A lot of authors have to balance their work and personal life with their writing. But what if you’re an author and an audiobook narrator? How do you manage your schedule and find the time to get both done efficiently?
In this episode of Self Publishing Insiders, Draft2Digital’s Mark Leslie Lefebvre will interview Canadian author and audiobook narrator Scott Overton. In their conversation they’ll explore the balance needed, as well as Scott’s own history as a writer, a retired radio DJ and a science fiction author. As the host of a radio morning show for most of his 30+ years in broadcasting, Scott Overton entertained and informed thousands of groggy people as they faced each new day. He brings those same skills and perspectives to his writing, which includes science fiction and fantasy, mainstream and thriller fiction, and even a children’s book. Learn more about Scott at https://www.scottoverton.ca
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Mark Lefebvre, Scott Overton
Mark Lefebvre 00:00
Welcome to Self-Publishing Insiders. This is an opportunity for us to talk live with you, and to bring in some special guests that we can talk to, we talk to people from the industry. And today I’m so excited to have in the studio with me Scott Overton. Scott is a Canadian author. He’s also a narrator, a retired DJ personality. And we’re going to talk about all of those things. And I forgot to introduce myself. Of course, I am your host today, Mark Leslie Lefebvre. So, Scott, welcome to Self-Publishing Insiders.
Scott Overton 00:33
Well, thank you, Mark, it’s always good to talk to you. And we’ve known each other for years. But I also want to thank Draft2Digital for doing this, because I’ve worked with Draft2Digital from the first time that I self-published anything, so it’s been a few years now. They really are a great service. And you know, that’s not just sucking up they, they cover all the bases and get everywhere. And I find very few glitches, I can’t remember any glitches that I’ve had with them, which is rare in this business.
Mark Lefebvre 01:01
Well, thank you so much. I really do appreciate that. So one of the things I wanted to talk to you a little bit about is your work as an audiobook narrator. And for writers in the audience, I want to focus on what the perspective is like from your side of things, in terms of being an audiobook narrator. So the first thing I want to ask is, specifically, why did you get into audiobook narration? Did you perhaps have a background in some sort of voice career or something?
Scott Overton 01:31
Well, I was a radio personality for more than 30 years, probably 35 years plus, most of that time as a morning radio personality, and primarily in Sudbury, Ontario, which you’re kind of familiar with, actually. But so I was doing that. And then when I got out of that business, I thought what can I do as a freelancer? I want to make a writing career. No question about that. But on the side, you know, what can bring in some money? And freelance voice work was a natural thing to turn to, of course, as an author and a lover of books, what’s more perfect than audiobooks?
Mark Lefebvre 02:11
Okay, cool. So was that, I mean, you had been an author prior to that, and I know we’re gonna get into specific author things. But at what point was this something that you thought, this is a feasible thing for me to do?
Scott Overton 02:25
Well, I mean, I did record an audiobook version of my very first novel, which is called Dead Air. And it’s a novel set in a fictionalized radio industry in Sudbury. And I actually recorded it, I was given permission to record it in our on-air booth at the radio station.
Mark Lefebvre 02:42
Oh, you were working at the radio station? Okay, because this was done with a traditional publisher. That’s cool.
Scott Overton 02:51
A regional publisher. And I was given permission to do that for making the audiobook. So I was able to do that ahead of time. So it wasn’t like I hadn’t done it before. I just had to set up a home studio to do it once I wasn’t in the business anymore, which requires a very small space, because you want to keep it soundproof as much as you possibly can. And then from there, you just kind of need, you know, a workstation setup, which doesn’t have to be on the scale of a radio station or anything like that. I have a, I work on Mac laptops, and I have equipment set up to that. I’ve got, as a matter of fact, in my home studio, I have an Electro-Voice microphone that is exactly what I worked with when I was on the air. Because I’m comfortable with it. I love that mic. And so I bought one for myself, an ER20 I think it is. It’s very quiet, so I needed to have a USB interface to go with it to interface with the computer, and then also boost it with a preamp, which I do. So those are the kinds of things that you can do. But you don’t need much more than that to actually be set up for audiobook recording or any other voice recording for that matter. Good internet connection and software to work with. But there is a software program called Audacity, which is free. It has a lot of great plugins. So you can do that. Or you can buy one of the many other good workplace software for that if you like.
Mark Lefebvre 04:22
Wow. So tell me a little bit more about the mic and roughly the cost. So for example, a mic that I’m having here, and this is for any listeners not watching the video, it is Blue Yeti, which is USB based mic, and that was, I think I managed to get it for $150 or so. So the Electro-Voice sounds like it’s a more expensive mic and then you had to get the amp and the …
Scott Overton 04:46
It is. I mean, that mic in particular, I can’t remember. I bought it a few years ago, I think it’s in the neighborhood of $300, give or take. And then you buy the interface which could be $150 to $200, a preamp in that same range. And, but still, you know, that’s not a huge, huge investment. It costs more money sometimes to get on some of the audio platforms to get your work out there, some of the marketplaces online. I’m not all that impressed with most of them, I don’t tend to find a lot of work from most of those online voice platforms. However, Findaway Voices has sent me work, I’ve done a number of books for them. I’ve done books for you, we know each other, but you also connected through Findaway Voices.
Mark Lefebvre 05:37
Yeah, that is true. So just back to the home studio, briefly. So you’ve got it set up. Is it a certain room that’s dedicated to this? Is that a corner? Is it like, some people even use a closet? Like, how do you have that set up?
Scott Overton 05:50
Mine is basically the size of a closet. I built it with this in mind. But I built it the size of a closet. It doesn’t really need to be bigger than that, although you got to watch that it doesn’t get too hot while you’re recording, especially with all that hot air right? And some people do use a corner of a room, if you’ve got a quiet enough space, that’s fine. But it is important to have a really good quiet space. You don’t realize the noises that go by on the street, you know? Car traffic noises, or maybe a loud furnace that you got in the house, or the neighbor’s barking dog, or whatever it might be. Those you cannot have in an audiobook. Or a podcast, a lot of the same things would go for podcasts. People may tend to be a little bit less stringent when it comes to podcasts. But that depends on personal tastes. You really have to eliminate all of these background noises that you possibly can. They can be eliminated to a degree in software post-processing. But anything you do in post-processing degrades the quality of the sound a little bit. So if you do a number of different processes, it will degrade it to a noticeable amount.
Mark Lefebvre 07:04
Oh, cool. So yeah, and that is something that you don’t realize until you’re doing the professional quality, because that’s what’s happening, right? You’re being hired as a professional. Now, what are some of the things, because again, I want authors to understand. From your perspective, when you get a project … So for example, when I’ve handed you a manuscript, or we’ve agreed, I think we did the first one, we did it through Findaway Voices, and then afterwards thought well, we know each other, I’m just gonna pay you directly. I think that’s how we did the second one, right? What are some of the things to consider when you receive a manuscript? What’s kind of the first thing that you do once you’ve, well, maybe even before you take the job, to decide what you’re going to take?
Scott Overton 07:44
Well, that’s a good question too, because you know, you want to read over the manuscript and decide whether it’s something that you want to record or not. Even in the Findaway Voices profile, there’s a question that says, “Will you perform or narrate erotic content,” things like that, you want to be sure your decisions on that and work with an author that you feel you can work with. So first of all, it has to be a manuscript that you want to be able to record. And you want to believe that they’re going to pay you. It’s good to work with an organization, you know, Findaway will make sure that you will get paid. Other organizations as well. But working individually, one on one, you do want to make sure that you’re going to get paid. So then you consider, how does the author want this book to be read? What kind of narration do they want? In the case of your Canadian Werewolf in New York series, it’s a noir-ish kind of feel, and a first-person narrator. So those mean a certain kind of thing, which lends itself actually well to my voice, which is a little bit gruff. And so it works well. That’s another consideration. Is it the kind of delivery that you feel you can do for a whole eight hour long book, because that’s a good full length, typical commercial novel length. Or, you know, many of the ones I’ve done for Findaway have been nonfiction. And if it’s a topic that you don’t agree with, you probably don’t want to have your name attached to it as a narrator. But if it’s something that you feel is good, it’s well-done, high-quality, go ahead, and then you just negotiate. But we have talked before about some of the steps that a narrator has to take. You have to look up the punctuation, or how you pronounce everything. The pronunciation is more what I’m trying to get at, of names of places, of strange words, words that aren’t used that often or that you’re not familiar with, and not entirely sure about their pronunciation. You owe it to the author and your audience and your own reputation to look up all those pronunciations. Thank God for YouTube. And I don’t mean the pronouncer ones, because the pronunciations are often wrong on some of those. “Here’s how you pronounce this word,” right? They’re often just terrible. But you can find videos that might be about a particular place. Or they might mention a historical figure or a real-life figure who figures into the book. And even, you know, one of yours set in New York, I had to look up the pronunciations of some of the place names just to be sure that they were right.
Mark Lefebvre 10:26
Right. It’s not the BrookLYN Bridge. Right?
Scott Overton 10:29
Yeah, I mean, that one I’d be pretty sure. But there are a few others that you just don’t know what the emphasis is. And especially when it’s local. I mean, in fact, there was one. And there was one character where he’s talking about the Roosevelt Hotel. Well, some people say Roosevelt, and some people say, Roosevelt. And I thought, is this character somebody who would say Roosevelt? No, I’ll go with Roosevelt.
