Welcome to the Golden Age of Audiobooks … by Richard Rieman

Audiobooks are the fastest growing medium in publishing. How far have audiobooks come? The first audiobooks were called “Talking Books” and were created in the 1930s for people with visual disabilities in America and Britain. This group included war-blinded soldiers and blind civilians who couldn’t read braille.

It was illegal for sighted persons to listen to LP audiobooks from 1934 until 1948, because publishers and authors’ unions controlling royalties and rights did not want them made available for public sale. They might cut into book sales!

Audiobook listening on Audible rose 35% last year, and audiobook sales have increased 20% worldwide each of the past three years. There is still a lot of room for growth!

The number of books being given a voice is rising dramatically, but there are still far fewer audiobooks in each genre than print and eBooks. It’s a great way to reach a new fan base in your genre.

Fiction Rules!

The top audiobook genres are Mystery/Thriller, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, and Romance. Listeners far prefer fiction titles (64% of downloads) to non-fiction titles (36% of downloads).

It’s not just Harry Potter books. Publishers Weekly reports self-published audio has also taken off, with Audible’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), and the rise of consultants and studios catering to authors who want to self-publish their audiobooks. Author’s Republic, owned by Audiobooks.com, also helps self-published audiobook authors distribute their work in competition with Amazon’s Audible.

Audible offers production services through ACX, but to receive a 40 per cent royalty rate publishers must hand over exclusive distribution rights to ACX (compared to 25 per cent if rights are retained to distribute on CD, to libraries, on other retailers and internationally.)

Audiobooks as Long Podcasts

"Podcasts are the gateway drug for audiobooks" …the words of Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy at Edison Research, at the 2016 Audio Publisher's Association Conference in Chicago. Webster pointed to an explosion in podcast listening as a major reason why audiobook listening is on the rise. He explained it's directly tied to an increase in listening over smartphones. Those who consume podcasts on a weekly basis listened to an average of five podcasts per week.

“Media consumption is showing signs of being dramatically changed by both technology and by new paradigms,” said Edison's Webster. “The rise of alternative content forms, such as podcasts and ‘bingeable’ content from on-demand video services is subverting the myth that our attention spans are shorter.”

When I told a teenager recently I was an audiobook narrator and producer, he told me enthusiastically, "I listen to audiobooks! Those are the really long podcasts!"

Just a Click Away

No more cassettes, (almost) no more CDs; audiobooks are now just a click away. Digital downloads now account for 85% of listening. Beyond smartphones, new cars are including Audiobook listening apps, libraries are using services like Overdrive to offer free listening, and even Amazon’s Echo devices play audiobooks.

Falling Costs

Audiobook publishing and production costs are falling. Depending on the producer and narrator, a self-publisher can expect to pay anywhere from $600 up to $4,000 per title. The major publishers who have a cast of actors, music, and sound effects – creating more of a radio play than an audiobook, spend over $50,000 for an audiobook production.

To simplify the costs of audiobook production, I have broken out the costs per 1,000 words. You can expect to pay between $10 (if you split your royalties with your narrator) and $30 per 1,000 words to get an audiobook version. The more you are willing to pay, the more experienced your narrator/producer will be.

Unrealized Potential

This is the last in my series of RMFW blogs about audiobooks, so let me leave you with these final thoughts from acclaimed Author and Narrator Neil Gaiman:

“The rights to an audiobook often remain unrealized and the book is never recorded. There is huge potential sitting there, too – the potential for creative work, the potential for new income, and the potential for good listening.”

Please give your books a voice, and join the “Golden Age of Audiobooks.”

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RMFW member Richard Rieman of AudiobookRevolution.com is an audiobook self-publishing consultant, a top Audible narrator, and an in-studio producer of authors narrating their own titles. Richard is author of “The Author’s Guide to Audiobook Creation,” Gold Medal Winner of the 2016 Global eBook Award in Writing/Publishing.

You can learn more about Richard and his projects at his website Audiobook Revolution Productions. He can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and You Tube.

