“It is easy—far too easy—to get into the mindset of ‘I can’t begin my path to success until I read this one more book I just heard about,'” writes Dan Stirling in his new book, 3 Steps to Success: Create the Life of Abundance and Fulfillment You Were Put on Earth to Enjoy. “This book is designed to get you started on your path to success, as quickly as possible. It doesn’t matter whether you are 12 or 92. There are a million paths to success, but most start you reading, learning, and preparing for an unnecessarily long time when you should be taking action. So if you want success to come immediately, then begin here.”
Cutting the clutter
Often we are too busy to be successful. Dan Stirling urges the reader to consider how their goals and activities fit with their life purpose. In chapter 12 (“Finding Focus Through Rituals), he writes: “Any time you are confronted with a new obligation, whether at work, at home, or with family, ask yourself where it fits into your goals and dreams before accepting it. If your boss asks you to take on a new task, you should consider, ‘Is this going to add value to the company or dilute my ability to focus on value-adding work?’ It could be an organization asking you to contribute your time to an event or to recurring meetings. Remember to determine whether it adds value to your life. If an organization is important to you, figure out whether you can better serve it and yourself by donating money to it in place of your time (and maintaining your focus on your business and personal life).” Our moments are precious, he observes. After all, each moment adds up to part of a life.
13 chapters of self-inspiration
Stirling’s book includes 13 chapters covering a variety of topics, including how to find your absolute truth, dreaming big and in vivid detail, prosperity and freedom, the legacy mindset, (re)igniting focus, learning to forgive and move on, using obstacles as opportunities for growth, and much more. Readers (or in this case, listeners) will find themselves buoyed by his wisdom, conversational tone, and occasional touch of humor. Dan Stirling’s book draws upon years of research and his work as a life coach to help the reader become their own inspiration.
Dan Stirling is the founder of 2 Spare Minutes. He is available for individual coaching and speaking engagements. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audiobook edition coming soon
SoundFridge is honored to partner with Mr. Stirling to bring this powerful nonfiction book to audiobook form. It will be available on Audible.com, iTunes, and other audiobook retailers.
We’re pleased to unveil our new video spot for SoundFridge. This video replaces the old one on Fiverr® and will be used in a promotional campaign on different channels as well. Compare the new one to the old one. Thoughts?
We just wrapped production on the audiobook edition ofPassive Income by David J. Green, another Amazon #1 bestselling nonfiction book. It presents 40 easy tips for side hustles ranging from affiliate marketing to things no one ever considered, such as flipping app names (who knew?). The book is in process of approvals and will soon appear on Audible.com.
Are you tired of the 9 to 5 hectic lifestyle? This book gives you the best ideas and instructions to launch your online business and turn it into Passive Income!
Get ready to discover the online marketplace. You will be astonished to learn that thousands of people are making a full-time income online
Here is a Sneak Peek of What you will Learn:
How to make money through Blogging
How to Launch your own Digital Course
How to Create your Ecommerce Store
How to Leverage Dropshipping
How to Generate Income through Affiliate Marketing
How to Make Money through Ebook Publishing
And much, much, more
The Amazon #1 Bestseller is coming to Audible . . .
These days, it seems that news about hacking is in every headline. Whether we’re talking about e-mail server hacks upending presidential elections or photo leaks targeting celebrities, life savings being stolen in phishing scams or thefts of Bitcoins from supposedly secure wallets, it seems these hackers are everywhere. What’s the best way to protect yourself or your business? Abraham K. White says to fight fire with fire! In Hacking, the author teaches you how to think like a hacker, gives you an overview of the tools, computer programs, and programs they use (did you know there’s a Linux operating system built just for hackers?), and more. You’ll learn how to keep your WiFi connection safe at home, the office, or the coffee shop and how you can launch a full scale attack on your servers to make sure your security is working.
Today I got a pitch from an independent author about producing his book for Audible. He offered a 50/50 revenue share deal. The book has a very attractive, professional cover. It has a reasonable number of reviews on Amazon. As an author, he has published 12 other books in the same genre. But in the end, I turned down his offer to audition. Why?
In a word, it came down to one thing: sales. His sales just aren’t enough to make his books a viable revenue-share agreement for an established audiobook narrator. And as audiobook producers, we’re not limited to educated guesses. We can use the same tools you have to check on rankings, sales, etc. So for example, I ran this guy’s library through Kindle Spy. (Names and details are blurred to protect his privacy.)
