Mike Taddeo of the ACX Audio QA team joins us today to discuss REAPER, a digital audio workstation (DAW) that many audiobook producers find to be a solid, cost-effective solution for audiobook recording, editing, and post-production.
As technology continues to democratize home recording, audiobook producers are presented with more options for processing audio than ever before. While some advanced production platforms cater more to music than narration, other simple editors leave much to be desired when it comes to post-production. How can you decide which DAW is right for you?
Whether you’re new to narration or looking to up your game, we find Cocko’s REAPER to be a fine balance of the two. Featuring a customizable interface, REAPER allows you to set up a session view to best fit your workflow and find all the tools needed to produce a high-quality audiobook. For more information on using these tools & effects, be sure to check out our recent episode of Q&A with QA titled, Mastering with Effects Processing.
Customizing Your View
The first step in maximizing your efficiency is to set up your session to meet your needs. REAPER’s default settings include a timeline set to bars/beats, and a metronome and grid lines to sync music to a tempo—tools you won’t need for audiobook production—so you can simplify your workspace by hiding these and other unnecessary features from view.
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If you are only dealing with a single audio source, you may also want to hide the mixer view so you have more space to zoom in on the wave form when editing your files.
Increasing the playback rate is a great way to quickly review a recorded script for accuracy to ensure the manuscript matches the recorded audio. This is called audiobook QC, and you’ll perform this step after you edit your raw audio files. In the ‘Rate’ menu, be sure to select: “Preserve pitch in audio items when changing master playrate,” which will prevent your voice from increasing in pitch and sounding like a chipmunk during playback!
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ACX requires each file to have between 0.5 and 1 second of room tone at the beginning, and between 1 and 5 seconds at the end. This spacing clearly signals to the listener that a chapter has ended and gives them a moment to catch their breath when a chapter ends on a dramatic note.
REAPER’s ‘nudge’ tool makes it easy to double-check that your files meet the spacing requirement by lining up all of your files at the same starting or ending point so you can easily see if there is too much space on either end.
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While your files are lined up, you can also check for any extraneous noises at the beginning and end of each file. You can also add clean room tone and short fade-ins and fade-outs to all of your files at once.
The term “normalize” can mean different things depending on which DAW you’re using, the normalize function automatically increases the level of your audio until it is peaking at 0dB, causing it to digitally distort “in the red” and fail QA review. You can use the SWS extension action item (Xenakios/SWS: Normalize selected takes to dB value…) to input the peak level you’d like your files normalized to—we recommend -3dB (peak) to keep the peak level at the maximum level permitted by ACX.
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ACX requires audio files to measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS, with a maximum peak level of -3dB, which can sometimes be difficult for the naked eye (and ear) to discern. The SWS Extension includes a reliable Peak and RMS analyzing tool (SWS: Analyze and display item peak and RMS) that can provide a quick reading of your files to ensure your levels meet ACX requirements.
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When you’re ready to export your finished audio out of REAPER, there are two options: “render” and “batch file/item converter.” Either function is capable of quickly converting your WAV files to MP3, and each allows you to save an encoder profile. The Render function is typically used to export an audio item as it appears on the timeline. This will be a good choice if you are exporting your files out of REAPER one at a time. The Batch file/item converter allows you to add individual items from your timeline, or select files from a folder on your computer to encode all at once with the same encoding profile. We recommend saving your settings to encode to 192kbps or higher 44.1kHz MP3, Constant Bit Rate (CBR) in keeping with ACX’s requirements.
Plug-ins and FX
When using REAPER as your DAW, we recommend downloading the free compatible plug-in suite SWS Extension as well, which includes all the effects plug-ins you’ll need to produce a top-quality audiobook. . Find yourself using the same effects often? You can save these as favorites, organize your own folders, and save plug-in chains and custom presets to streamline your workflow.
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One of our favorite plug-ins in this extension is ReaEQ, which gives a visual representation of how the audio source is displayed across the frequency spectrum, making it a great tool for learning the art of equalizing. Spend time with the different filter types, cutting and boosting different frequency bands to hear how each affects the quality of your voice.
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We also love ReaComp, an easy-to-use compression tool that keeps the dynamic range of your recording in check and adds fullness to your production.
Once you’ve set your project session to fit your personal workflow, you can save your custom settings in a project template so you won’t have to set up your DAW each time you begin a new project, saving you time and ensuring consistency throughout your productions.
