Author Archives: Scott Jacobi

ACX University Has Your Chance to Voice “Among Us”

KristinaRienzi_AmongUs_CoverIf you joined us for ACX University Presents: Casting and Communicating with Your Narrator, you met author Kristina Rienzi and learned about her recently published thriller, Among Us. Now that Kristina knows how to collaborate on a great-sounding audiobook production, she wants to hear your take on her story of an English professor who stumbles on a vast government-alien conspiracy!

Auditions are now open, and you’ve got until 11:59 PM ET on Tuesday, November 6 to submit your best take via ACX.  Log on to ACX (or create an account), visit the profile for Among Us to download the audition script, then produce and upload your audition. Kristina, with a little guidance from Audible Studios, will pick the best male or female voice to cast for a $300 per-finished-hour narration and production contract. We’ll announce the winner right here on the ACX  blog on Monday, November 19.

If you weren’t able to tune in on Monday, learn more about Among Us and what kind of performance Kristina is looking for by watching the episode below

Break a lip!

 

This Week in Links: Oct 8 – 12

Though the leaves are only starting to change, we’re already looking ahead to the December audiobook sales season. To give your upcoming audiobook the best chance to be on sale in time for the 2018 holidays, we recommend that your titles are approved and submitted to ACX by Friday, December 7, 2018.

Below, we’ve gathered our best advice to help authors and actors ensure a smooth audiobook production from beginning to end.

 

This Week in Links: October 1 – 5

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ACX is excited to announce that we’re once again partnering with The Society of Voice Arts and Sciences at That’s Voiceover 2018! This year’s event will take place on Saturday, November 17th at the Sheraton Universal Hotel at Universal Studios Hollywood, and we’re offering a number of ways audiobook actors and producers can interact with ACX and Audible Studios:

  • Learn from our all-star panel presentation, Becoming an Audiobook Actor-preneur. Scott Brick, Luke Daniels, and Khristine Hvam will help you develop the tools you need to grow a long career in audiobook performance/production.
  • Meet the ACX team at our exhibit hall booth. Bring your audiobook production, performance, and marketing questions. We want to hear from you!
  • Read for Audible Studios. Schedule a one-on-one session with Audible Studios producer Chris Sacco and get feedback on your performance in the moment. The top male and female talent will each land a contract to perform a title for Audible Studios. Sign up here.

Get your tickets here, and make sure to use code ACXTVO18 to get 20% off. We hope to see you there.

For Producers:

Would You Survive The Shark Tank? – via Paul Strikwerda – “If I were an investor on Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den, and you came to me with a pitch to back your business, what would I be looking for?”

6 Ways Social Media Can Hurt Your Voice Over Business – via Debbie Grattan – “To make sure your social media efforts end up benefiting instead of hurting your business, it’s crucial to steer clear of six different social media habits that can damage your VO career.

Speak From Your Diaphragm! – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Learn the why this piece of advice is so often repeated, and how to implement it in front of the mic.

For Rights Holders:

Meet the Super Fan … the Secret Sauce Authors Want – via The Book Designer – “[W]hen you set out to develop and build Super Fans, you create a cult of sorts. You are “the one” that they are dedicated/devoted to. Whatever your words are, they think you are the cat’s meow.”

Know The Media’s Purpose In Order to Have Your Book Covered by The – via BookMarkertingBuzzBlog – “[T]he media and authors need to find one another and click. They must see value in each other, a value greater than most others provide for them. Can you give the media what it wants.”

October Observances to Inspire Your Author Marketing – via author marketing experts – Turn to the calendar when in need of a touchstone for your book marketing efforts.

This Week in Links: September 3 – 7

For Producers:

Narrators Have To Look Up Pronunciations Of Those Unfamiliar, Odd-Sounding Words. (Here’s How) – via Voice-Over Xtra – “Good narrators recognize that geography, demographics, and even economic status can play a large role in how certain words are pronounced.”

What Virtual Assistants Can Do For Your Voice Over Business – via Voice Over Herald – “You want to spend more time searching for new clients, being inside your booth recording, or perfecting your craft but you can’t find the time because you have been playing catch-up. How are you going to grow your business if you are overloaded with tasks and responsibilities that take you away from the money-making activities?”

Three Ways to Spice Up Your Vocal Delivery – via Dr. Ann Utterback – “If you say phrases exactly the same way each time, they become stale and uninteresting. Worse, if you voice these exactly the same each time, they can become a bore for you and the listener.”

