This Week in Links: August 24 – 28

For RIghts HOlders:

Six Magic Phrases You Can Use to Sell More Books – via Where Writers Win – Learn key words to use in your “Amazon sales page, your website, your book announcement press release, your e-mail announcement, and other promotional materials that will help you sell more books, too!”

What are the Most Popular Title Trends in Your Genre? – via BookBub – You can lean into the trends or swim against the stream. How will you use the information in this article?

Market Smarter, Not Harder: The Personal Touch – via The ACX Blog – NYT bestselling author Ryan Winfield on the marketing power of a human connection.

Social Media Marketing Must Be Manageable – via Digital Book World – “Social media marketing can be a big time suck for many authors. Making it manageable, though, is about learning how to take inventory of your time, resources and skill and then planning accordingly.”

Social Media Marketing Must Be Sustainable – via Digital Book World – Get a twofer on marketing advice from DBW and knock your audiobook promotion out of the park!

For Producers:

Potato Chips Required – Who Would Have Thought? – via Mike Lenz – Want a career where eating potato chips is a necessity? Try being an audiobook narrator.

The World Needs Voiceover & So Do I – via Dane Reid – Learn how voiceover can help people feel a part of the world at home or in foreign lands.

Five Lessons Learned From Two Customer Service Fails – via Marc Scott – If you have to deal with long hold times and uninformed customer service agents, you may as well come away with something you can apply to your voiceover business, right?

[VIDEO] Americans Try To Pronounce Massachusetts Towns – via Buzzfeed – The struggle is wicked real.

Market Smarter, Not Harder: The Personal Touch

ACX author Ryan Winfield has written in the past about the value of retaining your audio rights and producing audiobooks using ACX. He joins us today to describe his experience promoting and marketing those audiobooks once they’re available for sale.

Ryan Winfield Headshot

ACX Author Ryan Winfield

I’ve heard it said that every author, once published, is a self-published author—and I believe it now more than ever after watching a big New York publisher roll out three of my titles. The simple fact is no one will ever market your books with as much zeal and creativity as you will yourself. I find that I have an advantage with my self-published books and audiobooks. Why? ACX and Kindle Direct Publishing royalties are more readily measurable via online dashboards, and are paid directly to rights holders monthly (not to mention ACX’s $50 Bounty Program), which allows me to reinvest a portion of my earnings into marketing. I do this consistently with a set percentage of my royalties, and what seems to work the best is focusing my marketing effort on making a personal connection.

Getting Personal

Most authors would love to see their title on the side of city busses and on billboards lining busy streets. They’d love to be the new “thing” getting the latest internet “buzz.” But it’s a mistake to think that those ads and that buzz are what make a hit book. I’ve discovered that it is much better to make a big impression on a small group of people than a small impression on a big group.

It sounds counterintuitive, but marketing to people who are already aware of you just works better. Promoting a Facebook post about my new audiobook to readers who already “like” my Facebook Fan Page yields much better results (better click rate, better conversion, and better engagement) than advertising to a wider audience that is not yet familiar with my work. I’ll sooner read a book recommended by a friend than one advertised to me on my phone or laptop. This is why reviews are so helpful, and why reviews by peers are so important. It’s my job to make my readers my friends—friends who will read my work and recommend it to their friends.

Here are some ways I do just that:

  • Sending personal emails to past readers offering free audiobook download codes in exchange for honest reviews nets me not only grateful fans but also plenty of referrals.
  • Reinvesting some of my earnings to offer a Kindle Fire or gift card giveaways to new readers who “Like” my Facebook page or subscribe to my email newsletter. (There are many services that can help with this, from Rafflecopter to Shortstack to Mailchimp, and many other helpful tools are available for those willing to do a little research.)
  • Making myself available for book club appearances, both in person locally and via video chat more widely, has won me many lifelong readers and friends.
  • Making my email address publicly available. Nothing will endear you to new readers more than a personal response to their questions or comments. When Jane’s Melody was first climbing the bestseller charts, I was answering as many as fifty emails a day. It became impossible to keep up, but as soon as things slowed down I returned to personally responding to messages.

