Tag Archives: success story

ACX Success Story: Arika Rapson

Arika Rapson was one of our first ACX success stories, and we’re excited to revisit her story today. A year and a wedding after she collaborated with her then-fiance James Rapson on his title Anxious to Please: 7 Revolutionary Practices for the Chronically Nice, Arika is back to offer an update on her experiences producing and narrating on ACX.com and some words of wisdom for producers.

I have always had a bit of a pioneering spirit, and thrive in environments where there is room to explore and feel my way around. Things just aren’t as much fun when every stone has already been turned. I need a little room in my life for something unexpected or even astonishing to occur.

It was this spirit that drew me to ACX and the possibilities it opened up. As incredible as this new platform seemed, I tried to keep my excitement in check and approach with caution. Pioneering may be fun, but you don’t always discover a new continent; sometimes you end up with an empty belly and a fever.

Arika B-W Dark background

ACX Producer and Pioneer Arika Rapson

Sixteen months have since passed, and I have some notes from my Field Journal that I would like to share. While at times I did miss the certainty of a clear path through well-manicured woods, the journey through ACX has been far more fruitful than I ever imagined back when I first stepped in. I have been building relationships with authors and publishers that I hope will flourish for years to come. Many of my books have sold well and continue to sell – my royalty books alone have sold about 8,500 units. One of my titles became the best selling book in its genre for months. I have done a number of pay-for-production titles, both on and off ACX, so I’m delighted with the substantial number of ACX royalty sales that represent such a small amount of my time.

So what happened? Did I just get lucky? Do only certain types of books sell on ACX? The answers here are no, and no. My three best-selling titles have been in 3 different genres and have absolutely nothing to do with each other in terms of content. It often does take some luck to get a title that stays at the top of the charts, but you can do really well with a handful of books that continue to sell moderately, too.  Even without my bestseller, I still would have about 5,500 units sold from my other projects.  I believe there is an approach to navigating ACX that will help you make the most of your experience.

It’s Not Just About Your Voice

Many people think that the most talented narrators get all the work. Talent definitely plays a part, but the narrators who get called on again and again are the ones that people love working with.  Be reliable, on time, communicate well, and deliver consistent, quality work. Don’t expect the rights holder to manage you. And consider this benefit of return business: if a rights holder you already know keeps asking you to narrate more books for them, that means you are spending less time auditioning and more time working.

Keep An Open Mind

Branding has become a very hot topic and I agree that it’s pretty important. But we narrators can’t lose sight of our primary jobs. As story tellers, we morph ourselves to become the brand for each book, each author, each publisher for whom we work. It’s not about our brand, it’s about their brand. If you’ve tried to be the kind of narrator who only does this or that type of book, you may be defining your own brand so narrowly that you put yourself into a very small box. You may also find yourself with less work than you’d like.

Having said that, there are times when you do want to consider the image you are trying to maintain. If the book is very political, religious, or in any way controversial and you don’t want to be associated with the subject matter or the ‘side’ the book is supporting, you can always record it under a different name. I have used a pseudonym on numerous titles and it’s worked out just fine.

I’ve heard some narrators say they find certain genres offensive. Personally, I am more offended by bad writing than by any particular genre, but hey, suit yourself! Your opportunities will increase in proportion to your openness. My own thoughts about narrating anything with sexual content relate to the situation itself. In my opinion, audiobooks are in stark contrast to what you may find in Hollywood—on the big screen, you are statistically much more likely to see a woman experiencing sexual violence than sexual pleasure.  I would very much prefer to read a scene where a woman is enjoying herself.

The point is this: ultimately it’s up to you to decide what you are comfortable with, but if your goal is to stay busy, keeping an open mind will be an asset.

Get out of Your Mental PJs

I will confess that I may have narrated in my long johns a time or two, but when it comes to accepting a royalty title, I get into a total business state of mind (suit and tie optional).

What does that mean? It means it’s time to investigate! Does the author have an active online presence? Has the book sold well? What about other books by the same author? If I’m unsure about auditioning for a title, I like to send a message to the rights holder, to ask questions like how they will be promoting the audiobook once it is released.

