BookTrack: Why Soundtracks For Books Are Great For Readers And Authors

I just did a fantastic event in Auckland, New Zealand, so a big thanks to everyone who came! Plus a big thanks to BookTrack who sponsored and organized the event, as well as Auckland Libraries who hosted it.

booktrackSo what is Booktrack?

First up, watch this quick video to get the idea about what it is – watch below or here on YouTube

In order to learn more about this, I interviewed Paul Cameron, CEO and co-founder of Booktrack about the service. In this video, we talk about why he and his brother started the company and what they want to achieve, as well as the benefits for authors and readers. You can watch below or here on YouTube.

Highlights of our discussion include:

  • People often read in public accompanied by a soundtrack of some kind – either to shut out ambient noise, or to accompany the story.

Books are (currently) one of the only entertainment choices that doesn’t have synchronized sound.

  • Authors often choose soundtracks as they write, and share it with readers. For example, check out the Undercover Soundtrack on Roz Morris’ blog
  • Booktrack takes a movie style soundtrack and synchronizes it with individual reading speed via apps. You can create these yourself for free – and it’s super fun!
  • Booktrack has a LOT of music and sound available to use – you can’t just use any music because of copyright
  • I mention how soundtracks on film are designed to underscore emotional elements, and no film is complete now without a soundtrack. Booktrack is aiming to get to this point in the future.
  • Readers can find Booktrack on the app stores or online – it’s free to use and try at the moment.
  • The company’s aim is to become something similar to Audible but without words – selling books with soundtracks direct to consumers.

budapest booktrackMarketing and sales with BookTrack

Book marketing is a constant challenge for us all and one way to stand out is by having more than just text available. If you can add sound to your words, it brings another atmospheric dimension to the reading experience, and may be enough to draw people into your book.

The easiest thing to do is to check out a few books. Here’s my prologue for One Day In Budapest, and Hugh Howey’s Sand

You can easily share the Booktracks on social media and email, and coming soon, you’ll be able to use embeddable widgets on your website.

In terms of monetization, you can add a link to all the platforms where people can buy your book as part of the free aspect of the platform. In 2015, Booktracks will be available for sale, so could provide another revenue stream.


Five useful tips for using Booktrack

I asked author D.C.Grant to share her tips for using the service. You can check out her book, Where the flag floats, here on Booktrack.

Dawn also has a book for authors, The Booktrack Author User Guide, which will help you if you want to do DIY.

flag floatsWhen you are creating a sound track for your book using Booktrack, it is called booktracking.

  1. Treat booktracking time like writing time – block off a period of time with no distractions, switch off email/ text message/social media notifications. Also limit or exclude other sounds, or work using a headset so that you can concentrate on the tracks.
  2. Booktrack short sections at a time. Don’t attempt to do too much all at once.
  3. Keep pen and paper handy, or a note-taking app like OneNote, to make a note of the tracks that appeal to you as you go through the results of your search criteria. It’ll be a certainty that you won’t remember the track that you liked on page 2 by the time you get to page 6.
  4. If you find the diversity of music tracks overwhelming, search for a composer whose music suits the genre/theme of your book and make that your ‘go-to’ composer when choosing tracks. For a showcase of composers and the type of music they produce, use the Booktrack Music Showcase.
  5. Layer your sound – start with music, then layer on an ambience track and finish with sound effects. Or layer two ambience tracks and then sound effects. Or a music track and two ambience tracks and no sound effects. The choice is up to you. You can layer on as many tracks as you like, but too many and things may get muddled! Play it back to make sure it’s not too much and that the sound effects don’t get overwhelmed.

Booktracking can appear daunting but there’s no better way to learn that to just jump in and do it! Have a go today.

BIO: D C Grant writes books for boys because she reads books for boys. Her favorite authors are Lee Child and Bernard Cornwall and with these influences she was never going to be a romance writer. D C Grant currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand but was born in Manchester, England and lived for twenty years in Durban, South Africa. She currently lives in a New York style loft apartment with a slightly psychotic cat called Candy.

Here’s how to make a Booktrack

You can find out more at or on twitter @booktrack

What do you think about this? Do you ever listen to music/movie soundtracks when reading? Have you tried using Booktrack as a reader or as an author and do you have any tips or thoughts? Please leave your comments below and join the conversation. 


