Get by with a Little Help from Your Friends at ACX

At ACX, we know that audiobook production can be a complex process, so we’re always here to help. Today, we’re excited to share a new way to get answers to your questions: our new Help Center!

Help Cntr

The improved Help Center features new Search and Browse tools to help you find the information you’re looking for. Here are just a few things you’ll find in this improved area:

  • Checklists for Rights Holders and Producers: Set yourself up for success with step-by-step instructions for starting and finishing your audiobook projects.
  • Answer Ratings: Was this answer helpful? If not, tell us why. We’re listening to improve your experience.
  • Plus, dozens of new answers to your most frequently asked questions!

Visit the new Help Center today, and share your feedback with us.

Get the latest on enhancements to by subscribing to the blog!

This Week in Links: November 16 – 20

For Rights Holders:

12 Things Writers Fear But Can Overcome – BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “Here are a dozen things many writers fear – and how to put such worries into perspective so they don’t cripple their efforts to write, pursue publication, seek out publicity, and market their life’s work.”

What You Need to Know About Publicity Before You Self-Publish – via The Write Life – “Unfortunately, many self-published authors assume that traditional publicity is out of reach. This couldn’t be further from the truth.”

How to Make a Speech at a Publishing Event – via ALLi – Authors experienced in public speaking offer first-hand advice.

Downsize Your Way to More Sales – via CreateSpace – Author Richard Ridley says the secret to higher sales just might be marketing to a smaller audience.

For Producers:

Drink Up for A Better Voice – via Voice Over Herald – Everything you could possibly need to know about hydrating for vocal excellence.

[VIDEO] 5 Must Haves For Your Voice Over Website – via Marc Scott – So you’ve got a website for your VO services. Now, learn how to make the most of it.

File Management with Alex the Audio Scientist – via The ACX Blog – Ensure you don’t stumble at the finish line by using our best practices for managing your audiobook productions and submitting them to ACX.

Simple Ways to Sound Professional in the Morning – via Your Work is All I Talk About – Vocal warmups to help you hit the ground running at the start of your day.

File Management with Alex the Audio Scientist

ADBLCRE-ACX_Character_IconWe’re less than three weeks away from this year’s December 4th deadline to submit your audiobook productions for the best chance of being on sale this holiday season.

With that in mind, today’s lesson is about the file submission process. Being so close to the goal can lead to tunnel vision, but following the steps below, along with my other lessons, will  ensure that you don’t stumble at the finish line.

To set yourself up for success when submitting your finished audio, I suggest the following:

  • Export your entire audiobook to its own folder.
  • Name each file with its section number first, then the section name.
    • Ex: 00_Opening Credits, 01_Introduction, 02_Chapter-01, 03__Chapter-02, etc.
    • Stick to alphanumeric characters, dashes, and underscores. File names with other characters might cause upload issues on ACX.
  • After using this file naming convention, you should:
    • Drop all of your files into your audio player of choice (Winamp, VLC, iTunes, etc.)
    • Listen to the beginning of each file to ensure it has the correct credits and/or section header.
    • Listen to the end of each file to ensure it includes proper spacing and contains no narration from the next section.

Now that we’ve covered best practices, let’s look at some common issues that cause productions to be returned to the producer by our QA team, and how to rectify them.

Duplicate Audio

Your ACX audiobooks should match the text editions exactly, without repeated sections. Duplicate audio can happen for a few main reasons:

