Bob Mayer is a West Point Graduate, Former Green Beret, CEO of Cool Gus Publishing and a NY Times Bestselling Author. He has had over 50 books published. He has sold over four million books, and is in demand as a team-building, life-changing, and leadership speaker and consultant for his Who Dares Wins: The Green Beret Way concept, which he translated into Write It Forward: a holistic program teaching writers how to be authors. He is also the Co-Creator of Cool Gus Publishing, which does both eBooks and Print On Demand, so he has experience in both traditional and non-traditional publishing.
Thank you so much Bob for giving us some of your experience and wisdom on audio books.
The latest sales figures tell us that ebooks significantly out number print books and that the latest trend is to have audio books. You have stated that this has been quite successful for you. We really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us and answer some questions.
1. Why do an audio book? It can be rather costly.
I use the ACX program, which is a really well run system. I’ve invested over $50,000 in producing 30 audio books in the past year. The entire operation is now in the black, although some of the books haven’t quite earned out. I paid for production up front rather than royalty sharing because the audio book will be up forever. I take a long term view on this. Some of these books might takes years to earn back the investment, but they are out there.
2. Can you build an audience with an audio book or do you need a substantial fan base to begin with?
I think you need some sort of following. I know some people who’ve done it ‘cold’, without being a bestselling author, without a big backlist, and it’s a hard path. But that’s true in all aspects of publishing. The hardest thing is to understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
3. Are your books available to buy on audio or just as downloads at iTunes?
They’re available everywhere that Audible distributes to.
4. How do you think most people use audio books – while exercising etc. or in place of reading?
One reason I really invested heavily in audiobooks is because my father went blind a few years ago. He fills his days listening to books. I think there are a lot of people in this situation. It’s the only way my material can get to them. Also, a lot of truckers listen to books. People also like listening to them while driving.
5. There are many sources to help you make an audio book on your own? Would you consider this?
As noted, I use ACX. I like to have the experts do their thing.
6. Once an author decides to make an audio book, how does he/she go about finding a good audio maker? The costs can vary significantly fromcompany to company.
Again, I find the ACX system really smooth.
7. Who did you use to make your audio books and why did you choose them?
ACX. They actually approached me first. On my blog at Write It Forward, I did a post on what I learned using ACX and some things I would have done differently.
8. How do you promote you audio book?
I promote all my books and make them available in all formats: print, eBook, audio. For audio, I’m working on adding excerpts from the audiobook to the Slideshare storyboards I’m doing for every one of my books. ACX also promotes me in specials. My bestseller, Area 51, has sold in the thousands because it gets featured occasionally.
9. Do you think it has increased your sales and the awareness of you book?
I think it has. I get emails from people who only listen to audiobooks and they’re always thrilled to find a new series, like my Area 51 one, to enjoy.
10. Do you also do video book trailers? Although we weren’t able to find any statistics to confirm this, we suspect that many books are now chosen by viewing trailers on YouTube- what has been your experience with that?
Honestly, I don’t think book trailers sell many books. It’s a different medium. But I’m moving some of my slideshares into YouTube trailers. For example, I’ve had over 110,000 views of a YouTube clip from an appearance I made on weaponology on Special Forces. I’ve seen no real evidence of crossover from all those views to books sales. Still, it’s one more way to get the word out there. I wouldn’t invest heavily in it. I also think if the trailer were very unique it might work.