If they don’t write back, move on.

Your Voice Counts

This brings me to my final point, which I think pretty important. I am not a social media guru and I don’t have thousands of friends on Facebook and Twitter that I am conversing with nonstop around the clock. But I do make it a point to invest in the people who I admire and/or have something to learn from and who feel the same way about me.

Last year I became friends on Facebook with a woman with a top rated podcast that gets up to 60,000 hits per episode. Rose Caraway has an awesome online presence and had recently gotten in to narrating audiobooks herself.  We began exchanging all sorts of helpful information with each other about equipment, breaking into audiobooks, figuring out social media, etc.  Eventually, she convinced me to appear as a guest on her show,  the Kiss Me Quicks, which I agreed to as an exercise in getting myself out there (although I was a bit terrified about how her devoted fans would receive me!). On the show, Rose introduced me, mentioned some of the audiobooks I’ve done, and then had me read a short story. Frankly, I was completely floored by what happened after that. The book I did that had been #1 in its genre when it was released a year earlier went back to #1 all over again and stayed there for weeks! It was pretty awesome.

So in my mind, social media is not always about who has the most ‘friends,’ but about having friends that you have something to offer and who in turn have something to offer you. A mutually beneficial relationship is by far the best kind to have (which is the same way it works with ACX rights holders)!

Pioneering can be frustrating and uncertain at times, but if you focus on building the right team of explorers to accompany you on the journey, you may find some pretty incredible things can open up along the way.

Thanks Arika, for charting the path for future ACX pioneers. What do you think of Arika’s recommendations? Tell us, and add your own, in the comments!

ACX Success Story: H.M. Ward

2013 has been an incredible year for ACX user H.M. Ward: She’s been on The New York Times and USA Today Best Sellers lists, sold her 500,000th book, and was featured in Forbes, all after considering ending her romance writing career.  Her latest smash, Damaged, was just released in audio on Audible through ACX, and Ward couldn’t be happier with her experience. Today, she’s sharing her ACX experience and words of book-marketing wisdom with you.

Tell us about yourself.

mecolor Ward: I self-published my first book in 2011 after realizing that traditional book publication didn’t really jive with me. I wrote YA PNR (paranormal romance) and loved it. I created the characters, the stories, the worlds, and even shot and created the covers. It was awesome!

Then, in 2012, I tried writing a romance novel—Scandalous. The people who read it really liked it, but it didn’t really do anything impressive. I tried another stab at romance and wrote Secrets. Initially, those flopped too. It was pitiful. I was about to forget the whole romance thing, but decided to give it one more shot. I recreated the covers for Secrets, switching to something more traditional, and they got some traction. It was very noticeable. A book cover is like a stop sign. It needs to clearly communicate as much as possible about the book in a blink. Artistic covers don’t work well for romance.

Within a few weeks of the cover change, Scandalous hit the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists. That book sat in obscurity for nearly 9 months before people noticed it. By the time Damaged hit the ‘shelves,’ I had a decent idea of what I needed to do for the cover and the story. I almost gave up on writing romance. I’m really glad that I didn’t.

Tell us more about Damaged.

Damaged is a new adult romance novel about a college student that has a one night fling and finds out that he’s her new professor the following day.

Why did you decide to produce an audio version of your title?

When Damaged hit the virtual shelves, it took off. I receive emails and letters from fans saying how the book strikes so close to home. It’s an emotional roller coaster. I made sure that the audiobook was a priority because of how the story spoke to people. It was completed within the first few weeks of the Damaged eBook and paperback going on for sale.

How did you hear about ACX?

Through KindleBoards. Other authors mentioned how easy it was to use. I produced my first audiobook last year and was delighted with the results. Not only did I get to hear my story brought to life by a talented narrator, but the additional revenue from audiobooks was unexpected. I’d heard that audiobooks weren’t very profitable. I heard wrong. If you’re an author, you need to get your books made into audiobooks. It’s worth it.

