Publishing’s Paradigm Shift – Effects on Publishers

Perhaps most anxious about all the brouhaha over e-books have been the publishers. Traditional publishers are worried, perhaps even afraid of all the change, while self-publishing companies (including POD, or print on demand companies) have visions of greater revenues. In any case, I see the main effects as follows:

  • The more adaptable traditional publishers will survive and even thrive after a few bumps in the road
  • There will be more specialized publishers aimed at niches
  • There will be more and more self-publishing
  • Cost of entry for future publishers will be minimal
  • Among the big publishing houses, there will be a devolution from complex, centralized management to semi-autonomous editorial units
  • 50% digital royalty rate may be inevitable
  • Despite all the change, the greatest value of traditional publishing will remain–the editorial process–ensuring their survival

In the latest self-publishing development, Barnes & Noble has now launched their own digital self-publishing platform called PubIt to compete with Amazon’s Create Space. (They’re also coming out with a color Nook to try and take down Amazon’s Kindle and compete more evenly with the iPad.)

As an example of the devolution that is beginning in traditional publishing, in early 2011 Simon & Schuster will reorganize into “small teams of editors, publicists, and marketing specialists.”

According to their new head, Jonathan Karp, each team, comprised of 2 editors, 2 publicists, and a marketing specialist, “will propose, develop, and execute their own publicity and marketing plans, from the moment of acquisition through paperback publication…”

“The chief objective is to create the publishing environment most conducive to focused concentration on our authors,” he continued. “Those who are present at the creation are more likely to bring a greater depth of understanding and experience to the publication of these books. Our authors will benefit from having a dedicated team working on their behalf early in the process.”

Such a development can only be good for writers, who, at times, have had to kowtow to unknowns in the large marketing or sales departments in order to get their books even approved, however lauded their work may be by the editors.

These were the main effects I could forecast from all I’ve read. If you foresee any others, please comment.

My next post will deal with the effects on agents.

Originally posted 2010-10-25 14:01:50.

Publishing’s Paradigm Shift – e-Books and e-Readers

Electronic readers, or eReaders, have been around for a while. I remember visiting a good friend six or seven years ago, whose husband was an avid fan. He pulled out two or three different kinds to show me. While I wasn’t that impressed at the time, he wisely predicted the day would soon come that the right platform and right device would eventually come along and tear down the wall that major publishing houses had built around themselves and all their readers.

Enter Amazon (the most popular platform of choice at present) and the Kindle. Soon after the Kindle, we got Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the Sony eReader, and then Apple’s iPad. Here are some statistics I shared at the retreat:

  • There are currently 49 different E-reading devices, including:
  1. –Kindle (Amazon)
  2. –iPad (Apple)
  3. –Nook (Barnes & Noble)
  4. –Kobo (Kobo Books)
  5. –Sony Reader (Sony)
  6. –? (Google)
  • Retailers will sell 6.6 million e-readers this year (3 million iPads have already been sold)
  • By year’s end, 20% of households will have an e-reader.

I put a question mark at #6 above, because a lot of rumors are flying around about Google coming out soon with its own device to hook up with its platform, Google Editions. A recent LA Times article by Carolyn Kellogg played up this point:

“…Google announced it would move forward with its e-bookstore Google Editions, filling it with books whose rights were not under dispute…As if Google Editions weren’t enough, Google has another big question mark looming this season: Will it launch an e-reader? It is well positioned to rival Amazon.com and Apple as a major purveyor of e-books—and if it follows their leads, it will pair content with device and launch its own e-reader. The most recent rumors say that Google will launch a tablet manufactured either by HTC or Motorola, based on either Chrome or Android. Everyone seems to agree that Verizon is the likely wireless partner.” (Carolyn Kellogg, “Fall Preview: Publishing,” LA Times, Sept. 12, 2010)

My friend’s husband was right. Now that we’re coming out with the right platforms and devices, electronic books are here to stay.

