Last week, I presented my Audiobook Narrator Self-Assessment Quiz. Today, we’ll look at the rationale behind the Baseline and Language questions. Note that these questions don’t have right or wrong answers.
A commenter on my article How to Become an Audiobook Narrator asked me:
I am told that I have a great talent in reading and acting…and for some time I’ve been thinking if I should start doing voice overs as an audio book narrator. What kind of skills do I need to acquire or improve on?
I could — and someday will — write an answer that addresses the part of the sentence that reads “I am told that…”. Today, though, I present my (drumroll)…
If you’re thinking about a career in audiobook narration, answers to these questions will help you determine if you’re a good fit for this type of work.
Do you like to read?
If the answer is NO, stop taking the quiz, and start thinking of some other career option. Seriously.
Do you regularly listen to audiobooks?
If the answer is NO, listen to many more audiobooks in different genres to get a feel for the art form before you continue with the quiz. I’d suggest you’d get a subscription to AudioFile Magazine, which is the industry’s standard for professional reviews, and listen to audiobooks that earned Earphone Awards.
Have you ever heard the sound of your recorded voice?
Have you ever read aloud?
Do you enjoy telling stories?
Do you have training or experience in acting or oral interpretation?
Do you love language?
What is your native language?
Do you know more than 1 language? If so, how would you rate your proficiency in it?
Do you like to work independently or with other people?
Are you a self-starter?
Do you consider yourself organized?
Are you detail-oriented?
Are you adept at time and project management?
Are you thick-skinned when it comes to criticism?
Are you curious? Do you like to learn new things?
How do you deal with constant rejection or perhaps even feeling ignored?
How would you rate your comfort and skill levels with working with technology more complicated than your phone?
How does the thought of learning new software make you feel?
How would you rate your communications and customer service skills?
How do you feel when you need to research something?
Are you able to concentrate on one task for long periods?
Are you patient?
Are you a perfectionist?
What are your financial expectations?
Have you ever worked as a freelancer?
Do you have a day job or other monetary cushion to see you through slow times?
Do you have money set aside for start-up and on-going business costs?
How do you feel about constantly networking and marketing yourself to attract and retain clients?
Do you have or can you make a dedicated recording space in your home?
I’ll talk about the importance of each section and explain my thinking behind many of the questions in these posts:
For now, take some time to reflect on each question, and be sure to date and write down your answers! To encourage you to spend the time needed to reflect on these questions and write the answers, I’ve created this free, downloadable PDF of the quiz.
Updated 28 April 2019
After poring over my Audiobook Marketing Cheat Sheet, an author recently asked me whether QR codes are still relevant and in use.
I responded that the answer to that question depends on who you ask. You’ll find compelling arguments on both sides, but the codes seem to be regaining their popularity.
Lifehacker reported in April that Apple iOS 11 and some Android phones can read QR codes natively, so you no longer need a special app to scan them. Presumably, Apple wouldn’t spend the time and cost to develop this feature if no one wanted to use it. You simply click on the smartphone camera app, point it at the code, and the operating system will scan and convert it for the browser.
This SocialMediaToday article, also from April, talks about Facebook rolling out QR codes for Pages and links to an article about the popularity of these codes in Japan and China.
I agree with the assertions in this article that QR codes continue to be good tools as long as you use them correctly — i.e., only on printed materials though they will scan from the screen — and keep the linked content updated and optimized for mobile access.
I decided to post this article on my blog for narrators because I have a QR code on the back of my business card that links to my web site. This way, I can hand out my business card to someone, and they can instantly connect to and HEAR my demos.
My web site URL is in my email address. Many people would prefer to type it, may not have the ability to scan the code, or may not understand the code.
For what it’s worth, I used business card CDs before I moved back to paper cards with QR codes. While they had a “WOW” factor, they were expensive and time-consuming to produce. In addition, if I changed my demos, I couldn’t update any business card CDs on hand because I had to burn the files onto the CD. What’s worse, people sometimes had difficulties in playing the small, rectangular CD on their system. Today, so many computers are sold without CD readers that I would advise narrators to avoid making CDs.
