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Audiobook Production Marketing

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

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 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.


Cheri’s 6 Reasons to Try Audiobooks for the First Time.

audiobooks-stagger - CopyOn my other blog I asked readers to tell me what they thought of the samples for the audiobooks I have published. I’ve been surprised by many of the rather unenthusiastic comments. Some have even said they don’t listen to audiobooks, so they can’t comment on the samples. Really? They won’t even take two minutes to even listen to the sample? I’m having a hard time understanding this. Honestly, to me this is similar to people who won’t read, just in reverse. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain.

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ~Mark Twain

It’s true that it’s hard to find time to read, especially when you have children to care for, a fulltime job to do, and laundry to sort. This leads me to my first reason to try audiobooks.

1 Listening to an audiobook is far more convenient than sitting down to read.

You can multitask with an audiobook in ways you can’t with a printed book or an ebook. You can enjoy a story or learn to speak French while doing laundry, preparing dinner, or driving to work. Basically, you can listen to a story being read to you at times when you cannot read at all. So let me put it this way, “The man who does not listen to audiobooks has no advantage over the man who cannot hear.”

And with Whispersync via Amazon, you can keep the story going from your Kindle to your car without interruptions, making audiobooks even more convenient. Keep listening while you drive the children to soccer… Life doesn’t have to interrupt your enjoyment of a good book.

2 Listening to a book rather than reading it IS NOT cheating like watching a movie is.

Movies have been changed from the original book because much of what is in a book can’t be translated into film. The internal monologue, the descriptions of feelings, taste, and smell are not things that can be shown on the big screen. Sure an actor can show emotion on their face, but it’s still just not the same. Books that are made into movies need to be stripped down to dialogue, scenery, sounds, and action. Movies just can’t be as rich and allow you to use your imagination like a book does.

But most audiobooks are unabridged, which means it’s exactly the same as the physical book, just more entertaining and more convenient. And listening still allows you to imagine every nuance written upon the page. The story is not imagined for you, it’s simply lifted from the page.

3 Listening to an audiobook can help you momentarily escape reality when life sucks.

When a book is acted out by a professional reader, the little inflexions in the voice, the laughter, and the tension all make the story fill your senses and bring it to life in a way that the story surrounds you. Maybe you need to run as you try to escape the demons in your life. Maybe you’ve been crying and you wouldn’t be able to focus on the words to read them. Maybe your vision is failing you because of an illness. Maybe you’re in so much physical pain you can’t even lift a book to read it. Maybe you’re blind but you love to enjoy a good story. Listening to someone read to you is actually easier than reading Braille. When you can EASILY sink into another world, time, or place, you can take a momentary break from reality so that when you do return to facing your demons, you’re refreshed and ready to battle again.

4 Audiobooks can make you smile when you realize you’re caught in a traffic jam.

Nowadays, most audiobooks are digital, meaning you can have several with you at all times on your smartphone. Stuck in traffic or driving a long distance? Escape the monotony with a great story.

5 There’s nothing quite so delicious as having a romance whispered into your ear.

Need I say more?

6 Have you listened to Harry Potter as read by Jim Dale?

Um, you’re totally missing out if you haven’t. Your children are missing out too. And if none of the above reasons are enough to get you to try an audiobook, then start with Harry Potter and you’ll be hooked.

Of course, you’re welcome to try one of my audiobooks as well…

Not sold yet? Listen to chapter one of Fateful right now.

Tristan Hunt is like listening to Jim Dale, just sexier… 😉

And if you’re smart, which I’m sure you are, go download the Kindle copy of Fateful for FREE,

and then snatch up the 10 hour long audiobook for $1.99!

(Just click on the image below.)

Thanks for visiting my website!

Why do you love listening to audiobooks? Let me know in the comments.

Audio of Cheri’s books are available  in the USA from Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

Also from AU Audible.

And from UK Audible.

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production & Marketing Via ACX -How to choose a narrator.

A series on audiobook production via ACX and marketing when the book is finished.

I recently presented at a writer’s conference about this, and I was the only author there presenting on ACX. I was limited on time for my class, and there just wasn’t enough time for me to cover everything. So I’m bringing that info to you via my blog and YouTube. I’ll cover everything I didn’t have time for and share the Skype interview with producer/narrator Jason Downs where he answers author’s questions. (In fact, we’ve decided to do a YouTube series on the subject.)reasons to be addicted to audiobooks

Choosing a producer/narrator:

In this emerging market of audiobooks, marketing is key, and I would say there is a learning curve, because it’s different from marketing books in general. I suspect that’s because this is a slightly different audience. Your first and perhaps your biggest, marketing choice for the audiobook is choosing the right voice. This is also a creative choice. The style of the narrator needs to fit the style of the story. Your choice will make a big difference in the finished product, good or bad.

