This Week in Links: March 23 – 27

For Producers:

Your Recording Space: Make It Dead Part 2 – via Voiceover Mechanic – Build on the lessons learned in part one of this informative series.

Why Voice Actors Have The Best Job In The Entertainment Industry – via Voice Over Herald – Never underestimate the positive effect of getting to work in your PJ’s.

[VIDEO] Breathing Tips – via Online Voice Coaching – Let Dr. Utterback teach you about breath control.

‘It’s Not Enough to Have a Nice Voice': The Original Siri on an Industry in Flux – via The Globe and Mail – Get Susan Bennett’s thoughts on the past, present, and future of voiceover.

For Rights Holders:

12 Workplace Skills to Apply to Your Writing Career – via Writer’s Digest – Is writing your second career? Here are a few things you can learn from your main gig.

How to Unlock All Five Senses in Your Writing – via The Write Practice – Pay special attention to the section on sound!

The Art of the First Line – via CreateSpace – Your book won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

A Sure-Fire Shortcut to Create Unique Characters – via Helping Writers Become Authors – Find out how to give your narrator something to dig their teeth into

 

This Week in Links: March 16 – 20

Did you join #TalkingACX this week? We held another edition of our popular Twitter chat this past Wednesday with guest Kate Tilton. The author assistant joined us to discuss audiobook marketing, and shared some great tips for Rights Holders and Producers. In case you missed it, Producer Karen Commins put together a transcript on Storify. Give it a read, then check out our favorite audiobook links from the past week, including bonus marketing tips from Kate, below.

For Rights Holders:

25 Ways To Market Your Audiobook: A Quick Guide – via Kate Tilton – A nice collection of tips for getting the word out about your audio edition.

Building an Author Brand: You are What You Share – via CreateSpace – You may not be a famous athlete,  but your endorsement could mean more than you think.

ACX Storytellers: Rosalind James – via The ACX Blog – Follow one author’s journey from ACX to Audible Studios to an Audie nomination.

Feeling Stuck? 7 Tools for Developing Fresh Story Ideas – via The Write Life – Ready to start that next draft, but lacking inspiration? Read this first.

What 17 Adults Learned From Rereading Their Favorite Childhood Books – via Buzzfeed Books – What could you discover by getting in touch with a childhood friend?

For Producers:

Are You Afraid of Your Own Rates? – via Jerry’s Voice – Steve explores why voice actors shouldn’t be afraid to charge with their worth.

In Out? In Out? Or shake it all about? – via steveoneillvoice – Find out why voice actors should focus on input as well as output.

Your Recording Space: Make It Dead Part 1 – via Voiceover Mechanic – Are you killing it? Your studio, that is.

ACX 101 for Authors and Rights Holders – via Corey Snow – The Voxman offers writers and publishers a Producer’s take on the audiobook production process.

ACX Storytellers: Rosalind James

Audie-nominated ACX author Rosalind James has done it all throughout her audiobook journey. A longtime audiobook listener, Rosalind self-published 6 titles through ACX, driving enough buzz and sales of her audiobooks that Audible Studios bought the rights to her next series. She joins us today to share her path to success and the benefits of a varied audiobook portfolio.

Rosalind

Audie-nominated ACX author Rosalind James.

Almost exactly a year ago, my first audiobook, Just This Once (Escape to New Zealand), went live on Audible via ACX. To say that I didn’t know what to expect would be an understatement. Not only was the book my first work of fiction, it was my narrator’s first audiobook. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, does it?

The results of that experiment, and the four books in the series that have followed it over the past year, have far exceeded my expectations. It hasn’t been cheap­ (more than $16,000 for narration), but I’ve earned a good return ($35,000 so far), publishing-industry visibility and credibility, and—to my utter shock—an Audie nomination in the Romance category for that first book.

Why did it work? I think partly because, as an early adopter with hundreds of books in my audio library, I knew what to listen for. The narrator is truly an equal partner in an audiobook—not just a reader, but an actor. A talented narrator can make a good book great and a great book outstanding. When it came time to pick my own narrator, I opted to pay upfront (in the $200-400 per finished hour range) in order to attract the quality I wanted. I was able to choose from a multitude of excellent narrators, and the one I cast, Claire Bocking, absolutely nailed the feel and tone of the book. She somehow read that little piece of an emotional scene at the end of the book exactly the way it had played out in my head. Readers (not to mention the Audie judges) have felt the same way, and I have reaped the benefits.