What is the most interesting thing you learned about the audiobook production process?

I love the creative process. The whole thing draws on aspects I love about storytelling, including talking to some of the very talented actors hanging out on ACX.

What are your marketing, sales or publicity goals for your audiobook project?

Audiobooks allows me to expand my fan base through another medium. There are a lot of people that listen to audiobooks and some novels never make it to production. I think ACX is the new KDP in that it gives authors direct access to everything they need to produce their own audiobook.

Tell us about your marketing efforts for this book.

I did the things I normally do and tried a few new things, including a blog tour with a giveaway. The winner gets a Kindle Fire, a signed copy of Damaged, and all of my eBooks. There were over 50,000 entries. The giveaway created additional buzz, and Damaged hit number 1 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I engage fans as much as possible. I respond to every email, tweet, and Facebook post. It’s very time consuming, but I think it’s worth it. These people took the time to write me and tell me that they loved my book. I feel like I should take the time to say thank you. Without them, I’d be nowhere. My marketing is fan-driven and personal. It’s that personalization that makes the difference.

Has having your audio version produced affected your writing?

Actually, I wrote my books with the thought of having them spoken or read aloud, and that hasn’t changed. I think that’s part of why people are drawn to my titles: they’re written the way people speak. That means they cross over very well into audio. It’s easy to listen to a friend talking.

What advice do you have for other authors who are considering producing their titles as audiobooks?

There are options to have your audiobook made using royalty share or to pay a flat fee. I was a total chicken with my first book. I did a Royalty Share, and ACX graciously put a stipend on the title. I was able to get an awesome narrator with nothing out of pocket. It’s a good thing if you’re totally broke. Do it. It’s better than not doing it. However, if you can possibly afford to pay for the production costs yourself, do that. I was kicking myself for doing the royalty share. I had no benchmark, no idea how many audiobooks I’d sell. It turned out to be more than enough to cover the production costs. Do the math. Figure out what you can afford, and go for it.

What’s your next project, and when will we see it on ACX?

My next project is still hush, hush. It’s a New Adult romance novel titled Stripped. It will be out later this summer. In the meantime, I’m working with some wonderful talent to get The Arrangement series converted to audio. I’m really excited about to hear those characters come to life.

As are we! Thanks to Ms. Ward for sharing her thoughts with us. You can share your story with us via our Twitter and Facebook. And stay tuned for more ACX Success Stories!

ACX Success Story: Kevin Pierce

We love a good success story here at ACX. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy when we get to show you the many ways that ACX can work for you. And while you might not be ready to take on quite as big of a workload as producer Kevin Pierce did, his story shows that with a little knowledge and some hard work, you too can break into the world of audiobook production. But enough from us. Let’s let Kevin tell you himself.

Last week, I uploaded a production to my ACX dashboard and pressed “I’m Done” on what was my 50th book through ACX. Which was surprising, because only several months ago, I had never recorded an audiobook.

I had a career in radio and TV in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and transitioned to full-time voiceover work after that. But despite decades of long-form narration work (documentaries, training videos, and radio series), I could not figure out how to crack the code and get into audiobooks. Near the end of 2012, though, I read a blog post that mentioned something called ACX and I checked it out.

ACX became my gateway into audiobooks. It gave me a way to audition for my first projects without having to demonstrate experience in the field. Armed with confidence in my related narration and production experience, and a copy of the ACX Rules for Audiobook Production, I gave it a whirl. I auditioned for a less-than-one-hour royalty-share project that would let me experience the entire production process quickly (if it wasn’t going to work, I wanted to know sooner than later). I accepted an offer, completed the production, and got rights holder and ACX approval.

I, Kevin Pierce, was officially an audiobook narrator and producer.

For the next 100 days straight (weekends and holidays included), I was in my studio auditioning, reading and producing audiobooks, managing as many as 10 at a time. On Thanksgiving Day, I put two 24-pound turkeys in the oven, read and produced two one-hour chapters, then served dinner for 50. On Christmas Day, my kids, wife and I opened presents before I started opening audio files. I was the ideal designated driver on New Year’s Eve, because I would be having a happy New Year’s morning in the audio booth.

