Audiobooks are an Expensive Gamble for the Indie Author

Audiobooks are an expensive gamble for the Indie Author.

Here is what goes into the making of an audiobook if you go through ACX.

First you’ll need to set up your account. You’ll need to decide if you are going to pay a flat fee for the narrator, or if you are going to do a 50/50 royalty split. If hiring a SAG narrator, the minimum is $100 per finished hour with a 50/50 split. This was the option I chose for my first two audiobooks, Check Out, and Trapping the Butterfly. I hired professional SAG narrators to do my first two audiobooks.

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You also have to decide whether to go exclusive through ACX or non-exclusive. With exclusive your audiobooks are available through Audible, Amazon and iBooks. A non-exclusive contract allows you to distribute your audiobooks through any vendor you choose.

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I chose to go non-exclusive for my second two audiobooks, Dangerous Ties, and Aboard the Wishing Star, and I hired a narrator who is also a musician who could  add music to the audiobooks, which I felt was a nice touch. He charged a flat fee with no royalty split and he can advise me on putting the books onto CD’s or other media so I can sell them at book signings. The options are wide open.

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The process of listening carefully to each tape which is sent, chapter by chapter and making sure the audio matches the words on the page is a slow and time consuming one. It is also a slow process for your narrator to narrate the book. Then when everything is done for the narration, you will need an audiobook cover, so that can be an additional expense if your cover artist charges extra for that form which is a square and changes your cover some.

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So you have your audiobook done and now it’s time to promote it. ACX will give you 25 free download codes to send to reviewers. But be careful how you use them as those codes can be used for any audiobook in the store, not just yours. In the wrong hands and you won’t even see any reviews. Vet your reviewers.

Things were going well, I had the new audiobooks finished and out there, sales were coming in slowly, reviews were coming in, and then Audible came out with their romance package. Similar to Kindle Unlimited, this allows readers/listeners to listen to audiobooks if they pay for the romance package. Instead of royalties on a sale, authors would get paid when the books were listened to.

Neither KU or this romance package are in favor of authors, if you look closely at them. This is akin to …let’s say, you are a peach seller, selling cans of peaches. But you only get paid when someone opens the can and eats them. Cans of peaches can sit on someone’s shelf a long time. So can an ebook or an audiobook. The one who benefits the most is the seller of the KU program or the seller of the romance package. Authors, not so much. Like that can of peaches, the book may be a good purchase, a yummy purchase. But until someone opens it and takes that first bite, we don’t get paid one dime. And they have to eat all the peaches or read all the pages for you to be paid in full for your book. I doubt we could get any sellers of canned peaches talked into this kind of a deal. But authors went for it.

Initially I’d said yes to the romance package and tried it for a year. My audiobook sales plummeted. People are busy. They might “buy” your audiobook but that doesn’t mean they have time to read/listen to it. People are busy. This is not a good situation for the author.

After trying the ACX romance package, I sent ACX a letter and pulled my books out of the program. You’d think sales would then have picked up. Enter the next problem.

Pirates. Yes, audiobooks are pirated too and some pirates are so bold they’ll even post Youtube Videos telling readers where to get those books for free. So now we’re not even getting paid for page reads or page listens. Now we are getting zip. Zero. Nada.

Readers keep asking me when I am going to put out a new audiobook. I’m giving a straight answer to this. I’m not. Not until these four audiobooks earn out the costs of producing them. Until that day, I can’t afford to put another one out there. Publishers need to be profitable to stay in business. This is true of Indie authors and Indie publishers. When my audiobook sales pick up, then you will see more of my audiobooks.

Here’s some straight talk, JA Konrath style: I have $1,810.00 invested in the production of these four audiobooks. The shortest one was $310.00 to narrate. I’ve sold a total of 128 audiobooks since 2016 when I put the first one out and brought in $236.57 so far. Not even enough to cover the cost of producing the smallest audiobook.

