Open Book Audio May Be The Best Choice

November 10th, 2012

Back in June of last year I finished recording the audio version of Simply Prayer and went looking for a place to sell it. At the time Kunaki seemed the best choice. Since then my audio book journey has drawn a bit of attention between two companies: ACX.com and Open Book Audio.

Being a social creature I did some asking around and found that most of the indie authors I knew were going with ACX, so that’s where I decided to go, despite Andrew Parker of Open Book Audio’s various helpful comments.

To make a long story short, I’ve been disappointed in ACX. Some would say I’m just being impatient, but so far the results with this company has been null in trying to get Apprentice Cat narrated. Thankfully I have an author friend who put me in touch with someone outside that company who may be able to narrate the book for me. (We’re still working on details at the moment.)

I’ve been looking into how to upload narration from an outside source onto the ACX site, but I keep getting lost in the directions available. Admittedly, I have yet to contact the company about this. I had plans to contact them this week, but then an interesting comment appeared from Andrew Parker on a post on my old blog about how Open Book Audio may be a better choice.

Here it is in full:

Hi Jaime (and all who are following the conversation),

Thanks for the kind words on the podcast. To your questions, the reality is with Audible that if you decide to go the ACX route (which definitely has it’s benefits) and go non-exclusive, you can sell your audiobook elsewhere, like through Open Book Audio. The problem with that, as I see it, is that you are locked into the 7 year agreement and, here’s where it gets interesting, you lose out on the marketing push we offer. Not to mention being able to track your sales through our website. As for Audible, they distribute their library, as I think most everyone knows now, to iTunes on an exclusive. So, if you want into iTunes, you have to get into Audible first. If you don’t go the ACX route, you have to have 5 books to get in. As for iTunes/Apple, they accept no audiobook unless it comes through Audible. So, even if you were to pay the development fee of $99, it still gets your book listed as a Spoken Word album or just an app. Either way, it makes it hard for folks to find you.

Back to the marketing push. At OBA, we have a very specific formula about what books we’ll take and what books we market. The truth is that, as long as the audio quality is good and the subject matter isn’t offensive, we’ll take the book and publish it to all of our retailers. What we then do is see how the book performs over the next few months. If it performs well enough, we put a big marketing push behind the book (reviews, websites, social media, press releases, interviews, podcasts, library journals, etc.) to goose the sales of the book and drive more money. Best of all, it’s free. How can we do that? Well, it’s simple really. If the book has proven that it can sell, it’s kind of a “why wouldn’t we?” mentality. Better yet, we have a specific formula that allows us to determine the precise amount of copies sold over a given period to guarantee a successful book. It’s remarkable how accurate we can be in determining what will be a hit and what won’t, rather than doing like most publishers do and go from their gut.

All that said, any publisher, like ourselves, won’t take your book if you decide to go direct through Audible and then come to us for the rest. Financially, we can’t make it work without the Audible slice of the pie and that’s the truth. Now, our fees are the lowest in the industry (again, math allows us to do that!) but Audible is still an essential piece of the puzzle.

So, what I would tell you is that if you’re content with your book just being available and not looking to make a great deal of money on it, ACX might be the way to go. But, if you’re looking to make more money, regardless of whether or not you hit the threshold for the marketing push, OBA is a much better option. After all, with a wider net, you’ll always get more fish.

Hope that helps. If you want to talk further (if anyone wants to talk further) just email me at andrew at openbookaudio dot com.

After reading this comment, I have to say I’m seriously considering using Open Book Audio instead of ACX. I’ll be contacting Andrew soon to find out the details and I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Has anyone else been through working with audio book companies? What did you like? What would have liked to see improved?

*** Update***

I’ve just learned that once you sign up with ACX you cannot delete your account with them without deleting your Amazon account as well. That makes me very unhappy because now it seems they’re trying to force me to use their services. While it does simplify things, just as using Createspace does, it also limits your options once you claim your book, even with non-exclusivity.

I urge everyone to make weigh all your options before signing up with any audio book producing company.