“The right narrator can bring a story to life in a way that nothing else can, can fully immerse the audience into the story, can make them feel the emotion in the words, and can make the author shine.” Cheri Schmidt

Things to consider:

What point of view did you write the book in? If it’s female first person, then it would be best if you chose a female narrator. Recently, my husband has listened to a few books, and not indie books, where the story is told from a first person male perspective but the narrator is female. It really drives him crazy. This seems like it should be an obvious thing, but apparently it isn’t.

If it’s written in third person, how many male and female characters are there in the story? Looking at these numbers will help you decided if it’s best to go with a male or female narrator. For example, my Fateful Series, which is Paranormal Romance, has a majority of male characters. It is very difficult for a female to perform male voices. Many times they sound like silly caricatures. Plus it’s easier for a male or female reader to add greater variety in voices for characters of the same gender. While the majority of my characters are male, there is one scene where there are 6 females all together. I could tell it was almost a stretch for him to do all of those female voices at once and make sure they don’t all sound alike. He managed it extremely well, but to do that with an entire novel would be a problem.

If you’ve written the book in third person and you have an even number of male or female characters, should you choose a male or female narrator? When in doubt, go with a male narrator, even for romance… Or especially for romance. For Fantasy, Horror, Middle Grade, or Mystery male is usually a better choice every time… This is not the trend. I’ve noticed that many more books are narrated by female readers, and many of them are absolutely amazing! But most male readers have a greater range in their voices and can perform better female characters than females can perform males. I realized this is personal preference, but it’s a major turnoff for me to listen to a woman perform a male character that is supposedly hot. It just does not work. Most women that I know would rather have a male whisper a romance into their ear over a female. And most men that I know wouldn’t want to listen to a woman read an action spy novel to them, or maybe they would… I’m sure there are exceptions, but I personally wouldn’t market a book to the exception.

A few more tips to choosing the right producer:

Should you narrate your own book? If your book is on writing, or a story about your own life, and you know how to produce a quality recording, then yes. Otherwise, I think it’s best to leave the acting and production to the pros.

Choose a soothing voice. This is another reason you should go with a male reader if you can. Female voices tend to grate on the ear. Even so, the male or female voice must be one that readers can listen to for long periods of time. Nothing too harsh, tinny, or high-pitched.

Get outside opinions from friends, family, and fans. In my experience, authors get desperate, thinking they won’t find what they want, so they go with whoever auditions. And authors tend to have bad taste when choosing their own narrator. It’s just a fact you’re going to have to swallow.

Listen to other work done by the narrator you’re considering. And I don’t just mean the samples they have in their profile. Buy one of the audiobooks they’ve done and listen to it. This is the best way to hear what the quality of their work is like. You also might want to contact other authors they’ve worked for to see how her or she was to work with.

Google their name. They’ll Google you before auditioning as they consider whether to work with you or not. This is a great of way of discovering a little bit about the person you’re thinking about trusting your book with.

Don’t forget how much time and effort the producer puts into your book. It takes 5-6 hours worth of hard work to produce 1 recorded hour of finished audio. It also takes a great deal of creative talent. This is not like hiring an editor. Anyone with the skill can edit a book, but not every narrator can bring life to your story in the same way. On ACX you can choose to list your book as either Royalty Share or Paid per Finished Hour. Most authors want to do the Royalty Share so they don’t have to pay the narrator for their work, thinking royalties will cover it later. Sadly, many narrators are getting burned on Royalty Shares. If you want a quality narrator, it would be wise to list the book as Royalty Share OR a Negotiated Hourly Rate. We know the benefits of paying a professional editor to polish off our writing, so why would we then complain about paying a professional artist to produce our audiobook? And even if you manage to get an Audible Stipend like I did for Fateful, pay the producer even more than the $100 dollars per finished hour Audible pays. Happy narrators make for well-produced audiobooks…

However, there are some quality producers out there who are willing to do a Royalty Share even without a stipend. Some of them are just getting into this market and just want to get their name on book titles. I have one friend who didn’t have the money for production and she didn’t earn a stipend from Audible, but she still got auditions and managed to find a really nice and dedicated producer because he liked the genre she was writing and wanted to get his name on more books. (I should also note that she was upfront with him about her ebook sales not being super amazing, so she didn’t think he would make much money. He was willing to do it anyway.) So it isn’t unheard of, and if you do your listing right, it could work out for you too.

Take care in your choice. You’ll be working with this stranger to create a new product…a collaboration of talents.

Up next…my producer and I will answer a question turned in from other authors about how closely we work together during production and marketing via a Skype interview.

(I’ll try to post a new article each week, or perhaps a bit more often so stay tuned!)

audiobooks-stagger - Copy

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