This morning I spent time sending take down notices on pirated copies of all four audiobooks. Pirates suck. They just do. And if you are a reader/listener who downloads from pirated sites, then you are in receipt of stolen merchandise. You might as well be holding up banks and liquor stores, or fencing stolen property, all of that is theft and helping people steal and you suck. I don’t want to hear your excuses, because no excuse changes the fact that you are a thief. I hope the karma bus comes fast and hits you hard with what you deserve.

Newer authors often ask me about putting their books into audio. Well, here are the facts as I have experienced them so far with my audiobooks. Two of those books were RONE award nominated ebooks and that’s a reader vote. In case anyone was thinking my books might suck. It’s not my books that are the problem and I have those reader votes to back me up. What sucks are the pirates and the systems of paying authors and narrators for their work. Remember on a 50/50 royalty split, the narrator is getting screwed by these pirates too.

I’d like to end on a positive note, so I will take this time now to say I am truly, eternally grateful for my readers and reviewers who have purchased my books and left reviews. You are why I continue to write and put my books out there. You are the treasures in this pirate filled world and I thank God for you.

Legitimate places to get Debra’s audiobooks:

Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/author/debra-parmley/id411082477?mt=11

Audible:

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_pd_Romanc_c2_1_auth?searchAuthor=Debra+Parmley

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1509300092&sr=8-1

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For more about Debra visit: debraparmley.com

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Indie Marketing Tip #1, part 2 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot – Glamour Shots vs. Author Headshots

Branding is – always being yourself.

Remember when I said in Indie Marketing Tip #101 how you could sum up branding by figuring out exactly who you are and then acting like it? Well, it’s a good thing if you look like it too. This was my first professional author head shot and it was taken by Studio at an RWA convention in 2006, not long after my first manuscript, A Desperate Journey, was in the American Title II competition. We all had to have a website before we even had books out and the first photo I had up on my site was a quick photo my husband had taken in the kitchen on our little camera. That first photo didn’t have the clarity a professional shot had and it was a bit fuzzy when picked up by my hometown newspaper for an article they ran, so I, along with many other authors at the convention, signed up and paid for professional photos.

For the photo shoot we were to bring a couple outfits to get some different looks, so I picked three of the outfits I’d packed and did my makeup, basically got all dolled up. The shoot proceeded with lots of shots, three outfits which meant some quick changing, and a lot of posing here and bending there to get the angles the photographer wanted. He was a great photographer and he was creative. He was also used to shooting models. In this shot he moved the lighting to go for “something different.” He liked the way it turned out and called it his “fire shot.”

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The photographer called this his “fire shot” and it was used in their marketing. 

While it was very cool, the photo pulled attention to my hair and the light behind it which lit up. The photo was also touched up in the same way photographs are touched up for fashion magazines. Notice, not one freckle showing. So while it is me, it’s just like the photos you see in fashion magazines – touched up. I don’t believe my skin ever looked that flawless. This photo was used in some of their marketing materials, people would tell me about it even when I wasn’t at an event and so this photo was around for a while, which was quite flattering, but – did it help me sell books? I suspect it mostly helped sell photography services.

For years, when my husband would hand out my bookmarks, people would say, “Is that your wife?” Yes, that’s probably a compliment. But maybe, the ones who had met me were thinking – she didn’t look like that when I met her. The idea here is to sell books, not sell my face, since I’m not a fashion model. The idea is not to sell my hair in a fire shot, cool as it is. Eventually I caught onto the fact that people weren’t recognizing me at large book signings with many authors and I knew I needed to use a different photo.

Of course we want to look our best, but remember, your reader needs to recognize who you are in the photo and who you are at a signing or anywhere else you’re appearing so that you aren’t lost in the crowd. If your photo doesn’t match your regular appearance, they might have a little more trouble recognizing you. Yes, it is your image, your face, but let’s think for a minute about what you are selling. Try to keep your hair, makeup, clothing, etc. close to your usual style – this is not a glamour shot, it’s a professional author head shot, so no fancy makeup or hair is needed.

