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!
It’s hard to believe it’s already fall, and the holidays are just around the corner! We know many of you are hard at work on projects and want your upcoming releases to be available to listeners by the holidays, and ACX wants to help you deliver.
These last months of the year are a busy time for the Quality Assurance team—we receive a much higher volume of submissions in the months leading up to the winter holidays, and you may experience longer processing times between submission and on-sale date. If holiday promotions factor into your marketing plans, please submit your project for review no later than Friday, November 29th for the best chance of being on sale by the holidays.
And with that deadline just two months away, we’ll let you get back to work!
Need help? Here are just a few of our favorite resources for making sure your files pass our audio specifications every time.
Sharpen your pencils and get ready to hit the books: October 28th, ACX University is back at 5:30PM ET for its seventh year and it’s all about the pros: pro tips, pro experts, and the biggest pro of all—it’s free! We can’t think of any cons.
Our 2019 curriculum is a masterclass in taking your audiobook business to the next level, so expect plenty of advanced techniques and insider tips from the industry’s best. Get to the head of the class by marking your calendars with this handy calendar reminder and catching up on past episodes here.
Want a sneak peak at this year’s classes? Check out acxuniversity.com to catch a glimpse of our instructors and see what’s on the agenda for this season. We hope to see you in class!
Today, you may notice an update to how you create audiobooks on ACX: customizable Chapter Names!
Now, when you start a new project on ACX, you’ll be able to quickly and easily list the parts of the book you want included in your audiobook production as soon as you claim your title. Simply enter the Chapter Names in the new Table of Contents setup page as you want them to appear to your listener in their Audible app, using the “Import from Kindle” button (available for select titles), or copy and paste Chapter Names from your manuscript.
Authors, now you can easily present to your Producer which sections they should include when recording your audio edition, as well as making your final audiobook easy to navigate for your listener. Producers, this will make it easier for you to upload the corresponding audio to the Chapter Names you see in Production Manager.
So how do you make the most of this cool new feature?
Take the time to curate your chapter names. Now that listeners can use these chapter headings to navigate your audiobook in the app, you want to make sure your table of contents makes that navigation as easy and intuitive as possible. Designate the sections of your audiobook accurately, indicating specific sections like the introduction, prologue, or epilogue, and name your chapters for easy discovery. If you are able to import your table of contents directly from the Kindle version of your book, take a moment to carefully review the chapter headings to ensure all desired sections are present and that spelling, grammar, and formatting is consistent throughout. See below for example.
Remove sections that aren’t for audio. If you’ve ever wondered what sections of your book should (and shouldn’t!) be narrated for audio, this moment serves as an opportunity to remove any sections from the list that should not be narrated for the audio edition, such as the table of contents or index and other front or back matter. The chapter headings you provide will be automatically populated in the producer’s view of production manager so they can upload the appropriate audio for each section, so be sure your table of contents only includes the sections you want your narrator to record.
Pay attention to formatting. To make your audiobook appear consistent with other titles and to give the listener the best in-app navigation experience, take the time to attend to formatting. Review our formatting guidelines, and check your chapter names for consistency throughout your audiobook. Adhering to industry-standard styles for your chapter headings will give your audiobook a polished, professional appearance in the Audible app.
Optimizing your chapter names for enhanced navigation is a small way you can make a bigdifference to your listener’s experience, and we hope you’ll take advantage of it to help your audiobook succeed!
Here on the ACX blog, we’re hard at work uncovering stories and advice to help you cast, narrate, produce, and market better audiobooks. But even with our powers combined, we know our creator community outnumbers us by the thousands and we bet your great ideas do, too! If there are skills you want to develop, questions you want answered, stories you want to hear, or any other audiobook-related content you think we should be covering, drop us a line in the comments below this article and tell us about it! We’ll do our best to deliver.
Last week, we discussed how to market your audiobook to listeners who haven’t heard your work. In today’s post, we’re addressing your other target audience: fans of your books who aren’t yet audio listeners. These might be devoted followers or those who have only read one title, but either way, you want to get them listening. But how? Well, the first step might be to find out what’s stopping them.
My first recommendation is to grab the low hanging fruit – your fans who just haven’t given audio a try. Maybe they no longer have the time to sit down and read. Maybe they’re already reading so much of your work that they simply don’t have any more time to read. These fans might be your easiest audience to convince, because one of the best arguments for audiobooks is that you can listen to them when you don’t have time to read. For this audience, you can play up the classic audiobook promotion angle: listen while you drive, listen while you walk, or clean, or garden, craft, exercise, cook, whatever! Your biggest fans may be quick converts once they realize they can consume even more of your work than they thought.
But what about the holdouts, the ones who say they’ve tried but just can’t get into audiobooks? Readers, I happen to be in a perfect position to help you, because—believe it or not—I was one of those holdouts. Gasp!! I know. I’m a devoted literary nerd, a lifelong ravenous consumer of books, and a longtime fan of storytelling radio programs and podcasts, but I was very slow to come around to audiobooks. I tried one or two, but it just wasn’t the same as reading. The irony? The thing that ultimately made me love audiobooks was the realization that listening isn’t the same as reading—it’s listening. It’s an entirely different way to get lost in a story. Once I started thinking of audiobooks as oral storytelling or audio drama (like a radio play) it suddenly made sense to me. Now, I’m an avid listener, but I approach my listening choices very differently from how I approach my reading choices. A great narrator is particularly important to me, because I’m looking for an extra dimension in my audio—I want theater, I want drama, I want voice acting! This is something important to keep in mind when you’re casting your audiobook, as well as when you’re marketing it. Make sure to highlight what your narrator adds to the story that the reader won’t get in the print version, because that could well be the thing that drives a listener to pick up your audiobook.
What about those that say they don’t listen to audiobooks because their attention wanders? I get it. Extended listening was a challenge for me, too, and as I was writing this post, I was surprised to learn how many of my audiobook-listening colleagues were holdouts because they too had trouble focusing. Many said they were finally able to enjoy audiobooks when they realized they could listen at 1.5x or 2x speed; others said that keeping their hands busy by playing a game on their phone, or knitting, or painting, made it much easier for them to focus on the story they were listening to. One listener said she now uses it as time to do something creative and fun, playing with modeling clay or coloring while she listens. Another long-time audiobook hold-out told me he listens while he’s driving or exercising, and that a good book will even motivate him to go to the gym so he can keep listening. I love going for long walks, so a good audiobook has become a welcome park companion for me, as an alternative to a stream of shorter podcasts. I can focus if I’m walking at the same time, and the long walk gives me time to get lost in the story. These are all great suggestions for your fans. The key is to highlight ways that your audiobook can enhance the other things they have to do or already enjoy doing.