Audiobooks For Indies With Simon Whistler

Have you put your books into audio yet? Today I interview Simon Whistler about his new book, Audiobooks for Indies.

I’m in New Zealand on a family visit! Delirium is now available as an audiobook, you can find it here on Audible or please email me if you’d like a review copy.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Kobo’s financial support pays for the hosting and transcription, and if you enjoy the show, you can now support my time on Patreon. Thank you!

simon whistlerSimon Whistler is an author and voice talent/audiobook narrator, as well as a podcaster – he runs the very popular, Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. His new book is Audiobooks for Indies: Unlock the potential of your book.

You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher, watch the interview on YouTube here Part 1 and Part 2, or read the notes and links below.

  • Simon talks a bit about his background, with a degree in business, then working in Sri Lanka before moving to Prague. He started narrating audiobooks and working with indie authors, and then started his podcast, Rocking Self Publishing, before deciding to write a book about audiobooks to help authors get their books out there. We talk about the creative hub that Prague is turning into … We discuss entrepreneurship and audiobooks for indiesthe mindset shift from writing a book to running a business as an author.
  • Why the audiobook market is growing so fast. Basically because Amazon is behind it, plus the advance of digital technology. People can consume while they do other things, and it’s on demand now through wireless technology. It can also help you stand out as there are far fewer books available in audio, plus Whispersync means people can combine editions on their Kindle.
  • Best practices for working with a voice talent. We talk about adaptation, interpretation and respecting creative expression – as well as balancing it with how you want the book to be.
  • On fiction and non-fiction audiobooks. Often listeners want to hear the author read non-fiction, so if you can, narrate it yourself. For fiction, you need to do voices and things, so it’s best to get a professional. Simon talks about using basic equipment for audiobook narration – you don’t need to complicate things and it will only cost you a couple hundred $ to get started. Before you do anything, read your book out loud and see how you feel.
  • Getting over your voice. We talk about becoming a narrator and how it can become another income stream, on when to take royalty split deals, and more. I am considering getting further into narration in 2015, only for non-fiction though.
  • On podcasting and when authors should consider it. We talk about the commitment in time per episode as well as how long it takes to get some traction with an audience. Like writing, it’s a long term game! We also talk a bit about video and YouTube – the most important thing is regular content. Most successful vloggers are doing videos several times a week. We also mention Skype Translator – which translates as you speak – only in beginning stages, but wow! It’s like Star Trek!

You can find Simon at and on twitter @RSPPodcast. You can get Audiobooks for Indies: Unlock the potential of your book, here on Amazon.

Commonalities Of Successful Indie Authors Plus A New Way To Find An Editor

The fast-growing self-publishing environment is attracting all kinds of start-ups and companies that intend to serve authors.

editingHowever, most of them seem to aim at the periphery of what authors really need, which in my opinion, is primarily editors and cover designers.

Then I met Ricardo Fayet at a number of events, and discovered that his start-up, Reedsy, is aimed at connecting indie authors with editors and other professionals. The providers on the site are curated so you can trust that they offer a quality service.

Reedsy itself is a partner member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, which also gives it another level of trust, in my opinion. Here’s a piece on the company in TechCrunch.

I asked Ricardo a few questions about what he sees in successful indie authors and what Reedsy can do for them.

You go to a lot of author events. What are the commonalities you see in successful indie authors?

First, and this is something that has always struck me, I’m amazed at how indies are all such positive and energetic people. Or at least this is what they all appear to be (I know you have repeatedly said you have a dark side – I can’t imagine it, but I’ll take your word for it).

I think this kind of positive energy is absolutely key for indie authors today: you have got to believe that you can make it and persevere in your work with that belief until things begin to pick up. The process is slow and tedious and it’s easy to get discouraged after you’ve put the first couple of books out there and see they’re not selling themselves…

I also see a willingness to experiment. Distribution models have changed, and so have marketing ones. Thinking outside the traditional box usually pays off, but that requires a lot of trying new things and techniques, failing, and “iterating” (to use the start-up jargon).

Finally, I see union and an incredible willingness to help each other. All successful indie authors have become successful partly thanks to other authors. Bella Andre and Tina Folsom have been working together (literally) for years now. You have been interviewing authors for years too. The Alliance of Independent Authors was born out of this belief that indies don’t compete for space on the Kindle Store, they grow stronger together.

