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How To Get Your Book Into Readers’ Hands: March 2018 AskALLi Beginners’ Salon With Jyotsna Ramachandran And Iain Rob Wright

How to Get Your Book Into Readers’ Hands: March 2018 AskALLi Beginners’ Salon with Jyotsna Ramachandran and Iain Rob Wright

askalli-podcast-squares2Welcome to AskALLi, the self-publishing advice broadcast from the Alliance of Independent Authors. This week it’s our monthly beginners’ self-publishing salon with advice, tips, and tools for indie authors just starting out.

Jyotsna Ramachandran is the founder of Happy Self Publishing and author of the international bestseller Job Escape Plan.

Iain Rob Wright has written over a dozen novels. He’s an active member of the Horror Writers Association and has also written a free self-publishing course for authors.

Topics discussed this week include:

  • Iain is writing a script for Audible
  • Jyotsna is working on a cookbook
  • The pros and cons of self-publishing with Amazon
  • Do not depend on only one platform
  • Work on developing a mailing list
  • Smashwords vs. Draft2Digital
  • CreateSpace vs. KDP
  • The importance of paperback
  • Where to launch your book
  • Audiobook distribution

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Watch the AskALLi Beginners’ Self-Publishing Salon Video

Read the AskALLi Beginners’ Self-Publishing Salon Transcript

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Hello, everybody. This is Jyotsna Ramachandran here and welcome to Self Publishing Advice Podcast Beginners Salon. With me we have Iain Rob Wright, our co-host. Hi, Iain, how are you doing?

Iain Rob Wright: I’m doing good. It’s great to be here as always. How are you?

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Wonderful, Iain. It’s nice to connect with you again after a month in … This is the episode we’re doing for March, right?

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, episode number two.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Yeah, so how has life been in the last one month?

Iain Rob Wright: It’s been pretty good. I’ve revisited Facebook advertising and for some reason it’s been working really, really well, better than it has done before for me. So I’ve increased the money I’m making by about 50 percent at the moment from running these ads. So I’m really hitting advertising hard at the moment. And I’m also working on a original script for Audible directly. They’ve reached out and contacted me two years ago now, but I just actually started work on it this week. So that’s completely new to me, because it’s script writing. So that’s fun, that’s what I’m doing at the moment. Instead of writing a new book, I’m writing a script for Audible.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: That’s very interesting because it’s quite different from writing an actual book, right?

Iain Rob Wright: Well, I’m finding it much easier because there’s so less that goes into it. It’s very … Especially for audio. It’s just dialogue, really. Imagined sound effects here and there. It’s not a narrated book like Audible usually does. It’s actually a specific audio drama written only to be played in audio, so there’s a lot of sound effects. There’s gonna be professional actors doing the different parts and things. So it’s really, really fun and exciting, but for writing it, I can’t believe how quickly it goes. I’ve gotta write a 30 minute script for episode one, the pilot, and I’m sort of the third of the way there already because it’s so quick when you’re used to writing so much description and prose and things. So just simply only have to do dialogue and throw in a couple of technical descriptions, it’s great. It’s fun and it’s also a skill that I didn’t … I hope-

Jyotsna Ramachandran: It’s a different learning.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, yeah. And it’s fun to sort of still be learning new things even though after seven years.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Nice. And I’m working on my next book called Book Your Success. So it’s shaping up well. I have the book outline and I hope to launch it by the month of May. So that’s the main project that I’m more focused on. And I also started a cookbook series. So I am very passionate about eating, not cooking. So what I’ve done is, I’m not a pro at cooking. So I have collaborated with an Italian chef. So she’s writing the recipes and I’m just curating them and we are going to publish it together. So I’m quite excited about that.

Iain Rob Wright: What type of cuisine is it?

Jyotsna Ramachandran: For the first book is about clean eating. So how do you come out of all the processed foods that we are so used to and just focus on the real raw ingredients? I love that.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: So what’s going to be the topic for this episode, Iain?

