7 Reasons Why Your Book is not Getting Auditions on ACX

This one is for indie authors trying to get their books made into audiobooks on ACX via Royalty-share, unlike my previous 8 Reasons Why You’re Not Landing Audiobook Gigs, which was for narrators. I interact with authors all the time on message boards and often find them lamenting “Why isn’t anyone auditioning for my royalty-share audiobook??”

Here are some possible reasons.

  1. Your cover sucks. Indie authors are a curious bunch. They have a deep need to do everything themselves. As much as I appreciate the DIY mentality, if you’re using paint or GIMP to throw together a cover using stock MS Office fonts and free images you found online, you may not be representing your book in the best light possible. I’ve heard of people designing covers in Powerpoint. WTF?
    How to fix it: Get a decent cover. There are people who will make you an amazing cover for around $50. Seriously. Pony up a bit of change for a decent cover and eat ramen for a week, please.
  2. Your book is too long. If your book is a 300,000 word masterpiece, I’m not going to bother. The work to reward ratio is way too high. A 30 hour audiobook is going to take a month or more to record and master. The longer the book, the more units that need to be sold to recoup the investment. And with royalty-share, that’s too big of a risk, especially for an indie author.
    How to fix it: If you have more than one book, put a shorter one up. You’re much more likely to get someone to tackle a 6-8 hour book.
  3. Your book doesn’t sound interesting. A lot of narrators will do a Royalty-share book if the title sounds interesting. Put up your best synopsis and explain why the narrator should take this on: Hilarious comedy, intriguing mystery, lots of locales (be careful, this can hurt you), unbridled romance (again, this can be a con).
    How to fix it: Sell it. Make me want to narrate it even if I don’t make a dime.
  4. You don’t have enough Amazon sales and/or a low ranking and/or bad reviews. This one should not be a shock to any seasoned author. The first thing I do when I am considering a book, is to click on the link that says “View this title on Amazon”. If the book has 3 reviews over the past 2 years, I’m going to pass. If the reviews are mediocre, I’m going to pass. If your rankings are low, I’m going to pass. I need assurance that the audiobook is going to sell and Amazon ratings and ranking are a very telling insight into that.
    How to fix it: Write better. I know, I know, I sound like a total dick right now. But that’s the honest truth. There is no way to get more ratings or better reviews than to simply write better books and lots of them. And if your writing is good, but the sales aren’t there, wait until they are. Write more.
  5. You haven’t explained why we should take on the risk (you don’t do jack for promotion). As much as any narrator should volunteer to read your book for the sheer honor of it, that doesn’t happen if you don’t do anything to promote it. No book tours, no blogging, no external reviews, no nothing. The author is the primary vehicle for promotion. The narrator can add exactly 0.12% value in promoting the book. Unless you hired Scott Brick, people are not going to buy your book for the narrator.
    How to fix it: Explain in the notes how well the book has been received, how many sales you have, your ranking, blog articles, reviews etc. ANYTHING to help sell the book to the narrator.
  6. You are only doing the cattle-call. Simply posting your book on the audition list isn’t going to cut it. Look how many other hundreds of books there are to be narrated! Someone choosing to narrate your book is like winning the lottery, albeit with somewhat better odds. And if your book suffers from the bullet points above, then the likelihood decreases.
    How to fix it: Go to the list of narrators and find a handful that you like. Make sure they have Royalty-share as one the options on their profile and then send them a message. You play to the narrator’s ego when they know that you want them. I am MUCH more inclined to work with someone who has sought me out. This, of course, is also the time to SELL the book. See the tip above for more on that.
  7. You sound like you’re going to be a pain in the ass. This happens more often than you realize. If you have 3 different sections that MUST be auditioned, if you demand that each character has a certain flavor of accent (“Southern, but not Georgia, more Carolina”), if you say “I’ll direct you/provide feedback/listen in/co-narrate/help in any way”, or otherwise indicate that you are so in love with your words, that you can’t possible let go so I can do my job, then I’m going to run far far away. Direct author involvement is not a plus, unless I specifically need you to answer a question.
    How to fix it: Chill. If you’ve hired a good narrator, let him/her do the job. Let go of your baby and trust us to do the right thing. While the end result might be a bit different than you imagined, this is the way of art. You are NOT going to be able to direct an actor to successfully embody the book exactly as you want them to do. That’s the nature of acting and the choices actors make based on the source material. Embrace it.

So there you go. Several reason why you may not be having much success with royalty-share on ACX. Fixing these will go a long way to improving your odds of finding a narrator on your budget who will do an exemplary job with your book.


About Jeffrey Kafer

I am a Seattle-based voice over artist specializing in audiobooks, but also working in corporate narration and commercials. You can find me at http://audiobook-voice-over.com View all posts by Jeffrey Kafer

18 responses to “7 Reasons Why Your Book is not Getting Auditions on ACX

  • Anne Marie Novark

    Excellent post, Jeffrey.

    Thanks for the tips.

  • Basil Sands

    Dude, you hit on all the reasons I have rejected certain titles on ACX. To do a royalty share, I need to be fairly sure it will sell enough to make at least non-union scale return per finished hour over a couple years period. Otherwise it’s a labour of love…and there ain’t too many that quality for that.

  • howardellison

    Well put, Jeffrey. What you say should be added to the guidance ACX is giving to authors. It’s also an encouragement to narrators to stand up and say what we often have cause to think.

  • Nethervoice

    Reason #8: If you’re not going for a royalty share, pay a decent rate. Anything between $0 – $200 per finished hour is not worth my time and effort.

  • David Houston

    Irony alert: “And if you’re writing is good…” Your/You’re. 😉 That said, you’ve done a great service with this article. Here’s hoping authors take heed.

  • Cyndee Maxwell

    #9. Don’t post 1500 words for the audition!! You really don’t need five minutes to know whether you want this person to narrate your book. Go for one or two pages of copy and you’ll probably get more auditions.

  • Christine Padovan

    Thanks for telling it like it is, Jeffrey! This needed to be said 🙂 I’m working with some great indie authors who sought me out; I then checked them out (marketing, good reviews, good writing, etc. were in place) and it has led to more work as well.

    The other important point is if an indie author solicits you for an audition and you the narrator tell the author you will get it back to them in X amount of time, (say 3 days because you are finishing up on another already contracted deadline), and that author doesn’t wait that short amount of time and gives it to someone else without telling you, then I will not again audition for that author no matter how much they want me for their next book.

    What some of these indie authors have to understand – you cannot rush success and contract with the first narrator you listen to when you have asked for others to take time and effort out of their busy schedules to audition for you. Especially when the narrator tells the author they will audition for them.

    Have some respect and courtesy for narrators as the good ones don’t grow on trees.

  • Zach Herries

    Brilliant, Jeffery! Very well thought out.

  • acm

    And, on the really boring but crucial level, make sure that your audition material is actually posted correctly! I’ve skipped over books that interested me because the audition text was garbled or broken, and that’s just a shame — getting that part right is completely on the author or rights-holder, and some are missing the boat. Double- and triple-check everything you upload!

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  • Jay Northcote

    This post is so useful. Thanks! I stumbled upon it when I was trying to find some advice about getting my books into audio. It was exactly what I needed 🙂

  • howard ellison

    Talk about leaping hurdles! So far I have not interfaced with ACX, but I’m holding off any further book deals until I see more marketing effort put in by the mighty Amazon, and more willingness among newspaper reviewers to visit audio books.
    Over here in UK, trying to redress the promo deficit on a marvellous little book, paid pfh by a respected publisher, I was actually asked by a broadsheet if I would burn them a CD copy!

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