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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Feb 1, 2018

In the introduction, Mark talks a little about being in Colorado attending Superstars Writing Seminars in Colorado Springs, CO and the importance of understanding the business of writing and publishing. He shares that he will be doing Facebook Live videos of his experience at Superstars on his Stark Publishing Facebook page.

This episode features an interview with Kelly Lytle from Findaway Voices. In their conversation, Mark and Kelly talk about:

  • How Findaway Voices is a single service built to help independent authors and small publishers create and distribute their audiobooks, and that they are a fully non-exclusive platform to the largest network of audio sellers in the world (retailer, library and K through 12 markets)
  • The pay per use model that Bibliotheca (3M) has. Meaning the library doesn’t need to pre-purchase the audiobook in advance. It is listed (like on any major retailer), and the purchase doesn’t happen until the library patron checks out that title
  • The background to Findaway Voices as part of the larger Findaway family.
    • Their “flagship” product, for example, was the Playaway Device, a single title pre-loaded audiobook player that is about the size of a deck of cards, with built in play and pause buttons. These devices have been hugely popular with the library market (as an easy to merchandise and easy to use for patrons who weren’t savvy about digital check-outs or even using CD audiobooks) and the military
    • Pre-loaded tablets called “LaunchPad” that are also in the library markets
    • The platform called Audio Engine. The world’s largest business-to-business audiobook service
  • Kelly’s own background as a passionate reader with a thirst for storytelling. Even though he worked on Wall Street and in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns, his compass kept pointing back to that original passion and joining Findaway a little more than four years ago
  • To Dad, From Kelly, the memoir Kelly wrote about his relationship to his late father who passed away in 2010.
  • Kelly’s experience going to TuneIn’s studio in Santa Monica, California to record the audiobook himself
  • How Findaway works with authors and as well as the sign-up and vetting process they use for narrators.
  • Mark’s very positive experience getting his short story collection Active Reader produced by Findaway Voices and how pleased he was with Eric Moore’s recording. Which leads to the question of how a writer might be able to request to work with the same narrator again for a future project, or a narrator that they have already chosen (even if that narrator isn’t already part of the Findaway Voices talent pool community)
  • How to use Findaway Voices to upload an audiobook that you already have produced in order to leverage their distribution channels
  • The price control that the author/publisher has on their audiobook (which is a critical differentiation of the way that Amazon’s ACX sets the price and doesn’t allow that control to the copyright owner)
  • The urgent quest for Audiobook promotion platforms to provide a “BookBub” or “Bargainbooksy” style service, and the existing awesome audio review sites, such as BookRiot or AudioFile
  • How they are seeing authors make hundreds of dollars through the aforementioned library “pay per use” model, which is a huge opportunity, as well as through sites most authors might not be paying much attention to, including Playster.
  • A recommendation for authors to also make sure that the narrator, and not just the author gets the free Audible download codes to help promote the book.
  • The partnership that Findaway Voices has with that allows an author to easily port their ebook’s metadata over to set up an audiobook at Findaway. Also, Kelly’s respect for the “author-first” approach to authors that Draft2Digital employs in everything they do
  • The notion of format-agnostic consumption of stories and the growth this means for authors


After the interview, Mark talks about the importance of publishing wide and shares his own experience with earning revenue from Findaway Voices via sales channels that weren’t even on his radar. His belief was that he would make most of his money from the audiobook sales via Audible, the Amazon-owned largest retail site for audiobooks, but the reality was, the majority of his earnings came from several other sales channels. He talks about the recent progress from Apple, Google and Kobo in the past week as an example of “you never know, so it’s best to be available everywhere.”

He then shares a second reflection on how the investment related to the creation of an audiobook file is an important reminder to authors of focusing on the long-term, on looking at the various investments they make, not just in money, but in time, and in education.


Links of Interest: