Tag Archives: kindle direct publishing

ACX Storytellers: Ryan Winfield

Author Ryan Winfield is no stranger to audiobooks, having published five through ACX. As an author who has published both traditionally and independently, he recently made the unconventional choice to turn down an advance from a major publisher and keep his audio rights. Today, learn why audiobooks mean more to his portfolio than ever, and why he made this surprising decision. 

Why I bet on myself with ACX.

Ryan Winfield Headshot

ACX Author Ryan Winfield.

It was an exciting day when I published my first novel with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. I’ll never forget sending out the announcement email to my friends and seeing the first few downloads show up in my sales report almost immediately. I could never have imagined that just two years later I would be logging in to read my name on the New York Times bestseller list. A lot has changed since that first book. In addition to my independently published work, I now have a contract with a major New York publisher, and I spend more time flying to book conventions and less time writing than I would prefer. But one thing hasn’t changed: my desire to connect with readers through my stories. And getting my stories in front of as many readers as possible means making them available in every format—print, eBook, and audio.

After my first novel had found success, many readers reached out to me requesting I make the book available in audio for them to listen to. Some quick research led me to the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), a new Amazon company that facilitates the creation of audiobooks and distributes them through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. I used their helpful tips and videos to create a home studio and record my first book in my own voice. It was a rewarding process that left me with great respect for professional narrators.

When my fourth book, Jane’s Melody, hit the New York Times bestseller list, readers were once again begging for an audio edition. This time I used ACX to secure auditions from several pre-qualified Audible Approved Producers until I found just the right one. The book was up and available for readers within 45 days, selling well and getting great reviews. The process was so easy I couldn’t wait to audition narrators for my other work, and all three books of The Park Service trilogy are now available alongside my other titles, read by an extremely talented voice actor who listened to my input and brought my characters to life!

Park ServiceIt was this experience that led me to turn down an offer from one of the Big 5 New York publishers for the audio rights to my upcoming titles, which are being published by one of their imprints, deciding instead to use ACX. There was a time when I would have thought myself crazy for turning down the offer of a generous advance in favor of self-producing my own audiobooks. But now I know it’s just smart.

I believe every author must market themselves once they have a book out in the world, whether it’s published traditionally or independently, and the generous royalties offered by ACX, along with the $50 bounty payments, provide me with the royalties I need to invest in finding new readers. Having just returned from Book Expo America (BEA) in New York, I am more aware than ever of just how easy it is for one book to get lost in the flood of titles pouring onto the market each year. I had to ask myself: Who has more interest in getting my books out to readers and listeners than I do? The answer was easy: No one does. With a 40% royalty and the possibility of earning a $50 bounty every time a new Audible listener downloads my title as their first book, I have the revenue to reinvest in myself by advertising my work. How and where to spend that money is a different topic for a different blog post, but I have met few people more on the cutting-edge when it comes to marketing than the creative community of independently published authors currently climbing the charts.

In short, and in case you couldn’t tell, I love ACX. And who wouldn’t? A portfolio of professional narrators who will audition to read your work, an easy-to-use system for professionally producing your audiobooks, 40% royalties, $50 bounty payments, distribution on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, plus daily sales reporting that allows me to gauge the success of my marketing campaigns. With five titles already produced through ACX and a sixth on the way, I’m looking forward to continuing to reach new listeners while enjoying royalties for the rest of my life and beyond. And that’s why I bet on myself with ACX.

Ryan Winfield is the New York Times bestselling author of Jane’s MelodySouth of Bixby Bridge, and The Park Service trilogy. He lives in Seattle. To connect with Ryan, visit him at ryanwinfield.com or Facebook.com/RyanWinfield.

ACX Storytellers: Mark Tufo

ACX Author Mark Tufo has written over 20 books currently on Audible, including the wildly popular Zombie Fallout series. Mark initially sold his audio rights to a studio, but as he learned about audiobook production, he realized he could make more money and and gain creative control by keeping his rights and having his books produced via ACX. Today, Mark joins us to discuss the decision to take control of his audiobook publishing.

