Category Archives: Marketing Advice

ACX Alumni at The Audies

There’s no set formula for finding success as an indie creator, but sometimes to see ahead towards where you’re going, it helps to take a look at those who have been where you are now. This year’s Audies saw wins from more than a few friends of ACX – authors and narrators who got their start on the platform or pros who have been featured in ACX educational programs throughout the years – and to inspire your journey forward as an independent creator, we’re looking to a few of our old friends to ask about their recent Audie wins. First up, authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward, and their narrator Andi Arndt for Best Romance Audiobook, Dirty Letters.

What do you think you did that contributed the most to your win this year?

Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward: Two things make an audiobook stand out: exceptional narration and a unique story that allows the cast to shine in their performances. For Dirty Letters, we believe the heartfelt correspondence between our two characters at the beginning of the book allowed listeners to immediately connect with the unique personalities of the hero and heroine. Jacob Morgan’s portrayal of the charismatic British rock star, Griffin, and Andi Arndt’s portrayal of the quirky and awkward agoraphobic Luca were the perfect complement to each other. Not to mention, their amazing work voicing all of the different side characters truly gave the impression there was an ensemble cast rather than only two narrators doing all the work. 

Authors Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Andi Arndt: Oh my goodness, I have no idea! I’ve been lucky to enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with everyone involved in the project, from Brilliance Publishing, to authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward, to co-narrator Jacob Morgan. Vi and Penelope had a very strong positive reaction to the way this particular book and audiobook turned out, and asked that it be put forward for consideration. But I prepped and recorded it the same way I approach all of my projects. Learn more about Andi’s production process here.

How can winning an Audie be used to help further your career?

Vi & Penelope: We feel like the benefits of wining an Audie are akin to other titles of distinction such as hitting a bestseller list.  These prestigious accolades tell a prospective purchaser that a book has been vetted. The Audie win provides a sort of validation that may encourage buyers to take a chance on a new-to-them author. In turn, if those buyers enjoy the work, they may also go on and buy backlist titles and become loyal readers of future books.  We’ve already experienced Dirty Letters climbing back up the charts the day after the Audie winners were announced! 

Narrator Andi Arndt

Andi: Beyond the marketing aspect of it, I take it as a challenge to renew my commitment to this work, to deepening my technique, stretching my abilities, and also giving myself permission to rest and refresh. With summer not far off, I’m thinking about things I want to do that are not work, to enjoy the life that audiobook narration has made possible. 

What advice would you give a new creator who wants to see their name among the finalists someday?

Vi & Penelope: This may sound obvious, but hire the right narrators for the right roles. Our hero is British, so we knew early on that we wanted Jacob Morgan who does a fabulous accent. Listen to multiple stories by each narrator to learn how versatile they are. Not every narrator with a beautiful voice and popularity is right for every role. 

Also, and this may be tough for creators who are just starting out and anxious to get their stories published, but make sure the audiobook is published simultaneously with eBooks and print. When you maximize your promotional efforts and treat audio as important as the other formats, audio will eventually become more important to your finances.

Andi: You never know which book is going to be the book. Details matter, so attend to them. 

Are you working on any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?

Vi & Penelope: We’re always working on multiple projects at once!  Next up, we have Not Pretending Anymore, voiced by Erin Mallon and Sebastian York. Erin is perfect for the project because she voices a young, conflicted heroine like no other. And Sebastian nails the sarcasm and wit of our hero. Not Pretending Anymore will release simultaneously with print and eBooks on April 12th.

Andi: Always! This week I’m working on the first book in Stella Gray’s new Charade series and Louise Bay’s new romance, a co-narration with Shane East. Both of these authors I either work with or connected with through ACX.

Congratulations to all this year’s fabulous Audies winners and nominees, and a big thanks to Vi, Penelope, and Andi for sharing a few words of wisdom about their wins. Stay tuned for more award-winning advice from industry pros and keep your eyes on the prize! We can’t wait to see more indie wins in the future.

Best of the Blog: 2020 Edition

With the help of some super-talented ACX creators, we’ve shared some great audiobook production, publishing, and marketing advice in 2020. Today, we’re closing out the year with a look at some of our favorite posts and videos.

Award-Worthy Advice from Indie Voices These rockstar indie creators represented the ACX community at the Audio Publisher Association’s Audie Awards this year. Get to know them and go behind the scenes of their award-winning work—then get inspired to create your own award-winning production in 2021.