Iain Rob Wright: Well, last podcast we spoke about sort of getting your book produced and how to make your books, and now we’re at the stage where we’ve got the ebook ready to go and we wanna look at our options for how we can start to make money from our book and how we can get it into the hands of readers. So we’re looking at distribution today.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Awesome, yeah. And as self-published authors, our first preference is usually Amazon, right? So what are the different services of Amazon you use for publishing your books?

Iain Rob Wright: You know, it’s always a bit of an ethical dilemma with Amazon. On the one hand, Amazon changed my life completely. They gave me this wonderful opportunity and without Amazon, I wouldn’t be a best-selling author. They completely gave that opportunity to me and I ran with it. So there’s this great love that I have for Amazon and all that people see it as this big, bad corporation that’s gonna do evil things. They literally changed my life and they’ve given my wife and my children this wonderful life and of achieving my dream. So I have a great deal of love for Amazon and I suppose for that reason, I am a little bit biased towards them. But also, as a businessman, I do worry that having all of my business on Amazon puts me in a precarious position in that Amazon have made decisions in the past that have affected my income because they try new things and they don’t always work out well for everybody.

Iain Rob Wright: So they are able to damage my career and boost it. And having that control in the hands of Amazon, it keeps me awake some nights. So one of the key things that I would like to see is more competition from the likes of and Barnes and Noble. So I’m certainly not pro-Amazon in that I want Amazon to be the be all and end all, but the reality of the publishing landscape at the moment means that quite often I do tend to be focused almost completely on Amazon. There’s probably a wider audience for you to make use of the wider distribution platforms and for myself. But for fiction, definitely you don’t wanna ignore Amazon. It should be your primary focus when you get started, I believe. And because that’s what’s gonna give you the foothold and help you to establish yourself. But again, that’s my opinion from where I currently sit, and there’s certainly lots of authors out there who do really well, particular on Kobo and the Apple iBooks as well.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Nook.

Iain Rob Wright: So, I mean, what you experience is?

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Yeah, I started out, Iain, I was also just focused only on Amazon. And then this KDP thing happened and my royalties dropped to half. And that’s when I realized that we just can’t depend on one platform and have all our eggs in one basket. So that was definitely a learning. But as you rightly said, Amazon is, even today, the biggest marketplace. For me, more than 90 percent of my book sales happen on Amazon. So we cannot ignore that fact. So my advice to first time authors would be to initially go with KDP for their ebook, because the good thing about KDP is it lets you put your book … Give away your book for free for five days, if you’re a part of KDP Select. So what I do now is I initially launch with Amazon, and then after three months, I pull the book out of KDP and I make it available on other ebook distribution platforms as well. But I see that a lot of authors with a huge email list and a huge following don’t care anymore about launching their book for free, because they are just-

Iain Rob Wright: No.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Losing the opportunity of having a good launch. So they just probably have a 99 cent launch, for which they don’t need to be exclusive with Amazon. So what do you think about that, Iain?

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, absolutely. We touched on this last time. If you’ve got a mailing list and a website, that’s an audience you control so it gives you that stability to not have to sell through Amazon. So I think from day one, even if you don’t have a lot to offer because you’re a new author with maybe one or two books, or maybe you’re working on a book, focus on that mailing list from the get go, even though it’ll be difficult for some people when you don’t have any name recognition. Always make it a focus and it should grow as you grow as an author, hopefully, and then that does give you the ability to reach people on the other platforms.

Iain Rob Wright: KDP does give you promotional tools and it’s all about visibility, especially when you’re starting out. So the promotion tools that Amazon give you, they can be used to sort of strategically, for a new author, to start gaining those initial readers that are gonna get them the word of mouth and the reviews. And unfortunately, the other networks, the other platforms are lacking in that regard, in that they don’t really give you a great deal to help yourself. And the only way you can really help yourself is on the other platforms is by taking it into your own hands and having made a list and running adverts on Facebook and things. There’s no sort of organic tools that they give you. So I suppose, really, Amazon is for beginners and intermediates, and then when you get established and you’re a bit more advanced, you can start utilizing the other platforms because they do take investment. They take an advertising budget and some smart promotion, which for a beginning author, isn’t something you wanna overwhelm yourself with.

