Now that I have an audiobook, I thought I’d share how I did it. My process won’t necessarily work for everyone, and that’s OK. But hopefully, reading about my experience will provide you the confidence and willingness to at least get started in the process!
As someone who comes from a production background in television and radio, I know I have a bit of an advantage over where to look for voices and what kind of talent I am looking for. I’m no expert, but I have some working knowledge and connections that I’d be glad to share. I am happy to talk to any of you lovely authors about your questions on how to get into audiobooks.
Not everyone’s journey to creating an audiobook is the same. There are a lot of pre-packaged studio and narrator options available to indie and self-published authors, and while I’m not going to list them all here, a simple Google search will turn up a majority of those choices compiled in one place. An excellent starting source is this article by Allison Schiff on the Publisher’s Weekly blog.
When deciding to produce your book into an audiobook, you need to decide what kind of voice you’d like to have narrate it. Unless you understand studio time and are willing to pay fees for access, I highly recommend you don’t sit at home and record this on your computer yourself. It will result in poor quality audio that will likely be rejected by most outlets. This leaves you with looking for voice talent.
You must know the following:
Once you know what you’re looking for in a VO actor, you may start to search. Some authors prefer to work with a one-stop-shop such as ACX with Amazon, or other larger production houses. They’ll have some great talent voices for you to choose from. I preferred to have more control over my choices as well as my production (as well as save some money).
I also wanted to use non-union talent because it gave me, the “buyer,” far more purchasing power and say in pricing. Union talent will have required costs for their time and set prices for their hours. They’ll also retain some license over the finished work, usually getting a percent of the profits of the audiobook sales in perpetuity (that’s fancy speak for forever). Without the “in perpetuity” clause, you may have to re-up their contract with you after a given number of weeks or months, which can result in a re-negotiation of their pay-out. I’ve worked with the likes of John Corbett and others when it comes to licensing voice overs and it’s a big paperwork headache. A lot of people need to get paid (by you) to have access to a union voice after the usage time has run out.
Thus, I went here to search for non-union voices. They have a ton! The trickiest part is listening to so many and making sure you pick someone who doesn’t sound too much like someone who makes happy-go-lucky cereal commercials for a living. You want someone who is going to take your project seriously and invest some time into it. I find it helps to close my eyes, stop thinking, and really let the voice hit me viscerally as I listen to each one. Go back and re-listen to them several times, giving yourself a few days to digest.
After you’ve created your book project, you can allow people to bid on it, or you can ask your favorite voices to bid. I did a little of both, and was very happy when my first choice said she was in! We signed a very simple contract and I received all rights in perpetuity to the finished audiobook, and gave her a single, one-time flat rate (it came in under $600 for a 85K word book). I did give her a substantial cash tip of $150 afterwards for all the additional work she did on the book, and because I hope to work with her again in the future.
You’ll be listening to the book through at least twice – the first time to listen for errors, and the second time to make sure they are all caught – so plan for many hours of sitting and taking notes. It goes faster than you realize.
Then, make sure you have the files in a few ways – Amazon/ACX asks for each chapter to be sent separately, and has a lot of rules, so when finishing the project, make sure the files comply. iTunesConnect is another publishing option. I also asked for the files in bulk so the book is in two big separate files instead of a bunch of little ones. It’s always nice to have options. You can use online file drops to save your inbox such as DropBox or even Google Drive.
In my next post, I’ll dive into the process of uploading files to ACX.
by Sara Dahmen
Sara Dahmen is the award-winning author of Doctor Kinney’s Housekeeper, a metalsmith, American cookware designer and manufacturer, and a mom. You can reach her @saradahmenbooks or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s Promotion Thursday for May. Check out where you can find our WisRWA authors this month.
Tina Susedik is starting a new venture. She will be hosting her own radio show on Authors on the Air starting in June. Her show, “The Book Garden” will feature authors in both fiction and non-fiction. Authors on the Air Global Radio Network has sixteen shows running both live and as podcasts. Tina will be hosting her show twice a month, once as a live broadcast and once as a podcast. She will be looking for compelling, published authors to talk with her on “The Book Garden.” More information as to her start date will be forthcoming.
