Category: About Writing



Okay, so now that we’ve got all the technical parts of recording covered and how to meet ACX’s requirements, we’re ready to record and submit, right?

Yeah, what the 10th Doctor is saying. There are a number of other non-technical requirements that we have to pay attention to, in order to submit our audio successfully. First off, you need to include opening credits. These are as follows:

-The title of the audiobook

-The subtitle, if there is one

-Written by (Name of the Author)

-Narrated by (Insert your name here)

All of these need to be included in the very first file. Now you can submit this as a separate file, or as part of the first chapter.

Speaking of chapters, each chapter should have its own sound file. When you submit to ACX you’ll be submitting an entire folder of files to them. And each file can only include one chapter, no matter how short. UNLESS… the chapter is so long that the sound file is going to be longer than 120 minutes. In that case, you’ll be breaking that chapter up into more than one file. Remember, no single file can be longer than 120 minutes. ACX is very strict about this.

And since we’re discussing credits, there should also be closing credits at the end of the final chapter or at least the spoken words THE END.  I myself prefer something like this. “The End. You have been listening to “Title of the Book”, written by “Author Name” and narrated by “Your name here”.

You’ll also want to have a separate file to submit that will be a sample of your work so the audience can get a taste of what awaits them inside your audiobook. Do not include anything that contains the opening/closing credits, music, or anything explicit. The sample can be anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes in length. So choose wisely, remember this is part of your ‘hook’ to get listeners to want to hear the entire story from start to finish.

Another requirement ACX asks of submissions is 2-3 seconds of silence or “Room Tone”. Remember where I mentioned having several seconds of silence where we used the “Noise Reduction” function, this is where that section comes into play again. Originally we used it to clean up the entire file. But now we need it as a lead in before any speaking takes place in a file, and they also want another 3-5 seconds at the end of each file. This is a requirement that can and will get you rejected, so make sure each of your files has this 2-3 seconds at the beginning and 3-5 seconds of “Room Tone” at the end.

Be careful of making sure each file is consistent in pacing, vocalization, sound levels, clear speaking, etc. Try to avoid loud mic pops, mouth noises, breathing, etc. (most of which we covered in the previous entries where we covered the technical requirements). Still, try to make sure there is a definite consistency throughout all the files so as not to irritate the listener. People love being drawn into a story and then jarred out of it because of a mistake someone made in the recording. This WILL lead to bad reviews and poor ratings of all your hard work. So take the time to make sure every file is clean and consistent for your own sake.

Next up, Mono or Stereo channel formats. Whichever format you choose ALL the files associated with the audiobook in question must be in the same format. I myself stick to Mono which makes my life so much easier. I personally don’t really know the difference between the two, but Mono is what I use and I keep things consistent that way.

Finally, ACX has one final rule… the narration must be done by an actual human being. Text-to-speech is not allowed. Audible listeners are expecting a performance by a person, so ACX will only accept that and nothing else.

So, we’ve covered technical issues, and the submission requirements for ACX, which means we’re done right…

 

Sorry about that, but there are other things we need to discuss and take into consideration. And all of it falls under “Performance”. How good a narrator are you? Can you bring life to the words and characters or not? How fast should you be reading? What about pauses for the end of a sentence, etc., etc. Are you putting emphasis in the right place for the story?

We’ll go into all that in our next installment. But if you feel you’ve learned all you need, perhaps you’re already an actor or someone who’s just a natural at loud readings. If you are, then best of luck to you and go get ’em!

As for everyone else, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Until then keep writing and reading my friends.


Okay, we covered a lot of technical details in the last entry, but there’s still one more thing I want to talk about today, before going on to other details to consider when doing an audio recording. Regretfully, I’m one of those people with asthma so on occasion you can actually hear me taking a deep breath from time to time in the raw recordings. I do try my best to watch my breathing while I’m recording, but occasionally I take one of those deeper ones that the microphone catches. Now, this may not be a huge problem for audiobooks, but if you’re doing recordings of yourself singing it can be a BIG problem. So to keep yourself covered on both fronts let me introduce you to Noise Gate.

Now, in my case Noise Gate was one of those Effects that I needed to add to Audacity. You may want to refer back to this YouTube Video for how to add an effect to your Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdQq9W6Ot2w

Of course you’ll want to know where do I find the Noise Gate effect so I can upload it?