  • Part of a chapter/section is repeated in another section.
    • For example, an audiobook production contains opening credits at the start of both the first and second file. To avoid this, make sure each audio chapter/section matches the text exactly during the Edit/QC process. I also recommend checking the head and tail of each file after editing and mastering your audiobook to make sure they don’t contain duplicated audio, and to confirm that each starts with a section header and ends with the last sentence of that section.
  • A chapter/section is named properly, but uploaded twice to the production manager.
    • Consider a checklist for your production that lists all of the files, and checking off each file when it’s uploaded.
  • A chapter or section is named improperly, resulting in duplicate uploads with different file names.
    • This third issue occurs during the exporting process, when you output each chapter or section from your DAW as an MP3. Before you export each chapter/section, double-check that you are exporting the correct one. If you’ve got multiple sections in one project file, don’t forget to isolate the correct section for export, and be sure to select the next section after exporting the previous.
    • My favorite solution is to create a separate project/session file for each chapter/section within your DAW of choice. If you have a work folder that contains a project file for each section, your workflow will be smoother and easier when accessing/re-accessing an audiobook’s production. Having a separate project file for each section all but guarantees a section will be exported as two separate files.

Combined Chapters/Sections


Listening to an audiobook in the Audible app.

This is when two or more entire sections are combined into one file. ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements state: Each uploaded file must contain only one chapter or section. This requirement is in place for the sake of the listening experience. Navigation within an audiobook should be simple. If chapters one and two are combined in the same file, the listener won’t be able to skip to the latter on their device; they would be forced to navigate manually through one file in hopes of finding it.

This can also be solved during the export process.  As I noted previously, creating a separate project/session file for each chapter/section will ensure you’re not combining two separate pieces of audio.

Incorrect or Missing Chapter/Section Headers

Once again, this is about the best navigational experience for the listener. Having a section header for each chapter/section clearly marks its position within the audiobook. ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements make it clear: Each uploaded file must contain the section header, if contained within the text (e.g., “Prologue”, “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 2”). Making sure each file contains its correct header is as easy as checking it before and after you export the audio. I would also suggest checking it again before you upload each file, just to be safe.

Retail Audio Sample Errors

The retail audio sample for each audiobook has a great deal of influence on the purchasing decisions of Audible’s listeners. They should be instantly captivated by the performance and impressed with the production. Work with your Rights Holder to select a portion that highlights your performance and their storytelling. ACX’s requirements call for “a retail audio sample that is between one and five minutes long.


A red box highlights Huntress Moon’s retail audio sample.

Additionally, I strongly advise against including opening credits and/or music in your sample. This content is secondary to your actual performance, and potential listeners may not make it through to hear your narration.

Finally, make sure the sample includes no explicit language or material, as listeners of every age and sensibility can preview samples on Audible.

That’s today’s lesson. Following each of the tips above should result in a seamless upload and submission process, which means fewer headaches for you, your Rights Holder, and your potential listeners.

Want audiobook production tips in your inbox? Subscribe to The ACX Blog for the latest from Alex the Audio Scientist.

This Week in Links: November 9 – 13

For Producers:

Let’s Get Serious About Breath Support – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Breathing is the energy for speech, and not having good breath support is like driving a car with watered down gasoline.”

7 Things (And A Bonus) You Can’t Overlook Before Sending Your Voice Over Auditions via Voice-over Xtra – “[T]hese 7 points cannot be overlooked. They are the Holy Grail of “must-do” actions on the pre-flight list – a “basic necessities” list of pertinent reminders.

How to Effectively Deal with Customer Dissatisfaction in Voiceover – via Victoria DeAnda – “It is never easy to hear criticism. The first step in dealing with it is to understand that this happens to everyone. The next step is to help the client.”

Audiobook Narrator Tavia Gilbert Shares Her Secret to a Riveting Read – via Writer’s Digest – Learn from this short Q and A with a seasoned audiobook narrator.

From Amateur to All-Star: Everything I Wish I’d Known About Audiobook VO – via That’s Voiceover – Join ACX at That’s Voiceover in Los Angeles on November 14th to learn audiobook production from three Audible Approved Producers.

For Rights Holders:

Book Marketing on Facebook – via Book Marketing Tools – Learn why Facebook may be better for brand building than direct sales.

From Casting to A Narrator to Happily Ever After – via Karen Commins – The Audible Approved Producer offers pro tips on casting your audiobook from an actors’ perspective (check out Karen’s companion article here).

