Knowing your Audience


When you set out to start an audio publishing label, you need to have a clear idea of who your target audience is and the sort of books they will want to listen to. If you are interested in a particular genre, determine which demographic you want to reach within that genre and shape your roster of titles accordingly.

Some publishers specialize in a particular niche within a genre and build an entire brand around it to attract an audience seeking precisely what they have to offer.

One example of this is Rabbit Ears Entertainment, LLC which offers classic literature at its best. Their primary target audience for listening is children but truly, their products entertain parents as well as educators. People who buy audiobooks from Rabbit Ears range from parents to grandparents to libraries to teachers. The company was founded by Mark Sottnick and Doris Wilhousky at their kitchen table in 1985. We highlight their brand here as a prime example of what you could do if you dream big enough, know your market and clarify your goals.

The works Rabbit Ears produces are narrated by celebrity actors the likes of Jeremy Irons, Danny Glover, Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Garrison Keillor, Nicolas Cage, Jonathan Winters, Michael Palin, John Candy, Morgan Freeman, Sigourney Weaver, Anjelica Huston, Meg Ryan, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Amy Grant, Kathleen Turner, Catherine O’Hara, Cher and others accompanied by musical scores composed and performed by top musicians of the day and illustrated by the best artists of our day.

The company has won many awards, including:

  • 2 Grammy Awards
  • 18 Grammy Award nominations
  • 21 Parents’ Choice Awards
  • A Parents’ Choice Award for the Entire Storybook Classics series
  • 7 Action for Children’s Television awards
  • A National Education Association Award
  • The Humanitas Prize

Just like Rabbit Ears, you need to know your target audience.

Drill down regarding specific interests particular your selected people group. Knowing your audience ensures that your expectations and sales goals are in line with what the market will support. The more you know about your target audience, the better you will be able to attract them and provide value to them.

Factors to consider are who your prospective listeners are, why they listen to audiobooks, where they listen to them, how they listen and the kind of audiobooks they consume most frequently.

Does your audience listen to their audiobooks while commuting, jogging, or might they prefer to wind down with an audiobook after a long day at the office or while cleaning house? Where would they expect to hear about your audiobooks? What source or organization would they want recommending your audiobooks to them?

You’ll also need to consider the purpose a specific audiobook serves. Is it a source of entertainment, education, or inspiration?

Would the people you’re targeting rather take the book in as an audiobook over reading a printed copy of the book?

For many people, enjoyment comes from hearing a story, and in some cases, would not be able to consume it in its entirety any other way. Trying to get through a book can be challenging when you need to be sitting down and focusing solely on reading the text. While many people enjoy reading from the text, there are some for whom listening to audiobook narration is preferable.

Does your audience care for who the narrator is or are they only concerned with a good read? Maybe your listening audience enjoys a certain style of voicing and expects words to be pronounced in a particular way or is accustomed to hearing a certain voice type and prefers it above all others. Knowing this about your audience will help you to decide who should be narrating your audiobook.

All of the details are important when it comes to how you position your audiobook on the market to those you hope become your customers.


Audiobooks: The History


Audiobooks have a unique and fascinating history. In 1933, anthropologist J.P. Harrington, drove the length of North America to record oral histories of Native American tribes on aluminum discs using a car battery-powered turntable. Now, in the 21st Century, the definition of books and publishing is evolving as technology advances and the consumer demands change. Audiobooks allow avid readers to multi-task in today’s hectic world. Consumers can listen to an audiobook as they commute, exercise, or cook. At the same time, audiobooks preserve the oral tradition of storytelling that J.P. Harrington pursued many years ago. Narration, sound effects, and music can complement the reading experience.

What Are Audio Books?

Audio books, also known as books on CD or tape, can be a helpful tool for: those who are traveling and need to catch up on important information, for the visually impaired or for those who just enjoy listening to books rather than reading through them.

With the use of the Internet, people can also download audio books online and use them as digital files. Since recording and producing audio is easier than ever before thanks to new recording and editing technology, the demand for books on CD or digital format is quite high. People often commute to and from work each day, and enjoy listening to an audio book while driving. Students often find that books being read to them aloud helps them to study better than if they were reading the text themselves. With good, talented people such as ours doing the recordings, the listener should be able to get the full experience of the book as the author intended. Publishers, bookstores, and authors can all utilize audio books as a marketable good that customers want.

Who Records Audio Books?

People who record audio books are known as narrators. A narrator performs the task of reading a book aloud and having it recorded in a professional setting. Often, these books can involve fictitious and colorful characters so the narrator must be able to perform several different character voices, distinguishing them from each other in unique ways.