Here’s the link:

https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Nyquist_Effect_Plug-ins#Noise_Gate

Just click on (noisegate.ny) Download and follow the instructions in the YouTube video to get it into your Audacity Effects Arsenal.

Okay, now that you have Noise Gate among your Audacity Effects, bring up one of your recordings that you’ve done. Select the entire recording and go to Effects and scroll down the list until you find Noise Gate. Mine looks like this:

From the first three options Select Function, Stereo Linking, and Appy Low-Cut Filter: are already selected in this image so just leave them like this.  The same holds true for Gate Frequencies Above, that 0.00 setting is just fine.

The only things I changed were the following:

 – Level Reduction: -30.0

 – Gate Threshold: -30.0

 – Attack/Decay: 50.0

It will remain at these settings unless you change things. Then I hit the OK button and that’s it. On occasion you might need to hit the Debug button, but that may only be the first time you use it, if at all.

This should take out the breaths and now you will have a very clean recording.

From here select the entire recording (Select All) and go to that Analyze option on your Audacity toolbar and select ACX Check. If I’ve done my job explaining things well you should be meeting ACX’s requirements. If not, the analyzer will tell you where you’re falling short and what areas need to be adjusted.  Remember I’m a NOOB when it comes to technical things so you might want to refer to those videos I listed in the previous entry to get more details and insights.

Okay, now you’ve got all your effects and chains in place and you can clean up any recordings you put together. So what else do we have to watch out for? We’re set, right?

Sorry gang, there’s still more to cover (which is why this series has so many installments).  In the next entry we’ll be covering ACX’s other submission requirements: such as giving title, author, who’s narrating, pacing, silence at the beginning and end, chapters, etc.

That’s going to be a lot of material in and of itself so I’m going to close this entry here for now.  In the meantime, experiment with Audacity, learn its many other tricks and functions that I haven’t even touched on. Watch YouTube videos for tutorials, etc.

But above all, keep reading and recording my friends.


Okay folks today we get down into some of the actual nitty-gritty with the Audacity program.  I’m going to be covering a fair amount of info here, while also supplying you with links to various videos that helped me. This way if my own instructions are not clear, or maybe you work better with  a visual, you’ll have the link to see exactly what’s going on.

Now I’m going to introduce you to what I refer to as “My Best Friend” in Audacity. It’s called the CHAIN. What the chain does is applies several clean-up “Effects” that will improve the quality of your recording in one shot. Mind you, it is possible to do every Effect separately, but you’ll probably need to do it every one at a time, whenever you do a recording. The Chain command will have all the Effects  preset at the levels you already need in order to meet ACX’s requirement guidelines and will save you a LOT of time.

However, we will have to do those presets while creating the Chain. This may take some time, but as I said before, in the future you’ll be able to select the Chain command and it will do it all in one shot.  So let’s get started.

Looking at the image above you’ll see Audacity in all its complicated-looking glory. Don’t worry it’s not that scary really. Clicking on “FILE” you’ll get a drop down menu. Just under the Import Option you’ll see Chains. Bring your cursor over it and it will give you two more options Apply Chain and Edit Chains. You’ll want “Edit Chains” so click on that. This is what should come up:

Of course in your case there may not be any Chain names in that first column, aside from maybe MP3 conversion, that came with mine, but I don’t know if this is true for everyone. Nevertheless, you have to create a new chain command of your own. So down at the bottom you’ll hit the Add button. This will start your new Chain. I gave mine the name ACX so I know exactly what it does.

After you give it a name the next thing you’ll see that you have that name highlighted under your Chain List. In the other box you’ll see 01 End. That will wind up getting pushed down to the bottom of your list as you add each effect, so don’t panic. At the bottom of your screen you’ll click on Insert which will bring this up next:

Now you have a list of Effects to choose from. I started with Equalization so select that one. Once you have it hi-lighted you’ll see at the top of that box a button that says “Select Parameters” hit that. This will bring up another screen that looks like this:

Looks intimidating doesn’t it? But all I want you to do is go to the bottom where it says Select Curve and choose the Low Roll-Off For Speech option. Then you’ll take the Length of Filter arrow just above that line towards the right and move the arrow to about 5000. Then click OK.

