Monday, November 30, 2015

How do I Turn My eBook and/or Print Book into an Audiobook?


PART ONE OF TWO PARTS


"Seventh Dimension - The King" is now available as an audiobook




“How do I Turn My eBook and/or Print Book into an Audiobook” is published in two parts. In part one, I share my experience as an author producing audiobooks. In part two, I share an interview of Rebecca Roberts (no relation to me). She has recorded two of my audiobooks— Am I Okay, God? and Seventh Dimension – The Door, a Young Adult Fantasy, Book One (see below for the links).

Audiobooks are more lucrative than eBooks so it’s surprising to me more authors don’t make their books available in audiobooks. Hopefully, what I share will encourage authors to do so, make the process easier, and even fun. I have found it quite exciting to see my books available as audiobooks.

I have three of my books in audiobooks, two fiction books and one nonfiction book, all produced by professional narrators. However, the first book I made into an audiobook, I narrated myself. After a scathing review, I realized that the quality of my audiobook wasn’t up to the highest standard, so I set about hiring a producer to redo it. While I know listeners love to listen to audiobooks in the author’s voice, which is what prompted me to do it myself in the first place, unless you have the proper equipment (which I didn’t have), I recommend authors hire a professional narrator.

For those who wonder if you can recoup the costs if you hire a narrator, in the two years that Seventh Dimension – The Door was available before Rebecca Roberts redid it, I sold over a hundred audiobooks and received almost five hundred dollars in bounty earnings. If your audiobook is the first book uploaded by a consumer, ACX gives you a bounty fee of $50 for that sale.

If you can’t afford to hire a professional narrator, many producers are willing to split the royalties 50-50 so you have no upfront costs.

How do you get started? Go to acx.com/.  At the ACX link are two important links. One is for “how it works” and the other is for “search.”




On the “search” link is a sub-link labeled “producers for hire.” You can click on that and you will find over 38,000 professionals who will narrate your book. To narrow the field, there are filters you can use. For example; there are filters for genre, sex, language, accent, and vocal style, as well as many other filters. On the same page, there are also samples to which you can listen. It’s actually fun to listen to them and get a feel for how your book would sound in different kinds of voices. My sixteen-year-old daughter found Rebecca Roberts for me.

The next question you’ll have to decide is how you want to pay the producer. As I said, some producers will split the royalties 50-50, but I opted to go ahead and pay my narrator. If you do split the royalties, you are bound under the contract with ACX and that narrator for seven years. Just something to consider—make sure you are happy with the narrator you choose.

Before you hire someone and sign the contract through ACX, your producer will give you a short sample of what you uploaded for the audition. This allows you to get a feel for how your book sounds in that narrator’s voice. You can listen to as many auditions as you like.

If you pay your narrator, oftentimes, the cost is negotiable. The going rate for a well-seasoned narrator with lots of experience is about $200-250 per hour. For example, a seven-hour book (about 75,000 words) would cost about $1500. However, many are willing to do it for less.

Having produced my first book, I know how much work is involved. It’s not easy to narrate a book. The whole process is time-consuming and tedious. I listened to every word of every chapter and made sure the quality was superior. Misspoken words, words left out, and any other mistakes need to be corrected to give your listener the best audiobook experience possible.

It is also important to make sure the words that the producer says matches the Kindle version for a second reason. If the two versions are the same, ACX will sync them, which is called Whispersync. This allows your reader to switch back and forth between reading and listening to the book if he or she desires. It’s another great sales feature you can promote when marketing. If the two versions are not almost identical, ACX will not add that feature to the book.

I also found with one of my books, Seventh Dimension – the King, Book Two, that the narrator wasn’t familiar with Biblical words. The sample he did for me did not have any Biblical words in it, so I didn’t know that until we got further into the recordings. So I would recommend for the sample that you use a section of your book that contains denser or more difficult material to get a true rendering of the ability of the prospective narrator.

With future books, for example, I will probably want to listen to a sample that contains words that will come up that are not necessarily common words. The other option, which I didn’t consider until after we were almost done, is I should have given my narrator those words in audible format, or a link to hear them pronounced. For example, the Hebrew word Baruch, you can hear several examples of how to pronounce it at http://forvo.com/search/Baruch/he/ If I had done either of these things, it would have made the process faster and less tedious for both of us.

Once you are into the project, it’s important to strive for a good working relationship with the narrator. Even though my narrator for Seventh Dimension – The King didn’t know how to pronounce many of the non-English words, he was willing to correct those misspoken words—for which I was thankful. Now I know to search out those unusual words, whether they are names of characters or locations, and give them to the narrator ahead of time.

Another thing I also did, because both of my producers were willing to work for less than the $200-$250 rate, I made sure I listened to what they uploaded to ACX almost immediately. The producers don’t get paid until the job is finished, so if you delay listening to their narrations, you slow down the process, put them in the lurch, and make them have to wait unnecessarily to get paid. Be respectful of their time.

When communicating with the producer, I found it was better to communicate via my personal email versus the ACX email. The ACX email has a limit on how big the email can be, and when you are listing corrections, it can be aggravating if you get to the cut-off point and aren’t finished giving instructions to the narrator.

That being said, I found ACX to be extremely helpful. They are available via phone call as well as email. They were prompt in responding to any questions I had, and on their website they provide plenty of general information to get you started. You can also easily see how many books you’ve sold and bounties you’ve received. Like Amazon, ACX pays once a month via direct deposit into a bank account.



Two other things to consider: First, for your audiobook cover, you need a square book cover no smaller than 2400 by 2400 pixels. In other words, your audiobook cover uses different settings than your print cover or eBook cover. I would recommend you automatically have your book cover designer include an audiobook cover when he designs your print and eBook cover even if you don’t plan on producing an audiobook until later.

Second, if you do not live in the United States, e.g., you live in Australia, check with ACX before getting started. I have a friend who lives in Australia who narrated two books and tried to upload them on ACX, only to discover he couldn’t use ACX for his audiobooks. I can’t remember what the issue was, but I think it had something to do with royalty payments outside the United States. Just be sure you can use ACX for your audiobooks before you hire someone or invest hours narrating your book.

If you are interested in listening to the samples of my audiobooks (or purchasing them), the links are below on Audible. As far as I know, both producers are available if you are interested in hiring them through ACX. I linked their names to make it easier to contact them. I highly recommend both.











Part 2 is an interview of Rebecca Roberts. I think you will find her comments insightful as she shares what it’s like to be an audiobook producer. See the next blog post on this website for the continuation OR CLICK HERE.














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