Tag Archives: social media

ACX Success Story: Arika Rapson

Arika Rapson was one of our first ACX success stories, and we’re excited to revisit her story today. A year and a wedding after she collaborated with her then-fiance James Rapson on his title Anxious to Please: 7 Revolutionary Practices for the Chronically Nice, Arika is back to offer an update on her experiences producing and narrating on ACX.com and some words of wisdom for producers.

I have always had a bit of a pioneering spirit, and thrive in environments where there is room to explore and feel my way around. Things just aren’t as much fun when every stone has already been turned. I need a little room in my life for something unexpected or even astonishing to occur.

It was this spirit that drew me to ACX and the possibilities it opened up. As incredible as this new platform seemed, I tried to keep my excitement in check and approach with caution. Pioneering may be fun, but you don’t always discover a new continent; sometimes you end up with an empty belly and a fever.

Arika B-W Dark background

ACX Producer and Pioneer Arika Rapson

Sixteen months have since passed, and I have some notes from my Field Journal that I would like to share. While at times I did miss the certainty of a clear path through well-manicured woods, the journey through ACX has been far more fruitful than I ever imagined back when I first stepped in. I have been building relationships with authors and publishers that I hope will flourish for years to come. Many of my books have sold well and continue to sell – my royalty books alone have sold about 8,500 units. One of my titles became the best selling book in its genre for months. I have done a number of pay-for-production titles, both on and off ACX, so I’m delighted with the substantial number of ACX royalty sales that represent such a small amount of my time.

So what happened? Did I just get lucky? Do only certain types of books sell on ACX? The answers here are no, and no. My three best-selling titles have been in 3 different genres and have absolutely nothing to do with each other in terms of content. It often does take some luck to get a title that stays at the top of the charts, but you can do really well with a handful of books that continue to sell moderately, too.  Even without my bestseller, I still would have about 5,500 units sold from my other projects.  I believe there is an approach to navigating ACX that will help you make the most of your experience.

It’s Not Just About Your Voice

Many people think that the most talented narrators get all the work. Talent definitely plays a part, but the narrators who get called on again and again are the ones that people love working with.  Be reliable, on time, communicate well, and deliver consistent, quality work. Don’t expect the rights holder to manage you. And consider this benefit of return business: if a rights holder you already know keeps asking you to narrate more books for them, that means you are spending less time auditioning and more time working.

Keep An Open Mind

Branding has become a very hot topic and I agree that it’s pretty important. But we narrators can’t lose sight of our primary jobs. As story tellers, we morph ourselves to become the brand for each book, each author, each publisher for whom we work. It’s not about our brand, it’s about their brand. If you’ve tried to be the kind of narrator who only does this or that type of book, you may be defining your own brand so narrowly that you put yourself into a very small box. You may also find yourself with less work than you’d like.

Having said that, there are times when you do want to consider the image you are trying to maintain. If the book is very political, religious, or in any way controversial and you don’t want to be associated with the subject matter or the ‘side’ the book is supporting, you can always record it under a different name. I have used a pseudonym on numerous titles and it’s worked out just fine.

I’ve heard some narrators say they find certain genres offensive. Personally, I am more offended by bad writing than by any particular genre, but hey, suit yourself! Your opportunities will increase in proportion to your openness. My own thoughts about narrating anything with sexual content relate to the situation itself. In my opinion, audiobooks are in stark contrast to what you may find in Hollywood—on the big screen, you are statistically much more likely to see a woman experiencing sexual violence than sexual pleasure.  I would very much prefer to read a scene where a woman is enjoying herself.

The point is this: ultimately it’s up to you to decide what you are comfortable with, but if your goal is to stay busy, keeping an open mind will be an asset.

Get out of Your Mental PJs

I will confess that I may have narrated in my long johns a time or two, but when it comes to accepting a royalty title, I get into a total business state of mind (suit and tie optional).

What does that mean? It means it’s time to investigate! Does the author have an active online presence? Has the book sold well? What about other books by the same author? If I’m unsure about auditioning for a title, I like to send a message to the rights holder, to ask questions like how they will be promoting the audiobook once it is released.

If they don’t write back, move on.

Your Voice Counts

This brings me to my final point, which I think pretty important. I am not a social media guru and I don’t have thousands of friends on Facebook and Twitter that I am conversing with nonstop around the clock. But I do make it a point to invest in the people who I admire and/or have something to learn from and who feel the same way about me.