At first, regular readers weren’t so sure. The Kindle was priced kind of high when it first came out, but as others joined in the competition, prices began to drop. Here are some more statistics I shared about eReaders:

  • 10 average priced e-books will offset $139 cost of Kindle
  • 12 average priced e-books will offset $149 cost of Nook
  • 39 average priced e-books will offset $499 cost of iPad (which is a good bit more than just an e-reader)
  • $99 can buy you the 5-inch Libre at Borders

Do you have an e-reader? I do, through my iPhone (which has a Kindle app). And we’re not alone. It’s estimated that, by the end of this year, 10.3 million U.S. homes will have an e-reader, according to Forrester Research. Not only that, but book sales are increasing because e-reader owners buy more books. E-reader owners buy an average of 15 e-books per year (and two thirds of e-readers already owned are Kindles). According to a recently released Harris poll, those who have e-Readers do, in fact, read more.

Here’s how it breaks down: Forty percent of Americans read 11+ books a year. Of those, only nineteen percent read 21+ books a year. But among those with e-Readers, 56% read 11-20 books a year with 26% reading over 21 books a year. E-reader users are also more likely to buy books (good news for us authors). And 53% of those with e-Readers say they read more now than they did six months ago. (I know I do.)

So, how are e-books doing over all?

Sales of e-books are up 200% from last year, but still only represent 3-5% of total sales for publishers (I think this statistic has probably changed over the last month). Mike Shatzkin, a publishing consultant, estimates e-books could be 20% to 25% of total unit sales by the end of 2012. Carolyn Reidy, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster, said in an interview that e-books currently made up about 8% of the company’s book revenue. She predicted that it could be as high as 40% within three to five years. Others are predicting it could go even higher–50%–by 2013.

Are e-books a good thing for us, as authors? Definitely. I tend to agree with literary agent Alexandra Machinist:

“At the moment, anything that gets readers to buy more books is a good deal for writers. I’m of the opinion that e-books provide a vast landscape of impulse purchasing and middle-of-the-night, next-in-series buys that don’t exist with traditional paper books.”

Can we make money by making our books available electronically? Definitely, but the amount we make depends on how big our audience, or platform, is.

The late Swedish writer Stieg Larsson was the first writer to sell more than 1 million Kindle books. But his books kind of caught fire and he developed a huge fan base quickly.

Can your e-book outsell your traditionally published book? Yes, given the right buzz.

In its first five days, Laura Lippman’s thriller, “I’d Know You Anywhere,” sold 4,739 e-books and 4,000 physical hardcovers. “This is the first book of ours of any consequence that has sold more e-books than hardcovers in the first week,” said Frank Albanese, a senior vice president at HarperCollins. “What we’re seeing now is that if a book gets a good review, it gets a faster lift on the digital side than it does on the physical side because people who have e-readers can buy and read it immediately.”

Every serious writer today should definitely become familiar with digital publishing. We can’t afford not to.

In my next posting, I’ll be talking about the effects of this shift on Publishers.

Originally posted 2010-10-22 11:36:13.

Publishing’s Paradigm Shift-An Introduction

(Over the next several days, I’m going to share a presentation here on my website that I gave at a recent writers retreat on changes the publishing industry is currently experiencing. I am no expert. Far from it. However, I have done a lot of reading and researching and have pulled together a lot of information useful to writers as we look into the future of a business very much in flux.)

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, in which he popularized the concept of “paradigm shift.”

What is a paradigm shift? Kuhn described it as a “series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions,” wherein “one conceptual world view is replaced by another.” It’s usually driven by agents of change. Think of the advent of Agriculture (the plow), the Copernican system (telescope), Newtonian physics (discovery of the law of gravity), the Reformation and Education (printing press)Then think of all that has come into being since the advent of the Internet.

In our own generation, we have witnessed (or are witnessing) three big paradigm shifts in terms of the arts–first with movies, then with records, and now with books.

Hollywood started out with big movie studios like Warner Brothers and Metro Goldwyn Mayer, many of which have devolved into many smaller independent producers, but the really big change for the industry came with TV. At first, they worried that television would mean the end of the movies, but the studios got smart and aligned themselves with TV and cable networks so that, by the time everything went digital, they were still in control, reaping the benefits of TV and producing feature films as well as DVDs of those films. Producers and studios are still in control, but the more movie-making becomes computerized and digitized, the closer movie makers will come to dealing directly with their fans through the Web and bypassing studios altogether. Think YouTube and beyond. Video stores are already no longer necessary. The movie business is undergoing a paradigm shift.

