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Messages - jmb3

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My first novel was bought by a German publisher before I'd started writing the rest of my series. It has done well over there and I've gained a German readership. Last year, I had my agent reach out to the publisher to see if they wanted the rest of the series and they declined. I've been wanting to translate the other books myself but the process has always seemed so daunting. A few months ago I finally started researching. After checking out translation companies and babelcube I settled on Upworks after speaking with an author friend using that service. You have to do all the legwork so it's not as easy but I've been pleased with my experience so far. On Upworks, you post your project with the amount you are willing to pay and the translators contact you if they are willing to accept your offer (if you underprice the good ones will pass your offer by). Once I had two top contenders, I requested samples and gave them to a couple of my German readers. They were the ones who picked my narrator for me. They knew my voice and humor and felt she best captured my style. She's now working on my third book and I'm really happy how everything is going. Best of all, she is German but located in the US so I don't have the whole copyright issue to contend with. Upworks is less expensive than translation companies but more expensive than Babelcube—you have to pay upfront—but once it's done, you own your own translation and never have to split the profits with anyone.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Are we sure that Audible isn't collapsing?
« on: October 23, 2020, 11:13:10 pm »
I'm sad about the Escape program going away, though, as I did very well in that. That's been the source of a lot of my audio money this year. I didn't have everything in it, but what I had in it made me good money. It's also garnered me thousands of audio reviews, which helps you in audio.

I am also sad about Audible Escape shutting down as my experience mirrors Usedtoposthere. I had two books (plus an Audible Original) in the program and those earned bonuses every quarter from the very start of the program. In addition, I found many new listeners through the Audible Escape who went on to buy the rest of my series. I realize my experience wasn't the norm but, just like with KU, there were plenty of authors who did well in the program.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Your ACX Promo Code Strategy?
« on: October 18, 2020, 06:05:40 pm »
Now that I have an established following at Audible, I use mine for Facebook takeovers or when I drop into an audiobook only group. Instead of focusing on reviews, I use them to build my fan base in audiobooks-sort of like the 'first in series free' approach. The hope is the free audiobook will hook them and they'll go on to listen to the rest of the series. I do ask if they like the audiobook to consider reviewing it but I don't make it a requirement.   

Writers' Cafe / Re: 5000 sales in 1 Year as a new author ... Realistic?
« on: October 18, 2020, 05:46:26 pm »
Honestly, I'm not a big epilogue fan myself. I hate the trend of extended epilogues. I cannot wait until I stop writing them, but they've been good for signups. After reading and writing romance for so long, I do feel like non-romance books end abruptly, but I don't really like an epilogue where everything is settled. It makes me sad to think the characters' adventures are over.

I made the mortal sin of not including an epilogue in my standalone after providing them in my series. I figured, it's a standalone. No one will care. Well, let me tell you, they cared. Every other review mentioned the lack of epilogue. Most deducted a point from my stars because of it. 🤣 This particular story was released as an Audible Original, which means it was exclusively in audiobook format for three months, so when it finally released in ebook and paperback you better believe there was an epilogue in there.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Are any new indie authors breaking out anymore?
« on: September 24, 2020, 02:21:08 pm »
I broke out with my debut novel four years ago (May 2016) as a brand spanking new writer-so not really recent but certainly after the indie boom. I released my book 'Cake' into KU with a homemade 'cover creator' cover, no editing, no following, no social media, no author friends, no marketing, and no flippin' clue what I was doing. Within days, it took off. Ended up going all the way to #8 on the overall Amazon bestseller list (with the help of a 99c Bookbub deal three months after release) and was a KU All-star for seven months in a row (top 10 for three of those). It was crazy. The audiobook - released four months after the ebook - did even better. I can't explain what happened and it has NEVER happened again but it definitely jump-started my career as a writer.

I didn't tell anyone I'd written a book but when my debut novel became a surprise success, I had no choice but to tell my husband (we had a joint checking account and, as a stay-at-home-mom for 20 years, I had no way to explain the money about to start coming in). After the initial shock, my family as well as my extended family have been very supportive. I've never asked any of them to read my books but some have. My mom is the biggest fan of my books and even travels with me to signings as my 'momager.'

