Category Archives: Using ACX

A Portrait of the Artist

Listen here, ACX Producer—when’s the last time you updated that profile page of yours? Here on the blog, we can often be found extolling the importance of investing in your home studio, honing your editing and mastering skills, and publicizing your work on social media platforms. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight the value of your professional presence on ACX—your Producer profile! A curated, well-maintained profile will not only make it easier for Rights Holders to find you on ACX, it can help you stand out from the crowd and command the attention of authors and publishers on the hunt for talent like yours.

So, what are the elements of a successful profile? We’ve written a guide to giving your profile the makeover it deserves and sprinkled it with examples from some excellent Audible Approved Producers. Refer to the highlighted areas in the image below as you read along at home.

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Profile Image

A complete, professional-looking ACX profile should include an image, first and foremost (1). Many Producers choose a professional headshot or a picture of themselves having fun in the studio. Not all voiceover artists wish to provide a headshot, however; many feel that their physical appearance sets an expectation incongruent with the variety of vocal performance they’re able to deliver, and would prefer to let their voice speak for itself. In that case, we recommend a graphic or logo developed to represent your brand—Fiverr can be a great place to source one of these—or a picture of your studio without you in it.

Bio

There are two places for you to biographize yourself on your ACX profile: the one-line blurb that appears beneath your name, and the “About” section (2). The first is a great place to offer a zippy little intro that grabs the searcher’s attention. Draw some inspiration from these great one-liners:

  • Confident, Intellectual, Charismatic—The Darkly Sophisticated British Storyteller. (Hannibal Hills)
  • Bright. Vivacious. (Suzanne Barbetta)
  • A smooth blend of professional sound with a personal touch! Bringing stories to life for over 15 years as a narrator and voiceover talent. (Heather Costa)

Then, there’s space under the “About” tab to add a longer bio (3). This is a place to give a comprehensive overview of how you got started, how long you’ve been narrating/producing, why you love it, what sorts of characters/projects you’re drawn to, your vocal range, repertoire, and any special skills you possess. For example, Kyle Tait highlights his extensive experience as a sports announcer. Listing this type of skill might seem irrelevant to audiobook production, but it can capture the attention of the author of a sports biography that wants to be confident their narrator is up to tackling the specific jargon and style of their book. Consider your unique skills and knowledge outside the world of audiobooks, and include anything that makes you stand out!

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Samples

We know it’s tempting to include samples of the great work you’ve done in short form VO, but compelling as they may be, they aren’t especially relevant to Rights Holders looking to hire you for an audiobook project. For your ACX Profile, it’s best to include audiobook samples (4). If you’re new to audiobooks and don’t have many (or any) productions under your belt, head over to Project Gutenberg and choose an appropriate piece from the 60,000 free public domain books on their site. Remember, you can always link to your website from your profile and include your other VO work there.

Next, be judicious when it comes to the number of samples on your profile: too few and your experience and range won’t be apparent, too many, and authors may find themselves overwhelmed and moving on before they give you a good listen. Choose just 5-7 of your best samples that showcase great production values, your range as a performer, and a variety of genres, character types, and dialects. Hannibal Hills and Suzanne Barbetta use their “Sample” sections to great effect, including samples from a wide variety of genres so prospective authors can hear their range as a performer and don’t have to imagine whether they’re up to the task. Pro Tip: you’ll notice these producers have named the samples according to the genres and/or vocal styles they represent. The author or publisher perusing your profile may be completely unfamiliar with the book titles listed in your repertoire, so help them out a little by describing the vocal skills and characteristics on display in each sample.

Credits

Think of this section (5) as your IMDB page on ACX—this is your space to list not only the audiobooks you’ve recorded, but the movies, television shows, theater productions, commercials, radio programs, or video games you or your voice has appeared in (yes, here we encourage you to include relevant non-audiobook work). We also find that successful Producers include related experience, education, and training, be it a master’s degree in theater or a vocal performance workshop they took. Many producers, such as Kyle Tait, also choose to list the gear they use in their home studio setup here so that authors know they have the tools to produce a great audiobook, whereas Suzanne Barbetta features her experience as a paralegal under “Special Skills” to impart her knowledge of legal terminology. Heather Costa lists all of her available audiobook titles under “Credits,” which not every Producer chooses to do, but the list is impressive and the effect is clear—you can tell at a glance she has plenty of experience and has been re-hired by several authors to narrate multiple titles in their catalog.