In the recording industry, for years we had records, and artists needed to be signed with major recording labels to get published, so to speak. The cassette tape only provided another way to package those recordings, but the real change came as music became digitized and Napster and then Apple (think iPod and iTunes) made it possible for artists to bypass the big record labels once they had their audience, marketing directly to their fans. There are no more record stores. The music industry has experienced a paradigm shift.

As with film and music, books are being similarly affected. The distance between the creator (i.e., the author) and his/her audience is shrinking through digitization. Bookstores are closing across the country. The publishing industry is undergoing a paradigm shift as we speak and all aspects of the business are being affected.

As Jason Epstein put it in a March 11, 2010 article entitled, “Publishing: The Revolutionary Future,”

“The transition within the book publishing industry from physical inventory stored in a warehouse and trucked to retailers to digital files stored in cyberspace and delivered almost anywhere on earth as quickly and cheaply as e-mail is now underway and irreversible. This historic shift will radically transform worldwide book publishing, the cultures it affects and on which it depends.”

Everyone who reads will be affected, but those whose jobs are most on the line are:

  • Publishers (both traditional and non-traditional) and their employees
  • Agents
  • Booksellers (independents, chains, and online) and their employees
  • Authors (both traditionally published and self-published)

What has proved to be the agent of change for publishing? I would argue that while Amazon.com has been to publishing what TV was to the movies, the real agent of change is the e-book.

More about the e-book and e-readers in my next posting.

Originally posted 2010-10-20 11:16:06.

I’m no Sally Field, but…

I don’t know how many of you were even watching the Oscars back in 1984 when Sally Field, upon winning her second statuette, couldn’t help herself and blurted out “…you like me, right now you like me…”

It was a moment that either touched you or made you squirm, depending on your reading of 1) her sincerity or 2) her “uncoolness.” I mean, it’s not cool to draw attention to yourself, is it?

But that’s what we’re asked to do today as authors. Writers (with the exceptions of Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal) are usually shy, retiring types, content to hide behind the written word. (I know I am, anyway.) They want their writing to be discovered, not themselves. But these days we have to get out there and meet and greet people, introduce ourselves online, in bookstores, libraries, even at the local Costco or Walmart.

We can no longer hide behind our characters or make do with an interview here or there. We have to share our souls, as well as our faces, on our websites, blogs, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, our Amazon Author Page, you name it. It seems as if ten new online sites spring up every week, trying to convince you that if you don’t register with them, you’ll be left behind in cyberspace.

And after going through the initiation into Google Friend Connect, may I just say that now I fully understand the sentiment Ms. Field tried to convey years ago. Thank you to all those who joined my site.

I tried to look up Google Friend Connect etiquette, wondering if I was supposed to respond individually to each of you whose faces now share that little box with mine. I couldn’t find anything about it. (However, I did come across a goldmine of a post regarding the etiquette of socializing on Twitter…Heard of socialoomph.com? More about that tomorrow.)

So, if I’ve messed up somehow by not separately contacting each of you, please let me know (email would be a lot less humiliating than a comment below) and I will. But, for now, thank you all. Everybody wants to have friends, to be liked. Sally Field understood that. And I do, too.

Originally posted 2010-05-18 14:57:28.

“Wednesday Writer” – M. Ann Rohrer

I met Ann a little over a month ago, thanks to a friend of mine, and now she’s a member of our local ANWA Chapter, the Columbia River Writers. I wasn’t surprised to find out she belongs to a few other writing groups, as well. And I have Ann to thank for passing along the invitation to take part in the recent Barnes & Noble Pacific Northwest Authors Event. While she has only published one book so far, I expect to see a lot more from her. Once you’ve read about her background, I think you’ll understand why.

ann-rohrer-author-_mattieME:  I heard some stories from the Pratt brothers in my BYU student ward back in the 70s about growing up in Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, but my memory’s poor. Please describe what it was like for you growing up there and include a picture or two. Also, what took your family there?

ANN:  Think southern Utah about sixty years ago; farming community, wide roads, redbrick homes with tin roofs on an acre or two; add tall cottonwood trees and Maples lining the streets. That is Colonia Juárez. Until relatively recently, most of the roads weren’t paved. One or two still aren’t, like the one that passes the family homestead where my mother now lives. I was born in the front room—the big window on the ground floor.

