Tag Archives: author

This Week in Links: January 2- January 6

FOR RIGHTS HOLDERS:

5 Steps to Set Writing Goals You’ll Actually Achieve– via The Write Practice – Coming up with goals is easy. Coming up with goals that will make you a better writer can be a bit harder.

The Book Marketing Strategy –via Book Marketing Buzz Blog – January sees some of the biggest spikes in sales after people have been given Audible memberships for the holidays. Keep on marketing!

ACX Storytellers: Ryan Winfield – via The ACX Blog – ACX has numerous success stories, Ryan Winfield is one of our favorites. Ryan explains why he decided to retain his audio rights and passed on working with a major publisher to work with ACX.

FOR PRODUCERS:

6 Things you Can Do NOW to Get Started in Voiceover – via Voiceover Herald – It’s easy to procrastinate when you’re not sure how to get started. Avoid that issue with this helpful article to jump start your narration career.

10 Social Media Trends Giving Brands New Ways to Engage in 2017 – via Adweek – Social media is essential to establishing your brand and properly marketing yourself. Find out the best ways to engage with your audience in the New Year.

ACX University Presents: Finding Your Voice Part 1 –The ACX Blog – Before you  dive into audiobook narration, discover your voice so you can find the appropriate projects. Travel back to ACX University 2015 for some starting tips.

This Week in Links: December 19 -December 23

FOR RIGHTS HOLDERS:

How I Chose a Narrator for My Audiobook – via Josh Steimle – Josh provides great advice on how to pick the right narrator for your project and how to choose when you receive numerous auditions.

Build An Epic Visual Strategy for Your Author Brand – via Your Writer Platform – Branding has become as important as the words contained in your book. See how to properly brand yourself to ensure you reach your target audience.

What Are You Thankful For? (Here’s Why Each of Us Is a #ThankfulWriter – via Writer’s Digest – Tis the season to be thankful for all the things we have. Take a moment to reflect on what makes you a #ThankfulWriter.

Is Your Plan For Success “I Just Want to Write My Books”? – via The Book Designer – Marketing a book once it’s completed can sometimes be harder than actually writing the book.  TBD has helpful advice for what happens after “The End”.

FOR PRODUCERS:

9 VO Hacks to Sound Better and Save Money – via Voices.com – Who doesn’t want to sound better while being more productive and saving some money all at the same time?

A Client’s Guide to Selecting the Right Voice-Over Talent for Your Project – via Debbie Grattan – Getting picked for a project can be difficult. Check out this great article about how to turn that audition into an offer.

Drink Up for A Better Voice – via VoiceOverHerald.com – Magic potions, snake oil, bizarre concoctions? Nothing works better for your voice than a tall glass of H2O. Discover the benefits of being (and staying) hydrated.

4 Ways To Get From Good To Great – via Nether Voice – Paul shares tricks of the trade that you might have overlooked or never thought of that can make you a better narrator.

ACX Titles Grab Audie Nominations!

The APA announced the nominees for the 2016 Audie Awards on Tuesday, and we’re thrilled to see that ACX authors and actors received seven nominations across four categories! We checked in with a few of our finalists to get reactions from some of ACX’s accomplished creative talent.

Category: Inspirational, Faith-based Fiction

Finalist: Come to Me Alive: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel, written by Leah Atwood and narrated by Pamela Almand

Summary: Country music’s hottest star, Bryce Landry, and newly single,  risk-averse Sophie Thatcher discover that finding each other was easy, but holding on will be a different story.Come to me Alive

Memory: When asked about producing Come to Me Alive, Pamela Almond recounted a unique challenge she faced during production:

“Leah Atwood wrote beautiful lyrics to a country-western song, also called Come To Me Alive, and as the narrator, I had to sing it as bad-boy country star Bryce Landry, singing along to his radio hit, then as his girlfriend…and finally as a duet between the two of them! This was more a credit to my editing skills than my singing skills, for sure!  But I loved doing the book, a very uplifting and well-done contemporary Christian romance, and Leah was great to work with. I am so honored and humbled at being named an Audie Award finalist for it.”

