Hugh Howey turns to fans for help casting Wool on ACX

Hugh Howey’s “Wool”, the self-published novel that’s made him the bestselling indie science-fiction author of 2012 and currently the bestselling sci-fi author on Amazon, is finally available in audio today. We’re thrilled Howey used ACX to bring Wool into audio, and just as happy that he’s agreed to share some of his thoughts on the experience, including how he sent his fans to the ACX website to help pick the narrator, below.

One of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made was choosing to self-publish. I had already published one novel, my first, with a small press, which meant someone else shouldered all the costs, provided editing, layout, and marketing support, and handled the distribution and bookkeeping. All I had to do was write, promote, and be a part of the editing process. Leaving that behind was mortifying.

I had a contract in hand for my second book, but I agonized over what to do. Part of me wanted to see if I could do it on my own. A much larger part of me was terrified to even try. But with some encouragement from family and friends, I began learning the skills necessary to turn stories into finished works and deliver them to readers on my own.

From the very start of this journey, I’ve had people asking me about audiobooks. I heard from friends and family who said it was the only way they found the time to read anymore. But what did I know about producing an audiobook? Nothing. Worse: it required talents I knew I didn’t possess.

And then I read about ACX on a writing forum. Audible, which my wife uses to download all of her books, offered the equivalent of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service through ACX, which allowed any author to upload a manuscript, find a voice actor, and produce the audiobook themselves.

Having grown fond of giving my fans input on everything from cover art to what I should write next, I decided it would be best to allow them in on the process. Using ACX’s Narrators for Hire page, we began sampling voices and discussing their various merits on my website. A consensus grew on some things (it needed to be a female narrator) while fans waged debates over whose voice was best. Once we narrowed down the candidates, I reached out to the top picks and asked for auditions.

We received several that blew us away. I’ll never forget holding my wife’s hands while I listened to professionals reading words that I had written. It felt surreal. These pros breathed new life into this book I’d read a dozen times. It was like sitting around a radio in the age before TV. We were being told a story.

The audition that impressed the most was Minnie Goode’s. Once we agreed to work together, Minnie began recording and sending me samples. She took my feedback and produced the perfect audio version of Wool. She even filmed a behind-the-scenes look at what was involved, inviting my readers into her booth in much the way that I had invited them into the production.

ACX made self-publishing an audiobook as easy and painless as Kindle does for e-books. And now that we’re done and the recording is on its way to listeners, I feel that same rush that came from wrapping up my first novel. Once again, it’s satisfying to have self-published, to have done it the indie way. But it was even better having done it with help, with Minnie leading the charge when it came to supplying the talent, and with fans helping me discover her in the first place.

3 responses to “Hugh Howey turns to fans for help casting Wool on ACX

  1. Pingback: Audiobook Blog – Audiobooker, by Mary Burkey – Booklist Online » Blog Archive » News You Can Use

  2. Pingback: Hugh Howie – How He Used Fans to Cast His Audiobook

  3. Pingback: News You Can Use : The Booklist Reader

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