ACX and Kobo

Audio Books on ACX with Terry Odell and Neil Plakcy and moderated by Julie Compton

ACX Panel with Terry Odell and Neil Plackcy

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Note: Terry has many of the steps for creating an audiobook on her blog at Terry’s Place

Nowhere to Hide, an audiobook romantic suspense by Terry Odell

Why Audio?

Sales of audio books are growing in double digits. There’s extra money involved. You can reach another audience. And it’s not hard to do.

Why ACX?

ACX stands for the Audiobook Creation Exchange. It’s owned by Amazon, and it connects narrators, producers, authors, and the marketplace. It’s not hard to learn and has good customer service. They have a lot of narrators, and you don’t need a cash outlay. http://www.acx.com/

Getting Started

Enter your book in the blank box to find it on Amazon, who will fill in the description. Categorize your book. You’ll be presented with three choices. You have an audio book and you want to sell it. You wish to narrate your own story. Or you want to hire a narrator. For a producer, keep in mind the quality of equipment and if they fix glitches.

How do you pick a narrator?

Gender: Male, female, or either
Age: Child, Tween, Teen, YA, Adult, Middle Aged, or Elderly
Language: English, French, German, Spanish
Accents: Choose from a list
Narrative styles: Upbeat, sexy, frightened, etc. This should reflect the tone of the book.

Pitch your book

Market to the producer by mentioning your mailing list numbers, awards, reviews, and other accolades.

Let the narrator know what type of book it is (i.e. humorous mystery) and what types of characters are involved including special accents (i.e. Yiddish words or Spanish phrases).

The sample script is 5000 characters limit, but it does not have to be consecutive text.

Ask the narrator what kind of promotion they’ll do for your book.

Can you tell the difference with this narrator between the character speaking and thinking?

How about dialogue with “he said” and “she said?” If there are two female characters, can you tell which one is speaking? Are puns pronounced correctly?

Royalties

You can pay the narrator up front and keep all the royalties, or do a 40% split. If you do the split royalties, the audiobook will be sold on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes only. But there’s no cash outlay and the narrator is more likely to help in the marketing. That is, if you can find a narrator willing to invest their time in your project. Paying up front is more expensive, but you can sell your audio elsewhere and you have control over it.

Stipends

ACX may pay narrators a stipend to do your narration. This attracts more narrators, but you have to sell yourself when applying for this option. So consider the application form a “pitch” session and mention your readership and marketing basis.

Covers

These must be 2400 x 2400 square. You cannot resize your ebook, so ask your cover designer to provide a cover in this size.

What's in a Name by Terry Odell

Full Narration

Don’t have the narrator read your front or back material. They’ll upload the first 15 minutes to your dashboard for you to check the pacing, accuracy, etc. Have them upload chapters as they go so you can listen to the file. You may want to tell them to drop the “he said” or “she said” if they feel it isn’t necessary.

If you want a copy on CD, consider that the book takes about 10 hours or so to narrate, and so you’ll need a number of CDs for one work.

The file comes as a download. People listen to it on their mobile devices or on their cell phone.

Reviews

Reviews will show up on the audiobook’s Amazon page.

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Kobo Writing Life with Christine Munroe and moderated by Christine Kling

Kobo SleuthFest

Kobo has a blog, podcast, and social media sites. Check out Kobo Writing Life . They have a bestseller list on the blog with 30 titles. Kobo also has author collectives like the “Jewel” historical romances. They have a daily deal on the main page which may include boxed sets. Kobo Next is indie picks for new releases. You can also ask to be included in the First Free in Series.

If a book is to $2.99 here, then it’s $2.88 in Canada/Europe. Books priced at $1.99 are doing poorly. Customers like $.99 or $2.99. You can raise the price for full-length books up to $8.99.

You should link to Kobo on your website and other places online. Marketing opportunities include Book Bub, Story Finds, and Indie Bound.

For metadata, you’ll want to add the imprint or publisher name and the series title.

Indie bookstores earn a percentage of sales selling Kobo e-book readers and titles.

 

Krazy for Kindle

I have hopped on the Kindle train, become Kindle-ized, joined the Kindle generation. In simpler terms, I got my first Kindle as an advance birthday gift (the big day is Thanksgiving if you’d like to send me a card).