The last thought I want to leave you with is that listening is a skill, just like reading. We all had to learn to read once, and we know how to hear, sure, but many of us are out of practice actively listening. Acknowledge this fact, and encourage your audiobook holdouts to give it a shot—it takes practice, but ultimately I’ve found that getting lost in good audio storytelling has been worth it. A well-acted, well-produced audiobook is a medium all its own, adding a new dimension to the story that wasn’t there in print. Offer some of the above tips to your on-the-fence fans, share audio samples to pique their interest, and use your referral links to grab bounties on top of earning royalties. You can even offer a promo code on occasion—challenge your fans to give listening a shot for one free book. They’ve got nothing to lose, and you’ve got fans to gain.
Mary Castillo is the award-winning narrator and author of the Dori O. Paranormal Mystery Series, whose decision to narrate and produce her first audiobook, Lost in the Light, led her into uncharted territory and ignited her creativity. Here’s the story of one author-turned-narrator finding her voice.
My decision to self-produce audiobooks started innocently enough. I had been listening to audiobooks, but not with the idea of producing one of my own. Many of my colleagues at the Orange County Chapter RWA were sharing how well their audiobooks were selling and how much they loved their narrators. When a fellow author said, “If you’re not creating audiobooks, you’re leaving money on the table,” I decided I wanted one, too!
The biggest roadblock (it was more like a sink hole), was the cost. Narration is everything in an audiobook. As a slightly addicted Audible listener myself, I’ve driven around the block a time or two and listened long enough to find out who the killer was. Some of my favorite narrators can effortlessly slip into different vocal tones and accents; others cannot—but they are fascinated by the story, and that’s contagious to a listener.
One night, I was reading to my son and niece, who later told me how fun it was that I got into the story and created different voices for the characters. So I started to wonder: could I do this on my own? Should I?
My backlist of ‘chick lit’ romantic comedies had been optioned for audio by my former publishers, but never produced. However, my backlist of independent titles in the Dori O. Paranormal Mystery Series was free and clear. Dear reader, I went for it!
On January 1, 2016, I ordered an inexpensive (ahem, cheap-as-heck) microphone and amp, built a sound box with an old pillow and cut up audio foam, and started tinkering with Audacity. I fell in love with narrating the first book in the series, Lost in the Light. I went all in—I watched YouTube videos of actors who I thought best personified the characters. I found a great book on creating accents titled Foreign Dialects: A Manual for Actors, Directors and Writers, and I read everything I could on audiobook narration, editing, and mastering (thank you ACX University!). I took to speaking in a British-Birmingham accent at the dinner table, which annoyed the heck out of my family (but a real British reviewer later said I did a bang-up job on that character’s voice!).
I must have recorded, edited, and mastered the first five chapters seven times. Finally, I gave myself a goal: launch a weekly podcast and prepare the first five chapters in advance. The podcast went live in March, and I faithfully posted a new chapter of the book every week for 36 weeks.
I won’t lie and say that narrating my own work didn’t have its cringe-worthy moments. It is a true feat of strength to get used to the sound of one’s own voice. And don’t get me started on narrating the love scenes. When I wrote them in the privacy of my own office, I was all in—but then I had to speak the words out loud and was reduced to the maturity level of a 13-year-old girl.
The Lost in the Light audiobook would’ve come to market much sooner if I’d invested in a narrator and producer, but a new skill in storytelling had opened up to me. After the audiobook was complete, I jumped into narrating and producing the sequel to Lost in the Light, titled Girl in the Mist.
As you go into self-producing your audiobook, I recommend that you recruit beta listeners. There were mistakes that I’d missed in Lost in the Light when I published it, so with the second project, Girl in the Mist, I reached out to my readers through my author newsletter, asking for beta listener volunteers. Five stepped up and they listened to the edited and mastered recording. They reported editing errors such as parts of the book where I had missed something, or background noise such as my pug snoring contentedly. The pug has now been banned from my recording space. Without my asking, these wonderful beta listeners also left great reviews of the audiobook once I’d published it!
When it comes to your home studio, do as I say and not as I did, and invest in high-quality equipment. My production of Lost in Whispers went off the rails when my cheap mic died. Then my neighbors decided to demolish their home, room by room, for a year. I now record in a converted playhouse under a pine tree. The Lost in Whispers audiobook, the third book in the Dori O. series, will be produced this fall with the fourth Dori book set to be published in October 2019.
Audiobooks injected new life into my business. The Lost in the Light podcast (no longer available), drove print and e-book sales. Audiobook sales of both titles have been my number one source of fiction income each month for the last two years, and Lost in the Light won the 2018 ABR Listener’s Choice Award in Mystery!
Audiobooks also opened my creative world. I continue to write novels and novellas, but I’m also developing audio projects. Other authors have approached me to narrate their audiobooks, and I’m developing a spin-off audio series with supporting characters from the Dori O. stories. Thanks to channels like ACX and Kindle Direct Publishing, we authors have more avenues available to us. Now our stories can take on new forms embraced by larger audiences.
Mary Castillo is the author and award-winning narrator of the Dori O. Paranormal Mystery Series. The titles include Lost in the Light, Girl in the Mist, and Lost in Whispers. She serves as vice president of communications to the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and is a member of the Gothic Romance Online Chapter of RWA. Mary lives and writes in Orange County, CA. You can check out her books and audiobooks at MaryCastillo.com.
Audible Approved Producers are the best of the best on ACX. Qualifying Producers have a proven track record of dynamic performances and superior-quality audio. They’ve been around the block a few times and learned a thing or two about compelling narration, pristine sound, and how to make the whole production process run a like a well-oiled machine. We checked in with a few of our newest AAPs to get their advice on producing like a professional.
Q: What’s your biggest production timesaver?
Paul Stefano: OUTSOURCING. I hire out nearly all of my editing and proofing. This allows me to work on several projects at once as I focus on what I do best: the narrating. Plus, it’s always good to have a second set of eyes (or ears, as it were) on your work. If you made a mistake once, you are likely to do it again, so doing your own quality control as a narrator is generally a bad idea. Once I made this switch in my career, it was like the heavens opened up to a whole new world.
Heather Masters: I keep a file in the folder of each book I produce, which is titled ‘Voice Profile.’ Each time I record a new character, I highlight a few lines and copy [the audio] into my voice profile. This way, even if I don’t see the character again for days, I can jump right to their voice and refresh my memory, ensuring my characters are consistent. It’s an invaluable tool with a series!
Travis Baldree: Know your software, make shortcuts for anything that can be short-cutted, and constantly be on the lookout for ways to optimize your time or reduce repetitive actions that slow you down or introduce problems.
