#AudioBooks #MondayBlogs

 
Soon To Be Available in Audio Format

Yep. You read right. I’m finally done talking about it and taking steps to get my books out on audio. I started with Swamp Ghosts, because local folks have been asking me about this for a long time, so I figure I’d start with the Florida series. I uploaded snippets from the book for auditions, and have been surprised at how many responses I’m getting. Now to pick just the right voice for Maggie, since in this first book of the series, she’s the only character whose point of view is written in first person. The rest are each in third, and will have to settle for Maggie narrating the whole ball of wax.

How many of you have done this? I’d love to hear from those of you who have, so I hope you’ll share your experiences with us. I know of a couple, for sure, so while I’ll be posting about my experiences as things progress, please tell us what yours has been.

My first thought: it was rather surreal, hearing someone I don’t know reading my words. But also, pretty cool! 🙂

36 thoughts on “#AudioBooks #MondayBlogs

    • Thanks, Staci. It really is, although choosing the right “voice” is going to be tricky. My characters talk to me all the time, so I know EXACTLY what they sound like. Matching that will be interesting. 😀

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    • I’m auditioning right now, Kass. The process itself seems pretty straight forward, although picking a snippet or two as an audition script took me a while. But I suspect the hard part will be finding someone who sounds the way I want. So many readers who do southern accents do NOT do central Florida’s softer way of speaking. They sound way more Alabama or Georgia, which would be fine, if that were the setting for my series. I know what I need, and I’d rather have NO accent than an overdone one. So this part is going to be interesting. I’m envisioning a few more posts on this subject as I get deeper into it all. 🙂

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  1. Good idea Marcia – my audiobooks are selling well and have become an important new income stream. It is a challenge to find the right narrator and it can take nine hours to check a whole novel, I also find it strange to hear my characters talking and sometimes the narrators manage to put a different emphasis than I intended!

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    • Hi, Tony. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve heard audio is growing at a very rapid pace, so I think it’s a good marketing tool, for sure. But yes, listening to others read my characters is strange, interesting, and sometimes, just, plain wrong. If I could afford it, I’d narrate them myself, but I have neither time nor money enough to tackle that. (And the energy department is somewhat depleted, too.) I think finding a male voice will be easier, but I’m looking for a woman for Swamp Ghosts, and have had to wade through a LOT of voices that sound way too young. I’m hoping to find a voice with the right tonal quality and go from there.

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    • I’m planning frequent updates, Mary. I’d been putting it off, too, even though I get asked at every event if I have my books available on audio. Doug Little (from the St. Johns River Eco Tours) has been after me for a while, because he always takes a minute during the tours to talk about “the book inspired by them” and he said he is asked about audio availability on every tour. So I decided it was time, and when I found out you can do this with no cash outlay, I jumped right in. I’m using ACX, and they make it very easy to set things up, upload an audition script, and get started on your search for the perfect narrator.

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  2. Good luck, Marcia. I have a few of my books available in audio. It is a very strange experience and sometimes works better than others. I try everything, although in my case I don’t sell much in any format, but you have a loyal following. I’m sure you’ll do well.

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    • AW, I’m sorry your book sales aren’t off the charts, Olga! That’s what I wish for ALL my fellow writers (and me, too!). I’ll confess, I did almost no marketing last year, and my sales results showed it, so I’m going at things a bit differently this year, and they are already picking up again. Even if I don’t sell tons of audio books, I think it’s an option that I should offer readers, and since there’s no upfront expense involved, I think it’s worth the effort. Will keep posting updates on how this goes. Thanks for your well wishes!

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      • And yes, my “tribe” of loyal readers are wonderful. They keep me going, for sure. I just want to expand that group, and do the very best I can to find new readers daily. So by no means was I complaining about last years sales. I just want to improve on that this year by doing a better marketing job.

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    • Using ACX really doesn’t take that long, Deb. You set up your account, make a “file” for the book in question, upload the snippets/scenes you want the narrators to read in their audition, then wait for some of them to audition. Or, at that point, you can start searching through them yourself, using various parameters: gender/language/accent/voice type/etc. If you find someone you really like, you can contact them with a request that they consider auditioning for you, too. So far, I’m enjoying the process, and just waiting for the perfect voice. I already have one that I like a lot, and if she remains my favorite another couple of days, I’ll make her an “offer,” and if she accepts, we’re off and running. I’ve already chatted with her, and she says she loved the script, so it looks like she’d accept, if I decide for sure she’s the one.