And The NaNoWriMo Craziness Continues…

November 6th, 2012

It hasn’t been easy, but I’m managing to stay up on my NaNoWriMo goals of 1,667 words per day. I don’t think I could do it if I didn’t have this nifty little gadget. (Yes that is an Apprentice Cat ceramic travel mug.) Of course, there have been some issues with it.

Modern technology is a wonder — when it works.

The first hurdle was figuring out how to keep the virtual keyboard from popping up. After some research I discovered an app called Null Keyboard. Of course, it doesn’t work unless you remember to select it from the shortcut menu. ūüėČ

The second initial hurdle was figuring out where to save my documents. For some reason I wasn’t able to save directly to the folder I have in my Dropbox for this book. *shrug* It’s an irritation, but I decided to save my work to the external microSD card, then move it to Dropbox later. From there everything seemed to be working just fine, so I thought I was ready.

On the first day of NaNoWriMo I decided to give my new tablet with bluetooth keyboard a try. Thank God I only typed a couple paragraphs on it because when I plugged the tablet into my laptop to move the document over, I discovered 195 words were missing. Not a huge deal, but still irritating because I had to try to remember what they were.

I should have taken more time to figure out what had happened because the next day I lost about 400 words. When I opened the document on my laptop my entire day’s work was gone. The document was blank.

After some hysterics, which my poor husband had to endure, I discovered the preview on the tablet still showed all those words. At least I could re-type what I’d already done. Time consuming, but not impossible.

You would think I’d give it up after that, but this is not a cheap piece of equipment and I bought it specifically for this purpose. I was determined to make it work the way I wanted it to. (Hubby calls it stubbornness. :D)

So the next day I spent over an hour checking and re-checking ways to save my work and move it to my laptop without losing even a single period. What I discovered was that the microSD card was bad. ūüėõ Thankfully I had another tucked away at the back of a desk drawer.

I think I’ve got the bugs worked out at this point, though I’m saving to both the tablet documents folder and the microSD card, then emailing everything to myself as soon as I get to a wifi hotspot just in case.

What craziness have you run into during NaNoWriMo? How did you figure out a work around?

Upon Review: Dead Already by Edwina Ray

September 8th, 2012

I love to curl up with a nice, steaming cup of tea and a free book to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites:¬†Book Crash,¬†Book Rooster¬†and¬†The Bookplex¬†just so I can indulge in my favorite leisure activity. What’s even better is when an author contacts me for a review. If you’re an author looking for someone to review your book or short story, check out my Request a Review page.

Because I like to share the great reads I’ve found (and warn readers of the not-so-great finds), I developed a system:

  • One cup — worse than a cup of luke warm black pekoe
  • Two cups — it may be hot, but you’ll need plenty of sweetener just to tolerate it
  • Three cups — it’s not my favorite, but it beats going without
  • Four cups — nice and hot and only needs a smidge of sweetener to be perfect
  • Five cups — loose leaf vanilla Earl Grey, yummy

Sometimes a book or story doesn’t warrant a five cup rating, but it’s so good it can’t be missed. For those I include the “Must Read” starburst in front of the cup rating. You’ll find my cup rating above the picture of the cover. Enjoy!

 

Dead Already a Slipstream / Medieval Short Story by Edwina Ray

 

 

 

Here is the description that made me want to write this book review:

Everyone is dying, and no one outside the village has any idea. Martine and Eli’s father, the strongest, fittest man they knew lies dead inside as they paint a red cross on the door, marking yet another infected home.
In order to save the rest of the country from this lethal sickness, the village elders lock the gates. No one gets out.

So everybody will die. 

Eli, however, won’t accept this fate, but can he get out of the quarantine when guards will cut down anyone who tries? Can he get help in time or will this end up just another village wiped out of existence?

The Good…

As I read this story I was reminded of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. The dark feel and unknown history created a mysterious, chilling atmosphere to the beginning of the story. The rising conflict between the characters was engaging and pulled me into the story. I was anxious to discover what would happen to the villagers.

I loved that the ending on this story was less abrupt than the others I have read. It was natural and gave enough of an anti-climax to be satisfying.

The Not-so-good…

While this story was in first person point of view like both The Witch’s Curse and Guilty Until Proven Innocent¬†(written under her given name Sarah Billington), the ending switched to third. There was a well-defined break between the two point of views, but I think the story would have¬†benefited¬†from being told entirely in third person. Given the ending, as with the others, there was no other way to carry the story to its natural conclusion without the pov switch.

