I'm just gonna answer this question right off the bat: YES!
Now I'm gonna tell you…
- Why you SHOULD produce your books to audio.
- HOW to do it AND how to do it for FREE (or at least no money up front)
- When you should do it for free and when you should pay outright for the work.
- And why you shouldn't do it yourself (or how to determine if you should)
Why Should You Produce Your Books to Audio
I have threes answers for this one:
- It's another stream of income you don't have already.
- Audiobooks are becoming more and more popular.
- You'll be tapping into another audience of readers.
I think #1 & 3are all self-explanatory. #2 might need a little research, but check out Google Trends on people searching for Audiobooks from 2004 to the present. Here's a snapshot of the rising trends…
How to Produce Audiobooks for FREE
ACX.com is the way for self-published authors OR authors who have their audiobook rights to produce their books into audio format. They do a much better job at explaining the exact procedures and have tons of help pages with tutorial videos.
BUT those pages can be a little overwhelming when you're first trying to figure out the basic idea of this concept, so I'll give you a quick overview here.
Who & What is ACX.com?
ACX is short for Audiobook Creation Exchange. They are an Amazon.com owned company and I like to call them the KDP version of audiobooks. You can use your Amazon.com account to login, claim your books and put them up for audition or for self-production. Titles are distributed to Amazon.com, Audible.com and iTunes.com. Not bad, huh? /thumbsup
To Self-Produce or Not Self-Produce
ACX gives authors the option to record their own audiobooks (self-produce) OR partner with an audiobook recorder/voiceover talent to do the recording. There are pros and cons to both.
Self-Production – Pros
In the help files and description of their services and using their services, they encourage authors to read their own books, mentioning that readers can form a bond with the authors in such a manner. Also, if you produce your own books, you get all the royalties after the distribution channels get their cut. Your royalty rate is 40% of the sale price, but that can vary depending on how the audiobook is sold. Click here to read more about Royalties & Earnings.
Self-Production – Cons
Although you CAN read your own books, I don't recommend you do so unless you've either had training or experience at not only recording audio, but editing it, too. I personally think audiobook reading should be left to the professionals. I have experience in voiceover recording, audio editing, and I used to produce a podcast. I know I can do it myself…but I don't. I actually tried and I gave up because it is VERY time consuming and it's a lot of damn work. I need to utilize my time to WRITE my books, so I leave it to the professionals.
I've heard authors read their own books and more often than not, the job is not done well. I've heard pages turning in the background, the microphone bumped, the author swallows or smacks their lips in the middle of the reading, pauses at some words that might difficult to pronounce. When a listener has those earbuds on, those noises are VERY annoying and it creates an unpleasant experience. MANY authors don't know how to act, too, so their reading rarely has inflections or a variance of tone, so the narration tends to be monotone. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz You don't want readers putting your book down. You want them engrossed in your story and wanting more.
Professionally Produced – Cons
The bummer about having someone else read your book is they might not read it EXACTLY the way you'd like. How your books sounds in your head will most definitely differ from the narrator's voice, inflections and tones. Eh…it happens and it's part of the process. We must learn to let our babies go into the capable hands of the professionals. BUT that doesn't mean you should give your book to just anyone. ACX has an audition platform where you can upload a script/excerpt of your manuscript and voiceover talent will submit their audio samples of your script. Also, you can be proactive and browse the talent and send them invites to submit their auditions.
Nothing is for free, so even though you may not necessarily have to put money up front for someone else to record your book, you do have to share royalties. Though a slight bummer, the talent definitely deserves to get paid. You have two options to pay the talent – royalty share or pay per finished hour. This last option means you pay them up front and then you'll get all the royalties once the book is up for sale. However, that can be a bit expensive right out the gate. Royalty share means you split the royalties, so 20% to you and 20% to the talent. I love this option, because not only do I not have to put any money up front, but if my book does well, both my narrator and I get paid. I LOVE my narrator and adore the idea that he can still get paid from my books as the years go by. He's a great guy and deserves to be paid for his hard work. The bummer is if the book doesn't do well, the narrator pretty much works for free, which sucks for them. You have to go with what you can afford.
Profession Produced – Pros
If you do the royalty share, you don't have to pay up front, as mentioned above. But more importantly, a professionally produced audiobook means a job well done…provide you screen your talent correctly. Listen carefully to their audition submissions. Be picky and don't settle for second best. Take the time to listen to as many voiceover artists as it takes to find the right voice. Be sure their samples and submitted auditions have good sound quality.
And the best part is you have the time to write more books! Audio production, with an experienced audio/voiceover talent, is second nature to them. This is what they do for a living. Let them do their job, you do yours, and everyone can be rewarded in the end! At least that's my attitude and experience with ACX and the whole audiobook production.
Who I Use – David Monteath
I got lucky with my narrator and met him through my podcast during an interview. He does the audiobooks for my friend Catherine Bybee. He is the fabulous Scotsman, David Monteath! I encouraged him to sign up with ACX and now he's now available HERE. If you need a Scottish accent, he's just dreamy!!! Check out the sample of the first book in my series: Midnight Conquest. If you use him for your audiobook, tell him Arial sent you!
I think every author should get their books produced in the audio format for all the above reasons. DO IT!!!
That's my two pence…