Tag Archives: marketing

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.

The Elements of a Well-Reviewed Audiobook

Today, we’re joined by Robin Whitten, Editor and Founder of AudioFile Magazine, one of the industry’s top sources for audiobook news and reviews. Robin is here to demystify AudioFile‘s editorial process, teach ACX Rights Holders how to cast the best voice for their book, and share how to submit for a review.

The Elements of a Well-Reviewed Audiobook

AuON14_cover_300dioFile has been around the block with audiobook reviews. I started the magazine in 1992 when I could not find any reviews that considered the audio performance or the listening experience. What started as a 12-page newsletter has morphed into a multi-platform audiobook review and recommendation source. We review nearly 200 audiobooks per month, and now have 36,000 reviews in our Review Archive.

Listeners, library selectors, authors, narrators, and publishers access AudioFile reviews in our print bi-monthly magazine, in weekly e-newsletters, on the AudioFileMagazine.com website, at AudiobookREX.com, and featured by content partners who sell audiobooks.

Audiobooks come into our Portland, Maine, offices in a steady (digital) stream. We receive review copies from all major publishers and in increasing numbers directly from authors, rights holders, and narrators. Our AudioFile reviewers –about 120 individuals from all over the country with a few scattered around the world—help us create 40-50 professional reviews each week.

What’s a professional review?

A professional or editorial review is often different from a user-review. Editorial reviewers step back and consider each audiobook from a wider perspective. They use their audiobook listening experience to evaluate and assess the quality of the narration, the overall performance, and the alignment with the author’s intent. A professional’s critique is considered alongside the many other audiobooks they’ve experienced.

There’s always a place for user-reviews. The candid enthusiasm and satisfaction (or lack thereof) offers immediate feedback and is easy for others to react to. AudioFile reviews are more than just one reviewer’s opinion; they’re deliberate and collaborative. At AudioFile, we encourage discussion of elements like successful emotional tone & dramatic style more than a rating system. Our reviews are carefully edited and meet strict standards. Three editors see each review, and the grammar and the sense of the language have to pass them all.

The Focus of AudioFile Reviews

Robin covers

Robin Whitten, AudioFile’s Founder and Editor.

AudioFile reviews very specifically focus on elements of the performance, and what sort of listening experience to expect. Obviously we have to discuss the storyline, but we are not there to critique the author’s written work, or to give a plot summary. Each AudioFile review should make clear to the reader that it’s an AUDIObook review. We may be critical of a performance choice, or the success of an accent, but we do not trash titles indiscriminately.

What Should Authors Listen For?

The most critical element for an audiobook review is the casting. The choice of the right narrator is essential. The skilled narrator can fulfill the intent of the written work and give subtle layers of brilliant storytelling. However, the narrator is not just a voice. The narrator has to get inside the words, and thus into the head of the author. Experience shows, and reviewers can spot the pros.

Sound quality is also something noticed by all listeners. Lapses in QC, like extraneous noise, sloppy edits, and varying sound levels will always be called out by reviewers. All of these are controllable issues, and not perfecting them is a black mark.

Unpredictability comes into reviews primarily because all performance choices or all stories do not appeal to all reviewers. Part of the professional review process is to match reviewers with audiobooks appropriate to their tastes and skills.

AudioFile reviewers are given criteria for their evaluation, criteria we take seriously enough to outline on our masthead: Narrative voice & style; Vocal characterizations; Appropriateness for audio format; Enhancement of the text. We have great respect for the narrators and authors. To get top marks with our review criteria, here are some specifics:

  • Listen for more than “a great voice.”
  • Choose a narrator whose vocal style and tone is aligned with your written style and tone.
  • Make sure the narrator emotionally connects to your intent.
  • Think about how much “performance” you want from your characters. (Note: at Audible, we recommend a subtle performance over a “cartoonish” one.)
  • Consider whether big accents will define your characters or distract from them.
  • Consider whether your book has visual elements like maps or charts, essential footnotes or multiple time-line shifts? These present extra challenges in audio production.

How Do We Choose Audiobooks to Review?

The audiobook publishing floodgates opened a few years ago when ACX added their titles to the already expanding lists from traditional publishers. AudioFile receives announcements of upcoming titles from traditional publishers and starts our selection process there.

CoverBest of-300We make one pass after looking over basic title merchandizing sheets; references from various book scouts in the library and publishing industries; and whatever publicity we find. If an audiobook comes out after the success of a print or eBook title, reviews and buzz can bring these into focus. We take recommendations from narrators, and authors, as well as standard publicity information.

