The Sleuthy Story

Hannibal Hills

My Narration Story

I narrated my first audiobook in 2017 and moved to recording full-time in 2019. Like most new narrators, I struggled to find paying work and get noticed by the big production houses and publishers. I knew from decades of running my own small businesses that we cannot wait for the work to find us. We have to actively seek out opportunities.

It has taken me since 2019 to find the winning formula, but I’ve now made over 50,000 royalty share sales on Audible alone, and my monthly revenue goes up each month. 

 2023 Royalty Share Sales Snapshot from my personal ACX account

Best of all, these projects will keep bringing in royalty income for many years to come; I will still be earning from this work long after I’ve left the booth. Success in Royalty Share is simply a matter of having the right framework to follow and the right tool to find potential projects. 

And now I’m going to share that framework and the best tools for finding project leads. I call it Sleuthy.

Learning from Failure: Mapping the Path to Success

From my first days as a narrator, I was warned that Royalty Share projects don’t pay, with only low-quality titles available. Like you, I spent hours looking at titles on ACX, books with ghastly covers and sales ranks that showed these books that barely sold into double-digits. 

But I knew there were thousands of high-selling books listed on Amazon that had yet to be produced on audio. There had to be a way to tap into those opportunities – to build a simple framework to maximize the prospects for success at every stage of a narrator’s career.

Between 2019 and 2022, I tried many different approaches to “Amazon Prospecting.” And I failed a LOT, with quite a few costly mistakes. But each failure gave me another piece of the puzzle, and by 2023 I made the decision to stop auditioning almost completely and focus my energies on developing this new winning formula for success. 

Although many projects I’ve found through sleuthing have led to a royalty share type of contract, a good portion have been contracted for a Per Finished Hour rate. Many authors know they have a winner, and don’t want to share the rights. Either way, that is a win for us narrators! 

Overcoming the Biggest Challenge

Finding potential prospects on Amazon is a long and tiresome process. Amazon is built to sell books to shoppers, not to help narrators find available titles. It can be very difficult to find the gold hidden within the massive, cluttered depths of Amazon. But after months of turning it over in my head, I was certain that there must be a way to make the search easier. The information was there. All I had to do was find a way to extract it and display it in the way we narrators need it.

Building the Platform

Before I turned to the microphone, I had spent twenty years building websites; this was the expertise I would use to take the framework from my head to the screen. I had to go back to the drawing board twice before I finally found the first pieces of the puzzle that showed me this would work. And now, the system for finding and listing books is complete. It digs through the lists of available books, and “sleuths out” the potential leads round the clock. 

When I saw what my Sleuthy database and framework could achieve, I knew I had to share it with other narrators. 

(It was my wife who eventually named it “Sleuthy,” after months of my simply calling it “my Amazon project”!)

Sleuthy works around the clock to find and catalog books that have no audio version. It allows us to sort this list by the factors that help us determine potential for success: genre, sales ranking, ratings, reviews, and more! In the first few months since activation, Sleuthy has discovered over 10,000 potential leads and adds new books every day, as well as keeping existing records up to date.

The Mission: Beyond Just a Database

Finding leads is only half of the challenge. The other half is knowing how to choose which books are right for your voice, and knowing how to approach different types of Rights Holders in the way most likely to seal the deal. 

Blitzing large numbers of titles and rights holders using a single approach doesn’t work. The key to this system is knowing how to focus on the very best books for your talent, and how to make your approach in the way that works for that title. This is the secret sauce of audiobook sleuthing. I can give you a framework to follow that will maximize your chances for success, and examples and templates to use at every stage.

I have created training and resources to teach you how to create success. I’m also happy to work one-on-one to help answer your questions, if you need further guidance.

My mission is to make Audiobook “sleuthing” easy, fun, and successful for every narrator willing to give it a try, and to offer those who do a new stream of business, and a fresh edge in a highly competitive market! 

The Promise

Each week, I am adding further functions and refinements to this system, to make it easier and more certain to find success using these tools. This is just the beginning. My hope is that audiobook sleuthing will help hundreds of independent narrators find a new way to generate business and build a successful career.

Feedback and Community Building

In addition to the database and the framework, I have created a community for we audiobook sleuths to share aides and ask questions focussed on this topic. If you are interested in this topic, or already trying to sleuth projects yourself, why not join us. If you’ve had success finding and creating your own projects, I know many narrators would love to hear about it. 

You can find our Facebook community by clicking here.