Iain Rob Wright: KDP’s a lot easier to get established. You can be published in 24 hours then you can just build from there. And if you start to make a bit of money on KDP, then you can funnel it into other platforms perhaps with adverts.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Absolutely, yeah. So when you talk about other platforms, Iain, do you individually go and submit your book to these different websites, like iBooks and Google Play and other places, or do you use a distribution service like Draft2Digital or Smashwords?

Iain Rob Wright: I used Smashwords initially, and there’s a couple of my books which are wide and some of them are free on the other platforms, which has made Amazon price match them. This maybe we can go into a different time. But there’s a reason that you may wanna use Smashwords or Draft 2 Digital in order to get Amazon to make your book free. So I did use Smashwords early on just for that sole purpose, but I did later switch to Draft 2 Digital, which I prefer, and I have actually got some books that are on sale at a price on Draft 2 Digital. So I have gone wide of a couple of books and they’re on Draft 2 Digital, purely because I like the platform, the software on the website seems very easy and they seem to come up with new tools quite often, whereas Smashwords, I found it’s a bit outdated, it could do with a bit of a fundamental sort of rejigging to make it more modern, user-friendly. I just think Draft 2 Digital is a bit of a nicer service to use and I have seen sales come from Draft 2 Digital without me doing anything. Not a great deal of sales, but I do get a few dollars trickle in every week or so just from having a couple of books on there.

Iain Rob Wright: I know authors, sort of author friends of mine, do say that going to each individual platform. So uploading your book to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, separately, can give you benefits. You can get slightly higher royalties because you’re not having to pay off Draft 2 Digital for their cut, or Smashwords.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Otherwise, you need to pay a 10 percent or something like that, right?

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, I think it’s different … Because they go to all different platforms, it’s all different royalties, but you do lose a little bit of income from using the aggregates like Draft 2 Digital and Smashwords, but for me personally, because I have so many books to manage and I have a lot of things to do, for me, being able to just upload my book to one platform and then they distribute it for me, that’s worth the money that I’m giving up. If I was a new author and I only had one book, then the effort required to get them onto each individual platform might be worth it, especially if you’re after the most amount of royalties. So it’s definitely a choice. Again, we went into this last time, it’s how much is your time worth to you? If you’d rather have the extra time, then use an aggregate like Draft 2 Digital. If you want the maximum amount of money and you don’t mind putting in that little bit of extra effort, then yeah, by all means, do every one individually. I don’t think there’s really any negatives to either way. It’s completely a personal choice.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Right. And what used to scare me before was I used to think it’s a big deal to be available in some 20 different stores, but because of these kind of services, it makes our lives easy, basically. And as an author, we don’t need to do much. It’s the same file. Probably, I would upload a MOBI file to KDP and then epub file to the other guys. Otherwise, it’s not much of work from an author’s side, right? So I think it’s always good to make use of these different platforms, because I’ve noticed that when authors promote their books inside a Bookbub or some kind of a promotional website, they would definitely give preference to a book that’s available everywhere, rather than a book that’s just Amazon only.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah. Now and that didn’t used to be the case. I used to find it really easy to get a Bookbub promotions. I used to get one almost every month. Now, they probably accept me twice a year and they’ve actually told me that the reason that they don’t accept me as often is because my books generally tend to be Amazon exclusive. So they definitely do factor that in now. And that’s one of the ways you can gain success on Kobo and Barnes and Nobles, probably getting that Bookbub deal, you can make a lot of money on the other platforms by using Bookbub and Facebook ads. So again, it’s a bit more of an advanced part of the industry to get success in, but you do need to make use of Bookbub and Facebook, whereas on Amazon you might be able to get by without those. But yeah, that definitely a key part of going wide, you need to be very proactive with your marketing and things like Bookbub are even more important on the other platforms.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: That’s true. In fact, I read an article written by Joanna Penn, the other host of the Advanced Salon, and she mentioned that she was able to hit her USA Today bestseller charts only because her book was available on all the different platforms. Because they take not just the ebook sale, but every other format of book and every other platform is taken into account. So I think that way, once you start thinking bigger and have higher aspirations, then I think it makes total sense to be available everywhere.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah and I think your audience size matters as well. If you write thrillers like James Patterson, then there’s gonna be 10s of millions of readers on Amazon alone, that you’ll never reach in your lifetime. So you’ll never run out of readers on KDP, if you’re a thriller. But if you’re writing books about fishing, then there might only be 10,000 people on Amazon that are gonna read your book, so you need that wider platform, you need to go an find readers wherever you can find them. So again, it depends of what you’re targeting because it may be that there isn’t enough people on Amazon alone to give you the sales you need. So niche versus sort of mass market books, as well, will factor into whether you go wide of go KDP.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: That’s true. Can I talk a little bit, Iain, about the paperback version of the book. So is your choice still CreateSpace or do you do with KDP Paperback?