In a revenue share deal through ACX, the voice actor takes home 20% of net sales. Not gross, net.
Take a look. Now, I am not saying this is a bad guy. I certainly am not accusing him of bad faith. Maybe he just never thought about it from our side of things. But after 13 books in the same series, his sales last month were a grand total of $16. That is for all his books. The book he pitched to me sold an estimated zero copies. It is not a direct apples-to-apples comparison, because audiobooks sell separately from print books. Often the price is higher, and usually fewer audiobooks sell than print copies. Royalties are structured differently depending on whether the client buys the audiobook or listens as part of a monthly subscription. However, if his print books are not selling, how likely is it that his audiobooks will fare better? It would have been about three solid weeks of work with no assurance that I would make anything for the effort.
Revenue share is about making the actor more money
My dear independent author friends, it is time for straight talk about the revenue-share concept. In author forums I see a lot of comments from authors who seem to be confused about what revenue share is and is not meant to be. “No one will look at my revenue-share offer,” is a common complaint. “The auditions I get are low quality,” is another. These complaints are based on a basic misunderstanding of what the revenue-share model is meant to accomplish. Do you want to know what it is? The revenue-share model is meant to give the narrator the opportunity to make more from revenue share than he would from being paid up front. In the same way a movie actor like Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts might agree to take some of their pay in the form of royalties in the hopes of a long-term score, so an audiobook actor may consider a revenue-share agreement if they feel the book in question may make long-term, dynamite sales. This is why these deals are mostly done with established authors who have a built-in fan base that is eagerly awaiting every installment of a series. They often have vast mailing lists of superfans, as evidenced by strong pre-sales of their books.
Look, I get it. I’m an independent author too. So is my wife. Launching your book is expensive. Promotion is expensive. It’s hard to get people on your MailChimp list. Someone told you an audiobook is a great thing to add to your “funnel” and bring people in. Maybe you approached some actors about producing your book for Audible and went “yikes!” at the price. And then you heard about revenue share. Perhaps it occurred to you that this idea might be a way to test the waters with an audiobook while avoiding the risk of paying up front for the project.
But who is risking their time and energy when they make an audiobook on revenue share? That’s right, the narrator. And by the way, they have no control over what you do with it. How do you plan to market it? Are you planning to make it a perma-free? Have you stopped to consider what half of perma-free is worth? Did you know Amazon controls the price of revenue share books produced through the ACX platform? They set the price pretty high, which discourages readers from trying nobodies. There are other risks, too. For example, if you forget to file your tax paperwork, Amazon will take down the book I spent three weeks reading. If you look like you’re doing this as a hobby and not a business, it’s not a risk I can take.
What you are up against
When you open a casting call, you are competing with authors and publishers who are offering narrators $250 per finished hour (PFH) up
Think of a “PFH” like a dozen eggs. It’s an industry measurement of units.
front or more. One PFH is about 9,000 to 9,300 words of your book, depending on the material. Each one of those finished hours costs your narrator between four to seven hours of work in real terms. And if you’re hiring a professional narrator, they’ll be hiring a professional of their own to proof and master their work before they send it to you. That is going to cost them a minimum of $40 PFH or more. Do the numbers pencil out for your narrator at 20% of your projected sales? If your book doesn’t sell, they’ll be investing their time plus $40 PFH or more of their own money for the pleasure of narrating your book!
As I wrote in my e-book The Insider’s Guide to Your Audiobook, before embarking on getting an audiobook made, it’s important to quantify why you want it and what it’s worth to you. That’s right, sketch it out in dollars and cents. Is this book worth the price of getting it made? If not, perhaps now is not the time to do it. Perhaps it makes more sense to put that money toward more paid promotion or a better cover. If you plan to use it as a perma-free funnel item, what is that worth to you? Run those numbers and budget accordingly.
What about the exceptions?
