Will Audiobooks save Reading?

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From CNBC:

“Sales of books, in both print and digital formats, are struggling around the world, despite the efforts to promote reading on World Book Day. However there is one area that’s bucking the trend: Audio books.

World Book Day is promoted (sic) a worldwide celebration of books intended to encourage reading, but revenue from book publishing is falling worldwide.

Statistics from Euromonitor released in 2015 show that turnover from book publishing has experienced sharp declines in recent years. Between 2011 and 2014, revenue fell from $165 billion to $145 billion. The harshest decline was 2011-12, when the global book market contracted 7.4 percent

Part of the reason for declines in print book sales was the rise of e-books and e-readers, but this sector is now falling. According to business magazine “The Bookseller”, e-book sales by the U.K.’s five biggest publishers dropped 2.4 percent between 2014 and 2015, to 47.8 million.”

Well, this sucks for those of us who want to sell our published works.

So why are print sales falling?

  1. Books aren’t cheap. A hardcover is like $30. Some good paperbacks are $7.99 or less, but I rarely buy any book over $8.
  2. I can get a lot of books free at the library or cheap from a discount store. Since most novels are timeless, who cares when i read them? As for non-fiction, I buy non-fiction if I think it has value. For example, “starting an E-commerce Business for Dummies” has information I want to have for a while. But a book that has neat but not critical information or info that changes every year? Checkout. Even Wattpad has some decent stories that cost nothing.
  3. People don’t read as much anymore. More specifically, anything with depth. That’s why news articles are shorter and less thoughtful (a notable exception is americanthinker.com, which is very thoughtful). Some of this is technology, but I think publishers have been very poor at predicting what people want to read. For example, publishing books that fit political agendas but don’t have a wide audience. I’ve written this here  and here  and here about the decline in reading.
  4. Authors are just not “cool”. Even John Green and Neil Gaiman, who are about as cool as it gets by author standards, are nothing compared to the Kardashians in terms of “trendy”, and I have yet to see any reality TV shows starring authors (movie studios, TV execs, publishers, agents: I am TOTALLY DOWN to do this for you and max out ratings. Just give me a contract). Why does this matter, because pop culture drives trends and if books and authors are just not cool, then a potential reading audience will not be persuaded to pick up books.

The question  is then, why are audiobooks sales going up? We should be happy that people are still consuming literature, even if they listen in, right?

Yes!

  1. If you’re like me, and you’re on the road a lot, I can listen to an audiobook while I drive. I can also listen to an mp3 at the gym. This is great because talk radio is boring a lot of the time, and even Pandora is tiresome after 4 hours. Also great for parents with kids, because you can play something in the car to not only get the kiddos to be quiet, but to not be too attached to their Gameboys or smartphones.
  2. Unlike reading, which requires focus, Audiobooks don’t require as much attention. This is due to some cool science about how our brains process sound versus visuals.
  3. Audiobook packages are expensive, so my guess is a lot of the rise is in people switching from say a paperback to an audiobook.

Overall, if I have a story to tell, I don’t really care how they engage in it, as long as they do. And as long as I get paid. Speaking of, I’ve gotten 1500 Wattpad reads in 4 days and a lot of new fans. And of course I get zilch. But this book has been plowing through the 5-digit reads so it’s a good sign for me that this book will sell well when published. The question is, will a traditional publisher want this? Or will I end up self-publishing?

To be determined.

3 Kickstarter and Wattpad Tips

So now that Kickstarter is over, here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Kickstarter was fully funded! I cleared $4100 in 30 days, which is a good marker of success. I now hope I can deliver, both figuratively and literally, within the next month.
  • Waiting to get my cards printed up. Expected deliver is May 27th. My printer doesn’t move any faster. Check below for tips for success.
  • Got an agent requesting a partial! It’s not much but it is pretty cool. First time I’ve ever gotten a literary professional interested in any of my work. With luck, that agent won’t be the last.
  • Story was featured on Wattpad and I am over 8k views in less than 2 months. I expect that by May 25th I will have passed the 10k mark on reads. No, reads aren’t everything. But for those who care about such things, averaging 5k reads a month is not bad at all, especially since i’m still a relative unknown on Wattpad. Probably by the time I clear the 10k mark, I’ll see a bit of an uptick in views per day. My goal is to get 50k reads before my featuring expires. At my current rate I’m expecting 30-35k reads which is not bad given that I won’t write fanfic or teen romances. I’ll check back in periodically to  see if I can hit 50k before the featuring expires.

 

As it’s Mother’s Day, I won’t bore you with a long article. As much as I’d rather Vlog than blog, I just cannot find the enthusiasm to perform like a street monkey for a tiny number of strangers. Plus editing takes a lot of time, even for simple, jump-cut oriented video that is the favorite on YouTube. If you’re wonder why you’re probably not gonna become YouTube or Wattpad famous, I’ll post that next time. Hint: Has little to do with you.

That said, you can have some success, so here are 3 Wattpad tips:

  1. Write in a genre that has more readers, and give them what they want. Teen romance and fantasy (particularly with romance) does very well there, as does fan-fic of popular things. If you do horror or comedy, you won’t have as big a reach. Adjust expectations accordingly
  2.  Don’t do read for read swaps. At first, you will do this because you want to pump up your count. At a certain point there just isn’t enough time. An easier way to find new readers is to post to message boards. You can do this a few minutes a day and still reach a lot of readers.
  3. DO thank voters, commenters, and followers. Not just because it’s nice, but because you will show up on their profiles and this boosts your profile to whoever follows THEM.

 

Now three tips for success on Kickstarter:

  1. I wish I had known how hard it is to raise money by myself. Don’t get sucked into the hype that you just make a profile and “build it” that they will come. The more partners you have on your project, the loftier your expectations will be and the more money you can make.
  2. Get your supporters lined up early. Kickstarter favors those not even with more money, but with a combo of more money AND a higher percentage of their goal reached in the first day and then the first week when choosing which projects to feature. I hit 22 percent of my goal in 7 days, which is the minimum to even have a shot at featuring. But if I had hit 40 percent right away, my ranking would have been boosted and I would have seen my numbers go even higher.
  3. Use the Kickstarter hashtag on twitter. I not only gained a bunch of followers but I actually did get 2 donations of Twitter for boxes, which is pretty cool.

 

Got questions or tips? Post ’em below.