Author Archives: mattaudible

Pulitzer winner Teresa Carpenter embraces ACX

We’re very excited to announce that journalist and author Teresa Carpenter‘s masterful work of crime reportage, Missing Beauty, is now available as an audiobook via ACX. The opportunity to revive a book of this caliber and broaden its audience is what makes us excited to come to work every day, but don’t just take our word for it. Ann Rule called Missing Beauty a classic…exposing murky passions and bizarre secrets. A truly incredible book.” And Robert B. Parker raved, Compelling, wonderfully told. Don’t miss it.”

Carpenter, a former editor at the Village Voice, where her articles on crime and the law won a Pulitzer Prize, is also a longtime ACX supporter. During the audio production of Missing Beauty, she agreed to collect a few of her thoughts on the book and the audiobook. We’re happy to share them below.

Missing Beauty was my first book. It was published over  twenty years ago by W. W. Norton and Company and in recent years, hardcover copies have been increasingly hard to come by. (Every time I would find one on Amazon. I’d snap it up). So I am thrilled to know that it will now be enjoying a brand new life — as an audiobook.

I’d been aware for the past few years that editors, agents and other publishing people in my acquaintance were relying more heavily upon audiobooks; this so that they could maximize their reading time while driving, or taking cross-country flights,  etc.  But it wasn’t until my husband’s recent book, In the Plex, was published by Audible last spring that I realized what a huge audience this  medium is gaining. Authors are enthusiastic about its potential because we are all painfully aware of how many good books have been tanked by a print sales force that is conditioned to sell nothing but celebrity biographies. A small, eccentric and brilliant little book can now, in theory, be launched onto a level playing field where it receives a first print run that stretches to infinity. Electronic and audiobooks  offer the possibility that the book will be staying in print forever. Believe it or not, that matters to an author.

I was sold on Audible when I went to the rollout of ACX and realized that older books of mine could enjoy new life by being recorded as audiobooks. I asked my agents at ICM to send a copy over to Audible’s headquarters in Newark and they worked with me to find a suitable actor. I sat in for a bit of the Missing Beauty reading, narrated by the actor, L.J. Ganser. (He also recorded Plex.)   My initial reaction was surprise that I found myself so drawn so deeply into the plot as it was read. I, of course, know how the story turns out, but L.J.  brought to it a fresh interpretation which made me realize how much of a performance art the reading of audiobooks is. You could have the same book read five times by five different actors and you wouldn’t tire of it because each would be a fresh interpretation. I am actually putting that theory to the test. The first Gothic novel ever written, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, has been recorded in at least seven audio editions. I plan to listen to them all. I’ll let you know what I find.

Also, we urge you to check out Teresa’s new book, New York Diaries, which The New York Times called “the most convivial and unorthodox history of New York City one is likely to come across.”

March Stipend Madness

We are continuing to go full steam ahead at ACX, adding and producing titles at a rapid clip. And we want to keep the momentum going! Just to remind everyone, our extended special stipend offer is good through the end of March. For producers, this means that if you accept a Royalty Share offer on any stipend-eligible ACX title by March 31st, it comes with an extra $100 per-finished-hour stipend (e.g. $1,000 for a 10-hour audiobook, up to a maximum $2,500) if you complete full production of the title (and the Rights Holder approves the title) within 60 days of accepting the ACX Production Standard Deal Terms for the title. The stipend is, of course, in addition to the Royalties and Bounties you’ll earn on sales of the audiobook. See here for all the details.

To reiterate, here’s how it works, step by step:

  1. Choose any of these eligible titles, which were handpicked by Audible’s editors for their promising sales potential. (You must be logged in as a studio or narrator to see the list.)
  2. Submit your best audition
  3. If you get a Royalty Share offer on one (or more) of these titles, accept the offer. (You can get this $100 per-finished-hour Stipend Offer on up to five productions.)
  4. Completion and approval of the audiobook within the next 60 days.
  5. Submit an invoice to ACX for $100 X the number of finished hours (Please contact audio@acx.com for our invoice template and complete instructions.)
  6. We pay you that fee, up to a maximum $2500
  7. You also earn half of the 50 – 90% escalator royalty on each sale of the audiobook (i.e. 25% – 45% as outlined here)
  8. You also earn half of any $25 bounty generated by downloads of the audiobook, as outlined here

We hope many of you take advantage of this extended offer, and we wish you luck. More than anything, we encourage you to please keep auditioning and helping us get more audiobooks into the world!

