HOW DOES AN AUTHOR MAKE AN AUDIO BOOK?
by Marva Dasef
There may be more ways to skin the audio cat, but this is how I went about it.
Sometime or other, Amazon let me know about their audio book production site, acx.com. That may have come through CreateSpace, which is the Amazon POD (print on demand) site. I've had good experiences using CreateSpace, so I clicked on over to see just how hard...and expensive...it was.
Before I did the clicking, I had some assumptions:
1) I'm going to have to do my own narration, and that would be impossible since I don't happen to have a sound studio at home. Matter of fact, I'd have to search through the Big Box O' Computer Stuff for a microphone.
2) Since someone else will need to narrate, I'll have to spend a lot of money upfront to hire someone to do it.
3) It will take months to produce a final product and have it up for sale.
4) I don't have a lot of money to spend.
The only true point from above is 4). What I discovered when I browsed through ACX is that there were professional narrators for hire. Okay, that meant I wouldn't have to do my own talking. Then, I found the Royalty Split option. I wish I could put little stars and sparklies around ***Royalty Split*** (stars, but no sparkles).
Audio books are the new big thing just like ebooks were the new big thing a few years ago. If you haven't already jumped on the audio bandwagon, you should at least start thinking about it.
On the site, you'll find producer/narrators who want to do business with you. You can browse the available narrators via samples they have posted.
When you're ready, register your account, assert your rights to your book (by selecting it from your works available at Amazon) and upload a 1-2 page sample script. You can either wait for narrators to approach you, or you can make an offer to ones you like the sound of. They may not find your book in the available list since there is always a lot of books waiting for a marriage of author to producer, hopefully one made in heaven.
Some might be quite willing to work with you on a 50-50 royalty split basis. There are lots of them (including mine) who do it that way. If not, you can spend a little money upfront by offering a flat rate per finished hour. In the Narrator search, you can set your price so to speak: $0-$50, $51-$100, and so on.
With the 50-50 split, the most lucrative way to proceed is to let Amazon be your exclusive distributor. Your audio book will be offered at Amazon (with a link through to Audible.com), Audible.com membership (if you like audio books, this is a good way to keep your listening pipeline filled), and iTunes (good old Apple).
Okay, once you have signed up with a producer/narrator, they'll need the full DOC or PDF copy of your book. Give them a nice clean copy. Title page, page breaks on chapters, no headers or footers, no blurb, no About the Author, no nothing except your book's words.
You'll also need to set a deadline for completion. I asked my producer what he wanted for the completion date. I figured he'd know better than me. Consider that the completed narration will take 4-8 weeks depending on the length of your book. So you don't have time to waste!
The producer/narrator will then begin recording chapter by chapter. You'll get email notifications from acx.com, and you have a direct message line to your producer if you want to communicate. My producer, Don Baarns, and I have become chatty friends over the last few months. We have talked by phone to go over some pronunciation issues, mostly lots of stabs at how to pronounce my last name. I'd take bets that most of you would not say Dasef correctly on the first try. You'll have to listen to the audio book to answer that burning question.
As soon as your narrator uploads a chapter, listen to it immediately and make notes on things that require change. I indicated where the change was by the time stamp and a few words to identify where the change was needed, and the change itself. This seemed to work for my guys (my narrator is my producer's son).
We got through all the chapters, my producer uploaded the revised chapters. I listened again and noted changes (very few) like we did on the first round. When everything was ready to go, I clicked the Publish link. At that point, ACX takes over to ensure your audio files are usable as is (mine were), and they do other arcane things to it, and, finally, make it available for sale.
A hint especially if you're doing a royalty split or a flat rate per finished hour: Don't get too fussy about changes. Certainly, do NOT change the wording after the chapter is uploaded. You want to mess with your words? Do it before you upload the document.
The narrators are taking a chance on you, particularly with royalty split, so be as prompt and organized as possible. I think your producer can 'fire' you if you're a prima donna. Stay humble. It's okay for "I am" to become "I'm" in the narration. Don't harp on nitpicks. That's why my producer liked me enough to ask to produce my next book. He found me easy to work with, and he says likes my writing.
A word on cover art: An audio book "cover" needs to be 2400x2400 pixels and 300 DPI. If you don't know what that means, you'll probably want someone else to do your cover. If you want to use the cover from your ebook, you'll need to talk to the cover artist about purchasing the rights to use the cover on the audio book. I have just enough graphic power to create my own covers. I'd already done covers for my print versions of ebooks produced by my publisher.
Go for it. You really don't have anything to lose. The ACX site has lots of Help info that explains all parts of the process. Go through those first.
Now, here are the links to my finished products. I hope you consider buying it if you buy audio books. If you join Audible.com, please select Tales of a Texas Boy as one of your first three books (it could be the freebie you get for joining). You'll find out about the bonuses when you jump in to acx.com.
My second audio book, a murder mystery, "Missing, Assumed Dead," was released in January. The producer of the first book asked me if he could produce it since he knew I could write a good story. Too bad he can't review my books!
TALES OF A TEXAS BOY - Only $1.99 right now
How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones.
MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD - $13.08 through Amazon ($14.95 on Audible and iTunes)
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.
Visit Marva Dasef
WIN A FREE COPY OF EITHER AUDIO BOOK. Just comment on this post to enter your name for a free coupon. In the comment, indicate where you can be reached and which book you'd like to add to your audio library.