You’re right. Sometimes the stars can align perfectly. Sometimes there is this new author who has just one book out and it takes off. And sometimes there is a new audiobook narrator who just needs something, anything, on their resume. But this is not the reality most of the time. More commonly, if you are an independent author with low sales, putting your casting call out for revenue share will only guarantee that you receive scores of frustratingly low-quality auditions. They will probably be from new actors, perhaps with zero experience and poor equipment, or maybe radio guys who are trying to eke out a little cash. Could one of them turn out to be a diamond in the rough? Maybe. But there’s no guarantee.
The seven-year itch
One final consideration. Revenue-share schema vary from site to site, but a typical deal on ACX is a seven-year commitment. If you rush to grab the first narrator who agrees to do your book, what happens when your books actually start to sell? You can’t cancel the contract and have a more experienced narrator re-do the book! (That is, unless you can work a deal to buy your first narrator out.) So think it through carefully and calmly before you commit to a narrator.
There are lots of great reasons to have an audiobook made. But in audiobooks, as in life, there is no free lunch.
Dalan E. Decker is the owner of SoundFridge, an independent audio book production company.
I am pleased to announce that I will be producing the novel The Veterinarian’s Field Guide to Rabid Unicorns, by Elise Loyacano Perl, for Audible.com. My 16th project for Audible, this humorous novel is a wacky adventure where Jurassic Park meets Artemis Fowl. It is the first book in the St. Quiche Island Archives, a series of youth-novels-for-adults set in the fictional Caribbean country of St. Quiche. This is SoundFridge’s second novel project, after The Ghost Factory by Jordan Vezina.
FROM THE BOOK COPY:
“One clueless vet. One mad scientist. Lots of crazy unicorns. This can’t end well, can it?
Bertie’s just a regular veterinarian whose career is the pits. He is up to his eyeballs in debt, and his boss drives him bonkers. So when a scientist offers him a job at a Caribbean park, he takes the leap.
But no textbook can prepare him for what awaits: genetically engineered unicorns. They aren’t your cuddly picture book variety either. These mythical creatures could very well turn a tropical paradise into an island deathtrap.
Now Bertie must find a way to keep these beasts from spiraling into madness. But will he rise to the challenge? Or will it be lights out for Bertie before he can come up with a cure?
The Veterinarian’s Field Guide to Rabid Unicorns is the first book in the St. Quiche Island Archives. If you like funny fantasy, underdog heroes, and madcap villains, you’ll love this quirky novel.
Buy the book and discover how hilarious man versus the lab-created nature can be.”
I’ve been murdered! Well, my character Rolland has been. And now my angry little brother is out to avenge me.
This week I had the chance to voice a part for the cutscenes of “A Story of Distress,” a virtual reality video game from Yellow Panda Games. Coming to Steam in April of 2018.
From the game copy: “You and your brother set off to the big city of Aston in order to become successful merchants, but things go wrong when your brother gets murdered, filling your heart with pure rage. Take your vengeance on those who defied you. Use stealth to your advantage and try not to get consumed by rage.”
I’m excited and honored to announce that I’ve been selected to produce the audio version of the new book Exceptional Wealth, by Mark Tepper, CFP®. Mr. Tepper is a well known media personality and investment guru, with regular contributions to CNBC’s Power Lunch, the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, and CNN Money. Mark appears weekly on his Cleveland-based TV Show, From Wall Street to Main Street, where he offers viewers (who have outgrown cookie-cutter advice) actionable ideas to optimize their wealth. I previously produced the magnet audio for his other book, Walk Away Wealthy. I will be producing the audiobook version for Audible.com
Obviously, this is a huge coup for SoundFridge, especially considering we launched this business a little over a year ago. Thanks to everyone who has been using my services and leaving stellar reviews, which has helped to bring me to this moment!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mark Tepper is the president and CEO of Strategic Wealth Partners, a comprehensive wealth management firm that specializes in working with higher-net-worth families. Strategic Wealth Partners has made the Inc. 5000 for several consecutive years, making it one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Mark has helped his clients develop and oversee their financial plans, prudently manage their investment portfolios, and facilitate successful exits from their privately held businesses. A well-known financial commentator, Mark appears regularly on CNBC’s Power Lunch and Closing Bell as well as on the Fox Business Network. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, and Inc. magazine. Mark is also a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). Mark holds a BSBA in finance from John Carroll University and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.
Here is a recent appearance that Mr. Tepper made on national media:
FROM THE COVER:
Are you a high net worth individual? Then the wealth management rules are different for you.
