This Week in Links: May 15- 19

For Rights Holders:

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – May 2017 – via The Book Designer – This month, the site’s lead writer shares her biggest marketing mistake: not taking her own advice.

The Key to Creating a Successful Blog: Evergreen Content – via The Write Life – Creating blog posts that are constantly wanted and searched for is a great way to attract readers through social media.

How to Form an Indie Author Collective (and Why You Should Consider Doing So) – via ALLi – [“K]nowing others are supporting you and holding you accountable puts wind in your sails.”

Branding vs. Marketing – via CreateSpace – “I’ve heard people use the terms interchangeably, and frankly, that’s just wrong. They serve the same purpose, but they are two different tools serving that purpose.”

For Producers:

On Excellence in Voiceover. Do You Dare to Push Yourself? – via Edge Studio – Where is the line between adequacy and excellence? Are you excellent enough to make the cut? And can you take pursuit of excellence too far?

2 Customer Service Examples: The Wrong Way and the Right Way – via audio’connell – Freelance VO’s need to give clients great customer service. Two anecdotes from other industries provide examples to follow.

10 Money Tips For Voiceover Freelancers – via Tom Dheere – “Make, save, and spend money like a business, not like a clueless rogue artiste.”

Tales From The Voice Booth – via People Magazine – Put some fun in your weekend with H. John Benjamin’s hilarious voiceover horror stories.

That Week in Links: May 8 – 12

Kick off your Monday with a look at our favorite links from last week!

For Producers:

Make Every On-Air Day Your Best – via Dr. Ann Utterback – What would you say if not just on-air days, but every day could be your best? Don’t miss the additional resources at the bottom of the post.

How to Track Voiceover Projects That’s Quick and Easy – via J. Christopher Dunn – Learn a straight-forward system to keep your various emails, invoices, files, and folders straight.

I Am a Female Voice Over, Hear me Roar! – via Voice Over Herald – Take a look at the history of the gender divide in VO, capped off with a handy infographic showing why women rule.

How to Succeed in the Voiceover Industry – via Victoria DeAnda – Victoria shares the career building blocks that allow you “let your passion bleed into your work.”

For Rights Holders:

Can You Market Your Book For 5 Minutes A Day?– via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – If you’re too busy, or big marketing projects seem daunting, check these tips for working a little bit of promotion into every day.

How to Launch Your Blog With Your Book in Mind – via Writer’s Digest – “Blogging helped me hone my voice and connected me to a community of readers. But, oh, if I could start over knowing that many of my far-fetched writing dreams would come true, I sure would do a few things differently.”

Branding: The Rule of Coaching – via CreateSpace – See how being genuinely altruistic within your creative community can have the side benefit of building your brand.

The Elusive Value of PR as a Book Marketing Tactic – via The Write Life – “I am constantly reminding myself to invest my time and efforts wisely as an author. And that means putting my efforts toward growing a long-term following—not just pestering readings into that one or two next sales.”

This Week in Links: April 24 – 28

For Rights Holders:

Book Marketing: How to Optimise Facebook Adverts – A Case Study – via ALLi – In this case, seven rights may make… a good Facebook ad.

3 Ways to Make Your Writing More Visual – via K.M. Weiland – Learn how to help your narrator bring your words to life.

How a Week Without My Smartphone Made Me More Creative – via The Write Life – Could a technology break help you refocus and find more creativity?

Branding: The Rule of Consistency – via CreateSpace – A steady approach to your author brand should make you easily definable.

For Producers:

Only Fools and Horses – via Paul Strikwerda – How do you know that you’re not yet ready to call yourself a professional VO? Well, If…

Is it Skill or Talent That Makes a Voice Over Successful? – via Voice Over Herald –  This infographic reveals “the key elements to having deliberate practice in order to continuously improve your voice over skills.”

5 Golden Rules of Voice Over – via Gary Terzza – Make sure you’ve got a solid foundation of the basics of a VO career.

ACX University Presents: Now Hear This: A Closer Look at Performing Top Audiobook Genres – via ACX – Get the inside scoop on audiobook acting from Audible Studios top narrators.