Invest In Your Own Success

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00029]With every royalty payment I get, I earmark a percentage for marketing. With every marketing dollar I spend, I ask myself if I’m helping to reinforce my brand with those already connected with me. And with every connection I make, I ask myself if I’m making an impression that will lead these new friends to recommend my work to their other friends. Perhaps the best part of reinvesting royalties in this way is that it’s scalable. The more books or audiobooks I sell, the larger my marketing budget is and the more readers I connect with. The larger my marketing budget is and the more readers I connect with, the more books I sell. And so on and so forth.

Give it a try. Commit a percentage of your royalties to marketing and promotion, but then spend it wisely. Run some contests, promote some posts, and let people know about your unique voice. And who knows, maybe someday, with just the right amount of luck, that self-perpetuating cycle might just scale itself up until your book is topping bestseller lists and is plastered on every city bus and billboard.

Ryan Winfield is the New York Times bestselling author of “Jane’s Melody“, “South of Bixby Bridge“, “The Park Service Trilogy,” and several other books. He lives in Seattle, and you can connect with him at facebook.com/ryanwinfield.

This Week in Links: August 10 – 14

For Producers:

How to Promote Yourself as a Voice-Over Actor Online – via Voice Over Herald – Promote your audiobooks to gain sales, or promote yourself to book gigs.

Who Needs a Voice Over Coach? How To Get Training For Free! – via Gary Terzza – “It is possible to break into the industry without spending too much, but you will certainly need to invest plenty of effort.”

[VIDEO] Marketing Persistence – via Marc Scott – This week, Marc offers thoughts and encouragement, to help you develop persistence in your marketing efforts.

5 Ways to Get Hired in Voice Acting – via Backstage – Here are five ways to ensure your land solid, quality jobs that pay good money.

For Rights Holders:

Free Newswires Help Promote Books & Author Brands – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Learn how to promote your audiobook for free via press releases.

4 Methods to Invigorate Your Prose With Surprising Sentences – via Helping Weiters Become Authors – Give your narrator something cool to say in the booth.

Simple Promo Tip: Nailing Your Email Subject Line – via Writer Unboxed – Sometimes, it only takes a few words to sell an audiobook. Find out which will have the biggest impact on your potential listeners.

11 Ways to Ask for Writing Advice (And 10 Major Mistakes to Avoid) – via The Write Life – “Connecting with other writers — who are at your experience level or above it — is a great way to learn, grow and expand your career.”

This Week in Links: August 3 – 7

For Rights Holders:

22 Ways a Blog Can Sell Books – via The Book Designer – “[L]earn to get big results blogging, big enough to drive book sales and other ways to make money from your content.”

Balancing Dialogue and Description in Your Story – via Jane Friedman – Getting the ratio right is especially important for audiobook authors.

Authors Must Skim The Media They Hope To Impress – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – When promoting your work , it helps to be a bit of a Renaissance person.

The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips – via Atlas Obscura – Get inspired by playing around with this interactive map of various American novels.

For Producers:

Neck Tension & Vocal Pitch – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Learn how to consistently speak in your optimum pitch range.

How to Control Your Mind When Working as a Voiceover Artist – via Victoria DeAnda – Good advice on how to keep distractions out and focus on your art while in the booth.

A Voice Over Novice CAN Compete With The Pros – via Gary Terzza – Believe it or not, rookie VO’s have some definite advantages over the veterans (log in to LinkedIn to view).

Job or Career? – via Dave Courvoisier – Find out the distinction, how to commit to one, and how everything else in your VO life can come from it.

This Week in Links: July 27 – 31

For Producers:

Market Your Voice Over Services Like the Superhero You Are (Or Should Be) – via Voice-Over Xtra – Learn how to book more VO gigs by thinking of others first.

Should I Wear a Headphone While Recording Voiceover? – via Voice Over Herald – A look at the pros and cons of routing your voice directly back into your brain (with bonus gear recommendations).

[VIDEO] One Way To Elevate Your Self Confidence – via Marc Scott – Are you putting yourself down without even realizing it? Learn how treating yourself better can boost your confidence and your career.

That’s NOT Voiceover! – via Rob Marley – Can a quiz tell you if you’re cut out for voice acting? Not this one, apparently.

For Rights Holders:

8 Blogging Tips for Writers to Find Success – via Writer’s Digest – “Blogging is an incredibly effective and efficient way for writers to reach their target audience and build writer platforms. In other words, it’s a great method for writers to find engaged readers and more success with their writing.”