Performance Masterclass ft. Khristine Hvam & Ryan Bess Winnick [VIDEO] There’s a lot to learn when it comes to audiobook performance, and the best actors never stop improving their craft. Here’s your chance to be a fly on the wall during a coaching session that covers pacing your performance, setting the scene, and understanding how physicality and preparation can enhance your narration.

Raise Your Voice: Narrator Erin Mallon Takes on Authorship Ever wondered what it’s like to be a Renaissance woman in publishing? Look no further than this Q&A with multi-hyphenate Erin Mallon, an actor-turned-narrator-turned-writer whose genre-bending work takes audio storytelling to the next level (think: meta comedic audio play).

Time Well Spent 2020 brought new challenges in time management and working from home. While it’s too early to know what 2021 will bring, we’re confident that entrepreneur Sarina Bowen’s tips on setting goals, developing good habits, and being consistent and will set you up for success.

Expanding Your Range: The Making of an Audiobook Musical [VIDEO] Now’s the perfect time to resolve to break new ground with your audiobook productions in 2021. Get inspired to try something new by learning how the cast of an audiobook musical put it all together, from the initial idea to the final edit.

Hannibal Hills: Lessons from the First Three Years Part I and Part II It’s never too late to launch your career in audiobook production. Take it from Audible Approved Producer Hannibal Hills, who went from self-starter to self-mastery in 3 years. In this article, he shares practical advice for sharpening your skills, building your brand, and telling the stories that are true to you.    

Love Is in the Airwaves Here’s to gal-mances everywhere! Follow along as New York Times best-selling romance authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward gush about each other’s audiobooks and share their process for casting and communicating with narrators, especially for dual narration and duet narration projects.


We can’t wait to see where your audiobook career will take you in 2021.    

Raise Your Voice: Narrator Erin Mallon Takes on Authorship

The driven artists in the indie publishing community are used to wearing multiple hats. Then there are the independent artists that are pushing the boundaries of their chosen profession to expand even further, following their creative spark to craft projects that expand their careers and enliven the audio storytelling genre.

Erin Mallon is one such artist – you might recognize this prolific narrator from her work with Lauren Blakely, Amy Daws, or Julia Kent, her recently-released audio play, These Walls Can Talk, or her first foray into novel-writing, Flirtasaurus, on Audible. Erin Mallon joined us recently to talk about her ever-expanding career journey.

Erin, you’re known for your work as a narrator of romantic comedies, but we heard you have two exciting new projects to add to your resume – a play and a novel, both written by you! Can you tell us a little about both of these? 

Sure! The first project is These Walls Can Talk, a six-character comedic audio play about intimacy and communication in marriage. And get this – the play is set in… the romance audiobook industry! I will tell you, it was a very “meta” experience. The next project is my romantic comedy novel which released on July 15th called Flirtasaurus. It follows Calliope, a young, determined paleontologist and her budding relationship with Ralph, the sexy astronomer who works in the planetarium at the Philadelphia natural history museum where she is interning. Absurd, dino-driven humor abounds!

Have you always been a writer or was it something you got a feel for as a narrator?

I have been writing for the theater for about ten years now – I actually wrote my first play and narrated my first audiobook the very same year! So I’ve been working both careers simultaneously all this time. Flirtasaurus is my first foray into writing a novel though. It’s been a wild ride taking what I’ve learned from creating my own comedic plays and narrating other authors’ great romantic comedies, then sort of bringing it all together in writing my own book.   

Has your work as a narrator influenced/informed your writing?

It has to, right? I started out performing on stage, so once I started writing plays I think I’ve always come to it from an actor’s perspective. When I’m on a roll, it feels a lot like playing all of the characters on the page. It’s always been really important to me that the actors who work on my plays feel energized and motivated by the story, the characters, the words, the comedy – so that every night they can’t wait to get in front of an audience and let that energy and excitement bounce.

Also, I’ve narrated almost 500 books at this point, and I’d say about 75% of those have been in the romance genre. It’s been such an inspiration over the years seeing and experiencing how awesome authors put their work out into the world and pondering how I might adapt my theatrical style and put my own voice out there in novel form.   

You chose to record These Walls Can Talk as an audio play – was that your plan from the beginning?