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Try Before You Buy
Interested in finding out if REAPER is the right DAW for you? You can download a full version of REAPER to use for free for up to 60 days. After the evaluation period, users are required to purchase an individual use license for $60.
Already using REAPER to produce for ACX? Leave a comment to let us know how you customize your setup for audiobook production!
Last month, we met best-selling author Amy Daws and learned how she uses social media to forge authentic relationships with her fans. Today, she shares how these connections help keep her followers’ attention between new releases. Read on to learn how she maximizes her engagement by creating exclusive content her listeners can’t get enough of.
Q: You got a flurry of media attention last year with a story about you writing a book in the waiting room of a tire shop—what’s the story with the Tires, Tires, Tires saga?
A: When I started writing at a tire shop and posting about it on social media, I could instantly tell that my readers were loving the anecdotes. Heck, even my author friends were dying laughing over the fact that I liked the vibe there and the complimentary beverages. Everyone was having fun with me just being me so I kept posting about it. It was something authentic, silly, and positive in a book world that can sometimes get bogged down with drama.
Part of what I do with social media is bring my readers along for the ride, and when things snowballed into national blogs posting about me and news stations requesting interviews…at that point, it was sort of a fun win for us all, not just me. That’s why, when I decided to turn that crazy experience into my book, Wait With Me, I continued to let my fans be a part of the process from the cover shoot to the book signing at the tire shop. All of it! Their social media interactions were the reason that my craziness got national attention, so they deserved to be a part of it.
And above all, I’m a storyteller, so sharing bits of my day writing in a tire shop waiting room is fun and easy.
Q: And how does this tie into keeping your listeners engaged between books?
A: By continuing to be authentic and real and goofy, I’ve created a bond with my readers that feels really strong. Many of them found me through my Tires, Tires, Tires journey and then went on to read all of my backlist. My books reflect my personality and my silly voice on social media, so they get more of what they like about me…which helps make them fans for life, instead of fans for one story.
Q: What else do you do to keep your fans following along even when you don’t have a new book to promote?
A: There’s peaks and valleys, and I try to drop a sale or a free edition of my print/eBooks when there’s a valley—just something to keep my name at the top of their minds. And I try to do unique releases here and there to keep people happy.
A reader Facebook group does this great series called “Bedtime Stories” and they asked me to give them new content and be one of their featured authors. I [wrote a short story] and posted it there exclusively, and I found it to be a great way to attract new readers while giving a special free gift to my already loyal fans.
I did a re-branding and re-release of That One Moment [now Strength], a crossover book between my London Lovers and Harris Brothers series. I wrote 10,000 words of new content and re-released it for 99c in Kindle Unlimited. I even went a step further and had my narrators record the new content, which ACX updated on the original so if audio listeners previously owned That One Moment on audio, all they had to do was delete and re-download to get the bonus scenes! Going that extra step only gained me audiobook sales, so I’m really glad I did that. It was a successful rebranding of a story that I was proud of and it gave a new set of legs to a book that hadn’t sold the best in the past.
And I brought my narrator, Will Watt, with me to a big book signing in Philadelphia! He’s British and fun and has narrated my entire Harris Brothers series, so my readers loved getting to meet him!
Q: We hear you’re using YouTube to great effect, too! What are you up to there?
A: I like having a place where all my videos sit and don’t just disappear down a Facebook timeline, so I started a YouTube Channel with a group of authors in addition to my own YouTube channel. I post on both. My background is in video production, so I like to take an excerpt from my audiobooks, preferably so listeners are getting something new, and add photos and motion graphics to turn it into a “sample movie” so to speak. I upload the video to YouTube and use that link in my newsletter and on Facebook takeovers/giveaways. I might say “Check out this sample and comment below with what you think for a chance to win an Audible download!” People love to click on videos and it makes for great new way for them to hear a sample.
Erin Mallon and Teddy Hamilton, the narrators of Wait With Me, both did videos for me to help promote the book. They even took it a step further and recorded scenes from each other’s chapters—Erin read the male perspective and Teddy read the female perspective. It engaged my listeners in a personal way, and I posted it everywhere—not just to YouTube and my newsletter, but to audiobook Facebook groups, my own Facebook pages—anywhere I could.
Q: What advice would you give indie authors making the move into audiobooks?