Iain Rob Wright: No, no, as I said last time, the last sort of several years, I’ve been predominantly CreateSpace, but I have been slowly moving over to KDP Print, purely because, to me, the writing’s on the wall that Amazon’s obviously not going to want two systems in play that do the same thing. So I think it’s pretty obvious to me that CreateSpace is being phased out and eventually everything will be going through the KDP dashboard. So my advice to authors will be to go straight to KDP Print. And for one thing, it’s much easier to use because it takes all the meta data, any descriptions from what you’ve already put in for your ebook and ties everything together. But I just think it’s gonna present a problem in the future where CreateSpace is probably gonna be sold. They’ve gonna migrate, whether they like it or not.

Iain Rob Wright: There is a few things missing from KDP Print, in regards to expanded distribution. But over the last few months, you’ve seen a couple of things that are missing slowly be added, and I think in time, probably within this year, all of the things available on CreateSpace will be on KDP Print and it won’t be any different.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Yeah, at that point I don’t think there will be much of a difference and then KDP would be the more obvious choice, right?

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, because one of the things missing was you couldn’t order your own proof copies at the author discount. They’ve added that to KDP Print now. So they’ve added that one thing that a lot of authors were saying they wouldn’t leave CreateSpace because they want to buy their own stock. So they’ve rectified that issue. I think the last thing now is the expanded distribution to libraries and stores, but I can only see it being a matter of months before they bring that along as well. And I’d say another two years and CreateSpace will start to be closed down, I think. Really the option now is KDP Print or Lightning Source are the options that authors should consider now.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Right. I just wanted to check with you about what’s your take on launching the ebook and paperback. Do you do it together? Because when I talk to my clients, sometimes people tell me that “Hey, let’s launch the ebook. It’s easier. Let’s do the paperback after a couple of months.” And I tell them it’s not that big a deal. You just need a back cover. That’s it. And maybe a different format for the print ready version. Some people who are new to this, they think that it’s a big deal to publish the paperback and they just postpone the launch. But I tell them just do it together, it’ll help the … ebook promotion will help the sale of the paperback, and vice versa. What do you think about that?

Iain Rob Wright: I think if you wanna run adverts and things to push your launch and go to a mailing, you should have both of them. Because if I run a Facebook advert on an ebook, I tend to see a few paperback sales as well off the back of that. So it’s important to have both. It used to be that I probably didn’t release a paperback for another month or so after, because I used to find it such a stress having to format the paperback in … I used to use Adobe InDesign, so my paperbacks, sort of pretty professional. I didn’t go for a basic paperback. I made sure they were really good. That also meant it took a lot of time on Adobe InDesign and I didn’t enjoy doing it. So I kind of put it off a little bit, and the ebook’s so easy to get up. But I would just have that for a while. But since I’ve started using Venom, which gives you a paperback file as well, I do them on the same day now, because everything gets spit out of my software at the same time. It’s definitely better to get them both out together, but it doesn’t really matter. Especially for me, personally. For every 100 ebooks I sell, I might sell one paperback, so for me, a paperback isn’t ever really a massive concern. It’s just … It’s nice to have.

