This a continuation of my earlier post about my self-publishing resources.
My first audiobook, Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life was published in 2014.
After I published that book in 2010 I hadn’t planned on an audio version. But, after reading about the growth of audiobooks — which reached approximately 1.47 billion in 2014 – I decided to dive in.
Here are some things to keep in mind for the self-publisher:
There are other platforms for audiobooks, but I went with ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) which is owned by Amazon. Using the same login/password you use to publish your books on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can login to ACX. Once you’re on there, you claim the books you’ve published on Amazon.
Once you claim your book, you’re guided through steps to set up your book so that you can get auditions from narrators.
I usually pay the voice artist up front. Those fees can run from approx. $50 per finished hour or more, depending on the voice artist’s fee. You can indicate your budget after you claim your book and open it up for auditions. (Finished hour is exactly that. You’re paying for the hours that were recorded and completed, not for the total hours it took to create the audiobook.)
ACX automatically creates a contract that you can download. Once the voice artist accepts your offer, you’re good to go. So far I haven’t had an offer rejected, so I can’t speak to that. But it is a possibility, so keep a plan B in mind.
Usually they’ll upload an initial 15 minute recording to give you a feel for what they’ll be doing going forward. The voice artists that I’ve worked with have also produced the audiobook, so all I had to do was provide a copy of the manuscript. I gave them pronunciations of names/words (particularly ones I made up for my fiction) and shared the backstory so they’d have a context.
Listening to all of the recordings as they’re being created is, in my opinion, the best way to go. You can correct things (if necessary) and let the narrator know if they’re on the right track.
It’s easier to communicate using email (instead of ACX) and I recommend it. But when it comes to approving the recordings, indicating that you’ve paid the voice artist, etc., those things have to happen on ACX.
When you give your okay that the recordings are all as they should be, the amount due is automatically totaled (depending on the number of finished hours).
I’d rather not go through the work of recording my own books (especially after the work of writing them). So, I have no problem letting the experts do the work in this case. The only thing I have to do during the process – other than listen to the draft of the audio – is to create a new cover.
The sizing is different, and you’re not allowed to just change the dimensions of your book cover. For Audible, your cover has to be 2400 x 2400.
Four of my books are audios, and I was able to do the covers myself for two of them. But if you’re not comfortable using a graphics program, consider having a graphic designer do your cover.
You can use one of the templates ACX provides. However, they’re not exactly aesthetically pleasing, so I don’t recommend that option.
In a pinch you can use the record cover template on Canva, and design something there with a lot less stress. (Use Canva’s album cover template for starting point for the sizing, or use the custom design dimensions.)
I’ve used Gimp (a free download ) and Photoshop (not free, but you can get a subscription for as low as $9.99 per month). There are tutorial videos on YouTube and all over the web, if you’re feeling industrious.
You can find great voice artists at a lower rate, but it all depends. Rates aren’t necessarily tied to experience.
I’ve used experienced voice artists who were breaking into audiobook narration, so their rates were in the $50-100 per finished hour range.
One thing to note is voice artists who are members of the SAG-AFTRA union will have a set minimum rate.
Be aware of the approx. total hours your book will need to be completed and choose accordingly. Set your budget in advance and use that to filter voice artists who have higher fees than you desire to pay.
There are other options, for instance, splitting the royalties and having the producer/narrator take on the production costs. I haven’t gone that route, so I can’t say if it has an advantage or not.
You get paid monthly as long as the amount is at least $10. Otherwise, it gets rolled over to the next month.
Also be aware that unlike ebooks and paperbacks, you don’t set the price. So making your investment back depends on the net sale price. (The royalty at ACX is currently 40%.)
If your book is added to Whispersync, most likely it will be discounted if a reader wants the ebook and audiobook combo. You’ll receive royalties based on that discounted net sale price, not on the regular retail price (the price without any discounts).
Royalties are also sliced and diced depending on whether the buyer is an Audible member and if they used credits for the purchase. (Buyers who get your book on iTunes are considered “a la carte” buyers and will pay the regular retail price.)
If someone buys your audiobook, joins Audible as a member and remains current for a specific amount of time, you’ll earn a $50 bounty.
ACX provides reports you can download and there’s a lot of online documentation. I find the customer service to be pretty responsive, as well.
One big plus is that once your book is published, ACX provides you with 25 codes for free audiobooks. So you can use them to gift to reviews, friends, fans, etc. You will receive royalties on the regular retail price when those books are claimed–so you do get paid for them. If you want codes for the UK store, simply contact customer service and they’ll send them.
When all the work is done, the voice artist has acknowledged payment, ACX runs a check on the audios and cover. Then about 10-14 days later (give or take a few days) the book will be published and distributed to Amazon, Audible and iTunes.
If your book ends up in a category that you don’t want it to be in, customer service will take care of that too. Unfortunately they don’t have a science fiction romance category, so if that’s what you write, you’ll have to decide where you want your audiobooks placed.
The downside is that I changed one book, but not the other. Which means right now they’re in two different categories. Does that help or hurt? I can’t say. But when the third book in the series comes out, I’ll ensure they’re all placed in the same category.
Check out my audiobooks and listen to samples on Audible: http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_pd_Sci-Fi_c2_1_auth?searchAuthor=Deborah+A.+Bailey
If you’re looking for audiobook promotion, check out AudioBook Blast for some options. So far I’ve done pretty well with it for reviews.
For some additional reading and opinions from other authors (including yours truly) check out this post from Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly: The A to SFR of Audiobooks (Part 1)
If you’ve created an audiobook and have a different experience to share, please do so in the comments. Or if you have questions, those are fine too!