Mark Lefebvre 10:52
Oh, yeah, that’s true. Yeah. And so you have to know the character too, to know how they might want to, they might by default, or where are they from? How would they pronounce it?
Scott Overton 11:01
Yeah, in some cases. And particularly, you know, certain Midwest towns pronounce things in a certain way. Or they may pronounce their town in a way that everybody else in the country thinks, what? What did you say? So you need to get those right. Another one that you have to get right is the character voices if you’re doing fiction. You got all these different characters, some of them are gonna be an opposite gender to you. They are maybe different nationalities, you have to think about the accent. Some of them might be described as having a rough voice. So I guess really the first thing you do is read through the whole book. Read through the whole thing, to get the feeling for the tone of it, the sense of the characters, and you don’t want to find out halfway through that this character is described as having a deep gruff voice. And you’ve been having him like this, you know, with fairly high, whatever, having a foppish sound to him or whatever and really wrong. So you got to figure out all that stuff ahead of time. I suggest then recording some samples of those character voices and sending them to the author and saying, do you like these? What do you suggest? Would you like it different?
Mark Lefebvre 12:15
And you’ve done that for me as well, I remember you sent them and it was like, well, I’m not sure about this one character, what do you think? And so I get to listen to it. And so there is obviously some back and forth with the author that you just want to say, hey, here’s how I’ve done this, or here’s how I’ve pronounced, this is how a local person from Toronto who says Toronta, right, that kind of thing, as opposed to someone from anywhere else in the world. I guess those are some of those elements that you sort of not negotiate, but you have a back and forth to make sure the author’s cool with that?
Scott Overton 12:45
It’s a relationship really, if you want to do a good job for both you and your reputation, your author, and the book, so people won’t complain about it. Because I’ve read reviews of books where they trash the narrator. And I listened to it, and I thought, yep, they’re right. Too bad. That book deserved a better narration. But you know, if you work all these things out, you’re going to be closer to getting a quality product. You’re going to do the best you can anyway.
Mark Lefebvre 13:16
Okay, cool. And then I guess the other thing, you’d mentioned you worked on some projects that were sent to you from places like Findaway, or was it Scribd was one of the other ones as well?
Scott Overton 13:29
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, well, actually, that was through Findaway too, but when Scribd was going in a big way for a lot of samples, they did these almost I call them Reader’s Digest condensed versions of books that people could listen to. And I did a whole bunch of those. One of those being set, you know, in the Bataan Death March. So would involve real people that some people, none of them were probably alive still, but, you know, relatives would be alive, you know, had to find out how they, their names were pronounced, and all these different place names in the story, which was tough. It took me hours, actually, for something that ended up being about a 20-minute narration.
Mark Lefebvre 14:12
Wow. And I want to get to that. So, you know, an audiobook, some of my audiobooks are anywhere between eight and 10 hours, right? It’s usually about 10,000 words per hour, but that’s finished hour. That’s not Scott Overton in chair, doing the work. So what’s that kind of work entail? Like when you start off. And then I’d like to kind of walk through that process a little bit so authors can really understand, it’s not just guy in front of microphone, just read stuff. And then that’s it. That’s it, right?
Scott Overton 14:40
No, well, I mean, when there’s a big studio involved, or you know, big operations involved, they have somebody who will be an engineer and operate the recording equipment, while the narrator just sits in a booth and does the narration, and that’s all they really do. The operator or their engineer would say, okay, that kind of sounded fluffed a bit, do that line over for me again, or whatever. Or you got, you missed that word, let’s do it over. Once it’s all done, they might find things that they want to redo. And the engineer would be the one to actually do that editing and put these pieces back in there. But if you’re doing it as your own self. as a one-person operation, the narration part of it is probably the easiest part, the most straightforward part. Once you’ve got your equipment set up, and all these other things worked out, then you read it, and you fluff something. There are kind of two ways to do it. You can either stop and cut that back together later, cut out the error and just start over again at the beginning of that sentence where you made the mistake. Or you can stop right then and kind of back it up a little bit. And most workstation software has what they call punch and roll. And you can just kind of move it along and save some editing later. But then you got to do the cleanup. If you’ve been making any mouth noises, or you’ve got noises in the background, I’ve actually had the occasional time where I’ll hear it and a plane has gone overhead. I didn’t hear it at the time.
Mark Lefebvre 16:17
Wow, because it was so sensitive, right?
Scott Overton 16:19
It’s just your brain doesn’t pick it up while you’re reading it. You don’t think anything of it, it would be the same as a car going by on the street, a loud truck or something. But you’re listening back, you’re going what is that drone? And you try to think, is there any way I can fix that? No, I actually have to re-record that part and then splice it in. Those kinds of things generally take anywhere from three to four times as long as the actual narration, people will say. And there are lots of different things you can do in software to eliminate some noise reduction, or eliminate some of the mouse clicks. But again, anytime you’re processing that, you’re degrading the sound quality a little bit. So the ideal thing is to get the cleanest possible narration to start with, so you don’t have to do that much processing afterward, and it also saves time.
