Tag Archives: Audiobook Creation Exchange

This Week in Links: April 10 – 14

For Producers:

Are You Ready for World Voice Day? – via Paul Strikwelda – The experienced VO uses the yearly celebration of the human voice to tout the importance of maintaining your instrument.

Do You Look Influential, Capable, Likeable?! – via Natasha Marchewka – “Despite the fact that voice talent are all about audio, having a professional headshot has always been important to me because I’ve understood the psychology of presenting a good 1st impression.”

What Can Voiceover Talents Learn from the Kendall Jenner Pepsi Commercial? – via Peter K. O’Connell – “[S]elling the soda, not selling world justice, is Pepsi’s only real job. That’s our job too.”

Seasoned Voice Over Actors Share a Glimpse of Their Voice Over Lives – via Voice Over Herald – Get a humorous peek behind the curtain from two of the most famous VO’s working today.

For Rights Holders:

Finding Your Target Audience – via Amazon Author Insights – “Marketing your book successfully has a lot to do with answering these questions: Who are my readers? How will they find my book? Will readers want to buy my book once they’ve discovered it?”

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – via The Book Designer – This monthly feature takes a look at some real-life examples of the coulda, woulda, shoulda behind authors’ marketing decisions.

Marketing Tip: Build That Email List – via CreateSpace – “Building a mailing list takes time and effort, but it can be a valuable marketing tool, perhaps your most valuable marketing tool.”

How to Make ALL Ads, Marketing & Newsletters Work BETTER – via Kristen Lamb – The foundation for all goods and services (brands) is the relationship. Nothing sells without establishing, building and improving the relationship.

This Week in Links: March 20 – 24

For Producers:

Making Room – via Dave Courvoisier – “What old business practices, coaching tips, or social media schemes are you continuing to use… JUST BECAUSE you always have?”

What Can a New Voice Over Do To Get Noticed? – Pay Attention to Your Needs – via Voice Over Herald – “To help you find the root cause of your failures and rejections, get someone who will be honest with you, brutally and utterly honest.”

Joe’s VO Intel – Ep 93 “Audiobooks: Narrator vs Character – via Edge Studio – Learn how and when to vacillate between a neutral and emotional voice when narrating nonfiction.

ACX University Presents: Now Hear This: A Closer Look at Performing Top Audiobook Genres – via ACX – “Join ACX as we dive deep into performing in the best-selling fiction and non-fiction genres with help from some best-selling voices. Actors Mark Boyett and Piper Goodeve join Kat Lambrix of Audible Studios.”

For Rights Holders:

How to Hitch a Ride on Someone Else’s Holiday to Sell Books – via The Book Designer – “It takes time and requires patience. But most of all, it takes courage to step far outside your comfort zone, something most authors who are introverts are loathe to do.”

How to Create a Review Campaign for Your Book Launch – via Book Marketing Tools – “Honest, authentic reviews are the result of connecting with readers and either exceeding or failing their expectations. Contrary to what some authors might believe, however, getting reviews isn’t a waiting game.”

Workshops – via CreateSpace – “Why would I want to undertake such a task? Simple. It’s a way to associate my brand with a topic that is crucial to the theme of my books.”

The Reasons Branding Confuses You and How To Fix That Right Now – via Bad Redhead – “Branding is not (solely) about your books. I know, right? Weird.”

This Week in Links: March 13 – 17

For Rights Holders:

5 Quick-Fire Tips to Ramp up Your Book Launch via Social Media – Book Marketing Tools – “Running a good social media campaign for your book launch is about maximizing exposure, promoting engagement, and generating enthusiastic support from followers and fans.”

Do We Understand The Book Reader? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “The best writer lets her mind and soul lead the way.  She writes, unapologetically and daringly confronts the truths, lies, and unknowns in life.”

