It’s been quite a year for the ACX community: ACX creators published over 30,000 audiobooks, aided by the launch of some exciting tools and features, like Royalty Share Plus and Enhanced Promo Codes. Thank you for continuing to elevate the field of independent publishing through your hard work and innovation. In this giving season, we’ve decided to honor the tradition of re-gifting by wrapping up a few of our favorite blog resources from 2019 and presenting them to you to help support your continued excellence. Enjoy… or re-joy!
Now Hear This: Promoting with SoundCloud: Audio samples are your best friend when it comes to marketing your audiobook—they’re a great way to grab a listener’s attention and leave them eager to purchase the audiobook. Check out this article for great ideas on leveraging this free audio platform to put those samples everywhere your audience is, so they’ll be sure to give them a listen.
Bonus: Want more content on low and no-cost social media promotion for your audiobooks? Check out this episode from ACX University.
Amy Daws on Her Authentic Social Media Self: Authenticity is the key to a devoted community of fans, and nobody knows that better than this author and social media maven who uses her own genuine energy, fun content, and regular engagement to keep her fans’ attention between new releases. Learn from her social media strategies and fan the flames in your own fan base.
Bonus: Want to hear more on engaging with your fans? This is the ACX University episode for you.
Lighting the Way: An Author’s Journey into Narration If you’re an indie author, you’re no stranger to doing it all yourself, so chances are you’ve considered narrating your own audiobook. Well, paranormal mystery author Mary Castillo decided to do just that for her series, and you can read her full account of the production process from a writer’s perspective here.
Bonus: Interested in narrating your own book? Learn more about the art of audiobook performance here.
Production Pointers from Audible Approved Producers Whether you’re a narration newbie or a production pro, it never hurts to hear from other independent Producers on how they’re getting the job done. In this Q&A with a few of 2019’s newest Audible Approved Producers (AAPs), you can read about their favorite gear, pre-recording rituals, and at-home studio setups—you might learn a thing or two to add to your own process!
Bonus: Looking for more tips, tricks, and technical advice for audiobook production? Check out this ACX University series from our QA team.
A Portrait of the Artist How do you make a big impression and catch the attention of the authors you want to work with? It all starts with a compelling, professional, comprehensive Producer profile. In this article, we walk you through creating an ACX profile that stands out with examples from some of our favorite AAPs.
Bonus: Looking for more advice on your audiobook production career? This ACX University episode is for you.
Whether you’re new to the blog or seeing these articles for the second time, we hope it renews your drive and enthusiasm for creating great audiobooks, and gives you some good ideas for propelling your passion and your work forward into a successful new year. Feel free to re-gift these to the indie author or producer on your list!
Amy Daws is the best-selling author of the ‘Harris Brothers’ and ‘London Lovers’ series whose engaging and authentic social media presence has earned her a devoted fan following. Join us as we find out how she uses social media to connect with fans and grow her listenership, and learn how you can make her strategies work for you.
Q: How would you describe your writing?
A: I would say my writing style is rom-com with heart. Every time I sit down to write a light rom-com, I get deeper than I expected and end up crying through at least one scene. So I always know that no matter what, my characters are going to have moments of pain and sadness too. My readers often say that they’re laughing one minute and crying the next. I love that feedback because it means you’re FEELING.
Q: How did you get your start as a writer?
A: I have a unique entry point into the world of writing because my first book is a memoir about my journey through recurrent pregnancy loss. It’s called Chasing Hope and honestly, it was just something I needed to write for therapeutic reasons. But I’ve been a lover of romance forever, so once I wrote Chasing Hope, I guess you could say I got the itch. I sat down and wrote my first romance novel, and almost five years later I have 13 contemporary romance books published!
Q: Tell us about your online presence.
A: I’m everywhere on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Book+Main. Instagram is my favorite right now. I’m a silly person by nature and I love sharing random musings in my Instagram Stories. I also have my website that I update regularly and a newsletter that I’m very consistent with.
I think I reach different readers at every spot. Some people only follow me on Instagram. Some only get my newsletters. It’s important for me not to forget any of those outlets when I have a new release.
Q: How does your personality show up in your online presence—or maybe that should be how does your online presence reflect your personality?
A: I definitely think social media should be fun. If you get too focused on sales and promotion, you lose your authenticity with your followers. I’m an open book person by nature. My first book was a memoir, so I’m out there already. I don’t see a need to hide my child or parts of my life from social media. People love my kid, and I love to share her! In a way, my family is a part of my brand now. This isn’t an intentional choice, it’s just something that feels right for me.
