Tag Archives: Audiobook Creation Exchange

A Portrait of the Artist

Listen here, ACX Producer—when’s the last time you updated that profile page of yours? Here on the blog, we can often be found extolling the importance of investing in your home studio, honing your editing and mastering skills, and publicizing your work on social media platforms. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight the value of your professional presence on ACX—your Producer profile! A curated, well-maintained profile will not only make it easier for Rights Holders to find you on ACX, it can help you stand out from the crowd and command the attention of authors and publishers on the hunt for talent like yours.

So, what are the elements of a successful profile? We’ve written a guide to giving your profile the makeover it deserves and sprinkled it with examples from some excellent Audible Approved Producers. Refer to the highlighted areas in the image below as you read along at home.

Prod Profile_01

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Profile Image

A complete, professional-looking ACX profile should include an image, first and foremost (1). Many Producers choose a professional headshot or a picture of themselves having fun in the studio. Not all voiceover artists wish to provide a headshot, however; many feel that their physical appearance sets an expectation incongruent with the variety of vocal performance they’re able to deliver, and would prefer to let their voice speak for itself. In that case, we recommend a graphic or logo developed to represent your brand—Fiverr can be a great place to source one of these—or a picture of your studio without you in it.

Bio

There are two places for you to biographize yourself on your ACX profile: the one-line blurb that appears beneath your name, and the “About” section (2). The first is a great place to offer a zippy little intro that grabs the searcher’s attention. Draw some inspiration from these great one-liners:

  • Confident, Intellectual, Charismatic—The Darkly Sophisticated British Storyteller. (Hannibal Hills)
  • Bright. Vivacious. (Suzanne Barbetta)
  • A smooth blend of professional sound with a personal touch! Bringing stories to life for over 15 years as a narrator and voiceover talent. (Heather Costa)

Then, there’s space under the “About” tab to add a longer bio (3). This is a place to give a comprehensive overview of how you got started, how long you’ve been narrating/producing, why you love it, what sorts of characters/projects you’re drawn to, your vocal range, repertoire, and any special skills you possess. For example, Kyle Tait highlights his extensive experience as a sports announcer. Listing this type of skill might seem irrelevant to audiobook production, but it can capture the attention of the author of a sports biography that wants to be confident their narrator is up to tackling the specific jargon and style of their book. Consider your unique skills and knowledge outside the world of audiobooks, and include anything that makes you stand out!

Prod Profile_02

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Samples

We know it’s tempting to include samples of the great work you’ve done in short form VO, but compelling as they may be, they aren’t especially relevant to Rights Holders looking to hire you for an audiobook project. For your ACX Profile, it’s best to include audiobook samples (4). If you’re new to audiobooks and don’t have many (or any) productions under your belt, head over to Project Gutenberg and choose an appropriate piece from the 60,000 free public domain books on their site. Remember, you can always link to your website from your profile and include your other VO work there.

Next, be judicious when it comes to the number of samples on your profile: too few and your experience and range won’t be apparent, too many, and authors may find themselves overwhelmed and moving on before they give you a good listen. Choose just 5-7 of your best samples that showcase great production values, your range as a performer, and a variety of genres, character types, and dialects. Hannibal Hills and Suzanne Barbetta use their “Sample” sections to great effect, including samples from a wide variety of genres so prospective authors can hear their range as a performer and don’t have to imagine whether they’re up to the task. Pro Tip: you’ll notice these producers have named the samples according to the genres and/or vocal styles they represent. The author or publisher perusing your profile may be completely unfamiliar with the book titles listed in your repertoire, so help them out a little by describing the vocal skills and characteristics on display in each sample.

Credits

Think of this section (5) as your IMDB page on ACX—this is your space to list not only the audiobooks you’ve recorded, but the movies, television shows, theater productions, commercials, radio programs, or video games you or your voice has appeared in (yes, here we encourage you to include relevant non-audiobook work). We also find that successful Producers include related experience, education, and training, be it a master’s degree in theater or a vocal performance workshop they took. Many producers, such as Kyle Tait, also choose to list the gear they use in their home studio setup here so that authors know they have the tools to produce a great audiobook, whereas Suzanne Barbetta features her experience as a paralegal under “Special Skills” to impart her knowledge of legal terminology. Heather Costa lists all of her available audiobook titles under “Credits,” which not every Producer chooses to do, but the list is impressive and the effect is clear—you can tell at a glance she has plenty of experience and has been re-hired by several authors to narrate multiple titles in their catalog.

