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Writing Memoirs—What You Need to Know to Avoid Being Sued

Everyone wants to avoid being sued. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming, and incredibly stressful. Most writers don’t have much to worry about. The odds that they’ll end up in a courtroom for something they wrote are fairly low. Our First Amendment right to free speech offers significant protection to write freely. One exception to this rule is the world of memoir.

The reason the memoir genre is compelling is because it’s fascinating to read the dirty details of others’ lives. Memoir authors usually don’t write about rainbows and sunshine, they write about the salacious. Abuse, sex, addiction, and family drama—it’s the Sturm und Drang that people want to read about. This is the primary reason why memoirs open the door for lawsuits.

There’s a fine balance when you’re writing your memoir. Of course, it’s your story, and as such, you want it to be told without barriers. Yet, you need to consider those you’re writing about. They may not want to be part of your story. And, in some cases, if you violate the law, they may have the right to retaliate with a lawsuit.

We can all agree that there are better things to spend your book royalties on than exorbitant legal fees. Read on for tips to avoid going from published author to professional despondent. (Note: Our first disclaimer—this article does not constitute professional legal advice. For real legal advice, consult your real live counsel, rather than looking things up on the Internet.)

1. Case Study: Running with Scissors

Since we’re discussing legal issues, it seems fitting to start with a case study on the issues of memoir, defamation, and invasion of privacy.

Critically acclaimed author Augusten Burroughs published the best-selling memoir, Running with Scissors in 2003. In his book, he recalled his time living with the fictional “Finches.” His book recounted abuse, drug use, dysfunctional family behavior, living in squalor, and other unsavory details any family wouldn’t want blasted all over printed pages.

Burroughs claimed that while he did change the name of the family (in real life, the Turcottes), the harrowing details of his time spent in their care were true. The Turcottes filed a defamation and invasion of privacy torts suit against Burroughs and his publisher. The family asserted that Burroughs fabricated facts and violated their privacy.

Burroughs’ defense hinged on his assertion that the facts, as he wrote them, were true; therefore he had not broken any laws. The parties settled out of court. As part of the settlement, Burroughs changed his acknowledgments to say the Turcottes had “conflicting memories” of the described events. Burroughs was legally obligated to amend his book acknowledgments to read as follows:

I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running With Scissors.

2. Understand the Concepts

The best defense is a good offense. In litigation that means don’t do anything that will get you sued. Before you publish your memoir, it’s important that you understand your rights to free speech, as well as defamation and invasion of privacy issues.

First Amendment Protection

The First Amendment protects your right to free speech. This protection applies to both the spoken and written word.

Defamation

In short, defamation is when you ruin a person’s reputation. Black’s Law Dictionary defines defamation as, “The taking from one’s reputation. The offense of injuring a person’s character, fame, or reputation by false and malicious statements.” The term covers both libel (written) and slander (spoken).

Only living people can sue for defamation, so someone can’t file a lawsuit against you for defamation through an estate or relatives.

Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of privacy lawsuits hinge on public disclosure of private facts. Private facts are sensitive information that the average person would not want to share with the general public; for example, medical records, adoption records, abuse, alcoholism, etc. Just as with defamation, an invasion of privacy suit can’t be brought by an estate or relatives. Even if what you write is 100% true, someone can still bring an invasion of privacy suit based on public disclosure of private facts.

3. Preventing a Defamation Cause of Action

The best defense against defamation is the truth. Suppose you write that your neighbor was convicted of axe murder. He can’t bring a defamation suit against you if he was, in fact, convicted of axe murder. But if you write, “my neighbor could be capable of axe murder because he’s crazy,” then you’ve got some defamation issues.

Practical Tips to Stay Out of Courtroom:

If your facts will not hold up as 100% true in a court of law, you can open yourself up to defamation. Before you write, make sure to check your facts. You want to know that if you’re writing about something controversial, that you’re not fabricating the truth.

The second tip to avoid defaming your memoir characters is to frame controversial statements as your opinion. Opinions are (*usually) legally considered “protected expression.” That said, there are parameters. You can’t simply state that blatantly false statements are opinions and get away it. Writing, “In my opinion, Sara Smith is a prostitute”—when Sara Smith is an upstanding mom and doctor—will get you in trouble. Your opinion needs to be balanced by evidence and supported by actual fact.

