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.

Ebook Buyers: Can You Afford To Lose Them?

January 29th, 2012

ereader photoI recently read a guest post by Chris Keys, author of The Fishing Trip – A Ghost Story and Reprisal!: The Eagle Rises!, about the difficulties of selling self-published books.  According to Chris, he’s only sold about a dozen books.  It seems typical of independent authors, but here’s the catch: I looked for Chris’ book The Fishing Trip – A Ghost Story on Amazon and found that he only had it in print. (Update: Chris has now jumped on board and has his books in multiple formats, as well as taking advantage of the Kindle Unlimited program)

What really bothers me about this is that he used CreateSpace to publish his book.  I would think putting out a Kindle edition as well as a print edition would have been a no brainer.  It’s really too bad Chris didn’t go with both because I was poised to purchase an eBook edition, provided the price was right, on the spot.  I wishlisted the book, but that doesn’t mean I’ll remember to go back and buy it later.

I’m left wondering how many indie author sales are lost because of this kind of shortsightedness.  Between earning higher profits on lower prices and the immediate delivery (aka immediate gratification) of eBooks, how can anyone afford not to publish in electronic format?  That’s especially true now that epublishing is free on major bookseller sites like Barnes & Noble and Amazon and through 3rd party distributors like Draft2Digital and BookBaby.

I suppose many authors cringe at the idea of formatting their manuscript into eBook format. It’s not as difficult as you might think, though it does take some time. There are numerous articles on the web on how to do this, including “How to Format Ebooks” by Jamie Wilson and “Smashwords Style Guide” by Mark Coker. If you use Adobe InDesign, check out EPUB Straight to the Point by Elizabeth Castro. For basics on Kindle formatting browse Joshua Tallent’s Kindle Formatting web site.

If you still don’t want to try formatting your own book (or find you just can’t wrap your mind around it) then find someone who can. Indie Author April L. Hamilton of Publetariat warns us of taking the cheap route and simply converting a manuscript rather than having it formatted properly. It’s better to spend a little money on putting out a great book, than lose readers due to poor formatting.

Formatting is different from conversion in that formatting standardizes the manuscript and creates any companion files needed for the eBook while conversion is simply loading the work into a program and clicking a button. Conversion is easy. Formatting takes more time and effort.

Regardless of whether you choose to do it yourself or have someone else do it for you, if you want to get your book into the hands of more readers, don’t neglect the eBook format.

How important are multiple formats, especially ebooks, to you?

Photo by The Daring Librarian

4 Steps To Keep Your Original Files Safe When Creating An Ebook In IDCS4

December 18th, 2011

When the proof of my second book, Simply Prayer, finally arrived in the mail I had to beg my husband to read through it just to make sure the errors I found needed to be fixed or if I was just being a perfectionist. Usually I would have simply buckled down, fixed the errors and ordered another proof. However, I ran into a snag with the digital files — which is the point of this post.

If you use InDesign CS4 you probably know about the book feature where several separate files can be compiled into a single book. It’s a great tool that keeps file size down and makes it simpler to print a single chapter.

The downside, as I discovered after sending my .pdf to CreateSpace, is transferring all those files into an ebook. You can’t simply re-save the book with a new name and expect the chapter files to save themselves as new files too. You’ll have a newly named book using the original chapter files instead.

What that means is that any re-formatting you do to your chapters will be saved over the original files. For instance, I wanted to include the pictures from the print edition in the ebook edition, but I wanted them to be seen just before the section titles. To do that I followed Elizabeth Castro’s instructions from EPUB Straight to the Point and pasted them directly into the text box. It looks great in the epub, but when I went back to check something in the original book file (after making those changes to two entire chapters!) I discovered that change was there as well. Not good.

If I had already approved the print edition and had no plans to ever release a second edition similar to the first, then it wouldn’t be a problem. Now, if I wanted to make any changes to the print edition, it will be a major headache. I’ll have to re-format the print files, getting them back to the original as close as I can, before I can correct those little things I didn’t like.

The good news, at least, is that I’ve learned a valuable lesson I can pass on to all of you.

  1. Save the original files in a single folder, including images and anything else contained in your print edition.
  2. Copy everything from that folder into a second folder strictly for epublishing and web content.
  3. Re-name everything in the second folder. I chose putting an “e” in front of each file name to make it easily identifiable.
  4. Open the new “eBook” in IDCS4, select all the old chapter files, click the remove button, then add the new “eChapters.”

It’s a little bit of work to create a second set of files in a new folder, but believe me when I say a little work now will save a lot of work later.

What other tips and tricks have you learned while putting your book together?

***

GFront-Cover-25-percentod promises to be with us through everything,
encouraging us to trust him through every situation we encounter.

Individuals and groups alike will find themselves
discovering that every day is a new opportunity to see God’s touch on their lives as they journey through scripture to uncover that:

  • No Matter Who You Are…
  • No Matter How You Feel…
  • No Matter What People Do…
  • No Matter What Happens..
  • No Matter Where You Are…
  • No Matter How Little You Have…
  • No Matter What You’ve Done…
  • No Matter How Old You Are…

Trust God!
Paperback edition also available on Amazon.

Ebook version available for Kindle, InkteraNookKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

 

Vol1Cover25percent

Get six Bible based, inspirational messages by Virginia Ripple from the blog One Servant’s Heart all in one .zip file.

Messages include:

  • Called to Forgive Called to Serve
  • New Beginnings
  • No Fear In Love
  • The Boneyard
  • The Dirty Little Penny
  • The Hardest Commandment

Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

 

Simply Prayer ebook

When we find ourselves stymied by what we think prayer should look like, it’s time to step back and think like a child. God loves each of us and wants to hear from us.

Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In this book you’ll discover the basics of:

  • What prayer is
  • Why we pray
  • How to pray
  • How to know your prayers are answered

From repetitions to labyrinths to dancing to journals, it is all Simply Prayer.

Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

You can purchase this book at Amazon.com or in my CreateSpace store front.

Or Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

 

Fear NotWhen life seems impossible to cope with, God reaches out to remind us of his promises for our lives. Journey through scripture to meet God in new and unexpected ways as you discover what it means to “Fear Not!”

Anyone can use Fear Not to meet God in new and unexpected ways.  Each of the eight sessions begins with an introduction, then moves on to a scripture reading (included), questions to ponder, a meditation picture and lastly a list of possible hands-on projects you can do.

The eight sessions are:

  • Session 1 … God is always with us
  • Session 2 … God is in control
  • Session 3 … God keeps his promises
  • Session 4 … God keeps us safe
  • Session 5 … God provides for us
  • Session 6 … God reveals himself to us
  • Session 7 … God gives us new life
  • Session 8 … God sends a Helper to us

Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or …

 buy the .pdf version here

Paperback edition also available on Amazon.com or in my Lulu.com store front at: Virginia’s Store Front.