Tag Archives: success story

ACX Titles Grab Audie Nominations!

The APA announced the nominees for the 2016 Audie Awards on Tuesday, and we’re thrilled to see that ACX authors and actors received seven nominations across four categories! We checked in with a few of our finalists to get reactions from some of ACX’s accomplished creative talent.

Category: Inspirational, Faith-based Fiction

Finalist: Come to Me Alive: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel, written by Leah Atwood and narrated by Pamela Almand

Summary: Country music’s hottest star, Bryce Landry, and newly single,  risk-averse Sophie Thatcher discover that finding each other was easy, but holding on will be a different story.Come to me Alive

Memory: When asked about producing Come to Me Alive, Pamela Almond recounted a unique challenge she faced during production:

“Leah Atwood wrote beautiful lyrics to a country-western song, also called Come To Me Alive, and as the narrator, I had to sing it as bad-boy country star Bryce Landry, singing along to his radio hit, then as his girlfriend…and finally as a duet between the two of them! This was more a credit to my editing skills than my singing skills, for sure!  But I loved doing the book, a very uplifting and well-done contemporary Christian romance, and Leah was great to work with. I am so honored and humbled at being named an Audie Award finalist for it.”

Category: Erotica

Finalist: Beta, written by Jasinda Wilder and narrated by Summer Roberts and Tyler Donne.

Summary: The sequel to Alpha, last year’s Audie winner in this very category, Beta finds main characters Kyrie and Roth traveling around the world when a mysterious tragedy strikes.

Beta

Memory: Author Jasinda Wilder stuck to her guns with the follow up to her genre blending Alpha:

“I personally love Beta. I love the way it plays with the accepted boundaries of romance and erotic suspense, or erotic romance or whatever category you want to slot it into. We made it different and a little darker than our usual fare on purpose. Not all of our fans appreciated Beta, though. I get that it’s not for everyone, and that a sequel can’t ever totally live up to the first book. So putting Beta into audio was a little scary, because we weren’t sure how it’d be received.”

Narrator Summer Roberts shared the excitement of tackling the sequel to an Audie winner:

“Erotica can be a really hard genre, but Jasinda’s writing is so rich and her characters are so multi-layered, that it makes narrating her work really fun. I think Tyler and I were just as excited as listeners to find out what was going to happen to Kyrie and Roth in Beta.”

Beg Tease Submit

Finalists: BEG TEASE SUBMIT, written by CD Reiss and narrated by Jo Raylan & CONTROL BURN RESIST, written by CD Reiss and narrated by Jo Raylan and Christian Fox.

Summary: In BEG TEASE SUBMIT, Jonathan Drazen is a known womanizer and a gorgeous piece of man who’s more capable of domination than love. In CONTROL BURN RESIST, his partner in pain Monica struggles with the discovery that love can be just as painful as submission.

Memory: Author CD Reiss recalled the casting process and the relationship she’s forged with her producers:

“I got a great selection of professional auditions to choose from. But I had an idea in my head and every one that didn’t meet that idea was painful to hear. Jo Raylan had a certain something that was spot on, and she let me know right away she’d do whatever she had to to get it perfect. It was obvious she had the talent, so I scooped her up. Christian’s audition for Jonathan was a home run right out of the gate. I would have walked on a bed of Legos to get him on the production. Fortunately, my feet were spared. Control Burn Resist

I’ve developed a wonderful friendship with Jo and have a deep respect for what she does. She wants it perfect. She wants every word to express the right emotions, and we spoke about the character of Monica for a long time. What she wanted, how she sat, where her fear was. It was deeply creative and deeply satisfying.”

Want to create an audiobook worthy of the Audies yourself? Check out our recent tips for rights holders and producers, then head over to ACX to get started.

Subscribe to the ACX blog by clicking here.

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.

ACX Storytellers: Ryan Winfield

Author Ryan Winfield is no stranger to audiobooks, having published five through ACX. As an author who has published both traditionally and independently, he recently made the unconventional choice to turn down an advance from a major publisher and keep his audio rights. Today, learn why audiobooks mean more to his portfolio than ever, and why he made this surprising decision. 

