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Tip Tuesday #175 - Sue Copsey on Booktrack

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

I recently learned about Booktrack (soundtracks for books!) and, knowing countless of writers who combine music with writing, thought our readers might be interested in learning more. As such, please welcome author Sue Copsey who's here to share a bit about her experience with the company.

Back in prehistoric times (2009), when I finished writing The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head, ebooks were hovering on the horizon, like UFOs ready to swoop in and take over the book world, nobody quite sure whether their intentions were hostile or friendly. Around about then, a good friend in the publishing industry declared that in five years’ time, people would be reading books on their phones. And there would be sound and pictures, making ‘books’ a whole new type of experience. I think she even said ‘The concept of a page is so outdated.’

On your phone? I thought she was away with the fairies.

But … what if? Over glasses of wine at our favourite hostelry, we would talk about what I could do with my ghost story if ever (‘when!’ said Anna) the technology became available. I could make readers jump, I could have doors creaking as my heroes entered the haunted house, I could have spooky music, and things actually going bump in the night.

Fast-forward a few years to 2013, and my book has been published and, although it’s doing okay in New Zealand (its home town, sorry, country – we’re only small, you know) what I really want is to connect with a lot more readers. Anna and I are still having those glasses of wine (she reads a book on her phone, with only a hint of smugness, while she waits for me) and she tells me about this innovative new company Booktrack, which has just launched software that allows you to make soundtracks for ebooks. The publisher of my book has closed down (zapped by those darned UFOs) and I now have my rights back – I can do what I like with my book. What was I waiting for? So I created a Booktrack account and off I went.

It was as though it had been made just for me. I typed in ‘thunderclap’ and I got a choice of eight. Anything I threw at it, it would come up with multiple suggestions, whether atmospheric music, ambient background noise, or a sound effect. Sometimes I tried to catch it out. Ha, bet you can’t do this one: windy clifftop. It gave me a choice of two. And if I was stuck for inspiration, I could just type in random words: ‘foreboding; excited children; going on vacation in a car’, and it would give me plenty of suggestions.

The software was pretty much idiotproof. On the computer illiterate–geek scale, I’d fall somewhere in the middle. Okay, maybe a third along from the ‘idiot’ end. I did come unstuck a couple of times, but the Booktrack people are standout when it comes to helping. (Not once did they say, ‘Have you tried switching your computer off and on again?’) I sent them a couple of ‘Help!’ emails, and for a company which is technologically out there, and which you’d therefore suspect might be staffed by people with questionable social skills, I received immediate superfriendly help with easy-to-follow instructions. And when I’d completed my book, I received an email saying they loved my soundtrack and was there anything I’d not been able to find. ‘A whining dog,’ I said. I bet it’s there now. (I have requested an erupting volcano for my next book; they seem unphased.)

So I published to the Booktrack library, and in the space of a couple of months, more than 800 people have read my ‘enhanced’ book, as Anna might put it.

‘But … you don’t get any money!’ said an author friend. Yes, I’ve been called a ‘kamikaze author’ for making my book available for free, but these days it’s all about having an online presence and connecting with your readers. Booktrack has given me the opportunity to do just that, have heaps of fun, and hopefully help build a readership for my sequel, which I’ve just finished. And they tell me the paid-for platform will be coming soon. In the meantime, those who have read it might go and buy a print copy or the ebook for their friends. Really, it’s a classic win-win for Booktrack and authors. So what are you waiting for? Go make a Booktrack!
Sue Copsey is an award-winning children’s author and book editor. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two children.

If you're keen to try out Booktrack for yourself you'll need to use Chrome on a PC or Mac (Booktrack Studio isn't on mobile/tablet). Head to www.booktrack.com/writers for more info and instructions.


Carrie Butler said...

Ah, yes. I've had trouble with those "UFOs," too...

Thanks for sharing, Sue! :)

Kristin Lenz said...

What a fun experience! This is the first I've heard of Booktrack. BTW, I like how your sense of humor infuses your writing.

Heather Villa said...

Hi Sue,

I can see how something like this could really take off.

I checked out the Booktrack site and found your book and others such as Romeo & Juliet and Huckleberry Finn.

Thanks for sharing!

Happy reading and listening!

Heather Villa

Anonymous said...

I'll check out the website. I've never heard of it before.

Laura Pauling said...

That is so cool! Talk about a cinematic experience. Thanks for sharing.

Anna von Veh said...

[I am the 'Anna' referred to in Sue's post above] Sue, you are the kind of author publishers love: a great writer, wonderfully witty, and also willing to give things a go! :)

And yes, Booktrack is fantastic.

Crystal Collier said...

Wow! What an innovative and exciting new tool! Thank you for the heads up.

Unknown said...

Hi everyone, great to read your comments! The nice thing about putting a Booktrack on a children's story is that kids still get to use their imagination - the background sounds just boost the pictures in their heads :)

Stina said...

I've never heard of this before. It would drive me nuts in the books I read, but I can see the value of it in kidlit. :D

Karen Lange said...

I just saw something mentioned about this but didn't have time to check it out. Thanks for the info! :)

PK HREZO said...

wow cool stuff! I'll have to check it out. Thanks for passing it on.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Sue. If I'm not reading a print book, chances are I'm reading on my phone. Thanks!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for telling me about Booktrack, I will check it out.

Jocelyn Rish said...

I'd never heard of this before. It's sounds especially great for those of us who write thriller/horror type stories.

cleemckenzie said...

Wow! Another leap for books. I'll take a look, but I hate to download Chrome. I did that on one computer and the results were not that good. Congrats on those 800 readers.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

wow, Booktrack sounds great! Sounds like it was a great success for you.