Mark Tepper rightly assures us that we should all consider ourselves wealthy if we have the resources to live the lives we want to live without compromise. However, if you fall into one of his higher-net-worth categories, you will find that Exceptional Wealth is speaking directly to you.
Tepper, author of the acclaimed Walk Away Wealthy, stresses that if you are someone with a high net worth, you have to realize that managing your wealth is complex. He clearly outlines key steps and sophisticated strategies that experienced professional financial advisors should be implementing for you. Each high net worth individual has unique and different forms of wealth, investments, and objectives. Consequently, individual and special family needs demand specifically tailored financial plans and approaches. Good investment management might have made you wealthy, but Tepper solidly brings home the point that only proper wealth management will keep you wealthy.
Those whose wealth exceeds $1,000,000 will likely benefit most from the keys and myths that Tepper outlines, but this book is relevant for anyone looking to take the next step in wealth accumulation and preservation. The bottom line, as Tepper advises, is the following: Prosperous individuals require a higher level of sophistication when it comes to optimizing their financial affairs.
By the time Hurricane María smashed into Puerto Rico on September 20th, we had learned a lesson from Hurricane Irma: Downtime is costly. Lack of choice is sometimes important.
First came Hurricane Irma. Though Irma devastated other islands in the Caribbean, she only gave us a glancing blow. Still, the storm knocked out power for a week. A week may not sound like much. But in this business, a week means, “I’m sorry, I can’t take your project now because I don’t know when I’m getting power back.” Which means a hole in our production schedule much longer than the down time. It means clients are disappointed. This business is all about trust and relationships. You don’t usually get to see the clients. They put their dreams in your hands and trust you to make them happen. You have to make it happen.
It wasn’t the first time we had a power failure. The power company in Puerto Rico, like the rest of the government, is in bankruptcy. AEE has trouble keeping the lights on. We were used to losing power. But usually only for 10 to 12 hours, maybe a day. Last year we had a 4-day power failure across the entire Island. It was clear we’d need a solution, especially as SoundFridge was growing. “I’m sorry, the power is out again,” just wasn’t cutting it. I was looking at generators. At the radio station where I also work, we have generators. Commercial diesel units that are meant to power enormous transmitters for days at a time. I couldn’t afford that, and my condo board wouldn’t allow one anyway. But there were too many options getting in the way of a decision. How could I choose a model? What was I willing to pay? Should I get a bigger one that could also run my fridge and some lights? Should I get a more expensive inverter one that makes clean electricity for studio use?
Then came Irma. All the stores from Home Depot to Tru Valu to the little corner ferreterías sold out of generators in a flash. The storm was a wake-up call. I had to decide what I needed, and fast. What if the next storm hit us full on?
Three days post Irma, the lights were still out and my wife and I were sitting in a steamy coffee shop catching up on some e-mails. I was looking at options. Well, one option really. Because shipping. Shipping generators to the Caribbean is prohibitively expensive. The only one we could afford to ship was a little blue 2000 watt inverter generator. It would be good to start, I thought. I could use it to run my studio. Everything else could wait till the stores restocked. I clicked the “Order” button and paid for 15-day shipping. The kind folks there at Electric Generator Depot bumped up the shipping to overnight at no extra charge because, they said, “We figure you may need it.” Thank God they did. I only had time to unpack it, add oil, fill it with gas, give it a break-in run, and then María hit.
If you’ve seen the news over the past 37 days, you know what happened. Thankfully, my wife and I were not as nearly affected as many. Our apartment did not flood. The windows did not break. The first 11 days after María, we were isolated from everything but our immediate neighbors. “Are you okay?” “Yes, we’re fine.” “Here, help me chop this big tree up and we’ll put it in that truck.” “Okay.” “Do you need bottled water? Here, take some of mine.” Those 11 days I would sometimes sit in my steaming bedroom, holding my phone and opening the Facebook app to review the last items that had come in before the storm. There were one or two radio stations on the air, but they had no Internet or any way of taking calls, so they were as blind as the rest of us and limited to repeating rumors and trying to record the Governor’s press conferences. There was no cell signal. No Internet, obviously. No way to call our families and let them know we were okay.