Why I bet on myself with ACX.

Ryan Winfield Headshot

ACX Author Ryan Winfield.

It was an exciting day when I published my first novel with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. I’ll never forget sending out the announcement email to my friends and seeing the first few downloads show up in my sales report almost immediately. I could never have imagined that just two years later I would be logging in to read my name on the New York Times bestseller list. A lot has changed since that first book. In addition to my independently published work, I now have a contract with a major New York publisher, and I spend more time flying to book conventions and less time writing than I would prefer. But one thing hasn’t changed: my desire to connect with readers through my stories. And getting my stories in front of as many readers as possible means making them available in every format—print, eBook, and audio.

After my first novel had found success, many readers reached out to me requesting I make the book available in audio for them to listen to. Some quick research led me to the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), a new Amazon company that facilitates the creation of audiobooks and distributes them through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. I used their helpful tips and videos to create a home studio and record my first book in my own voice. It was a rewarding process that left me with great respect for professional narrators.

When my fourth book, Jane’s Melody, hit the New York Times bestseller list, readers were once again begging for an audio edition. This time I used ACX to secure auditions from several pre-qualified Audible Approved Producers until I found just the right one. The book was up and available for readers within 45 days, selling well and getting great reviews. The process was so easy I couldn’t wait to audition narrators for my other work, and all three books of The Park Service trilogy are now available alongside my other titles, read by an extremely talented voice actor who listened to my input and brought my characters to life!

Park ServiceIt was this experience that led me to turn down an offer from one of the Big 5 New York publishers for the audio rights to my upcoming titles, which are being published by one of their imprints, deciding instead to use ACX. There was a time when I would have thought myself crazy for turning down the offer of a generous advance in favor of self-producing my own audiobooks. But now I know it’s just smart.

I believe every author must market themselves once they have a book out in the world, whether it’s published traditionally or independently, and the generous royalties offered by ACX, along with the $50 bounty payments, provide me with the royalties I need to invest in finding new readers. Having just returned from Book Expo America (BEA) in New York, I am more aware than ever of just how easy it is for one book to get lost in the flood of titles pouring onto the market each year. I had to ask myself: Who has more interest in getting my books out to readers and listeners than I do? The answer was easy: No one does. With a 40% royalty and the possibility of earning a $50 bounty every time a new Audible listener downloads my title as their first book, I have the revenue to reinvest in myself by advertising my work. How and where to spend that money is a different topic for a different blog post, but I have met few people more on the cutting-edge when it comes to marketing than the creative community of independently published authors currently climbing the charts.

In short, and in case you couldn’t tell, I love ACX. And who wouldn’t? A portfolio of professional narrators who will audition to read your work, an easy-to-use system for professionally producing your audiobooks, 40% royalties, $50 bounty payments, distribution on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, plus daily sales reporting that allows me to gauge the success of my marketing campaigns. With five titles already produced through ACX and a sixth on the way, I’m looking forward to continuing to reach new listeners while enjoying royalties for the rest of my life and beyond. And that’s why I bet on myself with ACX.

Ryan Winfield is the New York Times bestselling author of Jane’s MelodySouth of Bixby Bridge, and The Park Service trilogy. He lives in Seattle. To connect with Ryan, visit him at ryanwinfield.com or Facebook.com/RyanWinfield.

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!

Best of 2013: ACX Storytellers

We’re wrapping up our look back at the best of the blog in 2013 with a countdown of the most popular ACX success stories of the year. The ACX users featured here have been there and done that – and have valuable insight to share on audiobook publishing and production.

Take one last look at 2013 with us, and use the stories below as inspiration for your own audiobook success in 2014 and beyond!

The Countdown

10. Tim Grahl – Author of Your First 10,000 Copies talks rights reform and audiobook self publishing

9. Anti-Matter Media – The studio that produced Josh Kaufman’s The First 20 Hours checks in to offer their tips for aspiring audiobook authors and actors.

8. Rebecca Forster – Author of the Witness series shares 5 essential steps for bringing your book to life as an audiobook.

