Tag Archives: auditions

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.

An Enhanced Audition Experience

Introducing a new way to find the best projects on ACX: Sort by Amazon Sales Rank. We heard from Producers that you’d like an easier way to see which titles are selling well on Amazon, and with the introduction of this new feature, we hope you find your next audition opportunity even faster.

Search for Projects Seeking Auditions, and in the upper right section of the page—below the search box—select Sort by Amazon Sales Rank—Bestselling. The Amazon Sales Rank for each title will update daily with its latest sales position, so check back frequently to see which projects are trending.

A book’s sales ranking on Amazon is one of several good indicators of an audiobook’s future performance, along with written reviews and overall ratings averages. We’ve previously written about making smart decisions when it comes to choosing titles to audition for, and here are some of the best tips to pair with the new Amazon Sales Rank sorting feature:

  • Select the genre filters that that you perform best.
  • Take time to read the reviews left by readers on Amazon, as they may alert you to issues of graphic material or writing quality.
  • Consider other titles in the author’s catalog. Has the author published additional titles that may lead to a long-term production relationship? If so, how do those titles compare to the title currently open for audition on ACX?

We hope this makes auditioning for your next great ACX project even easier.

Have feedback? Share in the comments what other features would improve your audition experience.

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.

Craig Tollifson_Headshot

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.

Producer Advice from Kevin Pierce

ACX strives to help actors become entrepreneurs, by providing resources that allow voiceover actors to evolve into audiobook producers and marketers. Today we’ve got more advice from one of ACX’s chief entrepreneurs, Kevin Pierce. You may know Kevin as the producer with the most ACX titles available for sale on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Read on to find out how using ACX between other narration jobs turned into a deluge of audiobook production work.

Taking Care of Business

It was just about a year ago that I discovered ACX as I was looking for a way to “fill in the gap” between audiobook productions for another studio. Today, ACX is the source of most of my audiobook business.

For me, too much of the voiceover and narration business came in fits and starts — a flood and then an ebb. I was looking for a way to develop a steady flow of business.

In January, I jumped into ACX with both feet to find out whether I could make such a business of it — whether ACX was capable of supplying regular work at the volume I desired. Since then, I’ve been producing ACX titles non-stop, two to three finished hours per day, five or more days each week.

My ACX dashboard tells me I’m about to wrap up production on my 117th title through ACX. Roughly half of these were pay per-finished-hour, the other half were royalty-share. And of 300+ finished hours in my royalty-share portfolio, many have had an ACX production stipend. In a matter of just months, my royalty-share books have sold more than 5,000 copies and I’m adding new titles to the list every week. Just like a healthy stock portfolio, I have a few stellar performing titles and a couple handfuls of solid sellers that round things out.

Several things have helped:

  • ACX’s Title Search. Even when a project has my desired per-finished-hour rate or is a royalty share with production stipend, I only audition for those titles that I feel are right for my range and style. I can easily narrow down the 3,000 titles open for audition on ACX using the title search. And when projects are right, I audition for all of them.
  • Regular Communication. While the ACX system does a fine job of notifying rights-holders of next steps required of them the production process, I like to keep my rights-holders up to date on what’s going on in my production workflow.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver. At 2 to 3 finished hours per day, I can get through a project pretty quick. But by building some extra time in the production schedule to ensure nothing throws it off track, I often surprise rights-holders with an earlier-than-expected delivery of their final project.

With the per-finished-hour books and ACX stipends which pay upon a production’s completion, and the royalty and bonus checks which come every month, ACX has become much more than a way to fill in a gap between productions, it has become a full-time flow of audiobook production and a full-time business.

How has ACX allowed you to take  control of your voiceover career?

Featured Finalist: Leslie Ellis

The end of the week bring us to the end of our Featured Finalist series. We’ve spent the past week highlighting the 5 finalists in the Audible Studios/ACX APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur open casting. The final ACX producer in our series is Leslie Ellis. Enjoy her interview below, and make sure to check out her samples on her ACX profile!

Name: Leslie Ellis

Number of titles currently on Audible: 4

Leslie_SMALL

What drew you to audition for APE?

When I saw that ACX was having open casting for “APE”, I thought it might be a good way to get heard by the folks at Audible, and that it might lead to more work even if I wasn’t right for “APE”. Then I read the audition piece and thought it was really fun and lighthearted. I loved how it encouraged writers instead of the all-too-often discouraging words artists are forced to hear/read throughout their careers. Being an artist myself, I could really relate.

