Author Strategies

Narrate Your Own Audiobook

Audiobooks are becoming more popular with over 20% of book consumers stating a preference for listening to a book rather than reading one.  If you’ve ever thought about narrating your own book, you would do well to listen to the July 2018 SkillBites Show. Gabriella Cavallero was our guest this month, and as the narrator of over 900 audiobooks, she had some key tips to share about narrating an audiobook.

Gabriella is a lead voice and presentation coach at Articulate: Real&Clear.  She has over 25 years’ experience as a professional actor, teacher, director, voice and dialect coach.

Some of the tips that Gabriella shared include:

– Knowing how to breathe properly is key to communicating authentically. You want to have a full, present, supported voice.

– Learn how to use a microphone properly – make sure you’re not picking up background or environmental noise which will interfere with the recording; avoid breath and mouth noises; and know how modulate your tone based on the distance from the mic and how to keep a steady distance in relationship to the microphone, especially during a long recording session.

– Narrating well involves acting skills such as being able to sound like you are speaking naturally rather than reading written language; speaking without stumbling; knowing when to take breaths and how to take breaths as inaudibly as possible; and knowing when meaningful pauses are effective.  Varying your voice in tone, inflection, resonance, and tempo not only when you have many characters but also in the narrative (non-dialogue) sections of the audiobook is key to being understood and keeping your audience engaged.

– Preparation is critical. You can save a lot of time by doing the homework before you get into the recording session.  You need to be clear about what you want the reader to get out of the book. Marking the text ahead of time is essential, e.g., underlining the words/points you want to stress or lift up for the listener, and notating where you need a definite tone change at the beginning of a new paragraph or section. For books with multiple characters, you also want to mark the varied voice choices you’ll make so the listener has no trouble distinguishing between characters.

– Be consistent in your accents/dialects and vocal choices for your characters.

– Good physical alignment helps you have the fullest vocal quality.  You need to sit or stand with a straight spine with your head over the trunk of your body for optimal breath support.

– You need to maintain an even level of energy.  If you find your energy ebbing, take a break, move around, do a few stretches, and stay hydrated.

– Do a sample narration and listen to it.  Do you like what you sound like? Is there sufficient variation of pace, range, rhythm and tone?  Do you emphasize the right points and pause at appropriate places? Do you hear any breaths or lip smacking?

– Think about whether you ought to hire a professional/s. You want to create a high quality product.  Even if you have a good voice, it may be more expensive in the long run to narrate the work yourself. Creating the best quality, professional audiobook takes a team of people. An engineer who know how to work the recording equipment optimally and be listening for consistency, a coach or director who can be your ears during the process and get the best “reading” you can give, and an editor to do the review and edits before you send the audiobook out into the world can be the difference between an “okay” audiobook and a brilliant one.

For more information on Articulate:  Real&Clear, visit the website www.articulaterc.com.  To reach Gabriella, email her at gabriella@articulaterc.com.

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Should you try Facebook ads?

If you are curious about whether Facebook ads would be a good way to go for your business or to promote your book, then read on. In this month’s SkillBites Show, Julie Friedman Bacchini discussed the power of Facebook ads and provided some pointers to running an effective Facebook campaign.

Julie is the owner of Neptune Moon, a digital marketing firm that she founded almost 19 years ago, at the inception of digital marketing. She began her talk by distinguishing Facebook ads from Google ads. When you do a Facebook ad campaign, it’s more like having an ad in a magazine. People reading the magazine will gain awareness of your product or service by seeing your ad, but they may not be interested in purchasing at that moment. Google ads are tied in with what people are searching on, so there is a more direct correlation with their interest in buying something similar to what you are offering. If your main objective to increase awareness, then Facebook ads can be a good tactic to try. Moreover, with the terrific targeting capability of Facebook, you can place your ad in front of your ideal audience, the very people you want to be aware of your product or service.