A: Audiobooks are such a growing format, you’d be crazy not to get on board with it! Even authors who have published audio editions, I feel like a lot of them aren’t talking about audio enough. For every promotional post you do for your book, you should include an audio link. You need to be constantly reminding people that you’re not just an eBook author, you’re an audiobook author, too!
Amy Daws is an Amazon Top 25 bestselling author of sexy, contemporary romance novels with 15 titles in audio. She enjoys writing love stories that take place in America, as well as across the pond in England; especially about those footy-playing Harris Brothers of hers. When Amy is not writing in a tire shop waiting room, she’s watching Gilmore Girls, or singing karaoke in the living room with her daughter while Daddy smiles awkwardly from a distance. For more of Amy’s work, visit: http://www.amydawsauthor.com.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 Bookin 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:
Category: Original Work Written and Performed by: Mark Binder
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.
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.
Q: 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.
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.
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.
Q: 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
We here at the blog spend a lot of time focusing on digital marketing, and for good reason—online self-promotion is a great way to access a large, diverse audience, and digital marketing efforts are easy to track. But let us not overlook good old-fashioned word-of-mouth for getting the word out about your audiobook. Say you’re appearing on a podcast or at an event—these are marketing opportunities, and to make the most of them, you’ll want to tell interested listeners exactly where they can go to buy your audiobook. But since you can’t hyperlink someone in a conversation (at least not yet), you’ll want to offer a snappy one-liner that’s easy to remember and visit.
So, get thee to a shortener, posthaste! URL shorteners are online services that create easy to manage URLs for you to use at all of your speaking opportunities. They can also help you develop SEO for your personal brand and provide you with tools to track your word-of-mouth marketing efforts.
We’ve gathered a few of our favorite services to share with you here. Keep in mind these are all third-party services, so their availability or features might change—after all, Google is pulling the plug on its URL shortener, goo.gl, at the end of March. Most of the services we’ve compiled offer both free and subscription plans, with varying levels of tracking for your links including geographic data, click-through rates, top referrers, and information on site visitors based on device, platform, and time, so you can track your marketing efforts and see where the traffic to your URL is coming from.
We recommend using your Bounty URLs whenever you promote your ACX audiobooks, so learn how to access yours and join us as we review the ins and outs of some popular URL shortening services.What it is: The most customizable of URL shorteners, this service allows you to use your shortened links to reinforce your brand, for example: yourname.author/audiobook
Why we like it:
Their free plan offers 500 branded links, five custom domain names, tracking on 5,000 clicks per month, and unlimited redirects.
A comprehensive site experience allows you to see exactly what you’ll get with each plan before you commit.
The tracking dashboard allows you to track traffic by geography, device, platform, referrer, and trends over time.
What we’d change: At $29 a month, the paid plan is more expensive than some of the other paid options we’ve listed, but the price jumps steeply between individual and team-oriented plans.
What it is: Bitly is a comprehensive, business-grade URL shortener with all the bells and whistles, including customizable, branded links and a tracking dashboard featuring extensive data on the traffic coming to your links.
Why we like it:
You can create custom, shortened URLs for more sophisticated branding.
Their free plan is sufficient for most individual and small business needs, and offers tracking on click-through rates and top referrers for 500 branded or 10,000 non-branded links.
Bitly offers an “Enterprise” option at customizable pricing tiers with more advanced tracking features like user experience and real-time analytics.
What we’d change: Their initial site experience can be a bit overwhelming and it can be difficult to tell what specific features will be available to you before signing up.
What it is: A great URL shortener option for those interested in exploring link tracking features to see what meets their needs, but not yet ready to commit to a paid plan.
Why we like it:
Their 21-day free trial lets you test drive some of the more extensive features of paid tiers before committing to a plan.
The free tier allows you 1,000 shortened links, branded links, and tracks trending and basic stats on 1,000 clicks per link.
The first paid tier of service is an affordable option at $12 a month and offers additional features such as multiple users, account support, and unlimited custom domains.
What we’d change: The free plan is a little more limited in terms of analytics than some of the other free options out there.
What it is: A URL shortener with a free plan offering unlimited links, this service has the unique feature of generating a custom QR code with your shortened link.
Why we like it:
Their free plan offers unlimited shortened URLs, clicks to your links, and redirects, as well as click-tracking by year, month and day, country, device, browser, platform, and referrer.
The first-level paid tier is an affordable $10 a month and offers branded URLs and one custom domain.