The Overall…

If you enjoy stories like M. Night Shyamalan’s¬†The Village¬†and don’t mind a point of view switch three quarters of the way in, Dead Already by Edwina Ray is an enjoyable read that fits great in short amount of free time.

Upon Review: The Witch’s Curse by Edwina Ray

September 1st, 2012

I love to curl up with a nice, steaming cup of tea and a free book to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites:¬†Book Crash,¬†Book Rooster¬†and¬†The Bookplex¬†just so I can indulge in my favorite leisure activity. What’s even better is when an author contacts me for a review. If you’re an author looking for someone to review your book or short story, check out my Request a Review page.

Because I like to share the great reads I’ve found (and warn readers of the not-so-great finds), I developed a system:

  • One cup — worse than a cup of luke warm black pekoe
  • Two cups — it may be hot, but you’ll need plenty of sweetener just to tolerate it
  • Three cups — it’s not my favorite, but it beats going without
  • Four cups — nice and hot and only needs a smidge of sweetener to be perfect
  • Five cups — loose leaf vanilla Earl Grey, yummy

Sometimes a book or story doesn’t warrant a five cup rating, but it’s so good it can’t be missed. For those I include the “Must Read” starburst in front of the cup rating. You’ll find my cup rating above the picture of the cover. Enjoy!

 

The Witch’s Curse¬†a mystery/thriller short story by Edwina Ray

 

 

 

Here is the description that made me want to write this book review:

In this new short supernatural thriller from Amazon Best Selling author Edwina Ray, when fifteen-year-old Alex is caught out in the secluded forest admiring the giant ancient tree set in a moss-covered clearing, she is sure Josh is pulling a prank on her.

Be careful of the witch’s curse, he says. The tree has the power to kill you in the most horrible of ways.

Alex didn’t believe him.

Maybe she should have.

The Good…

This has the feel of a classic ghost story. While there is always a question of what will happen in the end, the conclusion is inevitable, as it should be.

Edwina once again captures the characters through dialogue, making them seem realistic.

The Not-so-good…

The one thing that bothered me was the how abrupt the ending was. It’s understandable, I suppose, since the story is in first person and the conclusion is what it is. One could hardly expect a longer or more subtle end in the case of this story. Still, I felt a little cheated.

The Overall…

If you enjoy classic ghost stories and an abrupt ending doesn’t bother you, The Witch’s Curse by Edwina Ray is a fun read that fits great in short amount of free time.

Upon Review: Guilty Until Proven Innocent by Edwina Ray

August 25th, 2012

I love to curl up with a nice, steaming cup of tea and a free book to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites:¬†Book Crash,¬†Book Rooster¬†and¬†The Bookplex¬†just so I can indulge in my favorite leisure activity. What’s even better is when an author contacts me for a review. If you’re an author looking for someone to review your book or short story, check out my Request a Review page.

Because I like to share the great reads I’ve found (and warn readers of the not-so-great finds), I developed a system:

  • One cup — worse than a cup of luke warm black pekoe
  • Two cups — it may be hot, but you’ll need plenty of sweetener just to tolerate it
  • Three cups — it’s not my favorite, but it beats going without
  • Four cups — nice and hot and only needs a smidge of sweetener to be perfect
  • Five cups — loose leaf vanilla Earl Grey, yummy

Sometimes a book or story doesn’t warrant a five cup rating, but it’s so good it can’t be missed. For those I include the “Must Read” starburst in front of the cup rating. You’ll find my cup rating above the picture of the cover. Enjoy!

 

Guilty Until Proven Innocent a mystery/thriller short story by Edwina Ray

 

 

Guilty Until Proven Innocent by Edwina Ray

Here is the description that made me want to write this book review:

In the small town of Carringwood, Doug and every other resident turn out to watch the drama as the Gabarski home burns down. Luckily Shana and the kids got out. And her husband Peter is mysteriously absent. Speculation runs rife through the town, why are arson investigators here? Did Peter do it? Why did he do it? But Doug wonders something else. If it wasn’t Peter, who was it?

