Please welcome Thomas Burns, to describe his experience using audio books:

An Indie Author Tackles Audiobooks

I am Thomas Burns, author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries, and I’m an indie author. Natalie McMasters is a detective for the new millennium. As the series opens in Stripper!, Nattie is twenty, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached!), way cute, and a pre-law student at State. She’s also straight, or at least she thinks so.

To put herself through school, she’s moonlighting as a private detective trainee at her uncle Amos Murdoch’s 3M Detective Agency, where the most exciting thing she does is sit in a car, staking out people who’ve claimed workers’ compensation to be sure they’re hurt as badly as they say. After she directly confronts a subject on a stakeout, Amos fires her for taking too many chances. Then she meets another student who bears an uncanny resemblance to her, and everything in her life changes. When her new best friend is brutally murdered and Amos is critically injured, Nattie immerses herself in the seamy world of web cams and strip clubs to hunt the killer.

Her investigation forces her to reassess many of the ideas that she’s lived by her whole life and do things she’s never considered before – strip on a stage, question her sexuality, and rediscover the meaning of love itself. Nattie eventually exposes a drug ring, police corruption, and an assassin-for-hire online. Then she stumbles upon the true face of evil, and her encounter does not leave her unscathed…

I’m 67, so after a year of querying potential agents for Stripper! with no results, I decided to take the leap of faith and publish it myself. In April 2018, the first Natalie McMasters novel, Stripper! was published on Amazon. As of this writing, two more novels, Revenge! and Trafficked!, have been released, and I’ve just finished writing the first draft of the fourth book, Venom! I’m sure there’s no way I could have had such a rapid production schedule if I had to deal with an agent and a publisher. The books have done well, with about 11,000 copies in circulation world-wide.

It’s been a bumpy ride. I started by publishing e-books and paperbacks on KDP, then took the series wide on Draft 2 Digital in various e-book formats. I’ve made some mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned a lot. A few months ago, I decided it was time to enter the audiobook market. Audiobooks are currently the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry. They’re available as downloads and some as CDs (sold separately), and the e-books can be played on multiple devices without losing your place. Some Audible books (Amazon) also have the whispersync feature, that lets you listen and read your book on Kindle, and updates either device as you switch back and forth.

When I decided to issue the McMasters Mysteries on audio, starting with Stripper!, I chose Audible Books to do it, because I had such good results from KDP on Amazon. ACX ( is Audible’s publishing platform, allowing you to sell your book on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. After you register on the site, you open your title for auditions. Narrators, also known as producers, can review available titles and contact the author. However, I found it much more effective to survey potential producers myself and invite the ones I liked to submit an audition. You can narrow the list of over 100,000 producers by gender, voice style, accent and other parameters.

There are three ways to pay your producer: straight royalty share, royalty share plus a one-time payment, or straight payment. Payment is determined according to the finished length of the audiobook (not how long the producer takes to produce it), which ACX estimates for you according to the word count. A royalty share agreement lasts for seven years, during which time the author and the producer split a 40% royalty. Many of the more established producers, some of whom who are also professional voice actors, prefer either royalty share plus or straight payment. If you do a royalty share, you also must commit to sell the audiobook on ACX only. The royalty percentage is 25% if you elect a straight payment deal, and the author keeps all of it. For a royalty share deal, I contacted over a hundred potential producers and got about ten replies.

The audio version of Stripper! is scheduled for release on Nov. 4, 2019. The narrator is Lisa Ware, of Voices from lsware. Lisa is a very talented narrator—she captures Nattie’s voice perfectly, as well as those of the other diverse characters in Stripper! I’m sure you’ll her work enjoyable. Look for it on the Amazon page for Stripper! ( )

Author bio
Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as a technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s truly on his own as a novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective to the MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.