Outside, as far as we could walk, a nuclear bomb had gone off. Trudging through a landscape that had gone from tropical verdant to late-November drab grays and browns. As if fall had hit the Caribbean. And everywhere silence. The sound of wind pushing through ruined trees and downed power lines. They need to invent a new word for surreal.
Nothing was open. Nowhere to go to. We dare not drive anywhere, because gas lines were 10 hours long. Literally. We had 3 gallons of gasoline for the generator in reserve. How pitiful that seemed. Certainly we could not run it to keep the refrigerator cold. That was for SoundFridge, for when we had a chance to reopen. We would need that income.
Impressions. One comes to mind. The two packs of D-cell batteries for the fan did not last long. One night waking up around midnight, unable to breathe in the heat. Stifling, pressing heat and humidity, like when I was a kid how I’d sometimes get stuck in a sleeping bag and couldn’t find my way out. We decided to go to the car and run the air conditioner. Saving gas? This was an emergency. Turning on the radio, and scanning the dial. And not a radio station on the air, not in AM or FM. All gone silent. Some to conserve diesel, some because they have not yet returned to air. I thought of Will Smith in “I Am Legend.”
The mind does funny things when the future is so uncertain. Nothing outside your immediate field of view matters. Time slows when you can’t sleep and there is no breeze to escape the punishing Sahara heat that a hurricane dumps as it leaves. There’s a smell in the air that is more than olfactory, part ozone and mud and part the bigness inside an empty stadium. It’s not that there was a lot of damage; it’s that nothing was undamaged. Every tree ripped as if by monster hands, every sign tipped or askew, every house stripped of color or roof or just a foundation slab where there used to be a house. When it was on, the people on the radio mentioned that many nations were sending aid. We saw huge airplanes, much larger than the normal ones, lining up for descent to the airport (we live under the approach path). We became vaguely aware that the President of the USA was going to be at a church where we have friends. We were a block away at the moment. All we felt was annoyance at the traffic jam. Our neighborhood, largely spared the worst of the storm, never saw anyone from FEMA or the National Guard. We were grateful and knew why, but felt cut off all the same.
Then late one night, we walked outside into the dark to the front of our condo. People were standing there, holding their phones in the air. Apparently some signal was getting through. My phone started buzzing. As I sat on the curb to read the messages, tears came. Past clients from all over the world were writing. A note from China: “We’re praying for you.” A note from the USA: “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.” A note from Sri Lanka: “Dear sir: We know what it is to experience cyclones. Here is $30 to help.” And so on. Life outside Puerto Rico was continuing, but here dozens of people I had never met were thinking about my wife and I, asking how things were going. From a client in New Zealand: “No worries, mate. We will wait till you get back on your feet.”
I reopened SoundFridge. Reopened the account on Fiverr, reopened the website. Now 37 days later, the lights are still out. Most of Puerto Rico is still in the dark, although bright shoots of hope show everywhere. The malls are reopening, stores are restocking, gas lines are down everywhere. The little blue generator keeps running. We’ve been able to deliver some 16 projects post-Maria. I record them, transfer them to my phone, and then we drive around looking for enough signal to send them.
I’ve always known the truism that necessity is the mother of invention. I’d add to that, in some cases lack of choices is important. Going back to the gas issue, we could not use the generator for our personal comfort because we needed that gas for SoundFridge. And who knew when gas would be available? Would it be a week, three weeks, a month? It turns out the model we chose is an amazing gas sipper. It can run at half load for about 15 hours on half a gallon of gas. Happily, half load is exactly what I need to run the studio. Had I chosen a bigger one to run the fridge and other things, our 3 gallons of gas would have been gone in about the same number of hours.
In the end, we got 57 hours of SoundFridge recording from our first 3 gallons of gas. The first time we ran out, we had to walk about 5 miles round trip to the one gas station that was open. And now gas is available again. I am grateful for the lack of choice. While neighbors have had to stand in line daily to refill their 5-gallon candungos with gas, I have been quietly working away in my studio. Without SoundFridge, this month would have been much bleaker, especially financially.
I want to end this with a note of thanks. I am grateful to God for His hand of protection and provision for me, for my wife, for SoundFridge. I thank all my clients, past and present, who contacted us to ask after our welfare and even to send help. Thank you to everyone who has been sending aid and coming to help the people of Puerto Rico. There is still much left to do, but you are making a difference. Thank you.