You know how you love reading the back cover of books to see what they’re all about? And then opening it and getting a feel for the pages, the font, the vibe of the book? Then you know if the book is calling to you to be read and you can’t wait to begin. What about audiobooks? Sure, you can read that summary blurb to know what it’s about, but you don’t get that intimate contact with the book itself. But wait – you can. When you can sample an audiobook, you can hear the voice reading it, you’ll know if you connect, and then you can immerse yourself in a new story when you decide to purchase it because that sample made you want more. So let’s see about getting a sample of your audiobook out to your listener readers!

This post has been updated in September 2021.

Where did the audiobook come from?

Audiobooks have grown in popularity to become a pretty commonplace form of reading and entertainment. But where did they get their start? Actually, audiobooks have been around for almost 100 years. They got their start as a way that people with visual impairments could still enjoy books.

In 1932, The American Foundation for the Blind created audiobooks to increase the accessibility of books to blind people. These books were recorded on vinyl records and had about 15 minutes worth of the book on each side. That’s a far cry from what we have now, but it was a great beginning. Some of the first recordings were plays by William Shakespeare, The Constitution, and Gladys Hasty Carroll’s novel, As the Earth Turns. By 1955, audiobooks were more and more popular with The Listening Library offering many books, mostly to people with visual impairments. Did people get to sample an audiobook before purchasing one back then? Probably not, but many of the books were pretty common classics so it was a nice opportunity to be able to hear a book even if people already knew it.

New forms of the audiobook

The 1960s saw the rise of the cassette audiobook because of the popularity of cassette players. Then there were audiobooks on CDs in the 1980s. Once audiobooks were on CDs, it was easier to have and listen to them. They were much more convenient as more could fit on a CD than a cassette.  Most bookstores sold them and major publishing houses had audiobook divisions. Cars had CD players so people loved them for road trips and immersing themselves in listening to a great novel.

Now audiobooks are everywhere. With content being so accessible, almost every book can be listened to in audiobook format. It’s not just the classics anymore. People can download almost any book to their phones and listen wherever they go.

Whereas the print book and even ebooks are seeing a bit of a decline in sales, the audiobook continues to gain traction. With more people finding time to listen rather than read their books, they love a good audiobook. Throw an opportunity to sample an audiobook in, and you’re opening your own opportunity to make more sales of your book.

Why audiobooks?

Here’s a scenario: A 45-year-old lawyer who once loved to read books and discuss them with her friends can’t find time to read anymore. Her long commute is tiring and her three kids and their activities take up much of her time away from work. By the time she climbs into bed with her book, she falls asleep before she gets through the first page. Her friends still ask what she’s reading, and she loves those book discussions they once had. Is reading a thing of the past for her? Not with audiobooks!

She still listens to bestsellers, classics, and her favorite sappy romances. Audiobooks have become her go-to and she always has one queued up. She can listen to her books on the way to and from work, while waiting at her daughter’s swim practice, and while she walks the dog. It’s the perfect thing for her and many other professionals who don’t have the time to sit and read. Audiobooks are perfect for commutes and any other time you’ve got a few minutes to fall into a book.

sample an audiobook

The narrator

Let’s talk about what makes a great audiobook for a minute. Sure, it’s the book itself, the plot, the characters, the story itself. But when someone is listening to a book, they need a great narrator. They need an ambiance set and a voice that is captivating and sets the mood of the book. A narrator can make or break an audiobook; it’s not a simple matter of reading the book out loud.

Different voices are usually incorporated and the voices need to represent the characters, even if the same voice actor is narrating the entire book. Sure, sometimes different actors work on one book, but it’s much easier to use one actor to do it all.

If you are considering an audiobook version of your book, take time to decide what you want your narrator to sound like. Do you want a comforting reader, a friendly narrator, or one who can voice a number of characters and create an entire world from your book? What about male or female or a specific age? Maybe you want a few narrators to take on the major characters. Whatever it is you want to do with your audiobook, you can. Once you’ve got the narrator, then the recording, it’s time to get your audiobook samples ready.

Sample an audiobook

The key to letting your audience sample an audiobook is giving them a taste of the book so they want to hear more. Don’t let too much be told in your sample, but supply enough so your audience is tempted by it. This not only includes choosing a great part of the story but be sure to showcase your narrator with that captivating voice.

When you are working with your voice-over actors in the recording, make sure to create a few samples. Again, it’s important to choose the best voice actor for your book, one who represents the story, the tone, and the genre. You dont’ just need to pull a part of the text, you can edit some parts together.

Regardless of your genre or even your past experience as an author, it makes sense to create an audiobook recording. You automatically open the door to accessibility to a new audience. People with visual impairments now have access to your book. Those people who can’t focus on the page may be more inclined to listen to a book, and don’t forget the busy moms and other professionals who spend lots of time in the car, with a platform to listen right there.

When people sample an audiobook, they have an opportunity to see if the narrator is a fit for them. How many times have you been excited about a particular podcast only to find that you think the hosts are a little annoying, so you don’t want to listen anymore. Or maybe there’s a podcast that doesn’t sound super interesting, but as soon as you hear one episode, you’re hooked because of the host’s voice. That’s what you want in your voice actor. You want the sample of your audiobook to reflect that great voice.

Tips for creating that audiobook sample

You don’t want to give your story away in the sample, but you want your audience to sample an audiobook and be hooked. Remember standing at the shelves at the bookstore trying to decide on a book. You looked through a few and then one spoke to you, and you couldn’t wait to get started. Your sample is going to help your audience decide what book to listen to next. So how do you do that? Here are a few ways we think help with an audiobook sample:

Share the voice

Because the voice in your audiobook is so important, choose a sample that showcases that voice. Maybe an exciting moment or a bit of dialogue. If your voice actor voices multiple voices, share some of that. Remember, you can edit some parts together so it’s more than just a snippet of the book.

Share a moment

Choose a great moment in your book to include in your sample. Let the listeners have a lovely taste of your book and want more. This could be from the beginning or somewhere where the plot thickens. Think about movie trailers and model your sample from that. Be careful not to offer up too much, though, you want that suspense going strong.

Create a good length

Make sure your audiobook sample is just the right length. It should be long enough so that the listener gets a sense of what the book is about, the story, the characters…but not too long so that it’s boring or shares too much.  You know you’ve watched movie trailers where you feel like they’re giving you the whole movie. You don’t want to do that.

Make is accessible

People want to sample an audiobook so let them. Make it accessible and then make it easy for them to purchase your book if they choose. Also, make sure your sample is indicative of your audiobook.

The takeaway on how to offer your sample

So yes, share your book through audio. You’ll be amazed at how your audience can increase. And make sure to let your audience sample an audiobook before purchase. When it comes to your sample, make sure it shines. When you need a little help, let a professional work on this.

If you’d like to hire an audiobook creator, we can help at Bunny Studio.

We can also work with you to find the perfect voice-over actor for any parts of your book or the whole thing. Just let us know how we can help and get a team going on your audiobook and your sample. We can’t wait!