And, while my husband and college-age kids are proud of my success, if I tell them I can't do something because I have a deadline or am reviewing my audio files or other things related to my book business, they are not always understanding. Maybe because I work from home or because they grew up with me always being there for them, but my kids definitely don't consider my job as a 'job' like their dad's job. My job is great for financing family vacations but not so great when they want undivided attention. Haha. I just don't think most people realize what an accomplishment it is to be successful in this business. It's so much more than just writing the book, which is hard enough, and I think that is why we often feel so alone in this adventure.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Do you plan to include the virus into story?
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:13:59 am »
I've written a quarantine series in my reader group featuring the characters from my romance series and it has been so popular that I've decided to turn it into a novella and release it in both ebook and audio (hopefully Amazon will allow it through). I keep it light, mostly, with lots of laughs at the things we can all relate to but I don't shy away from the realities either (three of my characters have coronavirus, one is very ill but survives). I've had nothing but positive response so I do think you can write about the pandemic if it is relatable in a way that doesn't make the readers' skin crawl.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anybody else feel this way?
« on: July 02, 2020, 02:18:29 pm »
Congratulations on your pregnancy. I can't imagine writing with little ones. I didn't start writing until my youngest was in high school. You are brave.

Like you, I'm a slow writer (I haven't released anything in over a year) and am also dealing with feeling like I've lost my mojo. I wonder if the 4-year mark is when burnout hits a lot of writers. I know several authors who started when I did four year ago who are also struggling with motivation and self-doubt. I wish I could blame my problem on the virus but this started well before that monster ever reared its ugly head. This is a tough business with both an excess of praise and negativity. Its easy to get down on yourself. Maybe take a step back-before the expectations and before the deadlines-and remember what you like about writing. :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Deal Nomination for
« on: June 10, 2020, 12:03:01 am »
Hi Lydniz, be careful with the India deals only. I'm in an author group with some very established authors and this topic recently came up. The overwhelming consensus was not to give you book to a Kindle India deal because pirating is big there and you don't want anything to draw attention to your brand. And if this is a bestseller, I'd be doubly weary.  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: ACX & Audible in different territories?
« on: June 09, 2020, 11:43:58 pm »
Hi Javelin, I hope I have understood your question correctly but your English title audiobook should be available in all Audible marketplaces. You do not need a new title for other territories unless you have the audiobook translated. For example, I have all my English language audiobooks in but I also have one of my audiobooks translated into German on .de as well.

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Future of Audiobooks?
« on: April 05, 2020, 05:40:00 pm »
In my four-five years of self-pubbing, I have come the conclusion that just because something worked great for someone else doesn't mean it will necessarily work for you. You really have to find your own way and what works for you.

This is so true. I tried going wide with all the advice of friends who have done so successfully but I failed to pick up a strong enough readership outside of Amazon even with two Bookbub feature deals during the six month period and a first in series free. I lost so much revenue being out of KU that I finally gave up.

I gave those same 'wide' friends advice on how to do well in audiobook, which is where I'm more successful, and they have not been able to replicate my results.

It's frustrating to hear advice that doesn't translate to you - or your writing style - but I keep listening because when things do stick - it's flippin' awesome. 

Pittacus Lore does this with his very popular 'I Am Number Four' series. But I doubt Lorien's ruling elder would be able to write anything outside of this universe. Sounds like a fun idea though. :))

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Future of Audiobooks?
« on: February 28, 2020, 05:29:31 pm »
So, do you all think it's the legit future, or just a phase that will always be around, but will lessen over time?

From where I'm sitting audiobooks are not a phase. I make about 60% of my income from audiobooks and my growing following consists of a VERY enthusiastic group of listeners. Like Rick Gualtierri, I've sold tens of thousands of audiobooks on Audible in just three years for only five titles (I have another title out but its an Audible Original and doesn't count toward my numbers).

The audiobook market is not just growing but thriving. Facebook audio groups are cropping up everywhere with thousands of members who are searching for new authors and new titles voiced by their favorite narrators. The last two signings I've been to have had a bustling narrator table with women literally screaming when they met their favorite male narrators. One of those popular narrators has voiced three of my books and his fans were coming to my table to buy my books so he would sign them too. It's a real market and I'm thankful that, despite never having listened to an audiobook, I made the decision to jump into it only six months after my debut novel released.

