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How to Stop Marketing Like Your Grandma

How to Stop Marketing Like Your Grandma

(A series on marketing advice for the new publishing landscape.)

So how would Grandma market her books? Grandma tends to be set in her ways, and she’s stubborn about making changes, thinking the old way of doing things is the best way. While that might apply to baking, it doesn’t apply to marketing. Here are 4 ways authors are still marketing like Grandma:

#1 Resisting Social Media and being unreachable. You can’t be invisible and expect to sell books.

#2 Being focused on blog tours, book signings, speaking at schools and libraries, giveaways, and book release parties with cake and balloons. These things don’t work for anyone and it’s really just publicity big publishers use. These things will not sell your books for you. It’s too small scale, and no one will notice you. If you try to market like you see the big publishers marketing J. K. Rowling, you will fail because no one can compete with that on their own.

#3 Ignoring the marketing machine that is Amazon. It’s natural to resist a company many see as a monopoly, but if you want to compete with big publishers, then you need to hold hands with the only company that has the power to do that.

#4 Thinking some nice bookmarks, business cards, and magnets for your car will sell books. This is a digital revolution, Grandma. How many pretty bookmarks do you think you can give out? They’re nice to have on hand, but they will not sell books.

The 12 Best Ways to Market your Books in the 21st Century

#1 Digital Shelf Space

Obviously the more books you have on the shelf, the more books you’ll sell. So write more books and fill the digital shelves with your stories. And don’t get stuck within just one or two formats. Many tend to focus on just selling print or eBooks, and you’re forgetting other formats in this fast-growing industry. Don’t ignore audiobooks too! Just like eBooks exploded, so are audiobooks, thanks to Amazon purchasing ACX. Don’t be left in the dust like grandma by resisting that. However, remember that just because you have a lot of eBooks available doesn’t mean your audiobooks will sell as well because it’s actually a different audience without much overlap. So to sell all of these formats, you need to have digital shelf space in each one.

#2 Think commercially. Or think like your buyer…

What does your audience want to buy? It might not be what you think they want. But if you want it to sell, you need to have an open mind, do that research, and then start marketing to their wants or interests.

This doesn’t mean you need to stop writing the genre you like to write. What I mean is that you need make the genre you write something your target audience wants to buy. What book cover inspires a purchase as opposed to what you like the best? What sorts of stories, covers, or narrators interest people who like the genre your write? For example, if you write high fantasy, who loves that genre and buys it the most? Is it mostly men or women, teens or adults? Or if you write romance, what are romance readers looking for? What draws them to a cover? If you write romance, and you commission an artisticly beautiful cover, will it sell? OrCover art will a couple about to kiss more likely sell the book?

How do you figure out what your audience wants to buy? Ask them! I asked my readers if they preferred listing to male or female narrators when I started producing my audiobooks. I asked for outside opinion for the cover as well as had others listen to auditions. (Cover example: Artistically, putting the Eiffel tower on the audiobook version of Fractured made it too busy, but everyone said they would buy it because of the Eiffel tower, so it has the Eiffel tower because that is what will sell more than the one without it.)

 

#3 Cover Art

Covers are for selling not telling, so stop trying to tell your story on the cover. Instead have something that appeals to your target audience designed.

#4 Connect emotionally with your audience.

That’s the best way to create dedicated, almost addicted, buyers. How you made them feel will stick with them more than even the genre of your book. Succeeding in each genre is sorting out the feelings you need to stir to appeal to that audience.

If you write horror, then write stories that will frighten Stephen King.

If you write fantasy, then write stories that fill the reader with a sense of wonder.

If you write romance, then compose stories that make them want to fall madly in love and melts their hearts.

If you write mystery, then write stories that make them feel intrigued and makes them think.

People won’t remember what you did, wrote, or said, but how you make them feel will stick with them. If they have strong emotional reactions as they read or listen to your story, they’ll become dedicated fans. How you write is very import and the narrator you choose is also very important here. The right narrator can lift the words from the page and make your audience feel the words as well as, if not better than just reading it can.

