the audio rights to his book and produced a great product.
Audiobooks is the fastest growing segment of the book publishing business. I recently have become a convert as well, discovering audible.com through a Groupon. Thanks to smartphones and digital audio files, the days of old books on tape and carrying around packs of cds are no longer necessary, although libraries and other places still offer them. I downloaded a Great Courses twenty-two hour class on Medieval History, and Mindy Kaling’s book Why Not Me? As a person who works all day and is a single parent, I don’t have a lot of time for books until bed, when I can manage about fifteen minutes before I fall into a coma. But with audiobooks, I can take the dog for a walk and listen to a book, make dinner while listening to a book, and do everything else that needs doing around the house and garden. There are free apps too through the library (OverDrive) and other servers including audiobooks.com
According to Marketwatch, some books are selling better in audio than in print, sometimes by as much as four times.
To me, the narrator is key. I am a huge Bill Bryson fan, however, as much as I love the man as writer, I found his actual voice, when reading his own audiobooks, grating (sorry Bill!). So when his latest book came out, The Road to Little Dribbling, I checked it out on audio to listen to a sample of the book, and I saw and heard that this book has a narrator named Nathan Osgood. His voice is delightful and he conveys the author’s irascible and grouchy nature charmingly– the perfect match to the author. Another great narrator is Caroline Lee, who reads Kate Morton’s The Lake House.
So now Jim is looking into not only self publishing his book with a print edition, but getting an audiobook as well. I connected him with my former neighbor, and former Charlotte news anchorman Alan Taylor, who now has with a booming business narrating audiobooks through ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange). ACX in an online marketplace that connects authors, narrators, and producers. You can upload portions of your book and narrators can give you a sample. Publishers Weekly has a very useful article on how to indie publish an audiobook, associated costs, and royalties.
Check it out, and let us know what you think about audiobooks.