Just This Once_HDNot to say that the past year has been entirely smooth. First, there was listening to the auditions. I had to have my grown son sit with me to do it—that is how strange it felt to listen to my words spoken aloud. And after three books produced by three different studios, Claire has finally settled on producing them herself, facing her own learning curve. Fortunately, through all the trials, her acting talent has never wavered, and the books just keep getting better and better.

The Next Phase

As happy as I have been with my narrator, and with the production wrinkles ironed out, why did I sell the rights to my second series to Audible Studios? Two reasons: time and money. The benefit of ACX is that the author has control. We select the narrator, we listen to the book as it is recorded, and we guide the performance. I think a lot of authors (especially indie authors) have a little control freak in us. It is definitely more comfortable to get your book narrated and produced your way. And the royalties are better, but there’s that pay-upfront aspect, too. And the control comes at a price in terms of the time spent listening to auditions, communicating with your narrator, and proofing the audiobook—time you could spend writing.

So when Audible Studios offered me an advance and promised to take all that work off my hands for my Kincaids series, I jumped at the chance to be one of the chosen few authors. I knew they could do the project quickly, accurately, and with less input on my end than going through ACX. They even solicited my input on narrators and secured my first choice, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Now I have what I hope will be the best of both worlds: two series, each with a different professional narrator, and each produced in a way that worked best for me at the time.

KincaidsWhile audiobooks don’t currently have a fan base to rival print and eBooks, I believe that the medium is still in its infancy. From what I have seen with my books, the Whispersync for Voice program seems to be attracting a whole new group of customers to audio, and their purchases push Whispersync enabled books higher up the charts. From there, the books can be noticed by subscribers looking for a place to spend their next credit. For that reason, I always beg for my books to be Whispersync enabled early—it’s the best tool I’ve found for visibility. I believe that, in our multitasking, mobile society, audio is only going to grow, and that authors who have their catalogs in audio will be in the best position to benefit from that growth.

Most importantly, perhaps, having my books in audio is just about the coolest thing that’s come out of my publishing career. When I realized that one of my books could be seen alongside Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ latest—that was an incredible moment. Right there with the woman whose books I had listened to again and again, who set my standard of what a romance audiobook could be? Cool.

Rosalind James, a publishing industry veteran and former marketing executive, is an author of Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense novels published both independently and through Montlake Romance. She and her husband live in Berkeley, California with a Labrador Retriever named Charlie (yes, she named a character after her dog, but she swears she didn’t realize it until later).

This Week in Links: March 9 – 13

For Rights Holders:

This Is The Reason Facebook Pages Are Still Useful For Authors – via BadRedHead Media – You may be suffering from Facebook fatigue, but it’s still a valuable tool for writers to connect with readers.

6 Tips to Writing a Bestselling YA Series – via Writer’s Digest – Want to be the next Suzanne Collins? Find out more about writing in this popular genre.

The Difference Between “Flawed” Characters and “Too Dumb to Live” – via Kristen Lamb – Bad decisions do make great fiction, but make sure you’re not taking this axiom to the unrealistic extreme.

3 Reasons Twitter and Writers are a Perfect Match – via The Write Conversation – Get a crash course in using this social network from fellow author Edie Melson.

For Producers:

How To Understand Voice Over Copy: Develop A Process That Works For You – via Voice-Over Xtra – Having a tried and true process can save you from reinventing the wheel every time you get a new script.

Quality Voice Overs Start with Quality Audio. – via Tony Pasquale – Tony’s got 3 aspects of audio to listen for to help separate high quality form low quality.

Session Improvement Tips for Producers from Voice Talents – via J. Christopher Dunn – A look at what makes a great audio producer, straight from the mouths of voice actors.

6 Ways to Nail Your Voiceover Audition – via Backstage – Learn how to “stay calm and focused and make your first take your best for your voiceover audition?”

 

Creating Your Custom Audible 30-Day Free Trial Link

Few words are more enticing than “free.” Now you can offer fans a free Audible 30-day trial membership featuring your title—a great way to promote your audiobook—and potentially earn more money while doing so. Create a custom 30-Day Free Trial link featuring one of your audiobooks, and you could earn a $50  Bounty for every new Audible member who signs up. It’s just five easy steps:

1) Visit your title’s product page on Audible.com, making sure that you are not signed into the site.

2) Find the URL at the top of the page and copy the Audible ASIN, which is the series of numbers and letters displayed after your book’s title but before the “ref” tag.

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3) Next, open a new browser tab. In the URL bar at the top, enter the following  text (making sure to keep the word “asin” lowercase letters): http://www.audible.com/offers/30free?asin=

4) Add the ASIN you found in step 2 to the end of the URL and hit “Enter.” Your link should end up looking something like this: http://www.audible.com/offers/30free?asin=B00ED0FETK

5) A custom free trial page with your title and cover art is generated!

