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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Guest author Tina Gerow with Giveaway!

My journey to have my first book made into audio book

            I have the rights back to several of my backlist books, and I had heard lots of buzz about authors having their books made into an audio book.  I used to listen to TONS of audio books – especially back in the days when my commute to work was an hour each way.  So this possibility really excited me.  My first book, Into a Dangerous Mind was an award winner and as a full length paranormal romantic suspense I thought it would be the perfect choice to start with.

But like most authors, I’m not independently wealthy and I know it takes a lot of money to make and process an audio book.  After all, there’s not only finding and paying voice talent – or even if I did it myself or got my hubby to read it for me (since he’s done a lot of that type of stuff for work), I don’t have access to high end recording equipment or even know how to use it.  Even beyond that, I would have no idea how to ‘clean it up’ or edit it as needed and then get it into the proper formats to upload it to the different audio book sites!  And that brings up another concern – how would I go about applying to even GET those sites to accept my book in the first place?  I knew the process for even getting ebooks and print books up on different sites was confusing and meandering, so I was sure the audio book path was no less rocky.

            The entire thing sounded like it was out of my reach – another thing I would add to my “as soon as I get uber rich” list.  But then I started to hear about ACX from other authors who were wading into the process.

            I even asked my agent about them and she said that she’d heard quality could be hit or miss but that ACX seemed to be the ‘only game in town’ right now for getting audio books made at a reasonable price for authors-either a 50%/50% royalty split with the producer or each producer sets a production fee you can pay depending on how long and complex your book is.  So I checked into it!

            It was actually really easy.  I went out to, read all of their “How To” Section and looked over the site.  Then I went ahead and set up an account.  It’s hooked into Amazon so I just entered my ISBN and it pulled up the book including my blurb, my Amazon sales ranking and my general review rating (in this case 4 out of 5 stars), and then asked me if I was the holder of the Audio rights.  Once I confirmed I was, I was asked for some tax info for reporting and payment purposes, what genre, language, if it’s fiction or non fiction, what vocal style you want - masculine or feminine, and the accent you’re looking for – you know, British, General American, Southern American etc.  I chose General American masculine.

Once I gave the word count for my book, it automatically calculated how many hours the finished audio book would be, which was daunting to see :-)  Into a Dangerous Mind is 73,795 words long, so that comes out to 7.9 hours of finished audio.

            You can choose your options like if you are okay with it being Audible/Amazon exclusive – which gives you better percentage rate from the distributors, or  if you want the freedom to upload the book anywhere you’d like.  After a little more research, I found that other authors who had done this before me seemed to be perfectly happy with the exclusive deal and the general feeling was that most of the sales came from Audible and Amazon anyway.

The ACX site has an extensive database of “Audible approved” voice talent and you can listen to their samples.  I spent several hours doing this and finding some that had the right “voice” for my story.  If I couldn’t imagine them reading my story out loud without laughing, falling asleep or rolling my eyes, I skipped to the next one.  Now the nice thing is that they are also sorted into categories, so you can search for women’s voices or men’s, modern, suspense, fantasy, science fiction, non fiction, British, general American etc.  There are tons of categories, and after a while I got the hang of which suited my book best.

Once you find someone you like, you can send them an “offer.”  Mine always included the 50/50 split and chose due dates for both the first 15 minutes and the finished product.

Since I don’t really have any hard dates that I need the book to be done by, I chose a date that was two months out for the first 15 minutes and four months out for the finished product.  I started slow and only put out one offer at a time although I had a list ready of backups in case those didn’t work out so I’d be ready to send another offer right back out.

On a bright note, they were pretty quick about answering back – usually a day or two.  On the downside – I kept getting back the responses that it sounded like an interesting/or fun/or worthy etc project, but that right now they were no longer accepting any new projects under the 50/50 split, even though their profile clearly stated they were.  But they would be happy to do the book for their standard production fee – usually around $500 per hour of finished audio.  YIKES!!

I had heard this issue from quite a few other authors using ACX so I wasn’t surprised, but it was frustrating.  If they are no longer offering that option, why not update their profiles so they don’t keep getting asked the same thing over and over?  But then, I’m trying to apply logic again – and that always gets me into trouble…

So after five or six of these, I just went ahead and posted an “audition script” – which in my case was the beginning of the book.  But then I do have both men’s and women’s dialog up front along with some action and some romantic stuff as well, so it was a good cross section.  From reading the “How Does this Work” section on the site, this sounded like the best snippet for me to get an idea of how those auditioning would make my entire book sound.  I had heard from other authors that this audition approach could be hit or miss and some of them had waited several weeks to get any takers, but I figured I could always move on to posting the next book I wanted to get made into audio while I waited.  And it’s not like I don’t have current writing projects to keep me busy…lol!