The Good…

The story kept me turning virtual pages, wondering “who dunnit.”

I also enjoyed the small town banter at the local cafe because it felt so realistic. Being from a small town myself, it really irritates me when an author leans on caricatures of town folk rather than actually doing their best to portray them as real people. That’s something that’s difficult to do, especially in a short story, but Edwina Ray pulls it off.

The Not-so-good…

While the writing is great and the story is interesting, there were a couple things that bothered me.

Going back to the small town life, I was jarred out of the story when several characters order fancy coffees like macchiatos and lattes. Where I’m from that’s a possibility if you hit the local McDonald’s, but nowhere is a cafe serving such fancy drinks. This little town had only 203 people with no tourist attraction nearby. Would they really serve something you’d buy at a Starbucks?

The other thing that bothered me was the abrupt ending. Given the first person point of view it was impossible for it not to end as it did. However, it turned a good mystery into a horror story, something I’m not fond of happening. Stick to one or the other, please.

The Overall…

If you don’t mind a few less-than-likely drink choices and an abrupt ending, Guilty Until Proven Innocent by Edwina Ray is a fun read that fits great in short amount of free time.

Do New Gadgets Help With Productivity? 4 Links On Wifi Tethering Your Smartphone To A Tablet

August 4th, 2012

I just wanted to let you all know I haven’t forgotten you’re here. I’m actually working on a productivity solution for writers in my situation: unable to get wifi all the time and unwilling to pay $30 or more to make my smartphone a wifi hotspot. I know wifi is available nearly everywhere, but I live in a small town and don’t always have access to a wifi hotspot. That’s why I’m using my new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, Dropbox and some wifi tethering possibilities to see if there’s a way around needing that sometimes elusive hotspot, though you’ll still need access to a 3G/4G network. Succeed or fail, I hope to have a new post about it soon.

In the mean time, here are a four posts on tethering your smartphone to a Tablet PC:

The Scare Continues….

July 29th, 2012

In my last post I mentioned Roni Loren’s recent lawsuit where a photographer issued a Cease and Desist for a photo she had posted to one of her blog posts, then proceeded to sue her even after she had taken down the photo. I am not going to comment on the perceived rights or wrongs of the situation here. It is what it is and serves as a warning to the rest of us.

Instead, I am taking this time to alert all my blog readers and Pinterest followers that I have deleted all photos that are not mine with the exception of covers of books I have reviewed. All YouTube videos a merely links to the originals and are not hosted on this site.

It is my hope that everyone reading this will understand what the costs are and do as I intend to do from this day forward: learn the ins and outs of copyright and Fair Use, obtain permission or purchase a license for the picture, OR use your own.

At this time, I am more than willing to allow anyone to pin or re-pin my photos from this blog or any of my boards. However, please understand that I have asked permission to post the book covers from the authors for my use alone. Should you choose to re-pin one of those, I strongly recommend you contact the author before doing so.

I truly hope and pray good things come from this situation and we can all move forward on better understanding and trust.

Are You Next?… A Blogger’s Picture Lawsuit Nightmare

July 21st, 2012

Just a quick update first, we’re still in the middle of our family crisis, though at least we’re home. Now it’s just a lot of doctor’s visits and waiting to for things to heal up enough for surgeries. We really appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers during this time.

In the mean time, PLEASE check out the post Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story by author/blogger Roni Loren about what could happen if you just grab images from Google’s image search (or anywhere else for that matter) and use them on your blog, Facebook share, or Pinterest board without getting the copyright owner’s express permission. It’s a scary wake-up call for anyone wanting to stay out of a nasty lawsuit.

Monthly Mash-ups: 7 Encouraging Posts For Writers

May 26th, 2012

Just Can't Do Anymore

Being a writer is often lonely and thankless. If we’re fortunate, we can make a living by our words, but that can take years before it happens. Here are 7 encouraging posts to keep you going ¬†when it feels like you’re getting nowhere.