Watch out for that author ego. We all have one. Not enough of one and you’d never put a book out there. But don’t let it take the wheel and go veering off in a different direction. Would it be tempting to use a glamour shot? Sure. Would it be tempting to use a picture from 2006 instead of 2018 because I was twelve years younger? (And who doesn’t look better in younger pics – most do.) Sure. But that choice would not be the best one.

When you choose a head shot, try to select one that looks like you do now so your readers can find you. And if you change your look drastically as we sometimes do, it might be time for a new head shot.

– Debra Parmley

Visit my website!

 

 

 

 

Indie Marketing Tip #1 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot

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Indie marketing tip #1 – “Keep your profile pics/head shot out there. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t read your work.” – tip from Mike Pettit Your face should be recognizable. Imagine being at a signing event of 350 authors. I bet if you read romance you could pick out the big names, like Nora Roberts. Friends and fans love this pic which was taken of me with my first book by Monica Parks. I love it too, it’s fun and is a good memory for me. But, guess what it doesn’t do? Boost my brand. You need a full head shot to do that. Branding – it’s important. I’ve listened to a lot of people give talks on branding and have read about it. I’m going to sum up branding as simply as I can, to cut through some of that for new Indie authors. Your brand. How do you brand yourself? New authors often ask me that question. Here is the answer I always give. Branding: “To brand yourself first you must know who you are and then act like it.” – Debra Parmley So there are two steps. Do you know who you are? Ego comes up in this topic. And what is ego? It’s our personality, the things that make us who we are. We came down here to earth to be somebody. Remember that. Living small does not serve you well. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Not enough and you’d never put yourself out there. You’d hide in your author cave. Too much and you’d be insufferable to be around. But you are in control of that. So know who you are. The more you figure that out, the better your branding will be. And guess what the experts who will charge you money to brand you are going to ask? The same questions you have to ask yourself to figure this one out. So you figure that out and then, step #2, you act like it. Be true to yourself. There is only one you. And readers want to get to know you. Every social media site out there is going to want a profile picture. Because that is step one of people getting to know you. So… profile pic = head shot. And as Mike Pettit says, you need to post new ones to keep your brand, your face out there. I’m going to take my own advice here and will be changing my profile pic once a week. Will call it Brand Boost. Cause I have to boost my brand. There are thousands of authors out there and we have to keep boosting our brand if we want to be remembered.

Re-Releasing Kindle Worlds Books

It has been exactly one month, thirty days to the day I last blogged about Kindle Worlds closing and how authors must adapt and adjust. Today I’m happy to share that Montana Marine, which is in Elle James Brotherhood Protectors Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Twisted Pages Press, Elle’s new publishing house! I’m also excited to share that Protecting Pippa, which is in Susan Stokers Special Forces Operation Alpha Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Aces Press, Susan’s new publishing house!

The covers will be slightly redone to remove the Kindle Worlds logo and to be fitted in the new templates for each series, but the titles and the cover models poses will remain. I’ve posted them below. The books will come out in ebook first and will be available on Kindle, but print is now an option which would not have been possible with Kindle Worlds. So, I’m excited about the future and can’t wait to have the books back out along with some new books.

Then in August I’ll have a new Brotherhood Protectors book, Defensive Instructor, out! And I’ll have a new Special Forces Operation Alpha book, Split Screen Scream out! Now to get this done I have adapted and adjusted again, putting the other books on hold. Those will follow these new releases.

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Adapting and Adjusting is an Author’s Life

If there was one skill set or one set of tools I would recommend every author carry in their author tool box, it is the ability to adapt and adjust. I would go so far as to say it is the one set of tools every person needs to survive and to succeed in life. I am blessed to have acquired these abilities or skills and very thankful for them.

If there is one constant in the author world today, or in our modern world today, it is that things change and they often change fast and unexpectedly.