Could you be the next Octavia Spencer?

A couple of weeks ago, Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for “The Help” at the Academy Awards. Here at ACX, where we’re always trying to impress upon rights holders how the talent and skill of many of our narrators and producers can really bring a book to life, Spencer’s remarkable achievement was also a powerful reminder of the kind of great art that can emerge from an audiobook. For as many of you audiobook fans may know, Spencer’s superlative performance of Minnie did not originate with the film version—the roots of Spencer’s memorable performance lie in her powerful narration of the audiobook of “The Help,” which Audible members began to discover in January 2009, way before moviegoers did. And Spencer’s audio performance, which helped the audiobook win two Audie Awards, without a doubt influenced her casting in the film.

At Audible, the audiobook of “The Help” has been nothing short of a phenomenon. We recognized early on the potential for breakout success of this marvelous, multicast audio version, supporting  the audiobook on the Audible site with tons of marketing to Audible members. As a result, “The Help” was Audible’s Audiobook of the Year in 2009, and has close to 300,000 downloads to date, with a 4.8 star rating at Audible and close to 20,000 ratings. Spencer and the talented ensemble of actresses created an audio experience at a level Audible members considered a redefining moment, and “The Help” remains the highest-rated audiobook of all time according to Audible members.

In July 2011, Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly described “The Help” in audio as the definitive experience of the form. “Occasionally, listening to a book is just plumb better than reading it. Yes, I’m talking about The Help.” If any ACX users are looking for a great example of audiobook narration, look no further.

And if any actors out there are wondering whether audiobooks are worth investigating, we hope Spencer’s example will inspire them to take a closer look. Spencer’s success is a testament to the emergence of audiobook narration as a powerful arena of performance, as valid and distinct a variation on acting as stage or screen, with the added possibility, as in Spencer’s case, of giving a huge lift to an actor’s career.

You never know where your next audition might lead!

Guest post: How ACX can launch your audiobook career

Devoted ACX fans may remember our ACX audiobook narration contest last fall, which we ran in conjunction with our appearance at That’s Voiceover. Shelby Lewis, chosen as best female performance, won the chance to narrate Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and since this auspicious debut Shelby’s been very busy launching an audiobook career at breathtaking speed. Even so, we asked her to take five minutes to share with the ACX audience what she’s been up to over the past few months. Enjoy, and we hope you’ll find Shelby’s account of her experience using ACX both edifying and inspiring.

How ACX Can Launch Your Audiobook Career

by Shelby Lewis

Can ACX launch a career in audiobook narration? Well, between my diligent practice, demo submissions, and diverse ACX auditions, it has certainly launched mine! And I will be forever grateful.

For people who love “going to work” every day, are intrigued by cultivating a nuanced performance over a large scale, and who frankly love storytelling, audiobooks are absolutely a breath of fresh-voiceover-air. It’s not for everybody — especially if you’re comparing payment of commercials vs. audiobooks — but since I’m coming from a theatrical background ranging from musical theatre to Shakespeare, I enjoy the multi-character exploration and the lengthy, often complex text.

“Hitting it big” in commercials is a bit of a lottery, but — for better or worse — there’s really no way to accidentally succeed in audiobooks. It’s a lot of hard work that requires patience, stamina, meticulous preparation, and an equally balanced performance of inviting subtlety and engaging energy. After narrating just one title, you’ll know veeeery quickly if you enjoy this aspect of voiceover enough to pursue it. People ask me all the time: “Gosh, it takes so much time and WORK… Do you make a lot of money?” And my answer is always: “Well, you don’t until you do.” Since winning the ACX audiobook narration contest last fall, I have personally fallen in love with this work enough that the initial money (or lack thereof) doesn’t sway me in the slightest — which is why I have accepted multiple Royalty Share projects on ACX, especially if they’re in a genre in which I’d like to build up credits.