Aven Shore: I maintain my progress notes on an online document, so I can reference them anywhere. Even better, it’s shareable, so I use it to communicate with my sound engineer and proofer so we don’t have to email each other constantly. We can all log in to the document and see deadlines, pickups, file names, where I’m at in the recording, upcoming books scheduled, special treatment notes, and more (we use Zoho Docs, but there are similar alternatives, like Google Docs).
Rich Miller: I think it’s probably Punch & Roll recording [a method of recording that involves rolling back a short way into a recording, playing, and then punching into the record at a set point to record over errors]. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but when I’m done recording I’m pretty much done. Once you get the rhythm of stopping, setting the cursor, and recording again, it doesn’t take much time at all.
Marnye Young: Pre-reading is extraordinarily helpful for me. While I understand wanting to be surprised when my listeners are surprised (to keep it authentic), the problem with that is that you are taking a road trip without a map and you may end up taking a wrong turn. Pre-reading will help you be sure to pack everything for the journey and to pull out whatever you need at the proper time.
Q: What is your pre-recording ritual like?
Paul Stefano: First of all I READ THE BOOK. This is essential to understanding the characters and how the story should flow. You don’t want to start off a book with a happy go lucky voice for a character, only to find out that the entire book was a flashback, the character is in a clinically depressed fog, and sorrowfully remembering his past! As my friend Johnny Heller says, “as a narrator, the last person who should be surprised by the ending of a book IS YOU.”
While I’m initially going through the book, I make notes, particularly of proper names, places, and other things I don’t know how to pronounce. Then, I Iook them up. In the case of names, I may even reach out to the Rights Holder for confirmation on pronunciations. Finally, I give each character a distinct voice. It may be a tone, a pace, or a certain tick that is repeated each time they speak.
Aven Shore: I make tea, brush my teeth, get dressed (in loose, cozy clothes with no swish/friction factor), fill a hot water bottle for my feet if it’s winter, scan my prep notes and what I’m about to read, then I get in my booth. I do a quick vocal warmup and some alternate nostril breathing just before beginning. I like it dark. Since shutting my eyes to get truly lost in the story is out of the question, darkness helps me forget about everything beyond the page and stay immersed in the world the author’s created.
Rich Miller: I do a little vocal warm-up, nothing too involved, drink some water, and inhale some steam. When I’m first starting out for the day, I’ll usually read a few pages out loud before actually recording; the vocal warm-up helps physically, but I feel that reading the actual text for a few minutes helps me dial in the right pacing and rhythm. I find that when I don’t do this, I sometimes end up having to re-record those first pages anyway.
Marnye Young: I drink coffee to loosen everything up and then honey ginger tea to repair the damage the coffee has done. I take in a lot of water, do tongue exercises, then listen to the last few minutes of the chapter I last recorded. The looser I am, the fewer mistakes I have, the better my flow is. That means a loose tongue, body, etc. I want to be relaxed but alert—if there is any tension, that tension will be in my throat and chest which is counterproductive for recording.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your studio set-up and equipment essentials?
Travis Baldree: I have a StudioBricks One booth (which is great, because there are no spare closets to be found in my home, my kids like to run across the house, and there’s a crow who enjoys parking right outside to caw at all hours). I use a Windows 10 PC with an SSD stationed outside my booth, a monitor in-booth with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and my trusty Razer Orbweaver mini-keyboard for Punch & Roll and editing shortcuts. The keyboard is essential—I have so much muscle memory for it, it’s super comfortable, and saves me a lot of hand strain to boot. My microphone is a Mojave MA-200 tube mic running through an Audient ID14 interface.
Paul Stefano: I have a WhisperRoom recording booth, a Steinberg UR12 audio interface, and a Sennheiser MKH-416 microphone—I spent years and thousands of dollars to get the right mic and I should have started with this industry standard from the get-go. I have a monitor on a shelf outside the booth and a wireless keyboard inside so that I can start and stop the recording.
Aven Shore: I have a big property but a small house, so my studio is a standalone building I built myself. At a glance it could be mistaken for an outhouse, but it was affordable and it’s effective. The floating interior framing is completely unattached to the exterior structure, with an abundance of Roxul insulation between the two and some acoustic foam on the inside. I use my thrift store rescue ergonomic kneeling chair for recording because it keeps my torso tall and open. I also had to Faraday cage my booth with aluminum foil because my mic was picking up these digital sounds that were not at all audible to the ear, but obliterating in my recording. I believe it was interference from a cell tower. My booth has a room tone of -75db or better, and the last thing I see before I shut myself in to work is forest.
Rich Miller: I’ve got a Mac Mini, an Onyx Blackjack interface, and a Rode NT1-A microphone. I’ve got a mirrored monitor setup, with one on my desk outside the booth and one inside the booth; when I’m ready to record, I just put my wireless keyboard and Bluetooth trackpad inside the booth and I’m ready to go. I built my 4’ x 6’ x 7’ booth myself last year, and it keeps external noise out much better than my previous space. Seriously, my setup is pretty minimal, so every piece is pretty critical; none of it is super-high-end, but it all works great.
Marnye Young: My studio is in the back of the house. Inside my studio is my monitor, my mic, headphones, and chair. The mic I use now, the AKG c214, is my third one and by far the best—it captures my low end and high end and still gets the nuances. The one I had before, a Blue Yeti USB mic, I picked because, in all honesty, it was affordable and had good reviews for what it was. It gave me a nice fullness, but it washed out most of the nuances and any brightness to my voice. I have a low voice anyway so I wanted to keep as much brightness as possible. The headphones were a recommendation to me and I really like them. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones are super comfy and catch everything, which I like. I like to know what other noises are happening so I am aware and can catch them in post or redo if necessary, like a door shutting, that kind of thing.
We hope these pointers have you ready to jump into your sound booth and get to work on the next ACX hit production! Stay tuned for part two, where these production pros will cover why you should listen to audiobooks—not just make them—and what they wish they’d known when they started.
Putting together an audiobook marketing campaign requires a few key ingredients, and now it’s easier than ever to include listener reviews! Rights Holders and Producers with an eligible audiobook for sale through ACX can visit the new Promo Code dashboard on ACX.com to access Promo Codes good for a free copy of your audiobook on Audible. You’ll receive 25 codes per book for each of Audible’s US and UK marketplaces and will be able track which have and haven’t been redeemed yet.
Codes will be available for your newly published ACX audiobooks as soon as they go on sale, and you can generate codes for your backlist audiobooks whenever you’re ready to promote those titles.
First off, bookmark the new ACX promo code redemption pages on Audible, audible.com/acx-promo and audible.co.uk/acx-promo, and make sure include the appropriate link when distributing your codes. ACX promo codes can only be redeemed at those links.