Q: What is the strategy behind your social media approach?
A: I post somewhere every day. Not everywhere every day. And I schedule some general promo posts to keep my name out there, but for the most part, I think my social media presence is the most effective when I post something in the moment. Readers care more about a funny interaction I had while writing that day, not a generic scheduled filler post. And you’ll see the difference in that with the amount of interactions you get.
I like authenticity. I like silliness. And I like to be real. I think posting in the moment helps me feel authentic. I don’t worry about having makeup on or that my hair looks good. I just post when I have something to say, regardless of how I look. Pre-made posts and pre-written text have a tendency to dilute your genuine voice.
And you have to find what works for you. I don’t really do a lot of the fancy Instagram pictures because that’s not me. I’m more of a nostril shot, double chin photo, meme myself with something ridiculous Instagrammer. I make fun of myself a lot, which I think takes me off a pedestal and makes me more approachable. Social media is a place I come to for endorphins… something to make me smile, and that’s what I hope people get out of my presence.
Some posts get more engagement than others. The promo posts get the least amount of engagement—if you focus too much on those, you lose that authentic voice with your followers. I keep an eye on posts that don’t get much engagement and try to think what I can do better to bring more reactions to a post next time.
Q:What is the strategy behind the way your website is organized?
A:My website is literally just a WordPress blog website that I’ve set up to look like a more traditional site. I pay $17 a year for it, and it’s simple and I can update it myself because it’s so user-friendly. My new release is always on the front page, loud and proud, and I always include a link to the audio—so I have ‘read’ and ‘listen’ on my front page. I made an ‘Audio’ tab and I break down all my audiobooks for anyone who’s looking to start listening. I have a ‘Reading Order’ tab, too, that talks about where everything fits in—I always try to update my reading order after each new release.
Q: How about your newsletter? What kind of content goes into that?
A: I do a newsletter at least once a month, sometimes two or three times—anytime I have something new going on. I use it to notify my readers of my new releases, any sales I’m doing, preorder links going live, a release date announcement, an audiobook release announcement, and a monthly free book from one of my author friends as a bonus to my subscribers and to cross promote with other authors. Readers feel like they’re getting something with every newsletter, and there’s a call to action in every one. I try to keep my voice the same as it is in social media so it feels authentic. I don’t want them to feel like they’re getting a different version of me that’s just trying to sell books.
I make a habit of sending out a rich text follow up email to anyone that didn’t open up my first email within 24 hours. With many newsletter companies, so many of our emails go to junk and the deliverability for plain text and rich text emails is better for the inbox.
Q: How do you get your fans from social media/website/newsletter to point of purchase?
A: I just make sure that my links are easily accessible, whether it’s my homepage on my website, a link tree in my Instagram bio, or my cover photo on Facebook. I have links everywhere. And I make sure I’m linking to both e-books and audiobooks. I treat my audiobook releases just like an e-book release. All buying options need to be included.
I for sure use my bounty links for ACX, and I have absolutely seen an uptick in my bounties earned since making my bounty links available on my website and social media.
Q: What inspires you?
A: My characters are my biggest inspiration. I’m a series writer and the secondary characters in my books always end up with their own books because I care about them all like real people. I want them to have their own “happily ever after,” so I continue until I’ve got everybody happy and in love
You’re telling those tales, ACX’ers, but before yours can take up residence in someone’s soul, it has to take up residence in their ears. So how do you get your story housed in that valuable real estate? As with any real estate, the key is location, location, location—as in, don’t make your listeners go to a secondary location to hear your audio sample, bring the audio sample directly to them. And that’s where SoundCloud comes in!
SoundCloud is social audio platform that allows artists such as yourselves to connect directly with their fans—create a profile, upload audio files, and embed SoundCloud’s audio player on your website and social media platforms, or share it in your email newsletter. Uploading a sample of your audiobook to SoundCloud allows you to put that sample right in front of your fans so they can simply click and play—and while you’re at it, add your Bounty Link to your sample so listeners know just where to go hear the rest of your story!
Once you’ve created a SoundCloud account, click “Upload” in the upper right-hand corner, then select your chosen audio clip from your computer. We recommend starting with your book’s Retail Audio Sample, which you can download from your Project Dashboard on ACX.
While your file uploads, click the “Choose new image” button on the left-hand side of the page. Then, click “Upload new image.” Next, find and select your cover art.
