#GuestPost- LV Lewis: How I Got My Self-Published Book Produced as an Audiobook

***Today I’m happy to welcome a good friend of mine. Maybe you’ve heard of her book….50 Shades of Jungle Fever? If not, check it out, its not exactly what you think. But before that, take a few minutes to learn how she took her self-published novel and had it turned into an audiobook! ***

Since making the momentous decision to self-publish in 2012, my goal has remained creatively homogeneous for the most part. I have always wanted my book(s) to be veritably indistinguishable from the product put out by traditional publishers. Therefore, it has always been my intention to produce the best product I can in its entirety, from the story itself–including plot, structure, grammar, and punctuation–to the packaging of the product, the various forms it would take, and its subsequent production in all those forms. Going in, I was working at a deficit on most of these fronts, particularly when it came to pursuing the avenue of making my story available on audiobook.

I believe without a doubt that things happen to us in life for reasons we’re not always privy to as mere mortals. Our destinies are made or broken by some of the minutest decisions. So, I thought it fortuitous in so many ways when I ran across the link for ACX.com. For those who don’t know, ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) is the indie arm of Audible.com, which is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Oh yeah, they are all in bed together, so I thought, hey, why not join them and make this an orgy! LOL (I couldn’t  resist this pun. I’m an erotic romance writer. Duh!)

After reading what ACX was all about and how I could tap into it online from cover-to-virtual-cover, I went through the process of placing my book on ACX among all the titles open for audition. The site is very user friendly, so this process didn’t take exceedingly long, nor was it terribly labor intensive. Once I was out there, I could’ve just laid back and waited for a narrator, producer, or combination of the two to come to me, but that’s just not in my make-up. I got on there and combed through the narrators for hire myself and narrowed down a short list of about five whose voices I liked.

In the meantime, I began to get narrators that I had not pursued, contacting me to do auditions, then I found out why when one such narrator sent me her audition with an email. She congratulated me on being awarded a stipend to assist in getting my audiobook produced. I had no clue what this meant, so I went back on the site and read everything I could find about stipends.

Apparently, if ACX is impressed with your relative success on Amazon, and the stars align in some other unknown ways in their algorithm, they will award some Titles, and its author, stipends to defray part of the production costs, making it infinitely easier for you to hire an expert narrator. In my case, I was awarded a $100/hour stipend which I could use to sweeten the deal with my producer/narrator. This could be used to shore up whatever project rate the narrator was charging, or to provide the narrator the stipend as a bonus if I chose the royalty share. (I understand now, after the fact that some presenters at RWA were advising authors to pay the project rate rather than choose royalty share because it seriously messes with your ROI, or return on investment, when you give someone half of your future royalties. I want to go on record to say, as poor as I am, the royalty share and stipend were a godsend for me because I didn’t have $200-400 an hour to pay someone to produce my story which rounded out at nine hours. You do the math.)

I was given the task early on to choose an excerpt of my story for the narrators auditioning to read and send me back a sample of what they could do. Let me just interject here and say, you have to think long and hard about who your characters are and how you want them to be presented. What type of voice do you hear in your head when you’re reading their words? When I decided who Keisha was (my character whose POV the story is told in), I was ready to describe what kind of voice I wanted.

Don’t be intimidated by this process. The ACX site virtually holds your hand through it. They help you break down your project by genre, gender, language, accent, voice age, vocal style, and project rate, so narrators are able to sift through what you want and audition accordingly. By the same token, the producers/narrators, are broken down in the same ways and a few others, like age, style, payments accepted, location, and whether they are Audible Approved. You will know in a snap-shot what a producer/narrator you’re interested in charges hourly, and whether they are Audible Approved. You can also listen to samples they provide on the site of work they’ve done in the past. Thus, giving you some idea how they sound. This is where you get the first hint of whether or not a narrator’s voice fits your wish list.

I was so fortunate to get my narrator, Marie Hélène (delectablevoice.com). I listened to so many narrators in order to create my short list of five or so, and had I been driven by price only, I might have passed her up. She is extremely professional and does not come cheap. She has an impressive command of the English language, and a few other languages. If she is unsure of a pronunciation, or if you just prefer another pronunciation she is extremely accommodating to you as the writer and her boss. I know I’m digressing, but I just can’t help but sing her praises.

