So do J.K. Rowling and audio books have in common? Well, for this post, absolutely nothing, other than they both appear here! And really, isn't that enough for you? No? Okay, read on.
So first, if you haven't heard the news yet, J.K. Rowling has announced that she is now writing a new book. Nope, not another installment for the Harry Potter series - she's trying to work her way out from underneath that huge weight. Instead, from what I can see, she is working on a crime novel. This is geared toward adult readers rather than kids this time. So why do I bring this up? The main point that I take from this news is that she is doing something new, something different from what she has spent years on. She's taking a risk and writing books in a different genre than what she has been doing.
What this means, writer friends of mine, is that you too should be looking at branching out to try different genres of writing. Already I can hear the howls: but I'm doing just fine with where I am; I don't think I could write in a different genre; it's just too hard to switch gears; but I'm known for X genre, how will my readers accept something new; and on and on. Look, there are such things as pseudonyms, people. Give them a try! You write sci-fi, but aren't sure if you could do a good romance? Put a girly name on it and throw it out there. You can bang out romance with the best of them, but a western has you tied in knots? Start with a novella-length and put a manly, western-style name on it and give it a go.
The point is, stretch yourself. The things that you learn by trying another genre can easily be incorporated into your "usual" genre, which will probably make those books even better. Another thing to think about? What if the characters from your two different genre books ever met, what would that be like? Would they team up, fall in love, tear each other apart, etc.? You are only limited by your imagination, so give it a go!
Second, audio books. In the grand scheme of things, many independent authors are only thinking about ebooks, and more specifically ebooks on the Kindle (even going with being exclusive to Kindle via the Select Program). Sure, ebooks have been growing in popularity and we've all seen the increase in sales for our own work. But did you realize that this only accounts, at present, for only 20% of total book sales? What about the other 80%? Well, they still buy regular print books. Have you gotten your ebook converted to a print book? If not, go out and do that RIGHT NOW and then come back, because there is another segment of the book buying world that you are also probably ignoring - audio book readers/listeners.
There are plenty of people who are audio book buyers. It just works out best for their schedules to listen to audio books rather than sit and read a print book. Some have a long commute, others listen while exercising, and many other reasons too. So why not audio books? Well expense, of course! They take a lot of money to make because you need to find a narrator, and a place for them to record it, plus costs for editing, plus manufacturing costs for the CDs, etc., etc. Let me tell you, that doesn't have to be the case.
This weekend I was experimenting with some off-the-shelf components and software, and the results that I'm getting are nothing short of professional. I'm really impressed with how quickly I picked up some basic editing techniques and what they did for the final product. Oh yes, I was the narrator for my own work - who knows the story better than the author themselves? It really wasn't that hard to get things setup and going, then do the recording, then do some simple editing. I played around for about an hour, perhaps a little longer, and I have a piece of audio book work that sounds really good. All that I need to do is take this knowledge and apply it to my short story, make a short intro with title, contact info., etc., then edit it all together, and I'm good to go.
Oh, but how to get it out there for people to purchase? Here's the really cool part, which I've heard practically zero about from anyone. Audible.com is really just another arm of Amazon.com (CreateSpace, anyone? Hello?). Audible has a subsidiary called ACX. This subsidiary allows anyone to upload their narrated work and sell it through Audible.com, which connects to Amazon.com. This means that you could have your novel out as an ebook, a paperback book, and an audio book. How awesome is that?!
In case you were wondering what I used for my "studio", here are the pieces that I used:
Acer Aspire netbook (which is now my everything - I do writing, editing, etc. on it)
Zoom H2 digital microphone (borrowed)
Audacity 1.3 audio editing software (it's free!)
That's all that I used. The Zoom H2, which is an awesome unit, connected directly to my netbook via USB cord. I used this as a microphone, recording directly onto my netbook. I used the Audacity software to capture the audio input and do minor editing. That's it, that's all, couldn't be simpler. If I were to purchase all of these things to start from scratch, I would be putting in less than $400 total - a simply mind-bogglingly low amount considering the power that is packed into these devices/software.
There really is no reason for someone to say that they can't get your book, because now you'll have it out in every conceivable format that they would want it in - except perhaps a movie, but you're working on that, right? Cheers!