Doubling Down on Audiobook Success

Audible Approved Producer Eric Martin joins us today to discuss one of the rewarding creative partnerships he’s forged on ACX and how it has grown across multiple audio projects. Here’s Eric in his own words.

Hitting the Jackpot

Audible Approved Producer Eric Martin

Audible Approved Producer Eric Martin

I got my start in audiobooks via ACX back in 2012. A lifelong love of storytelling and audio recording led to podcasting in the mid-aughts, which led to audiobook narration and production a few years later. Publishers like Penguin Random House, Hachette, and Tantor Audio quickly found me through my work, and I’ve since gone on to narrate or produce more than 150 titles and counting. I’m grateful to ACX for the opportunity to get my foot in the door and learn what there is to know about audiobook production and narration. Even today, ACX remains an important part of my portfolio. I love being able to work directly with authors and create projects that I’m passionate about. Here’s the story of how I hit the jackpot working with a great author on one of my favorite subjects.

Place Your Bets

When I’m not narrating for work, often I’m reading for pleasure—and I particularly love adding nonfiction titles to my library and learning something new. In 2014, I picked up Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas, and was immediately fascinated by the story of larger-than-life impresario Jay Sarno, the creator of the iconic Caesars Palace and Circus Circus casinos in Las Vegas.

The book was written by David G. Schwartz, who is the Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He’s a prolific writer on websites like Vegas Seven and an engaging public speaker with a dedicated following. The combination of great material, engaged author, and excited fanbase made this a very attractive project to take on. I approached David and asked if I could help adapt the book into audio. He agreed, and we began our collaboration.

Grandissimo_CoverA couple of months later, the audio edition of Grandissimo was released. David helped get the word out to his fans and readers via social media, and I interviewed him on my podcast “This American Wife.” Together, we reached a lot of potential listeners.

The combination of a great story and a marketing push from both author and narrator using podcasts and social media helped drive sales, and contributed to Grandissimo being featured as an Audible Daily Deal a few months later.

Let it Ride

Based in part on the success of Grandissimo, I was inspired to create an original audio work of my own about Las Vegas. Hoot Gibson: Vegas Cowboy features an all-star cast including Andy Daly, Weird Al Yankovic, Rachel Bloom, and many others.

We included a lot of real Vegas history in the series, and because David and I had collaborated together and kept in touch, he was able to refer me to the Center for Gaming Research that he directs at UNLV. It’s a big library and an incredible resource for all things Vegas and gambling.

I listened to oral histories at the Center that became a huge inspiration for many characters and scenarios in the finished series. It was an unexpected thrill spending many hours listening to old tapes in the library and hearing such incredible stories that brought history to life.

Roll the Bones

A few months ago, David reached out to ask if I’d be interested in adapting his classic work Roll the Bones (Casino Edition) – The History of Gambling for audio.

I did a bit of research and discovered that nothing like this was available in audio. I thought it would be a great way to learn about a fascinating topic, and I knew that Vegas and gaming fans (as well as UNLV students) would be eager to have a resource in audio that could tell the compelling tale of humankind’s relationship to chance. So, I rolled the dice and said yes!

RTB_CoverRight away, I knew that I wanted to get David’s voice into the project. I’d previously had authors narrate their intros to include them in the audiobook, and this time, we took it to the next level. The printed book ends at about 2013. We thought we could bring listeners right up to the current moment with a funny and informal audio interview that would end the book.

Plus, it would be a great excuse to get out to Vegas for a trip!

David and I met at a local Vegas studio in late December, not far from the Strip, and recorded a great conversation about the latest trends in gaming, e-sports, entertainment, online betting, and VR. This interview, exclusive to the audio edition, is the final chapter of the audiobook.

Eric and David

Eric (r) interviews author David G. Schwartz (l)

To promote the audiobook, this time I went on the popular podcast “Obsessed with Joseph Scrimshaw” to discuss, what else? Vegas.

Know When to Hold ‘Em

Working with David has been a great experience. Bringing these amazing stories to life in audio is a reminder of why I do this work in the first place—to bring projects that I’m passionate about to listeners.

Along the way, I learned a lot about the value of creative partnerships in this business. My advice to those that want to build relationships and further their career is:

  1. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. None of this would have come to fruition had I not taken a chance and approached David in the first place.
  2. Keep the lines of communication open, even after the initial project has been completed. You never know when one good idea might lead to another, or who might be able to set you up with your next big opportunity.
  3. Combine powers. David and I made an excellent marketing team, and together we were able to reach more listeners than we’d have been able to individually.
  4. Get creative. Find a way to offer your fans something of value that they wouldn’t have without you. In this case, my exclusive interview with David made for a unique experience that differentiated the audiobook from other formats.

So, if you play your cards right, you won’t get lost in the shuffle. And you might just win big.

Eric Martin is the narrator of over 150 audiobooks, including works by George Saunders, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace. He is the director and narrator of Audible’s hit audio show Stinker Lets Loose! also starring Jon Hamm, Rhea Seehorn, Andy Richter, and many more, and co-creator of the original audio series “Hoot Gibson: Vegas Cowboy.”

David G. Schwartz, the Director of the Center for Gaming Research and a history instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is a historian and writer whose research interests include gambling and casinos, competitive video gaming, and professional wrestling. Schwartz has written several books, including Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas, Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, and Boardwalk Playground: The Making, Unmaking, & Remaking of Atlantic City. He also writes regular features and the “Green Felt Journal” column for Vegas Seven magazine.

One response to “Doubling Down on Audiobook Success

  1. Eric, you’re an entrepreneur yourself! What a great relationship you’ve established with David. May it continue to be a “jackpot” both personally and professionally. See you in NY!
    Capt.Pam
    P.S. I LOVE Las Vegas!

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