Audio Books—Cracking The Marketing Code

Not sure how to market an Audio book? Want to sell more of your print and digital books? How do you decide which marketing strategy to use? There are so many out there! Successful marketing of both books & audio books follows a set of general guidelines, a Code, if you will, that is explained in this blog.
Once you have cracked this code and mastered these basics, marketing will become second nature to you and you will be on your way to success!

In our last two blogs, Audio Books–The WHERE:Findaway Voices, and Audio Books–The WHERE: Audible/ACX,  we discussed the pros and cons of distributing your audio book exclusively thru the biggest and most well-known distribution channel: Amazon Audible/ACX . We also discussed options for gaining a wider distribution of your audio book, with more flexibility and more freedom by going through Findaway Voices.

But simply putting your audio book out on one or more distribution channels does not guarantee that people will purchase it and listen to it.

All too often, the author thinks of the book as an “end in itself”, a business card, a trophy to show off, in order to impress people by saying that they have done it.  And so, sadly, the book remains on the bookstore shelf or a distributor’s digital server.

The truth is that your book/audio book is the start of a relationship with your audience of readers and listeners. It may be one book/audio book in a series, or it may be part of a suite of other services and products that you offer.  It is a beginning, and not an end.  Developing and keeping those relationships requires marketing.

What Marketing Is … And Isn’t

Now you may be thinking, “But I don’t know how to market. I’ve never sold anything. It feels too uncomfortable asking other people to buy my book”. Marketing is not about trying to sell books. “Then what is it?” you ask.

According to Donald Miller, Story Brand and Kary Oberbrunner, Day Job to Dream Job, among others:

  • Marketing is telling a story to a “tribe” of people who want to hear that story.
  • Selling is serving. It is adding value to your tribe.
  • In return, the “tribe” rewards you in a number of ways so that you can continue to serve them.

Let me ask you: Why did you write your book? You wrote it because you had a story to tell in which you are the hero/heroine or have created a hero/heroine if your book is fiction. Whether the story is real or imagined, you have lived it: You feel the pain, the disappointment, the elation and the success of the hero/heroine’s life experiences. This is YOUR story. And you want to tell it to the world!

However, when you tell your story, your point of view changes. The people who want to hear your story are not listening in order to commiserate with you, tell you what a good job you have done, what a great person you are, or to make you rich. They listen because they identify with your story. Your audience see themselves as the heroes/heroines in your story.

When you market your book or audio book, what you are doing is telling your story to heroes/heroines (your audience of readers and listeners, your “tribe”) who have an enemy (lack of money, companionship, entertainment etc.) that is holding them back (from their full potential, from enjoying their life or finding their true love).

Now, you are the guide, the Obewan, the Sherpa, the Sage. Through your book, you help your heroes/heroines to develop their full potential by giving them a plan to overcome that enemy. You call them to an action or actions that will help them end in success and avoid failure.  When your tribe members accept the call to action, you are rewarded.  (Donald Miller, Story Brand)

The marketing process is intended to help you find people who identify with you and your story, then invite them to join your “tribe” of heroes and heroines. You show them how they fit into your story, how your book, course, webinar, etc. will help them to find success and avoid failure. Then you help them to obtain access to your story by giving them one or more calls to action. You will be helping them do something that they already want to do and just don’t know how…yet. As these people begin to experience your story and benefit from it, it is natural that they will want to share it with friends and associates. You are simply inviting them to do so and showing them how to do it using social media and word of mouth.

The most difficult part of marketing is keeping in mind that YOU are NOT the hero or heroine. YOU are the GUIDE.  And it is very important for guides to give clear directions: Make clear what the problem is that you are addressing, why it is a problem, what the solution is and how you can guide them to a solution. Remember: Clarity attracts, confusion repels.

To summarize: Marketing is simply

  • Telling others why they will benefit from your book or other products or services,
  • Giving your tribe members value so that they can see why and how they will benefit from your story,
  • Then giving them a clear call to action so that you can continue to serve them and to add value to their lives.

What is the call to action and how do I make that call? In the social media world today, there are four main calls to action:

  • Like,
  • Share,
  • Subscribe, and last but not least
  • Buy

“When and how do I ask my tribe to take action?” Good question. In marketing books, there are three phases each with their own goals and actions. Taken all together, these three phases constitute your marketing plan.

Pre-Launch Phase

The purpose of this phase is to develop the marketing tools that you will need, as well as a core “tribe” or audience of heroes and heroines who, in return for a preview of the book, pre-order it, write reviews and invite others to join your “tribe” of heroes and heroines. The goal is to get as many reviews and as many pre-orders as possible.

