Are You Self-Publishing Audio Books?

21 May 2019

From Just Publishing Advice:

It takes total concentration to read a book or an ebook. But with an audio book, a listener can multitask.

This is the key attraction for so many younger readers in particular, as it allows for the consumption of a book while driving, commuting and playing a game on a smartphone, knitting or even while grinding out the hours at work.

The popularity is on the move and according to recent statistics, audiobooks are now a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone.

. . . .

In another report, it estimates that one in ten readers are now listening to audiobooks.

While the data helps to gain a small insight into the market, it is still easy to draw an assumption that it is the next logical step for self-publishing authors and small press.

Ebook publishing is now the number one form of self-publishing. Many Indie authors then take the next step and publish a paperback version.

. . . .

An audio version offers an opportunity for self-publishing authors to extend their sales potential, and at the same time, diversify revenue streams.

Well, only a little at present as it is really an Amazon Audible and Apple iTunes dominated retail market. However, in the future, this may change.

. . . .

If you live in the US, you are in luck.

Amazon offers production and publishing through Audio Creation Exchange, ACX.

For authors outside of the US, things are not quite so easy.

. . . .

If you live in the US, you are in luck.

Amazon offers production and publishing through Audio Creation Exchange, ACX.

For authors outside of the US, things are not quite so easy.

This is a very common complaint about Amazon and its US-centric approach, which creates so many hurdles for non-US self-publishers.

The following quote is taken from Amazon’s help topic regarding ACX.

At this time, ACX is open only to residents of the United States and United Kingdom who have a US or UK mailing address, and a valid US or UK Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). For more information on Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN), please visit the IRS website. We hope to increase our availability to a more global audience in the future.

If you live in the UK, Amazon can help you, but you will need to have a TIN. If you are already publishing with KDP, you probably have one.

For the rest of the world, well, Amazon, as it so often does, leaves you out of the cold.

. . . .

There are a growing number of small press and independent publishers who offer to produce and publish audio books.

Distribution is most often on Amazon Audible and iTunes.

Do your research and look for publishers who accept submissions or offer a production service using professional narrators and producers.

As with any decision to use a small publisher, be careful, do your background research and don’t rush into signing a contract until you are totally convinced it is a fair arrangement concerning your audio rights.

While some may charge you for the service, it is worth looking for a publisher that offers a revenue split. This is usually 50-50 of net audio royalty earnings.

It might seem a bit steep, but Amazon ACX offers between 20 and 40% net royalties, so 50-50 is not too bad.

Link to the rest at Just Publishing Advice

As with any publishing contract, PG suggests you check out the contract terms carefully before you enter into a publishing agreement for audiobooks.

Speaking generally (and, yes, there are a few exceptions), the traditional publishing industry has fallen into a bad habit (in PG’s persistently humble opinion) of using standard agreements that last longer than any other business contracts with which PG is familiar (and he has seen a lot).

He refers, of course to publishing contracts that continue “for the full term of the copyright.”

Regular visitors to TPV will know that, in the United States, for works created after January 1, 1978, the full term of the copyright is the rest of the author’s life plus 70 years. Due to their participation in The Berne Convention (an international copyright treaty), the copyright laws of many other nations provide for copyright protections of similar durations — the author’s life plus 50 years is common.

PG can’t think of any other types of business agreements involving individuals that last for the life of one of the parties without any obvious exit opportunities. The long period of copyright protection was sold to the US Congress as a great boon to creators. However, under the terms of typical publishing contracts, the chief beneficiaries are corporate publishers.

While it is important for authors to read their publishing agreements thoroughly (Yes, PG knows it’s not fun. He has read far more publishing agreements than you have or ever will and understands what it is like.), if you are looking for a method of performing a quick, preliminary check for provisions that means you will die before your publishing agreement does, search for phrases like:

  • “full term of the copyright”
  • “term”
  • “copyright”
  • “continue”

Those searches may help you immediately locate objectionable provisions that allow you to put the publisher into the reject pile without looking for other nasties. However, if the searches don’t disclose anything, you will most definitely have to read the whole thing. The quoted terms are not magic incantations which must be used. Other language can accomplish the same thing.

Until the advent of ebooks, book publishing contracts used Out of Print clauses to give the author the ability to retrieve rights to his/her book if the publisher wasn’t doing anything with it.

