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How to Produce Audiobooks with Amazon ACX — 26 Comments

  1. I have submitted an anthology of short stories celebrating advancing years to ACX on a shared-royalty basis as I couldn’t face reading it myself and feel it should be left to the professionals. Does anyone know how long it might take to find a reader/producer?

  2. I hold rights for Chetan Bhagat’s new book REVOLUTION 2020 for PLAYREADING. If I want to release the PLAYREADING (STORY TELLING) of the book as an AUDIO BOOK, how do I go about? Please guide.parmeshwar

  3. “Aficionados of audio­books can hear ‘amateur’ the moment they sample a self-produced audiobook.”

    Since I have my own little studio where I record all my musical demos, any tips on what the giveaways might be? I know the basics: no background noise, quality recording, etc. I did the audio version of my first business book, but don’t promote it. I want to do the audio versions of my mysteries, but don’t want to come off as amateur there any more than I would want to in print.

    • Joel, you’re a musician of at least semi-pro calibre—which means you have some sense for timing, tone, melody, balance, etc. Having the equipment is only a piece of it. Do you have the voice? It’s not as if most voice actors go to school to learn elocution and sound engineering, but those who focus on voiceover learn the art over years. For most people—not all—recording your own audiobook is like designing your own cover. A few get away with it but the majority don’t even understand the visual crimes they commit against their own books and against the self-publishing world. Like you, I have an audio/music background, but I imagine getting good at narrating requires reading and producing quite a few books. As with any art, there’s no shortcut to mastery.

      • Most useful, Dave. With over 40 years of public speaking under my belt, including hundreds of hours of reading aloud to groups of all sizes and compositions, I think I’ve got that part sorted.

        I just don’t want to be the guy on American Idol whose friends told him he really could sing Bohemian Rhapsody. Very interested in any feedback or cautions.

        I wonder if listening to an audio book would be good research, since, I’m just realizing, I never have. D’oh. A mite obvious, that.

        • What’s fascinating is to hear your own book read by someone else. Insights to be found there that you can’t imagine. I’m not a voice artist so I offer what
          is admittedly conjecture, but I know when I published my first novel, I thought I was a pretty good writer. I just released book #6 into the wild and now I know: I was a “pretty good” writer. I might have gotten by better than many first-time audiobook producers, but without a half-dozen under my belt, I worry I’d listen a few years down the road and hear things I didn’t on release day. It’s easy to say, ” I can do that,” and jump in—that’s what got me started writing books—but “the good is the enemy of the great.”

  4. Wendy Anne Darling

    Author, Narrator, and Artist

    I’m a narrator and have so far only worked through ACX. It is a tough job. I spend around 6 hours per finished hour of audio for very little return so far. I’ve done 3 titles and am contracted for another 4.

    One thing that you didn’t mention, Dave, is the possibility of a stipend. This is a program currently run by ACX to get narrators to submit auditions for the royalty split projects (by far the most prevalent of offerings for audio book gigs). If ACX believes that an audio production of the book will bring in money for them, they will offer the narrator $100 per finished hour out of their own pocket to produce it – pretty sure this has to be agreed to by ACX before the request for auditions goes live). This is in addition to the royalty split and is paid to the narrator after the book has been completed and approved by the author. If what I’ve read on their site is correct, the author can contact them and ask if they would offer the stipend for that book. Needless to say, if the narrator knows they will definitely be paid something for the many hours of work, they are much more likely to audition.

  5. Where do you think the royalty split issue will likely end up? I’ve got a modest success in a dark fantasy but have hesitated to jump into ACX precisely for this reason and the restrictive distribution rights. Couldn’t I just do all this by finding my own narrator and production studio, then distribute on my own through distribution partners like ACX and others?

    Great article. Really helped me think a bit more about this particular track. Thank you.

    • The distribution is where the hook is. If you want to distribute through Amazon/Audible, ACX is the entryway. And yes, you can find your own voice talent, pay for the service, and upload on your own, but you can do this through ACX anyway and probably have more choices. The royalty split will probably continue to favor the big booksellers across all media. They control the market and we buyers give them that control. Most customers want convenience over competition in the same way that they prefer “security” over freedom and privacy. Prices and royalties will be set more and more by the seller. The manufacturer of the product will have no say.

  6. Interesting and thanks for the good info. A bit too late for me to do now since I self-published my memoir in 2009, entitled The BadassBureaucrat A Memoir by Arthur Murray. However I managed to get it listed on Amazon Books at the time, without marketing. Written primarily for family history reasons not money. It dealt primarily with government fraud,waste and abuse.

    But recently a government study disclosed widespread misuse and diversion of taxpayer money throughout the system that was endemic. That had been my primary motivation to write the book. So this might be the right time to get marketed.

    I wouldn’t need Amazon ACX since I had a voice-over professional rendition made (6 CD pack) in addition to paperback copies printed. But, had not sought widespread advertisement until now.

    I’m interested in your comments on how to proceed to now begin that process. My website:
    badassbureaucrat.com

    • One of the options offered by ACX is to upload an already produced audiobook. If you own the rights, submit your audio and jump in. And you won’t have to share royalties with a narrator.

      • FYI, Dave, listening to audiobooks while following along in a book is one of the transitional steps for kids to learn how to read, or improve their reading skills. Kids need to hear the modeling of a competent reader. Former middle school special ed teacher chiming in here.

        • “While following along” being the important caveat. I agree with you, but have my reservations about audio-only children’s books. My 9-year-old daughter devours Harry Potter books, but when I taught at the university, only a small minority of my students read for pleasure. Anything that instills literacy at a young age is good—including audio accompaniment to printed books—but we al have to keep our eyes on the literacy ball. Thanks for correcting me on this, though.

    • Annamaria, what type of children’s books? Picture books or chapter books? Published in conjunction with a hard copy book, or targeted for the remedial market? As a former special ed teacher, I can assure you that there’s a market for good children’s audiobooks that don’t talk down for the kids who are still struggling with reading. Listening to a competent reader read while following the text is one means of remediating a reading disability.

  7. This is fascinating Dave! All the best of luck with it, especially as it’s already been such a great experience for you 😀
    Are you OK with my re-blogging this? Couple of communities I’m involved with away from LinkedIn would be really interested in this…

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