In the “Title” field, enter the title of your audiobook, the author name, and narrator name.
In the “Tags” field, enter any tags that you feel will best help promote your title. At minimum, you should use the following tags: Audiobooks, Audio Books, Audio, Books, [Author Name], [Narrator Name], Series Name, Genres. Be sure to enter in each tag individually.
In the “Description” field, we recommend the following information:
A short description of your audiobook
The name of the narrator
A brief “about the author” section
Links to related titles or books in the series
Links to your website or social media platforms
Your Bounty referral links
Once you’re satisfied with your entry, click the “Save” button.
Once you have saved and posted your book to SoundCloud, click “Go to your track.” You can now share the URL at the top of the page on social media or on your website.
Better yet, you can embed your SoundCloud link on your website by clicking the “Share” button in the center of the page.
After clicking the “Share” button, you can choose to share the URL to your favorite social media platform or embed the SoundCloud player on your website. You can even select how you’d like the embedded SoundCloud link to look. Finally, copy the code and paste it to your website.
Once you create your SoundCloud link, you can use it to:
Add audio widgets to your book descriptions on your website.
Create an audiobook page on your website featuring all of your audio samples.
Share it on social media with Soundcloud’s handy Share button.
Tag it, and share it on your newly created SoundCloud page.
Embed it in your next newsletter to your fans.
Your fans are all engaging with the stories that move them in different ways—some of them are cozying up with a print copy of your book at home, some are enjoying your e-book on their travels, and some are taking in your audiobook on their morning commute—so why not meet them where they like to engage? Make sure your fans with a preference for listening know you have an audiobook option, and connect them with that listening experience directly by bringing your audio to them. Using SoundCloud to add embedded widgets and links to your marketing platforms is an elegant way to deliver a sample of your audiobook to potential listeners, and pairing your Bounty Link with the audio means just one easy click between connecting with your audio story and purchasing it!
Already using SoundCloud to promote your audiobook? Share your examples in the comments!
With hundreds of millions of users, Twitter should be part of any audiobook marketing plan. So today, we’ve got a quick and easy way for you to drive more social shares of your ACX productions. You’ll be creating a custom hyperlink that automatically generates a pre-populated tweet when clicked, which you can place wherever you interact with your fans online. This empowers an army of listeners to help you spread the word. Don’t worry, it’s easy—you can do it in just four steps:
2. After the equal sign, add the message you’d like your fans to tweet. Make sure to substitute spaces between words with a plus sign ( + ), as spaces are not permitted in hyperlinks.
3. The message can contain all kinds of helpful things besides plain text. You could include a link to a free 30-day Audible trial featuring your title; your and/or your narrator’s Twitter handles; or even a custom hashtag. (When including a hashtag, replace the pound sign “#” with “%23”.)
So a custom “Tweet this!” link would end up looking something like this:
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 pageto request that the series link is added.
The easiest people to sell to are the ones who already are fans!
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.
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 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.
Sometimes a news event will be a perfect tie-in to your audiobook’s story line.
Although I’ve only shown examples from Twitter, hashtags are searchable on:
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
We’re finishing the second-to-last week of “serious” work before Christmas, and we’ve got all info you need to keep the engine running and the creativity flowing. So, head into the weekend with our weekly links, and join us next week for the final stretch of 2014!
For Producers and Rights Holders:
The ACX Holiday Gift Guide – via The ACX Blog – Make your list and check it twice – once for authors and once for actors. We’ve got great suggestions for both camps within.
50 Ways Writers Can Prepare for the New Year – via The Huffington Post – Huff Post Books offers a comprehensive checklist for authors as they head into 2014. Print it out, mark them as you go, and see how many you can accomplish next year!
Head into the weekend by looking back on the best audiobook related links from this past week. Use the links below to educate and inform yourself, and consider the advice in your next ACX Audiobook production.
NaNoWriMo is Over, Now What? – via GalleyCat – Did you participate in National Novel Writing Month? Now that your book is done, GalleyCat has your next steps. Note the bonus links to their writing tips at the bottom of the article!
This week’s a short one due to Thanksgiving, but we’re still here to recap our favorite audiobook related links. Check out the info below and have a fun, safe holiday weekend. We’ll see you all right back here next week!
The Sound of Your Writing – via CreateSpace – “Turn on your computer microphone, read your story, and listen. It may be weird, perhaps even a little unsettling at first, but in the end, it will help you become a better writer.”