10 Tips for a Successful Home Audition – via Edge Studio – Herein lies solid advice for VO’s of all stripes, including audiobook narrators.

For Rights Holders:

6 Ways Video Blogging Can Save Your Author Promotion – via Author Marketing Experts – Forging a deeper connection with your fans to growing a new creative skill are just two reasons to explore a new way to marketing yourself online.

How to Sell Books to Someone Other Than Your Mom – via The Write Practice – “There’s nothing wrong with selling a book to Mom, by the way. But ideally you write and sell a book that thousands of people can’t wait to get their hands on. Here’s how to do it.”

The Best Free Media Contacts Tool You Probably Aren’t Using – via The Book Designer – Learn all about this free service and get some tips for making the most of your (audio)book PR efforts.

Writer Branding: A Cheat Sheet for Your Brand Elements – via The Write Conversation – Learn two simple ways to break down and analyze aspects of your visual brand to ensure you demonstrate consistency across all of your author materials.

 

 

An Enhanced Audition Experience

Introducing a new way to find the best projects on ACX: Sort by Amazon Sales Rank. We heard from Producers that you’d like an easier way to see which titles are selling well on Amazon, and with the introduction of this new feature, we hope you find your next audition opportunity even faster.

Search for Projects Seeking Auditions, and in the upper right section of the page—below the search box—select Sort by Amazon Sales Rank—Bestselling. The Amazon Sales Rank for each title will update daily with its latest sales position, so check back frequently to see which projects are trending.

A book’s sales ranking on Amazon is one of several good indicators of an audiobook’s future performance, along with written reviews and overall ratings averages. We’ve previously written about making smart decisions when it comes to choosing titles to audition for, and here are some of the best tips to pair with the new Amazon Sales Rank sorting feature:

  • Select the genre filters that that you perform best.
  • Take time to read the reviews left by readers on Amazon, as they may alert you to issues of graphic material or writing quality.
  • Consider other titles in the author’s catalog. Has the author published additional titles that may lead to a long-term production relationship? If so, how do those titles compare to the title currently open for audition on ACX?

We hope this makes auditioning for your next great ACX project even easier.

Have feedback? Share in the comments what other features would improve your audition experience.

This Week in Links: August 13 – 17

For Rights Holders:

How to Market Your Book–When You Hate Marketing – via Helping Writers Become Authors – You can admit it: you’d rather be writing your books than marketing them. Reframing how you think about marketing, however, may help you find success and enjoyment in this important aspect of (audio)book publishing.

What Makes Readers Buy Books? – via ALLi – Dig deep into the data behind reader surveys to find out why your fans make the decisions they do.

30 Fantastic Writer’s Conferences for Authors, Bloggers and Freelancers – via The Write Life – The wisdom of the crowd, the support of your peers, the happy hour drinks at the bar: there are a number of good reason to attend writer’s conferences, and you just might find the right one for you on this list.

Great Book? Or Great Marketing – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Read on for an eye opening look at the value of writing vs. marketing when it comes to (audio)book sales.

For Producers:

Your Weekly VO Marketing Calendar – via Dave Courvoisier – Even the best in the business can fall into the inconsistency trap. Dave’s got a handy suggestion for staying on track: mnemonics!

The Secret to Sustained Success – via Paul Strikwerda – “If you wish to have sustainable success as a freelancer, you have to start thinking long-term, and big picture.”

Deliver On Your Promises – The Most Important Voiceover Advice – via Gravy for the Brain – For freelance professionals, your reputation is invaluable. Are you making a name a good impression on your clients?

As Your Voice Ages, Training Overcomes Barriers. But More Calls Coming For ‘Seniors’ – via Voice-Over Xtra – “In many ways the microphone is much more merciful than the camera. And in other ways it’s more revealing.”

 

This Week in Links: July 30 – August 3

Producers:

How To Edit Voice-Over Recordings A Lot Faster – With A Gaming Mouse! – via Voice-Over Xtra – Learn how to streamline your audiobook editing with some gear you may not even have considered for your studio.

Filling In The Blanks – via Paul Strikwerda – “You can’t give a client what s/he wants to hear, if you have no clue what it is.”

The Only Thing That’s Constant… – via Dave Courvoisier – Find inspiration in the ways your VO career “enhance[s] the definition of being human.”