Now as part of the audition profile I made sure to add book information, like awards that it had won along with any marketing perks I could bring to the project to help with our sales – in my case nearly five thousand Facebook friends and over five thousand twitter followers, along with the fact that I’m an active member of RWA and have a large network of fellow writers and friends to market to.

Basically, here is my “About This Title” Section on the audition I posted:

 “Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Small Press Contemporary Paranormal.  What happens when saucy, independent musician, Cassidy James, finds herself with newly discovered psychic powers and must rely on handsome, maverick FBI agent Zach Hatcher to keep from becoming a psychic serial killer's next victim? Cassidy must learn to control her powers to help stop the killer while learning that relationships between people with psychic powers are just as confusing, but much more steamy than normal ones. Zach fights to control his growing attraction for the killer’s intended victim, while overcoming the past, which has caused him to be leery of relationships with women who possess psychic gifts.

And then my “Comments from the Rights Holder”:

I'm also open to a general British accent as long as it's more cultured/proper and not a slang/cockney type accent which wouldn't fit the book or characters.

This book was a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award winner for best small press paranormal romance in 2006.  It has also won various Romance Writer's of America chapter contest awards.

This book is set mainly in Arizona with a few pieces in Washington DC.  It does have a few sex scenes but is sensual rather than erotic.  It's a fast paced paranormal romantic suspense.

I have 5000 Facebook fans I can/do market to for this pen name as well as 5100 followers on Twitter I also market to.  This will be the first audiobook available in any language for this book. 

Much to my surprise an audition popped into my ACX in box two days later.  It was from Keith L. O’Brien, in case you are interested in looking him up after reading this blog :-)  He was willing to take the 50/50 split and to meet the dates I had requested and his attached audition was the perfect voice and inflection that I was looking for to bring Into a Dangerous Mind to life.  From there I made an offer, which he quickly accepted (pretty much buttons on the site where you offer and then they accept and the site sends you messages to let you know!)  And then we were off and running.

I didn’t really hear anything from Keith past that until this past week when the site sent me a notification that the first 15 minutes had been uploaded.  So, excited to hear it, I went out to the site and listened.  It was great…except….it was really soft.  Even with the sound turned all the way up, it was difficult to hear and there were a few parts I couldn’t hear at all.  So I sent a message to Keith giving him that feedback and a few days later he answered back telling me that he would talk to his production manager and not to worry, that we would get that fixed.  So from here, I’m assuming he will get it fixed and re upload the first 15 minutes.  The process can’t go forward until I approve the first 15 minutes (pretty much a button on the site near where I clicked on the file to listen to what he had sent me), so it’s just a matter of waiting for that.  Once that is done, my due date for the entire project isn’t until November 17.

In the meantime, I had the book cover resized to fit the Audible requirements (listed on the site) and uploaded it to the book profile.  That will be shown along with the sales listing wherever it’s displayed for sale, which from the option I chose should be Audible, Amazon and their direct affiliates.

Even with the few frustrations of the process, it was pretty easy, and other than listening to a lot of voice talent and making a note of which I liked, it wasn’t really time consuming.  So for anyone who has their audio book rights and are looking for a way to put those rights into play, I would definitely recommend checking out ACX!  I obviously can’t speak to the rest of the process yet or to the sales, but I would be happy to come back when I do know and give everyone an update.  

I will be giving away a paperback copy of The Demon and the Succubus by my alter ego Cassie Ryan, so leave a comment for a chance to win!


  1. Interesting info about audiobooks

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  2. Having worked on ACX and Audible for more than two years as a narrator and producer, I do understand some of the issues involved. Thanks for breaking it down for people not familiar with the process.

    1. That's really cool, Bella! You probably have some great insights into this process as well! :)

  3. So proud of you and each new challenge you take you make seem so doable. No matter what others do for a living you do inspire those around you. Look forward to hearing this and other books you've written! -Christi S.

    1. Thanks Christi! I aways appreciate your love and support :)

  4. UPDATE: Keith worked with his audio engineer and just sent me back a note. Apparently it was all user error on my side...don't you hate that? :) Anyway - there's a little control next to the sample where I could turn up the volume as I listen to it and while I saw it the first time, it didn't have a little bar or anything I could adjust so I forgot about it. For those of you going in there to play - you have to click just out to the right of the little megaphone and little red parentheses will appear to turn up the volume for you. Once I did that I could adjust the volume on my PC to any level I would like. So I've approved the first 15 minutes and I'm looking forward to the rest! Although the project isn't due until November 17th, so I have some time to wait! Good thing I have writing to do! I'll update everyone when I receive the final project :)

  5. Tina, this process is so cool. Thanks for sharing it. I can't wait to hear how it comes out :-)

  6. That was really interesting as I've heard many people are interested in a lot more books to be available in audio.
    You are such a go-getter as to researching this devilish technology and I wish you lots of luck!

    1. Thanks Dawn. I thought it was out of my reach until I heard other authors mentioning it on Facebook. So they really paved the way. I just followed up and tried it out :)