Stacey Joy Netzel will be participating in the launch party for her new multi-author Beach Brides Series. The launch party runs from 12n-6p EST/11a-5p CST, and Stacey will be co-hosting the hour of 3-4p EST/2-3p CST. Join in for fun, games, and a bunch of prizes!
Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases.
Lady Sarah by Lyn Cote
Resurrection by Olivia Rae
The Trail of Love by Tina Susedik
WisRWA is pleased to announce the finalists of both our contests: the Fabulous Five Contest and the Write Touch Readers Award. Congratulations to all!
Winners will be announced on May 20th at the WisRWA Write Touch Conference Awards Luncheon.
*** = WisRWA member
2017 FABULOUS FIVE FINALISTS
Belinda Brooks – Home Again
Kate Courtright – Time and Again
Kate Courtright – You are Love
Monique Headley – Hard Lessons
Christina Hovland – Things I Wish I’d Done
Avery Cove – Fragile Hearts
Elizabeth Everett – The Rescue of Lord Grange
Elizabeth Everett – The Seduction of Mrs. Smith
Carol Potenza – Second Choice
Abigail Wilson – The Secrets Within the Towers
Angela E. Arndt – The Beekeeper’s Daughter
Kathryn Barker – Catch a Falling Angel
Izzy James – The Shopkeeper’s Widow
Patti Stockdale – The Measure of a Memory
Sharee Stover – Believable Lies
Chel Chavez – The Heir of Erois (Book 1)
Paige Helton – Witch’s Veil
Anne Reed – Dark Matter
Kat Turner – Magical Thinking
Chris Westwater – Wolfling
Kelly Duff*** – Tame My Racing Heart
Jeanine Englert – Lovely Digits
Barbara Forlenza – Beyond Paradise
Barbara Forlenza – Forbidden Paradise
Lori Matthews – Hit & Run
Debbie Archer – Pocket Change
Wendi Dass – Liebling
Kristi Rhodes – The Tropical Transformation of Joanie Weston
Linda J. Truesdell – The Mending Time
Vicki Volden – Both
Young Adult/New Adult
Rachel Berens-VanHeest – A Gift of Crows
Laura Cumbie – From There to Here
Riley Darkes – Serving Time
Christine Gunderson – Covenant Park
Monica Headley – Off the Rails
2017 WRITE TOUCH READERS AWARD FINALISTS
Contemporary – Long
Babette de Jongh – Angel Falls
Melynda Price*** – Fighting for Control
Dawn Tomasko – Tides of Hope, A Nantucket Romance Novel
Contemporary – Mid-length
Valerie J. Clarizio *** – Family Forever
Sara Dahmen *** – Wine and Children
Sierra Hill – Sweet Girl
Contemporary – Short
Brenna Ash – Second Chances
Joanne Dannon – Wanting Mr. Right
Stacey Joy Netzel *** – Spring Dreams
Margaret Mallory – Claimed by a Highlander (The Douglas Legacy)
Amy Sandas *** – Luck is no Lady
Vonda Sinclair – Highlander Unbroken
Mary Bentley-Lloyd – Pirate’s Treasure
Laura Scott *** – Shielding His Christmas Witness
Aubrey Wynne – Paper Love
Marissa Doyle – Skin Deep
Marie Johnston – Ancient Ties
Marie Johnston – Birthright
Jade Chandler – Enough
Suzanne Eglington – She’s Got the Jack: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
LaQuette – Lies You Tell
Abbie Roads –Hunt the Dawn
Vicki Tharp – In Her Defense
Tara Wyatt – Necessary Risk
Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance Theme
Kate Forest – Interior Design and Other Emotions
Robin Perini – Forgotten Secrets
Bev Pettersen – Millionaire’s Shot
j. leigh bailey –Guyliner
Tricia Cerrone – Glisten
Katherine Fleet – The Secret To Letting Go
In April, the Milwaukee Area will be hosting literary agent Abby Saul from The Lark Group at our meeting. With the May conference in Green Bay (which will be fantastic) right around the corner, Abby’s help with tweaking and practicing our pitches, queries, and openings, is timely.