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Awards and Recognition

This is no place for humility, folks—this section (6) is your chance to brag a little! Show off your accomplishments and tell ‘em what the critics are saying—include any awards you’ve won or been nominated for, include ratings and reviews from listeners on Audible (like Hannibal Hills has done) or from authors who have been happy with your performance and delivery of the project, such as in Heather Costa’s profile. Most consumers don’t make an online purchase without reading the reviews first, so why should we assume shopping for an audiobook narrator should be any different?

Now that you know the ins and outs of a shining producer profile, don’t let it get dusty! Keep it current and up to date with your achievements, new releases, and professional development. Your producer profile is more than just your resume on ACX—there’s a good chance you won’t meet the authors you work with in person, and won’t have contact with them until they make the offer to produce their book, so think of your profile page as your resumé, audition, and interview, all rolled into one. Someone wise once said you only get one chance to make a first impression, so you’d better make it an impressive one, don’t you think?

Negotiate Your Perfect Deal with Royalty Share Plus

Today, we’re excited to introduce a long-requested feature: Royalty Share Plus!

With Royalty Share Plus, authors and publishers can invest in their audiobooks by contributing to the production costs and accessing an even greater community of Producers. This new payment option is an evolution of the Royalty Share concept, allowing ACX RSP_Brick Wall.pngRights Holders to negotiate a per-finished-hour payment for their projects in addition to splitting royalties with their Producer. Once the audiobook production is complete, Rights Holders send the Royalty Share Plus fee to their Producer, and ACX will split your royalties once the audiobook becomes available for sale.

For Producers, this means building a portfolio of steady residual income and paying everyday expenses. Producers tell us this option helps them pay for supporting services like audio engineering, take care of everyday expenses, upgrade their recording equipment, and expedite production to create even better audiobooks. Authors and Publishers can discover talented performers that may not have been previously accessible to take your audiobook production to new heights.

We hope you’ll consider Royalty Share Plus for your next audiobook production. We can’t wait to hear what you do next!

Learn more about Royalty Share Plus and all of your production options on ACX.

Speed Up Your Audiobook Production with Direct Offer

Good news, everyone! Today, we’re introducing a faster, easier way to publish your audiobooks on ACX. With the new Direct Offer feature, authors and publishers can now choose to work directly with their favorite Producers and narrators without opening their titles to accept auditions. We’ve heard from many Rights Holders that they’ve found “the one” —that perfect voice—either through past projects or by browsing samples on the ACX site, and would like to move their audiobook projects directly into production, and today’s changes are meant to help make that even easier.

To make a Direct Offer to a Producer, navigate to your title from your Project Dashboard, or add a new project to your account. As you set up your title, you’ll have the option to accept auditions for your project or make a Direct Offer to the Producer of your choice. Selecting the option to make a Direct Offer will allow you to select your Producer by searching for his or her name, or selecting from a list of Producers that you’ve collaborated with in the past. You’ll then be able to make an offer directly to your Producer of choice and start collaborating as soon as your offer is accepted.

Want tips for selecting that perfect voice? The ACX Blog has you covered. What other features would you like to see added to ACX? Comment with your suggestions below.

Check Your Production Before You Wreck Your Production

Did you tune in last night for How to Pass QA Every Time, the fourth episode of ACX University 2017? David and Brendan from the ACX QA team joined us to discuss the top reasons your audiobook productions may get flagged during our QA process, how to avoid these errors, and what you can do to fix them after the fact. You can watch the full episode below, then check out our QA checklist that you can use to finalize your productions before hitting “I’m Done!”

The ACX QA “Top Five” Checklist

1. Properly Edit Your Audiobook

Here are some ways to set yourself up for success in the editing stage of your audiobook production:

Record in a quiet, non-reverberant room to minimize background noise.

Make sure there’s enough distance between your voice and the microphone to prevent pops, loud breaths, and unwanted vocal artifacts.

Use a dynamic microphone as opposed to a condenser when recording in a noisy environment. Some popular mic choices in this category include the Electro Voice RE20 and the Shure SM7B.

Use a pop filter placed in front of the microphone to help tame plosives and sibilance.

Learn and use the punch ‘n’ roll recording technique. Recording through an entire chapter in one take will often result in the file containing repeated lines, noises, and breaths that need to be edited out.

Record and save 30–60 seconds of clean room tone to use when editing out noises.

Utilize a QC sheet to identify and resolve any editing issues.

Sounds in your recording that should always be edited out include:

  • Narration with excessive mouth noise and vocal artifacts.
  • Clicks and pops located at the beginning of a file before the performance begins and at the end of a file after you’ve finished recording a chapter.
  • Long gaps of audio silence within the middle of a file.
  • Heavy background noise.

