Tag Archives: make audiobooks

Representation in Romance: Why Lauren Blakely Writes Diverse Character Landscapes

If you’re a writer, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ve been given the advice to write what you know – and why not? What stories could you tell more credibly, what characters could you represent more authentically than those you pull from your own experiences? Some of the most compelling stories come from writing what you know – it’s why memoir is such a popular genre. But what if you want to paint a richer landscape – one that explores a fuller spectrum of human experience? How do you ensure you’re doing justice to characters with challenges and triumphs different from your own?

Author Lauren Blakely

Our guest on the blog today is the incomparable Lauren Blakely. She’s an active LGBTQ+ ally, writer of inclusive love stories, and her latest audiobook, the MM romance Hopelessly Bromantic, just hit the digital shelves. She’s published nine MM romance novels (a romance sub-genre in which the romantic leads are both men) in print and audio to date, with a tenth on its way June 28th, so with love of all kinds in the air this month, we thought we’d sit down and ask her how she diversifies the landscape of her romance novels to show love for all in an authentic way.

How did you get started writing MM romance? What inspired you?

My inspiration came from two places – a book and my family. My father is gay and my mother is straight. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and my parents made the decision to stay together. That experience shaped me in many ways, but ultimately, it led me to want to explore this genre. That began first as a reader, when I picked up André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name in bookstores when it first released in 2007. Then I moved into reading MM romances from Sarina Bowen, Kindle Alexander, Rachel Reid, Casey McQuiston, Alexis Hall and others. I love the genre, and it speaks to me personally, in part because of my family. But it also speaks to me as a writer. I love writing MM stories about men who are out and comfortable being out. They move fluidly among their straight and gay friends and they’re unafraid, at the end of the books, to get down on one knee and propose. I love being able to create a world my father wasn’t able to embrace when he was younger. It brings me joy personally, and I hope it does the same for my readers and listeners.

Lauren’s latest audio release, Hopelessly Bromantic

Do you use a sensitivity reader for your MM books?

I use a gay male sensitivity editor on all my MM titles. I work with Jon Reyes from Tessera Editorial, and he’s terrific. He’s more of an “authenticity editor” because we communicate constantly about my MM romances – from titles I might use, to characters we both think deserve stories, to the details in the stories themselves as I shape the books and series. I’ve learned a lot from him —  about certain words to use and not use, about how to frame the accepting worlds I aim to create, and especially how, when I am writing bisexual men, to make sure I’m treating bisexuality with the respect it deserves. Sometimes he reads when I’m finished, but recently I asked him to read my upcoming November release – Turn Me On – while I was writing it since the sex scenes are a little racier and involve a bit of kink. I wanted to make sure the bedroom dynamics were just right and I was treating them with the respect and honor they deserve. We discuss all of his notes so that I’m clear on why he’s suggesting a recast of a sentence or scene changes or anything else he sees and makes note of. He also makes sure I treat consent between two men with the same gravitas I treat it with in an MF romance.

Are there other sources you use for inspiration and information/research?

Sure! I give my search bar quite a workout! Among many topics, I’ve researched great ideas for dates for gay couples, since I wanted to make sure I wasn’t simply writing the same dates I’d write for a straight couple, I’ve looked up articles from LGBTQ+ magazines about bedroom “strategies,” if you will, and I’ve read many stories from queer athletes and celebrities who have come out about their experience of being out. Those are just a few examples.

What was the first MM book you wrote? What have you learned since that first one?

My first MM romance was A Guy Walks into My Bar, and it’s still a fan favorite. I think I’ve learned a lot since writing it, especially in creating side characters. I started working with Jon shortly after that title, and he has been so supportive of the gay friendships in my MM romances, so I’ve spent more time developing side characters who are also queer. Hopelessly Bromantic and Here Comes My Man truly typify that. One of my favorite scenes in Here Comes My Man is when six queer characters all have sushi dinner together in Las Vegas after a concert – it’s a fun, friendship-centric scene among characters of mine who all will have their own love stories, too.

Here Comes My Man, coming to audio later this month

What would you tell an author who wants to start writing more diverse characters but are worried about getting it wrong or appropriating?

I would absolutely encourage writers to incorporate the use of queer beta readers and/or sensitivity editors. As a woman writing queer men, there are things I simply can not know. I want to do my best for all my readers and listeners, telling big-hearted, sexy and emotional love stories between two men, so it just seems wise to make sure a queer man is reading my words before they are published.

