Not entirely out in the cold, because there are options to the written word that still communicate your fiction verbatim into the relaxed minds of a receptive audience…
The common complaint (at least from authors) these days is that “people don’t read any more.” That’s not completely true, as evidenced by the variety of bestsellers on the market, by both seasoned veterans and self-published novices.
Probably the best break any author can get is a film option on a book – the most obvious current example being Andy Weir’s science fiction hit The Martian, originally a self-published novel that is now a major motion picture. Odds are against that type of rare if inspirational success story happening for you, though, because even most optioned books do not make it to the big screen, or spend years in development hell, as I know all too well.
Unfortunately, unless something like a film elevates consciousness of your book’s existence beyond your own social circles and self-promotional platform, it is very difficult to stand out from the plethora of published books in a mind-numbingly crowded field.
Listen, and I'll tell you what to do
The good news is that there is a viable alternative available to most authors that requires some extra labor, networking, and possibly financial investment, depending on whether your book is distributed by a press large enough to offer the choice – but it will almost surely pay off, based purely on the numbers.
Audiobooks are a very accessible and increasingly popular way to sell your work to people who are generally interested in books, but due to the demands of their multi-tasked lives, cannot always set aside quality time to sit down and digest a novel (or work of non-fiction).
Just like a lot of music fans listen to the radio or their own playlists while engaged in other activities like driving, readers can literally tune into your words while on the fly – especially since reading while driving is just as dangerous as texting, if not more so.
The rapid advancement in various types of portable devices from iPhones to iPads and beyond also provides multiple platforms for commercially recorded adaptations of your work. And as any marketer will tell you, the more options you provide your potential audience, the better for both of you.
Is this thing on?
If you’re an indie author, and you’re confident in the professional quality of your voice, you could record and sell your own audiobook. In fact, Amazon now offers this is as a paid service. Not everyone has the patience or talent for this format, but you could always pay a professional actor to record your book (unless you have a thespian friend willing to do it for free). Mike Fishbein offers a step-by-step walk through Amazon's process - including how to choose the right narrator for your work.
Of course there is a lively debate within the literary community regarding the aesthetic if not commercial worth of audiobooks, with some authors accusing readers of being lazy or even cheating. Many writers prefer that the reader imagine the voice of the narrator, rather than it being translated by an interpretive voice that may or may not sound like the author intended.
That’s really a personal issue, though. This is a decision you need to make yourself, as both an artist and a businessperson, according to your own agenda and priorities.
Best advice? Listen to your own heart first.
Do you listen to audiobooks, and do you prefer them to actually reading?