Tag Archives: book marketing

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.

Market Smarter, Not Harder: The Personal Touch

ACX author Ryan Winfield has written in the past about the value of retaining your audio rights and producing audiobooks using ACX. He joins us today to describe his experience promoting and marketing those audiobooks once they’re available for sale.

Ryan Winfield Headshot

ACX Author Ryan Winfield

I’ve heard it said that every author, once published, is a self-published author—and I believe it now more than ever after watching a big New York publisher roll out three of my titles. The simple fact is no one will ever market your books with as much zeal and creativity as you will yourself. I find that I have an advantage with my self-published books and audiobooks. Why? ACX and Kindle Direct Publishing royalties are more readily measurable via online dashboards, and are paid directly to rights holders monthly (not to mention ACX’s $50 Bounty Program), which allows me to reinvest a portion of my earnings into marketing. I do this consistently with a set percentage of my royalties, and what seems to work the best is focusing my marketing effort on making a personal connection.

Getting Personal

Most authors would love to see their title on the side of city busses and on billboards lining busy streets. They’d love to be the new “thing” getting the latest internet “buzz.” But it’s a mistake to think that those ads and that buzz are what make a hit book. I’ve discovered that it is much better to make a big impression on a small group of people than a small impression on a big group.

It sounds counterintuitive, but marketing to people who are already aware of you just works better. Promoting a Facebook post about my new audiobook to readers who already “like” my Facebook Fan Page yields much better results (better click rate, better conversion, and better engagement) than advertising to a wider audience that is not yet familiar with my work. I’ll sooner read a book recommended by a friend than one advertised to me on my phone or laptop. This is why reviews are so helpful, and why reviews by peers are so important. It’s my job to make my readers my friends—friends who will read my work and recommend it to their friends.

Here are some ways I do just that:

  • Sending personal emails to past readers offering free audiobook download codes in exchange for honest reviews nets me not only grateful fans but also plenty of referrals.
  • Reinvesting some of my earnings to offer a Kindle Fire or gift card giveaways to new readers who “Like” my Facebook page or subscribe to my email newsletter. (There are many services that can help with this, from Rafflecopter to Shortstack to Mailchimp, and many other helpful tools are available for those willing to do a little research.)
  • Making myself available for book club appearances, both in person locally and via video chat more widely, has won me many lifelong readers and friends.
  • Making my email address publicly available. Nothing will endear you to new readers more than a personal response to their questions or comments. When Jane’s Melody was first climbing the bestseller charts, I was answering as many as fifty emails a day. It became impossible to keep up, but as soon as things slowed down I returned to personally responding to messages.

Invest In Your Own Success

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00029]With every royalty payment I get, I earmark a percentage for marketing. With every marketing dollar I spend, I ask myself if I’m helping to reinforce my brand with those already connected with me. And with every connection I make, I ask myself if I’m making an impression that will lead these new friends to recommend my work to their other friends. Perhaps the best part of reinvesting royalties in this way is that it’s scalable. The more books or audiobooks I sell, the larger my marketing budget is and the more readers I connect with. The larger my marketing budget is and the more readers I connect with, the more books I sell. And so on and so forth.

Give it a try. Commit a percentage of your royalties to marketing and promotion, but then spend it wisely. Run some contests, promote some posts, and let people know about your unique voice. And who knows, maybe someday, with just the right amount of luck, that self-perpetuating cycle might just scale itself up until your book is topping bestseller lists and is plastered on every city bus and billboard.

Ryan Winfield is the New York Times bestselling author of “Jane’s Melody“, “South of Bixby Bridge“, “The Park Service Trilogy,” and several other books. He lives in Seattle, and you can connect with him at facebook.com/ryanwinfield.

Guest Post: Karen Commins on Marketing Audiobooks – Part Two

Today we bring you part two of ACX producer Karen Commins‘ guide to audiobook marketing for narrators. Part one can be found here.

A Narrator’s Look at Audiobook Marketing – Part Two

The goal of marketing is to make your audiobooks more discoverable and to develop an audience. In part 1 of my discussion about marketing, we looked at reasons why audiobooks aren’t more widely accepted and three ways to create lasting connections to your audiobooks in the consumers’ minds. Today, we’ll look at four more ways to promote your audiobooks.

