IN THE FREE BOOK LOVERS' MAG VOXLIT ON-LINE THIS MONTH:
***VOXLIT: BRINGING AUTHORS AND WRITERS TOGETHER***
For the autumn issue of Voxlit we’ve made a few changes to bring all lovers of literature even closer to each other.
As well as our old friends, we have four new contributors in Timothy Balding, Thomas A Burns Jr, Mehreen Ahmed and Dr Chadra Bhatt. We profile Mehreen on the AUTHORS AT WORK page and we’ve added a new feature called AUTHOR CHATS.
On this page, Thomas gives an insight into how novels are turned into audio books, while our ‘history of the genre’ series turns its attention to the YA novel. Scroll down and find them.
Our old friend Rob Burton sadly reaches the final instalment of his youthful adventures in Southern Africa. And Cherise Castle-Blugh offers some help for writers facing author readings.
How much belief can a reader be expected to suspend? The Writers’ Notes section explores the problem of credibility of plots. And The Writers’ Think Tank authors discuss their ‘best’ work from both their own and their readers’ points of view – an interesting difference. The new Authors’ Chat feature has philosophy fans Timothy and James airing the views that inspire their novels.
In our Excerpts and Articles section, Dr Bhatt summarises his book on the interplay of Yoga and the martial arts.
Darlene Raminez is back in our Review section, together with new reviewer Mehreen. They are joined by our usual reviewers, Ted Bun and James Gault, so we now offer a wider choice of viewpoints and trust you will find something interesting to read there.
Travel writing. Philosophy. Analysis of fiction. Opinions. Advice. Tips. There’s something here for all book lovers.
Share it with your friends. Enjoy it as the long nights roll in (except of course, for our lucky Antipodean readers, who are looking forward to summer).
Click for these other ARTICLES
Tips for author readings from Cherise Castle-Blugh
The Writer's Think Tank
Final part of Rob Burton's travels in Africa
Authors at work - profile of the prizewinning Mehreen Ahmed
Dr Chandra Bhatt on the philosophy of martial arts
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JOIN US!!! We always welcome new contributors Click here to find out more
An Indie Author Tackles Audiobooks
I write the Natalie McMasters Mysteries, and I’m an indie author. Natalie McMasters is a detective for the new millennium. As the series opens in Stripper!, Nattie is twenty, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached!), way cute, and a pre-law student at State. She's also straight, or at least she thinks so. To put herself through school, she's moonlighting as a private detective trainee at her uncle Amos Murdoch's 3M Detective Agency, where the most exciting thing she does is sit in a car, staking out people who’ve claimed workers’ compensation to be sure they’re hurt as badly as they say. After she directly confronts a subject on a stakeout, Amos fires her for taking too many chances. Then she meets another student who bears an uncanny resemblance to her, and everything in her life changes. When her new best friend is brutally murdered and Amos is critically injured, Nattie immerses herself in the seamy world of web cams and strip clubs to hunt the killer. Her investigation forces her to reassess many of the ideas that she’s lived by her whole life and do things she’s never considered before – strip on a stage, question her sexuality, and rediscover the meaning of love itself. Nattie eventually exposes a drug ring, police corruption, and an assassin-for-hire online. Then she stumbles upon the true face of evil, and her encounter does not leave her unscathed…
I’m 67, so after a year of querying potential agents for Stripper! with no results, I decided to take the leap of faith and publish it myself. In April 2018, the first Natalie McMasters novel, Stripper! was published on Amazon. As of this writing, two more novels, Revenge! and Trafficked, have been released, and I’ve just finished writing the first draft of the fourth book, Venom! I’m sure there’s no way I could have had such a rapid production schedule if I had to deal with an agent and a publisher. The books have done well, with about 11,000 copies in circulation world-wide.
It’s been a bumpy ride. I started by publishing e-books and paperbacks on KDP, then took the series wide on Draft 2 Digital in various e-book formats. I’ve made some mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned a lot. A few months ago, I decided it was time to enter the audiobook market. Audiobooks are currently the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry. They’re available as downloads and some as CDs (sold separately), and the e -books can be played on multiple devices without losing your place. Some Audible books (Amazon) also have the whispersync feature, that lets you listen and read your book on Kindle, and updates either device as you switch back and forth.
So, I decided to issue the McMasters Mysteries on audio, starting with Stripper!, and I chose Audible Books to do it, because I had such good results from KDP on Amazon. ACX (https://www.acx.com/) is Audible’s publishing platform, allowing you to sell your book on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. After you register on the site, you open your title for auditions. Narrators, also known as producers, can review available titles and contact the author. However, I found it much more effective to survey potential producers myself and invite the ones I liked to submit an audition. You can narrow the list of over 100, 000 producers by gender, voice style, accent and other parameters.
There are three ways to pay your producer—straight royalty share, royalty share plus a one-time payment, or straight payment. Payment is determined according to the finished length of the audiobook (not how long the producer takes to produce it), which ACX estimates for you according to the word count. A royalty share agreement lasts for seven years, during which time the author and the producer split a 40% royalty. Many of the more established producers, some of whom who are also professional voice actors, prefer either royalty share plus or straight payment. If you do a royalty share, you also must commit to sell the audiobook on ACX only. The royalty percentage is 25% if you elect a straight payment deal, and the author keeps all of it. For a royalty share deal, I contacted over a hundred potential producers and got about ten replies.
When you contract with a narrator, you agree on delivery dates for the first 15 minutes of the recording and for the final version. The author has to accept the first 15 minutes for the project to proceed, and the contract can be cancelled without penalty if it is unacceptable. The author the reviews the final version when it is ready, mostly making sure that it tracks closely with the Kindle edition. Some producers may send individual chapters, some the whole book at once, depending on how they work.
ACX Audiobooks have a feature called Whispersync, which means that the user can listen to the audio, then switch to the Kindle and it will automatically sync to the correct spot. This is very useful if you want to listen in your car on the way to and from work, then read on Kindle at home. But for Whispersync to work, the audio version must track the Kindle version at nearly 100%.
Once the final file is approved, it is submitted to ACX, who quality checks it and produced the final audio version. I have no direct experience with this process as yet, but I am told it takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
A word about covers—the author must provide one, and it must meet ACX’s specs The cover is a square, and if the book is exclusive to ACX, they will add a triangular badge in the lower right-hand corner that states that. So, the author must ensure that the ACX triangle does not obscure important information.
Narrators are people, and people have issues, so sometimes, everything does not go according to schedule. My first narrator quit the project after producing five chapters, so I had to find someone else. That took a couple of weeks, but luckily, I found Lisa Ware, of Voices from lsware. Lisa is a very talented narrator—she captures Nattie’s voice perfectly, as well as those of the other diverse characters in Stripper! I’m sure you’ll find her work enjoyable.
The audio version of Stripper! is scheduled for release on Nov. 4, 2019. Look for it on the Amazon page for Stripper!
Contributed by Thomas A Burns Jr
History of the Genre