Email Marketing: 3 Awesome Ways For You To Connect! – via BadRedhead Media – Author Rachel Thompson tackles a common reader-submitted question on this important topic.

Hacking Your Reader’s Brain – via Live Write Thrive – “I have come to understand that what a fiction reader wants is to be thoroughly engaged. Enthralled. Swept away. And what does that mean in practical terms? It means not bored.

Product Families, Placement, & World Building – via Author Marketing 101 – Could a trip to the grocery store inspire and inform your book marketing?

 

This Week in Links: July 20 – 24

For Rights Holders:

Going Back to the Basics… – via Author Marketing 101 – The site makes good on its name by offering a roundup of it’s advice for beginners.

[PODCAST] Book Marketing Tips from Experts – Part 2 – via Book Marketing Tools – “We’ve compiled the answers from several of our past guests to our question, ‘Knowing what you know now, if you had to start all over today, what 3 things would you tell yourself?'”

Our Five Favorite Books on Writing – via The Write Practice – Most authors want to learn more about writing. Some authors write about writing. Here, The Write Practice shares their top examples of the latter for the benefit of the former.

How to Improve Your Fiction Marketing Through Peer Collaboration: 11 Quotes From the Experts – via The Book Designer – “Regardless of how the publishing landscape changes and how online tools evolve, there will always be opportunities for leverage by joining with others who have similar goals.”

For Producers:

How to Maximize Your Voice Over Brand – via Voice Over Herald – It’s hard to get hired if no one knows you exist. Get tips on creating a recognizable face for your VO business.

Keeping Your Audiobook Revisions Straight – via vo2gogo – Your rights holder wants revisions but you forgot to save your raw audiobook audio? David H. Lawrence XVII has you covered.

25 Ways to Market Your VO Business – via Rob Marley – “The voiceover business is 5% about your voice and 95% about how you market that voice.”

Iconic Voices Receive Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Narration & Character Performance – via Voice-Over Xtra – Find out which VO industry leaders got nods for TV’s best voice acting.

This Week in Links: July 13 – 17

For Producers:

Is Hesitancy Allowed in Voice Overs? – via Gary Terzza – “Ordinary is the new distinctive. This begs the question – should we now be adding hesitancy into scripted copy, so as to reflect natural speech patterns?”

Recording While You Travel: Seven Tips for Wherever Your Vacation Takes You – via Voice-Over Xtra – Learn how to keep your voiceover career on point when you’re on the go.

The Most Embarrassing Moment of my Voice-over Career – Nethervoice – Paul Strikwerda covers a range of reader-submitted topics in his most recent mailbag.

Why Mistakes Matter in the Voice Over Business – via Victoria deAnda – Everybody makes mistakes. Luckily, Victoria has some tips for how to recover and handle the aftermath.

The History of Voice Over through the 1900’s – via Voice Over Herald – Find out about the world’s first voice actor and other tidbits from the early history of VO.

For Rights Holders:

One Author’s Book Marketing Strategies – via Book Marketing Tools – “In this guest post, author H.M. Clarke shares her tips that she uses for marketing her books. She is an author just like you, so take these tips to heart and start implementing them as soon as you can.”

You Kept Your Audiobook Rights – Now What? – via The ACX Blog – DIY author/narrator Scott Sigler stops by to discuss the options audiobook authors have available to them today.

15 Book Marketing Lessons From An Ex-Wife  – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – This author found book marketing inspiration in the least likely of places.

The Hardest Part of Writing Good Character Arcs—and How You Can Make It Look Easy! – via Helping Writers Become Authors – Great characters are especially important in audio. Learn how to show them growing and changing via author K.M. Weiland.

5 Writing Challenges All Writers Face (& How to Deal With Them) – via Writer’s Digest – Writing can be a solitary pursuit but remember: You’re not alone, and many authors face the same difficulties you do.

You Kept Your Audiobook Rights – Now What?

We last spoke with ACX DIY author/narrator Scott Sigler almost exactly one year ago. Back in 2014, Scott shared the success he’s had racking up our $50 bounty payments by driving new listeners to Audible. Today he joins us to discuss the decision that made all of those bounties possible: keeping his audio rights instead of signing them away to his print/eBook publisher.

