Eavesdrop on Producing an Audiobook
Today, I'm thrilled to be a part of SIGHT BEYOND THE SUN by Melody Johnson's book blog tour hosted by Bewitching Book Tours. Melody Johnson graciously offered to provide a guest blog about producing an audiobook. This is wonderful advice for self-published authors or authors who've published with small presses. Without further ado, here is Melody Johnson's advice on "Producing an Audiobook." Also, don't forget to enter the giveaway below!
If you’re a writer and ready to learn how to produce an audiobook, congratulations! You’ve made it passed the breakers of writing and publishing your book, and in my experience, producing an audiobook is smooth sailing in comparison. Even if you end up needing to navigate over a few waves along the way. Having recently produced an audiobook of my sci-fi romance novel, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, Book 1), I hope that my experience can help guide your own journey. And if you’re a reader, I hope you enjoy this sneak peek behind the scenes of making an audiobook.
Let’s set the scene: you’ve already put in the hard work—creating your characters, developing your plot, writing your story, editing your story, often re-writing your story—and prepared for your journey with all the tools and supplies your book needs to succeed: cover design, professional formatting, review submissions, and a marketing campaign. You’ve launched your book and implemented your promotions, and now, you’re ready to invest in the next phase of publishing: producing an audiobook edition.
In preparation for audiobook production, you have a few options to consider:
ACX vs. Findaway Voices: These two platforms are audiobook production companies with author portals where you can hire a narrator to produce your book. ACX is owned by Amazon, and they distribute to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. If you decide to publish exclusively with them, you will earn 40% royalties on your audiobook. If you publish non-exclusively, you will earn 25% on royalties, but you can distribute elsewhere, such as to libraries, on Findaway Voices, and offer deals on Chirp—the audiobook version of BookBub.
Upfront Payment vs. Royalty Share: A voice talent will narrate your audiobook, and you have a choice of how to pay that person. You could pay them upfront for their services. This is a higher investment in your audiobook—upwards of $1,500-$2,000 depending on your budget per hour of narration and the length of your book—but you retain 100% of your royalties. Or you could choose to share your royalties with the narrator in a 50/50 split.
Now that you’ve decided on distribution and budgeting for your audiobook, it’s time to prepare for your narrator! You’ll need to gather a few assets:
Audition Script: The script that you develop for your narrator auditions should be less than three pages. I recommend it contain a paragraph for each point of view and a few paragraphs of dialogue between different characters. Having a variety of snippets from your book will ensure that the narrator can showcase their range and talent
Pronunciation Guide: Most sci-fi and fantasy genres have interesting and unique names for characters and places that may require a pronunciation guide for your narrator. For Beyond the Next Star, I actually created an entire language! Luckily, I’d already developed a dictionary for my readers, so adding pronunciation to that dictionary for my narrator wasn’t too far a stretch.
Character Guide: Some narrators want to know how many speaking characters are in your novel because they may use a different voice for each. I found this especially important during conversation scenes when there may be fewer dialogue tags. You wouldn’t want “he said” or, “she said” everywhere, but in an audiobook, having a different tone of voice speaking can make a big difference to listeners trying to follow the conversation.
Resize Your Cover: Audiobook covers are square, with a 1:1 ratio, and you should avoid text in the lower right corner where the platform may put an icon, such as if your book is on sale.
Now that you’ve gathered your audition assets, you’re ready to begin!
Create an account on your chosen platform.
Claim your book.
Open for auditions.
During the audition process, I thought I’d need to seek out a narrator—and you certainly can if you have someone in mind. You could scout fellow authors in your genre and study their star ratings by performance. And if there’s someone with a high star rating whose narrator appeals to you, feel free to reach out to them. However, narrators will also submit auditions to you without you having to solicit them. I experienced a broad range of talent, but listening to their auditions and hearing my written words come to life in their performances was thrilling. I recommend asking your narrator a few questions, like their availability (even if you aren’t on a hard deadline), and to make an adjustment to their audition. This will showcase their responsiveness, professionalism, and ability to take artistic feedback. Additionally, you can download their auditions. This gives you the opportunity to share their voices with reader groups, fellow authors, and friends. And then, finally, you get to choose your narrator.