Category: Erotica

Finalist: Beta, written by Jasinda Wilder and narrated by Summer Roberts and Tyler Donne.

Summary: The sequel to Alpha, last year’s Audie winner in this very category, Beta finds main characters Kyrie and Roth traveling around the world when a mysterious tragedy strikes.

Beta

Memory: Author Jasinda Wilder stuck to her guns with the follow up to her genre blending Alpha:

“I personally love Beta. I love the way it plays with the accepted boundaries of romance and erotic suspense, or erotic romance or whatever category you want to slot it into. We made it different and a little darker than our usual fare on purpose. Not all of our fans appreciated Beta, though. I get that it’s not for everyone, and that a sequel can’t ever totally live up to the first book. So putting Beta into audio was a little scary, because we weren’t sure how it’d be received.”

Narrator Summer Roberts shared the excitement of tackling the sequel to an Audie winner:

“Erotica can be a really hard genre, but Jasinda’s writing is so rich and her characters are so multi-layered, that it makes narrating her work really fun. I think Tyler and I were just as excited as listeners to find out what was going to happen to Kyrie and Roth in Beta.”

Beg Tease Submit

Finalists: BEG TEASE SUBMIT, written by CD Reiss and narrated by Jo Raylan & CONTROL BURN RESIST, written by CD Reiss and narrated by Jo Raylan and Christian Fox.

Summary: In BEG TEASE SUBMIT, Jonathan Drazen is a known womanizer and a gorgeous piece of man who’s more capable of domination than love. In CONTROL BURN RESIST, his partner in pain Monica struggles with the discovery that love can be just as painful as submission.

Memory: Author CD Reiss recalled the casting process and the relationship she’s forged with her producers:

“I got a great selection of professional auditions to choose from. But I had an idea in my head and every one that didn’t meet that idea was painful to hear. Jo Raylan had a certain something that was spot on, and she let me know right away she’d do whatever she had to to get it perfect. It was obvious she had the talent, so I scooped her up. Christian’s audition for Jonathan was a home run right out of the gate. I would have walked on a bed of Legos to get him on the production. Fortunately, my feet were spared. Control Burn Resist

I’ve developed a wonderful friendship with Jo and have a deep respect for what she does. She wants it perfect. She wants every word to express the right emotions, and we spoke about the character of Monica for a long time. What she wanted, how she sat, where her fear was. It was deeply creative and deeply satisfying.”

Want to create an audiobook worthy of the Audies yourself? Check out our recent tips for rights holders and producers, then head over to ACX to get started.

Subscribe to the ACX blog by clicking here.

ACX Storytellers: Joanna Penn

In addition to connecting authors and publishers with voice talent and studio pros, ACX offers those with completed audiobooks a pathway to distribution through the top audiobook retailers, Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. This DIY” workflow is a popular choice for authors who want to voice and even produce their own work. Author Joanna Penn recently completed the process herself, and she joins us today to share her experience recording Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur (out today) for ACX.

ACX Author and DIY Narrator Joanna Penn

ACX Author and DIY Narrator Joanna Penn

How to Record Your Own Audiobooks For ACX

Audiobooks are a fantastic growth market for authors, narrators, and producers alike, and I’ve been working with fabulous narrators for my fiction since ACX opened up in the UK in 2014. But as a listener, I prefer non-fiction audio in the voice of the author themselves, so I decided to record one of my own books, Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur.

Here are the lessons I learned in the process:

1. Make Sure You Record the Highest Quality Audio

There are specific technical requirements one must adhere to when publishing an audiobook on ACX, so that the listener has the best experience possible. You can reach this level of quality by recording in your own home, but only if you can get rid of the various noises that may pollute the audio, which you may not even hear anymore.

I’m a podcaster so I’m used to recording and editing audio, but when I listened to the sounds of my flat, I could hear planes overhead, cars going past, the rattle of someone in the garden, and the occasional yapping of a dog outside.

AndyMarlowRecordingStudioInstead, I hired professional audio producer (and musician) Andy Marlow (pictured), who has a great little studio just a bus ride away from me in South London. We worked in two-hour slots and Andy made sure that the quality of the initial audio was excellent, and he mastered the file to produce my retail-ready audio for upload to ACX.

