How to Create Your First Booktrack (and Get 2,000 New Readers)

Photo by Jeff Golden / via Flickr

Photo by Jeff Golden / via Flickr

Today’s guest post is by author Laurence MacNaughton (@LMacNaugton).


When I first heard about Booktrack.com from my literary agent, Kristin Nelson, I was fairly skeptical of the idea. Ebooks with music and sound effects, really?

But then I tried the Booktrack of the short story Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ll be honest—I was blown away. Hearing the waves lap against the side of the castaway’s lifeboat, hearing his footsteps trudging through the sand, listening to the ominous music building to a crescendo as he explored the ancient ruins …

It was a fantastic experience, and I was instantly hooked.

The first thing I did was email Hugh Howey and every other author I know, and say, “You have got to do this.”

Not only is it a bold new way to share your story, it’s actually wickedly fun to create a Booktrack.

From radio DJ to Booktrack star

Many years ago, I was a radio DJ, and I used to sit in the sound booth between shows to record promos. I’d spend hours tinkering with the tapes to get a sound effect or music clip just right, trying to make it funnier or snappier. It was grinding work.

But now, you can let software handle the drudgery, and that leaves you more time to be creative. Although the interface on Booktrack doesn’t look sophisticated, it’s more than powerful enough to get the job done, and do it well.

Plus, it’s easy to upload your text. If you don’t want to commit to using one of your own stories right away, you can select a classic like Dracula or A Tale of Two Cities from the Booktrack archive.

Choose your sounds carefully

Just highlight some of your text and a pop-up window allows you to instantly add music or sound effects. You can search through Booktrack’s well-appointed library, or upload your own sounds and music.

If you’re picky like me, you’ll spend hours sorting through sounds to find just the perfect one. The sound of footsteps scraping across gritty concrete is distinctly different from the sound of someone walking through tall grass. 

Use a soft touch

When you’re creating your first Booktrack, the biggest stumbling block is a tendency to be too heavy handed with the music and sound effects. A little goes a long way, and you don’t want to abuse the reader with a muddy overload of noise. Season the story with just enough sound to bring out its full potential. You want to end up with something that’s greater than what you started with.

Remember: there isn’t any dialogue

The slightly odd thing about a Booktrack is that there aren’t any voice actors to record dialogue. While you have plenty of excellent sounds, you have no actual voices. That’s why the stories that make the best Booktracks usually start with at least a page of action and description before we get to any really thick dialogue.

You want to give the reader a chance to become emotionally immersed in the story, and comfortable in the soundscape, before the characters start talking on the page.

Hook new readers with your story

On average, more than 1,500 readers check out each of my Booktracks, and rate them an average of 4.5 stars. And those numbers are going up. As I write this, my new Booktrack The Spider Thief has been read almost 2,400 times. One reader, Shelley Lee Riley, commented, “Wow. I’m hard to please and I loved this. I’m going to have to buy the rest of it!”

If you have a short story or a dramatic opening chapter, consider turning it into a Booktrack to catch the attention of new readers.

The sound of the future

As you become more comfortable with the sound of your stories, you may find yourself occasionally rethinking your scenes as you write. You’ll want to include more description, atmosphere, and action. It’s much more cinematic that way.

Creating a Booktrack is an exciting process. I admit that I could happily spend all day adding sound to my stories, if I didn’t have more books to write. Give it a try, and you’ll see what I mean.

Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion and tagged , , .

Laurence MacNaughton

Laurence MacNaughton is the author of The Spider Thief, Conspiracy of Angels, and the Jazzy St. Clare supernatural mysteries. You can hear his Booktracks here. To learn more, visit his author website.

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35 Comments on "How to Create Your First Booktrack (and Get 2,000 New Readers)"

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Charity Singleton Craig

This looks awesome! I need to look into this a little more to see how it might fit in my writing life.

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[…] Photo by Jeff Golden / via Flickr Today’s guest post is by author Laurence MacNaughton (@LMacNaugton). When I first heard about Booktrack.com from my literary agent, Kristin Nelson, I was fairly skeptical of the idea.  […]

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[…] I got and email notification about a new post by Jane Friedman of a guest post by Laurence MacNaughton on how to create a […]

Ben Solomon

Wild stuff. Thanks Jane and Laurence for covering this.

