Tag Archives: diysuccess

ACX Success Story: Jared Tendler & Barry Carter

In addition to offering a marketplace where authors and rights holders can connect with audiobook actors and producers, ACX also allows those who have completed, retail ready audiobooks to upload their audio for distribution through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Jared Tendler and Barry Carter used this DIY pathway to upload their completed audiobooks, The Mental Game of Poker and  The Mental Game of Poker 2 to ACX. They’ve stopped by today to talk about their decision to get into the audiobook game, and the success they found through ACX.

Leveraging the Benefits of ACX to Sell More Books

We published The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2 to help poker players break through the mental barriers holding them back at the poker table. Interestingly, we had to break through our own mental barriers to be convinced that turning the first book into an audiobook was a good idea.


ACX Author Jared Tendler

Although audiobooks have been around for years, we were skeptical. How profitable could it be? How big is the market? In the end we figured that selling 1,000 copies would make the decision worthwhile and there was a decent chance that could happen in a year.

We ended up selling 1,000 copies in two months, and another 3,000 in the months that followed. (This is just sales of our first book, the second volume has just been released.)

In the 15 months since releasing The Mental Game of Poker we’ve learned a lot about audiobook production and marketing, and the market as a whole. Below you’ll find some of the things we’ve learned that in hindsight would have made our initial decision easy. Hopefully this will make your decision to get in the audiobook game easier.

The Benefits of Audiobooks

One integral part of producing and marketing a successful audiobook is to sell your customers on the the benefits of the format in general. We always thought audiobooks were the future of publishing, we just weren’t sure how soon it would arrive. There is no doubt anymore, the future is now. The explosion of mobile technology has given readers the convenience of being able to consume books at any time, even while even doing other things. In the case of our audience, that usually means eitf71rsl7v6yqd5nmf1378218555857her playing poker or driving to the casino to play poker.

Another benefit that surprised us quite a bit, was that it opened up an entirely new market of people to our books: people who don’t read books! Audiobooks can reach an entirely new demographic that softcover and ebooks cannot? We received many emails, tweets, and messages on Facebook from customers thanking us for making the book available in audio because they simply don’t read books anymore. One even joked that he could now tell people he reads books.

One final hidden gem we found was that a lot of people liked our book so much, they chose to buy it in softcover or ebook format in addition to audio. Our titles are reference books that customers often read multiple times. We didn’t anticipate them wanting to read it multiple times and in multiple formats.

The Benefits of ACX

We’re huge fans of ACX because of what they’ve done for our first book. They made distributing audiobooks worldwide as easy as Amazon did for eBooks, but they even took it a step further by offering two programs to make marketing and selling easier as well.

First, if your customers sign up for a free 30 day trial to Audible, they can get your book for free and you can still receive a royalty. This has allowed us to market our book as being available for free, which created some buzz from our audience. The blog post where we outline how to get the book for free has been viewed by over 8000 people and been a huge driver of sales. Promoting the free audiobook on our podcast has also paid off, because the audience is highly targeted—the fact that they’re listening proves they like audio content. But, no matter where we talk about this program, whether on social media, interviews, or newletters, we have their attention just by saying it’s free.


ACX Author Barry Carter

This success has in turn allowed us to capitalize on a second program offered by ACX called bounty payments, where you get an additional $25 if a customer purchases your book as one of their first three as Audible members. Many of the people who got a free book from us stayed members of Audible. They liked this new way to read books, stuck around, and everyone benefited.

But, even though the number of bounties we’ve received has exceeded our expectations, we would have had even more if there were more poker books available. The poker audiobook market is small and so we’re trying to convince other poker authors to produce an audiobook. This ultimately benefits everyone—authors, customers, and ACX. In your market look for win-win opportunities among other authors to promote your books together. Give your customers enough books they’ll love and they’ll stick around.

We had no idea how important audiobooks would be in our overall success, but it turned out that we got in at the right time. And now is still the right time. Audiobooks are set to explode, and if you already have a title in other formats get in the game before everybody else does.

Jared Tendler, MS is a mental game coach who works with professional poker players, you can find out more about him at www.jaredtendlerpoker.com and www.mentalgamefish.com.  Barry Carter is a writer and poker media consultant, you can find out more about him at www.pokermediapro.com

Josh Kaufman gets “Personal,” goes DIY with ACX

Josh Kaufman’s The Personal MBA is one of the best selling titles to come through our DIY pathway (meaning it was uploaded via ACX, yet was not recorded and produced by a producer using the ACX marketplace). But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Josh and company. Today, Josh recounts for us the process of bringing his words to your ears.

I’m new to recording audiobooks, so I did a ton of research in order to create a great-sounding (and budget-friendly) mini-recording studio. After consulting the recording equipment guides on ACX.com, reading Dan Benjamin’s excellent podcasting equipment guide and many gear reviews on B & H’s website and Amazon, I settled on some great-sounding and not too expensive equipment. Everything fits on a basic Ikea Frederik desk, which I have set up as a standing desk.

I set up my recording gear in a spare room in my home office. My initial setup was pretty ugly: the room wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t tiny, and I was getting very distracting reflections off the high slanted ceiling. After doing some research on recording forums, I ended up treating the room by hanging about 5 yards of acoustic fabric off of a few large metal stands, then placing a three-sided portable recording booth manufactured by RealTraps behind the mic. I also purchased a large rug and a fabric wall hanging to absorb more sound, since the office had hardwood floors. It wasn’t pretty, but it did the trick.