Why Indie Authors Need to be Bold with Social Media – via ALLi – “To be truly successful there needs to be a mind-shift from ‘what can I get?’, to ‘what can I do for others with social media as a tool?'”

Be the Gateway: The Dan Blank Interview – via The Book Designer – “Your work is your work. I think that building your gateway and opening it up is the idea of ‘Can you explain it to me in a way that doesn’t just show me what you are about, but it connects it to what I really care about; the way where it lets me lean in, and I think about it?'”

For Producers:

Are You Ready for a Voice-Over Career? A Five Question Quiz – via Debbie Grattan – “If you’re in the midst of making a decision to jump off into the pool of voice-over actors to determine if it’s right for you, you will want to answer these five questions to ensure you’re truly prepared to climb up on that diving board.”

Kick That Cold to the Curb – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Learn how to stop or shorten a cold so your voice will not suffer as badly.

In Voice Over: Dare the Difference and Find your Authentic Voice – via Bobbin Beam – “Here’s a suggestion: Make who you are your selling point. Stop measuring yourself, your voice-over performance, your “popularity” against others’ standards and claims of others before you.”

What Can a New Voice Over Do To Get Noticed? – BE EMOTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE – via Voice Over Herald – Your talent and skill as a voice over actor can make people stop and listen, but what will make them hire you, continue to work with you, be loyal to you, and refer you to others is your pleasing personality.

This Week in Links: March 6 – 10

For Producers:

10 Things To Do On The Slow Voice Over Days – via Marc Scott – There are a number of things that you can do to benefit your business when the “recording” light in your studio is off.

The One Thing That Will Improve Your Voice Acting Immediately – via Paul Strikwerda – “Today I want to focus on something that many of my voice-over students struggle with. They have trouble sounding “natural.”

Are You a PROFESSIONAL Voice Actor? – via Dave Courvoisier – How do you define your voiceover career?

ACX Storytellers: Amanda Rose Smith – via The ACX Blog – “Mistakes are important to catch, of course, but over the years, what I’ve learned first and foremost is the nature of collaboration in session work.”

For Rights Holders:

What Every Author Should Know About the Social Side of Book Launches – via Book Marketing Tools – “There’s just one major hazard you need to be aware of, though—a trap that finds many authors spinning their social media wheels.”

These Are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing -via BadRedhead Media – From “analysis paralysis” to good old fashioned laziness, uncover the marketing mistakes that may be holding your book back.

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – March 2017 – via The Book Designer – TBD takes a look at who self-published authors should turn to for guidance and feedback.

Will YouTube Save or Kill Books? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Examine the pros and cons of how the popular video service is affecting the publishing industry.

 

ACX Storytellers: Amanda Rose Smith

As an engineer, editor, and director, Amanda Rose Smith has worked on over 700 audiobook productions, 300 of which are ACX titles. After years of working with studios and publishers, she struck out on her own, and recently dropped a vocal booth into her Brooklyn apartment so she can see productions through from start to finish. Read on to learn her thoughts on collaborating with narrators and the value of knowing what “ə” sounds like.

Q: How did you become an audiobook studio pro?

A: I was a music major at Smith College, studying to be a composer for film, TV, and video games, and I decided I’d like to record my own work. Simultaneously, my work-study job in college involved read aloud for blind and dyslexic students, recording each week’s lessons onto those old tiny tape recorders.

Later, when I traveled to New York to get my masters in Music Technology, I began working for the American Foundation for the Blind as a recording engineer and editor for audiobooks. After that I was at a commercial studio for several years, working on audiobook productions for several publishers, doing post-production for film and television, and eventually became the production manager for the entire studio. A few years ago, I left that position to start my own business. I now work directly for publishers, with narrators on ACX, as well as continuing my work in film, television, and video games. I recorded all the ADR for the second season of Orange Is the New Black, for instance.