Book Marketing: How Authors Can Use Periscope’s Video Streaming Service – via ALLi – Author Chris Syme takes a look at how the emerging social video platform can work for book promotion.

How to Write Funny Dialogue – via Helping Writers Become Authors – Give your narrator something fun to voice.

This Week in Links: November 2 – 6

For Rights Holders:

Five Ways for Self-published Authors to Use Video to Promote Self-Published Books – via ALLi – Read how author Laxmi Hariharan uses the moving image to help build her author platform while having a lot of fun.

15 Authors Running Fantastic Book Promotions on Instagram – via BookBub – “[H]ere are some great examples of authors who’ve been able to successfully build an audience and publish content that has connected with many followers.”

The 2015 October Platform Challenge – via Writer’s Digest – Need to beef up your author platform? This 31-day challenge to get you where you want to be.

Writers Need A Breakthrough, Not A Breakdown – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Feeling stuck? Perhaps it’s time to affect change by shaking things up.

For Producers:

Are You Suffering From Mike Fright? – via Nethervoice – Halloween’s over, so you’ve got no excuse for being afraid of your microphone.

From Amateur to All-Star: Everything I Wish I’d Known About Audiobook VO – via That’s Voiceover – Join ACX at That’s Voiceover in Los Angeles on November 14th to learn the do’s and don’ts of audiobook production.

[VIDEO] Reducing Voice Over Breaths Using Audacity – via Gary Terzza –  Learn a quick and easy way to subtly reduce the sound of prominent breaths when using Audacity.

5 Ways To Get Top Of Mind With Voice Over Clients – via Marc Scott – “It’s so easy to get caught up thinking about how to market ourselves to new clients, that sometimes we forget about reaching out to the clients we already have!”

You Will Always Read Like a Child, According to Science– via Gizmodo – Learn about pseudo-homophones and why your brain still gets tripped up sounding out the words you read.

ACX Storytellers: Sandra Edwards and Regina Duke

ACX authors Sandra Edwards and Regina Duke understand the impact a mentor can have on a writer’s career. A chance meeting at a local writers’ luncheon turned into an opportunity for Regina to learn from the writing, publishing, and marketing knowledge Sandra gained over her nine ACX productions. They join us today to explain how they both benefit from their mentor/mentee relationship and share some tips they’ve learned along the way.

ACX: Regina, how did you and Sandra first meet?

Regina Duke

ACX Author Regina Duke

Regina: I went to a luncheon to talk to another writer who was quite popular with the group. But other authors immediately surrounded her, so I sat next to a friendly looking lady with the hint of a southern accent. Within half an hour, she was doing all the talking and I was taking notes on every piece of paper I could find…a flyer, a napkin, and an envelope. She outlined for the group, step by step, what she had done to get her books up for sale on Amazon. I couldn’t believe it. Here was a successful indie author outlining what steps to take. Near the end of our luncheon, Sandra leaned over and said to me, “Email me if you need a formatter.” I was thrilled.

Sandra: Romance writers are incredibly generous. Find one who knows her stuff and let her lead you.

ACX: How did this relationship lead to publishing your audiobooks through ACX?

Regina Wedding WagerRegina: I’d decided that 2015 was the year I would get into audio, but the prospect was daunting. Sandra told me of her experiences with ACX, and that helped make up my mind. I bought her first audiobook and absolutely loved hearing it “read” to me. It was a short hop from Sandra’s success to my decision.

ACX: Sandra, what aspects of publishing and marketing have you helped Regina with?