Rights holders, authors, and narrators can submit titles to AudioFile by sending an email with information about the title to editor@audiofilemagazine.com. AudioFile’s managing editor, Jennifer Dowell, will coordinate the review copy and make sure we have all the relevant details.

Why a Good Review is Only Half the Story.

A good review can go a long way, but you need to get out in front of the crowd with the good news. Marketing audiobooks is one of the toughest parts of the process. ACX gives rights holder’s good tips and resources. AudioFile’s broad listener audiences are eager to find their next audiobook. Our readers depend on us to find and review gems that might otherwise be missed. To give listeners an additional resource we started the Indie Showcase for independent authors and publishers. The advertising program gives prime print and online exposure to individual titles. To find out more about the Indie Showcase, email Michele Cobb, michele@audiofilemagazine.com.

AudioFile strives to find the best audiobooks to recommend to our subscribers and visitors. If you follow our advice above and end up with a great audiobook, we’d love to hear it! Please send it in for review.

Robin Whitten is the Editor & Founder of AudioFile Magazine.

ACX Storytellers: Zhanna Hamilton

Zhanna Hamilton is an ACX user doing double duty: she plays both roles in the ACX equation as an author and  audiobook producer, with a Master’s in Marketing to boot. Her combination of education and experience has enabled her to achieve success marketing over 90 ACX titles and generating hundreds of valuable $50 Bounty payments. She joins us today to share her story and her tips for audiobook marketing success.

Zhanna HamiltonThe Zhanna Hamilton Story

As an Audible Approved Producer on ACX, my virtual studio and I have had the pleasure of recording, editing and mastering over 100 audiobooks. Some of these audiobooks have been my own books, with others for authors and small/medium publishers. Thanks to ACX, I’ve been fortunate enough to have my audiobook “Rewire Your Brain: 300 Affirmations for Positive Thinking” hit number one on iTunes in the self-development category in February 2014

As a child, I’ve always had an inclination towards writing. One of my first poems was about the psychology of a cat (it wasn’t as sophisticated as it sounds), prompting my mother to gift me a journal so I could keep my poetry in one place. As an adult surrounded by the growth of technology and the availability of the ACX platform, creating audio books was a natural extension of my love for words. The best audiobook production comes from a team of dedicated people with one goal in mind – to produce quality audio books. After building up a rock star team of voiceover artists and sound designers to produce my own audiobooks, I opened up our services to other authors and publishers.

$50 Bounty Payments and Audiobook Marketing

Once the production process is completed, marketing becomes an integral part of the audiobook life cycle. Marketing your titles will expose them to a wider audience and is key to generating those $50 bounty payments (awarded by ACX whenever a new Audible listener buys your book as their first purchase). It can be difficult to think like a marketer if you only view yourself as a writer. In order to sell well, you must be both. Even big publishers don’t do nearly the same amount of advertising for authors as they used to – placing much of the marketing responsibility on your shoulders. If you are self-published, that responsibility triples. Here are some tactics to help you become a successful marketer:

RewireEducate yourself. I learn best through trial-and-error, listening to interviews with other entrepreneurs or authors and self-educating through books, internet searches and tutorials. I do have a Master’s in Marketing, but I’ve found the information from a curriculum can be found on Google for much cheaper. In other words, there is no excuse for anyone in the information age to say, “I don’t know to market my book.” Just Google it!

Don’t just SELL, SELL, SELL. As every self-published author has learned (or will learn), establishing a relationship with your audience is a must. This means engaging with your social media audience, always answering emails from readers, and treating people like respected friends – not wallets. Would you rather buy a product from a friend, or a stranger? The more familiar your fans are with you, the more you will feel like a friend to them. This enriches their lives, and in return, they will be more willing to choose your products over a stranger’s products. Familiarity helps establish trust, both in you as a transparent person, and in your line of products.

Value first, promotions second. In order to gain a real following, you must give immediate value outside of your line of products. “Value” is a vague word, as it means something different to each audience. Your audience might value humor, and that’s why they follow you on social media. If you are a romance novelist, they may value your insight on interpersonal relationships. Giving them more of what they value – with your promotions coming second – lets your readers and listeners know you are there to enrich their lives.

Quality over quantity. When I’m browsing the internet and come across a great article, video, or blog, I think, “My Facebook fans would love this.” The more useful your posts are to your audience, the more they will think of you as an authority in your industry. When I first started maintaining social media pages, I thought posting every hour like those big-budget pages did was the way to go. I quickly learned quality is more important than quantity and am pickier about what I post on social media. Before posting anything, I always ask myself, “would I want to see this in my newsfeed?” Sharing in this way helps me feel more connected to my audience when they ‘like’ what I post.

