Break’s Over

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year to one and all!

So … I’ve been otherwise occupied. Life and all that. But as we close out 2019 and head into a New Year, I’m getting busy.

Namely, I’m definitely writing again and because I’m writing again, and intend to publish more books, I’m looking to do things a little differently this go ’round. Everything is changing and it’s hard to keep up with it all (no matter what ‘it’ is), so this is a ‘back to basics’ attempt.

Why, what’s that? you may ask. Well, just this. Email. Ummm, huh?

Here’s the thing. I have all these different platforms: this website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest … the list is almost endless. (I might even have a MySpace page, but that’s been so long ago now and I don’t know if they even exist anymore). I almost forgot Goodreads. I have a page there too. As you can see, that’s a lot of social media. So much, in fact, that I end up with a major case of scatter-brain.

I’m simplifying. With email!

I’m starting a new email newsletter that you’ll get once or twice a month. If you to sign up, you’ll get this shiny new prequel short story to Chosen, Book 1 of The Broken Seal (formerly title Guardians of the Word). Take a look!

BROKEN SEAL PREQUEL-flattened-1

 

***

Seeing the future, the past, and the present isn’t enough to stop destiny.

Carryn Adaeryn and her brother, Maralt are orphans and telepaths. Young and eager, each has talents as unique as their personalities. Their skills are needed to secure the future. Their own and the two boys they are charged with protecting.

Except they can’t be seen. They can’t be heard. They can’t be discovered.

The Broken Seal: Prophecy is a short story prequel to the first book of the series, Chosen.

***

Also included is a little misadventure called The Pod Crash. 

Here’s the email sign up link (to Book Funnel – who will give you the book download once you’re confirmed): Book Funnel & email signup

For those of you who’ve read Chosen, I think you’ll enjoy the added backstory. For those you who haven’t started The Broken Seal series, this prequel gives a short taste of the whole. The series is a bit Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings. If Dark Fantasy is something you enjoy, this story is right up your alley. (There’s a sprinkling of sci-fi tech, along with a touch of paranormal, and well – a demon, so a wee bit of horror like a cherry on top of your ice cream sundae).

Anywho – please go sign up for my email list and get The Broken Seal: Prophecy. Also, please, please let me know if you have any difficulties. Setting all this stuff up so you get a book with a few clicks is right up against the limits of my mental capacity. I think it’s going to work, but if it doesn’t – give a yell right here.

PS: Some of you are signed up via this website to get an email when there’s a new post here. This is not that. You don’t have to unsub if you don’t want to, or you can if you like. One email subscription is enough in my book. I won’t be inundating your inbox in either case.

So simple!

Peace,

JMH

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Filed under new books, New Year, Publishing, Young Adult Books

Into the World of Audio Books: the Release

UPDATE: Having renamed the series from Guardians of the Word to The Broken Seal, I had to not only change the audio book cover to match the ebook, I had to go back to my narrator, Keith McCarthy and ask him to re-record the title page. The process of switching over to the new series title was less difficult with Audible than I expected. In fact, it was quite easy. They gave me detailed instructions on what to do, what to expect, and how quickly the change-over would take place – which was fairly quick.

 

Your audio book is complete! You’ve fine-tuned and approved the book for release and then … you wait. You wait a while, or maybe it only seemed that way.

It took about 2 weeks for the CHOSEN audio book files to move through ACX’s approval process. There are technical standards of quality that they check out and make sure are up to snuff. If you’re recording your audio book yourself, make sure you’re familiar with those standards and can meet them.

That’s one reason I chose to hire a producer who already had all that necessary knowledge and equipment. If you don’t have the background, you’ll have to learn it. If you don’t have the equipment and programs you need to create a quality audio book recording, you’ll have to buy it and you have to have a space to record that’s more or less sound-proofed. Where I live now – in a cottage a block off the waterfront – I have gulls outside my windows. The wind blows constantly. I have cats too who don’t understand ‘be quiet’. Cars, mowers, boats, and the neighbors wind chimes aren’t conducive to producing a quality recording.

Another alternative to creating a recording room in my home, is to hire a studio, which is expensive. Maybe one day I’ll go that route, in a recording studio, particularly when I get to the bigger books that are over 100K words, but that’s a ways down the road.

Today, I have an audio book that I’m very happy with live on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes!

Click the pic to go to Amazon, here for Audible or iTunes

I checked my ACX page a number of times during the two weeks – more than I needed to since they emailed me when the audio book went live. There was one update they didn’t email me about and that was after the book passed their quality check. On my ACX page the status bar changed to ‘headed to retail’ and then I waited some more.

Finally, I got the email – your audio book is now live.

There was some info missing or I couldn’t find it being so excited that the project was now complete and released. ACX didn’t give me (or I couldn’t find where they did) any links to CHOSEN’s sales page, so I had to hunt them down myself. Not hard, exactly, but it would be super convenient if ACX provided direct links. You’ll definitely need them because now that you have a live audio book, you’ll want to tell people where they can get it. (See above!)