The third tip to avoid defamation issues is to change any identifying information about your book characters. In order to prevail in a defamation case, the defamed must prove others are able to identify him from your writing. A caveat: This doesn’t mean by name alone! People can claim defamation if one could reasonably identify them through their actions, clothing, quotes, physical appearance, address, or any number of identifying points.

The fourth tip is that defamation rests upon subjective principles. When in doubt, err on the side of caution about disclosing details that may or may not be true. If you can’t defend the truth in a court of law, don’t publish it.

The final tip is to print a disclaimer in your preface, intro, or acknowledgements. Simply by stating your memories are imperfect but you’re sharing to the best of knowledge and that you’ve changed identifies can stave off legal woes.

4. Avoiding an Invasion of Privacy Cause of Action

Just as with a defamation lawsuit, an invasion of privacy lawsuit turns on subjective opinions to be decided on a case-by-case basis. This means that the individual facts of each case will decide the outcome.

Common sense dictates that there are certain private facts, which a person would not want shared with the public. If a good friend had given up a child for adoption, and you were the only person she told, then disclosing that in your memoir would open the doors to an invasion of privacy lawsuit. The same would apply to sensitive information such as private health matters, abuse, addiction, or any information would not be readily accessible to the public.

Certain public or high profile individuals may have less protection against invasion of privacy. The legal theory is that because they have opened their lives to public scrutiny, then the bar is lower for privacy protection. If unsavory facts can be classified as public interest, then you may be able to disclose certain things about public individuals. The crux of this issue would turn on whether your facts are related to a matter of “public concern.”

Practical Tips to Stay Out of the Courtroom:

There are several ways to avoid invasion of privacy lawsuits. Our first tip is to get written permission from your characters. If you obtain written consent, they can’t later file a suit stating you’ve breached their privacy.

Our second tip is the same as with defamation: Change all identifying characteristics. Give your characters a different name, different job, different wardrobes—anything you can change to prevent them from being recognized by your words affords you a degree of protection. Some writers like to create an amalgam of characters to mix up identifying facts.

Our third tip is tell the truth. Don’t lie (or even embellish). It’s unethical at best; at worst, it can get you in legal hot water.

Our fourth tip is carefully weigh the impact of disclosing inflammatory, sensitive, or embarrassing information. Are such disclosures essential to your story? If so, tread carefully and use our rules for how to proceed with caution. If you’re on the fence, it’s always wise to run your concerns by a lawyer to head off any issues before you publish. Paying for an hour or two of legal time is far better than being a defendant in a court case.

The best memoirs are brazen, open, and honest about life, even when the facts are tough to write about. Your obligation as a memoirist is to tell your story and honor the truth. By considering the impact of those in your real life and making efforts to protect them, you’ll avoid legal troubles down the line.

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Promote Yourself

PR for Authors—How to Promote Yourself & Your Books

Writing your book is just the beginning of your journey as an author. The next step you need to take is learning how to promote yourself and your book. We’re talking about Public Relations (PR) for authors. From TV to radio to print interviews, PR can help you build exposure and increase book sales. You may not see overnight results, but if you keep at it—getting as many people to hear about your book as possible—book sales will rise!

Here are our actionable tips on how to promote yourself, earn publicity, and drive books sales through TV, radio, and press interviews.

1. TV Interviews

Scoring a TV spot can boost your reputation, enhance your credibility, and increase your book sales. The best part is that the PR machine can stay moving even after your interview. Post a link to the interview and add the TV station logo on your website to pump up your credibility and continue the exposure.

Tips for How to Get a TV Interview

As you can imagine, it’s not easy to score a TV spot. TV stations are often overwhelmed with PR and interview requests. Here are some tips on how to stand out from the masses.

Pitch away

A successful pitch shows your hosts that you’ll add value to their show. Everyone has something to sell. So stand out by connecting with the host(s) and producer(s) by showing them why your book will add value to their show.

Know your facts

Draft your pitch to acknowledge their audience. If your book is about elder care and their demographics are retirees, then pitch that connection. If the topic of your book is of relevance to their fans, then make that point for them—don’t force them to connect the dots.

