Cashing In On The Checkpoint

Of all the steps in the audiobook production process on ACX, the 15 Minute Checkpoint may play the biggest role in ensuring that the final product turns out as the rights holder envisioned it. Today, we’ll explain the basics of the 15 Minute Checkpoint and go over the key aspects of this important step.

Why Have A Checkpoint?

On ACX, a rights holder and producer team up to bring the author’s vision to life. In an effort to make sure the production gets off on the right foot, ACX requires the producer to create a roughly 15 minute section of audio and upload it for the rights holder’s review. From the producer’s side, this audio should be indicative of the quality you’ll deliver when submitting the completed audiobook.

First Thing’s (Aren’t Always) First

The 15 Minute Checkpoint doesn’t have to be the 1st 15 minutes of the book. If there is a particularly difficult section later on, or an important character that’s not introduced in the first few chapters, ask the producer to tackle that portion first. As a rights holder, this is your last chance to review the audio and ask for changes before giving the producer the go ahead to record and produce the entire book. Changes that you’d suggest at this point include pacing, pronunciation of names, character voices/accents or how the narrator handles dramatization. Listen closely while reading along with the script, noting any issues with the read as well as the sound quality. Communicate with the producer and request changes to anything that’s not quite right. ACX producers are professionals and can handle direction. They usually even welcome it, as long as you’re constructive and specific.

Finally, make sure to schedule time around the due date of the 15 minute checkpoint to listen to this audio. Approving or requesting changes should be done in a timely fashion to keep your project on schedule and your producer focused on your book.

Once both sides have reached a consensus on the sound of the 15 Minute Checkpoint, the rights holder can approve it on ACX and the producer can begin producing the final audio. Now is also the perfect time to start getting your audiobook marketing plans in order. That final audio will be uploaded to ACX before you know it!

What do you listen for when reviewing the 15 minute checkpoint on your ACX productions?

6 responses to “Cashing In On The Checkpoint

  1. these are very timely pointers for me, as i may be listening to my first 15 min segment in the weeks ahead; thanks so much!

  2. I’d take issue with the comment that the ‘first fifteen’ is the ‘last chance’ to request changes. While that is true from a strictly contractual basis, I haven’t found it to be the case in fact. It’s virtually impossible to wring out every single detail or problem that might arise in recording in the ‘first fifteen.’ For example, both my books produced on ACX to date had many nautical terms and foreign words, and the pronunciation of some were not obvious. I found my producer (Todd Haberkorn) to be a consummate professional in dealing with any problems, and worked closely to solve problems as they arose, chapter by chapter.

    While I understand that a legal framework is necessary in any agreement, and feel fortunate that ACX has provided that, I think a successful collaboration between rights holder and producer will transcend that agreement. Todd would have been well within his ‘rights’ to have rejected my requests, but the final product would have suffered. At the same time, I tried not to be arbitrary or abuse his courtesy, and only requested changes when I really felt they were necessary. A few times when it was borderline I offered to compensate him for any additional time expended.

    My point is that the production is (or should be) a cooperative effort with respect given and received. My experience in other fields is that when you reach the point of quoting the contract at one another, nothing good transpires from that point on.

    Just my $.02.

  3. I believe the blogger was referring to the general tone of the book and the narrative style when stating that this is the “last chance” to request changes. There is no question that the rights holder has the right and, indeed, responsibility to correct individual errors of pronunciation or incorrect wording. Suggestions made when the final book is submitted to the rights holder should be for individual inserts to correct errors, and not general comments such as “the narrator spoke to fast” or “the narrator’s vocal style was not what I was looking for.” Adjusted for inflation, that’s just my $.04.

  4. Robert,

    I take your point and generally agree, but I also figure that issues such as the narrator’s vocal style and narration speed would be largely hashed out in the audition process, at least that was my (admittedly very limited) experience. My comments were based on that assumption, but FWIW, I wasn’t trying to be negative or argumentative.

    However (and to be honest), we did the ‘first fifteen’ on the second book merely because it was an ACX requirement. By that time, I had a very good rapport with the producer and knew we would work closely together without problem.

    I should also add that Todd wasn’t my original choice. I had an agreement with another producer who, as it turned out, had a real problem with the large cast of characters and the various accents in the story. When it became clear he’d bitten off more than he could chew, we agreed to part company amicably and both petitioned ACX to void the contract. When Todd auditioned later, I made sure he understood upfront what he was committing himself to before we set prices and deadlines. As part of that process, I asked him to audition extensively for each major and supporting character (over an hour of audio). He did so willingly and without complaint, and that formed the basis of our cooperation.

    Probably more than you wanted to know. I call your $.04 and raise $.06.

    • I know I’m late to this comment thread, but I’m familiar with Todd’s work, as he’s a well-known voice actor in the anime industry, so he was probably quite comfortable with meeting your character requirements for the book. It’s interesting, actually – I didn’t know until reading your comments that Todd does audiobooks as well. 🙂

  5. R.E. – Insert smiley face here. We should all have such amiable and understanding “bosses.” Although, admittedly, I have had nothing but the best since starting at ACX.

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