Category Archives: Audiobook Marketing

A New Way to Promote Your Audiobook: Audible’s “Clips”

Audible recently released a new feature for iOS users that allows listeners to create short clips of their favorite audiobooks, share them on social media, and send them directly to friends. This feature (called Clips, naturally), also gives Rights Holders and Producers a unique tool to promote their audiobooks. Watch the video below to learn how to create a clip of your audiobook, then check out a handful of suggestions for leveraging clips in your marketing efforts.

Here are a few additional tips about this feature before you get started:

  • Clips may only be created from audiobooks that are in your Audible library. If your audiobook isn’t in your library, consider using one of your promo codes to add it to your collection.
  • Clips can only be created for audiobooks longer than 50 minutes.
  • Each clip can be up to 45 seconds long, and you can share up to five minutes total of each audiobook in your library. Once five total minutes of Clips from a book have been shared, you can’t share beyond those five minutes. But don’t worry, your fans can still make additional clips of your book and share them!
  • While the feature is exclusive to iOS and Windows Phone users, Android users can expect an update in the coming weeks that will include the Clips tool.

And, here are just a few ideas for making Clips a part of your audiobook promotion strategy:

  • Clip Scavenger Hunt: Challenge your fans to search your audiobook for a specific scene or phrase. The first five fans to clip the section, share it with their social media networks, and notify you could get a prize.
  • Clip Contest: Compel your listeners to create clips of your audiobooks that remind them of a friend or family member and share it with them on social media, with each “share” counting as an entry into a giveaway that you host on your site.
  • Social Media: Share clips from your audiobooks to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any of your favorite social media sites. Find areas of your book that you can tie to holidays, current events, trending topics —anything that feels relevant and fun!
  • Newsletters: Drop a URL to your favorite scene into your newsletter blast to your fans.
  • Blog Post Inspiration: Create a series of blog posts that profile the characters in your books, and link to an audio quote from each within the profile.

These are just a few fun ways to highlight the unique power of audio to build your author brand and sell more audiobooks. We bet you can come up with all kinds of creative uses for Clips. Share your own ideas in the comments.

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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.

Tweet This!

With hundreds of millions of users, Twitter should be part of any audiobook marketing plan. So today, we’ve got a quick and easy way for you to drive more social shares of Twitter_logo_blueyour ACX productions. You’ll be creating a custom hyperlink that automatically generates a pre-populated tweet when clicked, which you can place wherever you interact with your fans online. This empowers an army of listeners to help you spread the word. Don’t worry, it’s easy—you can do it in just four steps:

1. Begin with this starter link: “http://twitter.com/home/?status=

2. After the equal sign, add the message you’d like your fans to tweet. Make sure to substitute spaces between words with a plus sign ( + ), as spaces are not permitted in hyperlinks.

3. The message can contain all kinds of helpful things besides plain text. You could include a link to a free 30-day Audible trial featuring your title; your and/or your narrator’s Twitter handles; or even a custom hashtag. (When including a hashtag, replace the pound sign “#” with “%23”.)

So a custom “Tweet this!” link would end up looking something like this:

http://twitter.com/home/?status=Check+out+this+awesome+%23audiobook,+written+by+@SA_McKayr+and+narrated+by+Nick%20Ellsworth:+http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Wolfs-Head-Audiobook/B00JG86YTI/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1416506491&sr=1-2

And would pre-populate a tweet that looks like this:Populated Tweet_SMALL

4. Place your custom link from step three in any of your communications that use basic HTML. Like this (replace tweet this with whatever message you want):

<a href=”PASTE YOUR CUSTOM LINK BETWEEN THESE STRAIGHT QUOTES“>Tweet this.</a>

(For more advanced information on placing this link on your website, click here.)

Now go forth and promote. Be sure to show us your efforts by tagging @ACX_com on Twitter!

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.

30 Day 01_small

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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.

Guest Post: Karen Commins on Marketing Audiobooks – Part Two

Today we bring you part two of ACX producer Karen Commins‘ guide to audiobook marketing for narrators. Part one can be found here.

