Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Audiobooks


(I am heading to the RWA national conference in Anaheim right now, so I wrote this blog before I left.)

My subject for today's "adventures in self-publishing" is audiobooks.  Yup, you can self-publish audiobooks.

I think this is the neatest thing since the iPod.  My first audiobook project, the short story Cat's Blood, is now available.  It is a bit daunting to hear one's words read by a professional narrator, let me tell you! 

What I like most about doing this particular project as an audiobook is how it takes a 10,000-word short story and turns it into an experience. Sitting and listening to a storyteller narrate the tale for an hour and a quarter allows you to follow along on Henri and Cat's journeys as they both learn and change from beginning to end.  Hearing a story in this way slows down the experience, making it something to savor.  I now get the appeal of audiobooks (I had not been an audiobook listener before this). Now I want to buy a bunch of audiobooks by other authors, too!

So how does a self-published author create an audiobook?  Once again, the giant company Amazon.com has come up with a plan (or a way to get their fingers into one more pie, a cynic might say <g>). They own audible.com, a major retailer of audiobooks, and also distribute audiobooks via amazon.com and iTunes.

To get started creating your own audiobook, go to acx.com (the Audiobook Creation Exchange). You sign up, and list the book(s) you want to turn into audiobooks (making sure, of course, that you own the audiobook rights--check any publishing contracts to be sure where you stand).

Once you have signed up, you can list your project, describing the book itself, giving a sales pitch to potential narrators (I'll get to why in a minute), and then listing what you are looking for in a narrator: genre, gender, language, accent, style, and last but not least, price.

For Cat's Blood, I ultimately decided I wanted a male narrator who could do a French accent for my French-born vampire. I wanted a more mature voice (not a teenager), something that would capture the darker element in the story. This part of your decision is important. I'll provide a link at the end to a free sample of Cat's Blood. Imagine how different the story would sound if I'd decided I wanted the voice to be representative of Cat, the teenaged, very traumatized heroine. I deliberately went with the male voice to emphasize Henri's story (he makes the greatest change in the story), and to not dwell as much on Cat's trauma (which personally freaks me out, even though I wrote it).

So then we come to actually finding a narrator.  The pricing becomes important here. There are two approaches to this. 

One, you propose that the narrator does the audiobook essentially for no money up front (except for a stipend that AFTRA actors must be paid), and then you split the royalties 50/50 for the seven-year term of the audiobook contract. You can see how this puts a huge burden on the narrator to invest in your work (10-15 hours of labor per hour of finished audiobook). This means you must pitch your project to the narrator, convincing the actor to spend time on a project with no guaranteed profit.

The second option is to pay for the work up front. You agree to pay by the hour for the finished audiobook. The narrator's investment is then done, you own the audiobook for seven years, and have the right to distribute it according to the terms you agreed to, keeping all the profits for yourself.

As you can imagine, the more experienced audiobook narrators tend to go for the pay by hour terms, and the newer or less-experienced narrators are more willing to go for the split-royalty terms.

I started out thinking I would do the split-royalty terms, but then decided I would see if I could find someone who could complete the project for about one-month's worth of Cat's Blood's current ebook and print royalties. I decided I was willing to invest that much to see how this would work. For this short project, that actually put me on the high end of hourly rates (about $300/pfh -- per finished hour).

For this first project, I approached a few narrators and asked them to audition (you can hear samples of narrators' work, and then ask them to try a short reading from your book). I listened to both male and female narrators, with several different accents and approaches, and then decided on Gary Dikeos, who really impressed me with his audition.

The project was completed quickly, within a matter of weeks, and once the narrator was paid, the audiobook went live on July 18th, with distribution to amazon.com, audible.com, and iTunes. 

So was it worth it? At this point, who knows. The first day I had 7 sales. Ten days like that and I'll start turning a profit. Hard to tell what the long-term earning potential is so soon.  But I see a lot of options for using the audiobook sample for promotion, and it's yet another way to increase visibility for the story. So I'm pleased with the experiment, and time will tell.

You can hear a free sample of Cat's Blood at the places below:

Audible.com: http://bit.ly/MAyuna

And here's my first promotional postcard for the Cat's Blood audiobook:

Coming up in "Adventures in Self-Publishing": I hope to return from the RWA National conference in Anaheim with a bunch of new promotion and craft ideas, which I'll share with you in my bi-weekly posts for the rest of 2012.

