Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Priceless Personalities

Leave it to radio personality January Jones to round up ten people who have a legitimate reason to whine but choose not to. In her new book, Priceless Personalities, Jones finds the inspiration behind the tragedy

Readers will meet people like Tawana, a woman born without arms. Tawana shares her story about how JFK came to her rescue and the challenges that she has faced since that time. A guest named Jeannie uses the gift of laughter to help her recover from sexual and mental abuse. And then there's Sydney, also known as the Mayflower Madame, who found a way to move beyond the scandal to become a business coach.

Jones is no stranger to trauma, having become a widow with two young children when she was just 25 years old. Rising above the grief, Jones has authored many books including Thou Shalt Not Whine . . . The Eleventh Commandment

Now a self-proclaimed Humorist and Whine-Ologist, Jones uses a light hearted approach when dealing with guests and listeners who tune in to hear her radio show, January Jones Sharing Success Stories which airs on BlogTalkRadio and

Jones has been named a “Featured Host” on BlogTalkRadio and her show has more than 1.3 million people listeners.

As if writing several novels, hosting a popular radio show, being a mother, a grandmother and a wife isn't enough, Jones is also a reality TV golfer. The show is aired on the World High Stakes Golf televised on HD Net. Check out Jones's chic golf style

If uplifting stories, laughing, golf and fashion aren't your thing, Jones takes a walk on the serious side with several books about the Kennedys. Jones has been interviewed extensively on the subject of the behind-the-scenes relationships of the Kennedy Clan. For an interesting look at what was really going on in Camelot, pick up a copy of Jackie Ari & Jack: The Tragic Love Triangle or Oh, No….Jackie-O! & The Christina: The Oasis Odyssey or read about it on her website

I'm happy to announce advertisements for Yikes! Another Quirky Audio Book will be aired on show during the month of June. The sponsorship is in support of June Audio Book Month. Here's hoping you'll kick off the summer with a great audio book!    

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are Virtual Blog Tours Worth the Money?

Like many authors, I'm constantly searching the web for new opportunities to promote my audio books. I decided to try something called a virtual book tour. I found several companies who offer these tours, most of them at a very low cost.

The first thing I discovered is that it was my responsibility to provide content to the websites that signed up for the tour. This entailed me composing five lengthy blog pieces on subjects not necessarily related to my audio book. In addition, I was required to fill out a Q & A form that had twenty items. Although this was a lot of wok on my part for a service that I was paying for, I do understand the need for blog owners to pick and choose what they put on their websites.

For the sake of comparison, I booked virtual book tours with two different companies. I was treated differently by both groups, but ended up with pretty much the same results. The first company was headed up by a woman who obviously books a lot of tours. I was attracted to her company for this very reason. Sadly, I came to realize that while my audio book was indeed listed on several websites, most of them were just places to “shelve” information. Several of these sites appeared to be run by the same person and didn't even offer contact information or ways to comment on the content. This tour required me to mail 10 copies of my audio book to the owner which would have been alright except that I don't think she shared any of my products with blog reviewers or readers. Adding insult to injury, the owner of the tour company dealt with me in a very impatient manner which bordered on rude.

The second company I tried was run by a wonderful lady who appeared to be genuinely interested in helping me spread the word about my audio books. The websites my information was posted on appeared to be hosted by actual bloggers. Sadly, though, I didn't receive any feedback from anyone even after numerous postings over a one month period.

I never know who will stumble across my content on the web, but I'm fairly certain the virtual book tours did little to help me promote my audio books. My advice to any author who goes this route is to look at the blogs they will be posted on before they book the tour. If the blogs appear to be generic or even run by the same person, it's probably not going to increase your visibility on the web. Bottom line: it's probably better to find blogs that relate to your subject and contact them individually to ask for a review.   

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Should You Turn Your Novel Into An Audio Book?

As the owner of an “indie” recording studio called Straight to Audio Productions, I'm often approached by writers who want to know if they should turn their novels into audio books. The popularity of audio books is on the rise so there is definitely an audience for this form of media. However, there are a couple of things I would encourage writers to consider before heading down this path.

