All About Audition Scripts

Casting the right producer for your ACX audiobook production may be the most important step in creating an incredible-sounding audio version of your title, and a good audition script can ensure that you’re hearing what you need to hear from a producer. Today we’ll cover the three do’s and one don’t of selecting the right audition script

Do: Pick the right text.

Make sure you’re using passages of your book that are representative of your book. For nonfiction, pick a selection that contains obscure or foreign pronunciations from your title, and provide direction on how to voice them in the audition. The producer will need to know what they’ll be reading, and you’re going to want to hear their pronunciation of these tricky words. For fiction, pick a section that has both dialog and prose. Try to include as many different characters as possible, so you get a true sense of the narrator’s range and various voices.

Don’t: Automatically use the first few pages of your title.

The first few pages of your title might seem like a natural starting point, but if they don’t contain the sections mentioned above, the auditions you get won’t tell you very much about the future voice of your book. Feel free to select a portion from the middle or end. In fact, you could even mix and match a few short scenes from various places in the book that will give an overall sense of what’s involved.

Once you’ve decided on the audition script, you can either enter it into the text box as you set up your title profile or upload a .pdf, .txt or.doc file right to ACX.

Do: Value an ACX producer’s time

In most cases, you’ll probably only need an audition script that’s 2-3 pages long. Audiobook producers can take up to an hour (and sometimes more) to produce an audition from these pages. They’ll familiarize themselves with the material and record it, then edit, mix and master that recording. After that, they’ll upload it to ACX, perhaps with comments or a note for you about the audition.

Do: Listen to the auditions submitted for your title in a timely fashion.

As a courtesy to the producers who are interested in working on your title, you may want to respond to those you’d not consider casting to let them know, and to thank them for their audition.

Armed with the information in this post, you should be set to choose a solid audition script. Next time we’ll cover the next step: what to consider when making an offer to the perfect voice for your title.

Tell us what you think makes a good audition script in the comments!

23 responses to “All About Audition Scripts

  1. From a producer, THANK YOU! This has been long overdue. I pray every rights-holder takes it to heart.

  2. I agree 100%! I used that method to choose Mike Ortego ( and he did an absolutely grand job of performing three of my books. Go to http:/// for book titles and listen on to the samples. James Ory Theall

  3. Excellent advice. Way, way too many rights holders unthinkingly post an entire chapter — or more! — as the audition script, or post a section of a novel that doesn’t contain dialog from the major characters.

  4. This is good advice. I try to post 3-4 pages of characters used most. Or characters I need to see the most voice difference with.

  5. This blog posting offers excellent advice on the process of finding the right narrator for your book, but there are some additional steps you could take *after* listening to a prospect’s audition…

    (1) Don’t forget to listen to the *other* samples that an auditioning producer has posted with their ACX profile (or in their Soundcloud “demo reel” collection — I always provide the link to mine whenever I submit an audition). This should give you a more complete picture of their abilities.

    (2) Go ahead and look them up on Audible and listen to the samples of the works that they already have on sale. This will give you even more insight into their abilities.

    It’s all out there for you — please put it to use!

  6. Ah, and now I am made to remember the requested 17 minute cowboy fiction audition…

  7. I have recorded an audition that was pretty close to 17 minutes. It is an awful lot of time to devote often for no return on the investment. I was wondering other folk’s experience: Do any producers set an upper limit on the length of an audition they will record? I’m thinking of capping my audition to a finished time of 5 minutes, even when authors post a much longer sample. Anyone should be able to tell if someone is right for their project after that length of time.

    I wish ACX had a method to allow more interaction between authors and producers prior to recording auditions to help iron out these issues. An audition often feels like an all-or-nothing proposition.

    What do others think? Has anyone else tried recording an audition shorter than the sample supplied? Will this offend authors?

  8. Smokey Rivers

    I believe it is entirely appropriate to provide a demo shorter than the sample provided. That may or may not offend authors, but having the proper respect for your time and talent makes for a healthy relationship. The standard is five minutes. If the sample manuscript provided reads ten minutes, produce the first five and send along a respectful note with your sample that you recorded the customary first five minutes, followed by a ‘thanks’ for the opportunity. In this case, your five minute audition truly speaks for itself.

  9. Michael Mackey

    I am new to ACX, but I’m also a broadcasting veteran. I wrote and produced commercials for years before going back to school.