1. Be Detail Oriented.

Once your audiobook is released on Audible, check the listing for it on Amazon. It should appear on the same product page as the other editions of the title (paperback, eBook, and hardback).

Sometimes the audiobook is orphaned onto its own page. If that’s the case, send an email to Amazon from the Help/Contact Us page, succinctly list both edition pages, and ask them to combine the editions.

If the book is part of a series, you’ll want to ensure that the series link is used on Audible. I’ve had success in sending an email to Audible from this page to request that the series link is added.

The easiest people to sell to are the ones who already are fans!

Series

I also create a Google Alert for the topic of the book and/or do specialized searches so I can track mentions of it online, then I comment about the audio version on any blogs, forums, or other place where people are discussing the topic.

2. Be Real.

Many people tend to think of marketing as an online activity. However, some of your best results may occur when marketing directly to people in real life.

Tell everyone who asks you that you’re an audiobook narrator, whether you’re at a networking event or an informal gathering with family and friends. You can also volunteer to speak at writers’ meetings.

Here’s another real world marketing idea: except in the case of futuristic, sci-fi universes, most books are set somewhere. Can you market to people in that area?

As an example, my Dixie Diva cozy mystery series is set in Holly Springs, MS. In every book, the annual Pilgrimage, which is a tour of antebellum homes, is discussed at length, and some of the local businesses are key to the story lines.

Mississippi

Holly Springs, home of the Dixie Divas

My husband and I went to the Holly Springs Pilgrimage this year. I talked about the audiobooks to the people I met, got lots of great pictures and videos that I can use on my blog and in book trailers, and made a note on my event calendar to create a local newspaper ad and/or postcards in time for next year’s Pilgrimage.

You can also be real without leaving your home. In this terrific video, award-winning narrator and teacher Sean Pratt advises how you could, and why you should, use snail mail in your marketing efforts.

I also recommend that you view Sean’s companion video, The Actor’s Newsletter.

Speaking of mail, my email signature includes a link to my books on Audible. You may find some other ideas about being real in this post from my blog.

3. Be Social.

I use social media extensively to promote my audiobooks, and I’ve learned that different sites are good for different things.

Hashtag marketing (putting a ‘#’ in front of your key word, like #audiobook) can be your friend across many different sites. If you can find a relevant way to link your book to a current hashtag search term, like a newsmaker, TV show, or event, you have made it that much easier for new fans to find you and even share your content with their followers. Narrator and publisher Mike Vendetti often utilizes hashtags that tie in to a TV show.

Tweet01

Sometimes a news event will be a perfect tie-in to your audiobook’s story line.

tweet02

Although I’ve only shown examples from Twitter, hashtags are searchable on:

Now, let’s look at five social media sites ranked in order of my opinion of their current usefulness in audiobook marketing. I’ll offer a tip or two for each site along the way.

Goodreads

People may contribute the most on the site they learned first. If I were starting now, I would probably start with Goodreads, since it is all about books! Here’s what I do to market my audiobooks on Goodreads:

First, I created a Goodreads author page, and I add the audiobook edition on Goodreads for each of my titles as they are released. You’ll see a link on the title page to add a new edition.

GoodReads

After filling out the form to create your edition, you can ask a librarian to combine the audiobook edition with the print and ebook editions in this librarian’s group. You’ll have to look for the current thread of Combine Request in the folder.

I also make sure to visit the Goodreads Audiobooks group, which filled with audiobook addicts! Within the Goodreads Audiobooks group, you can announce new releases under the “General” tab and give away promotional codes under the “Promotions” tab. There’s even a Goodreads Romance Audiobooks group specifically for fans of that genre!

Twitter

A member of Goodreads recently wrote: I’ve discovered Twitter as a means to let narrators know when I really enjoy what they do.

If you don’t want to be a broken loudspeaker on Twitter, you can find other audiobook enthusiasts easily by signing into Twitter and subscribing to my three comprehensive lists of audiobook tweeps. You’ll be able to stay focused on audiobooks and correspond with audiobook folks without following all of them individually. You’ll do well to visit these links.

SoundCloud

SoundCloud is a great way to share audio files on social media and around the web. First, create an account, then upload your retail audio samples. Include the audiobook cover as the image, add tags, and link to your book on Audible in the “Buy link. You can then share those recordings on your web site, in blog posts, and other social sites. Note that you might need to pay for more storage depending on the number and length of samples you upload.