After that first royalty-share project came several pay-for-production projects, and I got to see how ACX served both rights holders and producers through its approval and payment process (I couldn’t get paid until requested changes were made; the rights holder wouldn’t receive the completed work until payment was made).

Then I received notice from ACX about a stipend program that would both pay me for production AND give me royalties on up to 10 books produced (I managed to do nine). One of these audiobooks has generated my best  royalties to date, so it’s stipend was a nice bit of lagniappe.

I’ve had the pleasure of repeat business from publishers like Berrett-Koehler, University Press Audiobooks, Crossroad Press and Callisto Media, as well as authors both self-published and those who have regained audio rights to their previously published works.

I’ve worked with publishers and producers who do their own mastering, and I’ve mastered my own (I prefer the former). And I’ve worked with publishers and producers who provide their own Quality Control editing and I’ve done my own (again, I prefer the former). But all of my the recording was done in my own state-of-the-art, room-within-a-room studio, the resulting recording from which one of the delighted outside producers called “pristine.”

More important, I’ve done enough business (and see enough ahead of me) to be able to move into audiobook narration and production full-time (which now provides an answer for the wife and kids to the question, “What exactly does your husband/father do?”).

So now, as an Audible-Approved Producer and narrator (a recognition I inquired about and received after I pressed “I’m Done” on number 50), I’m looking forward to the next 50 and the next hundred and the hours and hours of fascinating storytelling in the months and years ahead.

Kevin Pierce’s narration of “Aliens in the Backyard: UFO Encounters, Abductions and Synchronicity” is currently Crossroad Press’s best-selling audio title at Audible.com. A frequent face and voice on public TV and public radio across Florida, he reads and records in his Fort Myers studio. His web site is http://www.kevinpiercepresents.com.

ACX Produces 10x More Audiobooks in 2012

If you haven’t heard the good news, let us be the first to tell you. A whopping ten times as many titles were produced via ACX in 2012 as in 2011! Audiobooks of all kinds are getting made via ACX and are available for sale on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

If you were part of our great year, thanks! If you weren’t, now is the time to get in on the action. Are you an audiobook narrator/producer? Do you own the audio rights to a book (this could be you, authors, publishers, etc.)? Then check out our How It Works section, learn a bit more, and create an account!

Here’s to even MORE audiobooks in 2013!

Nick Sullivan: star of stage, screen, and audiobooks

You may have seen Actor Nick Sullivan on TV in shows such as 30 Rock and Law & Order: SVU, and he is currently appearing nightly on Broadway in Disney’s Newsies. He also has over 100 audiobook credits to his name. Nick took a few moments to tell us why ACX is an important addition to his already busy schedule.

I think what I find most attractive about ACX is the flexibility it offers.  I work in theater, television, film, and voice-overs and tend to have an extremely busy schedule.  Many times I will receive offers on top of each other and have to turn work down only to hit a slow patch a few weeks later.  ACX has proved useful at “filling the gaps” in my work flow.  If I’d like additional work I can log in and find it for myself.  And when I book it I have more control over when I record it since I’m in direct contact with the rights-holder

I also enjoy the ability to “be my own casting director”.  Most narrators know what they’re best at:  which genres they most enjoy, what dialects they excel at, what subjects are of special interest to them.  I love the ability to spot a title that you know you have a special affinity for and plunge right in and audition for it.

Finally, ACX has surprised me a number of times with authors and producers approaching me because they’ve heard me narrate and think I’d be ideal for a project.  And in one case I found myself helping an excellent author who needed a new publisher.  With my contacts that I’d gained through ACX we were able to get him together with a great publishing house. ACX really has been great for all sides of the audiobook community.

Are you an ACX sucess story? Tell us why in the comments and you may be our next guest blogger!