Authors who are working with an agent or publisher should consult with their representatives before making any plans to produce an audio book. For self-published writers or those who don't have a broker, there are a few key matters to deliberate. First, decide who your audience is. This might sound like a silly issue, but the answer will give you a better understanding of how to best proceed. For example, if you have written a short story which may only be of interest to a small group of listeners, you might want to record it yourself. If you believe your story has mass appeal and you're willing to invest some money, you could hire a professional to produce it for you. Chances are, there is a studio in your home town which can help you accomplish this, or you can utilize some of the services available on line.

The good news for do-it-yourselfers is that the cost of producing audio books has dropped dramatically. Like many studios, I use ProTools to edit my productions. ProTools is remarkably user-friendly and offers lots of features to help editors achieve broadcast quality audio. Want to try before you buy? Check out the free editing programs offered by Audacity or Cool Edit Pro

If you're not oriented towards audio editing, there are lots of great companies to do it for you. I highly recommend ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) ACX connects writers with narrators and studios. This is a great place to listen to potential narrators and shop around for the best studio to produce your audio book. Better yet, if your product meets the standards of ACX, you can apply to sell you work as an mp3 download on

Once you have hired the talent to voice your project and a studio to produce it, the next thing is to figure out is how to deliver your audio book to listeners. With Jitters-A Quirky Little Audio Book, I produced it in “wave” format which any cd player will recognize. Jitters was 6.5 hours long which meant it required six cds to accommodate the wave format. The discs were professionally replicated and professionally packaged. The product looked fantastic, but this was an expensive route to take.

When I produced Yikes! Another Quirky Audio Book, I tried a different approach. Once again, I had my product professionally manufactured, but this time I did it in mp3 format which greatly reduced my cost. Yikes! is10.5 hours long which would have required at least ten discs to be available in wave format. I believe many audio book fans are listening on devices like iPods so making Yikes! available as an mp3 seemed to make more sense anyway.

There's never been a better time than the present to turn a novel into an audio book. The cost of producing audio books had gone down while the quality of sound has improved. Through programs like and it's easy to make the finished product available to the public. Better still, both and offer lots of free tutorials to help you increase the size of your audience. The only other piece of advice I can offer is this: enjoy the journey! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

Books and audio books have always played a big role in my life.  Here are a few of the titles I've enjoyed most.

Young Adult Genre
The Great Brain Series by John D. Fitzgerald
These stories offered everything that appealed to me as a child – humor and unique adventures, all beautifully illustrated by Mercer Mayer. I was so intrigued by The Great Brain Series it made me want to visit Utah – now I live here!

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
These stories by C.S. Lewis were delightfully intriguing! The Magician's Nephew was my favorite, although I read each book several times. I was happy when they stated making some of the books into movies.

Favorite Novels
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I was in high school the first time I read this book. I was enamored by the love story between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. I didn't get a chance to see the movie until after I had read the book at least two times.

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
It's hard to select a favorite book written by Robbins. All his work expertly combines humor with a profound and sometimes profane commentary on the human condition. In Jitterbug Perfume, Robbins outlines a delectable recipe for a long and happy life. I liked all the ingredients except for the beets!

Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore
I have thoroughly enjoyed every book released by Moore, but Coyote Blue stood out for me because it was infused with aspects of the Native American culture. Moore has a very unique sense of humor which has me laughing out loud when I read his work.

Business Books
Do You: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success by Russell Simmons.
This book advocates using a spiritual element in the workplace to create an inspired sense of purpose. The cornerstone of my personal business plan involves talking to God and having fun – ideas promoted by Simmons.

The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz.
Schwartz offers a lot of practical ideas for anyone in business. This book covers a combination of good business practices along with advice on how to adjust attitudes to affect a positive outcome.

Audio Books
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Brangelina” can't hold a candle to the love triangle involving Fisher's parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, with Elizabeth Taylor starring as “the other woman.”

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, read by Lynn Redgrave and Ruthie Henshall
This gothic style story featured many interesting characters and unexpected twists. The ending caught me completely off guard. In addition to being a great story, the narration was wonderful!

Spiritual Books
The Four Agreements by Don Miquel Ruiz
Based Toltec beliefs, this book explains how to live a life filled with love and peace. The best part is, I only have to remember four things!

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
The mystery of Taoism is unlocked as Hoff describes this Eastern philosophy in terms of characters from Winnie the Pooh. The book illustrates how the characters from The Hundred Acre Wood represent different personality types. For example, Owl collects knowledge but isn't wise; Eyore sees the glass as half empty or knocked over altogether. Pooh, on the other hand, simply is!