Tag Archives: rights reform

ACX Storytellers: Mark Tufo

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

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

TufoRunnette NY02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACX Success Story: Bella Andre

Here at ACX, we love stories from authors who have found both creative and financial success through audiobook creation. Inspired by a chat with fellow ACX author and New York Times bestseller Bob Mayer, Bella Andre has used ACX to achieve both.  Read on for Bella’s advice on building a strong rights portfolio and the importance of finding just the right narrator.

Tell us about your current audiobook project.

9y7f1xhxbc1pchrr1376171136776Kissing Under The Mistletoe is the 10th book in my New York Times bestselling series about The Sullivans. It is an emotional, fun and sexy contemporary romance and one Sullivan fans have been eagerly anticipating. I had a lot of fun going back in time to tell the love story of the parents of the first eight San Francisco Sullivan siblings.

How did you decide to produce an audiobook version of your title?

I was on a publishing conference panel with NYT bestseller Bob Mayer discussing our experiences with indie publishing when Bob leaned over the other people on the panel and asked me, “Have you started putting your ebooks out as audiobook with ACX yet?” My first thought was “Who listens to audiobooks?” I had a lack of awareness and education about the market. But later that day, Bob told me how great the market is; how you can take work you’ve already done and mine it for another revenue stream. As soon as I got home from the conference I started auditioning narrators for The Look of Love (The Sullivans #1).

What advice do you have for other authors who are considering having their titles produced as audiobooks?

It’s really a process. Step one is to take advantage of whatever audio rights you currently have, either from titles you’ve had traditionally published or that you’ve self-published. Once you’ve actually made a few audiobooks with the rights that you have, and you see how well they’ve done, step two is making sure that you keep those rights going forward if you sign a new deal.

For me, step three came after I had the first three books from my “Sullivan” series made into audio. At that point I realized that I needed to go back over my old publishing contracts. I wanted to see if any of my audio rights had reverted to me. Some had, and I immediately whipped out those letters and sent them, certified, to get those rights back. It was a great day when the letters came from the publisher back granting me the rights back! Then I looked into getting the rights back for my titles that didn’t have an automatic reversion clause in my contract. You won’t always get them back, but it’s definitely worth trying to get the rights back. Nobody ever died from writing a letter or an email or making a phone call and having someone say no to them.

Going forward, I don’t even want to sell audio rights in foreign languages. That’s step four. We recently did a German deal for the first three “Sullivan” books, and we only gave them print rights, and I’m going to make audiobooks out of the German language versions.

BellaAndre_2012What is the most interesting thing you learned about the audiobook production process?

I learned that the most important thing is to find a great narrator. I auditioned several excellent narrators, but once I heard Eva Kaminsky’s audition, I knew that she would be perfect for my Sullivans. She has been absolutely wonderful to work with. Not only does she sound amazing, but she also makes fixes fast and is incredibly responsive to my emails about scheduling future projects and coordinating our calendars.

Tell us about your marketing efforts for this book, and your titles in general.

I have a great group of fans on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, and as soon as I have information on a new audiobook (release date, cover, order link, etc.) I immediately post it on my social media pages for them to get excited about. I also make sure the information and links are prominently displayed on my web site.

What industry figures or resources do you look to for marketing advice or success?

Every morning, I spend an hour or so staying abreast of the changes and innovations in publishing, ebooks and audiobooks. I’m really, really excited about the growth in the audiobook audience, not just in the U.S., but around the world! For example, right now more Germans listen to audiobooks than read ebooks. Learning something like that is so valuable!

What’s your next project, and when will we see it on ACX?

Love Me (Take Me series) and Game For Love (Bad Boys of Football series) will both be out on ACX by the end of the year.