by Dana Detrick-Clark
Recently, voice over industry website VoiceOverXtra published the results of their audiobook narrators survey. They can be found here:
- Reports Begin: Respondents Tell Their Levels Of Experience, What And How They Narrate
- The Surge In Audiobook Titles, Home Studio, & Compensation Methods Keep Income Lower
- Here’s What Audiobook Narrators Earn, And Their Methods Of Compensation
- Are Audiobook Narrators Satisfied With Pay? 60% Say NO – Especially About ‘Royalty Share’
It’s a lot of data, but with one overriding conclusion: by opening the marketplace to a broader span of talent at varying levels, the fees for this kind of work have been driven drastically downward, to a level that, for most doing it, has no ROI.
The market may not be completely dead, but for someone considering entering the audiobook narration world, it may at least seem to have a disconcerting, nagging cough.
My own experience with audiobook work has not been negative. I’ve narrated several children’s books, which tend to have lower word counts, and therefore are more “bang for the buck” in the voice world.
I’ve also worked extensively as an audio editor and producer for audiobooks. In these instances I negotiate either with the publisher putting it all together or the independent narrator.
Related: 3 Ways to Deal with Price Objections
But I don’t actively seek these deals out in the traditional way anymore, for the reasons that are illustrated above.
Does this mean there’s no point in pursuing audiobook work altogether? Absolutely not.
The same opportunity exists deep in this market as it does in any other seemingly dead market, and there’s only one way to dig it out: innovation.
Innovation is the creation of a new method or design that transforms conditions. It’s a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot in the technology and design worlds, but certainly, doesn’t just live there. Every time we’re faced with a challenge requiring a creative solution, we innovate.
Once you know for sure that your “dead market” is still breathing just fine (for our example, the popularity and sale of audiobooks is continuing to rise), there are 3 steps, no matter what your industry, to innovating it back to financial life.
1. Identify your prospect and their pain.
Don’t just provide a service for your prospect; provide them with a solution to their problem.
For audiobooks, a voice narrator will most often have either a publisher or author as their prospect.
For them, you are more than just talent! You are an important part of their overall marketing plan, and an opportunity for them to reach more readers and gain more fans.
The assumption by many is that keeping the budget low will be their number one pain.
But quick research turns up that authors and publishers were very concerned that lower fees would mean less quality. The threat of lowered quality was a big enough fear to make some consider taking audiobook production off the table completely.
A far better idea, especially for self-publishing authors, is to help them save money by getting the most value for their dollar.
2. Brainstorm innovative solutions.
What can you do to innovate in this area? Can you offer marketing assistance (since, especially in cases of profit share, you will be benefiting from higher sales, too)? Can you package more into your audiobook productions, like physical product, audio cuts for ads or podcasts, video marketing (if you’re a multimedia studio like me)? Can you produce author interviews to draw interest? Can you create materials like white papers or programs that give authors you work with more access to educational tools, so they can do more marketing for themselves?
Can you up the quality of the recorded work with music and sound effects? Do you do this yourself or have strategic partners that can assist?
All of these things can provide more value and make you an attractive studio to work with (even at a higher price than what the market could originally bear). You’ll set their mind at ease that they’re working with the best creatives who know their market, and will turn their work into something special.
3. Create a plan, and act!
Once you see your point of differentiation in the marketplace, it’s time to put a plan in motion.
If you’ve got a marketing workbook for authors that you’ll package with your narration for one flat fee, you need to find the right channel to educate them about it.
Something like a landing page optimized to reach the kind of authors who are looking for more tools can be one digital marketing channel.
Joining organizations or online groups for authors is another way to reach out and improve the quality of your leads. Finding strategic partners like print shops, book stores, or writing groups can also be a good touch point.
Just because a report is full of what seems to be doom-and-gloom for a marketing channel, doesn’t mean you have to embrace the bad news as “just the way things are going.” Willingness to try these 3 steps to innovate a creative new beginning for a dead market, can deliver value to a prospect in need, and put money in your pocket.
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