At what genre’s or vocal styles do you excel?

I think I’m fairy versatile but  my voice is particularly compatible with strong female characters who have a sense of humor or a sense of irony and a strong sense of self. I think that can be anything from detective type genres to Romance. And I absolutely LOVE being able to be witty or funny, or tell people off the way I WISH I could in real life!

How do you produce audiobooks?

I have a home studio. I do all the recording/editing/mastering myself. I typically record then edit one chapter at a time. I do a thorough editing pass for noises/pacing and “mistakes editing” (punching in occasionally). I do a pass for QC after mastering, then sometimes I listen to a little on a CD in my car to make sure it’s good sonically. I use all the standard mastering settings for ACX.

Favorite title you’ve produced/voiced?

It would have to be “Here, Home, Hope” by Kaira Rouda. I loved all the characters and the variety of characters I was able to bring to life. The main character was a woman in somewhat of a mid-life crisis whose sense of humor carried her through most of her difficult times. I also got to play a driven real estate success and a teen age girl who goes from completely rude and angry to vulnerable and emotional. The book was really well written and I was able to explore a lot of emotion and real life scenarios, which is very satisfying as an actor.

 

Featured Finalist: Derek W. Shetterly

Today we’re back with part 4 of our Featured Finalist series, in which actor Derek W. Shetterly stops by to talk about his audition for the Audible Studios/ACX production of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, and branching out from radio to audiobook narration. You can visit Derek’s profile and listen to his samples here.

Name: Derek W. Shetterly

Number of titles currently on Audible: 14

What drew you to audition for APE?

Thousands of people self-publish every year, and even more are researching how to do it.  I wanted to be their guide as they researched and acted upon their dreams of one day being a published author.

Derek_Profile pic_SMALLHow long have you been in the audiobook industry?

Less than a year.  However, I’ve been a voice talent for two decades.   My experience began, as with so many, in radio.  I was a production/creative services director and fell in love with creating characters and compelling advertising.  That led to working in voiceover as my exclusive career, and I narrate for eLearning, corporate presentations, commercials and other projects on a daily basis.

At what genre’s/vocal styles do you excel?

So far, I’ve narrated for self-help, management, and special-interest genres.  I’m a big fan of historical narratives, and with my degree in theatre, hope to get more work telling true stories.

Favorite title you’ve produced or voiced?

I just finished a book called “Savage Will”, a true account from World War II of 23 medics & nurses who crash-landed in Nazi-occupied Albania and had to trek their way out of the hostile territory. It’s a truly inspiring account of determination, courage and, as the title states – savage will.

Check out Derek’s profile on ACX and invite him to audition for your title today!

Featured Finalist: Zehra Fazal

Today’s APE Featured Finalist, Zehra Fazal, joins us to discuss her audition for APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, as well her acting and audiobook career. After reading her interview you can listen to Zehra’s samples on her ACX profile and invite her to audition for your next title!

Name: Zehra Fazal

Number of titles currently on Audible: 3

How did you prepare for your audition for APE?

I read the audition script through once for understanding, and looked up pronunciations/definitions for any terms I was unclear on. Then, I fired up the mic and went at it. My goal for handling “how to” material is to keep the read conversational, warm and friendly.

Zehra_SMALLAt what genres or vocal styles do you excel?

I excel in genres that feature a young female protagonist -adventure, sci-fi, mystery with a bit of romance thrown in. I work in animation, so my voice definitely lends itself to young adult/children’s titles which have broader characterizations. In the world of non-fiction, I find myself getting hired for a lot of spiritual, inspirational and self-improvement books.

How long have you been in the audiobook industry?

I’ve been in the audiobook industry for about nine months now. I’ve been working professionally as an actor for stage/film for the past 12 years. I moved to LA a little over a year ago to pursue opportunities in television and voiceover. As I built up my voiceover work in commercials and radio, I was encouraged by several colleagues to explore audiobooks, and signed up with ACX. I love it – it’s a great combination of my love of reading and acting – nothing keeps your skills honed (and your vocal stamina up) like an audiobook. I fortunately discovered that I’m very adept at performing long passages of text without flubbing – an editor’s dream!