Iain Rob Wright: And I actually think it helps you sell ebooks because if someone clicks on your ebook page and it just says ebook, it makes it look a little amateurish. But if it says ebook, paperback, audiobook, it makes you seem a bit more legit, it makes you seem like a bigger deal. So I think having all these options, it gives the buyer confidence that you’re an established product because you haven’t just got an ebook. To be honest, scammers can put ebooks on Amazon. They’ve written a 10 page pamphlet and they’re trying to make money from putting garbage up there or something. But if you’ve got a paperback and an audiobook as well, that shows that there’s effort and professionalism that’s gone into your product, so the ebook’s likely to be more professional because you’re more professional as an author that you have all these products. So for that reason alone, I always have a paperback, even if it’s not making much money, I believe it just presents your product a lot more professionally by having those options.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: True. And what I’ve noticed is sometimes when the paperback is priced at say $20 and your ebook is for two dollars, people think “Wow, the ebook is at a great offer,” and they end up buying it. So it helps in driving the sales. And it also depends on the genre sometimes, because I used to publish cookbooks even before and I had them only as ebooks, but the minute I put them on paperback, the paperback sale would be three or four times more than the ebook sale because people like to hold it, place it on the kitchen shelf and cook. So I think it depends on the type of book also.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, absolutely.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Especially for certain kinds of non-fiction, I think it’s essential to have paperback, otherwise, we’re just losing a lot of money.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, absolutely. I think non-fiction, paperback becomes a lot more important. I think fiction, it’s a lot more accessible on a kindle than a non-fiction book is. So I think there’s a bigger portion of readers that have migrated to e-readers, but then when you look at students and people buying cookbooks and things, textbooks, they still want them as paper. So if you write a non-fiction, definitely, the paperback should be more of a priority than it is for a fiction author like myself.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: That’s right. You briefly mentioned about Lightning Source. So is that the service you use to distribute your paperback outside of Amazon?

Iain Rob Wright: I don’t use it myself personally, but publishers that I know and sort of colleagues have used Lightning Source and it is, from what I can see, a more professional product. It’s a better finish on the cover and the pages and things, than CreateSpace and KDP Print are. If you put KDP Print or a CreateSpace book next to a book from Penguin or Random House, it doesn’t quite look as professional. It’s almost there, but not quite. It’s just slightly lacking. Lightning Source is really there’s no difference. It’s as professional as a big printing house. But they-

Jyotsna Ramachandran: It’s the same as Ingram’s back, right?

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, it is. Yes. So if you wanna do a print run … So if you’re planning on selling your books to a bookstore and you wanna print off 5,000 copies, then Lightning Source is probably gonna be better because they do print runs which will give you a better unit cost because they’re printing so many at once. So if you wanna make a living or run some sort of promotion that involves an actual printed copy, you wanna buy a lot of that, then Lightning Source is definitely a better option because it’s more professional. They allow you to do offset printing, so you can save money on unit costs. And they also … And this is a big one … They allow you to do hardbacks as well. So if you wanna create a hardback version of your book, which might be nice for a cookbook for example, then you don’t have that option with KDP Print or CreateSpace. So for those who want hardbacks, then Lightning Source is the option you’re left with.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: I think they just have a small setup cost of $50 or something. And I think for ALLi members, there is a special discount. I’m not sure. Probably we can have the link somewhere. But I think that small amount doesn’t really … If you’re really quality conscious, then I think it’s worth the money.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, and I know a couple of author friends that run small presses, they use Lightning Source purely because it’s more professional and because they are trying to sell their books at conventions and in bookstores and things. So they want to be able to go have a really professional product. CreateSpace and KDP Print, for the casual reader, they’re absolutely perfect. They’re fine. But if you wanna impress a bookstore owner, then Lightning Source just gives you that little bit of an edge in that the cover is printed a bit better and the pages feel a bit more like the type of thing people are used to.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Hm. Sure. And for the authors, both CreateSpace and Lightning Source, they offer it at the cost price, right? They don’t charge the actual retail price, right?

