Writing & Editing Tips

USING ACX: TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR BOOK ON AUDIO

I was asked by a fellow author on via Instagram to explain the process I went through to get my books on audio, and I decided to write a blog post as I figured it would be helpful to a lot of other authors out there as well!

I used ACX to produce and distribute my audio books after having the site recommended to me by my friend Ian Healy, author and owner of Local Hero Press, LLC. I've had a wonderful experience with ACX and was especially pleased with their response and help dealing with issues I had with the first producer for The Lost Heir. So, for any of you authors out there who are trying to decide where and how to produce your audio book, I would highly recommend ACX.

ACX makes the process extremely easy to follow, but once you're ready to produce your audio book, you'll follow these basic steps:

  1. Create your author account and add your title. During this process, you'll have the opportunity to express what qualities you're looking for in the narrator. Male/female, accents, tone, etc. You'll also post a 1-2 page excerpt that producers will read when they record their audition. I have some tips for this step below!
  2. Post your book. It's been my experience that it usually takes a couple of days before you receive any auditions, so don't expect it to be instantaneous!
  3. Review auditions. This stage can be quite maddening, and I'll list some tips to help you out during this process below!
  4. Choose producer and make an offer. There are a couple of ways you can pay your producer for their work. You can pay them per finished hour or give them a share of your royalties. I chose to pay both of my producers per finished hour as I thought that would be more fair to them.
  5. Listen to and approve 15 minute checkpoint. This is your opportunity to hear how the producers has interpreted the project and discuss any changes you'd like them to make.
  6. Listen to and approve the final project.
  7. Pay producer and distribute audio book.

All of this can seem daunting, but ACX truly walks you through the process from beginning to end. That being said, I do have some tips to help you while you're going through the different stages.

  • Choose your audition pages wisely.
    • It's only 1-2 pages, which gives you about 7 minutes to listen to each producer, and you want to make sure you're making the most informed decision possible. Pick scenes that might showcase different characters or accents, and be sure to include a scene that is narration only, no dialogue.
    • The scenes you use for your audition pages don't have to be in sequential order! Pick 2 or 3 scenes from throughout your book that represent things you want to hear in the auditions.
  • Create a system for reviewing auditions.
    • Listening to 10, 15, or 20 people read the same 2 pages, they all to start to sound alike, so it's important to create a system when reviewing auditions.
    • I wrote down the producer's name and what I did and didn't like about their narration. Then, I would give them a rating between 1 and 10.
    • Once I got through all of the auditions, I narrowed it down to those with ratings of 9 or 10, and continued the process until I chose the producer who fit the project best.
  • Get someone else's opinion.
    • Yes, you know your book best, but it's extremely helpful to get someone else's opinion when listening to the auditions. Hand a pair of headphones to your spouse, friend, parent, or a random person walking their dog down the street, and have them listen to the auditions you can't decide between. They'll be listening with fresh ears and might be able to point out some things you hadn't noticed.
  • Setting your timeline & working with producer.
    • When you make an offer to a producer, you choose when the 1st 15 minutes are due, as well as the due date for the finished book. But there is no way to know what other projects might be on their schedule when you make the offer. I usually give them a week to record the first 15 minutes, then 8 more weeks to produce the rest of the book.
    • Communicate with your producer once they accept the offer. Ask what their schedule is like and if the dates work for them. A good producer will be open with you about other projects they might have and will tell you if they'll need more time.
    • Don't let your producer feed you bullshit. If it's far past the due date, they didn't communicate their schedule to ask for more time, and you start to hear things like "I was sick. I had family troubles. I had an emergency." it might be best to terminate the contract. Yes, things can happen, and there's always something to be said for giving someone the benefit of the doubt, but don't let them walk over you. This is your book and your project. Read my experience of this type of situation here.
  • Be picky with the 15 minute checkpoint.
    • This is your opportunity to nitpick! Listen carefully and take notes of anything you might like done a different way. Be open with the producer. A good producer will work with you to make sure your finished audio book sounds exactly the way you envisioned!

Have you made the step into the world of audio books? Did you used ACX? What tips do you have for the process?

Share in the comments below!

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