With printed books, even dribs and drabs of sales would eventually deplete the publisher’s stock of physical books. At this point, the publisher would likely consider whether the cost it would pay for another printing of an author’s book was economically justified or not. If the publisher was concerned about ending up with a pile of unsold printed books in its warehouse for a long time, the publisher might decide not to print any more.

Once the publisher’s existing stock was sold, the book was out of print – it was not for sale in any normal trade channels. The author (or the author’s heirs) could then retrieve her/his rights to the book and do something else with them.

Of course, once an electronic file is created, an ebook costs the publisher nothing to offer for sale on Amazon or any other online bookstore with which PG is familiar.

The disk space necessary to store an individual epub or mobi file is essentially free for Amazon and it doesn’t charge anything to maintain the listing almost forever. (There may be a giant digital housecleaning in Seattle at some time in the distant future, but don’t count on it happening during your lifetime.) Print on demand hardcopy books are just another kind of file that’s stored on disk.

So, in 2019 and into the foreseeable future, an infinite number of an author’s ebooks are for sale and not “out of print”.

So, the traditional exit provision for an author – the out of print clause – remains in existence in almost all publishing contracts PG has reviewed, but it provides no opportunity for the author to exercise it to get out of a publishing agreement that has not paid more than $5.00 in annual royalties in over ten years.

 

Revenue from E-Book Sales in the United States from 2008 to 2018 (In Billion U.S. Dollars)

21 May 2019

From Statista:

The timeline presents data on e-book sales revenue generated in the United States from 2008 to 2013, as well as a forecast until 2018. The source expects the revenue will grow from 2.31 billion in 2011 to 8.69 billion in 2018.

. . . .

In the United States, the e-books industry has grown tremendously in the past decade, primarily due to a higher supply and demand of e-book devices and applications, but also due to lower prices compared to hard copies, as well as ease of travel and storage. However, forecasts suggest that the number of e-book users in the U.S. is expected to fall from 92.64 million in 2015 to 88.45 million in 2021.

Many e-books are available through American public libraries, which, since 2003, have an increasingly popular e-book lending model of both fiction and non-fiction titles for different audiences.

Link to the rest at Statista

“Over the Rainbow” Composer Seeks Pot of Gold from Apple

20 May 2019

From Forbes:

[T]he son and estate of Broadway composer Harold Arlen [have] filed a lawsuit against Apple and other businesses for selling over 6,000 unauthorized recordings of his music. Described as a “massive music piracy operation,” the lawyers claim that “Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Pandora and their distributors have joined with notorious music pirates to sell and stream thousands of pirated recordings.”

According to the lawsuit, the largest digital music stores and streaming services are now flooded with unauthorized copies of Arlen’s songs that are being sold under different record labels for less than the price of the authorized copies of Arlen’s songs. For example, one online retailer is selling a song from the Jamaica cast album under the record label Soundtrack Classics for $0.99 alongside an authorized copy of the song from the RCA Victor record label for $1.29. The cover art of the Soundtracks Classics version has been doctored to remove RCA Victor’s logo.

“It is hard to imagine that a person walking into Tower Records, off the street, with arms full of CD’s and vinyl records and claiming to be the record label for Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald, could succeed in having that store sell their copies directly next to the same albums released by legendary record labels, Capitol, RCA, and Columbia, and at a lower price,” stated Arlen’s attorneys. “Yet, this exact practice occurs every day in the digital music business where there is unlimited digital shelf space … and a complete willingness by the digital music stores and services to seek popular and iconic recordings from any source, legitimate or not, provided they participate in sharing the proceeds,” they argued.

. . . .

Arlen composed [music for] The Wizard of Oz. Its iconic tune “Over the Rainbow” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1939, and was later named the “Song of the Century.”

Link to the rest at Forbes

Some Are Born Great

20 May 2019

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.

~ Daniel J. Boorstin

Top ‘Live-Streamers’ Get $50,000 an Hour to Play New Videogames Online

20 May 2019

Not exactly to do with books, but a look into another kind of publishing.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The world’s biggest videogame publishers are paying popular gamers tens of thousands of dollars to play their latest releases live over the internet, hoping to break through to buyers in a crowded industry where dominant games like “Fortnite” cast a large shadow.

