Another Potential Market for Indie Authors – Audio Books – Part 3

This is the third part of my post on considering  production as an audio book. If you want to read the first two parts, you can click Part1, Part 2.

In Part 1 of this post, I talked about finding a voice actor on ACX. I’ll pick up in this part with what to expect once you have submitted a proposal to a voice actor.

In Part 2, I talked about the audition, the offer and reviewing the first 15 minutes produced by the voice actor.

We will drill down in this part of the post into the production process and putting your book up for approval and sale once it is complete.

Reviewing the Final Product:

When you made your offer, you were asked to set two deadlines. The first was for the first 15 minutes to be completed and the second was for completion of the entire book. I gave my selected voice actor the recommended two weeks to finish the first 15 minutes and six weeks to finish the entire book. I was very fortunate that the voice actor completed the work well ahead of time.

An Unanticipated Step

Once the voice actor finished the book, I found that I needed to listen to the entire thing. As I mentioned in Part 2, you’ll want to ensure that the voice actor’s pronunciations are correct. I also mentioned that I had a character with the last name of Figueroa. As I listened to the finished product, I again heard alternating pronunciations of this name. About halfway through listening to the nearly five hour book, I notified the voice actor. He said it was an easy fix if I could tell him which chapters were affected with the approximate time stamp.

This made sense and allowed him to ‘punch in’ the correct word or sentence as needed. It also made it necessary for me to go back and listen to the entire book from the beginning. I tried to be as clear as possible in sending him the places that needed to be fixed.

Here is a sample of the email I sent to him:

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He very quickly turned the changes around and it sounded flawless in the final product.

Submitting for Review to ACX

Once this was done, I was able to submit the book to ACX for final review. I received this email reply:

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ACX takes the review process seriously. I had heard horror stories that books were rejected for rework due to minor technical issues and other things that didn’t meet ACX protocol. I did not hear anything from them for two entire weeks, but then I received the following wonderful email:

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True to the email, the book was up on Amazon and Apple iBooks within a few days.

I am repeating the process with another book and hope to have it ready for sale soon as well.

Overall, this has been a very positive process. If any authors are considering going through the audio book process and you have questions that are detailed in nature, I’d be glad to help. Just email me at don@donmassenzio.com

 

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Another Potential Market for Indie Authors – Audio Books – Part 1

Back on May 17th, I published a post asking advice on the best way to go about creating an audio book from my independently published novels. I also asked if it was worth doing so. The response was overwhelming and for that I am greatly appreciative.

If you’d like to check out this post and the wonderful advice and encouragement I received, it’s right HERE.

In that short span of time, I have been able to put one audio book on the market with another in process and targeted for completion sometime in August. I received an email from the wonder Anette Rochelle Aben asking for any information I could provide on the creation of audio books since I was able to get one completed.

As I answered her email, I thought that the information I provided, plus a bit more, would make a useful blog post for other authors that may be thinking of taking this on.

What follows it the process that I went through to achieve this goal. Your process and results may vary.

Step 1 – The Platform

acx6This part of the process turned out to be a no-brainer. I was skeptical at first, however, because I had tried the exact same tactics in the past with no positive results. The overwhelming suggestion for a platform was to use ACX.com. ACX is another one of those content publishing companies owned by Amazon. Amazon seems to own everything these days, but they also do a lot of things well. ACX is one of their stellar offerings. ACX is a sales portal for audio books, but it’s also a community where voice actors and authors can get together and collaborate.

Step 2 – Find a Voice Actor

Method 1 – Submit a Proposal to Selected Voice Actors

There are two ways to ‘hook up’ with a voice actor on ACX. One is to listen to audio samples of the many authors that are listed on the site. You can kick this off by initiating a search.

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Voice actors (producers) can be searched by clicking the link that reads ‘Producers for Hire’. This will bring you to a screen with initial results as shown below:

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As you can see, there are tens of thousands of samples to choose from. You can use the list of filters, however, to hone in on the type of voice actor you are looking for. You can filter by the obvious categories of genre, gender and language. One thing that makes ACX so useful is that you can also pick particular accents, voice ages, vocal styles, etc. You can really narrow down your list and submit proposals to the voice actors you like.

As you can see from the screen shot below, the filters can really help you be specific. There are many filter selections within each category and you can select multiples. You can narrow down to very few voice actors and listen to sample audio from each.

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Once you’ve narrowed down your selections and found a voice actor or actors that you like, you can look at his/her profile. The screen below is a profile view with the picture of the voice actor and some details redacted to protect privacy.

acx4As you can see, it shows a summary of experience and billing terms. This particular voice actor is available for $50 – $100 dollars per finished hour (PFH). That means you don’t get charged for his studio time, only the duration of the finished product. The cool thing is, ACX will take the number of words in your manuscript and estimate the time so that you know how much to budget if you are going the route of paying by the hour. A 6 hour novel, for instance, would cost somewhere in the range of $300 – $600 with this voice actor.

Some voice actors will also record your audio book for a share in the royalties. When you have this type of arrangement, you pay nothing to the voice actor directly. Once your book goes on sale, you then split the royalties 50/50 for the life of your audio book. This type of arrangement was appealing to me as I started out with my first book. I just wanted to get one on the market. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have $100s of dollars budgeted for this, but that’s not where I’m at in my writing career at present.

In this scenario, you can send a proposal to the voice actor(s) you prefer and they can either accept or reject it. You can set a deadline for a response and consider a lack of response a rejection to move things along.