Keep it short

Everyone’s busy in the media world. Producers aren’t going to wade through pages of pitch. Make your pitch short and sweet. Try to hook them in the first ten sentences.

Tips for How to Shine During Your TV Interview

Congrats, you got a TV spot! Now the prep begins. Here are some tips for giving a stellar on-air performance.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Write down and practice your talking points ahead of time, so that you don’t freeze when the cameras are on. Don’t worry about answering verbatim; your goal is a natural dialogue with the host. Rehearsing talking points gives you a jumping off spot for a give-and-take conversation.

Do your research

Your goal is to understand your audience. Your show will have detailed demographic information available. Ask the producers to provide you a summary of that information. Also, ask the producers ahead of time if there’s anything you need to know about their particular audience. By understanding who’s watching, you’ll be able to forge a natural connection with viewers.

Respond to the questions

Sometimes when we’re nervous, our natural inclination is to interrupt. Avoid hijacking the conservation. Wait your turn, and then respond to what the host is asking you. Taking your time will make you seem confident and put together, rather than full of nerves (even if you are!).

2. Radio Interviews

Radio interviews, much like TV spots, can be challenging to get, especially if you’re promoting your first book. However, radio is a rich PR resource, so you should make the effort to lock down interviews. Don’t get discouraged if you have to make several pitches before you’re offered a spot. The effort will pay off.

How to Get a Radio Interview

Radio is a terrific way to share your voice (literally) with your potential readers. And with over 90% of Americans regularly listening to radio, it’s well worth the effort you’re going to invest in pitching. Here are some tips on how to pitch radio stations.

Start Local

Radio shows are always looking for new content to share with their audience. Start out with your local radio stations, letting them know not only about your book, but also that you live in the community. If you can tie your book to the community, even better!

Tailor Your Pitch

When you’re pitching your book, don’t use a blanket pitch for each TV or radio station you go after. Customize each pitch to reflect why your book and your personal story will be of interest to their fans. Showing how your interview can add value to their program will result in more replies and a better chance of scoring an interview.

Tips for How to Shine on the Radio

Congrats, you got a radio spot! Here are some tips on how to give a killer on-air performance.

Be authentic and enthusiastic

Even though you’re on the radio and obviously listeners can’t see you, they’ll hear your energy. Smile, sit up straight, and walk around if you need to. By acting energized and engaged, you’ll peak listeners’ interest.

Help the host

Don’t get discouraged if your host hasn’t read your book. With busy PR schedules, it happens more than you might assume. Your job is to make your host look smart. Tell them about your book and don’t quiz them. If you make their job easy for them, the odds are good they’ll ask you back again.

Prepare a list of questions

It’s perfectly acceptable to provide your own list of questions for the host. Some busy radio hosts and producers will appreciate your extra effort and may even work from that list of questions.

3. Print Interviews or Guest Posts

Print interviews and guest blog posts are terrific for search engine optimization (SEO) of your website. Improving your SEO means you’ll rank higher in search, so more people are likely to find your website and read about you and your book. Print is a great SEO strategy for any new author; so cast your net far and wide to score an interview or a guest post.

How to Get a Print Interview

Publications are still alive and well, and many of them have super successful digital platforms; so make sure you don’t skip over this form of media when creating your PR strategy.

Find publications and blogs that are frequent reads for your target audience and reach out (for example, if women are your primary target audience, you’re not going to want to pitch GQ). Even if you’ve never had a print interview before, local publications and blogs will often be happy to share the great news of your new book.

Tips for How to Shine in Your Print Interview

Congrats on scoring a press interview. Here are tips to make you sound like a pro author (even if your voice is cracking from nerves)!

Sell yourself

Print interviews are a little more relaxed than TV or radio spots, but you still have a finite amount of time to get your message across. You’re your own PR machine, so get ready to sing your own praises.

Plan your hooks

You need to have some print-friendly “sound bites” to intrigue your audience. What makes your book special? Important? Entertaining? Useful? Get to the heart of why your audience needs your book, and talk about it.

