Tag Archives: Amazon

Audiobooks

Good day, PJ Sharon here, coming to you from the snow-carpeted Berkshires. The first snow fall is always so pretty.  First snow picI have a couple of questions for all of you. Do you listen to audiobooks? How do you listen to them? And where do you find them? Best seller’s lists? Specific authors/narrators you love to read/hear? Let’s chat.

I’ll confess that I’ve only listened to a few audiobooks–and always in the car with a tangible CD (or 29 CD’s as is the case for OUTLANDER  which I’ve listened to five times). I’m afraid I haven’t made the leap to the next technological step in the evolution of how we read books and hear stories–digital audiobooks. As in–downloaded them onto my i-pod touch or my android phone, or listened to them directly from my computer. As hard as I try, I’m still resistant to learning/using new technology.

I often feel as if I’m being dragged forcibly into the future. I’m trying not to scream too loudly about it since I know that many people are having great success with audiobook sales. According to the world of publishing, audiobooks are in. Bob Mayer admits to having spent over $35,000 having all of his books turned into audiobooks, and I know Bella Andre thinks they are as untapped a market as the foreign marketplace. I’m pretty sure their audiobooks are selling…I’d love to ask them.

Personally, I’m not seeing it. Maybe because I’m not on any best sellers lists or because I’m not out “finding my audience” as diligently as is needed, but I don’t see my readers buying audiobooks. Whenever I mention that my book is available on audio, I’m asked where they can buy the CD so they can listen to it in their car. Um…sorry…no CD. These are friends and family I’m talking to, however–the folks like me who are always one step behind the latest tech trend. No problem, you say. You write books for teens, and teens in general are glued to the latest and greatest electronic devices. Surley, they must be listening to audiobooks. But once again, they don’t have the buying power of adults. And let’s face it, none of them is likely to spend $17.95 on a digital download of a book unless it’s someone they really want to read/hear.

When I decided to dabble in the realm of audiobooks, I figured I would start with a book that had universal appeal. Many adult readers loved HEAVEN IS FOR  HEROES for it’s sweet military romance, family drama and Thanksgiving theme. It seemed like the right story for an audiobook audience.HeavenisforHeroes_audiobookcover (2013_06_07 00_53_00 UTC)

You can hear a sample of Erin Mallon’s awesome narration of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES here. Just click on the little “listen” arrow beneath the cover picture on the sales page.

With companies like ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), it’s much easier for authors to have professionally produced and fabulously narrated audiobooks. ACX offers two plans. You can either pay up front, which will likely cost you between $1,500-2,000, depending on the length of your book (mine was 78,000 words and would have cost me $1,000). Or you can do a 50/50 royalty share, where you pay an upfront cost (usually half) and then split the royalties until the complete cost of production is paid and I’ve sold a certain number of copies, at which time, my royalty rate increases.. Basically, I paid $500 for an awesome narrator who I found on the ACX site, and I split the royalties. It comes out to a nice little chunk of the $17.95 per copy price through Amazon, Audible, or i-tunes. If you want to read more about ACX and how it all works, the WG2E has several excellent posts here.

On the consumer’s side, If you’re an avid audiobook fan and decide to become an Audible Member, which is around $14.95/month, you’d get the $17.95 price point OR you can use the 1 Credit you get each month and download the book for FREE–or even gift it to someone else. You can also purchase the file from Amazon and get it FREE with a 30-day Audible Trial Membership.

Now, the other difficulty I find with audiobooks is getting people to review them. I don’t know if people who have bought the book have downloaded it and simply haven’t listened to it yet, or if they aren’t inclined to leave reviews on audiobooks. Either way, I can’t even give a copy away to get an honest review. ACX provides five free download codes to give out to reviewers or as giveaways, but finding reviewers for audiobooks seems to be a bit of a challenge. It’s a market that is getting increasingly flooded and some reviewers are backlogged for months. If anyone is willing to listen and review the book, I’d be happy to gift you a copy along with instructions on how to download from Audible, Amazon, or i-tunes. All I ask in return is that you give it an honest review.

