Do you hear voices? I do. My characters speak to me all the time. So it’s been great fun listening to the folks who live in my head actually talk out loud. No, I’m not nuts—well, no more so than usual—but DEAR KILLER, my first Marley Clark Mystery, is now an audiobook, and the second in the series will soon start production.
Interested in publishing your novel as an audiobook?
The market is definitely growing. According to a recent New York Times article, audiobooks are a $1.2 billion industry, and the Audio Publishers Association says the annual number of audiobooks published just about doubled in 2012.
Technology’s fueling this explosive growth. How many of your friends have purchased smartphones, Kindles, iPods, or one of dozens of different MP3 players? If they own any of these, they can download audiobooks and listen to them just about anywhere—no CDs required. Downloadable formats now account for nearly two-thirds of audiobook sales.
Author-Narrator Match Service Expands Audio Book Choices
So what kind of investment must an author make to turn a novel into an audiobook? The answer can be zero dollars. However, you’ll probably need to invest 10-20 hours to listen to auditions, prepare audio notes, correspond with your narrator, and “proof listen” to recordings. That time estimate doesn’t include any promotional efforts.
Since most authors aren’t wealthy, the zero dollar option is popular and quite possible thanks to ACX.com, an Amazon matchmaker platform.
The Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) website has paired more than 25,000 authors with narrators. The site is used by authors who own the audio rights to their books and are willing to sign a seven-year ACX contract, granting either exclusive or nonexclusive distribution rights. No surprise, royalties are higher with the ACX exclusive option, which distributes through Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes.
Interested authors list their titles, voice preferences (gender, age, accent, etc), and if they prefer to pay the narrator a flat fee or share royalties (50/50). Authors then post short selections for auditions. There’s no contract or obligation until a narrator accepts an author’s offer.
In turn, narrators can search for the types of books they’d like to record, post audio samples, and list acceptable payment methods and rates per finished hour of audio.
Though I chose shared royalties to eliminate any out-of-pocket cost, I still had more than 40 professional auditions. This excellent response was largely due to the selection of DEAR KILLER as eligible for an ACX stipend. For selected titles, ACX currently pays narrators $100 per finished hour. This assures the narrator pockets money even if a given audiobook garners few sales. The audio version of my 88,000-word, 290-page mystery, DEAR KILLER, runs eight hours, 56 minutes. However, the narrator invests a lot more time than the finished length. My talented narrator, K.C. Cowan, estimates she needed one to one-and-a-half hours to record two to three chapters of my mystery (28 chapters total), and allowed about an hour more per chapter for editing.
As an audio novice, I selected DEAR KILLER’s first pages for my initial audition. Big mistake. In the opening, my heroine’s alone when she finds the first murder victim. No dialogue. For your audition, pick a dialogue scene—or even snippets from two scenes—to hear how each narrator will handle the voices of your main characters (male and female) as well as any tricky/distinctive accents. After I narrowed my selection to five narrators, I asked for a second dialogue reading. Fortunately, K.C. was willing, and I was impressed.
Have you used ACX.com or another audiobook production platform? If so, are you happy with your experience?
To listen to the first chapter of DEAR KILLER, go to www.tinyurl.com/DearKillerAudible. Part II of this Audiobook Blog looks at more “Lessons Learned.”
Enter to win a free copy of the Audible.com version of DEAR KILLER by making a comment below!