Prod Profile_03

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Awards and Recognition

This is no place for humility, folks—this section (6) is your chance to brag a little! Show off your accomplishments and tell ‘em what the critics are saying—include any awards you’ve won or been nominated for, include ratings and reviews from listeners on Audible (like Hannibal Hills has done) or from authors who have been happy with your performance and delivery of the project, such as in Heather Costa’s profile. Most consumers don’t make an online purchase without reading the reviews first, so why should we assume shopping for an audiobook narrator should be any different?

Now that you know the ins and outs of a shining producer profile, don’t let it get dusty! Keep it current and up to date with your achievements, new releases, and professional development. Your producer profile is more than just your resume on ACX—there’s a good chance you won’t meet the authors you work with in person, and won’t have contact with them until they make the offer to produce their book, so think of your profile page as your resumé, audition, and interview, all rolled into one. Someone wise once said you only get one chance to make a first impression, so you’d better make it an impressive one, don’t you think?

The Case for Audio

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.

Cheerful girl wearing sweater standingBut 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.

Lovely young girl wearing winter clothes standingThe 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.

How to Win Fans and Influence Listeners

In the world of audiobook marketing, there are two demographics of untapped listeners you’re trying to reach: audiobook fans who don’t yet listen to your books, and fans of your books who don’t yet listen to audio. Today, in part one of our two-part series, we’re focusing on that first demographic.

Business is Booming

ACX Promo Codes are a great tool for connecting with audiobook listeners. But many wonder who to send these codes to. Audiobook reviewers do exist, but they’re not always found in the same places as as book reviewers. Do you give your codes to friends and family? They might not listen, or leave a helpful review, and anyway they’re unlikely to become the kind of paying customers you’re hoping to discover. The best way to turn promo codes into new fans and compelling reviews on Audible is to target experienced listeners, and one way to do that is though services like Audiobook Boom!

static1.squarespace.comAudiobook Boom! connects Rights Holders and Producers with audiobook listeners. Audible Approved Producer Jeffrey Kafer started AB nearly four years ago, and has since built up a database of almost 8,000 bloggers, reviewers, and audiobook fans who receive promo codes, listen to the corresponding audiobook, and leave a review. Interested creators pay Audiobook Boom! a $12 fee for a one-time listing of their title and submit the details of the book in a short blurb.

Audiobook Boom! is free for listeners, who receive an email every Tuesday detailing that week’s crop of available titles. Listeners indicate their interest in specific books and Audiobook Boom takes care of the rest—in a few days creators receive a link to a personalized spreadsheet containing all the listeners interested in their book. Creators can then review listener profiles, choose those who have a history of providing thoughtful reviews, and distribute promo codes directly to them. Listeners can claim an unlimited number of audiobooks, although the site advises that they request no more than they can listen to in a month. Rights Holders may distribute codes to as many listeners as they like.

Jeffrey Kafer - Headshot2

Jeffrey Kafer, owner of Audiobook Boom!

Kafer’s advice on how to get the best boom for your buck? Submit titles of 6 or more listening hours in mainstream, broad-interest genres such as romance, fantasy, sci-fi, or mystery, and make sure to write an interesting book blurb. Creators can submit as many titles at once as they want, but to keep content fresh for listeners they’re asked to promote each title no more than once every 6 months.  Most audiobooks will receive roughly 40-50 requests, and the review rate is about 25%, Kafer says—not all listeners will write a review, but creators still get exposure to a new audience. Word of mouth is important, and Audiobook Boom! is a way to get your work in front of new listeners who may then pass the word along.

The audiobook industry is growing at an exponential rate and there’s an increasingly enormous number of titles for listeners to choose from. Audiobook Boom! offers two ways you can help your content stand out to listeners who are fans of your genre, but haven’t yet found your work: sending promo codes to dedicated audiobook listeners expands your audience and builds word of mouth, and great reviews will catch the eye of listeners.

Stay on the lookout for part two of our series, as we tackle that other pool of listeners-to-be—your readers who haven’t yet discovered the magic of audio.

Negotiate Your Perfect Deal with Royalty Share Plus

Today, we’re excited to introduce a long-requested feature: Royalty Share Plus!

With Royalty Share Plus, authors and publishers can invest in their audiobooks by contributing to the production costs and accessing an even greater community of Producers. This new payment option is an evolution of the Royalty Share concept, allowing ACX RSP_Brick Wall.pngRights Holders to negotiate a per-finished-hour payment for their projects in addition to splitting royalties with their Producer. Once the audiobook production is complete, Rights Holders send the Royalty Share Plus fee to their Producer, and ACX will split your royalties once the audiobook becomes available for sale.