If anyone has any suggestions on where’s a good place to market audiobooks or how I can get some reviews, I’m wide open! I’ve even tried to join a Goodreads group of romance audiobook reviewers, but those groups are pretty persnickety about authors promoting themselves. If you aren’t part of the discussion every day, it’s not really cool to just jump in and ask for reviews. And since I hang around mostly with the characters in my head and not the characters on Goodreads, I haven’t found an “in”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on audiobooks. Questions are cool too–if you’re wondering about the process or have questions about working with ACX. I’d be happy to answer them. Have a lovely day!

Advertisements

WWFD

A few weeks ago, a collective gasp was heard throughout social media when Amazon acquired Goodreads. This strange, yet brilliant acquisition got me thinking.  WWFD. What would Fusco do?  What would I do if I owned Amazon, acquired Goodreads, and planned to take over the book buying universe?  Yeah, my brain can be used for evil. I have a day job. I’m well versed in sinister.

So, I did what I do when the axis of evil takes over my brain: I listed all the ways I’d put the collective fuck to authors, publishers, and the book buying public by ram-rodding them into buying what I, Great Ruler of Amazon, wanted.

Here’s how:

  1. Consume data like it’s covered in chocolate: So far, Goodreads users have treated the site like it was their own personal safe haven. They added, uploaded and reviewed books, and they thought, quite foolishly, no one was watching.  Oh. Hell. No. Not only were the good folks at Goodreads recording everything you clicked, liked, and TBR’d. Now, they’re turning that data over to Amazon, to make the company smarter, faster and more efficient at selling you shit you don’t need.
  2. Biatchslap the Author:  I love authors.  Some of them are my friends, clients and BFF’s. However, nowadays, thanks to Amazon and CreateSpace, everybody’s a fucking author. Whether they should be is another blog for another day. But, if I owned Amazon/Goodreads, anybody who could form a complete sentence would get the screws handed to them if they wanted to advertise on my site. You see, now, I’ve got the data to the readers you want.  Look out bitches, it’s gonna cost ya. Sure, I’d sell it–if it were legal. Thank God it’s not. So, instead, I’ll tell you to bend over and reach for your ankles while I decrease your royalties and up your cost to target your readers.  Just leave your money on the nightstand, dear author. Oh. Wait. You don’t want to pay me to advertise your book? That’s alright.  “NEXT!!!”
  3. Beat the Big 6 into Submission: See that, that’s me, Amazon/Goodreads, the fat kid in the sandbox. It’s time to play by my rules. While over the years I’ve appreciated your love of the written word, chase of trends, and airplane reads, I’d plan to send to you running for cover and only publish shit no one reads, like poetry and recipe books. In fact, I’d beat you back so far that it would force you to become smaller, niche, and more nimble by keeping your overhead low, print runs smaller and expectations realistic.  My plan wouldn’t be to shut you down altogether. While I could easily be the only book selling game in town, I do need a dog to kick once in a while.
  4. Line my pockets with gold: Amazon is in the publishing game for one reason, and one reason only, to grow revenue.  And once my pockets are filled to the brim, I’m going to look to other ways to exploit the arts for my own financial gain.  I’d fool the public into recording their own music, creating their own video games and to share with friends, or starring in their own feature film.  Who needs Hollywood when you’ve got me Amazon/Goodreads/Chocolate Data Covered Fat Kid?

It’s probably a good thing I don’t run Amazon. I’m old school. I like things the way they were. I like to read books and not feel forced to write a review, like the author on Facebook, or download the next series to my Kindle HD, superfast e-reader spy gadget.

So, no more Goodreads for me, if you need me, I’ll be reading a good book, in hard cover, at the library.

Revision Plans

It’s “one more chapter Tuesday,” Scribettes. At least it is for me. PJ Sharon here, and as I approach my final chapter of my first draft of WANING MOON, I’m already pondering revisions. There won’t be any “letting it rest” for me. Not because I don’t believe in the practice of putting some distance between writer and story before digging into revisions, but because my production schedule doesn’t allow for it this time. I’m already behind schedule, so it’s onward ho!

 I know, based on early feedback from critique partners and my red pen queen, Carol, that I have problems with too much telling, repetitive sentence structure, and a few plot holes that look more like giant pot holes. I’m thinking that my first read thru needs to be a straight-on plot check to make sure all the dots connect, especially since this is the first book of a trilogy. I need to make sure that whatever subplots I leave open will be addressed in the next book. Although I’m not a big “plotter” per se, I’ll definitely be keeping notes this time around to ensure continuity in the next two books. We don’t want Will’s eyes turning from blue to green in book two.
There will be story threads that will remain open ended in books one and two that need to wrap up by the final book. At the same time, there are plot points that need to get resolved in this book so that there is some kind of satisfying ending. Tricky thing this trilogy business.