What we’d change: There is a large leap in pricing and features between the first-tier ‘Standard’ plan and the next-tier ‘Enterprise’ plan (a difference of $10 and $90 a month), which offers unlimited custom domains and branded URLs.
What it is: A fast, free, anonymous URL shortener that allows you to create shortened URLs for any site instantly, without creating an account.
Why we like it:
Its browser plug-in allows you to create a shortened URL instantly from any page you’re on—just click the icon on your toolbar after installing, and you’ll be directed back to TinyURL’s site where a shortened URL of the page you just left will be waiting for you.
What we’d change: This service doesn’t offer any tracking or customization with its shortened links, so it’s a great ‘quick fix’ if you need a shortened URL fast, but it lacks the marketing tools we love in the other options we’ve suggested.
Now that you know a little more about your options, you can start using the URL shortener that’s right for you to create snappy, custom URLs that are easy to share in-person and on your websites, social media platforms, email newsletters, and business cards. Short URLs are a great way to enhance your Bounty URLs, and since most include additional tools to add to your marketing toolbox, they can also be a great way to test, track, and refine your marketing strategies.
Have you made URL shorteners a part of your audiobook marketing efforts?
You’re telling those tales, ACX’ers, but before yours can take up residence in someone’s soul, it has to take up residence in their ears. So how do you get your story housed in that valuable real estate? As with any real estate, the key is location, location, location—as in, don’t make your listeners go to a secondary location to hear your audio sample, bring the audio sample directly to them. And that’s where SoundCloud comes in!
SoundCloud is social audio platform that allows artists such as yourselves to connect directly with their fans—create a profile, upload audio files, and embed SoundCloud’s audio player on your website and social media platforms, or share it in your email newsletter. Uploading a sample of your audiobook to SoundCloud allows you to put that sample right in front of your fans so they can simply click and play—and while you’re at it, add your Bounty Link to your sample so listeners know just where to go hear the rest of your story!
Once you’ve created a SoundCloud account, click “Upload” in the upper right-hand corner, then select your chosen audio clip from your computer. We recommend starting with your book’s Retail Audio Sample, which you can download from your Project Dashboard on ACX.
While your file uploads, click the “Choose new image” button on the left-hand side of the page. Then, click “Upload new image.” Next, find and select your cover art.
In the “Title” field, enter the title of your audiobook, the author name, and narrator name.
In the “Tags” field, enter any tags that you feel will best help promote your title. At minimum, you should use the following tags: Audiobooks, Audio Books, Audio, Books, [Author Name], [Narrator Name], Series Name, Genres. Be sure to enter in each tag individually.
In the “Description” field, we recommend the following information:
A short description of your audiobook
The name of the narrator
A brief “about the author” section
Links to related titles or books in the series
Links to your website or social media platforms
Your Bounty referral links
Once you’re satisfied with your entry, click the “Save” button.
Once you have saved and posted your book to SoundCloud, click “Go to your track.” You can now share the URL at the top of the page on social media or on your website.
Better yet, you can embed your SoundCloud link on your website by clicking the “Share” button in the center of the page.
After clicking the “Share” button, you can choose to share the URL to your favorite social media platform or embed the SoundCloud player on your website. You can even select how you’d like the embedded SoundCloud link to look. Finally, copy the code and paste it to your website.
Once you create your SoundCloud link, you can use it to:
Add audio widgets to your book descriptions on your website.
Create an audiobook page on your website featuring all of your audio samples.
Share it on social media with Soundcloud’s handy Share button.
Tag it, and share it on your newly created SoundCloud page.
Embed it in your next newsletter to your fans.
Your fans are all engaging with the stories that move them in different ways—some of them are cozying up with a print copy of your book at home, some are enjoying your e-book on their travels, and some are taking in your audiobook on their morning commute—so why not meet them where they like to engage? Make sure your fans with a preference for listening know you have an audiobook option, and connect them with that listening experience directly by bringing your audio to them. Using SoundCloud to add embedded widgets and links to your marketing platforms is an elegant way to deliver a sample of your audiobook to potential listeners, and pairing your Bounty Link with the audio means just one easy click between connecting with your audio story and purchasing it!
Already using SoundCloud to promote your audiobook? Share your examples in the comments!
Remember that feeling you got the last time you found an amazing new author and couldn’t wait to go out and devour everything they’ve ever written? We want to help you spark that kind of excitement in your fans. How, you ask? Get out there and talk to your audience! Today, we’ve put together some tips to help you craft a targeted email and social media campaign that will keep your fans listening and help you earn Bounty payments.