This Week in Links: April 10 – 14

For Producers:

Are You Ready for World Voice Day? – via Paul Strikwelda – The experienced VO uses the yearly celebration of the human voice to tout the importance of maintaining your instrument.

Do You Look Influential, Capable, Likeable?! – via Natasha Marchewka – “Despite the fact that voice talent are all about audio, having a professional headshot has always been important to me because I’ve understood the psychology of presenting a good 1st impression.”

What Can Voiceover Talents Learn from the Kendall Jenner Pepsi Commercial? – via Peter K. O’Connell – “[S]elling the soda, not selling world justice, is Pepsi’s only real job. That’s our job too.”

Seasoned Voice Over Actors Share a Glimpse of Their Voice Over Lives – via Voice Over Herald – Get a humorous peek behind the curtain from two of the most famous VO’s working today.

For Rights Holders:

Finding Your Target Audience – via Amazon Author Insights – “Marketing your book successfully has a lot to do with answering these questions: Who are my readers? How will they find my book? Will readers want to buy my book once they’ve discovered it?”

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – via The Book Designer – This monthly feature takes a look at some real-life examples of the coulda, woulda, shoulda behind authors’ marketing decisions.

Marketing Tip: Build That Email List – via CreateSpace – “Building a mailing list takes time and effort, but it can be a valuable marketing tool, perhaps your most valuable marketing tool.”

How to Make ALL Ads, Marketing & Newsletters Work BETTER – via Kristen Lamb – The foundation for all goods and services (brands) is the relationship. Nothing sells without establishing, building and improving the relationship.

This Week in Links: April 3 – 7

For Rights Holders:

Your Media Book Pitch Can Open 1,000 Doors! – via The Book Designer – Looking for opportunities to promote your book on TV? Find out who to contact and what to say in this helpful post.

The Ultimate Book Marketing Strategy is Surprisingly Simple – via The Write Life – “A lot of the foundational skills of writing and storytelling are a good foundation to build from for the rest of this stuff. If nothing else, your readers are coming to you for your voice, and that is one thing you are an expert in.”

Repeat After Me: “Goodreads Is My Friend” – via Writer Unboxed – Learn how authors can make the most out of bookworms’ favorite website.

How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Book – via CreateSpace – “A lot of authors are initially a bit baffled as to how to use such a visual medium for book promotion. To get you off on the right foot, here are four of the most common questions I get about Instagram from clients, answered.”

For Producers:

It’s Booth Gear, Baby! – via J. Christopher Dunn – “The accumulation of booth gear doesn’t necessarily reveal the type of person you’ve become. It’s not a reflection of what makes you, you. Instead, it’s what makes you comfortable so you can do an excellent job recording and impress the heck out of your clients who will shower you with repeat work.”

Surviving Marathons at the Microphone – via Dr. Ann Utterback – “So how do you survive a marathon at the microphone? I have an easy process for you to remember.  It’s based on three P’s:  Prioritize, Plan and Pace yourself.”

What The Heck Does PFH Mean in Voice-Over Job Quotes? – via Gary Terzza – For newbies, Gary’s got a quick explainer on what goes into your per-finished-hour narration rate.

Choosing the Right DAW – via Dave Courvoisier – “If you’re a complete beginner, this article will take you through the entire process of choosing the DAW that’s right for you. You’ll also learn what other equipment you’ll need, such as an audio interface, studio monitors, and software plugins.

This Week in Links: March 20 – 24

For Producers:

Making Room – via Dave Courvoisier – “What old business practices, coaching tips, or social media schemes are you continuing to use… JUST BECAUSE you always have?”

What Can a New Voice Over Do To Get Noticed? – Pay Attention to Your Needs – via Voice Over Herald – “To help you find the root cause of your failures and rejections, get someone who will be honest with you, brutally and utterly honest.”

