How Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz went from selling a few CDs at a time to having their digital audiobook sales eclipse their eBook sales.
The following is a guest post from Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, who I first met at Indie Bookfest in Orlando this year. They’ve been using Findaway (the parent company of Findaway Voices) as self-published authors since 2012, and have a fun story to share. Enjoy!
Sometimes it feels like we’ve been in publishing since the dawn of time. We wrote and published four books before Amazon was anything other than a river.
As professional speakers, our main purpose for having a book was to use it as a “business card” to market our speaking business. So, in 1998 we wrote and self-published our first book, Retail Magic, and it did very well, selling to our clients in the retail industry. Then, in 2000, we wrote and published the book we are most known for today, a short fable called, Go for No! Again, we hoped the book would lead to speaking and training, with the revenue from the book, if any, being a plus. As the book started to sell, we decided it might be a good idea to go into a recording studio and read the book on audio.
So in 2003, that’s what we did. We recorded and produced the audiobook, had it created into a two CD set — no fancy cover-insert, just two silver CDs in a boring plastic case. Every now and then someone purchased the CD version, which gave us hope that the time and expense recording the book was worth it. It wasn’t like we were breaking some unchartered ground or anything. Books on tape had been around for years.
In the meantime, Go for No! was under consideration from a very large publisher. Finally, the agent we were working with told us to expect an offer the next day. We hovered over our fax machine all morning. After not receiving anything, we called our agent to find out what was going on. What was going on was they decided to pull the plug at the last minute. They determined that our platform was just not big enough and the book would not sell enough to make it worth their time and effort.
The fate of our book was now entirely in our hands. Again. We were more determined than ever to make it a success now! To tell you about that would require an entire other blog post (can you say, cover redesign?) That said, we treated our book like a child: we didn’t give birth to it just to let it flail around trying to survive on its own. (After all it was only 4!) We looked for any and every opportunity to get the book in front of our target reader or better yet, someone who influenced our target reader.
Fast forward to 2012. We got an email from a company called Findaway World. They wanted to sell our audio content on some new platforms, handle everything, and send us a royalty payment. Since we had the book on audio, we figured, why not? We were all about getting our book and the message into as many hands as possible and this was just one more way. And, we didn’t have to do any of the work! Bonus. And we got paid. Double bonus.
Our first royalty payment arrived: $23.94. Another revenue stream and one that bought us lunch. We were happy. Were people actually listening to audiobooks? We had no idea, but again we were all about getting our content out into the marketplace.
A couple years later in late 2014, we got ourselves into ACX, Amazon’s audiobook platform. Again, figuring, what did we have to lose?
In the meantime, Findaway had been updating us with new partnerships, automatically sending our audiobooks to more and more platforms. The royalty payments were growing.
As of September 2018, our audiobook sales have officially surpassed eBook sales. Between Findaway and Amazon/Audible, our audiobooks have helped create the presence and exposure that we want Go for No! to have. The books and audiobooks were always meant to supplement our main revenue stream (speaking), but we certainly aren’t complaining about these royalty checks we’re getting.
As of September 2018, our audiobook sales have officially surpassed eBook sales.
What we have learned is this: if you want to get your content consumed; as far as the consumer is concerned, listening is just as effective and as important as reading and sometimes even preferred. Now more than ever, there are platforms and people who are interested in helping you get your work onto them.
We got lucky getting into the world of audiobooks as “early” as we did but here is the crazy thing: it’s still very early.
This is a wild journey and everyone is learning as they go. No one knows exactly what will come next. But when you put yourself and your work out there, you help create opportunities that you never even knew existed.
Thank you Richard and Andrea for sharing your story! We’re looking forward to sending you bigger and bigger royalty checks for years to come.
If you’d like to learn more about Richard and Andrea, or Go for No!, visit their website here: goforno.com.