This article includes a section creating and using QR codes in your marketing. You can use these ideas whether you are promoting a particular book or yourself as a narrator.
Updated in April 2019 to show 3 recent examples illustrating that QR codes are becoming even more entrenched in business:
1. Longhorn restaurants print QR codes on the dining check. You can scan the code in their app and pay for your meal without waiting for your server, saving time for everyone. This measure also gives you added security over your credit card as you never hand it to anyone.
2. Chateau Elan, a resort and winery near my house, must be following my lead as they include a QR code on their business card. Once you scan it, you’re taken to their TripAdvisor page so you can leave a review.
3. VOAtlanta assigned each attendee a QR code in the event app. Rather than swapping and keeping up with business cards, attendees could scan QR codes and have the other attendee’s app profile page added to their contacts within the app.
Congratulations! You’ve got a brand new audiobook! It’s time to get the word out about it!
I minored in marketing while in college and have always loved to think about marketing ideas. Sandra Beckwith at BuildBookBuzz.com recently asked me a number of questions related to audiobook marketing. Our interview was posted today, and you can read it here.
A while back, I wrote 2 articles on the ACX.com blog to address this very topic. In Part One, I explained some reasons why people are resistant to listening to audiobooks. I then offered 3 ways to make your audiobooks more discoverable to an audience, including an invaluable site to use when developing a promotions calendar.
Part Two contains 4 more ways to promote your audiobooks and includes some very specific tactics about several social media sites, such as instructions about adding the audio edition of your title to Goodreads and subscribing to my Twitter list of audiobook reviewers and bloggers.
While I encourage you to mine those articles and their comments for their wealth of actionable steps, I’m excited to share these 6 low-cost avenues of audiobook promotion.
The number one thing that any author can do to sell your audiobook is to consistently alert your fans that you have an audiobook available!
Any time you promote your book, make it a habit to say that the audiobook is also available.
I have been astonished and dismayed by the number of audio rights holders who use ACX to create their audiobooks but then do little or nothing to promote the finished product. The audiobook won’t sell itself!
Some narrators like me heavily promote our titles. However, narrators generally can’t spend much energy marketing any one book as we are constantly recording the next one. The author is the person who wrote the words in the book and has the fan base who most wants to know about — and is most likely to buy — an audiobook edition.
Here are some easy ways to constantly update your fans specifically about your audiobooks:
The popular AudiobookBoom.com site is the brainchild of fellow audiobook narrator Jeffrey Kafer. Audiobook Boom is kind of like BookBub in that it is a paid service where authors and publishers highlight certain titles. However, Audiobook Boom is only for audiobook promotion, and the weekly email newsletters are sent to subscribers who are audiobook listeners.
You pay $10 per title for a Listen & Review ad. If you used ACX to create your audiobook, you will automatically receive 25 Audible promo codes so you can give copies of your audiobook to eager listeners. With a Listen & Review ad, you’ll quickly receive a number of requests for your book from people who are willing to review it.
If you publish an edition of your book in Amazon’s Kindle format, your audiobook is eligible for the Whispersync feature. This amazing technology allows people to switch seamlessly between the Kindle ebook and the Audible audiobook.
I created a 3-minute video that demonstrates Whispersync in action.
Whispersync also increases sales of both editions. Amazon offers a discount on the audiobook if the buyer first purchases the Kindle edition. In fact, some people will buy the Kindle book simply to get the audiobook at a discount.
If you promote your free ebook on services like BookBub, you can expect to see an immediate ripple effect of sales of your audiobook edition. For instance, a recent Kindle Free ad on BookBub resulted in over 300 audiobook units sold the same day! The royalties from the audiobook sales might easily exceed the cost of the BookBub listing!
You’ve probably seen the square black and white boxes on coupons, in magazines, on store shelves, and on actual products. These boxes are called Quick Response, or QR, codes, and you can create a QR code on-line for free.