We recommend using Promo Codes to garner early reviews of your audiobook, and to reward your fans for engaging with you and your marketing efforts. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Send your promo codes to audiobook reviewers. We’ve covered this topic in an episode of ACX University, so check out our video, then do some Googling to find out who’s reviewing audiobooks in your genre.
Empower your street team/beta readers. Send them each a code for your audiobook in exchange for an honest review – just make sure they mention that they got the audiobook for free in the review itself.
Use promo codes as fan rewards. Need to compel your listeners to take an action, like signing up for your newsletter or filling out a survey? Offer a free copy of your audiobook as the carrot on the end of the stick.
Run a social media giveaway. It can be as simple as “like/share/tag a friend in this post for a free audiobook.” Just make sure to check the promotion/contest guidelines on your platform of choice before posting.
Swap codes with your peers. These codes are specific to your ACX audiobook, so find authors and narrators willing to do a “code swap,” where both sides give away codes good for the others’ book. This way, you’ll each expose new audiences to your awesome-sounding audiobooks.
Feature a review in an audiobook ad or in your newsletter. Once you’ve used the steps above to gain reviews of your audio productions, feature your favorite in your marketing efforts – 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Promo Codes are served up for titles with exclusive distribution, and provide another flavor for your audiobook marketing palette. We can’t wait to read all the glowing reviews you’ll earn!
5-4-3-2-1! ACX author, narrator, and master motivator Mel Robbins joined us in-studio to discuss The 5 Second Rule and how her method can help creatives of all stripes achieve success. Writing one of the best-selling audiobooks of 2017 and an Audible Original out this past May, Mel knows a thing or two (or five!) about maximizing your productivity and growing your listening audience. Listen to our interview below or read through the transcript to learn from the path she’s blazed.
Key points from our interview with Mel:
Learn The 5 Second Rule and what went into creating the bestseller. (02:25)
Discover how you can join the indie publishing revolution by publishing or producing audiobooks on ACX. (05:20)
Hear how to connect with your listening audience from the recording booth. (08:15)
Build your social media following the 5 Second way. (09:18)
Learn the role of graphic and video content in promoting your work on social media. (11:40)
Find out how authors and actors can use The 5 Second Rule to increase productivity. (15:00)
How does Mel recognize when she is one the right path to success? (22:15)
Mel has inspired a great number of people, but who inspires her? (29:15)
Read the transcript:
Scott Jacobi: This is Scott Jacobi with ACX, and I’m here with Mel Robbins. Thanks for joining us today.
Mel Robbins: Well, thanks for having me.
Scott Jacobi: We are in our Newark, New Jersey studios and today, Mel and I are going to talk about her book, The 5 Second Rule and how some of her tactics can be applied to ACX authors and actors to find success in their own lives.
Mel Robbins: That’s right. Listen up, baby.
Scott Jacobi: So could you please start by, give us sort of your 60 second elevator pitch on yourself and The 5 Second Rule, just set us up with what we’re dealing with today.
Mel Robbins: Sure. My name is Mel Robbins, and I’m a businesswoman, a mother of three. I’ve been married 21 years, which is a small miracle that Chris stuck around for that long, and I wrote The 5 Second Rule which is a book about a mind trick that I created by accident 10 years ago that will help you change any habit and have a deeper connection with your authentic self. That sounded so cheesy it’s unbelievable, but that’s just what fell out of my mouth.
Scott Jacobi: I don’t think it sounds, I think it sounded authentic. Like you said, authentic self. If you’re doing it without thinking about it, I think it’s coming out just right.
Mel Robbins: There you go.
Scott Jacobi: So there you go. Okay, so to get into it, your book has been a smashing success on Audible as well as in ebook and print. It quickly became one of the best selling books that we have on Audible. It has a 4.6 rating over 17,000 reviews.
Mel Robbins: That’s insane.
Scott Jacobi: Yeah.
Mel Robbins: Can we just stop right there?
Scott Jacobi: And it’s just been out a year, right? Last February?
Mel Robbins: It hasn’t even been out a year. 17,000 reviews, 4.6 stars, that is the thing I’m the most proud of. The fact that it’s not only done well, but more importantly, people fricking dig it.
Scott Jacobi: They dig it. They’re giving it great reviews, and you’re nearing 300,000 Audible units. Okay, all right-
Mel Robbins: No, we’ve passed it. Nearing. Give me all the credit it is due.
Scott Jacobi: I need an updated paper. The big thing there that I find so fascinating is your audiobook sales are more than your print and your ebook sales combined.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Scott Jacobi: Which blows my mind, and I’m sure it blows a lot of people’s minds that’ll be listening to this. It seems, in some ways, like it came together very quickly, like it showed up on the scene very quickly, but we know that usually, overnight success is a misnomer. Can you tell us about the work that you put into The 5 Second Rule that most people wouldn’t see that they might be able to learn from?
Mel Robbins: Well, I’m gonna answer the question two ways. First, I’m gonna talk about The 5 Second Rule concept, and then I’ll tell you into the work that went into creating not only the book but an audio experience that became the sensation that it’s become.
Scott Jacobi: Give it to me.
Mel Robbins: So first of all, the idea of The 5 Second Rule is super simple, and that is that you can change your life in five seconds. In fact, that’s the only way that you change your life, and I came up with this simple trick 10 years ago to help me beat a habit of hitting the snooze button and oversleeping every single morning.
Mel Robbins: So the idea of The 5 Second Rule was something that I used in private for five years. I then shared it on a stage just kind of extemporaneously. I said that correctly, right? Okay. Somebody taped the speech that I was giving and the speech went crazy viral and then people started to write to me about The 5 Second Rule. The writing and the kind of emails that we got from people that saw this speech online drove me to want to figure out why The 5 Second Rule actually works, and so I did a three year long research project into the science of habits and human behavior. I’m a real nerd. Like I’m super curious about human behavior and life hacks and brain hacks and it turns out The 5 Second Rule is one of the most powerful brain hacks backed by science that will help you make any change happen.
Mel Robbins: So there was eight years of using The 5 Second Rule and three years of research that went into the concept, and I think that’s one thing to understand that particularly simple concepts, the reason why a simple concept can be powerful is there’s typically a ton of work behind it. So that’s how the background on the actual concept, but with the book, okay. You’re talking to a chick that has some dyslexia. I have ADHD.
Scott Jacobi: Same.
Mel Robbins: I have horrendous executive functioning skills, and the idea of writing a book is literally the equivalent of taking a pencil and shoving it into my eyeball.
Scott Jacobi: I hope that’s not how you wrote it.
Mel Robbins: Pretty much, yes.