You’re a businessman and an entrepreneur with a start-up. What can indie authors learn from entrepreneurs?

All three points I mentioned in the previous questions! I think this is why we get on well together.

As an entrepreneur, you also have to “build your team.” Once you do, entrepreneurs are faced with the same problem indies have once your product or your book is up and running: it doesn’t sell itself…

The difference is that entrepreneurs are often a little more educated about all the major challenges on the road from the start of their journey, whereas some starting authors go into self-publishing unprepared, or believing it will be relatively easy.

Start-up entrepreneurs are pushed by their investors to sell, so they market their product before it’s live, they beta-test it before releasing it, they continually improve it afterwards, etc. This pressure makes us more creative in our marketing efforts, and I think indie authors could get a lot of ideas by following the start-ups in their industry, reading their newsletters and observing their marketing efforts.

In way, it’s very difficult to remain oblivious to these challenges as an entrepreneur – there’s no temptation to develop a product in an ivory tower because it’s not an option.

reedsyOne of the biggest problems for indie authors is finding professionals to work with. How does Reedsy help with this issue?

There’s all kinds of problems with finding good editors, designers, basically any variety of professional. Reedsy makes it easy to find and work with the best professionals – emphasis on both ‘easy’ and ‘best.’

Take editors as an example. First of all, there’s the challenge of finding them – Google is awesome, but if you search for ‘freelance editors’ you’re not being shown the best editors, but rather the editors who are best at SEO. Basically, there’s not much of a connection between visibility and quality.

Eventually you make your shortlist, and start exploring working together – maybe making a spreadsheet along the way of prices, of terms, sending out samples for editing, comparing what you get back… All which is this process you have to micromanage by designing a custom email folder hierarchy…

And that doesn’t even get into what’s involved in tracking drafts and the evolution of a manuscript across multiple rounds of editing. It’s exhausting.


Example of Reedsy editor search with some of the freelancers available

So, Reedsy is an easy solution to all of this hassle. We have a growing network of great freelancers – respectful of their clients, established, experienced, skilled. You’ll be able to manage messaging freelancers, sending  and comparing sample edits, receiving quotes, and negotiating terms from one website. And when you start working together you’ll be able to track the history of the entire collaboration, from the very beginning, through our upcoming gorgeous editor.

The best thing about Reedsy is we make things easier for indie authors without taking away control. We make it an easy process, without taking it out of the author’s hands. That’s really important.

How can an author evaluate whether an editor or designer is the right one for them?

There’s all kinds of things authors need to think about when choosing who they want to work with. Looking at previous projects is an important one – not just whether the work is in a similar genre to your own work, but how you feel about the work that came out of the collaboration, whether you like the text after editing or like the cover design.

Authors should be totally honest about what they’re looking for from the freelancer. Not just because it’s important to make sure that expectations are clear all around, but to see how the freelancer responds. Collaborating with someone creatively can be intense, and it’s difficult to know how it’s going to go. Jumping in and being upfront about what you what (if you know what you want), or admitting your ignorance (if you don’t know what you need help with), can lead to a productive conversation. The earlier this happens, the better.

What else will Reedsy have coming up for authors?

Reedsy has a very specific purpose – to support independent authors. We’re building Reedsy like a toolbox. We’re starting with making something that can help with finding editors and designers. Naturally, we’ll add other professions over time – right now we’re planning to include publicists, narrators and translators.

But there are other tools we want to build for authors. The first of these is a text editor designed to support the process of creating book-length works, as well as making it more natural to share that work with your editor. We basically want to be more than a simple marketplace, and add value to the collaborations. This is why we’ll release the first set of project management tools in a few weeks only…

Would you consider having translators there too?

This should come in a month or two, yes. We’ll start with translators “into English” (not from), as we know many foreign authors wish to enter the US and UK markets but are unsure where to start… And also because translating is actually that: just a start! The book then needs to be copy-edited and/or proofread (in English), the cover needs to be modified (or redesigned), and the launch has to be accompanied by a marketing effort (in English).

On Reedsy, we already have all these resources (US/UK editors and designers), so foreign authors would access the full suite of services they need to really penetrate a new market. We’re going to be like Ellis Island for foreign authors arriving to the English-speaking market.