Hey, I Know You!: Creating and Maintaining Your Personal Brand – via ACX University – Building a strong narrator brand and marketing your ACX productions can increase your earnings and provide a “value add” for the Rights Holders you work with.

Rights Holders:

How to Recycle, Repurpose and Promote Your Publicity – via The Book Designer – As you continue to build you Author brand, get tips on how to get the best return on the exposure you’re already getting.

Authors Should Promote Books Like Street Entertainers Sell Their Talents – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Turns out you can find marketing inspiration in the funniest of places. Find out how two different types of creatives have more in common than you may think.

11 Ways to Simplify Your (book promotion) Life – via author marketing experts – “Simplifying for authors is different…because most of us have day jobs and for us, simplifying isn’t just about keeping things simple, it’s also about preventing that bottleneck when too many things hit at once.”

How to Use Awareness Days to Promote Your Self-published Books – via ALLi – “Awareness Days of some kind or other happen just about every day of the year. There can be few authors who can’t find at least one day that somehow chimes with their books, if only they take the time and trouble to look. But what to do when you find one that suits you?”

Announcing The ACX Bounty Referral Program

Today, ACX announced the new Bounty Referral Program, upping the payout to up to $75 for each new Audible member and providing advanced tracking on your ACX Sales Dashboard. You’ll receive new, trackable referral links, unique to you and each of your audiobooks, starting August 1.

Bounties for Royalty Share titles will be divided, with $50 going to the creator whose referral link enticed that new member, and $25 to their creative partner, whose performance or writing helped seal the deal. Bounties are subject to the ACX Bounty Program Terms and Conditions, which can be found here.

That means you’ll want to leverage this URL each time you promote your ACX audiobooks, which we at the blog hope is all the time! To get you started on the path to marketing with your new referral links, we’ve got some tips that will help you get listeners excited about your audiobooks.

  1. Get organized. Set up a marketing calendar that allows you a holistic view of your marketing efforts across channels and over time. This will not only help you stay organized, it will allow you to understand which of your marketing tactics had the greatest impact. Speaking of which…
  2. Leverage data. We’ve enhanced your ACX Sales Dashboard to show pageviews generated by your use of your new Bounty referral links, as well as the Bounty payments you’ve racked up by driving new listeners to Audible. With this information, you can track your marketing methods and channels, learning which have earned the best results and repeating the most successful efforts (marketing shorthand for this is “test, measure, repeat”).
  3. Be authentic. Today’s consumers have long since learned to filter out “Buy! Buy! Buy!” messages. Your fans are your fans because they feel an emotional connection to you and your work. Find the aspects of the audiobook publishing and production process that light you up and highlight them to your fans. Insert “calls to action” (CTAs) strategically, and make sure to include your unique referral link when you do.
  4. Go social. Whatever your preferred social media platform—and this includes your blog—two things are likely true: it’s the most direct connection you have to your fans, and it is hungry for content. Use this to your advantage by mentioning your audiobooks early and often. Audiobook fans love getting a peek behind the curtain, and the audiobook creation process affords numerous opportunities to share. Get your social media followers and blog readers talking about your audiobook and keep them informed as you work though the publishing process, building excitement from casting to release day. Once the audiobook is released, celebrate the day by asking your fans to give your book a listen—via your Bounty tracking link. The goal here is to create a relationship between your fans and your work that compels them to purchase your audiobook and leave glowing reviews on Audible.
  5. Start spreading the news via your email newsletter. Find a reason for your fans to listen— a day at the beach, a long ride to see family for a holiday, even a free hour at home once the kids have been put to bed—and tell them why your audiobook is the perfect companion for those times. Ask your fans to listen to your titles on Audible and help them get there via your Bounty referral link.
  6. Boost your backlist. Take a look through your past audiobook marketing efforts and insert your new Bounty tracking link wherever you’ve linked off to Audible. This is also a great occasion to take a look at the books you’ve already produced and (re)introduce them to your fans. Share a memory about the production, or something that ties the audiobook to a current or upcoming event, and include your Bounty referral link so fans can hear it for themselves.
  7. Highlight the magic of audio. The performance behind the audiobook is what sets it apart from your paperback and eBook editions, so show it off! Audio clips, including your retail sample, are a great way to entice new listeners to the format. Consider a simple book trailer that leverages your audiobook’s narration or an Audible clip, and pair it with your referral links as you promote to make it easy to purchase after they’re blown away by your sample.
  8. Get inspired by your peers. Keep following the marketing section of this blog to get more ideas on how to leverage your referral links, and learn how fellow audiobook creators like Scott Sigler, Zhanna Hamilton, and Ryan Winfield have boosted their earnings via the ACX Bounty Program.

