Tag Archives: audiobook publishing

Raise Your Voice: Narrator Erin Mallon Takes on Authorship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Well Spent: Author Sarina Bowen

One of the greatest challenges of entrepreneurship is self-management. Whether you’re an independently published author or a narrator completing projects in your home studio, you likely don’t have a boss telling you how and when to manage your working hours. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to productivity when working from home, but the indie creator community has a wealth of collected knowledge on the topic. So, we’ll be checking in with a few productive ACX creators to see how they manage working for themselves.

First up: Sarina Bowen is the author of more than 30 audiobooks and co-host of the Story Bites podcast with producer Tanya Eby. She writes a blog, maintains an avid fan community, and manages a great-looking website and killer marketing strategy to boot. So how does she get it all done? She starts by keeping her creative time separate from her business and family time. Read on to find out how Sarina made consistency the cornerstone of her productivity.

Like so many other independent authors, my life is a juggling act between writing and business. I actually enjoy the business tasks, so when the writing is hard, I sometimes find myself poking at spreadsheets instead of adding words to my manuscript. But that’s not the most productive way for me to work, and I would often end up feeling bad about giving in to distractions.

Then I listened to Deep Work by Cal Newport (totally worth a credit!) and he touched on something that really resonated with me. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said that attention span and willpower are finite resources. As the day goes on, you’re less able to focus and control your impulses. I loved this advice, because it took away my self-judgment during those moments when I feel brain-bombed. Hey, I’m not a failure! I’m just fresh out of attention-span fuel. 

Certainly, there are authors who will argue this point. If you always do your best creative work at 2 a.m., that’s groovy, too. But the concept still holds, because it forces you to observe your capacity for focus like a happy little scientist, and then make adjustments where necessary. One author who goes into copious detail about this is Rachel Aaron in her book 2k to 10k. She actually kept a log of the hours she spent writing and how effective they were. The results allowed her to fine-tune her process and schedule.

My personal writing pattern is more tortoise than hare. I average a mere 1200 words a day. That’s four books a year. Not a day goes by that I don’t open up Facebook and see one of my friends reporting that she wrote 4,000, 6,000, 11,000 words that day. You have my sacred promise that I will never ever write eleven thousand words in a day. My brain just doesn’t move at that speed, and that’s okay.

I often tell people that novel-writing is the only kind of marathon that I will ever run. And I run a lot of them. So many, in fact, that my life can feel like a long stint on the treadmill. Even when I’ve finished a book, there’s another one waiting for me. If you want to keep up this kind of pace, you have to find ways to be kind to yourself. My friend Sarah throws herself a party each time she makes it to page 100 on her new manuscript.

My approach is a little different. I have a sticker chart, just like your average third grader. If I write 1200 words on my work-in-progress, I get a sticker in my planner. It’s hard to admit that I’m a sucker for bits of printed paper with adhesive. Yet it’s shocking how motivating it can be to chase that day’s sticker. Admittedly, I have really great taste in stickers—it’s nice to see an entire month’s worth of chickens or multicolored pencils covering the page. Jerry Seinfeld used the same approach with—gasp—red Xs on a wall calendar. Every day that he wrote a good joke, he’d make an X on that calendar. “Don’t break the chain,” he says of this method. It’s motivating to keep up your own good work, and it’s harder to look at a streak that’s broken. 

Consistency is therefore my single biggest secret. If I get that sticker by noon, I feel invincible. The key to this magic is avoiding my email inbox and social media. I’ve lost more work hours to email and Facebook than I care to admit. There are two ways that my inbox harms me: 1) FOMO. Is someone having fun on the internet without me? and 2) the lure of the easier items on the to-do list. It’s simpler to answer an email than to craft beautiful sentences or solve plot problems. But, when I avoid engaging with the world early in the day, I’m much more likely to stay in the zone and focused on my work.

And that early success is powerful. By hitting my goal, I feel relaxed and confident while I move onto other tasks, like looking after my house, my kids, my health. I can turn my attention to tidying up Quickbooks, searching for cover art, or listening to narrator’s samples. I feel good about my life on these days.

On the other hand, if I’m crawling across the word-count finish line at 10 p.m., it’s a little demoralizing. This usually happens because I fail to follow my own system. Maybe I checked my messages when I should have been writing. A single email can blow up whole my day. And by the time I put out the fires, it’s time to cook dinner and the daylight is shot.

Publishing your own work means you’ll have more of those days than an author who lets other people handle all the business challenges. Ultimately, that’s okay with me. This career is a choice, and I embrace the chaos when it comes to my door. But if I embrace it after I hit my word count goal, I’ll feel calm and in control anyway.

