Niki Danforth, daughter of a Cold War covert intelligence officer, has the "thriller/adventure" gene in her DNA. After a
a successful TV/video producer and director in New York, this empty-nester is
picking up her first love of mystery books and recreating herself as an author
in the genre. Danforth lives in the New Jersey countryside with her husband and
two drama-queen dogs. She is hard at work writing the next Ronnie
Recently Margot and I spent some time talking about audio books. Not long ago, I had finished turning my novel into an audio book on Audible, specifically at ACX.com, and Margot had just started the process.
I’m a huge fan of audio books, and listen to them whenever I get in my car and drive somewhere. So I encouraged Margot to go for it.
As Margot and I continued talking, our conversation evolved into what I hope are some helpful tips for getting started producing an audio book, and she asked me to share them with those who follow her blog.
- When you first open up an account and fill out the information for your profile, describe your social media activity in detail as both an author and for the book you wish to produce. When I hoped to attract narrator-producers, a number of candidates cited the description of my social media efforts as a motivator to audition.
- Do not wait for narrator-producers to come to you. Be proactive and go into the ACX data base of narrators. Set the parameters of what kind of voice and interpretation you are looking for and start listening to auditions.
- When you hear a specific clip on a narrator’s page that you think matches the sound you would like for your book, be specific when you reach out to that narrator. Let her or him know the approach that you would like used when reading the sample from your manuscript for the audition.
- If a narrator doesn’t come close in matching what you cited as the example on the clips-page, move on to the next candidate.
- If the narrator does come close, you will now have an opportunity to give comments, before you make an offer and he or she does the 15-minute sample audition. If you feel the person is receptive, then make the offer. If you are not happy with the 15-minute audition, and the narrator is not open to redoing it, then now is the time for both of you to walk away with no hard feelings. That is how ACX has set it up. I was fortunate to find narrator-producer Judith West, because not only is she a talented reader and actress, but she’s a first-rate producer, as well.
- A lot of work is required up front on the author’s part to get on same page with narrator. You need to communicate with each other in a friendly, positive manner so that you and the narrator can make sure she or he is a good fit for your book. The more work you do ahead of time, the fewer misunderstandings and hassles later.
- If you know there are words with uncommon pronunciations, try to create a guide to help the narrator ahead of time. It can mean fewer changes down the road. Judith kept track of any pronunciation questions and shared that document with me, which made the entire process much more organized than I could have anticipated.
- Expect to set aside listening time once the narrator has completed recording. My novel is between ten and eleven hours long as an audio book. I listened and read along with a copy of my novel. I tried to complete at least one finished hour every day, so it took me two weeks to complete that task. There were some minor fixes, and after Judith completed those edits, we were ready to send the audio book to ACX, where they ran it through their quality control.
- While this was going on, my cover designer adjusted my book cover to fit the parameters of an audio book cover and uploaded it to the ACX site.
- It’s important to note an extra incentive. If your novel attracts the attention of ACX by virtue of sales, reviews, and/or social media efforts, and you choose to do a royalty-split deal with a narrator rather than pay production costs, ACX may award your book a stipend. In that case, ACX pays the narrator an additional $100 per finished hour. The strategy is that the stipend will attract more auditions to your book.
Finally, it’s exciting to listen to your book on audio. Even better, only a small percentage of books are ever produced for audio, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to stand out in a fast-growing marketplace.