Don’t get thrown

Don’t let unanticipated or sticky questions throw you. The nature of interviews is that there’s always going be something which you’re not 100% prepped for. Roll with the question, answer as positively as you can, then get back to your talking points. Remember, unlike an on-air or audio-recorded interview, you can take as much time as you need to think before you answer. Don’t be afraid to do so.

Now that you know some PR tricks and tips, it’s time to tackle the job of becoming your own PR machine. Driving publicity through TV, radio, and print media means increased exposure for both you and your book, which will eventually translate into greater sales. Remember, PR is a slow burn—you may get a lot of no’s and no responses before you get a yes, but patience and perseverance in this game pays off! Stay confident and don’t give up!

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12 Reasons to Write a Book This Year

Deciding to write a book is analogous to the decision to become a parent. You can weigh the pros and cons and read all the expert books on parenting. You’ll try to decide whether you’re emotionally, financially, and physically ready to take the plunge. But until you become a parent, you’ll never know how amazing, enriching, and challenging your life could be. Once you become a parent, you know that your life will never be the same.

These same concepts apply to becoming an author. Until you’ve ushered new creative life into the world you have no idea the incredible, myriad of ways writing a book can better your life. You’ll ask yourself why you waited so long to make it happen.

We’re here to tell you that you should write a book, and you should do it this year. If not now, then when?

Here are 12 reasons why this is the year you’ll write your book.

1. You are a writer (you just need to write).

Listen, everyone can be a writer. Each one of us has a story to share. In fact, most of us have more than one story to share.

The simple truth is that in order to be a writer, you just need to write. And to become an author, you just need to publish. At Self-Publishing School, we’re here to tell you that both of these worthy goals are within your reach. You just need to start—today.

2. You’ll discover who you are.

By it’s very nature, writing is an introspective, thoughtful activity. The process of writing a book will force you to turn your thoughts inward. Through writing, you’ll gain perspective about what really matters to you.

Writing a book will also teach you about the unique value of your own willpower. The simple act of committing to a writing project, and seeing it through, will measure the depths of your discipline.

Writing a book can be a powerful way to get in touch with your thoughts, values, and motivations. Plus, writing is cheaper than therapy!

3. You’ll have created a professional-quality, ready-to-sell book.

It used to be that only writers with a publishing deal or those who paid for vanity publication ever got to see their books in print. Those days have changed. Thanks to the rise of self-publishing, any person with a story to tell can become a published author and sell their book.

Self-publishing is now affordable, easy to implement, and requires only basic computer skills. If you can type your book on your keyboard, you can figure out how to self-publish. As your own publisher, you call the shots. You’re the CEO of your own destiny. Even better, you get to retain more of the royalties if you self-publish. What’s not to like?

4. You’ll pocket a healthy chunk of change.

The brilliant ideas you have kicking around in your head aren’t earning you any money. Only once you commit those ideas to paper and hit publish will you earn income from your thoughts.

Your book can earn you a stream of passive income simply by existing. And then there’s the future—audiobooks, courses based on your book, and speaking gigs! And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can make money off your self-published book—but you need to write it first.

5. You’ll let Amazon do the heavy lifting.

Amazon is the King of the self-publication market. Amazon makes it intuitive and straightforward for authors to upload and sell their books. They’ve also made it easy for readers to find and buy your book. It’s a win-win.

That’s not to say that you can set up an Amazon page and let it flap in the breeze untended. In order to sell your book, you’ll need to do some marketing and PR. The good news is that Amazon gives you the tools and resources you need to succeed.

6. You’ll embrace the mantra, “nobody lives forever.”

Nobody’s getting out of this life alive. Our time here is finite. It’s our choice how we want to spend our time.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book, don’t wait for a life crisis to force your hand. The time is now. You have a chance to share your words, thoughts, and passions with the world. Don’t let that chance slip through your fingers.

7. You’ll reignite a passion.

Each one of us has a passion for something—whether that’s rock-climbing, organic cooking, or comedic storytelling. What’s your passion? You already know the answer to that question.

Here’s our next question: When’s the last time you stoked that passion? If that answer is, “you can’t remember” or, “it’s been years,” then you’ve got some work to do. You owe it to yourself to explore your passion and write a book. We promise that when you’re writing about something you love, it won’t feel like work.