Learn

Set a schedule. Being an author, producer, and marketer creates the need for a schedule. I like to plan my productivity on a monthly basis, setting milestones and deadlines within each week with the overall goals of the month in mind.

Use those promo codes. ACX will give you 25 free promotional codes upon the publication of your audiobook. Personally, I enjoy offering freebies through my newsletter and social media channels, as these are the places my audience expects me to give such items. For example, I run a book reviewer program on my English as a second language website for reviewers wanting free books. Additionally, I give away books on a weekly basis through my Reddit profile and my newsletter. Sometimes, the books or audio books I give away are in exchange for honest reviews. Other times, they are for gaining a larger readership and come with no conditions. I have done Facebook giveaways, interviews and have shared my knowledge with others with the goal of connecting with my readers, listeners and other like-minded people.

Mix it up. I’ve found the best way to promote a product is to mix up your marketing method, experiment often and let the results lead your marketing plan. You might find that book trailers are a great way to promote audio books, or that Pinterest is where your audience hangs out the most.

My focus for all my audiobook marketing is always the end user and how to best connect with them. This outlook has made all the difference in both attracting new Audible Listeners and keeping them interested in our line of audio books.

To receive updates from Zhanna Hamilton, follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to her newsletter on ZhannaHamilton.com for free books and audio books.

Guest Post: Karen Commins on Marketing Audiobooks – Part One

Audible Approved producer Karen Commins is a prolific audiobook narrator who has completed over 20 titles on ACX. She is also a skilled audiobook marketer, working independently and with ACX rights holders to drive sales of her productions. Today, she joins us to share the first installment of her thoughts on audiobook marketing and some of the tactics that have brought her success.

A Narrator’s Look at Audiobook Marketing – Part One

Karen Commins

ACX Producer Karen Commins

After picking and performing a great royalty-share title on ACX, the next question many narrators and producers have is: “How do I market my audiobook?” Others ask: “Why do I need to market the audiobook? Isn’t marketing the job of the rights holder?”

Let me answer the second question first. Whether I’m paid per finished hour (PFH) or on a royalty-share (RS) deal, I always publicize my audiobooks because:

  • I want the world to know that I am an audiobook narrator! As a result, I have come to the attention of authors and publishers, and I’ve received ACX offers for books for which I didn’t audition.
  • Marketing is a value-added service that I offer my clients.
  • I have seen my sales numbers and the ensuing royalties for my RS audiobooks increase as a direct result of my promotion.

In addition to these reasons for marketing, I encourage other narrators to promote their books because, while audiobooks are a rapidly growing industry, the majority of people have never listened to an audiobook!

Those entrenched in the audiobook world may be quite surprised by this fact, but people resist audiobooks for several reasons:

  • The earliest audiobooks were only available to those with vision impairments. Some people do not realize that audiobooks are now mainstream entertainment!
  • Some devout readers won’t even invest in an e-reader because they like the feel of the actual book and the experience of reading the actual pages.
  • In past centuries, only the most educated people could read. Even in modern times, learning to read could be a difficult skill to master. Some readers still stigmatize audiobook listeners as “cheaters” if they choose to hear the text instead of reading it with their eyes.

So now you know what you’re up against. But with the right tactics and proper execution, you can become a skilled audiobook marketer who exposes new listeners to your work. Once you’ve decided that you want to market your audiobooks, we’re back to that first question – how should it be done?

Before I offer you some ideas, I want to address one misconception that seems prevalent with those who are new to marketing.

You’ve probably heard or read that it’s essential to repeat your message many times to get the attention of your potential buyer. I’ve seen updates on social media sites where the writer applied that advice literally.

They remind me of a broken loudspeaker continuously blaring the same phrases: BUY MY BOOK! READ MY BLOG! WATCH MY VIDEO! MY BOOK IS FOR SALE! HAVE YOU READ MY BLOG? MY VIDEOS ARE GREAT!

Loudspeaker

“Repeating the message” doesn’t mean that you say the exact same thing every time! If you use the same general words to present the same general theme, people will stop caring what you have to say. TV advertisers know they have to find new way to express their message. They change commercials frequently while keeping the underlying message the same.

“Repeating your message” really means that you are creating an association in the consumer’s mind.You create this association by continually and consistently letting the world know in a variety of clever ways that you are an audiobook narrator and that you have interesting audiobooks that they might enjoy.

Here are 3 ways to create those associations to your message.