Iain Rob Wright: No, if you wanna buy your own copies then … Because CreateSpace and KDP have print on demand, you’re gonna pay a bit more for your own stock compared to Lightning Source, where you can do an offset print. So you can say “I’m gonna order 5,000 copies from Lightning Source to be printed all at once in a big batch.” You’ll find that that will reduce the cost of each book if you do it that way. So if you do want a lot of books printed, then Lightning Source will be cheaper, because you can do an offset run. If you only wanna buy 10 books here and there, 50 books for a convention, you pay a bit more with CreateSpace and KDP Print, but the fact that you don’t have to pay the startup costs and it’s so easy to print the exact amount that you need, you don’t need to do a print run of 5,000, you can do a print run of 20, you know, because it’s all printed on demand. It’s more expensive, but it’s a lot more convenient for authors that don’t have a lot of money to spend on print runs and things.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Right. So for a paperback book, apart from these options, where else do you distribute. Like you said, you order bulk copies of your book. So what do you do with them? Do you sell it anywhere outside on your own, as well?

Iain Rob Wright: I’ve sold at conventions before, and that does fine and you can make a profit. Because I’ve got young children, I don’t really do many of those. I may do in the future. So that’s one place. You can set up a stand at a convention. There’s lots of horror conventions that I can go to and you can find readers and also sell signed copies for maybe 20 pounds, $20, and make a really good profit when the book’s only costing you sort of four or five dollars to purchase from CreateSpace. So that’s one reason you might have a big print of 200 copies that you wanna sell. Or, if you’re the type of person that’s really a get up and go type of person, you can print a big box of books and go around your local Independent bookstores and try and sell a certain amount to them. Its’ difficult, it takes a lot of work and I don’t necessarily think you’re gonna end up making the best use of your time if you do that.

Iain Rob Wright: But if that’s important to you, seeing your book in your local bookstore, then that’s the reason you get a lot of them printed off. And it is possible. There’s authors that have done it. I know Waterstones quite often will print a local author in the same town and they have a bit of a spotlight on local authors. So it really depends what you’re trying to get out of it. For me, because I’m focused pretty much on profit, I only focus on the things that are gonna give me the best investment of my time, so that’s not for me. But if it’d written a book that was my life history and it was really important to me that it was in bookstores and that would be my focus. But I’m very much about selling the most amount of copies and making money and if that’s ebook only, for me that’s fine.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Yeah. I think what you said makes a lot of sense because each author writes a book with a different purpose in mind. So it totally depends on that. For me, I’ve seen some of my clients, they do these big book launch events in five star hotels. So for them, buying books in bulk is really important because they do these launches, they go on book tours and all of that. So that is one kind of an author. There are other people who go to industry conferences, as you said, or they get invited as speakers and they sell the book at the back of the room. So that’s something that’s quite profitable because people listen to them for 30 minutes, they just like, trust them, and then you tell them you have a book and people don’t mind spending $20.

Iain Rob Wright: No, no, absolutely. And if you’re a motivational speaker and you’ve written a book about business, whatever, you can do these talks and get people to come to the talks and then the profit is in selling the book as they leave. So there’s a lot of people that do that. They give these motivational talks, maybe they’ve even been hired by the company to come in and talk and then at the back of the room, there’s a table full of their books. So again, that’s a different business model and that’s very non-fiction based. But again, if you’ve got an online course, if you’ve got a motivational book, then you can go out, you can do these speaking arrangements and then try and sell your book at the back. That’s a business model in itself that you do that.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: And then for fiction, Iain, I’ve seen some genre-specific book fairs. Like Horror Fest and stuff like that and authors do have their stalls put up there and they do all kinds of crazy things.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, one of my colleagues, Matt Shore, does a convention almost every month. And because he enjoys that life, he enjoys being out with other authors, meeting his readers.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Signing copies of the book.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, absolutely. So to him, even if it doesn’t make a great deal of money, that’s the lifestyle for him. That’s what being a writer means to him. He wants to have that life and he needs to print books to do that. So again, for me, I couldn’t think of anything worse than being on the road all the time or having to give talks in public. I would hate all that. So that’s not me at all, but for other authors, absolutely. And if they can fill a table full of their books and it makes them seem like the real deal.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Audible, can we quickly talk about the audiobook distribution as well?

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a no brainer getting an audiobook out. There’s a service called ACX, which is part of Amazon, again. What you do is you upload your book onto ACX and then there’s a whole host of narrators who will look at the sample of your work and they will actually come to you and give you a sample of their narration of your book. So maybe 15 minutes of the first chapter. And if you like one of the narrators and the way they’re reading your work out loud, you can work with them through a contract agreement, which means they produce the audio of your book, completely free of charge, they don’t charge you anything upfront, but they get 50 percent of all the royalties that Audible pay out when the audiobook is on sale.