Scott Sigler

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Author Scott Sigler

The debate about “what’s best” for authors — doing it all yourself as an indie writer, or striving to sign with a traditional publishing house — has been the stuff of bloggers and Internet wags for some time now. While proponents of each camp make excellent points, there is a third side to this coin: doing both and becoming a “hybrid author.”

A “hybrid author” is someone who produces independent works and writes for traditional publishing at the same time. One way to do this is to retain your audio rights when you sell print and/or eBook rights to a publisher. That’s what I did when Del Rey bought my Generations Trilogy. Alive, the first book of that trilogy, is out in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook on July 14, 2015.

That’s right: hardcover and eBook from Del Rey, audiobook from, well, from us. “Us” is Empty Set Entertainment, the company I own along with my business partner A Kovacs. When Del Rey rolls out the beautiful hardcover of Alive, Empty Set will kick out the unabridged audiobook. We did all the work for that audio version, and will also earn all of the royalties from it.

Retaining audiobook rights was a natural for us, because we’ve been creating our own audiobooks for years. We produced eleven of my fifteen titles currently available on Audible.

AliveFew publishers are going to offer to let you keep audiobook rights. Publishers are in business to make money, not to be your pal. If you want to keep those rights, you’ll have to negotiate for them. That’s what happened with fantasy author Michael J. Sullivan.

Sullivan’s first publishing deal was with Orbit, who kept the audiobook rights and sold those rights to Recorded Books. Sullivan was happy with Recorded Books — and his narrator, in particular. When it was time for a new deal, though, Sullivan wanted more control.

“When my agent was negotiating my second Orbit contract, I asked for her to get the audio rights held back,” Sullivan said. “Orbit said it would be a ‘deal breaker.’ When all was said and done, we signed the contract, and asked them to keep the rights with Recorded Books. They agreed and so the first two books of the Riyria Chronicle series were published as a subsidiary right.”

For Sullivan’s latest deal, however, he and his wife, Robin, took a different strategy — they sold the audiobook rights first. Therefore, those rights weren’t on the table for Del Rey, who will be releasing Sullivan’s next novel Age of Myth next summer.

“The lack of audio rights definitely wasn’t a deal breaker for Del Rey,” Sullivan said. “Nor the other publishers who were interested in the series.”

What to Do with Your Audio Rights

First, you can keep the audio rights in a print/eBook deal, then sell them to another company. That’s what John Scalzi did in his recent blockbuster $3.4 million, 13-book deal with Tor Books. This gave Scalzi the ability to negotiate for a higher payout for audio, and as part of that negotiation, possibly have more influence over production and casting decisions.

“I held onto the audio rights, as I hold on to every other right I can, because they have value,” Scalzi said. “Economically and artistically, it makes sense for me to maximize both (print and audio). I get the most amount of money possible and partner with the people who I think will do the best job making and marketing the work.”

Scalzi

Author John Scalzi

The second method would be to produce your own audiobook, which is what I did for Alive. Alive is a YA title with a female protagonist as the only point-of-view character. The readers see everything through her eyes. For voice talent, we hired Emma Galvin, who narrated Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Emma was a perfect fit for my book and we were lucky to get her.

Producing it ourselves, means we earn the full 40% royalty from ACX, which is extremely competitive. That’s good, but it comes at a cost — all production and talent expense came out of our own pockets. We invested $5,000 in the creation of the Alive audiobook and will need to sell about 660 audiobooks to make that money back.

We invested similar amounts for our audiobooks Nocturnal and PandemicNocturnal earned out in eight weeks, Pandemic in seven. That means everything we earn for the remainder of the seven-year contract term is straight profit.

That accounting, however, only represents our cash outlay. I am not factoring in the time I put in auditioning narrators, communicating with Emma, communicating with the engineer about edits, and managing the process. I can’t put a specific dollar amount on that time. It’s an opportunity cost, measured as time I was not writing new product. If you produce your own audiobooks, you’ll also encounter those opportunity costs.

Sullivan has considered producing his own audiobooks, but with the significant sales his works generate, the advances for audio rights are high enough that it makes more sense to sell them off.

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Author Michael J. Sullivan

“The most attractive thing ACX has going is that the author’s cut isn’t diluted,” Sullivan said. “If my future audiobook advances were to go down, then I would have a bigger incentive to self-publish the audio. I would definitely consider ACX.”