Ron Estrada

Pretty cool. I’d even think a soundtrack would be a good idea (except for those royalty thingies). Might be worth the time to try at least once.

Every Day Poems

Really good point. What are the implications of using music when that music probably belongs to someone else? Hmmm.

Jane Friedman

At least for the music library that Booktrack provides, it’s all royalty free. You can upload your own audio files, for which (of course) you need to resolve any rights/royalty issues before using.

Betsy Duffey

This was new to me and I enjoyed playing with it today. I created a short Booktrack with a few paragraphs of The Shepherd’s Song. here’s the Booktrack link: http://bit.ly/1nNtE5G Was easy to use and may be fun to share as a trailer. Thanks so much for this info.

Paul Cameron

Hi Betsy, Paul here from Booktrack. The team at Booktrack just read/listened to your excerpt from Shepherd’s Song – great job! I noticed you added links to where people can find your books to purchase at the end of your book, so you will be pleased to know that we are going to add the ability for you to add these links to the book info page in the coming weeks – a great way to promote your work and generate sales. Thanks for your support!

Brandon Shire

I started adding links a few years back (video links) and got a tremendous response from fans. This looks like a much better option.

Birgitte Rasine

Laurence: two questions: 1.) approximately how long did it take you to produce the book track for X number of words (say 5K words or whatever number you want to cite as an example) and 2.) I don’t see any reference to the 2,000 new readers mentioned in the headline of your article?

Jane Friedman

Hopefully Laurence will jump in here, but related to #2, see under the subhead “Hook new readers with your story.” He’s using the numbers provided by Booktrack on how many people have read his story using their platform.

Paul Cameron

Hi Paul here from Booktrack – I just wanted to say a big thank-you to Laurence for writing the great blog, Jane for publishing it, and to all for your kind comments and support. If you would like any help with Booktrack please email us anytime support@booktrack.com – we love writers and musicians and always keen to connect and help!

FrancesCaballo

This technology sounds amazing. I can see how this program would add a deeper connection to story. I need to check it out. Thank you for making me aware of it!

Roz Marshall

Thanks for the article, Laurence, I had a play with BookTrack yesterday and added the first chapter of my series, not expecting anything. http://goo.gl/EgAf5G So when I logged in this afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to find it had 37 reads and a 4.7 rating!

I’ve added another chapter now and am considering adding other samples. Thanks again 🙂

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[…] Have you ever heard of Booktrack? It’s basically sound effects for your ebook. Laurence MacNaughton explains Booktrack and how it boosted his sales. […]

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[…] technology for books! Check out the booktrack. Posted by Laurence MacNaughton on Jane Friedman’s […]

Jim Musgrave

Yes, I’ve already won two of their contests in poetry and short fiction. I’m in it for the Hugh Howey prize now. I’m hooked!

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[…] Read the rest at JaneFriedman.com > […]

Musu

Wow, it’s great to see that there’s so many exciting options out there when it comes to publishing my writing. It’s also encouraging. Thanks for sharing this info!

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[…] How to Create Your First BookTrack by Laurence MacNaughton […]

Sandra N Peoples

Definitely seems like something I should look into.

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[…] Author Laurence MacNaughton found that BookTrack helped him to season his book with just enough sound to bring out its full potential. Using the site, he was able to expose his book to an estimated 2,000 new readers. […]

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[…] in July 2014, I read about Booktrack from Jane Friedman’s blog and simply had to try it out. A “booktrack” is exactly what it sounds like… a […]

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[…] learn more about the process of creating a soundtrack for your ebook on Booktrack, read “How to Create Your First Booktrack (and Get 2,000 New Readers)” on Jane Friedman’s site. It’s a guest post by Laurence MacNaughton, detailing […]

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[…] learn more about the process of creating a soundtrack for your ebook on Booktrack, read “How to Create Your First Booktrack (and Get 2,000 New Readers)” on Jane Friedman’s site. It’s a guest post by Laurence MacNaughton, detailing […]

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[…] Jane Friedman über die Vertonung ihres ersten Ebooks mit Booktracks (englisch) […]

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