A Narrator’s Look at Audiobook Marketing – Part Two

The goal of marketing is to make your audiobooks more discoverable and to develop an audience. In part 1 of my discussion about marketing, we looked at reasons why audiobooks aren’t more widely accepted and three ways to create lasting connections to your audiobooks in the consumers’ minds. Today, we’ll look at four more ways to promote your audiobooks.

1. Be Detail Oriented.

Once your audiobook is released on Audible, check the listing for it on Amazon. It should appear on the same product page as the other editions of the title (paperback, eBook, and hardback).

Sometimes the audiobook is orphaned onto its own page. If that’s the case, send an email to Amazon from the Help/Contact Us page, succinctly list both edition pages, and ask them to combine the editions.

If the book is part of a series, you’ll want to ensure that the series link is used on Audible. I’ve had success in sending an email to Audible from this page to request that the series link is added.

The easiest people to sell to are the ones who already are fans!

Series

I also create a Google Alert for the topic of the book and/or do specialized searches so I can track mentions of it online, then I comment about the audio version on any blogs, forums, or other place where people are discussing the topic.

2. Be Real.

Many people tend to think of marketing as an online activity. However, some of your best results may occur when marketing directly to people in real life.

Tell everyone who asks you that you’re an audiobook narrator, whether you’re at a networking event or an informal gathering with family and friends. You can also volunteer to speak at writers’ meetings.

Here’s another real world marketing idea: except in the case of futuristic, sci-fi universes, most books are set somewhere. Can you market to people in that area?

As an example, my Dixie Diva cozy mystery series is set in Holly Springs, MS. In every book, the annual Pilgrimage, which is a tour of antebellum homes, is discussed at length, and some of the local businesses are key to the story lines.

Mississippi

Holly Springs, home of the Dixie Divas

My husband and I went to the Holly Springs Pilgrimage this year. I talked about the audiobooks to the people I met, got lots of great pictures and videos that I can use on my blog and in book trailers, and made a note on my event calendar to create a local newspaper ad and/or postcards in time for next year’s Pilgrimage.

You can also be real without leaving your home. In this terrific video, award-winning narrator and teacher Sean Pratt advises how you could, and why you should, use snail mail in your marketing efforts.

I also recommend that you view Sean’s companion video, The Actor’s Newsletter.

Speaking of mail, my email signature includes a link to my books on Audible. You may find some other ideas about being real in this post from my blog.

3. Be Social.

I use social media extensively to promote my audiobooks, and I’ve learned that different sites are good for different things.

Hashtag marketing (putting a ‘#’ in front of your key word, like #audiobook) can be your friend across many different sites. If you can find a relevant way to link your book to a current hashtag search term, like a newsmaker, TV show, or event, you have made it that much easier for new fans to find you and even share your content with their followers. Narrator and publisher Mike Vendetti often utilizes hashtags that tie in to a TV show.

Tweet01

Sometimes a news event will be a perfect tie-in to your audiobook’s story line.

tweet02

Although I’ve only shown examples from Twitter, hashtags are searchable on:

Now, let’s look at five social media sites ranked in order of my opinion of their current usefulness in audiobook marketing. I’ll offer a tip or two for each site along the way.

Goodreads

People may contribute the most on the site they learned first. If I were starting now, I would probably start with Goodreads, since it is all about books! Here’s what I do to market my audiobooks on Goodreads:

First, I created a Goodreads author page, and I add the audiobook edition on Goodreads for each of my titles as they are released. You’ll see a link on the title page to add a new edition.

GoodReads

After filling out the form to create your edition, you can ask a librarian to combine the audiobook edition with the print and ebook editions in this librarian’s group. You’ll have to look for the current thread of Combine Request in the folder.

I also make sure to visit the Goodreads Audiobooks group, which filled with audiobook addicts! Within the Goodreads Audiobooks group, you can announce new releases under the “General” tab and give away promotional codes under the “Promotions” tab. There’s even a Goodreads Romance Audiobooks group specifically for fans of that genre!