Your blueprint for earning for Bounty Referral payments is clear: focus on the aspects of your audiobooks that make them unique and exciting, communicate them authentically to your fans, and leverage your Bounty tracking link and enhanced sales dashboard to make the most of your efforts. Now, go forth and market!

 

This Week in Links: June 18 – 22

For Rights Holders:

SEO for Authors – Part 2 – via The Book Designer – We shared part one of this series last week, and the next post digs a little deeper into ways authors can leverage search engines to boost discovery of their (audio)book.

What Indie Authors Can Learn About Branding from IHOP – via Author Marketing Expert – The chain restaurant’s recent rebranding offers a lens through which authors can examine their own marketing efforts.

Are Authors Really Promoting The Benefits Of Their Books? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “Many authors promote their books in simple terms – “It’s a fun read” or “You’ll learn a lot.” They may position themselves as experts on something, but fail to highlight what one will truly gain by consuming their book. Here’s a tip: know the benefits your book offers and champion them.”

How to Make Your Sentences More Descriptive – via The Write Conversation – We say it time and again: the better your writing, the better your audiobook Producer can perform it. With that in mind, read up on how to strike the right balance between straightforward and purple prose.

For Producers:

In Double-Digit Climb, Audiobook Sales Jump 23% To Over $2.5 Billion In 2017 – via Voice-Over Xtra – The audiobook business is booming! Take a look at the key insights from the Audio Publishers Association’s annual sales survey.

Why Go to an Industry Convention? Insight from the Perspective of Voice over Conferences and More – via Natasha Marchewka – Learn the “Why? What? Where? When?” of getting out of the booth and into a VO conference.

You Must Master These 4 Skills For a Successful Voiceover Business – via Gravy for the Brain – You have to wear a lot of hats as an actor-entrepreneur – four of them, according to this article. Find out how to make each one fit properly.

7 Processes to Success – via Dave Courvoisier – “The trick to discipline — beyond will power — is PROCESS. ‘…a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner.'”

ACX Storytellers: Nick Sullivan

With over 225 narration credits on Audible, not to mention his work on Broadway and TV, Nick Sullivan is an accomplished actor. The release of his second novel, Deep Shadow, reveals that Nick is a skilled writer as well. Nick recently sat down with us to share how his history as a performer influenced his work as an author.

Actor/author Nick Sullivan

Q: How did you become an audiobook narrator/producer?

A: Growing up, I was fascinated with “radio books,” and listened to the Radio Reader with Dick Estell on my local NPR station. When I became a professional actor and moved to New York, I came across an ad asking for actors to record for the Jewish Braille Institute. About a week later, I was shooting a short film and the actress playing my wife told me about the now-defunct Talking Book Productions, which recorded books for the Library of Congress. I auditioned and within days I was recording my first book, A Day No Pigs Would Die.

I’ve worked in film and TV, toured with a couple of shows, and have even appeared on Broadway a few times, but I always came back to audiobook work. I got into full-service audiobook production via Audible Studios, and I was involved in the first beta for ACX.

Q: What made you decide to try your hand at writing?

A: I dabbled in screenplay writing early on. Then, as my narration career hit its stride, it occurred to me I might be able to write if I put my mind to it. Then one day a few years ago, inspired by the wacky garden decorations in SkyMall magazine, I bought ZombieBigfoot.com and wrote a screenplay. Before I did anything with it, I booked Newsies on Broadway, then a tour of Kinky Boots. Finally, when I got back, I looked at the screenplay and thought: “I’m a narrator. I’ve been recording various authors across all genres for twenty years. Why don’t I novelize this first?” And I did. Zombie Bigfoot hit #1 in Horror Comedy in 2017. My second novel, Deep Shadow, about a team of scuba divers who get caught up in some dangerous international intrigue, just came out last month, and it’s off to a great start. There’s nary a zombie nor a Sasquatch to be found in its pages.

Q: How did your experience telling stories with your voice influence your writing?

