Wednesday, 1 May 2013

James Maxon - Speculative Fiction Writer

One of the things I love about Speculative Fiction Writer is meeting and engaging with writers I may never have discovered otherwise. Today's guest - James Maxon - is one such example.

While I love to do interviews, I also enjoy reading the myriad of post topics guest writers come up with. Today's topic is no exception. Over to you, James.

Going beyond the book trailer - How to create a sample reading 

So you’ve written thousands of words, revised them, edited them, revised them again and then edited some more. Proofreaders have caught the majority of errors, and you make some finishing tweaks. Finally, your book is ready for publication.

After catching the eye of a traditional publisher, or publishing on your own, your book is up for sale. Months, perhaps years of plotting, world building and character development are at an end. Readers charge forward like a herd of wild Heffalumps to buy a copy of your masterpiece. All you have to do is sit back and watch the book climb into the top 100 bestsellers list. 

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Unless your name is Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, Dean Koontz or James Patterson, chances are there’s still a lot of work to be done.

If you’re an indie author like me, the world probably doesn’t know you exist, let alone your book. So how do you find readers? Or better yet, how do readers find you? 

Book trailers are one of the most common ways authors get the word out. With a collection of stock photography and music clips, they put together simple slideshows. Catchy words fade in and out in an attempt to capture interest, but the flavor of the story and quality of the prose isn’t presented. So how then do authors enrich a potential audience? 

Sample readings. 

Unlike audio books—which require a full reading—a sample provides readers with a small portion of your story, giving them enough to get a good feel of your book. And the great thing about this is that you can make one for free. 

Here’s how: 

  • Find someone close to you that has a good voice. Ask them if they would be willing to take an hour or two to record a quick sample. All they need is a microphone on their computer. If you don’t know anyone who is willing to lend you a hand, then you can record your own voice.
  • Download Audacity. It’s a free, easy to use, Open Source program for recording and editing audio. After installing it, run the program and load your voice recording into it (or record it now if you haven’t done so already).
  • Create a new audio track. Here you will place a short music clip before the reading starts. Kevin MacLeod offers a wide range of compositions for any genre of book. You can download them and use them free at
  • Now, add some spice. Listen to the reading and add sound effects where you think they’ll have the most impact. You can find free sound effects at In Audacity, simply create a new audio track for each one—you can place them anywhere in your timeline.
  • At the end of the reading, replay the music you used for your intro. Overlap it with a plug for your book. For example, in mine, the reader says, “I hope you enjoyed this reading of Traphis: A Wizard’s Tale, to learn more about the story or purchase a copy of the book, please visit”
  • Once everything is done, simply export your audio as an .mp3 (you’ll need to install the LAME MP3 encoder, which can be downloaded at I recommend saving your file at a high bit rate (but not too high). I put mine at 128kbps.

If you are curious as to how mine turned out, take a listen to it here and let me know what you think!

A Youtube version is also available:

If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below.

Keep writing.
Keep reading.
And keep it true.

About the author

James D. Maxon (1977-Present) was born at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. His parents were divorced when he was just three-years-old. Raised in a strictly female household, James grew up in the midst of mental illness and depression. He, himself, struggled in school due to a learning disability. Without a positive male role model, James learned how difficult it can be for children to realize their true potential. Having acquired a love for fantasy at a young age, he began to write stories of his own, providing children and teens with messages of faith, hope, and insight. Overcoming his disability, James graduated college with a 4.0 GPA. He deepened his connection to the creative world by following a career in design. He now lives with his wife and daughter in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and spends much of his free time applying his imagination to the real world.

Thank you, James. I must admit that a sample reading is something I hadn't even thought about. I loved yours, and can easily see why it is such a great promotional tool. I also love your mantra: Keep writing. Keep reading. And keep it true.

That's all for today. Don't forget to call back Friday, when I'll be revealing new covers from Donna Hosie and James Garcia Jr.


  1. A sample reading. Never thought about that. I've already asked my publisher about an audio book though after reading about Elizabeth Craig's success creating one.

  2. What a great article and a wonderful idea! Thanks, James - I've bookmarked this page for future reference. Jim Baker sure has a lovely accent for reading the excerpt. Very classy! :-)

  3. Yeah, Jim Baker did a great job! I hope this information proves to be useful for everyone. Someday I plan to do an audio book adaption too, but there is a great deal of work involved with it.

  4. I'm bookmarking this as well. Brilliantly informative - thank you.

  5. Great idea thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. Food for thought.Neat idea.


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