Malcolm started his journalism career working for The American Spectator, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker. Then, in 2000, he wrote his first bestselling book, The Tipping Point, which launched his journey as a serial author.
In 2016, he started Revisionist History, a 10-episodes-per-season podcast.
It was three years later in 2019 when he combined his two loves.
He wrote the book Talking to Strangers, for which he created an audiobook piggybacking on all he learned as a podcaster.
Sure, it’s Malcolm reading the words of the book, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s media clips, commentary, and humor… and sometimes, it feels like he’s having a conversation with the listener (or maybe that’s part of the book?).
But the bottom line is, he didn’t let the custom of “read every word and only every word” stop him from producing a much more engrossing piece. And people love it.
So much so that Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, is betting their future on audiobooks. Spotify sees audiobooks as a $10B industry that will easily grow to $70B with the way audio content has taken off over the last six years. In so doing, Spotify bought audiobook company Findaway in June.
Molly Ruland, the CEO of Heartcast Media, a full-service content-production company, is perfectly poised for the growth. She was equally inspired by the non-traditional nature of Gladwell’s audiobook, and hers is one of the few podcast-production companies that also specializes in audiobooks.
Molly is so passionate about the idea of podcasters creating audiobooks for their listeners that they have spent ample energy on building an army of narrators, editors, and staff to help authors get their voice into readers’ headphones.
For podcasters, an audiobook should be a no-brainer. Podcast listeners are already binging episodes which, on a road trip, is akin to the amount of time it takes to listen to a full audiobook. And with audiobook marketplaces often being separate from podcast directories, why wouldn’t you want to be found there?
Perhaps the biggest prospective hurdle for a podcaster to overcome is the idea of writing a book. But in reality, the book probably already exists in the form of old episodes. A trip to Otter.ai to have them transcribed followed by a trip to Fiverr to have them edited can easily result in the bones of a book.
Alternatively, there are many ghostwriting services available, like TheUrbanWriters.com.
Since audiobook production is a bit different than podcasts, especially when it comes to learning all the details that need to be taken care of to submit the book to audiobook platforms, it probably makes sense to hire a team.
Heartcast Media in the U.S. (and Shiggi Paktar’s Audiofy.me in the U.K) are both great places to get the digital work done.
Once you have a manuscript, you’ll need to record yourself reading the book. (If you have audiobook ideas outside of the one related to your podcast, Heartcast has a full staff of narrators who could do that part for you).
If you’re planning to create a more “podcast-y” audiobook, then along with the recording, you’ll need to go through the steps to add any third-party content you want included. This is where it makes a lot of sense to get very organized before starting. You’ll also want to have detailed notes indicating where inserts go afterward, or you’ll spend a ton of time searching.
Another somewhat technical aspect is making sure to produce the right output for the different audiobook platforms. That involves processing the audio to a certain volume, format, and other technical aspects.
One of Amazon’s features is an audiobook that syncs with the regular book, so a new English learner, for instance, could hear the audio while following along in the book. This method requires the audiobook be an exact word-for-word replica of the print book. This may not be of interest to a podcaster.
Both Heartcast and Audiofy.me take the technical know-how out of the process for those who’d rather skip the learning curve and get straight to the product. Through either, you can choose a narrator, have the audio processed with chapter marks and all the technical stuff, and get it uploaded to the various platforms.
All in all, it makes sense for a podcaster’s voice to be found in both podcast directories and audiobook marketplaces. So don’t wait for the growth wave to be over… get in the database now, while you’re easier to find.
November/December 2022 Issue