#5 Solve their Problems

Help them sort out a problem by seeing how the characters cope or sort it out. Help them escape when life is too much. For my audiobooks, I chose a narrator with a very soothing voice, and now we’ll helping people that way too. I have disabled readers who can’t even hold up a book or see to read an eBook. Audiobooks make my stories more accessible to them. My narrator can read you to sleep when you can’t calm down enough to relax. And it’s not because he is boring, his voice is just so easy on the ears.

#6 Paid Advertising

Use only the most effective paid advertising resources, like BookBub, Facebooks ads, or Amazon ad campaigns. But you need to learn how to use Facebook ads right or you’ll be wasting your money. So watch Mark Dawson’s free webinar on Facebook ads. Search YouTube for tutorials on how to use Facebook ads. Ask other authors what paid advertising worked for them and don’t waste your time with the ones that don’t stir a huge spike in sales.

#7 Video Marketing

Currently, there isn’t a paid advertising resource that sells a lot of audiobooks, except for maybe Amazon and YouTube. Selling audiobooks can have a bigger payout than even eBooks though, so it’s important to find what works. When trying to market audiobooks, you first have to find your audience, and YouTube is where a lot of them hang out. Also there is a large and growing community on YouTube called BookTube. I’ve also noticed that Audible puts a lot of advertising money into marketing on YouTube. It’s seems like a reasonable assumption to me that if they are focusing on YouTube to market audiobooks then you should too. Also, Facebook ads that are sharable videos uploaded directly to Facebook, perform much better on Facebook than just pictures. Note: Don’t just share the YouTube link, though. Videos catch on faster if they’re uploaded directly to Facebook. If you don’t think video marketing is an important thing to consider these days, then you need talk to a few teens & twenty-somethings about how much YouTube they watch…get with the times, Grandma!

#8 Mailing List

You have got to stop ignoring this! Do everything you can to build your email newsletter list and start emailing them regularly. But don’t be spammy!!! Post fun things to the group, share recipes, share fun BookTube videos you’ve made, have fun giveaways, get to know them by asking them what they like to read and then even recommend books, following those interests, that aren’t yours to your readers. By doing this, you’re catering to their interests and adding value to your email list. The mailing list is the best way to launch a new book and have a decent spike in sales, but it has be more than 500 people to really accomplish much. If you can find a service that will build your email list for you, then I recommend doing that. I did and it was worth every penny. (I am using the Author Platform Rocket.)

#9 Reviews

This one is tough to control, but do what you can and get creative. When people get to the end of your eBook, thank them for taking the time to read it and then encourage them to post a review. Or have giveaways for posting reviews on your blog, website, or with your email list.

#10 Watch & Learn from other Authors like You

I’m always watching authors who write books that are similar to mine to see what they’re doing and if it’s working for them. Sign up for their email list to see what they’re sending out to their readers. Pay attention to what is and isn’t working for them, then take those ideas and cater them to yourself.

#11 Social Media (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle)

Social media does not sell books, but it seals the deal. People who are tempted to buy will finalize the purchase if they like what they see on social media. They don’t trust you yet. You can’t be addicted to it or shun it like the plague and accomplish your marketing goals. But there has to be something there for them to see. You have to be visible there or people will forget about you. So make it as simple as possible and don’t let it suck up all of your time when you should be writing.

Reduce the amount of time you’re on social media by scheduling it, even set a timer if you have to. Balance time between connecting with the audience as a human and working hard on producing more books.

Reuse posts from others. Let them do the work and then just click share. Also, I’ve linked my Instagram account with Twitter and Facebook. That way I can do one Instagram post that goes out to Facebook and Twitter at the same time.

Recycle old posts from years in the past. These things will make you look busier than you are without it sucking years of your life away into its evil vortex of useless nonsense.

#12 Learn and use all of the Benefits of Amazon

Stop trying to compete with big publishers who buy their way into the most prominent spots. You just end up trying to compete with J. K. Rowling and Stephen King on your own…as an indie? Good luck with that… Instead learn how to use Amazon and let them market your books for you. No one is better at marketing you than Amazon if you understand their system. If you do that, you will start competing with J. K. Rowling and actually make more than most traditionally published authors. Amazon can compete with the big publishers, you can’t. Maybe they are evil and they’re about to drive every bookstore out of business. I honestly don’t know, and I don’t really care. All I want to do is earn money while I sleep and Amazon can do that for me.

