Creative Process and Audiobooks

I’m reading, marketing, blogging, writing, and otherwise doing what I need to do to move forward on my goals this week. I’m feeling good, I just need to hold on and keep the momentum going!

It goes something like this…

EVERY Day

Each morning this week I have opened this book (yes, it’s my work journal) and detailed my goals and accomplishments.

My goal each day has been: Sell 105 books today

And yes, I still have a way to go to reach that goal…

Each day, the goal resets to 105. Basically, it is my magic number.

My “freedom” number, if you will.

I looked at the two things I would prefer to stop doing – cleaning houses and caretaking – added up my income and threw in 20% taxes, marketing costs for each book sale, as well as Amazon’s take (30-40% of all sales), rounded up and arrived at the magic number of 3,200 book sales per month necessary in order to stop cleaning houses and be able to put my dad in an assisted living facility.

If my sales increase to say 1,600 book sales per month than I will most likely stop cleaning houses but continue caretaking until I reach the 3,200 book sales per month goal.

Yes, it is a huge goal, expecting to move from a handful of sales per day to a total of 105 or more every day of the stinking year. I’m aware of just how big it is. And anytime I start to lose faith, I remind myself of where I’ve been.

Last year I sold a total of 32 books, 31 of which were in November and December.

This year I’ve sold 504 books.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Over 500 books, that’s huge! And the reason for it? Well, as labyrinthine and odd as it might be, the thanks for it can be laid directly at my eldest’s feet. In a sense, it is like a sad version of “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake” – but one thing definitely led to the next:

  • The schism with my eldest last year led to me questioning everything – especially my parenting and even homeschooling abilities
  • This questioning led to a crisis of confidence and me deciding to enroll my tween in 5th grade at the local public school
  • Without her presence during the day, and my days filled with my housecleaning biz, I quickly grew bored with listening to music and started listening to podcasts
  • The podcasts, first Airbnb-related, quickly turned to writing-related and I began learning (and implementing) ideas into my writing business, thus increasing sales.

I would never have turned to podcasts if I hadn’t have had hours of free time with no one to talk to. And without those podcasts, I might have never learned the techniques I have learned (and am still learning) that continue to make a difference in my writing career.

A year later and we are back at homeschooling BUT I do not take my daughter with me to most cleanings – those are my prime podcast listening times!

And so, as strange as it might sound, I am quite thankful to my eldest. She might have broken my heart, but her departure from my day-to-day life also helped me to move past the point where I was stuck for years, waiting for a writing ship to sail in instead of hunting down that damned ship and grabbing it by the anchor.

p.s. Ships are very heavy, this might take a while.

My Creative Process

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Most of everyone I know is a little of both. We know to some extent where a story is going, but it isn’t totally mapped out.

For me, the creative process means that I usually have a scene or a series of scenes visualized in my head, but the characters walk into the picture where I’m least expecting them. They pop up, barely introduce themselves, and then just start doing whatever the heck they want to in the scene, without so much as a by your leave.

I found my character Shane looking out for this poor junkie down the hall from him in his apartment building. Where Kenny the Junkie came from, I have no idea, but damned if he wasn’t insistent on me writing him in.

Audiobook Dilemma

I have this great speaking voice. No seriously, I really do. Years of work on phones, in call centers, secretarial work and more have cemented that fact. My daughter loves for me to read to her, she says I act out the voices and make the stories interesting.

So between that and the fact that paying someone to transform your book into audiobook form was incredibly expensive, I just figured I’d muddle my way through it and record my own.

And since I’ve solidified on my goals for 2019 in the past week, the idea of needing to record my books was stressing me out. How was I going to fit that in among all the other stuff?

And it wasn’t just the recording time, but the editing time, which most folks will tell you is about five hours for every finished hour of recording.

Talk about a steep learning curve! I needed to:

  • Learn how to record my voice in a way that would sound professional (i.e. without the sounds of sirens, heaters, children, and barking dogs)
  • Learn how to edit the files
  • Spend approximately 60 hours editing the files once I had recorded them

OR…

Go to a company, enter into a deal where I split the profits on any sales 50/50 for seven years.

OR…

Pony up around $2,500-$4,000 per book to be recorded that I could then sell royalty free.

Option 1 – too much time, not enough experience or comfort doing it myself

Option 3 – no money, honey

So Option 2 it will be. I’ll be working on getting Get Organized, Stay Organized recorded after I do a complete re-edit of the manuscript. After that, an edit of Gliese 581 and then I’ll have that recorded as well. The others will wait until I see how the sales for these two go. Who knows, they might give me the $$ I need to pay for Option 3 for the rest of my books.

Forward Motion – One Day at a Time

I wake up every day with the following assignments:

  • Write something
  • Learn something
  • Edit something
  • Market something
  • Interact with someone about writing

One day at a time. Every day. I’ll make it work. Just…you…watch.

Waiting for the Tide to Rise

Waiting for the Tide to Rise

The urge to write, it comes in waves, a lot like a rising tide. I can feel it, slowly rising inside of me, impatient for me to take the words, images and dreams out of my head and into some form of physical being.

There is little point in ordering it to appear, or even wishing for the tide to rise. It rises when the moment is right.

I wait for it, and when I feel the rise and swell, I pull out a pen or my computer and I get to work.

Sure, I could force it. I’ve done that at times – pushing, shoving, taxing my gray matter to provide me with something, anything, and to make progress.

