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Reaching Readers: How To Create Audiobooks Via ACX

Reaching Readers: How to Create Audiobooks via ACX

British author Roz Morris describes how to turn self-published books into audiobooks via Amazon Audible’s ACX service – a great way to reach new readers and to take advantage of the growing global market for audiobooks.

Photo of Roz Morris head and shoulders

British author Roz Morris

Do you want to release your title as an audiobook? If you live in the US, you can go through ACX, the DIY arm of Audible, but ACX wasn’t open to UK authors – until now. For the past month, I’ve had both my novels in production as a test pilot, and now I can tell you what I’ve learned so far about offering a title, choosing a narrator and working with them.

What’s ACX?

acxLogoGood question. ACX is a network where narrators and producers can meet authors who want their work released as audiobooks. Once you’ve hooked up, you can then use the site as an interface to create the book, keep track of contracts and monitor sales. In short, it’s genius.

Setting Up

You know how tedious it is every time you set up an identity on a new site? All that form-filling and profile-making? ACX requires minimal faff. Once you tell them who you are and what book you’d like to offer, it pulls the detail off Amazon.

Getting Voices

Cover of Roz Morris's first novel, My Memories of a Future Life

Roz Morris’s debut novel

You can:

  • opt to narrate and produce the audiobook yourself, but to do this you must have professional-quality equipment and experience of sound editing, or the book won’t pass the quality check
  • pluck a willing narrator/producer out of the ether (this is what I did)

Pitching your book

Next to your book info, you can add notes to make your book more attractive to collaborators – your platform, sales figures and anything else that will convince them you’re worth working with. Which brings me to…

Costs

Making an audiobook isn’t cheap. An average novel is about 10 hours of narration (roughly 90,000 words) and is likely to cost $200 or more per finished hour. You have these options if you’re seeking a narrator/producer on ACX:

  • pay up front
  • pay a royalty share (which I did)

All the ins and outs of this are much better explained on the ACX site, so check them out there.

My ACX Journey – Mistakes Made and Lucky Discoveries

Cover of Roz Morris's second novel, Lifeform Three

Roz Morris’s second novel

So those are the basics for using ACX. However, in real life there were a few things I needed to learn (more than a few!):

  • Choose an audition passage that will give you an accurate feel for the way the narrators will handle your material.
  • Be careful what qualities you ask for in your ‘ideal narrator’ specification and with the guidance notes you give them, or you might get a lot of unsuitable applicants.
  • Once you’re in production, there are tips on working with your narrator and what your role will be.

Head to my blog for the full version of this post and the voice of experience! Like to share this post with other author friends who may be interested in learning how to turn self-published books into audiobooks? Here’s our suggested tweet: “How to turn your self-published books into #audiobooks with #ACX : https://selfpublishingadvice.org/reaching-readers-how-to-create-audiobooks-via-acx via @IndieAuthorAlli & @Roz_Morris”

This Post Has 27 Comments
  1. I have 144 pages for a audiobook not for sale yet I am fielding the waters for a movie and want to make it easy for the script writer.It’s about a bank robber 144 pages are all profile and court dockuments are for the script writer to use I want it to be as easy to listen to while he is driving down some LA. road 200.00 an hour sounds good for only 144 pages if I get my movie then Iwill finish the novel for myself and do the complete audiobook thing can you hook me up proubley only 3-4 hours.

  2. Hello Roz,
    I already did this way before stumbling on your article – now my question is: how come no one is auditioning? Am I doing something wrong – I actually even clicked the paid service. HELP 🙁

  3. It truly is best time for it to generate plans for future years and it is time for you to be happy. I’ve check out this upload in case I might I want to advise anyone number of exciting troubles or information. Perhaps you might publish following posts speaking about this information. I prefer to master all the more problems close to it!

  4. Hi Roz, Great post! I can see how the royalty-split works but can’t see how the production costs work. Does the rights holder pay for this up front, or is there also a royalty-split option?

  5. The problems with ACX is the terms. ACX takes 60% of sales. That is going to be really hard to even recover production costs, let alone turn a profit.

    The other problem I have is Amazon (they own ACX and Audible) is trying to make a monopoly on audiobooks. You need to use Audible if you want your books on Amazon and Apple. That is almost the entire market. For independent authors and publishers, swapping the old gatekeepers for the new is not really ideal.

    1. Good point about the terms, William. When I set up my book the royalty was much more generous and they’ve now changed that. This is indeed making ACX less attractive, and especially if you want to do a royalty split arrangement with a narrator.
      Certainly it shows what a monopoly can get away with.
      However, they are not acting as gatekeepers. Gatekeepers make decisions on content and there’s no evidence that ACX are making any attempt to curate the content. They are certainly making sure the quality of the product is saleable in technical terms, but that’s all. Also, they offer situations where you can distribute outside of Audible and Apple, and the royalty split deal lets you step outside of Audible and Apple after a few years (7, I think).

  6. Terrific and succinct post Roz. I’m a big fan of audiobooks–I’ve been listening for many years. I always look to see if a book has an audio version before purchasing–it’s become my default way to read. Traditional publishers are now catching on to the growing market for audiobooks.

    Of course I wanted to produce an audiobook version of my non-fiction title, Breathing for Two. I have background in acting and (self-taught) audio production, so I did everything (narration, editing, etc.) myself in a makeshift home studio. Professional equipment and software can be had for a few hundred dollars. The hardest thing is to find or create an acoustically workable recording space.

    The Audible staff was extremely helpful–they checked a sample I sent them for quality and mandated that I remove some buzz that I hadn’t been aware of. I was fortunately able to eliminate it with a software filter.

    I would echo Roz’s caveat about producing yourself–Audible won’t approve a technically poor result. But if you’re versed in sound production or wanting to learn, it’s doable and can be very satisfying.

    1. Hello Wolf! I thoroughly enjoyed Breathing for Two, and it would have been great to hear it in your own voice.
      Those are good tips about the technicalities. My narrator had to use her closet as a studio – but said it was perfect. Virtually soundproof. Regardless of what was going on outside, her tiny space was a zone of silence.
      Audible are very helpful with technical problems. My narrator had a problem uploading the first chapters and they sent a detailed email with fixes.

  7. Hi, Roz. I tried the link and got Error 404 – Page not found.

    I couldn’t find the longer post on Nailyournovel or your main blog.

    I would like to read it – would you please fix the link, or send me one. Thanks!

    Alicia

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Roz Morris

Roz Morris is a novelist, journalist and fiction editor. She’s taught writing masterclasses for The Guardian, co-presented a radio show about writing, mentored prizewinning authors and has a writing blog and book series called Nail Your Novel. Her novels and essays have been profiled by The Guardian, Literature Works, the Potomac Review, Rain Taxi and BBC Radio. Her latest book is Not Quite Lost: Travels Without A Sense of Direction. You can tweet her as @Roz_Morris. Find out more about Roz on her website www.rozmorris.wordpress.com.

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