Electronic Arts Inc., Activision Blizzard Inc.,  UbisoftEntertainment SA and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. are among the publishers making hefty payouts for the real-time broadcasts, or live streams. The amounts vary depending on the popularity of the “streamer,” and could go as high as $50,000 an hour for top celebrity gamers, according to talent and marketing agents.

Take-Two plans to pay streamers to play “Borderlands 3” when the comedic shooter game launches Sept. 13. Ubisoft, an early adopter of the live-streaming strategy, plans to use it again for the Oct. 4 release of its special-ops shooter game “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint.”

“Having celebrity streamers play games is an important part of the business,” Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two’s chief executive, said in an interview. “It is relatively new, but it has to be organic. The streamers have to believe in it.”

. . . .

“If you don’t have live-streaming as part of your marketing spend, you’re doing it wrong,” Mr. Benyamine said.

People last year spent 8.9 billion hours watching videogame content on Amazon.com Inc.’svideo-streaming site Twitch, up from 6.3 billion hours in 2017, according to industry tracker Newzoo BV.

Big-budget videogame launches have become major affairs in the $130 billion industry, akin to the opening weekend of a star-studded Hollywood movie. First-week sales are closely watched, and game companies are looking for ways to stand out—especially as players sink ever more of their time and money into a handful of constantly updated games that don’t really ever end.

. . . .

The exploding popularity of live-streaming and professional gamers such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins gives game companies another marketing lever to pull. Live streams show the pros playing and commenting on games while reacting to text messages posted by viewers in real time. The paid streams are typically labeled as sponsored.

. . . .

Videogame player Karlissa Juri downloaded “Apex Legends” after seeing a streamer play it on Microsoft Corp.’s Mixer, a platform similar to Twitch. She said it doesn’t bother her that some live-streamers are paid to play games, as long as the broadcasts are clearly labeled, something that wasn’t always the case in the past.

“It really sold me watching him,” said the 34-year-old New Yorker, who has since been playing the game daily and spent about $20 for virtual currency for spending on virtual costumes.

Electronic Arts said earlier this month that sales of virtual goods in the game helped the company beat its quarterly profit forecast.

. . . .

Unlike the past, when big publishers reserved the right to edit paid game footage before it aired, a live-streaming audience injects uncertainty and gives publishers less control, Mr. Duchscher said.

Technical glitches could make a poor first impression or a live-streamer could speak off-color—both have happened. There is no guarantee a streamer will be converted into a regular player. And audience interest in watching a game stream can tail off. Last month, people spent 24.7 million hours watching other people play “Apex Legends” on Twitch, down from 122.1 million in February, according to Newzoo.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

Use Expert Sources to Generate Local Book Publicity

20 May 2019

From The Book Designer:

When Champion Products sponsored the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Player of the Year Awards for the NCAA’s five college divisions in the U.S., I was responsible for publicizing the award nominees in their hometown media.

To get the most publicity possible for the authentic athletic wear brand and the athletes, I used what marketers would now call a “hyper-local” approach.

Another publicist probably would have created one press release naming all 25 nominees and sent that announcement to a mass media list. But I knew that with publicity (as with many other things), personalization was the key to success.

I knew I had to make it instantly clear to every hometown media outlet that the press release I sent contained local news for a local audience. To do that, I created a fill-in-the-blanks press release template that I merged with a database containing relevant specifics about each athlete. All I had to do was press a few keys to produce each nominee’s hometown press release.

Because of this customized approach, each nominee (and the subsequent five winners) received the hometown newspaper and TV news attention they deserved.

. . . .

You can use this tactic to generate local market publicity for anyone you quoted or referenced in your nonfiction book, too.

Whether it’s an expert source or a short profile in a sidebar, you can create a press release showcasing that individual’s contribution and send it to their local media outlets.

To get you started, here’s a sample fill-in-the-blanks press release I created for you. Because it’s so generic, you’ll want to make sure your resulting press release for each source reads well and makes sense, but that won’t be hard.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

A Gift from a Stranger Tucked into a Book

20 May 2019

From CNN:

Ashley Jost and her friends had just made a pledge to read more books. A week later, a self-help book caught her eye while shopping at a Target in Columbia, Missouri. The 27-year-old bought the book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing,” and began reading it when she got home. There was a surprise waiting for her inside.

“I was sitting on the couch and the dog started barking at God-knows-what,” Jost told CNN. “I tossed the book down to chase after the dog and five dollars fell out on the floor.”

