Friday: Finding audiobooks
Where do you learn about great audiobook titles? Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us! We’d particularly love to know what narrators or publishers are active in social media or do a great job communicating with listeners.
When going over the Audiobook Week Posts, I decided I wanted to handle two separate but related topics. The first, which I wrote on Monday, was how I find out about what Audiobooks will be becoming available in order to choose what I will listen to, and today I want to discuss how I acquire my Audiobooks, particularly on a very limited budget. This is a topic that I think we cover every year during audiobook week, and I have discussed some of this is pasts posts, but I thought I would put a bit more detail into it here today.
I think I have become a bit of an expert on acquiring audiobooks. Not that I am in any way especially skilled, but necessity is the mother of invention. I listen to and review a lot of Audiobooks. Last year, I reviewed around 200 Audiobooks. On average, I review about 4 audiobooks a week. I am not by any means a rich person. I work for a non-profit organization at a position not known to rake in the dough. I often forgo luxuries in order to afford things like doctor’s visits and pants. Last year, I figured that if I purchased all my audiobooks through Audible, it would cost me over 12% of my gross salary. I don’t know about you, but 12% towards one form of entertainment is simply unfeasible. So, I must find ways to knock that 12% well down.
I typically use three methods of acquiring audiobooks.
1. Purchasing: I do my purchasing almost entirely through Audible or Downpour. The biggest trick with Audible is to utilize sales. Audible will have multiple Buy 1 Get 1 sales, $4.99 sales and Get 3 Credit sales, plus surprise sales and promotions. I currently use the plan that gives me 2 Credits per month, and I use any trick I can to make that work.
2. Library. I utilize my Public Library, and it’s Digital Service through Overdrive to borrow audiobooks. Sadly, my Library won’t utilize Inter Library Loan for Hardcopy multimedia like Audiobooks. Yet, AcessPA will often allow you to get Library Cards for out of area Libraries. I use this option for a few of the Philadelphia Area Libraries, giving me access to multiple Overdrive Databases. I always recommend people who use this option consider making at least a small donation to their out of area libraries. Check with your Library System for details on their Digital Media options and the rules in your State. Some Libraries also offer relatively inexpensive Non-Resident cards that may be an option if you don’t have Overdrive or the like in your area.
3, Review Copies:
The majority of this post will be about review copies. I think, Review Copies is a tough issue, especially with Audiobook Bloggers, to discuss, because you need to find a balance. I struggled early on in my reviewing because I don’t like asking for handouts, and that is sort of what requesting review copies felt like. No one make me feel that way, but I couldn’t get past my early reluctance, until some publishers began to engage me. I was also concerned about the ethical implications, whether I would feel a need to go easy on a book, because I received it for free. Here, I eventually learned that, at least some publishers, would rather you write an honest negative review than fluff. Readers respond to honesty, and if you are honest about your negative feelings it will only make your positive reviews hold that much more weight.
One thing I do want to talk about first is obligations. I don’t feel that publishers owe anything to bloggers, not do bloggers owe anything to publishers. If a publisher I work with no longer wants to send me review copies I don’t take that personally. I think the only thing required in the publisher/blogger relationship is professionalism. We both benefit from the relationship, and most publishers know that we won’t like or even review everything that is sent our way but conversely, we won’t abuse their faith by acting unprofessional. This doesn’t mean you can’t write a snarky, sarcastic, highly negative review. It just means you will communicate with professionalism, make a real attempt to request titles you are truly interested in and never upload their items to pirate websites.
There are two types of Review Copies. The first comes from pitches. More and more Authors, narrators and publishing companies will pitch you audiobooks. How you handle this is your business. Many people do not review any sort of self published book, which is fine. I receive no where near as many pitches as print bloggers do, maybe one a week. Most have been professional, but occasionally I have upset someone by either ignoring their request, or not reviewing something they sent. Now, I always include when I accept pitched audiobooks that I don’t promise a review, and that I don’t review books I can’t finish. This is my personal policy.
The other type of Review Copy is things you request, or publishers who you have agreed to allow you to send Review Copies. I am going to give you a break down below of how I acquire books through certain publishers. Some notes though.
1. If I note that a publisher doesn’t seem to have a Blogger Reviewing program, this isn’t a criticism of the Publisher. How a publisher chooses to do business is their concern. If, for some reason, a publisher does have a program, or disagrees with something I write, they can contact me, and I will adapt this post. Also, things change. If you are reading this post down the road, there may be new information.
2. I am not going to put direct email addresses, but I may link to a page with that info. If you want more detailed information on one of my contacts feel free to email me.
3. I love when Publishers offer Digital Downloads. Outside of that, my preferred format is MP3 CDs. I wil, attmept to indicate which publishers use which format.
4. I always attempt to get a library copy before requesting a review copy. If their titles are available through Overdrive, I will mention that.
As a huge Science Fiction fan, I purchase a lot of Audible Frontiers products. Currently, Audible doesn’t have a blogger Reviewer program that I am aware of. Sometimes, an author, publisher or narrator will provide you with a gift or promo code through Audible, but their is no current way to request specific titles of Audible productions that I know of. This is why I often use sales, and that my Audible wish list is overflowing. Audible products are also not available at libraries due to the fact that the majority are digital only and they don’t participate in Overdrive. Some titles will eventually receive Physical releases through Brilliance Audio.