Here’s a chance for us to get to know Abby a little better before the meeting.
Q: Your website indicates that the Lark Group is an agile and editorially focused agency. What does that mean to authors?
A: We work quickly to help our authors present the best product possible. As a new and small agency, The Lark Group is able to experiment, quickly pivot to new opportunities, and help our authors find new paths (in their writing, in the way they publish, in the way we get their books in front of editors). But the quality of the book remains paramount, and that’s where our editorial focus comes in! I’ve gone through at least two rounds of editorial revisions with all of my clients’ manuscripts, addressing big and small things, to help make their books the best they can be. So what does that mean for our authors? It means they know they have a true partner helping them get a truly excellent book published. (It also means it’s easy to get me on the phone!)
Q: Why is it advantageous to work with an agent rather than directly query a publisher?
<strong:A: Most obviously, many publishers won’t accept unagented submissions – without an agent, you can’t even get your manuscript read! Houses that do accept unagented submissions will often put those submissions at the bottom of the pile, prioritizing projects that come in from agents. So an agent helps you get your project into the house for consideration. But it goes much deeper than that.
It’s my job as an agent to know what editor is looking for what kind of project, and thus create a submission list that’s tailor-made to your project. It’s also my job as an agent to negotiate your contract (and keep the business arrangements as much in your favor as possible), to be your advocate in all things (editorial changes, marketing plans, cover design, etc), and to be a force to be reckoned with in terms of you getting paid and helping manage your author brand. It’s also my job to have foreign, audio, and film/tv contacts to sell subsidiary rights for your books. Going it alone can work for some authors, but those business and industry pitfalls (contract traps, late payments, figuring out who to contact in Germany, the force of a whole publishing company worrying about itself instead of you, and so on) can be tremendously daunting for most authors, and that makes it easy for unrepresented authors to make unnecessary mistakes. An agent is your partner in all aspects of this business, and is there to advocate (always!) for you.
Q: Do you work with self-published authors, or do writers who plan to self-publish still need an agent?
A: I don’t currently have any self-published authors on my client list, but I’ve worked with them in the past. I do strongly believe that the days of a project making it big on the self-publishing side and then being picked up by a Big 5 publisher are over. If you’ve self-published a book, you’ve self-published it. It’s not going to be traditionally published after that. But self-publishing success on the romance side can translate to a traditional publisher being interested in your next work, and that’s where you might want to think about an agent.
Agents are pros at helping authors make career changes, and moving from indie publishing to traditional publishing is a big one. Even if you want to stay on the indie/self-publishing side of the industry, an agent can help you sell subsidiary rights for your work (foreign, audio, film/tv, etc). I’ll also note that a lot of romance authors write fast (it’s impressive!) and more and more authors in traditional deals are publishing on a hybrid schedule: fulfilling their traditional contracts while also pursuing self-publishing (of a different series) on the side. Agents can help navigate having your feet in both pools, and make sure you’re respecting contracts schedules, etc.
Thanks Abby! We’re looking forward to meeting with you in person.
Join the Chippewa Falls area for the April meeting on Strengthening Our Words for Better Story Writing. Not a WisRWA member, but interested in seeing what we’re about? You’re invited to join us too. See all the details below.
Join the Milwaukee area for the April meeting. Polish your pitch with Abby Saul of The Lark Group. Not a WisRWA member, but interested in seeing what we’re about? You’re invited to join us too. See all the details below.
Three WisRWA authors, Beth James, Amy Sandas, and Tina Susedik, presented a panel on romance writing recently, at the MacMillan Library’s Fine Arts Center in Wisconsin Rapids. The panel was moderated by Eric Norton, who is both the customer service manager for the library, and an editor for Publisher’s Weekly. Tina Susedik shared her thoughts on the evening.
The evening was cold and windy, and so the attendance was lower than we’d expected. But that turned out to make for a more intimate, comfortable event. Instead of sitting at the table set up for us on the stage in the theater, we sat on the edge of the stage, making us eye level with the attendees. We were able to showcase our books as we talked and after the presentation.