The “Video Lessons and Resources” page on ACX was very helpful in that I learned basic recording techniques, and how to use SoundStudio myself. It’s a simple piece of software, and not difficult to learn. In terms of narration technique, I learned a lot from my wife, Kelsey, who trained as a professional actress and has done a lot of voiceover work over the years. She taught me a lot of little professional voiceover tricks, like ending sentences in the middle of paragraphs with an “up” inflection to make it easier for the listener to follow, and drinking apple juice while recording: the PH of apple juice noticeably reduces mouth noises. Who knew?

I put together my studio and was two chapters into recording PERSONAL MBA when disaster stuck. Two major back-to-back wildfires made my office unavailable for recording, and since the area was under evacuation orders, I couldn’t retrieve my equipment. (If you remember the “High Park Fire” in Colorado that made international headlines this summer, my office was in the middle of it.) I decided to team up with Aric Johnson of A.K. Studios in Laporte, Colorado to finish the recording. Aric was ready to edit and master the book when I finished recording, but he also has a great professional recording studio a few miles north of Fort Collins. Together, we completed recording PERSONAL MBA over a period of two weeks. Aric then edited the recording to ACX standards and mastered the final recording, now available on Audible.com.

ACX is the best audio publishing platform I can imagine for authors: it’s simple, straightforward, and the royalty structure is killer. Audible, Amazon, and iTunes represent the vast majority of audiobook sales, and ACX is the easiest and most straightforward way to deliver an audiobook to those markets. ACX’s royalties start at 50% (vs. the “industry standard” of 10-15%), and can increase to up to 90% if you sell a lot of copies. This royalty structure requires an exclusive agreement with ACX, but since most audio listeners purchase downloads online instead of hard copies, exclusivity is a non-issue in my opinion.

In addition, ACX calculates and pays royalties every month, not every six months. I can see exactly how many copies I’m selling every day, which makes it much easier to tell what sorts of marketing and promotion techniques work the best. My audiobook is one of my core products, and I love that ACX’s structure rewards ongoing promotion.

That’s why I turned down a substantial audiobook contract from a major traditional audio publisher in favor of publishing with ACX. With ACX, I can set my own timelines, maintain creative control over the product, get better data, get paid faster, and keep more of what I sell. Compared to a standard audio contract, publishing my audiobook through ACX was a no-brainer. I’m thrilled with the results, and I intend to publish every book I write in audio via ACX.

Watch out for part two of Josh’s story in the coming weeks.

Tucker Max Does It Himself on ACX

Tucker Max may not be the first New York Times bestselling author to use ACX, but he’s certainly one of the most skilled at understanding and adapting to the new paradigm for publishing success today. Max had a flourishing website and a TV deal before selling his first book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, which became a bestseller in 2006 thanks to Max’s tireless promotion of his book (and himself) and his ability to connect with his fans through the internet. Since that initial success, Max has published two more bestselling books, built a legion of fans through social media and word of mouth, and in another example of forward thinking we particularly like, he just made two of his books in audio himself through ACX. Since Max personifies the idea of author empowerment we talk about so much at ACX, we thought other ACX users might learn something from a Q&A, to which Max generously agreed. Thanks, Tucker!

How did you discover ACX?

I found out about ACX through my old assistant, Ian Claudius. He’s now running a publishing start-up I invested in, and he came to me with the idea of retaining my audio rights and just doing the audiobooks myself. I thought it was a great idea, and I was in.

You’ve now narrated four of your books. What makes the audiobook format important to you as an author? Do you think the audio format is becoming more important for authors?

I actually didn’t want to narrate the audiobooks at first, and only did it because they paid me 5k (Editor’s note: “they” refers to the audio publishers of Max’s previously published, non-ACX audio titles). But once I did it, and I started getting feedback from my fans, I realized that they really liked how I told the stories. They liked that I laughed at certain parts or that I ad-libbed certain things not in the book, or my little intonations or things that I did that only the person who wrote the book could bring to the reading of the stories. Once I realized that they liked it, I started taking it seriously and really putting some time into it.

I have no idea what the future holds for audio format for books. Sometimes I wonder about this–I think that oral storytelling is an incredibly cool and difficult art form, but I don’t think most authors currently give any real thought to creating different products for audio than for print–myself included–and maybe they should. Though the fact is, they are different art forms. For example, because I am a funny writer and quick-witted in person, lots of people tell me I should do stand-up comedy. No chance. That is a VERY different style of comedy, but people who aren’t artists don’t get that.

Any advice for other authors considering narrating their own work? How challenging is narration, and does it get easier?

It depends. If you like doing it, and you can bring something to the work that a professional voice actor cannot, then yes. I hate my recorded voice, but I do bring an authenticity and immediateness to my readings that no actor could ever replicate, because he wasn’t there and he didn’t live these experiences. I did.

Did you find yourself changing or editing your book as you narrated it? Did the experience change the way you felt about the book(s) in any way?

Oh yes. No matter how much I edit it, reading the book out loud fundamentally changes how I see it. I ALWAYS want to make changes and it drives me nuts each time. But that’s part of writing a book–you can always find something to fix. Sometimes you gotta just put it out.

A big part of the ACX message is self-empowerment for authors—promoting your work and driving your sales. You have proven that this method works. What tips can you give other authors about effective promotion and use of social media? What approaches/strategies have worked for you? 

Oh man, there are about 1000 things I could say here. I wrote a big piece about this for Tim Ferriss, but the big takeaway is this: The best marketing is a great book. The second best marketing is having something out there for free that people can try.

You recently described your “new life” in The New Yorker. What’s next for Tucker Max on the book front?

I just signed on to co-write the autobiography of the highest grossing movie star in the world. I can’t say exactly who it is until his people announce the book, but you should be able to guess who it is from that pretty obvious clue.

To download Max’s new audiobook of Hilarity Ensues, see here; for Sloppy Seconds, go here.