We recently attended a webinar broadcast by the APA, hosted by Tavia Gilbert and featuring a panel of veteran narrators and publishers discussing social media for narrators. Today, we’ve selected our favorite tips that will help audiobook narrators navigate an online landscape that can at times seem overwhelming.
It’s better to do a few platforms, and do them well, than try and be everywhere. There are many social media networks out there, from Facebook and Twitter to Google+, Pinterest and others. People can sometimes feel the need to be everywhere, but it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. You don’t have to be on any social media sites. Only branch out to social platforms you’re comfortable on.
Build your brand. As an audiobook narrator/producer your brand should be your efficiency and skill, colored by your personality. For more established narrators, your brand is also your body of work. Everything you do online should be tie back to the image you’re trying to project to potential employers.
A good website will help the less established get more work. Make sure your site is professional looking, uncluttered and easy to navigate. Feature a raw, uncut video of yourself narrating on your site. This will show potential clients that you’re fluent and work quickly.
Promote your client’s work. This is especially true for royalty share projects, where you have a vested interest in the sales of your titles. But even if you’ve been paid on a per-finished-hour basis, you can add to your value in the eyes of those doing the casting if you’re willing and able to help spread the word about their productions.
Keep track of metrics, but don’t be a slave to the numbers. Track things like how many times your posts are shared or retweeted, and how many followers you’re gaining (Hootsuite and TweetDeck are two good services for tracking metrics). Make note of what types of content do well with your network and look to recreate those successes. But don’t get discouraged if you’re not adding followers as quickly as you’d like, or if your posts don’t immediately “go viral.”
Be positive! Never post anything that could be interpreted as negative about your work or clients. It’s ok to vent about a long day in the studio or the neighbor’s lawnmower, but don’t complain about the book you’re producing being boring, or poorly written, or your employer being late with payment. The things you say online live forever, and are only a quick Google search away. Employers won’t want the hassle of dealing with a “loose cannon” on social media.
With these six pointers, you should be able to confidentially establish yourself on social media. Remember: keep it professional, keep it positive, and look at social media as a tool you use, not a slave driver you have to put all your energy into.
What have you done to find success on social media?
The leaves are still green, and the kids just went back to school, but believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about completing your ACX titles so they are on sale in time for the holidays. Today, we’ll give you a brief breakdown of the timeline for audiobook production between now and the winter holidays, as well as some seasonal merchandising tips to help you generate some holiday buzz for your titles.
Holiday Production Timeline
To give your title the best chance of being on sale by the end of 2013, the audio production will need to be completed by the producer and approved by the rights holder no later than the first week of December.
Now, let’s work backwards from that point. Ideally, you’ll want your title to be available for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes a few weeks before the holiday season starts. This will help you beat the rush of books coming in to Audible, as well as give you time to earn some 5 star reviews and build buzz around your book. It will take about 14-20 business days for ACX/Audible to process your book for our sales channels, and you’ll need about 45 – 60 days for the audiobook production and rights holder review (give or take, depending on the length and complexity of the title). ACX rights holders will also need about a week from posting the title to attractauditions and negotiate the schedule and rate with their producer.
Add it all up, and it soon becomes clear that now is the time to get your productions listed on ACX in order to take advantage of the winter holidays.
Holiday Marketing Tips
In addition to making sure your schedule is set up to get the most out of this holiday season, you can position yourself for success with these holiday marketing ideas:
Bonus content: Create a holiday-themed short story featuring supporting characters from your book. Publish it on your blog or as a Kindle Single through KDP.
Giving gifts: Host a Secret Santa gift trade between your fans on your website or blog, but with a twist: all the gifts must be items of significance from your book(s).
Interview your narrator: Sit down and chat with the voice of your book(s), and ask them about their favorite holiday memories, the best present they ever received, etc.
Basket case: Create gift basket guides based on themes from your book – and make sure your book is one of the suggestions.
Season’s greetings: Crowd-source greeting cards inspired by characters or scenes from your book, and host the top three on your site from your readers send to their friends and family.
Do some good: Let your fans pick a charity through a poll on your website or Facebook page, and donate 1$ per sale of your title(s).
As you feel the days getting shorter and the nights getting cooler, make sure you’re thinking about your upcoming holiday audiobook sales and marketing plans. Start now, and you’ll be extra thankful when the holidays roll around.
What projects will you be working on in preparation for this holiday season?