Authors dream of writing books. Well, they actually dream of selling books, but I won’t split hairs. I am no different, and accomplishing the goal of publishing “From Here to Nearly There” last year was a huge tick on the old bucket list. If I am honest, however, I have to admit that writing the book was not exactly my dream. My dream was to create an audiobook.
A bit of background. When I was a child, I received a collection of tape recordings of “Golden Age” radio programs. My grandmother and I went through the collection, and she pointed to shows like “Fibber McGee and Molly” and “The Jack Benny Program” which she knew and remembered. She smiled as the saw the titles. I wondered, how could such an archaic type of entertainment evoke so many happy memories?
Then I listened. I was hooked immediately. Programs like Arch Oboler’s “Lights Out” and the Harry Alan Towers-produced “Sherlock Holmes” captivated me. The latter, starring the inimitable Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson, can still be found in digital format on my iPhone.
In recent years, I have fallen in love with the unabridged recordings of Bill Bryson’s works. Bryson reads many of his books himself, and the performances are delightful. His books are superb on their own, but when combined with the warm and witty voice work, they transform into lengthy monologues that can be enjoyed again and again.
Audiobooks, like the spoken word format in general, are productions that satisfy many of the same needs as television and motion pictures. But they are far, far easier to produce. Few independent authors will ever see their work made into a movie. Many will hear their books dramatized as audiobooks.
Form a sales perspective, audiobooks are the way to go. The print and electronic book markets are, if I am somewhat charitable, facing challenges. The audiobook industry is a different story. Audiobooks represent the fastest-growing segment in publishing, and the format is now a billion dollar industry.
Why is that? Here’s one theory.
According to an article in USA Today (quoting U.S. Census Bureau data), the national, one-way daily commute in 2013 was 25.5 minutes. Of the countless workers who commuted to work that year, 8% had commutes of an hour or longer, and nearly 600,000 full-time workers endured so-called “megacommutes” of at least an hour-and-a-half and fifty miles.
Enforced “windshield time” is even more pronounced for users of public transportation. The same article points out that the average travel time for workers who commute by public transportation is higher than that of workers who use other modes.
All of this adds up to a growing number of Americans who find themselves trapped in cars, busses, and subways. Those people need entertainment and distraction. Those people are a key market for the consumption of audiobooks.
Commuters represent only one growing market for audiobooks. People who spend time on treadmills, airplanes, and office chairs are increasingly turning to the spoken word format for diversion. That spells growth, and independent authors are well-advised to fight for their slice of the pie.
The audiobook format is just fantastic, and I wanted a part of it. So, when I began writing “From Here to Nearly There,” I did so with the audiobook in mind.
But how does one produce an audiobook? Having done that, how does one distribute an audiobook?
In my next post, I will describe my experience with the Audiobook Creation Exchange. I will explain how ACX helped me turn “From Here to Nearly There” into an unabridged audiobook now on sale at Audible.com.
Alec Merta is an author, blogger, and producer of audio programs. His novel “From Here to Nearly There” is available on Amazon. The unabridged audiobook is available on Audible.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alecmerta.