Josh Kaufman gets “Personal,” goes DIY with ACX

Josh Kaufman’s The Personal MBA is one of the best selling titles to come through our DIY pathway (meaning it was uploaded via ACX, yet was not recorded and produced by a producer using the ACX marketplace). But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Josh and company. Today, Josh recounts for us the process of bringing his words to your ears.

I’m new to recording audiobooks, so I did a ton of research in order to create a great-sounding (and budget-friendly) mini-recording studio. After consulting the recording equipment guides on ACX.com, reading Dan Benjamin’s excellent podcasting equipment guide and many gear reviews on B & H’s website and Amazon, I settled on some great-sounding and not too expensive equipment. Everything fits on a basic Ikea Frederik desk, which I have set up as a standing desk.

I set up my recording gear in a spare room in my home office. My initial setup was pretty ugly: the room wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t tiny, and I was getting very distracting reflections off the high slanted ceiling. After doing some research on recording forums, I ended up treating the room by hanging about 5 yards of acoustic fabric off of a few large metal stands, then placing a three-sided portable recording booth manufactured by RealTraps behind the mic. I also purchased a large rug and a fabric wall hanging to absorb more sound, since the office had hardwood floors. It wasn’t pretty, but it did the trick.

The “Video Lessons and Resources” page on ACX was very helpful in that I learned basic recording techniques, and how to use SoundStudio myself. It’s a simple piece of software, and not difficult to learn. In terms of narration technique, I learned a lot from my wife, Kelsey, who trained as a professional actress and has done a lot of voiceover work over the years. She taught me a lot of little professional voiceover tricks, like ending sentences in the middle of paragraphs with an “up” inflection to make it easier for the listener to follow, and drinking apple juice while recording: the PH of apple juice noticeably reduces mouth noises. Who knew?

I put together my studio and was two chapters into recording PERSONAL MBA when disaster stuck. Two major back-to-back wildfires made my office unavailable for recording, and since the area was under evacuation orders, I couldn’t retrieve my equipment. (If you remember the “High Park Fire” in Colorado that made international headlines this summer, my office was in the middle of it.) I decided to team up with Aric Johnson of A.K. Studios in Laporte, Colorado to finish the recording. Aric was ready to edit and master the book when I finished recording, but he also has a great professional recording studio a few miles north of Fort Collins. Together, we completed recording PERSONAL MBA over a period of two weeks. Aric then edited the recording to ACX standards and mastered the final recording, now available on Audible.com.

ACX is the best audio publishing platform I can imagine for authors: it’s simple, straightforward, and the royalty structure is killer. Audible, Amazon, and iTunes represent the vast majority of audiobook sales, and ACX is the easiest and most straightforward way to deliver an audiobook to those markets. ACX’s royalties start at 50% (vs. the “industry standard” of 10-15%), and can increase to up to 90% if you sell a lot of copies. This royalty structure requires an exclusive agreement with ACX, but since most audio listeners purchase downloads online instead of hard copies, exclusivity is a non-issue in my opinion.

In addition, ACX calculates and pays royalties every month, not every six months. I can see exactly how many copies I’m selling every day, which makes it much easier to tell what sorts of marketing and promotion techniques work the best. My audiobook is one of my core products, and I love that ACX’s structure rewards ongoing promotion.

That’s why I turned down a substantial audiobook contract from a major traditional audio publisher in favor of publishing with ACX. With ACX, I can set my own timelines, maintain creative control over the product, get better data, get paid faster, and keep more of what I sell. Compared to a standard audio contract, publishing my audiobook through ACX was a no-brainer. I’m thrilled with the results, and I intend to publish every book I write in audio via ACX.

Watch out for part two of Josh’s story in the coming weeks.

Brick Shop Audiobooks is the latest studio to find success via ACX

Brick Shop Audiobooks has completed over 40 titles through ACX, with another 30 in various stages of production. That’s quite a haul for a studio that just hit its 1 year anniversary. How did Brick Shop become such an ACX powerhouse?

It all started with a whisper room and a dream.

Well, not really.