Mark Lefebvre 17:14
Wow, that’s amazing. So a 10-hour audio book is really a full week, and I’m talking a full 40-hour workweek, at least, of work. And probably more.
Scott Overton 17:25
Yeah, I would say for most people that are doing it all themselves. If you’re not going into a studio and recording it for somebody, but if you’re doing the editing and processing and uploading and everything like that, I would say that’s probably a fairly good ratio to work with. So that’s why they charge per finished hour. Or in some cases, you know, Findaway Voices has not wanted a finished hour. They want a fairly raw recording so that they can do the processing themselves. But that’s something you work out ahead of time in your contract.
Mark Lefebvre 18:00
Oh, that’s kind of interesting. I didn’t realize that there were the alternate types of contracts, where you’re hired for your voice talent. And someone else will be the producer or the engineer or whoever … What are those roles called, do we know? You must know.
Scott Overton 18:14
Sound engineers generally. They might call themselves producers. Yeah.
Mark Lefebvre 18:20
Is there, your experience in radio and broadcast for decades, 30 years, right? I know you had a mic you loved to work with. So that’s what you bought, like, “Hey, I’m comfortable. I’ve spoken into this kind of mic for years. I love it. I know how it works.” It’s kind of like you understand it, right? It’s a partner of yours. It’s like your sword. Right?
Scott Overton 18:43
It’s like that picture that you posted for this particular event? The microphone that I’m pictured with, I think, in there is the same one. Yeah.
Mark Lefebvre 18:52
Oh, that’s the same one. Okay. So, but were there things that you learned in the studio, because you were and again, you were doing the live broadcasting, which is a little bit, obviously a lot, a lot a bit different. But were there things that you picked up on the radio that were just natural to that maybe you think somebody coming into narration wouldn’t know?
Scott Overton 19:11
Well, I think that what it is, is just being able to use your voice as a tool to get the flexibility and being able to get across the sounds that you want. In live radio, you want to sound friendly, you know, I was a morning man. So you want to sound friendly to the people who are waking up every morning. You don’t want to hear somebody who sounds grumpy or stiff or whatever. So you have to get that, you have to learn how to get that smile in your voice when you’re recording. And if you’re sounding sad or you’re trying to sound a dramatic news read kind of thing. Depending on what it is, your voice is a tool. So that’s where the experience of being a broadcaster comes in. Lots and lots of experience, day after day, talking about subjects of everything under the sun. and you don’t talk about a plane crash in the same way you talk about somebody’s birthday party, you know, um, they’re great differences in the kind of tone that you want to get across for different things. And using your tool to express emotions. Or again, make these you know, character voices. All those things, you have to develop with your voice. And so practice helps a lot.
Mark Lefebvre 20:27
Wow, cool. So now I want to pick up that other aspect of your life as a creative person. So you do voice narration professionally, for … You’ve done it for your own projects. You’ve done it for myself and other authors, you’ve done it for companies, entities out there looking for professional narrators. But you’re also a writer, you’re primarily a science fiction writer. And I’m curious about, so how does Scott Overton balance the two different competing work projects that he has on the go? Because you are still producing novels and writing regularly.
Scott Overton 21:04
Yeah, well, I mean, you do have to prioritize things, and paid work has to take priority. And after the paid work, I tend to try to make my writing a priority. But recently, publishing has been taking all the time, I haven’t been able to write very much. People sort of say, has COVID been good for you for writing? And, for me, it hasn’t worked out that way. Although it hasn’t affected my life all that much, it hasn’t really been the bonus for writing. I have spent a lot of the time on the publishing end of it, as you as an author know too, Mark. You want to work with a professional editor, you work with a professional cover artist, so that when your book comes out, you want it to be as good as anything that’s on those shelves anywhere. And so there’s a lot to that. And if you end up publishing yourself as well, that’s a whole other skill set, and takes a great deal of time publishing and marketing. So balancing all of that, I don’t say I’ve got a handle on that by any means. But paid work will come first. And then from there, it’s well, what needs to be done? If I need to get something done for publishing this next book, as I have a new one just launched yesterday. Or if we’re into some marketing thing that’s time sensitive, that’s got to happen. Or do I finally get a chance to sit down at my latest work in progress and write it? That’s the way it goes.
Mark Lefebvre 22:37
So I do know, I mean, I know you have had works traditionally published with a regional publisher, as well as stories, as well as then experimenting when you get the rights back on some of those pieces you’ve self-published. So what was that journey like, in terms of your writing career? So when, you know, the first novel came out, you got a publisher for it? What was it? Did you have an agent? Or how did how does that whole process work?