Increasingly, in this day and age it just makes good sense to depict a rich world, with characters from differing backgrounds and experiences – to me, it’s important to write LGBTQ+ characters because, well, that reflects the real world. As a romance writer, I’m trying to show the beauty and joy of falling in love in this world, and this world is diverse, so I work hard to put diverse characters and cultures throughout my books.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from readers/listeners in the LGBTQ+ community?

I’m fortunate in that I’ve heard from a good handful of queer men who read and listen to my books and tell me how much they enjoy them. It is immensely gratifying to hear that I’ve done right by them and for them. I also have heard from many moms of LGBTQ+ children who express their gratitude that these love stories are becoming more popular. That’s humbling and uplifting and one of the great joys of the job.

Tanya Eby: One Thousand Strong (And Growing!)

The journey of a thousand audiobooks begins with a single page. A scant few narrators have hit this prestigious milestone, and as of this week, that shortlist includes industry powerhouse Tanya Eby. Her 20+ year audiobook journey has seen an Audie award (and three nominations), along with Earphones & SOVAS awards and multiple original content productions. Join us as we go back in time to the beginning of her story to see how she got to where she is today.  

Multi-Hyphenate Storyteller Tanya Eby

ACX: Tanya, congratulations! 1,000 audiobooks Recorded is a significant achievement, and it strikes me as one that you only reach by treating this work like a marathon, not a sprint. How have you paced yourself to be able to achieve this milestone?

Tanya Eby: It’s definitely a marathon! I needed to learn early on how to pace myself, and how to schedule myself so that I didn’t burn out. I know how much I can comfortably record in a day (about 2.5 finished hours without pushing) and use that to figure out how many days a book will take me to record. Then I take a day or two off in between recordings to give my voice and my brain a rest. 

We hear a lot from narrators that they build a career by finding their niche—did you carve your own niche in this industry, or do you do a little bit of everything?

I do a little bit of everything because I love the challenge each new book brings. There’s a natural warmth in my voice that works well with romance and nonfiction, but I also love adding a little grit for mysteries/thrillers, true crime, fantasy and sci fi. Some narrators create a niche where they do one type of audiobook recording. My pseudonym, Tatiana Sokolov, is more of a brand for romance novels with a higher spice level. But other than that, my niche is really focusing on the heart of a story, bringing out humor when needed, and creating a memorable listening experience.

It’s interesting because I don’t think I have a niche, but publishers and some indie writers think I do! Different clients think of me in different ways. Some hire me just for romance, some for nonfiction, some for mysteries (gritty or cozy). Because I have many clients, I’m able to diversify my work this way. Also, having many clients has helped me sustain my career. When I don’t have work from one client, I tend to have work from another. 

What other major mile markers have you hit—and how did you know it was time to make the leaps you’ve made?

I look at this career like climbing a long staircase. Slow and steady, each step leads to a new one. So over the last two decades or so of recording, I’ve had lots of little milestones. I moved from recording in my front closet to purchasing a vocal booth. I outsourced post-production work when I realized I’d make more income putting my time towards recording another title than using that time to edit and master an audiobook (skills I don’t really have anyway). When I realized there where titles I wanted to hear as an audiobook and those pieces weren’t being produced, I started my production company. I think when I start to get really comfortable and things are flowing, that’s the time to try a new challenge and stretch myself, to take another step up.

What strategies have you found to streamline or hone your process along the way?

Building relationships with audiobook professionals is the number one way I’ve been able to achieve this goal. I also take my job very seriously and am rarely late on deadlines. I deliver quality performances, turn around fixes quickly, and communicate with production teams clearly. This has built trust with my clients that they know when they hire me, they can count on a good performance and finished product.

I love my work, and I take great pride in it. I think it shows in the consistency and quality of what I offer. I also needed to learn to say ’no’ sometimes, or as I like to say “Yes, but…” Sometimes I can’t make a deadline the client wants because I’m recording something else, so I need to be honest and say I can’t take that project on for that timeline, but here is when I can get the piece to you.

So after 1,000 audiobooks, what keeps you going? What keeps it fun?

Each book requires a little something different from the narrator and I love figuring that out. What’s the tone? What’s the pace? Am I a voice of authority here, or am I a character? Am I falling in love, fighting for my life, or a little of both? Each book is a new challenge, and it keeps my workdays fresh and exciting.