My second trip through, after I rewrite or slash and burn any scenes that don’t move the story forward, I’ll be looking for ways to deepen characterization, layer in subtext, and refine word choice. That’s about the time I’ll be looking for feedback from critique partners about what else might not be working, whether the actions of the characters ring true and are properly motivated, and if the pacing gets bogged down anywhere. I’ll keep tweaking for a few more read-thrus until I feel I’ve done as much as I can on my own, and then it’s off to one of my friendly editors for deep edits—the stuff that makes an author’s hair curl when they see how much they have to fix . I currently have three editors on my short list, but whoever is available and can meet my deadlines will get it first. If I have time, I may go through three rounds of editing before I feel satisfied that the book is ready to go to first print with Createspace.

First prints will go out to Beta readers and also to a proof reader to catch any typos or spelling errors. Once I get all of this feedback, I’ll dive into my semi-final edits. Then it’s off to the copy-editor for one more look and back to me for final edits and a second printing. These prints are considered ARCs and may go out to reviewers or contest winners. I’m only allowed a few of these at a time through Createspace, but I’ll make good use of them, even if there are a few errors. Hopefully, by the time I’m ready for the third printing when I upload to Amazon, BN, and Smashwords, I’ll have a nice clean finished product.

Whew! I’m tired thinking about it. Of course this is an ideal plan, but we all know how plans have a way of changing. The kicker is that I have about 8-10 weeks to make it all happen and I’ve learned that when depending on others to meet my deadlines, all bets are off. It’s just part of the business. Add to the mix, book cover designs and marketing and I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me. But first things first…or last, as in finish up that last chapter. So that’s what I’m doing today.

What are you all up to? Any revision strategies you’d like to share before I dive in? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

“Liking” and “tagging”

PJ here again! It feels strange to be here on a Wednesday, but I’m filling in for our dear Thea Divine. Big shoes to fill, I must say. I’m doing double duty today, so don’t forget to stop on over at Kiss and Tell YA where I’m talking about “Luck” with the fabulous ladies there. To make it interesting for all of you, anyone who leaves a comment on both sites is entered to win a signed copy of my latest book SAVAGE CINDERELLA which is available a day or two ahead of schedule. To make it even more interesting and a big help to me, if you also go to the books Amazon page and “like” it and “tag” it, I’ll enter your name twice in the drawing.

What the heck is “liking” and “tagging” you ask? Well, let me tell you. No, it’s not some kind of cyber-hide-n-seek. If you go to Amazon and search for a book, the page will come up with a “Buy” button that instantly drops that book onto your Kindle, right? I have to say, the first time I saw one of my books with its own Amazon page, I was tickled pink. I had arrived! Yet I wondered how anyone would find my books with the gazillion other new releases out there and only a hundred spots on that “Kindle Top 100” list, which you have to sell about 300 books a day to achieve. It turns out that there are something called algorithms that generate not only the top 100 in the paid Kindle store, but many other best seller lists based on the categories the book is found in. For instance, SAVAGE CINDERELLA can be found in JUVENILE FICTION>ROMANCE/LOVE>FAMILY DRAMA. It can also be found in FICTION>ROMANCE>SUSPENSE. I set these categories up when I published my book so that anyone looking for these types of books would be led to mine. But these are still pretty broad headings. So that’s where “tagging” comes in.

If you scroll down the book’s page, you’ll come to a list of tags with little numbers in parentheses beside them. It tells you how many times someone thought that those particular tags suited the description of the book. For instance, you’ll find tags like, YA romantic suspense, YA thriller, kidnapped, survivalism, sexual abuse, family relationships, friendships, etc.  Anyone looking for a Young adult romantic suspense about a kidnapped victim will likely stumble upon my book. Of course if there are several books of this nature available, mine could end up at the bottom of the list of ten or twenty and still never be seen. Here’s where the “tags” and “likes” come in. The more “likes” and “tags” a book has, the higher up on the lists those algorithms place the book on the shelf.