1. Be Authentic

I recently read an author’s blog article about book trailers. She commented that other authors feel pressure to do something like a book trailer because “everyone else is doing it.” She wisely pointed out that you should do what is authentic for you. Don’t feel like you have to do it all, or any particular thing if it’s not you. As Shakespeare said, “to thine own self be true.” You’ll find millions of articles and videos from experts and gurus who will tell you all of the “rules” for any type of marketing. Don’t be afraid to break the rules and do things your way!

2. Be Consistent

It helps to view marketing as a system or process, not an isolated action. I certainly don’t do all of my promotional activities in one day or even in a week. The key is to regularly discuss your audiobooks. One way to be consistent is to always promote your new releases.

Narrator Andi Arndt offers this great advice about promoting new releases:

One thing I’ve figured out that seems important is to be sure and tag the author, audio publishers AND print publisher in social media posts.

It has been helpful to think of it as a congratulations to the author and publishers, and to follow their lead. Look up the press they’ve carefully put together for the book and use THEIR quotes, summary, description, so you’re reinforcing their marketing messages. Reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus provide great material. The positive stuff, that is!

AndiTweetWith a little thought and planning, you can find reasons to talk about your audiobooks on days other than the release days. Your growing fan base is interested in progress on your current book, funny quotes from it, etc.

I created an annual event calendar where I can connect the people/themes/events in my audiobooks with something in the news. I can create updates ahead of the date and use them each year.

For instance, my Blue Suede Memphis mystery series is set in – you guessed it — Memphis, and the main character is a tour bus driver. The titles of the books are plays on the names of famous Elvis songs. I can promote the series of books on Elvis’ birthday. On 13 July, I’ll talk about the audiobook Hound Dog Blues because it will be the anniversary of the release date for Elvis’ hit record Hound Dog.

You can also check Chase’s Calendar of Events each day to discover clever promotional tie-ins. Oh, and you should know that June is always audiobook month, so you could plan some promotions around that theme.

3. Be Creative

Think of marketing your audiobooks as yet another way to express your creativity. After you receive that email from Audible with your 25 promotional codes, you can write a fun blurb to give them away, as illustrated here by narrator Christa Lewis.

ChristaPost

She really makes you want her audiobook! And who knows – maybe someone who misses out on the download code is intrigued enough to BUY the book!

If you pay attention to what your publishers and authors are promoting, inspiration for a tie-in promotion may come beating down your door. One day, I noticed that author Barbara Silkstone wrote a blog post where her character Wendy Darlin (who is voiced by Nicole Colburn in audiobooks) interviewed Sasha McCandless, who is the main character in the series of books I’ve narrated for Melissa F. Miller.

I contacted Nicole about her interest in recording her character’s lines. We both obtained permission from our authors to record that blog installment like a radio show. The resulting recording was fun to create, thrilled our authors, and has been something that we continue to publicize.

Coming up in part two, I’ll share some more ways to create those coveted associations to your message. I’ll also give you site-specific social media tactics geared to make your audiobooks more easily discoverable.

You can find part two of Karen’s guest post here.

Help your fellow narrators out by sharing some of your favorite audiobook marketing tactics 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!

Best of 2013: The Best of The Blog

2013 has been a great year for the ACX blog, helping actors and authors become better audiobook production partners. This year, we offered the expertise of Audible’s studio team, merchandising group, top-selling authors and award-winning producers, and you voted for your favorite stories with your clicks. Before we say goodbye to 2013 and get ready for a bigger, better 2014, take a look back at our top posts from the past year.

10. ACX Success Story: Kevin Pierce – Prolific ACX producer tells how ACX helped him make the transition from radio and TV to audiobook production.

9. How to Promote Your Titles & Get on Audible’s Merchandising Radar – Part 1 – The first part of our two part series introduced readers to Audible’s merchandising expert Jessica and her best practices for audiobook marketing success.

8. Alex Hyde-White’s 4 Tips For New Narrators – Winning our narration contest at That’s Voiceover allowed this film and TV actor to start his audiobook career with ACX.

7. ACX Studio Gear Series: Home Studio Setup – Part 1 – ACX actors were more empowered than ever to work from home with expert advice on setting up their personal recording space.

6. APE This: ACX and Guy Kawasaki Launch Open Casting Call – Back in July, We teamed with author and book-marketing expert Guy Kawasaki to cast the voice of his guide to self publishing.

5. Four Questions to Ask Before You Audition – With over 3,000 titles open for audition on ACX, we took a moment to guide actors towards auditioning for the title that’s best for them.

4. ACX Studio Gear Series Part 3: Headphones – No, not the kind you listen to music with! The fourth spot on our list is occupied by this critical tool to help producers better hear themselves.

