by Cindy C. A. Pereira
We write such wonderful things. Why is the market for book sales plummeting? Even after we came up with this fantastic thing called an e-book, often less expensive than the hardcover and the soft cover, and so convenient so you can take it anywhere on your phone… according to Fortune.com, e-books also dropped by 11% in 2015 alone.
Perhaps all that lost revenue ended up in the audiobook industry. By May 2016 the Audio Publishers Association was reporting a 24% growth in audio books sold.
Here’s a thought: you can’t text while driving but you can listen to a podcast or audio book.
You can’t read while marinating a brisket, but you can listen to an audiobook. You don’t need reading glasses; you can do it while convalescing, or even while bathing!
Ok great, but how do these wonderful works of art end up in audio format? Actually, it’s pretty easy.
You might’ve heard about Amazon taking over the world; rumor confirmed. Their web-site ACX.com is “a marketplace for professional narrators, authors, agents, publishers and rights holders to connect and create audiobooks.”
Whether your book is well known and flying off the shelves, or it is just your substitute for a furry little friend sitting on the foot of your bed, you can get an audiobook produced for next to nothing.
If you have a fully edited ready-to-go manuscript (and this is important because some writers put their wonderfully written books for sale filled with errors, making success in any format elusive at best) you can have it on Audible. In case you aren’t familiar with the process, I will tell you how.
Your book must be listed on Amazon. If you haven’t done that yet, it’s simple. Go to www.kdp.com to learn how.
Next on your list is to go to this link at ACX for all you need to know upfront, in terms of verifying your rights to the book, claiming your title, etc.
You can follow their simple directions on uploading your manuscript and making it available for narrators to audition.
The Process of Narration
Voicing a book is not the same as reading it out loud. Readers need to have training, they need to be in a sound treated environment, they need to have a bit of audio engineering background, and they need an author who is willing to take part in the process. While these are expensive skills, there are ways to work around putting any money out up front.
As a voiceover myself, I’ve had people pay me $2,500 upfront to voice their book and I’ve had others not pay me a dime and, instead, offer me commission on sales. I can safely say that, by and large (as a voiceover), it has made most sense to take the money upfront. Unless I were the voiceover for 50 Shades of Gray (selling over 125 million cop-ies worldwide), it’s often a better deal for the narrator to charge upfront. That said, many are not established enough to do that, others will agree that earning commission can also engage the narrator in the sales and marketing process and, finally, it’s nice to receive long term royalties, even if on a smaller scale. So many will accept the royalty offer.
Note: oftentimes voiceover talent who are starting out will accept any kind of deal to hear their voice in audio books, so you’ll need to be careful. Your book is as much about what you say as how you say it.
Once the book is on ACX you can offer the narration deal as a paid upfront or on a com-mission basis. Other hybrid options also exist. The contracts are very simple and online.
So you’re with me so far? You registered, you uploaded your book, you’ve selected the option to pay commission, and you’ve requested auditions.
Now sit back and look at your email as you get advised about all the people who would like to be narrators. Just click to listen to their auditions. Select one. Make an offer.
Great! We are on a roll. Now that you found the perfect voice for your book, you will have to work with the voiceover talent, chapter by chapter.
Typically how it works is they will read a chapter, upload it to the website, then you will listen to it carefully in front of a computer so you can see the exact timing of any mis-takes.
As you listen to the narration, you will take notes. At the end of each chapter before they go on, shoot them an email that says at 1:52 seconds you said ball instead of bowl, or at 2:58 seconds you missed a word, and so forth.
The voiceover talent corrects these, then re-uploads the chapter to the website, and I’m afraid you must listen to it again… that is, if you still love that baby of yours and want to make sure it goes out into the world representing you as it should.
This will likely go on for a bit because voicing a book can take up to 40 hours of studio time depending on length and complexity. If you’re wondering why it takes so darned long, just try reading one chapter out loud and recording it. You will easily see how many mistakes you make, and then just imagine yourself going back into the audio file cutting and pasting the correct word or re-recording entire paragraphs when needed. The benefit of an experienced narrator is you will have far less mistakes.
Rewind (note to self)
Misspoken words are not the only issue. Perhaps your narrator does not feel the same things you the writer felt. In my opinion it is important, when you hire someone, to have a quick conversation with them beforehand on the phone, so they hear your voice, your in-tention, and understand why you wrote the book. Think of yourself as being a director in a movie; you don’t want to leave much to guess work, but you also want to give the talent the ability to express themselves as actors.
Back in the Weeds
So when the narrator feels they are completely ready they click done! The ACX website will prompt you to click the little button for your approval, and after ACX producers spend a couple days making sure the audio quality is up to par, your book will magically go on Audible.
HURRAY! Now, once that happens, ACX will give you 20 free codes (digital coupons if you will) so that you can give those first 20 books away for free if you’d like.
In my opinion, that’s always a good idea because you can request reviews from the peo-ple you give the book to, and that will start a buzz on Amazon or Audible or wherever your book is sold.
Dollars and Sense
Remember when I said hybrid earlier? If your book is not a resounding success, the voiceover risks not making a dime; therefore many times the author will provide a sti-pend at the get go in case that happens so the narrator didn’t work for free. Those details are personal and up to you and the voiceover to agree upon.
There you have it. Done with diligence your book can go from a word document to a fully produced audiobook in a couple weeks.
From that moment on, each time your audiobook sells, a commission will be sent to you and another small portion to your narrator.
Hope this was useful information and talk to you again soon!