Sandra: There are a few areas where I think I helped Regina. Here are some specific pieces of advice:

  • Work on your craft. Everyone says this, but its importance cannot be overstated. Even now, we read writing books between projects. Never stop improving your writing.
  • Hire a cover artist. Once you are ready with the best book you can write (after proofreaders and editors have done their jobs), seek out a professional cover artist. Writers often think covers don’t count, but on a site such as Audible or Amazon, a compelling, professional cover is as important as the quality of your content.
  • Take your time reviewing the auditions you receive on ACX. Don’t rush to hire someone. It takes voiceover artists time and effort to submit an audition. Listen, listen, listen. Make notes to yourself about what you like or don’t like in an audition. Listen to samples and read reviews on Audible to get a sense of what listeners like and don’t like.
    Sandra Edwards

    ACX Author Sandra Edwards

  • Include your audio version in every bit of marketing and promotion you do. Don’t let your audio version languish as a stepchild. Promote it as vigorously as you promote your Kindle books. And make sure your audio version qualifies for Whispersync, because that makes it even more desirable for your readers.
  • Budget your time between writing and marketing. Many writers love the writing process to the exclusion of all else. If you want to sell your audiobooks, you will need to parcel your time to include marketing. “No, no! Not the M word!” There’s a lot to learn when it comes to marketing. It’s been a “trial and error” thing for us. What works for some may not work for others.
  • Dont wait to publish (in audio or otherwise) until youve written five books. We hear this advice at every conference and it astounds us. Some successful authors are telling newbies to wait until they have five books written before publishing. We respectfully disagree. What are you waiting for? There is so much to learn about being an indie author. Get that first book out there. Do it right: hire an editor, proofreaders, cover designer, formatter, and start learning.

ACX: How can ACX authors go about finding a mentor themselves?

Regina: I would turn that question around and first ask what I can offer someone who might, in turn, have information they’re willing to share with me? I call Sandra my mentor in the Romance category, but she has frequently assured me that our friendship is very give-and-take. I share any and all marketing opportunities I run across, and we both share learning opportunities.

Sandra_Marriage CaperSandra: This is where conferences and writers group meetings come in handy. Let’s face it, you’re not going to be able to email a New York Times Bestselling Author out of the blue and ask them for advice. Well, I guess you could, but it’s unlikely that you’ll get very far.

Sandra and Regina can be found online at: and Sandra and Regina’s collaborative efforts can be found at:

Subscribe to the ACX blog for all the latest audiobook publishing and marketing advice!

This Week in Links: October 19 – 23

For Producers:

Passion, Persistence And Planning Will Make Your Voice Over Dreams A Reality – via Voice-Over Xtra – “The VO industry is flooded with talented people. What can you do to make yourself stand out and ensure your success in one of the most competitive industries out there?”

Five Voice Over Lessons Learned From Elon Musk – via Marc Scott – “If you want to be great at a “thing”, one of the easiest ways to help you get there is to study those that have come before you.”

What is Marketing – via Joe’s Dump – “Is it your brand? How about mass emails? SEO? Blogs? Cold calling? These may be pieces of an overall marketing strategy, but they are too often mistaken for all of marketing.”

Nasality Unwrapped – via Dr. Ann Utterback – “In most cases, nasality is either a learned behavior or the result of a lazy soft palate.”

For Rights Holders:

[PODCAST] How to Sell Books and Build Your Email List Through Facebook Ads -via Book Marketing Tools – “Books don’t just appear on Amazon from out of nowhere and sell. You’ve got to be there to push them. No one else is going to do it.”

How To Promote Books In The 21st Century – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “It’s a great time to promote a book, considering the number of opportunities and tools available, but it’s also the worst time, as publicists and authors feel overwhelmed by how man outlets they need to contact in order to do a lot of activity that may not necessarily yield a lot of book sales.”

World Building 101 – via The Write Practice – If you write fiction, you need world building. It’s the skeleton of your story: though unseen, those bones determine the shape of the beast.

Book Marketing: 6 Top Tips on How to Make LinkedIn Work for Authors – via ALLi – [E]ven here, your objective should be to build great connections, and not generate sales.

Want the week’s best audiobook links in your inbox? Subscribe to the ACX blog today!

Mastering Audiobooks with Alex the Audio Scientist

Welcome back to Audio Science class!ADBLCRE-ACX_Character_Icon

Today’s lesson is going to be a little different from my others. Since I’m lucky enough to have such eager students, I often get questions about one of the more mystifying aspects of audiobook production: mastering. Today, I’ll answer the most common questions and give you a breakdown of the basics steps of the mastering process. But first, let’s review ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements:

Your submitted audiobook must:

Each uploaded audio file must:

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to those questions.