One piece of advice though. Narrators are everything (at least in romance). If you want to give yourself the best chance of gaining a loyal following in audio - and don't already have name recognition (as I do not) - then don't skimp on your narrators whatever you do. :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Audio books on Youtube?
« on: January 17, 2020, 12:24:07 pm »
The audiobooks on YouTube have been pirated. The author gets no revenue. Getting the actual pirates off YouTube seems impossible because filling copyright claims against them isn't enough but you can get your individual audiobooks removed by filling out a copyright form with YouTube. The problem is finding them. It used to be easy to find my pirated audiobooks but now the pirates have gotten smarter and they don't use the name of the audiobook or the author name. They list it under narrator and call it 'The Perfect Romance' or something like that. I found several of mine under that type of listing, one with over 40,000 views. 🤦‍♀️

Writers' Cafe / Re: Audiobook Release Timing
« on: January 10, 2020, 12:00:29 am »
You will definitely have higher sales if you release close together but keep in mind that in order to set up an audiobook you have to link it to an ebook or paperback on Amazon (or at least you did a few months ago) so that complicates a simultaneous release. Audiobook fans really appreciate it when the author makes an effort to release close to the ebook and prioritizing them can earn you fans for life. 

Writers' Cafe / Re: Interesting Article on Audio Rights
« on: November 22, 2019, 12:43:46 pm »
Just like every other aspect of producing a book, if the audio production and narration isn't professional quality sales will suffer for it.  Excellent narration can add to the enjoyment of a story, making a good book even better.  Good narration will at least not detract from it.  Less than good narration can make a good book a bad listen.

There's more to audiobook narration than the ability to read aloud.  You have to have a voice, and the skill in reading a story, that people enjoy listening to.

☝️This is so true.☝️

Listeners have become savvier as production and narration improves on audiobooks. Just because you have a book in audio doesn't mean it will do well. Narration is the number one marketing tool one can have in audio. And it can make or break your book. If you write sarcastic scenes and your narrator has no comedic timing, your audiobook is sunk. If you have steamy scenes and your narrator can't groan realistically, your audiobook is sunk. If you have the dishwasher going in the background while you are recording a pivotal scene, your audiobook is sunk.

There is a reason why good narrators are so expensive. They are worth it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: $3.50 Per Audiobook. Sound Right?
« on: October 28, 2019, 02:00:42 am »
Thanks. Yes, I went exclusive out of ignorance and a desire for simplicity. I'll reevaluate that after the year is up. Thanks.

There's nothing wrong with being exclusive to Audible. It is working for you and earning you 40%. What works for one author doesn't work for every author but that doesn't mean it's wrong. I've been exclusive to Audible since the beginning and I'm very happy with them. I have no reason to leave.

226 units is an amazing start. I absolutely think you will break even. My suggestion to you is to get all the books in your series out and that will increase sales on book one. Audiobook listeners are used to being burned when it comes to partial series and since many listeners don't read anymore, they will often skip an incomplete series or wait for the entire series to come out on audio before they give it a try. But the great thing about listeners is that they are a loyal group so once you hook them they stick close.

This happened to me.

I tried to hide the fact that I'd written a book from my husband and family. I wasn't trying to be deceptive. I was a stay-at-home mom for twenty years and had just written the book for fun (after reading a bad rockstar story) while my kids were at school. I never planned to release it but curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know if anyone else would like the book as much as I did so I quietly released Cake into KU hoping maybe a few people would read and review it. I figured once I received some feedback I'd remove it from Amazon and never to be heard from again.

Well, lucky for me, it didn't go as planned. By the end of its first full month, the book was a KU all-star and earning some fat bonuses. As exciting as it was I was panicking because I hadn't told my husband about my secret book baby and, in two months time, there was going to be a chunk of change in our joint bank account that I couldn't explain.

Six weeks after the book released I finally fessed up to my shocked husband and kids. I swear they all thought I was joking because I'd never written anything in my life and suddenly I've got a bestselling book. Pretty funny now but back then... not so much.

I think for a new author Facebook is important. I didn't have a Facebook page when I wrote my first book and I had nowhere for my readers to go after they finished the story. No newsletter, no facebook, no twitter, no instagram. It's not that I didn't want these things, I just didn't understand their importance. My debut was a surprise success and a little overwhelming. It took six months for me to finally get a newsletter and Facebook page up. As a result, I lost a lot of early readers who could have been following me all along and would have been notified of my second book release. As it happened, I just had to hope they'd stumble upon me again at some point down the road.

I'm still not great at interacting with my readers through my newsletter and my Facebook page but I'm very active with my private Facebook group. It's very personalized and it feels like I've gained so many wonderful virtual friends through it. Plus, they are there because they love my books so it's a great boost in confidence when I need a little extra encouragement to write. 

Writers' Cafe / Re: Audible Captions lawsuit
« on: August 24, 2019, 07:30:26 pm »
Below is Audible's response to the lawsuit from their site.

Interesting that they are angling it as an educational program. Also, it says they are working with publishers but maybe they are not including the indie publisher. I have a rep at Audible and have been invited into new programs they were rolling out but I was never asked about the Captions program. But then maybe they aren't planning to caption romance if this is aimed more at educational works.