Joe’s VO Intel – Ep 93 “Audiobooks: Narrator vs Character – via Edge Studio – Learn how and when to vacillate between a neutral and emotional voice when narrating nonfiction.

ACX University Presents: Now Hear This: A Closer Look at Performing Top Audiobook Genres – via ACX – “Join ACX as we dive deep into performing in the best-selling fiction and non-fiction genres with help from some best-selling voices. Actors Mark Boyett and Piper Goodeve join Kat Lambrix of Audible Studios.”

For Rights Holders:

How to Hitch a Ride on Someone Else’s Holiday to Sell Books – via The Book Designer – “It takes time and requires patience. But most of all, it takes courage to step far outside your comfort zone, something most authors who are introverts are loathe to do.”

How to Create a Review Campaign for Your Book Launch – via Book Marketing Tools – “Honest, authentic reviews are the result of connecting with readers and either exceeding or failing their expectations. Contrary to what some authors might believe, however, getting reviews isn’t a waiting game.”

Workshops – via CreateSpace – “Why would I want to undertake such a task? Simple. It’s a way to associate my brand with a topic that is crucial to the theme of my books.”

The Reasons Branding Confuses You and How To Fix That Right Now – via Bad Redhead – “Branding is not (solely) about your books. I know, right? Weird.”

ACX Storytellers: Chris Philbrook

Author Chris Philbrook parlayed his love of playing role-playing games into an opportunity to write for them, and eventually, himself. His post-apocalyptic Adrian’s Undead Diary series has garnered an average 4.6 rating across 5,200 reviews on Audible. Read on to get his advice for achieving audiobook success.

Q: How did you become an author?

A: Ever since I was a kid my friends told me I was a storyteller. I cut my teeth running role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and White Wolf through my teenage years, and I broke into writing by authoring serials for a game developer’s website in my early 20s. Writing for their games put the itch on me. I developed an idea for a series of stories, and one of my best friends from childhood essentially dared me to write it.

I started a blog with his help, and we did a lot of marketing online to promote it, like sharing posts in Facebook genre groups and giving out simple prizes. With that online exposure, I grew a reader base of thousands within a few months, and when I made the jump to eBook/print (and later audio), I had a path to success laid out for me. Eight novels into the Adrian’s Undead Diary series, I broke off and started to write other stuff, and those titles have been received well, too.

I make stuff up for a living. It was a good dare, and I’ll forever be thankful that my friend pushed me harder than I pushed myself.

Q: Can you tell us about your experience on ACX?

A: I had caught wind of the ACX platform through a few writers groups on Facebook. Most of the authors reported an easy, profitable experience, and I got excited to try a new way to add readers to  my writing portfolio. After doing some research, I decided to post one of my titles. Forty-odd auditions later I made a connection with producer/narrator James Foster, and we were off to the races. He’s been my end-all, be-all resource, my close business associate, and dare I say, a friend.

Taking this step has opened up a world of opportunity for my creative talent. Going from print to eBook or vice versa is not the same as going to audio via ACX. The audio production process through the ACX platform is far more like going from print to the silver screen. You are producing a theatrical version of your book.

Creatively, you will be sharing a vision with a narrator and producer who have different takes on your story. They have ideas for how it should sound, and how it should be listened to, and there’s tremendous merit in listening to their ideas. Greatness is rarely developed in a vacuum, and ACX puts you in a position to interact with incredibly talented people who want to take your story and add to it so that an enormous audience can access it. It’s a thrill to work with folks who want to be successful with you, not just because of you.

I trust James’ ideas and interpretation because we’ve worked so closely together for so long. I put my vision in his hands, and know that he has learned about my writing style and reader base, and has my best interests aligned with his own.

Q: What are you doing to grow your skills and get better at your profession?

A: I read blogs about the profession and attend writers meetings as often as I can. Cory Doctorow’s blog, Poppy Z. Brite’s, and Neil Gaiman’s Journal are all favorites of mine. Joining the Horror Writers Association and the New England Horror Writers was a terrific pair of decisions that led to making many friendships, and securing a literary agent to promote my titles and help me be a better writer.