When I narrowed the field down to three voices that I liked, I got my readers involved in the process. I posted the auditions on my Facebook Group for readers of Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever, and they gave me their opinions of each narrator. In the end I made the choice to hire Marie because she was the best, most professional narrator I could get for ACX’s stipend, plus my royalty share, and she read the hell out of my story. Had I hired her on a project basis, I would have had to pay between $200-400 up front to have my book produced. When she accepted my royalty share, I was over the moon.

Once the narrator was selected, we worked out a schedule for production. She agreed to begin on a set date and to end before the stipend would be lost to us. Yes, ACX requires that a production is complete within 60 days of signing the contract if you plan to collect the stipend (also, the stipend itself had to be claimed and used within a certain timeframe). So, she kept me abreast of deadlines and such. Marie was super easy to work with. When she sent me the MP3s via Dropbox.com, I would listen, make revision notes and get my notes back to her, typically within a day or so once we got everything rolling. I have no process to compare it to, but surprisingly, we got through the 20 chapters fairly quickly in my opinion.

Working with an experienced narrator also paid dividends for me, because I was so new to the process. She walked me through and kept me aware of things I wouldn’t have known otherwise, like break-even figures, when to begin promoting, and how the Whisper Sync feature works on Amazon. For instance, she told me that the beginning and ending of the chapters had to be the same for the recording and the e-book. Early on she even told me the percentage of difference there could be between the written word and the recorded word, so I made sure to give her a final copy that matched in those ways.

All in all, my experience with ACX was an enjoyable one, and depending on how things go with my first audiobook, I’ll be going back to ACX to make the new audiobooks, as well.

Audio Book Cover

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY to the second power meets Keisha and Jada from the Block.

If you’ve wondered how an ethnic girl from the hood might’ve handled an arrangement with an experienced white Dominant, this is your book. If you’d like to see the sexiest TWIN DOMS in a contemporary romance series in interracial relationships, this is most definitely your book.

Aspiring recording studio owners, Keisha Beale and Jada Jameson, score a rare meeting with venture capitalist Tristan White, and are thrust into a world beyond their wildest imaginations.

Street-wise Keisha is startled to realize she wants this rich white man, despite the certainty that he is out of her league. Unable to resist Keisha’s sassy, irreverent, and fiercely independent spirit, Tristan knew from day one he wanted her, too–as his first African American submissive.

Upper Class Jada of the Springfield Jamesons has traveled in almost the same circles as the White brothers, and has had a secret crush on Nathan White, the point guard for the Chicago Bulls, for quite some time.

Both brothers have succumbed to jungle fever, and want a little coffee in their cream.

Lured by Tristan White and his offer of fronting the capital for her business in exchange for kinky sex, Keisha finds herself with no other option. Keisha is also tortured by a demons from her past, and her inability to come to terms with them threatens to undermine the future of her business and her tumultuous, unconventional relationship with Tristan White.

Erotic, amusing, and in places hilarious, the Ghetto Girl Erotica Trilogy is a parody with a unique take on a Fifty Shades-type story that will take you even further into the BDSM world, and promises to make the vanilla original Fifty Shades Blacker.

For the Book:

 Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Smashwords     Kobo

For the Audiobook:

Amazon     Audible.com     iTunes

About the Author:

L.V. Lewis is a married, mother of four who lives in South Georgia and works in the Florida Panhandle. A new author who decided stories like Fifty Shades of Grey needed a bit more diversity and comedy penned Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever as a parodied response to those wildly popular books from a woman of color. A voracious readers since Kindergarten, Lewis loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine. She and her husband are political junkies, a hobby that is time consuming but free. Now that Lewis has teens who think they don’t need their parents anymore, she has taken up another time-draining career of writing. However she is happy to report, for once, her extra-curricular activity costs far less than her husband’s. Her love for writing is only eclipsed by her love for her family.

Facebook     Twitter     GoodReads     Pinterest     Blog     Email  

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Interview with Ebony Nicole!

I recently met Ebony Nicole on Facebook and was thrilled to find yet another writer from Atlanta. Every morning I log onto Facebook and see an encouraging word. It is inspiring to see someone take time out of their day to leave a word of encouragement for others.

Ebony author pic

Welcome, Ebony!

