Audiobooks

How to Self-Publish an Audiobook

24 March 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

Audiobooks can open up new markets and revenue streams for self-published authors — but, as with all things indie, you have to put in plenty of time, effort, and money.

“We’re not just standing there reading a book into a mic,” says Jeffrey Kafer, a professional voiceover artist who has recorded audiobooks for the likes of Clive Barker and Maya Banks. “So much else goes into it.”

. . . .

If you’re looking for turnkey, Audiobook Creation Exchangeis certainly one of the more popular platforms. Hosted by Amazon’s Audible, ACX is an online marketplace that connects authors, narrators, and producers.

The first step is at ACX is for indie authors to confirm they own the audio rights to their material. Next, authors need to create a profile describing what they’re looking for in a narrator and upload excerpts from their books. What follows is a casting call of sorts — authors can contact narrators, and narrators can contact authors with sample recordings.

While there are a wide variety of performers available via ACX, it’s best to select a trained actor for the job, says Michele Cobb, president of the Audio Publishers Association. “You want someone with experience, especially on ACX where there are thousands of narrators,” she says. “Look for someone with vocal training who also has a theatrical background.”

Once a narrator is selected, there are two ways to go about striking a deal. Indie authors can offer narrators a set fee per finished hour of recorded audio or a royalty share — a revenue split in which the narrator will get 20% of future sales revenue. Indie authors who choose a royalty share deal on ACX will get 40% of sales revenue.

. . . .

 “Typically, it could take two hours or more of recording time to produce one finished hour of audio — not including the time a narrator spends pre-reading the book and preparing pronunciations,” says Robert Fass, a veteran narrator who has recorded audiobooks for the likes of Random House and Penguin. “It’s a time commitment.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Creating Your Custom Audible 30-Day Free Trial Link

12 March 2015

From ACX:

Few words are more enticing than “free.” Now you can offer fans a free Audible 30-day trial membership featuring your title—a great way to promote your audiobook—and potentially earn more money while doing so. Create a custom 30-Day Free Trial link featuring one of your audiobooks, and you could earn a$50  Bounty for every new Audible member who signs up.

. . . .

Not only is the Audible 30-Day Free Trial link a great way to invite fans to the joys of listening to your work, it introduces them to medium of audiobooks — great news for your future audio sales.

Link to the rest at ACX and thanks to Russell for the tip.

Diversification in the new Indie landscape

1 January 2015

From author Steven Konkoly:

I want to take a few moments to explore a critical strategy for navigating the new Indie publishing landscape. Diversification.

There’s little doubt that the e-book landscape has changed. From the weakening impact of popular promotional services (if you can even get selected for one of the major services) to a softening of the traditional Indie pricing advantage, most Indies (big and small) have reported a decline in e-book sales and revenue. The launch of Kindle Unlimited remains a key suspect in 2nd half 2014 declines, ironically affecting authors that had taken steps to shield their book portfolios from Amazon by taking their books out of Kindle Select.

. . . .

As I sit down to create my 2015 business goals, I look back at 2014, and wonder how I can replicate the year’s sales numbers? Financially, 2014 represented my best year as a writer, and it had little to do with ebooks. That’s not exactly true. It had less to do with ebooks, and more to do with treating the novels as fully exploitable property. It also had to do with seeking completely different opportunities, some of which represented a bit of a risk. 

Before I talk strategies, here’s a brief recap of the basic numbers, which you might find surprising. I certainly did:

Ebook unit sales were down 28.7% in 2014, over 2013—With the addition of 4 relatively successful titles!

Income across all sources was up 51% in 2014 from 2013.

. . . .

I raised the prices of all of my titles, and saw an immediate impact on revenue without a drop in units. I had always hovered in the $3.99 range, with $4.99 the going price for a new release. I bumped that up a dollar in each category. Nothing earth shattering, but it made a difference. I don’t know if these prices will be sustainable in 2015, with the advent of subscription reader services and lower priced “big name” offerings.

. . . .

Audiobooks saved 2014. I sold nearly 9,000 audiobooks in 2014, most of them in the post-apocalyptic genre, and most of them through pay-per-production deals through ACX. I can’t understate the importance of analyzing your genre and seeing if audiobooks are profitable. My thriller audiobooks (Black Flagged Series) are on a 14 month investment recuperation schedule. I can live with that. My goal is to create viable, long-term income streams. However, my post-apocalyptic (PA) audiobooks earn out within a month, sometimes less than that. Another strong argument for sticking with the post-apocalyptic genre. I won’t hesitate to produce all of my books in 2015.

