M.L. Rigdon’s experience, making an audiobook

My friend, M.L. Rigdon, is my critique partner and supplier of peanut butter cookies. She hired actors to make her action/adventure novel THE ATLANTIS CRYSTAL into an audio book.  I bugged her, and she’s agreed to share why and how she did it with us.  Thanks, Mary Lou!

1.  Why did you decide you wanted to make one of your novels into an audio book?

            Initially, because my sister nagged me. She’s always right, so I gave in and confronted the opportunity. There is also the responsibility to give one’s work every chance and that there is a readership out there unable to read the written word. (In college, I hoped to read for the Braille Institute located next to campus. Never got around to it, and today salve the guilt by donating to the local Literacy Council. Think about doing that in your area.) I heard on NPR that libraries are being overcharged by some traditional houses for audio books, causing library systems financial problems when it comes to offering patrons audio versions. I plan to sell mine cheap.

2.  How did you choose The Atlantis Crystal for your first audible?

            Actually, it’s the second book, and I wanted the next one to be with the same author name, M.L.Rigdon. The theme is meant to be a parody of Indiana Jones with a quirky, kick-butt librarian not as narrowly focused as Indy and with more quirks, like her love affair with junk food—something fun and funny but with action that would carry the story verbally. I’m hoping to make use of the films coming out in February and March, Uncharted and The Lost City. Hitting a trend can help find new readers. And sales, of course.

3.  What steps did you have to do to accomplish your goal?

            I went about it sort of backwards. Having a history in theater provided insider knowledge and access to people in the arts. I contacted the daughter of a friend. Dana Bixler works in NYC and does stage and voice for animation. She decided to work through ACX and I contracted her through ACX to narrate Her Quest for the Lance, the final book in  the Seasons of Time fantasy trilogy. What strikes me about Dana’s work is her flexibility and difference from most narrators. She creates a persona for each character. There is a distinction beyond the raising and lowering of the voice. She and her friend Dylan Tacker, another NYC actor, signed to narrate TAC and are now working on the sequel, Seductive Mines.

4.  When the actors finished their work, what then?

            The completed file is sent to me via ACX and I review it for changes and errors. After the corrections are entered for the narrator/s and verified, Dana releases the file to ACX for it to be mastered. When it’s ready, I pay the producer/narrator (I use PayPal) and ACX uploads the book to Amazon Audible and iTunes.

ACX has step-by-step instructions for everything. I would narrate my own works but then I wouldn’t have the time to write and manage thirty books.

5.  Are you happy with the experience?  Will you do it again?

            Next one is already in production. I’m starting to outline the next Philadelphia adventure but have plenty of other books for them to narrate until it’s done. I’d like to focus on the fantasy books and have already asked Dana about podcasts for YouTube and would like to work on shorter advertising options like TikTok.

6.  Any words of wisdom for the rest of us?

            If you can afford it, or if a corporation offers to buy your book for audio (check your rights and the contract carefully!), it’s worth it to hear your works literally brought to life. Good narrators/actors do things with your words that are incredible. It’s expensive but with advertising/exposure, can be another form of income.          

7.  Anything else you’d like to share?

            Keep in mind that the digital market is overloaded. There has been talk about declining sales in the digital format due to market flooding and unfortunate mistakes in final products. If a new writer doesn’t have a following, it’s not easy to establish a readership, even with the many advertising options online. Audible books can provide an avenue for exposure to reach more readers, since there are many who cannot read, or find it difficult due to various challenges, and some prefer the spoken version rather than handheld. I haven’t contacted the library systems yet or would pass along that experience. I’m just getting started with this, but ACX has endless instructions. It’s not the only vendor out there, but the only one I’ve had time to check out and have so far been satisfied with the results.

And thank you, Judy/Judi for the invitation!

Thanks so much for sharing with us on my blog!  I read and enjoyed The Atlantis Crystal.  A fun romp!  I’ve included a link for it, and there’s a free sample of the audible readers can try. 

THE ATLANTIS CRYSTAL (Dr. Philadelphia Hafeldt Book 1) – Kindle edition by Rigdon, M.L.. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

If you’re curious about ACX, here’s the link for that, too. https://www.acx.com/

Have a wonderful February!