No, it actually wasn’t initially intended as an audio play! I wrote These Walls Can Talk back in February through a project I co-produce in NYC called The Brooklyn Generator – an “engine” for creating plays in under 30 days. I always intended it to be performed live onstage (and I hope it still will be), but we had only one public reading in midtown before Covid hit and shut our theaters down. In an effort to bring some laughs to people in quarantine at home, I teamed up with some of my romance narrator friends to do a zoom reading of the play and streamed it on Aural Fixation, an amazing Facebook group for lovers of romance audio. The reaction from the audience was really encouraging and folks kept asking when they would be getting the Audible version, so we made it happen!

Let’s turn to Flirtasaurus, your first novel. Was it daunting to start such a large new project like that? How did you know you could do it?

I think I was pretty much equal parts confident and doubtful when I started this process. After writing so many plays, I knew I could tell a story and I felt that I was strong with dialogue – after all, that’s what plays are – but I had some doubts about how to weave a story over the course of six to eight hours (plays usually clock in around two hours or less). Whenever I felt stuck or insecure though, I returned to my processes as a playwright and that always got me back on track. Slowly but surely, I found my natural style of storytelling in this new-to-me format. I think it’s always a bit daunting when you’re standing at the beginning of a creative project, full of ideas but staring a whole bunch of blank pages. That feeling keeps many of us from even starting, because we think we’re supposed to know what to do at every moment. I don’t think that’s how creativity works, though. You just have to show up every day and play. If you can make a commitment to doing that, word by word, page by page, the story starts to take over and tell you what needs to happen, instead of the other way around.

You chose to narrate the audiobook yourself. Why did you go that way instead of hiring a narrator, and how was it reading your own words?

When I started writing plays, I thought I would be writing roles specifically for myself, but that actually never happened. With this though, I felt like I wrote it so naturally in my own voice that I knew I wanted to give it a shot! Plus, my five-year-old son has made me a bit of an amateur dino-expert, so I knew I could get all the crazy dinosaur name pronunciations right without any additional research.

It was actually an incredibly helpful exercise in catching all those pesky final edits and typos before sending the book off for printing. Narrators are great at catching those, because we can’t say it out loud if it’s not quite right on the page. I don’t know that I will always narrate my future books, but for now I’m really loving the process! 

How did you go about marketing this audiobook? Did you reach out to any of your author contacts for advice? 

I teamed up with the awesome people at Social Butterfly PR, and they’ve done a considerable amount of hand holding. I’ve also been fortunate to have worked with so many amazing indie authors, particularly in the romantic comedy genre, so I’ve had the benefit of observing how they operate for years. Wonderful writers like Lauren Blakely, Amy Daws and Julia Kent have all been really generous with tips and support as I start to make my way.

So what do you think – can we expect more novels and audio plays from you? What’s next?

Yes, absolutely! Flirtasaurus is actually Book One in my Natural History Series, which will consist of three interconnected standalones. I am writing Book Two as we speak. I’m also excited that The Net Will Appear, my two-character play between a 75-year-old man (Emmy-nominated Richard Masur) and a 9-year-old girl (Matilda Lawler from Broadway’s The Ferryman) is streaming on The Alzheimer’s Foundation’s Youtube Channel July 24th. We put together a really beautiful online production that I’m eager to share with people. Next steps for that are figuring out the best way to bring it to the audio format. And there are a lot more plays where that came from, which I’m planning to adapt and bring to earbuds far and wide.       

Are you inspired by Erin’s ambition? Have your own ideas about taking your writing or narration career to new heights? Let us know!

The Best of the Blog 2019: The Re-Gift of Knowledge

It’s been quite a year for the ACX community: ACX creators published over 30,000 audiobooks, aided by the launch of some exciting tools and features, like Royalty Share Plus and Enhanced Promo Codes. Thank you for continuing to elevate the field of independent publishing through your hard work and innovation. In this giving season, we’ve decided to honor the tradition of re-gifting by wrapping up a few of our favorite blog resources from 2019 and presenting them to you to help support your continued excellence. Enjoy… or re-joy!

Now Hear This: Promoting with SoundCloud: Audio samples are your best friend when it comes to marketing your audiobook—they’re a great way to grab a listener’s attention and leave them eager to purchase the audiobook. Check out this article for great ideas on leveraging this free audio platform to put those samples everywhere your audience is, so they’ll be sure to give them a listen.