I also challenge myself by writing stories out of my comfort zone. I truly believe that the only way to be a better writer is to write things you wouldn’t normally write. I’m most well known for a post-apocalyptic story, but I love writing dark and urban fantasy. My dark fantasy works have been less of a hit, but my contemporary fantasy has been a smash. Walking away from my supposed bread and butter was frightening, but I think the payoff has been enormous. Taking the risk and writing new stories causes you to access new dialogue, new situations, new characters, and new ways to engage your potential readers. If you’re not trying to get better, you risk boring your readers.

Finally, I believe that traveling and meeting new people is huge when it comes to being a quality writer. Writing is about the characters, right? Compelling, interesting characters can be based on, or inspired by real people. I find traveling and meeting people is the best way for me to be inspired.

Q: Is there someone you look up to in your industry? Why?

A: I look up to the people who treat writing as more than just an artistic endeavor; I appreciate the folks who understand the level of commitment required and passion it takes to succeed. I appreciate the people who see the tools that are out there, and snatch them up to find success, not wait for it to come to them. Using email blast services, doing podcasts, attending conventions, speaking at panels, doing small local signings…all of it leads to selling books, and being a successful creator/author. This applies to the big people as well as those still coming up. Folks like Hugh Howey, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Mark Tufo, and others have led the way, or are leading the way.

Q: What is your must-have item in your writing space?

A: I require music (preferably without lyrics) and copious amounts of coffee. I mean borderline illegal amounts of caffeine. Like, I should probably either scale it back, or get some kind of prescription.

I also need water. Not to drink, but to sit near, or listen to. I write so effectively when I’m near a lake, or river. I used to drive ten miles to a secluded town beach to write during warm weather because I just felt the writing there.

And don’t laugh, I keep a Chicago Manual of Style in the top right-hand drawer of my desk. Without it, I’d have to pay double to have my indie titles edited. Probably far more, based on how fast and loose I write when I’m feeling it.

Q: Can you tell us about a mistake you’ve made in your career, and what you learned from it?

A: I have consistently made the mistake of under-promoting my new releases ahead of time. I tend to complete a project, and after it has been edited and finalized, rush it to market. I’ve learned over time that if I slow it down, promote the title through social media, blogs, and interacting with authors in the same genre as my release, I tend to have much higher early sales (which means I chart higher), and then go on to have more subsequent sales of other titles. I’m a work in progress.

Chris Philbrook is the creator and author of the urban fantasy series The Reemergence, as well as the dark fantasy series The Kinless Trilogy and the post apocalyptic epic Adrian’s Undead Diary. Chris is the owner of Tier One Games LLC, his game development company.  He and his wife welcomed their first daughter, Willow, to the world in April of 2016. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

This Week in Links: March 13 – 17

For Rights Holders:

5 Quick-Fire Tips to Ramp up Your Book Launch via Social Media – Book Marketing Tools – “Running a good social media campaign for your book launch is about maximizing exposure, promoting engagement, and generating enthusiastic support from followers and fans.”

Do We Understand The Book Reader? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “The best writer lets her mind and soul lead the way.  She writes, unapologetically and daringly confronts the truths, lies, and unknowns in life.”

Why Indie Authors Need to be Bold with Social Media – via ALLi – “To be truly successful there needs to be a mind-shift from ‘what can I get?’, to ‘what can I do for others with social media as a tool?'”

Be the Gateway: The Dan Blank Interview – via The Book Designer – “Your work is your work. I think that building your gateway and opening it up is the idea of ‘Can you explain it to me in a way that doesn’t just show me what you are about, but it connects it to what I really care about; the way where it lets me lean in, and I think about it?'”

For Producers:

Are You Ready for a Voice-Over Career? A Five Question Quiz – via Debbie Grattan – “If you’re in the midst of making a decision to jump off into the pool of voice-over actors to determine if it’s right for you, you will want to answer these five questions to ensure you’re truly prepared to climb up on that diving board.”