And what about you, reader? Are you on page one or one thousand of your audiobook journey? Do you have any significant milestones you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

ACX University is Back with New Episodes 3/15

Break out your pens and pencils, students of sound—ACX University is back in session and we’ve got an all-new slate of fresh, essential programming for your continuing audiobook education.

Whether you’re an author, producer, narrator, or director, this syllabus will have you playing, imagining, experimenting, connecting with your community, and springing into action. This season’s all-star roster of instructors includes:

  • Khristine Hvam
  • PJ Ochlan
  • Jorjeana Marie
  • Eboni Flowers
  • Tyrrell Harrell (of TYDEF Studios)
  • Jocqueline Protho (of The Audio Flow)
  • Eric Jason Martin
  • Erika Ishii
  • Matthew Mercer

And more!

We’re releasing three new episodes to YouTube this week, so keep an eye on our channel for details and get to the head of the class by clicking that ‘Subscribe’ button so you don’t miss a lesson. As always, ACX University is free and open to everyone—so join us, won’t you?

Turn Up the Feedback: ACX Audio Analysis Now Checks Spacing

Have you met Audio Analysis? In case you haven’t been acquainted, we launched this tool (and its partner, Audio Lab) last year to give you instant feedback on your audio files, allowing you to identify and correct technical issues before you submit them to our QA team.

Audio Lab can be used to check any audio for important metrics like peak value and RMS. That means you can upload your auditions, your profile samples, examples of your production audio, etc. for our robot review. And if you don’t take that step beforehand, Audio Analysis checks your production audio files within each of your projects as you upload them. Together, this sound-screening dream team helps make sure you’re putting your best foot forward every time.

And now, in addition to the seven metrics this dynamic duo already assesses, both tools now check the spacing at the beginnings and ends of each file, to make sure they measure up to our Submission Requirements.

Accompanying this announcement, we’re adjusting our spacing requirement to improve the listener experience—going forward, all files must have no more than 5 seconds of “room tone,” or spacing, at their beginning and end.

We hope these adjustments help your audio achieve a seamless journey through our QA check, helping get your audiobooks to retail faster and making you (and your fans) happier. And if you haven’t checked out Audio Lab yet, give a spin to see how it can save you time and energy making your next big audition or production just right.

2021 Holiday Submission Deadline

It’s that time of year again—friends and family are front of mind, holiday music wafts from windows, and ACX holiday deadlines are nigh! If you’re looking to get new content on-sale for the 2021 holiday season, make sure your projects are uploaded to ACX and approved by your production partner for our review by December 6th. Our QA team will have in them available in stores by December 17th.

Wondering how to harness the power of the season for your marketing efforts? We’ve got ideas!

  • Suggest listening to an audiobook together as a cozy activity for winter days—it can be a nice break from Screen Life, and a great way to make holiday wrapping, cooking, or cleaning house for guests more fun.
  • The holidays are a big season for road travel (as anyone who’s been on the highways around Thanksgiving can tell you), and as much as we all hate traffic, a great audiobook can make your car ride cozy. Tell your fans to try an audiobook on the road or gift one to incoming holiday visitors for their trip!
  • Encourage your fans to connect over shared stories or stay in touch with distant loved ones by gifting their favorite audiobooks (yours!) to friends and family (holiday hint: Audible’s Gift Center makes it easy).

For even more ideas on how to reach your fans during the holidays, head to social media and ask them directly! Starting a conversation on how they find new listens, when they listen, and whether/with whom they share their favorite audiobooks can help you reach new fans through the holidays and beyond.

And with that, we’ll let you get to work hitting those deadlines!

Wishing you all a very warm start to the holiday season and many happy listens,

The ACX Team

Announcing Our Improved Time-to-Retail

Today, we’re excited to share that audiobooks which meet our Submission Requirements will be made available for sale within 10 business days. In the past year, ACX has received more audiobook submissions than in any other period, and together, we shared this record-breaking number of titles with eager listeners across the globe. This success also brought challenges to our processing timeline, and we thank you for your patience and feedback as we worked to enhance our workflow.

Once the Rights Holder approves and submits the final project, the production will be checked by our Quality Assurance team, and, if there are no issues with the audio files, cover art, or retail data, you can expect to see your title live on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes within 10 business days. If we find that your production does need an adjustment, we’ll let you know—with resources to help you get it right—within that same 10-business day period.

We understand that timing is everything when it comes to marketing and promoting your work, and we hope this time-to-retail will help you plan your promotional efforts with greater ease, getting your work in front of listeners sooner.