8. You’ll be a pro author.

Only 1% of the world’s population ever publishes a book. That’s a heady statistic. By writing a book, you set yourself apart from the masses.

Even if your book is fiction or a memoir, the fact that you’re now an author lends an air of authority to your professional endeavors. You can now add “author” to your CV, LinkedIn, and professional website.

In short: No matter what you write a book about, becoming a published author boosts your professional authority. You’ll have accomplished something few other people have. Our preemptive greeting: Welcome to the Author Club! We guarantee you’ll like the rarified air up here.

9. You’ll tackle a new challenge.

Life has so many obligations—taxes, school pick-up, miles on the treadmill—it can be easy to fall into a daily rut.

Writing a book is leaving your comfort zone. Trying something unfamiliar can be scary—we get it. But, that’s precisely why it’s exciting. The only way you grow as a person is by forcing yourself to leave your comfort zone.

Time to jump off the cliff—write a book and become an author this year. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll gain by pushing the limits of your own self-imposed boundaries.

10. You’ll become smarter.

Writing a book requires research. No matter what topic you’re writing about, you’re going to have to research new concepts and topics. By opening the door to new ideas, you’ll educate yourself on a broad array of ideas. You’ll be invigorated by how much you learn while you’re writing, and emerge much brighter for having done so. And when you’re done, you can assert yourself as an expert in your field.

Your book can then open the door for speaking engagements, conference presentations, and other professional networking opportunities.

11. You’ll stop making excuses and just do it.

We know, we know, you’ve been mulling over the idea of writing a book for months (years?) now. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. How long are you going to give yourself permission to keep quashing your dreams? It’s time to commit and just do it.

12. Because you can!

And you will! No more excuses. You can’t afford to put off writing a book any longer. All that counts is that you get your first word on paper, and then a word after that. Before you know it, you’ll have a completed first draft. Think about how amazing you’ll feel?

Don’t put it off another day. Write your book today. This is the year for you to finally become an author.

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howtomakeabook

How to Make a Book

If you’ve authored an eBook, you may be interested in printing paperback books—either to keep for yourself or to sell. Luckily, we’ve got great news: the process of making a book isn’t as challenging as you might think. And, we’re here to walk you through the process.

1. Ask Yourself Why You Want to Make a Book

The first step to making a book is to ask yourself why? There are several valid reasons for turning your eBook into a paperback.

First and foremost, because you want to! You put the blood, sweat, and tears into authoring a book. Now you want tangible proof that you can see, carry around, and display on your bookshelf. That’s a good enough reason!

Some authors, especially those who identify as non-fiction experts, find that paperbacks serve as glorified business cards. These copies are especially useful for speaking engagements or professional development events, such as conferences or continuing education courses.

Passing out free books to interested readers is a terrific way to build a solid fan base as well as spread the word that you’re an author. If you elect to sell your books at events, you can recoup some of your costs and potentially even turn a profit.

Using your printed book to generate leads and make network connections is never a bad idea. If your book genre lends itself to this type of network development, then definitely go for it.

2. Important Factors to Consider Before You Print Your Book

The Cost of Making a Book

If you’re basing your decision strictly on revenue, then you’ll want to think about it before heading down the printing path. Paperback can be costly to produce. Luckily with Amazon’s CreateSpace, they take care of the cost upfront, but they will take a higher percentage of your revenue to make up for the printing cost. This means you won’t make as much money off the sales of a paperback as you would with an e-book.

We’ve often seen that the most lucrative path for e-authors is the combination of a Kindle eBook and an audiobook.  If your goal is to make as much money as you can, and you have to choose between the two, then consider pursuing an audiobook over a paperback. (Although funding an audiobook can be pricey, and you are responsible for that upfront cost, so do the math!)

The Length of Your Book

Before printing your book, make sure that your book length allows for the optimal outcome. We usually recommend printing books that are over 15,000 words. That’s not to say that a lighter word count should preclude you from printing—for instance, children’s stories, photography books, and travel books are all examples of shorter genres that are easily and commonly converted from eBook to paperback.

Should you decide to create a paperback version of your eBook, it might be easier to wait until after your book has been published digitally.