I was astonished to see that PostHypnotic Press has attracted over 900,000 followers on SoundCloud, and that number continues to grow! Publisher Carlyn Craig graciously offered this advice:

As for why we have so many followers, it seems to me that, as with other social media, the more you participate the more attention you get. It is first and foremost a place for creators to share their work, and as such, it does an admirable job. It offers great tools, like the “Embed” and “Share” tools. I love the Twitter media player, for instance, and we use SoundCloud to host all the audio on our site. I do try to be active every day, even if it is only to tweet a few SoundCloud samples.

I suspect that one reason for their tremendous success on SoundCloud is that they have created a number of playlists of genres or titles by author, like this one.

Facebook

When your audiobook is live on Audible, you can post the link on:

You can give away your promotional codes in this group that narrator Jeffrey Kafer created just for that purpose! You may want to subscribe to my Facebook list of Audiobook Publishers and Reviewers to keep up with audiobook news.

YouTube

YouTube is another visual site. I don’t know that you’ll have much success if your video only shows a cover of the audiobook. I think people would quickly grow bored and find a true video.

I loved creating a couple of book trailer videos! I plan to create more since the videos are evergreen products that I can always use, especially with hashtags! Here is an example of a book trailer I’ve created:

Remember that social media sites are a constantly moving target. I also add my videos to my blog and my web site. Of all the places on the Internet, my blog and site are the only pieces of real estate that I own!

4. Be Productive

If the variety and means of marketing audiobooks seems overwhelming, just remember that the best way to have more natural reasons for promotion and rack up more sales is to produce more audiobooks. You gain momentum every time you have a new release!

What are your favorite site-specific social media marketing tactics? Share them with your colleagues below!

Cynthia Hartwig’s Top Five Marketing Jobs for New Authors

We met Cynthia Hartwig in Seattle at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference. Cynthia teaches writing and storytelling at the Richard Hugo House and The School of Visual Concepts, and we learned right away that she had a knack for tackling topics writers find daunting. She joins us today to demystify what some consider to be the scariest task new authors face: marketing their titles.

Cynthia02The Top Five “Absolutely Positively Have-To-No-Matter-What” Marketing Jobs for New Authors

We need to talk. Yes, I’m talking to you, friend. I get that you’re a writer, a word nut, a lover of deep, heartfelt tales, more conversant in character arcs than target markets and audience splits.

Stop shaking in your boots. I’ve narrowed the marketing tasks down to the top five most effective steps for authors new to the marketing conundrum. If you’re stultified by the thousand things you’ve heard other experts telling you to DO RIGHT THIS MINUTE, start here and you’ll do better than fine.

Understand that a marketing hat is not a dunce cap, a cone of shame or a dog collar.

Writers are strange animals. They write books and they want people to read them. And yet when someone says, “be a marketer” they get all shamefaced and embarrassed.

If you can’t admit to the idea that marketing = sales, try thinking of marketing as an honorable way to find readers. Assuming you’ve got a great story, an inviting cover and a hook-‘em-hard title, this list of marketing priorities will get your book sales moving.

1.  Fill out your Amazon Author Central profile to help readers find you.

It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many new authors forget this basic task. Filling out your Amazon Author Central page is far more effective than paying for a sexy web site at the early stage of your author career. This is because Amazon attracts millions of readers to its site—and all of them have no idea who you are or why they should look for you UNLESS your book comes up in their search bar.

You have no real brand identity (yet), so it makes sense to help Amazon direct readers to your e-books and audio version(s). Amazon is the online mega-store equivalent, so naturally you want to be front-and-center, as close to as many reader “buy” buttons as you can get. Your author profile page is there to help you.

2. Give out free copies like candy in exchange for reviews.

Cynthia04Deborah Reed, pictured right, is a very successful writer of both literary novels (much harder to sell than genre books) and thrillers (written under the pseudonym, Audrey Braun). Deb recommends sending lots of free copies of your book to bloggers for review. “Be incredibly generous and polite to said bloggers,” she says. “Also give free copies to other writers and readers, including people you know, in exchange for an honest review.”  Don’t worry that giving your book away will steal sales away from you; while it seems counter-intuitive, free sampling is a proven way to build an audience. Once you hook a listener, they will clamor for more. (ACX gives you 25 free download codes that you can use as Cynthia recommends. Just email support@acx.com to request them.Ed.)