Congratulations, you’ve just taken care of your Equalizer Effect. Now we’re back on our Command Select screen with Equalization still chosen. You’ll now hit the OK button on that screen and see that Equalization is now part of your Chain.

Not so bad, right? Now we’re going to hit the Insert to add another Command to the Chain. This time I want you to choose RMS Normalize for your next command.

*NOTE: If this or any of the other options I’m telling you to choose is not among your selections, you’ll need to add it to your options. Should this be the case with you, I recommend watching video which is easy to understand and really helpful visually. I used it and it saved me a lot of aggravation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdQq9W6Ot2w. Mind you you might need to restart Audacity to get it to show up among your Select Command options, so make sure you save the Chain you’ve been creating BEFORE closing Audacity down. That way all you’ve done is already still there when you go under File and hit Edit Chains which will bring up your list again and you can select it to continue inserting the new command/effects.

Now back to RMS Normalize. Now remember to choose RMS Normalize, instead of Normalize. These are two very different functions and ACX is focused on RMS Normalize so choose it. Once again it will be hi-lighted and you’ll choose Set Parameters at the top of that window. Once there you’ll get a small window (which I cannot find an image of online #*@%!!! –those symbols were me cursing under my). However, without the image I can tell you there is very little to do here. You’ll simply enter -20.00 in the box marked Target RMS Level. You’ll also make sure the Normalize Sterio Channels is set at “Independently”. Then hit OK.  This will take you back to Select Command  and you’ll hit OK on that window. Now you have both Equalize and RMS Normalize in your chain.

*ANOTHER NOTE ABOUT RMS NORMALIZE: If after you run your chain and  you go to ACX Analyze and it may come back saying the RMS Normalize did not meet their standards. If this happens go under Effects, choose RMS Normalize and this will in turn take you back to that same screen where you set the Target RMS Level. Don’t change anything. Simply hit the “Debug” button (while having your entire recording selected so it will be applied to the whole thing), and then run the ACX Analyzer again after that. This happened to me the very first time I ran my chain and it fixed the problem. And apparently it has become the default because I’ve never had this problem with the RMS Normalizer ever again. Hopefully, you’ll have the same luck.

Finally, we come to the last command in my Chain and that is Limiter. Once again we are back on the Chain screen and hitting Insert. This time from the Select Command we choose Limiter and go back up to the top and click “Edit Parameters”. This is the screen that should come up:

Here you will choose the following. First you’ll want to choose Soft Limit under Type. Then you’ll choose 0 for both Input Gains (or if that’s already your option just leave it). Then -3.5  for Limit to (dB).  and finally 10 for Hold (ms).  As for Apply Make-up Gain: choose the No option. Then click OK. Then select OK on Select Command and you’ll see it as part of your Chain. From here, you’ll simply hit the OK button at the bottom of the Chain Command screen and you are done. You now have a working Chain that you can apply to your entire recording.

To do this, you’ll got to Select at the top of your Audacity screen and choose All. Then you’ll go to File and choose Chains and this time select Apply Chain. From there you’ll select whatever name you gave the Chain and select “Apply To Current Project” and from there the magic happens. The program will tell you which effect it is working on then go straight to the next one and so on until it finishes. You’ll see a visible difference in the wave-lengths of your recording and when you play it you’ll notice a huge difference in the sound quality. Here’s an example of one of mine, the first selection is BEFORE and the second one is AFTER I applied the Chain command.

RAW RECORDING:

AFTER CHAIN APPLIED:

Again you could have applied all these steps individually, but again the time it took to just set this Chain up would be just as long.  But now that you have that Chain you’ll be done in way less time.

Now if anyone found me sounding condescending in how I wrote this piece, please understand I am a total Novice when it comes to tech and I know I’m not the only one out there. So I tried to keep this in terms I know I would understand if I was a reader with the same lack of knowledge.

And in case I left anything out or didn’t explain the processes correctly here are the video links that cover this same material. It took me hours to find these but they were so worth it in the end.