After choosing a narrator, coming to terms with pricing and deadlines, and signing the contract, your narrator will provide a 15-minute sample. That’s your opportunity to give additional artistic feedback if needed, and if any red flags appear, your chance to dissolve the contract and find a different narrator. I recommend keeping all your messages within the platform, so your conversation is documented in case it becomes necessary to change vocal talent. You have the right to change narrators before you approve the 15-minute sample or if they miss their deadlines. In my experience, switching narrators wasn’t a difficult process and ACX (the platform of my choosing) was extremely supportive and responsive to both emails and phone calls. If there’s a breach in contract or you are unhappy with their 15-minute sample, notify your narrator via the platform’s messaging system and then email ACX support. It took ten business days to dissolve the contract and put my book back into auditions.
Edits and Approvals
Once you approve the 15-minute sample, your narrator will dive headfirst into audiobook production! You’ll have the opportunity to review the audiobook per chapter and provide two rounds of feedback. After those adjustments are made, then it’s time for the exciting, nail-biting moment all this work has built towards: click the “approve” button. You pay your narrator, and after payment has been received, ACX will quality check your work—a 10 business day process—and then, if you chose to publish exclusively with ACX, your audiobook is distributed to Amazon, iTunes, and Audible!
As a published author, you know all too well that despite the journey it takes to publish a book, distribution is only the beginning of your marketing plan. Now it’s time to promote your audiobook in every way possible. In this effort, ACX provides free download codes for you to distribute to professional reviewers. I recommend taking advantage of those promo codes during a blog tour or submitting your book to Audio File Magazine. The professional reviewers who gave positive reviews to the written edition of your book are also great resources who may be interested in reviewing your audiobook.
I wish you all the best in producing your audiobook and hope you find enjoyment as well as success in this stage of your publishing journey!
Thank you Melody for your advice on producing an audiobook! We're so happy you could join us today and look forward to, one day, producing our own audiobooks.
About the Author:
Melody Johnson is the award-winning author of the “out of this world” Love Beyond series and the gritty, paranormal romance Night Blood series published by Kensington Publishing/ Lyrical Press. She graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A. in creative writing and psychology.
Earning the 2021 Maggie Award of Excellence, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, book 1) is an exciting branch from Melody's paranormal romance roots, keeping the dark grit from her Night Blood Series and taking it to new worlds. Her first published novel, The City Beneath (Night Blood, book 1), was a finalist in the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love” contests.
When she isn’t writing, Melody enjoys swimming, hiking, reading, and exploring her new home in southeast Georgia.
Stay in touch with Melody on social media or her website: http://authormelodyjohnson.com/
Newsletter Sign Up: http://authormelodyjohnson.com/newsletter
Melody Johson is the author of SIGHT BEYOND THE SUN, which is a Sci-Fi romance between two unlikely spies.
Genre: Sci-fi Romance Publisher: Incendi Press, LLC Date of Publication: January 24, 2023 ISBN:978-1-7351499-5-0 ASIN: B0BG8P1596 Number of pages: 602 Word Count: 147,970 Cover Artist: Trif Book Designs
Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies...especially the lies you tell yourself. A prison break.
Adrenaline junkie and explosives specialist Kinsley “Switch” Morales had a chip on her shoulder long before being caught in what she suspects is some sort of intergalactic human-trafficking ring. Aliens not only exist, but their reptilian bodies also are stronger, their honed reflexes faster, and their shiny scales nearly impenetrable. But nothing will curb Kinsley’s resolve to commandeer their spaceship and return home to Earth—even if that means crawling behind enemy lines and cozying up to their uncompromising captain. An undercover mission.
When Raveno Hoviir catches Kinsley outside her cell, wreaking havoc in his control room, he sees more than just her strength, resolves, and courage. He sees a golden opportunity to finally root out the traitor under his command and prove his brother’s loyalty before the coming revolution. After so many years undercover, Raveno is finally one mission away from saving his planet from its tyrannical ruler. He’s sacrificed everything to protect his people—his love life, his anonymity, his left leg—but in his efforts to right his father’s wrongs, has he inadvertently become the very monster he plans to overthrow?
An unlikely alliance.
As Kinsley and Raveno each attempt to exploit the other, they find more than just leverage for their separate missions. Inexplicably, they find common ground in their mutual devotion to family and service. Kinsley knows all too well the grief and guilt of making the wrong decision in the field, but will Raveno keep his word to send her home if she flips loyalties? Is Raveno’s softening heart compromising his judgment, or is Kinsley’s intelligence accurate? Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies. Seeing beyond their surface differences and trusting in love again may be the only way to save both their people—and each other.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/5Be6x31jUgs
Meet the Author: https://youtu.be/hHQh7-MVEN0
Tour Giveaway: 5 free ebook downloads