2. Encode Your Files According to ACX Guidelines

Make sure all of your audiobook files meet the following requirements before uploading them to ACX:

No files exceed 120 minutes in length or 170 mb in size.

All files must be recorded at a 44.1khkz sampling rate.

All files must be 192 kbs or higher MP3s, encoded at a constant bit rate (CBR), not variable bit rate (VBR).

All files within a given production must be either all stereo or all mono files.

3. Adhere to ACX’s RMS Requirements

Some tips to help you avoid RMS issues include:

During Recording:

Record at the proper volume. Your voice should peak around -12dB to -8dB. Adjust your pre-amp so that your voice peaks at this level, then keep it at that level. Set it and forget it.

If you need to adjust the level at which you’re hearing yourself while recording, adjust your monitor level, not your preamp.

Use proper mic technique to ensure your performance is within the appropriate volume range.

During Mastering:

Check file level statistics within your DAW to ensure you are meeting the ACX requirements. Group like files together in larger books to make mastering easier.

Use normalization and compression to even out your files. Don’t EQ after compression, as this could affect your final levels.

Keep your monitor level consistent during mastering.

4. Adequately Space Your Audio Files

Make sure you are editing with both fidelity to the manuscript and the listening experience in mind.

During the edit/QC stage, keep room tone handy to use when structuring files.

Leave one half second to 1 second of clean room tone at the beginning and between 1 and 5 seconds of clean room tone at the end of each file.

5. Correctly Order and Structure Audio Files

Ensure that all of your audiobook project’s files have been uploaded to ACX only once each, and in the proper order.

Make sure you’ve included the appropriate chapter/section headers at the start of each file.

Record each section or chapter in a separate track in your project file within your DAW.

Include the file order number along with the section name in your file name. This will help you keep track during upload. Example: 01_Tom Sawyer_Opening Credits.mp3, 02_Tom Sawyer_Acknowledgements.mp3, 03_Tom Sayer_Ch01.mp3, etc.

Print this blog post out and use it as a checklist to ensure you hit all of our QA team’s recommendations. Following the QA team’s advice will put you on the right path to speeding your production to “on-sale,” and will help ensure a satisfied Rights Holder and happy listeners for your audiobook.

 

Introducing the Audible.ca Distribution Channel!

Hot on the heels of announcing ACX opened its doors to Canadian authors, publishers, and narrators, Audible has announced the opening of Audible.ca. This means even more great news for ACX authors, because we’ve automatically enrolled your audiobook in this new distribution channel if you selected Worldwide distribution rights or included Canada as one of your distribution territories on ACX. You’ll continue earning the same great royalties paid monthly, while enjoying readership from a new class of listener.

All aboard with Audible!

Audible kicked off their dedicated Canadian digital storefront with a train trek from Toronto to Montreal, leading with readings of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale by Elisabeth Moss. Read all about it, or find more inspiration right here: Last week, we concluded Canadian author Susan Hayes’s audiobook diary on the ACX blog.

And what can you do to promote your audiobooks in this new marketplace?  Get ideas at ACX University, now in session, with tips and ideas for creating and promoting award-winning audiobooks.

Have questions? Visit our Help Center for answers.

Welcoming New Voices and Stories to ACX

ACX is excited to welcome new voices and stories onto our revolutionary audiobook creation platform. Starting today, Canadian and Irish Rights Holders and Producers can list their audio samples and audiobook projects for auditions in the ACX marketplace. To date, authors, publishers, studios, and narrators in the US and UK have produced over 80,000 audiobooks using ACX, and we can’t wait to hear what audiobooks you make next. We’d especially like to thank you for the opportunity to help create audiobooks around the world and support the creative community.

Are you looking for a Canadian or Irish voice? Listen to samples. Ready to show off your accents? Update your samples.

Visit ACX.com to get started!

Picking the Right Royalty Share Projects

Like to listen? Click on the player below to hear this post in audio.

 

As an author, actor, and audiobook producer, Craig Tollifson brings a unique perspective to ACX. His publishing industry background has allowed him to make the most of the time he spends auditioning by putting his effort into the most promising titles. He joins us today to share his tips for picking the best Royalty Share projects.

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ACX Author/Narrator Craig Tollifson (aka Andrew Tell)

The first audiobook I narrated went on sale in early 2015. It sold 11 copies. Since then, I’ve narrated 19 other titles, learned a lot about narrating, and learned even more about choosing good Royalty Share projects. This month I’ll pass 10,000 total sales, and recently averaged over 1,500 sales a month. And those numbers just keep going up. Not bad for a beginner!