On Amazon, this turns out to be the book’s sales page where you can buy the book in digital format. The link to the audio book for Chosen was immediately connected to my sales page. The same thing was true for iTunes, but both do have direct links.

In the same ‘you’re live’ email from ACX, they give you a list of stuff you can do to promote, which includes how to get your promotion codes. It’s recommended that you email ACX for your codes, and ACX gives you a link to the proper email account to do that. I thought it would take a few more days for them to respond but they got right back to me the same day with 20 codes that you can use with Amazon or Audible, but not iTunes.

Also in the email with the promo advice was an incentive to help get people to sign up for a free trial with Audible. Authors and producers get a nice bonus if you get someone to sign up and then buy/click your audio book first. (The audio book is free as a special offer for signing up!) They also send you detailed instructions on how to make a direct link to your audio book with the sign up free trial offer. Here’s that link:

http://www.audible.com/offers/30free?asin=B071NFRMHW

So if you’re interested in getting into Audio Books, click there. If you’re already a member of Audible, hit me up here and I’ll get you a code!

A word again about the cover. You can’t use your Amazon or iTunes book cover because the dimensions are different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see the Audible cover is wider, and you’ll have to alter your book cover either yourself or with your designer. They won’t approve your audio book with a stretched cover. Good thing, because it would look terrible!

Lastly, you can also take a listen to the first several chapters of CHOSEN right here on Keith’s YouTube channel. Check it out!

 

 

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Into the World of Audio Books: Fine Tuning

We’re almost there! The book production is complete. All the corrected chapters are uploaded. There are a few final steps before approval.

As soon as the chapters were completed, I started the process of going through the published book, making changes to the text that will match the audio. There aren’t that many and nothing of significant meaning has been changed. Once that’s done, I’ll be announcing that the changes are uploaded and if you’ve already downloaded Chosen from Amazon before, you’ll want to go get the update. This will allow you to get the audio book with whisper-sync and for much less than buying the audio book outright. Once whisper-sync is approved, I’ll let you know about that too. And hopefully, there won’t be any glitches in that system along the way.

Chosen is an 89K word book. It’s a bit over 9 hours long in the audio version. It took a little over a month to record and correct 26 chapters, plus the prologue.

Once all the chapter files were uploaded to ACX, I started at the beginning again and listened to the whole book. I probably could have started doing that earlier to avoid doing it all over the course of two days at the end, but I wanted the entire scope of it at hand. This last step was also to make sure there weren’t any huge, glaring mistakes that might have been overlooked in the course of a month-long charge to get the entire book uploaded.

Don’t skip this step. I discovered that I’d missed a character voice change that neither of us caught in the first wav file or the second mastered ACX file. This goes back to the three baritones I mentioned before. We decided somewhere along the way that one of those voices had to be different and then missed the correction in the first two passes. I only noticed because this character had been speaking in the chapter preceding that I listened to one after the other and the difference stood out in this final pass. Again, Keith was more than willing to go back and re-record the two passages in the alternate voice for me. It’s easy to get in the thick of things and not remember important details when you embark on a project of this magnitude. This final check is important for that reason.

I had to make changes to the cover because ACX has a different size requirement for their audio book covers than Amazon (or anyone else). It’s much wider than the usual book cover size. Not such an ordeal for me since I create my own book covers, but for those who have to hire someone else for that task, you’ll need to do so here too. You can’t take your Amazon book cover and force it into their size requirement. You’ll end up with a stretched and unprofessional image that ACX will reject. Fair warning.

This is also about the time that you decide if you’d like to have music under the opening and closing credits. Keith found some duty free, creative commons music after asking me what I was looking for. This wasn’t something I’d thought about before, again with the listening vs reading issue, so I had to put some thought into what might represent the tone of the book musically. He picked out 5 samples and I ended up liking every one of them! Another choice to be made! I ended up flipping a coin once I narrowed them down to two. I admit it is pretty fantastic hearing that opening credit playing with my book title and my name with this majestic music in the background.

I also had to pick out the 5 minute sample that Audible wants to play for potential listeners. This was also extremely difficult. You don’t want a sample that spoils anything. You want a sample that’s engaging but won’t be confusing. Do you pick the first 5 minutes of the book, taking it from the top? Do you go in a little deeper? The sample ought to convey genre and the overall tone of the book and at the same time I want to highlight the narrator. It’s just about as difficult as writing the blurb. Hopefully, I chose well.

The end result is an audio book that represents as closely as possible how I would read it myself if that were at all possible (which it isn’t). It combines my creative instincts with that of my producer. This is also his interpretation. It’s a unique and fascinating combination of talents, the written word and the spoken word to create an audio version of this story. The personalities of these characters have been captured to near perfection and that is a very cool thing indeed.

And now we wait. ACX has to approve the quality of the recording and they say that can take some time. Having just checked the site, just this minute, it looks like that approval has happened because the heading has changed to ‘headed to retail’ (at Amazon, Audible and iTunes) so ANY day now, I’ll be back to say IT’S LIVE!

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