Twitter

A member of Goodreads recently wrote: I’ve discovered Twitter as a means to let narrators know when I really enjoy what they do.

If you don’t want to be a broken loudspeaker on Twitter, you can find other audiobook enthusiasts easily by signing into Twitter and subscribing to my three comprehensive lists of audiobook tweeps. You’ll be able to stay focused on audiobooks and correspond with audiobook folks without following all of them individually. You’ll do well to visit these links.

SoundCloud

SoundCloud is a great way to share audio files on social media and around the web. First, create an account, then upload your retail audio samples. Include the audiobook cover as the image, add tags, and link to your book on Audible in the “Buy link. You can then share those recordings on your web site, in blog posts, and other social sites. Note that you might need to pay for more storage depending on the number and length of samples you upload.

I was astonished to see that PostHypnotic Press has attracted over 900,000 followers on SoundCloud, and that number continues to grow! Publisher Carlyn Craig graciously offered this advice:

As for why we have so many followers, it seems to me that, as with other social media, the more you participate the more attention you get. It is first and foremost a place for creators to share their work, and as such, it does an admirable job. It offers great tools, like the “Embed” and “Share” tools. I love the Twitter media player, for instance, and we use SoundCloud to host all the audio on our site. I do try to be active every day, even if it is only to tweet a few SoundCloud samples.

I suspect that one reason for their tremendous success on SoundCloud is that they have created a number of playlists of genres or titles by author, like this one.

Facebook

When your audiobook is live on Audible, you can post the link on:

You can give away your promotional codes in this group that narrator Jeffrey Kafer created just for that purpose! You may want to subscribe to my Facebook list of Audiobook Publishers and Reviewers to keep up with audiobook news.

YouTube

YouTube is another visual site. I don’t know that you’ll have much success if your video only shows a cover of the audiobook. I think people would quickly grow bored and find a true video.

I loved creating a couple of book trailer videos! I plan to create more since the videos are evergreen products that I can always use, especially with hashtags! Here is an example of a book trailer I’ve created:

Remember that social media sites are a constantly moving target. I also add my videos to my blog and my web site. Of all the places on the Internet, my blog and site are the only pieces of real estate that I own!

4. Be Productive

If the variety and means of marketing audiobooks seems overwhelming, just remember that the best way to have more natural reasons for promotion and rack up more sales is to produce more audiobooks. You gain momentum every time you have a new release!

What are your favorite site-specific social media marketing tactics? Share them with your colleagues below!

Guest Post: Karen Commins on Marketing Audiobooks – Part One

Audible Approved producer Karen Commins is a prolific audiobook narrator who has completed over 20 titles on ACX. She is also a skilled audiobook marketer, working independently and with ACX rights holders to drive sales of her productions. Today, she joins us to share the first installment of her thoughts on audiobook marketing and some of the tactics that have brought her success.

A Narrator’s Look at Audiobook Marketing – Part One

Karen Commins

ACX Producer Karen Commins

After picking and performing a great royalty-share title on ACX, the next question many narrators and producers have is: “How do I market my audiobook?” Others ask: “Why do I need to market the audiobook? Isn’t marketing the job of the rights holder?”

Let me answer the second question first. Whether I’m paid per finished hour (PFH) or on a royalty-share (RS) deal, I always publicize my audiobooks because:

  • I want the world to know that I am an audiobook narrator! As a result, I have come to the attention of authors and publishers, and I’ve received ACX offers for books for which I didn’t audition.
  • Marketing is a value-added service that I offer my clients.
  • I have seen my sales numbers and the ensuing royalties for my RS audiobooks increase as a direct result of my promotion.

In addition to these reasons for marketing, I encourage other narrators to promote their books because, while audiobooks are a rapidly growing industry, the majority of people have never listened to an audiobook!

Those entrenched in the audiobook world may be quite surprised by this fact, but people resist audiobooks for several reasons:

  • The earliest audiobooks were only available to those with vision impairments. Some people do not realize that audiobooks are now mainstream entertainment!
  • Some devout readers won’t even invest in an e-reader because they like the feel of the actual book and the experience of reading the actual pages.
  • In past centuries, only the most educated people could read. Even in modern times, learning to read could be a difficult skill to master. Some readers still stigmatize audiobook listeners as “cheaters” if they choose to hear the text instead of reading it with their eyes.

