Category Archives: Using ACX

Sample, Sale.

Marketing your ACX titles to potential listeners starts with a dynamic audio sample: in just a few short minutes, Audible listeners will decide if your audiobook is their next great listen. So what makes a great audio sample? Join us as we cover how to get the most out of this brief sound snippet.

A great sounding sample comes from the same place as the rest of your great sounding audiobook – your narrator! Make sure to cast thoughtfully, and don’t be afraid to be proactive by using ACX’s narrator search to find actors and invite them to audition for your title.

As your narrator begins producing your book, give some thought to 3 – 5 minutes of audio that will best represent your title and make it desirable to Audible’s listeners. If you can find one representative scene of this length, great! Or, select more than one interesting passage, and have your narrator edit them together. If your title has action and romance, feature both scenes to really whet your fans’ appetites.

If you’re not sure how to best represent your book, ask your fans for their favorite scene from the print or eBook version. Or, ask your narrator for her recommendation. After all, collaboration is the name of the game on ACX!

Once your narrator has finished your book and uploaded the audio for review, you can approve the production and let us worry about getting the sample on Audible. In the meantime, you can download the retail audio sample file from ACX to your computer, then upload it to an audio sharing site like SoundCloud*. Share the link in your newsletter and on social media. SoundCloud even has a widget that you can place on your own website, further showcasing your audiobook to your fans.

The retail audio sample is a key part of your promotional efforts for your audiobook. Combining a little taste of what’s to come with your other promotional efforts should start to generate some buzz about your book, and set you on the path to strong sales and reviews for your title.

How do you select the perfect retail audio sample?

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?

An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Earlier this week, we discussed selecting an audition script for your book once it’s been posted to ACX. Today, let’s tackle the next step for authors and rights holders: casting your title and making an offer. This is an important step that can ensure that your production goes smoothly.

Casting the right producer.

mike-charzuk-exec-prod-audible-com

Mike Charzuk

Only you know who has the perfect voice for your story or characters. Among the 10,000+ producers on ACX, you’re bound to find some fantastic narrators. Mike Charzuk, Executive Producer/Sr. Director of Audible Studios, advises you to know your text well and cast to your narrator’s strengths.

When casting, it is important to know the text inside and out. If the text is complex with many characters, then an actor that is facile with character delineation and accents would be advised. Remember, subtle is the way to go with accents and character choices; you don’t want the narrator to sound to cartoonish and over the top. If the text is nonfiction, then a voice that is engaging is optimal. Remember to cast nonfiction to the strengths of the actor. Someone that might be not be good with complex verbiage may not do well on a book about ancient Greek language, for example.

You should also be listening to the technical aspects of the audition. The auditions you receive should be indicative of the final audio quality your producer will deliver once they begin producing your title. We recommend listening to some samples of well rated audiobooks on Audible to get a sense of what a good production sounds like. If you have reservations about the sound quality, feel free to politely discuss them with the potential producer or pass on the audition.

Making an offer.

Consider a few things when making an offer on ACX. As you post your title, you may have already chosen what payment method you’ll use, but if you’ve offered your title as royalty share or pay-for-production (P4P), you’ll now need to commit to one or the other. Next, you’ll choose exclusive or non-exclusive distribution, and offer due dates for the 15 minute checkpoint and final audio.

It’s important to understand the amount of time that goes into producing an audiobook when deciding on due dates. See this post for information on how long it can take to produce your audio. Based on this, a good estimate for the length of time needed on an average ACX production is roughly 45 days. It’s always a good idea to discuss the production timeline with your potential producer via the ACX messaging system before making an offer.

Help your producer help you.

One final thing to note is that you should be prepared to send your producer a copy of the final, published version of your book as soon as they accept your offer. You should also include any additional notes that you can regarding character voices and pronunciations. Putting your producer in the best position to produce your title ensures that you’ll end up with a great audiobook.

Are you ready to make an offer for your book? Tell us how you set yourself up to get the best audiobook possible from your ACX productions in the comments!

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!

Money Talks – Paying, and Getting Paid, For Your Audiobook.

Authors, publishers, agents, circle up. Today, we’re going to talk money. ACX offers two different options when it comes to paying for your audiobook. You can also choose between two distribution options, which affect how much you stand to make from your audio sales. So let’s take a start-to-finish look at the different options you have on ACX when it comes to dollars and cents.