2. Prepare Yourself for Recording

It’s surprising how tiring recording audio can be. I was exhausted after each two-hour session, because it was essentially a performance. You have to put energy and expression into what you’re saying. And in a professional studio you might be shut into a small, padded box, which takes some getting used to! Here are my tips to manage yourself during the audio process.

  • Schedule sessions a few days apart if you’re new at recording to ensure you have enough energy. People can hear exhaustion in your voice, so respect your audience and make sure you’re at full strength when starting, and stop before your voice begins to drop. It took 7 sessions of 2 hours each to get to a finished audiobook of 6.5 hours, a ratio of about 2:1.
  • Try to avoid dairy before recording or anything that might give you excess phlegm or clog your throat. Try cleaning your teeth and create a routine so that you know your voice will be ready for speaking. If you’re ill or your voice is affected in any way, you’ll need to postpone, as audiobook listeners will be able to hear the difference.
  • Joanna Penn records her audiobook.

    Joanna Penn records her audiobook.

    When you’re recording, try to modulate your breathing so you don’t end up holding your breath. I found that I needed to stop sometimes for deep breathing during longer chapters. I would consider a voice coach for help with this if I was recording more often, as it definitely affected my stamina. Professional actors and voice artists can record for a much longer period, as they have mastered this.

  • You’ll want to read from a Kindle or other tablet so you don’t encounter page-turning noises while recording. Remember to turn off any WiFi connection on the devices and set to airplane mode as they can make a static noise on the audio, even if you can’t hear it when recording.

3. Learn Some Editing Skills to Keep the Costs Down

You can pay a producer to edit the audio files as well as record and master them, but this will make your cost per book higher, meaning less profit for the project. Since I already edit audio for my podcast and I had high-quality raw audio files, I decided to do the edits myself.

Here are some specific tips:

  • You can use free editing software like Audacity to produce professional-sounding audio.
  • If you make a mistake when recording, clap your hands so you create an obvious spike on the audio file that you can use to find the error later (pictured).Clap in Waveform_01 Your error rate will increase as you become more tired, so make sure that you take breaks. I found that 40 minutes was the maximum time I could spend reading “in the box” before I needed a break.
  • The ACX technical requirements require you to add a few seconds of room tone at the beginning and end of the file. We recorded this separately, in the silence of the empty vocal booth. I then just used the pre-cut segments to begin and end each file, which made the process quick and easy.
  • After editing, there needs to be a full QC listen to the audio to ensure all the edits are done properly and the audio matches the book. Since I was truly sick of hearing my own voice by this stage, I employed my Virtual Assistant to do this step for me. Most of the files were fine, but there were a couple of instances where I had repeated myself without editing the error, so this QC step is crucial to avoid issues later.
  • High-quality audio files are very large, and because you’ll be sending them back and forth, you can’t use email for this. They will also fill up your computer memory really fast. I used Dropbox to send the edited files to my Virtual Assistant and the final files to the producer.

For more recording and editing tips, I recommend Audiobooks for Indies by Simon Whistler which has a lot of useful information, whether you want to record your own books or work with a narrator.

Would I do it again?

This process has given me a renewed respect for audiobook narrators, because now I know how hard the job is and how many hours go into recording and editing a book. It was much harder work than I expected!

businessaudioHowever, it was definitely rewarding and I will be recording other non-fiction books in the future. It also gives the entrepreneurial author another product in their business, and if you’d like to learn more about that, check out Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur, available now on Audible.

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers under J.F.Penn. She also writes inspirational non-fiction for authors and is an award-winning creative entrepreneur and international professional speaker. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers. Connect on Twitter @thecreativepenn.

This Week in Links: Sept 29 – October 3

For Producers:

4 Tips to Focus Your Voiceover Career This Fall – via Backstage – Jen Ruden has a handful of great tips to make autumn a time of renewal for your VO work.

Stop Being So Shy: Why A Lack Of Self Promotion Is Stopping You Getting Voice Over Work – via Gary Terzza’s Voice-Over Blog UK – Actors have no excuse for being shy! Let Gary help you learn to self promote.