      Since you can either pay the narrator’s fee up front, or split the royalties with them, you don’t have to invest a big chunk of $$ in getting it off the ground. The fees listed (Usually in the $100 to $200 range) are for PFH, or Per Finished Hour, so a 10 hour book would be $1,000 to $2,000, if you pay up front. I’m going with splitting the royalties, since I have no idea how many copies I’ll sell, and don’t want to lay out too much up front.

      I’m guessing there maybe be some more complicated things coming up, but so far, I haven’t seen them. It’s straightforward and mostly user-friendly. 🙂

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      • Thanks Marcia, that’s pretty much what I have learned about the process so far, and the royalty-splitting option makes I very attractive, but I’m waiting to hear how smoothly the rest of it goes for you!
        You ARE my guinea pig 😉

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        • Hahaha. Okay, I’ll be your guinea pig. I don’t mind. Because if it works well, and is as easy as it seems to be so far, we can ALL benefit from it. And I’ll gladly share the experience. (Of course, when I get to Scotland, I expect you to come drive me around to see the scenery (of the kilted variety!). 😀 😀 😀 You will have sold so many audio books by then, you’ll be able to afford to take off from work and be my tour guide. Ha!

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  3. Look at you braving new worlds Marsh. That’s something I must get to also. And I see Deb above here is on that with me, lol. I guess we both want to know more about how to do that and I see the answer you gave Deb. Now if you split royalties as payment that doesn’t affect ebook royalties on the non audible versions does it? And when readers purchase, are they given a choice of the reading or audible version. How do we distinguish which book version is paying out royalties to them? How do they take their half of royalties? Sorry for all the questions, inquiring minds like to know, lol. OH, and, just a thought, maybe we should become narrators instead of writers, it might pay better, lol. 🙂

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    • It’s all done through Amazon, Deb. As soon as your Audible book becomes available, it goes right on your Amazon sales page as an option along with your eBook and your print book. Just like working through Createspace. Amazon tracks the sales, the same as they do on the others. And no, it doesn’t have any impact on your other royalties. It’s my understanding that ACX/Amazon pays you your half of the royalties, and pays the narrator theirs. When you choose your narrator, you enter into a contract with them for that one book, and it’s all handled automatically. (If I’m wrong on any of this, I’ll find out soon enough, and will be reporting back here on my experience, step by step.)

      ACX does a pretty good job of laying out how it works on their site. Lots of FAQs and the like. They have over 55,000 narrators to choose from, but there are ways to narrow down your choices, if you want to do an active search for a particular type of voice. OR you can just wait for the auditions to come to you. Your book is listed as soon as you upload everything, and narrators can browse through the listings, looking for titles that they are interested in. But again, if you don’t want to wait for them to find you, you can actively seek out voices you like and message them to find out if they would be interested in your book.

      It seems to be set up in a pretty efficient, user-friendly way, and with lots of details on how it works, both making the recording, and handling the contracts and money distribution. Etc. I spent more time trying to decide which scenes to include in my audition script than I did actually setting it all up. And I spent a couple of hours yesterday searching for the types of voice I want. Other than that, I’m just listening to auditions, very carefully, and taking my time to make a choice.

      One thing I did to speed things up is to compose my “official” request letter that I sent out to narrators I was interested in, and an “official” thank you for reading letter. I can just copy and paste those when I need them, which saves me a lot of time. I want to thank each person who reads for me, because even if I don’t choose them, I might find them to be perfect for another project, and I think it’s a good policy to have a friendly exchange. At this point, the thank you letter says that I’m going through all the auditions I’ve received and will be making a decision soon. And that I’ll let them know either way. (I hate waiting for something and never finding out if it’s already been decided or not.) I have six novels I want to have narrated, and I prefer doing business in a friendly manner. But there are other, less personal, ways to contact narrators, too.

