Michael Forman

Michael Forman
Author, Singer, Actor, Photographer. This is where I scratch out things between writing books.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Back up Soundcloud. I'm only looking!

I'm still uncertain about Soundcloud's offering when it comes to promoting books online.

Getting my head to fit around the idea of posting audio tracks in/on the Soundcloud platform for Soundcloud visitors to discover my SEETHINGS novel is taking its time sorting out.

I recorded those first few tracks quite a while ago. Those older ones are a bit scratchy. The newer ones have improved since the new microphone arrived. No, the tracks are not the whole book. Mostly, they are blog transcriptions that talk about the book's content. Some are adaptations of that content, pulling out a segment of the book's narrative and turning it into a short radio play so that readers and listeners can get a 'feel' for what it's about. On the blog site, the tracks appear right beside the text and it works well. That part makes perfect sense. I put the code provided by Soundcloud into my website and boom, both are there side-by-side... but it's the Soundcloud platform that baffles me.

Why Soundcloud anyway?

Margo said some time ago that I had a lovely speaking voice. She believes I should record the entire book and get it out there as an Audiobook. I seriously toyed with the idea. I even recorded the first chapter a week later and then set up a page for it on the home site. I figured it'd be a sample tester - for the visitor as well as me. I didn't want to record the whole book unless there was some demand for it. (The editing processes after any recording takes place is absolutely phenomenal!)

So I packed up my shiny new audio chapter and compressed it into an MP3. The page was installed and I inserted a link to allow visitors to download it from my site. It gleamed nicely in the dull light of the laptop waiting for it's first listener to tune in. I posted out some social media links and waited for the hoards of visitors to arrive and suck it up. 

You could hear crickets...

Alas, this free audiotrack didn't attract those hoards. At best, it attracted one or two people. I let the page stay for nine more months to allow search engines to grab all those beautiful little keywords that swirled around in the background of it, those themes pointed at special needs, people with disabilities and the blind.

Those crickets stayed...

Don't get me wrong, I think what Margo suggested was right. There are people who NEED audiobooks as a course of life. There is a market for audio. And if I had people downloading the file constantly but saying they didn't like the book or didn't like the recording I'd made of it, then I'd understand if they didn't order copies, but that wasn't the problem. They just weren't coming to the page. I figured my way was limiting and instead of supporting it myself, I'd use the power of Soundcloud's membership to expand the reach. Soundcloud-ers should be made up of many types of people including those I'd targeted earlier. Why not go through that door and see what happens?

It wasn't all crickets but...

So is Soundcloud for Authors?

To be honest, I'm getting more listeners on my own. They're coming in from Twitter today, most following a Soundcloud link I've provided in the abyss. I know I'm sharing Soundcloud with Rappers, Singers, Comedians, Poets, Speech-Writers and all kinds of people talking about everything, but I had expected more from it. Like I said, I attracted more visitors via other means and that didn't make sense.

What Souncloud does offer is some lovely code that produces a pretty widget-like device in the content of one of my pages. It's easy to browse and really looks the part. So yes, there's one benefit right there. Here's one of mine displayed on this page. Have a listen if you like. Just press play on any of the tracks:

But it's possible Soundcloud is a slow-burner site, like Pinterest was. Pinterest sat around doing nothing for ages and then tiny trickles came in. It took almost two years for Pinterest to catch on and now we get regular visitors from that platform all the time. So we will see how Soundcloud goes in the months that follow.

What about that original recording?

I took down that test-page quite some time ago and replaced it with this one. That first recording was done on an old headset mike designed for Skype. It sounded like it'd been made inside a tin can. When time permits (and I can find a quiet place the house) I'll re-record it and test it again. Things are a bit different in the blogging scene now. We're armed with few new things we didn't have before. We've also got more followers!

Anyhow, that's my day's worth of talk.