Why self-produce? Well, the simple answer is money. There was so much more that went into the decision, but money was the major factor. The studio that picked up the rights to most of the Zombie Fallout series was, in a word, awesome. I felt a loyalty to them, and making the move to go solo was not taken lightly. But ultimately, it came down to what was best for my family. It made no sense to be paid pennies on the dollar when I could make more doing it myself. When I found out that ACX would allow me to continue my partnership with Sean Runnette, the multi-talented narrator of the previous entries in the Zombie Fallout series, it was nearly a no-brainer (which is a good thing for me).

TufoRunnette NY02

L to R: ACX Author Mark Tufo and Zombie Fallout narrator Sean Runnette

I know that going this alone can seem daunting for some folks. Finding the perfect narrator for your work is just about as important as the story itself. But there’s something to be said for getting to be ‘hands-on’ during this endeavor. If you’re a control freak like me, blindly trusting a publisher can be scary too. But working with ACX has been nothing short of great. I didn’t think this process was going to be as smooth as it has been. As an independent author there is always so much work to do, and the thought of taking on more was cause for concern. But beyond giving the go-ahead to Sean’s work (by approving the 15 minute checkpoint) and uploading my manuscript, it was only about one large iced coffee worth of work. And ACX has been there every step of the way, whether we had questions in regards to paying the talent or receiving royalties.

Looking back, it seems like it all happened pretty fast. While my family and I were going through it, not so much. I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always loved to write. Even in grade school, when our teacher would assign a writing project and the rest of my classmates were groaning, I was secretly happy. I started writing my first novel in college and finished it many moons later. My wife shipped it to every publisher’s address we could find. I could probably make a book just from the stack of rejection letters. I did not have much hope that my book would ever see the light of day.

I released my first book via CreateSpace & Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)  in February of 2009. One morning my wife said ‘Hey, there’s this self-publishing thing on Amazon and I’m going to put your book up there.’ I didn’t even know what that meant, but I agreed. I thought it’d be cool to see my book in ‘print,’ even electronically. I saw a ‘blistering’ sales rate of three copies over the first seven months (two were actually from family members who I think felt bad for me). When I found myself laid off, I turned to my hidden passion and wrote the first installment of Zombie Fallout, not because the “Zombie” genre was heating up (I had no clue), but rather because I truly love zombies.

I finZF7ished the book, and had a blast writing it. I self-edited (which I don’t recommend) and again published it with Amazon. We still had low expectations, so I almost swooned when we sold seven copies that first month (I said almost). At this point we actually weren’t doing any advertising, but were lucky when a few bloggers happened upon the first book and helped get the word out.  When the book started selling more and we could afford it, we had the book professionally edited. Increasing sales inspired me to keep writing, plus I really wanted to know how this was going to turn out for my characters!

It was with the release of Zombie Fallout 4 that my wife and I figured that this could be more than additional income; it could become our primary source.  It was with the release of the fifth book that I noticed more and more readers asking me about an audio version. I asked my wife if anyone actually listens to audiobooks anymore. I remember my mom with her ancient cassette player, listening to books in the kitchen. I thought it was a dying market, not a thriving one. So when that studio contacted me, I felt I had nothing to lose by signing with them and giving it a shot.

I admit I was misguided in my thinking and lack of research before signing.  I received my first royalty check about 8 months later and realized that there was actually a very large audio consumer group out there, and that I had signed away a very large sum of money by giving up my audio rights. That just goes to show you how much we were stumbling through the dark and trying to learn through this entire process.

Luckily, KDP puts out a monthly newsletter, and one issue had a write up on ACX.  I did some research into the service and decided to jump ship from my studio, as good as they’d been, and go with ACX for my next audio book.

ACX is there from start to finish of each project, ready to answer any questions I have. Payments are accurate and timely (something I’ve learned the hard way is not always standard in the ‘published’ world). ACX has been an incredible boon for us, without their help we would not have been able to move from our cramped townhouse to our own house with a yard.

Do you have an ACX story to tell? Put it in the comments and you might be the next featured user on our blog!