This is such a simple way that authors can support one another, and readers can show their love. Reviews are another way. I know it takes a few extra minutes out of your already crazy busy day, but the benefits are huge to an author. The more reviews a book gets, the more likely readers are to find it. Those reviews not only tell the world it’s a great book, but the number of reviews gets factored into those algorithms and drives the book onto higher visibility pages. If you happen to love a particular book or its author and you want the world to know it, go to Amazon and give the book a review. “Like” it and “tag” it to show your support.

I've arrived!SAVAGE CINDERELLA is now available on Kindle only, until June 13th.  Hardcopies are also available. I’ll be talking about the KDP Select program and explaining the pros and cons of this new Indie-pubbers opportunity on Jennifer Fusco’s MOD blog this Saturday. See you there!

Let me know you’ve “liked” and “tagged” the book and I’ll add another entry for you into the drawing for a signed copy of the SAVAGE CINDERELLA!

Sales Numbers-Seven Weeks Into the Indie-Pub Journey

Hey readers and writers, PJ, here. Welcome to Tuesday’s Secrets of Seven Scribes. Since I know there are more than a few folks curious about how things are going with my book, today I’ll be sharing the secret of my sales numbers. Leave a comment and enter to win a copy. A winner will be randomly selected. Entry closed at midnight this Friday, Nov. 18th. Good Luck!

Well, I’m seven weeks in to this wild and crazy Indie ride. For those of you who are new to the Scribes, I chose to independently publish my YA novel, Heaven Is For Heroes, back in September. That’s right—no agent, no publisher, no publicist. My husband makes my covers, I hire out my editing, and I do my own formatting for all distribution channels. I’m responsible for setting up promotional opportunities, maintaining a social networking presence and sticking to deadlines just as if I have a publisher breathing down my neck. The difference? 70% royalties for one. Other reasons include total freedom in choosing cover art and the ability to write and publish what I want, when I want. My second book, On Thin Ice will be out next month. Yup, two books released in three months. Let’s see traditional publishers do that!

Of course, I couldn’t do it alone. Along the way, I’ve found some amazing help. The guys and gals over at The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing (WG2E), the Indie Romance Ink yahoo group loop, YARWA (Young Adult Romance Writers of America), and all of the individual bloggers that so generously give of their experience and time to blaze the trail for us newbies. One of the most inspiring parts of this journey is to watch the success of others. I’ve enjoyed following D.D. Scott and her fellow groggers post their sales numbers. To see the miniscule numbers grow exponentially with each new book added to their cyber-bookshelf and watch the jump in sales with certain promotional opportunities is absolutely inspiring! Not to mention highly instructional.

So here they are, gang—the real numbers!

September (the book was released September 24,  2011)

Hardcopies    28 (140.00)

Amazon         22 (44.31)

B&N                7  (13.58)

CreateSpace  1  ($5.14) Hardcopy direct through CreateSpace

Smashwords—from Sept.24th to Nov.15th  there have been 52 free downloads (promo giveaways through coupon code). In addition there have been $6.80 in sales.

 

October

Hardcopies   39 (195.00)

Amazon        12

B&N               3  (5.82)

CreateSpace  1 (2.84) Hardcopy sold through Amazon

November

Hardcopies   23  (115.00)

Amazon          6  (34.44 Includes October and Nov. sales)

B&N                0

CreateSpace   6 (2.04) Hardcopies sold through expanded distribution for libraries. Thank you super fan, Lorelei Buzzetti who recommended HIFH to her local library in Orlando!

 

Seven week totals:

Hardcopies    90    (450.00)

Amazon         40    (78.75)

B&N               10    (19.40)

CreateSpace    8    (12.32)

Smashwords    4    (6.80)

Grand total     152 books sold for a respectable income of $567.27. Not bad for a newbie.

I’m still learning the ropes, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and working a ridiculous amount of hours, but I’m encouraged by a solid start and look forward to seeing those numbers grow as the next book comes out and I implement another wave of promotional opportunities through the holidays. Here’s to hoping Kindle sales are through the roof this Christmas!

Your turn Scribes’ fans, tell me about your recent successes. Have you finished a manuscript, sent out a query, gotten a request, been a finalist in a contest? Are you considering Indie-publishing? Spill people! Let’s celebrate!