That’s how I get it done. With stickers. And science. And a little advice from smart people who have walked the same path.

Give Sarina’s audiobooks a listen on Audible, and take to the comments below to share your own productivity pointers.

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Save the Date—ACX University is Back October 28th!

Sharpen your pencils and get ready to hit the books: October 28th, ACX University is back at 5:30PM ET for its seventh year and it’s all about the pros: pro tips, pro experts, and the biggest pro of all—it’s free! We can’t think of any cons.

Our 2019 curriculum is a masterclass in taking your audiobook business to the next level, so expect plenty of advanced techniques and insider tips from the industry’s best. Get to the head of the class by marking your calendars with this handy calendar reminder and catching up on past episodes here.

Want a sneak peak at this year’s classes? Check out acxuniversity.com to catch a glimpse of our instructors and see what’s on the agenda for this season. We hope to see you in class!

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.

This Week in Links: September 3 – 7

For Producers:

Narrators Have To Look Up Pronunciations Of Those Unfamiliar, Odd-Sounding Words. (Here’s How) – via Voice-Over Xtra – “Good narrators recognize that geography, demographics, and even economic status can play a large role in how certain words are pronounced.”

What Virtual Assistants Can Do For Your Voice Over Business – via Voice Over Herald – “You want to spend more time searching for new clients, being inside your booth recording, or perfecting your craft but you can’t find the time because you have been playing catch-up. How are you going to grow your business if you are overloaded with tasks and responsibilities that take you away from the money-making activities?”

Three Ways to Spice Up Your Vocal Delivery – via Dr. Ann Utterback – “If you say phrases exactly the same way each time, they become stale and uninteresting. Worse, if you voice these exactly the same each time, they can become a bore for you and the listener.”

10 Tips for a Successful Home Audition – via Edge Studio – Herein lies solid advice for VO’s of all stripes, including audiobook narrators.

For Rights Holders:

6 Ways Video Blogging Can Save Your Author Promotion – via Author Marketing Experts – Forging a deeper connection with your fans to growing a new creative skill are just two reasons to explore a new way to marketing yourself online.

How to Sell Books to Someone Other Than Your Mom – via The Write Practice – “There’s nothing wrong with selling a book to Mom, by the way. But ideally you write and sell a book that thousands of people can’t wait to get their hands on. Here’s how to do it.”

The Best Free Media Contacts Tool You Probably Aren’t Using – via The Book Designer – Learn all about this free service and get some tips for making the most of your (audio)book PR efforts.

Writer Branding: A Cheat Sheet for Your Brand Elements – via The Write Conversation – Learn two simple ways to break down and analyze aspects of your visual brand to ensure you demonstrate consistency across all of your author materials.

 

 

This Week in Links: August 13 – 17

For Rights Holders:

How to Market Your Book–When You Hate Marketing – via Helping Writers Become Authors – You can admit it: you’d rather be writing your books than marketing them. Reframing how you think about marketing, however, may help you find success and enjoyment in this important aspect of (audio)book publishing.

What Makes Readers Buy Books? – via ALLi – Dig deep into the data behind reader surveys to find out why your fans make the decisions they do.

30 Fantastic Writer’s Conferences for Authors, Bloggers and Freelancers – via The Write Life – The wisdom of the crowd, the support of your peers, the happy hour drinks at the bar: there are a number of good reason to attend writer’s conferences, and you just might find the right one for you on this list.

Great Book? Or Great Marketing – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Read on for an eye opening look at the value of writing vs. marketing when it comes to (audio)book sales.

For Producers:

Your Weekly VO Marketing Calendar – via Dave Courvoisier – Even the best in the business can fall into the inconsistency trap. Dave’s got a handy suggestion for staying on track: mnemonics!

The Secret to Sustained Success – via Paul Strikwerda – “If you wish to have sustainable success as a freelancer, you have to start thinking long-term, and big picture.”

Deliver On Your Promises – The Most Important Voiceover Advice – via Gravy for the Brain – For freelance professionals, your reputation is invaluable. Are you making a name a good impression on your clients?

As Your Voice Ages, Training Overcomes Barriers. But More Calls Coming For ‘Seniors’ – via Voice-Over Xtra – “In many ways the microphone is much more merciful than the camera. And in other ways it’s more revealing.”

 

This Week in Links: July 30 – August 3

Producers:

How To Edit Voice-Over Recordings A Lot Faster – With A Gaming Mouse! – via Voice-Over Xtra – Learn how to streamline your audiobook editing with some gear you may not even have considered for your studio.