Happy writing, everyone!

Barb

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Triberred - Stumbled Upon - Pinned

Current Project: Catching Meara
Status: Finishing Chapter Six today



Promoting is a roller coaster ride.

I attended a two day internet workshop put on by MFRW, marketing for romance authors. I have joined this group and I can honestly say it is the best yahoo group I have ever  become a part of. The members are willing to spend time with you helping you learn new marketing techniques. The workshops were phenomenal and left my mind full of brand new ideas. Some of which I could deal with because I had prior knowledge and some I am still stumbling with.


Triberr -- this is a network of blogs, helping to link lots of blog posts with twitter. How? Well there are different tribes. The one I joined is "mischievous authors."So all of my blog posts show up in what is called the "tribal stream" And all of the other tribe members posts show up there too. My job is to approve posts in the tribal stream. I'm expected to do this a couple of times a week. when I approve a blog, it goes on to twitter. Then I retweet. Pretty easy. 


It's all about networking.


Stumble Upon -- Still can't figure this one out. Although there is a tribe, I think, for stumble upon.


Pinterest -- This one I've been using since last September but not very well. I now know, I can post my book trailers as well as my book covers. I had already posted a few covers but have not utilized this as well as I could. 


I have my Highland series which is now a board of its own. I have pinned pictures of Collin "Hawke" MacPherson and Ian MacPherson. I will be posting the video as soon as I update it. And I will also be posting  a blurb, excerpt and log line for each book. I have started a board for my Lakota/Pinkerton series and my 12 Dancing Princesses series. What a great tool for getting your name out there. 


Love it,
Do any of you have any social networking tip?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A NEW FRONTIER

Current Project: LEGACY SERIES
Status: promoting book #3, editing book #6
Posted by: Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel



My son, grandson and I went to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum on Sunday for the first time. I was fascinated!

I really enjoyed the aviation part--I talked about the Spruce Goose (largest airplane ever built) on both the Rogue's Angels blog <http://roguesangels.blogspot.com/> and my Legacy blog <http://oshealegacyseries.blogspot.com/> yesterday. 

However, my imagination really kicked in when we walked into the Space building. Wow! How can I weave space travel into my Legacy Series? LOL!

Two things struck me the most:
1) Those space capsules are really small--we're talking bathroom stall size. It would be a relief to get out of the capsule and float in the infinite area of space for awhile!
2) What a large part politics, fear and the Cold War played in catapulting us from the first airplane flight to a man on the moon in just 66 years. (This is my opinion, not necessarily that of the museum or anyone else.) 

Until I finish my Legacy Series, my urge to incorporate space travel will probably have to wait. But who knows, the founders of my fictional town of Halo, Oregon, loved the stars, so maybe there's a way I can work this in. Hmm…

Have you ever visited somewhere that begged--or demanded--to be the setting of one of your stories?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quotes of the Day


I have been working seven days a week, so I thought I'd gather some quotes on balance to help me figure out how to get past this frenetic place I'm at:

"It's all about balance and, I think, being in the moment." (Jennie Finch)

"The trick to balance is to not make sacrificing important things become the norm." (Simon Sinek)

"I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can't truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles." (Zig Ziglar)

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony." (Thomas Merton)

"The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man." (Euripides)

"I'm afraid I'm still trying to find that balance. Especially now that everyone wants a piece of me. I find that I have to become more and more reclusive, and pick and choose when I am public and when I am private." (Sandra Cisneros)

"Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving." (Albert Einstein)

"I want to caution you against the idea that balance has to be a routine that looks the same week in and week out." (Kevin Thoman)

"Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of man's being" (Orison Swett Marden)

"But if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want." (Anita Roddick)

And that last one is my goal. Perhaps I have to accept that right now I am intensely focused on my work, and this will lead to a more balanced life in the future. I hope.

My next blog, on July 25th, will be on another aspect of self-publishing I'm currently exploring: audiobooks.

Have a good week, everyone!

Barb

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Counting Down...

Two Weeks.

Fourteen Days.