7. Badwater – Author Toni Dwiggins and producer Christine Padovan team up to talk both sides of this award winning production.

6. Wendy Lindstrom & Julia Motyka – The author of the popular Grayson series interviews her narrator and gets a  snapshot of a typical day in the recording studio.

5. Jared Tendler & Barry Carter – Authors of DIY success The Mental Game of Poker remind readers that ACX also accepts and distributes fully produced audiobooks.

4. H.M. Ward – NY Times & USA Today bestselling author offering marketing advice for fellow ACXers.

3. Arika Rapson – One of 2012’s best producer success stories returns with an update after reaching the 8,500 unit sales mark on ACX.

2. Bella Andre – Super successful ACX author and NY Times bestseller has advice for authors looking to get in the audiobook game.

1. Falling Into You – Our top success story of the year covered all aspects of Jasinda Wilder’s audiobook production, with tips from the author, along with narrator Piper Goodeve and studio pro Pete Rohan.

Are you an ACX success story? Tell us why in the comments, and we might just feature you on the blog in 2014!

ACX Success Story: Badwater – Part 2: Christine Padovan

Yesterday, we spoke with author Toni Dwiggins about her award-winning forensic geology title, Badwater. Today we check in with ACX producer Christine Padovan to hear her side of the Badwater story, and to get some amazing pieces of advice for producers and authors alike.

Hi Christine. Tell us a little about yourself, and your current audiobook projects.

I grew up in New Jersey, near historical Basking Ridge and did my degree in clinical psychology at NYU in New York City. I played and performed on the violin through my early 20’s and fell in love with books from the time I learned to read. Interestingly enough, I was narrating children’s books to kindergarten children when I was in 4th grade in a volunteer program at school.  So I guess I started narrating at a very early age and didn’t pick it up again till 2011 after my introduction on ACX.

Christine_HeadshotI recently  completed Her Marine which is book 5 of the Always a Marine series written by Heather Long; I’m narrating debut fiction novels for two new authors (Kyrathaba Rising by William Bryan Miller and Voodoo Moon (Paranorm World) by June Stevens/DJ Westerfield); book 3 of The Dragoneers series by M.R. Mathias, and continuing the Always a Marine series with books 6 and 12, next in line to record and produce.

What attracted you to Badwater?

I actually love mysteries and thrillers, so after meeting Toni through a self-published writer’s blog by D.D. Scott, and answering some of her questions on audiobook narrating, I auditioned for Badwater. After she and I tweaked character voices and got pronunciations down in an indexed list Toni provided, we were off and running.

What have you done to market Badwater?

I’ve done opted-in email blasts through www.targetedemailads.com; I’ve used Google ads as well as tweets and Facebook posts.  I Googled my name back in late May 2013 and found out through Goodreads that eFestivalofWords.com had nominated Badwater in the ‘Best Audiobook’ category.  So I told Toni, and we took advantage of the nomination to promote the book harder by posting our nomination logo, then our Finalist badge logo – and eventually, our Winner’s badge logo!  The San Francisco Self Published Writers group that Toni is part of also helped plug the book when we were nominated, then won the award.

That’s pretty exciting stuff! How did it feel when you found out Badwater had been nominated for “Best Audiobook?”

It felt great to be nominated, become a finalist and then actually win ‘Best Audiobook’ for 2013!  This was the first year that eFestivalofWords.com (for the Best of the Independent eBook Awards) actually had an Audiobook category.  They based their nominations on the book’s quality in its editing, cover art, styling, and recognition from other critic and reader reviews.

What advice do you have for authors who are considering having their titles made into audiobooks? 

Make sure you have the audio rights to your title or titles.  Check your contract with your publisher or agent for that book or books, and see who owns the audio rights. If you own the audio rights, post your work on ACX and search for voice types that you feel would fit the style and genre of your work. Listen to narrator samples and see how experienced the narrator is in audiobook production.  It’s O.K. if you wish to try out someone new, but asked for audition samples and check if you like the quality of their recording.