Scott Jacobi: But that’s a big undertaking to put all that together.
Mel Robbins: Yeah, and my business partner will tell you it was probably the worst six months experience for either one of us, because I was complete jackass to deal with, because I was stressed out all the time.
Scott Jacobi: I’m sure a lot of our authors can relate to that.
Mel Robbins: Totally. So we wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, and I also … So the book took about six months to write. Now here’s the thing that happened. We self published the book, and so what happened is we had all this kind of pent up demand because I have a social media following and I have a speaking platform, and when the book came out, it sold out in terms of the print copies, because it was a really small print run in the beginning. Sold out immediately, I don’t know, the 15,000 copies that they printed. The only thing that was available was the audiobook.
Scott Jacobi: Was the audio, right.
Mel Robbins: Or the ebook. Now, the thing about the audiobook that I think was a differentiator is that when you say overnight success usually means 10 years of experience, the one thing that is different about me as an author is that I have five years of broadcast experience. So when it came time to do the audiobook, I just naturally looked at the audiobook as if it were producing a radio show.
Scott Jacobi: Another broadcast project.
Mel Robbins: Correct. So the interesting thing, and I fricking love ACX. The experience that I have had as an author using your platform and, I should say, this platform, has been mind blowing and very eye opening. Number one, we all know that there’s a huge paradigm shift in publishing, and authors make the mistake of letting their egos make big business decisions. There are a lot of authors, and you may be one of them, that feels a little insecure about your work, and so you think you need an agent, or you think you need a big publisher. You think you need some kind of advance in order to validate your work. The truth is, you don’t need … anybody. The only thing that will validate your work is you actually doing your work.
Scott Jacobi: Getting it out there.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Scott Jacobi: Doing it and getting it out to people.
Mel Robbins: Yes. Regardless of how the book gets published, you still have to market it. So finish the book, but then when you publish the book, it’s gonna be on you to push it. You’re gonna make more money if you are pushing people to the audiobook, because if you do your global distribution, the percentages are fantastic. Now-
Scott Jacobi: Right. Better than you’re gonna find on the print or the ebook side.
Mel Robbins: Better. Are you kidding? 10 times better for crying out loud. I say to everybody that I talk to that reaches out to us about advice about writing a book and publishing, number one, no matter what, sever all audio rights. Do it yourself through ACX. It’s the smartest business move, it’s a long tail strategy, you have all the resources right here, you’re being a complete dummy driven by ego if you do it any other way. Because let me tell you something, that big publishing house that is launching your book for you, you know what they’re gonna do? They’re gonna hire the same actor you could hire. They’re gonna stick him in the booth here at ACX, and they’re gonna distribute it themselves through ACX and they’re gonna give you a penny. Goodbye.
Scott Jacobi: Right. So do it yourself, and that’s a big part of our platform is the ability either to do it yourself as you did, reading it, or to sort of be your own author entrepreneur or actor entrepreneur, take the power into your own hands, put yourself in the booth, or put yourself in the director’s chair, as it were.
Mel Robbins: The other thing that I wanna say quickly is that just like The 5 Second Rule was a mistake.
Scott Jacobi: A happy accident.
Mel Robbins: Seriously, it was a happy accident that changed my life and will change yours. The audiobook experience and us self publishing for the first time on ACX was an incredibly happy accident, and one of the things that I want you to understand if you do narrate your own book, and this is something I learned at radio that you don’t think about. When you’re doing an audio product, it is a one to one experience. So when you go into that booth, one of the tricks that we used to have when I was in the radio business is we would print out the avatars on Facebook of our fans and I would have one person paste it up, their face in the booth, and I would talk to that one person.
Scott Jacobi: And that’s your audience.
Mel Robbins: That’s your audience. It’s an incredibly intimate experience.
Scott Jacobi: Absolutely, and that’s one of the reasons that theater professionals, theater actors do so well with this, because they’re used to performing to the last row, and that’s a similar sort of idea to that. I think that’s great advice. You bring up your social media followers, which is a great point for me to pivot into my next question, and it also ties into the idea of no overnight success. You mentioned having a good social media following before you launched the book. You said people were reaching out to you and such about The 5 Second Rule when the video went viral. How did you use, once you had this book, how did you use the content around it to grow your social media channels, giving you a captive audience to then market the book to? What did you do that ACX authors or actors could try to replicate?
Mel Robbins: Well, so I have some particular rules about social media. Number one, it’s not about you. It’s about them. Unless you’re Beyonce and people wanna be a voyeur on your life, nobody really gives a shit, and so your social media is about what the audience that follows you is getting. So before you publish the book, as you’re writing a book, if you have something to say in a book, you also have something to say on social media. You need to start pushing yourself now to start publishing more content on social media. That content should be authentic. It should be personal. It should of value to your audience, and how do you figure that out? Well, you start publishing all kinds of stuff, and then you see what people comment on. You see what they heart. You see what they share. They will give you so much information based on how they’re interacting with you. Do more of what people interact with. That’s how you build an audience.
Scott Jacobi: Right. Test and repeat.
Mel Robbins: Yes, and you need to do it now. Don’t wait until the fricking book comes out and now you wanna sell something to people. Do it now.
Scott Jacobi: Right, get them involved. As we said, build up a little momentum, get them involved in the process early. We always tell our authors, tell them that you’ve cast your actor. Tell them that you’ve stepped in the studio. Share a picture of yourself as you step into the studio. Get people bought in emotionally to that product, so that when it comes out, they raring to buy it.
Mel Robbins: More importantly, as you’re writing it, take a photo of yourself as you’re struggling with procrastination. Write about it. Show people what you’re doing, and what happens is people feel like they know you. They feel like they’ve been along for the ride. They feel like for an entire year, you’ve done nothing but give value, value, value, and then when the time comes to support your work, now you can make the ask.
Scott Jacobi: And they feel like they’re giving you something back for what you’ve given them. I love that idea.
Mel Robbins: 100%. 100%.
Scott Jacobi: So as you’re talking about this social media content that you’ve created and you’re recommending others create, looking at your social media feeds, I noticed that you use a lot of video and image. It’s not just text based. I think a very basic thing people hopefully know about social media is video and pictures are going to get more engagement than just text based posts. They catch the eye. They take up more real estate, et cetera. How do you do that? So maybe you’ll tell me you are also a video producer and you’re also a Photoshop expert.
Mel Robbins: Not me. No, I’m not.
Scott Jacobi: So how do you do that and how could others possibly recreate that?
Mel Robbins: Well, the first thing that you could do is first of all, just shoot stuff on your smartphone for crying out loud. I mean, if you look at the stuff that goes viral, it’s really shady, fuzzy looking stuff that people shoot on their phones, so stop worrying about it being perfect. It’s not a book. This is a piece of micro-content that’s gonna last like 10 seconds. It’ll go viral if you’re lucky. Okay?