3. Money Talks – Paying, and Getting Paid, For Your Audiobook – Does money make the world go round? This post gives authors a better understanding of the ways to fund their audiobook production, as well as info on how they’ll be paid once it’s on sale.

2. ACX Studio Gear Series Part 2: DAWs –  A Digital Audio Workstation is the software needed to record, edit, and master your audiobooks productions, and we covered the pros and cons of the most popular options.

1. ACX Studio Gear Series Part 1: Microphones and Preamps – The bedrock of a good sounding recording got the full treatment in our most popular post of the year, as we ran down various options for equipment across all price levels.

What was your favorite post from 2013? Tell us in the comments!

ACX on The Road: Dipped In NINC

In late October, the ACX team had the pleasure of attending the Novelists, Inc. annual conference in Myrtle Beach, SC and hosting a panel of your peers to discuss the audiobook revolution. Novelists, Inc. (or NINC, for the initiated), is an organization dedicated to helping multi-published fiction writers as they write and promote their books. Jasinda Wilder (Falling series), Julie Ortolon (Forever series), Patricia Ryan (Pure and Simple), and Wendy Lindstrom (Grayson Brothers series) joined ACX Marketing Manager Hannah to discuss their journeys through having their series produced in audio and how they are successfully promoting their audiobooks.

Today, we’ve collected the top advice they shared to inspire you, no matter what stage of audiobook production you’re in!

Jasinda_Julie_Hannah

L to R: ACX Authors Jasinda Wilder and Julie Ortolon, and ACX Marketing Manager Hannah Wall at NINC

On Selecting a Narrator

Julie Ortolon had a very specific vision in mind for her narrator, but she had an unexpected change of plans once she started producing her audiobooks. “Your favorite narrator may not fit your book,” she said. “I waited until the narrator was available to do my book and I didn’t like the audition. Picking the right scene for your audition script is crucial.”  Casting off those expectations, she found a voice that matched the one she envisioned.

Once her narrator had been cast, Julie wanted to be proactive about setting expectations for the different characters in her three book series: “I learned to piece together different scenes for the 15 min checkpoint, so that you can get the most out of that checkpoint with your narrator.” That collaboration at the checkpoint helped drive the tone for all three books.

On Writing with the Audiobook in Mind

Jasinda Wilder is a musician as well as author, so thinking of how her words would sound when spoken aloud came very naturally to her. She has even gone as far as incorporating her original music into her audiobooks after the credits, which helped her capture even more sales; by including exclusive music in her audiobooks, readers of the print and Kindle versions of her books have purchased her audiobook editions.

On Giving Feedback

Wendy Lindstrom opts to give feedback to her narrator directly. “I actually get on the phone with the narrator and have her do several voices for me.” This lets her give instant input on the voices before the recording process begins.

2014conference_logo2On Promoting the Audiobook

Patricia Ryan promotes her contemporary and medieval romances through social networking channels, promoting the audio on her site, and providing readers with links to SoundCloud audio clips. “I also have an interview with my narrator on my site. I put a sexy photo of him with some Q&A’s and it was a big hit with readers.”

Wendy, Pat, Julie, and Jasinda all took the plunge into audiobooks for their series – will you?

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer aspiring writers?

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.

ACX at Self-Publishing Book Expo!

We’re excited to announce that ACX will be participating in the 5th annual Self-Publishing Book Expo Saturday November 9th, located in the heart of New York City. If you’re new to self-publishing (or just new to audiobooks), join us from 10:45-11:45AM as we explore how you can use ACX to create great audiobooks and maximize your royalties.

SPBE

Jason Ojalvo, Vice President at Audible and ACX’s fearless leader, will be taking the stage to moderate a lively discussion between top-selling audio authors Mark Tufo (Zombie Fallout), Laura Caldwell (Long Way Home), and Melody Anne (Surrender). Each of these authors has had great success using ACX, and they will share their publishing journeys, plus marketing tips you can start using right away.

Also featured at the conference: a line-up of 18 workshops, lectures and panels, led by some of the biggest and brightest names in publishing. These include a keynote speech on how a leading traditional publisher views the rise of self-publishing, panels on crowd-funding and social media, workshops on creating ebooks, the importance of good book design, and much, much more.

Purchase your tickets here.

WHEN:  SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2013– 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

WHERE: HOTEL PENNSYLVANIA, 401 Seventh Avenue @ 33rd Street, New York, NY

Can’t make it in person? This year’s conference will be filmed by C-Span’s Book TV, so set your DVR for 10:45AM Eastern!

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.

Jared

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.

Barry

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