Friday, September 19, 2014

Pat's Convention Note #16 of 100 things I learned from attending SIX LITERARY CONFERENCES in 2014

#16. Audio books, books on tape. Audible, ACX.
It seems like I couldn’t escape this topic from three of the conferences I attended: RWA, Penned Con and RT Booklovers Convention. Folks are calling audio books the new black, which is the latest trend that is helping indie authors earn, I’m told 5 times more $$ than eBooks. One author said her audio sales made up 25% of her monthly income. Plus, ACX has a bounty program, which basically pays a $50 bonus per new readers who sign up for ACX club membership as a result of wanting to download your book.  If you sign exclusively with ACX, which distributes to Amazon and iTunes, your monthly royalty is 40%. Otherwise, your royalty would be 25% to sell it elsewhere.

Here are some notes from RWA. Self-publishing authors are using ACX and Audicle.com ( I think thery are the same thing). The current stats show listeners are downloading 18 audio books a year. KDP has a program called Whispersync for Voice-ready, which means if your eBook is also an audio book, readers can seamlessly switch between eReader and audio books without skipping a beat, page or chapter to finish your novel. Neat!

According to authors on the panel, you don’t want anybody narrating your masterpiece. As a matter of fact, most voice-over talents are particular about the projects they take on. If you aren’t selling well on Amazon, the narrator may not want to invest the time in a project that “isn’t going anywhere”. They also want to advance their careers. You also are not limited to the pool on ACX. You can reach out to actors and ask to hear their audition tape. If they aren’t on ACX, they can apply. You create a profile, which will include an excerpt of what you want them to read. For a sample audition script, one author suggested picking a conversation between a man and woman, a critical scene and listen how the narrator differentiates the characters. Make sure the narrator has the personality of your characters, is a storyteller and can pronoun the names correctly, even your name.
You can do a 50/50 split with the narrator (from everyone I’ve spoken with this isn’t recommended), but you wouldn’t be out of any $$, but it supposedly limits your chances of finding somewhere to audition. If you’re willing to pay the flat fee—a lot of authors go this route at first, you might get more bites. There was mention of Audible paying an additional $400 pre-finished hour for the 50/50 option—but you better check on the details. Narrators will line up to record your story based on YOUR ratings on Amazon—I noticed it was based on your print rankings, not eBook.

Okay, so how much $$ are we talking about per finished hour (90,000 word novel takes about 10 hours). Typical hourly rate is based on 9300 words to one finished hour. You determine how much you are willing to play. It could vary from $100-$300, especially if you use union actors. Lastly, there was discussion of how to market them. One author had a website page that listed her audio books page with sound clips. She said that helped sales, because it gave people an opportunity to test and sample the audiobooks. Oh yeah, you can also run a contest where you could give-away 25 free download with a code, and the best part is you still get paid royalty on that.
So, I decided to test the market and I went on ACX.com, and did the whole profile thing. I picked a novella, which had shorter word count. I offered to pay $100-$200 an hour and picked an excerpt with three people in the scene. I offered $100 to $200 an hour to see if I would get any bites. The profile calculated it would take the narrator (they call it producer), 3.5 hours to finish THE KEEPSAKE (34,000 novella)
Within an hour, I got my first audition. I hope I get more to compare, especially from a woman. As soon as I can figure how to upload the audition to this blog, I will. I hope this post has been a blessing. Feel free to share.
Pat