Tag Archives: ACX UK

Happy Birthday to ACX in the UK!

Hi all, this is Sophie, from the ACX UK team. It seems like just last week we were preparing to welcome the UK’s talented authors and actors to ACX—but here we are, celebrating our first birthday. And since ACX is all about authors and actors collaborating to produce great sounding audiobooks, we invited some of our most successful UK early adopters to help us celebrate by sharing what they learned in their first year.

First up, we’ve got Audible Approved producer Anna Parker-Naples, who we met at last year’s London Book Fair. Anna has gone on to produce 10 audiobooks through ACX, and joins us to share how she chooses which books to audition for.

Anna Parker-Naples—Narrator of Legacy Code:

APN Homepage_HR021. Have a look at the Amazon ranking. I’m not going to give you a hard-and-fast number by which to choose your titles from, but be aware of them. Low rankings on a book that has been released for a while may not be a good sign that the audio will sell well.

2. Research the author. If they are active and engaged on social media, then it will mean they already have a following who may be interested in the audiobook when it is released.

3. Consider the genre or content of the title. Make sure that you have an interest in the topic. You will be spending a long time with that subject matter if you land the job and are planning to narrate, edit, proof, and master it yourself. And if there is content that you are uncomfortable with, go with your gut instinct and steer clear.

4. Be honest about your abilities. How much do you know about the main characters and their accents and dialects? If something is required that isn’t in your toolbox, perhaps this isn’t the right one for you.

We first met Joanna Penn at the ACX launch party, hosted at the King’s Head pub in London, and has gone on to publish five titles via ACX with another on the way.

Joanna Penn—Author and Narrator of Business for Authors:

ACX Author and DIY Narrator Joanna PennI love working with ACX narrators for my books because together, we produce a new interpretation of the work. The listener has to enjoy the voice of the author and also the voice of the narrator, so it’s a completely separate kind of product from the ebook and print book. Narrators are creative professionals who know a lot more than authors about audio, so I tend to trust my narrators to produce the best product rather than being over-controlling. I QC listen and comment on specific pronunciation with place names, but I like to allow the narrator a lot of freedom of expression. This makes the whole experience more fun for us, and hopefully, for the listener!

At an author luncheon in the autumn, we heard firsthand how profoundly affected our UK writers were by hearing their work in audio, and how important it is to hire the right narrator for their book.

Keith Houghton—Author of the Gabe Quinn series:

When I write a novel, I assign my own made-up voices to the characters. They are my creation and I know how they should sound in any given situation. In the Keith Houghtoncase of audiobooks, the job is done for us, and that’s why it’s important to get the right producer the first time, someone who will bring your characters to life in the way you envisaged them. Audiobooks stimulate the imagination in a very different way than print books. Everything hinges on the narrator’s performance: the drama, the mood, the emotion. The right narrator will paint an audible rainbow, adding shade to context and definition to contrast.

In my experience, the best way to ensure a true reflection of the voices you have in mind is to provide your producer with key background information about each of your main characters–where they are from, their motivation, their idiosyncrasies–plus specific scene details such as fear, happiness, or stress. This will help them choose the right accents for your players and relay the right tone for each scene.

In addition to learning how to work hand in hand with their producers, as UK authors brought their book marketing expertise to a new medium, they found that hearing their work in audio would in turn improve their future writing.

Mark Dawson–Author of the Beatrix Rose series:

I’m convinced that audio is the next frontier in the indie revolution, and I wanted to be a part of it sooner rather than later; I was delighted when ACX finally came to the UKMark Dawson

And it was well worth the wait. I eventually settled on a couple of US based narrators for my two series and we got stuck in. The recording process was straightforward and the experience of listening to my words read by professional actors was amazing. 

The books went on sale and there was a new challenge to consider: what about promotion? The support industry that has grown up around Amazon’s self-publishing platform isn’t there yet, so you have to think laterally. I emailed my mailing list and asked for volunteers for an audiobook advance reader team, eventually closing the door when we had enough. ACX makes promo codes available to help with getting early interest in your titles. I received 25 codes and my narrators received another 25. I collected all of these and gave them out to the team with the request that they leave honest reviews in return. The response was excellent, with dozens of reviews placed and some very nice comments included. They helped stimulate sales, and I now have a nice secondary income stream every month. I expect that it will grow over the forthcoming months.