It’s a pleasure to help bring your best books to life, and we can’t wait to hear your next production! For further questions and assistance on this update, or any other topics, please visit our Help Center. We also recommend diving into our latest blog posts and ACX University episodes for storytelling and production inspiration.   


Runnin’ Down A Dream Project

It’s a tale as old as time—author meets narrator, narrator reads story, a few editing and mastering techniques later and behold! An audiobook is born. Sometimes, though, the audiobook journey includes a number of twists and turns before the narrator even steps into the booth. Here to tell a tale of one such story brought to audio for the first time is David Niall Wilson, mastermind behind Crossroad Press, a publishing house founded to bring forgotten or undiscovered out-of-print gems into the limelight.

David Niall Wilson from Crossroad Press

As a publisher and author, I find that sometimes between the marketing, the writing, the craft, and the sheer volume of energy that is expended just living your life, you need a few moments to remind yourself that there’s more out there. Some stories find their way to just the right situation that allows them to reach a level that no one vision or voice alone could have created. That’s where this story begins—with a novel titled Case White by Thomas Sullivan. Over a period of many years, I fought to bring it to publication. I’ve been privileged to bring many of Sully’s novels back into print, but Case White is different. It’s an original, and I believe it’s his finest work.

It began as an eBook, then a print edition, and when the time was finally right to bring it to audio, I simply put it up for auditions on ACX. Even now, this incredible story has barely begun to find its way into the hands of readers, so I wasn’t sure who would be interested in taking a very long royalty share project with a less-than-stellar sales record. I was not prepared for one of the most talented voices I have worked with to come to me, ready (in his words) to “fight for this book.” The material covers the time leading up to the Third Reich, and the way madness can take control of a nation,  and the narrator who took the project is Joshua Saxon, whose own family fled the Russian pogroms in the early 1900s and immigrated to the United States in the mid-20th Century to avoid the persecution that would inevitably claim millions of lives.

The synchronicity of this book finding its way to Joshua and linking him to his own past would have been enough to make a great story, but in this case, it’s only the beginning.

Audible Approved Producer Joshua Saxon

To add a twist to this plot, sometimes the reader must find and chase the book. When Case White had wrapped up, Sully, Joshua, and I all moved on to other things, but one day, out of the blue, I received a message: Joshua had discovered that a book he has always loved, published back in the 1960s, had never been made into an audiobook. That book was The Last Temptation of Christ, by Nikos Kazantzakis. The idea seemed crazy. The book was hugely popular, published by a major New York House. If the rights were available at all, I was sure they would be with an agent, or the original publisher, and priced well out of our range. After I got done laughing at the idea of Crossroad Press being able to produce something like that, he let it go.

But I couldn’t. I checked to be certain he was right, and he was. There were many printed editions of the book (it’s still in print), there was a movie adaptation that turned the world on its ear for a while, but there was no audiobook. The currently available trade paperback is a reprinted edition from Simon & Schuster, and it’s been on sale in that same format since 1988.  Experience told me that if Simon & Schuster had the rights to the book, the odds of getting to do the audiobook had just toppled off a cliff. More likely I’d give them the idea to do it themselves if I brought it up.

Maybe I just needed a little more faith. During that same period, I was negotiating for rights to some books by author Leslie Alan Horvitz, and corresponding daily with his agent, Cynthia Manson. I happened to mention my “quest” to her, and she happened to have connections at the publishing house, so she said she would check with them and see what she could find.

What she found was that Simon & Schuster did not have the rights to the audio. What they did have was an e-mail address they hadn’t used for a very long time for the author’s heirs, and they shared it with me. Still not hoping for much, I wrote to them, explaining how much Joshua wanted to perform the novel, how our company works, and my desire to bring it to audio. Then I waited. And waited. I was about to shrug and let it go, when I woke up one morning to a long, very cheerful note from Greece: the rights holders were very pleased at the idea of an audiobook! Then came the next bump—the book we need to use for the script was a translation, and the contract stated I had to have permission to use the translation, which I still needed.

The book was translated around 1960, and the translator was listed as P.A. Bien.  Initial searches had Google trying to translate the name into French, found other books he’d translated, but no real information on the man himself. Then I found an article that mentioned that his full name was Peter A. Bien. Once again, I had picked up the trail.  Peter is a Professor Emeritus at Dartmouth, and still attached to their Creative Writing department. When I found the e-mail address, I was not sure what to find, but again, I wrote my note, made my introductions, and waited.