  1. Turning a Stall into a Start by Barbara McDowell — Sometimes life gets in the way of our writing. Barbara gives us a pep talk and suggests joining the ROW80 crew to keep us on track.
  2. Keep Money in Its Place by Rachelle Gardner — In this post, Rachelle reminds us that when we focus on the money instead of the joy of writing, we can lose that joy. Her suggestion is to “keep your writing life separate from your financial anxiety.”
  3. What are “Hidden Sales?” by Mary DeMuth — Most published authors, trad and self, have heard someone say they loved their book so much they just had to lend it to a friend. Mary gives us a way to look at those lost sales that puts it all in perspective.
  4. Why Fiction is Good for Your Heart by Colin Falconer — We’ve all heard how reading is good for our brains, but did you know reading fiction is good for your moral character? Colin leads us through how reading fiction is good for us.
  5. How Fiction Shapes Worldview by Mike Duran — If “all truth is God’s truth”, then we can use general truths to move our readers to specific Christian truths without needing to use specific scripture or dogma, according to Mike.
  6. Making God Your Partner — Fulfilling our visions, be it in writing a great book or anything else, means making connections. In this post I break down Cheryl Ricker’s 5 connections we must make to achieve our goals.
  7. Blog Better by Slowing Down by Timo Kiander — In this post, Timo takes us through his thoughts on why we should re-consider blogging multiple times per week, including avoiding burnout and broken relationships.

What other tips, tricks and posts do you know of that encourage you to keep writing?

Paid and Free Editing Software For Manuscripts

May 19th, 2012

I’m stuck in the writer’s cave right now with yet another round of edits. It’s tedious and often boring, but, considering I’m not sure I’ll have enough money later to hire a professional editor, it’s worth it. That’s why I’m doing this round with free editing software.

Using software to help you edit your manuscript isn’t an easy cheat. You’ll still need to do the work of re-writing and you’ll still need your beta readers. However, editing software can make self-editing a little less worrisome.

There are a lot of different online options, both paid and free.

Paid versions

If you’ve got the money, you might be interested in AutoCrit Editing Wizard. I didn’t find the demo useful because the 1,000 words I chose always came back with an error. That could have been because my WIP is a fantasy with mages and magical cats who use incantations the software couldn’t read. If that’s the case, it makes me wonder just how useful this software is in its full version.

Also, in order to use AutoCrit for more than just 1,200 words per day (that’s 400 words 3x per day) and receive more than 3 reports, you have to spend a lot of money. There are 3 memberships: Gold (1,000 words for $47), Platinum (8,000 words for $77) and Professional (100,000 words for $117). You get more goodies ¬†the more you spend, but if I’m going to spend that much money for my WIP I think I’d rather hire a human being.

Free versions

I’m happy to say I’ve found 3 online self-editing programs that are free (or inexpensive). I use all three together because each program catches something the others miss.

I use¬†EditMinion¬†first because it highlights adverbs, weak words, said replacements, sentences ending prepositions and passive voice in different colors. It wasn’t until I ran my first couple scenes through this free editing software that I realized I was in love with adverbs and had a real problem with passive voice.

Next I use¬†Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool.* This free editing software catches things like sticky sentences (sentences with too many glue words), vague and abstract words, overused words, repeated words and phrases, complex words and pacing. Like passive voice, I have a real fondness for sticky sentences, and this program finds those with ease. There’s also the Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool¬†paid version* with lots of extra goodies and they’ve recently come out with a download that works with Scrivener files.

Last of all, I use¬†ClicheCleaner. It’s great for finding cliches and redundancies. You can download a free demo version that lets you scan up to 20 documents before needing to pay $12.95 to do any more. I downloaded ClicheCleaner because I always thought I had issues with using too many cliches. After using this free editing software, I was surprised to find I don’t have a big problem after all. Of course, even one can be too many.

Whether you choose to pay for your self-editing software or use a free version, remember that a program cannot replace a human being. The great news is, after running your WIP through the programs and correcting all those errors, you may find you can afford a human editor after all.

How do you self-edit your manuscript? What paid and free editing software have you used?

 

*While I am a Pro Writing Aid affiliate and these are affiliate links, this in no way changes how I feel about the software. I personally used both EditMinion, which I am not affiliated with, and Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool prior to becoming an affiliate and will continue to use both in the future. I fully endorse all the programs on this post because I believe in their merit as writing tools for better writing.

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