Bonus: Want more content on low and no-cost social media promotion for your audiobooks? Check out this episode from ACX University.


Amy Daws on Her Authentic Social Media Self: Authenticity is the key to a devoted community of fans, and nobody knows that better than this author and social media maven who uses her own genuine energy, fun content, and regular engagement to keep her fans’ attention between new releases. Learn from her social media strategies and fan the flames in your own fan base.

Bonus: Want to hear more on engaging with your fans? This is the ACX University episode for you.


Lighting the Way: An Author’s Journey into Narration If you’re an indie author, you’re no stranger to doing it all yourself, so chances are you’ve considered narrating your own audiobook. Well, paranormal mystery author Mary Castillo decided to do just that for her series, and you can read her full account of the production process from a writer’s perspective here.

Bonus: Interested in narrating your own book? Learn more about the art of audiobook performance here.


Production Pointers from Audible Approved Producers Whether you’re a narration newbie or a production pro, it never hurts to hear from other independent Producers on how they’re getting the job done. In this Q&A with a few of 2019’s newest Audible Approved Producers (AAPs), you can read about their favorite gear, pre-recording rituals, and at-home studio setups—you might learn a thing or two to add to your own process!

Bonus: Looking for more tips, tricks, and technical advice for audiobook production? Check out this ACX University series from our QA team.


A Portrait of the Artist How do you make a big impression and catch the attention of the authors you want to work with? It all starts with a compelling, professional, comprehensive Producer profile. In this article, we walk you through creating an ACX profile that stands out with examples from some of our favorite AAPs.

Bonus: Looking for more advice on your audiobook production career? This ACX University episode is for you.


Whether you’re new to the blog or seeing these articles for the second time, we hope it renews your drive and enthusiasm for creating great audiobooks, and gives you some good ideas for propelling your passion and your work forward into a successful new year. Feel free to re-gift these to the indie author or producer on your list!

The 2019 Audie Awards: ACX Honorees Share Their Tips

The Audie Awards are the Audio Publishers Association’s annual occasion to honor the best titles in audio publishing. This year, eight ACX titles received Audie Award nominations, with His Viking Bride taking home the prize in the Romance category! We checked in with some of this year’s nominated Rights Holders to ask:

What lead you to submit your audiobook for an Audie Nomination? How do you plan to use your win in your audiobook marketing going forward?

His Viking BrideViking

Category: Romance
Written by: Olivia Norem
Performed by: Greg Patmore

A: I chose to enter His Viking Bride based on my reaction the first time I heard the audiobook. When you spend months putting together a novel, you eat, sleep and breathe it – you become consumed by it. Hearing Greg Patmore’s narration the first time, I was able to enjoy my story as a fan. I kept finding myself wondering “Who wrote that?”

I thought it was a good audiobook, so took a chance and entered. Honestly, I was never expecting to become a finalist, let alone to win.

I’ve spent more than three decades in marketing. When I left marketing to become an author, I didn’t realize in the beginning that I would be right back in marketing. I’ve found the organic approach works best. I utilize all social media channels, and reach out to a lot of bloggers. Podcasts are a channel I will be exploring now that we have the 2019 Audie award. I will also be reaching out to local, regional, and national television trying to gain more exposure.

The Goliath Code Goliath

Category: Faith-Based Fiction and Nonfiction
Written by: Suzanne Leonhard
Performed by: Gabrielle de Cuir

A: Submitting The Goliath Code for Audie consideration was my narrator’s idea from the start. Although I’ve written many books, this was my first audiobook, and the fabulous Gabrielle de Cuir has been the driving force behind its momentum from the beginning. She suggested we submit the audiobook because she was in love with the story and felt confident it would make the finals. And it’s paid off; sales for both the book and the audiobook have gone up since the Audie finalists were announced. When it comes to indie publishing, you’ve got to make your book as visible as you can. Awards are a great way to move your book ahead of the pack.

Now, I plan to have the Audie Finalist logo placed on the audiobook cover, and the nomination will be mentioned in all future promotions for the book itself. Even though the paperback book was first published in late 2017, I still have an ad running for it on Amazon. It’s the first of a series of books, so I work hard to keep it in the public eye. If the book wins an award, or gets a mention on social media somewhere, I always promote it on Facebook and Twitter. Having that prestigious Audie Award finalist logo on the audio cover is going to be eye-catching.

