This is a follow up to a post I did in August 2013 on how to create an audiobook using ACX an Amazon platform. I gave a step by step instruction on how to create an account, find a narrator (producer), and get started with the creation of your audiobook. You can see that post by clicking here: http://wp.me/p2AmV1-kh. What I couldn’t tell you was what happened after that. Production can take some time. I gave my narrator almost 5 months—his schedule was pretty tight already with his theater productions. (Just a note: check with your narrator on the best time frame to set the deadline. If you rush them with the recordings, you might not get the best production possible). Now that my audiobook has been available for a few weeks I can tell you what happens after you sign the contract to record with your narrator (producer).
First off, let me just tell you that listening to your own book being read by a professional narrator is like going to an all you can eat buffet without having to worry about calorie intake or your stomach ever getting full. It is amazing! Audiobooks offer so much because it’s really a production (think live theater). With a talented narrator, the words and characters come to life through voice. What is also pretty darn cool is that because ACX is an Amazon company and they own Audible, if your readers purchase the kindle version of your book and the audiobook they can literally read and listen to it at the same time. The technology is called Whispersync. As the audiobook plays, kindle highlights each word being spoken. This is a great tool to use if you have a child struggling with reading or if you just want to follow along.
So you’ve signed your contract with ACX, sent the final draft of the book to your narrator, now what? Well, you wait. ACX has you set a deadline for you to hear the first 15 minutes of the book, normally a few weeks after you start. When the 15 minutes are ready, ACX will send you an email. You then go onto the ACX website and can listen there or download the file to your favorite listening device.
Things to listen for:
- Is the narrator reading at a good pace? I have listened to some recordings where the narrator is so quick in their speech I miss key things in the book. Are they reading to slow? Again you don’t want to lull your listeners to sleep. You want the story to flow naturally. If you have a good narrator this won’t be a problem.
- Are the words and names being pronounced correctly? This is the time to address concerns. If you prefer the narrator to say “toe-mot-to” instead of “toe-mat-to” let them know. Because my book took place mostly in a fantasy world, I had a lot of names that my narrator didn’t know how to pronounce. He called me on the phone and had me repeat several times to him (as he recorded me) the names so he could go back to them later. This showed me what a good narrator he was. He took the time to do it right!
- Are the voices sounding right? My narrator has the most amazing talent when it comes to accents and dialects. Because I have so many characters in my book, he put those talents to work. This is a great way to add character to your book, but make sure they are using the correct dialogue for each character. You don’t want one character to sound German at the beginning of the book and then Latino at the end. Another thing to listen for with the characters’ voices is how they are being portrayed. Is it a good match? Example: In my book my dream keeper, Gladamyr, is being yelled at by his boss for breaking one of the rules. She is really laying into him. When I heard this in the preview of the first 15 minutes I noticed I didn’t like her. Her voice was shrill and annoying. The reason it bothered me was because she later becomes Gladamyr’s love interest. I can’t have her sounding that shrill and annoying. I made the note to my narrator and he made a fix. She turned out sounding amazing. Sure she was laying into him, but she didn’t sound bad doing it.
Once you have made notes you can send those to your narrator through the ACX system. They keep track of all the emails, which is nice because then anything you agree on with your narrator is then in file form—like a contract. Once you approve the first 15 minutes your narrator gets the go to start on the rest. You then agree on a deadline for the final production to be approved. Then you wait.
This is the time when you start to tell people about your audiobook. You start to hype it up. Tell them about your amazing narrator and how when it comes out they will want this audiobook! When the time comes to review your final production, ACX will again email you. You will be able to download the whole thing to your favorite listening device or listen to each chapter on the site. Just as with your first 15 minutes, you are going to want to take notes and listen for key things. Also have your book available and follow along.
- Is the narrator going at a good pace?
- Are the words and names being pronounced correctly?
- Are the voices sounding right?
- Are the right words being read?
- Are there large gaps between chapter breaks?
- Are you just tickled pink? You should be!
If you have any more notes to give, or problem areas to fix, send them to your narrator right away so they can get started on the changes. Once you have approved everything your book will then go to the ACX team to approve. They will check the file to make sure it’s in the right format, gaps in transitions to each chapter, and length time. If you are paying your narrator you will then get a final hourly rate and you will have to pay the narrator before your book can continue. If you and your narrator agreed on the shared rate it will then go to the distributors.
ACX will distribute your audiobook to Audbile.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes. It will first show up on Audible (give it a couple weeks). You will get an email when it goes live. It will show up on Amazon.com a few days later and then on iTunes a few weeks after that. Be patient, it does take time for it to show up in all the channels. While you wait, start sharing again with friends and readers that it will be coming soon. Once it goes live, share it even more. Remember to post links to the book as you share.
Reviews are a great way to increase a books visibility—this goes for audiobooks too. Ask your friends to leave reviews on Audible or iTunes if they purchase the book. Also ask ACX about their promo offers they have for clients. I did, and got 25 free audible codes to share with reviewers. Give them a complementary audiobook for an honest review. Make sure you follow up with each reviewer you gifted audiobooks to so they don’t forget to post their review. There are also audiobook review sites. Here are just a few (I have not used them myself…yet): http://audiobookjukebox.squarespace.com, http://www.audiobook-heaven.com, http://booksforears.com, and http://www.audiofilemagazine.com.
I hope I covered it all. If you have a question, leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to find you an answer. This is all based off my own personal experience with creating an audiobook. There are many options out there. I have to say I loved using ACX because of their distribution and how easy they made it for me as an author to get the audiobook done. I will be using them again! Good luck to you in creating your own audiobook! Happy Writing!