The 10 Best Questions from the Romance Writers of America Conference
Audiobooks were a popular topic at this year’s RWA, and we answered some great questions from this very savvy audience.
Between two office hour slots and participating in an audiobook panel, along with countless hallway conversations over 3 days, we had the opportunity to answer tons of great questions from hundreds of RWA attendees. In case you didn’t have a chance to stop by, or weren’t able to attend, here are some of the most common and best questions we heard (along with our answers).
“What Does Findaway Voices Do?”
We help authors create and distribute audiobooks. If you need an audiobook created, we have a casting team that will take your manuscript and the answers to a short questionnaire to recommend 5–10 narrators who we think would be a great fit for your book. You can then request auditions to hear your favorites read a short sample from your book before choosing one for production. From there, we have experts and automated tools that help guide you through the rest of the production process.
If you already have a finished audiobook, you can still leverage our distribution network. Just upload your audio files and fill out the audiobook’s metadata. Then choose where you’d like us to distribute your audiobook (we currently have 29 options in a variety of locales with several different business models) and we’ll get it everywhere it needs to go.
“Why should I trust Findaway Voices?”
While Findaway Voices has only been around for a year, our parent company (Findaway) has been in the audiobook business for nearly 15 years. We have a record of innovating and delivering fantastic products, and we have deep relationships in the publishing industry. We know and love audiobooks, and Findaway Voices is.
“How much does producing an audiobook cost?”
This question is much easier to answer with the estimation tool we have on our pricing page. To do the mental math yourself, we use 9,000 words per finished hour to estimate the length of your audiobook, and most projects fall in the $150–300 per finished hour range.
“How long does it take to produce an audiobook?”
For an 8 hour book, you should expect the production to take around 6–8 weeks. Staying engaged and providing quick feedback along the way is important to keep things from stalling. If you have any specific timing needs, make sure to let us know early in the process so we can help meet those needs.
“Can you handle multiple narrators on a single project?”
Yes! While not every project with two main characters needs two narrators (most narrators can easily handle multiple genders and characters), we can absolutely coordinate a production with multiple narrators. We’ve even done a single production with five narrators. It’s good to note that due to the extra complexity and coordination that these projects require, they can be more expensive than single-narrator productions.
Our casting team is happy to help you determine if your book would be a good fit for a single narrator to perform. You may be surprised at how talented narrators are at portraying multiple characters!
“Is your distribution network all-or-nothing?”
No. When you’re choosing where to sell your audiobook, you have the control to select or unselect any retailer. If you just want to select one retailer, or all retailers except one, that’s no problem. If you want to change your selections later on, that’s no problem either (we don’t have a minimum distribution term).
“If I produce my audiobook with Findaway Voices, do I have to distribute it through Findaway Voices?”
No. We love it when you do, and we make it really easy and seamless to distribute your audiobooks through us, but once you pay for your production it’s yours. If you want to walk away with the files and take them elsewhere, that’s not a problem.
“I don’t listen to audiobooks—how could I possibly produce a good audiobook?”
You aren’t alone — we help authors with this all the time. Our team loves audiobooks, and we love helping authors make high-quality productions. The first major step is finding the right narrator. If you aren’t sure what you should be listening for, our casting team will be happy to offer some opinions or help.
Alternatively, this can be a great opportunity to engage your audience. Most narrators will be fine with letting you post their auditions to let your audience, or a handful of your most-engaged followers, help in the decision-making process. It can be a fun reason to engage your audience by including them in the process, while also accomplishing some market research.
Once the narrator has been selected, our team will help guide you through the rest of the process and make sure any questions you have along the way are answered.
“What’s your best advice for how I can be marketing my audiobooks?”
We can fill up several hours talking about this topic, but I’ll highlight just a few of the tips that seemed to be the most well-received.
First, don’t ignore libraries—they can be a great pillar of your marketing strategy. With more and more libraries offering a “Cost Per Checkout” model, you can start marketing directly to library patrons, with the call-to-action being “check out my book from your local library.” Also, many librarians love featuring local authors. This can mean some guaranteed sales and awareness in your local system. Think about what ‘local’ might mean to your library — a Seattle librarian may want to feature Pacific Northwest authors. That means it’s worth making sure they know about your book, even if you’re in Oregon or Vancouver.
Next, make sure you’re leveraging your book’s narrator. There are audiobook listeners who follow narrators as much as they follow authors. It’s a great idea to engage your narrator even after the production. If you have free codes, consider giving a few to the narrator. Invite the narrator for a Q&A about their experience recording your book for your blog or podcast, or find other ways to cross-promote. Narrators love promoting their work too!
Finally, make sure all the awareness campaigns you’re doing for other formats can also benefit your audiobook. If you land a Bookbub promotion or Bargain Booksy deal, you’ll see a spike in your audio sales even though the emails will be pointing to your eBook. Audiobook listeners will go looking for your book in audio. Make it easy for them, and make sure you’re including links to audio versions in your marketing materials.
“What trends are you seeing with romance audiobooks?”
One of the most interesting trends is around shorter content. We’re seeing really exciting things happening with novellas and short character backstories that supplement full-length novels. They can be tools to reach new listeners who will then be drawn into the main series, or to tide over your existing listeners with extra content between full-length novel releases.
Shorter content is also a great opportunity to experiment with wide distribution in audio. We’ve seen shorter content struggle to perform well in credit-subscription models where a customer is weighing what to spend their credit on (longer books feel like more of a value in that ecosystem). Retailers like Kobo, NOOK, and Google Play allow you to set a list price that can entice listeners to give shorter content a shot, or you could draw new listeners from subscription services like Scribd, Playster, or hibooks. If you haven’t released any audiobooks yet, making this kind of shorter content only available as an audiobook can be a great way to test how much of your existing audience will potentially convert for a full-length audiobook.
Thanks to everyone who came to the audiobook panel, or stopped by our office hours, to ask us great questions! RWA was a fantastic experience for us, and we loved meeting so many amazing people. Oh, and we made sure to have some fun at the romance cover cutout boards too :)