Audio is becoming a bigger and bigger part of digital publishing. According to GoodeReader, the “format saw a 22.7% increase in sales and generated over $2.5 billion dollars in the United States alone.” But audio doesn’t mean just audiobooks. It can also mean voice apps, podcasts, and more.
Indie authors can sell audiobooks, via ACX, Smashwords, iTunes, and Libro. If you’re looking to grow your audiobook listener base, ACX offers a few tips, which includes doing a survey to figure out your audience, prompting listeners to listen to more than one of your books, and cross-promoting with other authors. You can also create a Soundcloud clip to promote your book.
If you need to record an audiobook, you can work with a narrator. One platform where you can connect with voice actors is Mandy. Audiobooks can come in a variety of narrative forms, even as song lyrics.
Text to Speech
Audiobooks aren’t the only way to hear stories. Last year, Bloomberg Media “introduced a text-to-audio function in its app and online with the hunch that commuters would prefer to multitask while getting their news,” according to Digiday.
Amazon also has a service that turns text into speech, called Amazon Polly. According to Amazon, it “uses advanced deep learning technologies to synthesize speech that sounds like a human voice.”
Smart speakers are growing, and Amazon’s Alexa is one of the most popular. With Alexa, anyone can build skills/products that people can access through voice commands. One example is the New York Times‘ daily news flash briefing and weekly interactive news quiz. Another example is ChooseCo. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “Audible and ChooseCo will release Choose Your Own Adventure: An Immersive Audible Experience, an Alexa skill that brings the original Choose Your Own Adventure stories to life with professionally performed audio and voice-based control on Alexa-enabled devices.”
Podcasts are growing in popularity, to the point that NPR has been working on a way to measure podcast analytics, with “Remote Audio Data (RAD), a method for sharing listening metrics from podcast applications straight back to publishers, with extreme care and respect for user privacy.”
Podcasts can come in a variety of genres and formats, from five minute poetry episodes to audio dramas. BBC has a detailed breakdown of podcast dramas over the last 10 years in the US and UK, and found the five top genres are science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, and comedy. (Popular sub-genres include science fiction comedy, and magical realism—romance is not that popular. Hybrid sub-genres may do the best in terms of growth in the future.)
For more details on podcast popularity and size, check out Podtrac.