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As an author I’ve survived more things than I can count, though I’m going to attempt listing the major ones. I’ve survived many rejection letters, and then competing for a publishing contract with a major publishing house during the American Title II contest and having my husband flatline for three minutes nearly losing him and seeing him on total life support during that contest but then soon after being voted off the island of that contest. I’ve survived receiving “the call” for the sale of my first book while looking at the letter on my desk which would sever the contract with my agent. Finding out later the editor at the house who bought it never received the last chapter. They bought it missing a last chapter. I’ve survived being passed to five different editors at that house and the house sitting on two manuscripts before being orphaned at my publishing house. I’ve survived firing two PR people, one after my father passed, who’d done nothing to promote my new book launch. It came out with no promo beyond what could be done the day it came out. I was with five publishing houses and of those, two are no longer in business. In some cases I was never paid my royalties. I never received my advance from the first house I was with. I’ve survived internet trolls and bad reviews, slings and arrows, whatever you want to call the things people fling at you when they want to pull you down. I refuse to be pulled down. Through it all, I survive. Beyond that I am determined to thrive. To succeed. To do what I love and to share my stories with the world. I write because I love it. I protect my writing with a ferocity few have ever seen and which has even surprised my husband.

Recent news reminded me it was time to adapt and adjust again. And that is exactly how I see it. Kindle Worlds is closing. We just got the word this week and my email came while I was in the hospital. Boy, talk about timing. I had three more books scheduled to come out in two different Kindle Worlds. So of course this affects my writing and publishing schedule for 2018. It affects my today and my tomorrow. The next book was to be out in June. I’m now readjusting my planner and turning to work on a different story. And that is what we authors must do if we are not only to survive but to thrive. Not just on a financial level but on an emotional level as well, on a happiness level.

How much time do you spend on the negative curve that has just been thrown your way? Change can propel you to better and greater things or it can bog you down, if you let it. Don’t let it. Adapt and adjust as quickly as you can. The past is the past and needs to remain there. You are in charge of your tomorrows. Make them good ones.

Today I am working on book three which will be in this box set, tying my first two westerns together. Tying them together and wrapping up the past into the future where good things can and will happen. Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection containing A Desperate Journey, Dangerous Ties, and Deadly Adversaries. Look for it soon.

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Sometimes you just have to write a monster… or bake one

Sometimes you just have to write a monster … or bake one.

Did you know I have a story with a monster in it? I have one story where a monster appears. Vague Directions has a shape shifting monster. A hamster. Yes that’s right. A hamster. Sometimes my imagination surprises even me. I was writing and a shape shifting hamster monster appeared and went after the heroine. Sometimes when you are writing, thinking you are writing a certain kind of story something will pop up and insist it be written. This is how I ended up with a monster in the short story.

Writing students will often hear me say, you must write things out of you. If something wants to be written, then you must write it. Otherwise it will nag at you while you are trying to write. So, write those monsters out when they pop up. Get them out an onto the page. Then you can go on and write something else. It is best not to bottle things, monsters especially.

We are celebrating everything monsters this month on my social media. Hence these contests.  I am giving away 13 ebook copies of Vague Directions for Halloween. How do you play to win?

I love cookies and monster cookies especially. The pic above is of the monster brownies I baked last week. I just had to make them. Halloween holiday foods are so much fun and I have two boards on my Pinterest page to collect the pics. Now here is how to win.

WHAT you need to do is ADD Monster Cookie Recipes or Food Recipes in our PINTEREST FOLDER on Author Debra Parmley’s Facebook Page. MY FB AUTHOR PAGE LINK: https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

We will then ADD them here so that I can keep them and write the book: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/monster-cookies/ & https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/monster-foods/

THEN to ENTER our Contest: Email my PA: marandameltonpa@gmail.com using subject line: Vague Directions Ebook. 13 LUCKY Winners will be chosen on November 1st. YOU MUST SAVE RECIPES TO DEBRA’S FACEBOOK FOLDER & EMAIL TO BE CONSIDERED TO WIN. Good luck and we look forward to hearing from you. – Debra Parmley

 

Calculating Pages and Word Counts

How long is your book? My first book had to meet a 100,000 words goal to be submitted back in 2007. (Picture of me with my first book A Desperate Journey by Monica Parks Photography.) Much has changed since then but figuring your word count has not.

For the length of your book here is a guide to page counts and word counts.

How many pages have you written today? Keep writing!