Kick That Cold to the Curb – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Learn how to stop or shorten a cold so your voice will not suffer as badly.

In Voice Over: Dare the Difference and Find your Authentic Voice – via Bobbin Beam – “Here’s a suggestion: Make who you are your selling point. Stop measuring yourself, your voice-over performance, your “popularity” against others’ standards and claims of others before you.”

What Can a New Voice Over Do To Get Noticed? – BE EMOTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE – via Voice Over Herald – Your talent and skill as a voice over actor can make people stop and listen, but what will make them hire you, continue to work with you, be loyal to you, and refer you to others is your pleasing personality.

This Week in Links: March 6 – 10

For Producers:

10 Things To Do On The Slow Voice Over Days – via Marc Scott – There are a number of things that you can do to benefit your business when the “recording” light in your studio is off.

The One Thing That Will Improve Your Voice Acting Immediately – via Paul Strikwerda – “Today I want to focus on something that many of my voice-over students struggle with. They have trouble sounding “natural.”

Are You a PROFESSIONAL Voice Actor? – via Dave Courvoisier – How do you define your voiceover career?

ACX Storytellers: Amanda Rose Smith – via The ACX Blog – “Mistakes are important to catch, of course, but over the years, what I’ve learned first and foremost is the nature of collaboration in session work.”

For Rights Holders:

What Every Author Should Know About the Social Side of Book Launches – via Book Marketing Tools – “There’s just one major hazard you need to be aware of, though—a trap that finds many authors spinning their social media wheels.”

These Are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing -via BadRedhead Media – From “analysis paralysis” to good old fashioned laziness, uncover the marketing mistakes that may be holding your book back.

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – March 2017 – via The Book Designer – TBD takes a look at who self-published authors should turn to for guidance and feedback.

Will YouTube Save or Kill Books? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Examine the pros and cons of how the popular video service is affecting the publishing industry.

 

ACX Storytellers: Amanda Rose Smith

As an engineer, editor, and director, Amanda Rose Smith has worked on over 700 audiobook productions, 300 of which are ACX titles. After years of working with studios and publishers, she struck out on her own, and recently dropped a vocal booth into her Brooklyn apartment so she can see productions through from start to finish. Read on to learn her thoughts on collaborating with narrators and the value of knowing what “ə” sounds like.

Q: How did you become an audiobook studio pro?

A: I was a music major at Smith College, studying to be a composer for film, TV, and video games, and I decided I’d like to record my own work. Simultaneously, my work-study job in college involved read aloud for blind and dyslexic students, recording each week’s lessons onto those old tiny tape recorders.

Later, when I traveled to New York to get my masters in Music Technology, I began working for the American Foundation for the Blind as a recording engineer and editor for audiobooks. After that I was at a commercial studio for several years, working on audiobook productions for several publishers, doing post-production for film and television, and eventually became the production manager for the entire studio. A few years ago, I left that position to start my own business. I now work directly for publishers, with narrators on ACX, as well as continuing my work in film, television, and video games. I recorded all the ADR for the second season of Orange Is the New Black, for instance.

As a studio professional working indirectly with ACX (I’m usually hired by producers to edit and master their home-recorded audio), ACX work factors in as a significant portion of my income and in growing my business. After encountering lots of producers who would love to work on ACX but don’t yet have their own recording spaces, I decided to buy my own booth and create my own recording space.

Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you were just starting out?

A: I wish someone had explained to me how vulnerable one has to be, as an actor, to get the right performance across. Consistently connecting with this work on an emotional level is a hard job. Over the years, directing actors, I’ve learned how closely collaborative this work is. The engineer/director and the actor have to fully engage with each other to allow the best product to emerge.