      All in all, it hasn’t been hard so far, and I highly recommend giving it a try. I’ve heard that audio books are the fastest growing market right now, and I think it behooves us to make sure we can offer that to our readers who want it. Just my thoughts. Hope you won’t take as long to give it a try as I have. 😀
      Go here, and do a bit of exploring: http://www.acx.com/ Links at the top will help you find your way around. Hope this helps!! 🙂

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      • Thanks so much for all the info Marsh. I’ve bookmarked the link! I must take the plunge after I finish my latest WIP. So basically if we make 70% royalties on a book, we’ll get 35% on the audio? 🙂

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        • Whatever the percentage of the audio book is your royalty will be split with the narrator. I don’t know that it has anything to do with the percentage of your eBook. I mean, I get 70% royalty on my eBooks, but certainly not that much on my print ones. I honestly (believe it or not) didn’t check on the what the royalty percentage is for an audio book, because I knew I was going to do it, regardless. For my readers. But whatever it is, I’ll get half and the narrator will get half. Unless I pay the narrator up front, in which case, I’ll get the entire royalty, whatever the percentage. Does that make sense? The royalty rate is surely on the site, so you should be able to find it. I just didn’t look. 😯

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  4. Love reading your comments about the process and congrats! I love listening to audio books, I do a lot of driving in the summer (road trips to various locales and one hour each way every weekend to go windsurfing). Thanks for thinking of your readers!

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    • Well, I do like to please my readers, but I confess, there’s an ulterior motive, too. The happier my readers, the more of my books they’ll be likely to buy, and the more people they’ll tell. So it works for me as well as for them. But since I meet a lot of my local readers face to face each month, I do like being able to give them answers that make them happy, and someone always asks if I have audio books. Now I’ll be all smiles when I tell them I do. Or that I will very soon have them, anyway.

      I don’t use them, myself, partly because my hearing is pretty crummy, but also because, I am a reader who loves to stop, go back and reread certain sentences or passages, just for the pleasure I get from beautiful writing. I highlight (on my Kindle, not on my precious print books) lines and thoughts and funny dialogue all the time. I’d miss being able to do that with an audio book. (Oh, look! She doesn’t even have them out yet, and she’s already pointing out the flaws!!! Ack!) Seriously, they are wonderful for those who hear better than I, and who travel a lot, or want to listen while they do housework, or other chores. And so many people do enjoy them that it only makes sense to provide them with the option, right?

      Glad you enjoyed the post and comments, Terri! I can’t wait to be able to announce that Swamp Ghosts is out on audio! 😀

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      • I have to admit that certain books I can’t “hear” due to technical or sci-fi jargon, or fantasy names, etc. I use closed captions when watching TV because my hearing isn’t great, but most fiction I can easily listen to while driving! You are very inspiring Marcia 🙂

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        • I’ve used closed captioning a long time, Terri, and it’s so frustrating, because it’s often so WRONG. Arrgghh. But about 3 months ago, I finally was able to get hearing aids, and they’ve made an enormous (and wonderful) difference in my life. I still miss things, though, even listening to these auditions. (And I know exactly what they’re reading, too.) So I doubt I’ll ever make a good audio customer, but still, there are plenty of others who buy audio all the time, and I want them to have that option with my books, too.

          Thanks so much for your kind words. Do you mind if I print them out for my husband? Next time he’s grumbling about how I never have time to cook a proper dinner anymore, I can wave your testimonial at him! Being inspirational keeps me busy, after all. Hahahaha.

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            • I have read that we are having an epidemic of severe hearing loss at very early ages, much of which is due to so many devices being plugged into our ears, and causing damage. And the thing that made me decide I had to do something, whether I could really afford it or not, was learning that hearing loss is considered one of the causes of dementia. 😯 It is definitely connected to things like memory loss, and depression. I have noticed a HUGE difference now that I can hear pretty well again.

              As for the captions, I find myself thinking, “Wait a minute. I know I can’t hear perfectly, but I heard well enough to know that isn’t right!” It’s voice detection software of some sort, and it falls short all the time. Now with movies, and the like, where there’s a script being followed, it’s great. But it’s pretty darn garbled on anything live. *sigh*

              Good luck, whatever you decide to do. I knew I’d made the right choice when I walked outside the first day and heard my wind chimes for the first time EVER. I cried! And I can hear all the birds again. And my grandson! 🙂

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