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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.

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The Best Sugar Cookies Ever is Now a Video!

Sophia now has a YouTube Cooking Channel!

Sophia is the vampire in Fateful who loves to cook for her mortal friends.

Yes, a cooking channel with paranormal twist…

Check back about once a month when she’ll upload a new recipe… If you enjoyed this video and would like to see more. Please make sure you give it a thumbs up, share it with your friends, and subscribe to my channel. xoxo

Hello, my darlings!

According to many mortal lads and ladies, these sugar cookies are positively scrummy.

(This is my absolutely fabulous spin on the famous “Swig” Sugar Cookies)

Think of these for Valentine’s Day too!

The Most Scrummy Sugar Cookies Ever

(US Measurements)

Addictive Cookie Dough

1 cup butter (unsalted) at room temperature

3/4 cup vegetable Oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons water

5 cups All Purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream the butter, oil, sugars, eggs, water, and vanilla together. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cream of tarter together. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Stir until thoroughly mixed. The texture should be very soft and easily scooped with a medium or small sized cookie scoop. Drop balls of dough onto either a stone baking pan, or a foil lined baking sheet. Dip the bottom of a glass cup into granulated sugar and smash each cookie a bit like you would smash peanut butter cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. These cookies do not brown, and they are done when they poof up a bit in the center.

Butter Cream Frosting

1 cup butter softened

4-5 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

half and half as needed

Beat soft butter and powdered sugar together until smooth. Blend in vanilla and then just enough half and half to create the spreadable consistency you would like. Depending on humidity, you may or may not need to add extra powdered sugar as well. Tint frosting with food coloring as desired.

(UK Measurements)

Addictive Cookie Dough

230g butter (unsalted) at room temperature

180ml oil

300g sugar

65g icing sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 tablespoons water

640g plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

In a large bowl, cream the butter, oil, sugars, eggs, water, and vanilla together. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and cream of tarter together. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Stir until thoroughly mixed. The texture should be very soft and easily scooped with a medium or small sized cookie scoop. Drop balls of dough onto either a stone baking pan, or a foil lined baking sheet. Dip the bottom of a glass cup into granulated sugar and smash each cookie a bit like you would smash peanut butter cookies. Bake at 180 •c or gas mark 4 for about 8-10 minutes. These cookies do not brown, and they are done when they poof up a bit in the center.

Butter Cream Frosting

230g butter (unsalted) at room temperature

560-650g icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Milk as needed

Beat soft butter and icing sugar together until smooth. Blend in vanilla and then just enough milk to create the spreadable consistency you would like. Depending on humidity, you may or may not need to add extra powdered sugar as well. Tint frosting with food coloring as desired.

Thank you so much for visiting!

Always grateful, Cheri

Narrator Interview

Exclusive Q & A with Storytellers Tristan Hunt and Cheri Schmidt

Join us on BookTube!
Starting now, I’ll be posting to YouTube twice a week. Join me and Tristan Hunt (aka Jason Downs) for exclusive interviews, publishing Q & A, audiobook recommendations, how-to advice on audiobook production, book trailers, behind the scenes of production, and Sophia’s Messy Kitchen Cooking channel. Check back every Tuesday, and Saturday for something new.
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…