People often ask me if my books are available in audio format. I had thought briefly about audio book production, but I had no clue how to go about it. Did I have to submit query letters to audiobook companies just like with book publishers, and hope one of them liked my book enough to produce it in audio format? That seemed a daunting task, and not one I was up for while still working on new books to release. Thanks to a series of posts by author Terry Odell, I learned it’s so much simpler than that.
Before you take the initial step down the audiobook road, review your publishing contract to determine if you have the audio rights to your book. If in doubt, contact your agent (if you have one), a literary attorney, or your publisher.
ACX, or Audiobook Exchange, an Amazon company, makes it super-easy to produce your books in audio format. They offer several options, from posting your book so that narrators and producers can find it and audition for it, to searching the ACX database to find producers you’d like to contact, to allowing audio publishers searching ACX to contact you about buying the audio rights for your book.
Step One. Assert your rights. Just do a quick search for your book on ACX and claim it. Next, create a title profile for your book, which includes the word count, language, blurb, and a description of the type of narrator that best suits your book (i.e. female, no accent, sarcastic tone), etc. ACX determines the estimated length of your audiobook based on the word count. You can also include additional notes about the book like reviews and awards, and about yourself like how many Twitter or Facebook followers you have, how many books you’ve published, etc. Then upload an excerpt from your book for auditions.
Step Two. Find your narrator. After posting your title profile and audition excerpt, you can post it for open auditions where producers and audiobook publishers can upload audition recordings. Or, you can listen to sample narrations already posted and contact narrators you like and invite them to audition for your book. I chose the open audition route.
Step Three. Listen to the auditions. I received auditions a few days after I posted my books. After reviewing them, I selected a narrator and contacted her. All the communications are exchanged via ACX’s message system, which sends an email straight to your inbox.
Step Four. Make an offer. I contacted the narrator and made an offer. The narrator and I reached a 50/50 royalty-split deal using ACX’s contract. I’m a lawyer, so I felt comfortable reviewing the contract. If you’re not sure, check with your agent or a literary lawyer before “signing” the contract. You also have the option of paying up front for the cost of production and keeping all the royalties. Since this was a new venture for me, I thought the 50/50 split was the way to go. I also felt that the narrator would have a vested interest in the promotion and sale of the audiobook, thus expanding my reach.
Step Five. Provide feedback. You’ll receive the first 15 minutes to review for sound quality, tone, performance, and editing, and have the opportunity to give feedback before the remainder of the book is produced.
Step Six. Review the audio-recording. You’ll receive a message when the production is complete. Listen to the entire recording, making notes of errors, where you’d like a different emotion expressed, or where you think the voice is off, and the location of the needed edits. Send your edits back to the narrator. If a word is mispronounced (I had a fair amount of Spanish in Rescuing Lacey), there are sites with audio pronunciations. I inserted these links in my feedback. The narrator makes the changes and sends them back to you for another listen.
Step 7. Approve it. If you’re satisfied with the recording, you approve it and the sound engineers at ACX review it for sound quality. Once it’s approved by ACX it’s distributed through Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes, and it can be distributed worldwide. If you grant ACX exclusive distribution rights, they oversee the distribution, and you receive a higher royalty than if you choose to grant non-exclusive distribution rights. They also set the price. I chose the exclusive distribution, as I didn’t want the headaches of figuring out distribution.
My first foray into the world of audiobooks was positive. The process was simple and when I did have a question that wasn’t included in ACX’s FAQs, I received prompt attention from customer service and technical support.
Hearing my words read aloud by an actor was amazing! It’s enlightening to hear someone else’s interpretation of your work. Their interpretation my be completely different from yours . . . and sometimes it’s better! As writers, we all suffer episodes of self-doubt. Am I good enough? Should I continue to pursue my craft. Hearing my own words, long after I’ve written them filled me with pride. I had some wow moments, when I thought, I wrote that!
I had a terrific working relationship with the narrator. And the best reason for going with ACX — the process didn’t take loads of time away from work on my latest manuscript. I’ll still have the marketing aspect, but that’s no different from my print books. One draw-back, however, is there doesn’t appear to be many avenues for audiobook promotion like there are for digital and print books. No blog tours, no virtual book tours. It may be strictly social media. We’ll see.
Rescuing Lacey will be available soon at these fine retailers:
You can also enter to win a free audiobook copy from Fresh Fiction during the month of December. If you’re not a member of Audible.com, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial membership program, and when you join, you can get your first book free. Maybe even Rescuing Lacey!
Next week, Laura Bretz, my narrator and producer, will be my guest, so stop by and see what it’s like from the narrator’s perspective.