How to Create an Audiobook through Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX)
If you follow Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, you know he recommends indie writers find multiple ways to generate income from the same project. To do that, it’s not enough to publish the e-book in multiple places; you also need to make the book available in other forms, such as paper and audiobook. How do you convert your work into these formats? Luckily there are websites that can help you do that. There are several places where one can go to create an audiobook, including Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX.
ACX is a website that allows authors, audiobook narrators, and producers to find each other. You can find the on-site, step-by-step explanation for how an author turns her book into an audiobook here. ACX works with Amazon, so you can log on with your Amazon account, and it will find all books or short stories published by you. If you’ve self-published your work, you automatically own your audiobook rights; traditionally published authors should check their contracts.
If you have the audiobook rights, you can set up a profile for the title, describing what the book is about and who the narrator should be. (ACX does allow authors to narrate their own books; however, since I know I speak very quickly, I decided a professional narrator would make a better quality audiobook.) If you’re going to hire someone to read your book, you need to include a brief snippet to serve as an audition piece. Once all that is set, you wait for producers to audition for your work. You can also seek out narrators and invite them to audition for you. After you’ve selected someone, you offer them a contract. (Some producers will accept a split of the royalties in lieu of a cash payment. If you don’t have the funds to pay them upfront, it’s an option to consider. However, you have to decide for yourself if you want to pay the producer a lifetime of earnings for a one-time service.)
If your contract is accepted, the narrator and/or producer will prepare the audiobook. This process can take several weeks, and you’ll have an opportunity to listen to part of the work and contact the producer during this time. When the audiobook is complete, you have the opportunity to review it before it’s placed on sale through Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. From this point, you have to promote the audiobook along with the other versions of your book. Eventually, you should start collecting royalties on this project.
I recently went through this process with my science fiction novella, Lyon’s Legacy. It has a first-person POV, so I thought it would work well as an audiobook. The first parts of the process (claiming my book and preparing the title profile) were straightforward. After that, I waited for auditions to come in. My main character, Joanna, has a bit of an attitude, and I thought the second audition, performed by Leah Frederick, did a good job of capturing it. I looked at the narrator’s profile and wrote up a contract that fit with her rates. She accepted it over Memorial Day weekend and started work on the project soon after that. By mid-August, the audiobook was complete. I just finished reviewing and approving it. Hopefully the audiobook will be available by the time this post goes live.
If you choose to go through ACX to develop an audiobook, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, ACX requires all covers to be square. I’ve included my e-book cover (top) and the audiobook cover (bottom) so you can see how the proportions are different.
Meghan Derico of Derico Photography did both covers. Second, story length will affect both the cost it takes to make the audiobook and the price of the audiobook. ACX offers estimates as to how long the final book will be. At one point during the project, it looked as if the audiobook would turn out to be a couple of hours longer than the estimate had predicted. However, Leah was able to keep the final length at the original estimate. ACX has its own messaging system that Leah and I used during the course of the project. I had a problem getting a long message to go through and eventually had to e-mail Leah directly. (She needed to know how some words and names were pronounced.) The layout of the production page is a bit confusing; during the review process, I had to contact Customer Service in order to figure out how to unlock the files so Leah could upload new ones. Customer Service responded within 24 hours, and they were able to help me solve the problem. Overall the experience went pretty smoothly, and I enjoyed working with Leah.
If you have more questions about this process, I suggest you review the ACX website, as it has additional information and contracts you should read. Feel free to contact me through my blog as well. Best of luck with your audiobooks!
Sandra Ulbrich Almazan is the author of Lyon’s Legacy, the first book in the science fiction Catalyst Chronicles series. She’s currently working on the sequel, Twinned Universes. You can find her on her blog, website, Twitter, and Facebook.
Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
Do you listen to audiobooks? Have you ever had one of your own works put into audiobook format? Would you be willing to narrate your own audiobook?