Tag Archives: audiobook production

This Week in Links: ACX University Edition

Yesterday, we wrapped up the 2017 semester of ACX University. This year’s event featured audiobook production, publishing, and marketing advice for ACX authors and actors. We broadcast enlightening conversations with bestselling authors, Audible Approved Producers, and the top minds from ACX and Audible Studios. You can watch all episodes below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notified about future ACX videos.

For Producers:

Performance Perfection: Go Behind the Mic – via ACX – In this episode, Sarah Mollo – Christensen performs passages and receive corrections from award-winning director Kat Lambrix.

How to Pass ACX QA Every Time! – via ACX – In this episode, David and Brendan from the ACX QA team discuss editing, mastering, and spacing issues, causes and treatments for each issue, and some fixes for after the fact.

Ahead of the Curve: Prospecting for Pros – via ACX – Audible Approved Producers Steven Jay Cohen and Neil Hellegers share their secrets for how to maximize their profit and time by finding great projects both on and off the ACX platform.

Beyond the Booth: Monetizing Your Voice – via ACX – Join us for a discussion featuring Andi Arndt and Carin Gilfry on how conferences, voiceover coaching, and performance awards can help you boost your bottom line.

For Rights Holders:

Peace, Love, & Understanding Your Audio Partner – via ACX –  Join us as we talk to publishing duo Piers Platt and James Fouhey, an author and narrator who’ve created eight audiobooks together.

The Life of an Audiobook Publisher – via ACX – Follow bestseller Kym Grosso through the process of creating an audiobook from scratch, all the way to completing the finished audiobook.

If You Market, They Will Listen: Marketing 101 – via ACX – In this session featuring bestselling author Lauren Blakely and author marketing consultant Kate Tilton, you’ll learn audiobook-specific marketing tactics to attract reviews and sell more copies.

The Elements of a Well-Reviewed Audiobook – via ACX – Paul Stokes of AudiobookReviewer.com and Robin Whitten of AudioFile Magazine discuss  how they choose which audiobooks make their listen lists. From the performance to the cover art, they’ll share how to improve your submission and improve your chances of receiving reader and professional reviews.

 

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.

 

On the Same Page: Communication for Audiobook Success

Yesterday, we premiered our debut episode of ACX University 2017, Peace, Love, and Understanding Your Audio Partner. Audible Approved Producer James Fouhey, and ACX Author Piers Platt, joined us to discuss their eight-books-strong creative partnership, and the details that go into making it a success both for them and their listeners. Today, they’re back with a recap of the tips you might not have caught on camera. Read on for their perspectives on the critical elements of audiobook production.

On Selecting the Right Narrator for Your Project

ACX Author Piers Platt

Piers: If you’re not already an audiobook fan, listen to samples of top-rated audiobooks in your genre to get a sense for what “good” sounds like, and feel free to reach out directly to some of those narrators to ask them to audition for your book, too.

James: Having a feel for how this medium has worked for other authors will help shape your expectations for your own title in a way that’s achievable for a narrator. It’s best to know what you like and don’t like about audiobooks before the project begins.

Piers: When you post your book for auditions on ACX, look for a narrator with some experience, and if they’ve got film/theater/TV training or credits, that’s a bonus.

James: The more experience a narrator has, the surer you can be that they can sustain the performance in the audition throughout an entire book.

Piers: Listen to all of the auditions that come in yourself, and pick your favorite 5-10. Then have several people you trust (ideally audiobook listeners) give you their opinion on which of those finalists to choose.

James: The more confidence you have in your narrator at the start, the easier it will be to give them the freedom they need to perform. Believing in your narrator’s ability as a professional will help you to collaborate.

On Setting Up Your ACX Title to Attract Top Talent

Piers: When creating your title profile, mention reasons why a Producer would want to work with you—have you published a lot of audiobooks, sold lots of copies, won any awards or accolades? If you have a robust marketing plan in place, if you plan on using the same narrator for the whole series, make sure to mention that as well.

Audible Approved Producer James Fouhey

James: How you go about describing this will help determine how many narrators are willing to put in the time to audition for you. The best narrators are professionals and want to work with authors who come across that way. Also, there’s nothing more enticing than a series audition, as those bring with them the potential to work on multiple books.