So now you know what you’re up against. But with the right tactics and proper execution, you can become a skilled audiobook marketer who exposes new listeners to your work. Once you’ve decided that you want to market your audiobooks, we’re back to that first question – how should it be done?

Before I offer you some ideas, I want to address one misconception that seems prevalent with those who are new to marketing.

You’ve probably heard or read that it’s essential to repeat your message many times to get the attention of your potential buyer. I’ve seen updates on social media sites where the writer applied that advice literally.

They remind me of a broken loudspeaker continuously blaring the same phrases: BUY MY BOOK! READ MY BLOG! WATCH MY VIDEO! MY BOOK IS FOR SALE! HAVE YOU READ MY BLOG? MY VIDEOS ARE GREAT!

Loudspeaker

“Repeating the message” doesn’t mean that you say the exact same thing every time! If you use the same general words to present the same general theme, people will stop caring what you have to say. TV advertisers know they have to find new way to express their message. They change commercials frequently while keeping the underlying message the same.

“Repeating your message” really means that you are creating an association in the consumer’s mind.You create this association by continually and consistently letting the world know in a variety of clever ways that you are an audiobook narrator and that you have interesting audiobooks that they might enjoy.

Here are 3 ways to create those associations to your message.

1. Be Authentic

I recently read an author’s blog article about book trailers. She commented that other authors feel pressure to do something like a book trailer because “everyone else is doing it.” She wisely pointed out that you should do what is authentic for you. Don’t feel like you have to do it all, or any particular thing if it’s not you. As Shakespeare said, “to thine own self be true.” You’ll find millions of articles and videos from experts and gurus who will tell you all of the “rules” for any type of marketing. Don’t be afraid to break the rules and do things your way!

2. Be Consistent

It helps to view marketing as a system or process, not an isolated action. I certainly don’t do all of my promotional activities in one day or even in a week. The key is to regularly discuss your audiobooks. One way to be consistent is to always promote your new releases.

Narrator Andi Arndt offers this great advice about promoting new releases:

One thing I’ve figured out that seems important is to be sure and tag the author, audio publishers AND print publisher in social media posts.

It has been helpful to think of it as a congratulations to the author and publishers, and to follow their lead. Look up the press they’ve carefully put together for the book and use THEIR quotes, summary, description, so you’re reinforcing their marketing messages. Reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus provide great material. The positive stuff, that is!

AndiTweetWith a little thought and planning, you can find reasons to talk about your audiobooks on days other than the release days. Your growing fan base is interested in progress on your current book, funny quotes from it, etc.

I created an annual event calendar where I can connect the people/themes/events in my audiobooks with something in the news. I can create updates ahead of the date and use them each year.

For instance, my Blue Suede Memphis mystery series is set in – you guessed it — Memphis, and the main character is a tour bus driver. The titles of the books are plays on the names of famous Elvis songs. I can promote the series of books on Elvis’ birthday. On 13 July, I’ll talk about the audiobook Hound Dog Blues because it will be the anniversary of the release date for Elvis’ hit record Hound Dog.

You can also check Chase’s Calendar of Events each day to discover clever promotional tie-ins. Oh, and you should know that June is always audiobook month, so you could plan some promotions around that theme.

3. Be Creative

Think of marketing your audiobooks as yet another way to express your creativity. After you receive that email from Audible with your 25 promotional codes, you can write a fun blurb to give them away, as illustrated here by narrator Christa Lewis.

ChristaPost

She really makes you want her audiobook! And who knows – maybe someone who misses out on the download code is intrigued enough to BUY the book!

If you pay attention to what your publishers and authors are promoting, inspiration for a tie-in promotion may come beating down your door. One day, I noticed that author Barbara Silkstone wrote a blog post where her character Wendy Darlin (who is voiced by Nicole Colburn in audiobooks) interviewed Sasha McCandless, who is the main character in the series of books I’ve narrated for Melissa F. Miller.

