Sunday, February 23, 2014

What's the difference between professional self-publishing digital products and everything else?

Digital products and distributors have a wide gulf between pro and amateur - pick wisely.
(photocredit: Sudden Fiction)

There's a gulf between pro and amateur audiobook distributors - to succeed, you have to prove you're one and not the other.

(Fourth in a series about audiobook publishing.)

A review of iAmplify and OverDrive for audiobook distribution.

While these are both money-making business opportunities for audiobook and other digital product marketing, there is a complete difference in approach.

Amateur productions are fine - and I know of several millionaires who have made their money based on products which you couldn't really get away with putting on Barnes and Noble or any major retailer. I mean there were some serious goofs in there. Over and over.

But people bought them. Made them "overnight" millionaires. And you have to start somewhere.

iAmplify will take whatever you have. Sure, they can ditch it if they want, but when you look at the products up there, you can see the general quality which is acceptable. Mainly, on this site, it's apparent you are going to have to do your own promotion to get your products moving. Not impossible, but it just means more work.

They also have a built-in affiliate system, so you can promote that your fans can get paid for their promoting your work. See their how-to's here - quite involved. There is ample potiential for Search Engine Marketing here, as well as recurring payments, installment plans. This will give you an alternate to having to have a full-blown membership site. Being able to embed their widget ("eCommerce Media Player") to your own site would be a time-saver and conversion-maker. This would be where you distinguish your professional product from the also-rans.

OverDrive has a series of hoops to jump through, so that they only wind up with extremely high-quality, professionals using their network. You have to either have the quality or get it. Audible sets the bar, so does OverDrive.

Look over this excerpt from Overdrive's "guardian page":

  1. Click here to read general publisher terms.
  2. Click here to review posted ‘Guidelines and Criteria’.
  3. If you have not yet applied, complete the Content Reserve Publisher Application to begin the process.
  4. Once your application has been evaluated, you will be sent (via email) a summary of terms, additional instructions, and an email address to which to send sample metadata and unencrypted file(s).
  5. Upon evaluation of your files and final approval of your application, you will receive an email with instructions on electronically signing the Content Reserve Publisher Agreement.
You see the hurdles you have to jump to get in?

I'm not completing my application, because I simply don't have the utterly pro products, especially my brand-new audiobooks (which are still being created.)

What I have is several PLR products which have audio and video pieces which can be submitted. While I'll have to search on iAmplify for each product and change it up as needed, my fall-back is to offer these on Leanpub with packages - and then create bundles with the packages. This doesn't mean I will be just dumping any PLR MP3/MP4 there. Some are pretty raw. Anything you or I put up will reflect on your reputation. OverDrive just shows how much a professional reputation is valued.

The alternative is to push digital products on the various Clickbank-alternative affiliate sites. Nothing wrong with that. Plenty of money in it, actually. Takes knowing Internet Marketing - list building, JV's, all that sort of thing. Not as easy as submitting your ebook to all the distributors and watching their lines do the selling for you - provided your work is any good.

Again, working with iAmplify and Leanpub will get me going. Sure, I've got products up on every ebook distributor out there. All selling nicely - or not. Ebooks are much, much easier to produce than audiobooks. The bar doesn't have to be high - crappy covers, descriptions, and previews will pretty much make sure the poor ones are weeded out. As well, the sheer numbers are against success. Algorithms ensure that the poor ones stay off any "also-bought" list.

Audiobooks haven't reached that tipping point as yet. Your files can be listened to once and get rejected right off. So you have to do these right. 

For the self-publishing author who wants to also self-publish your own audiobook, it means going the podiobook route to get your quality up.

Meanwhile, you have Leanpub and iAmplify to make some income while you ramp up the quality. And get enough volume of product to ensure your status as a publisher so OverDrive will accept you.

Only then do you have a real alternative to the Amazon/Audible/iTunes money throttle.

- - - - 

My new audiobooks? They'll be exclusively on Audible for now. As the royalties for non-exclusive properties is something like half their already intimidating scale. Once I have a series of 5 products and see how they are selling, we'll evaluate it from there.

Meanwhile, I polish my chops and test these other lines with the decent-quality PLR I've uncovered.

Next in this series will be awhile before it shows up. I have to run these tests, you see. But stay tuned, subscribe to this feed. I'll keep you updated if you do...
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