Last year I became friends on Facebook with a woman with a top rated podcast that gets up to 60,000 hits per episode. Rose Caraway has an awesome online presence and had recently gotten in to narrating audiobooks herself.  We began exchanging all sorts of helpful information with each other about equipment, breaking into audiobooks, figuring out social media, etc.  Eventually, she convinced me to appear as a guest on her show,  the Kiss Me Quicks, which I agreed to as an exercise in getting myself out there (although I was a bit terrified about how her devoted fans would receive me!). On the show, Rose introduced me, mentioned some of the audiobooks I’ve done, and then had me read a short story. Frankly, I was completely floored by what happened after that. The book I did that had been #1 in its genre when it was released a year earlier went back to #1 all over again and stayed there for weeks! It was pretty awesome.

So in my mind, social media is not always about who has the most ‘friends,’ but about having friends that you have something to offer and who in turn have something to offer you. A mutually beneficial relationship is by far the best kind to have (which is the same way it works with ACX rights holders)!

Pioneering can be frustrating and uncertain at times, but if you focus on building the right team of explorers to accompany you on the journey, you may find some pretty incredible things can open up along the way.

Thanks Arika, for charting the path for future ACX pioneers. What do you think of Arika’s recommendations? Tell us, and add your own, in the comments!

How to Promote Your Titles & Get on Audible’s Merchandising Radar – Part 2

Yesterday we brought you part 1 of our guest blog post from Audible editor Jessica. Part 2 is below and contains a lot more great info. Authors, be sure to share these posts with your producers and vice versa. Double your efforts and really drive your sales!

4.       Network, network, network. Building a base of contacts is essential to helping you get the word out about your audiobook.  However, what many people overlook is that networking is about exchange—of information, contacts, and advice.  In his book, Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer, Jeff VanderMeer shares the following tips for successful networking:

    1. Keep in mind that everyone you know is a potential contact and everyone you know is more than one thing—keep your eyes open to this to understand each contact’s potential.
    2. Realize that every (audio)book or project you create is about more than one thing—a quick Internet search of the topics your book covers can reveal a wealth of relevant groups, communities, and forums you can join to find others who would be interested in what you have to say.
    3. Take a genuine interest in what others are saying/writing/telling you.  Networking is about a give and take and you have to nurture your contacts.  Coming across as sympathetic to and interested in what others have to say, as well as being able to add a personal touch in your communications will go a long way towards building long-term relationships.
    4. Be concise and precise in your communication with people you don’t know, particularly if using a medium like email which strips out nuance.
    5. Do introduce your contacts to one another—if you connect people, they’ll remember you for it and be more likely to help connect you to their contacts.  However, respect others’ privacy and don’t give out contact information without first getting approval to do so.
    6. If nervous about a face-to-face introduction, project confidence by saying less, listening more, and starting off with questions, rather than launching into talking about yourself. It may also help to have a partner, spouse, or friend along to help take the pressure off.

**Also, take advantage of the biggest network for books: Amazon. Amazon is a powerful tool for growing your fan base and increasing your sales; click here to learn how you can better leverage Amazon to increase visibility of your audiobook.

5.       Cultivate review coverage. Research and reach out to appropriate online publications, blogs and podcasts. Promoting your audiobook(s) can be time-consuming and we know many authors/producers have full-time jobs, families, and other commitments, but active engagement in promoting your audiobook is a key factor in its success.  Look into online publications, websites, blogs or podcasts that might be interested in your book’s topic or genre, or audiobooks in general, and reach out to them and offer something of value: a review copy, an excerpt from the audio to post on their site, or, depending on the reach of the outlet, a copy of the audio to give away to readers.  You can also offer editorial content (a Q&A, a guest blog post on a topic, offer to lead a webinar/online chat, etc.) . Be prepared to explain why the topic you’re proposing would be relevant to an outlet’s readers, and be open to any suggestions you may receive.

    1. Potential offline opportunities (for the A+ student): It’s also worth reaching out to local bookstores and libraries for speaking engagements as a way to generate attention and word-of-mouth.  Take note, though: people attend speaking engagements because they want to gain knowledge about something of importance to them, so keep that in mind while crafting your speech. Also, research and reach out to book clubs that might be interested in reading/listening to your book, and offer up author participation.

6.       Keep in contact with the ACX team to let them know what successes you’ve achieved. You can share your feedback at support@acx.com.

7.      And lastly, stay focused:

    1. Continue networking as appropriate.
    2. Maintain your blog/website.
    3. Continue to offer to participate in book club discussions of your book(s) and speaking engagements.
    4. Measure the impact of your efforts to see what’s “moving the needle.” Click here to learn how.
    5. Keep up the hard work.  Continue to nurture and build your fan base—it will pay off when promoting your next audiobook!