I also want to caution authors that want to rush the audiobook production of their work: taking the time to find the right narrator is far better than rushing to get your title online, then being disappointed with the final product.

Lastly, audiobook sales differ greatly from ebook/Kindle sales of the work.  For example, people are pickier in paying for an audiobook than only paying $.99, $1.99 or even $3.99 for the text version.  If they are going to spend money on an audiobook, they have to like the book’s retail sample (does the narrator’s voice make them want to buy it?), the subject matter and possibly the genre of the book before taking a chance on a new work where the author may not be well known to the public.  More people will go for ‘household’ author name first as a safety net, before taking a chance on a new writer.  So having the dollars set aside to really market the audio version to increase sales is vital as well.

Any advice for those new to audiobook narration/production?

For talent starting out in audiobook narration, you don’t need to have expensive equipment to get the job done.  A Zoom H4N digital recorder with phantom power and XLR ports for my RODE NT1-A condenser microphone and a clothing filled, relatively soundproofed, square 4’x6’ walk-in closet helped me produce over 25 titles on ACX and Audible.Badwater_CP_Studio

I would then transfer my 44.1/16 bit WAV files from the Zoom to my laptop for editing in Audacity.

Creating an audiobook is not for the faint-hearted!  It is many hours of your time – to learn narration first from a seasoned narrator and to then make sure you have the resources to either rent studio space or create your own to record in. Then, there’s the time it takes to record the book (roughly double the running time to record it and triple the running time to edit it). You’ll either pay an engineer to edit and master your WAV files into broadcast quality MP3s and/or spent the time and money to do it yourself.  It is far better to learn to edit and engineer yourself, as you can be sure there are no mistakes left behind in your recordings. And in the end you will feel so much better, knowing you helped take someone’s ‘baby’ and give it another life as an audiobook

The best advice I ever heard was to take a book, sit in a closet with a light on, close the door behind you, and start reading it outloud – try doing that without a break for about 30 minutes or so.  Are you comfortable?  Do you think you can do that for 4-6 hours a day, 5 days straight – with 2 days rest in between?  If you feel you can comfortably be in a tight space, whether it’s a closet or studio booth, and narrate out loud for long lengths of time (with apple slices, bottled water, lip balm, snack breaks, etc. to keep you going), then congratulations!  Narrating is for you!

Thanks for the tips, Christine!

What are the secrets to your ACX success? Tell us in the comments!

ACX Success Story: Badwater – Part 1: Toni Dwiggins

ACX Author Toni Dwiggings and producer Christine Padovan joined forces to produce the audio version of Badwater, which went on to win the Best Audiobook award at the 2013 eFestival of Words “Best of the Independent eBook Awards.” We recently spoke with Toni and Christine about their experience producing Badwater through ACX. Read Toni’s interview below, and check back tomorrow for our chat with Christine.

Hi Toni. Want to tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Badwater_Cover

I’m a third-generation Californian who migrated from southern Cal to northern Cal. What I like most about my state is that one can go from the ocean to the mountains in one day, with a lunch stop in the desert. I like it so much I’ve set my forensic geology books in those settings.

I’m author of a US History textbook, and have contributed to texts in the sciences. I’ve done tech-writing for the Silicon Valley computer industry, and that experience hatched an idea that became my first novel, about an attempt to sabotage the nation’s telephone system.

What drove you to have an audio version of Badwater produced?

I’ve long been an audiobook fan. The idea of listening to my book, as I’d listened to other books, was a thrilling prospect. Also, my daughter was a five-hour drive away at college and I thought, what better way for HER to pass the time than to listen to Mom’s book as the miles pass?

From a marketing standpoint, I was eager to get my book out there in multiple formats. Amazon has a terrific program called Whispersync for Voice, in which a reader/listener can switch back and forth between reading the book and listening to the audio version.

How did you hear about ACX as an avenue for your audiobook production?

On a writing forum, wherein authors endlessly discuss ways and means to reach readers—and listeners! On the audiobook threads, ACX was mentioned again and again as an accessible way to get a professional job done. Because I hold the rights to my books, I was able to be proactive in getting my book produced.

