ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Will Voice Technology Affect Self Published Authors?

Updated on December 1, 2019
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing expert, author of 21+ books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

Source

I recently got a pair of Apple AirPods. For those who don’t know what they are, they are basically small wireless in-the-ear headphones. In addition to being used for hearing music, podcasts, and audio books, they are integrated with Apple’s Siri voice assistant on my Apple iPhone, iPad, and iMac. And I’m in love!

I can now create and listen to my text messages while I’m driving. Emails, too. Siri can look up a phone listing for someone I want to call and do the dialing. She (if the robot is a she) can record voice notes, reminders, and lists while I drive. I can also start and stop listening to podcasts and music with a voice command. Eyes on the road, ears on the content.

Sadly, Siri doesn’t play very nice with the Audible iPhone app yet. Probably because she only wants to play with her Apple Books app friend. Luckily, I can hear Audible audio books through the AirPods, and I mainly listen to podcasts. But I hope to see that additional capability in the future.

So what does this have to do with authors and writing? Well, a lot. As authors, we’ll need to understand how people will be using and interacting with our writing in this voice technology future.

Here are some ways I can see this affecting us, and some ways to start readjusting your thinking so that you don’t become irrelevant.

Audio Book Reading is Growing... Fast!

While print and eBooks are still selling well, the audio book market is exploding. As reported in a Forbes article from July 2019, the audio book market is nearing $1 billion and is growing at the rate of 25 percent, year over year. Let that sink in. Twenty-five percent year over year.

In light of this, I find it surprising that self published authors in the online forums are still obsessed with perfecting the print editions of their books, especially the covers. There’s nothing technically wrong with striving for excellence. It’s just that the market for books is changing. Before you spend a boatload of cash on producing your print edition, think about whether diverting some of that investment to create an audio edition of your book would be a wiser investment.

Yes, it’s possible to create an audio book for almost free. I’ve done it. But there is a steep learning curve. So whether you get some pros to help you, or you invest by going the DIY (do it yourself) route, audio books should be considered in your self publishing future.

Shopping with Voice Technology

Say your potential readers are thinking about reading a book like the ones you write. They have an Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Do you think they’ll ask Alexa something like, “Alexa, I’m looking for a romantic novel.” No! Alexa’s algorithm would be overwhelmed with such a generalized request because there are tens of thousands romantic novels on Amazon. Alexa would likely respond with the current top sellers in that genre. Or maybe she would ask a bunch of questions to figure out what the reader actually wants.

But I don’t think Alexa, or her voice assistant robot friends, will have to work that hard to please readers. Over time, these voice assistants’ algorithms will have a good idea of what the user wants based on users’ past behaviors and preferences, as well as predicted preferences based on larger data sets.

Readers will also be asking for something specific when it comes to finding books to listen to on the likes of Audible or Apple Books. That something specific will be either the title of the book or the author’s name. This means that now, more than ever, authors need to develop a loyal following for themselves and their books.

Though extensive use of voice shopping capability is likely a ways away, this should be a wake up call for you to start building your author platform and fan base now. Book covers were retail packaging in the bookstore era. Back then, books had to have shelf appeal like a box of cereal. But when there’s no visual shelf and or visual buying cues, does the physical book really matter? Readers want what’s in your book, not the wrapper it comes in.

Readers Will Use the Dominant Voice Technology

I can get a pair of wireless earbuds for my phone from a lot of places. But I opted for Apple’s more expensive AirPods. Why? They integrate seamlessly with all my other Apple tech gadgetry. Apparently, I’m not alone in preferring them over other earbud options. In April 2019, research conducted by Counterpoint Research that found AirPods have 60 percent market share in Q4 of 2018.

I don’t use Alexa (yet), but lots and lots of people do. In fact, Amazon’s Alexa devices currently have the highest market share. According to a Marketing Land report, Amazon Alexa devices hold a 70 percent market share, Google Home has 25 percent, and Apple HomePod commands 5 percent in the U.S. However, by 2020, Statista predicts that by 2020, Google Home will make up 40 percent of the voice digital assistant market.

And how popular is Alexa as a product overall? In January 2019, TechCrunch reported that Amazon claims 100 million Alexa devices have been sold. Alexa was first released in 2014... 5 years to the 100 million mark. For comparison, according to VisualCapitalist, it took the internet 7 years to reach 50 million users. The mobile phone took 12 years and the computer 14 years. True, voice assistants have built on these technologies so the comparison might not be fair. But 100 million Alexa installs is still an impressive number.

What does this mean for authors? Well, you need to keep aware of what tech people are using to purchase and consume content like your books. If your work isn’t accessible through or isn’t compatible with these devices, you may find that your books are being left behind in favor of those that are.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Heidi Thorne

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    25 hours ago from Chicago Area

    Liz, I think we all feel that tech is getting way ahead of us! :)

    As for the blog post reading on YouTube or anywhere, Amazon has a voice reading technology (Polly) that can be installed on websites so that the content can be read... and it's supposed to sound natural. What a world, eh?

    Anyway, thanks so much for chiming in! Happy Holidays!

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    3 days ago from UK

    I sometimes feel that technology is running too fast for me. This article reminds me of hubbers who have complained recently about seeing their work being read on youtube. Though I'm guessing at the moment these are being vouced by humans rather than voice technology. How long though, before someone saves themselves the trouble and uses voice technology?

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 days ago from Chicago Area

    Thanks, Linda, for reading and chiming in! I don't have an Alexa in my home either. But in the car where I really need hands-free communication, Siri is my new best pal. :)

    Appreciate your support. Have a beautiful day!

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    5 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

    There's a lot of food for thought in this article. I don't like the idea of having Alexa in my home, but voice technology is definitely something that writers need to think about. Thank you once again for sharing your knowledge and experience, Heidi.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    6 days ago from Chicago Area

    Bill, I'm honored you have a Heidi file. ;) I have those kinds of files, too, particularly on my RSS feed reader so I can find the darn articles when I need them.

    Thanks so much, as always, for your support! Have a terrific week!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    6 days ago from Chicago Area

    Flourish, I don't have an Alexa either. Just the AirPods where I feel I have more control over what's going on with the tech. But I am making sure that my books and content are voice tech friendly because, as you note, you don't want to be the tech buggy whip. :)

    Thanks for chiming in and have a beautiful first week of December!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    6 days ago from Chicago Area

    Pamela, I can't get into audio for books either, even though I produce them for my readers who love them. I also prefer my Kindle app on either my iPad or iPhone. And, yes, the AirPods are awesome. :)

    Thanks for chiming in and have a lovely week!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    7 days ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm sticking this in my "Heidi" file, as I always do. You are my go-to guru, thank you very much. I use you unashamedly. :)

    Happy Monday my friend.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    7 days ago from USA

    There’s always some new technology to master isn’t there? I am so suspicious of Alexa and her pals so I haven’t dived in. But you definitely make a good point here. If you don’t evolve with technology you’ll be the buggy whip of the author world.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 days ago from Sunny Florida

    Heidi, I think it is the necessity of advancing with the times as things never stay the same. I actually do not care for audio, except when traveling. I am not in my car enough, plus I love to read. I miss holding books, but most of my reads are on a small Kindle that I take to doctor appts. (my new social life) etc.

    Your Apple AirPods sound wonderful. I would like some wireless pods. I can see where authors need to look to the future. This is an interesting another excellent, which offers some sound advice.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)