So, there you have it! Between these two posts and the links to the ACX “Promote Yourself” section within, you should be off to a solid start. Of course, there are many great ways to promote, and the internet and social media are constantly presenting new opportunities. We recommend you frequently review your promotional plans and look for ways to branch out to new fans. And of course, if you hit on something good, be sure to share it with your fellow ACXers here at the blog, and on our Twitter and Facebook too!

Jessica has been in the audiobook business for nearly seven years, with a focus on digital and social media marketing. Some of the authors she’s worked with include Sandra Brown, Cassandra Clare, Vince Flynn, Stephen King and Jennifer Weiner.  She is a new-ish resident of Jersey City, NJ.

This post has been updated since publication.

How to Promote Your Titles & Get on Audible’s Merchandising Radar – Part 1

Two of the questions we are asked most frequently here at ACX are “How can I best promote my audiobook?” and “How do I get Audible to promote my Audiobook?” Jessica Amato from the Audible merchandising team is here to answer those very questions! There will be a ton of great info featured here today and tomorrow, so make sure to bookmark these posts and check back often as you promote!

Now, heeeeeeeeere’s Jessica!

My name is Jessica, and I’m an Audible Editor.  My job is to get the right audiobooks into the earbuds of the right listeners, and as a result, I’m always looking for the next “you HAVE to listen to this” performance (as are my fellow editors).  Our tight-knit team listens to books 24/7 and reads dozens of customer reviews every day. When a particular book or series starts gaining a following we celebrate with baked goods and high fives.  Then, we look to keep the momentum going by showcasing that book or series to Audible listeners through promotions like store features, customer e-mails, social media call-outs, sales or discounts, or other editorial events.

So how does any of this relate to ACX? While we audiobook junkies are looking for our next sugar fix, we’re not blindly approaching the task at hand; considering thousands of audiobooks were added to our store in 2012 alone, we’re hard pressed to whittle down the best books for each week.  How do we know what to pay attention to?  In addition to natural curiosity – picking up books we find interesting – we rely on people who have listened and shared feedback on a specific book, author or series: the reviewers, both on and off Audible.  If someone is going to take the time to listen to a book and then write a thoughtful review, we feel it’s our responsibility to seriously consider what he or she has to say.  We also notice authors who have an engaged following or fan base and who promote their audio edition in addition to their print book and e-book.   The popularity of the author matters less to us than the level of engagement: as long as you have readers and listeners genuinely interested in your writing, your degree of interaction with them tells us a lot about how big your book or series has the potential to be, whether your fan base is 500 or 5,000.

It sounds pretty simple: good reviews and a dedicated fan base.  Don’t be fooled: it’s not quite that easy – but with a little effort here and there, you can get your audiobook noticed.  Here are some tips – in no particular order – that our editors pulled together to help answer the age-old question: “I have a (audio)book.  Now what?”

1.       No publicist?  No problem.  Great publicists provide a wonderful service, but something to keep in the back of your mind always: no one can pitch you or your audiobook better than you.  Don’t be intimidated. More to come on this in #4 and #5 tomorrow.

2.        A website is a must. Make sure listeners, reviewers, and the media can find one current, central hub of information about you online.  We recommend setting up a free blog to which you can add pages of additional information (like your bio, upcoming events, bibliography with links to buy your audiobooks, links to news/reviews, and information on which social networks you participate in).  Make it a commitment to keep this site up-to-date, and post to your blog at least once a week, if not daily.

A good author website should include:

  • An overview of your book(s)/audiobook(s), excerpts, and the story behind them. Make sure to include link(s) to purchase your audiobook(s)
  • Awards, reviews, and praise
  • Exclusive content: “behind the scenes” photos/video of producing your audiobook, short stories, etc.
  • Your bio and photo (high quality headshot)
  • Your social networking information (include buttons that link directly to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Soundcloud, and/or MySpace pages). If you are not on these social networking sites, we recommend familiarizing yourself with them and then choosing one to get started on.  Once you’re comfortable with one and have a dedicated following, branch out to others that appeal to you. For tips on social media, click here and here.
  • News (links to interviews and media appearances)
  • Your speaking schedule and events
  • Your contact information
  • Mailing list sign up.* – Learn more about e-mail marketing here
  • Your blog.* – Uncertain about blogging?  Click here for helpful tips.

*Remember to keep your content up to date. Nothing will turn off visitors faster than having a website that is out of date.  You don’t have to update your website every day, but be sure to update your events schedule and other information as frequently as possible, and try to update your blog posts on a weekly basis.

3.        Keep your network updated throughout the audiobook production process. As your publication date approaches, email your friends, family and other contacts to let them know when and where your audiobook will be on sale, and any behind-the-scenes or noteworthy stories from the experience.  Once your audiobook goes on sale, let your network know it’s available.

