Category Archives: Audiobook Marketing

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?

Position Yourself For Audiobook Success This Holiday Season

The leaves are still green, and the kids just went back to school, but believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about completing your ACX titles so they are on sale in time for the holidays. Today, we’ll give you a brief breakdown of the timeline for audiobook production between now and the winter holidays, as well as some seasonal merchandising tips to help you generate some holiday buzz for your titles.

Holiday Production Timeline

To give your title the best chance of being on sale by the end of 2013, the audio production will need to be completed by the producer and approved by the rights holder no later than the first week of December.

Now, let’s work backwards from that point. Ideally, you’ll want your title to be available for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes a few weeks before the holiday season starts. This will help you beat the rush of books coming in to Audible, as well as give you time to earn some 5 star reviews and build buzz around your book. It will take about 14-20 business days for ACX/Audible to process your book for our sales channels, and you’ll need about 45 – 60 days for the audiobook production and rights holder review (give or take, depending on the length and complexity of the title). ACX rights holders will also need about a week from posting the title to attract auditions and negotiate the schedule and rate with their producer.

Add it all up, and it soon becomes clear that now is the time to get your productions listed on ACX in order to take advantage of the winter holidays.

Holiday Marketing Tips

In addition to making sure your schedule is set up to get the most out of this holiday season, you can position yourself for success with these holiday marketing ideas:

  • Bonus content: Create a holiday-themed short story featuring supporting characters from your book. Publish it on your blog or as a Kindle Single through KDP.
  • Giving gifts: Host a Secret Santa gift trade between your fans on your website or blog, but with a twist: all the gifts must be items of significance from your book(s).
  • Interview your narrator: Sit down and chat with the voice of your book(s), and ask them about their favorite holiday memories, the best present they ever received, etc.
  • Basket case: Create gift basket guides based on themes from your book – and make sure your book is one of the suggestions.
  • Season’s greetings: Crowd-source greeting cards inspired by characters or scenes from your book, and host the top three on your site from your readers send to their friends and family.
  • Do some good: Let your fans pick a charity through a poll on your website or Facebook page, and donate 1$ per sale of your title(s).

As you feel the days getting shorter and the nights getting cooler, make sure you’re thinking about your upcoming holiday audiobook sales and marketing plans. Start now, and you’ll be extra thankful when the holidays roll around.

What projects will you be working on in preparation for this holiday season?

How To Guerrilla Market Your Audiobook

If you’re a regular reader of the ACX blog, you know that we’ve been working with authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch to produce their book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. The book is a great resource for self-published authors, and we’re joined today by Guy, who has more great advice for ACX authors (and producers too!) on marketing your audiobook.

The key to successfully guerrilla marketing your audiobook is to approach the process as a launch of a new product, not simply an extension of an existing one. Think of it as a whole new product for a whole new kind of customers—one who might not “read” you book, but would “listen” to it.

As such, you should use every method and avenue that you tapped when you launched the book:

  • Write a blog post about the availability of an audio version.
  • Add a link or badge to your website and blog so that people can buy it with one click.
  • Update your social-media profiles to include a specific “plug” for the audio version.
  • Participate in webinars by using Google+ Hangouts and Twitter chats to reach the online audience—just pretend like it’s a new book.
  • Interview the voice actor.  It’s kind of cool to have a Google+ Hangout with the person who recorded your book—this is great publicity for both of you.

Guess what: you didn’t reach every buyer of your book when you launched your ebook and/or printed book. The release of the audio version is a great excuse to go back to the guerrilla marketing well again. Plus, between the time of your initial launch and the audio book launch, you probably added new social-media followers, so Launch 2.0 will be even better.

You can find more in depth info on marketing your audiobook here. Have you tried any of Guy Kawasaki’s guerrilla marketing tactics? Tell us in the comments!

Book Marketing Really Does Matter!

Authors and Rights Holders, today, we’d like to share a webcast from our friends at CreateSpace: Create a Marketing Plan to Sell More Books.

Brian Jud, editor of the Book Marketing Matters newsletter and host of the TV show The Book Authority, guides us through the intricacies of creating a book marketing plan to help you sell more books. Developing a thorough marketing plan for promoting your title early in the publishing process can help you develop long term sales across all channels.

Watch the video below to learn Brian’s method to make marketing as easy as PIE: Planning, Implementation and Evaluation.

Don’t have time to watch? Here are the key takeaways to developing your marketing plan.

1. Set your goals. Ask yourself the five ‘W’s to determine What you want to achieve, Who you want to reach, When you want to sell, Where you will promote, and most importantly, Why you’re promoting your book.

2. Think short term and long term. Build a plan that helps you reach customers today and find new customers tomorrow.

3. Time is an investment that pays dividends. Market your title every day, finding an extra hour in the morning or evenings after work to write articles or blog posts, interact with fans on social media, or plan in-person appearances.

4. Evaluate your efforts. Don’t be afraid to test new marketing channels and activities, but focus your time on activities that drive sales. Every marketing activity should support the goals you set at the beginning of your plan.

Do you have a marketing plan for your title? Tell us about some of your successful marketing activities in the comments.