Colonia Juárez house(Interesting. That is not at all how I pictured it.)

My great grandparents were among the many families who came from Utah about 1886, to colonize and farm the land purchased by the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) from the Mexican government. My parents left the Colonies around 1950 and didn’t move back until 1980. But, we spent many summers visiting. My grandparents’ house was built in 1920 and didn’t have an indoor bathroom until the 60’s. We knew about outhouses and chamber pots. Haha.

Hated them.

(Can’t blame you.)

Summers in Colonia Juárez meant horseback riding, sneaking green apples from grandpa’s orchard, and proving our courage on the swinging bridge—a footbridge made of rickety planks held together with cables that would sway with every step. The crazy kids would jump up and down causing the bridge to undulate, scaring the living daylights out of us more cautious types.

Electricity was not consistent, and many a night we depended on coal oil lamps for light. Grandma cooked from a wood-burning stove and we did our wash once a week with a wringer washer (Believe it or not, I remember those! My grandma had one. That’s how old I am) and a big steel tub over a fire for the white clothes. I even remember weekly baths in the kitchen in one of those steel tubs. We all took turns. First one to bathe got the clean water. And it was never me.

(Hmm…too slow or didn’t you like baths?)

Colonia Juárez View

I thank Jeff Romney for permission to use this recent picture of Colonia Juárez. Central, in the background, is a Mormon temple, and bottom left in the foreground is a Catholic church. The building on the far right is the Juarez Stake Academy where students have attended high school since 1897. It is a private school owned by the LDS church with a dual-language program open to everyone for the price of tuition. My sophomore year was at the JSA. My parents lived in Peru, South America by that time, and their employer did not provide education after the ninth grade.

ME:  Why, when you were nine, did your family then move to Peru, and how did your years in Mexico compare to your ten years in Peru? Also, how have each of these places affected your writing? (And I must have a picture or two from your years in Peru, preferably one of them showing your whole family.)

ANN:  By the time I was five, my parents lived in Bisbee, Arizona. Dad worked for Phelps Dodge Copper Mine. About 1952 PD joined with other mines to form Southern Peru Copper Corporation. My father spoke Spanish and was hired in 1956 to help open the mine in Peru eventually becoming Drilling and Blasting foreman for SPCC. The picture below was taken about 1965. I’ll spare you the myriad of pictures of blasts that made it so deep. Dad was proud of his work.

Southern Peru Copper(Southern Peru Copper Corporation site)

Toquepala is a community carved out of the western slopes of central Andes Mountains for SPCC employees.

Toquepala

(You can make out the village in the lower left hand corner)

We lived at 9000 feet, the mine was at 11,000 feet, and the reservoir, where we liked to picnic, was at 12,000-14,000 feet, at the foot of the snowcaps. We could be at sea level in less than two hours. One learned to pop their ears or suffer the pain. Annual rainfall was about ½ inch. The mountainous desert was as barren as a sand dune. Close to the equator, Toquepala daytime temperatures never exceeded 75and nighttime temperatures rarely dropped to freezing.

Naturally, life’s experiences surface in my writing. Anyone reading my books will learn about green apples, weekly baths in steel tubs, wringer washers, the terror of earthquakes, and the expansive beauty and terrible force of the unforgiving Pacific.

Ann with family(Ann, front and center, with her family)

ME:  I’m curious about the reason you returned to Mexico for your sophomore year and why you didn’t stay there to finish high school rather than go back to Peru (where you earned the rest of your high school degree by correspondence).

ANN:  After ninth grade, there were three options:  boarding school in Lima 600 miles away, return home to live with relatives, or correspondence.  My parents chose to send me to Mexico to live with my Dad’s brother and his wife—wonderful people with a large family, who had a daughter my age. I was fifteen—too young, and terribly homesick. Returning to Peru for the summer, I decided to stay, choosing option three to continue my education. Through correspondence, I finished my junior and senior year in twelve months and enrolled at Brigham Young University at age seventeen. . .just.

(Good for you!)

ME:  Have you always wanted to be a writer and, if so, what was the first creative piece that convinced you that you could succeed as a writer? Please share what you remember about it.