Speaking of Podcasts…

Mark Stevens, RMFW's podcast guru, published a post yesterday that mentioned his broken podcast microphone, and that reminded me we haven't mentioned those podcasts here on the blog for quite a while.

You do listen to the podcasts, right?

I mean, you are aware that RMFW has a series of excellent podcasts for your education and amusement, right? Seventy-eight of them so far!

Ahem!

Number #78 is a must-listen for any member who wants to submit to the new short story anthology:  Angie Hodapp & Warren Hammond - New RMFW Anthology False Faces

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is getting ready to publish a new short story anthology in 2018: False Faces: Tales of Fakes, Frauds, and Facades.

This time on the podcast co-editors Angie Hodapp and Warren Hammond walk us through the process they have developed for selecting and editing stories between now and the anticipated publication in September of 2018.

Angie Hodapp holds a BA in English and secondary education and an MA in English and communication development, and she is a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. She has worked in publishing and professional writing and editing, in one form or another, for sixteen years. She currently works at Nelson Literary Agency as the Director of Literary Development.

Warren Hammond is known for his gritty, futuristic KOP series. The third book in the series, KOP Killer, won the Colorado Book Award. Warren's latest novel, Tides of Maritinia, is a spy novel set in a science-fictional world.

First up on this episode is another episode of Writer’s Rehab from Natasha Watts. Natasha goes after what she calls an issue of attitude. If your writing role model is Harper Lee or if you are treating your first novel like a passion project, these few minutes of commentary are for you.

Head on over to the podcast page to scroll through the whole list and read the descriptions.

Everything Is Broken

I hate it when things aren’t working right.

Last week was a doozy.

First, it was the microphone I use to record podcasts. (Yes, RMFW, the microphone you purchased to help start the podcasts– all $50 worth. It worked for two years & 77 podcasts and then pfffft.)

It looked the same as always. Nothing rattled. But, busted. Gone.

I spent 3.5 hours online with a tech service trying to see what was wrong with my computer.

Turns out, it was the microphone.

Then, our refrigerator started making an annoying rattle.

$850 later, we had a new compressor.  (I can’t show it to you; it’s tucked inside the refrigerator now, doing its job).

These guys came to my house twice in one week!

The next day, one of the flaps in the dryer’s tumbler thing came loose. Whump-whump-whump.

The credit card took another $208 hit.

No joke.

(Bob Dylan was ringing in my ear …. Broken lines, broken strings, Broken threads, broken springs…)

What else breaks?

Sometimes, it’s our words.

A word. A sentence. A paragraph.

George Saunders (Lincoln in The Bardo; many, many killer short stories) has a terrific piece in The Guardian about writing. It's called 'What writers really do when they write.'

He talks about evaluating the words he has written “without hope and without despair.”

George Saunders says he imagines a meter mounted on his forehead as he reads his own stuff, with “P” on one side for positive and “N” on the other for negative.

“Accept the result without whining,” he suggests.

Then edit, he writes, “so as to move the needle into the ‘P’ zone.”

There’s a lot of good stuff in this piece.

It’s long but entirely worth absorbing.

I won’t come right out and say a sentence is “broken” or a paragraph is “broken."

I mean, you’ve got something work with--that's a huge accomplishment.

Those words on the page. You can’t edit thin air.

But there might be a way to make those words work better.

To make them, well, work.

There’s P, there’s N.

Fix them!

No whining.

Final thought from George Saunders: “Any work of art quickly reveals itself to be a linked system of problems.”

Random Thoughts

A Little Bit Every Day
DSC01502I started writing the fifth book in the Allison Coil Mystery Series on Jan. 1, 2014. (Yeah, New Year’s Day. Just Because.) I finished the draft on Monday, March 28. I wrote 500 words a day. That’s 453 days, which would have been 165,433 words if I made forward progress every day. But I needed to back up a few times, re-work a few things. I took a break to write a short story. And another. I finished Draft 1 with 112,000 words, still too many. Lots of cutting to come. What’s my point? 500 words a day isn’t much. It adds up. Do the math.