Mel Robbins: The second thing is that it’s platform dependent, so people that are on Instagram are image heavy. Things that are on Facebook tend to be either longer form or tend to be natively uploaded video. You don’t wanna just link to YouTube. That’s lazy. You gotta upload the video yourself to Facebook, otherwise you’re gonna decrease the amount of stuff that, the amount of times people share it. With YouTube, obviously it’s all video. If you start shooting your own video, almost like a selfie, just kind of talking to camera and showing people what you’re up to, sharing what you’re thinking about, you’ll see if it resonates with people. If you need to do more video, what you’re gonna do is you’re going to take a video of yourself and you’re gonna say, “I’m looking for an intern. Is there any high schooler out there that understands how to use iMovie or any of the editing tools, and I’ve got an incredible, killer, 10 hour a week internship with you that could turn into a paying gig.”
Mel Robbins: All of your friends’ nieces, nephews, sons and daughters will reach out to you, and next thing you know, you’ve got a couple people that are interested in editing video as an internship. Here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna tell them to take five or six of the crappy videos that you’ve shot yourself and edit together something kind of cool. You give them that project as a way for them to try out, pick the best one, boom. Now you have a video editor. You do this one little push at a time, and so that’s how we started. We now have three full time video editors. We have a creative director that runs social media. We have community managers that respond to all the posts and the comments, and one woman who does nothing but just answer emails all day. Because my brand is all about helping people get the advice and the entertainment and the connection that they need so that they can do a little bit better.
Scott Jacobi: So speaking of that, let’s do that right now. We’ve talked about some of the broad tactics that you’ve used for marketing your books, but I love The 5 Second Rule. I think it’s so fascinating, and I tried it myself the other night. I’ve personally not been going to bed early enough, and I have a little daughter who wakes me up at the same time every morning, no matter how late I go to bed, and I’m playing on my phone too long and I’m staying up too late. So having listened and researched your book, I said, I really should go to bed, and then I said 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, I’m getting up and I’m going to bed.
Scott Jacobi: So it worked for me in that little instance. How can authors and actors apply The 5 Second Rule specifically to what they’re trying to achieve in their day to day lives with their audiobook and writing?
Mel Robbins: Great, well, so let’s talk about the big creativity killer, which is procrastination. So procrastination is a habit. You’re not a procrastinator. You have a habit of procrastinating, and when you look at the research around habits, there are three parts that make up a habit. Then those become like a closed loop that get encoded in your brain, and then you get stuck in the habit of procrastinating.
Scott Jacobi: What are the three parts?
Mel Robbins: The first is the trigger. The trigger is something that is outside of you that triggers you to repeat a pattern, and then when you do the pattern, you get a payoff. So with procrastination, the trigger is 100% always the same. Procrastination is a habit that’s triggered by stress. Believe it or not, when you procrastinate on work, it has nothing to do with work. You’re actually stressed about something else, typically, and the stress triggers you to blow off the things that require focus. And so blowing off writing, blowing off editing a video, blowing off working on your marketing, blowing off watching the videos on the ACX university platform in order to get better at the acting stuff that you need to do. All of that is triggered by greater stressors.
Mel Robbins: The reason why you have the pattern of procrastinating is because when you blow off the work that requires focus, you get a small amount of release from the stress that you’re feeling. So the only way to change a habit is not to worry about the trigger. There’s always gonna be shit that stresses you out. You just can’t control that.
Scott Jacobi: That’s life.
Mel Robbins: That’s life. But you can always choose how you respond to the trigger. So if the habit right now is procrastinating as a form of stress release, what we need to do is we need to actually retrain you that when you’re stressed, that you recognize it and that you actually push yourself forward and do a little work anyway.
Mel Robbins: And so the way that you’re gonna use The 5 Second Rule is when you catch yourself procrastinating, number one, acknowledge oh. Don’t say, oh, there I go procrastinating again. Go oh, I must be stressed about something.
Scott Jacobi: Okay, so link the two together.
Mel Robbins: Yeah, link the two together, and it might be maybe your dad’s … Somebody on our team, she’s worried about her dad’s health. They’ve got a test back that’s a little sketchy and she’s now extraordinarily upset about it. Okay? That’s the trigger.
Scott Jacobi: I hope he’ll be okay.
Mel Robbins: So acknowledge, I’m just stressed about dad. So that disappears the trigger, and then go 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and I want you to just work for five minutes. That’s it. The reason I want you to just start working for five minutes is starting is the hardest part, number one. Number two, we’re not actually trying to turn you into a workaholic. We’re trying to retrain you and your response to the trigger of stress. Your old habit when you felt stress was to step back and procrastinate. The new habit is to recognize the stress, acknowledge it, and lean into the work.
Mel Robbins: So I only want you to work for five minutes because if I can get you started, 83% of you will keep going.
Scott Jacobi: 83%?
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Scott Jacobi: That’s pretty good.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Scott Jacobi: I have a question about what you just said. I can say in my personal life, I’ve been working to try to do the first step of what you said, which is sort of step back and recognize, what am I actually feeling right now? What’s going on in my head or my body? Do you have a good way to take, is it a physical step back? Is it closing your eyes and taking a deep breath? How do you grab onto that moment and to not let it pass by?
Mel Robbins: Well, first of all, I count backwards, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. That’s The 5 Second Rule, and you’ve got to do that because what you’re doing is you’re interrupting all of the bad habits and reactions that get stored as habits in the interior part of your brain, and you’re awakening your prefrontal cortex. By the time you get to one, your mind is now primed to focus, to act with courage, to do something new. So the counting backwards is essential.
Mel Robbins: You can use the rule, the second that you hit one, you’re in control. So you now have the ability to make a conscious choice, whether that’s pushing yourself forward by speaking up, or by doing something outside your comfort zone, or starting the work where normally you’d procrastinate. Or maybe you’re gonna use it to 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and now pull yourself back. You’re not gonna micromanage your team. You’re not gonna snap at your kids. You’re not gonna reach for that Manhattan, that you’re going to redirect yourself away from the thing that you do that’s destructive.
Mel Robbins: So for me, when I first started using The 5 Second Rule, I used it to 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, get up on time. Then I used it to 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, get to the gym. Then I used to it to 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, kinda curb the drinking a little bit. Then I started using it to 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, change the way and the tone in which I was speaking to my husband. We were going through some shitty stuff at the time, and I was not being that nice. Now, I use it mostly for thinking patterns.
Scott Jacobi: Give me an example.