Q: Why do I need to master my audiobook productions?

A: Mastering is the the final step of post-production and the glue that brings the entire audiobook together. All chapters/sections are brought up to matching levels, which provides a smooth listening experience. Additionally, removing unwanted high and low frequencies can help reduce any hum or hiss that may be in a recording.

Q: Why do I need to follow all of these mastering requirements?

A: Audible offers each audiobook in a range of different audio formats to accommodate listeners on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. This means that audio quality will range from very high fidelity to lesser fidelities that equate to smaller file sizes and quicker downloads. Basically, if your RMS is between -18dB and -23dB RMS, with peaks at -3dB, you’ll achieve the optimal sound across all formats.

Q: What is RMS?

A: RMS has many functions, but for audiobooks it’s the value assigned to the overall volume level of an audio file. Audible will apply light dynamics processing once your audiobooks are submitted, so your production’s overall levels should not be too high or too low. For example, a production with a low RMS but loud peaks could end up with technical issues within the file, such as uneven narration levels, a high noise floor, etc.

Q: What is peaking?

ACX Peaks

Examples of peaks in an audiobook recording.

A: Peaks are the loudest part or parts of an audio file. If the script calls for a change from calm to excited, or from speaking to yelling, those excited or loud parts will most likely have the highest peaks. Our Audio Submission Requirements call for peaks to be under -3dB, which helps prevent distortion. If you have any 0dB peaks after mastering, you’ll need to adjust your limiter or normalizer settings and try again on your edited audio. If you have 0dB peaks before mastering, you’ll need to find out whether those peaks occurred during recording or after. If it happened during recording, you’ll need to lower your pre-amp’s level and re-record those lines of narration.

Q: What is an EQ?

A: An EQ (short for “equalizer”) is a tool that allows you to adjust the level of any frequency in an audio file. The typical frequency range that the human ear can detect is 20Hz to 20,000 kHz. The lower frequencies in this range are the bass/low range, while the middle is the mid-range, and high frequencies are the high range. Most EQ plug-ins will have high pass filter and a low pass filter. Using the high pass will remove any unwanted bass (low) frequencies that could have occurred during recording, such as the hum of your computer. A low pass will remove high frequency noises in your audio, like an air conditioner or microphone hiss. I strongly recommend applying EQ before you master, as unwanted high or low frequencies can have an impact on the next step in your mastering process – applying a limiter. Removing a low frequency hum allows the limiter to more easily adjust to the narration at hand.

Q: What is a limiter?

A: A limiter is a dynamics processor. Applying a limiter lowers any high peaks in your audio, which allows the volume of the narration to be more even throughout. This lets you bring up the overall volume of your audio, which may be necessary to meet ACX’s RMS requirement (-18dB RMS to -23dB RMS). For example, if your max peak level is -4dB but your overall RMS level is -27dB RMS, your audio will look similar to the image below:

(Click images to expand)

ACX Screenshot 1 (Highlights) - 10.15.16

In this case, you can use a limiter to lower all peaks by -3dB. Your max peak level would now be -7dB, as illustrated below.

ACX Screenshot 2

Since ACX’s peaks requirement is -3dB, you can now raise the overall level of the audio by +4dB. That would bring your RMS to -23dB RMS, which is within our required range. Your mastered audio would then look something like this:

ACX Screenshot 3

Now that we’ve gone over mastering as a concept, I think you’re ready to take a look at my Mastering Breakdown. It’s a great checklist to mark off each time you master an audiobook.