 

 

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There’s A Feeling I Get
April2015StairwayThis excellent column by Bob Lefsetz is all about rock and roll. But I thought about writing the whole time. Led Zeppelin went their own way with “Stairway to Heaven.” Their previous album was a dud.

Here’s Lefsetz: “What Led Zeppelin said back in ’71 is that you’re best doing it your way, by yourself, with your peeps, than hiring outside hands to meddle with your vision … That we react to and love most that which is personal and human.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Lessons Learned
April2016WeirdI’ve had some excellent podcast guests lately, but check out the one with Eleanor Brown. She had a huge hit with The Weird Sisters. Huge! She was on the road doing promotion for 18 months! And then she wrote three more books that all went pffffft before finding the groove for the one that comes later this year, The Light in Paris.

Much like Led Zeppelin, she listened to her heart. (I guess Tom Petty sang that, too.) Humility, folks. It’s a tough business. Listen.

Her workshop is Saturday, April 30 at Columbine Library in Littleton.

 

 

 

 

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Legends of the Fall
Harrison & ReillyEverything they’re saying about Jim Harrison, who died recently, is true.

Read his stuff if you don’t know his work—gritty, singular, raw, honest. I looked up an old review I wrote of his three-novella collection, The Woman Lit By Fireflies.

Anyway, at the bottom of the review I came across a funny exchange with my late pal Gary Reilly and I shook my head (yet again) at Gary’s dry humor. I miss that guy. (Click on the picture to read the exchange.)

 

 

 

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The Detachment
The Detachment Cover - FINALSpeaking of Gary, Running Meter Press is launching The Detachment at The Tattered Cover on Friday, April 15 (Colfax Store) at 7 p.m.

I managed to get advance blurbs from some amazing writers—Stewart O’Nan, Ron Carlson, John Mort, Fred Haefele.

Carlson compared The Detachment to Catch 22 and that’s a guy who teaches fiction in an elite program out in California. O’Nan (pals with Stephen King and one prolific writer himself) called it a ‘classic.’

Speaking of length, The Detachment is 534 pages. It’s a powerful, heavy book based on Gary’s experiences in Vietnam as a military policeman.

 

 

 

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Honors for Gary
Pick Up at Union Station - Final JPGSpeaking of Gary, Pick Up At Union Station (his seventh novel in The Asphalt Warrior series) was named a finalist in literary fiction for the 2016 Colorado Book Award.

That’s three finalist nominations out of that seven-book series.

The other two were Ticket to Hollywood in 2013 and Doctor Lovebeads in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

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Productive

My pal Gary Reilly.
My pal Gary Reilly.

The Detachment is the ninth title we’ve published of Gary’s—after seven books in The Asphalt Warrior series and The Enlisted Men’s Club, the first book in his series about Vietnam following Private Palmer.

And Running Meter Press still has about 15 books to go.

Fifteen.

Gary wrote more than 500 words a day.

 

 

 

 

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Tethered by Letters

April2015FrictionIs Metro Denver and the Colorado Front Range chock full of writer groups?

Right?

There’s bound to be one out there to suit your needs.

Here’s a new one I came across last year. Tethered by Letters.

Yes, based here but with connections all over the world, really. One reason I mention them is because they do a great job—web site, online interactions, classes and a literary magazine called F(r)iction.

The other reason to mention them is because they offer pretty good money for flash fiction, short stories, poetry and more. Check ‘em out!

 

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Are You Following the New RMFW Podcast Series Hosted by Mark Stevens?

Is there anything Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers doesn't do for its members (and all writers for that matter)? Not too much. One of the newest offerings is a series of podcasts that features a variety of professionals to entertain and enlighten all those who tune in. Hosted by Mark Stevens, the podcasts are another great way to meet RMFW members and Colorado Gold guests.

The link to the most recent podcast was posted just this week. Featuring two of the three finalists for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers of the Year, Susan Spann and Cindi Myers, the panel took place at the downtown Denver Tattered Cover in August. Tune in to hear these two authors discuss their writing lives and offer advice based on their own experiences. The third finalist, Joan Johnston, was unable to attend.

