Most of my own “reading” nowadays is via audiobooks, which I listen to on my endless commute. There are pros and cons to this approach, but in my experience a good narrator can greatly increase my enjoyment of a book. (The main disadvantage is that it’s hard to skim an audiobook.)
It’s not especially hard to create audiobooks nowadays. ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, provides all the resources an author needs–especially the ability to hook up with appropriate narrators. So I just need to decide whether it’s worth the time and money.
The money part is straightforward–narrators charge “Per Finished Hour”, which includes narration, engineering, corrections, and so on. (Many narrators do their own engineering.) So, if your audio book is seven hours long, and the narrator charges $200 per finished hour, you pay $1400.
Depending on the model you choose, you might get as much as 40% of the retail price as a royalty from Audible, the top audiobook vendor. If they charge, say, $20, that’s $8 per book. That’s a breakeven point of about 175 copies–which is not an insignificant number.
On the other hand, there’s synergy and cross-sales and all that good stuff. Maybe audiobooks will help increase my ebook or print book sales. Or maybe not.
You still have to wait till April 2 to get the e-book version of Home. But you can buy the paperback version now. How cool is that? It’s available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as probably other places I haven’t checked. Barnes and Noble will sell it to you for 10% off the already low list price; it also discounts the e-book.
Here’s what the book looks like, in case you forgot:
There’s a lot of value to getting sales up when a book is first published, so there’ll never be a better time to buy it (for the author, at least). And it goes without saying that reviews are extremely helpful as well.
By the way, this is the third book in my Portal series, but I think it stands pretty well on its own. Give it a try! Or buy all three!
Here it is on Amazon, with a publication date of April 2!
I don’t really know why you’d pre-order the book instead of waiting until it’s actually available. Maybe you just want to make sure you get it at the earliest possible moment? That’s fine with me, of course. Pre-order as many copies as you like!
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the true story of Lee Israel, a moderately successful biographer whose best days are behind her. Broke, alcoholic, and desperate, she stumbles onto a scam that brings in some money — at least for a while: she forges letters from literary figures like Dorothy Parker and sells them to credulous and acquisitive rare-book and memorabilia dealers. It all falls apart before long, but for a brief, glorious period she is once again creative and successful, in a strange sort of way.
It’s a nice little movie, and Melissa McCarthy is great in it. (Richard E. Grant, as her gay alcoholic sidekick, is even greater.) McCarthy’s character is a depressing loser who can’t hold down a job and cares only for her cat, but she has a spark. She comes alive when sitting in front of her typewriter, and I found myself wishing she were normal enough to find a way to create a real career for herself with that spark. But it wasn’t going to happen.
Along with my novel, this week I said good-bye (I think) to my friend Jeff Carver’s novel (now split in two), which he’s been working on (and we in his writing group have been critiquing) since 2006 or so. That’s a lot of critiquing. And writing–I can’t imagine spending 12 years on a novel. But the result is really good–probably because I made a couple of pretty good suggestions over the years, along with a lot of dopey ones Jeff wisely ignored.
Now he needs to start the next novel in his Chaos Chronicles series. And he needs to finish it in 2019, dammit.
I did a final editorial pass. Fixed a few typos (sheesh), changed a this to a that, put commas in and took them out, fiddled with a bunch of sentences. Change the viewpoint character in one scene. And now I’m done.
These characters were part of my life for a long time. Sad to see them go. Delighted to see them go. On to the next adventure.
I used to read a lot; now I don’t. Writing gets in the way. (Also working for a living.) And when I read nowadays, I often get cranky. Here are two very different books that made me cranky recently.
The Outsider is the first Stephen King book I’ve read in decades. He just wrote too damn much, and I couldn’t keep up, so I stopped trying. King has his strengths and his weaknesses, but I always thought the strengths outweighed the weaknesses. But I didn’t enjoy The Outsider. The setup annoyed me: It’s structured as a police procedural, but the police procedures don’t work because the actual perp happens to be some kind of shape-shifting life-force-sucking evil monster, not the poor suspect whose body and DNA he replicated. So all the police work falls apart. Then everyone goes into monster-hunting mode, and King expends a lot of effort setting up the ground-rules about what powers the monster has. These ground-rules seemed utterly arbitrary to me–put in place so he could give us a thrilling climax. I wasn’t thrilled. Meh.
On the other end of the spectrum is Wuthering Heights, which is one of those novels that any self-respecting English major should have read before graduating from college. But I didn’t get around to it till last month. Here’s a list of the 100 greatest novels of all time where it shows up at #46; this seems pretty typical. If I’d been younger when I read it, I probably would have contemplated Bronte’s depth of characterization and reinvention of the novel’s form and maybe ignored the fact that everyone in this novel is freaking insane. The me who read the book on his well-earned vacation got increasingly annoyed at this fact.
I’m pondering creating a “boxed set” of the ebooks for The Last P.I. series; it would sell for less than the three books sold individually.The mechanism is fairly straightforward; the only real extra work (and expense) is to create a new cover. There’s lots of this going on nowadays. My publisher says that it would make the series more attractive to Bookbub, which is the main advertising channel for ebooks nowadays. One more way to get the word out.
I read through my third draft, picking up more stuff along the way. The stuff keeps getting more and more trivial, but it’s real. Why did I type “here” instead of “hear” in one place? Why did I add the “ue” to “Epilogue” but not to “Prolog”? Why did I refer to the city as “Roma” everywhere but in one place, where I used “Rome”? Why did I waver between “goodbye” and “good-bye”?
More important, reading straight through let me spot places where I repeated a point I’d already made and places where I failed to make a point I wanted to make. The text feels smoother now. Somehow I managed to add another thousand words. Well, I guess I needed them.
Most important, I made final decisions about a few niggling issues that were bothering me. In a large, multi-viewpoint novel, you wonder if you have too many viewpoints, or not enough. Does the story hang together as you shift and shift and shift between viewpoints? In a novel that carries the story forward from two previous novels, have you resolved enough of the questions, have you provided satisfactory resolutions for enough of the characters?
Well, you’re never certain, but I’m pretty sure I’m done with this novel, except for a final proofing. Which means I now leave the characters, and the world, behind.