Iain Rob Wright: They call it a royalty share scheme and it’s great for some published authors because there’s no initial investment. It doesn’t cost them anything. It doesn’t even take them any work because all they’re doing is giving a copy of their book that they’ve already written, they’ve already put all the work into that and then they’re letting somebody else, a third person, to do all of the work to create an audiobook. And then what that person gets is on the backend, they get 50 percent of the sales. If you become more established and you want all the royalties for yourself, you can work out an agreement where you pay the narrator upfront. So you pay them maybe $1,200 to do the narration for you and then that’s it. They never earn another penny and all the royalties come to you.

Iain Rob Wright: So you got that option, but if you don’t wanna spend the money upfront, which many self-published authors don’t want to do, this royalty share option on ACX is brilliant because it takes away all the risk. All it can do is earn you money. So it’s an absolutely fantastic service that all authors should use, whether they’re fiction or non-fiction. Go onto ACX, find a narrator you like working with and get something going. It’s really fun to hear your work read back as well.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Yeah, that’s true. What I did for my book was I went into Upwork.com and I posted a job and there were plenty of narrators and luckily my book was not too long. It was just 20,000 words. So I didn’t have to shell too much of money and pay them upfront. But if your book is longer, then yeah, it could run into thousands or dollars as well. So I paid somebody, I think, $200 or $300 and then all the royalties has been mine. So do you again prefer going ACX exclusive where you get I think 40 percent royalties? Or non-exclusive when you get 25 percent?

Iain Rob Wright: Again, I’m a bit to blame for being so biased towards Amazon, but I do go exclusive. But it’s mainly because I don’t have any experience in selling audiobooks anywhere. So I feel more comfortable with Amazon because I know how the Amazon website works and because I’m sending so much traffic to Amazon to buy my ebook and my paperbacks and things and all my marketing list is directed towards Amazon, I know that a majority of what I’m doing marketing wise and promotion wise is aimed at Amazon. So the more money I make from Amazon on an audiobook, the better for me, because that’s where my focus is anyway.

Iain Rob Wright: With yourself, you had the luxury of because you were willing to pay upfront, that gives you the option to use websites like Upwork and you can find a narrator from anywhere. You’re not tied down to the Amazon ecosystem. So it’s good to be free to go to places like Upwork, where you might find people that are slightly more professional.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Right. I think, in fact, some authors who are probably good at narrating, they do their books themselves.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, absolutely.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: For me, my target market was mostly in the US, so I’m sure they wouldn’t understand my Indian accent, so that’s why I had to hire somebody from America. But I think otherwise, that’s also an option. If there is a good maybe a studio kind of a setup or at least a good microphone, people can try doing it themselves as well.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, what you’ve just said applies to me. I mean, I’m what you would call working class. So I don’t like my accent. I don’t think it’s a very good speaking voice. I grew up poor, so I don’t speak particularly well. I don’t feel confident narrating my book because I don’t feel I would do it justice. But if I had a really powerful voice and I spoke well, absolutely I would do it myself. 100 percent. Why wouldn’t you? Because you’re earning money that you would have to give to somebody else. So yeah, absolutely. If you’re the type of person that can speak well and you have got a decent microphone and you can soundproof the room, then yeah, absolutely, I would say do it yourself. Why not?

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Yeah, I think now that your voice is getting more popular through the podcast, you must try narrating your next book.

Iain Rob Wright: Yeah, possibly.

Jyotsna Ramachandran: Allright, Iain. I think that was a good roundup about the different ways to distribute your book online. So we’ll see you next month with yet another show.

Iain Rob Wright: Great. Good to see you again.

 

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an editor and writer with more than 30 years of experience in journalism, from newspapers to magazines specializing in business, science, and technology. He has spent the past few years guiding coverage of independent publishing, amplifying voices of the marginalized. Howard is also a book doctor who enjoys working with authors to get their work ready for publication.

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