How to Make Your Voice Sound Like Studio Quality in Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20DtRBJXWXU&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJxzwyZjepXTyey_gTeGiF2K&index=25&t=97s

Making Your Voice Sound Better In Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYF5ytMDFpA&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJzrsl94TaEtLVVZts6O10a9&index=3&t=0s

Audacity for ACX:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnutKoBzmpA&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJzrsl94TaEtLVVZts6O10a9&index=6&t=18s

The last video involves adding a Noise Gate, which I will go into in the next installment of this series. I’d do it here, but I’ve probably already overloaded you all with enough info. But watch the video by all means and if you choose to experiment on your own, that’s great.

Until next time keep writing and recording my friends.


Okay, so getting ready to record in the privacy of your own home. Sadly, this will not always be easy. Finding a quiet spot to set up is always tricky at best. But here are a few do’s and don’t’s:

1 – DON’T use your bathroom! It may have great acoustics for singing, but for recording an audio book, not a great choice. Too much echo, unless of course you want that effect for a particular scene where the character is in a cave/tunnel.  But not ideal for an entire book. You’ll drive your listeners crazy.

2 – Do not have any laundry, dishwasher, or loud fans going anywhere nearby. If you’ve got a really good microphone, guess what it will be picked up in the background. Not acceptable to ACX requirements.

3 – Make sure the windows are closed so you don’t pick up outside noises, like traffic or kids playing.

4 – Be prepared to start over… repeatedly! Things happen. You accidentally step on something, or your clothing is crinkly, etc. Where something comfortable and quiet.

5 – Have some water/drink on hand to take a swig between takes (or even sentences). Remember, with Audacity you’ll have the capability to delete sections where something happened you didn’t realize got picked up by the mic.

Some of you are probably wondering, “How do I delete a section in Audacity?” It’s very simple. When you record Audacity not only records but gives you a visual on your computer screen as depicted in the shot below.

You’ll notice how one section of the narration is already hi-lighted. For this discussion let’s say that’s the are you want to delete. Well once you have the area you want to go, simply select it and hit your delete button. It’s that simple. Just be careful you’re selecting just the section you want gone. If you delete too much, you do have the option of “Undoing” the delete by simply moving your cursor over to the Edit on the toolbar line and selecting Undo. Then you can go back and select just the area you had intended to delete. Audacity can be very forgiving. But this only works if you haven’t done another delete already. The Undo is only good for undoing what you just got rid of, not something you removed several deletes back.

The same holds true while you’re recording. If you make a major goof one trick I’ve learned is to snap my fingers near the microphone. This will create a big spike on your Audacity recording so you have a visual which makes it easy to go back and figure out where the error occurred and delete it later on. I will also snap my fingers again when I’m restarting so I can find the dead area between the snaps to delete.

As a rule I DO NOT stop the recording when I make a mistake. I use those snaps and keep recording. I’ll even do this when I’ve recorded a section but wasn’t happy with how it sounded to me. *Remember how I said in the last post that the headphones plug into the Blue Yeti microphone so I hear exactly what the mic is picking up*. Well if I feel I didn’t do a good job on that last section, I’ll snap and redo it. Believe me, those snapping fingers will become your best friend when it comes to editing your recording on Audacity. It makes it so easy to find those sections and delete them and it will save you a lot of time.

Okay, let’s say you’ve finished your recording and have gone through the process of deleting the sections you wanted removed. What comes next?  You’ll probably wind up with a raw version that sounds like this:

You can hear me taking breaths as well as a few noises that the mic still picked up in the background in spite of all my efforts to make things quiet in the room. Furthermore, the decibel levels in some areas will not meet ACX’s requirements. What do we do about those? Well, for sake of length I’m going to cover all of that in our next installment. Sorry if this leaves some of you hanging, but to cover the material properly it will probably be a lengthy entry complete with examples and YouTube links to videos where I learned a lot of what I will be covering.

So stay tuned and keep writing and practice reading aloud my friends.


Okay, continuing with my adventures in recording audios, I left off last time with the image above. Now what you are seeing are the Blue Yeti Microphone, which had a huge amount of reviews over on Amazon. It’s a very versatile microphone in the respects that it can give you several options for picking up sound. It can do 360, if you want a room full of people involved (or to pick up background sound effects), it can do 2-way where you’re on one side of the mic and someone else is directly opposite you, while filtering out the sides somewhat. It also has a setting called Cardioid which is the one I use for audios, this allows you to not have to be directly in front of it at all times, so if you like to move a bit and perform as you record a scene, it catches everything you’re saying. These will plug into your computer’s USB port, so no special attachments. Also, the cord is very long (about 6-7 feet) so you have some freedom of where to set up to get away from your computer and not pick up sound from it.