Mel Robbins: So self-doubt. Imposter syndrome. Anxiety. Any garbage that you think that’s actually self destructive. It is a habit, just like chewing your nails is a pattern that you repeat that’s annoying, so is self-doubt. So if you catch your thoughts drifting, you can 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, give yourself like a mental … slap, awaken the prefrontal cortex, and insert something that is optimistic or positive or self-serving instead of defeating. In the five years that I have been using The 5 Second Rule to redirect my thoughts and reframe them, I have fundamentally changed my mindset. I’ve cured myself of anxiety. I have no imposter syndrome, and this goes back to the original question, which is how do you, in the moment, figure out how to do this?
Mel Robbins: Well, I think that inside each and every one of us, whether you call it a GPS or you call it your inner wisdom or you call it your soul or whatever you want to call it, that there is a guidance system inside of you.
Scott Jacobi: Something innate.
Mel Robbins: It’s always talking to you. It’s a combination of all the experiences of your lifetime, situational intelligence. It’s your intuition. The fact is that when you start to use The 5 Second Rule to push all the excuses aside, you gain a level of clarity that is very hard to describe. It gives you a direct line to your intuition, because so many of us, our intuition kind of rises up, and then we shut it down with an excuse or with self-doubt or with anxiety. When you start to empower your own intuition, and you start to have a little bit more courage in your life, what happens is your ability to hear those moments, your ability to really know yourself and be able to self-monitor, it’s extraordinary. It’s the most powerful thing that you could learn to do.
Scott Jacobi: So you’re stripping away the self doubt-
Mel Robbins: Yeah.
Scott Jacobi: Which is leaving room for the way you truly want to be feeling and acting to bubble up and for you to be able to recognize it and act on it.
Mel Robbins: That’s a beautiful way to say it.
Scott Jacobi: Thank you.
Mel Robbins: Yeah, really.
Scott Jacobi: Great. So you talk about success and achieving this success based on these methods that you’re talking about. What are some of the metrics that you use to define success in your own life, and maybe also specifically for your book and your audiobook? What are your benchmarks?
Mel Robbins: Well, I want to be the number one audiobook in the world.
Scott Jacobi: All right.
Mel Robbins: There you go. There’s my benchmark. Let’s go. We’re well on our way. I’m just kidding.
Scott Jacobi: So you said, well okay, you set very high level goals. Do you set sort of sub goals under those to hit along the way, or do you just set that stretch goal and you do everything you can to hit that.
Mel Robbins: So I’m what you would call an outcome thinker, so I’m always thinking about where I want to get to. Maybe this is from a lifetime of experiencing anxiety, which is always living in the future and normally the future’s terrible. So that’s why you feel anxious right now. But I’m an outcome thinker, so I think about the things that I want to achieve, and then I always work backwards to figure out, well, what are the steps that lead me there? I measure my personal success by whether or not I’m energized and proud of what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with. I think the single thing that has been a really remarkable tipping point, and this will be another book that we’re gonna write.
Scott Jacobi: Somebody already used the tipping point, so I would suggest a different-
Mel Robbins: Oh, not that one, sorry.
Scott Jacobi: Just a different title, but I love the idea, so keep going.
Mel Robbins: There is this really interesting tipping point in our business where things just exploded. The deals were suddenly massive and the platform was getting bigger, and that was when we stumbled upon this really interesting little tool that I can’t wait to write more about. That is that every single one of us has an internal fuel gauge. If you think about it like a gas tank that has a gauge that goes from empty to full. When your gas tank is empty, you feel depleted. When your gas tank is full, you feel fully energized. I think we discovered this because we were trying to create an online course around passion, and passion is a very difficult topic to teach because at the end of the day, passion isn’t a thing. It’s not a profession. It’s not something that the place that you live or relationship that you’re in. Passion is energy.
Mel Robbins: The way to discover passion in your life is to follow the energy. When you tune inward and you pay attention to the data that your own body is giving you, you actually have the answer to the question that vexes everybody, which is how do I find my passion? You find your passion by aligning your life with the things that naturally energize you. So we made a crazy, lunatic woo woo business decision a year ago, my business partner and I, that we would only do things and we would only work with people that we are energized by. Anything that depletes us … we’re not doing it. I don’t care how much money they offer. I don’t care how big the person is, and when you use your internal fuel gauge as a way to make decisions, what you’re actually doing is you now have found a tool to make decisions that are aligned with the things that you’re naturally passionate about.
Mel Robbins: The cool thing is that when you’re energized, you do better work. When you’re energized by the people around you, you’re a better leader. When you’re energized by the projects that you’re working on, you’re fricking creative. So what that may mean for you as a writer is you might be depleted when you sit down to write at home. You might notice that if you go to the local library or you go to a coffee shop, you’re more energized. So if you make the small shift to write in places where you naturally feel more energized, you will be shocked at how your creativity and your productivity flourishes.
Scott Jacobi: So it sounds like in order to notice that, we go back again to what you were talking about earlier, that need to take a step back, check in with yourself, use The 5 Second Rule to center yourself, if you will. What I’m getting from what you were just saying is it almost sounds like a melding between eastern and western. It sounds like it’s a little bit spiritual, but you also say it’s internally data driven, and I love the idea of taking something that there are people out there that think spirituality is a squishy concept and aren’t super into it. If you can use it for yourself in a way that feels more authentic, as you said, I agree. I think it can be a great driver to success.
Scott Jacobi: I have a quick question for you on what you just said. I imagine that it’s easier to say, I’m only gonna work with people that make me passionate. I’m only gonna take projects, regardless of the money, that I really feel passionate about. I imagine that’s easier when you’ve had a measure of success then when you’re either just starting out or you’re sort of at that pivot point, like you mentioned, just prior to that tipping point. Any tips for how somebody could avoid the allure of, I need the money. I should just take that project even though I don’t love it. Because you went through that.
Mel Robbins: Oh, god. Look, if you’re at the point where you’re trying to pay your bills, take the … project, okay? What I’m talking about is having the awareness so that if you’re in a situation where you work for a company and there are people in the company day to day that deplete you, be aware of that, and take intentional steps not to get hooked into them. So it’s more of the awareness around how people’s behavior is contagious. If there are people you have to work with every day that deplete you, take steps to remove yourself from conversations with them. Take steps not to engage in the passive aggressive stuff.
Scott Jacobi: Minimize the exposure.
Mel Robbins: Yes. Exactly, and spend more time with the people at work that actually do energize you. If you are somebody that you’re starting the process of becoming an actor and you’ve got, it’s a new paradigm and learning something new depletes you, every time you notice that you’re depleted, I want you to redirect your thoughts to the thing that got you excited about wanting to do this in the first place, and anchor yourself there in the part of what you’re taking on now that actually energizes you. Does that make sense?
