The life of an author is full of ups and downs, like the Amazon rankings on hiser (my gender-neutral pronoun) books. One becomes addicted to checking those rankings, even while knowing the Amazon algorithm is a mystery, and the rankings aren’t always commensurate with sales.
For example, my book Murder in Palm Beach: The Homicide That Never Died, ranked way up there in recent weeks, zooming to No. 1 Best Seller status in an Amazon Kindle category and remaining there for 14 weeks. In the Paid in Kindle Store listing, it was in the top .00025 percent of Kindle books – whatever that comes out to (it’s kind of like trying to figure out how long it will take that new space device to reach the sun). But sales weren’t nearly what they were a year earlier, when the ranking was much lower. Go figure – because I’m tired of trying. Hey, I never claimed to be a math whiz. The book was in the top six to 10 in another, larger category during that time, and hit No. 1 in yet another category for one afternoon.
Since then, the rankings have dropped considerably, but it’s a see-saw pattern – up and down, up and down.
But a bigger thrill – one that was even better than Chris Matthews’ thrill up his leg (kidding; I like Matthews) – ran through me a few months ago when, clicking through my 300 or so emails one day, I came across one that posed an offer. This business would pay me $500 for the right to produce Murder in Palm Beach in audio format. As with B.B. King, the thrill was gone when my guard went up, an instinctive reaction born of experience with numerous scam offers. I read and reread the proposal, finding it hard to believe, because I hadn’t solicited this outfit. After the advance was earned, I would receive 20 percent in royalties from then on.
The email was from Tantor Media, which I wasn’t familiar with. So I looked it up, and there it was (also named Tantor Audio). The company was formed in 2000, and bought in 2015 by Recorded Books, which touts itself as “the largest independent publisher of unabridged audiobooks with operations in the US, UK, and Australia.” A phone number was on the email, and I called.
Yes, the email was from Tantor. I wouldn’t have to do anything but forward the manuscript. It would be read by one of Tantor’s 150 audio actors who record the texts of the books. The narrator changes hiser voice for each character.
I had nothing to lose and much to gain. A contract was emailed, and I signed. Shortly afterward, I received a check for $500 in the mail.
The bottom line of this exposition: A week or so ago, the audio version appeared on my Amazon page, with an enticing new cover. It’s listed as Free with Audible trial, and the price is lower after the trial, or you can buy it anytime for $18.37. The narrator is a young film actor named Austin Rising, who has two movies to his credit. A sample of the narration, part of the first chapter, is available on the page, at https://tinyurl.com/y9578qlv. It’s a compelling delivery.