(Sorry, this post may contain typos since I’m trying to finish my 7th book and didn’t proofread this post as well as I should have.)

Audiobook Production Audiobooks Narrator Interview

How to Get Talented Voice Actors to Audition for your Audiobook.

I recently taught at Storymakers Writer’s Conference about audiobook production via ACX. And one question I was asked was how to get narrators to even audition. I guess many of them are listing their books and no one is showing any interest in auditioning even if they send a message to the producer.

Top 3 reasons why you’re not getting auditions:

#1 You don’t understand the producer’s perspective in this, and when they understand stand that, they will likely have more auditions than they know what to do with. Watch this video to get the producer’s perspective from an actual producer:

#2 You don’t understand that on ACX, you basically have two industries coming together, which is seriously awesome if you ask me. ACX is giving actors the opportunity to earn royalties on books when they were almost always only paid for their time in the past. (Not even Jim Dale got royalties for Harry Potter!) This article in The New York Times explains this rather well: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/31/books/making-books-when-acting-speaks-volumes.html And independent authors rarely had the chance to ever see their books produced into audiobooks due to productions costs. ACX has opened those things up to actors and authors. And what a great opportunity it is!

#3 You’re not showing that you value the actor’s time, talents, and skill like you should. Getting continued payments on work already done is a wonderful thing and it’s why so many people want to be published authors. However, you’re basically asking an actor to believe in your book as much as you do when they didn’t even write it. You’re also asking them to do hours and hours worth of hard work that takes specific time, talent, and technical knowledge for free—risking not getting paid at all if the royalties don’t cover the production costs. You might try to argue that you wrote the book for free. But how much did it cost you to write the book? As far as I know, there is little if any cost to writing a novel, but there is cost in producing an audiobook. And would you expect a professional artist to produce an amazing cover for you without paying them? You know what your sales are like. Would a portion of the royalty be enough to make it worth the artist’s time? In most cases, probably not… But acting is an art and unfortunately many narrators have been burned on royalty share deals. So many of them will not do royalty share deals without some sort of compensation for their time. I mean how do you honestly expect them to even feed their families? If you just have your book listed as a royalty share deal, this is one reason why you are not getting auditions.

To finally get auditions, follow these simple steps:

#1 Don’t consider audiobook production until you have at least three books published and are making enough from royalties to fund all or most of the production cost. And yes, even if you traditionally published the book, you could have or might be able to get audiobook rights for your book. Being able to choose your own narrator is huge for success in this growing market, and the payout can be awesome. To be honestly, most publishers don’t care about the narrator chosen for your books, they just hire someone, and that someone might not suit your story. I’ve listened to several traditionally published audiobooks where the wrong narrator was chosen for the story, and I find it difficult to even finish listening.

#2 As you list your book, show producers that you value their time and talent by offering to either pay a decent rate for each finished hour, or offer a royalty share along with a slightly reduced rate for each finished hour. The budget for the project is what they look at first before they even consider auditioning. To do this, check both “Royalty Share” AND “Negotiated Hourly Rate” for the project’s budget. That way it will say “Royalty Share or Negotiated Hourly Rate” on the listing of your book.

#3 Don’t neglect the comments section. I see so many authors who leave this blank, but this is your chance to sell your story to the producer so they actually want to work on your book. Also make it clear that you have an open mind, that you consider them the expert, and that you want them to have some creative freedom as they perform.

#4 Have a marketing plan listed in the comments section too. If producers see that you’re willing to market this book, they’re more willing to work with you and even help you market the book.

#5 Find a great scene that shows tension and quality writing. Also make sure you have a male and female voice in the sample.

#6 Also remember that the most talented producers are actually in high demand and because of that, they don’t even have to audition if they don’t want to. However, many of them will take the time to audition if you’re offering to pay them, you display good writing in the audition sample, your Amazon rank and reviews look good, and you ask them to consider auditioning if they like what they see. So if you find one you really like, and you’ve heard their work before, then just message them about wanting to make an offer.

Note: ACX allows you to just make offers, but I think it’s best to message the producer first to see where your book would fit into their schedule. If you don’t do that, you will probably have to redo the offer.