With Facebook, you have two main options: you can create an ad that consists of text and an image or carousel of images, that appears on the news feed, or on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) or in Facebook Messenger; or you can boost posts, such as when you want people to be aware of a sale you are holding, or an event you are hosting. For both of these options, it is critical to have defined who you want the ad or post to be seen by. Facebook offers considerable granularity for your selection – demographic information such as age, income level and geographic region as well as interests, family, pet ownership, etc. You can also use Facebook’s Look Alike feature, and ask Facebook to find people who have similar background to the people you identify, either to include those people or to exclude them.

You also want to determine how long you want the campaign to run and how much you want to spend. You can set a budget of how much per day or how much for the duration of the campaign, and that can be as low as $5 or $10. For budgetary purposes, Julie recommends a minimum of a three month campaign with $500 per month. Anything less than that will not give you the data to determine whether the campaign is effective for you.

In that regard, you definitely want to track how well the campaign is working, which you can do by putting Facebook pixels or URL tag on the landing page that people who click on your ad are going to. Then you can use Google analytics to compare how long they are spending on your landing page, what other pages they are visiting and whether they are buying your services or products more frequently than people who are coming to your site other than from the ad.

Julie advised that Facebook users respond much better to visuals than text. You’ll want to have several images picked out so that you don’t run the same ad images and have people get bored with your ad. You can also use video in ads, and not just static images.

In addition, you must make sure the landing page or website you are sending people to is fast and mobile responsive. It won’t help you at all if people abandon your site before they get there because it is too slow to load. And when people come from a Facebook ad, it will be slower than when they come directly to your site, so keep that in mind.

For more information on Facebook ad campaigns, you can visit Julie’s website, www.neptunemoon.com, or communicate with her via Twitter (@neptunemoon) or LinkedIn.

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Need Leads?

One of the hardest parts of running a business is maintaining a steady flow of prospects and customers. It can take a lot of time and effort to connect with enough of the right people to achieve that steady flow, which may not be what the business owner wants to be doing. Rick Itzkowich, the guest on this month’s SkillBites Show, has developed a system that makes it easier and quicker to generate leads and convert prospects to customers. Rick is a Vistage Chair, a successful millionaire entrepreneur, speaker and author of The Referral Playbook: How to Increase Sales with Proven Networking Strategies. Rick is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and recognized Forbes CommunityVoice™ Contributor, he speaks 5 languages and he plays on a nationally ranked tournament baseball team.

Rick’s system consists of a combination of online networking using LinkedIn, Refer.com and other sites, as well as offline networking. He has found that LinkedIn represents the shortest route from people you know to people you want to get introduced to. To get those introductions, you need to:

  • Develop a relationship with the person you are seeking an introduction from, and to do that, you need to provide value, such as sharing their social media posts, connecting them to others in their target audience and sending them information that is relevant to them;
  • Make it easy for them to make the introduction, such as by providing text about what you do; and
  • Follow up and stay top of mind, so that when they are ready to buy they think of you.
  • Rick shared a number of tools he uses to make it easier and quicker to provide value, such as ActiveWords, where you can use a single key word that will trigger longer text to appear. For instance, if you want to thank someone for inviting you to connect on LinkedIn and to offer them a gift (providing value), you could draft the text once and assign the word ‘gift’ to the text, so when you want to respond to someone’s LinkedIn invitation, you type the word ‘gift’ and the full message appears.

    Another tool he uses is QuoteActions. This sends an inspiring, motivational quote which includes his contact information, helping him provide value and stay top of mind.

    Another tool is Refer.com. If you find out that someone is interested in golf, for example, you include that information in the person’s profile on Refer.com, and Refer.com will scour the internet to find articles and videos about golf that you can send the person.

    The tips shared in this post consist of less than a third of what Rick shared on the SkillBites Show. To hear the entire interview, click here. Rick provides significantly more tips and tools in his impending book, The Referral Playbook. To receive notice when the book is published, as well as to receive Rick’s guide, “How to Monetize LinkedIn in 10 Minutes Per Day,” go to NTWRK.biz/Skillbites. Rick encourages you to connect with him on LinkedIn, or email him at rick@rickitzkowich.com or thelinkedinguy@gmail.com, so he can develop a relationship and determine how best to provide value to you.