There was no answer to the e-mail, but there was also a phone number. I called it. Peter was on vacation at his home in the Adirondacks, the message explained. At the end of that message was another phone number.

Cover art by Steve Smith

I wish I had time to explain the wonderful phone call I had with Peter, about Kazantzakis’ works, of which he’d translated several, and about translation in general. He gave his blessing, and even said that Joshua could, if he wished, reach out with any questions on pronunciation.  I know that the two talked, and it felt like generations merging. The contract was finalized and signed. Original cover art was commissioned from West Coast artist Steve Smith, who outdid himself, and the production that has just now been completed began. 

Chasing the rights to books can be frustrating—the older the book, the more popular, the more editions, the harder it becomes. This one felt like a marathon, but in the end,  the journey through the words of Thomas Sullivan, the passion of a narrator to perform the book he’d always dreamed of producing, through agents, other authors, across an ocean and back to the Adirondacks, lead to an unforgettable audiobook.

Now I’m going to find my Indiana Jones hat and set out after the next one. I hope some of you will come along for the ride. Remember—audio is still a fairly young medium, and no matter how unlikely a project may seem, it never hurts to ask.

David Niall Wilson is a prolific author and the founder and CEO of Crossroad Press, a publishing company that specializes in giving out-of-print stories new life through e-book and audiobook publication. The publishing company’s work can be found at crossroadspress.com, and the author’s own work can be found on his website, davidniallwilson.com.

Now on ACX: Royalty Share Plus with SAG-AFTRA Contributions

Great news, everybody: actors can now accept Royalty Share Plus deals with SAG-AFTRA Health and Retirement contributions on ACX!

What This Means for Actors

SAG-AFTRA actors now have the opportunity to accept more audiobook projects on ACX, and actors hoping to join the union have another pathway to membership. With Royalty Share Plus, actors get paid a per-finished-hour rate that can help cover production costs and receive royalties on every sale, splitting royalty earnings 50-50 with the audiobook’s Rights Holder.

Actors will be able to contribute to the SAG-AFTRA Health and AFTRA Retirement funds directly through qualifying Royalty Share Plus projects. Get started by adding your SAG-AFTRA ID to your ACX account. Then, ensure your union contribution will be made for qualifying Royalty Share Plus deals by clicking “Accept with SAG-AFTRA H&R.”

Royalty Share Plus projects must offer a minimum rate of $100 per-finished-hour to qualify. You can review the Health and Retirement Contribution Conditions for SAG-AFTRA Actors for complete terms and conditions.

What This Means for Rights Holders

This update makes it easier to recruit top talent for your next audiobook production. To hire a SAG-AFTRA actor for a Royalty Share Plus project, you must offer a minimum per-finished-hour rate of $100. When your chosen actor accepts with SAG-AFTRA, you simply pay them through their designated Paymaster, then royalties for your audiobook are split 50-50 with the actor as usual.

We can’t wait to hear the new audiobooks that come to life through Royalty Share Plus!

Click here to learn more about SAG-AFTRA and ACX.

Time Well Spent: Author Sarina Bowen

One of the greatest challenges of entrepreneurship is self-management. Whether you’re an independently published author or a narrator completing projects in your home studio, you likely don’t have a boss telling you how and when to manage your working hours. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to productivity when working from home, but the indie creator community has a wealth of collected knowledge on the topic. So, we’ll be checking in with a few productive ACX creators to see how they manage working for themselves.

First up: Sarina Bowen is the author of more than 30 audiobooks and co-host of the Story Bites podcast with producer Tanya Eby. She writes a blog, maintains an avid fan community, and manages a great-looking website and killer marketing strategy to boot. So how does she get it all done? She starts by keeping her creative time separate from her business and family time. Read on to find out how Sarina made consistency the cornerstone of her productivity.

Like so many other independent authors, my life is a juggling act between writing and business. I actually enjoy the business tasks, so when the writing is hard, I sometimes find myself poking at spreadsheets instead of adding words to my manuscript. But that’s not the most productive way for me to work, and I would often end up feeling bad about giving in to distractions.

Then I listened to Deep Work by Cal Newport (totally worth a credit!) and he touched on something that really resonated with me. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said that attention span and willpower are finite resources. As the day goes on, you’re less able to focus and control your impulses. I loved this advice, because it took away my self-judgment during those moments when I feel brain-bombed. Hey, I’m not a failure! I’m just fresh out of attention-span fuel. 