As a studio professional working indirectly with ACX (I’m usually hired by producers to edit and master their home-recorded audio), ACX work factors in as a significant portion of my income and in growing my business. After encountering lots of producers who would love to work on ACX but don’t yet have their own recording spaces, I decided to buy my own booth and create my own recording space.

Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you were just starting out?

A: I wish someone had explained to me how vulnerable one has to be, as an actor, to get the right performance across. Consistently connecting with this work on an emotional level is a hard job. Over the years, directing actors, I’ve learned how closely collaborative this work is. The engineer/director and the actor have to fully engage with each other to allow the best product to emerge.

In my early years, I was sometimes afraid to be as hands-on as I could have been in that collaboration. That feeling probably stemmed from an interaction I had with a very seasoned—but also sensitive—narrator on a book. They had started the book with another director, and I had been brought in to finish things off at the last minute. So we hadn’t really built a rapport yet. Being the pronunciation and misread nerd that I am, I came down a little hard and fast from the start of our session, pointing out all of their mistakes right away, before we had built any trust. It made for an uncomfortable session and the ensuing performance suffered.

Tremontaine

One of Amanda’s 300 ACX productions, the serialized prequel to the Audie-winning Swordspoint

Mistakes are important to catch, of course, but over the years, what I’ve learned first and foremost is the nature of collaboration in session work. Now, I record all sorts of people—from actors who have been narrating for decades to authors who have never spoken in public—and I always approach it from a place of collaboration rather than just fixing someone else’s mistakes. The overall quality, performance, accuracy, and technical sound quality are all part of the whole.

Q: What are you doing to grow your skills and get better at your profession?

A: I’m always researching new gear, new software, new techniques, etc. Social media plays heavily into my keeping track of what my peers in the industry are doing. When I notice buzz about a new piece of software or gear, I’ll try it out. In any technical industry, which this is, it’s important to stay current. For example, I was using ProTools pretty much exclusively when I started out, but a number of other digital audio workstations (DAWs) have cropped up in the past few years. Different programs have different strengths, and studying them allows me to find the most efficient ways to get the work done. While I still often use ProTools, Reaper is also fantastic for audiobook production, especially since it works equally well on PC and Mac. Twisted Wave is great for bulk processing. Izotope RX is indispensable for noise reduction.

Staying up-to-date in this way also helps me advise others when they have technical problems. This is still a very word-of-mouth industry, and I’ve gotten lots of work simply by offering a few minutes of my time to fix a problem.

Q: What are your favorite educational resources for audiobook production?

A: The main physical dictionaries: Merriam Webster and Oxford. When I worked for the American Foundation for the Blind, we weren’t allowed to use online resources. So, I had to learn to read all of the pronunciation symbols in order to do pronunciation research. I’m grateful for that now, because most of the pronunciation sites that are reliable, like Merriam-Webster online or Dictionary.com, may only have audio files for one version of the pronunciation. Those will often be followed by a bunch of symbols only nerds like me can read.

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Amanda’s home studio and editing suite

Q: What is your must-have piece of studio gear?

A: There are a lot of microphones and pre-amps and plug-ins that I like, and I’m sure that one of those would probably be the expected answer here. But honestly? My favorite piece of studio equipment is the iPad. I have the new 12.9 inch pro in my studio and I’m in love. I started working in this field while people were still using paper scripts. When the iPad became ubiquitous in the audiobook studio, the changes I saw were profound. Narrators who previously had to stop every two pages or so (to avoid the page flip getting caught on-mic) could now go on for as long as they desired—or until I stopped them for a misread. I saw some actor’s output go up by as much as 15%; people who previously finished a session with 180 minutes of raw audio were now finishing with 200 or 210. That might not seem like a big deal, but since most publishers pay on a per-finished-hour basis, it was a game changer.

Q: How do you define success in your creative career?

A: I feel most successful when I pull my head out of my book/computer/headphones and think, “Wow, I’m getting paid to do this.” For me, getting paid to do something you’d probably do anyway is the highest form of success. I also try to keep moving forward, in terms of my level of knowledge. If I can look back on a year and feel that I know more than I did last year, that’s a good year.

