One of the most important ways we can gain readers or listeners, and then keep them consuming our books, is by creating a personal connection. My most popular series is my golden retriever mysteries, about a partially-reformed computer hacker and his golden retriever who solve crimes in their hometown.
In social media, I consider dogs my “brand,” and I add material that reinforces that brand. On Facebook and Instagram, where most of my readers can be found, I post pictures of my two golden retrievers and funny things they have done.
My photos of Brody and his brother Griffin get the most interaction with fans. I also copy and paste dog jokes, cute dog pictures, and cartoons.
How can we do this with audiobooks, though? I doubt many listeners would want to hear me telling bad jokes! And, I can’t add pictures to an audio file.
I look farther afield for audio material. I’ve been fortunate enough to be interviewed on a couple of different podcasts so I’ve asked the podcaster for permission to use a particular question and answer. Depending on the podcast, I can either download the file through my podcast app, or have the interviewer send me the file. (Audio files are very large, so you may need a service like Google Docs or Dropbox.)
Then I open the file in a simple audio program like the free version of Audacity and cut out the section I want. If you have a good relationship with your narrator, you may be able to get him or her to do this work for you.
Like many authors, I used the same description for e-book and print. And that might work for the first book in a series, when you’re introducing the characters. But, now I believe that because I’m reaching out to different audiences, I need to adjust my message.
When someone looks up a later book in my series on my website, or through a search with an e-book vendor, they’re probably already familiar with the characters and setting. Those descriptions usually begin with something like “Steve and Rochester face a new situation which involves…”
That works well on my website, where readers can scroll through a list of titles to see what they haven’t read yet. They’d probably get bored by repetitive information.
But, what about a listener who discovers a later audio book through a promotion or a best-seller list? That prospective purchaser might need more of an introduction. So, I tweak those descriptions to highlight what the book is about. Perhaps it’s “A cozy mystery set at a very good small college, where the murder of an administrator unveils a legacy of deceit.” Or “Recovering hacker Steve Levitan and his golden retriever Rochester investigate the murder of a dog agility trainer.”
My goal is to get that elevator pitch down to a sentence, one that encourages the shopper to read further.
Once a listener has completed one of your titles, you want them to continue with your series, right? With e-books, many authors will insert the first chapter of the next book at the end of the current volume. All it takes is a sentence of introduction: “Steve and Rochester dig into their next case, TITLE. Here’s the first chapter…”
But, reading is different from listening and I think listeners need an extra moment before they dive into the next book. I’ve created a brief transition between the end of a book and the beginning of the next one. To continue that personal connection, I’ve written a script for him that begins, “Thanks for listening! Let me tell you about the next audiobook in this series.”
Then, I read the blurb for the following book, and then my regular narrator kicks in with the first chapter. At the very end, I read out how to continue listening.
If you’re exclusive to Audible through their ACX program, you may need your narrator to upload these additional bits. But, I have moved everything to Findaway Voices so I can add, reorganize, and update files easily. Just be careful to make sure that you meet their requirements for audio type and characteristics– they aren’t very good about telling you what’s wrong if you upload a file they don’t like.
If you’re preparing an audiobook for sale, I suggest that reviewing your description, adding additional material to the audio files, and finding ways to personalize the reader experience are good practices that can lead to increased engagement and further sales.
Neil Plakcy has written or edited over fifty novels and short stories in mystery, romance and erotica. His golden retriever mystery series was inspired by his first golden, Samwise. Long walks with his current goldens give him plenty of time to think up new crimes and solutions—and Brody and Griffin provide love, entertainment, and endless piles of fur on the floor.
His website is www.mahubooks.com.
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