    I have stuck to the ACX suggestion of five minutes, regardless of the length of the submission. In advertising, it’s well known that a commercial must grab the attention of the target audience in the first few seconds, or the effort is only marginally effective (if at all). It’s a consistent rule of thumb for any commercial 30 seconds or longer. Five minutes is plenty of time for someone to decide if they want to work with me. And, its not really about “me.” Does my style, tone and quality fit the subject matter? That’s for the publisher/author to decide. It’s about their preferences and goals for the finished product.

    I have to say I love the short audition scripts. Thank you to everyone who keeps it under three pages. I’ve been reading quite a few. (Don’t click print until you check the number of pages!)

    One thing I’ve decided to do is if I have multiple ways to effectively present something, I’m all for producing multiple auditions. This is to showcase various styles or dialects, not just presentational. I don’t want to waste the author/publisher’s time any more than I want mine wasted. But, I do want to present options. Stacking them into one audition is overkill for the ears, and doesn’t differentiate you. I might mention other options, but that’s it. One Audition = One Presentation Style!

    And, if you are a writer or publisher that’s listened to one of my auditions, thank you! I appreciate the consideration, selected or not.

    • I’m new to this audiobook converstion ‘stuff’. I’m a writer, not a producer and am currently putting together my second script for producers. Your comments are extremely insightful and much appreciated.

  10. Thanks for the feedback, Smokey and Michael. Good to hear other folk’s perspectives.

  11. I have produced titles and had them produced for me. I ALWAYS thanked those who took the time to audition for me. As the post states, a good audition takes an hour or more to produce, edit, and master, and the very least a rights-holder can do is acknowledge that effort.

    So very few actually do that lately I have taken to querying the rights-holders BEFORE I audition, asking them to take a brief moment and listen to my samples, telling them that if they like my “voice” I am happy to audition for them.

    If they “can’t be bothered” to take the 30 seconds or so to do that, then I certainly can’t be bothered to spend an hour or more to produce an audition.
    When I was casting my projects, I knew within 30 seconds to a minute of listening to a narrator whether or not I was interested in them, and had anyone queried my prior to auditioning, I certainly would have listened to their samples and replied to them, out of common courtesy, if nothing more.

    Of the six non-fiction audiobook projects I have produced on a “royalty share” basis, only one has produced enough income to have made the effort worthwhile–the rest have been “labors of love” in effect, as I invested much more time and energy than I will likely ever be paid for.

    In conclusion, I strongly advise all producers to “query” before auditioning, this will give you a sense of what kind of rights-holder you are dealing with, and I certainly would never produce more than a five minute initial audition.
    Rights-holders, I strongly suggest that you show some courtesy and respect for those who have taken the time to audition for you.
    Unless you are the President, you DO have time to say “Thanks!”

  12. Might I add to John David’s comment above, that as a narrator, it’s also a good idea to see if you can get the whole manuscript before you commit to the job. The books synopsis might not include things like voices in other languages, or a plethora of technical or medical terms that reappear regularly or some other glitch that’s not evident in the audition or the description. To my mind, it just slows the process down and when you’re working either on royalty or pfh, time IS money.

  13. Amber Argyle, author

    So glad I found this, as I really didn’t know the etiquette. I’m still wondering if I should reply with a “no” as to why or just thank them and move on. Anyone?

  14. Pingback: Auditioning a Narrator | Author Marketing Institute

  15. Pingback: Karen Commins’s Audiobook Resources For Authors -

  16. Pingback: Karen Commins’s Audiobook Resources For Authors - Karen Commins

  17. This is my first book with Kindle. There will be more. I used to work in radio and marketing. I’ve written lots of commercials and worked with many announcers. I’m looking for authenticity in a voice and a producer. I want to split the royalties 50-50. What am I leaving out? Plz email me with your questions and ideas. Thx. Tom Reber.

  18. About to submit a book for production. I really want to follow the suggestion to limit the script to 2-3 pages; however, should the script just be raw manuscript or should the dialog be marked somehow? A comment or full post on proper formatting would be very helpful.

    • Hi Lauren,

      A 2 – 3 page sample that contains both descriptive text and some dialogue between your main characters work best. No need to mark up the manuscript, but you can place performance notes in your ACX title profile – your producer will use them to guide their performance.



  19. Thank you!! This is amazing information!!

  20. I am a new producer, but have concerns about the content of the audition scripts that we should download for producing the recording. Specifically, one audition script was filled with grammatical errors or word usage problems, and another one was content unrelated to the original book written. I want piece of mind that I am auditioning for a recording a book without irregularities in the content.

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