ScubaQ: Do you have a fun hobby or skill unrelated to your audiobook work?

A: I love to travel! Also, I scuba dive. In 2013, I went scuba diving off the coast of Belize, at the second biggest barrier reef in the world. To an audio engineer, there’s something oddly relaxing about the near-silence of an underwater environment.

After earning a BA in Music Composition from Smith College, Amanda, originally a musician, moved to NYC where she completed a master’s degree in Music Technology at New York University.  Recently, she was the dialogue editor for Telltale Games’ “The Walking Dead: The Game.” She loves most things Star Trek, and hopes to visit all seven continents before she dies. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

This Week in Links: February 27 – March 3

For Rights Holders:

7 Insider Tips You Need to Learn from Self-Pub Pros – via Bad Redhead – “There are authors who are paving the way for others when it comes to self-marketing, and nearly all examples of this come from the independent publishing pond. Here are just seven tips that work.

3 List Building Tactics to Attract Subscribers Quickly Before a Book Launch – via BookMarketingTools – “[R]eaders want more these days. If they’re going to part with their precious contact information, they want high-value items that will benefit them in some way.”

Does Your Dialogue Match Your Characters? – via CreateSpace – Good dialogue is a hallmark of any successful audiobook.

What is Your Social Media Purpose? – via The Write Conversation – Hone your efforts on social media by asking yourself why you’re using it in the first place.

For Producers:

The 1 Thing That Will Help You Fail at VoiceOvers – via Dave Courvoisier – “The reality for most freelancers, though — and especially for voice actors — is: this career is  built on consistency, patience, and steady growth.”

How to Use Facebook Ads for a Voiceover Business – via Victoria DeAnda – Read an overview of how to leverage the popular platform to increase your exposure.

How to Add Voice Over Demos to Your LinkedIn Profile – via Marc Scott – This video walks you through the process of creating an audio resume for potential clients to peruse.

Peformance: The Craft of Audiobook Narration – via ACX – Bookmark our playlist of videos on the art of audiobook acting, and get ready to learn.

This Week in Links: February 20 – 24

For Producers:

7 Steps to LinkedIn Success – via Marc Scott – Are you using the professional’s platform for your voiceover career? Marc’s here to show you how to make the most of it.

Listen To The Books Behind This Year’s Film Awards – via Audible range – from book to audiobook to Oscar-nominated film, get inspired by the performances in the source material from this year’s academy awards.

Online Tools For Freelance Voice Actors – via Dave Courvoisier – Learn about a variety of programs and apps that can make running your VO business easier.

Voice-Over Work (and All Else) Got You Uptight? Relax! – via Edge Studio – “A relaxed voice also gives you greater tonal range, has more endurance, enables you to follow direction more accurately, helps you enunciate better, adds to your confidence, and simply makes VO work (even) more fun.”

For Rights Holders:

Growing Your Audience One Fan at a Time – via C.S. Lakin – Find out why the self-published author thinks your mailing list is the best way to build your fan base from the ground up.

How to Get the Most Marketing and Publicity Bang for Your Buck – via Writer’s Digest – Is it time for you to invest in your success and hire a publicist?

Creative Book Marketing and Promotion Ideas for Indie Authors and Self-published Books – via ALLi – Learn the almost-accidental, counter-intuitive ideas that led to marketing success.

The Inspired Writer & Book Marketer – BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “Maybe [these ideas] will help you move towards aiming higher, achieving more, and living a fulfilling life as a writer or book marketer.”

ACX Storytellers: Bethany Claire

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Self-published author Bethany Claire has used ACX to publish her ten books and two boxed sets in audio, amassing over $60,000 in earnings in 20 months. A master of Scottish time travel romances who harbors a not-so-secret Disney obsession, she joins us today to share her audiobook story.

