So, what do I know about audio? Well, I listen to anywhere from 2-3 audio books every week for the last 8 years. I know audio. I know the difference between a good narrator and a bad narrator. I haven’t been able to read as much with my job (labor mostly, and now office), but I’m able to listen to audio books. (While in labor I used PlugFones so no one knew, but now I can wear headphones in the office.)
This is what I hear the most about from authors who say they haven’t dipped into audio. “It’s too expensive for me to hire a narrator.” Or “I can’t find a good enough narrator in my price range.”
Let me tell you this: I’m doing all my audio books as royalty share. No money is coming out of pocket for me.
How do I find good narrators with royalty share? Here’s the trick with royalty share. Most really good narrators won’t touch it. Why is that? They’re scared. Why? Many have tried it before, or know people who have. And you know what the result has been? Not very good. The audio books don’t make money. Here’s the million dollar question. Why? Why don’t the audio books make money? Well, the answer is simple. The author doesn’t know how to market their audio books. Most narrators I talk to, when I start talking about my audio book marketing plan, they’re shocked. “You have a marketing plan for audio?” You see, most of these narrators who’ve done the royalty share with audio books have created the book, it went live, then they never heard from the author again. Sometimes the author hasn’t even mentioned their book going to audio, or putting a link to it on their book page on their website.
Okay, so how do you convince a narrator to trust you with a royalty plan? I put part of my marketing plan in my additional comments on ACX when I upload my book profile, as well as a note that my marketing plan is much more extensive, and available upon request. Then make sure your audition script is professionally put together. Rex Jamison and I had a good talk about this one. His first audio script was much better than mine, and I’ve adapted to his style. Instead of putting together a scene of chapter that you think is diverse enough to hear their voice, put together 5 different partial scenes from chapters. At the start of each scene, give a brief summary of the scene: location, needed background info, and a brief character summery, as well as any specific voices you may imagine for those characters. Narrators love this approach. It gives them a wide range to play with their voice, and you a wide range to hear their talents. What kind of scenes do you need to put in this audition script?
1. Narrative Scene: You want to see how they do a narrator’s voice.
2. Witty Dialog: You want to see how they do character humor in dialog.
3. Male/Female Dialog: You want to see how they change from male to female dialog voices.
4. Emotional/Sexual tension: You want to see how well they can do the chemistry.
5. Emotional Sadness: If you have a sad moment, you want to see how they handle it, and see if you can feel the emotion while listening.
6. Action: You want to see how they handle an action scene, especially for action/Sci-Fi/Fantasy.
These are in no particular order. I’d put the most important one to you at the front, because some narrators will only do one or two in the beginning, while a lot will go through all. Keep each part short. Don’t put in a full chapter or even a full scene from each of these topics. Keep them short and concise, right at the perfect moment where you’ll know it if they nail the part. Think of this like a stage play audition … they’re not going to give them the first few lines to pick their actors. They’re going to give them the strongest scenes, and see how they do.
Now that you have a good marketing plan, and a good audition script, what else can you do to attract narrators? When you set up how much you will pay per finished hour, don’t select only Royalty Split. Since a lot of narrators are scared to do Royalty Split because most authors don’t market audio, they won’t search books under ‘Royalty Split’. I put mine under Royalty Split and 50-$100 PFH (Per Finished Hour). This is the lower end, so they can see I don’t have tons of cash to throw at a production. Then when they look at your profile, and see you’re doing royalty split as well AND have a marketing plan … they’re a lot more likely to consider it.
Some narrators will still say no to royalty split. However, there’s a third option that a lot of narrators have been considering. A second contract outside of ACX. ACX doesn’t offer this right now, but with how popular an option it’s becoming, they may end up doing it in the future. You could offer a lower cost PFH, say $50 PFH AND a royalty split. This way the cost is still low, compared to what they usually charge, and they get half.
Remember, a royalty split is only for 7 years. After that, you get the full 40% from Audible. Unless you choose to try doing it wide, and then it would be 25% to put your audio book elsewhere.
Some authors are worried about covers. Either, they don’t want to put in the money to redesign old covers for the audio book, or they don’t have access to the original artist or image file. I’ve seen some bad custom variations put up instead by authors. Don’t try to cut a piece of your cover out and redo a title yourself. It can turn out bad. Instead, if you want to do it yourself, open your eBook cover image in a photo editing program, and see what the image size is. You’re going to want to make a new blank image file, and make it square. So if you’re currently at 1600x2400, make a new one 2400x2400. Then copy and paste your book cover into it, and have the strip on the side black. Add white text to it with big letters, “Audiobook”. Then in smaller letters on the next line, put “Narrated By”, and after that medium letters for “Narrator’s Name”. You can see many examples of this, and it works really well. If you’re having trouble with making text display sideways, rotate your cover image so it’s on the bottom, with the top on the left side, and then your audio book text will be on the top. After you save, you can open it in something like Windows Photo Viewer, and rotate the image back straight.