ANN:  Haha. You should ask. It’s not glamorous, nor impressive. My mother loved my letters and told me I should be a writer. (Yay for mothers!) She said it often enough, it became a recording in my brain, and when my last child entered high school, I signed up for a creative writing class.

Over a period of fifteen years, I wrote two novels—the first one about eight times. I didn’t know if I was any good; I only knew that writing was my passion second only to chocolate and caramel. Finally, I braved a critique group about four years ago. The others were published authors who validated me as a writer. You would have thought I had won the lottery—or landed a publishing contract—I was that excited. Haha.

(We do have a responsibility, I believe, to validate each other as writers. Yay for critique groups and mothers!)

ME:  What were your earliest memories of Tucson, Arizona where your family ended up in 1965? Whether you remained there for college or went elsewhere, I’m curious if and how much you were affected by culture shock and what you ended up focusing on in college.

ANN:  I don’t remember much culture shock, other than craving bologna sandwiches and Rainbow bread. Shopping was awesome. The young men didn’t whistle or cat call. That was a relief. The biggest shock was seeing snow for the first time. I was seventeen. It quickly lost its charm. I remember one morning, my third semester, middle September, lying in bed groaning because I knew without looking, from the sloshing sounds of the passing cars, that it had snowed. Haha.

Out of money and at loose ends and very homesick, I quit school and joined my parents in Arizona. I planned to work a couple of years and go back to school. Instead, I served a two-year mission for my church in Mexico City and then got married.

(By the way, Ann and her husband are currently serving a local church service mission together here in Kennewick, Washington.)

ME:  I imagine you were (and probably still are) fluent in Spanish. After settling stateside, did you find yourself drawn to the Hispanic community? Where did you find your best friends?

ANN:  Four of my grandchildren are Hispanic. While I speak Spanish, my grandchildren don’t, and their father learned to speak it when he was a missionary in a Spanish speaking country, as did four of my six children. I have great friends of both ethnicities.

MattieME:  How did you come to write MATTIE, and what are the basic themes of the novel?

ANN:  I wrote a short story about an incident during the Mexican Revolution experienced by my grandfather. The professor suggested it would make a good chapter for a novel. It was the only positive feedback I got from him. Haha.

Except for a couple of chapters, MATTIE is set in Mexico. Based on the lives of my maternal grandparents, it is a story of struggle, faith, and courage with a hint of romance and a healthy dollop of history during the Mexico Revolution. Viva Pancho Villa!

Pancho Villa(A picture of the Mexican Revolutionary)

ME:  How would you describe your writing process and what are you working on now? Also, what is the most important principle you feel a writer should always follow?

ANN:  If at first I don’t succeed, then to heck with it. Haha. I agonize over theme, story line, plot, and characters, and get it down from start to finish. Then, I do what I love, checking for consistency and fleshing out the story with description, emotion, and dialogue.

Currently, I am in the what-I-love phase of my second novel and in the agonizing phase of my third novel, a sequel to MATTIE. For now, the sequel is percolating on the back burner at about chapter three while I get book #2 ready to pitch to a publisher.

(I told you there would be more coming.)

The most important principle a writer should follow, you ask? Is there just one? Haha. I expect every writer has a list of what is most important. Let me add just one: don’t get attached to your literary genius. Be willing to slash and burn, even if it’s brilliant.

Very painful, indeed.

(Agreed.)

ME:  Finally, please describe your writing space as the character Enos would describe it from your novel. (And please include a picture of the same space.)

ANN:

“Enos thought he might find her at the kitchen table bent over a pile of papers writing in the flickering shadows cast by the coal oil lamp. Instead, she was comfortable in the family room sitting in a new fandangle chair with a hidden foot prop that whips out so she can put her feet up.  Surrounded by electric lamps, making the room bright as noonday, she opens what appears to be a black notebook without any pages. Placing it on her lap she stares for hours at a little picture-show, her fingers flying over rows of tiny squares with the alphabet painted on them in no particular order not making a lick of sense, but somehow it comes out right, like a printed page from a book.”

(Love it!)

Ann in writing space(And here she is at work!)

If you want to stay abreast of Ann’s work, you can check out her website or blog, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Her historical novel, MATTIE, is available on Amazon, Deseret Book, and Barnes & Noble.