Talented people with controlled, clear voices can make any book sound much more interesting and intriguing. It’s important to select a person or group of people who can read and record your book to your specifications. This is where Voices.com comes in. We insure that the results are exactly what you’re looking for, and we have a large pool of narrators from all backgrounds to choose from.

Self-Publishing an Audio Book

With a wide variety of voice over talent to choose from, you can be assured that your book will read aloud beautifully. In order for your publication to be effective and reach a wide audience, be sure to hire someone who will articulate the book’s theme and ideals well.

Recording an audio book is truly an art form that takes patience, skill, and a voice that will be appealing to people throughout the book from start to finish. The editing may be done by either the narrator or the producer of the audiobook. The world of digital and recorded media is competitive; however, rest assured with Voices.com we can provide voice talent that will make your book sound professional, exciting, and easy to understand.

Determine Your Budget For Narration and Production

Figure out how many words there are in the book, how long it will take to record and factor in how much it will cost to have the audiobook narrated, edited and produced. Here are some statistics that will help you to determine how much money you may need to budget for:

  • The average audiobook is 100,000 words in length
  • 100,000 words = 11 hours of audio
  • 11 hours of audio = 22 hours of voice in the studio
  • It usually takes 2 hours of recording for every finished hour of audio.  Try this tool to convert word count to time.

Note that it usually takes twice as long, if not longer, to edit a voice over than it does to record it. The time spent editing will vary depending on the audio engineering skills a narrator possesses. If you have editing skills you may wish to do the editing on your end to save some money.

You might be wondering how much money you should be budgeting for your audiobook. Just how much do narrators charge for recording audiobooks? Some narrators charge $200 per finished hour of recording while others charge as high as (or higher than) $500 per finished hour of audio. As mentioned earlier, some audio editing may be required and should be accounted for in your budget.

A Voice for Every Genre of Audio Book

Choose from a diverse pool of different vocal tones, styles, and inflections until you find the perfect match that will help increase sales and exposure. You can choose to post a job to receive auditions from talent reading from your script (highly recommended) or search for voice talent right on our home page. If you’d like some help, be sure to visit our Contact Us page to start a live chat, give us a call or email us directly. With the right match, you’re sure to see the results you have been looking for.

Publishing Audiobooks at Voices.com

Join thousands of others who’ve discovered Voices.com — the best way to audition and hire audio book narrators for book publishing projects online. Voices.com is a unique web service that helps you complete your audio book narration projects online. Unique because you’ll actually enjoy using it. It’s simple, fast, and web-based. You don’t need to download or install anything – everything happens in your web browser.

A Promising Future for Audiobooks

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) recently released the results of the 2009 APA Sales Survey, conducted to evaluate trends and measure the growth of the audiobook market. The independent research firm, LewisClarkBoone Market Intelligence, surveyed audiobook publishers and analyzed consumer sales data from 2008, comparing current statistics against the previous years findings. The results show the audio industry experienced only a slight drop in sales in 2008, comparable to those of the trade book industry.

For the first time, the APA is releasing the measure of publishers’ revenues, a metric that other publishing industry trade associations use. Revenue reported by 30 member companies is $331 million, down only 6.7% from last year. The APA estimates that the total size of the audiobook industry, based on the dollars spent by consumers and libraries, is close to $1 billion.

The audiobook industry has been growing steadily for more than a decade. And while some segments of the audiobook business slowed in 2008, some formats saw significant growth.

Sales of Audiobooks

  • CD sales represent 72% of the audio market.
  • Downloads grew to 21% of the market.
  • The sales of preloaded devices increased significantly, now making up 3% of the total market.
  • Cassette sales stayed the same since 2007, accounting for 3% of sales in 2008.
  • Unabridged audiobooks made up 68% of the units and 85% of the 2008 audiobook market.

Consumer Use of Audiobooks

  • Roughly one in five American households listened to an audiobook within the the last year. (Audio Publishers 2001 Consumer Survey)
  • Of the main audiobook listeners surveyed, 76% are female and 24% are male. The average listening age for females is 45 and the average listening age for males is 47. (Audio Publishers 2001 Consumer Survey)
  • The average audiobook listener earns 25% more than non-listeners, has a higher level of education and is more likely to hold a professional or managerial position than a non-listener. (Audio Publishers 2001 Consumer Survey)
  • Americans make 51.3 billion trips to and from work in their own vehicles. Sales of downloadable audiobooks increased in 2008, to 21 percent of sales, up every year. (Commuter Consumer, The Washington Post, April 24,2005)
  • One factor driving sales is, literally, driving. “The number-one place people listen is in their cars” says Mary Beth Roche, publisher at Audio Renaissance. As commuter times lengthen, she says, avid readers are driven to books that let them keep their eyes on the road. (Now Hear This, American Way, May 15 2008)