Tag Archives: promo codes

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 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!

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!

The ACX Author’s Audiobook Checklist

Authors, do you think of yourselves as audiobook publishers? You should! When creating an audiobook through ACX, you cast the title, set the schedule, control the quality and promote the finished product. So, we think you can safely add “Audiobook Publisher” to your job title.

Being a publisher might sound daunting. Many tasks are vying for your attention, and at the end of the day you are responsible for the quality of the finished product. That’s why ACX Rights Evangelist Nicole joins us today to share her ACX Author’s Audiobook Checklist. Follow her the steps to ensure you stay on the path to successfully publishing your books in audio.

The ACX Author’s Audiobook Checklist

nicoleop

An author’s best friend: ACX’s Nicole

Working with authors, publishers, and agents all day, every day, I’ve discovered that in audiobook publishing, there are optional items as well as critical items that must be checked off before proceeding from one step to the step. Here’s my handy check list for every step of the audiobook publishing process on ACX.

Stage 1: Before You Begin Production.

Verify Rights

checkbox-unchecked Confirm you have audio rights for your book by checking your print or eBook book contract. If you’re self-published (say, through Kindle Direct Publishing or CreateSpace), you’ve retained your audio rights. If you do not have audio rights, and the current rights holder has not produced an audiobook of your work, consider pursuing rights reversion like author Marta Acosta.

checkbox-unchecked Ensure your book is appropriate for audio. Click here for a list of books that usually do not turn into great audiobooks.

Claim Your Title on ACX

checkbox-unchecked Create an ACX account. You can use your existing Amazon email and password to log into ACX. It is important to fill out your name and address, bank information and tax information up front because I don’t want incomplete info to delay your payments once your audiobook is complete!

checkbox-unchecked Claim the best performing ASIN/version on ACX. Many rights holders have more than one version of their book (eBook, paperback, hardcover), and ACX will pull in certain metadata from your Amazon listing, such as the summary and current rankings and ratings. Potential audiobook producers will use this information when deciding if they would like to audition to narrate your book, so put your best foot forward.

checkbox-unchecked Start drafting your audiobook marketing plan. Keep your fans up to date throughout the production process to build anticipation for your audiobook. Your audiobook marketing plans can help you set due dates for your production and the time line in which you want your audiobook to go on sale.

Post your book for auditions on ACX.

checkbox-unchecked Create the title profile for your book. Creating a robust, specific, and accurate title profile is important. A book description that’s detailed and compelling helps producers get excited about working on your project. I always tell my authors to include some performance notes (characters, accents, overall tone, etc.) and to mention if the title is part of a series.

checkbox-unchecked Choose the right audition script for your book. This portion should be about 2-3 pages, and should include some dialog, some descriptive text, and any important accents or character voices. Don’t worry if you can’t find all of these things in one scene – you can build an audition script that includes a few shorter passages that cover the items above.

checkbox-unchecked Decide the payment method for your production. Do you want to pay your producer for their efforts upon completion of the audiobook (a fee per finished hour, as part of a Pay For Production deal) or do you prefer to split your royalties with them 50-50 (as part of a Royalty Share deal)? Learn more about payment options on ACX here.

checkbox-unchecked Make an offer! Clicking this button will start the process of making an agreement or deal. I recommend opening a dialogue with your narrator before or during the offer stage to ensure you are on the same page.

checkbox-unchecked Set a proper production schedule based on your needs and the narrator’s availability. Make sure to leave yourself time to review your final audio and communicate  any corrections to your producer.

Stage 2: Time to Produce

checkbox-unchecked Send the manuscript, and decide on a 15 minute checkpoint once your producer has accepted your offer. You can piece together the 15 minute checkpoint script from multiple parts of the book if need be. Make sure to include main characters, dialogue as well as descriptive text, any particularly tough scenes or tricky pronunciations. If any portion of the book seems likely to trip up your narrator or deserves extra attention, include it in the 15 minute checkpoint.

checkbox-unchecked Request clear and specific corrections to the 15 minute checkpoint as necessary. Once you approve, you narrator will have the green light to produce the rest of the book in its entirety.

checkbox-unchecked Secure and upload your audiobook cover. Cover art should meet our cover art requirements and should make your book attractive to potential listeners.

checkbox-unchecked Line up promotions. I’m constantly telling authors to think about marketing from the very beginning. Are you blogging about your upcoming audiobook? Are you alerting your fans or newsletter list that they will soon be able to hear your book? Keep whetting their appetite for audio and ensure they’ll be eagerly anticipating the day your audiobook becomes available for sale.