3. Reviews are worth mowing the neighbor’s lawn, changing diapers, and washing cars.

Reviews are social proof that your book is worth spending hard cash for. We’re herd animals and believe me, the more you can herd friends, hair cutters, garage mechanics, yard people and yes, even family members, to write a paragraph of honest copy about your book, the better your sales will be.

Your goal is to hand-sell 20-25 reviews. Call in every favor, every chit, every IOU or marker you have outstanding from people in exchange for a review. Do not worry one whit about whether the reviews or good or bad; in fact, I believe bad reviews have a positive effect because people are so cynical they will distrust you if all the reviews are glowing.

4. Build an email list of 1000+ and mail an e-newsletter once a month.

Books have always been sold hand-to-hand until the marketing snowball gets rolling. I hope you started an email list a long time ago but if you didn’t, immediately start collecting names and email addresses of everybody you come in contact with. My list includes business associates, past clients, social club members, PTA committee volunteers, neighborhood watch folks and a host of people I meet in a busy social life. You want to track everyone you meet because people who know you are more likely buy your book than people who don’t. It’s been said that an email list is the one marketing tool that traditional publishers most want to get their hands on. So it makes sense as a “self-marketer”, that you’d build your list into a marketing asset of at least 1000 names.

cynthia03

Next, create an e-newsletter and mail it once a month. More often than that is annoying; any less and people will forget why they are getting a message from you and will unsubscribe. If you happen to blog, the best things to put in your e-newsletter are interesting and informative posts—just don’t make them posts about writing (most of your friends and associates don’t care a whit about the writing, just the reading). Always include a clear, simple call-to-action asking the recipient (nicely) to buy your audiobook. Show your cover with its short sales blurb and make sure they can click a link to buy on Audible, Amazon, or iTunes. If the e-news is informative and doesn’t bludgeon them over the head with a buy-Buy!-BUY! message, your newsletter will be the closest thing you have to your own storefront.

5. Create a blog that doubles as your web site (and isn’t about writing).

You won’t find social media on my “top five absolutely, positively must-dos” for a self-published author right out of the gate. Even though I’m a huge social media fan.

I believe a new author is better off creating a blog that will build credibility in a specific area and will later become the hub for social media. Instead of randomly tweeting or posting “Buy my book!” on Facebook (which doesn’t work and annoys people), create a strong blog designed to build both platform (aka who you are online) and proves your authority (why readers should care).

Don’t make your blog about writing, because the field is saturated. Instead of writing about writing thrillers, blog about weapons the good and bad guys use against each other; don’t write a blog about writing Regency romances, write a blog about the amazing fabrics (duppioni, muslin, jacquard, white weave, slub, satin!) of Regency-era fashions. Once you’ve got yourself established in the blogosphere, then links to your posts become the “there there” that all your tweets, Facebook posts, Goodreads comments, and Pinterest boards lead to. I use WordPress as my blog and website platform and by far, the Two Pens blog aimed at business readers is one of the most important marketing component I use.

6. Once You’ve Written a Book, Record It

I know, I said there would be five tips. But here’s a bonus. You’d expect that the ACX blog would recommend having your book produced in audio. But don’t do it just because ACX says so. Do it for selfish (i.e. marketing) reasons: people who buy audiobooks are way different than the people who buy e-books or print books—and the market is growing. Audiobook listeners are multi-tasking in some way: they’re driving to or from work, they’re riding the subway, enjoying a sunny day in the park – doing a hundred and one things you can’t do with your eyes glued to a page. A basic tenet of marketing is to be everywhere your buyers are. Why not expand your readership beyond books to listeners of audiobooks since ACX has made it so easy to have your words professionally recorded?Cynthia01

-Cynthia Hartwig

Have you tried any of Cynthia’s marketing tactics? Which have worked best for you? Tell us about it in the comments!

How to Win Listeners and Create Great Audiobooks

We’re bringing a renewed focus on education to the ACX blog in 2014, and we kicked things off last week with our seven habits of a highly effective audiobook producer. This week, we’re back to teach authors everything they need to know about having their audiobook produced on ACX.