3. The Pre-Printing Checklist

You’ve given it some thought and considered the factors above, and you’ve decided that you do want to print paperback copies of your book. Before you take the next step, it’s important to dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s.” Run through our pro-developed, pre-printing checklist to make sure you’ve checked all the appropriate boxes.

  • Choose the size of your book.
  • Decide on black & white or color (Note: The prices may vary).
  • Price your book properly.
  • Create a rough concept for your covers.
  • Decide whether to outsource your cover graphics and design.
  • Write your author bio for the back or inside cover.
  • Pick your author headshot for the back or inside cover.
  • Pick the reviews you want to include.
  • Pick your spine design and layout.
  • Decide whether to outsource the interior formatting.
  • Work out an interior layout—from fonts to chapters to margins.

4. Your Cover Design

The next step on the road to printing your masterpiece is to design a Louvre-worthy cover. Ok, that’s a lot of pressure, but you should aim for at least a Barnes & Noble-worthy design.

Meeting with a designer can help you verbalize and align on your creative aesthetic and vision, resulting in actionable suggestions. If you decide that you’d rather design your book’s exterior on your own, there are online programs that can help. CreateSpace allows the non-professional artist to render pro-quality graphic designs with relative ease.

Some design elements you’ll need to consider are: whether or not you’ll want a matte or glossy cover, which fonts you’d like, and the design of your book’s spine. Typically, books with less than 101 pages should have a completely blank spine, due to space restrictions. Books with more than 101 pages have room for a title on the spine.

You know that, of course, your book will need a front cover, but you shouldn’t neglect your book’s rear. In addition to the cover art and fonts, you’ll need to create a back cover design. Most back covers provide a brief description of the book, an author headshot alongside a quick bio, and an optional barcode and ISBN.

5. Your Book’s Interior Formatting

Formatting your printed book pages is a finicky, technical process. For this reason, many authors say that outsourcing this chore to a professional book formatter is well worth the cost. Page margins, titles and subheading, and fonts are all tough to layout properly. Handing this over to a pro can save you a big headache. Moreover, at the end of the process, a good formatter will give you an archival quality product.

If you do decide to tackle the interior formatting yourself, then there are programs that can make the process simpler. Word has downloadable templates to make the work easier. These formats vary, depending on how many pages your book has. Make sure to experiment with multiple formats to help you decide which works best for your specific layout needs.

6. Upload to Amazon’s CreateSpace

Once you’ve created your printed book, the next step is to find your fulfillment house. There are many options available. Fulfillment houses pack and ship, and provide customer service for your books. We tend to overwhelmingly recommend CreateSpace. Their services are user-friendly and simple to follow. And CreateSpace works with Amazon to sell your books on demand, so you can curb the costs of printing more than the number of copies you need.

There are multitudes of resources out there to help you turn your eBook into printed paperbacks. Whether you want to sell your printed books, use them as pro marketing tools, or simply admire how lovely they look gracing your bookcase, realize that with a few easy steps, you can create your own beautiful paperback version of your eBook.

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creating_an_audiobook

Creating an Audiobook—What Every Author Should Know

We’re in the age of podcasts, radio apps, and audiobooks, and now couldn’t be a better time to convert your eBook into an audiobook. You don’t need to feel intimidated by the process or cost, creating an audiobook today is just as accessible to the self-publishing community as anyone else. Here are the steps and our suggestions to creating an audiobook.

1. Prep Your eBook Content for Audiobook Recording

If you’re starting from the beginning, you may have no idea how to convert your manuscript from writing to audio. Your first step will be to prep your eBook content for audiobook recording. Here are a few tips to move the process along:

  • Delete hyperlinks
  • Delete captions
  • Delete visuals
  • Remove any calls to actions or click here prompts
  • Add opening and closing credits
  • Create a table of contents
  • List chapter numbers and chapter titles
  • Read through and make sure it all makes sense in audio form

2. Recording Your Audiobook

The next step in the creation of your audiobook is actually recording the book. You have two choices for this step: You can hire someone to record it for you or you can record the book yourself in a studio.

Option 1: Hire a Freelancer to Narrate Your Audiobook

Most authors find that hiring a professional to record their audiobook is the most expeditious and least painful route.

