'When it comes to marketing audiobooks, more is more'

'When it comes to marketing audiobooks, more is more'

Jen McMenemy is Marketing Manager at Orion Publishing Group, having worked her way up the publishing ranks via Hodden and Stoughton, and Oxford University Press in New York.

In just over a month's time, she'll be one of the speakers in the Audiobook Revolution stream at FutureBook 2017 - examining the latest strategies for selling audiobooks alongside a panel of other audio afficionados from Pan Macmillan, HarperCollins and acast. Ahead of the discussion, McMenemy sat down with FutureBook to discuss the power of podcasts, inventive serialisation, and why more is sometimes... more.

The challenges of promoting a digital format are clear. but are there any opportunities that arise with promoting audio that are less available with text?

Absolutely. With the success of podcasts and the rise of smartphones people have never been more primed to engage with digital content. Audio is something that people are consuming more and more via Soundcloud, podcasts and YouTube. It’s key to promote audio content in the places where consumers are engaging with audio.

There are so many places you can promote, including as a sponsor of a podcast. Many podcasts have huge fanbases, many of which are audiobook listeners, or the sort of consumers who will try long form audiobook content. This is basic, but having extracts up on places like Soundcloud and YouTube mean people can listen to your book. Orion is very good about having audio extracts with our main editions on our website as well. Audio is often the format of choice for celebrity titles, especially humour titles. We saw this last year with Alan Partridge’s Nomad and this year with Sarah Millican's How to be Champion, both of which had huge pre-orders and great sell-through in audio format. 

What is one quick win for marketers looking to promote audiobooks?

This one is very basic, but on all your social graphics and consumer communications don’t forget to include the audio editions. Consumers will choose to read in their chosen format, but if they don’t know the audio edition exists they won’t think to look for it. And, don’t forget to list the reader. Many audiobook readers have their own fanbase and consumers will purchase some titles based on the reader.

Which recent audio campaign are you particularly proud of and why?

When we launched Ben Aaronovitch’s long-awaited The Hanging Tree last year, we had a particular focus on the audio edition because the narrator is so beloved by the fans. We recorded special interviews with the author and narrator, including a fan-driven Q&A about the process of narrating an audio book, how the author writes for (against?) the audio recording, how the author prepares a reader for those tricky dialects and accents, and what the author and reader have learned as part of the process. At the end of the Q&A we included a chunky extract from the new book. This was the first time anyone was able to hear the new mystery.  We used this interview as part of our Author Interview Series to promote the book, raise awareness and give listeners and fans a bonus content in the lead up to publication.  This formed a cornerstone of our campaign to promote the title across all formats.

Which audio campaign from another house have you admired and why?

I’m cheating here, but last year one of my colleagues working on another imprint ran a wonderful campaign for the Reverend Richard Coles autobiography, Bringing in the Sheaves. She broke down key parts of the book into ‘Sunday Sermons’ and serialized the book every Sunday across their social media. It was such a clever way of working with the book’s content and the author to reach an engaged audience every week.

What if anything have you found surprising or counterintuitive since you began marketing audio?

More is more. Audiobook readers (listeners?) aren’t afraid of long books. They also aren’t afraid of long extracts. Where we used to think that a short extract was a perfect taster, longer extracts seem to have a better listen-through rate.  Audiobook listeners like long content that they can fit in around their lives. Some of the bestselling audiobooks are incredibly long – 40+ hours. We’ve got a book coming out next month, Oathbringer, that will be over 40 hours and a big bestseller for us. Consumers aren’t afraid to dedicate huge amounts of time to listening to an audiobook. Audiobooks have slotted themselves into people’s busy lives. More and more people will listen to audiobooks on their smart phones while at the gym, commuting, cleaning and so on.

Book your tickets to FutureBook 2017 (including lower-rate Audiobook Revolution-only passes) here.