How do you produce audiobooks?

I work in conjunction with North Hollywood Sound, a leading audiobook production studio in Los Angeles. We take pride in delivering books that are great from both an acting and technical standpoint.

Favorite title you’ve produced/voiced?

I had such a fun time with the first book I did for ACX: The Typhoon Lover by Sujata Massey. This mystery/thriller is set in America and Japan, with a snarky female narrator and a large cast of international characters. I’m fluent in Japanese, so it was a really wonderful opportunity for me to showcase my language skills, as well as work on a range of accents and characters.

If you’d like to invite Zehra to audition for your next title, check out her ACX profile here. Check back tomorrow for another Featured Finalist!

Featured Finalist: Corey Snow

Welcome to part 2 of our Featured Finalist series, where we’re highlighting the best auditions from the Audible Studios/ACX open casting of Guy Kawasaki’s APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. Yesterday, we met Janet Borrus, and today, we’ll introduce you to actor Corey Snow. Check out his profile on ACX, and invite him to audition for your title today!

Name: Corey Snow

Number of titles currently on Audible: 20

Corey_Headshot_SMALLHow did you prepare for your audition for APE?

For APE, I prepared in the same way I do for every audition. First, I download the audition copy and printed it out. Next, I read the entire script, carefully, to get a sense of how it flows. Some areas will be drier, others will have a different sound. For example, in the APE audition, there was a portion where the script describes how self-publishing challenges traditional publishers. The tone there gets a little bit excited; you want people to realize that hey, this is the cool part. In other areas, it’s much more staid. I try to find the “subtext,” because that’s what you use to make the narration really work. It drives everything in very subtle ways.

After reading the script at least once (usually twice), I’ll put it on my copy stand and record it, just as I would a regular book, then upload it and move on to the next one.

At what genre’s/vocal styles do you excel?

I specialize in nonfiction – military history especially –  as well as biographies and memoirs. I am a former soldier and have a good command of military jargon, plus my voice is suited for that type of delivery. It’s deep, relatively smooth and clear.

That said, I’m a passionate reader of science fiction and fantasy on my own, and really enjoy the chance to read such titles. I’ve been the narrator for an urban fantasy series (The DeChance Chronicles by David Wilson) since its inception and being able to narrate characters like vampires, a blues-playing ghost, sorcerers and bikers is a lot of fun. You can also really get creative with voices in fiction in ways you can’t in nonfiction, especially when the characters aren’t human!

Vintage Soul_SMALLHow do you produce audiobooks?

I have a personal studio in my home, and I’ve spent a lot of time and a moderate amount of money making it into a good recording space.

I narrate in my studio, using punch and roll. I’m a very efficient editor myself so I will often manage the editing personally. That said, if I have narration work waiting, I’ll hire out the editing so I can get to the recording because it’s more cost-effective. I’m very blessed to work with very good editors and proofers, so I don’t have to worry about compromising quality. As to mastering, I handle that for my projects on ACX, and I like to think I’m getting pretty good at it.

Favorite title you’ve produced/voiced?

I recently completed Thunder Below! by Eugene B. Fluckey, which is about the submarine USS Barb in World War II. This sub and its crew did some utterly amazing things during the war, including being the first sub to use rockets in combat and conducting the only land operation on the Japanese home islands.

I loved Thunder Below! not just because it’s a great story, but also – and this is sort of the kid in me, I’ll admit –  because I got to stand there with a microphone and shout stuff like “CLEAR THE BRIDGE! BATTLE STATIONS TORPEDOES! DIVE DIVE DIVE!” and even make the klaxon noises for the diving alarm (AA-OOO-GAH!) . I felt like I was in a movie, it was so much fun.

If you’d like to invite Corey to audition for your next title, check out his ACX profile here. Check back tomorrow for another Featured Finalist!

Featured Finalist: Janet Borrus

If you’re a regular reader of the ACX blog, you’ve seen our recent posts on the Audible Studios/ACX open casting for Guy Kawasaki’s APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur.  While Lloyd Sherr was ultimately cast as the voice for Guy’s book, we heard many great voices among the 350+ auditions we received. We’ll be featuring some of the finalists on the blog this week, so check back for more updates. You just might find the voice of your next title!

Finalist: Janet Borrus

JanetWhat attracted you to audition for APE?  