I contacted Nicole about her interest in recording her character’s lines. We both obtained permission from our authors to record that blog installment like a radio show. The resulting recording was fun to create, thrilled our authors, and has been something that we continue to publicize.

Coming up in part two, I’ll share some more ways to create those coveted associations to your message. I’ll also give you site-specific social media tactics geared to make your audiobooks more easily discoverable.

You can find part two of Karen’s guest post here.

Help your fellow narrators out by sharing some of your favorite audiobook marketing tactics below!

Market Yourself and Your Books with Promo Codes for Producers

You Asked, We Listened: Promotional Codes for Producers

Producers, you told us you’d like more help promoting royalty share projects you’ve completed through ACX, so starting tomorrow, we’re arming you in the fight for higher sales. ACX producers will now receive 25 promotional codes for each royalty share production they complete. These codes are the key ingredient in your marketing recipe. Using promo codes to drive reviews and sales of your ACX productions will not only earn you money, it will help you sell your narration abilities to boot.

Audiobook Marketing for ACX Producers

We’ve covered the basics of self-promotion on ACX, as well as here on the blog. Lay the groundwork using those tactics, and don’t forget that most marketing advice written with authors in mind is applicable to actors as well. The tips below will help you market your ACX titles, but it all starts with cultivating your brand. Don’t just think of your website, blog, or social media accounts as sales tools for your vocal work, but as ways for new listeners to discover your audiobooks as well. As an actor you’re used to selling yourself, so don’t be shy about marketing your products as well as your services.

Let’s take a look at five ways you can use promo codes to get people talking about you.

1. Trade a code for a review – This is the simplest method of using your codes to promote yourself. Offer anyone and everyone a free download of your book in exchange for an honest review on Audible (just don’t be too pushy). A number of strong reviews will help sway potential listeners, and you can add quotes from listeners to your ACX profile, your website, etc. And make sure to send their code via email, then add the contact to your email list. Now you’re killing two birds with one stone!

2. Use codes in a contest/giveaway – This is a great way to generate big buzz with a small reward. Everyone loves to win, so hold a contest with a free download as the prize (or as  part of a prize pack).  Double your return by roping social media into the proceedings. Look for ways to enlist your fans and contacts in your marketing efforts in exchange for something cool from you. For example,  you could encourage fans to tweet about your audiobook along with a custom hashtag – then randomly select a winner to receive a free download.

3. Swap codes with a fellow ACX narrator/producer/engineer – Set up an agreement with a friend or colleague: trade download codes and review each other’s audiobooks on Audible, then expand on that review on your blogs. Offer the unique perspective of one audiobook insider reviewing the work of another, and make sure to include links to the Audible product page in your post. Feel free to give away each others codes as well. Their fans could become yours, and vice-versa.

4. Partner with your author – Pair with the author of the title you’re promoting to combine your efforts. Make sure you mention the book title and author’s name every time you give away a promotional code, and have the author do the same. You can also interview each other for your respective blog or websites, and focus on the creative similarities and difference between your chosen fields. Whatever you choose, find a way to make the most out of your relationship with your partner in promotion.

5. Don’t forget real world marketing – The only thing better than listening to a great voice in your headphones is listening to a great voice in person! Contact your local bookstore or library and offer to do a live read with a Q&A (if you have the copyright owner’s permission). If they’re local, combine forces and appear together. Make sure to bring your business cards with your website/blog’s URL, and hand them out at the end. Those that visit your website or follow you on social media will be added to your pool of potential code-getters and review-leavers.

You may not feel like a instinctive marketer, but if you start small and keep at it day after day, it will quickly feel as natural as narration. Remember that you’re still you, just with something to sell (or in this case, give away)! Don’t let marketing your titles take over your online persona, but do remember that you have a unique opportunity to drive your own income. A little marketing work is surely worth the extra sales and the chance to become an audiobook entrepreneur, right?