The audience had many questions for us and everyone participated. Rather than a typical Q&A or lecture, the evening was more free-wheeling discussion, with the audience and authors all asking questions of each. Audience members included fans, aspiring romance authors, and even one an avid reader who had never previously read any romance. Lori Oestreich, another WisRWA member, also came to support us. It was great to see her smiling face.
We talked about the publishing world – both self and traditional. Our panel had experience in both worlds, and could offer insights into both. Other topics included creating characters, plotting vs. pantsing, what makes a romance, the part setting plays in stories, why we write romance, and how we edit our stories, and people’s impressions of the romance writing world. We talked and answered questions for an hour and a half.
A question from the reader who had never read a romance cut to the heart of the genre. She asked, “If all romances have to have a happy ending, and you know that, then why read a romance?” Amy Sandas’s response was perfect. She pointed out that it’s not unlike reading suspense or mystery novels. We know that the bad guy is going to caught in the end, yet we still read them. What’s important to the reader is the way the story is written and the journey to the end. That’s what makes the experience of reading the novel so satisfying.
Afterward, the conversation continued. A number of people attending were interested to learn more about WisRWA and RWA. And they were glad to have a chance to talk with experienced authors about their own ventures into romance writing. This is one of the best parts about being an author, and we were glad they braved the weather to come out to talk with us.
by WisRWA Member Tina Susedik
As a child, Tina always had stories floating around in her head, but had no idea those stories could be put down in book form. One day her brother (yes, her brother) introduced her to Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower. Tina’s first romance, Riding for Love, was released in the spring of 2013. Visit Tina at www.tinasusedik.wordpress.com
Barbara M. Britton will be a panelist at the WEMTA Author Fair on March 19, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. She will also be at the New Berlin Public Library on April 1st, 2017 from 10:00 AM –1:00 PM their Local Author Fair. She will be celebrating her print release of “Building Building: Naomi’s Journey.”
Lois Greiman will be signing books and giving a workshop called ‘Writing From the Heart’ at the Rosemount Writers’ Festival in Rosemount, MN on March 18th.
The Milwaukee Area is hosting Daniel Goldin of Boswell Book Company on Saturday, March 18. He’ll be talking about trends in publishing, from the perspective of a bookseller. He’ll be looking at the relationships between publisher/bookstore and novelist/bookstore, as well as field questions about book launches and readings. We thought you might like to get to know him a bit before his talk, so we asked him a few questions.
Q: Why do you think Boswell is thriving?
A: Honestly, I wake up every day and ask myself that question. I honestly wouldn’t say thriving, but chugging along. Every store is two mistakes away from closing. But I definitely can credit my booksellers (particularly Amie and Jason, our buyer/managers, but there’s a lot of amazing contributions), my customers, our landlords (we’ve had two), the previous owners of Schwartz, my family, publisher support, and author support too. I would say on my part, there are a few things that help:
I am also a big fan of under-promising. It’s better to be a little better than expectations than vice versa. I’ve found that’s a good character fit for Milwaukee, which also can be a little better than you’d expect.
Q: Do I read romance novels?
A: Of course I’ve read romance novels. And I can answer that question in two ways.
Firstly, many books masquerading as other genres, or no genre, are in fact romances, from YA to contemporary women’s fiction to historical and even a good amount of what poses as literary fiction (meaning that the author also teaches in an AWP program).
And secondly, in my day, I’ve read pretty serious genre. In my past life, I was a publicist at Warner Books, which had a strong group of romance writers. I would try to read one of the books so that I could talk about them more fluently. One year I even helped run our booth at the RWA convention. I was a big fan of Dorothy Garlock, and while we haven’t corresponded in many years, we continued to be pen pals (yes, this is pre-computer) for quite a while after I left publishing. I was a big fan of our two romance editors, the now-retired Fredda Isaacson, and Claire Zion, who is still editing at Berkley/NAL. One of her current authors is Renée Rosen, who is at Boswell for Windy City Blues on March 21, 1 pm. It’s a great historical about the Chicago music and Civil Rights scene in the 50s and 60s with a romance at the center.
Thanks for talking with us, Daniel! We’ll see you on March 18.
Saturday’s meeting is open to all. Come visit if you’d like to see what WisRWA is about.