Yesterday, we spoke with author Toni Dwiggins about her award-winning forensic geology title, Badwater. Today we check in with ACX producer Christine Padovan to hear her side of the Badwater story, and to get some amazing pieces of advice for producers and authors alike.
Hi Christine. Tell us a little about yourself, and your current audiobook projects.
I grew up in New Jersey, near historical Basking Ridge and did my degree in clinical psychology at NYU in New York City. I played and performed on the violin through my early 20’s and fell in love with books from the time I learned to read. Interestingly enough, I was narrating children’s books to kindergarten children when I was in 4th grade in a volunteer program at school. So I guess I started narrating at a very early age and didn’t pick it up again till 2011 after my introduction on ACX.
I recently completed Her Marine which is book 5 of the Always a Marine series written by Heather Long; I’m narrating debut fiction novels for two new authors (Kyrathaba Rising by William Bryan Miller and Voodoo Moon (Paranorm World) by June Stevens/DJ Westerfield); book 3 of The Dragoneers series by M.R. Mathias, and continuing the Always a Marine series with books 6 and 12, next in line to record and produce.
What attracted you to Badwater?
I actually love mysteries and thrillers, so after meeting Toni through a self-published writer’s blog by D.D. Scott, and answering some of her questions on audiobook narrating, I auditioned for Badwater. After she and I tweaked character voices and got pronunciations down in an indexed list Toni provided, we were off and running.
What have you done to market Badwater?
I’ve done opted-in email blasts through www.targetedemailads.com; I’ve used Google ads as well as tweets and Facebook posts. I Googled my name back in late May 2013 and found out through Goodreads that eFestivalofWords.com had nominated Badwater in the ‘Best Audiobook’ category. So I told Toni, and we took advantage of the nomination to promote the book harder by posting our nomination logo, then our Finalist badge logo – and eventually, our Winner’s badge logo! The San Francisco Self Published Writers group that Toni is part of also helped plug the book when we were nominated, then won the award.
That’s pretty exciting stuff! How did it feel when you found out Badwater had been nominated for “Best Audiobook?”
It felt great to be nominated, become a finalist and then actually win ‘Best Audiobook’ for 2013! This was the first year that eFestivalofWords.com (for the Best of the Independent eBook Awards) actually had an Audiobook category. They based their nominations on the book’s quality in its editing, cover art, styling, and recognition from other critic and reader reviews.
What advice do you have for authors who are considering having their titles made into audiobooks?
Make sure you have the audio rights to your title or titles. Check your contract with your publisher or agent for that book or books, and see who owns the audio rights. If you own the audio rights, post your work on ACX and search for voice types that you feel would fit the style and genre of your work. Listen to narrator samples and see how experienced the narrator is in audiobook production. It’s O.K. if you wish to try out someone new, but asked for audition samples and check if you like the quality of their recording.
I also want to caution authors that want to rush the audiobook production of their work: taking the time to find the right narrator is far better than rushing to get your title online, then being disappointed with the final product.
Lastly, audiobook sales differ greatly from ebook/Kindle sales of the work. For example, people are pickier in paying for an audiobook than only paying $.99, $1.99 or even $3.99 for the text version. If they are going to spend money on an audiobook, they have to like the book’s retail sample (does the narrator’s voice make them want to buy it?), the subject matter and possibly the genre of the book before taking a chance on a new work where the author may not be well known to the public. More people will go for ‘household’ author name first as a safety net, before taking a chance on a new writer. So having the dollars set aside to really market the audio version to increase sales is vital as well.
Any advice for those new to audiobook narration/production?
For talent starting out in audiobook narration, you don’t need to have expensive equipment to get the job done. A Zoom H4N digital recorder with phantom power and XLR ports for my RODE NT1-A condenser microphone and a clothing filled, relatively soundproofed, square 4’x6’ walk-in closet helped me produce over 25 titles on ACX and Audible.
I would then transfer my 44.1/16 bit WAV files from the Zoom to my laptop for editing in Audacity.
Creating an audiobook is not for the faint-hearted! It is many hours of your time – to learn narration first from a seasoned narrator and to then make sure you have the resources to either rent studio space or create your own to record in. Then, there’s the time it takes to record the book (roughly double the running time to record it and triple the running time to edit it). You’ll either pay an engineer to edit and master your WAV files into broadcast quality MP3s and/or spent the time and money to do it yourself. It is far better to learn to edit and engineer yourself, as you can be sure there are no mistakes left behind in your recordings. And in the end you will feel so much better, knowing you helped take someone’s ‘baby’ and give it another life as an audiobook
The best advice I ever heard was to take a book, sit in a closet with a light on, close the door behind you, and start reading it outloud – try doing that without a break for about 30 minutes or so. Are you comfortable? Do you think you can do that for 4-6 hours a day, 5 days straight – with 2 days rest in between? If you feel you can comfortably be in a tight space, whether it’s a closet or studio booth, and narrate out loud for long lengths of time (with apple slices, bottled water, lip balm, snack breaks, etc. to keep you going), then congratulations! Narrating is for you!
Thanks for the tips, Christine!
What are the secrets to your ACX success? Tell us in the comments!