Targeting and Re-Targeting
First things first—let’s find out who’s listening. Surveys can be a great tool for creating awareness for your audiobook and deciding what marketing and production decisions to make next. Set up a poll using a service like Survey Monkey or your preferred social media platform (Facebook and Twitter both offering polling) to gather data about your fans, and use this opportunity to ask your audience additional questions, such as:
Where and how they listen
Whether they prefer male or female voices
Who their favorite narrators are
What types of audiobooks they typically listen to
Follow your survey with an email or social media ad that promotes your audiobook and directs listeners to Audible with your Bounty Referral link.
From there, you can review the results of your social media ad or check with your email client to learn how you can see which recipients opened your email and followed the links. Then, use that information to launch a follow-up campaign. Try sending non-openers an email with a new subject line to grab their attention, or appeal to openers who didn’t click the links with a different incentive to listen. You can then track traffic to Audible and view resulting audiobook purchases on your Bounty Dashboard to understand which of your tactics are working best.
Keep ‘Em Listening
Now that your fans have listened to your audiobook, what do they listen to next? Prompt them to listen to the other audiobooks in your series, another audiobook in your catalog, or even recommend a title by a peer in your genre. This keeps your fans engaged in the world of audiobooks and helps ensure they’ll stay Audible members.
Want to reach an even wider audience? Talk with fellow ACX authors about sending an email campaign on each other’s behalf to promote your books to a new audience. Use this as an opportunity to bond with your fans over something you both care about—audiobooks! Create a “listening list” or “listening book club,” include recommendations for some of your own favorite audiobooks, or invite listeners to suggest some of their favorites. Then host a Facebook event or Instagram live video where everyone can discuss their listening experience.
Recommending new audiobooks and getting recommendations from your peers not only builds your connection and rapport with your fans, it keeps them in the habit of listening. New listeners may become Audible members, and fans who are already regular audiobook listeners are more likely to pick up your work.
Direct communication with your fans, whether it’s promoting your title or starting a discussion about what you’re listening to, can help you learn who your listeners are and grow your connection with them into a listening community that will sustain your success as an audiobook creator. Including your Bounty Link in all of your marketing efforts not only gives new listeners an easy way to access your titles, it can show you what strategies are driving traffic to your work. Check out Marketing with the ACX-Perts for more ideas on how to get the word out about your audiobook, and keep an eye on the ACX blog for additional marketing resources to help you earn even more.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated throughout.
Earlier this year, we kicked off another exciting edition of ACX University with a look at Kristina Rienzi’s Among Us and a chance to audition to narrate and produce her alien conspiracy thriller. Over 65 auditions later, we’re thrilled to announce that Kristina has chosen Lewis Arlt to voice her audiobook! Let’s hear from Kristina on casting Lewis to produce Among Us:
The narrator selection process wasn’t an easy one. Every voice had a unique strength that would have added value to Among Us, but I needed to find the perfect fit. I weighed everything, and after much contemplation, I chose the performer who moved me the most, who captured my story and characters perfectly, who gave me chills with his voice. Lewis’ performance delivered what every listener wants when they choose a thriller—a visceral response. I’m certain beyond any doubt that Lewis will not only do Among Us justice, but will bring my fast-paced, dark, and twisted story to life like no one else. I cannot wait to hear the final product!
ACX Producer Lewis Arlt
For his part, Lewis was first drawn to the chance to voice this thrilling piece of fiction after focusing primarily on non-fiction on ACX:
[T]he notion of a thriller appealed to me from the standpoint of character delineation and plot progression in ways that non-fiction doesn’t usually offer. Additionally, Kristina’s writing drew me in. It’s a unique blend of stylistic choices – traditional spooky tension and flat-out terror, combined with wry sardonic contemporary observations, and a variety of pace, all of which gives the narrator lots to work with, and the listener to enjoy.
Listen to Lewis’ audition for Among Us below, and watch this space for updates on the production.
Check out the full slate of ACX University 2018 episodes here.
Before we pop the champagne and ring in 2019, we’re looking back at your wonderful accomplishments from 2018. You published tens of thousands of audiobooks, found new listening fans, and helped make the ACX community more vibrant than ever. We hope you’ve enjoyed a successful 2018, and to help you continue the trend in 2019, we asked some of our favorite Storytellers of 2018 how they define success. Find inspiration by using their stories to shape your own audio successes in the year to come.