Things to do before the book becomes available to the public:

  • Begin to collect email addresses of potential launch team members. Use an automated platform that will protect privacy, control spam and make subscribing and unsubscribing easy: Mail Chimp and Constant Contact are commonly used, but there are others.
  • Make a digital press kit & book trailer that you can post on social media, or send to traditional advertising outlets, such as radio, TV, bookstores in your area, and any natural markets that you may have. The press kit should last no more than 60 seconds and should include:
    • What your book is about
    • Why you wrote it
    • Tell about the main character or theme and why you wrote from that perspective
    • Explain your metaphors, if there are any
    • What is the cost to someone for not reading your book, why their lives will end in failure
    • How others may benefit from reading your book, how their lives will end in success
  • If you don’t already have one, build social media platforms and followings that are specific to each of your book/audiobook and tied to you as the administrator, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or Good Reads.
  • Build a webpage with a blog where you can collect subscriptions for your blog/email posts relative to your book
  • Learn how to track reactions (clicks, likes, shares, etc.) to your website and social media posts.
  • Borrow other people’s platforms—”like” related Facebook pages and Twitter feeds and privately ask the administrator whether you can post information about your book to their page/feed or help sponsor their next podcast
  • Build a launch team to help you get the word out and to attend your launch party. Ask them to like, subscribe, and share your content on your social media accounts/pages
  • Post contests and “give-aways” on social media to spread the word and to grow your launch team. For example, post the first chapter so that people can read it for free and ask for feedback and reviews.
  • Begin scheduling book signings, speaking engagements, podcasts, press releases to local TV and radio stations, and any other media events that you can think of
  • Learn how to track book and audio book sales on your distribution platform.


Launch Phase

The purpose of this phase is to draw as much attention as possible to the initial publication of your book and to begin generating sales.

Things to do when the book becomes available to the public:

  • Host a launch party… a live event attended by live people that is live streamed on social media. At this event, you will reiterate who your heroes/heroines are and how they have benefited from your book. And you will announce the success of your pre-sale program and any other exciting sales (Hint: serving food helps attract warm bodies.)
  • Send out invitations to your fans to attend either in person or via live stream and ask them to tell others about it
  • Invite local media to attend
  • Invite launch party attendees to like your book’s Facebook page and share your posts to Facebook and Twitter or other social media accounts, and share testimonials/reviews about how your book affected them, and subscribe to your email list
  • Ask party attenders and anyone who receives a free copy of your book/audio book for reviews, reviews, reviews and for shares, shares, shares
  • Collect email addresses from the attendees, so that you can update them with news of the launch’s success and of future events
  • Announce the scheduling for future events, such as book signings, speaking engagements, podcasts, press releases to local TV and radio stations, and any other media events that you have planned. Invite all of your tribe members to attend these, during the launch party and post-launch.

Post-Launch Phase

Now you have a core tribe of Facebook & Twitter followers, email subscribers & reviewers, and you want to build on that. The goal is to keep sharing good news about your story and the value others have received from hearing it so that you can continue to generate sales.

  • Ask for reviews from tribe members who have received their pre-order copies.
  • Daily posts to all of your social media sites to share positive reviews, testimonies from tribe members who benefited from your book, sales promotions & giveaways, and upcoming book signings, podcasts, awards, or other news worthy items
  • Weekly blogs with additional information, services that add value or excerpts from your book.
  • Continue scheduling book signings, speaking engagements, & podcasts, press releases, and any other media events. Announce these via email and social media and invite your tribe to participate in them. When the events are done, post the number of attendees, books sold, reviews, etc.

The End Game–Why should I do this?

The benefit of following these guidelines is that, once you have a “tribe”, an audience with whom you have a relationship who is interested in your story, you won’t need to start with a fresh marketing plan each time you write a new book or develop a new product and service. You will see how other marketing strategies and tips fit …..or don’t.You will be able to write stories and develop products and services that add value to your tribe. No more shooting from the hip and hoping that your book sells. You will be on your way to Success!!


For more information:

Building A Story Brand: Clarify Your Message so that Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

Day Job to Dream Job: Practical Steps for Turning Your Passion into a Full-Time Gig by Kary Oberbrunner


Do you want to narrate your own audio book, but are not sure whether to use a professional recording studio or to set up a studio in your home? The next post will give you guidelines on what to look for in a recording studio and the basics of setting up your own, in Audio Book Narrating: Recording Studio Basics


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Are you looking for a narrator with a warm, yet professional and authoritative voice?

If so, check out my demos and contact me at The Voicing Expert !


©2018, Becky White, The Voicing Expert, all rights reserved


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