I’m always up for a competition, and as an actor who also writes professionally, I was immediately drawn to the catchy title and the subject matter.  And the authors’ tone is very appealing – direct, a bit cheeky, but never superior or pedantic.  Bringing humor, drama and clarity to informative text is one of my strengths, so APE felt like it would be a good fit for me.

At what genres/vocal styles do you excel?  

In terms of vocal style, I’m probably best described as “versatile storyteller.” My voice has a natural authority but is also warm, and can evoke great vulnerability when needed. I have a strong sense of irony, so comedy comes easily to me.  Thanks to many years as a professional actor, I inhabit characters on a deep emotional level and also have a gift for for accents, so interpreting male as well as female characters from many parts of the world is fun for me.

How long have you been in the audiobook industry? 

While I’ve acted for many years in film, TV, and theatre, and have several years of experience in commercial voiceover, I’m new to audiobooks. Being selected as a finalist is very encouraging!

How do you produce your voicover work?

My husband Chris and I have a home studio. We use an Audio Technica 4040 mic and Pro Tools and have done full production.

Favorite title you’ve produced?

The most fun I’ve had in the booth was working with Carl Reiner, Ed Asner, Theodore Bikel and Richard Kind on The Dybbuk, the classic Yiddish play, for Dove Audio and NPR. The late Yuri Rasovsky directed.  Actually, the green room was as fun as the booth with these guys.  Maybe even more.

You can check out Janet’s ACX profile and invite her to audition for your title here!

ACX Success Story: Falling Into You – Part 2

When we left off with the key players in the ACX production of Falling Into You, author Jasinda Wilder had chosen narrator Piper Goodeve and her real life beau Gabriel Vaughn to bring young lovers Nell and Colton to life. The two narrators and engineer Pete Rohan got to work preparing the script and began recording.

Narrator Piper Goodeve:

Prepping a book is always a fun process for me. If I have time I love being able to just read the book once without thinking of anything in terms of recording, just enjoying it as a reader, and then go back and read it again with characters in mind, underlining difficult passages, making notes, etc.

Engineer Pete Rohan:

Piper had a really good grasp of the story and characters. In the first chapters I thought that she might have been reading the main character too young but, as she pointed out, at that point in the story the main character was a callow youth. In retrospect it made perfect sense, and allowed for a more dramatic arc for the main character.

Author Jasinda Wilder:

Piper pretty much nails it the first time, every time. That’s part of why I love her so much. She gets the feel and voice of my characters, and accurately portrays them in a way that matches what I had in mind.

a165oxxqungc8e921364913817711Piper Goodeve:

A big part of the prep for me was actually listening to all of the music that Jasinda mentions in the book.  Music is a huge part of these characters and their lives, so it was important to me that I know the songs and what they meant to the characters, and why they were specifically chosen by Jasinda.  I made a mix of the songs (21 in total) and would listen to it on the way to the studio.  It helped me get into the world of the book more completely and embody Nell more fully.

With preparation finished, Piper and Pete began recording the 15 minute checkpoint for Jasinda. Their preparation and professionalism paid off. 

Jasinda Wilder:

I didn’t make any changes at the 15 minutes checkpoint. Listening to the final audio? There’s nothing like it. It’s such an amazing experience, hearing talented actors like Piper and Gabe bring my story to life in such a unique way. I had shivers as I listened to each chapter.

Pete Rohan:

This was my first foray into using more than one narrator, so I was a little concerned with the additional editing work. Thankfully the structure of the book made it a fairly easy edit, as most of the guy/girl parts were broken down into complete chapters. The whole thing came together beautifully if I do say so myself.

Piper Goodeve:

Sometimes at the end of recording it is hard for me to say goodbye to certain characters, especially in first person narration. I found that to be true of Falling Into You.  I was sad to be done with Nell and Jasinda’s wonderful writing.

acx_logo_600x600_smallJasinda Wilder:

Your audiobook is part of your toolbox. When you send out newsletters, post on social media, and do blog tours, make sure you’re mentioning your audiobook. Some people aren’t even aware of audiobooks, so part of our job is to heighten awareness of ACX/Audible, and how awesome it can be to listen to a book performed.

Listen to Falling Into You at Audible today. If you’ve forged an inspiring creative relationship through ACX, tell us about it in the comments!