Audio Books

I’m horrible at marketing. My agent got me a great deal from Vibrance Press for audiobooks. When I had Kensington as a publisher, Vibrance Press made an offer on Jazzi and Ansel and produced audio books with Devon Sorvari as my narrator. She’s wonderful. But I’ve never listened to an entire one of my books. I have no patience. I can’t sit through an entire novel. If I weren’t retired, and I drove back and forth to work, delivering kids, etc., it would be different. I could listen on the move. But now, I don’t move. And I’d rather read a book than listen to one.

But even after Kensington dropped me, bless VibrancePress and Lauren Obama–my agent. When I self-published THE BODY IN THE TRENCH and a Karnie Cleaver mystery, A CUT ABOVE, Vibrance Press still made audios for them. Devon Sorvari still did Jazzi, but Laura Jennings did Karnie. And I’m so thankful I have audios for them. I know there’s an audience for them. Even though I still didn’t listen to them.

But when my friend, M. L Rigdon, decided to make an audiobook for her ATLANTIS CRYSTAL series, it finally struck me how lucky I was. She had to hire actors to perform her stories, and she had to figure out how to load the audios to sell on Amazon. None of it was easy. But she did it. So I’ve asked her to drop by and explain how. She’s braver than I am. I’ve caved at making print copies of my books and audio versions of them. But later this week, I’ll share her Q & A with you. And maybe you’ll want to make audios, too. But in the meantime, I’m saying that audiobooks are becoming more and more popular. They’re something to think about if you can do it. I got lucky. Lauren did it for me.


Some Good News


It all started with a phone call from my agent.  MMB Media had contacted her and wanted to buy all three of my Jazzi Zanders mysteries to make into digital audio books.  That made me pretty excited.  I got even more excited when Lauren told me that I owned all of the audio rights for my mystieries.  It was in my contract, but I never expected to have to consider it.  I’m glad I have Lauren for an agent.

Then my editor, John Scognamiglio, at Kensington, told me that The Body in the Attic had been scheduled at 99 cents for BookBub on Feb. 7.  Always a good thing!   Kensington had already offered 100 copies in a giveaway on Goodreads that garnered the book 100 reviews there, mostly good ones. And I had some more reviews on Amazon.  That was a first for me.  I’d never reached 100 before.

WAY back, when I wrote my first urban fantasy–FALLEN ANGELS–I sent it to BookBub and they accepted it.  I offered it for free, and it got LOTS of downloads.  It zoomed to number one for FREE e-books.  What I was too-new-to-the-business to understand is that MOST authors wait to do that until they have a few books in a series.  Then people order the first book and many order the next ones, too, and the author makes money.  Shrug.  You live and you learn.  At least I got name recognition from it.  And I learned some business savvy.  These days, it’s not easy to get a “yes” from BookBub.  But Kensington has more clout than start-up writers, so I got lucky.

The Body in the Attic went on sale there today, and I hate to admit it, but I couldn’t concentrate on the chapter I was writing because I kept looking at my numbers to see how I was doing.  Making it even harder to concentrate, my husband got more excited than I was.  (He’s pretty cute.  That’s why I keep him).  And every time we looked, my numbers were better.  Now, I can’t tell how many actual sells it had.  Those numbers all go to Kensington.  All I can see are the rankings, but when it went to #12 in Kindle store, #1 in Cozy culinary mysteries, then #1 in amateur sleuth mysteries, and #1 in hobbies and crafts, and again in “animal” mysteries, I printed it out, because I might never see those numbers again:)  To say I was distracted is putting it mildly.

My nerves are starting to settle now.  And I realize what goes up must come down.  But at least it FINALLY went up.  I’ve been working at writing for a long, long time.  A lot of writers have.  Writing isn’t for the faint of heart, or for the easily disheartened.

I try to share the different ups and downs of my writing with you.  This time, it’s nice to share an “up.”  A month from now, who knows?  I might grumble about a “down.”  But I believe in enjoying every little success that comes my way, so I’m enjoying myself now.

The next realization?  I can do a happy dance around the house today, but tomorrow, I need to plant my fanny in my chair and hit the keys again.  I want the next book to be as good or better than the first.  I’m so happy for readers.  I don’t want to let them down.  And I don’t want to let myself down either.

So for you?  I wish you Happy Writing!


P.S.  I ask this every once in a while, but does anyone have any questions they’d like to throw out there.  I’d be happy to try to answer them, if I can.