Conquer Audiobooks—a New Market to Expand Your Author Reach
Jamie Sheffield, our guest writer, is an author, adventurer, traveler who excels at connecting with people and sharing his publishing experiences. We caught up with him for a discussion about his experience having one of his books made into an audiobook.
Jamie, tell me a little bit about yourself?
I live in the upstate New York with my wife and son and dogs. We live in the woods in the middle of the largest state park in the lower 48 states, the Adirondack Park. When I’m not writing, I work as a Special Education Teacher in the Lake Placid Central School District, in Lake Placid, New York, home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics. I love living in the Adirondacks because I love camping and canoeing and hiking and skiing.
I’m an independent publisher, and have self-published three books to date, with my newest novel in the final stages of editing. My books are all mysteries and one was recently made into an audiobook.
That leads nicely into the next question … why make an audiobook?
I have always loved audiobooks. I love listening to them while I’m on long drives, which is something that I enjoy doing. I was excited about the possibility of having one of my stories made into an audiobook, because it allows me to reach a different audience than print and ebooks alone.
How did you get started along the path of making an audiobook?
Last summer (2013), I heard about ACX.com, which is short for Audiobook Creation Exchange (an Amazon company), and checked it out; it’s surprisingly easy to sign up and have your books made into audiobooks.
Take us through the steps from beginning to end, please?
- Confirm that you hold the rights to your book.
- Create a profile on ACX.com, which includes posting a short excerpt of your book for auditions.
- Post your book so that producers and narrators can find it, and audition.
- Review the auditions from narrators to find one that works for you.
- Make a deal with the producer/narrator of your choice, this involves working out payment and production schedule.
- Check in throughout the process, to evaluate and offer guidance and edits on the partially finished product.
- Approve the final product.
- Promote the book and earn royalties.
Can you break that down a bit more?
Sure. I posted an excerpt of about 1000 words for the purpose of audition. I wrote a bit about the book and the type of voice I was looking for, and I believe this helped get the right kind of voice actor. Three actors submitted auditions, and I got in touch with the one that I liked the sound of best. He agreed to produce the audiobook for a straight split of the royalties (the other main option is to pay the producer/narrator out front, but I prefer the idea of splitting the royalties. We agreed on a schedule of production that included first fifteen minutes, and project completion; the project ran over on both deadlines (but I decided not to worry about it, since worrying didn’t seem likely to be productive or conducive to a better final product). At both the 15 minutes and final product, I listened to the audio, and sent corrections and suggestions to the narrator, all of which he completed wonderfully. ACX then took nearly a month to filter the final and approved product to the outlets that they deal with – I chose to go with Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. A bit after the release, ACX sent me 25 codes for free copies to give to reviewers and such.
Would you use them again, and in either case, what advice would you give to someone considering ACX?
I would, and will, make audiobooks with ACX again, and think that they’re a great outfit, especially for independent publishers like myself. I would suggest waiting for a few different auditions, but don’t wait for perfection (it’s always going to sound different than you imagined it when writing the book). I would advise working out a generous/relaxed schedule with the narrator, and be ready for delays and/or extensions.
It’s important to note that ACX is still pretty new, and one aspect of the whole thing that does not work very well is their internal communication system. The narrator and I both had trouble using their system, it is definitely worthwhile to exchange email addresses with your narrator and send anything important through ACX and your regular email.
There was a problem of some sort with something to do one of the audio channels with the recording that I approved for distribution; it was something to do with a 50ms delay in one channel or some such, nothing that I could hear. This message didn’t get to the narrator or me, but when I sent an email to customer service, response was fast and detailed; so if in doubt, ask for help from ACX.
I am planning to get all of my books made into audiobooks, and will definitely use ACX for the entire process in each case.
If readers have questions about the process that Jamie didn’t address, they can get in touch with him via
email or visit his website. Jamie is on Facebook and can field tweets as @JamieSheff. Read about his work on his Amazon author page.