In my early years, I was sometimes afraid to be as hands-on as I could have been in that collaboration. That feeling probably stemmed from an interaction I had with a very seasoned—but also sensitive—narrator on a book. They had started the book with another director, and I had been brought in to finish things off at the last minute. So we hadn’t really built a rapport yet. Being the pronunciation and misread nerd that I am, I came down a little hard and fast from the start of our session, pointing out all of their mistakes right away, before we had built any trust. It made for an uncomfortable session and the ensuing performance suffered.

Tremontaine

One of Amanda’s 300 ACX productions, the serialized prequel to the Audie-winning Swordspoint

Mistakes are important to catch, of course, but over the years, what I’ve learned first and foremost is the nature of collaboration in session work. Now, I record all sorts of people—from actors who have been narrating for decades to authors who have never spoken in public—and I always approach it from a place of collaboration rather than just fixing someone else’s mistakes. The overall quality, performance, accuracy, and technical sound quality are all part of the whole.

Q: What are you doing to grow your skills and get better at your profession?

A: I’m always researching new gear, new software, new techniques, etc. Social media plays heavily into my keeping track of what my peers in the industry are doing. When I notice buzz about a new piece of software or gear, I’ll try it out. In any technical industry, which this is, it’s important to stay current. For example, I was using ProTools pretty much exclusively when I started out, but a number of other digital audio workstations (DAWs) have cropped up in the past few years. Different programs have different strengths, and studying them allows me to find the most efficient ways to get the work done. While I still often use ProTools, Reaper is also fantastic for audiobook production, especially since it works equally well on PC and Mac. Twisted Wave is great for bulk processing. Izotope RX is indispensable for noise reduction.

Staying up-to-date in this way also helps me advise others when they have technical problems. This is still a very word-of-mouth industry, and I’ve gotten lots of work simply by offering a few minutes of my time to fix a problem.

Q: What are your favorite educational resources for audiobook production?

A: The main physical dictionaries: Merriam Webster and Oxford. When I worked for the American Foundation for the Blind, we weren’t allowed to use online resources. So, I had to learn to read all of the pronunciation symbols in order to do pronunciation research. I’m grateful for that now, because most of the pronunciation sites that are reliable, like Merriam-Webster online or Dictionary.com, may only have audio files for one version of the pronunciation. Those will often be followed by a bunch of symbols only nerds like me can read.

Workspace

Amanda’s home studio and editing suite

Q: What is your must-have piece of studio gear?

A: There are a lot of microphones and pre-amps and plug-ins that I like, and I’m sure that one of those would probably be the expected answer here. But honestly? My favorite piece of studio equipment is the iPad. I have the new 12.9 inch pro in my studio and I’m in love. I started working in this field while people were still using paper scripts. When the iPad became ubiquitous in the audiobook studio, the changes I saw were profound. Narrators who previously had to stop every two pages or so (to avoid the page flip getting caught on-mic) could now go on for as long as they desired—or until I stopped them for a misread. I saw some actor’s output go up by as much as 15%; people who previously finished a session with 180 minutes of raw audio were now finishing with 200 or 210. That might not seem like a big deal, but since most publishers pay on a per-finished-hour basis, it was a game changer.

Q: How do you define success in your creative career?

A: I feel most successful when I pull my head out of my book/computer/headphones and think, “Wow, I’m getting paid to do this.” For me, getting paid to do something you’d probably do anyway is the highest form of success. I also try to keep moving forward, in terms of my level of knowledge. If I can look back on a year and feel that I know more than I did last year, that’s a good year.

ScubaQ: Do you have a fun hobby or skill unrelated to your audiobook work?

A: I love to travel! Also, I scuba dive. In 2013, I went scuba diving off the coast of Belize, at the second biggest barrier reef in the world. To an audio engineer, there’s something oddly relaxing about the near-silence of an underwater environment.

After earning a BA in Music Composition from Smith College, Amanda, originally a musician, moved to NYC where she completed a master’s degree in Music Technology at New York University.  Recently, she was the dialogue editor for Telltale Games’ “The Walking Dead: The Game.” She loves most things Star Trek, and hopes to visit all seven continents before she dies. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.