Audiobook Boom Provides Big Opportunities for Publishers
Don't dive in without educating yourself first. Regardless of whether your audio plan involves the significant financial outlay of building your own studio, or simply outsourcing the entire process (see sidebars), gaining an education of the audio side of the industry should almost always be your first move. “There’s definitely some risk involved, and you have to be a pro,” says Goff, on the matter of investing in top-flight studio equipment and the talent necessary to operate it. “You have to know how the industry works.” Even the seemingly lower-risk option of outsourcing to a turnkey service provider should begin with an educational element, says Robin Whitten, the founding editor of AudioFile. “I think it’s a matter of understanding enough about audiobooks,” says Whitten. “The more you know about audiobooks as a format, the better the experience [of working with a partner] is.”
Becoming a card-carrying member of the APA and taking advantage of its collective wisdom would certainly be sensible. Becoming a card-carrying member of the APA and taking advantage of its collective wisdom would certainly be sensible. Whitten also suggests that would-be audio publishers consider attending the annual Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC), which takes place in conjunction with Book Expo America in May. The event’s business track will cover topics ranging from marketing and social media to children’s audio, digital platform apps, and the specifics of working with narrators who operate from home audio studios.
Never underestimate the importance of a professional narrator. Perhaps no one has a more intimate knowledge of the modern-day audiobook industry than a professional narrator with 10 years of experience and more than 200 titles to her credit. Gabra Zackman is one such professional. And like many of the industry's most popular voices, she's an actor by trade; you may have spotted her on television shows like Law and Order or All My Children. But these days, Zackman says, an even 50 percent of her income is derived from her work as a freelance audiobook narrator.
Dan Eldridge is a journalist and guidebook author based in Philadelphia's historic Old City district, where he and his partner own and operate Kaya Aerial Yoga, the city's only aerial yoga studio. A longtime cultural reporter, Eldridge also writes about small business and entrepreneurship, travel, and the publishing industry. Follow him on Twitter at @YoungPioneers.