Next Wednesday, I’ll be interviewing another local Pacific Northwest author, Patty Old West, who, together with her husband, writes fanciful tales of the “Little People.”

Patty Old West

Originally posted 2013-09-04 06:00:45.

It’s Available!

A NIGHT ON MOON HILL is now available for sale at the Kindle Store! Here’s the link. What a wonderful early birthday present! It would be amazing if it became available on Amazon ON my birthday, which is tomorrow. Not likely, but amazing!

Remember, if you buy it, read it, and like it, I would LOVE for you to post a review there on its Kindle page…as well as on Goodreads. (Later, it would be great if you would copy your review to the Amazon page once it’s finally up there.)

If you REALLY want to help guide people to my book, hit the “Like” button near my name and then scroll halfway down the Kindle page to the part that reads: “Tags Customers Associate With This Product” and click on “Agree with these tags.” The more agreements I get, the more likely those tags will pull in readers interested in those things.

Thanks for all your support!

Originally posted 2012-09-08 17:36:14.

Book Blast for Rachelle Christensen’s “Caller ID”

Present word count of WIP:  48, 579

If you want a great read and a chance to win one of over 20 free gifts, head on over to Rachelle’s Writing Spot and use her special link to purchase her latest, CALLER ID, on Amazon. It’s good for today only!

Among other things, she’s offering books, ebooks, podcasts, tutorials, recipes, website design help, and a Flip Video Camcorder.

Remember, this offer is only good for Thursday, March 22, 2012.

Originally posted 2012-03-22 16:02:03.

Publishing’s Paradigm Shift – Effect on Booksellers

Where do you buy most of your books now? Online at Amazon or other online bookstores? At big box stores like Costco? Barnes & Noble? Or are you a die-hard fan of the small, local independent bookstore where you’re on a first-name basis with the staff?

Bookstores have been a dying breed until now. So how will they be affected by the growing popularity of digitalized books? Here are some possible developments:

•Booksellers will begin adding Espresso Book Machines to stores

•Megastores may disappear and smaller, neighborhood stores could make a resurgence

•Booksellers will become more important as guides in book selection as newspapers continue to lose their book review sections

•There will be more and more niche bookstores

According to Publishers Weekly (April 16, 2010), “Lightning Source has launched an Espresso Book Machine pilot program, done in conjunction with On Demand Books, through which select publishers will be able to offer their customers the opportunity to print their titles on the Espresso machines located in bookstores…There are currently 37 EBMs in operation and 14 planned around the world. On Demand is releasing a new model of the machine which will print books faster—roughly four minutes for a 300-page book as opposed to eight minutes—and be offered at a lower price point.”

“The new bookstores may be book/coffee/tea shop hybrids, with a while-you-wait book printing facility, digital connections to facilitate e-book browsing and purchase, and staff who know and love the books they sell.” (Richard Day, publisher of Self-Councel press)

Check out the video below showing how the Espresso Book Machine works.

Originally posted 2010-11-04 13:59:14.

My Foray Into Audiobooks – Pt. 3

First, I owe you all an apology and an explanation. I know I’ve been neglecting my blog and kept you waiting for months on this next segment of my audiobook experience. In short, life got a bit overwhelming what with producing and marketing four different audiobooks, trying to keep up with my WIP (a novel set partly in Puritan times), and dealing with the failing health and eventual passing of my mother.

Mom with lily

After dealing with a bit of depression over her loss, I came to acknowledge she’s in a much better place and much happier being reunited with my dad. And I felt ready to move on in this new venture that was inspired, in the first place, by my mother. She always read to me both as a child and as an adult (she’d read aloud to anyone who would listen…she loved an audience) and so it feels only natural and right to read books aloud to others.

shutterstock_59484871

At the close of Part 2, I promised in this posting to focus on ACX and how it works with both authors and narrators. In fact, the first lesson I had as part of that Master Class dealt with how best to use ACX to produce audiobooks. Since I’m both an author and a narrator, let me approach this topic from each side successively.