If you don’t want to sell your rights, and you also don’t want to produce the book yourself, that leaves the third method: using ACX’s marketplace to find a producer who will create the audiobook. Through the marketplace, you can either pay for your production up front based on the final running time of the audiobook (per-finished-hour (PFH) payment), or enter into a royalty share done as a 50/50 split between writer and producer. That makes your 40% share a 20% share, with the producer getting the other 20%. Seems severe, doesn’t it? Not when you take a step back and realize you don’t have any up-front costs, as I did with Alive. The royalty share method means you start earning revenue with the very first sale.

And, of course, there is one additional choice: sell the print, eBook, and audiobook rights to a single publisher. Collecting an advance and — hopefully — future royalties is still a viable option if you want to focus all of your energies on creating new works.

As for our strategy? Now and in the future, we enjoy the total control over our audiobooks, and we enjoy the higher profit margin. As long as we have working capital to produce the audiobooks, we’ll keep doing things that way.


New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler is the author of over fifteen novels, six novellas and dozens of short stories. His hardcover horror-thrillers are available from Crown Publishing and Del Rey. He also co-founded Empty Set Entertainment.


Are you a hybrid author? Tell us your story below.

That Week in Links: June 29 – July 2

Worry not loyal readers – we didn’t let the holiday-shortened week deter us from bringing you the best audiobook links. Get this week started on the right foot by reviewing our favorite producing and publishing advice from last week.

For Producers:

The Real Voice of Siri Explains the Art of Voiceover – via Vox – VO Susan Bennett talks about recording for Siri, her favorite studio gear, and why text to speech won’t soon replace voice acting.

How Should I Describe My Voice? – via Gary Terzza’s Voice-Over Blog UK – “It is important to get a voice description. You don’t need too many adjectives –  it’s about honesty, but at the same time there is a promotional element.”

[VIDEO] Demo of Kindle eBook and Audible Audiobook Whispersync – via Karen Commins – The Audible Approved ACX producer provides a detailed look at Amazon’s text + audio technology.

Rejection Isn’t Personal – That’s (Voice Over) Life – via Voice-Over Xtra – Actor Rob Marley shares “three things you can do to help deal with rejection and improve your voice over success rate.”

For Rights Holders:

So Many Voices – Who Can Hear Yours? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – ‘We are each a drop of water in a vast ocean. Our content mirrors this ratio as well. It’s just the way things are – and it is likely to get more crowded soon.”

The Complete List of Creative Distractions and Defenses Against Them – via Writer Unboxed – A comprehensive, tongue-in-cheek list of the many things vying for an author’s attention, and advice on how to combat their allure.

[PODCAST] Book Marketing on the Cheap – via Book Marketing Tools Blog – Hosts Sean and RJ dive deep into a recent blog post covering budget-friendly marketing ideas.

3 Ways to Make Writing Your Novel Easier – via Helping Writers Become Authors – “If you want an easy writing experience, you’re going to need to make sure you’re choosing a story that supports that desire.”

This Week in Links: June 22 – 26

For Rights Holders:

Making Your Cover Work Harder – via Author Marketing 101 – Find out how to leverage your audiobook cover to drive your promotions.

How To Write a Story 101: Character – via The Write Practice – Learn the basics of creating characters your narrator can really bring to life.

How to Sell More Books through Radio Interview Publicity – via Book Marketing Tools – Alright authors, its time to put your voice to work to sell your audiobook.

Writing a Book? How to Know When to Stop Editing and Move On – via The Write Life – Authors need to know when to say when (great advice for audio editors too).

For Producers:

How to Build Relationships in the Voice Over Business – via Victoria DeAnda – “Knowing how to establish and sustain relationships with people will help you achieve the success you’re seeking for your voice over business.”

Studio Microphones: Large-Diaphragm Condensers – via Mix – A great post for those who like to geek out over studio equipment.

Finding Success in the Voiceover Industry – via Voices UK – ‘To become a successful voice over actor, you need the know-how (skills) and the means (voice over equipment) and of course the opportunity.”

Are You A People-Pleaser, Afraid Of Losing Jobs And Clients? Don’t Be Their Doormat – via Voice-Over Xtra – Paul Strikwerda covers why freelance VOs need to be comfortable dealing with conflict & sticking up for themselves.