How can people find out more about Reedsy?

Our homepage – – would be a great start! If you’re an author, it’s free to sign up to the site and take a look around at who we have on the marketplace. If you’re a freelancer, it’s both free and very easy to build a profile and wait to be approached by authors. Reedsy is currently free during this beta stage, so there’s no reason not to take a look!

The other way of learning more is by asking us. We love the way the indie community supports itself, and we’re a part of that community. If you want a hand with anything, or want to know more, let us know and we’ll do what we can to help.

If you have any questions for Ricardo or thoughts on what other things indie authors need, please do leave a comment below.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons edit on the go by fensterbme

Writing The Million Dollar Outline And Resonance In Writing With David Farland

Would you like to hear the advice that Stephenie Meyer used to create Twilight, one of the bestselling books of all time? David Farland taught her and today he shares his advice on million dollar stories with you.

In the introduction, I mention Mark Coker’s fantastic post about the realities for indie authors right now, how amazing the STORY conference was and my writing update: Gates of Hell is back with my editor for final edit, and will be out in the new year. Delirium, London Psychic Book 2, is now out in audiobook format. I also mention the fantastic Author Marketing Live online conference, and you can get $50 off if you use the promo code penn.

99designs-logo-750x200pxThis podcast episode is sponsored by 99 Designs, where you can get all kinds of designs for your author business including book covers, merchandising, branding and business cards, illustrations and artwork and much more. You can get a Powerpack upgrade which gives your project more chance of getting noticed by going to:

99 Designs financial support pays for the hosting and transcription, and if you enjoy the show, you can now support my time on Patreon. Thank you!

david farlandDavid Farland is a multi-award winning and NY Times bestselling author of over 50 science fiction and fantasy novels, including the Runelords series, as well as screenwriting and working in the games industry. He also teaches writing workshops and has several fantastic books for authors, Writing the Million Dollar Outline, and Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing.

You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcherwatch here on YouTube or read the notes and links below.

  • How David started writing in the 1980s and won a number of awards early on, as well as writing for many gaming and popular sci-fi properties plus green-lighting for Hollywood screenwriting. He started teaching and his students included Stephenie Meyer, James Dashner and Brandon Sanderson. His rules are that a project has to be fun and he has to be able to make some money at whatever he’s doing.

million dollar outlineWriting the Million Dollar Outline

  • If it is your goal to write a bestselling novel, then you do need to consider certain principles. Write what you love but then figure out how to write for a wider audience than you started with. For example, old and young, male and female. The Harry Potter books clearly appeal to many different age groups.
  • Transport your reader to another time and/or place. Generally speaking, the top 50 books and films of all time do this. We discuss the importance of length in this aspect – despite the recent move to shorter books, the biggest books of all time are doorstop size. You can use novellas over time to create ‘mega-novel’ series though, and a lot of people are using this strategy, particularly in romance.
  • It must score high on the emotional Richter scale. It needs to impact people deeply and be remarkable so you get that word of mouth
  • The word genre is really about emotions e.g. mystery = intrigue, thrillers = adventure, horror, comedy, fantasy & sci-fi = wonder, romance = love. Nostalgia is another powerful emotion.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 1.30.28 pmDrawing on the power of resonance in writing

  • Resonance arouses an expectation that you’re going to like this type of book. Genre conventions are one aspect, cover design another, mentioning other books that people like is another. This is why similar tropes and characters are reused, as they have built in resonance. A good example was the recent Lego movie which was packed with resonance.
  • This is not about plagiarism or re-using other material, but consciously choosing to riff off earlier ideas. David goes through the layers of resonance within Pirates of the Caribbean all the way back over centuries. You still have to be original, but add a twist on the past e.g. Meyer’s sparkly vampires.