Method 2 – Post Your Book for Auditions

acx7The second way to connect with a voice actor is to put a sample of your manuscript on ACX for audition. This is a great method for indie authors as we might not have as much ‘juice’ in enticing an experienced voice actor to work on their project. You have two choices here. You can either budget the money and pay the voice actor a flat per finished hour fee, or you can hope that your book has enough potential in the eyes of the voice actor to entice them to audition. The great thing is that, because ACX is connected to Amazon, it automatically pulls the reviews in and gives the voice actor a snapshot of your book.

Here is an image of my book’s synopsis as I put it up for audition on ACX:

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You can see that it gives a great synopsis of the title along with the average Amazon rating, a link to view it on Amazon, along with some of the voice actor preferences that I selected when I put it on ACX. There is also a section where you can tell the voice actor more about the book. I chose to let them know it was a multi-book series to pique their interest in producing the subsequent books.

Once you have your book posted for potential auditions, the next step is very difficult. You have to wait. Waiting for someone to audition is hard. My advice would be, if you don’t get auditions right away, tweak your posting to widen your potential pool of voice actors that will submit an audition.

The strategy that I used was to post two books. I first posted Blood Orangemy terrorism thriller. This book had the most positive critical acclaim and, in my view, the most potential for expanded sales. I also posted my first book, Frankly Speaking, shown above. This book has the widest distribution and most reviews on Amazon of all of my books.

I had posted Frankly Speaking many months ago on ACX, before it had received the distribution and reviews and didn’t receive any auditions, so I was a bit nervous. This time, however, was much different. Within 24 hours, I received auditions for both books. Not single auditions, but multiple ones. I was also pleased to see that the voice actor that auditioned, and was ultimately selected for Blood Orange was an experienced producer with multiple credits. I listened to the auditions. I actually had the luxury of rejecting a couple of the Frankly Speaking auditions, but ultimately selected a fairly new voice actor with many years of radio experience.

I hope this has been an helpful post. In the second part of this series, I’ll talk about the production process and putting my first audio book up for sale.

Your comments and questions are most welcome.

An Update on my Audio Book Questions

Hello blogging community,

Yesterday I posted some questions about the creation of audio books. https://donmassenzio.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/seeking-advice-audio-book-creation/

I took the advice of some of the experienced authors and posted audition requests on ACX for my two most popular books. I already have audition submissions for both and one of them, Blood Orange, has a completed contract and should be complete in audio book form in late July or early August.

Thank you so much for your help with this. You took a problem that I’d been facing for a while and gave me a simple solution.

Seeking Advice – Audio Book Creation

Got Audiobooks.jpegThis blogging community has authors of all experience and success levels. One of the things I’ve been contemplating to take my writing to a new market is the creation of an audio book.

As I contemplate this, and I have on an off for the past three years, I’m trying to find the most economic, but effective way to make this happen for my first book. I would then like to used the increased revenue from the additional market to fund audio versions of my other books.

With this in mind, I thought I would leverage this community to get some advice from those of you that have created audio books. I will tell you that my first inclination was to record it myself. This can be done for a relatively low cost, but I just didn’t like the sound of my voice. I have a nasal, monotone voice that sounds much different in my ear than it does when it’s recorded.

So, here are my questions. I appreciate any information that you can provide:

  1. Did you hire a professional voice actor/actress to record your audio book?
  2. Approximately how much did this cost? Giving a range or price per word count is fine.
  3. Have you seen an uptick in sales or significant revenue for the audio version of your book?
  4. How does your marketing differ for audio books?
  5. Are there any other things I should know going into this venture?

I understand if you are reluctant to share information. I would even be grateful if you pointed me in the direction of resources you have used to research and create your audio books.

I truly appreciate this blogging community and respect your experience and knowledge. I hope that I can help you out with similar advice at some point.

Thanks,

Don Massenzio

 

I’ve Found a New Way to Read More

I'm_late

I’m probably late to this party. I have had many friends tell me about the virtue of audio books. I’ve had them express the need for me to provide my books in audio form (not an inexpensive endeavor). I even signed up for Audible, the audio book service of choice, and let the membership sit there unused.

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This week, however, I finally took the plunge. I had a monster week of travel with long flights, long delays due to weather, and long days of staring at the computer screen. Although I did get some writing done, the flight home, which would normally be my prime writing time, was not going to be spent with more time staring at an electronic screen.

the black echoI finally downloaded a book to my Ipad. I chose one that I’d been planning on reading for a while, Michael Connelly’s first Harry Bosch Book, The Black Echo.

I started it as soon as I got settled on my first of two three hour flights, put my little toilet seat-shaped pillow around my neck, put in earbuds, dimmed the screen (to save power), and hit play.

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What happened next, despite my tendency toward ADD, was amazing. The plane disappeared. I was transported to Harry Bosch’s house in the hills overlooking Los Angeles. I became riveted in the story.

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Dick Hill

I know that this is a well-written and critically acclaimed novel, but I also discovered another dimension that I don’t experience when I read to myself. The voice actor, a very talented gentleman named Dick Hill, adjusted his voice slightly for each character. This made the book more alive and more of an immersive, theater-like experience for me.

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By the time I reached my destination, I had listened to the first 5 hours of this 13 hour unabridged version of the book. And I wanted more. I don’t think I’ve ever read a traditional or ebook for a five hour stretch and wanted to continue.

long line

This has opened a door for me. I can listen to the book on my phone and other devices and be transported anytime that I want to. It will make long drives and time in lines much more tolerable.

Look for more about this topic in the form of reviews that will include a critique of the narration, non-fiction vs. fiction, and anything else that pops into my cluttered mind related to this subject.

So, what about you? Do you listen to audio books? Any good recommendations?