Audiobook Production

How to Choose the Best Royalty Share Deals on ACX

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Advice for Narrators/Producers (Voice Actors) from an Author about Publishing & How to Choose the Most Profitable Royalty Share Deals

(So you can earn money while you sleep too, without writing the book.)

Do you want to learn how to make money from royalties like authors do, basically earning money in your sleep?

 

Understand how royalties in the book industry work.

While producing audiobooks is a production, produced and acted out by one actor, it’s also book publishing. And to be successful at narrating audiobooks, you should also understand that industry so you can make better choices on royalty share deals. You need to understand what authors understand and why you might actually want more royalty shares in your list.

Writers can earn royalties on work they did years ago. Hard work they’ve already done can earn them money while they sleep. This is why pretty much everyone wants to publish a book. There is a huge difference between the royalty of independent authors verses traditionally published authors, though. Most traditionally published authors only get 15% of the sale of their books in any format. With audiobooks done through ACX, this basically means only 15% of the 40%. Granted, if they happen to be selling millions of books, that can add up to be a lot, but very few authors are selling that much. Independent authors get the entire 40%, or 20% if it’s a royalty share, which is still more than a traditionally published author gets. With eBooks they can actually earn up to 70% of the sale. The more formats an independent author gets their books into the more money they’ll make.

Understand the affect of digital shelf space on sales.

Most authors know that the more titles they have out, the more royalties they’ll make. And they know that royalties don’t pay off overnight or even in a year most of the time. They also know that if they just have one book out sales are not going to be very good, if at all. In my experience, producers assume if book one doesn’t sell hundreds of copies within the first month or two it will never pay off and so they drop the rest of the series, or ask for more money. I understand their fear, but there are a few things they just don’t realize. When they drop book one, they actually hurt sales of that book because listeners will either drop or not even bother with a series that changes narrators. The audience doesn’t care why that has happened, they hate it anyway. Digital shelf space sells books and audiobooks.

The funny thing is that many authors keep doing the same thing. They have one book produced into audio, sales are slow, and so they don’t produce any more. It’s like they forgot what sells books in the first place, or they’re assuming the audiobooks will sell just as much as the eBooks are. I’ve discovered, however, that the audiobook market and the eBook market don’t always overlap, so it’s actually a different audience. So then you have a new audience who only sees one book listed. Why would they buy? They won’t just like they wouldn’t likely buy just one eBook. But with each audiobook you publish, the sales will start to snowball and increase with each new release.

To me it seems that many producers, or at least the best-qualified ones, have stopped taking any royalty share deals because they never seem to pay off. But it’s this digital shelf space that is the problem. It’s not that audiobooks don’t sell…it’s that the author and the narrator don’t know how to sell books.

Understand why ACX is giving actors a chance to earn royalties they never would have had before.

In this industry, narrators are typically hired to do the work, paid an hourly rate and nothing more. Even Jim Dale was paid for his time and didn’t get any royalties from sales of the extremely popular Harry Potter series. I don’t know for certain, but I’d wager Zachary Webber didn’t get any royalties for his work on Grey either. Any narrator hired to work on a popular book is only going to get paid by the hour because there isn’t enough profit in the formula to give them royalties, even if their name on the book as the narrator will add to the number of sales. So they have to keep doing the same work to keep earning the money. They have nothing to show for the work already done except more recognition. However, it they choose to work with independent authors, they can actually earn half of the royalties on the sales, or 20% of the total sale. As mentioned above, 20% is even more royalty than traditionally published authors get. It’s like being able to write several books on your own in a short period of time. You get to benefit off other people’s work—that took months and maybe even years to do—when you never could have done that before.

There are tons of very successful indie authors, and believe it or not, but most of them are actually making more money than traditionally published authors. They typically understand how to market themselves better too, which means they do most of the marketing for you. All you have to do it balance your time between paid per finished hour jobs and royalty share jobs as you build your list of books earning royalties. Imagine if you had 10 titles that were getting good royalty sales. Even if each book was only selling 20 copies a month, earning about 6 dollars per sale, that comes out to be about 1200 a month just in royalties. So imagine if you had 20 royalty shares or 40… If you’re doing paid per finished hour work at the same time, then you’d be doing pretty well for yourself and earning money while you sleep just like authors get to do. But you didn’t have to write those books to do it.

