I recently decided to have my first book, No Strings Attached, recorded as an audiobook through ACX, a subsidiary of Amazon. There are several options when you are thinking about audiobooks: read and produce the book yourself, hire a narrator / producer at a flat rate, usually an hourly rate, or offer the book for a royalty share.
Doing the production myself was not an option. I don’t have a “radio voice”, and I don’t have recording equipment. My understanding is that ACX has high-quality standards, and I would want my audiobook to be of the highest quality. Clearly, doing it myself was not an option.
The first step of the project is to input information about your book into ACX. They pull in reviews and other data on sales ranking, etc. from Amazon. You tell them how many words the book is, and they estimate the recorded time. I was skeptical that they would be close, but they estimated my book at 8.2 hours, and the full recorded time was just under 8. So they were pretty close. Sometimes if your project catches Amazon’s eye, they will offer a stipend on top of the royalty share, which is what they did for my friend’s book.
I first listed the book over a year ago, but I had no auditions. Zero. I offered a royalty share only, and couldn’t get anyone to audition. Keep in mind that I was asking them to commit a minimum of 24 hours, including editing and everything else. ACX told me the listing had been dormant for too long and they made it inactive. So I decided to wait a while.
My friend was having success, so I talked to her about the fact that no one had auditioned. She suggested I contact her narrator and ask him what rate he would charge. With x being the hourly rate I thought I could afford for 8 finished hours, he offered 4x. I had email exchanges with him, but I couldn’t afford his rate. I said I would be in touch after Christmas.
Meanwhile, I was talking to another author that I met online who does audio narrations by the name of Brian Schell. We started discussions, and he also said he would do it for 4x per hour. I told him I couldn’t afford it right now, but would be happy to talk to him later. He said he was interested in the project and submitted an audition anyway. Within the same week, a female narrator submitted an audition for my book based on the offer of royalty share only. I couldn’t leave her hanging, so I had to make a decision.
Most auditions last about five minutes. I listened to her reading and it just didn’t do much for me. Her phrasing felt odd and I just couldn’t relax into the reading. There was a section where I could hear her fumbling with something, and that undercut her professionalism.
I listened to Brian’s reading, and I was hooked. My book is told from Fox and Laura’s point of view, and Fox’s narration has a certain sarcastic feel to it, a certain dry wit. He captured that immediately. He was also able to differentiate between multiple voices in the dialog sections. I felt like he brought my words to life.
We discussed it, and he agreed to take the risk. I offered x for the 8 hours plus royalty share to start immediately, and we reached an agreement. I couldn’t hold back my excitement. Brian was going to bring my words to life!
When I received notification that he had uploaded my finished audiobook, I couldn’t wait. I downloaded it and listened over a Friday and Saturday. It was like Fox talking in my ear. Brian also reminded me that I had to reformat my cover (it had to be square) and offered to do that for me.
I chose to listen to the words without matching it to the text unless it came across confusing or I had a question. There were only a few places where I submitted minor changes to him. Now the book is live, and ready for listeners.
That, in a nutshell, is how audiobooks are made. Are you a audiobook fan? Do you have an Audible subscription? Download the sample and give it a listen. Here is the link to Audible.com. If you like the sample, I would be honored if you choose it as your selection this month. listen. Or, if you’ve been thinking about starting an audiobook subscription but haven’t taken the plunge, you can start your subscription and receive my audiobook for free. You can find details here.
I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about producing an audiobook. Ask them in the comments.