How To Be  A Great Audiobook Publisher

1. Know Your Medium. Some authors are audiobook listeners, and some aren’t. But when you’re looking to have your work produced in audio, it’s important to be familiar with the basics of the medium. Start by poking around Audible.com and listening to the 5 minute samples for a variety of books. Listen to fiction and nonfiction, to books in your genre and books that are nothing like yours. Note what you like and dislike, in terms of both performance and production values. Take note of listener reviews, too. Audible’s listeners are discerning audiobook consumers, and they’re not shy about telling you what they love or hate about a book.

2. Think Like An Audiobook Producer. On ACX, your producer is your partner, and in order to get the most out of your working relationship you need to understand the audiobook world from their perspective. Learn what goes into a finished hour of audio so you know what’s reasonable in terms of payment and production timelines. Audiobook production isn’t just sitting in front of a mic and reading aloud; it requires skill, talent, and discipline. Any author who’s heard someone say “Oh, I could be an author, I like to write!” knows it’s not nearly that simple. The same goes for voice acting/production.

3. Begin With The End In Mind. Think about when you want your audiobook to be available for sale, and work backwards from there. The average audiobook production on ACX takes about 45 days, depending on the length of your book. Mark time on your calendar to review your 15 minute checkpoint and your final audio (once you’ve agreed on those dates with your producer). Make sure you have an edited, final copy of your manuscript ready to upload to ACX or send to your producer as soon as you’ve cast them (your audiobook producer is not your manuscript editor). Start thinking about audiobook specific marketing from the beginning of the production, not the end – this way, you’ll have a rabid fan base who can’t wait to hear your audiobook once it goes on sale. Finally, don’t forget to think about cover art early in the process too. Audiobook cover art requirements are different than those for print/ebook covers, and you’ll do well to familiarize yourself with them and start your cover art process early.

4. Attract The Best Producers, And Know Which To Cast. Build a strong title profile that will interest the top talent on ACX. What are great audiobook producers attracted to? They like working on books that are interesting, creative, and well put-together, and actors on a royalty share especially like books that will sell well.

The next step is your audition script. It should be a maximum of 5 minutes (about 2-3 pages) – consider that a narrator will likely put about an hour into prepping, recording, producing, and uploading a 5 minute audition. When picking your audition script, don’t just pull the first 3 pages. Consider the various things that happen throughout the course of your book. Try to find a portion that has both dialog and descriptive text, and contains most, if not all of the key characters. If a character has a specific accent or way of speaking, include them in the script. If there are names or places with complicated or foreign pronunciations, include portions that pertain to them , and your notes on how you want them voiced. If there’s not one section of your book that contains all of these things together, feel free to use portions from different parts of the book to make sure everything is included.

When it comes to casting, listen to both the performance and the technical aspects of the audition (this is where you can start putting the things you learned in point 1 into practice). On ACX, the audition should be indicative of the final audio quality you’ll receive at the end of the production. Keep your ears open for anything that doesn’t sound right to you (Audible’s listeners particularly dislike cartoonish, over the top character voices, for example). And feel free to communicate with with the actor via the ACX messaging center if the audition is mostly great but something small is a little off.

5. Work Out Payment Details and Production Timelines. You’ll have decided whether to offer your book as a royalty share or on a pay-for-production basis when you posted your title, so negotiate payment with your producer if necessary, and then decide on audio due dates. Communicate how you’d like to work with your producer from the outset. Will audio be uploaded to ACX chapter by chapter for your review, or will you receive it and review all together once completed? Consider exchanging phone numbers and have a brief chat about expectations at the outset. A real human connection can make all the difference in a successful collaboration.

6. Understand The Importance of Reviewing Your Audio. Learn about the 15 minute checkpoint, and be sure to set aside time to listen critically around the due date. This is your chance to request changes to the performance or sound before your producer proceeds with recording, editing, and post-producing the entire book. Read up on how to review your final audio, and request adjustments if necessary. Share any research you’ve done into dialects, pronunciations, and foreign locations with your producer. Finally, make sure to keep your eye on whatever means of communication you work out with your producer. You wouldn’t want an unanswered question to hold up production while you work on another project.