Now I warn you in advance, this microphone costs at least $90-100+ depending on several factors. Number one are you buying a package deal where you also get a pop filter/professional foam windscreen that fits on top of the Blue Yeti for further filtering of noise. If you’re just getting the microphone go through the color selection. Believe it or not, which color you get it in can raise or lower the price a fair amount. Because I chose this blue color, I got mine for just under $105 instead of being charged $120 if I’d taken the Black or Silver.

Don’t ask me why color matters I have no idea. I just went with what was cheaper and it kind of reminded me of the color of the Tardis in Dr. Who… one of my all time fav shows.

Also, I warn you that this is NOT a small microphone. In its stand that comes with the microphone, this puppy is a full 1 foot tall and almost 3-4 inches wide at the base. The microphone itself can be  removed from the base and attached to a swing arm, but make sure the arm can handle the weight and stay in position. There are swing arms designed for the Blue Yeti, but that’s more money so go with what your budget will allow. Personally, I just keep mine on a bureau in a quiet corner of my room and record while standing and performing. Now when I say performing, I mean reading not singing. I like to add silent gestures as I record which allows me to get more emotion and emphasis to come across in the readings.

Next you’ll want closed over the ear headphones. In my case, they plug directly into the bottom of the Blue Yeti Microphone. This is a big plus in my book, because I could hear exactly how I sound over the mic as well as hear background noise that is being picked up. This in turn allowed me to turn things off, re-position the mic to cut down a lot of the noises it was picking up. And believe me, even in Cardioid mode, that mic will pick things up so pay attention to what you’re hearing. I don’t have a specific brand of headphones to recommend I’ve had this pair for 2 years already and with the way technology keeps changing, they are probably obsolete. But they’re great for my purposes.

Now comes the biggie, what audio recording system to use. In my case, I went with Audacity which is a free download (here’s the link: www.audacityteam.org/download/).

I highly recommend getting fully acquainted with this software and its many features. And believe me it has a lot! Now, if you’re like me (who is a complete audio neophyte) you may want to go over to YouTube and look up some videos to learn how to navigate and use Audacity to its fullest before launching into full-recording mode. If you’re already well-versed, I salute you and wonder where the hell were you when I was looking for advice.

I will go much deeper into the specific functions I use with Audacity in another post, but for now I wish to focus on the equipment I’m using. But one thing I will say about Audacity is that it has one particular function I’m very excited about.  Along the toolbar at the top of the screen of Audacity is a button titled Analyze. When you click on that, a pull down menu appears and one of the options is ACX Check, which will become your best friend/enemy. When you’ve got your recording done an think it’s ready to go, you will click on ACX Check and it will analyze your work and tell you whether or not it meets the technical sound requirements to be moved onto Audible.  If your recording doesn’t meet the standards, it will tell you why and what needs to be improved.

Now all of what I’ve covered today is strictly for recording inside your own home. If you can rent studio space, they’ll have all the equipment and soundproofing already covered (hopefully). I’ve never been to one, so I cannot say much on that front. But, recording audios in your own home can be done, but it will take some effort. I’ll cover what I did to prepare and get cleaner sounding recordings in the next two-three installments of this blog.

Until then, take care and keep writing/recording my friends…


As many of you have learned from my last post, my great adventure in audio recordings has begun. So far I have recorded only the one short story “Wolves and the Northern Lights”, which comes from our first anthology book “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”. But simply recording one story is a far cry from turning a full-length novel into an audiobook. However, that is indeed my long term goal. At this point, I’m keeping things simple for myself as I still get used to the equipment both for recording as well as editing to get the best sound quality for listeners.

To keep things manageable for myself, I’m planning on recording the rest of the 25+ stories from the anthology, as well as slowly begin recording it’s predecessor “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  Like the anthology, that novel is mainly comprised of blog, e-journal, and e-diary entries from various characters in the book.  And I plan on doing different voices for the authors of each entry, in an effort to bring the entire story and cast more to life for you all.