You may be concerned about the cost of hiring a pro for voice work, but you may be surprised to learn that the cost for this service can be quite reasonable. In fact, converting your self-published book into an audiobook using a pro can cost less than half the price of doing the work yourself. Many freelancers will quote a price of under $500 for a full eBook to audio conversion; so don’t let the perceived high cost deter you.

If you’ve never worked with a freelancer before, you might not be familiar with the steps necessary to find the right talent.

First, you’ll need a proposal. The purpose of your proposal is to help delineate the work that’s needed. You’ll want to make sure to include the scope of the work and terms of your offer in your proposal.

Your second step is to create a sample audio clip to share with potential freelance narrators. This clip is called your “retail audio sample.” The purpose of your retail audio sample is two-fold: 1) it can be shared with potential narrators during the freelance-hiring phase and 2) it can later be shared with your future audience on Amazon to peak their interest in your book.

Have some fun creating your retail audio clip—it can be anything you want it to be! You may opt to read a full chapter, or simply condense a summary of plot highlights. The ultimate goal of your retail audio sample is to intrigue both potential narrators and your potential audience. If you can capture their collective attention and peak their interest about your book, they’ll want to hear more.

If you’ve never worked with a freelancer, check out Voices or Upwork for a list of narrator pros.

Option 2: Self-Recording in a Studio

The second path to creating an audiobook is self-recording. Realize that self-recording may be more costly in terms of effort, time, and financial output. The largest cost for self-recording will be the paid time to use a pro recording studio.

We recommend that you block out a significant amount of time to complete your self-recorded audiobook.

Here’s our general production timeframe for a self-recorded audiobook:

  • Book your recording studio three weeks ahead of time.
  • Record your book in-studio. Plan for up to sixteen hours of recording studio time.
  • Plan for at least two weeks of post-recording editing.

Of course, these times are just guides; the time frame may change once you start your project. Obviously, a longer book will take longer to record and edit. Plan accordingly, and give yourself plenty of time to polish, edit, and finalize a professional product.

3. Upload Your Audiobook to Amazon Creative Exchange

Now that you’ve recorded your book, either by yourself or with the help of a freelancer, you’ll need to upload your book to Amazon Creative Exchange (“ACX”). While there are a lot of steps, uploading is a user-friendly and self-explanatory process.

Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to upload your audiobook:

  1. Go to the ACX website.
  2. Log in to your Amazon account.
  3. Click “Add Your Title.”
  4. Search and find your book then click on “This is My Book” prompt.
  5. Click on the “I have this book in audio and I want to sell it” prompt.
  6. Choose your territory and distribution.
    (Note: We recommend the “World” rights options with 40% royalties for the best results.)
  7. Choose the language(s) you’d like to sell the book in.
  8. Agree to the “Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement” terms
  9. Complete the “About My Book” section.
    (Note: You can duplicate the content from your Amazon page or create original content.)
  10. Complete the proper copyright information.
  11. Complete the info about the narrator, audiobook publisher, and any reviews.
  12. Click the “add audio file” prompt.
  13. Go to browse for the first section of your audiobook to ensure it was added.
  14. Continue this process until your entire book is uploaded.
  15. Don’t forget to change the chapters and section titles as you go.
  16. Finally, upload your book cover.

Make sure all info from your printed book matches that of your audiobook. Your author name should be the same and the book cover should the same as appears on your eBook. ACX will not allow you to continue if there are discrepancies in identifying information.

Also, a quick heads up: Your audiobook will not post immediately. ACX will hold your submission to confirm that all is in order before it posts you audiobook. Don’t be alarmed if you see an ACX note telling you “This title is: Pending audio review.” That’s a normal part of the process and not something wrong on your end. When ACX approves your book, you’ll then have the green light to sell the audio copies online.

For a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the entire process—from production to distribution—check out ACX Author’s page.

 

Even if you’ve never done it before, technology makes the process of creating your audiobook easier than you can imagine. A well-produced audiobook can help you expand your fan base and earn you new readers. Don’t be deterred by the idea that creating an audiobook is outside of your wheelhouse—we promise it’s not! With pro help (or even a little elbow grease on your part), you can have a completed audiobook within weeks, and be on your way to boosting those book sale numbers!

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