Q: How did you become an author and audiobook publisher?

A: The writing bug bit me in college. I started writing creatively just for fun, which allowed me to escape from my 18-hour course load for a half an hour each day, and I lived for it. But that half hour quickly grew into several hours, and I knew that my passion for writing went far beyond the enthusiasm I’d had for any other hobby. Over the course of the next four years, I changed my major seven times. But it wasn’t writing.

Then, on one fateful summer day, I heard about a writers’ academy hosted by my university. I enrolled right away. It was the first time I’d been around other people who were as passionate about writing as I was. It totally changed my world.

When I decided to drop out of college and pursue writing full-time, I wrote like a fiend, studied every single thing I could find about the business, and made a plan for publication. I continued to work part-time before releasing my novels, but five months after dropping out of school, I released the first three books in my Morna’s Legacy Series. Less than a year after that, I hit the USA Today best-seller’s list.

Two years after releasing my first three books, I made the jump into audio after listening to ACX representatives speak at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) national conference. It was something that my readers wanted, and I’d been curious about for a while. I knew it had the potential to be an extra source of income for my business, and I looked forward to the creative process of bringing the characters in my stories to life.

Q: What decisions have contributed to your audiobook success, and what made them the right decisions?

A: From the very start, I think one of the best things I did was offer a high per-finished-hour payment rather than the royalty share option. Despite my fear of investing so much money upfront for the audiobook production, I knew that my goal with my business has always been to look at long-term success. I knew that eventually I would earn out on that investment, and once I did, I would be so glad that I was able to keep my full royalties. It was an excellent decision. It only took a couple of months for me to earn out on the investment of paying my narrator a set amount.

Focusing a section of my marketing efforts towards the sale of my audiobooks has really helped with my success. Giving out the free download codes that ACX provides with each new audiobook release is a great way to build buzz among your readers about a new release and to encourage reviews. I also post and tweet about my audiobooks often, and use online design tools such as Canva to create beautiful and professional-looking images to go along with my posts and ads.

cover01Q: What are you doing to grow your skills and get better at your profession?

A: Writing consistently is one of the best things I do to continually grow my skills. When I do skip a few days of writing—whether it be to travel, sickness, or just plain laziness— my writing is always a little rusty on my first day back.

On the business end of things, I’m continually working to stay on top of changes in the industry. Conferences are a great way to do this. I try never to miss RWA’s national conference and will be attending the NINC conference for the first time this year.

Podcasts are a great way to stay educated. I love Joanna Penn’s podcast. She does a great job of discussing a wide range of self-publishing topics, including audiobooks. Another great podcast is the Sell More Books Show, which focuses on current news, and is a great way to stay on top of changes in the industry.

Blogs are another phenomenal resource. Jane Friedman covers everything from traditional publishing to self-publishing, marketing, and social media. I also think every author should read BookBub’s regular blog posts, which are filled with marketing tips.

Q: What do you wish you’d known when you first started out as an author?

A: I wish I’d understood the importance of creating work-life balance from the start. My first few years as an author, I worked nonstop. While I know it contributed to my success, every other area of my life took a hit as a result. I hit a wall in 2016. Totally burned out and exhausted, I had to stop everything for a number of months. Hard work is important, and I love my job, but if I had started writing and publishing from a place of balance—with self-care as a top priority—I wouldn’t have suffered the major burnout that I did last year. Now that I’ve re-evaluated my priorities, everything is in better shape—even work.

Bethany's writing room

Bethany’s writing room

Q: How about when getting your start in audiobooks?

I wish that someone had urged me to start sooner! I waited two years to get into audiobooks—two years that I could’ve spent growing my audiobook audience and income. I was nervous to take the initial dive into this format, but I had nothing to fear and so much to look forward to. I wish that I had considered audiobooks at the beginning of my publishing career.