Defining the “IT” Factor – via Nethervoice – Paul Strikwerda believes having IT is all about charisma, and this post is dedicated to helping you understand exactly what that is and how to get it into the mic.

The Top Three Tired Tropes of the VO Business – via Rob’s Blog – Just starting out in the voice over game? Don’t make these three rookie mistakes.

For Rights Holders:

Social Media Scheduling Tools for Authors – via BadRedhead Media – We don’t have to tell you that authors are busy people! Save yourself some time and improve your audiobook promotion by using one of these tools.

5 Moral Dilemmas That Make Characters (& Stories) Better – via Writer’s Digest – Believable internal conflict can be the key to a compelling story. Here’s a deep look at how to pull it off.

Face Time – via The Blood Red Pencil – Thoughts and advice on recent changes to Facebook and how to make the most of it as an author promoting her work.

The First & Most Crucial Step to OWNING NaNoWriMo – Kristen Lamb’s Blog –  Participating in the annual novel writing competition? Kristen advises you fill up your creative well before putting pen to paper.

This Week in Links: September 15 – 19

For Rights Holders:

Edit My Paragraph!– via LitReactor – Learn about editing in a micro sense with part four of this informative series.

27 Writers on Whether or Not to Get Your MFA – via Flavorwire – A crowd of writers attempt to answer the eternal question: is an MFA worth the time and money?

The Twitter Secret – via badredhead media – Guest Dana Leipold explains why she uses “that Twitter thing.”

For Producers:

Are You A Voice Over Chameleon? – via Gary Terzza’s Voice-Over Blog UK – “Are you trying to be all things to all people? Then, you could be scuppering your chances of getting voice over work.”

[VIDEO] Whittam’s World: Episode 44, Low-end vs. High-end Preamps – via Edge Studio – Edge’s resident studio expert takes a look at various preamp options in this video.

The Signature Voice – via Bobbin’s Voice Over Sampler – Bobbin challenges actors to define their “signature voice.

 

How Julianne MacLean Got Her Audio Rights Back

Rights holder Julianne MacLean kicked off September with a $5,000 payment from ACX. How did she manage that, having sold a number of books (audio rights included) to a major publisher in the early aughts? Read on to find out!

Sometimes, All You Have to Do Is Ask.

Publicity photo 300dpi (1)

ACX Author Julianne MacLean

I wish I could tell the tale of an epic battle where I triumphed magnificently, but getting my audio rights back from my publisher was actually quite simple. All I had to do was request that they return them to me. Thirty days later, they did.

Of course, it’s not always that easy. It depends on what your contract says. So if you are a traditionally published author with books that are still controlled by your publisher, at least go and read your contract. You may be able to get this one important subsidiary right reverted.

Why should this be important to you? Because audiobooks, as a means of entertainment, are growing more popular by the minute, thanks to new digital technology and the fact that almost everyone has a gadget and earbuds in their purse or pocket these days. It’s a perfect breeding ground for sales to listeners who love books. And it’s yet another way to reach new readers, and yet another income stream for the author, above and beyond her usual print and ebook royalties.

In my case, I had sold nine books to Avon/Harper Collins between the years 2002 and 2007.  In each of those contracts, this is what the audio book reversion clause looked like, and it was boilerplate at the time:

“6(d) If the Publisher does not either exercise or license audio recording rights to any Work within 60 days from the date of the Publisher’s initial publication of such Work, the Author may request in writing that the Publisher revert to the Author such rights, and the Publisher shall revert such rights to such Work within 30 days of such request.”

Color of HeavenI’m sure this language is no longer standard, however, because audiobooks are now in a stage of tremendous growth in the marketplace. Moving forward, publishers will no doubt want to hang onto those rights. So this is something to consider when negotiating a new deal with your publisher.

First of all, try and keep your audiobook rights if you can. If that is not possible, do your best to arrive at terms that provide a decent reversion clause.

So what can you do if you get your audio rights back?

You basically have three choices: sell those rights to an audiobook publisher for an advance; publish your own editions independently; or do nothing.

Personally, I chose to publish the audio editions independently through ACX. Within a week of receiving the reversion letter from my publisher, I had contracted Rosalyn Landor to narrate and had pushed the entire Pembroke Palace series into production.