Scott Overton 23:04
Well, the first book was published by a regional publisher in my home area, so it was a natural thing, he specialized in books about and set in and by northern people. I mean, in northern areas, whatever it was, being in Northern Ontario, in particular. So that was a good fit. And I didn’t need an agent for that. But we had a good working relationship, he didn’t have to do that much editing. There was some back and forth, where he would send me, you know, edited versions, and I would approve, or disapprove or change things the way he wanted them. There’s always some of that. I did, at one point, have an agent that was well positioned, but didn’t find a deal for me. And that was some years ago. So I mean, authors tend to feel if you get an agent, which you really have to do, if you want to get a big publishing contract with one of the big five publishers, or their imprints, you know, you’ve hit the jackpot. Once you get an agent, you’re there. And that’s unfortunately not true. And it’s also very, very hard to get an agent, it’s extremely difficult. And when you do, it’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to find a deal. The publishing industry, as you well know, Mark, is in flux right now. It’s just a crazy business. And I don’t know how it’s all gonna fall out. But it’s a tough thing to try to get a big publishing contract. And agents aren’t necessarily the answer. I still would like an agent, no question about it. Because I would like to be able to be traditionally published for various reasons, and do other publishing on my own, what they often call hybrid. Nowadays, authors do both.
Mark Lefebvre 24:53
And so you did mention yesterday, I guess February 2, 2022. You just released, indie published one of your latest novels. Can you tell us a little bit about the latest novel? First, what’s it called? And I really want you to share the logline for listeners.
Scott Overton 25:11
Actually, just give me a second.
Mark Lefebvre 25:14
Yeah hold up a copy of the book. I’ve been thinking that anyone only listening.
Scott Overton 25:20
Yeah, the cover is not going to be as bright and light as it really shows up to you. But if I can get it right, there we go. The Dispossession of Dylan Knox. Man, I don’t hold these up to cameras very often.
Mark Lefebvre 25:34
That’s okay. It’s kind of like that weird mirror image thing. That’s confusing. Yes. Gorgeous colors. Yeah, so it’s the same thriller, right?
Scott Overton 25:42
Three people in behind, it’s a kind of a hard, a difficult concept in a way to describe, about a woman who encounters her former high school sweetheart. She bumps into him at a work thing, and he doesn’t remember her. He acts like someone else. And she wonders whether he is maybe an imposter who means harm to her boss. She works for the Secretary General of the United Nations. Or is he perhaps a saboteur, because he works in a space energy project. And so she spends time with him. And he acts like a different person almost every time she turns around. There are like three different personalities in here. And there’s a whole lot that goes from there. But yeah. The name is a bit of a play on words, because possession, we think of evil spirits possessing someone, taking control of them. Dispossession, when something or someone gets bumped right out of where they belong, and replaced, taken over.
Mark Lefebvre 26:48
So it’s a science fiction, a techno thriller, science fiction thriller, basically. But your logline speaks to something different. And I want to analyze that just to get into the mechanics of it to help writers understand this.
Scott Overton 27:02
Well, first off, I write science fiction, and the science fiction that I love to read and write is theme-based. It’s not just one darn thing after another. I like to have real themes that I explore. So the theme of this one really is, who and why do we fall in love? Who do we fall in love with? Is it the person we see? Or is it who’s inside them? Who they are inside? Can that inside person, that inner person, make it so that what they look like doesn’t matter at all? And so here we have that question, where the main character in The Dispossession of Dylan Knox, struggles with love in this particular case, where what she sees on the surface, Dylan Knox, her old high school flame, is not who’s really there. And so that’s how I wanted to explore it. It’s a good theme for ahead of Valentine’s Day, I guess, right?
Mark Lefebvre 28:00
There you go. And that’s something people can really understand. Because it’s sort of a universal question, right?
Scott Overton 28:05
Yeah, it is, how much does love depend on the surface, surface beauty and attractiveness, or is the attraction deeper than that? And I personally believe it is. Much deeper than that. Love anyway. We can be attracted to what we see on the surface. But love, I think, takes more than that.
Mark Lefebvre 28:23
Yeah, it takes something deeper, something underlying. So I guess the question I have, so you know, science fiction writer, and we’re going to get into how you’ve sold some books in person. But when somebody approaches that, and they are like, oh, I don’t read science fiction. Because maybe they’re thinking Star Trek or Star Wars, or any of the typical media science fiction, how is it that you kind of explain your brand of science fiction to them? Because they may just go, ooh, I don’t read science fiction.