7. Don’t Approve Until You Approve. Make sure you’ve reviewed everything and have considered all the aspects of your audiobook recording before hitting “Approve” on ACX. We do everything we can to get your book up for sale on Audible in a timely manner, but you’ll find your title may be delayed in our quality assurance queue if it contains missing or misordered chapters, or cover art that doesn’t meet our specifications.

8. Kick Your Marketing Into High Gear. Hopefully you took our advice and set your audiobook marketing in motion at the outset of your production. Now that your book is complete, turn up the heat, and do everything you can to drive listeners to Audible to purchase your book. We’ll give you codes for 25 free review copies of your title when it goes on sale, so use them to your advantage. Seek out professional audiobook reviewers (Google is your friend here) and offer to send them a download code. Use social media, your author website/blog, and your email list to cultivate a circle of fans who give honest reviews of the title on Audible or Amazon in exchange for free review copies (and have the reviewers state the “deal” in the review). Do everything you can to generate sales and buzz for your title, then tell us about it! Check us out on Facebook and Twitter and share your success.

9. Rinse And Repeat. A full audiobook portfolio is a strong audiobook portfolio. And now that you’ve been through the production process once, future audiobook productions will get easier and easier. Look over your contracts to see if you own the audio rights to any of your backlist titles, and get them up on ACX. Don’t have any backlist titles?  Start writing your next book, keeping audiobooks in mind as you do. We want to see a lot of you around these parts, ok?

What do you consider “best practice” for having your audiobook produced via ACX? Help your fellow authors learn form your experience in the comments!

This Week In Links: November 18 – 22

Our links are all about turning negatives into positives this week. Authors can get a new perspective on rejection letters and learn why some books don’t get the reviews they deserve. Actors can learn to correct poor mic placement and find out which foods are voiceover no-no’s. Turn that frown upside down, and check out this week’s batch of links.

For Producers and Rights Holders:

The Home Stretch: Get Ready For The 2013 Holidays – via The ACX Blog – Catch up on our holiday deadlines, tips for ensuring your book passes our QA, and fun holiday marketing ideas.

For Rights Holders:

Why Your Last Book Didn’t Get Reviewed – via The BookBaby Blog – Did you put your heart and soul into writing and launching your last book project –  only to be ignored by the media, critics, and book bloggers? BookBaby tells you how to do it correctly the next time around.

Ask the Writing Teacher: Fifty Shades of Rejection – via The Millions – A no is a no is a no…or is it?

While you Wait: What Authors Can Do While Their Audiobook is Being Recorded – via The Voices In My Head – Actor and author Brian Rollins understands both sides of the audiobook equation, and offers his unique perspective on his blog.

For Producers:

Putting Your Mic Where Your Mouth Is – via Edge Studio’s “Whittam’s World” – Home and pro studio expert George Whittam covers mic placement and more in this informative video.

Speak the Truth: Harnessing Energy in Voiceover – via Bobbin’s Voiceover Sampler – “It’s all about truth and authenticity in voiceover. Of course, your vocal energy is essential to your personal presence on mic.”

Nutrition No-No’s for a Good Voice – via Online Voice Coaching – Dr. Ann Utterback looks at five food and drink landmines that can wreck your delivery.

We’ll see you next week as we round the corner of the final audiobook productions of 2013!

The Home Stretch: Get Ready For The 2013 Holidays

As we near the year’s end and the all-important holiday season, we’re here to remind you of our holiday timelines. We’ve also got some tips that will help you get those audiobook productions produced, approved, and processed by us for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

The Deadline

In order to have the best chance of getting your title live and on sale by December 25th, the rights holder must approve the production by December 6th (at the latest). You worry about making the audiobook sound great, and we’ll focus on processing your productions as quickly as possible. Deal?

Tools For Success

Producers: Don’t forget to factor the time your rights holder needs to review your audio, as well as time the time you need to make any changes, into your delivery date. Set yourself up for success by checking out our post on avoiding the little mistakes that may cause your title to fail our QA check. If you’re in need of gear recommendations, read our Studio Gear Series. Also, don’t forget about our Video Lessons and Resources page, which has videos on editing, mastering, and the craft of narration, among others. If you have specific questions, our crack customer care team is ready to help you out at audio@acx.com.