ACX gave me my humble audiobook beginnings, and it simultaneously gave me renowned audiobook narrator and teacher Scott Brick. I first saw him as a panelist on the ACX Audiobook Narration Panel at the That’s Voiceover! Conference last fall, then met him after he announced MY NAME as the winner of ACX‘s Audiobook Contest! I shook his hand, sent him a thank you, solicited some advice, was invited to watch him work in his studio, and trained with him personally in preparation for my newly won title: Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” for Audible.com and iTunes through ACX.

If you’re interested in breaking into audiobooks, PLEASE do yourself a favor and visit:

http://scottbrickpresents.com/learn/

Scott has now mentored me into my next step up in the world of audiobooks! I am proud to say that I’m currently completing my 5th title — the group of which ranges from a nonfiction murder investigation set in Texas to a haunting Young Adult fantasy novella complete with mermaids — and a 6th title I booked TODAY for Brilliance Audio!

One thing to watch out for which I’ve noticed on new narrators’ profiles: Don’t use only your *auditions* as your samples. The key currency in audiobooks is experience. Producing projects on ACX helps you build this currency, but if you only use your audition as a sample, and that rights holder checks your profile to see if they want to book you, and then she sees that the only narration you’ve done so far is a 3-min clip of her text — well, it’s extremely obvious that you’ve never actually narrated an audiobook before and it can mean a rights holder will be more likely to go with someone more experienced. After doing a few titles on ACX, you will be able to confidently say that you are an audiobook narrator. Until then, you fake it a bit to get those few titles under your belt by reading samples of books that you LOVE and show off your range. (That said, you should definitely use the script provided to audition for a specific book–a rights holder will want to hear how your voice sounds performing his or her words.)

My dream is to become a trusted, valued, and eventually sought-after narrator, but I also accept the long road to becoming worthy of steady bookings. In audiobooks especially, you must “pay your dues,” remain consistent and reliable, and learn what your voice gives the text that’s different from anyone else’s. You are representing everyone: the author’s voice, the characters’ voices, and your own voice. To me, that is thrilling. And, needless to say, I feel very blessed.

Truly, I could not recommend ACX highly enough. It gets your foot in the door, and then challenges you to keep the door open by yourself. And I’m already seeing that, once the door is opened, the tried-and-true audiobook narrators are more than satisfied, both creatively and financially. What more could one ask for?

Celebrating our first Audie nomination

In case you haven’t yet heard, one of the terrific finds produced on ACX as part of the Neil Gaiman Presents label has received an Audie nomination. You can read more about Jonathan Carroll‘s The Land of Laughs (and download it) here. Here’s what Neil himself had to say about the novel:

“I chose The Land of Laughs for Neil Gaiman Presents because I love Jonathan Carroll’s books and want to bring them to as wide an audience as possible. I suspected the character of Thomas Abbey would be both a challenge and an opportunity for the right narrator. Edoardo Ballerini conveys a certain wistfulness and vulnerability underneath Abbey’s grumpiness.”

And be sure to check out the Neil Gaiman Presents page on audible.com for more terrific audiobooks, including another recent release by Jonathan Carroll, White Apples. We are very proud to be helping bring books like these to life in audio. More to come!

More enthusiastic coverage of ACX

We recently received some nice, quite insightful coverage from Steve Harrison’s Book Marketing Update, a newsletter for entrepreneurial authors, that we wanted to share with the ACX audience. Book Marketing Update kindly agreed to let us excerpt from its article here. Enjoy!

Turn your book into an audiobook with the new Audiobook Creation Exchange, Part I

When Allen Klein wanted to breathe new life into one of his out-of-print books he turned to a new service called Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). Owned by Audible, a division of Amazon.com, and begun last summer, ACX is a clearinghouse that links authors and publishers who own digital rights to books with producers and voiceover artists who might be interested in turning the books into audiobooks.

