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Spring Brings New Life!

Something I've been struggling with for a while is how I want to approach making audio versions of my books available for the masses. Thanks to marketing, many people think Audible when they think of audio books these days, and not having your book on that platform can mean missing an entire segment of potential readers.


The banner for my YouTube channel, Josh Bearheart Hawk's Reading Room.
The channel banner for my new project!

And yes, before you even say it, listening to an audio book counts as reading, even if you aren't seeing the words written on the page for yourself. You still soak in the same story as someone who is reading it, and in some cases, it can be an even richer experience. Audio books allow narratives to make their way to those who may not have the time or ability to sit down and read a book.


That being said, Audible has some pitfalls as well. Sure, they add your book to their library, but you lose a substantial portion of the revenue. Whether you record the book yourself or pay someone to record it, there is a large cost involved in making an audio book happen, and if sales don't add up, you lose your investment completely. Then there's the ease of exchanges and returns, even on books that the listener liked, and it can throw the numbers and any potential profit all out of whack.


Now, I want to mention here that you shouldn't write books solely for the purpose of trying to make money. Doing that just sets you up for failure, and you'll never really be happy as an author if the only metric you care about is money. That being said, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make a living doing something you love, and asking for money in return for providing entertainment in the form of a book or other form of media is perfectly fine. There are people out there that act like wanting to make some money from your craft is some kind of bad thing, like it taints the art. In reality, those same people wouldn't say it was wrong for a big studio like Disney to charge money for their movies, and investing the time in writing a book isn't any different. Be proud of what you make and don't undervalue your work by offering it for free unless that is something you really want to do.


But I digress.


So, I spent some time considering the options and finally landed on one that I think works best for me.


A shot of me reading my book, The Journal, in front of the background of my reading room.
A screenshot from one of my first readings.

Josh Bearheart's Reading Room is the name of my newest YouTube channel. The channel itself isn't exactly new, formerly serving as a place where I uploaded gaming videos and then morphing into a channel where I shared writing advice, but this incarnation is one I am super excited for.


Basically, I'm going to be reading my books, one chapter per video, as if I was sitting at the local library or bookstore. I have a little set up with a green screen, and a pretty cool AI generated background that serves as my "reading room".


An AI generated image of a cabin room with a fireplace and window. Moonlight is shining through the window as a wooden bear statue looks out.
The AI generated background known as my reading room!

I decided on using AI generated art for the background because while I'm pretty good at taking photos, I'm not great at drawing and this occasion called for something a little more unique. I'm planning on making another post about AI art at some point, but it will probably wind up as mostly the printed version of a recent video I made on the topic, so maybe it won't even be worth the effort.


Discussions about AI art aside, the rest of the content is just me sitting in a chair, with my books on a table in front of me as I read into a microphone. Some light music and the sound of a crackling fire round out what I hope is a relaxing atmosphere for anyone who chooses to listen.


But, if I'm worried about uploading to Audible due to the poor return on investment, why would I upload to YouTube where that ROI isn't really much better? The short answer is that I want to be able to have full creative freedom, and I want people to be able to listen to my stories and contribute based on the value they perceive they are getting. I've got a Patreon for those who want to really help out, and for those who can't or don't want to, just sparing their time to listen and watch helps in the long run.


The potential ROI for a YouTube video is greater overall because more people will have the chance to see the videos over time, and even before I reach monetization thresholds on there, people can join my Patreon or even buy the books on my website or Amazon to help me sustain financially. It's a win-win overall because spending a few minutes listening to a story for free on YouTube is a much lower barrier to entry for someone who has never heard of me than asking that same person to use one of their Audible credits or paying full price for the audio book to see if they even like it.


And that's something that every author has to struggle with, and why a lot of authors will just put their work out there for free. People are hesitant to spend money, but time is something that most people don't think too much about assuming it is only a few minutes.


The hard part for any author is getting their book in front of the right people, but the even harder part that no one really talks enough about is how to then get those people to take a chance on you. There are those readers out there that seek out smaller, less known authors, but for the most part people stick with what they know. Something has to be sacrificed to get someone to take that chance, and in my case I'm choosing to exchange some time and potential small amount of money for the chance to make a name for myself in my own way.


This whole YouTube thing isn't for everyone, and the biggest reason I'm even going with it is because I've got a ton of experience already with YouTube and video editing and audio stuff. There isn't really one right way, or one best way to be an author or market a book, you just have to kind of play it by ear and play to your strengths.


I'll be updating how things go here on the blog, so keep an eye out for future posts. In the meantime, you can check out the channel for yourself here.

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