On Selecting an Audition Script

Piers: The portion of your book that you select as the audition script should have multiple characters talking and include a pivotal emotional moment. This will give you a sense of how they handle different characters (especially voices of the opposite gender or any foreign accents), how much they emote, whether they convey the book’s “tone,” etc.

James: This is critical. If well selected, the audition script can help you avoid many problems later on. Once you’re in production, re-recording swaths of the book that you’re unhappy with will cost the narrator time and money. Figure out beforehand what it is that you’re most worried about a narrator handling, and find a place for it in the audition.

On Starting—and Ending— the Production on the Right Foot

Piers: Once you select a Producer and agree to a contract, put together a guide to the important aspects of your title. This should include: how to pronounce all proper nouns (names and locations, for example), a short character cheat sheet with clear directions (protagonist should be gruff, but likable…femme fatale should be sultry, with a lower pitched voice for a woman, etc.). Pretend you’re a movie director and you’re giving your cast (narrator) instructions at this stage.

James: This is one of the things that sets Piers apart. He anticipates the narrator’s practical needs, has specific expectations, and gives the narrator tools to achieve them before the work begins.

Piers: Once your Producer has all the information they need, they’ll go off and produce your book. When they deliver the final audio, make sure to review it from start to finish. I like to speed up my file review process by downloading all the files from ACX and then listening to them at 1.25x or 1.5x speed. You can still catch any mistakes that way, but you get through it a lot faster.

James: Piers is great about reviewing the work in a timely manner, which is gratifying after all the care that goes into producing an audiobook. The technique of speeding up the audio for review is one that professionals use in quality control. Be careful speeding it up past 1.25x if it’s your first time.

Thinking of your creative partner’s needs from the outset of your audiobook production will help ensure you collaborate on a great-sounding audiobook that your fans will be excited to listen to. Try these tips for your next ACX production, then come back to the comments below to tell us how they helped.

Watch More

This Week in Links: August 21 – 25

Did you hear the news? ACX University is back for 2017, with eight episodes coming in September. This year, we’ve expanded our premiere audiobook education event to cover topics for authors and publishers in addition to actors and producers. Check out this year’s curriculum, meet the panelists, and catch up on past year’s lessons here. Make sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, where you can watch every episode of this year’s program for free!

For Producers:

Why George Guidall Is the Undisputed King of Audiobooks – via The New York Times – Learn audiobook performance theory from the venerated veteran.

Should You Neutralize Your Accent? – via Paul Strikwerda – “Even though it’s fun to do all kinds of accents and characters, nine out of ten times clients hire me because I sound like me, and not like someone else.”

Should You Ever Volunteer to Do Voice-Over for Free? – via Edge Studio – “One way to add to your experience is volunteer work. But should you volunteer to do voice work for free? There are pros and cons, so read on…”

The Still Small Voice – via Karen Commins – Find out how rediscovering the love for her childhood instrument reminded Karen how listening to that little voice inside can be important for your VO career.

For Rights Holders:

Making A Great Author Website In 16 Steps – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “First, look at your site from the eyes of those who would come to visit it…Second, ask yourself if you started from scratch, how different would a brand new site look in comparison to what you have?”

Brands to Avoid – via CreateSpace – When building your author brand, be authentic, and remember to highlight the positive aspects of yourself and your books.

4 Questions You Should Never Ask About Your Book – via Helping Writers Become Authors – “In short, good writing is not about finding the right answer. It’s about finding the right question.”

20 Inspiring Writing Podcasts to Subscribe to Right Now – via The Write Life – “For writers looking to bust writer’s block, hone their craft or spice up a boring commute, there’s no shortage of podcasts from amateurs and experts alike.”

This Week in Links: August 14 – 18

For Rights Holders:

4 Social Media Productivity Tips for Authors – via The Book Designer – “We all know that marketing takes time. Too much time, some might say. I insist that it needn’t take time away from your writing. Not if you adhere to some productivity tips.”

Learning to Listen: Tips to Help You Get Into Audiobooks – via BookRiot – Try passing this advice along to those readers you’re yet to convert into listeners.

5 Email Marketing Tips for Self-Published Authors – via where writers win – “Email marketing is a fantastic way to stay front of mind and to let your readers know about everything from competitions to new releases.”

This is The Reason Book Marketing is Exhausting You and How to Fix That – via BadRedhead – “Many writers are exhausted by book marketing — even those who haven’t released their book yet. Sometimes, simply the thought of where to begin can be enough to stop a writer from ever starting at all. What to do?”