How close to finishing your book are you? Keep writing!
The industry average is 250 words per page (pages of course vary with more dialog or more narrative)

Pages              Words
50                   12,500
100                 25,000
150                 37,500
200                 50,000
250                 67,500
300                 75,000
320                 80,000
350                 87,500

If you wrote 7 pages a day in 50 days you’d have 50,000 words. You can do it!
How fast do you write? How many pages a day can you get in? This chart may help you to estimate how soon you can be done with your book and reach the goal of your page count for the book.
Now get going! How many pages can you write today?

 

 

New Class for 2017 – The Book That Wants to be Born

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The Book That Wants to Be Born

……taking your book from idea to print by multi-published, best selling author Debra Parmley

Saturday, January 21st, 2017 11 am – 4 pm 
(includes an hour for lunch on your own)

Ervin Hypnosis Center – 2865 Summer Oaks, suite 100 Bartlett, TN 38134 (just outside Memphis)
$65 per person Energy Exchange

Debra will provide practical exercises and helpful information about the process and content of writing, as she shares from her personal experience to inspire those on the writing path. Come with your book ideas and leave with a valuable set of tools you can use daily to tackle common writing challenges and enrich the quality of words on the page to make your book a marketable success.

Do you have a book idea but no idea how to start?
Have you started but bogged down in the middle?
Are you having trouble finishing your book?
Do you have a finished first draft and no idea what to do with it?
Is your book finished but you’re unsure whether to self publish or to try to get in with a traditional publisher?
Are you full of questions and wish you could talk to an author trained in fiction, nonfiction and poetry who has experience writing and publishing? If so, this class is for you.

Bring your questions, a pen and notebook for note taking and writing exercises, and most of all – your idea, your book, which is ready to be born.

Best selling author Debra Parmley began her career in traditional publishing in 2008 and went on to publish with five publishing houses before opening her own Indie press in 2015. An award winning hybrid author with training in fiction, poetry and nonfiction, Debra brings a unique approach to her writing classes and seminars.

RSVP for this special experience to Madra Little at 901-827-0023 (call or text)
If you are on Facebook, here is the link to the event page. https://www.facebook.com/events/1762910250697759/

My new radio show Book Lights – Shining a Light on Good Books!

I have a new job working for Circle of Seven: Readers Entertainment and a new radio show!

Book Lights – Shining a Light on Good Books!

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Every Tuesday night at 8:30 eastern, 7:30 central, 5:30 Pacific I am live on the air interviewing authors and chatting about their books. The interviews are taped and turned into a podcast later that evening after the live show winds down.

Here are the interviews I have done so far! Enjoy!

Interview with Sheila English:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/05/04/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-sheila-english

Interview with Lydia Michaels:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/27/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-lydia-michaels

Interview with Sharon Sayla:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/13/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-sharon-sala

Interview with Ariel Burns:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/06/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-arial-burnz

 

Belo Dia Publishing

Perhaps you have noted it’s been a while since I posted to this blog. To say I have been busy would be an understatement. 2015 saw me with five publishers and multiple deadlines to meet. Much has changed since then. I am now a hybrid author with my own small boutique press and I am still with two other publishers.

The name of my new press is Belo Dia Publishing. Belo Dia is Beautiful Day in Portuguese. Debra Logo cmyk

If you hang out with me long enough eventually you will hear me say this, “Every day we are alive is a beautiful day.” This belief permeates every cell of my being.

At Belo Dia, we aim to publish books which uplift and celebrate each beautiful day we are here on this earth together. Currently we are publishing romance and poetry.

I love the new logo. It expresses everything I wanted in a logo. The sun rising up above the green hills, rising out of the pages of the books we publish, with the solid core of the publishing house beneath.

The first part of 2016 I spent re-publishing all the back list books I had reversion of rights for. They are out now in both print and in ebook with new covers. Moving on to publish new works, I have two new works out and am working on a third. One goal I have for 2016 is to publish my back list books in audio, an option I did not have before when they were with other publishers. The future is bright here at Belo Dia where every day is a beautiful day.