Help your fellow producers by sharing your audiobook marketing ideas below!

Cynthia Hartwig’s Top Five Marketing Jobs for New Authors

We met Cynthia Hartwig in Seattle at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference. Cynthia teaches writing and storytelling at the Richard Hugo House and The School of Visual Concepts, and we learned right away that she had a knack for tackling topics writers find daunting. She joins us today to demystify what some consider to be the scariest task new authors face: marketing their titles.

Cynthia02The Top Five “Absolutely Positively Have-To-No-Matter-What” Marketing Jobs for New Authors

We need to talk. Yes, I’m talking to you, friend. I get that you’re a writer, a word nut, a lover of deep, heartfelt tales, more conversant in character arcs than target markets and audience splits.

Stop shaking in your boots. I’ve narrowed the marketing tasks down to the top five most effective steps for authors new to the marketing conundrum. If you’re stultified by the thousand things you’ve heard other experts telling you to DO RIGHT THIS MINUTE, start here and you’ll do better than fine.

Understand that a marketing hat is not a dunce cap, a cone of shame or a dog collar.

Writers are strange animals. They write books and they want people to read them. And yet when someone says, “be a marketer” they get all shamefaced and embarrassed.

If you can’t admit to the idea that marketing = sales, try thinking of marketing as an honorable way to find readers. Assuming you’ve got a great story, an inviting cover and a hook-‘em-hard title, this list of marketing priorities will get your book sales moving.

1.  Fill out your Amazon Author Central profile to help readers find you.

It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many new authors forget this basic task. Filling out your Amazon Author Central page is far more effective than paying for a sexy web site at the early stage of your author career. This is because Amazon attracts millions of readers to its site—and all of them have no idea who you are or why they should look for you UNLESS your book comes up in their search bar.

You have no real brand identity (yet), so it makes sense to help Amazon direct readers to your e-books and audio version(s). Amazon is the online mega-store equivalent, so naturally you want to be front-and-center, as close to as many reader “buy” buttons as you can get. Your author profile page is there to help you.

2. Give out free copies like candy in exchange for reviews.

Cynthia04Deborah Reed, pictured right, is a very successful writer of both literary novels (much harder to sell than genre books) and thrillers (written under the pseudonym, Audrey Braun). Deb recommends sending lots of free copies of your book to bloggers for review. “Be incredibly generous and polite to said bloggers,” she says. “Also give free copies to other writers and readers, including people you know, in exchange for an honest review.”  Don’t worry that giving your book away will steal sales away from you; while it seems counter-intuitive, free sampling is a proven way to build an audience. Once you hook a listener, they will clamor for more. (ACX gives you 25 free download codes that you can use as Cynthia recommends. Just email support@acx.com to request them.Ed.)

3. Reviews are worth mowing the neighbor’s lawn, changing diapers, and washing cars.

Reviews are social proof that your book is worth spending hard cash for. We’re herd animals and believe me, the more you can herd friends, hair cutters, garage mechanics, yard people and yes, even family members, to write a paragraph of honest copy about your book, the better your sales will be.

Your goal is to hand-sell 20-25 reviews. Call in every favor, every chit, every IOU or marker you have outstanding from people in exchange for a review. Do not worry one whit about whether the reviews or good or bad; in fact, I believe bad reviews have a positive effect because people are so cynical they will distrust you if all the reviews are glowing.

4. Build an email list of 1000+ and mail an e-newsletter once a month.

Books have always been sold hand-to-hand until the marketing snowball gets rolling. I hope you started an email list a long time ago but if you didn’t, immediately start collecting names and email addresses of everybody you come in contact with. My list includes business associates, past clients, social club members, PTA committee volunteers, neighborhood watch folks and a host of people I meet in a busy social life. You want to track everyone you meet because people who know you are more likely buy your book than people who don’t. It’s been said that an email list is the one marketing tool that traditional publishers most want to get their hands on. So it makes sense as a “self-marketer”, that you’d build your list into a marketing asset of at least 1000 names.

