Tag Archives: Audiobook

How to Make Sure You Never Find a Narrator For Your Audiobook

About two years ago, I wrote a very well received blog post called 7 Reasons Why Your Book is not Getting Auditions on ACX. As time has gone on and the ACX platform has matured, authors have still given us narrators plenty of reasons to run away from the titles. Here are just a few of the ways you can make sure that your audiobook never gets produced.

1) Don’t respond to questions.

IMG_0539.JPGIf I ask you a simple question like, “are you still accepting auditions?” because your book has been stagnating on ACX for 6 months and you don’t reply? Guess what? I’m not auditioning.

2) Ask for multiple narrators on a royalty share gig.

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Seriously. Royalty share gigs have a hard enough time earning back the time and energy put into creating them. Why would I want to split those royalties with another narrator and only get 10%? If you want more than one narrator, pony up the cash and pay for it.

3) Expect music and sound effects.

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First of all, no audiobooks do this. At least not very many. Those that do are full cast audio dramas and are very expensive to produce. As a result, they are expected to sell really well. That’s why you’ll see timeless pieces of literature such as Dune and Ender’s Game getting that treatment. Sorry, your debut novel is not Dune or Ender’s Game.

4) Ask for an audition longer than 10 minutes.

IMG_0542.JPGYou know in the first 30 seconds if I’m the guy for your book. So please don’t act like you need to study my audition for 20 minutes to make sure I get the right intonation or capture the essence of your vision. Instead pick a 1-2 page part of your book that has the central characters’ dialog and post that. You’ll know if I’m right for it.

5) Say you’re offering a per finished hour rate OR royalty share.

IMG_0543.JPGDo you not know what you’re offering? Or are you offering us a choice? Because if you’re offering us a choice, we’re going to go with a decent per finished hour rate. Every. Single. Time. Instead, what this feels like to us, is bait and switch. Enticing us to audition with a pfh rate and then sneakily making us a royalty share offer. That may not be your intention, but that’s what it looks like to us.

6) Offering a title in the sub $100 buckets.

IMG_0544.JPGAnything in the sub $100 pfh bucket is a joke. You expect us to work at barely minimum wage just so you can get all the royalties? The only narrators you’re going to get are those who have no idea what they’re doing. And the end result will show that. Great way to display the book you slaved away on for a year. Either pony up a reasonable amount of money, or go the royalty share route.

7) “Auditions will be posted to my blog for my fans to vote on.”

IMG_0545.JPGWhat is this, Thunderdome? When I auditioned for you, I auditioned for you privately, not for you to hang me out to dry for the uneducated masses to vote on. And no, making it anonymous doesn’t make it ok. As much as I appreciate you wanting to create interest in the audiobook, this is not the way. Consider this: what if everyone hates all the auditions? Then your little attempt at promoting the book has just backfired. Not to mention doing so without permission is a violation of my copyright (yes, the text of the book is your copyright, but the performance is mine.)

8) Your audition script or synopsis is riddled with errors.

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Please edit your book before you submit it as an audiobook. No, scratch that. Please have an EDITOR edit your book before you submit it as an audiobook. Nothing raises a red flag to narrators more than audition copy that is filled with typos and grammatical errors.

9) Expecting more than a couple flawless accents.

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I think it’s great that your character is a jet-setting world traveler fighting crime across the globe. But not every single character needs to be performed with a flawless regional accent. By this logic, a narrator should be able to perform any regional accent from anywhere in the world. If you have incidental characters, there are ways to perform them without using authentic accents. Ask your narrator for one or two accents and let them handle the rest with their best judgement.

10) You’re offering royalty share for an ebook that is free.IMG_0548.JPG

I get that offering the first title of your series for free is a good way to get people hooked so they buy more in the series. But unless you and I have a contractual agreement that says you’re going to hire me for the rest in the series, you are simply undermining the sales I need to make up for the time and money invested. If you want to make your book permafree and have the audiobook produced, then pony up a reasonable pfh rate and skip the royalty share.

So there we have it. A meme-infused list of things you can do to assure that no one ever auditions for your audiobook. If that’s your goal, then huzzah! You’re almost there. If your goal is NOT to turn off every narrator on ACX, then you’ve been given a list of things to avoid doing.

Because after all…

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Many thanks to Wayne Farrell, Andi Arndt, Kitty Hendrix, M.C Garnett,  Jay Wohlert, Chris Barnes, Neil Hellegers, Corey M. Snow, Julie Hoverson, Nate Daniels, Fiona Thraille, Mike Dennis, Leah Fredrick, Rosemary Benson, Josh Carpenter,  Paul Woodson, David. Gilmore, Ann Richardson, David Stifel, Kevin Minatrea,  Karen Commins, and Carol Schneider for all the ideas and feedback.

 


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.


Take an audiobook class with Scott Brick

Just got an email that Scott Brick is going to hold an Audiobook class in Sacramento CA, on July 27th. While he fails to mention the price, it looks to be a great class from arguably the best audiobook narrator in the business today.

Click here for more info.


Free Star Wars Audiobook or E-book

Thanks to Dave Christi for pointing me to this: Del Ray and Random House Audio are publishing the final book in the Star Wars “Legacy of the Force” series. To celebrate, they’re offering a free download of the first book, Betrayal, in various ebook formats or audiobook.

You can download it in ebook formats or a free audiobook narrated by Marc Thompson of Yu-gi-oh, Daria, T.M.N.T. fame.

Audiobooks are great. Free audiobooks are even better!

UPDATE: Looks like this offer has expired.


Insights into Audiobook recording

My favorite audiobook narrator, Scott Brick has posted a doozy of a tome on his blog about the challenges of recording audiobooks with regard to different accents the author drums up. He’s certainly not complaining, because as he says “he has the collest job on the world.” I have to agree.

Read the whole thing here.


What’s on my MP3 Player – 2/7/08

Nelson DeMille is a good author whom I have a love/hate relationship with. I really like the characters of John Corey and Kate Mayfield. They appear in several of his books, and always have very witty banter. But with Night Fall, he ends the book as a cop-out relying on the events of 9/11 to completely disregard the plot of the book. And with Wildfire, he gives away the ending in the beginning. You learn in the first hour what Wildfire is, who the bad guy is and exactly why he’s doing what he’s doing. Then you follow our heroes as they slowly figure out what you already know. I hate stories like this. It takes me from being a participant in the story to being a distant observer. Had DeMille revealed the plot elements to us as they were being revealed to the hero, this would be a great book, full of tension, surprise, and twists. But alas, I knew the twists and was left diappointed.

Wildfire is narrated by my favorite narrator, Scott Brick, who does a great job. One of the interesting things about Brick’s narration is that he doesn’t do a lot of distinct voices. He has a sublte New York accent, but doesn’t exaggerate the differences between the characters. Someone like Jim Dale who narrates Harry Potter, gets fully into each character and each character is clearly distinct. Scott Brick merely alters his voice slightly, but you always know when a different character is speaking. He is really one of the great storytellers of our time.

As a bonus, we get an interview of Nelson DeMille by Scott Brick via phone patch in the studio. Interesting to hear Scott Brick in his natural voice, not performing.

Recommended, as always for Scott Brick’s performance, but not the novel itself.


Pat Fraley & Ed Asner

On the VO-BB, Pat Fraley shared the first lesson of an upcoming class he is holding with Ed Asner in Los Angeles. You can listen to the audio here:

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Not only does Mr. Fraley give some good insight (with only a little plugging of his upcoming class), but listening the Ed Asner read a poem is a treat for the ears.

 Thanks for sharing this gem, Pat!


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