Monday, June 19, 2017

Going Traditional... Sort of. (Big announcement!)

I waited until now to make this announcement because I didn't want to jump the gun only to have something go wrong. Recent communications have assured me that things are moving along as planned, and I felt it was time to get the word out: I am very happy to announce that I've signed a deal with Tantor to produce audiobook versions of my Tinkerer's Daughter series!

This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but I found the logistics of producing my own audiobooks to be somewhat daunting. I'm a musician; I do have recording studio equipment, and I am capable of producing an audiobook on my own.  I don't have a good recording space right now though, and with several children and a couple dogs running around the house, it would be almost impossible to get a full chapter recorded without some noise or distraction. Each chapter would likely require several takes to get a clean recording, which could add up to weeks of recording time. Add to that the production and mastering process (sound effects, equalization, normalization and compression, etc.), and this would be a huge task to take on. If I managed to pull it off, that would be one book out of a series, which would commit me to finishing the rest in the same manner. That process could take a couple years, and would almost certainly distract me from my writing.

There are services to connect voice actors with authors, and to provide audiobook distribution. This is nice, but there is a downside: it takes a lot of time to sort through the talent, to make a connection, and to reach a deal with someone you like. In most cases, the actors want some payment up front, and in some cases, they also split royalties with you. This is after a large cut goes to the distributor. It can add up to a lot of time and a considerable expense out-of-pocket . That's not necessarily a bad thing -you do get a quality product- but I make a living from my writing, and writing has to be my priority because that's my bread and butter. Like most things, it comes down to time, money, and energy. I have to prioritize, and unfortunately, audiobooks have not been my priority.

But then an acquisitions editor from Tantor contacted me. I had heard of the company, but since I don't usually listen to audiobooks, I didn't really know who they were until I did some research. I was very impressed with what I learned. Tantor is owned by Recorded Books, the largest independent publisher of audiobooks. Tantor publishes New York Times bestselling authors, award winners, and -hey!- sometimes even nobodies like me. I was obviously flattered, but as an Indie author, I was also cautious.Working independently, you get used to choosing  your own cover art, setting your own deadlines, making thousands of other decisions. You get used to being in control.

I asked if they would be willing to negotiate their contract. At the time, I was a little worried this might offend them. I had never done this sort of thing before. I don't have an agent to negotiate on my behalf, and frankly, I'm not exactly James Patterson. They could just as easily have passed on me and moved on to the next writer. I'm glad they didn't. To Tantor's credit, they made me a great offer that allowed me to retain considerable control over the project, along with a quite a few other unexpected perks. They were polite, prompt to respond, and happy to look at my suggestions. They will use my original cover art, so the covers will be almost the same as the existing covers. At my request, they were able to recruit an extremely talented voice actor who had contacted me previously about this project. (More on her in a later post). Also, they sealed the deal by giving me some money up front, which -while not a fortune- was enough to assure me of their commitment to the project. At this point, I couldn't be happier with how things are turning out.

Perhaps most importantly, Tantor will be able to introduce my books to a whole new audience that I couldn't reach without them. They have access to wide distribution, and they can get my stories to people I never could alone.Eventually, these titles might even be available in libraries and on disc. I'm also thrilled that this will make my stories available to the visually impaired and those challenged or uncomfortable with reading. That was my motivation to look into audiobooks in the first place, and I think it's fantastic that we have tech like this to help the disabled. I only regret I wasn't able to do it sooner.

So does this mean I'm no longer an Indie? Am I a hybrid writer now? Do audiobook publishers even count as traditional publishers? Meh. I never liked being boxed in. I've always said there's a place for the traditional publishing model, and it can be a great opportunity under the right circumstances. The important thing is getting my work out there, and as opportunities arise, I will continue to look at each on its own merits and make a decision based on what I think will help my career -and what will be good for my readers.

So now that you're itching to get your hands on a Tinkerer's Daughter audiobook, I have more good news: The release date is just a few weeks away! As of now, the publication date is set at July 11, 2017. The next two books will follow this September. I'll post updates along the way. In the meanwhile, keep in mind that The Tinkerer's Daughter, The Clockwork God, Murder in the Boughs, and Shadow Born are all FREE Kindle downloads at Amazon now! If you haven't tried any of these series, pick up a freebie and check it out. Pass the word on to a friend. I would love to give away a million copies of these books!