Susan Spann

The podcast posted at the end of August featured long-time RMFW member and volunteer, Mario Acevedo. His focus was on the Sept. 5 workshop held in Grand Junction: "Everything You Need to Know About the Next RMFW Anthology."

Mario, who has agreed to step in as editor for the anthology, talks about the submission schedule and selection process and reveals the selected theme. In addition, Mario talks about writing short stories and about his ongoing series featuring vampire Felix Gomez. If you think you'll want to submit a story for consideration in the anthology, you might want to check out Mario's podcast.

MarioAcevedo

The previous interview was with one of the Colorado Gold keynote speakers, erotic romance writer Desiree Holt. In this podcast, Desiree chatted about her six series of books, her daily writing schedule and a preview of the three classes she will be teaching at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference this weekend.DesireeHolt200x263

The podcast before that featured Aaron Michael Ritchey, a highly productive writer and frequent workshop presenter. He'll participate in three writing workshops at Colorado Gold Conference. He talks about his daily dedication to writing and the series he's producing for WordFire Press called The Juniper Wars. As he puts it, the series is "cowgirls with machine guns on a post-apocalyptic cattle drive." Aaron is the author of three books--The Never Prayer, Long Live the Suicide King and Elizabeth's Midnight. He is also the author of numerous collaborations and short stories, including a story in the upcoming Nightmares Unhinged, an anthology from Hex Publishers.Aaron_Michael_Ritchey.jpg

For summaries of the other podcasts produced so far, and for future interviews, check out the page of links on the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers website.

Writing and Reading and Podcasts. Oh my!

By Mark Stevens

If you’re addicted to reading and writing—like me—I’m here with a few tips so you can pack more into your day.

First, an important fact:

I only write—pen on paper—for about 45 minutes a day. Sometimes, it’s an hour. But most days, 45 minutes.

However, I’m thinking about those 45 minutes frequently throughout the rest of the day. I’m thinking about that precise moment in my current story—the attitude of my characters, what’s happening, what’s next, what they are thinking, what they will think next, what they will do next, what memory haunts them. Etcetera. You get the picture.

So when my 45-minute window rolls around, I’m writing (not thinking).

But what about the other 23 hours and 15 minutes?

Well, there’s work. And eating. And sleeping.

But my tip for being able to think about writing (and reading) more is to start listening to three dynamite podcasts—ideal for the car and for walks (mine happen to be with a dog).

  • The Bookworm. Just listening to Michael Silverblatt chat with an author is incredibly inspiring, at least to me. This is ‘serious fiction,’ whatever that is, but I find his questions are thoughtful and the authors are a talented bunch from the literary side of the tracks.
  • Scriptnotes. Yes, a podcast for ‘screenwriters,’ but it’s also about story structure and plot and characters. The three-page challenge is the most useful stuff—it’s where John August and Craig Mazin dissect the opening three pages of a screenplay for what works and what doesn’t. Many of the problems they find apply to writing fiction—and they post the challenges on their web site, too. Is there a similar podcast about ‘regular’ fiction writing? Want to start one? Let me know. In the meantime, check this out: http://johnaugust.com/podcast
  •  Authors on Tour. Do you see the events at The Tattered Cover and wish you could go? I do. Many of the presentations are recorded here. A great way to “meet” new authors or listen to famous ones—and find out how they approach their book tour presentations, how they answer questions. Inspiring—through and through. I’ve found several terrific authors this way. Just can’t your book signed.

I also like the Slate Audio Book Club, The Reading and Writing Podcast with Jeff Rutherford, The New Yorker Fiction Podcast (one short story per month, read by another famous writer, and includes a thoughtful discussion of the work). All of these are available on I-Tunes. All free. All will help you get more reading (and writing) into your day.

By the way, I’m serious about the podcast proposal. I’m thinking it would be very cool to have a podcast with an established agent, a publisher and an author discussing the business as well as the art.

Do you have a favorite podcast? Let me know. I’d love to check it out.

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Profile_Mark_StevensMark Stevens is the President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the author of the Western hunting guide Allison Coil mysteries Antler Dust and Buried by the Roan.

You can learn more about Mark and his novels at his website. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.