336 Hours.

That's how long until I leave for the RWA® National Conference. Where did the time go? Three months ago, it seemed like forever, but now it's right around the corner. I'm feeling very frazzled at the moment, so pardon the short length of this blog post.

I've talked about my Golden Heart® experience in the last few months, but I haven't talked very much about my co-Finalists. Let me tell you, you'll want to remember their names, because there's some serious talent in this group. Several have already sold — some, multiple books — and I don't doubt that the rest of us are close.

No matter who takes home the heart necklace, we were all winners the moment our names were announced as finalists. (In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion some of us won't mind our names not being called just so we don't have to give a thank you speech in front of 2000+ people. :-)

The way I look at it, I'm very fortunate to be where I am at the moment. This has been an incredible validation of my writing, and it's something I'll remind myself of whenever doubt and fear try to creep inside in the future (and I know they will). What this experience has also taught me, though, is there's always room for improvement. And the only way to improve is to keep writing. I can't wait.

Deborah Wright
Website: www.Deborah-Wright.com
Twitter: @DeborahBWright
Facebook: Deborah.Wright.Author

Monday, July 09, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, July 06, 2012

Fighting Evil or Embracing It

Current Project: Catching Meara
Status: Just started chapter 5





The topic this week is intriguing. Bad guy are the most fun to write, at least for me. They can do and say anything they please. They can be multidimensional and even have some good qualities. But I don't think my villains ever have good in them.

As a reader of romance I would have a difficult time with a womanizer who has declared his love for a woman but continues to make love with other women or in some cases men. But there are good books who have this very story line. But as others have said, there have to be some very good reasons for the hero to stray from his heroine. 

Most of my books have antagonists who stand in the way of either the hero or the heroine from finding true love. To me this adds dimension to the story. One of the things the ebook industry has helped are the stereotypical plot lines that have to be a certain way to be published. 

I say go with your gut. Make sure you justify everything your characters do even if it isn't the norm. And you will have a book that works. 

Thursday, July 05, 2012

CHOOSING THE LOW ROAD

Current Project: My LEGACY series
Status: Book #3 released, doing copy edits for Book #5, doing deep edits to Book #6
Posted by: Genie Gabriel 



This must be the week for bad guys! 


I'm at a point in my edits when I need to introduce a new character--but the opposite of Meggan's rake who falls in love and becomes a hero.

My new character will seem to be a nice guy who turns out to be a villain.

This is an interesting development for me. I generally have my bad guys be that way from beginning to end of a story. 

However, in writing my LEGACY series, there are degrees of villainy. In the first book, the hero locks up a bad guy. However, a bigger, badder guy comes along in the next book, and the next. 

This will continue until the end of the series, when the ringleader will be uncovered. 

Since the series takes place in a small town, the villains may be people who have lived and worked in this town for a lifetime. A neighbor. Someone my hero or heroine thought was a friend. 

Which brings me back to my challenge. How to write a nice guy who has darkness in his heart. And what's his motive for choosing the dark path. 

Have you ever written a character like this?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Villainous or Virtuous


I have heard actors say, lots of times, that the bad guys are more fun to portray. I have also read, again and again, that a complex character is much more interesting to read, not to mention write, and complex means bad as well as good, plus some in-the-middle stuff, too. But how much of a bad-a$$ can a main character be before it's too much?

So I'm writing along, and my Hero decides he wants his old-version villainy back. He used to be a rather unsympathetic character whose emotional growth was huge--and, I admit, somewhat implausible--so he got scrubbed clean. Now he's bored and wants his badness back. I have decided to give him SOME of it, but how much is still under debate. He and I are having a conversation about it. OK, mostly he growls and I yell, but there's still progress.

He says he can be a playboy and a rake just because he's a natural womanizer and still be a hero at the end. I say he can only be a playboy if it's for a good cause, to protect someone, for example. His counter offer is to add that he's still gotta be able to have sex with other women even after he's met the Heroine. I yelled "No!" and stomped my foot, saying we'd never get published if he did that. He smirked. I retreated to write this blog post. He howled with laughter as I left.

What is the worst permanent characteristic you have ever allowed one of your protagonists to possess?  I keep telling my hero that for everything bad he keeps, he has to have a really good reason. He says, and I quote, "Why? Why can't I just be a bad guy who falls in love?"




Monday, July 02, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)