Rights holders: Make sure to set aside time around the due date of your production to listen to your final audio. You can find out how to review it the Audible Studios way here. While your producer is finishing your audiobook production, see our tips on marketing your title, straight from the Audible merchandising team. Our customer care team is here for you as well, at rights@acx.com.

Holiday Marketing Tips

In addition to making sure your schedule is set up to get the most out of this holiday season, you can position yourself for success with these holiday marketing ideas:

  • Bonus content: Create a holiday-themed short story featuring supporting characters from your book. Publish it on your blog or as a Kindle Single through KDP.
  • Giving gifts: Host a Secret Santa gift trade between your fans on your website or blog, but with a twist: all the gifts must be items of significance from your book(s).
  • Interview your narrator: Sit down and chat with the voice of your book(s), and ask them about their favorite holiday memories, the best present they ever received, etc.
  • Basket case: Create gift basket guides based on themes from your book – and make sure your book is one of the suggestions.
  • Season’s greetings: Crowd-source greeting cards inspired by characters or scenes from your book, and host the top three on your site from your readers send to their friends and family.
  • Do some good: Let your fans pick a charity through a poll on your website or Facebook page, and donate 1$ per sale of your title(s).

The Holiday Season…and Beyond!

Finally, don’t forget that January is traditionally a strong time for sales of digital downloads, as gift cards are cashed in and happy hands look to fill their shiny new phones and Kindles. So, get those productions on sale, start getting some good reviews, and make that last big marketing push of the year. Then, get ready to do it all over again in 2014!

And, as always, make sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for daily audiobook education and entertainment.

What are your favorite holiday sales and marketing tactics?

This Week In Links: November 11 – 15

There’s no better time than the present for self-improvement. We’ve collected advice from expert authors, actors and producers to start your weekend. Peruse the links below and improve your craft, whether its writing or acting. And make sure to check in next week for more audiobook info!

For Producers:

ACX Studio Gear Series: Home Studio Setup – Part 2 – via The ACX Blog – We gathered top ACX producers and Audible Studios staff to get their advice on setting up a home studio and running your VO business once you do.

The VOICE: When A Narrator’s Trusted Ally Becomes The Public’s Enemy Number One – via Audio Book Narrators – Grammy-winning audiobook producer shares deep thoughts on the actors instrument.

Building Your Own Voice-Over Studio – via Sessionville – Dave Courvoisier offers his take on the basics of setting up a home studio.

Evolution of The Home Studio – via Bobbin’s Voice-Over Sampler – Follow Bobbin as she ponders the best course of action for updating her home studio equipment.

For Rights Holders:

Eight Questions Writers Should Ask Themselves – via The BookBaby Blog – “To help you better understand yourself as a writer, Roxane Gay has come up with eight questions for you to answer.”

Writing Believable Dialogue – via Writers Get Together – A challenging topic for any writer, good dialog is especially important when it comes to your audio version.

Crowdfunding for Self-Publishing Authors – via BadRedHead Media – Justine Schofield of Pubslush covers a creative way to fund your next project.

‘4 Hour Workweek’ Author Tim Ferriss Is Becoming An Audiobook Publisher – via TechCrunch – Bestselling author Tim Ferris shares his thoughts on becoming an audiobook publisher.

What did you learn from this week’s links? Tell us in the comments!

This Week in Links: November 4 – 8

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month is is a fun way to approach to creative writing. Participants begin writing every November 1st with the goal of finishing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Whether you’re an author embarking on their NaNoWriMo novel or an actor hoping to produce one of the completed books, we’ve got tips and tricks to help guide you.

Check out the links below, and join us next week for more audiobook action.

For Rights Holders:

After the Audiobook is Done – An Author’s Guide to What’s Next – via The Voices In My Head – Author and voice actor Brian Rollins talks what to do after your audiobook is completed.

Website Tips For Authors – Via The BookBaby Blog – BookBaby’s sister site, HostBaby, is all about online resources for creatives, and they’ve rounded up their best tips of the month in this handy post.

Author Success – The Laws of Sowing and Reaping – via Kristen Lamb’s Blog – “We get out of life what we put into it. We will get out of our writing what we invest.”

Get More Twitter Followers in 6 Minutes a Day – via CreateSpace – Quick and easy tips for authors looking to build their Twitter fan base.