Dwiggins

ACX Author Toni Diwggins

What have you learned about the audiobook production process though ACX?

How diligently a narrator works to get the pronunciation right! My book is a science thriller, aimed at a general audience. However, the geologists and radiation workers, aka radworkers, know their stuff and speak accordingly. Christine and I decided to meet so I could pronounce some of the technical terms, so she could hear that tech-talk rhythm. We both live in the San Francisco Bay Area and so we met at an SF café.

Christine: “Is the ‘i’ in travertine long ‘i’ or ‘ee’?”

Me: ee.

Christine: “Is the second ‘t’ in strontium a hard ‘t’ or a ‘sh’?

Me: (realizing this woman had done her homework!): let’s go with the hard ‘t’ because that’s the way my radiation experts pronounce it.

And so on, with americium, caesium, plutonium, all those oh-my-God-iums. And it was partway through the pronunciation of nuclear fission products that I noticed that people at nearby tables were listening. Looking at us. A couple of hands resting on cellphones. Were they going to call Homeland Security?

Has having your audio version produced changed the way you see your book? Has it affected your writing? How?

Oh yes. Listening to the narration was a cracker jack way to analyze pacing and dialogue—lessons that I’m applying to works-in-progress. I’m also more acutely aware of how to translate the character voices I “hear” to the voices on the page—so that the voices come across as I intended.

Congratulations on winning the award for best audiobook! How did that go down?

Badwater’s nomination came as a surprise. Christine learned of it (if I recall correctly) when she saw a post on Goodreads. She emailed me, and my response was along the lines of WOO HOO! When listeners voted it best audiobook, I was thrilled that the story was reaching this new audience.

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

The next book in my Forensic Geology Series: Volcano Watch. As soon as Christine and I can find time to get to work!

Notes From A First Time Audiobook Publisher

Leonard Johnson is a first time author who recently became a first time audiobook publisher through ACX. He joins us today to talk about getting reviews by leaving reviews and keeping audio in mind when writing his next books.

Tell us about your recent audiobook project.

My recent audiobook project is “BloodLoss – Ten Twisted Tales.” An awesome gentleman named Jonathan Waters narrated each and every twisted tale.

Leonard JohnsonWhy did you decide to produce an audio version of your title?

I was talking to a few folks at work about my book. One of my coworkers said he hasn’t checked it out because it’s not an audiobook.  After a few conversations, I found out there is a part of the population that will only listen to audiobooks. I started investigating if it would be feasible to create a BloodLoss audiobook. Ultimately, the main reason I choose to create an audiobook was that, through ACX, it would have access to multiple markets, like Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

What have your marketing efforts for this book been?

My marketing is usually limited to Facebook, blog, word of mouth, and well placed business cards at the donut shop. For Bloodloss, I decided to try a different strategy. I read books from other authors in similar genres and posted reviews on my blog for free. I ask for nothing in return. My thought is they will browse my site, maybe even link to it. If that happens, then I get potential customers. It’s a “pay-it-forward” type of situation.

BloodlossHas having your audio version produced affected your writing? How?

It didn’t change the way I see BloodLoss, however it has shown me that some of my future material is perfect for the audiobook experience. When you’re putting words to paper, you know they’ll translate to just about any medium: paperback, eBook, etc. Yet content is not always easy to convey in audio. Now, when I write something I think might be a good candidate for an audiobook, I pay attention to how I write it. I do not want a narrator to have difficulties producing because I was generous with my tones.

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

Since I embrace my ADD, I have about five projects I work on at the same time. I’m putting the finishing touches on a poker guide, I just finished a short story called Barghest, which will be out on Amazon next month. I am also working on a book dedicated to my dad called “Living with Leonard” which I plan on narrating myself and publishing on ACX.

Are you an ACX success story? Tell us why and you might be next on the 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.