Planning Your Budget

Budgeting is one of the first things you should think about when preparing to get your book produced in audio. ACX offers two ways to compensate your producer: pay a “per finished hour” rate (PFH) when you approve the final audio, or enter into a royalty share agreement, where you pay the producer nothing up front, but agree to split your portion of the royalties 50-50 on the back end. The biggest consideration here is whether you have the funds to pay for your production up front, or whether you’d prefer to share royalties from sales. Both have their benefits – one allows you to keep your full portion of your royalties, the other gives you a marketing partner who is equally invested in the project, but it’s important to know which is right for you.

P4P: Is it 4 You?

Paying a per-finished-hour rate, what we call “pay for production” (or P4P) on ACX, is the traditional model of paying for an audiobook production. A good estimate of industry standard rates for retail ready audiobook production breaks down as follows: roughly $200 PFH for narration and another $200 PFH for the post production work (editing, QC, mixing and mastering). Rates can vary from producer to producer and from project to project of course. It’s also important to understand what you’re paying for, and the skill and time that goes into it. On average, it can take about four hours of work to produce one hour of finished audio. Your narrator is usually spending two hours reading in the booth and another two to three hours editing, mixing and mastering for each finished hour of audio. So while a rate of $300-$400 PFH may seem high, it makes sense when you understand the works that’s gone into it.

When budgeting for a P4P deal, the other factor to consider is the length of your title. We estimate that about 9,300 words equals one hour of finished audio (you can learn how to get an accurate word count for your title here). So, with that in mind, you can contact producers on ACX and negotiate  a fair rate for producing your title.

The Revolutionary Royalty Share

Of course, not everyone wants to pay their producer up front. For those that want to go a different route, ACX offers the royalty share payment model. Under these terms, you, the rights holder, forgo up front payment. Your producer will do the same work described above, and deliver the same retail-ready audio product. The time spent, and the value of the producer’s work is the same as if they were being paid up front. That’s why it’s extra important to have a solid plan for how you’ll market your title, and how your producer can fit into that plan. Choosing to split the royalties can get you a “partner in crime,” and double the marketing force behind your audio version.

It’s important to note that the royalty share option is only available when you grant ACX exclusive distribution of your title. Which brings us to:

Distribution – Exclusive or Non-Exclusive

The other big consideration for an ACX rights holder is whether to choose exclusive or non-exclusive distribution. This is a very in-depth topic, and much more detailed information on distribution and royalty rates can be found on our site. In brief, ACX will distribute your title to Audible, Amazon and iTunes. If you choose exclusive distribution, we will make your book available through these three channels and pay you an escalator royalty rate that starts at 50%, and increases in your favor the more you sell. With non-exclusive distribution, your book will still be available for purchase though the sites above, but you retain the right to sell or distribute it in any other way you wish. As we mentioned before, the royalty share method of paying your producer is only available with exclusive distribution.

Which combination of payment and distribution is right for you? Only you can know for sure, and it can vary from project to project. But with the information above, you should be well situated to make an informed, intelligent choice!

Which payment and distribution methods have you worked for you on ACX? Tell us in the comments!

Two Ways to Estimate Your Word Count

Today, we want to talk briefly about the importance of an accurate word count for your ACX productions. Having an accurate word count can help ensure that both the rights holder and the producer know what to expect when it comes to the amount of work involved, and the amount of time needed to produce an audiobook.

How do I get an accurate word count?

This part’s pretty easy, and at most involves a little math. If you have an electronic version of your book, most word processing programs provide a word count for you. Microsoft Word, for example, displays this info in the bottom left hand corner of the document

WordCount_MSWORD

If you aren’t able to get the word count electronically, you can still do it the old-fashioned way. Here’s how:

  1. Pick a typical, full-text page of your book at random.
  2. Count the number of words in the top line of text, and then count the number of lines on the page.
  3. Multiply those two numbers. Then, multiply that number by the total number of pages in the book. Remember, if you’re not having your producer record certain parts of the text, such as the introduction, the “About the Author,” or any other front or back matter, make sure to account for that when multiplying.
  4. Choose a different page in your book, repeat steps 1-3, and note the number. Repeat this process one last time with a third page and note that number.
  5. Find the average of those three numbers.
  6. The result will be the approximate number of total words in your book.

Where do I put this information on ACX?

After claiming your title on ACX and creating your title profile, step two of the title posting process asks you to choose payment and distribution terms, as well as enter the word count.

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WordCount

ACX automatically calculates the estimated running time based on the number of words you’ve entered (how nice of us!). This is just an estimate, of course, and the finished recording time may vary depending on the type of book and the style of the narrator.