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6) With your custom URL, your audiobook will be preloaded into the new Audible member’s cart when he or she signs up:

30 Day 03

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7) Copy this complete URL, and add it to your website, social media, or news blasts to your fans.

Not only is the Audible 30-Day Free Trial link a great way to invite fans to the joys of listening to your work, it introduces them to medium of audiobooks — great news for your future audio sales. And remember, you earn $50 for every new Audible member who buys your book first ($25 if you chose a 50/50 Royalty Share). Read the full details and terms surrounding the $50 Bounty Program here.

Have you found a great way to promote your titles and generate $50 Bounty payments? Tell us in the comments.

This Week in Links: March 2 – 6

For Producers:

Wrong Man For The Job – via Joe’s Dump – An important look at the difference between being attracted to a project and being right for a project.

How do I become a voice talent? (An Easy-to-Use Answer) – via J. Christopher Dunn – J. Christopher makes it easy to pay it forward with a creative way for voice over veterans to help the newbies.

Should a Mic “Look” Good? – via CourVO – Are you into aural aesthetics? Take a peek at this collection of microphones that excel in both sound and look.

What Do People Ask You When They Learn You’re A Voice Talent? – via Voice-Over Xtra – How many of these classic questions for VO’s have you been asked.

ACX Storytellers: Anna Parker-Naples – via The ACX Blog – Read the inspiring story of this actress’s journey from stage to recording booth.

For Rights Holders:

Twitter Marketing Strategy: How Much Book Promotion is Too Much? – via The Write Life – Thoughts on how often to promote, as well as the difference between a “soft sell” and a “hard sell.”

3 Must-Know Ways for Creating Meaningful Settings in Your Novel – via Helping Writers Become Authors – “The settings in your novel serve a number of very powerful functions in your scenes, and that’s why setting is an essential pillar of novel construction.”

How to Win Listeners and Create Great Audiobooks – via The ACX Blog – Learn best practices and top tips for publishing audiobooks through ACX.

How an Epic Fail Can Be A Slinky of Goodness – via The Writer’s Alley – Good advice on how to move past criticism and get back to a positive frame of mind.

3 Ways to Get Your Next Story Idea – via The Write Practice – What to do when you need to write but don’t know what to write about.

The Four Agreements

As an ACX Producer, you’re responsible for editing, mixing, and mastering your audio, in addition to reading and self-recording. While you may possess both the artistic talent and the technical skill required to handle all of these tasks, you might find you prefer to focus on your performance. Other factors—like a tight production schedule or lack of a home studio—may require you to seek professional assistance. ACX independent contractor agreements can help ensure both parties are clear about what’s expected when it comes to things like due dates, payment terms, and ownership of the finished product. Here are the four types of agreements that ACX offers:

Audiobook Narration Services Agreement

Helping hand shakes another in an agreementWho it’s between: A studio and a narrator, a producer and a narrator, a narrator and a fellow narrator.

Why you may need it: You’re a studio or producer hiring a narrator, or you’re a narrator subcontracting another narrator to work on your multi-cast audiobook recording.

What you get: A professionally narrated audiobook with up to four rounds of correction (aka “pickup”) sessions.

Audiobook Engineering Services Agreement:

Who it’s between: A narrator and an engineer, a narrator and a studio, or a studio and a freelance engineer.

Why you may need it: You’re a narrator without a home studio, or a studio owner working with a freelance engineer.

What you get: A professional engineer to record your (or your narrator’s) performance and provide you with the raw recorded files ready to be edited and mastered.

Audiobook Editing Services Agreement

sidebarWho it’s between: A narrator, producer, or studio, and an audiobook editor.

Why you may need it: You’re a narrator or producer on a tight schedule, or you have a number of productions to complete back to back. Perhaps you prefer to focus on performing rather than audio editing.

What you get: Professionally edited and QC’d audiobook files, ready for mixing and mastering.

Audiobook Mastering Services Agreement

Who it’s between: A narrator, producer, or studio, and a post-production engineer.

Why you may need it: You’re on a tight schedule, or you have a number of productions to complete back to back. You’ve decided to focus on performing rather than mastering your audio.

What you get: A professional mix and master of your audiobook files, delivered ready for upload to ACX according to our Audio Submission Requirements.

Armed with one or more of our independent contractor agreements, you can do your best work and rest assured that your collaborators are keeping up their end of the deal. Be sure to download and use them the next time you need to outsource an aspect of your ACX production.

Have you outsourced the editing, mastering, or post-production of your audiobooks? Tell us in the comments below.