Kindle

It’s the 3G Kindle model for $189. I got a thrill opening the box and finally holding the e-reader device in my eager hands. It came with a little booklet of instructions and a charging cable. The initial charge took an hour or so, then it was ready to go. I turned it on and followed the directions on registering my account. Then I read the manual on the Kindle itself. It also comes with embedded dictionaries. Instructions are easy and clear. My fingers had to get used to texting on the little buttons but the controls are quick to learn. I like the simple page turn button and the almost instantaneous speed with which it turns pages.

Then I emailed myself, at the address they specified, a pdf file I’d been saving on my computer of a romance novel. Oops, I’d sent it to my regular Kindle email account and got charged 30 cents. Now I read that you’re supposed to email the file as an attachment to your account name at free.kindle.com and put “convert” in the subject line. It’ll convert the file for free into Kindle formatting and download it to your device. I did this with a copy of Silver Serenade, my latest sci fi romance. Voila! It showed up on my Kindle!

I connected the Kindle to my home wireless network and activated my Twitter account. Now I’m ready to buy the list of books I’ve been accumulating on my Wish List. I’ll still read regular print books around the house, but I can’t wait to take my Kindle on a cruise.

The hunt is on again, this time for a cover. Fabric, leather, or canvas? Zippered or slip-in? Light or no light? Since I can read in bed at home with the lamp on, I don’t see the need for a reading light. And I’ll want a case that’s as lightweight as possible that fits in my purse. One reason why I never used my PDA was because the metal case made it too heavy. I’ll need to be able to stick this e-reader in my bag without weighing down my shoulder. The cases at Target are $29.99 and up. Cheaper ones exist online, but do I want to waste my time hunting one down? Oy, more choices.

THE E-BOOK CRAZE

The rise of the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and the iPhone have fueled a revolution in publishing. More and more readers want to download their books in electronic formats. This brings up several issues for writers. First is the fear that ebooks will replace print books, and brick-and-mortar stores will become a thing of the past. How many people buy music CDs these days? Even libraries are involved in digital lending. About 5400 public libraries today offer e-books and digitally downloaded audio books. NetLibrary, a provider of e-books to libraries, has seen circulation rise 21% this year. I’m not saying books will disappear altogether; they’ll just change format. This affects income for writers since ebooks may sell at a lower price point than print editions. It involves issues of piracy as well as reversion of rights clauses.

E-rights are very important in publishing contracts these days, even for traditionally published authors. Many regular publishers are jumping on the bandwagon and putting out electronic versions of their print published works. Then there are ebook only publishers. Harlequin started Carina Press, a purely e-book venture. Those of us in the writing community have known about Samhain, The Wild Rose Press, Loose ID, and many other ebook pubs, for several years. But herein lies another problem: publisher recognition.

According to the standards of professional writing organizations, some of these publishers do not meet their criteria and are therefore not approved, meaning their authors are not eligible for published author status. This has been a growing point of contention among authors and a thorny issue. The well known ebook pubs have a selective policy and editors scour through manuscripts just like a traditional pub. Editing services are included so an author goes through a similar process as for a print pub. But certain qualifications demanded by professional organizations render these authors little better than self-pubs in status. For example, one writing org requires for recognition that a publisher pays an advance of at least $1000. This lets out many of the ebook pubs who offer no advance, just a royalty rate. Others may offer a small token advance . Some e-book publishers will offer the book as a POD (print-on-demand) as well, either simultaneously with electronic publication or later after certain sales quotas are met. But the profession organizations also demand that an approved publisher must have a print run and distribution of 1000 copies or more of each title they produce. This model doesn’t work for POD presses. How this will play out in the industry remains to be seen. Eventually, the professional writing organizations may have to rethink their definitions of acceptable publishers in lieu of the e-book explosion.

Royalty rates are another problem. For books that don’t have to be printed and stockpiled in warehouses, authors should be able to earn a higher royalty rate. For this reason, authors should carefully compare ebook publishing houses and e-rights clauses to know their options.

Some of these books may appear on bookstore shelves, but for the most part, readers have to order them online. Writers have to step up their Internet promotion and learn how to deal with booksellers who won’t work with ebooks or POD. But one thing is sure: writers who want to get their work in front of as many readers as possible will want their novel available in as a downloadable ebook.

Read more about this topic here:

E-Reads

Libraries article

NY Times articles

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