What inspired you to write?

My inspiration to write branched from my poetry. I have been writing poetry since middle school. Then in 2004/2005 I started my novel Destiny Is All I Need, I put it down for years. Then it 2011, I started writing Let God Forgive Him and that became my first published book. Writing has always been a part of my world, I just had to embrace my gift and share it.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I do not write in any particular genre, I would rather say I write about real life topics and put my own little twist in it. If I had to choose though, it would be Drama/Romance. (If that is a category) I’m still learning about Genres, it is still new to me.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

My work schedule remains the same when I’m writing.  I do most of my writing while I am at work. But for the most part, I write whenever I FEEL it and that can be at any time of the day or night.

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

My interesting writing quirk is Emotions, I write from what I feel most of the time. If it’s that, then it is from what I see around me and that is a driving force for me alone. Lately, whatever I see and hear ends up as a storyline for me. I cherish this because; I think that is the gift that is given to all writers. It’s our way of expressing ourselves through, Writers.

 

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I would consider myself a panster, I say this because everything comes to me and I flow from that. When I say “come to me”, I call it my gift that God gave me. So many thoughts, storylines, and titles come to my head, as any other writer and I just let it flow. Doing this allows the creativeness to flow and it’s not forced. This is the best way to write in my opinion, because once you get into that story, things are bound to change.

 

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

I would have to say my writing is a combination of all of these.

My first book is based on a true story (Let God Forgive Him) my second book (Destiny Is All I Need) has some real life experiences with a combination of things that I have seen around me. I like to use that to my advantage, it always work in my favor. What better way than to use the things that you see around you every day?

 

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

I would advise them to be themselves in this writing industry; there are so many Authors that are trying to be like that next one. No two people will ever be the same; people will respect you and your work more, if you just let it flow. When it comes to learning, I was told to “Do my research.” Well, in my opinion, the best research you can do is through experience. Everything will pan out or you, once you are in it for a while. Some things will be harder to learn than others. Lastly, don’t allow anyone to mislead you, if you do not feel it in your heart, don’t go through with it. Everybody is not here to help you. It’s up to you to recognize the good from the bad.

 

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

 I am signed with a company but she still labels us as Self- published.

What are your current projects?

Currently, I am preparing to release my Poetry book, Penetrations of A Soulful Heart, that one will be followed by my Encouraging words book which, I titled Ebony Nicole’s Encouraging Words. By the time those are released, I hope to be done with my third novel, entitled You Can’t Weather My Storm.

 

Pink Publishing Sales Link     Twitter     Facebook      Google+     Blog/Website     Email

 

 

Let God Forgive Him-full cover

 

 

Let God Forgive Him

Based on a True Story”

Writer EbonyNicole

 

 

 

Touched

I was touched at a young age.

I still don’t know how I can live with this pain,

But I still love this man. 

I suffered through the most precious years of my life.

Trying to find my way and do what was right,

But all I could see was the pain inside.

Holding in tears that damaged pride,

Crying day in and day out as the world passed me by. 

No one knew of all this pain and hurt I had inside

As I did things out of anger or just because I thought I could. 

I even did shit ‘cause I thought it would make me feel good.

I didn’t have the guidance I needed to make it through another day,

Didn’t even have the courage to pray and say what my heart really wanted to

say. So, here I am, still lost and trying to find my way,

But, through it all, I must stand.

Never again will I be touched by another man.

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1: Jewels’ Confession

 

“Mama, please, don’t make me go back there!” Jewels pleaded.

“Go where, baby?” Shelia asked her daughter.

“My daddy’s house,” Jewels answered as tears fell from her eyes.

She looked at her mother, but the words wouldn’t come out. Shelia opened the car door for her daughter, but she didn’t force her to talk under the condition she was in. All kinds of thoughts were going through Shelia’s head as she drove down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, towards their apartment. Shelia glanced at Jewels every now and then to make sure she was okay. It had been a while since Jewels had lived with her mother.  Shelia was in the process of getting her life back on track after having been strung out on drugs. Shelia had made the decision to let Jewels stay with her father until things got better for her.  She was now in her second year of being clean and sober, so getting her babies back was the next thing on her list of things to do. Drugs had consumed her life at one point, but Shelia was now a perfect example of someone who had overcome her addiction.  She was showing the world that only the strong survived.  Pulling up to their apartment, Jewels followed Shelia’s lead but took slow strides with her head hanging down.  Shelia grabbed Jewels’ chin, forcing her to look up, and said, “Baby, hold your head up.”