She knew the cash wasn’t hers because she doesn’t carry any, she said. When the college administrator started thumbing through the pages, she found a neon pink Post-it note stuck inside with a handwritten message.

. . . .

The note read: “I was having a tough day. I thought maybe I could brighten someone else’s with this little surprise. Go buy a coffee, a donut or a face mask. Practice some self-care today. Remember that you are loved. You are amazing. You are strong. Love, Lisa.”

Jost was deeply moved.

“Random acts of kindness typically happen to strangers on the internet, not to me.”

. . . .

She felt obligated to share the note. So she took a picture and posted it on her Twitter account. “It sort of caught fire,” she said.

A few of her friends shared it — and the local paper picked it up.

Even the book’s author, Rachel Hollis, encouraged her followers to pay it forward in their own ways.

. . . .

Jost’s tweet has been liked more than 3,000 times and shared around the world after the BBC got wind of the story. People are pledging their own random acts of kindness — including her.

Once a day for a week, Jost hid surprise love notes and “lots of Starbucks gift cards” totaling five dollars a day in coffee shops, restaurants and libraries. She felt her college town needed a pick-me-up.

“The end of the semester really is a challenging time for everyone — staff, faculty and students.”

Her stepdad bought groceries for the person behind him in line at a Walmart.

“He was shocked the person ran out after him and thanked him. It made his whole day,” said Jost.

Link to the rest at CNN

Deconstructing ‘I Wrote a Thing’

18 May 2019

From Publishers Weekly:

For every essay and article I write, my process is the same. There is contemplation and research, writing and rewriting. Each piece is fact-checked for accuracy and read out loud for rhythm, sent to a first reader or two for critique, and rewritten and polished again before I finally hit “send.”

And when it is done, I paste the link into a tweet and wrestle with the impulse that never goes away—the instinct to announce my work to the world with the words, I wrote a thing.

Spend any amount of time on social media and you will see a lot of I wrote a thing. Men use it, but, according to my entirely nonscientific observations, women use it more, announcing our work in our native tongue, the universal female language of self-deprecation. I wrote a thing employs the funny, ironic, humblebrag shorthand that is common across social media, but it also evokes a familiar posture: that of a woman trying to make herself as small as possible—a woman standing with her head down and her chin tucked against her chest, hands clasped behind her back, and toe twirling in the dirt, saying, “Oh, this little heap of words here? It was nothing. No big deal. Just, you know, a thing! So maybe read it? Or don’t! Whatever!”

Maybe it’s a generational problem, and the kids today don’t struggle with reflexive self-effacement. I suspect that it’s gendered, and I wrote a thing is born of women being told, overtly and implicitly, that our stories do not matter—not the stories we write, which are still not reviewed as frequently or taken as seriously as men’s books, and not the stories we tell, which are still too often met with skepticism and shrugs.

. . . .

It feels strange to announce, plainly, Here is an essay, or, This is my novel, when we’ve been told all our lives not to brag and not to boast—until the six weeks prior to a book’s release, when our publicists beg us to do nothing but brag and boast. It feels unnatural, and if you could peek into any woman writer’s inbox, you’d probably see agonized queries from her peers: “I just got a starred review from PW. Should I tweet it?” or, “I just got a rave in the Times. Is it going to look weird if I put it on my Instagram more than once? How much is too much? Are you sure this is okay?”

Self-promotion feels weird, and risky.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG doesn’t believe that he has ever told any author, “overtly” or “implicitly” that the author’s story doesn’t matter.

Outside of the world of traditional publishing, PG doesn’t believe that he has ever heard or observed anyone else conveying that message to an author.

Various pursuits and occupation require different personal characteristics and aptitudes. Some people who have great natural talent in a field of endeavor don’t have the personal characteristics necessary to rise to the top of that field.

If someone is afraid of flying, regardless of whatever talents they possess, they are not a good candidate to become a pilot.

If someone can’t stand being involved in a contentious situation, they are not a good candidate to practice most types of law.

Ditto for fainting whenever being exposed to blood and the practice of medicine, fear of dogs and animal training, fear of fire and firefighting.

Of course, there are degrees of fear or other personal characteristics and many people are able to overcome their fears or reticence or anxiety and succeed in a field that once seemed impossible to enter.

Perhaps writing about fear or otherwise sharing it is a part of overcoming that fear. PG hopes the author of the OP falls into that category.

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