Link to the rest at Steven Konkoly and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Here’s a link to Steven Konkoly’s books

Audio Without the Book

3 December 2014

From The New York Times:

Print has been good to Jeffery Deaver. Over the last 26 years, Mr. Deaver, a lawyer-turned-thriller writer, has published 35 novels and sold 40 million copies of them globally.

But his latest work, “The Starling Project,” a globe-spanning mystery about a grizzled war crimes investigator, isn’t available in bookstores. It won’t be printed at all. The story was conceived, written and produced as an original audio drama for Audible, the audiobook producer and retailer. If Mr. Deaver’s readers want the story, they’ll have to listen to it.

“My fans are quite loyal,” Mr. Deaver said. “If they hear I’ve done this and that it’s a thriller, I think they’ll come to it.”

“The Starling Project,” which came out in mid-November, will test the appetite for an emerging art form that blends the immersive charm of old-time radio drama with digital technology. It’s also the latest sign that audiobooks, which have long been regarded as a quaint backwater of the publishing industry and an appendage to print, are coming into their own as a creative medium.

. . . .

So far, Audible has commissioned and produced around 30 original works, as varied as a serialized thriller about a conspiracy that drives India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear war, and original short stories set in the world of Charlaine Harris’s vampire novels.

“You have this massive opportunity when you don’t have to fight for people’s eyes,” said Donald Katz, chief executive of Audible. “It’s time for us to move from sourcing content that can produce fantastic audio, on to imagining what the aesthetic of this new medium should be from the ground up.”

Some are shunning the term “audiobook” and trying to rebrand their content as “audio entertainment” or “movies for your ears.”

. . . .

 It’s no surprise that authors are eager to make their mark in the medium. As the print business stagnates, digital audiobooks are booming. In the first eight months of this year, sales were up 28 percent over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6 percent, according to theAssociation of American Publishers. Meanwhile, hardcover print sales for adult fiction and nonfiction fell by nearly 2 percent.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Robert and sevreral others for the tip.

War and Peace to take over Radio 4

28 November 2014

From the BBC:

A 10-hour production of Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace will dominate BBC Radio 4’s output on New Year’s Day.

The new dramatisation by playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker stars John Hurt, Simon Russell Beale and Lesley Manville.

The radio adaptation will run between 9am and 9.30pm, with breaks for news and The Archers.

Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams described War and Peace as “arguably the best book ever written”.

. . . .

War and Peace is the longest drama that BBC Radio 4 has rolled out over the course of a day. On Boxing Day in 2000 it cleared the schedule for an eight-hour reading of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In 2012 there was a five and a half hour dramatisation of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

. . . .

Drama commissioning editor Jeremy Howe said the drama took almost a month to record and “had all the logistics of a film shoot” with some scenes being recorded during a battle re-enactment in the Czech Republic.

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Indies & Audiobooks: An Alternative to ACX

23 November 2014

From Lee Stephen via Jane Friedman:

Like many an independent author out there, I blazed the indie trail out of a love for the artistic side of things and an understanding that total creative control could result in better projects. And like my fellow indies, I soon realized that Amazon could be an outstanding ally. Their platform for self-publishing was second-to-none, and it enabled us to pack the wagon and head out west (figuratively speaking) to the wild frontier of doing-it-oneself.

So naturally, with audiobooks starting to catch fire, Amazon was poised to once again be our faithful companion. Right?

Right?

Not so much.

. . . .

When I set out to create an audiobook for the first novel in my Epic series, Dawn of Destiny, I had done no research on the actual selling of an audiobook. I only knew that I wanted mine done differently. I wanted fans to hear it all and feel it all, like going out to see a summer blockbuster that happens to not have a screen. I hired 32 voice actors, packed the project with bombastic music and sound effects, and came out with an audiobook that sounded like Independence Day. It underwent nearly five years of development and cost more than most people would dream of spending on an audiobook. When it was finished, I was proud of it. This was different. This was new. This was what being an indie was all about. The only thing left for me to do was sell it.

Excited, I ventured into Audible territory.

