Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Should Authors Use Booktrack: My Opinion

Several months ago, I decided to put my noir collection, 8 Tales of Noir, into the Booktrack program after hearing an interview with CEO and co-founder of Booktrack, Paul Cameron, conducted by Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn. The thing Paul said that closed the deal for me was that as a fairly new platform, new authors could gain traction by being one of the few options available on the site. Those weren’t his exact words, but that was the gist I took from it.

For the uninitiated, Booktrack is a website and app that allows readers to listen to a soundtrack which is partly synced to their reading rate. Thematic music is a part of the experience, but there are also sound effects. The music and ambient noises begin when the reader enters a scene, and once the program learns your reading speed, it times sound effects to coincide with when the reader reaches a specific event. 

So I spent about a week late at nights creating a Booktrack version of my book. All tolled, it probably consisted of about a 20-hour investment of my time. I found the interface easy to learn and apply, and the process was actually kind of fun – once. If I had to do it for all of my books, I’m certain the process would quickly become a chore. And luckily, Booktrack offers professional services for those who do not wish to compile their own, or be bothered learning the process.

So I worked diligently until I was satisfied that my book was as good as I could make it. I chose the music carefully; I found fitting sound effects for almost every grunt and door slam; and when I was stumped, I found suitable alternatives. For example, one of my stories features a fly flitting about from scene to scene, but there was no buzzing fly sound effect available. However there was a mosquito and other insect noises which to anyone other than a trained entomologist will suffice quite nicely.

When it was all said and done, on Valentine's Day I pressed publish, and … nothing.

Turns out, my paid version does not even show up as a purchasable option on the app store. I queried about this, and learned that the app servicers (android and Apple) take too big a slice. So the book is ONLY available for purchase on the website, and then only after a direct search for my author name. It doesn't even come up doing a title search for crying out loud. Oh, I suppose if one wades through the hundreds and hundreds of FREE options (which for some reason get all the prime real estate), one might eventually stumble on my cover, but I’m not holding my breath for that.

So how many copies have I sold? That’s another great question. I assume zero, but for all I know there have been a few sales. I mean, somebody gave it a 4-star rating after all. (Possibly somebody who clicked over from my mailing list or Facebook page.) But there’s no dashboard, no sales ranking, no downloadable sales history … no nothing. I have received one lone email telling me I haven’t earned the sales threshold for a royalty payment yet. Other than that, I have no idea what the heck is going on.

Of course there's always the possibility that my book isn't selling because it's not enticing enough. That's a possibility, but not a certainty. However, one certain thing is that it can't sell if it's utterly undiscoverable. 

So I’m afraid I can’t recommend Booktrack for authors. At least not until they address these issues. Sorry.

It's a shame too. The Booktrack version of my book is pretty dang cool. You should check it out

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