Stage 3: Review, Approve, and Pay

checkbox-unchecked Request clear and specific corrections to the final audio as necessary. Don’t be unreasonable, but don’t be shy. This is your audiobook, and sometimes corrections are necessary.

checkbox-unchecked Approve and pay for your audiobook (unless it is a Royalty Share, of course). Your title will be submitted to ACX and receive a quick quality assurance check and, if all is well, should be available for sale within 7 business days of your approval.

 checkbox-unchecked Finalize your marketing plans for when…

Stage 4: Your Audiobook is on Sale!

checkbox-unchecked Use your codes to drive reviews and sales of your audiobook. Once your audiobook is on sale, you will receive 25 free promotional codes via email to distribute to fans and reviewers.

checkbox-unchecked Update your web site, blogs, and social media accounts to reflect your new audiobook. I think author Barbara Freethy’s audiobook section of her website is a great example of how to feature your audiobooks.

checkbox-unchecked Check your backlist, and do it all over again! The only thing better than having a book made in audio via ACX is having ALL your books made in audio via ACX!

Download a printable version of this checklist.

Market Yourself and Your Books with Promo Codes for Producers

You Asked, We Listened: Promotional Codes for Producers

Producers, you told us you’d like more help promoting royalty share projects you’ve completed through ACX, so starting tomorrow, we’re arming you in the fight for higher sales. ACX producers will now receive 25 promotional codes for each royalty share production they complete. These codes are the key ingredient in your marketing recipe. Using promo codes to drive reviews and sales of your ACX productions will not only earn you money, it will help you sell your narration abilities to boot.

Audiobook Marketing for ACX Producers

We’ve covered the basics of self-promotion on ACX, as well as here on the blog. Lay the groundwork using those tactics, and don’t forget that most marketing advice written with authors in mind is applicable to actors as well. The tips below will help you market your ACX titles, but it all starts with cultivating your brand. Don’t just think of your website, blog, or social media accounts as sales tools for your vocal work, but as ways for new listeners to discover your audiobooks as well. As an actor you’re used to selling yourself, so don’t be shy about marketing your products as well as your services.

Let’s take a look at five ways you can use promo codes to get people talking about you.

1. Trade a code for a review – This is the simplest method of using your codes to promote yourself. Offer anyone and everyone a free download of your book in exchange for an honest review on Audible (just don’t be too pushy). A number of strong reviews will help sway potential listeners, and you can add quotes from listeners to your ACX profile, your website, etc. And make sure to send their code via email, then add the contact to your email list. Now you’re killing two birds with one stone!

2. Use codes in a contest/giveaway – This is a great way to generate big buzz with a small reward. Everyone loves to win, so hold a contest with a free download as the prize (or as  part of a prize pack).  Double your return by roping social media into the proceedings. Look for ways to enlist your fans and contacts in your marketing efforts in exchange for something cool from you. For example,  you could encourage fans to tweet about your audiobook along with a custom hashtag – then randomly select a winner to receive a free download.

3. Swap codes with a fellow ACX narrator/producer/engineer – Set up an agreement with a friend or colleague: trade download codes and review each other’s audiobooks on Audible, then expand on that review on your blogs. Offer the unique perspective of one audiobook insider reviewing the work of another, and make sure to include links to the Audible product page in your post. Feel free to give away each others codes as well. Their fans could become yours, and vice-versa.

4. Partner with your author – Pair with the author of the title you’re promoting to combine your efforts. Make sure you mention the book title and author’s name every time you give away a promotional code, and have the author do the same. You can also interview each other for your respective blog or websites, and focus on the creative similarities and difference between your chosen fields. Whatever you choose, find a way to make the most out of your relationship with your partner in promotion.