Scott Jacobi: Yeah, no, absolutely.
Mel Robbins: So it’s kind of the fact that this awareness around what naturally depletes you and what naturally energizes you, how that can give you the beacons that you need to pivot in order to align your life and your work in ways that are more satisfying and more successful for you.
Scott Jacobi: Right. I love it. That definitely does make a lot of sense. As we start to wrap things up here, I’ve got one more question for you and then we’ll go into our little end game here.
Mel Robbins: Cool.
Scott Jacobi: But as you’ve mentioned and as people will see the moment they click on any of your website or social media profiles, you’ve inspired a great deal many people with this 5 Second Rule. I’m curious, who inspires you? Who has inspired you, or who do you currently see as a hero, and don’t say yourself.
Mel Robbins: Well, if I have to be … The first person that comes to mind, as cheesy and as predictable as it is, is Oprah, and there’s a reason why. The reason why is, first of all, I grew up with her. So I’m gonna be 50 this year, and when I got home from school, she would be on TV. It was my first habit that I remember in terms of television-
Scott Jacobi: A good habit.
Mel Robbins: And always looking forward to something. What I loved about her show was the fact that she made the fact that we’re all screwed up normal, and she wasn’t the kind of expert that was talking down to people. She was the kind of person that was right there alongside with you, and that really inspired me. Then when 10 years ago, I first stepped into the media business, and I signed a development deal with ABC, one of the people that was coaching me was one of the creators of The View, and they wanted to turn me into a talk show host. I remember him making me watch all these clips of Oprah Winfrey.
Mel Robbins: One of the things that he said about her that he wanted me to pay attention to, and as an actor and as an author, when you think about your audio experience of the story that you want to tell, I want you to remember this.
Scott Jacobi: Hit me.
Mel Robbins: When Oprah Winfrey opens her show, it doesn’t matter what she’s about to talk about. She exudes a level of excitement about what’s about to go down that makes you lean in because she believes that what you’re about to hear about the brand new microwave that’s gonna hit, that it’s gonna change your life. So she was a master at piquing your curiosity and making you pay attention. She was also a master at being passionate about what she was talking about.
Scott Jacobi: You took the words out of my mouth. I was going to say, based on what you’ve just said, she must be very passionate about what she does, and that makes a great point for especially actors as they step into the booth and they’re preparing to read their tenth book in a row and they’re looking to get those energy levels up. Having that passion and being passionate about it is such a key part in connecting with the audience for that performance. You’ve taught me, I was gonna say, Oprah must be incredibly passionate about what she does to bring that level of excitement every show.
Mel Robbins: Yeah, and when I step on a stage, for example, it could be an audience of 20,000 in a stadium. It could be 500 folks that work in financial services like we had in the audience yesterday in Dallas. The thing that drives me is knowing that there is one person in that audience whose life is about to change because of something they’re about to hear. If you step into the booth before you record your book, and you convince yourself that that one person, there’s one person out there that has to hear this story, and I’ve got to tell it in a way that is so compelling that I reach that one fricking person, you’ll win.
Scott Jacobi: Going back to what you said before about the audio medium being very one to one, being very intimate. Absolutely. I love it. I think that is great advice, and I think that’s a great point to wrap up the meat of this on, and to launch into our end feature, which we normally call the lightning round, but for this session we’ll call it the 5 second round.
Mel Robbins: Okay.
Scott Jacobi: So I have, and you have not seen these, so I’m-
Mel Robbins: I have not seen these.
Scott Jacobi: And they’re not difficult. They’re not gotcha questions, don’t worry.
Mel Robbins: Okay.
Scott Jacobi: But yeah, favorite place to write?
Mel Robbins: My favorite place to write? Into a microphone. I don’t like to write. I dictate everything.
Scott Jacobi: You dictate everything.
Mel Robbins: I’m an editor. I’m not a writer.
Scott Jacobi: So who puts it down for you?
Mel Robbins: Siri.
Scott Jacobi: Siri?
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Scott Jacobi: Okay.
Mel Robbins: Or Dragon Dictate, I use those two.
Scott Jacobi: Okay, all right. Cool. What is your favorite time of day to dictate?
Mel Robbins: Any time.
Scott Jacobi: Any time?
Mel Robbins: Yes, because I’m not a writer. If a thought comes to me, it’s like, I just puke it out right now.
Scott Jacobi: You gotta get that out right away.
Mel Robbins: Before I forget it. Remember, ADHD, dyslexia. You gotta work with what you got, people.
Scott Jacobi: So along those lines, coffee or tea, or no caffeine at all?
Mel Robbins: Coffee for sure with whole milk, except for when I have bronchitis, which I get every fall and spring, and then it’s tea.
Scott Jacobi: Okay. All right. Favorite pizza topping?
Mel Robbins: Mushrooms.
Scott Jacobi: Mushrooms?
Mel Robbins: And sausage.
Scott Jacobi: Together? Mushrooms and sausage?
Mel Robbins: Yes, mushrooms and sausage. More mushrooms.
Scott Jacobi: Okay. Favorite place to go on vacation?
Mel Robbins: Eleuthera. We had our best family vacation there.
Scott Jacobi: Eleu, where is that?
Mel Robbins: Bahamas.
Scott Jacobi: Bahamas, okay. Great. What item would you bring to a desert island?
Mel Robbins: A tent.
Scott Jacobi: A tent?
Mel Robbins: Yes, a water well.
Scott Jacobi: That’s a very … some people would say their favorite book or a locket from their mother.
Mel Robbins: God, no! I want to survive. Are you kidding?
Scott Jacobi: I like that answer. I like that answer. What was the last movie that you saw? Do you have time to see movies?
Mel Robbins: Yes. I watch movies on planes. I watched Wind River last night on the plane here, and it is a very upsetting movie. It’s a riveting story. I bet it would make an incredible audiobook, but it was very upsetting to watch.
Scott Jacobi: Last question. What is one thing we didn’t ask you about today that you would like our listeners to know?
Mel Robbins: I have no idea. Join us on social media. We reach 20 million people a month on social, and we bring you behind the scenes, and I don’t think I’m an expert in anything. I am a professional over sharer. I am intellectually curious. I’m a nerd about personal development, and I love sharing the stuff that I’m learning that’s working, not because I think that it’s what you should do, but because I hope it makes you think about what you are doing and how you could do it better for you.
Scott Jacobi: Great. Well, thank you for sharing that everything you’ve shared today with us. Definitely, definitely, definitely go check out The 5 Second Rule on Audible.
Mel Robbins is a serial entrepreneur, best-selling author, internationally recognized social media influencer, and one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the world.