PossessionPossession

Category: Romance
Written by Jessica Hawkins
Performed by Christian Fox

A: I’ve been publishing my own audio since 2015, and at first, it was a labor of love. Gaining an audience has been a slow but steady process, which makes it all the more rewarding to see my listenership grow with each release. I submitted to the Audies to honor that journey as well as the amazing talent behind the scenes—the production team, Lyric Audiobooks, and the nuanced and enthralling narration of Christian Fox. It’s more than that, though. Getting recognized by the APA and by Audible for a self-published title feels like a noteworthy accomplishment in my career (and a win for my indie peers too).

As for promotion, I’ll be adding the Audie finalist designation to the blurbs on all retailers, to ads and marketing wherever relevant, and as a badge on my website. Audio lovers recognize the significance of such a nomination and I intend to make sure they know! I hope it signifies to listeners and retailers like Audible that quality is top of mind each time I start a new production.

Splat! A Quirky Cat Audio BookSplat

Category: Original Work
Written by: Adele Park
Performed by: a Full Cast

A: The Audies competition has several rounds of judging, which gives indie studios like Straight to Audio Productions [which Adele owns and operates] the chance to be heard by experts in the audiobook industry. Our 2011 Audie win for Multi-Voiced Narration for Jitters-A Quirky Little Audio Book showcased the cast in front of producers who hire talent. Winning an Audie or even becoming a Finalist lends credibility to both the author and the publisher of an audiobook.

I mention my Audie win for Jitters and Finalist status for Splat! A Quirky Cat Audio Book and Gadzooks! A Comically Quirky Audio Book in all my marketing. I request that Amazon and Audible note the title as an Audie Winner or Audie Finalist for the projects that have been recognized by the Audio Publishers Association. These logos are also used on CD covers. A lot of my marketing involves funny videos; here is the one we did to announce Splat! A Quirky Cat Audio Book as a Finalist in the Original Work Category:

Loki Ragnarok

Category: Original Work
Written and Performed by: Mark Binder

Loki

A: Loki Ragnarok was a labor of love and despair. Twisting the Norse Eddas into Loki’s epic poem took almost twenty years. When we went into the recording studio, it went beyond poetry into a full scale performance. The production and music by George Dussault were precise and chilling. By the time the audiobook was finished, we knew it was something powerful and moving, funny and disquieting. It seemed award-worthy, and the only way to find out was to try. That we were selected as a finalist was really an honor.

Promotion is always a challenge. We’ve already updated the packaging and “jacket” copy. I’ve begun doing some touring and reading from the book as a way of cross-promoting the audio. We’re continuing to promote it on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and are experimenting with a GoodReads ad campaign. And of course, it would be lovely to catch some buzz from the upcoming Loki spinoff TV series.

Want more advice about getting reviews and award recognition for your audiobooks? Watch The Elements of a Well-Reviewed Audiobook from ACX University.

Amy Daws on Her Authentic Social Media Self

Amy Daws is the best-selling author of the ‘Harris Brothers’ and ‘London Lovers’ series whose engaging and authentic social media presence has earned her a devoted fan following. Join us as we find out how she uses social media to connect with fans and grow her listenership, and learn how you can make her strategies work for you.

AmyDaws bio photoQ: How would you describe your writing?

A: I would say my writing style is rom-com with heart. Every time I sit down to write a light rom-com, I get deeper than I expected and end up crying through at least one scene. So I always know that no matter what, my characters are going to have moments of pain and sadness too. My readers often say that they’re laughing one minute and crying the next. I love that feedback because it means you’re FEELING.

Q: How did you get your start as a writer?

A: I have a unique entry point into the world of writing because my first book is a memoir about my journey through recurrent pregnancy loss. It’s called Chasing Hope and honestly, it was just something I needed to write for therapeutic reasons. But I’ve been a lover of romance forever, so once I wrote Chasing Hope, I guess you could say I got the itch. I sat down and wrote my first romance novel, and almost five years later I have 13 contemporary romance books published!

Q: Tell us about your online presence.

A: I’m everywhere on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Book+Main. Instagram is my favorite right now. I’m a silly person by nature and I love sharing random musings in my Instagram Stories. I also have my website that I update regularly and a newsletter that I’m very consistent with.