Understand marketing so you can choose the most profitable royalty shares.

This is very important. If you don’t choose the right royalty shares, then you won’t be making as much as you could be.

Look for authors doing these things because they understand marketing: (I’ll be posting a more detailed post about marketing soon.)

  • Do they think commercially, meaning do they know what their audience wants and do they give it to them?
  • Do they have or are they building a lot of digital shelf space? Do they have or are they working on more than one series of books?
  • Do they use social media, paid advertising, and have a professional-looking blog/website? (Most of this should be listed in the comments section for the book on ACX.)
  • Have they moved their marketing efforts into video, which includes YouTube? (You might want to read my “Stop Marketing like Your Grandma” post to understand what I’m talking about here.)
  • Look for series of books in a variety of the most popular genres.
  • Look for mostly good reviews and good sales rank.
  • Just because they’ve become a USA today bestselling author doesn’t mean they know how to market.
  • Be wary of authors who are complacent, meaning they have a lot of books out so they don’t think they need to market because they’re content with book sales. These authors won’t go to the trouble of marketing the audiobook either and that will affect your royalties.
  • Know that both traditionally published and independent authors have to do all of their own marketing. The only authors big publishers do marketing for are the biggest selling authors, like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. So if you can do royalty share work for authors who understand how to market themselves, you pretty much get to go along for the ride, not needing to do as much as the author does. Although, you’ll only help yourself if you do jump in on that.

Understand that royalty shares don’t always have to be done for free.

If you’re choosing the right royalty shares, then you’re probably choosing books that qualify for a stipend, and many authors who understand marketing also understand that to get a quality producer they need to be willing to pay something for production. Which means even if there is a stipend, they’ll probably pay you more on top of that, bringing the compensation for your work almost up to what it would have been for a paid per finished hour job. But you need to be willing to ask for it. If they value your time and skill, they will say yes. Let’s be honest, authors who just want you to do the work for free don’t understand the need for a more experienced professional and don’t understand how poor quality will affect future sales.

This is why I feel like ACX needs to add a third payment option of Paid Royalty Shares. Authors want to get a stipend because it means less money out of their pocket, but to use the stipend it has to be a royalty share deal. As it is now, if an author wants a quality producer, they have to pay the hourly rate because the best ones won’t do royalty share deals for free. Is this dichotomy with how ACX is set up making sense? Can you see how this is causing problems for both narrators/producers and authors? Authors can’t afford to quit their day job while they build their list enough to quit, so how can anyone expect audiobook producers to do the same thing? They need to be compensated for their very specific talent and time while they build the list of audiobooks earning royalties.

Please, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. ACX is providing a great opportunity for producers/actors to make money on royalties that no one else is. That’s seriously awesome in my opinion. But since authors don’t understand what actors need and actors don’t understand the book publishing industry we’re not all benefiting from this set up like we should be, or could be.

To see an author who is doing well as a narrator because he’s choosing the right royalty share deals, read this blog post on ACX: https://blog.acx.com/2016/02/03/picking-the-right-royalty-share-projects/

(Except, I give you even more suggestions than he does…)

Audiobook Production

HOW TO choose the BEST ACX Narrator for your Audiobook ~ Part 2

Voice-Over Artist, Tristan Hunt, and I have started a YouTube series of How-To’s to help authors with the audiobook production process of their books.

The number one question I am asked about audiobook publishing at writer’s conferences is, “How do I choose a good producer/narrator for my book?” THIS IS PART 2

Please comment and let us know if this is helpful to you, or if you have any other questions for us. Thanks for visiting!

The next thing to ask yourself as you begin to look for a producer/narrator is:
If it’s written in third person, how many male and female characters are in the story?

If there are a majority of male characters in your story, then you should probably choose a male narrator. If there are a majority of female characters in your story, then you should probably choose a female narrator. But be sure to listen to the samples from the narrators you’re considering to see if you like how they do voices for the opposite sex. You want your listener to be drawn into the story and held there by the voice of the reader, if a strange sounding voice is too jarring or distracting, it will yank the reader out of the story and they won’t enjoy the experience as much as they could have.