Filling In The Blanks – via Paul Strikwerda – “You can’t give a client what s/he wants to hear, if you have no clue what it is.”

The Only Thing That’s Constant… – via Dave Courvoisier – Find inspiration in the ways your VO career “enhance[s] the definition of being human.”

Hey, I Know You!: Creating and Maintaining Your Personal Brand – via ACX University – Building a strong narrator brand and marketing your ACX productions can increase your earnings and provide a “value add” for the Rights Holders you work with.

Rights Holders:

How to Recycle, Repurpose and Promote Your Publicity – via The Book Designer – As you continue to build you Author brand, get tips on how to get the best return on the exposure you’re already getting.

Authors Should Promote Books Like Street Entertainers Sell Their Talents – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Turns out you can find marketing inspiration in the funniest of places. Find out how two different types of creatives have more in common than you may think.

11 Ways to Simplify Your (book promotion) Life – via author marketing experts – “Simplifying for authors is different…because most of us have day jobs and for us, simplifying isn’t just about keeping things simple, it’s also about preventing that bottleneck when too many things hit at once.”

How to Use Awareness Days to Promote Your Self-published Books – via ALLi – “Awareness Days of some kind or other happen just about every day of the year. There can be few authors who can’t find at least one day that somehow chimes with their books, if only they take the time and trouble to look. But what to do when you find one that suits you?”

This Week in Links: June 18 – 22

For Rights Holders:

SEO for Authors – Part 2 – via The Book Designer – We shared part one of this series last week, and the next post digs a little deeper into ways authors can leverage search engines to boost discovery of their (audio)book.

What Indie Authors Can Learn About Branding from IHOP – via Author Marketing Expert – The chain restaurant’s recent rebranding offers a lens through which authors can examine their own marketing efforts.

Are Authors Really Promoting The Benefits Of Their Books? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “Many authors promote their books in simple terms – “It’s a fun read” or “You’ll learn a lot.” They may position themselves as experts on something, but fail to highlight what one will truly gain by consuming their book. Here’s a tip: know the benefits your book offers and champion them.”

How to Make Your Sentences More Descriptive – via The Write Conversation – We say it time and again: the better your writing, the better your audiobook Producer can perform it. With that in mind, read up on how to strike the right balance between straightforward and purple prose.

For Producers:

In Double-Digit Climb, Audiobook Sales Jump 23% To Over $2.5 Billion In 2017 – via Voice-Over Xtra – The audiobook business is booming! Take a look at the key insights from the Audio Publishers Association’s annual sales survey.

Why Go to an Industry Convention? Insight from the Perspective of Voice over Conferences and More – via Natasha Marchewka – Learn the “Why? What? Where? When?” of getting out of the booth and into a VO conference.

You Must Master These 4 Skills For a Successful Voiceover Business – via Gravy for the Brain – You have to wear a lot of hats as an actor-entrepreneur – four of them, according to this article. Find out how to make each one fit properly.

7 Processes to Success – via Dave Courvoisier – “The trick to discipline — beyond will power — is PROCESS. ‘…a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner.'”

This Week in Links: June 11 – 15

For Producers:

If You Start Crying – Don’t Stop Narrating! And More Tips From BookCon – via Voice-Over Xtra – Audiobook narrator Tom Dheere shares what he learned from the panelists at the “Into the Booth” panel at this year’s event.

Chill Out this Summer – via Dr. Ann Utterback – The good doctor shares her advice for de-stressing this summer to unlock your best on-mic performance.

Deliver On Your Promises – The Most Important Voiceover Advice – via Gravy for the Brain – “Your word and your bond will say more about you and your brand than any advertising campaign ever could.”

Break Out of Your… – via Dave Courvoisier – Dave’s here to tell us about the value of shaking things up to get a clear mind and fresh perspective.

For Rights Holders:

SEO for Authors – Part 1 – via The Book Designer – Learn how Search Engine Optimization can help authors drive traffic, build email lists, and sell more (audio)books.

Which Message Should Authors Sell To The News Media? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “What exactly is the message you want to convey and sell to the news media so journalists, broadcasters, and social media sites will want to cover you and your book?”

5 Steps to Writing Great Character Chemistry – via Helping Writers Become Authors – give your audiobook producer something to sink their teeth into by building your writing skills.

Social Media Strategies in this New World of Algorithms – via The Write Conversation – Author Edie Melson lays out her strategy to “help you find a blueprint to continue to make valuable online connections.”