This concludes our first lesson. Tomorrow, Part 2 will cover networking, getting your title reviewed, and measuring the impact of your efforts. And remember, there will be a test on this. It’s called your monthly royalty statement.

Jessica has been in the audiobook business for nearly seven years, with a focus on digital and social media marketing. Some of the authors she’s worked with include Sandra Brown, Cassandra Clare, Vince Flynn, Stephen King and Jennifer Weiner.  She is a new-ish resident of Jersey City, NJ

Friday Finale – Tips for writers part 5: Promoting Your Facebook Page

Today we bring our week long series of articles from our friends over at CreateSpace to a close with some tips on using Facebook to build your brand. Check out the rest of the series here.

In today’s marketing environment, the key to building an author brand is giving readers access to…well, you, the brand. Authors today rely heavily on social media to build their fan bases. That means in addition to promoting your books, you are now in the business of promoting your social media presence.

To keep it simple, I’ll focus on promoting the Facebook page dedicated to your author brand. However, you’ll find most of these strategies can be applied to promote your presence on other social networks as well. Here are five quick tips for promoting your Facebook page:

  1. Link your Facebook page’s URL in your email signature. Email is arguably not as popular for marketing as it used to be, but you can still take advantage of its promotional possibilities. The email signature is the perfect place to link to your Facebook page because it gives people a chance to connect with you outside of the inbox.
  2. Link to your Facebook page on your blog. A separate page on my blog lists all the different ways people can contact me. I’ve received a number of Facebook friend requests and fans by making this information accessible on my blog. If people are already hanging around your website, chances are they’re interested in seeing you on social networks as well.
  3. Include link information in your YouTube videos. You’re doing videos, right? Of course you are, because we’ve talked a lot about how it can build your author brand! Your videos present golden opportunities to promote your Facebook page. Just include a graphic at the end of each video telling viewers where to go.
  4. Personalize your Facebook page’s URL. Facebook gives you the option of creating a customized URL that can tout your brand and make it more attractive to search engines. The customized web address will look something like this: http://www.facebook.com/yourauthorname. A personalized URL is easier for fans to remember and pass along to their friends.
  5. Include your Facebook page URL in your author bio. If someone is interested enough to read your bio, you want to give them a place where they can learn more. What better place than a Facebook page to give readers direct, personal access to their new favorite author?

Building a brand sometimes feels like an around-the-clock task, but in this case, the hard part is putting the pieces in place. For instance, once you’ve included your Facebook page URL on your email, bio, and blog, you won’t have to do it again. If you want your brand to grow, give your readers the access they expect from authors today and invite them to join your conversations in social channels. Just remember, when fans contact you, engage with them. The more you engage, the more they’ll spread the word about your work.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that you can find us on Facebook. Leave a link to your Facebook page in the comments and check out our Promote Yourself section on ACX for more social media tips.

This article originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. For more helpful articles and blogs for authors, visit CreateSpace Resources. Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved

Tips for writers part 3: What to Tweet

It’s time for part three in our series of articles from our friends at CreateSpace, titled “What Should Authors Tweet?” For parts one and two of this series, click here.

Twitter can be a great marketing tool, but many authors have no idea what to tweet after they’ve announced that their book is available. On the flip side, many authors tweet all day long about things that are so irrelevant and/or annoying that it makes me not want to read their books.

Here’s my advice for how to do it right:

If your book is non-fiction, a smart marketing strategy is to position yourself as an expert in a particular area, and Twitter can help you do this. Let’s say your book is a guide to financial management for parents with young children. Of course you can tweet tips and statistics pulled directly from your book, but you can also tweet interesting tidbits, articles, and general news about financial management that aren’t in your book. You can even provide links to information about parenting in general. The key is to be seen as a trusted resource for information that is relevant to your target reader. (If you write novels, like I do, you can tweet about writing or publishing, or maybe even things related to the themes in your book.)

How do you find this information? One way is through Google Alerts. If you set a Google Alert for a particular term (e.g. financial management), the search engine will notify you any time that term pops up in a new piece of online content. Then you can quickly evaluate the link and decide if it’s something you want to share with your followers. (To set a Google alert, do a web search for the term “Google alert.” It’s very easy.)

The key to building a Twitter following is to provide useful information in a consistent manner. Unless you’re a celebrity, people don’t care what you ate for breakfast (except maybe your mom).

Our mom definitely cares what we had for breakfast, even if we don’t tweet about it. To catch all the cool stuff we DO tweet about, check us out on Twitter. When you do, say hi and tell us some of your favorite Twitter marketing tricks.

This article originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. For more helpful articles and blogs for authors, visit CreateSpace Resources. Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.