Note: ACX is probably the best place to find the right narrator for you story and get production going.

Audiobook Production

How To Choose the Best Narrator for Your Audiobook Part 1 ~Audiobook Production via ACX

Tristan Hunt (aka Jason Downs) and I have started a YouTube series of How-To’s to help authors with the audiobook production process of their books.

The number one question I am asked when I teach about audiobook publishing at writer’s conferences is, “How do I choose a good producer/narrator for my book?” Please comment and let us know if this is helpful to you, or if you have any other questions for us. Thanks for visiting!

I think it’s important to listen to what Tristan is trying to say about this endeavor being a creative “production.” This is a collaboration to create a new product and a new way to experience your story. One reader told me she gets something different out of each format, which I found intriguing. But even reading an eBook is a different experience from reading the same story in print. So it’s important to make sure the audiobook experience is just as enjoyable and unique to that format. And if you don’t take care in your narrator choice, you will hurt sales because that experience won’t be as great as it could have been for your audience.

The first thing to ask yourself as you begin to look for a producer/narrator is:

Did you write the book in first person or third?

If you wrote in first person then you must match the gender of the reader to the gender of the main character. If you wrote first person from more than one character’s point of view, then you need a reader to match the gender of each.

Note: ACX is, in my opinion, the best place to find the right narrator for you story and get production going.

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production & Marketing Via ACX ~Earning a Stipend from Audible

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Earning a Stipend from Audible

A production stipend is where Audible pays the narrator $100 per finished hour, but the narrator has to agree to a royalty share to get the money from that, and the book has to be finished and approved in 60 days. The total amount available is also limited to $1000. Also, I believe producers/narrators are limited on how many stipend contracts they can take. It’s to encourage royalty share deals, because they really aren’t always all that appealing to narrators. They’re a bit risky and many narrators are getting burned.

You can’t choose if you get a stipend from Audible or not, though. You have to earn it. Fateful was awarded a stipend from Audible within a week of listing the book on ACX. I may have just gotten lucky, but I can share with you what I’d done, and maybe you’ll get lucky too. (Of course, there are no guarantees…)

You need to show that your book has good earning potential. So in “Comments from Rights Holder” I put things like this: (Also, I would say books that have been out longer than others, with a good sales track record, might be more likely to get a stipend.)

Marketing and sales:

A DETAILED Marketing Plan. And I mean very detailed. Like list plans for paid advertising, etc.

Past sales/download numbers. If over 200 thousand ebooks have been downloaded, then put that, even if they were free downloads. You’ve still been able to reach that many readers.

Past sales rank, like if you’ve been in the top 100 on Amazon before.

List future books in the series. Include published books and ones in the plans.

Awards (Highest Amazon rank, New York Times, etc.)

Social Media Stats (Twitter, Facebook fan page, YouTube, even Pinterest)

BookBub acceptance.

Number of 5 star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

And then notes for the producer about production like:

Tell them to “show” you what they can do. This lets them know you plan to give them some creative license. Artists like that kind of stuff, I should know…

List accents they’ll needed to perform.

List the point of view for the book.

For me, I also explained why I wanted a male reader. (It was because while book 1 was 3rd person female perspective, future books switched. And I had way more male characters than female characters in the story. And in my audience research, my readers preferred listening to a male.)

Tips for the Audition Script:

Male and Female Characters

Accents

Humor or Tension

Keep it Short

Also, I had a sentence in there that could be awkward if the narrator wasn’t good enough to make it sound natural. I didn’t really do this intentionally, but the one who made it sound natural was easily the one who got the job. The female character said, “Gee, thanks Ethan,” with heavy sarcasm. The others made it sound so awkward I actually cut it from the book, even though the one who got the job managed it just fine…

If you’re curious to hear how my books turned out, check out the audio samples on Soundcloud.

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Thanks for visiting my blog! If you have questions, please leave them in the comments.