Wildest FantasiesI am finally capitalizing on a format I had not been able to break into while I was at Avon – and yes, it’s lucrative. The first few months may have been slow to get rolling with only one title in my catalogue, but as I added new books and listeners began to find me – and I started pushing harder to promote my audio titles – my monthly earnings began to increase substantially. Two days ago, I received a check from Audible for $5,113. That was for one month’s royalties and bounty payments. So as of this month, I have earned back my investment in the production of all ten titles, and all future revenues will be pure profit. Thank you, ACX.

And I am very glad I checked the reversion clauses on my old contracts. You just never know what you’ll be able to claim as your own.

Hear Julianne in her own words

Portions of this blog post originally appeared at JulianneMaclean.com. You can download the Pembroke Palace series from Audible here.

This Week in Links: September 1 – 5

For Producers:

So You Want To Be A Voice Actor? – via Voice Over Herald – Thinking of jumping into audiobook narration? VOH has five points to ponder to decide if the industry is right for you.

Configure Reaper for Voiceover and Audiobooks – via Steven Jay Cohen – A great primer on how to set up this popular recording software for audiobook production.

Learn Voicing Tips From Robin Williams – via Online Voice Coaching – Looking back at the career of the celebrated actor can provide lessons on improving your own voice over abilities.

With a Little help From My Friends – via steveoneillvoice – Learn how monthly Google Hangouts enrich the VO journeys of six voice-over artists.

For Rights Holders:

What Happens When your AudioBook Ends Up Sounding a lot Different than Expected – via R.C. O’Leary.com – Hint: it’s usually not a bad thing.

An Author Website Checklist – via Digital Book World – Whether self published or traditional, new or experienced, there are certain elements every author should have on their website.

10 Ways for ADD Authors to Be OOH! SQUIRREL!!!! …Productive – via Kristen Lamb’s Blog – Kristen’s got advice on how to stay focused in the ever-distracting modern world.

Easy Tips to Help You Save Money on That Necessary Edit– via Live Write Thrive – LWT has a nice breakdown of what a good editor offers, how much it will cost, and ways to get the most out of your money when hiring a professional editor.

 

This Week in Links: August 11 – 15

Did you know that the submission period for the 2015 Audies is open? Sponsored by the APA, the Audies recognize distinction in audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment. As a publisher or producer of an audiobook, you can enter your ACX title for consideration as a nominee, and yes, rights holders, by “publishers,” we mean you!

Titles released between November 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014 are eligible during the current submission period. Submission runs $175 per title ($100 for APA members), and must be completed by August 22. Complete submission info can be found here (PDF). Submit your ACX production today, and you might find yourself the winner of a shiny new Audie!

Now, on to your weekly links roundup.

For Rights Holders:

J. R. R. Tolkien’s 10 Tips For Writers (Infographic) – via Galleycat – Take a look at the Lord of the Rings author’s advice for wordsmiths.

The Joy of Writing Longhand – via Lit Reactor – Writing longhand: antiquated idea or inspiring throwback?

10 Essential Tips for Dating A Writer – via Buzzfeed Books -Check out this fun look at what it takes to date a writer. Do you resemble these remarks?

For Producers:

This Much I Know…10 Things I Learned From Getting Into Voiceovervia steveoneillvoice –  Steve O’Neill helps you learn from his time in the VO business.

Game Of Tones: How To Play Your Voice For Maximum Impact – via Gary Terzza’s Voice-Over Blog UK – Gary’s got the “moves that will sharpen your voiceover skills.”

What Growing Grass Taught Me About Voice Over – via Marc Scott Voice 0ver – Find out why the voiceover business is all about patience, perseverance, and endurance.

Directing the Actor

As an author, you’re probably used to working with editors, proofreaders, and cover designers. But when you put on your audiobook publisher hat for ACX, you’ll meet a new type of creative person: the actor. To ensure you cast the right actor and can effectively direct them on your audiobook’s needs, you need to know how to communicate. Read on for our expert advice on the subject and helpful forms you can use to guide your actor to a great performance.