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Next, create an e-newsletter and mail it once a month. More often than that is annoying; any less and people will forget why they are getting a message from you and will unsubscribe. If you happen to blog, the best things to put in your e-newsletter are interesting and informative posts—just don’t make them posts about writing (most of your friends and associates don’t care a whit about the writing, just the reading). Always include a clear, simple call-to-action asking the recipient (nicely) to buy your audiobook. Show your cover with its short sales blurb and make sure they can click a link to buy on Audible, Amazon, or iTunes. If the e-news is informative and doesn’t bludgeon them over the head with a buy-Buy!-BUY! message, your newsletter will be the closest thing you have to your own storefront.

5. Create a blog that doubles as your web site (and isn’t about writing).

You won’t find social media on my “top five absolutely, positively must-dos” for a self-published author right out of the gate. Even though I’m a huge social media fan.

I believe a new author is better off creating a blog that will build credibility in a specific area and will later become the hub for social media. Instead of randomly tweeting or posting “Buy my book!” on Facebook (which doesn’t work and annoys people), create a strong blog designed to build both platform (aka who you are online) and proves your authority (why readers should care).

Don’t make your blog about writing, because the field is saturated. Instead of writing about writing thrillers, blog about weapons the good and bad guys use against each other; don’t write a blog about writing Regency romances, write a blog about the amazing fabrics (duppioni, muslin, jacquard, white weave, slub, satin!) of Regency-era fashions. Once you’ve got yourself established in the blogosphere, then links to your posts become the “there there” that all your tweets, Facebook posts, Goodreads comments, and Pinterest boards lead to. I use WordPress as my blog and website platform and by far, the Two Pens blog aimed at business readers is one of the most important marketing component I use.

6. Once You’ve Written a Book, Record It

I know, I said there would be five tips. But here’s a bonus. You’d expect that the ACX blog would recommend having your book produced in audio. But don’t do it just because ACX says so. Do it for selfish (i.e. marketing) reasons: people who buy audiobooks are way different than the people who buy e-books or print books—and the market is growing. Audiobook listeners are multi-tasking in some way: they’re driving to or from work, they’re riding the subway, enjoying a sunny day in the park – doing a hundred and one things you can’t do with your eyes glued to a page. A basic tenet of marketing is to be everywhere your buyers are. Why not expand your readership beyond books to listeners of audiobooks since ACX has made it so easy to have your words professionally recorded?Cynthia01

-Cynthia Hartwig

Have you tried any of Cynthia’s marketing tactics? Which have worked best for you? Tell us about it in the comments!

Mastering the $50 Bounty Program

Today, we’re talking bounties, more specifically ACX‘s $50 bounty program. If you hadn’t heard, bounties are a great way for rights holders and producers to maximize the earning potential of their audiobooks. Let’s review some bounty basics, and then we’ll hear from an ACX user who found success driving new Audible listeners to purchase their book.

The ACX $50 Bounty Program

Under the $50 Bounty program, users can get – or split in the case of Royalty Sharing partners – a $50 bonus payment every time a qualifying audiobook they’ve produced through ACX is the first purchase of a new Audible listener. This money is on top of any royalty earnings from your audiobook sales. Think of it as our thanks to you for helping new audiobook listeners discover Audible!

Profitable_rightDriving New Audible Listeners

Here are some quick ways to get the word out about your audiobook and start racking up those $50 payments.

1. It’s never too early to start promoting! You needn’t wait for your audiobook to be published to start spreading the word! Authors, let your fans know when you post your title to ACX and update them when you cast a narrator, and as production progresses. Producers, spread the word when you’re cast on a new title, and let your fans know when it will be out.

2. Use those promo codes from ACX. When your production is completed, you’ll get 25 free download codes right off the bat.  Use these codes to get people listening to and reviewing your book. Seek out audiobook reviewers and offer them a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Host a giveaway for your fans on social media, or trade codes with a fellow ACX user and review each others titles on your website/blog. Word of mouth marketing is a more powerful tool than ever!

