Authors have many options for putting print and ebook versions of their books into readers’ hands. But have you considered creating an audiobook of your manuscript? According to the American Association of Publishers, audiobook downloads increased 38.1 percent in 2015 over 2014, and the trend appears to be continuing. Audiobooks give authors a way to reach non-readers and they are no longer cost-prohibitive to create. In today’s post, author Rhett DeVane shares some of the initial lessons she learned while creating audio versions of two of her novels. Keep writing, ~ Gina Edwards

I Want My Book to be an Audiobook. Now What?

by Rhett DeVane

audiobookTalk to any expert in the business of publishing and you will hear how fiercely competitive the market has become. Audiobooks are still gaining in popularity, though, and are well worth the author’s effort and time. With an audio version of your book, you might reach an audience you wouldn’t reach with a print or ebook. Here’s a fact I learned early in home ownership: some projects I should not do myself. This brilliant insight came after multiple trips to Lowe’s, a lot of cursing, and ultimately, hiring a professional plumber. The same truth applies to producing a quality audiobook. That’s why I chose Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX, the company behind Audible.com, to produce the audio versions of my books.

Here are a few basic things I learned about the process.

First, before you proceed, the book must be written, edited, and ready to go. Foremost, you must own the audio rights to the work. If your book is under contract with a publisher, check the fine print. If you granted the audio rights to the publisher, you cannot initiate the production of an audio book. If you self-published, the rights should not be an issue.

Okay, so you have the rights. What now?

As stated earlier, I decided to do business with ACX, the production arm of Audible.com, which is the online storefront for buying audio titles. The ACX website outlines several options for authors seeking audiobook production, with clear, step-by-step instructions to lead you through the process. If I had chosen to go it alone without a company like ACX providing a professional narrator, I would have had to find a recording studio and pay for time. If you insist on doing it all yourself, you could form your own home studio, if you have the time, space, and money. A completely sound-proofed room is imperative, as is quality recording equipment. Huddling in the bathroom with a cheap microphone won’t pass muster. MicrophoneI have a decent reading voice, but I asked myself some hard questions when deciding whether to narrate my own books. You will also need to consider:
  • Can your voice make your characters come to life?
  • Do you have the money, hours, days, and months it might take to record the audio version?
Narration is not only “reading aloud”; outstanding audiobook narration is likened to “acting out” the words, making them spring to life.

Unless you possess a sensational voice with superior inflection, a professional narrator is probably your better choice.

Given all the required elements, my answer to self-narration was a sound NO. I contracted a professional through ACX. In this, they also offered options. One alternative is to negotiate and pay the narrator up front, a costly undertaking. Narrators receive an hourly rate, depending on their expertise, with an average novel taking upwards to eleven hours of recorded, billable time. Unless you have substantial funds, this may not be feasible. Ask yourself: do I think I can market well enough to sell sufficient audiobooks to repay myself?

Instead of footing that expense, I searched the ACX database and found a narrator willing to work for a royalty split.

This meant I had no cash outlay for narration up front, but I get less at the end, as the proceeds from sales are split among the author, the narrator, and the producer of the audiobook. Even when you don’t narrate yourself, there is still a time investment. You must listen to the narrated chapter-by-chapter files and “proof” the book before it goes into final production, much as you would proof a print version.

approvedOnce the narration is complete and approved by the author, the producer (ACX, in my case) takes the narrator’s files and develops them into the finished product.

ACX also launches the audiobook on its website and handles sales. Depending on the contract, the author grants the producer exclusive rights for a period of time, meaning the book can only be marketed through them. My particular contract allows ACX exclusive permission to sell the audio version for seven years. For me, creating audiobooks has been a most enjoyable experience. Through ACX, I worked alongside my narrator to bring two of my novels to life. This company makes the process so user-friendly, it’s a pleasure, even for a novice. Hearing the spoken words bring my stories to the world was thrilling!

In 2016, Southern fiction author Rhett DeVane and host Gina Edwards held an in-depth discussion about this process on the audio series CONVERSATIONS Around the Writer’s Table.

Audiobook Cover: Secondhand Sister

Audiobook Cover: Secondhand Sister

In the live discussion, Rhett covered:
  • how to audition a potential narrator
  • how a style sheet for your narrator can save you time and money
  • how corrections to the narration are handled
  • what to do about a cover for your audiobook
  • and much more
If you’d like access to this audio, please email me at gina(at)AroundTheWritersTable.com.
Rhett DeVane author photo-600Rhett DeVane is an award-winning author of six mainstream novels, two middle-grade novels, and she has co-authored two novels. Rhett is a Florida native, originally from Chattahoochee. Her hometown, a small North Florida burg with a state mental institution on the main drag, serves as the colorful setting for her Southern fiction series. For the past thirty-plus years, Rhett has made her home in Tallahassee, Florida, where she splits her time between her dental hygiene practice and writing fiction. Rhett has been busy on her “Hooch” series, as well as a line-up of middle-grade fiction and picture books, and the occasional short story and flash fiction. Connect with Rhett at: www.rhettdevane.com trugrits3@gmail.com On Facebook or on Twitter

Gina Edwards is a retreat leader, a certified creativity coach, and a book editor. She is also a writer, so she’s intimately familiar with the challenges and elation that come with being one.

She supports all writers—published and aspiring—who want to write as an act of courageous and necessary self-expression.

Walking the writer’s path hand-in-hand with her clients and students, she helps them establish a writing practice and define a creative life on their own terms.

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