ACX Success Story: Jared Tendler & Barry Carter

In addition to offering a marketplace where authors and rights holders can connect with audiobook actors and producers, ACX also allows those who have completed, retail ready audiobooks to upload their audio for distribution through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Jared Tendler and Barry Carter used this DIY pathway to upload their completed audiobooks, The Mental Game of Poker and  The Mental Game of Poker 2 to ACX. They’ve stopped by today to talk about their decision to get into the audiobook game, and the success they found through ACX.

Leveraging the Benefits of ACX to Sell More Books

We published The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2 to help poker players break through the mental barriers holding them back at the poker table. Interestingly, we had to break through our own mental barriers to be convinced that turning the first book into an audiobook was a good idea.

Jared

ACX Author Jared Tendler

Although audiobooks have been around for years, we were skeptical. How profitable could it be? How big is the market? In the end we figured that selling 1,000 copies would make the decision worthwhile and there was a decent chance that could happen in a year.

We ended up selling 1,000 copies in two months, and another 3,000 in the months that followed. (This is just sales of our first book, the second volume has just been released.)

In the 15 months since releasing The Mental Game of Poker we’ve learned a lot about audiobook production and marketing, and the market as a whole. Below you’ll find some of the things we’ve learned that in hindsight would have made our initial decision easy. Hopefully this will make your decision to get in the audiobook game easier.

The Benefits of Audiobooks

One integral part of producing and marketing a successful audiobook is to sell your customers on the the benefits of the format in general. We always thought audiobooks were the future of publishing, we just weren’t sure how soon it would arrive. There is no doubt anymore, the future is now. The explosion of mobile technology has given readers the convenience of being able to consume books at any time, even while even doing other things. In the case of our audience, that usually means eitf71rsl7v6yqd5nmf1378218555857her playing poker or driving to the casino to play poker.

Another benefit that surprised us quite a bit, was that it opened up an entirely new market of people to our books: people who don’t read books! Audiobooks can reach an entirely new demographic that softcover and ebooks cannot? We received many emails, tweets, and messages on Facebook from customers thanking us for making the book available in audio because they simply don’t read books anymore. One even joked that he could now tell people he reads books.

One final hidden gem we found was that a lot of people liked our book so much, they chose to buy it in softcover or ebook format in addition to audio. Our titles are reference books that customers often read multiple times. We didn’t anticipate them wanting to read it multiple times and in multiple formats.

The Benefits of ACX

We’re huge fans of ACX because of what they’ve done for our first book. They made distributing audiobooks worldwide as easy as Amazon did for eBooks, but they even took it a step further by offering two programs to make marketing and selling easier as well.

First, if your customers sign up for a free 30 day trial to Audible, they can get your book for free and you can still receive a royalty. This has allowed us to market our book as being available for free, which created some buzz from our audience. The blog post where we outline how to get the book for free has been viewed by over 8000 people and been a huge driver of sales. Promoting the free audiobook on our podcast has also paid off, because the audience is highly targeted—the fact that they’re listening proves they like audio content. But, no matter where we talk about this program, whether on social media, interviews, or newletters, we have their attention just by saying it’s free.

Barry

ACX Author Barry Carter

This success has in turn allowed us to capitalize on a second program offered by ACX called bounty payments, where you get an additional $25 if a customer purchases your book as one of their first three as Audible members. Many of the people who got a free book from us stayed members of Audible. They liked this new way to read books, stuck around, and everyone benefited.

But, even though the number of bounties we’ve received has exceeded our expectations, we would have had even more if there were more poker books available. The poker audiobook market is small and so we’re trying to convince other poker authors to produce an audiobook. This ultimately benefits everyone—authors, customers, and ACX. In your market look for win-win opportunities among other authors to promote your books together. Give your customers enough books they’ll love and they’ll stick around.

We had no idea how important audiobooks would be in our overall success, but it turned out that we got in at the right time. And now is still the right time. Audiobooks are set to explode, and if you already have a title in other formats get in the game before everybody else does.

Jared Tendler, MS is a mental game coach who works with professional poker players, you can find out more about him at www.jaredtendlerpoker.com and www.mentalgamefish.com.  Barry Carter is a writer and poker media consultant, you can find out more about him at www.pokermediapro.com