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 3

Audiobook Production and Marketing by Cheri Schmidt –royalty shares

Note: I hope you don’t mind me joking about the fact that I look like a vampire. It’s actually something I hear ALL OF THE TIME. I take it as a compliment, because vamps are considered good-looking, right? The other reason people might say this is because I do look quite a bit younger than I actually am…um, did you think I was going to tell you my age? Nope, you’ll just have to guess. And actresses like Nicole Kidman made pasty white acceptable in Moulin Rouge. At least I thought so…or maybe I just hoped so. And, okay, I guess Nicole does look like a vampire in this picture. What can I expect really, when I have such fair skin I only freckle or burn in the sun and brown hair so dark it’s almost black? And my guess is that people usually say vampire instead of Snow White because of the widow’s peak I have? It’s all right, I give you permission to laugh at me and my paleness… (This picture was found on Pinterest. I’m not sure where it’s from, but I think it was promo for the movie. Although this pic of Nicole does inspire me to wear red in the next author portraits I plan to have taken…)

(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)

Anyway, on to the questions! Two of them this time…

Question: Do you prefer to be paid an hourly rate or in royalties or in both?

Answer: (There was a lot to talk about with this one. I cut it down so this clip wasn’t too long which is why it starts partway through.)

Basically, Jason said of course he’d prefer both, but it isn’t always easy to work it out that way with ACX’s business model. Which is fine. I do not regret going through ACX for audiobook production. I’d actually recommend it to any author wanting to reach a new market with their stories. Which is why I’m doing this blog series on audiobook production via ACX.

Also, as I recommended in my post about choosing a narrator, it might be best to select both Royalty Share & An Unspecified Hourly Rate when listing your book so that you can attract quality producers. Don’t go into this expecting to get a well-produced audiobook without spending some money to compensate the artist for their time. Because this is a new market, we don’t know enough about selling this product to guarantee royalties will be enough to cover the time and cost of production.

I can personally attest to the fact that Jason does care about quality a great deal. It’s obvious to me that he puts a lot of hard work into what he does. And I love how he acts out each character. As he said, it is why I chose him out of the auditions I got. I will also say that Jim Dale sort of ruined me in terms of listening to audiobooks. Because of how he performed the Harry Potter series, I don’t enjoy audiobooks unless they are done that way. Being able to distinguish between the different characters really pulls me into the story. My stories have been compared to Harry Potter because of the magic and wonder in them, but there is also a great deal of romance that the Harry Potter books didn’t have. Because of that, I wanted someone who wouldn’t baulk at the high level of romance in my stories, so for me, Jason fit the bill for both. Anyway, I hope everyone else gets as lucky as I did with Jason.

Question: Is doing a royalty share for a book ever worth it?

Answer: I like that we get the producer’s perspective on this from Jason. For me as an author, I’m willing to take the risk of doing the work and waiting for the royalties. I foot the cost of editing and cover art, and the time to write, etc., expecting to make it back with royalties.  Of course it will take a while, but not too long. I guess I was sort of torn, I didn’t feel it was fair to expect the producer to take that same risk on my book, but I also wanted them to have the benefit of making money on work already done. Maybe this is because I’ve done commissioned, work for hire before, and sometimes that feels like you’re doing a lot of work that you’re paid for, but then to make more money, you have to do that work all over again. With a book I can do the work once and then sit back and collect royalties. And I can see that the work a producer does is creating a new product, just like I did when I wrote the book, so I want the producer to be able to enjoy that same benefit if they want to. The eBook of Fateful has been really good to me since I first published back in 2011. That one story has made me quite a bit of money. I’ll even tell my girls to say, “Thank you, Fateful,” when I buy them something special using my royalties. I know it’s probably silly of me to think this way. Many would say, it’s my book, so why don’t I want all of the royalties? I guess I also know that I would not have the enjoyable audiobooks that I do if not for Jason’s talent and hard work. Does that make sense? Please tell me what you think in the comments. I’m curious to know.

Ironically, however, right after we did this interview and Jason said that royalty shares had not paid off for him financially yet, we did experience an unexplained pop in sales. Like a huge pop in sales. Like from one month to the next, it was an 8000% increase… of course I don’t expect royalties to always be that high. In my experience, it just doesn’t work like that. It’s really just a rollercoaster of royalties for eBooks or audiobooks, which is better than a flat line in sales. So while Fateful was a royalty share with a stipend paid by Audible, it’s one royalty share that has started to pay off in royalties too. I hope it continues to do so. I’m doing everything I can think of to help it along. Note: If your sales have flat lined, then check back for when I get into marketing strategies…

Sorry about the delay in this post. Some family stuff came up.