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    Tips on Book Marketing

    Many authors don’t realize that they need to treat their published book like a business.  If they don’t market their book, it won’t sell or garner them the results they sought when they wrote the book.  On this month’s SkillBites Show, Susan Friedmann discussed how to develop a marketing platform and other tips on marketing one’s book.

    The first step of developing a marketing platform is to identify one’s target readership.  Without knowing this, the marketing may not reach the right audience.  With this knowledge, you can tailor your message to resonate with your audience.  To help people determine their target readership, Susan has developed a 10 question assessment tool, which she has offered to provide for free.  To get her tool, simply email her at susan@avivapubs.com and request the tool.

    Next is determining where your target readership hangs out, and where they go to obtain the type of information you are providing in your book.  Do they attend trade show or industry conferences?  Do they read blogs?  Magazines?  That information will help you decide where you want your marketing message to appear so that it reaches your ideal reader.

    Another aspect of developing a marketing platform is to think about what else you can do with the content in your book.  How can you leverage that material?  Perhaps you can create a speech that you could deliver to your target market, or create a webinar or training course, or offer group coaching.

    It’s important to keep in mind that marketing is an ongoing venture.  One of the biggest mistakes that authors make is promoting their book for a short period of time, such as a few months.  To get good results, you need to put time in every day, week and month for as long as you want to keep getting good results.

    If a marketing campaign appears to have stuttered, Susan counsels authors to try “CPR”, which she explained is:

    • Changing one’s perspective or mindset, such as by refining the target market;
    • Planning the campaign; and
    • Reigniting the author’s passion for his or her book.

    Susan offered a 15 minute consultation to help people with their book marketing, but advised that she will be unavailable until after February 1, 2018.  To take advantage of this offer, send an email to Susan at susan@avivapubs.com

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    Manage Projects Effectively

    Without proper planning, projects tend to get delayed or incur cost overruns. What does proper planning consist of? In this month’s SkillBites Show, Jon McGlothian shared a number of tools and techniques for managing projects effectively.

    Jon is the co-founder and president of TMOG LLC, providing project management training and consulting. He is a Project Management Professional (PMP)® as well as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. He is also the author of The Project Manager’s Quick Start Guide.

    Jon defined a project broadly as anything that has a start date, an end date, and a unique deliverable. That could be starting a business, or undertaking a joint venture, or completing a contract for a customer.

    When starting a project, a good first step is to hold an initial meeting with the key stakeholders and project leaders to discuss the mission or charter for the project, including the goals and objectives, the authorization and boundaries. It’s beneficial to gain an understanding of the customer’s priorities at this stage. For instance, is the client most concerned with getting the project done by a certain deadline, or with the quality of the result, or with keeping costs down?

    The next step is project planning. This includes identifying the team members and digging into the details of the project. Inquire into who, what, when, where, and how. This is also when the team should develop the work breakdown structure, decomposing the project into small deliverables or work packages and assigning an owner to each step. The team should conduct a risk analysis of what could go wrong so they can develop a plan and allocate the requisite resources where needed to ensure that things go smoothly. Another aspect of planning is managing the involvement of the stakeholders, including identifying who are the stakeholders, determining what to communicate when, what information is needed and what their needs are.

    The third stage of the process consists of doing the work and producing the deliverables, as well as getting feedback. Closely tied in with this stage is managing the project to make sure the project stays within the charter parameters.

    The final phase is closing. This stage may consist of getting paid if the project is an external one, or handing over the reins to an internal group. An important element of closing is conducting a review of the project to identify areas of improvement for the next project, or lessons learned and best practices.

    Every project is different, so every project will involve a different approach. The key is to understand the issues that could arise and be prepared to adjust or change direction if needed. For more information, read Jon’s book (available on Amazon) or email Jon at jon@tmogllc.com. Mention in the subject line that you heard about him through the SkillBites Show and he will provide a free consultation.

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