Another piece of advice I would offer to fellow authors is that if you have a book that contains multiple points of view, post an audition piece that allows the narrators to read from each POV. For example, all of my books have scenes from both female and male POVs, and they are romance novels. So when I posted my audition script, I included a scene from each POV, as well as a love scene. Hearing the narrators read these portions helped me cast the perfect voice.

Q: What is your “must have” item in your writing space?

A: Every time I sit down to write, I diffuse peppermint and orange essential oils in the diffuser that sits close to my desk. The peppermint keeps me alert, and the orange is a mood lifter.

Bethany and friends at Disneyland

Bethany and friends at Disneyland

Q: Do you have a fun hobby or skill unrelated to your audiobook work?

A: I can plan a trip to any Disney theme park like a boss! Seriously, Disney should hire me. I also love to play the piano, although I’ll admit that eighty percent of the songs I know are Disney. In case you can’t tell, my love for Disney is a bit of a problem.

Bethany Claire is a USA Today Bestselling Author of the Morna’s Legacy Series, with more than ten books published since the release of her first novel in 2013. Bethany loves to immerse her readers in a world filled with lush landscapes, hunky Scots, lots of magic, and happy endings. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

This Week in Links: February 13 – 17

For Rights Holders:

Launching a Book? Why You Should Start Building an Email List Today – via Book Marketing Tools – “Besides generating more leads, email marketing identifies better-quality leads, shortens the sales cycle, improves conversion rates, reduces marketing costs, and more.”

Interview With Audie Awards Competition Chairperson Janet Benson – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Get a peek at what an insider thinks of the audiobook industry’s top honors.

Her Debut Novel Just Turned 1. Which Marketing Tactics Worked? – via The Write Life – Learn went went well, what went not-so-well, and what comes next for new author E.J. Wenstrom.

Emotion vs. Feeling: How to Evoke More From Readers – via Writer’s Digest – File this evocative story under “give your narrator something to chew on.”

For Producers:

Bookkeeping Tips to Help You Keep Your Voiceover Business Financials Organized – via Victoria DeAnda – “You don’t want to be that person scrambling right before your taxes are due—only to send off your “financials” in a bag stuffed with receipts.”

Five Questions. Five Answers – via Paul Strikwerda – The veteran VO answers the questions he is most often asked, including “What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone had told you when you started out in voice-over?”

Your Business Plan – via Dave Courvoisier – Discover a business planning resource for saving time day-to-day and mapping out your career path.

R.C. Bray: From Audiobook Beginner to Audie Winner – via ACX University – Find out how the award-winning narrator of The Martian got his start on ACX

This Week in Links: February 6 – 10

For Producers:

Becoming a Frugal Freelancer – via Paul Strikwerda – Every dollar matters when you’re your own boss. Paul offers a detailed look at 7 tips to help you turn a profit.

Your Voice Could Be the Next Great Thing in Computing – via J. Christopher Dunn – Technology like Siri and Amazon’s Alexa may present new opportunities for VO’s.

What Are You Saying? – via Dave Courvoisier – Dave offers a meditation on rates for new talent and when it might be time to raise yours.

Super Bowl Sized Marketing Fail – via Marc Scott – “Beware what you share because EVERYTHING is marketing!”

For Rights Holders:

Top 15 Tips for Webinar Wannabes – via The Book Designer – Want to host a webinar for your book launch, or to build your email list? Learn how to do it correctly.

Book Marketers & Authors Must Improve Their Vocabulary – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Find out how an expanded vocabulary can help your book marketing.

You’re Not Just an Author, You’re a Brand – via CreateSpace – “The point is that you are more than an author. You are a human being who dabbles in real life as much as any respectable human being.”

10 Creative Exercises That Will Help You Improve Your Writing – via Writer’s Digest – “[W]hen adapted for writers… the techniques taught through improv can enhance creativity, improve storytelling and dialogue skills, help make problems easier to solve, and make writing fun.”