Audiobooks for Kids Books
When should you create an audiobook for your children's books? Where will you sell it?
Almost every update about book sales in the last two or three years mentions the phenomenal growth of audiobook sales. But do they make sense for a self-published children’s book?
WHEN TO CREATE AUDIOBOOKS
Simply creating a children’s audiobook isn’t enough. You need to find the right platforms and partners to help you sell this type of book. I’ve had success the last few years with children’s book audiobooks in specific situations and on specific platforms.
1) On the EPIC app, I upload both the ebook and the audiobook. They use the files to create a Read-to-me version which highlights a word when it’s spoken on the audiobook. The Read-to-me versions have far more reads than the regular ebook or the regular audiobook. For this platform alone, it’s worth it for me to create audiobooks. (NOTE: Currently, to have books accepted on the EPIC app, you need a catalog of 50+ titles.)
You can create your own Read-to-me versions and upload to anyplace that accepts epub3 ebooks, such as Google Play. Sales will then depend on your own marketing.
If you use the EPIC app (or your child uses it at school), click on the cover below to start listening to WHEN KITTENS GO VIRAL.
2) I upload all my audiobooks to Findaway Voices. They send feeds to all the major audiobook retailers and sales dribble in. The library market sales, especially, are increasing; however, they are often a per-user fee, which is much lower so the profits are low. If your books are available on Findaway, though, then you’re eligible for #3, Chirp.
Kell, the Alien, Book 1 of the Aliens, Inc. series is available on Amazon, through Findaway.
3) Chirp is an audiobook service from the Bookbub folks. Like Bookbub, you can apply for your audiobook to be featured, for a fee. I applied several times and was rejected until I applied with an audiobook box set. For my Aliens, Inc. series, I combined the four short-chapter books into one audiobook. Chirp wants longer books, probably close to 15 hours or so, because that’s perceived as a better bargain by reader-listeners.
Children’s books, though, are often short. Picture books may be less than ten minutes! That’s NOT a bargain for an ebook. If you want to try audiobook sales for Chirp, try creating a bundle of books somehow.
My Chirp featured deal did good, earning back my investment plus some profit. Likely, it didn’t sell as many as an adult audiobook, but for me, it was worthwhile.
4) Other audiobook sales partners. One of my sales partners started a subscription streaming service last year, and includes audiobooks. The moral here is to keep an eye out for partners and platforms that include audiobooks. Several platforms for my books include audiobooks and while the actual numbers/income isn’t great yet, it’s growing. One children’s audiobook partner saw a 9x increase in audiobook consumption during 2020, the first year of the COVID pandemic. 9x! That’s amazing.
5) Bookfunnel for Direct Sales. Bookfunnel specializes in delivering your ebook or audiobook files to your customer. You can send customers to landing pages, or you can integrate your online store, such as a Shopify store, with Bookfunnel. Until recently, for audiobooks, Bookfunnel has limited the files to two hours of listening time. That’s not long enough for most adult novels, so most people have used it as a way to give samples. For children’s books, even this level has been long enough to send a complete book. Bookfunnel is in beta for full-length audiobooks, so if this interests you, take a look at their service.
When you buy a book and Bookfunnel delivers, customers can either receive the files and put them on any device. Or, there’s now a Bookfunnel app that makes playing the files simple.
You can see all my audiobooks on MimsHouseBooks.com here. Buy a couple to see how the Bookfunnel integration works.
COMMISSIONING AN AUDIOBOOK
To commission an audiobook, there are several alternatives.
1) Privately commission. If you already know an audiobook narrator, you can privately commission an audiobook. I always use a contract to be clear that I’m buying all rights to the audiobook. The advantage here is that you can take the files to any platform you wish. I tend to use one narrator, so his voice is almost the brand voice!
2) Findaway Voices. This service helps you find a narrator by giving you recommendations for a couple narrators matched to your book. The advantage here is that you can then easily use the Findaway distribution. You can still upload the files to other platforms, as well.
3) BookBuddyMedia.com specializes in creating audiobooks, ebooks, and translations for your book. I’ve used them for several projects and found them fast and reliable.
4) ACX.com is Amazon’s audiobook service, and you can audition narrators through their platform. While I’ve used them, the last year, they’ve been slow to approve files, leaving me in limbo. There has also been controversy this year over payment when books are “returned.” See this article for more. I’ve switched all my audiobooks to Findaway and let them distribute to Amazon.
Whichever service you choose, be sure that they can adhere to the industry standards. Here’s the ACX (Amazon’s audiobook service) technical standards. I incorporate these into the contract so the audiobook narrator knows the type of files needed.
Audiobooks require a separate cover, and it must be a square cover on most platforms. This is a holdover from the days when audiobooks were on CDs and the square format fit the packaging. You should also put the audiobook narrator’s name on the cover.
I recommend that you make sure your audiobook files meet industry standards before proceeding. It will save you time! ACX offers a Audiolab, a program which will check your files against their standards. It’s currently a free program.
Once your files are vetted, it’s a simple process to upload to the various platforms. Each platform will have a slightly different process, so follow their protocols.
AUDIOBOOK PICTURE BOOKS V. NOVELS FOR KIDS
Because audiobook production is long and complicated, having a children’s novel converted to an audiobook is an expensive process. Often the fees are $1-5000 for a novel’s audiobook (depending on length of the novel and the narrator). I’ve allowed my picture book audiobook income to grow and now it’s funding a series of novel audiobooks.
Will these novel audiobooks be profitable? They’ll have to earn back a lot in order to pay for itself, much less make a profit. But I’ve built my base of distributors, and I think the books can earn back that investment in a year. That’s optimistic! But I can track sales now from audiobook platforms and feel like it’s realistic! I’ll be working with the Bookfunnel audiobook beta to put them on my website for direct sales, too. I’m excited to see THE BLUE PLANETS WORLD series become audiobooks this fall, narrated by David Cunningham. Be ready to listen! They are coming sometime this fall!
What’s YOUR experience with audiobooks for children’s books?