Audiobooks

The Long Goodbye

28 June 2015

For those who like Raymond Chandler, Brendan says:

The Long Goodbye is Audible’s deal of the day, today-Sunday June 28th.

Here’s a link to the audiobook of The Long Goodbye

Reader analytics as a self-editing tool

26 June 2015

From Futurebook:

Comma Press is working on a research project, in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University and fffunction.co, to explore disruptive (forgive me) approaches to three key issues facing the publishing industry: audiobooks, content-discovery and open-analytics.

To this end, we’re about to launch a digital self-publishing platform called MacGuffin [in pre-launch beta]. Free to use for readers and writers, it’s designed to help authors target a sample of their writing — particularly short stories and poetry — to a specific readership.

Audio

We want to learn whether self-publishing authors can be encouraged to follow the lead of amateur podcasters, who’ve shown in recent years that technological barriers to entry have fallen away. So MacGuffin hosts text and audio. Writers must upload a reading of their work along with the text, in order to publish it; end-users can read, listen, and toggle between the two (MacGuffin will be available as a website and an app for iOS and Android).

But this kind of DIY approach to audiobooks is about reader expectations, too. Does recording have to be done in a professional studio, by an actor, to be enjoyable? Lots of authors who’ve tried the MacGuffin beta have uploaded beautifully-performed readings with flawless audio. But on some of my favourites, you can hear birdsong in the background, or a dog barking in the distance, or the sound of kids playing in an adjacent room. Will readers feel the same way? We don’t yet know.

. . . .

We’re experimenting with a “broad-folksonomy” model of content curation.

In layman’s terms, this means that any user can add hashtags to anyone else’s work. Tagging is something of a blunt tool when only a few people do it, but as more content is added and tagged, we hope it’ll accrue into a huge database of really searchable literature. This opens up all kinds of functionality for users: searching for multiple tags means readers can quickly narrow down what they’re looking for, so a crime fiction fan with a 25-minute commute might search for #crime #25minutelisten.

Publishers or spoken-word nights can upload samples of content, grouped together under a tag. Readers can create lists to share (e.g. #sundaysonnets #jimsslipstreamstories). Kind of like in the old days, when you’d make mix-tapes for your friends — on MacGuffin, you can do this with poetry and stories.

. . . .

Perhaps most controversially, MacGuffin has open-analytics. Anyone can see the “drop-out points” — where (anonymised) readers quit a story or poem before the end — plotted onto a graph. While I expect that many writers will find this unnerving, it undoubtedly has some potential as a self-editing tool – you can identify that weak scene in your story where you’re losing readers, then republish it.

It doesn’t give the whole picture, of course (the readers dropping out might have poor taste!), but at the same time, ushering readers from the start to the finish of a text is undeniably something a writer ought to be interested in.

During the beta test, we found that most stories and poems typically have a lot of drop-outs right at the start of the text or audio (sometimes over 50% during the first 10% of a story or poem). It seemed readers were scanning the first few lines of text, or listening to a few seconds of audio, then deciding it wasn’t for them. I panicked a bit at first, until I took a look at some of the public domain classics we’d uploaded, for comparison. It seems this simply reflects the way we browse literature, whether digitally, or picking up a book in a bookstore: scanning the first few lines, then deciding it’s not for us, and moving on to something else. The really useful drop-out stats for authors seem to come after that initial bedding-in phase, where you’ve won the reader’s confidence, only to loose it again with a miss-step in plotting or pacing or tone.

Link to the rest at Futurebook

Audible Books now available on Amazon Echo

5 June 2015

PG just received the following email from Amazon:

Now you can listen to audiobooks from Audible with Echo. Audiobooks offer a great way to enjoy your favorite books while relaxing, cooking, or spending time together with family.

Listening to audiobooks from your Audible library is easy. Here’s how:

  • Start any book you own with “Alexa, read [Audible book title]”
  • Resume the current book you’re reading by saying “Alexa, read my book.”
  • Control playback with “Alexa, go back/forward.”

Echo also supports Whispersync for Voice, which allows you to seamlessly switch between reading and listening with your eligible Kindle books. You can read on your Kindle, tablet, or smartphone and then continue listening on your Echo, right where you left off.

Tips for Success on ACX

19 May 2015

From author Elizabeth Spann Craig:

If you’re not familiar with ACX, it’s basically the audiobook option for self-published authors. And it can be free if you opt for the royalty-share option.

. . . .

I’ve found that good narrators are happy to take on a royalty-share arrangement with successful self-published authors.  A few tips I’ve discovered for being attractive to narrators/producers for royalty share:

1) It’s much better to list your book as available for audition when you’re selling well and have lots of great reviews.   For most of us, this isn’t the first week or two after release, even though we might be eager to have the book available on audio format.  Try a month or more in…when our readers have discovered, bought, and reviewed the book.

2) Pitch your project in the “additional notes” section when we list the book for audition. This is where you want to mention the sales for your other books and the size of your social media platform and mailing list.

. . . .

Once our audiobooks are up for sale, ACX (who loves introducing avid readers to audio), will email us free download codes to giveaway as we see fit.

1) We can use them for newsletter signup freebies. Or we can use them to increase our followers on social media.  By using a free giveaway program like Rafflecopter (and I do use the free version), we give the widget certain parameters: when the giveaway will start and stop, what readers will have to do to enter the contest (follow us on Facebook, tweet a link, comment on a post), and what we’re giving away. Then the widget gives us the email addresses and the names of the people who entered so that we can randomly select winners. The free code can be embedded on social media or our blog or website.

I decided that giving away 25 audiobooks of my most recent release would serve as an unexpected surprise to my newsletter list…so I sent it only to them.

Link to the rest at Elizabeth Spann Craig and thanks to Deb for the tip.

Here’s a link to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s books

Reading With Your Ears

2 April 2015

From author Andrew Knighton:

When people want to discuss the experience of taking in a particular book, whether by reading, listening or a combination of the two, it’s become common to use ‘reading’ to refer to the experience in general. We don’t have another word that covers it, and that’s become the default. But it can occasionally be confusing, as it turns out that someone has been ‘reading’ a book without ever looking at a single line on a page or screen.

. . . .

This came up in a discussion with fellow speculative fiction author Rita de Heer about one of my previous posts. As Rita pointed out, the way we take in stories changes the experience. An audiobook gives you around 150-160 words per minute, while an average silent reader will take in and understand 250-300 words.

. . . .

Then there’s the fact that an audiobook adds another person to your experience of the story. The quality of narration can add to or detract from the experience. I love listening to James Marsters reading the Dresden Files books (review of one coming up next week), but there’s no denying that I’d imagine Harry Dresden differently without that voice.

Link to the rest at Andrew Knighton Writes and thanks to Russ for the tip.

Here’s a link to Andrew Knighton’s books

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.

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