I define success as “goals set and reached.” Now, that can be confusing because I don’t always reach every goal I set. Sometimes, in the reaching, I discover something else entirely and my goal shifts.
This year my goals were to create something, collaborate, and stretch my talents AND to get back to my “pre-baby” recording schedule of one book per week. Tall order, huh? Well, along with a team of very talented writers, we created the industry’s very FIRST audiobook musical, “SPIN-The Rumpelstiltskin Musical” which I am so incredibly proud of. And… although it took me until September, I managed to to maintain a book per week schedule. I had to record day and night to do it (between, mommy duties) but I did it! Thank you, coffee! Part of my ability to meet these goals was good old fashioned luck (meeting my creative team) and part was just good old fashioned hard work. However… My take-away; success happens when preparation meets opportunity.
Success is best when it has not yet been attained. You never want to find success. Get close, sure, but don’t catch it. If you do, you’ll sit back to rest and be satisfied. You’ll lose that thing that drives you toward the really good work, and then as a writer you’ll be done. Focus instead on writing the most honest thing you can; the truest thing, whether your line is fiction or not. Write a thing that scares you, or makes you uncomfortable, or makes you feel shy for others to read it because you’ve put so much of yourself into the words. That will always be your best work, and then the right people will notice.
I wish I had a “wise monk on a mountain” answer for this, as there are so many different forms of success. Focusing on my own 2018 experience, I’d say I met with sales success when I took steps to promote my own self-produced novels Deep Shadow and Zombie Bigfoot as well as a couple books I recorded for Robert McCammon. My advice for ACX producers and narrators on Royalty Share: get your title out there! Use every last one of those promo codes you get from ACX. Blitz social media. Promote the print and ebook, too, because their visibility on Amazon will improve the visibility of the audio. Consider doing a “Reviewer Blog Tour”, either in the book’s genre or for audiobooks in general. The job isn’t over when you finish uploading the files!
Success is not a single moment in time but rather the feelings I get from A) doing quality work that fulfills me and B) making a positive difference in other people’s lives. I help others in multiple ways, from advising narrators to sharing my prosperity with people and organizations who need it. In addition to my narration work in the last year, I published 2 titles! For one, I licensed the rights to Road to Tara: The Life Of Margaret Mitchell by Anne Edwards. I’m thrilled to announce that this audiobook has been recognized with 2 prestigious honors:
Nominee for Best Narration in Audiobook Biography, 2018 Voice Arts Awards
Finalist for Best Audiobook, 2018 Digital Book World Awards
My advice to other narrators is to create your own work. You don’t have to wait to win auditions or meet the right people. You could find a dream project, license the rights, and cast yourself! In this article, I outlined many of the steps, obstacles, and side journeys I found on the Road to Tara to encourage you along a similar path.
I would define success as the opportunity to work on projects that make a positive difference in the larger community, as well as being personally meaningful and valuable. 2018 is the year that I was able to fully embrace this notion and thrive in my work in audio at a new and higher level. I narrated more projects than ever before this year, several of which were produced through the ACX platform. And this was the year that my audio directing career really took off, with the release of our Audible Originals Stinker Lets Loose! (a New York Times Monthly Bestseller with Jon Hamm), and improvised show Bad Reception, plus Maximum Fun’s new scripted series Bubble, recently named one of Apple’s Best of 2018 picks. 2019 is bringing more big new series, including a live show at SF Sketchfest in January for Bad Reception, and a few other new shows I can’t talk about just yet! I’m grateful that people are listening, and grateful for opportunity to work with incredible collaborators who make sure we have interesting things to say.
Success to me is being able to make a good enough living to support my family. It’s being recognized by my peers as someone who knows and respects the business of audiobooks, someone they can trust to answer their questions with solid, actionable advice based on my experiences. Success is having fun doing what you love, yet always trying to improve your craft so that you can continue to grow in an ever changing field. Awards and recognition are great but they don’t define success. Success is continually working in an ever growing and more competitive field with the people and publishers you love.
How do we define success? By the careers launched, the audiobooks published, and the words brought to life on ACX. A bell rings every time an ACX audiobook gets a glowing review on Audible, and this year our bells have been ringing of the hook! From all of us at ACX to all the audiobook superstars in the US and abroad, here’s to an even bigger and more rewarding 2019.
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.