Welcome to ACX 101, an article series by a narrator for authors and rights holders new to ACX (the Audiobook Creation Exchange).
This is Part 2: Your Marketing Plan. Use the links at the top of this post to see the previous articles, or get a list of all the articles in the series.
You DO Have a Marketing Plan, Right?
This is another one of those areas that a lot of authors and rights holders new to audiobooks in general and ACX specifically seem to be unaware of, or minimize the importance of. Your marketing plan is arguably the most important part of this entire process, and in terms of making money, is equally as crucial as your book!
Just like with anything else you make to sell to people, you will not make money on it if people don’t buy it. Your book might be great- but if no one knows about it, you’re not going to sell many copies. If you’ve spent any time at all in the brick and mortar publishing world, you know how rare it is for authors to actually make a living at writing.
Audiobooks Are Expensive To Produce
There’s a lot of costs that go into producing an audiobook. Take a look at my article on the general process of audiobook production, then do some calculations to figure out how much time it takes for a truly professional audiobook to be produced, and how many people (or roles) are involved. It’s more than you might think if you aren’t already familiar with the process.
If you have any intention of even making your money back or in the case of royalty share projects (more on this in a future article), allowing your producer to have a chance of recouping their investment- let alone actually produce actual income- you must have a marketing plan. This is not optional, it’s not a suggestion, it’s a requirement for success.
What’s Your Strategy?
I’m a producer, not an author or publisher. I can’t – and probably shouldn’t- give you specific advice on how to market your book. I can and will tell you that you’ve got to have a strategy in place, and one that allows you to reach your potential audience, get their interest, make them buy your book and encourage them to tell their friends.
Remember- No one will promote your book for you for free. Just being listed on Amazon or Audible means nothing- they don’t really promote most titles directly. For some they may be tapped as a sale item or promoted as part of a themed event- the “hidden gems” sale they do is one- but you cannot rely on this. You must have a plan to promote your book directly or it will simply not sell.
There’s a few things you can do, which you should consider incorporating into a larger, cohesive plan:
- Mailing lists- if you have an existing fanbase, you should be able to reach them via opt-in mailing lists. If you don’t have an existing fanbase or are just starting out with your first book, this is an opportunity to create one. Use your other outlets to obtain contacts with your readers, get them to opt-in and start building that core cadre of your passionate fans- the ones who will help you promote your book.
- Social Media- Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and so forth. Have a presence on these platforms, and organically promote your work. Don’t just be spewing links to your products- that just gets people to tune out, but have a real presence in which you can also include your passion- which is your work, right?
- Goodreads- if you’re an author, you should definitely be on Goodreads. You can not only promote your work, but you can give away free copies of your books as a promotion, solicit reviews and gain interest from people who are already heavily engaged in reading. Goodreads also (sort of) supports audiobooks.
- Network with other authors and publishers. There are many, many platforms out there for authors to discuss how to promote their work. You should be on some of them already if you’re serious about being successful as a writer.
- Blogging. Have a blog on your website, but don’t make it the core of your marketing plan- everyone’s got one, but a good one can be very helpful. It’s also a place to post snippets of your books, giveaways and promotions, and solicit feedback from your already-engaged readers on your work.
Write Down Your Plan
You wrote a book, so now sit down and write a plan. Include your research strategies, what you plan to do to promote your book, what your budget for promotion (if any) is, how you plan to reach readers and listeners- then tear it apart and edit it like it’s a first draft. Iterate; lather, rinse and repeat. Share the plan (privately) with others you may trust and get their feedback.
Give a lot of thought to return on investment. Is it worth it to spend a week pushing things through one channel that costs nothing, or to spend some money to push things through another channel that you can do almost instantly? What’s your time worth? What’s the expected return on the investment of time or money? What opportunities for promotion may you not be using or even be aware of? This is where a community of like-minded individuals who have also done what you’re doing can help- with advice, experience and anecdotes.
Review Your Plan
Keep it in mind. Know it. Make sure you’re sticking to it.
Revise Your Plan
As you proceed, you may find things that you need to adjust. That’s great- go back and edit the document to include your new strategy or information. Keep it up to date. Then go back to Review.
Know Your Plan
This is probably the most important part. It’s easy to write a marketing plan- at least relative to actually executing one. Keep your strategy in mind and stay with it, be persistent and dogged as you pursue it. It’s critical to build momentum in your marketing, which will take a lot of tiny steps to build, but if you lapse, that momentum vanishes very quickly.
Share Your Plan With Your Producer
And finally we come to the meat of it- when you do a project on ACX, your producer may want to know how you plan to market the audiobook. This is especially critical for Royalty Share projects, because the producer doesn’t get a a dime if your book doesn’t sell. It’s less important for per-finished-hour projects because the producer will not be paid more or less if your book sells one or ten million copies.
But it’s still important for you to know. Producers seeking work on ACX will often look to your marketing strategy, or will ask about it, as part of the negotiation process. If you don’t have one or it’s incoherent, they may very well take a pass if it’s a royalty share. If it’s a per-finished-hour (PFH) deal, they may not ask or care, but they might. Producers, like authors, are sensitive to reputation, and having a very badly-selling or poorly-reviewed book on your credits isn’t very good for obtaining future work.
Hopefully this article has impressed on you some of the reasons behind having a marketing strategy before you try to get your book produced on ACX. Having a plan in place before you begin the production process lets you focus on getting the production right and then letting you make money by ensuring that it gets the maximum exposure possible. Remember that you’re the one responsible for promoting your book if you produce it via ACX, so it behooves you to know how you’re going to do it!