For Producers:

Voiceovers And Your Problem – via Tom Dheere – Tom offers five things to listen for if you want to make it as a voice talent.

Allowing Your Voice-Over Niche to Evolve Over Time – via suchavoice – “I didn’t set out years ago with this niche as my goal, but through hard work and perseverance, I was able to find my path over time.”

A Networking & Publicity Tactic from My Savvy 12-year-old Daughter – via Natasha Marchewka – “Way too often, I experience others as closed off and disinterested in group situations that would allow for valuable networking and even camaraderie. Being open to connecting helps us grow our business and, further, can help us grow as people.”

Yes, You Can….But SHOULD You? – via Dave Courvoisier – How big is your wheelhouse, really? Dave guides you through realistically approaching auditions.

This Week in Links: July 31 – August 4

For Producers:

Got The Summertime Business Blues? Plant Seeds Early For The Long Game – via Voice-Over Xtra – It turns out there is a cure for the summertime blues, and it involves cultivating client relationships.

Breathe Easy This Summer – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Learn to narrate while standing with proper posture to deliver your best in-booth performance.

The Importance of Listening Skills for Voiceover Work – via Victoria DeAnda – “Listening, which is an integral aspect of any form of communication, helps any voice actor learn control, adapt to new styles, and become more confident overall.”

No Shortage of Advice – via Dave Courvoisier – Wondering if any of your past VO clients are ready to work with you again? Dave’s got an email marketing cheat sheet so you can reignite those relationships.

For Rights Holders:

5 Reasons Audiobook Sales Are Booming And How You Can Be Part Of This Growth – via Digital Book World – “Audiobooks are a hot ticket these days – currently the fastest growing piece of the publishing industry, audiobooks are on everyone’s mind and in everyone’s ears.”

Do You Market Your Book With Urgency? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Learn nine ways you to ensure you’re not getting too lax or too crazy when promoting your book.

Use a Sex Angle to Flirt with the Media for Book Publicity – via The Book Designer – Hubba hubba! Can you find a creative way to get eyes and ears on your (audio)book?

The Platform Conundrum – via CreateSpace – Author Richard Ridley demystifies phrases like “A cross-platform strategy is the most optimal solution to create buzz about your book.”

This Week in Links: July 24 – 28

For Rights Holders:

What Are Authors Willing To Do To Get Publicity? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “If you can’t find much to publicize about you or your book then you probably should rethink who is going to buy the book and what will move them to be interested.”

16 Ways to Make Your Setting a Character in Its Own Right – via Helping Writers Become Authors – Let your audiobook narrator chew on some scenery for a while.

Airtight Plotting Strategies – via CreateSpace – Every audiobook project starts as a writing project. Make sure you don’t lose the thread on your next one.

8 Tips to Keep in Your Mind When Seeking Book Reviews – via where writers win – Learn the smart way to get professionals to review your book, and keep in mind the ways these tips apply to your audiobook as well.

For Producers:

How Dangerous Is Your Voice-Over Studio? – via Paul Strikwerda – “In order to truly feel at home, happy, and safe in my claustrophobic recording cave, I had to add some items and make some adjustments to make life a lot healthier.”

How to be Productive During a (Voice-over) Vacation – via Natasha Marchewka – Read about smart ways to both relax and be productive in your time away from the booth.

A Reminder… – via Dave Courvoisier – Dave’s back with a 15-point reality check for voiceover newbies. Can you pass the test?

Voiceovers And Working With Authors – via Tom Dheere – Tom’s here to remind you that you might not always be working directly with the author of the book you’re recording, especially if you’re working with an audio publisher.

This Week in Links: July 17 – 21

For Producers:

Cultivating Your Personal Brand As A Voice-Over Artist – via suchavoice – You know you need it, even if you don’t want to work on it. Read up on the five ways to “cultivate a personal brand that is really, and truly your own.”

What Are You Waiting For? – via Paul Strikwerda – Paul’s here with that kick in the pants that every freelancer needs from time to time.

4 Reasons You Should be Marketing Your VO Business on Instagram – via Dave Courvoisier – Learn why the visual social network is a great place to spread word of your audio services, and the best part is that now you can Buy instagram likes whenever you want, this will improve your marketing strategies on social media.

ACXU Presents: Inside the Booth: A Day in the Life of an ACX Pro Producer – via ACX – Get an idea of what it takes to make a career out of voiceover work with Audible Approved Produced Caitlin Kelly.