3. Mention your audiobook every time you promote your book in ANY format. General book marketing is great, but to maximize your bounty payments, make sure you consistently talk about your audio version. A number of your readers may not yet be audiobook listeners, and a reminder that your book is available in this awesome format might be just the poke they need to visit Audible and start downloading.

A Bounty Success Story – Frank Eakin, 12 Years a Slave

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L to R: ACX rights holder Frank Eakin and narrator Louis Gossett Jr.

“We produced the official movie tie-in audiobook for 12 Years a Slave, and we published the top-selling edition of the e-book and print book. I believe that relatively few authors and publishers truly grasp the importance of audiobooks in driving sales across their portfolio of products related to a title.”

“When you are ready to launch your audiobook, be sure to cross-sell your audiobook inside your book. For example, in one of the front pages of our e-book and on the back cover of our print book, we try to excite the reader about the audiobook, and we usually pitch it as a different and unique way in which to experience the story. We mention that the book can be purchased at Audible inside our book and in our materials. Also, in our e-book and print book, we plug our free Audiobook Extra, which can be downloaded exclusively from our product page on Audible. A free digital extra, which in our case is a unique map related to the story, will draw many potential customers to your Audible page; by engaging readers in our free map, we help to convert them into customers of our audiobook.”

“In social media, including Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., we plug Audible and provide some of the benefits of becoming a regular audiobook listener, which helps to drive memberships and thus increase our number of bounty payments. Our Facebook ads bring potential customers to our Audible page (to download the map) and to our unique website, which features audiobook clips in a multi-media format, and engages readers so they will want to click on our Purchase Now page, which provides a link to our Audible page.”

Are You The Next Bounty Success Story?

Have you been successful at driving new listeners to Audible and collecting your $50 bounties? Tell us in the comments and help your fellow ACXers learn from your efforts. We just might feature you in a future post!

Full terms and conditions on the $50 Bounty program can be found on ACX.

Social Media Tips For Voice Actors

We recently attended a webinar broadcast by the APA, hosted by Tavia Gilbert and featuring a panel of veteran narrators and publishers discussing social media for narrators. Today, we’ve selected our favorite tips that will help audiobook narrators navigate an online landscape that can at times seem overwhelming.

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  1. It’s better to do a few platforms, and do them well, than try and be everywhere. There are many social media networks out there, from Facebook and Twitter to Google+, Pinterest and others. People can sometimes feel the need to be everywhere, but it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. You don’t have to be on any social media sites. Only branch out to social platforms you’re comfortable on.
  2. Build your brand. As an audiobook narrator/producer your brand should be your efficiency and skill, colored by your personality. For more established narrators, your brand is also your body of work. Everything you do online should be tie back to the image you’re trying to project to potential employers.
  3. A good website will help the less established get more work.  Make sure your site is professional looking, uncluttered and easy to navigate. Feature a raw, uncut video of yourself narrating on your site. This will show potential clients that you’re fluent and work quickly.
  4. Promote your client’s work. This is especially true for royalty share projects, where you have a vested interest in the sales of your titles. But even if you’ve been paid on a per-finished-hour basis, you can add to your value in the eyes of those doing the casting if you’re willing and able to help spread the word about their productions.
  5. Keep track of metrics, but don’t be a slave to the numbers. Track things like how many times your posts are shared or retweeted, and how many followers you’re gaining (Hootsuite and TweetDeck are two good services for tracking metrics). Make note of what types of content do well with your network and look to recreate those successes. But don’t get discouraged if you’re not adding followers as quickly as you’d like, or if your posts don’t immediately “go viral.”
  6. Be positive! Never post anything that could be interpreted as negative about your work or clients. It’s ok to vent about a long day in the studio or the neighbor’s lawnmower, but don’t complain about the book you’re producing being boring, or poorly written, or your employer being late with payment. The things you say online live forever, and are only a quick Google search away. Employers won’t want the hassle of dealing with a “loose cannon” on social media.

With these six pointers, you should be able to confidentially establish yourself on social media. Remember: keep it professional, keep it positive, and look at social media as a tool you use, not a slave driver you have to put all your energy into.

What have you done to find success on social media?