Posted by: justnaturallyme | October 23, 2013

Books Take a New Path

I recently discovered a great new way to expand the audience for my books. ACX, an Amazon affiliate, offered me the chance to have my books turned into audio books read by a professional narrator.

At first I was skeptical. Were there any catches? Any downside to this venture?  Well, yes. I had to sign the rights over for seven years. But was that really a downside? I had no plans for those audio rights anyway. Worst that could happen is I had no sales and made no royalties. As thighs were, I had no audio books and thus already no royalties for those rights. Farther, I had no money to hire a narrator privately and pay a huge fee. And if I did where would I market them? So I took the plunge.

Kudzu

Kudzu

For my first venture I used Kudzu, one of my earlier novels that does pretty well as a print book and as a Kindle version. I looked for a great female narrator who could do a Georgia accent, Kudzu is set in the north Georgia mountains in the present and goes back to the 19th century as my protagonist reads her Great-Grandmother Weezy’s diary. Especially for my characters in the past, accent was important.

Now the way ACX works is you can sign up for an exclusive so they offer you books on Amazon.com, Audible.com and Itunes. You can set up, if the narrator is willing to accept, a shared royalty plan where each of you earns half of the royalty paid on each sale.

Last Step

Last Step

I was lucky enough to find a great narrator that exceeded my expectations, Lee Ann Howlett. The experience went well and there were some sales.  So I added my Last Step to the queue.  Last Step was my first novel and had done well. It even has a movie made based on it. I asked Lee Ann to narrate and she accepted. Last Step  was a difficult thriller that had many different characters of different races and backgrounds, male and female, young and old.   It’s set in Jacksonville, Florida and deals with drug addiction. Some of the realistic scenes portraying life on the streets were not pretty. Once again Lee Ann came through and did a fantastic job. 

Bloody Flag cover smBy then I was sold on the idea. I posted Under a Bloody Flag and its sequel, Under a Black Flag. These books are very heavily researched historical novels. Under a Bloody Flag begins in Kansas in 1858 when Kansas was still a territory. It traces the roots of the War Between the States and continues until Kansas is ready to be admitted to the Union as a Free State. Under a Black Flag picks up then and continues until about a year after the war ends.

My main characters are all have unique accents. Daniel, is from Louisiana, his half-brother and former slave, Andre is able to switch from speaking perfect English to slave cabin slang at will, Becky, who marries Daniel, is from Massachusetts. You can see the problem with fining a narrator for these books just based on that.

Black_Flag_Front_cover_Sm

Added to this is the fact that I have tons of lesser characters, most of them based on real people. The accents here are literally all over the world. A narrator here needed to switch form General P.T. G Beauregard to Harriett Tubman, from General  Ulysses Grant to General Robert E. Lee. I have Creole Frenchmen, Irish immigrants, Scottish inventors and the list goes on.

It took a while but finally I came to an agreement with Samuel R. Jones. He held up his end of the game beautifully. His accents are so accurate you feel you are listening to the real historical character he is narrating throughout Bloody Flag. He had finished the first part of Black Flag and it is just as rich. I was truly impressed by his talent.

As you can tell, as an author, I am happy with ACX. It opens up a whole new audience for my books. For readers, it offers a new experience. Many people have spoken to me at events where and told me how much they wished they could get my book as an audio book. Some were experiencing vision problems and could no longer read the printed books. Others like the audio book experience as they travel a lot and it is a easy way to listen to their favorite books while they drive.

Audible even offers readers a chance to get free books by taking a free trial membership. Talk about win-win!

Update: “Under a Black Flag” is now finished and available. It came out just as great as “Under a Bloody Flag.”  thanks Samuel Jones for a great job.

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