Scott Overton 28:54
I get that all the time. “Well, I don’t like science fiction.” Well, you’re absolutely right. I think when they think science fiction, they may think Star Wars, which, that’s a whole other question. But they almost certainly are thinking of TV and movie science fiction, like the movie Alien, or whatever it might be, Lost in Space, spaceships and space battles. And that’s not what I write. I almost exclusively write present day or near-future stories that involve real people, as real as I can describe them. Strong themes. And this particular book is set in the present day, although there’s a time element to it. But it is set in the present day. There’s not a lot when it comes to technology or exotic science, or anything hard to understand in it at all. I mean, it’s not like it’s trying to make your brain work hard. If there’s an interesting concept in there, great, because that’s fun. But science fiction doesn’t have to be all those strange things. Or too freaky or weird. I mean, the last novel that I brought out was about an alien infiltrating a person’s body and the two, the human and the alien had to come to an agreement and communicate, learn how to communicate and work together. That was a book called Naida. And Naida was the alien entity. It’s a strange concept. But if you read the book, it was not that weird or hard to believe, as you read it. So we try to get a concept that might be a little bit odd. But it helps you to explore these themes in a way that reflect our own society, which I think the best science fiction does.
Mark Lefebvre 30:39
That’s cool. I love that. Because yeah, even in Naida, you have the, okay, we’re sharing this body. Now, these two minds are sharing this body, how are we going to get along? Or not? Like, that’s some of the questions, right? Which is kind of, think about it, during the pandemic, it’s okay, we got to live in this space together during lockdown, or whatever. How are we going to get along? Kind of universal, I think.
Scott Overton 31:01
Yeah, I think so too. And certainly the question of who we love and why we love them is always, you know, it may be one of the most universal questions ever. So when you get a way to present it, people ask why I write science fiction, because I really can’t think of new ways of telling stories that don’t use some kind of science fiction premise. Another story about families and their trials and tribulations or, you know, society as it is now that we see, I just don’t come up with those ideas. What I come up with is some science fiction concept that I go, hmm. I can use that concept and explore who we love, and why we fall in love, and that’ll work. So that’s kind of the way I go.
Mark Lefebvre 31:45
I love that. I love that. Now, speaking of universal concepts, and universal questions, one of the questions all authors have is marketing. How do I do marketing? Now I know when we finish this live broadcast, you are going to go and record for a local television station, you’re actually going to be interviewed. It won’t be a live interview, but it’s going to be probably aired tonight on CTV, which is a national television station.
Scott Overton 32:11
So yeah, I’m not sure when it’ll be aired. But usually, I think they do day-of.
Mark Lefebvre 32:15
Same day. So how did how did you score that? Because, you know, authors, hey, I get to be on TV. How did that happen?
Scott Overton 32:23
Well, there are a couple of parts to that question. For one thing, if you’ve got any kind of in at all, it helps a lot. And I’ve been fortunate enough that as a broadcaster, former broadcaster in this town, I can, you know, I know a lot of the people that are in the media. And if I don’t know them, they probably do know me, or they at least respect the name, you know, because they’ve heard it. So that helps. But I mean, first of all, you got to figure out who the contact people are in the media that you need to reach out to, and send them a news release. And the news release has to go, you know, something like, for immediate release. And this a great headline. You can think of it in terms of a blog post or a social media post, it’s not exactly the same animal, because they’re not looking for exactly same things. But some of the things are in common, like a good strong hook, a good strong headline. And then your text describing what is the story about from their perspective, a new local author with a new book, or maybe a new way of looking at love in time for Valentine’s Day. And you describe a little bit of the plot of the book or whatever and then your credentials and other links that they will need to fill out the rest of their article, if they’re writing an article for one of the press. Or in the case of an interview with TV or something, you’ve got to make yourself available. But give them enough so that they know their viewers or readers are going to be interested in that subject. If you can’t convince the media person that talking to you, writing about what you’ve got, is going to be interesting to their readers, it’s not going to serve their readership and thereby you’re not going to get a call back.
Mark Lefebvre 34:11
Okay, so basically it’s not, “Hey, Scott has a new book” is not an interesting news story. But “This new book by a local author asks the question, ‘Who do we love? The person on the outside, or how a person looks or who they are inside?'” Like that sort of thing? Suddenly you’re like, okay, that’s a little bit more approachable than oh, Scott wrote a book. Great. So?
Scott Overton 34:36
You know, why do I care that you wrote a book? Well, it often helps if you’re in a certain area and your local, then you will be news to the local media. And they like that. They’re looking for content. But yes, if you can find a hook of some kind. Many people will say, you know, look in the news and look at what special days are coming up, Valentine’s Day or any other holiday. Is there a way you can tie what you’re talking about into one of those things or something that’s recently been happening in the news? And legitimately tie into it? It can’t be way out there with a very tenuous connection.
Mark Lefebvre 35:14
Well, I mean, yeah, I wrote in a cafe and JK Rowling wrote in a cafe, so for the anniversary of Harry Potter, you should talk to me.