I have already started compiling what I call my “Voice Library”, which currently contains over 140 different voices (most based on actors and characters from movies, television, and even cartoons). I’ve always been a vocal mimic since childhood, and am taking great joy in finding a constructive outlet for all those years of trying to amuse myself and friends. I may share some brief recordings here, featuring some of the voices so you can get a better idea of just how versatile I can be.

But with all that said, the main topic I’d like to share with you all how I’ve been able to make all this happen. I know many of you might be wondering if I rent time at a local recording studio, or did I set up my own inside my home? If I’m doing it at home (which I am), how much special equipment did I have to buy? Did I have to soundproof an entire room? Who is doing the editing of my recordings? Will they be available through Amazon’s Audible program? If they will be available through Audible, how did I submit my work to them? What are their requirements, etc.?

Okay, let’s begin with how I got started down this particular path. As I’ve mentioned in a post last August when I first began thinking about this, I had been asked many times if any of our books were available in audio. Whenever I said I’d been thinking about it, but couldn’t decide on a reader I would be told “You should do it yourself! You’ve got a great voice…” So that of course got me thinking.

I did wind up trying a few samples back then, but I wasn’t happy with the quality of the recordings and kind of went off the idea a bit.

Then Helen not only began but finished her first solo novel. Besides listening and helping beta-read for her, I wound up doing the cover art for her. Then we had to focus on marketing the book to build up interest. So besides promoting the book on blogs, FB, Twitter, etc. but I wound up creating my very 1st book trailer. Anyone wanting to see the results can click on this YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNoPA_ytUvc.

While not 100% perfect, I was quite happy with the results, especially the voice-over you hear in the trailer. Shortly afterwards we held a book launch party for her novel “Forever’s Too Long”. During the party I did something I’ve been thinking about for some time but never tried, namely loud readings using the voices of character’s appear in the scene for those who attended. Their responses were much more positive than I’d expected.

As a result, I finally decided to go ahead and begin doing audio readings. But first I had to start gathering the right equipment for such an undertaking.

TO BE CONTINUED….


Okay, here it is folks. My first full-scale attempt at doing an audio recording of one of the short stories from our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”. 

This particular tale features our vampyre Nathan, talking about Alaska and what it’s like to have shape-shifting powers.

*NOTE: Do not click on this image, link to audio is provided further down*

Please feel free to leave some comments below or at YouTube to let me know how I did. I’m hoping to fine tune my skills before trying for a full-scale audiobook version of the anthology and our full-length novels in the future.

FYI, I’ll be putting together a rather lengthy blog entry in the near future (possibly complete with videos including Blooper outtakes) demonstrating what lengths I go to get a good sound quality within the confines of my own home. I think I’ll be able to give you all a few good chuckles as well as useful information.

Just click on the link below to begin listening:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Mxg1nIibXI&t=32s

In the meantime keep writing my friends.


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Every so often we come to a realization that something we’ve been doing hasn’t been working as well as we’d hoped. Admitting you didn’t do something right the first time is not a sign of weakness, it actually shows growth. Learning from your mistakes is just as important as getting things right the first time.

Recently, during a book release party (for someone else) a mutual friend who is a librarian started talking to me about the Para-Earths series. She’s watched trends and keeps a close eye on what’s popular in the industry and she pointed out to me that the Para-Earths might actually do better aimed at a Young Adult (YA) audience. This would still make the books quite available to the adult crowd of course, while opening the series to more readers.

I gave this a lot of thought, especially after several others readily agreed with her. So I spent the next week or doing some serious research into YA books. To my surprise, what I found there really made me rethink my marketing strategy when it came to part of our Para-Earth Series.

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In “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, two seventeen-year old girls who played a very big part in the story. Now the entire story is told in the same style as Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” where various characters tell part of the story, allowing the author to use the first person perspective, while giving multiple points of view at the same time.

However, the fact that we had two young characters did not necessarily qualify the book itself to be considered YA, did it? Well, when I went back over the book and carefully looked over the number of entries by each character I found that those two young ladies made up a large majority of the entries.  Plus their experiences carried most of the story as well. I then checked with several other readers who loved the book who confirmed that they felt the story was mostly centered around Lisa and Marisa (the young ladies in question).