QR codes link to some content of your choosing on-line and can create a deeper level of engagement with a fan. People with smart phones can use an app that takes a picture of the QR code and immediately sends them to your link.
You could print the image of a QR code on a business card, postcard or flyer that you mail or hand out at your live events. If you have a print edition of your book, you could include a QR code in it.
After scanning your QR code in her phone app to read them, the recipient’s browser opens to the link you used when creating the QR code. For example, you might create a QR code link that sends people to your audiobook edition on Audible, plays the MP3 of the audiobook retail sample, or calls up the YouTube video of your Google Hangout with your narrator.
As you can see in these pictures, I have a QR code on the back of my business cards. Once scanned, my QR code will bring up my web site in the phone browser.
A podcast is defined as a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player.
With the proliferation of smart phones, podcasts are enjoying increased visibility and popularity, and they are a perfect platform for audiobook promotion!
In a Kindle Direct Publishing newsletter, author Hal Elrod, who has sold over 100,000 copies of his self-published ebook, said, “I can confidently say that the number one key to driving book sales has been securing interviews on other people’s podcasts!”
He further commented, “A great place to start is to look on iTunes in the “New and Noteworthy” section to find podcasters who are new (so they’re not inundated with requests) but are gaining a lot of momentum and listeners. Google them, go to their websites, and reach out to tell them how you and your book would add extraordinary value for their audiences!”
You can also seek out interviews on established podcasts. Harper Audio Presents usually features author interviews, even if the author was published elsewhere. In fact, you’ll find many more terrific podcast possibilities by looking in the iTunes store under Podcasts/Art/Literature.
You even can create your own podcast and host it on your web site and/or Soundcloud. For instance, my colleague Ann Richardson and I recorded each of our InD’ear columns and uploaded the recordings to our Narrators Helping Authors Soundcloud account. If you hold a Google hangout with your narrator and/or fans, you can extract the audio and repurpose it as a podcast.
A podcast interview is valuable experience and can definitely drive sales, but a real radio station has many more listeners. However, unless you’re a celebrity author, the media probably won’t come looking for you. As with podcasts, you can contact local radio stations and ask to be a guest on a show.
According to morning show host Wayne Kelly, the key to booking radio interviews is that you do NOT want to approach the producers as an author promoting a book! The producer could fear booking an introverted author who would provide no value to the listeners. Instead, you would position yourself as someone who increases audience interest with your specialized insight and comments about current stories.
First, keep a list of topics covered in your book. Authors who research topics for fictional stories would develop expertise in those areas. When it’s time to publicize the book and audiobook, look for hot topics in the news which tie into your subject matter knowledge.
Google stations in your locale. You then can find them on social media and/or call the station to ask for the email address of the person who books the most interviews.
As you can see, you can market your audiobook with your book and as a standalone product. Want even more ideas for audiobook marketing? You’ll find them on my Audiobook Marketing Cheat Sheet! If you have questions, please leave a comment on the blog or book a personal consultation on my Shop page.
Most of this article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of InD’Tale Magazine. I’ve updated some of the info and links.
As a user of ACX.com since it was in its pre-launch beta test and an Audible Approved Producer, I was delighted when Scott Jacobi, Marketing Director at ACX, asked me to speak on his panel today at this year’s VOAtlanta Conference.
Scott is moderating the panel titled Chapter One — Creating Your Audiobook Career. My fellow panelists are Greg Cooler, Director of Production for ListenUp Audiobooks here in Atlanta, and Andrew Gallagher, the QA Supervisor and Production Evangelist at ACX.
Since we have a wealth of topics to cover in 1 hour, I thought it would be helpful to provide attendees with this curated, short list of companion articles from ACX’s and my blogs. Obviously, you’ll find lots more useful content to aid your career on both our sites!
Top 10 Q&A About Audiobook Production Although I wrote this article for authors, it answers many questions for narrators.
AudioEloquence.com for pronunciation research
Facebook group Indie (ACX and Others) Audiobook Narrators and Producers — You must have a profile on ACX to join this group. The comprehensive group FAQ that I created and maintained will answer more questions that you realized could be possible!