Certainly, there are authors who will argue this point. If you always do your best creative work at 2 a.m., that’s groovy, too. But the concept still holds, because it forces you to observe your capacity for focus like a happy little scientist, and then make adjustments where necessary. One author who goes into copious detail about this is Rachel Aaron in her book 2k to 10k. She actually kept a log of the hours she spent writing and how effective they were. The results allowed her to fine-tune her process and schedule.

My personal writing pattern is more tortoise than hare. I average a mere 1200 words a day. That’s four books a year. Not a day goes by that I don’t open up Facebook and see one of my friends reporting that she wrote 4,000, 6,000, 11,000 words that day. You have my sacred promise that I will never ever write eleven thousand words in a day. My brain just doesn’t move at that speed, and that’s okay.

I often tell people that novel-writing is the only kind of marathon that I will ever run. And I run a lot of them. So many, in fact, that my life can feel like a long stint on the treadmill. Even when I’ve finished a book, there’s another one waiting for me. If you want to keep up this kind of pace, you have to find ways to be kind to yourself. My friend Sarah throws herself a party each time she makes it to page 100 on her new manuscript.

My approach is a little different. I have a sticker chart, just like your average third grader. If I write 1200 words on my work-in-progress, I get a sticker in my planner. It’s hard to admit that I’m a sucker for bits of printed paper with adhesive. Yet it’s shocking how motivating it can be to chase that day’s sticker. Admittedly, I have really great taste in stickers—it’s nice to see an entire month’s worth of chickens or multicolored pencils covering the page. Jerry Seinfeld used the same approach with—gasp—red Xs on a wall calendar. Every day that he wrote a good joke, he’d make an X on that calendar. “Don’t break the chain,” he says of this method. It’s motivating to keep up your own good work, and it’s harder to look at a streak that’s broken. 

Consistency is therefore my single biggest secret. If I get that sticker by noon, I feel invincible. The key to this magic is avoiding my email inbox and social media. I’ve lost more work hours to email and Facebook than I care to admit. There are two ways that my inbox harms me: 1) FOMO. Is someone having fun on the internet without me? and 2) the lure of the easier items on the to-do list. It’s simpler to answer an email than to craft beautiful sentences or solve plot problems. But, when I avoid engaging with the world early in the day, I’m much more likely to stay in the zone and focused on my work.

And that early success is powerful. By hitting my goal, I feel relaxed and confident while I move onto other tasks, like looking after my house, my kids, my health. I can turn my attention to tidying up Quickbooks, searching for cover art, or listening to narrator’s samples. I feel good about my life on these days.

On the other hand, if I’m crawling across the word-count finish line at 10 p.m., it’s a little demoralizing. This usually happens because I fail to follow my own system. Maybe I checked my messages when I should have been writing. A single email can blow up whole my day. And by the time I put out the fires, it’s time to cook dinner and the daylight is shot.

Publishing your own work means you’ll have more of those days than an author who lets other people handle all the business challenges. Ultimately, that’s okay with me. This career is a choice, and I embrace the chaos when it comes to my door. But if I embrace it after I hit my word count goal, I’ll feel calm and in control anyway.

That’s how I get it done. With stickers. And science. And a little advice from smart people who have walked the same path.

Give Sarina’s audiobooks a listen on Audible, and take to the comments below to share your own productivity pointers.

A Portrait of the Artist

Listen here, ACX Producer—when’s the last time you updated that profile page of yours? Here on the blog, we can often be found extolling the importance of investing in your home studio, honing your editing and mastering skills, and publicizing your work on social media platforms. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight the value of your professional presence on ACX—your Producer profile! A curated, well-maintained profile will not only make it easier for Rights Holders to find you on ACX, it can help you stand out from the crowd and command the attention of authors and publishers on the hunt for talent like yours.

So, what are the elements of a successful profile? We’ve written a guide to giving your profile the makeover it deserves and sprinkled it with examples from some excellent Audible Approved Producers. Refer to the highlighted areas in the image below as you read along at home.

Prod Profile_01

Click to Expand

Profile Image

A complete, professional-looking ACX profile should include an image, first and foremost (1). Many Producers choose a professional headshot or a picture of themselves having fun in the studio. Not all voiceover artists wish to provide a headshot, however; many feel that their physical appearance sets an expectation incongruent with the variety of vocal performance they’re able to deliver, and would prefer to let their voice speak for itself. In that case, we recommend a graphic or logo developed to represent your brand—Fiverr can be a great place to source one of these—or a picture of your studio without you in it.

