Ask PZM: AudioBooks, Writers’ Conferences, Screenwriting tips

Q: Do you recommend having audiobooks besides ebooks for self-published books?

This is an excellent question for which I do not have an answer as I personally have not yet tried creating audiobooks for any of my books or ebooks.

Yet I may be missing the boat.
In the Wall Street Journal print edition of July 22, 2016, the article “The Fastest-Growing Format in Publishing: Audiobooks” by Jennifer Maloney had the subhead: “Smartphones and multitasking have stoked an explosion in audiobooks. Publishers, spotting a juggernaut, are expanding their offerings and enlisting star narrators.”

The article begins:

“The digital revolution that flummoxed the music, movie and publishing industries has given rise to a surprising winner: the audiobook.

“Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the book business today. Sales in the U.S. and Canada jumped 21% in 2015 from the previous year, according to the Audio Publishers Association. The format fits neatly in the sweet spot of changing technology and changing behavior. Carrying around a pocket-size entertainment center stuffed with games, news, music, videos and books has conditioned people to seek out constant entertainment, whether walking to a meeting or sitting in a doctor’s office. For more multitasking book-lovers, audiobooks are the answer.”

What does this mean for self-publishing authors?

First, if star narrators are important to sales, can we afford to hire these narrators? Yes, there are freelance sites that have good rates for hiring audiobook narrators, but will these probably unknown narrators help us sell our audiobooks?
If we cannot afford star narrators, will we be able to get enough traction to make the effort of creating and promoting audiobooks worth our time and money?
And are audiobook sales up across all categories, or are there categories that do exceptionally well as audiobooks and categories that do exceptionally poorly as audiobooks?
Clearly each individual author needs to do specific research before making his or her own decisions about audiobooks, yet it is definitely an area on which we all should keep an eye.
If any of you reading this post have audiobooks for your own books, please share some of your experiences in the comments below.

Q. Is it important to attend writers’ conferences?

Another good question to which I do not have an answer now.
Years ago I attended several writers’ conferences, especially when I was the founding president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and these conferences can be very motivating. They can also be a good way to learn about the current publishing industry and to meet agents who are acquiring new clients.
Yet nowadays, with so many online ways to learn about the publishing industry as well as to “meet” agents, perhaps these conferences are not that necessary to a writing career.
Of course, it also depends on your time and money resources. If you have the time and money to attend writers’ conferences, do you research on which conferences would be the best for your genre(s) and goals, then pack your suitcase.
If, though, you feel you have better places to spend your writing resources (time and money), do not beat yourself up for not attending writers’ conferences. (Only beat yourself up if you’re a writer and you’re not writing!)

Q. Any new tips for screenwriters?

I have been experimenting with paying for the opportunity to pitch both feature film screenplays and TV pilot scripts through the site Stage32.com and I have been frustrated with the restrictions, including the two-page written pitch limit. (There is usually an oral pitch paid option besides the written pitch paid option.)
Now I have found a new site – RoadmapWriters.com – that has a unique option for paying for pitches (although there is still the two-page written pitch limitation).
Instead of paying one fee for one submitted pitch, you can pay one fee for up to three submitted pitches. You submit the loglines, pitches, and scripts of all three. Then the person to whom you are pitching chooses from the loglines as to which two-page pitch to read. Then he or she can move on to read that script if interested.
I have done two of these 3-for-1 pitches so far and have been surprised that both people chose the pitch for TV pilot SOLOMON’S JUSTICE rather than one of my other pitches. This unintended feedback can be very valuable even though both people passed on reading the TV pilot script.
Yes, it takes a commitment of time and money to test some of these options, and the results will vary. But you can try these at home!

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) blogs on book-related topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and her fiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller and her nonfiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller

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