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How Do Publishers Decide What Books to Turn Into Audiobooks?

By Lin Parkin

June 5, 2014

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Woman Peering Over Book.jpgNot all books make good audiobooks. So how do publishers decide which ones to transform into audio versions?

Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in publishing. It has grown into a billion dollar industry, with millions of people downloading them to their media players or purchasing them on CDs each day.

Audiobooks are a huge advantage to those with vision problems or dyslexia, and the average audiobook has enough content that the listener can get a week's worth of entertainment during their long daily commute to work.

For road warriors listening to radio stations play the same songs over and over can get on the nerves. An audiobook, however, provides an ongoing story to stay entertained between stops. But what exactly is it that makes a book a good candidate for an audiobook?

We reached out to several publishers to get their take on the subject. Learn more in today's VOX Daily.

What makes an audiobook marketable?

If the audio version of a book is edited and narrated well, it has huge sales potential. In fact, audiobooks are usually sold at a higher price point due to the production involved which can earn excellent secondary revenue for the author and publisher.

Eddie Jones, Acquisition Editor for the indie-publisher Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, says, "At LPC, we focus on top-sellers first - those titles that demonstrate strong print and eBook sales on Amazon and have lots of 4-5 star reviews."

LPC has had great success with mysteries that have strong female protagonists and political suspense thrillers aimed at men. Fiction titles do well at LPC, but they've also found nonfiction to be a growing market.

Knowing what areas have strong demographics and what will be engaging to different markets is important. Business-minded listeners, for example, are more inclined to purchase an audiobook than a print book due to their work schedules and lifestyle behaviors. They usually tend toward non-fiction audiobooks related to business and marketing topics rather than fiction titles.

At TCK Publishing, founder Tom Corson-Knowles, says "Self help books and romance novels tend to sell very well, whereas children's books tend to sell very poorly." Knowles also suggests that the way the book is organized should be considered as well. "Books loaded with pictures and visual tutorials may not fit the audiobook format very well," he says. "If it's in a good market but the content doesn't work, we often either ask the author to rewrite some parts for audiobook or publish an abridged version."

TV Producer and media consultant Jacquie Jordan, founder and CEO of Jacquie Jordan Inc., told us they turn all of their non-fiction books into audiobooks.

On hiring narrators, she says, "Unlike other publishers, we prefer to have our audio books read by the actual author. {However} as a published author myself, when Audiobooks.com bought the rights to my book, "Get on TV," they hired a voice over actor to read my book. As a publisher, our customers enjoy the experience of the voice of the author, especially since our books are expert driven."

Many expert driven books are written by authors who are professional public speakers and that experience lends itself well to narration in that genre. However, the narration can make or break an audiobook so it should be carefully considered. Hiring a professional narrator and voice actors to act out the characters will ensure the quality of the writing is not compromised and will enhance the listening experience for fans of the author.

Good editing is also a must. Pages and pages of descriptive text may work well and serve a purpose in the hard-copy but it doesn't lend itself well to audio versions of a novel.

Jones says, "Bottom line? The book needs to engage the reader {and} listener."

Are you involved in audiobook publishing?

What do you think makes a book a good candidate for an audio version?

Share your opinion in the comments below.

All the best,
Lin

© iStockphoto.com/mattjeacock

Related Topics: #audiomonth, Audiobooks, Audiobooks.com, Eddie Jones, Get on TV, Jacquie Jordan Inc., Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Narration, Publishing, TCK Publishing, Tom Corson-Knowles, Voice Actors


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