Scott Overton 35:22
Well, that’s maybe not gonna work all that well. If you have a personal connection with anybody in the media in any way, you’ve met them someplace, or, you know, you’ve researched them and you found out they like riding horseback. I don’t know, whatever it is, any kind of in will help, right? If you can directly contact someone in the media that you think is the person you want to get out, get this information out, most of the media addresses will be editor, or, you know, send release here or whatever. If you can find some more personal name to attach to that, it’s better too.
Mark Lefebvre 36:01
Okay, now, you talked about personal connections, and I know you’ve had some success selling your book, not necessarily, although you have done local bookstore events, but other events where you can sell the books. Can you talk a little bit about that, and what your experience has been like?
Scott Overton 36:17
Well, you know, it’s interesting, we think nowadays that everything is online. And all of our books have to go from Amazon or all of these other, Apple or Google Play or whatever. And that’s where we’re going to sell. If we don’t, we’re not going to do any good. But you can sell admittedly small numbers of books in person at things like markets, farmer’s markets, indoor and outdoor markets. And I have done that over the past year, especially. Going out once a week, spending few hours at this market at a table with a fellow writer. And we draw people over to the table and say, hi, you know, we’re local authors. And these are books that we’ve written, and some of them are actually set here, or partially set here. And I feel like a hawker sometimes, you know, hawking my wares, it is kind of like that. And they do appreciate once they realize, hey, wait, you’re a local author, you’re not just selling anybody’s books here, you’re a local. I’m going to come over and have a look. And they will. And then you can talk about it and talk their ear off. And then if they’re interested, if they’re a reader, they’ll look a book over and you can say, and you know, we can autograph it. Or if you’re giving it to somebody, we can personalize it for them. You know, hey, here’s to Aunt Martha and hope you enjoy this blah, blah, blah, from Scott Overton. They really like that. And especially if something like Christmas is coming up, or they’ve got a birthday coming up for somebody. I know my last book, I had one guy, a friend of ours, but he really enjoyed the book. And he bought copies for all the members of his family, like almost half a dozen copies for giving as presents.
Mark Lefebvre 37:57
And there is a personal connection. Because how often does the average reader get a chance to talk to a live author? Right? It’s kind of a fun experience, too, isn’t it?
Scott Overton 38:07
I think so. I think they enjoy, if they’re a reader, they can talk for a long time about books, because it’s a love that we share. If they are, in my case, a particular science fiction reader, we can talk about other science fiction authors that we both love and books that we both love. And if they see, you know, those four or five books that you’ve got, they’re sitting out there and they go, wow, you actually wrote all those books. It’s impressive. And you can develop a really, really good relationship. And of course, if you’re good with people, and are friendly and nice, and you don’t waste their time and everything, it’s a relationship like no other. And it’s the best relationship you can get as an author/reader kind of connection. So I urge people to do that. You don’t get large numbers, maybe you know, 20 books that you sell in a day or something. It’s not a huge number, but that’s pretty good. That’s generally considered pretty good. Even if you do a book signing, a book launch in person, to do 20, 25 books is probably pretty good.
Mark Lefebvre 39:11
Yeah, it actually is, from my experience working in bookstores for years. Really successful book signings—I mean, not Brandon Sanderson style or a Stephen King style books, but still, for the average author like us, right? The other thing I would argue is that if somebody buys the book on what, we’re in Canada, so maybe Kobo is the default, but Americans listening might say, on their Kindle or on their iPad or whatever, when they buy an ebook, and it goes into their ebook reader or their Nook, whatever. It’s on the reader and it’s there. You can read it, which is phenomenal. But your book, when they buy a print book, is a billboard, a walking advertisement. Because it’s on someone’s shelf. It’s on someone’s coffee table. It can be loaned to a friend and that’s kind of word-of-mouth advertising.
Scott Overton 39:57
Yes, it is. And there are two things that you’re reminding me of. One is that I buy all kinds of books and read on a Kobo, I buy all kinds of ebooks, they sit there, and I may forget about them. Because I’m buying so many. a print book sits there reminding you to read it, first of all, so it will most likely get read. If it’s autographed, it makes it something special to that person. So whether it’s a gift from someone else, or one that they got, and they talked to you, and you autographed it, it makes it special. They’re more likely to read it, probably more likely to like it, more likely to talk about it to friends, and other, you know, book lovers that they know. Who knows what their circle is? Maybe they’ve got all kinds of people, or maybe they’re in a book club. And they may lend it to people very well. And some people may say, oh, then you’re encouraging them to lend it to people, you’re not making a sale. You know, sales are great, but readers are better. To me, it’s more important to have people read my books than to sell a book to somebody who may never read it. I don’t care about selling books to people that may never read it. Honestly, I want a reader. And if they say I love this book, I’m going to give it to my sister, and she can read it, I’m going to give it to my uncle and he can read it, I say more power to you. Go ahead and do that. I just want to have readers. I’m glad you loved it, you know, go ahead and do that. And if they want to buy one of my other books, because they become a fan that way, hey, that works to too.