For Producers, this means building a portfolio of steady residual income and paying everyday expenses. Producers tell us this option helps them pay for supporting services like audio engineering, take care of everyday expenses, upgrade their recording equipment, and expedite production to create even better audiobooks. Authors and Publishers can discover talented performers that may not have been previously accessible to take your audiobook production to new heights.

We hope you’ll consider Royalty Share Plus for your next audiobook production. We can’t wait to hear what you do next!

Learn more about Royalty Share Plus and all of your production options on ACX.

Amy Daws on Keeping Listeners Engaged Between Releases

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.AmyDaws bio photo

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. Tires_Sign2.png

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.

Will WattAnd 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.

AGYT

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.

Amy Daws on Her Authentic Social Media Self

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

AmyDaws bio photoQ: How would you describe your writing?

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

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

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

Q: Tell us about your online presence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy daws insta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What inspires you?

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

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

Make It Snappy: Marketing with URL Shorteners

snappy2We 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.rebrandlyWhat 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.

bitly

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.

blink

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.

t2m

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.

tiny

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?

Now Hear This: Creating a SoundCloud Link to Promote Your Audiobook

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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!

Creating a Clip

  1. Go to SoundCloud.com and create a free account.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. In the “Title” field, enter the title of your audiobook, the author name, and narrator name.
  5. 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.
  6. In the “Description” field, we recommend the following information:
    1. A short description of your audiobook
    2. The name of the narrator
    3. A brief “about the author” section
    4. Links to related titles or books in the series
    5. Links to your website or social media platforms
    6. Your Bounty referral links
  7. Once you’re satisfied with your entry, click the “Save” button.
  8. 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.
  9. Better yet, you can embed your SoundCloud link on your website by clicking the “Share” button in the center of the page.
  10. 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.

Learn how to access your Bounty Links in our Help Center.

Sharing Your Clips

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.

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  • Share it on social media with Soundcloud’s handy Share button.
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  • Tag it, and share it on your newly created SoundCloud page.

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  • 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!

How to Get (and Keep!) New Audiobook Listeners

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

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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.

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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.

Cross-Promoting

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.

This Week in Links: October 1 – 5

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ACX is excited to announce that we’re once again partnering with The Society of Voice Arts and Sciences at That’s Voiceover 2018! This year’s event will take place on Saturday, November 17th at the Sheraton Universal Hotel at Universal Studios Hollywood, and we’re offering a number of ways audiobook actors and producers can interact with ACX and Audible Studios:

  • Learn from our all-star panel presentation, Becoming an Audiobook Actor-preneur. Scott Brick, Luke Daniels, and Khristine Hvam will help you develop the tools you need to grow a long career in audiobook performance/production.
  • Meet the ACX team at our exhibit hall booth. Bring your audiobook production, performance, and marketing questions. We want to hear from you!
  • Read for Audible Studios. Schedule a one-on-one session with Audible Studios producer Chris Sacco and get feedback on your performance in the moment. The top male and female talent will each land a contract to perform a title for Audible Studios. Sign up here.

Get your tickets here, and make sure to use code ACXTVO18 to get 20% off. We hope to see you there.

For Producers:

Would You Survive The Shark Tank? – via Paul Strikwerda – “If I were an investor on Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den, and you came to me with a pitch to back your business, what would I be looking for?”

6 Ways Social Media Can Hurt Your Voice Over Business – via Debbie Grattan – “To make sure your social media efforts end up benefiting instead of hurting your business, it’s crucial to steer clear of six different social media habits that can damage your VO career.

Speak From Your Diaphragm! – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Learn the why this piece of advice is so often repeated, and how to implement it in front of the mic.

For Rights Holders:

Meet the Super Fan … the Secret Sauce Authors Want – via The Book Designer – “[W]hen you set out to develop and build Super Fans, you create a cult of sorts. You are “the one” that they are dedicated/devoted to. Whatever your words are, they think you are the cat’s meow.”

Know The Media’s Purpose In Order to Have Your Book Covered by The – via BookMarkertingBuzzBlog – “[T]he media and authors need to find one another and click. They must see value in each other, a value greater than most others provide for them. Can you give the media what it wants.”

October Observances to Inspire Your Author Marketing – via author marketing experts – Turn to the calendar when in need of a touchstone for your book marketing efforts.