Okay, I’ve gotten most of my general stuff out, now it’s more nitty-gritty marketing information. I won’t bog you down too much here, since I have it laid out in files, which I’ll share below. But there are several facebook groups, and a few websites that promote audio. I set up a Landing Page, for Facebook groups and my newsletter to sign up to win a FREE audio book. This landing page is important because it collects names, emails, and review profiles. I want to compile a list of listeners who actually listen and review the audio book. First thing I do is go to their profiles, and check out their ratings. I make sure they’ve reviewed a handful of books, and check the quality of the reviews. If it’s mostly 2 & 3 stars, I give them a C. If it’s 3&4 stars, I give them a B. If it’s 4&5 stars, an A. If it’s 4&5 stars and detailed reviews, it’s A+. If it’s 3&4 stars, but very detailed, it’s a B+. ETC. I offer them a free short story audio file if they leave an audible review. I also offer it for free without a review if they complete a 300 question survey, that way it’s not “ONLY” for people who review. If they big companies do this stuff, why can’t I?
I have an excel workbook I share with my narrator, with a lot more detailed stuff inside. I have a sheet for US Codes from ACX, one for UK codes. As well as who I gave them to, their email, and their Audible profile. I have a marketing submissions tab to organize everywhere I’m marketing it, when, the cost, etc. I have the code instructions ACX gave me in another spreadsheet. I have a sheet for all my submissions from my website Audio Request form, as well as grades for their review profiles. I have a spreadsheet of information for my Audio Book Boom and FAFY features, where I put all the data collected on people who request my books: name, email, Audible profile, and my personal reviewer grade. I have an email template for when I am emailing out codes, mentioning my FREE short audio story for people who review, links to my newsletter for a FREE eBook, links to both my and my narrator’s website. A mention that they can request to hear from me about more FREE audio book opportunities for the future, etc. Then I have a Sold Copies tab where I put how many copies I sold. I have the spreadsheet filled with formulas to calculate all my numbers. I have it set up to show me the date it went for sale, how many copies total sold, how many copies are selling on average per day, and the date for 7 years from now to calculate an estimate of how much money will be made for me and my narrator after 7 years, which gets automatically updated every time I add the total copies sold, since the current date is set up to roll for each day.
Anyway, more details are in my Document and Workbook, both which I’ve included templates for on my Google docs. I’ve also included a link to my Audio Request Page and my Free short story Audio page that I’m giving to people who leave reviews.
This is still early, but I’ve been organizing all this for a while. So far, things are going really well. I’m averaging 2 copies a day, which will only get better the more I release in a series. I plan to add updates inside of this under the comment thread with how things are going, and after I collect enough data, I’ll may also make a new post in the future about it. I may have left some things out, but I think I got the majority of it. One more thing I think I forgot about. Codes. ACX gives you 25 FREE US and 25 FREE UK codes. By using this strategy, I’m running out of codes quickly, and will probably try asking for more. We’ll see, I’ve heard sometimes they do let you get more. However, codes work for any audio book. So a listener could get a code from you and grab a different book. This sucks. That’s why I’m keeping the spreadsheet, so I have their review profile, and can check they leave a review, before offering that person something else in the future. But, here’s the GREAT news. The codes work for any book …. I’m not planning on using codes for book 2 and 3 in the series to get reviews for books 2 and 3. Just like with eBook marketing, book 1 is my funnel. When I get codes for book 2 & 3, I plan to continue to use the codes to get people into book 1. Hopefully some I’ll get addicted, but if anything else, I’ll fatten my reviews for book 1, which will look better for the casual listener.
Thoughts? Any extra ideas from your own Audio Book Marketing experience? I’d love to hear it. =)
https://www.craigaprice.com/audiorequest.html (My Audio Request Landing Page)
https://www.craigaprice.com/diamondsaudio.html (My FREE audio short story to be given to people who leave Audible reviews)
https://docs.google.com/…/1VyVKFWtzeig3WGPgDEmPWMA2wb…/edit… (My Full Audio Book Marketing Plan)
https://docs.google.com/…/1Nw0QYiq64DEkADscskVjilPE2D…/edit… (My Audio Book Marketing Spreadsheet for active marketing)
(All links are not to promote myself, but show you what I’m doing. You are more than welcome to use these ideas inside your own audio book marketing plan.)
Another thing that Rex Jamison did that I thought was a good idea is put all the auditions in a Google Drive folder, and share with friends or readers who are big into audio to help you grade their auditions. Then if you have a good bit, make a top 5 list to share with your newsletter with a poll to give them a chance to listen to your top 5 and see who they pick.
A note on length to make your Audition Script, and if you're worried of making it too long and wasting their time:
Narrators are auditioning for your book. Anything they do is not a waste of time. Even if they don't get the part, they're practicing their narration. However, I like to give them feedback as well, to try and help them out and give them something to work on.
But if they don't get it, they've gained practice, and, if they like any certain part of it, they've recorded themselves an extra scene for their voice reel. Which is another great reason to give feedback, if there was any part of theirs you really liked.
Also, I've noticed, if narrators don't want to waste their time. They won't audition the whole script. I've heard them pick and choose scenes they liked and just audition those parts. Then if you liked that smaller part well enough, you can always come back and ask them to audition a little bit more.
Narrators won't waste their time, I wouldn't worry about that.
As far as the size I do, I try not to make each section too long. I go straight for the meat. Don't try to build anything up like you want to do for a reader. Give them the important part. Give them the dialog scene that makes you laugh, give them the scene with the perfect moment that makes you tear up, give them the scene of action that when you read you can picture perfectly in your head. Give them the shortest version of each of those. I try to aim for 1-3 paragraphs for each scene, perhaps a few more if it's a dialog scene, since the paragraphs are much shorter.