Thursday, October 25, 2012

Self-Publishing in AUDIO

By Jordan Dane
@JordanDane

Sorry for the delay in posting. I just got back from the trip from traveler’s hell. I had a speaking gig in the beautiful Madison, Wisconsin, but the weather on departure day resulted in our flight being cancelled. It took us two days to get back. I felt like I was in a John Candy & Steve Martin movie, without the trains.

For this post, I wanted to share my recent experiences with creating an audio book for my YA debut, In the Arms of Stone Angels. My publisher omitted audio rights from my contract, which gave me an opportunity to try Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), a site from Audible that I learned about through the International Thriller Writers (ITW). Others  using ACX are: Neil Gaiman, M. J. Rose, award winning voice talent Tavia Gilbert, Tantor Audio, and Random House (a key ACX launch partner). ANY narrator with a home studio (or access to a studio) can be listed as a voice actor and audition for work.

ACX provides a central location where authors, publishers, agents, narrators, studio producers, and other rights holders can match up projects to create an audiobook for distribution through Audible (and elsewhere) under two different royalty models.

Parties can create a profile of the project for others to see. Narrators can audition, audiobook publishers can express interest, producers can make offers, and rights holders don’t have to let their rights languish. Setting up a profile is easy. I started the project in July and listed my book. Within a short while I had narrators auditioning, but I waited to see if I could get an audiobook publisher or producer interested, since I had no experience with this.

Narrators can be their own producers. I could have been more aggressive about seeking narrators and sending them a message through ACX, but I waited to see what would happen. In October, Audible added a stipend incentive to my project, meaning they offered to subsidize a producer to create my book by giving them $150/finished hour (up to $2500) for a 10-hour completed project. This stipend flag brought more auditions and producers to my project. The stipend had a deadline so Audible could get my book by year end for the holidays.

Once I decided to be more proactive in pushing my project, I decided on a narrator who had experience, awards, and a solid producer to go along with her voice actor talent. The steps from there are all online. I extended the offer, based on a royalty sharing model with my narrator, so I wouldn’t have to shell out money. The Audible stipend helped entice the narrator and producer I chose. Royalty rates will vary depending upon whether you give Audible exclusive or no-exclusive distribution rights. You decide how this can work and set it up. For more details on how ACX works, click HERE. For FAQ, click HERE.

Once I extended the offer and the deadlines ACX wanted for the stipend, I got a standard agreement printed through ACX between the parties, and my narrator had her deadline for acceptance (up to 72 hours). I talked with my narrator on the phone to share my thoughts on my central character, to help her create the voice of my teen girl, sent my book in PDF for her to read, and a 15-minute narration came within 5 days for my approval. In 60 days, I will have a finished audiobook to approve, but Audible will also act as a quality control checkpoint. If you opt for Audible to be your distributor, your book will be set up for distribution through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. If you don’t give Audible exclusivity, you can distribute your audiobook anywhere you want to go.

I’m very excited to “hear” the voice of Brenna Nash, my character, through my award-winning narrator, Michelle Ann Dunphy. ACX has been very easy to use and I like the control aspects I keep with this project. I’m working with my German cover designer to develop the audiobook cover now. ACX is self-publishing for audio.

If you’re an author, do you retain your audio rights? How many of you like to listen to audiobooks? I love them for long road trips and for camping, listening to a story over a blazing fire.

12 comments:

  1. Yes, I recently completed my first ACX project, for One More Lie. Some fella from Alaska did the narration. Name of Bands, Sands, something like that.

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  2. That is GREAt, Jim. I would have loved Basil to do my book, but wasn't sure if he could sound like a teen girl. Maybe I was wrong.

    This kind of forum is great to put folks together independently. And voice actors like Basil could be proactive and promo his talent. I can't wait to hear the finished product, but it makes me want to keep my audio rights.

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  3. Indeed, no matter how hard I squeeze believable teen girliness simply does not percolate from my pipes, although I do a killer chain smoking middle aged woman.

    ACX is a major part, more than half, of my narration work. I've produced 3 of my own 4 novels through ACX and recorded for many other authors through ACX, (including Mr. J.S. Bell, RJ Jagger, Elizabeth Wein, and about to produce for RA Mathis).

    As both an author and a narrator I have found ACX to be an incredibly useful site.

    Definitely keep your audio rights if you can, as the popularity of audiobooks rises it is becoming a very profitable venture for the writer.

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  4. I agree, Basil. ACX makes audio effortless and why not retain rights, I say.

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  5. Up until now I've only seen and even heard about one audio book that was self-published and it was quite successful. That book was The James Bond Lifestyle by Payl Kyriazi. I'm very impressed with how you broke down the process into very simple, very manageable steps. Best of luck on your new book!

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  6. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Jordan. My agent and I have talked about using ACX for the audio versions of my books, but I just haven't gotten around to it, with everything else on my plate. I hope to soon.

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  7. Hey Howard. Thanks for your comment. I credit ITW with spreading the word on ACX, but I was thrilled with having an opportunity to try developing a project. Fingers crossed.

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  8. Hey Beth. The process is so simple, there is nothing to negotiate. All the contracts & procedures are online and adminstered through ACX. I read where agents can list projects from their clients, but agents are not rights holders. I see this as self-publishing in audio form, which leaves little for the agent to do unless they get creative.

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  9. Jordan's right, it is very simple and straight forward for all parties involved. I've done work as a self-narrated author, via publishers and agents, and directly for authors. It has even gotten me work with authors in the UK and Australia.

    And while most of the experienced professional narrators shy away from the royalty shares, at least for big projects, unless there is a stipend (or they just plain like the book, or the person who wrote it) there is a lot of good new talent rising up that are more than willing to take titles for no cash out of pocket. Part of this is that it takes at least 25 published audiobooks in the narrators resume to be considered a "Preferred Narrator" and that takes a couple years to attain.

    Prices to get an audiobook done via ACX range from 50% of royalities for 7 years to $400 per finished hour for higher end professional narrators/producers.

    Best of luck in finding the right talent for your books.

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  10. Good points, Basil. The other thing is the promotion. An agent doesn't really contribute to this either. And if the author decides to pay the production cost outright (without sharing royalty), the agent wouldn't share this, unless the production & promo costs are netted out prior to any agent fee.

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  11. That is pretty awesome! I must do more research on this matter! Thanks for the info and good luck with your audio book!

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  12. Thanks, Lisa. It IS freaking awesome to hear your book. The voice actor can bring so much to the table.

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