Longevity and your career as a fiction writer

  • You have to be a good storyteller and be able to write well. There are a lot of skills you need to learn in order to be successful fiction author and it’s equivalent to getting a doctorate degree.
  • It takes about 7 years to become ‘publishable’ and another 7 years to become a bestselling author. To be one of the best, you have to take that onwards to the next level. [I love this because I’ve been writing fiction for 4 years, so I am halfway through the apprenticeship!] There are people who have some kind of special talent, but most great authors work really hard and practice over years.
  • On paying attention to dreams and writing them down. It’s your sub-conscious talking to you! David talks about his process, thinking about his plot before bed so he can dream about it that night and then write in the morning. Keep a notebook or computer handy at all times!
  • On fun and hard work as a writer. You have to consider your creative muse and not do the projects that don’t bring you alive. Figure out how to stay out of the ruts that the industry will try to put you in.
  • On author name and branding. Dave’s real name, Wolverton, put him on the bottom of shelves in bookstores so when he started writing, he changed to the name David Farland. That is less important in a digital market.
  • Loving the craft is critical for longevity, or why would you bother! You can always learn something new so there is a sense of a career path ahead. Understanding the markets and being aware of what people want is critical.

On self-publishing

  • my story doctorIt’s great to be able to publish in many different ways, and Dave self-publishes his books on writing. But sometimes authors are publishing too early and are slightly delusional in terms of their ability and expectations of income. It’s a great way to publish, but you need to learn the craft and get critical feedback before you can expect success.

You can find David and his books and courses at and You can also get 20% off his courses until Jan 2015 . This is a fantastic promotion, and if you want to learn more in 2015, check David’s courses out here. ** Due to technical difficulties, all workshops are discounted by 25% right now, and no code is needed**

Final Chance To Get My Courses For Authors. 25% Off. Limited Time Offer.

Would you like to learn more about book marketing, becoming a pro writer, writing a novel or writing fight scenes?

Big Sale If you’ve been following my annual author-entrepreneur reports about my income split, you’ll note that I have been reducing my online course sales and ramping up my fiction, effectively swapping income streams over time.

I started out with a business model of education through video courses, but now I focus more on books and sales through other online platforms.

Well, now I’m biting the bullet and pulling down my courses. And it just so happens to coincide with Cyber Monday :)

There’s a law change in the EU which means I will have to do a ton more compliance paperwork if I keep selling direct from 1 Jan 2015, and because my intention was to stop doing these over time, this has just accelerated the change.

So this really is your last chance to get these great courses!

This is not one of those fake sales, it’s actually the end! And you can get 25% off by using the voucher code: PENN when you check out. 

The 25% code is valid until 12 noon UK time 31 Dec. If you purchase, there’s a money back guarantee if you aren’t happy, plus the courses will be available to view online for another 6 months as well as being downloadable so you can keep a copy for yourself. Please email me with any questions: joanna AT

TheCreativePenn_Course Buttons3Secrets of Successful Book Marketing

Learn everything we know about book marketing – produced in video, audio and text material with CJ Lyons, who has sold over 1 million indie books. Goes into everything from branding and author websites, to book covers, pricing and online sales pages, to PR and online marketing, plus launches and lots more.

Was US$149 => Now $111.75. Save $37. Click here for more details.

TheCreativePenn_Course Buttons4Secrets of an Author Entrepreneur

This goes into the detail of how to become a professional author, and tackles managing your creative self and mindset, productivity and managing your business. Produced in video, audio and text material with CJ Lyons, who has sold over 1 million indie books.

Was US$69 => Now $51.75. Save $17.25 Click here for more details.

TheCreativePenn_Course Buttons5How to Write a Novel

From idea to first draft, lessons learned from writing a first novel and from first draft to finished novel. Produced in video, audio and text material with Roz Morris from Nail Your Novel.

Was US$99 => Now $74.25. Save $24.75 Click here for more details.

TheCreativePenn_Course Buttons6How to Write a Fight Scene

Everything you need to write action and combat scenes, with author and martial artist, Alan Baxter. Produced in video, audio and text material.

Was US$20 => Now $15. Save $5. Click here for more details. 

business audiobookBusiness for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur Audiobook with ebook in multiple formats

I will be putting this on Audible *at some point*, but for now, I will be withdrawing the audio from direct sales. It’s 6 hours of me narrating the book plus some little extras when I explain in more detail.

Was $24.99 => Now $18.75  Save $6.25  Click here for more details.

Remember, you get 25% off by using the voucher code: PENN when you check out for any of these products.

Once again, this is a final sale and Dec 31st is a hard end date because of the law change.

If you have any questions about the EU VAT issue, please read this article. If you have any questions about the courses, please email me directly or leave a comment below.

I hope you find the courses useful for your 2015 writing adventure!