 

AS AN AUTHOR

ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) was created to be a market maker between rights holders (authors, publishers, trusts administering the rights of deceased authors, and aggregators of products not in the public domain) and talent (narrators and producers). Owned by Audible, which is, in turn, owned by Amazon, ACX helps rights holders find the perfect voice(s) for their books.

Unlike other sites used to link rights holders and talent together, it’s free for you authors to use. Not only will you find the talent you need there, but ACX enables the project every step of the way from providing a contract and messaging system between you and your narrator…to uploading, approving, and preparing the finished project for Audible…to helping market the audiobook by providing free promo codes to both you and your narrator for free review copies. AND they take care of all money earned by depositing royalties, etc. directly into your bank account (or by check if you prefer).

You can either distribute through them exclusively (meaning your audiobook will be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes) at a higher royalty rate (40% split equally between you and the talent), or go the non-exclusive route for a lower rate. (But I think you’d be nuts not to go exclusive since, after all, Audible controls 99% of the marketplace and it’s the exclusive provider to both Amazon and iTunes.)

ACX will even provide a “bounty” payment of $50.00 (split evenly between you and the talent) each time your audiobook is the first book bought by a brand new member of Audible. (I earned an extra $150 that way for my novel, THE RECKONING.) Why would they do this? Because they recognize that the average value of a new subscriber to Audible is $200 and your book has brought them a new subscriber.

It’s true that ACX determines the price of your audiobook (the longer the recording, the higher the price…a 5-10 hour book will cost around $10), but on Audible, where membership is around $15 per month, most books cost a credit and members automatically get a credit per month. So price is not usually an issue.

The only real decisions authors have to make are:

  • Whether to narrate and produce their audiobooks themselves
  • Which few pages of their manuscript to use for an audition
  • Which talent to choose if they’re not going to do it themselves
  • Whether to pay the narrator a fixed sum per finished hour ($0-1,000, depending on the talent), or pay nothing upfront and instead share royalties (50-50), or arrange a stipend deal with the narrator (if ACX itself doesn’t list your book as a stipend book…it sometimes will for books it thinks will do well; in that case, you split royalties, but ACX also pays your narrator a stipend of $150 per finished hour)

Once you’ve entered into a contract with your talent, all you will need to do is provide a copy of the manuscript (preferably in PDF format), listen to each uploaded chapter as it’s finished to catch mistakes or “pick-ups” so the narrator can re-do them, approve the final production, and upload a square cover image for the audiobook.

The Reckoning-2

So how do you get started?

  1. Go to www.ACX.com and click “SIGN UP NOW”
  2. Sign in with your Amazon account
  3. Enter your Personal Information (at bottom of page, select “I Am Author,” etc.)
  4. Enter your Payment Information
  5. Read The Fine Print
  6. Check “I have read and accept the terms set forth above.”
  7. Now when you log in you can click on a link that says “Assert more titles” in the “Open for Auditions” box and a list of your books will come up. You can choose which to make into an audiobook. Just follow the directions in the upper right hand corner

 

studio microphone isolated on a dark  background

studio microphone isolated on a dark background

AS A NARRATOR/PRODUCER

Again, ACX is completely free to use. There are no hidden fees for registration, premium placement, being listed as talent, or auditioning for a job. And you don’t have to pay a commission when you get a narrating job.

ACX is also “union friendly,” meaning any book listed on the site can be voiced by either union or non-union talent.

Unlike other voiceover job websites, ACX handles all the invoicing and payments, so you don’t have to stress out over getting rights holders to pay you.

You can choose to charge per finished hour (PFH) or share royalties…or do both by offering a hybrid stipend. (The author pays you a basic $150 PFH rate upfront and you share royalties.)

In addition, ACX helps promote you on their site by:

  • Displaying your customer profile(s)
  • Displaying your portfolio of demos
  • Highlighting if you’re an Audible Approved Producer

You narrators follow the same procedure as authors in getting started on the ACX site (except you select “I Am Narrator” and check “Narrate audiobooks” under “And I do the following”). In addition, before looking for projects for which to audition, you should:

  1. Create your ACX Profile (simple and to the point is best) using your Professional Name…if you do it well, authors may invite you to audition.
  2. Select your geographic location
  3. Indicate your gender
  4. Add your voiceover website (no personal website, LinkedIn profile, or FB page)
  5. Add Samples of your work
  6. Indicate how you want to be paid

One more thing…and this applies to both authors and narrators:

ACX is always very helpful if you’ve got a problem with the project or you’re confused in any way. Just email your question or concern to support@acx.com and they’ll get back to you within a few days. Believe me, they will!