I got my start on ACX as an author. I had my novella, The Junior Arsonists Club, produced as an audiobook by the talented Amy McFadden. I was interested in eventually narrating my own work, and had experience as a stage actor, so I decided to jump in and try it myself. Now I’m a full-time audiobook narrator and no one can say it’s weird that I sit in a giant box and talk to myself all day.

Having been on the other side of the fence as an independent author has helped shape my choices as a narrator. I knew from the start I wanted to pursue Royalty Share projects. For years I’ve followed the indie publishing scene and noted a parade of successes, like Hugh Howey, Michael Bunker, and many more. The potential to earn more than a regular Per-Finished-Hour rate over the long term and gain passive income was very appealing. I also knew that I had to be smart in choosing the right projects. I had to get good at picking the books with the most potential for success.

ACX gives you the basic research right on the project page. Now, let’s assume you’re skilled at narration, you’re interested in the project, and your voice is a good fit for the work. Here are some of the key points to consider:

  • Genre makes a difference. Fiction accounts for nearly 80% of audiobooks sold, with mystery/thrillers and sci-fi/fantasy being near the top. Stick with popular genres if you want to sell.
  • The Amazon sales rank can be very important for predicting success. This number represents sales per day compared to every other book in the Amazon store. Audiobook and eBook sales tend to rise and fall together. Remember, this is one product on two platforms. The lower the sales rank, the better! Without going into too much detail: a sales rank under one hundred is amazing. Run to the booth and start auditioning! A sales rank in the thousands is pretty great (remember there are over a million books in the Amazon store!). When you get over a hundred thousand, or two hundred thousand or more, well…that’s not so great. But remember: this rank is only a snapshot of one moment which represents that day’s trend. Message the Rights Holder on ACX to see how the book has been selling historically. Oftentimes, a great rank can be the result of a recent promotion, and when the promotion’s over it can completely sink again. Also, make sure the number you’re looking at is the paid rank. If the book is free, the rank loses a lot of its meaning and is not a good predictor of audiobook sales.
  • The more reviews thJunior Arsonists.jpge better, and the reviews should be mostly positive. Take some time and read some of those reviews. I recommend reading the most recent reviews, as early reviews are often solicited. Click through some of the reviewers themselves and check their profiles–if it’s the only book they’ve reviewed, it’s likely they are friends or family of the author and shouldn’t be considered. Reviews are also great for quickly getting a sense of the story, often more so than the author’s description, or first few pages of the book.
  • Length of time on sale is a great metric when combined with the number of reviews and sales rank. A book that’s selling great, and has been on the market for, say, two years may have better potential than a book that’s only been out for two weeks with the same sales rank.
  • Evaluate the rest of the author’s catalog–every last book–with the same criteria as the one up for production: sales rank, reviews, etc. If they have other audiobooks, even better. Ask the Rights Holder how many copies the other audiobooks have sold. Or, check to see how many ratings the other audiobooks have on Audible. More ratings mean more copies have been purchased.

Now that you’ve done your research, you need to define success. Though you’re not working for a Per-Finished-Hour (PFH) rate when producing Royalty Share projects, you should still be thinking about how much you hope to earn. What is your time worth? Recording usually takes around 2 hours in the studio for every finished hour of audio. Then there’s editing, proofing, and mastering, which can add 3-4 hours (or more!) per finished hour of audio. You could easily be putting in 6 hours for every finished hour.  With all that in mind, come up with your ideal PFH rate for the project. Multiply it by the length of the book in hours. Now, divide that total with a ballpark royalty and you’ll see how many copies you’ll need to sell to be satisfied that you’ve made a good decision. Do you really think the audiobook can sell that many copies? Does the Rights Holder? If you’re on the fence about a project, I find that thinking about earnings goals can help cement a decision.

Once the book is produced and on the market, you and the Rights Holder both have a stake in its success. Before you jump into your next production, spend some time marketing. I spend time every week promoting titles via giveaways and soliciting reviews. Social media can be a great resource if you find the right communities. There are a ton of places online that fans gather to discuss their favorite genre, like Goodreads, reddit, and many Facebook groups. Get yourself into those communities. You’ll meet fans and authors, both of which will help your audiobook career.

The last thing you’ll need is a little bit of luck. All the points of research can add up to the best looking potential project on the planet, and you can do great promotion, but still…the audiobook may not sell well! Royalty Share comes with an element of risk. Your job is to find the ones with the best odds.