For Producers:

How Keeping a Diary Can Help You Book the Job – via Backstage – “So much effort goes into getting the job that keeping a diary or a journal of all your auditions will help you see your progress in black and white.”

Task Manage the Goldilocks Way – via J. Christopher Dunn’s Voiceover Blog – Juggling lots of VO tasks? J.Christopher will tell you how to get it “just right.”

Fascination: A Voice Talent Necessity – via Life on The Voiceover List – Randye Kaye explains why fascination is a key component in life and as an actor.

How to Sound Sexy, According to the Women Who Narrate Audiobook Erotica – via The Cut – New York Magazine’s “The Cut” blog interviews some of our favorite actors on the art of talking sexy.

Did we miss any of your favorite links from this past week?

ACX Storytellers: Tim Grahl

Author Tim Grahl recently completed his production of Your First 1,000 Copies, voicing the title himself and uploading it through ACX’s DIY pathway. As president of Out:think Group, Tim has worked with many authors and knows how to speak their language, which makes him the perfect guest to talk about his audiobook journey . Take it away, Tim.

Last week I announced the release of the audiobook edition of Your First 1000 Copies, produced via ACX. I originally had no plans to make an audio edition of Your First 1000 Copies, but my good friend and fellow author Josh Kaufman insisted on it.  Last year he self-published the audio edition of his first book The Personal MBA and has been completely overwhelmed by the success.  And since I do whatever Josh tells me to, I decided to go for it.

tim-headshotWho, how, and where to record?

The first decision I made was to record it myself. I listen to a lot of non-fiction audiobooks and my favorites are always the ones that are read by the book’s author. While they aren’t always as polished as a professional narrator, I appreciate hearing the author’s voice. I wanted listeners to hear my voice and how I talk about the subject. Sure, I made mistakes and wasn’t as eloquent as someone who does this for a living, but it was something I enjoy as a reader so wanted to do it for my readers.

The next decision was how and where to record. I read several places how self-published authors were doing it by recording straight through their desktop computer with a microphone, but I know the quality of these final recordings are often lacking. Plus, the idea of doing all of the editing myself seemed very overwhelming. In the end I decided to reach out to a friend I have who works at local radio stations and has a professional recording studio in his basement. It took two sessions that started after 9pm at night (which meant his kids were asleep and the house was quiet), but I was extremely happy with the final result.  It’s well edited and lacks the unpolished feel that would have come from doing it myself.  I’ll admit here that I also got it done for less than $400 which is significantly less than what you’ll spend with a typical studio.  It’s nice to have friends with the right equipment.

The recording process wasn’t too bad.  I printed the entire book out in large font and practiced turning the pages silently before heading to the studio.  I also practiced my volume and tempo a few times into my own computer to make sure I wasn’t going to fast or slow.  Again, while the final product isn’t as polished as it would be by a professional narrator, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Just like self-publishing your digital and print books, quality matters.  People that listen to audiobooks are used to a certain level of quality, and I wanted to make sure my audiobook met those standards.  I’m happy with the decision to go with a recording studio whose job it was to make sure it was done right.jy2pdlpy1hgvv85n1380831492271

The Money

Here’s where things get really interesting.  The royalty model is unbelievable. On top of the royalties, Audible pays a $25 “bounty” if your book is one of the first three books purchased when someone signs up for Audible.  Again, pretty unbelievable.

I’m traditionally published, should I retain audiobook rights?

My definite answer is “yes!”.  In talking to other authors, the audiobook rights are often sold for very cheap — a couple thousand dollars — or never sold at all.  In the example of Josh Kaufman above, his rights were never sold so he bought them back from his publisher.  In the first week after self-publishing his audiobook, he made back the money he spent buying back the rights.

In fact, if you are still shopping your proposal and haven’t signed yet, I recommend holding back the audiobook rights (most publishers won’t fight you on this) and self-publish it.  There’s all kind of upsides to this, not least of which is all of the promotion for the print/digital sales will sell the audiobook edition as well.

That’s A Wrap!

In my experience, most authors have very little understanding or interest in the audiobook edition of their book. I hope this helped give you some information and insight that you didn’t have before.

Tim Grahl is an ACX author and president of Out:think Group. He invites you to take a free 30 day course on how to build your platform, connect with readers and sell more books by clicking here.