Today we’re sitting down with Jenna Noll, a software developer with Libro.fm, an online platform that allows you to purchase audiobooks in a way that benefits your local bookstore. The site features audiobooks from indie and traditional authors alike, and has partnered with thousands of booksellers. Jenna gives us an insider’ss look at the audiobook industry via Libro.fm, and reveals the best way for authors to promote their audiobooks on the site.
1). What is your role at Libro.fm? What do you do?
I am a software developer on the small but mighty cloud team. I work on the website and the backend. A recent fun project I worked on was customizing the homepage so that if your bookstore has added bookseller recommendations, their picks will show when you visit the site.
2). How does Libro.fm benefit indie bookstores?
We see ourselves as a technology partner to local bookstores. Through our tech and bookstore partnerships, we enable readers to buy audiobooks through their local bookstore, rather than through a big, impersonal company.
We split profits with local bookstores (50/50) and currently partner with more than 10,000 booksellers at more than 1,600 partner bookstores based in the US, Canada, and online.
3). Can indie authors get their books featured and sold on Libro.fm (even if their books are available on other platforms like Audible)?
Yes! We love seeing indie authors’ audiobooks on Libro.fm! If authors are producing their own audiobook, the best way to get them on Libro.fm is to work with Authors Republic.
- If they need help with production, they should check out Findaway Voices.
- We also work with Ingram CoreSource Plus and Zebralution.
If authors are not producing their own audiobooks, they should talk to their publisher about making the audiobook(s) available on Libro.fm. For more information about audiobook accessibility and avoiding Amazon Exclusive contracts, check out our blog.
4). What suggestions would you make to authors (indie or traditional) who want to get their audiobook featured on Libro.fm?
Great question! First of all, we suggest they visit Libro.fm/authors. Once they’re ready to promote their audiobook, they should read over the ideas and tips collected here: https://blog.libro.fm/author-guide/
One fun option for authors is to curate a playlist. They can just complete a quick form, and we’ll create a custom playlist that they can share on their channels. This is a good opportunity to support other authors, as well as their favorite bookstore.
We also encourage authors to become Libro.fm affiliates so they can earn commission on sales of audiobooks (including their own), while driving sales for bookstores at the same time.
5). How has the pandemic affected subscriptions/usage of Libro.fm from audiobook listeners, as well as participation from bookstore and publisher partners?
The pandemic has made a big impact on audiobooks in general. In 2020, there were double-digit audiobook sales increases, according to The Audio Publishers Association’s annual survey—67% of audiobook listeners said that one of the reasons they enjoy the format is because it reduces screen time.
It was also a big year for Libro.fm, as we offered another way for people to support their local bookstores while staying safe. We saw a 202% increase in monthly members. The pandemic also made it necessary for booksellers to be flexible and become well-versed in technology; we saw a 48% growth in bookstore partnerships, and a 398% increase in amount paid to local bookshops.
Overall, 2021 was a time of healing, growing, and learning how to thrive in our “new normal.” You can check out our annual report here for more details of the past year’s impact.
6). What kind of audiobooks do you enjoy listening to? Tell us some of your faves!
I love listening to big, well-researched nonfiction audiobooks! Some of my favorites are:
Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe – this audiobook is about the history of the Sacklers, the family that owns Purdue Pharma, and their ties to the opioid epidemic. It is so informative and gripping! I couldn’t stop listening.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – this book is about the great migration of black southerners who left the south from 1915 to 1970, seeking better lives and opportunities. It closely follows the stories of three individuals through the whole book, and intersperses stories of many others along the way. I learned so much from this one, and the writing is superb.
How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith – Clint Smith traveled around the country and beyond to explore America’s history of slave ownership. For each historical site he visited, he recounts the conversations with people he met. It feels deeply personal and reflective, and still remains accessible and informative. I highly recommend it!
Yearbook by Seth Rogen – I did not consider myself a huge Seth Rogen fan until I listened to this. It had me cackling nonstop. It was fun to learn more about Rogen’s experiences in Hollywood, and his life before he made it there. Listen to it when you want to laugh!
7). Do some genres fare better as audiobooks on Libro.fm than others? If so, what are the three “top” selling genres on the site?
This was a fun question to figure out! Outside of our more general genres of fiction, nonfiction, and literary fiction, our top-selling more specific genres are Biography and Memoir, Social Science, and Fantasy.
Last year we also looked at the top-selling audiobooks in each genre – you can find the blog post with the results here: https://blog.libro.fm/2021-top-audiobooks-by-genre/
One of my favorite ways to browse the site is to look at the bestsellers for different genres. You can get to the genre-specific rankings by visiting our bestsellers list, and then using the buttons at the top to find your favorite genre.
Chelsea is a copywriter, editor, publicist, and content creator at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers. Interested in what’s possible for your book sales and building readership? Check out our services, tell us your goals, and get a customized publicity campaign tailored just for you.