Wednesday, September 11, 2019

In The Age of Audio, Why Don't You Have an Audio Book?

I'd like to start this post with a moment of real talk; I didn't listen to music until I was a teenager.

Now that is not to say I didn't know what music was, or that I'd never heard it before. I was raised with Disney classics the same way any kid was, and my parents listened to tunes on the radio while we were out driving. I had a few cassettes from a handful of singers that I would sometimes listen to while I did chores. However, I didn't actually know what the radio function on my tape deck was for until my age was measured in double digits, and although the massive cassette box I kept under my bed was full of tapes, about 90 percent of them were just audio books.

Read to your kids, people.
The story told around my family gatherings was that, from the time I was born, my dad would read me stories. Even while I was in the hospital, and I was there a long time since I was a preemie. Grimm stories, literary classics, penny dreadfuls, it was all the same to me. As I got older, I always wanted my family and my teachers to read to me. Even when I could read myself (something I apparently did pretty early), I never lost my love of listening to people tell me stories.

Then, when I started making friends in middle school and high school, I learned how absolutely weird that was. Nobody I knew purposefully listened to audio books. Most people knew what they were, and a few people had heard them on family trips or in English class, but no one had preferred readers for certain texts. And radio plays... well, that was something nobody else I knew growing up had ever heard of.

And it makes sense, when you think about it. Books on tape were sort of a niche thing, listened to primarily by old folks who missed the days of radio, traveling salesmen, and those who couldn't see to read a traditional book. Worse, these things were expensive. Even when you used volunteers, including people like Edmund Kemper, the Coed Killer (seriously), these things took a lot to produce. Time, energy, tape, distribution, and so on, and so forth. That meant that it was something you usually needed a big publisher backing you for if you wanted to get it done.

However, these days, you can get an Audible free trial and two audio books just for the asking over at Amazon. What a time to be alive, eh?

What The Hell Happened?

The Internet has changed everything, and that includes the way we create and consume content. You don't need to have an entire recording studio, a sound engineering degree, and access to dozens of special effect archives to make an engaging audio book anymore. Now all you need is a halfway decent mic (the Samson Go Mic Portable USB microphone is one I can personally recommend for a tool that gets the job done for under $40), a computer with some free recording software on it (Audacity can work wonders), an Internet connection, and a nice, quiet place to record in.

Mixing boards are fun, but definitely not required.
But once you've put in all the effort to finish the book, how do you get paid for it? Well, you could theoretically put it on a platform like YouTube, but as I said in Writers On YouTube? Prepare For An Uphill Battle, that is a lot easier said than done. And, of course, if someone can just listen to you read your book for free, then why would they bother buying a copy of it? While a free sample on a platform like YouTube can be a great way to whet your listeners' appetites, you need more than that.

That's where ACX comes in.

Your Destination For Audio Sales

While far from the only platform out there, ACX is one of the go-to places for people who want to get an audio version of their book out there to be listened to. Once you have an account you can either upload audio that you've recorded and cleaned up yourself, or you can put out a call for someone to record your book and enter into an agreement with a reader. This second one is more involved, as you have to listen to auditions, and you'll end up splitting your royalties with whoever you pick, but a good reader goes a long way in making sure you have a quality product when all is said and done.

You get what you pay for in this racket.
Once your audio book is recorded, you can put it up on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon, attaching it to your existing book and getting as many sales as you can manage.

It Really Is That Easy (If That's The Right Word)

Getting an audio book on the market is worlds easier than it once was. In fact, anyone with access to a computer and a mic can get it done, if they're willing to put in the time, energy, and to get over the learning curve to edit the audio and smooth it out. That doesn't make it easy, anymore than writing a good book is easier just because you can publish your novel online in this day and age. But it is one more roll of the dice you can take, and one more thing you can do to stay competitive.

After all, someone who loves to listen to audio books on their commute might be more than happy to give you a try because they like your reader. Then once you've got them hooked, they'll start working the way through the rest of your catalog. Happens every time.

Like, Follow, and Stay Tuned!

That's all for this week's Business of Writing! If you'd like to see more of my work, take a look at my Vocal archive, or at My Amazon Author Page where you can find books like my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife!

If you'd like to help support my work, then consider Buying Me A Ko-Fi, or heading over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page! Lastly, to keep up with my latest, follow me on FacebookTumblrTwitter, and now on Pinterest as well!

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