After proving to ACX that he owned the digital rights to TeacherLaughs: A Jollytologist Book, his 2006 book published by Gramercy, Klein was able
to post a query on ACX. The query attracted the attention of Marlin May, a voiceover artist and former teacher willing to produce and record the
audiobook and to partner with Klein by splitting the costs and profits. The audiobook version of TeacherLaughs was ready for sale in about six weeks. Klein says, “He [May] did a great job and it was a simple process. It was very inexpensive.”

The duo had to acquire the rights to music and cover art used in the production of the audiobook. Their total cost was about $200, which they split, and with one of Klein’s first royalty checks from ACX he recouped 60 percent of his initial investment. Now TeacherLaughs can be purchased on Audible.com, iTunes and Amazon, instead of languishing in the used book market where it didn’t benefit the San Francisco-based author of 17 books.

Klein has sold about 100 audiobooks since September and believes sales will build over time. He is grateful that his book has found a new life. Klein is a savvy guy whose series of books published by Random House sold more than 400,000 copies. Therefore his belief in the promise of audiobooks is noteworthy; perhaps you will want to emulate him, too.

Sonya Bateman, whose novel Master of None was published by Pocket Books in 2010, is currently working to produce an audiobook. Hooking up with ACX was her agent’s idea as was retaining the digital rights to the book when Pocket put it under contract. Bateman says in an email interview, “She’s the one who found out about ACX and got everything rolling. So it was super easy for me—I just had to say ‘yes, I like this guy’ or ‘no, not what I want’ when I got sample reads.”

For her writing sample, Bateman posted the first chapter in her book, something many authors may be tempted to do. But as the auditions started rolling in, she realized that the sample chapter she provided did not have a lot of dialogue and featured just one of the two main characters. Bateman quickly found a narrator she liked, but when she asked him to do a reading for the second character—a djinn or genie with attitude—his first take was off the mark.

“Good thing I asked about it, because he did the voice like Apu [the Kwik-E-Mart owner] from The Simpsons, with a super-strong, extra-hokey Indian accent. Yuck. Not what I wanted,” Bateman says. With some direction from her, the voice artist nailed the character. Bateman’s takeaway from her experience is: make sure your sample chapter is representative of the book’s main characters.

To read the full article in Book Marketing Update, click here.

The above article appeared in Book Marketing Update, the print newsletter for members of Steve Harrison’s Million Dollar Author Club (http://www.milliondollarauthorclub.com) and is reprinted with permission. To receive invites to Steve’s free teleseminars for authors and self-publishers, go to http://www.steveharrisonteleseminars.com

ACX in the Audiobooks 2012 Webinar

Want to learn more about the changing landscape of the audiobook business and how to make the most of your audiobook narration career? Be sure to check out the Audiobooks 2012 Webinar, this evening, February 7 at 9PM EST (you can still register for the webinar, which costs $45, here). The session features ACX’s own Jason Ojalvo, who will be explaining how to use and profit from ACX most effectively, along with legendary voiceover actress Bettye Zoller and acclaimed audiobook narrator Grover Gardner. The online training and discussion will be followed by live Q&A.

Great candidates for auditions on ACX

If you’re a narrator or producer and you follow us on Twitter (and you should! @acx_com) you may have noticed we’re ramping up efforts to highlight certain titles currently looking for auditions. We know that as we grow and continue to add titles, it can be a lot to ask to sift through it all all; plus, we’ve got some great stuff that we want to make sure doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. (Of course, we’re also very proud and happy that we have these high-quality titles on offer. We’re working hard to get more and more of them posted on the site, produced, and turned into great audiobooks!) Below, we’ve collected some gems we’ve unearthed recently and want to bring to your attention.