Needless to say, what I found there devastated me. After five years’ worth of effort, ACX was offering me a mere spoonful of the feast I’d prepared. There had to be an alternative. There had to be a better way.

So I looked. I looked, and I looked, and I looked.

I found CD Baby.

. . . .

For those who know CD Baby, you know that they pride themselves on being a platform for indie musicians. For those who haven‘t heard of CD Baby, you might be surprised to find out that they’re exceedingly influential in the music industry for the aforementioned reason. Every indie band knows CD Baby.

. . . .

[W]hile audiobooks weren’t their typical product, they still had worked with some audiobook producers in the past. They informed me that, yes, I could set my own release date and price. Yes, I could have links to my CD Baby store anywhere. Yes, I would keep a majority of the profit. 91% of it! No, there were no binding contracts. I could cancel, change the price, pull the product, or change any of its information, anytime I wanted.

. . . .

CD Baby can distribute your audiobook to iTunes and Amazon, with the caveat that it will not show up in the audiobook category, but in the “spoken word” category of music.

I do not recommend doing this, especially if you’ve invested as much as I have in your audiobook production. Though both iTunes and Amazon will respect the release date and pay a higher percentage of the profit than they would an audiobook, they will still not respect the price you’ve set for your product through CD Baby. Your audiobook will get listed for $8.99. Thus, I am only allowing digital distribution through CD Baby itself.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman and thanks to Bridget for the tip.

Kindle Reading Apps Sync with Audible Books

10 June 2014

From the Amazon Media Room:

Amazon today announced that Kindle for Android and Kindle for iOS are getting even better, with a free software update that builds a seamless listening experience right into the app. With Whispersync for Voice, recently called “Amazon’s killer new app for books” by the Wall Street Journal, the Kindle app now lets you switch instantly between reading a Kindle book and listening to the companion audiobook from Audible—all with just one tap, without leaving the book.

“We’re working hard to help customers find more moments each day to enjoy a great book,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “Integrating professional narration into our Kindle apps means you never have to put down a favorite book—start reading at home, get in the car and simply tap a button to continue listening without losing your place.”

“We continue to hear from a growing number of Whispersync for Voice converts who tell us the innovation has profoundly changed the way they read—in fact, switching back and forth between reading and listening has become their preferred way of experiencing stories,” said Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz. “And the feature has gotten easier and easier to use, as this exciting integration into Kindle apps attests.”

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

Amazon Audiobook Royalties Dropping

28 February 2014

ACX is Amazon’s audiobook publisher.

From ACX.com:

The current ACX royalties and $25 Bounty program will be changing. Effective for projects started on or after March 12, 2014, titles distributed exclusively to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes will earn a non-escalating 40% royalty paid to the Rights Holder (or, on Royalty Share deals, split equally between the Rights Holder and the Producer). Non-exclusively distributed books will earn a non-escalating 25% royalty through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

. . . .

We are lowering the royalties as we continue our mission to accommodate more audiobook productions. Our royalties still remain well above those offered by traditional audiobook publishers. Furthermore, we want to encourage authors, and Rights Holders to promote their audiobooks with the increased bonus payment from $25 to $50 (or from $12.50 to $25.00 on Royalty Share deals).

. . . .

On and after March 12, 2014, only the new royalty structure will be in effect for new projects. However until then, the current royalty structure will be honored for any audiobook offers made before that date that are accepted before the offer expires. In other words, any offers made prior to March 12, 2014 that are accepted before the offer expiration date will earn escalating royalties ranging from 50% to 90% (of unit sales of exclusively distributed titles), or 25% to 70% (of unit sales of non-exclusively distributed titles).

Link to the rest at ACX.com and thanks to J.A. and several others for the tip.

Will Audiobooks Change Writing Styles?

28 January 2014

From author Mark Capell:

Recently, Audible.com brokered a deal with the author David Hewson to publish his latest book, Flood, well ahead of its print run. As audiobooks rise in popularity, will the way they’re written change?>

As David pointed out, audio “is the original form of storytelling. It’s what Homer did. Homer was not a writer, he was a storyteller”.

. . . .

I listen to as many audiobooks as I read print or ebooks. Sometimes it’s just more practical; while out for a walk, on a crowded train, or in a car.

But over the years, I’ve noticed something. Some writing styles are more suited to audio than others.