Along those lines, we advise ACX producers to double check the word count at the outset of the production to ensure both parties are have the same expectation of the length of the title and the production time required.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful audiobook production tips, and tell us what parts of the audiobook production process you’d like to learn more about in the comments!

Marketing Your Title To ACX Producers

Authors, rights holders, let’s talk. You joined ACX and posted your title for two reasons: to have a great sounding, professional, retail-ready audiobook made and to earn royalties from sales of that audiobook. So what’s the first step towards creating a top notch audiobook with high sales potential? Using a great narrator/producer of course! Lucky for you, ACX has thousands ready to perform. Today, we’ll share some tips on how to attract auditions from the best of them.

Start with your title profile. Your title profile is a free advertisement you can use to make your title as attractive as possible to potential producers. After claiming your title on ACX, you have the opportunity to supplement the description from your Amazon detail page with more information about the book, the type of read you’re looking for from your narrator, and any information you have on your marketing plans, fan-base, or social media following. Let’s take a look at a strong title profile for a book posted to ACX:

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Demon Kissed Profile 02

The rights holder of this title shares the important details first, including sales, reviews, social media reach and specific ad campaigns for this title. Narrators are attracted to titles with good sales potential, as well as rights holders who are actively promoting their work. Remember, producers working on titles though our royalty share program are equally invested in the sales and earnings of the titles they select. Even if you or your titles don’t already have the same reach as this example, producers will still be attracted by a well thought-out marketing plan, as well as an invested rights holder.

Share details about the story. In the second paragraph of our example, the rights holder shares details about the story itself, which lets the producer understand what style narration this title needs. This extra attention to detail shows potential producers that you are knowledgeable and passionate about your work and helps deliver the right voice to each audition. Better auditions that meet your criteria cut down on the time you spend listening to auditions that aren’t right.

That’s it! Provide clear information about your past and future sales plans, as well as details about the story, and you’re on your way to attracting good producers to audition for your title.

Producers and narrators, what do you look for in a good title profile? Tell us below.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Samples (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Today we bring you tips and info on the audio samples you upload to your producer profile on ACX. Your samples are the backbone of your ACX profile, so devoting some attention to this is a good idea.

With that in mind, here are the important things to know about your samples on ACX:

1. If you don’t have at least one sample uploaded to your profile, you are not searchable on ACX.

  • Sure, you’re able to search for great titles on ACX and submit auditions for them without including a sample[s] in your profile. But what about the other side of the equation – all those rights holders using our narrator search to find the right voice for their book? Without a sample, you’re invisible, and potentially missing out on booking that next great project. 40% of projects on ACX are booked without an audition, which means without a sample, you’re cutting your chances to produce that next great title almost in half.

2.  Your sample should be audiobook-specific.

  • ACX rights holders are here for one reason – to get their books made in audio. Those radio spots you did for Shea Cocoa Butter are nice and all, but they don’t shed much light on what kind of audiobook producer you’ll be. Skip ‘em. If you haven’t yet produced a full audiobook, or you want to post a sample that represents a different vocal style, it is ok to use a small portion of a book from your shelf.  (In the rare case that the book’s rights holder notices and contacts us, we reserve the right to remove the sample.)

3.  Get right into the material.

  •  Don’t slate it much, if at all. The rights holder will be able to see your name, credits and awards as you’ve listed them in the text portion of your profile. If your sample opens with 30 seconds of slating, the rights holder may not listen long enough to get to your actual narration.

4.  Note what the sample represents in the “performance notes.”

  • We provide an area for you to add a description next to each sample you upload. You can use this space to showcase aspects of the performance, explain where it was recorded, on what equipment, etc. You should also be sure to mention whether the sample represents your current and final production abilities. At least one sample on your profile should be indicative of the current final audio quality a rights holder can expect to receive from you.

5.  Don’t include music or sound effects.

  • We strongly advise against using music and/or sound effects in your ACX production. Our listeners often find these more distracting than enhancing, and rights and clearances can get very tricky when it comes to music. Your production won’t have these elements, so your sample shouldn’t either.

6.  Upload as many relevant samples as you’d like.

  • ACX does not limit the amount of samples your profile can include. As long as they adhere to the other guidelines listed above, feel free to upload multiple samples that showcase your varied vocal talents.

The above covers what you need to know when it comes to samples. If you need some more basic info on home studios and the art of recording, editing, and mastering audiobooks, check out our Video Lessons and Resources page, as well as our Rules For Audiobook Production. And be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!