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Put it in your Contract
If you are traditionally published, make sure the audiobook is written in. Publishers only pay for audiobook production for books they believe.
Record Yourself/You become the voice talent …
Advantages to doing it yourself-
- You know how your characters sound
- You know the nuance of your words
- You know the pacing
- You know when to go loud and soft
- An audio book is not only the words, but it’s how the words sound, so it is a performance and you can hear that performance in your head like no one else
Another big advantage is money. No big outlay for voice talent/editing. You get to keep all the money.
Buying the equipment …
Hire a Pro?
Hire a Pro and use ACX?
Advantages to using ACX
One of the biggest (aside from distribution) is having an advocate on your side. What we mean by that is, ACX has to approve the book before it gets released. They have strict guidelines in regard to bit rates/audio quality/performance standards … so if you hire a narrator through ACX, they have to give you a quality product. (That of course is contingent on you hiring a decent voice talent, more on that in a bit.)
But … do you have the distribution channels? I just finished voicing a non-fiction book for Ted Dekker, and am just starting a book for Randy Ingermanson. I’m working directly with both of them, but both have huge mailings lists, so they don’t need the power of Audible behind them as much as the typical author does.
I (James) just finished loading a romantic suspense novel I voiced up to the ACX website and all communication, approvals, etc, has gone through ACX, so if there was ever a misunderstanding, it’s all documented by ACX. I like having that kind of “paper” trail for both parties.
ACX will handle the money. They will pay you direct into your bank account so you don’t have to be an accountant when someone buys your audio book.
Voice talent– With ACX, you can listen to a bunch of different narrators, then pick the one you want. But even better, voice talent will audition for your book by reading an excerpt (before you spend anything or agree to anything) so you can then get an idea of what they would sound like reading YOUR book. There are other places you can go to find talent, like voices.com or voices123.com but I like the ACX model where the talent is right there.
I would also see if there’s anything above and beyond that the narrator can do for me. I offer two additional items to authors that most narrators can’t do: First, help write or revise the back cover copy for the book. Second, since I have somewhat of a name in the CBA market (although much less in the general market) if someone is wanting a book done for a CBA audience, they can use my name to gain traction for their book (“… voiced by Christy Book of the Year winner James L. Rubart …”)
Another example is how some narrators are followed because people love their voice. Thomas for example will automatically buy an audio book simply because a certain narrator voiced it.
Two ways to play– you can either pay the narrator’s fee straight out (BTW, the amount of this fee is negotiable between you and the producer/voice talent) or do a royalty share. The advantage of a royalty share is no money up front for you. The disadvantage is you could end up selling a gazillion copies and have to keep splitting the royalty forever.
Disadvantages to ACX- They take a lot of your money. They take 60%.
You have been listening to James L Rubart and Thomas Umstattd Jr. on the Novel Marketing podcast, giving you novel ideas on how to promote yourself and your writing, offline, online, and everywhere in-between. Thanks for listening.
Yes, please do an episode on how to create an audiobook yourself! I’m considering doing my own audiobook, but I want to make sure I have all the equipment necessary to create a professional product. 🙂
Thanks for another awesome episode!
I enjoyed the podcast and look forward to the next one on DIY audiobooks for my fiction novel (Stealing Baby Jesus) and my children’s books. Thanks!
As an experienced narrator myself, I must tell you there is a steep learning curve to satisfy ACX. That being said, it is doable and I would suggest all authors at least give it a try; readers love it when an author can voice their own books! I would also suggest all authors try out ACX and listen to some of the narrators. You are not forced to go through with it, and it gives you options and ideas.
Remember that, if your book is not selling well, it’s highly unlikely the audio will, either, as audio books are more expensive. Good narrators WILL look for evidence of your popularity as nobody wants to do what is often far in excess of 40 hours of work for, potentially, no return.