I hope that the research tips I’ve given you today can help you choose the best bets for success.

Craig Tollifson is the author of the Kindle Single the Junior Arsonists Club, the forthcoming novel Happy, and has written for Mystery Science Theater 3000. When he’s not writing or performing on stage, he narrates audiobooks under the name Andrew Tell. He lives with his wife and kids in sunny Los Angeles, California.

Get by with a Little Help from Your Friends at ACX

At ACX, we know that audiobook production can be a complex process, so we’re always here to help. Today, we’re excited to share a new way to get answers to your questions: our new Help Center!

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The improved Help Center features new Search and Browse tools to help you find the information you’re looking for. Here are just a few things you’ll find in this improved area:

  • Checklists for Rights Holders and Producers: Set yourself up for success with step-by-step instructions for starting and finishing your audiobook projects.
  • Answer Ratings: Was this answer helpful? If not, tell us why. We’re listening to improve your experience.
  • Plus, dozens of new answers to your most frequently asked questions!

Visit the new Help Center today, and share your feedback with us.

Get the latest on enhancements to ACX.com by subscribing to the blog!

Now On ACX: “Offer Pending” Banner

Have you searched for an audition-ready project on ACX recently? You may have noticed a new banner labeled “Offer Pending” in your results. And if you’ve seen this new feature, you might have a few questions about it. Lucky for you, we’ve got all the answers.

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Q: What does “Offer Pending” mean?

A: “Offer Pending” means the rights holder of that title has made an offer to produce it to another ACX producer.

Q: What if the offer was made to me? Will I still see the flag?

A: Nope, but others will.

Q: I’d really like to produce this book. How long does the other producer have to accept the offer?

A: Depending on the offer, the producer who received it has from 24 – 72 hours to accept or decline the offer.

Q: So can I still submit an audition even if a title has the “Offer Pending” banner?

A: Yep, you can.

Q: Is that a good idea?

A: That depends. Preparing, producing, and uploading an audition takes time. If the rights holder is negotiating with another producer, you might do that work only to find the book has gone into production. We suggest you message the rights holder to introduce yourself and request more information if you’re dead set on auditioning.

Offer Pending_02Want to stay up to date on new ACX features? Subscribe to The ACX Blog!

The Four Agreements

As an ACX Producer, you’re responsible for editing, mixing, and mastering your audio, in addition to reading and self-recording. While you may possess both the artistic talent and the technical skill required to handle all of these tasks, you might find you prefer to focus on your performance. Other factors—like a tight production schedule or lack of a home studio—may require you to seek professional assistance. ACX independent contractor agreements can help ensure both parties are clear about what’s expected when it comes to things like due dates, payment terms, and ownership of the finished product. Here are the four types of agreements that ACX offers:

Audiobook Narration Services Agreement

Helping hand shakes another in an agreementWho it’s between: A studio and a narrator, a producer and a narrator, a narrator and a fellow narrator.

Why you may need it: You’re a studio or producer hiring a narrator, or you’re a narrator subcontracting another narrator to work on your multi-cast audiobook recording.

What you get: A professionally narrated audiobook with up to four rounds of correction (aka “pickup”) sessions.

Audiobook Engineering Services Agreement:

Who it’s between: A narrator and an engineer, a narrator and a studio, or a studio and a freelance engineer.

Why you may need it: You’re a narrator without a home studio, or a studio owner working with a freelance engineer.

What you get: A professional engineer to record your (or your narrator’s) performance and provide you with the raw recorded files ready to be edited and mastered.

Audiobook Editing Services Agreement

sidebarWho it’s between: A narrator, producer, or studio, and an audiobook editor.

Why you may need it: You’re a narrator or producer on a tight schedule, or you have a number of productions to complete back to back. Perhaps you prefer to focus on performing rather than audio editing.

What you get: Professionally edited and QC’d audiobook files, ready for mixing and mastering.

Audiobook Mastering Services Agreement

Who it’s between: A narrator, producer, or studio, and a post-production engineer.

Why you may need it: You’re on a tight schedule, or you have a number of productions to complete back to back. You’ve decided to focus on performing rather than mastering your audio.

What you get: A professional mix and master of your audiobook files, delivered ready for upload to ACX according to our Audio Submission Requirements.

Armed with one or more of our independent contractor agreements, you can do your best work and rest assured that your collaborators are keeping up their end of the deal. Be sure to download and use them the next time you need to outsource an aspect of your ACX production.

Have you outsourced the editing, mastering, or post-production of your audiobooks? Tell us in the comments below.