Steven A. McKay–Author of the Forest Lord series:

In the year since ACX first opened up to UK authors, I’ve had all three of my titles produced as audiobooks. ACX opened up a whole new market bringing me new ‘readers’ and a new revenue stream in the process (which is always Steven McKaynice)! But on top of those obvious rewards, hearing my work read by a professional narrator has been a learning experience, as things like word repetition and pacing of scenes show up in audio more obviously than they do on a laptop screen. I’d like to think my writing has improved as I now take this into account when working on anything new.

It’s been a heck of a year and I’ll raise a glass in your honour today–Happy birthday to ACX in the UK!

ACX Storytellers: Anna Parker-Naples

ACX Producer Anna Parker-Naples was a classically trained actress with a career on the rise. But when family and health concerns threatened to derail her dream, she turned to voice acting as a way to continue to getting work and making use of her acting skills. Now she’s an accomplished audiobook producer with nearly thirty titles under her belt in less than two years. Read on to learn how she turned a challenging situation’s silver lining into a fulfilling new career.

The Silver Lining: Audiobooks

My path into audiobook narration and production has been unusual. You never know what life will throw your way, and I am a firm believer that in every cloud there is a silver lining. For me, it turned out audiobooks were just that.

APN_StudioI trained in London with The Actors Company as an actress, and worked predominantly in theatre, touring nationally and internationally including performing at the RSC’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre, until I took a break to have children. My third pregnancy was very difficult, and I found myself in a wheelchair, not knowing if I would ever walk again. I had worked on occasional high-profile short-form voice overs during my acting career, (including work for Aardman Animations and the UK’s main children’s television channels, CBeebies and CiTV) and an audio producer friend mentioned that since technology had changed so dramatically in the past few years, many voice actors could now work from home to create professional quality audio. It was a light-bulb moment for me. I knew I could make a success of voice over work and perform that way even if I remained in a wheelchair for the rest of my days.

My lovely husband set about building me a booth, and I set about learning everything I could about the voice over industry – how to record and edit, how to promote myself, and all that jazz. I found I was quickly establishing myself as one of the leading young British female voice over artists, creating commercial and corporate audio for many top international brands. And most importantly, my health recovered. I think chiefly because I had work that I could be passionate about and could put positive energy into.

As my kids grew, I realised that I would one day want to return to acting, and thought that audiobook narration would be a great way to cross that bridge. After submitting a reel, and rigorous auditions, I was selected to narrate for the UK charity the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and soon found that I fell in love with narrating audiobooks. I discovered that it is an art form in itself, and that performing in this field provides a tremendous amount of creative satisfaction. As a narrator, you get to paint the whole picture yourself – you are all the characters and often the engineer and APN Coverdirector as well, so it feels like your creative baby, which is so different from stage and screen work. I also found it so much more gratifying than the short form VO commercial work I was doing, as I could really get my teeth into telling a story. This narration business seemed like a great fit for me, and I quickly went on to work for other mainstream audiobook producers in the UK, and have now completed 28 titles in just under 18 months.

Since March of 2014 I have completed 11 audiobooks through ACX, with 4 more on the way.  I love the creativity narration allows me, and the freedom I have to pick and choose which titles I get involved with when I use ACX.  I specialize in Young Adult, Historical Fiction and Romance, and there are some great stories for me on the site. I have a young family, and working from home means I am always there for school pick-ups and can still bring to life some fascinating characters and tell absorbing stories. At the start of my acting career, this would not have seemed an obvious choice to me, but I am delighted to have found my way to being an audiobook narrator.

Check out Anna’s ACX profile here.

ACX is Now Open to UK Authors and Voice Actors!

ACX is pleased to announce we are opening our virtual doors to the United Kingdom! We now welcome all UK authors and actors to join the online marketplace that has facilitated the creation of over 16,000 audiobooks in less than three years. Opening ACX to the United Kingdom means that UK narrators can now audition for US books, UK rights holders can cast US narrators, and vice versa!

Make sure to check out Audible founder and CEO Don Katz’s piece on this initiative in Publishing Perspectives, and then head back to ACX with any questions. New to our site? See how ACX works for authors or narrators. Actors should also check out The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Audiobook Professionals, and authors can get the scoop on How to Win Listeners and Create Great Audiobooks.

We firmly believe that every book worth reading is worth listening to. We can’t wait to see your book or hear your voice on ACX!