Mark Lefebvre 41:33
I love that attitude. That’s a very open attitude about, again, the importance of the actual reader that is actually going to connect with that book. That’s phenomenal. So thank you for that. I do want to remind listeners that Draft2Digital does have a print program. It’s in beta right now. So if you have an account, go to the print tab and click that little button that says “please add me to the print waitlist.” Just last week, we added 500 more authors to the beta and we’re adding hundreds of new authors to the print beta.
Scott Overton 41:59
Yeah, I’ve got to check that out. I mean, currently, I’ve been using other methods for print, although I’ve used Draft2Digital for digital things forever. And also Books2Read, which we didn’t mention yet. But for anybody who’s familiar with Draft2Digital, that’s fine. They know Books2Read with their universal book links are the same company and linked. But if you didn’t know that, the universal book links are fantastic. This week, when I was launching my new book, the Dispossession of Dylan Knox, I used that, yes, that universal book link on everything. Every Facebook post, every blog post, my press release.
Mark Lefebvre 42:39
So just for anyone listening, not watching. So you have books2read.com, which has links to all the all the platforms that it’s available on. But then you’ve custom named it to /dispossession, nice and easy for people to type in.
Scott Overton 42:55
That’s right, yeah, I mean, the one that they generate automatically has all kinds of different numbers and figures in it to start with, that’s the default. But they do give you the option of customizing it. And so if you have a name that you want for it, my author UBL is Scott Overton. If it’s available, then you can get that and customize. It’s much easier. This one’s dispossession. My last book is books2read.com/naida. You know, those things make it so much easier for readers to get to your book. So it’s really, really great tool and hats off to Draft2Digital.
Mark Lefebvre 43:30
Thanks for that, Scott. So, some comments I wanted to pop up really quickly, because we’re getting close to running out of time. We’re having so much fun I’m losing track of time. But Tom says, I’m gonna pop this up, says, “I’m with you, Scott. I’m doing a series of alternative history sci fi set in the first decade of the 1800s. More of the story is about people rather than the technology.”
Scott Overton 43:53
Yeah, isn’t that true? I mean, I learned at one point that every story is about character. You can have the greatest concept, you can have this most exciting snap minute by minute plot with action galore. If you don’t have characters that people care about when they read, it’s not going to be a good book, they’re not really going to enjoy it. They’re not going to remember it. It’s all about the characters. And you and I have talked about Robert J. Sawyer, who’s Canada’s number one science fiction writer, and one of his novels, Rollback, is about one of a couple being able to be rejuvenated and the other one it doesn’t work for. And you know, it’s such a human story that you got to love it. There’s not much technology in that.
Mark Lefebvre 44:42
Right, that’s true. Yeah, it is a beautiful love story. Awesome. And one more comment, our last comment, is coming up from Kit. “Pet peeve. Wide volume range, narrators shouting. Hurts my ears.”
Scott Overton 44:56
Wow. Well, I mean, if an audiobook is produced by a professional person or produced by a company like Findaway Voices, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Because they set it within a certain range. Like even Audible and ACX, their self-publishing audio arm, Audible books have a certain requirement of a volume range that they’re supposed to meet. And they’re not supposed to go beyond that. So they’re not supposed to be able to hurt your ears. I’m not sure where those books are coming from.
Mark Lefebvre 45:26
Maybe it’s coming from podcasts, right? Scott, I want to thank you so much for hanging out with me today, talking about audiobook narration, talking about writing science fiction, doing different book marketing. I guess we can let people know where they can find out more about you.
Scott Overton 45:44
Absolutely, yes. I do have a Scott Overton author Facebook page, so you can find me there. Yeah, we’re going to be doing a book launch event coming up on Friday that will be streamed on YouTube. I do have a small YouTube channel, if you search Scott Overton. There are a number of others on YouTube, but my channel you’ll be able to find with my picture and on Goodreads and lots of different places. Maybe we can put some of those links in the in the notes.
Mark Lefebvre 46:13
Yeah, excellent. Well, Scott, thanks so much. And thank you all for listening to Self-Publishing Insiders. If you want to take a look, there’s a little subscribe button if you’re on YouTube, you can check us out there. We’re on YouTube. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok. All the fun places. Basically, as Kevin Tumlinson often says, just pick a URL and slap draft2digital on the end of it and we’re probably going to be there. So again, Scott, thank you so much. Thanks to the live audience for your questions and have a wonderful afternoon.