But there are other battles to fight – a house to paint, children to raise, and so much more.

I’ll wait. The tide will rise again. Hell, it could start to rise tonight for all I can tell.

I Need a Bigger Space

As I wedged myself into the tiny closet, which really barely qualifies as a closet, I realized just how small it was. I gave it a try, I really did, but it is stifling in there. I really just need to create a recording studio in the attic and use it during temperate times (like right now).

I hope to start on this project next weekend by re-organizing our attic, asking our bat resident as politely as possible to get the hell out, and then create a recording box I can comfortably sit in.

The sooner I can get this done, the sooner I can get the books recorded and available for sale.

The more and more I think about it, and listen to Joanna Penn’s podcast, the more certain I am that audiobook versions of my books could really make a difference in my future earning potential. After all, my husband is an auditory learner, he loves audiobooks! And the number of audiobook “readers” continues to grow each year.

Studying Away

As I continue to run my housecleaning business, I listen to my top 3 podcasts that include writing, publishing and marketing advice. Here they are if you want to check them out yourself:

Between these three I’m learning a great deal about a variety of subjects. Recently I listened to an interview with a sweet romance author and how she is making five figures a month. Yowza!

And while, for now, I’m not pumping out four books a year (or more) like some of these folks, I am listening to their ideas and learning from their experiences.

I hope to be able to attend a writer’s conference in either 2019 or 2020 at the latest. I’m looking especially at the Indie writer’s conferences – 20 Books to 50K is having a conference this November and is already sold out. I’m marking my calendar for next year and I hope I can make it then.

A New Business Opportunity

When our neighbor asked me if I would be interested in managing his Airbnb, I immediately said “yes.”

After all, that is what I’m moving towards with our two houses – Cottage East and Cottage West – in two and four years from now, they should be ready to rent out. And having the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the business now is invaluable.

Soon it might be several Airbnb’s, not just one, that I would be managing. And if I can get a handle on the process, I could possibly sell the idea of being an Airbnb manager to the owners of the two apartment buildings across from me as well.

The way I see it – the additional income will go straight into renovating the Cottages and we will have them done even quicker.

Recording Audiobooks on a Budget

I’m Heading INTO the Closet

There have been a couple of running jokes here in our house. The first is that I’m going INTO the closet not coming out. My tween thinks that is very funny.

The other is that this tiny 17″ deep space is not a closet, it’s my recording studio.

The tween loves to rub it in, “So I’ll be sure to be really quiet when you go into your clos…er, recording studio.”

My husband’s only comment? “Well, you had better record in small batches because otherwise you will run out of air.”

Well, there is that.

So, it’s small and my elbows jab into the walls and I fight for space for my mouse to work and strain to see the screen, but I did a test run and I think it will work.

All I need to do now is decide which book I will start with.

Because Audiobooks are EXPENSIVE to Hire Out

Do YOU have $1,500 – $4,000 to spend per book? Because I don’t. Not even close.

I was rather shocked when I researched the cost of audiobooks. It ends up being around 12-20 hours of recorded audio and at a cost of $150-$300 per hour to record, edit, and send the author the full MP3 file.

And don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work, but as with anything else I weigh what my time is worth versus how much disposable income I have. The answer was simple, I’ll be doing this myself!

A Voice Folks Have Commented On

It might be hard to imagine, but I worked in offices for over 20 years – secretarial work, Admin Assistant, Office Manager, call centers, et cetera.

Heck, it’s hard to imagine I lasted that long. Looking back I realize how much I hated it.

There were some benefits to it. I certainly learned a lot about business – how it can be run, how I prefer to run a business, bookkeeping, and more. One of the many benefits I developed during my time in the corporate world was a well-cultivated phone voice. It was smooth, professional, and warm.

I received many compliments over the years from callers. And my daughter says she loves hearing me read out loud.

And it struck me that I have something other authors might not, a good voice for storytelling. I need to practice reading at a steady pace and learn how to handle mistakes, but other than that, I’m good.

Which is kind of perfect because readers often prefer hearing the books in the author’s voice.

Multiple Formats, Spread Wide

I recently moved from KDP Select, which is an exclusive contract with Amazon, to wide. I now have all of my ebooks available on Draft2Digital, which distributes them to Barnes&Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Scribd, Tolino, 24 Symbols, Playster, Overdrive and Biblioteca. And of course I still have them on Amazon as well.

I have all of my books in multiple formats as well – ebook, paperback, large print paperback, and soon…audio. I will go wide on the audiobooks as well – AuthorRepublic, the equivalent of Draft2Digital, will probably be my choice of host for those.

I’m also working on getting my books available, in ebook (.mobi, .epub, .pdf) and audiobook (MP3) formats that can be uploaded directly from this website. Buy directly from me and I end up getting most of the cut, minus a small amount for a payment processing fee instead of losing 30% or more by going through Amazon and the others.

The Plan

The plan at present is to knuckle down and…

  • Work on the monthly free stories (I need to write at least four more ASAP) and continue to work on my existing book projects
  • Expand to offering the different formats of ebook (.mobi, .epub, and .pdf) for sale directly on my website. This means finding the right payment processing tools (possibly Paypal? hmmm).
  • Record five of my six books into audiobooks
  • Offer the audiobooks for sale on Authors Republic and my website
  • Continue to educate myself on marketing, work on better book blurbs for all of my books, and continue to improve my ads on AMS and Facebook
  • Finish a book – what book, I don’t yet know!

Rinse and repeat.