Friday, April 22, 2016

Experiences Producing My First Audiobook

For some time now, I've been hearing about the many benefits of creating audio versions of one's books: a chance at greater revenues, reaching a wider audience, etc. Up until now I've avoided doing so - basically because it meant having to learn an entirely new area of indie book-publishing. (What can I say? It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.)

Nevertheless, as I was finishing up the most recent novel in my Kid Sensation series, it occurred to me that I really needed to be pursuing all of my publishing options, including audiobooks.  With that in mind, I set about learning as much as I could about the subject (and believe me, there's a lot to learn).

The 800-pound gorilla in audiobooks appears to be Audio Creation Exchange (ACX), which sells audiobooks on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible and - big surprise - turns out to be owned by Amazon. ACX has done a great job of streamlining the process of publishing audiobooks, creating a platform that connects authors and narrators/producers and allowing them to collaborate quickly, easily and effectively. Still, the process can almost be overwhelming.  

For starters, you have to claim your book and acknowledge that you have the audio rights to it, which is easy enough. Next, you create a title profile describing your book, and also provide a couple of pages to serve as an audition script for potential narrators.  You also have to state how you plan to pay your narrator.  For instance, you can choose to split royalties from the audiobook sales 50/50 with the narrator, or pay them outright and keep all royalties for yourself.  Needless to say, most narrators prefer to be paid upfront.  However, the price of an audiobook per finished hour (pfh) can be upwards of $400 or more. Thus, a 6-hour audiobook could easily run you $2400 if you're paying.  (Of course, some narrators charge as little as $50 pfh or less, so the price of producing one audiobook versus another can vary greatly.)

Describing your book for the title profile is a lot like crafting a blurb. You want something that's going to attract narrators to your project, entice them to work with you.  If everything goes as planned, after you finish the title profile, narrators will start submitting auditions for you to listen to.

I left my title profile up for a week, during which time I received over 50 auditions. 50!!!  (This is where the process truly becomes daunting.)  That was far more than I ever expected to receive; I had been hoping to get 15-20.  It was an embarrassment of riches, to be honest, because almost all of the submissions were quite good. (Yes, I listened to them all.)  At the end of the day, however, I selected a narrator that I thought was right for the project, we negotiated a fair price (I offered to pay upfront), and he went to work.  

Within a few weeks he had completed the project. I then had to listen to the audio files while reading along with the book to make sure everything was okay. Once I was satisfied, I approved the audiobook and it was submitted to ACX quality control. It took them about a week approve the audiobook for (which I'm told is rather fast compared to how long it traditionally takes). And now - voila!  The audiobook of Sensation is available! 

It only went on sale today and no one's purchased a copy yet (you can be the first!), but I'm really happy I took the plunge. I've had a couple of people ask me previously - several this week, in fact -  if/when I was going to release my works as audiobooks. I'm happy to now to be able to comply with that request, and I'm looking forward to turning all my books into audiobooks.

Update on Coronation:  I'm blessed in that the latest Kid Sensation novel had a spectacular debut, as evidenced by the following:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Superhero
#1 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Superheroes
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Metaphysical & Visionary

Thanks to all my readers for your incredible support!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Book Release: Coronation (Kid Sensation #5)

It is with great pleasure that I announce that Coronation (Kid Sensation #5) is now available!  It took a little longer than expected in terms of getting it ready, but I will say that Amazon appears to have made the book available in record time. (Seems like it was up within 2 hours or so of me hitting the "publish" button.)

I've never had a book published that swiftly.  Honestly, I didn't expect the book to be up that fast, so they kind of caught me unawares in terms of my marketing. (I was still putting together the message for my mail list, among other things.) 

I'm thinking maybe there's an automated process on weekends - as opposed to human reviewers - so it got published a lot faster.  (Hmmm.  Making a mental note to only publish on weekends in the future...)

Regardless, I'm extremely happy with the speed of the process, as I know that readers have been eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.  I had a lot of fun writing it, so I hope fans will get just as much enjoyment from reading it.

Anyway, no rest for the weary, as they say. On to writing the next book!  (And the next, and the next, and the next...)  My thanks to all my readers for your support.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Author Earnings Sales Rank Chart

At this juncture, most indie authors know about the Author Earnings Report - the brainchild of indie authors Hugh Howey and Data Guy. The reports dive deep into the issue of (drumroll please) earnings, and does an excellent job of presenting information on that subject. 

In the February 2016 edition, the downloadable spreadsheets - containing the raw data on which the report was based - appear at the bottom of the report itself. That data contained the following sales rank chart (which I have since incorporated into my Kindle Sales Rank page):

Now, suppose that you, as an author, wanted your book to break into the Top 100 on Amazon. Per the chart above, you'd need to notch 994 sales in a single day (almost 1000 books!) to achieve that. Maintaining said ranking would appear to be much easier, as you'd only need 497 (just under 500) sales per day to keep that spot. 

In short, it appears that selling a particular number of books will help you obtain a certain ranking (say, 1900 to reach #35), but thereafter you only need to sell half that number (950 in our example) in order to stay in that position. (Not that selling 950 books is easy by any stretch of the imagination.) All in all, I think this is a fascinating chart that - if nothing else - gives you something to shoot for. (And my personal philosophy in this situation is that you should aim high...)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Coronation Cover Reveal

I was tempted to post another excerpt from Coronation, but figured that fans might want a different version of a sneak peek.  So, with that in mind, I decided to go ahead and do a cover reveal:

As usual, this cover was done by Isikol (who, in my opinion, has once again done a,great job).  

With respect to publication, I'm still shooting to get it done as soon as possible - hopefully around mid-April.  At the moment, though, I'm struggling to get met my test copy of the print version to load properly. However, I think I've finally figured out what the problem is, so hopefully that will go off without a hitch.

Anyway, I'm excited about this next installment in the series, and I hope readers are looking forward to it as well.

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