I think I reach different readers at every spot. Some people only follow me on Instagram. Some only get my newsletters. It’s important for me not to forget any of those outlets when I have a new release.

Q: How does your personality show up in your online presence—or maybe that should be how does your online presence reflect your personality? 

A: I definitely think social media should be fun. If you get too focused on sales and promotion, you lose your authenticity with your followers. I’m an open book person by nature. My first book was a memoir, so I’m out there already. I don’t see a need to hide my child or parts of my life from social media. People love my kid, and I love to share her! In a way, my family is a part of my brand now. This isn’t an intentional choice, it’s just something that feels right for me.Amy Quote

Q: What is the strategy behind your social media approach?

A: I post somewhere every day. Not everywhere every day. And I schedule some general promo posts to keep my name out there, but for the most part, I think my social media presence is the most effective when I post something in the moment. Readers care more about a funny interaction I had while writing that day, not a generic scheduled filler post. And you’ll see the difference in that with the amount of interactions you get.

I like authenticity. I like silliness. And I like to be real. I think posting in the moment helps me feel authentic. I don’t worry about having makeup on or that my hair looks good. I just post when I have something to say, regardless of how I look. Pre-made posts and pre-written text have a tendency to dilute your genuine voice.

And you have to find what works for you. I don’t really do a lot of the fancy Instagram pictures because that’s not me. I’m more of a nostril shot, double chin photo, meme myself with something ridiculous Instagrammer. I make fun of myself a lot, which I think takes me off a pedestal and makes me more approachable. Social media is a place I come to for endorphins… something to make me smile, and that’s what I hope people get out of my presence.

Amy daws insta

Some posts get more engagement than others. The promo posts get the least amount of engagement—if you focus too much on those, you lose that authentic voice with your followers. I keep an eye on posts that don’t get much engagement and try to think what I can do better to bring more reactions to a post next time.

Q: What is the strategy behind the way your website is organized?

A: My website is literally just a WordPress blog website that I’ve set up to look like a more traditional site. I pay $17 a year for it, and it’s simple and I can update it myself because it’s so user-friendly. My new release is always on the front page, loud and proud, and I always include a link to the audio—so I have ‘read’ and ‘listen’ on my front page. I made an ‘Audio’ tab and I break down all my audiobooks for anyone who’s looking to start listening. I have a ‘Reading Order’ tab, too, that talks about where everything fits in—I always try to update my reading order after each new release.

Q: How about your newsletter? What kind of content goes into that?

A: I do a newsletter at least once a month, sometimes two or three times—anytime I have something new going on. I use it to notify my readers of my new releases, any sales I’m doing, preorder links going live, a release date announcement, an audiobook release announcement, and a monthly free book from one of my author friends as a bonus to my subscribers and to cross promote with other authors. Readers feel like they’re getting something with every newsletter, and there’s a call to action in every one. I try to keep my voice the same as it is in social media so it feels authentic. I don’t want them to feel like they’re getting a different version of me that’s just trying to sell books.

I make a habit of sending out a rich text follow up email to anyone that didn’t open up my first email within 24 hours. With many newsletter companies, so many of our emails go to junk and the deliverability for plain text and rich text emails is better for the inbox.

Next in Line.jpgQ: How do you get your fans from social media/website/newsletter to point of purchase?

A: I just make sure that my links are easily accessible, whether it’s my homepage on my website, a link tree in my Instagram bio, or my cover photo on Facebook. I have links everywhere. And I make sure I’m linking to both e-books and audiobooks. I treat my audiobook releases just like an e-book release. All buying options need to be included.

I for sure use my bounty links for ACX, and I have absolutely seen an uptick in my bounties earned since making my bounty links available on my website and social media.

Q: What inspires you?

A: My characters are my biggest inspiration. I’m a series writer and the secondary characters in my books always end up with their own books because I care about them all like real people. I want them to have their own “happily ever after,” so I continue until I’ve got everybody happy and in love

Read part two of our interview with Amy Daws to learn how her connection with her fans helps her keep their attention between releases.