A: I think it’s helped with the dialogue. I already have a “visual style” to my writing, with my structure having a lot in common with movies and episodic television. I married that to my desire to have every line of dialogue sound at home flowing from that character’s mouth. There were many times where I’d stop writing and “narrate” what I’d just written; often this would result in “oh my goodness, no…” and I’d go back and tweak the sentences to flow better. Once in front of the microphone, I made a number of changes during the audiobook recording process: I simplified some of the dialogue when it seemed too wordy or made a change here or there to let a conversation unfold more smoothly. There’s also the overall pacing of a scene that I think narrators are very attuned to. The author might be building to a climax, ratcheting up the action, or simmering in a tense situation—the narrator has to be on the same page with that, adjusting their pace and intensity accordingly. I’m hoping I managed to provide some excellent builds, transitions, and even moments of quiet.

Q: Do you write with the audio performance in mind?

A: Oh yes. For Deep Shadow, I picked voices I knew I was at home with and wove them into the characters from the start. I used accents for some characters that I was quite comfortable with; though I did use Afrikaans in Zombie Bigfoot and I’d never done it, so I forced myself to learn it since it was crucial to the character. But some dialects are my kryptonite. You will never hear a Chicagoan in my books. I sound like that “Da Bears” sketch from Saturday Night Live.

Q: Were there any authors that you tried to emulate or use as specific influences?

A: I think I’ve got a fair amount of Carl Hiaasen in my blood—I recorded one of his books long ago and went out and read-for-pleasure nearly all of his works. I love how he can fold absolutely absurd situations and broad characters into serious, suspenseful situations. Stephen King’s work has also informed my writing. He can go full-horror, but he’s not afraid to go all “funky n’ cool” too, inserting levity into the horror. And King’s book On Writing has some gleaming gems of wisdom about the craft.

Q: You wrote an impressive variety of voices/accents into Deep Shadow. Why did you decide to go that route?

A: It’s tricky, because I didn’t want to go overboard, but honestly, the location and nationalities involved in the story required a lot of accents. In fact, I decided to tone down a couple of the accents because there were so many. One example is with Martin, the elderly cook and father figure to Boone. He’s a native Bonairean, and would speak Papiamentu, a creole dialect on Bonaire. It’s a fascinating mish-mash of languages, but I decided I wanted him to have a clean delivery to match his straightforward wisdom. I knew some Bonaireans and Curacaoans who didn’t have strong accents, so this was something I felt I could do.

My general rule is, if someone is “from” somewhere, they need to speak accordingly. That being said, I didn’t want my main character to have an accent, so even though I wanted Boone to be from my home state of Tennessee, the decision to give him a Dutch father (which is part of his connection to Bonaire) gave me the license to have him speak without a Southern accent. Emily, on the other hand… I’ve noticed that the Caribbean is chock full of divemasters from the UK, Australia, and South Africa, so I wanted her to be a Brit from the beginning.

Nick the actor in the booth

Q: Did you find the experience of narrating your own writing to be easier or harder than narrating someone else’s work?

A: I hope it’s not a cop-out to say “both.” Honestly, the dialogue was a blast, because I knew exactly the intonation and intention I wanted. But, since I wrote the material, I knew in the moment if my vocal choices weren’t accomplishing what I intended, so it took longer than usual to record. I didn’t finalize the text for either book until I recorded it, so I was able to change any sentence that struck me as clunky, and I even reordered a few things. I remember a particular section in Deep Shadow where I had a lot of exposition to get through and finally I just stopped and said “No…if I don’t find a way to begin the dialogue earlier, people will drive off the road listening to this.” I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I found a way to introduce a second character earlier, allowing me to intersperse some dialogue.

Finally, no editor can catch typos like a narrator. For both books I hired a professional editor who caught plenty of them, but I still caught quite a few more when I narrated…and then a couple more when I QC’d and edited the audio.

Q: What’s next for Nick the author? 

A: After Nick the Narrator finishes up a couple of projects, Nick the Author is going on a scuba trip to Saba in June, then he’s off to Bonaire for a writer’s retreat with two other authors. I’m hoping to have a first draft of the sequel to Deep Shadow by late September.

NICK SULLIVAN has narrated audiobooks for over twenty years and has recorded over four hundred titles, receiving numerous AudioFile Earphones and Audie nominations and awards. He has performed on Broadway and appeared in many TV shows and films, such as The Good Wife, The Affair, Divorce, Bull, Madam Secretary, Boardwalk Empire, 30 Rock, Elementary, and all three Law and Order series. Nick is also the author of Deep Shadow and Zombie Bigfoot.