  • Assess all audio files to ensure no peaks or clipping exist in the audio.
  • Group all similar files together during the assessment so they can be processed at the same time.
  • Apply your “Mastering Chain” by using the following processes, in order:
    • Remove all unnecessary low and high frequencies by applying EQ to clean up the sound of your recordings and provide more headroom in order to boost your files levels effectively. This is a great way to minimize hum and hiss in an otherwise good recording!
    • Bring all files up to the proper dynamic levels as specified by the ACX Audio Submission Requirements page by using normalization, compression and/or limiting, and, if necessary, a final volume adjustment.
  • Listen to your audio after mastering to ensure the operation did not over-process or under-process the recordings. If the resultant audio is at one consistent volume with no change in dynamic level, you’ve likely over- If your audio has sudden spikes and drop offs (indicating it is too dynamic), you’ve under-processed.

That wraps up today’s lesson. I hope you all have a stronger understanding of audiobook mastering than when we started. Mastering your productions can seem daunting and technical, but once you know which aspects of your voice and recording space need to be accounted for, you’ll be able to apply the same processes over and over again with minimal changes. You’ll take your audiobook productions from good to great, and your listeners will appreciate the subtle improvements in sound quality you’ve achieved.

Want audiobook production tips in your inbox? Subscribe to The ACX Blog for the latest from Alex the Audio Scientist.

This Week in Links: October 12 – 16

For Rights Holders:

How to Be Retweetable – via CreateSpace – “The trick is writing something in 140 characters that moves your followers and their followers to retweet your content.”

Why You Should Use Video Media to Market your Self-published Books – via ALLi – “The written word will never be replaced, but video can be a creative way of delivering information and reaping the rewards.”

10 Useful Resources for Writers – via Book Marketing Tools – Writing may be a solitary task but that does not mean you should be doing it in isolation.

A 12-Month Strategic Plan for Marketing Your Book before Release – via LiveWriteThrive – “The key is to think of your book the way Ford thinks of a new car. It’s a product, and you’re a business owner.”

For Producers:

11 Sites Explaining Mic Pick-up Patterns via Dave Courvoisier – “Why should you know or care about microphone pickup patterns?  Because the mic you use has a unique way of “hearing” you, which effects the way you’re going to want to “address” the mic.”

Don’t Worry About Those Dreaded “How’s” …Focus On Success – Where You Want To Be – via Voice-Over Xtra – “If you don’t have a picture in your head of what your success will look like, you may never get there.”

Getting Ready for the Colder Weather as a Voiceover Artist – via Victoria DeAnda – “The more you do to make sure you do not get sick, the more likely you will be able to get through these next few months being just as productive as you are the rest of the year.”

This Week in Links: October 5 – 9

For Producers:

Vocal Exercises To Expand Emotional Range – via Dr. Ann S. Utterback – “One aspect of reading copy that must be correct is the em0tion. Even though most of us would agree this is true, I know plenty of professionals who have a tough time getting emotion across with their voices.”

Why Confidence Means a Lot to Your Voiceover Business’ Success – via Victoria DeAnda – “Confidence is everything to your business. Without it, the chances of your business succeeding are slim.”

Be Phenomenal – via Rob Marley – “From the cold call to the thank you note, do as much as you possibly can to make the client feel that they are getting an incredible value for the amount of service you provide.”

Why Good is Never Good Enough in Voiceovers – via Gary Terzza – “How good are you at voice overs? Can you get away with being ‘ok’, ‘not bad at all’ or ‘above average’?”

For Rights Holders:

7 Tips for Making Search Engines Work for Marketing Your Book – via MediaShift – “After all, what’s the point of having a webpage if potential readers can’t find it in search?”

Growing and Cultivating Your Online Community – via CreateSpace – “Essentially, your goal is to grow your community to the point that it’s so large it can’t be handled by one person. That’s when you’ll have one of those problems that’s nice to have.”

7 Habits of Highly Effective Voice Seekers – via Mike Cooper – “Using the Seven Habits outlined below will show your Voiceover Artist you know what you’re talking about, and help you to avoid some of the common pitfalls.”

Book Logline: What It Is & How To Write It – via Book Marketing Tools – “Some authors use the term logline, a story summary, interchangeably with tagline, a marketing term, but the two concepts really are different.”