We’re less than three weeks away from this year’s December 4th deadline to submit your audiobook productions for the best chance of being on sale this holiday season.
With that in mind, today’s lesson is about the file submission process. Being so close to the goal can lead to tunnel vision, but following the steps below, along with my other lessons, will ensure that you don’t stumble at the finish line.
To set yourself up for success when submitting your finished audio, I suggest the following:
- Export your entire audiobook to its own folder.
- Name each file with its section number first, then the section name.
- Ex: 00_Opening Credits, 01_Introduction, 02_Chapter-01, 03__Chapter-02, etc.
- Stick to alphanumeric characters, dashes, and underscores. File names with other characters might cause upload issues on ACX.
- After using this file naming convention, you should:
- Drop all of your files into your audio player of choice (Winamp, VLC, iTunes, etc.)
- Listen to the beginning of each file to ensure it has the correct credits and/or section header.
- Listen to the end of each file to ensure it includes proper spacing and contains no narration from the next section.
Now that we’ve covered best practices, let’s look at some common issues that cause productions to be returned to the producer by our QA team, and how to rectify them.
Your ACX audiobooks should match the text editions exactly, without repeated sections. Duplicate audio can happen for a few main reasons:
- Part of a chapter/section is repeated in another section.
- For example, an audiobook production contains opening credits at the start of both the first and second file. To avoid this, make sure each audio chapter/section matches the text exactly during the Edit/QC process. I also recommend checking the head and tail of each file after editing and mastering your audiobook to make sure they don’t contain duplicated audio, and to confirm that each starts with a section header and ends with the last sentence of that section.
- A chapter/section is named properly, but uploaded twice to the production manager.
- Consider a checklist for your production that lists all of the files, and checking off each file when it’s uploaded.
- A chapter or section is named improperly, resulting in duplicate uploads with different file names.
- This third issue occurs during the exporting process, when you output each chapter or section from your DAW as an MP3. Before you export each chapter/section, double-check that you are exporting the correct one. If you’ve got multiple sections in one project file, don’t forget to isolate the correct section for export, and be sure to select the next section after exporting the previous.
- My favorite solution is to create a separate project/session file for each chapter/section within your DAW of choice. If you have a work folder that contains a project file for each section, your workflow will be smoother and easier when accessing/re-accessing an audiobook’s production. Having a separate project file for each section all but guarantees a section will be exported as two separate files.
Listening to an audiobook in the Audible app.
This is when two or more entire sections are combined into one file. ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements state: Each uploaded file must contain only one chapter or section. This requirement is in place for the sake of the listening experience. Navigation within an audiobook should be simple. If chapters one and two are combined in the same file, the listener won’t be able to skip to the latter on their device; they would be forced to navigate manually through one file in hopes of finding it.
This can also be solved during the export process. As I noted previously, creating a separate project/session file for each chapter/section will ensure you’re not combining two separate pieces of audio.
Incorrect or Missing Chapter/Section Headers
Once again, this is about the best navigational experience for the listener. Having a section header for each chapter/section clearly marks its position within the audiobook. ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements make it clear: Each uploaded file must contain the section header, if contained within the text (e.g., “Prologue”, “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 2”). Making sure each file contains its correct header is as easy as checking it before and after you export the audio. I would also suggest checking it again before you upload each file, just to be safe.
Retail Audio Sample Errors
The retail audio sample for each audiobook has a great deal of influence on the purchasing decisions of Audible’s listeners. They should be instantly captivated by the performance and impressed with the production. Work with your Rights Holder to select a portion that highlights your performance and their storytelling. ACX’s requirements call for “a retail audio sample that is between one and five minutes long.”
A red box highlights Huntress Moon’s retail audio sample.
Additionally, I strongly advise against including opening credits and/or music in your sample. This content is secondary to your actual performance, and potential listeners may not make it through to hear your narration.
Finally, make sure the sample includes no explicit language or material, as listeners of every age and sensibility can preview samples on Audible.
That’s today’s lesson. Following each of the tips above should result in a seamless upload and submission process, which means fewer headaches for you, your Rights Holder, and your potential listeners.
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