For Rights Holders:

How to Create Pre-Launch Buzz for Your Book Right Now – via Bad Redhead Media – As you read this, note the tips that can be repurposed for your audiobook launch.

A Step-By-Step Indie Authors Guide for Attracting Media Attention – via Book Marketing Tools – “If you’re like most indie authors who can’t afford the razzle-dazzle of today’s publicity masterminds, there is an option for you. It’s called DIYing your own publicity campaign, and it’s not as scary as it sounds.”

Authors and Marketing Fatigue – via The Book Designer – If you’ve got an excuse for why your book marketing isn’t working an are ready for a dose of reality, this is the article for you.

Tips on Writing a Sequel (When You Didn’t Plan to Write a Sequel) – via Writer’s Digest – So, you’ve heard that series do well in audio, and you’re kicking yourself for not planning ahead. Never fear, Writer’s Digest’s got you covered.

This Week in Links: July 3 – 7

For Rights Holders:

Do You Have a Platform? – via The Book Designer – “The problem is that most authors focus on where they will build their platform and how they will build their platform. They fail to identify what their platform is and whom they intend to reach.”

How to Go On Vacation & Write While You’re Not Writing – via Writer Unboxed – Learn some ways to involve your brain in tasks that will set you up to write when you finally sit back down at the keyboard, this is something that has worked a lot for me lately, last time I rented my vacation home from outer banks rentals I was able to sit down, relax, and just write about many things that just came up to my mind.

How to Ace the First Act in Your Sequel – via Helping Writers Become Authors – Want to hook listeners with multi-part series? Find out how to kick off successive books with a bang.

Start Your Own Think Tank – via CreateSpace – Might starting a group of like-minded authors be beneficial to your writing and marketing efforts?

For Producers:

How To Attract and Keep New Clients – via Paul Strikwerda – Even though you and I are likely to have different clients with different needs, there are three factors that always play a role in every purchase decision: price, benefits, and perception.

Who Said Goofing Off Is a Waste of Time? – via Dr. Ann Utterback – “Think of the constant onslaught of information coming from the Internet, email, news stories, conversation, and our own busy thoughts. We’re asking our brains to digest all of this every second of every day. We need to shut this off for a time if we want to recharge.”

How Acting Ability Helps in Voiceover Work and Ways to Improve It – via Victoria DeAnda – “If you’re having a hard time turning yourself into a character required in a voice recording project, maybe it’s time you try acting classes on the side.”

Five Things To Do After a Voiceover Conference – via Rob Marley – The action doesn’t end when you return from a voiceover event. Take a look at how to continue the momentum once you return home.

 

This Week in Links: June 26 – 30

For Producers:

Do This Instead of Buying a New Mic – via Dave Courvoisier – Ready to add to cart? Consider whether coaching and technical training may be a better  investment for your career than new equipment.

What Is Your Computer Backup System? And Will It Work? – via Edge Studio – “Whether your computer succumbs to a malware attack, a hardware failure, or your own human error, having a backup will make the situation much less nerve-wracking, and probably far less expensive.”

Why I Don’t Listen to Fictional Audiobooks Narrated by Men – via Book Riot – One listener offers her perspective on a performance choice that drives her buying decisions.

5 Years As The VO Strategist Taught Me 3 Things – via Tom Dheere – What can you learn from Tom’s three big revelations from his time as VO coach? Find out in this milestone post.

For Rights Holders:

Use Cheat Sheets & Checklists to Entice, Engage Readers – via The Book Designer – “Readers love chunks of information they can digest easily in just a minute or two…tie the topic of your cheat sheet or checklist into your book, and you’ve got a promotional hook that reels in readers.”

How to Carry Your Book Cover Design Through to the Marketing Campaign for Your Self-published Books – ALLi – Find out how image, color, texture, and typography can be used as a theme for your (audio)book promotion.

How to Set Up Your Own Online Book Tour – via BookMarketingTools – “Whether you’re launching for the first time or hoping to drum up support for a published book, virtual tours can be incredible for building buzz, encouraging people to share your content, growing your platform, enhancing your reputation, selling books, and much more.”

An Illustrated Guide to Dynamic Characters – via Writer’s Digest – Compelling characters are a dream come true for any actor to perform. This fun infographic takes a look at what makes some of your favorite TV/movie characters so interesting.