When I talk to non-publishing people (and sometimes publishing people too) about my job in audiobooks, I often hear that people simply don’t know where to start. This is at least in part because publishers in the UK don’t really talk to consumers about the format—despite the fact that in the industry we are always hearing about the rise and rise of audiobooks.
Spurred into action, earlier this year I suggested to the audio publishers’ committee of the Publishers Association that we work together on a social media campaign to celebrate the format. My reasoning was that if each publisher contributed to it, the combined effect could reach as many current and potential audiobook fans as possible.
The idea was positively received by the PA audio group. Deciding that we would each go away and produce plans tailored for our respective companies, we settled on the short and simple hashtag #LoveAudio to bring our activities together.
HarperCollins has long been the leader in UK audio publishing and so I was not surprised to find my in-house colleagues were enthusiastic about a chance to enthuse about audio more widely. Our outline for the campaign came together remarkably quickly. A simple but effective idea was to send an email to subscribers, suggesting great listens for situations such as the commute or kids’ bedtimes—showing how easy it could be to fit audiobooks into their day.
We are running a competition that prompts conversation with consumers about “why we #LoveAudio”. Marketing and PR colleagues have been quick to identify ways to make as much of the audio edition as possible in frontlist publishing, and have used it to shine a spotlight on key backlist titles.
Most importantly, authors have been game to get the word out, ranging from tweets and blog posts to Facebook Live videos in which they talk about their experiences of having their books produced in audio.
Each publisher has put their own slant on this campaign, which has been a lot of fun to see. Hachette Audio has taken the opportunity of #LoveAudio week to launch its YouTube channel, featuring audio clips and interviews. PRH Audio has produced a behind-the-scenes video on the making of an audiobook. My pick, however, has been a simple, well-executed idea: Orion’s “headphone selfie” meme has resulted in a photo of Henry Marsh that is (thus far) the highlight of my #LoveAudio week.
At the time of writing we are still just halfway through the initiative, but initial signs are extremely promising, showing that book lovers are keen to engage with audiobooks when they are given some attention. I am mindful of the fact that while a one-off push is positive, we need ongoing activity to build traction. I hope that seeing a campaign like this work will give publishers the confidence to build on it and be even more ambitious in their audio publishing.