In my next post, I’ll cover how to list your book so you’re more likely to get a stipend from Audible.

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 2

A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.

Here is Jason Downs (aka Tristan Hunt) and Cheri Schmidt (aka that pale vampire) doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. Second question: Can the author approve the voice of each character?

(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)

Jason brings up a good point. You’ve already been through the audition process, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises. And you really should trust this person that you’ve hired to know what they’re doing and allow them to do their job without you nitpicking over details that just don’t matter. Let them have creative license with the story. This is a collaboration…

However, I feel it’s important to note that you should take care in the audition sample you choose to post for the book. Make sure you have voices of the two main characters in there, along with some accents that might be necessary. I would also suggest choosing a scene with some tension and dialogue for both a male and female character.

Oh, and there’s one more thing I forgot to mention. If you’ve described your characters well enough, the right voice for each one will be, or should be, pretty obvious to the professional you’ve hired. That’s one thing that changed for me after I first heard my stories “performed.” As I wrote, I could hear how it would sound as an audiobook. I couldn’t do that before. I think it also improves your writing, because you know what will and won’t work better than you did before.

Thanks again for visiting my blog. Check back later for more… And please comment and share. 😉

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production & Marketing Via ACX

Converting readers to audiobook listeners one bookworm at a time…

“Yes, it’s still reading, just more convenient.” -Cheri Schmidt

Many readers think listening to an audiobook is cheating, that it’s like watching the movie. But if the audiobook is unabridged, then it’s exactly like the original book. The only difference is that the story has been lifted from the page and brought to life for you.

In this new market of audiobooks, we as authors need to connect with our readers and use those free codes that we get from ACX to introduce them to this new format.

Erin from WrathsQueensBooks is one of those readers for me. In this video, she is holding the original copy of Fateful that I sent to her a very long time ago, and she has now just enjoyed it on audio. Her very first audiobook. (I’m grateful to her for taking the time to listen to my story once again after having already read it.)

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 1

A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.

Here is Jason Downs and an extremely pale vampire—I mean me doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. First question: How closely do you work together?

(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)

(Good grief! It was really hard for me to post that to YouTube…)

Cheri’s additional thoughts on this question…

I think how closely you work together largely depends on the author and how involved you want to be. But it is a creative collaboration, so perhaps more authors should be more involved. That doesn’t mean that you need to be nitpicky or annoying, though. That just means get to know each other a little so you can make the best decisions for the story, and better market the book after production is finished.

My guess is that producers and authors that have done a royalty share deal are more likely to work together closely during and after production, because they both benefit financially if sales are good.

Jason mentioned that he’s had some authors who just approve the audio without making any changes, and I wanted to comment on that. I don’t know if all producers do it this way or not, but Jason would post chapters as he finished them. Either one at a time, or a few at a time. I couldn’t resist reviewing them right away, but I have heard of authors who don’t bother listening to the chapters at all. And then when it’s finished they wonder if they should listen to it or just approve it. I don’t think that is wise at all, and I was surprised to hear from Jason that some authors actually do that. Yes, producers edit their work, but things can still be missed by mistake. Just like authors need more than one editor, so does a narrator. With ACX, I feel like the rights holder is final QA, and if you don’t listen just to make sure there aren’t any random repeats still in there, you’ll make your producer look bad and that will affect his rating in the reviews. I have listened to audiobooks with repeats in the finished product and it always surprises me, because it wouldn’t have been all that hard to fix.

However, while reviewing the audio, remember that every change you ask for could cause a change in sound. So be very selective. I’ve heard of some authors who feel like that’s how they wrote it so the producer had better not change a single word! Oh please, sometimes that just happens when reading. But if it sounds natural and still makes sense, then leave it like it is. That will be better for sound quality. And you’ll likely have a better working relationship with your producer if you’re not a pain to work with.

Thanks for dropping by, and check back for more videos of this Q & A…