Casting the Actor

Casting the right actor is the important first step towards getting the best performance. ACX features a wide range of talented actors,  and you’ll want to narrow that list down to those with the specific vocal attributes you’re looking for in your audiobook. During the title profile creation process, you’ll come to an area with the following options:

Describe

 

This is where you’ll set the overall tone of the narration. If the book is set in England, or the main character has a heavy Spanish accent, now’s your chance to note such details. You should also begin thinking about the more specific aspects of who your characters are, and how that plays into their personalities. You can include some of this information in the “Additional Comments” field of your title profile.

Directing the Actor

Any actor worth their salt wants to produce the best audiobook they can, providing their best performance while honoring the material and the vision of its creator. As a rights holder, you can help him or her achieve this goal by providing detailed notes on the characters.

How can you help your narrator get the characters and tone right? Start by thinking back to when you were writing the book. Dig deep into your characters’ origins, histories, and motivations. Try to answer some of the following questions to get a sense of who your characters are:

  • Where do they come from?
  • How were they raised?
  • How do they act when happy/sad?
  • How do they react to adversity?
  • Are they book smart or street smart? Perhaps neither?
  • Are they generally upbeat or pessimistic?
  • What motivates them to take make the decisions they make throughout the book?

Thinking about these things and communicating them to your actor will not only help ensure you get a great read, but will help you better understand your own writing and characters! Also, make sure to think about any tricky pronunciations, either place names, names of people, or made up words or names from a conlang (we’re looking at you, Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors).

A Good Example

Check out these character descriptions from a recent Audible Studios production:

The romantic leads: 



  • Jessica: She has a slight southern accent – nothing over the top. If we don’t have a soft southern lilt, then a soft, clean, alto voice. She’s a teenager and should sound like one.
  • Kayne: Slight Scottish brogue. Sexy. He’s the lead male in this book.
  • Sonyaza, The Mephilum King (aka The Bad Guy): Strong, deep, dark, old voice; he’s been around for a while (20,000+ years).

Supporting characters: 



  • James: British. steady. He’s one of the crew’s moral compasses, so a moral-sounding voice.
  • Norris: His voice is a superpower, so it needs to be very resonant; the kind of voice that can command people. Preferably a deep voice.
  • Mary-Beth: Neutral young woman, maybe with slight ‘valley girl’ undertones. She’s a fun person.
  • Eden: Smug, sensual, earthy.

Use this handy Audio Information Form to provide your actor with the information they’ll need to succeed.

The 15 Minute Checkpoint

The 15 Minute Checkpoint sets the baseline for the recording and performance quality you need. We’ve covered reviewing your audio for technical issues previously, so now we’ll delve into tweaking an actor’s performance.

When it comes to guiding or correcting your actor’s performance, remember two key points about your collaborator: he or she is an adult, and he or she is a professional. And like any adult professional, he or she should be able to handle constructive criticism when given respectfully and directly. Keep the following tips in mind when communicating your needs to your actor:

  • Be clear and confident in your vision. You’re going for respectfully direct, not wishy-washy.
  • Use a well known actor to guide your examples. “This character should be charming and romantic, like James Marsden.”
  • If your character is based on a friend or colleague, describe that person.
  • If you can’t describe what you want, try describing what you don’t want.

The Final Audio

If you’ve followed the advice above, you should reach the final audio review stage with very few, if any, notes on character voices and scene tone. Make sure to plan time to review your final audio, and if you have notes, communicate them expeditiously to your producer. It will only become more difficult for them to re-immerse themselves in the world you’ve created as time marches on and they move on to other projects.

Be sure to make reasonable and specific notes. Requesting a complete change to a character voice you approved in the 15 Minute Checkpoint is probably not a reasonable expectation at the final audio stage, but it’s OK to ask for tweaks to a key scene or a few lines of dialogue over the course of a book. You can make things easier for yourself and your actors by making use of the Audible Studios audio review form, found here.

Remember, an audiobook production is a collaboration between two creative parties. Setting up your partner for success will help ensure that you have a productive creative relationship that results in a great sounding audiobook.

Producers: What kind of direction do you find the most helpful? Tell us in the comments!