Head Back to School with Fresh Marketing Ideas

As summer comes to a close and temperatures cool, it’s time to hit the books­—the audiobooks! The start of a new season brings the opportunity to reset your marketing efforts, so today we’re giving a quick study on some additional ways to promote your audiobook using your new Bounty Referral links. With that, class is in session…

Lesson 1: Data is your most powerful marketing tool

Estimating, then measuring the success of your marketing efforts, is the number one guide for helping you decide what’s working and what’s not working when it comes to audiobook promotion. That’s why we enhanced your Sales Dashboard with data about the performance of your Bounty Referral links. In addition to the ability to see clicks and Bounty conversions on your dashboard, you can leverage the date range function to examine clicks, sales, and Bounty performance on a day-to-day basis. Match this data with your promotions calendar and calculate the return on investment (ROI) of your efforts, in terms of cost per click and cost per conversion. For example, if you see an increase in clicks on a day that you promoted your audiobook on your blog, consider how you can replicate that success in future posts.

Two Boys Cooperating in PlayLesson 2: Collaborate to succeed

The marketing Rule of Seven says potential customers need to “see” your message seven times before they take an action and buy your product. But you can’t just scream “Buy! Buy! Buy!” all the time without burning your fans out. Good thing your author/actor network can help you spread the word. Working with a promotion partner, consider trading Bounty Referral links and promoting your peer’s work to your fans and vice versa. Choose a fellow author or actor in your genre–or even a related genre–and form an alliance to cross promote each other’s audiobooks. Beyond Facebook and Twitter, consider hosting each other for a Blog tour or featuring each other in your respective newsletters.

Lesson 3: Paid media can be a smart investment

When you’re trying to expand your following, investing a small budget in ads on search engines or social media can be a good way to recruit new fans. When placing paid ads, you have the ability to target potential clients based on geography, interests, and past shopping habits, and when combined with your Bounty Referral link, you can recruit new audiobook fans. In addition to strategically targeting your ads to your audience, be sure to use specific, meaningful keywords in your advertisements to quickly and clearly convey the benefits of your audiobook. This tip dovetails especially well with our first lesson, as you’ll be able to tweak your audience and keywords, then refer back to your Sales Dashboard to determine which worked best.

Audio cablesLesson 4: Create a connection with your fans

These days, authentic connections are happening online with increasing frequency. This means you can get the word out about your audiobook directly to your fans using innovative livestreaming tools, such as Facebook Live and YouTube live streaming. Consider hosting a weekly discussion with your fans to answer questions, give updates, and provide exclusive content related to your (audio)books. As you set up these discussions, include your Bounty Referral link in the metadata and description, then be sure to mention it during your stream to direct users to your audiobook edition–and earn those Bounty Referral payments.

Lesson 5: Include links for your eBook readers

For authors, your front and back matter (the pages that precede and proceed your story) are a great opportunity to advertise other works. Readers who finish your eBook edition are likely to be looking for even more great work from you, and you can use your backmatter to alert them to the availability of your audiobook edition. Be sure to use your Bounty Referral links to point readers directly to your title on Audible.

MountaintopLesson 6: Combine and conquer

Think of the tips above as ongoing efforts that you can combine for maximum efficiency. For example, you can invite your promotional partner to appear on your Facebook Live stream and boost that post with a dollar amount that fits your budget. A few days later, visit your Sales Dashboard on ACX to see how that effort performed. From there, schedule another broadcast, tweaking a single aspect like hosting it at a different time or fine tuning the audience. Once you’ve completed the test, refer to your Sales Dashboard again to learn whether your tweaks moved the needle in a positive direction. Rinse and repeat until you’ve landed on a promotion that resonates with your audience.

Pencils down. We hope you’ve learned some valuable lessons on audiobook promotion. We’d also like to learn from you: How have you found success promoting your audiobooks? Tell us your favorite ideas in the comments. Now, class dismissed!

Earning with 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!

 

The Power of Podcasts

Glen Tate published the 10 book 299 Days series in audio back in 2014. Since that time he’s amassed a 4.4 rating over 5,910 reviews. One of Glen’s most effective promotion tactics has been by regularly appearing on podcasts related to his specific “prepper” genre. He’s here today to share his process for booking guest spots to discuss his books on popular podcasts.

I am not a full-time author. I’m an attorney in Olympia, Washington who happened to sit down and write a ten-book post-apocalyptic fiction series called 299 Days. I was surprised to learn about several aspects of publishing and marketing these books—one of which was the power of podcasts to sell books to niche markets.

The author, Glen Tate…?