I'm not counting out Captions just yet because I'm a fan of Audible. I've been to their studios and met the people who work there. They are a great, hardworking group of professionals. I do think the idea was probably a good one, just not thought all the way through.
"Audible response to August 23 claims by the AAP regarding the Captions feature
We are surprised and disappointed by this action and any implication that we have not been speaking and working with publishers about this feature, which has not yet launched. Captions was developed because we, like so many leading educators and parents, want to help kids who are not reading engage more through listening. This feature would allow such listeners to follow along with a few lines of machine-generated text as they listen to the audio performance. It is not and was never intended to be a book. We disagree with the claims that this violates any rights and look forward to working with publishers and members of the professional creative community to help them better understand the educational and accessibility benefits of this innovation."

Writers' Cafe / Re: Audiobook QC Tips?
« on: August 14, 2019, 12:20:05 am »
I totally micromanaged my first audiobook and my narrator did not enjoy that. Haha. I'd never heard an audiobook in my life before mine and I was shocked - and not in a good way. Hearing a girl voicing the guy and the guy voicing the girl - I mean, I knew it was coming but it was cringe-worthy in the beginning. No one else seemed to think so and the audiobook became a big hit. I learned I knew nothing about the audio world. 

So after that experience, I mellowed out and only reported big errors like a missing paragraph. Pretty much everything else I let go because most people who listen to the audiobook don't read along. My male narrator in one book mispronounced the grandma's name GiGi (GG) using a French accent - jee-jee. This was a lady who lived in a trailer park and used a grabber arm to reach things so she didn't need to get out of her easy chair. I even let that go although I cringe everytime I hear it.

The reason I do this is that I use very popular romance narrators with very long waiting lists. If I send something back it can take a couple of weeks to get corrected and I'm typically on a time crush with an Audible preorder. And, I've never once had a complaint about mispronounced or missing words. Either listeners don't hear it or they don't care. In fact, one of my male narrators is known for making small errors and his fans even chronicle and gush over them. 😂

Writers' Cafe / Re: Audiobooks pending review since 2018
« on: August 09, 2019, 05:43:20 pm »
Wow, sorry you are dealing with this. Sometimes audiobooks can be kicked back by the quality control team but as soon as the issue is fixed you can just upload the new file. Of course, you have to wait for it to go through quality control again but eventually, it will be approved. ACX is rightfully picky though and their team picks up the tiniest of recording errors.

But your issue seems bigger than that. How did you produce these audiobooks? Are they self-narrated or did you hire an outside production team? I assume it's not royalty share through acx since I can't imagine them not approving audiobooks coming out of their ecosystem. Did you possibly have forbidden content that was against their rules?

It appears by their response that they had given you some indication why they are holding your audiobooks in 'previous communications' so I'd start there. Good luck. I hope it resolves itself soon.☺️

I fully agree with this.  I'd love to talk to authors who started in the last four years (post KU) who are earning a livable income. It is MUCH harder to break through today than pre-2014.

I started in May of 2016 and my first book hit the top ten most read books in KU with no following, no editing, and no marketing. Not common, but it does happen. Although I've never been able to recreate that magic, I have done well with my series (especially in audiobook), write full time, and have built a pretty good following in just over three years.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Best Paid Advertising?
« on: July 04, 2019, 01:42:29 pm »
One more trick. You can look at running facebook ads of some of your favorite dark romance/MC authors to get an idea of what type of ad copy and image they are using.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Best Paid Advertising?
« on: July 04, 2019, 01:28:54 pm »
I don't understand what you mean target them? When I try to target author names nothing comes up for them. I write in the dark romance/ MC Romance genre.
Where can I do one of these facebook courses???

I feel like a dummy, I spend so much on ads both facebook and Amazon and get practically nothing in return. literally 2 buys for like 100 bucks worth of money spent on ads.

I feel you Rae. I was the same way. Ads scared me - still do - and as soon as I started seeing dips, I'd immediately shut them off. Now, I start by spending $5 or $10 and keep changing the copy or the image until I have a 'winner'. Once I have the 'perfect' ad, I then test different authors until I find the one that works best for my books. Only then do I begin adding additional money to the ad.

The problem with targeting authors is you will only find the traditionally published authors typically - ones with large followings. So you may not be aiming high enough when you enter in the name of an author. Most indies are not targetable.

Not sure where you can find Ads courses. I stumbled upon Skye Warren's class the day before it was to begin. Unfortunately, I believe its only offered once a year and it ended last week. 

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