Engineer Chris Lee and engineer/narrator Rob Granniss met while working in the audiobook industry. Over the years, both of them had developed a keen understanding of and appreciation for the process of  audiobook production. In October of 2011, a friend introduced Rob to the ACX website. Having just established their audiobook production company, Brick Shop Audiobooks, on a whim Rob decided to upload a few auditions to ACX. “When we landed our first audiobook production deal on ACX we couldn’t have imagined how Brick Shop would grow,” recalls Chris. “We had jerry-rigged a home studio in my Brooklyn apartment. We were using a garden hose as a shock mount and had to limit our recording to nights and weekends due to industrial interruptions from the copper pipe distribution yard next door. ”

“After the completion of our first successful audiobook, “Written in Blood” by Diane Fanning, we were hooked,” says Rob. “We really liked being involved in the production of a title from audition to release. There is a real sense of pride and enjoyment in seeing a project to completion. The ACX platform has been key. It offers a variety of opportunities to keep our diverse pool of talent working and our production volume increasing,”

Since October of 2011, the Brick Shop stable of narrators has grown to over 20 talented performers, including Erin Mallon, Tim Gerard Reynolds, & James Jenner. The production outfit has completed over forty productions on ACX and has several dozen currently in progress. In July of 2012, Brick Shop Audiobooks moved into its new facility, in the Industry City complex in Brooklyn, and has added additional sound booths to accommodate the expanding workload. They have also replaced the garden hose.

“We look forward to another successful year of growth and collaboration with ACX!”, says Chris.

Shelby Lewis and ACX – an update

You may remember Shelby Lewis as the winner of the ACX narration contest at That’s Voiceover last fall. Shelby has since been spreading the gospel of ACX to every audiobook-intrigued voiceover talent she can find — including the highly-talented Ray Chase who is now on his 16th title, 7 of which are on Audible.com. Here’s an update from Shelby herself:

Since my last guest blog entry, two exciting events have further confirmed ACX as a viable, profitable option for my voiceover career. Having taken royalty share opportunities, more for the experience and the credits than the potential earnings, I’ve been incredibly pleasantly surprised to have actually received various royalty checks! So I’m happy to testify to new narrators… “The checks actually come, their amounts are nothing to scoff at, and I will absolutely be doing more and more royalty shares in the future. Especially the stipend offers — that’s the best of BOTH worlds! Get paid now AND later!”

And while I love browsing through available titles on ACX and auditioning for those that interest me, I have also been happily surprised by rights holders who have sought me out on ACX. Due to the number of samples on my ACX profile and my vigilance in keeping it polished and up to date, audiobook publishers that use ACX have been contacting me to audition so I don’t always have to seek out titles to audition for. So keep up your profile; it really does make a difference. And excitingly, through my ACX profits, I’ve been able to upgrade my studio equipment to provide an even higher-quality product to present and future clients.

I met a woman at a wedding the other day who was just about to self-publish. The first thing I said to her was, ‘Have you thought about making it into an audiobook? There’s this amazing website…’ — and I couldn’t have been prouder to recommend it. Thank you ACX, for launching my audiobook career and for keeping me coming back so enthusiastically.

Marta Acosta’s ACX update…with zombies!

In May, we posted the ACX success story of acclaimed paranormal romantic comedy writer Marta Acosta. See below for an entertaining update from Marta herself!

“I had a dream about a zombie attack last night,” I told Christina Harcar, director of Audible Author Services.

“There’s a lot of that going around,” she said.

I’d emailed Audible Author Services to ask about ACX royalty formulas, and I quickly received a phone call from Christina. She explained (in both Geek and English) how they were calculated, and told me about the additional bonuses that could be earned.

Like most authors, I’d signed away my audio rights when I sold my book, but my publisher had never been interested in doing anything with those rights. I really thought that my Casa Dracula paranormal romantic comedies would be fun to listen to, but even if I had the rights, I couldn’t afford to produce them in audio.