Like many ACX authors, I don’t have a large marketing budget or a team of people getting me guest spots on media outlets. I have to do it on my own and preferably for free.

In order to understand how podcasts can help audiobook sales, you need to understand that my books appeal to a particular audience: people who wonder what life would be like if normal American society was disrupted. Podcasts are perfectly suited to speak to niche audiences with specific interests. There are tens of thousands of podcasts on everything from bird watching to javelin throwing to 1980s heavy metal bands. As an added bonus, podcast fans are listeners, making them the perfect audience for audiobooks.

Once I realized that podcasts could be a great venue for promoting my audiobooks, I set about figuring out how to connect with various hosts and get booked as a guest. Here’s how I did it.

From Author to Guest Star

I thought about the podcasts I listen to in my area of interest, and several dozen came to mind. To determine which podcasts I wanted to be on, I looked at my own phone and saw which ones I’d listened to in the last month. I then searched for them in iTunes, which suggested several similar programs. I wrote down a list on a sheet of paper. New podcasts pop up all the time, so I periodically asked readers on my books’ Facebook page to tell me which podcasts they listened to, and added them to my master list.

At first I thought it would be hard to get onto a podcast. I was wrong. As I learned, podcasters are dying for content. Almost all podcasts have an email address or a “contact us” web form. I simply told them who I was and included a link to my books on Audible. This is important, because no one wants to listen to someone who talks about “someday” publishing a book.

I started small. No podcast was too small for me. I appeared on podcasts with 200 downloads. But after a while, I was regularly on podcasts with 100,000 or more downloads. Keep in mind that these are downloads from people who are already interested in the narrow topic of your book. It is perhaps the most precisely tailored marketing you can do.

Once I got on a few podcasts, I reached out to additional hosts and sent them links to my previous appearances. This was a great way to assure them that I could string a sentence together and was an interesting guest. This brings up an important point: do you need to be a dazzling speaker and have a great “radio voice” to be on a podcast? Nope. If you can hold a conversation, you can be a guest on a podcast. That’s all a podcast interview is: you and the host having a conversation about your book.

It’s also important to note that you don’t need special equipment or a computer programming degree to appear on a podcast. A cell phone (or better yet, a free Skype account) and a good headset with a microphone is all it takes.

The total time required to do a podcast ranged from one to two hours. The interview took between 20 minutes and an hour, and once it was produced, I’d get an email with the link to the episode.

I also wanted to help the podcasters who had just helped me. I let them know that I would publicize my appearance on their show to my readers and listeners. This was as easy as posting a link to the podcast on my Facebook page and emailing it to my email list. Podcasters absolutely loved me promoting their show, and often told me that they gained listeners every time I appeared as a guest. I would then ask them to email their friends with similar podcasts and encourage them to have me on.

It worked. I have appeared on 34 podcasts and recorded 114 episodes.

I found that it was important to keep track of every podcast I appeared on and put a link to each one on my books’ website. Putting each podcast on my website showed that I was an experienced podcast guest, and assured hosts that I’d publicize their shows. Readers of my books can hear me whenever they want, while also discovering new podcasts they might be interested in. And it helped me quickly find an episode link and post it on Facebook or email it to my list. You can find two of my favorite appearances here and here.

I have strong anecdotal evidence that appearing on podcasts increases sales. Direct evidence is hard to come by because I appeared on numerous podcasts each month. However, dozens of readers have mentioned that they heard about the books on a podcast. I’ve asked in Facebook posts how people learned of my books and almost every one says via one of my podcast appearances. In fact, a total stranger recognized my voice when I was talking to someone else in a store.

I’m no marketing wizard; if I can do this, then so can you. I can boil this down to three takeaways. First, gather a great list of podcasts appealing to your niche audience. Second, contact the podcasters and be persistent. Finally, promote your appearances on your website, social media, and email lists.

Oh, and all of this has been a whole lot of fun. I’ve become friends with many podcasters. Now I know these people all over the country, and when I travel on business I often have a friend to visit.

Much like the main character in the series, the Glen Tate is a forty-something resident of the capitol of Washington State, Olympia, and is a very active prepper. He grew up in the remote logging town of Forks, Washington. “Glen” keeps his identity a secret so he won’t lose his job because, in his line of work, being a prepper and questioning the motives of government is not appreciated.

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!