Now headed up the stairs, Shelia noticed that Jewels had stopped walking.  She thought she’d heard her say something.

“Mama, he rapped me, and I don’t want to live with him anymore. Please, can I come back to live with you now?” Jewels said.

Shelia felt as if her legs were about to give out, so she held on to the rail of the stairs.  She could see the pain in her daughter’s eyes and knew she wasn’t lying.  Her hands shook as she attempted to make it up the stairs to unlock the door.  Jewels was crying, trying to think of a way to tell her mother how her daddy had raped her. She was eight years old when it had happened, too young to understand anything. Having to hold this secret for four years had damn near killed her, but this was the perfect time to tell her mama what had taken place. They both cried as Jewels poured her heart out to her mother. The next day, Shelia took Jewels to the doctor for a full check-up.  This was the beginning of a long journey.

 ####

 

Destiny Is All I Need

Destiny Is All I Need

Chapter 11

The Check-Up

Crystal

 

 

 

 

Excerpt:

“Who is your doctor, ma’am?” the dark skinned receptionist asked.

“Dr. O’Conner,” Crystal answered.

“May I tell him who’s here?”

“I’m Ms. Simmons. I have an appointment.”

As the receptionist paged Dr. O’Conner, she realized she had seen this woman a few times before. The receptionist wondered how many appointments one patient could have in such a short period of time.

Crystal didn’t wait for Dr. O’Conner to respond to the page. She walked straight to Dr. O’Conner’s office.  You would have thought it was her office the way she sauntered in without a care in the world. Happy to see that he was alone, she gave him a hug and rubbed her hand up and down his back. He returned the favor with no hesitation. The hug lingered on for a few minutes followed by a passionate kiss. They had been secretly dating since Crystal was released from the hospital. Destiny had been taking very good care of her and so had Dr. O’ Conner. To her, everybody had a purpose in her life, and she was more than happy with the attention. Crystal had never had sex with her doctor, but, right now, she wanted him to take her right there in his office. She made sure he knew that by slowly taking off her shirt, pants, and all of her underclothes. As they dropped to the floor, Crystal saw the look of shock on his face, but she was ready. Dr. O’ Conner locked his office door and followed her lead. After removing everything from his desk, Crystal got on top of it, laid back, and waited. Taking control, Dr. O’Conner kissed her from head to toe, caressing her body.  As she anticipated his next move, quiet moans escaped her lips. He teased her body. Her heartbeat increased. As she wondered if he knew she had never been with a man before, she started to panic.

After turning Crystal over on her stomach, Dr. O’ Conner was now ready to please her. While rubbing his fingers around her clit, he was surprised at how her body responded to him. She swelled under his touch. He continued until he heard the wetness of her pussy. He slowly inserted one finger, then two. As he made circular motions in and out, he noticed she was tight, real tight actually.

“Am I your first, Crystal?”  He asked.

“Uh…yes, is it a problem?” Crystal questioned.

Instead of answering, he increased the speed of the circular motions he was making with his fingers and grew more aroused as he heard how wet she was getting from his touch. This excited him more than anything, and he knew she was pleased by the way she moaned louder and squirmed around on the desk. After removing his fingers, he slowly inserted himself into her wet pussy. Crystal closed her eyes and whispered, “Go slow, baby.”

Then, she began to rotate her hips a little. This was a strange feeling at first, but she liked it.  She wanted him and liked the way he took his time with her. As they got more into it, she scratched his back as he rubbed his fingers through her hair. Neither wanted to stop, but they knew this wasn’t the time or place to really get down. Crystal wanted him to get back to work but not before his tongue showed her pussy some attention. With two orgasms down, slightly exhausted, Dr. O’ Conner gave her what her body was asking for. Now this, she was used to. As his tongue swirled around and around, she threw it back at him.  With her legs wrapped around his neck, she was loving this!  After orgasm number three, they brought the session to an end. Dr. O’ Conner gathered their clothes and invited Crystal to his personal shower. Entering together, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Half of his day was gone already, but he didn’t mind at all.

####