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This left me with a lot more thinking to do. Despite receiving 4 and 5 star reviews, both “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” and its companion anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”, have not performed as well as “The Bridge” and “The Ship” in overall sales. So the question for me now became “Have I been marketing these incorrectly the whole time?” The answer seems to be a resounding YES!

So what to do about this? Was it too late to try and re-market the books as YA instead of simply a mature audience?

TO BE CONTINUED…


Well, maybe you don’t ask. But now you want to know, because once you fall in love with a book, you want more like it.

Review it! Many online stores and book sites allow readers to post reviews. A person is more likely to take a chance on a book that 50 people say they loved than 5 people say they do.

Recommend it! Readers have friends who read, and you likely have an idea of their tastes. A recommendation makes a person more likely to find out more about an unknown book. Some authors, such as J.K. Rowling, got further by word of mouth recommendations and kids buying it for their friends, than by traditional marketing methods.

Gift it! I’ve been running a special– the book retails at $12 each, but I’ve been running a 2 for $20 special via direct sales. It encourages people to either buy an extra as a present for a friend or talk them into buying one too and splitting the savings. And I’d never ask this, but two of my buyers spontaneously paid extra, so that someone who wanted it but couldn’t afford it could have a copy.

Speaking of buying direct– when I purchase a crate of books and sell them directly to people at list price, I get more of a share than the royalties if you buy from retailers. I imagine it works the same way for other authors. So don’t think you’re shorting us if you want a signed copy.

You’re also not wasting our time if you contact us with questions or wanting to share your thoughts. Art is about communication, and as FUN as it is for me to write Rafael Jones, I’m not just doing it for myself. Hearing from readers is very motivational. There’s a button to send me an email, or just use the comment area. I love you so much just for being interested enough in my work to come here.


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So, one of the first things I often hear from people when they hear I have a book coming out is, “Who’s your publisher?”

There’s long been a stigma to self-publishing, and until recently, it was deserved. A writer had to buy a few thousand copies to get it printed at reasonable rates and generally did so as a pet project. Anyone who wanted to reach a wide audience and to possibly make money had to find a publisher who thought their work was high enough quality to invest in. It would go through rounds of editing before ever going to the shops. A real publisher meant the writer had talent. Self-publishing just meant they had money.

But.

That was then. This is now. Everyone knows there have been radical changes in how books are sold.There are many formats besides paper. Bookstore chains have collapsed or moved to online only. Publishing houses rise and fall, to the point where there are few one has heard of. But more has happened behind the scenes. Publishers tend not to invest in writers who aren’t celebrities. Instead, even authors who have turned a modest profit on multiple books are asked to shoulder the burden of “typesetting fees”. The manuscript is rarely put through an editing process. What most publishers look for is one thing: marketability. They are looking for a trendy subject, a sexy concept, and work that fits neatly into a hot genre or niche market.

Allan and I worked together on his first project to create something ended up combining thriller, paranormal investigation, police procedural,science fiction, horror, and strongly featured a lesbian couple. It didn’t fit neatly into a genre and as Allan researched the market and the experience of other writers, he realized how much things had changed.

With print on demand technology, works can be published with little more investment than the blood, sweat, and tears of the writer. Not relying on a publisher who doesn’t want to pay an editor to proofread the material, error checking is done by volunteers, and by several read-throughs by the author who is deeply committed to putting out a quality product. A publisher wants to sell a book and if the reader is dissatisfied, it means little. You’ll buy another author next time. The writer, on the other hand, has to deliver great work if they want readers to love their book and look for more by them.

In short, I don’t believe publishers care as much about quality as marketing at this point. And while anyone can self-publish a book these days, it’s not a warning sign that it was unpublishable by other means, because print-on-demand is great for giving an author more control, a greater profit share, and a way to reach a large audience, hence it is the first choice rather than last resort. Allan and I have chosen this route and advise others to do the same.

Interestingly, the publishing houses track print-on-demand sales. If an author makes themselves into hot property, then they may be offered a favorable contract that will help them get into more brick-and-mortar stores. Ultimately– the fate of writers is in the hands of the readers. Thank you for thinking of me!

-by Helen Krummenacker

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