ACX is an Audible based platform that allows Right Holders to hire narrators, produce their own audiobooks and sell them on Audible. While ACX doesn’t currently have a Blogger Review program there is discussion about starting some sort of program. Authors will often be given promo codes or credits to distribute to reviewers for their books. You can attempt to contact authors, but this process is hit and miss. Most pitched audiobooks will utilize this program. I always recommend listening to samples before accepting, but remember, the samples on Audible aren’t always the best representation of their audiobook.
If you are an audiobook blogger, you must get to know Audiobook Jukebox right now. They have a reviewer program called Solid Gold Reviewers which puts together multiple publishers with reviewers looking for review copies. Make sure you read the information provided then you can get searching for Review Copies.
I typically acquire AudioGo products in multiple ways. AudioGo is sometimes a participant in The Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewers program. There books are often available at the library through Overdrive. AudioGo has a blogger review program. I haven’t actually used it since the recent purchase of Blackstone Audio lead to publisher changers, but at last check you can request specific titles through Michelle Cobb. In the past I have received review copies from AudioGo through Digital Downloads as well as Physical Copies.
Blackstone Audio is one of the most Blogger friendly Audiobook publishers. Their titles are often available at the library through Overdrive, or on Audiobook Jukebox’s Solid Gold reviewers program. If you need t0o contact Blackstone, my contact is Alan Weiss, who can provide monthly Download codes for their titles through Downpour or send a physical copy.
I highly recommend signing up for the Brilliance Audio newsletter to discover new releases. My current contact is Kailyn Baum, who works with me to get whatever titles I request in Physical format. They currently do not have a Digital Review copies available but all of their titles are available in CD or MP3 CD. Typically copies are not available until publication date.
Crossroads Press is a participant in the Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewers program, and will make their tittles available through Audible.com downloads. To get more information about Crossroads I recommend following company CEO @David_N_Wilson on twitter.
Dreamscape titles are often available through Overdrive. They will work with bloggers to provide physical or digital review copies of upcoming titles. My current contact is Emily Cherry and she’s wonderful to work with. I would also recommend following Publisher Jeff Golick @drewledrew on Twitter.
Hachette Audio titles are often available through Overdrive. Publicist Mitch Kelly @mitchellkelly sends out a monthly Reviewer email which will let Bloggers know which titles are available for review. Mitch will then send out Physical copies of those titles to blogger who request them.
Harper Audio is a bit tricky. Some of their titles are available through Overdrive. A recent shift in Publicists has left us with no one person to request Audiobooks through. You currently must attempt to figure out the Imprint of the book then contact the publicist for that Imprint. It’s been hit and miss for me because I have trouble determining which publicists works for which Imprint. There is a list of publicist here, but I am not sure how up to date this list is. When successful, Harper Titles are available through Digital Downloads.
Publicist Richard Wyle will send a monthly email for Random House Audio and Listening Library titles available for review. These titles will then be available as digital downloads or physical copies. Both companies titles are also often available through Overdrive.
Some Macmillan Audio titles are available through Overdrive. They are a participant in Audio Jukebox’s Solid Gold Reviewer program. Physical copies can be requested through the publisher. My current contact is the wonderful Esther Bochner. So far, titles available as Digital Only are unable to be requested through the publisher.
Sadly, my Library does not have One Click Digital, which is Recorded Books answer to Overdrive. As far as I can tell, Recorded Books doesn’t provide Review Copies for smaller Bloggers, but those working for larger blogs or publications may be able to obtain them. I currently pick up most of my Recorded Books products through Audible purchases, although I have a lot of their titles lingering on Wish List status.
Penguin Audio has one of the best Blogger Programs available. If you get on their list, through Sarah Jaffe, or one of their current interns. you will receive all their physical copies without having to request. They also have a monthly email for digital copies which provided links for instant downloads. Penguin also participates in Audio Jukebox’s Solid Gold Review program.
Tantor Audio’s Cassie McNeil is one of the most energetic and engaging audiobook publicists you can work with, particularly if you are fans of Zombies. You can request any title through Cassie and she will send them out to you. She also loves putting together special events and giveaways. There titles are also often available through Overdrive.
Simon Audio is an Audiobook Jekebox Solid Gold Reviewer participant. Their publicist Lauren Piles will often send out an email letting bloggers know which titles are available for Review. Simon Audio makes their titles available through Physical Copy or Digital Downloads. Sadly, I haven’t requested any titles recently because the downloader for Simon Audio is Flash based, and for some damn reason, I can’t get any Flash based program to work on my computer, despite much tinkering and attempted fixes.
So, if you would like more specific contact information for a publicist, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you are a publisher, and I neglected you, and would like to be added to this post, email me or leave a comment. If my information is incorrect, also feel free to contact me.
This post basically is about how I get my audiobooks. If you have a contact of a bit of information to share, email me or leave a comments.
Remember, spread the audiobook love wherever you can. One last resource I want to mention is the awesome Miss Susie’s Reading and Observations Twitter contact list. Full of narrators, bloggers and publisher contacts on Twitter.