Bio

There are two places for you to biographize yourself on your ACX profile: the one-line blurb that appears beneath your name, and the “About” section (2). The first is a great place to offer a zippy little intro that grabs the searcher’s attention. Draw some inspiration from these great one-liners:

  • Confident, Intellectual, Charismatic—The Darkly Sophisticated British Storyteller. (Hannibal Hills)
  • Bright. Vivacious. (Suzanne Barbetta)
  • A smooth blend of professional sound with a personal touch! Bringing stories to life for over 15 years as a narrator and voiceover talent. (Heather Costa)

Then, there’s space under the “About” tab to add a longer bio (3). This is a place to give a comprehensive overview of how you got started, how long you’ve been narrating/producing, why you love it, what sorts of characters/projects you’re drawn to, your vocal range, repertoire, and any special skills you possess. For example, Kyle Tait highlights his extensive experience as a sports announcer. Listing this type of skill might seem irrelevant to audiobook production, but it can capture the attention of the author of a sports biography that wants to be confident their narrator is up to tackling the specific jargon and style of their book. Consider your unique skills and knowledge outside the world of audiobooks, and include anything that makes you stand out!

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Samples

We know it’s tempting to include samples of the great work you’ve done in short form VO, but compelling as they may be, they aren’t especially relevant to Rights Holders looking to hire you for an audiobook project. For your ACX Profile, it’s best to include audiobook samples (4). If you’re new to audiobooks and don’t have many (or any) productions under your belt, head over to Project Gutenberg and choose an appropriate piece from the 60,000 free public domain books on their site. Remember, you can always link to your website from your profile and include your other VO work there.

Next, be judicious when it comes to the number of samples on your profile: too few and your experience and range won’t be apparent, too many, and authors may find themselves overwhelmed and moving on before they give you a good listen. Choose just 5-7 of your best samples that showcase great production values, your range as a performer, and a variety of genres, character types, and dialects. Hannibal Hills and Suzanne Barbetta use their “Sample” sections to great effect, including samples from a wide variety of genres so prospective authors can hear their range as a performer and don’t have to imagine whether they’re up to the task. Pro Tip: you’ll notice these producers have named the samples according to the genres and/or vocal styles they represent. The author or publisher perusing your profile may be completely unfamiliar with the book titles listed in your repertoire, so help them out a little by describing the vocal skills and characteristics on display in each sample.

Credits

Think of this section (5) as your IMDB page on ACX—this is your space to list not only the audiobooks you’ve recorded, but the movies, television shows, theater productions, commercials, radio programs, or video games you or your voice has appeared in (yes, here we encourage you to include relevant non-audiobook work). We also find that successful Producers include related experience, education, and training, be it a master’s degree in theater or a vocal performance workshop they took. Many producers, such as Kyle Tait, also choose to list the gear they use in their home studio setup here so that authors know they have the tools to produce a great audiobook, whereas Suzanne Barbetta features her experience as a paralegal under “Special Skills” to impart her knowledge of legal terminology. Heather Costa lists all of her available audiobook titles under “Credits,” which not every Producer chooses to do, but the list is impressive and the effect is clear—you can tell at a glance she has plenty of experience and has been re-hired by several authors to narrate multiple titles in their catalog.

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Awards and Recognition

This is no place for humility, folks—this section (6) is your chance to brag a little! Show off your accomplishments and tell ‘em what the critics are saying—include any awards you’ve won or been nominated for, include ratings and reviews from listeners on Audible (like Hannibal Hills has done) or from authors who have been happy with your performance and delivery of the project, such as in Heather Costa’s profile. Most consumers don’t make an online purchase without reading the reviews first, so why should we assume shopping for an audiobook narrator should be any different?

Now that you know the ins and outs of a shining producer profile, don’t let it get dusty! Keep it current and up to date with your achievements, new releases, and professional development. Your producer profile is more than just your resume on ACX—there’s a good chance you won’t meet the authors you work with in person, and won’t have contact with them until they make the offer to produce their book, so think of your profile page as your resumé, audition, and interview, all rolled into one. Someone wise once said you only get one chance to make a first impression, so you’d better make it an impressive one, don’t you think?