When I wrote the first story of Fogland, a series being released as a set of podcasts, I was writing specifically for audio.

. . . .

All writing should pay attention to the sound of words as well as their meaning, that’s a given. In fact, one musical element — rhythm — can add meaning and atmosphere on its own. Short sentences, for instance, can imbue a sense of urgency. Thriller writers are well aware of this technique.

But in audio it’s even more important. Some of the rhythm is down to the narrator. I was listening to one audiobook recently, one by a famous author. But the actor reading it, also suitably famous, sounded like he had a train to catch. The delivery was hurried, the sentences not differentiated one from another. This famous actor could have done with a few lessons from my storyteller in the pub.

In many ways, the audio presentation starts with the manuscript, begins with the source material. The author might be having more of an effect on the audio production than he realises.

. . . .

Radio drama has often been called “the theatre of the mind”. And this is true of audiobooks, too. Imagery works particularly well, especially if it’s repeated with variations. Repetition is often frowned upon in print, but it’s a vital tool in audio. Take a cue from music. You hear it in songs all the time, in the form of a chorus. The kind of resonance repetition brings with it, bounces around in a listener’s head. I’m not recommending the equivalent of “she loves you yeah, yeah, yeah” repeated ad nauseum, but it does help in reinforcing tone and theme.

Link to the rest at Mark Capell

And here’s Episode One of The Fogland, Crow Square

 

The Rise of Audio Books

10 December 2013

From Amazing Stories:

In 2011, as I was signing my first big-five publishing contract, I had to turn over all major format rights: audio, ebook, and print. At the time I was concerned that the audio rights would never be exercised, as I was a new author and I figured that I would have to show some pretty substantial sales to warrant an expensive recording of my books. I really wanted to hold onto the audio rights, figuring I would do something like podiobooks.com to get “something out there.” Orbit wouldn’t peel off those rights, and I was both surprised and thrilled when they sold the audio rights to Recorded Books. The advance was small, just a few thousand dollars per book, and because it was a subsidiary right I had to split that advance 50/50 with Orbit. Considering how small the amount was, and that I didn’t expect to earn out past the advance I was pretty happy about how the whole thing played out.  I got a little pocket change, the audio books were being made, and my readers could listen to the books in addition to print and ebooks.

Because of how royalties are reported, the numbers for audio books come in long after the sales are made. For instance, my audio versions started selling in March 2012, but the first time I saw ANY numbers was in October 2013. It basically goes like this.  The sales from Mar 2012 – Jun 2012 were reported to Orbit in September 2012. But they did not exceed the advance amount, so they did not show up on the statements. The next period (for June – Dec) did exceed the advance and was paid to Orbit in March 2013 so it showed up on the royalty statement that covers Jan – June 2013, which I get in October 2013. This was the first time I realized just how well my audio books were selling as there was a nice piece of income associated with it on that October check.

But it wasn’t until later that I got an even better picture. My agent was meeting with a representative at Audible.com and in preparation for the meeting they pulled the sales numbers of her clients. The next day I heard back from my agent, “Did you know you’ve sold more than 74,000 audio books so far?” I didn’t. And doing some back of the napkin calculations I’ll probably break 100,000  audio sales by the end of the year. I had no idea that I was selling that much and now the 50/50 split with my publisher is looking to take a pretty big hit in my pocketbook.

. . . .

There is good news and bad news in this. The good news is I’m getting income from a source I never expected to pay off. The bad news, is that because I didn’t think audio would produce much income, I didn’t fight hard enough to retain these rights. Had I known back then, I would have fought harder for them. As it is, I only get 50% of the royalties earned. Orbit gets the other 50% because that is the share on this type of subsidiary right. When the sales were small, it wasn’t an issue. But as I said, I’m now selling well…really, really well and Orbit is getting their cut for doing next to no additional work—all they really had to do was sign a contract.

. . . .

I’m pretty much convinced that any big-five publisher will hold onto the audio rights just as tightly as they do ebook rights and any major contract will require signing over print/audio/ebook. I don’t want to lose the control (and money) of relinquishing audio rights, but there is another alternative…selling the audio rights first. If the audio rights are already sold, then the publishers will have no choice but to make the deal for print and ebook only.

Link to the rest at Amazing Stories and thanks to Mitch for the tip.

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