Next week, in Part 4, I’ll share the good and bad of my experience producing my first four audiobooks, including my retail samples.

My Foray Into Audiobooks – Part 1

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(A peek into my home recording studio)

A little over two years ago, I thought about venturing into a new market with my books–the world of audiobook listeners. I dove straight in on the Internet and soon discovered this site called ACX, which stands for Audiobook Creation Exchange. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the site but learned this much:

If I wanted to, I could narrate and produce an audiobook version of both of my books and make it available on Amazon and Audible. (I don’t recall if iTunes was part of the deal then, but I do know that this was before Amazon bought Audible.)

The idea REALLY appealed to me. Why? Because, for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading aloud to other people. I think I got it from my mom, who, at 89, still tries to read things aloud to us. And besides, the others in my writing groups were always telling me I should look into doing it professionally because I read so well and with such characterization, etc.

So, I got a few recording items that Christmas–a really nice microphone, boom stand, shock mount, pop filter, nice headphones, and an external hard drive. I got those particular items because they were on sale and they were all recommended by the video guy on ACX as being necessary to any home studio. And I never even took them out of their boxes. They stayed stowed away in my closet, along with my ambition, to hibernate for another year and a half.

Then on January 1, 2014, we moved to Southern Utah. The boxes came with us. And I still didn’t open them. This time I had a better excuse. The recording space I needed to set up in was currently being occupied by our daughter, who had moved with us. I bided my time, planning some day to pursue the audiobook thing.

One day in May, as I and a good friend and fellow writer were driving back home from the LDStorymakers Conference, we got to talking about goals. I mentioned my intention to eventually try recording my own audiobooks and, like she often does, she basically grabbed the ball and began to run with it.

MY FRIEND:  “What would you need to get going on it?”

ME:  “Well, I need the right recording space, but right now the room’s being occupied by my daughter.”

MY FRIEND:  “Do you have to be in a separate room? Can’t we make kind of a portable, soundproof recording booth?”

ME:  “Well, maybe…”

MY FRIEND:  “How big would it need to be? What should it be made out of?”

ME:  “I don’t know. I’m not an expert at this, but I do know that cloth or clothing muffles sound well. That’s why so many people set themselves up in their walk-in closets.”

MY FRIEND:  “Well, there you go. Use your walk-in closet.”

ME:  “Can’t. It’s got marble flooring, no carpeting like back in Washington.”

I thought that would do it, but my friend is as persistent as the mule that once took her down (and that’s a whole other story you ought to hear some time), and she was soon back on the idea of building me some kind of portable booth that I could set up in any quiet corner of our home.

She had a bunch of canvas material left over from another project she and her husband had taken on, and she knew where she could buy big styrofoam panels. So she proposed a deal:

She’d build me a portable sound booth in the next 3-4 months in exchange for my narrating her re-write of one of her novels for free (after I first recorded my own novel, THE RECKONING). The rest of the ride south was taken up with setting some very specific goals, almost none of which we really accomplished.

But she was true to her word and she built me that sound booth. Unfortunately, by the time she delivered it, I’d had my fall and broken my left foot and was laid up, unable to venture very far from the living room sofa, much less go downstairs and attempt any recording.

So the seven canvas covered styrofoam panels, ingeniously designed to fit together with velcro straps to form a 4 x 6 foot cubicle sat in a storage closet along with my recording equipment, waiting for me to heal.

Fortunately, in the meantime, my daughter got engaged to a wonderful young man and we began planning a December wedding. My foot was strong enough to dance at that wedding and a few days after they left on their honeymoon, my husband helped me set up that portable booth in her now-empty bedroom.

That Christmas I also got the rest of the equipment I thought I needed (more on that in Part 2) and I finally began to assemble my home studio a month ago. I was in a hurry now because my friend had talked me into doing a presentation on our little audiobook adventure at the next ANWA Conference February 20th and 21st in Mesa, AZ.

Stay tuned for a rundown of all my mistakes next Monday.