Like thrillers? Here’s a great one from Ryne Douglas Pearson, who’s been compared to Scott Turow, Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke.  Confessions is seeking male narrators:

https://www.acx.com/titleview/A3BVCXRY933PAY

Who doesn’t love writers’ houses? This fascinating tour of author museums, A Skeptic’s Guide to Writers’ Houses, by Anne Trubek, seeks female narrators:

http://www.acx.com/titleview/A8K1BOVKFJVEJ

One Hundred Candles,  the second book in Mara Purnhagen‘s acclaimed YA “Past Midnight” series, is seeking a female narrator:

https://www.acx.com/titleview/A22ME3BWFLCW1C

Mark Sarvas‘s literary blog, The Elegant Variation, is loved by many. His lauded debut novel, Harry, Revised, seeks male narrators:

https://www.acx.com/titleview/A328Y6G4YRF180

Chris Lehmann‘s hilarious, trenchant Rich People Things was called “social criticism at its scorching-hot best” by Barbara Ehrenreich. It seeks male narrators:

https://www.acx.com/titleview/A36RAZ7O1K17A

Scott Spencer is the author of ten books, two of which have been nominated for a National Book Award. But only one of his novels centers on an international sex tour, and we’ve got it! Willing seeks male narrators:

http://www.acx.com/titleview/A3MBE27O3FJ2VX

Jane Feather is a New York Times bestselling author of historical romance. This one, A Wicked Gentleman, seeks a male or female narrator:

https://www.acx.com/titleview/AZI2M9Y4V9ZLI

We’re thrilled to feature several titles by bestselling horror novelist Douglas Clegg. This one, The Queen of Wolves, seeks a male narrator:

http://www.acx.com/titleview/A6JOTX4ZH3RL3

Wade Davis‘s Into the Silence, about British climbers’ attempts to climb Mt. Everest in the 1920s, is just out from Knopf to stunning reviews. We have an earlier, epic work from Davis, Shadows in the Sun. It seeks a male or female narrator:

http://www.acx.com/titleview/A1E7N8HIUX0NLQ

Watch our Twitter feed for more great finds. and please let us know if you think there’s a more effective way we can bring great titles to your attention!

Shane Berryhill promotes literacy with his first ACX title

We wanted to draw the attention of all ACX fans and listeners to Shane Berryhill’s excellent YA title, Chance Fortune and the Outlaws: Adventures of Chance Fortune. The story of a 14-year-old boy determined to become a superhero, this first title in the Chance Fortune series was just produced via ACX. It is performed by the terrific Nick Sullivan and available for purchase here.

If you need another reason to check out this audiobook, we have one! Berryhill is donating any 2012 proceeds from the sale of the Chance Fortune audiobook to the Read 20 program. Since 2006, Read 20 has distributed over 65,000 books, interacted with over 43,000 children, confirmed at least 23,000 adults reading with children every day, and provided resources and training for over 1,200 teachers in public schools and day cares. As Berryhill explains, “Early in my writing career, Read 20 was kind enough to invite me to be a part of one of their inaugural events. They promote a cause I believe in wholeheartedly—young people reading fiction, and reading it a lot.”

Berryhill is also a huge audiobook fan who credits Kathy Bates’s performance of Stephen King’s Desperation for inspiring his writing career. “A well-produced audiobook can be just as–and potentially even more–engaging than a novel in print,” he says. Look for future Berryhill titles produced via ACX in the near future–the author tells us Nick Sullivan will begin working on volume 2 of Chance Fortune, Chance Fortune in the Shadowzone, shortly.

Spotlight on pay-for-production titles

We want to make sure narrators and producers know that we have about 400 new pay-for-production titles seeking a voice on ACX. That’s about a million dollars in work for actors like you!  Help these books become audiobooks — audition now!

We’re very happy to be able to offer so many new titles that promise upfront payment, most at the rate of $200 – $400 per finished hour (remember that’s for a retail-ready audiobook, not just the acting piece of it). Check out the list here, or go to ACX and use the “project rate” filter. If you follow us on Twitter, you may have seen that we recently called out a couple of great pay-for-production titles seeking auditions: Katharine Weber’s True Confections, seeking female narrators, and Steven Gaines’s Fool’s Paradise, seeking male narrators. But there are many, many more!

Also, for those of you who prefer royalty share deals, our special stipend offer has been extended through February 15.  Stipend-eligible titles can be found here, so take a look—there is a wealth of great books to choose from. (You must be logged in to see the eligible titles.)

Good luck, and as always, let us know if we can help in any way. Call 1-888-396-6347 or email audio@acx.com.