5. Don’t forget real world marketing – The only thing better than listening to a great voice in your headphones is listening to a great voice in person! Contact your local bookstore or library and offer to do a live read with a Q&A (if you have the copyright owner’s permission). If they’re local, combine forces and appear together. Make sure to bring your business cards with your website/blog’s URL, and hand them out at the end. Those that visit your website or follow you on social media will be added to your pool of potential code-getters and review-leavers.

You may not feel like a instinctive marketer, but if you start small and keep at it day after day, it will quickly feel as natural as narration. Remember that you’re still you, just with something to sell (or in this case, give away)! Don’t let marketing your titles take over your online persona, but do remember that you have a unique opportunity to drive your own income. A little marketing work is surely worth the extra sales and the chance to become an audiobook entrepreneur, right?

Help your fellow producers by sharing your audiobook marketing ideas 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.

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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!

Mastering the $50 Bounty Program

Today, we’re talking bounties, more specifically ACX‘s $50 bounty program. If you hadn’t heard, bounties are a great way for rights holders and producers to maximize the earning potential of their audiobooks. Let’s review some bounty basics, and then we’ll hear from an ACX user who found success driving new Audible listeners to purchase their book.

The ACX $50 Bounty Program

Under the $50 Bounty program, users can get – or split in the case of Royalty Sharing partners – a $50 bonus payment every time a qualifying audiobook they’ve produced through ACX is the first purchase of a new Audible listener. This money is on top of any royalty earnings from your audiobook sales. Think of it as our thanks to you for helping new audiobook listeners discover Audible!

Profitable_rightDriving New Audible Listeners

Here are some quick ways to get the word out about your audiobook and start racking up those $50 payments.

1. It’s never too early to start promoting! You needn’t wait for your audiobook to be published to start spreading the word! Authors, let your fans know when you post your title to ACX and update them when you cast a narrator, and as production progresses. Producers, spread the word when you’re cast on a new title, and let your fans know when it will be out.

2. Use those promo codes from ACX. When your production is completed, you’ll get 25 free download codes right off the bat.  Use these codes to get people listening to and reviewing your book. Seek out audiobook reviewers and offer them a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Host a giveaway for your fans on social media, or trade codes with a fellow ACX user and review each others titles on your website/blog. Word of mouth marketing is a more powerful tool than ever!

3. Mention your audiobook every time you promote your book in ANY format. General book marketing is great, but to maximize your bounty payments, make sure you consistently talk about your audio version. A number of your readers may not yet be audiobook listeners, and a reminder that your book is available in this awesome format might be just the poke they need to visit Audible and start downloading.

A Bounty Success Story – Frank Eakin, 12 Years a Slave

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L to R: ACX rights holder Frank Eakin and narrator Louis Gossett Jr.

“We produced the official movie tie-in audiobook for 12 Years a Slave, and we published the top-selling edition of the e-book and print book. I believe that relatively few authors and publishers truly grasp the importance of audiobooks in driving sales across their portfolio of products related to a title.”

“When you are ready to launch your audiobook, be sure to cross-sell your audiobook inside your book. For example, in one of the front pages of our e-book and on the back cover of our print book, we try to excite the reader about the audiobook, and we usually pitch it as a different and unique way in which to experience the story. We mention that the book can be purchased at Audible inside our book and in our materials. Also, in our e-book and print book, we plug our free Audiobook Extra, which can be downloaded exclusively from our product page on Audible. A free digital extra, which in our case is a unique map related to the story, will draw many potential customers to your Audible page; by engaging readers in our free map, we help to convert them into customers of our audiobook.”

“In social media, including Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., we plug Audible and provide some of the benefits of becoming a regular audiobook listener, which helps to drive memberships and thus increase our number of bounty payments. Our Facebook ads bring potential customers to our Audible page (to download the map) and to our unique website, which features audiobook clips in a multi-media format, and engages readers so they will want to click on our Purchase Now page, which provides a link to our Audible page.”

Are You The Next Bounty Success Story?

Have you been successful at driving new listeners to Audible and collecting your $50 bounties? Tell us in the comments and help your fellow ACXers learn from your efforts. We just might feature you in a future post!

Full terms and conditions on the $50 Bounty program can be found on ACX.