Then, whammo! Technology gave a giant kick to the backside of the publishing world and Audible.com burst onto the scene, selling digital recordings instead of costly-to-produce CDs. Last year, Audible developed ACX, a marketplace through which authors could connect with narrators and easily and inexpensively create audiobooks. One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, was using ACX and he encouraged other authors to join in.

I managed to get my Casa Dracula series audio rights reverted from my publisher by being persistent (okay, annoying). Paying a narrator an hourly fee was out of my budget, so I chose to offer my projects at ACX as “royalty share,” whereby I split the royalties with the narrator. I quickly received auditions from talented professional narrators. The actress and voice-over performer I hired on ACX, Patricia Fructuoso, has done an amazing job voicing my quirky, sexy character, Milagro, her eccentric pals, and the snobby vampires who wish she’d just go away or die (preferably the latter).

My only outlay was hiring an illustrator to create cover art. Now, only a few months after I learned about ACX, my Casa Dracula audiobooks are available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. I can check daily sales stats of my books at ACX, and I’m steadily earning income at a great royalty rate. A wasted asset has become a revenue stream, and my stories are reaching a new audience of book lovers.

My new favorite break activity is to go to Audible and listen to free audio samples. I was browsing for other funny paranormals/urban fantasies and discovered hysterical samples of Diana Rowland’s White Trash Zombie series.

That’s how I know exactly what inspired my nightmare about an attack by brain-eating zombies. And if Christina thinks that there are a lot of zombie nightmares going around, I suspect I’m not the only one listening.

Hugh Howey turns to fans for help casting Wool on ACX

Hugh Howey’s “Wool”, the self-published novel that’s made him the bestselling indie science-fiction author of 2012 and currently the bestselling sci-fi author on Amazon, is finally available in audio today. We’re thrilled Howey used ACX to bring Wool into audio, and just as happy that he’s agreed to share some of his thoughts on the experience, including how he sent his fans to the ACX website to help pick the narrator, below.

One of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made was choosing to self-publish. I had already published one novel, my first, with a small press, which meant someone else shouldered all the costs, provided editing, layout, and marketing support, and handled the distribution and bookkeeping. All I had to do was write, promote, and be a part of the editing process. Leaving that behind was mortifying.

I had a contract in hand for my second book, but I agonized over what to do. Part of me wanted to see if I could do it on my own. A much larger part of me was terrified to even try. But with some encouragement from family and friends, I began learning the skills necessary to turn stories into finished works and deliver them to readers on my own.

From the very start of this journey, I’ve had people asking me about audiobooks. I heard from friends and family who said it was the only way they found the time to read anymore. But what did I know about producing an audiobook? Nothing. Worse: it required talents I knew I didn’t possess.

And then I read about ACX on a writing forum. Audible, which my wife uses to download all of her books, offered the equivalent of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service through ACX, which allowed any author to upload a manuscript, find a voice actor, and produce the audiobook themselves.

Having grown fond of giving my fans input on everything from cover art to what I should write next, I decided it would be best to allow them in on the process. Using ACX’s Narrators for Hire page, we began sampling voices and discussing their various merits on my website. A consensus grew on some things (it needed to be a female narrator) while fans waged debates over whose voice was best. Once we narrowed down the candidates, I reached out to the top picks and asked for auditions.

We received several that blew us away. I’ll never forget holding my wife’s hands while I listened to professionals reading words that I had written. It felt surreal. These pros breathed new life into this book I’d read a dozen times. It was like sitting around a radio in the age before TV. We were being told a story.

The audition that impressed the most was Minnie Goode’s. Once we agreed to work together, Minnie began recording and sending me samples. She took my feedback and produced the perfect audio version of Wool. She even filmed a behind-the-scenes look at what was involved, inviting my readers into her booth in much the way that I had invited them into the production.

ACX made self-publishing an audiobook as easy and painless as Kindle does for e-books. And now that we’re done and the recording is on its way to listeners, I feel that same rush that came from wrapping up my first novel. Once again, it’s satisfying to have self-published, to have done it the indie way. But it was even better having done it with help, with Minnie leading the charge when it came to supplying the talent, and with fans helping me discover her in the first place.