I’ve been clamoring for an audiobook version of my Downward Dog Mystery Series since before the first book came out. Unfortunately, my agent was unable to find a buyer for the audio rights to the series, so I recently self-published the audio version of my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose using ACX, an audiobook self-publishing platform.
The process was simultaneously easier and more challenging than I could have imagined. For those considering the same path, here are some of my learnings.
Let’s start with the easy:
· The ACX process. ACX breaks the process of creating an audiobook into a few easy steps:
1. Set up an account.
2. Make sure you have rights to the title. (If you’re traditionally published like I am, check your contract.)
3. Create an audition script. (That’s a blog article all by itself.)
4. Post the title and script on the ACX site for audition. Interested narrators (producers) submit audition recordings based on your script. You can either offer producers a set dollar amount per finished hour or a royalty split.
5. Make an offer to your favorite producer. This includes both agreeing to a schedule and contract terms. The contract template is provided by ACX, which I found super helpful.
6. Start production. ACX recommends approval after the first fifteen minutes have been recorded and then again after the entire work is complete. I chose a different process. (See below.)
7. Upload a cover
8. Finish production and submit to ACX for quality review.
9. Start selling.
Well, not exactly …
Now for the Challenging:
· Hiring the right producer. If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you know that the narrator makes or breaks the listening experience, perhaps even more than the writing. Some authors choose to read their own books, but I wanted to use a professional. I assumed hiring a producer wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
I was wrong.
Recording an audiobook is a ton of work; doing it on a royalty split, a huge gamble. I didn’t get a single audition for the first two weeks. Week three, auditions started trickling in. Most potential narrators used soothing, yoga voices. My protagonist, Kate, may teach yoga, but she’s spunky! Yoga voice would never do.
One narrator was quite talented, but she could only speak with a British accent. Kate is a Pacific Northwest girl through and through. I was about to give up when I received an audition from Anne James. I knew she was right for Kate the minute I heard her. I made an offer, she accepted, and off we went!
· Creating the cover. I thought creating the cover would be a no-brainer, and it sure started out that way. My publisher kindly granted me cover rights, as long as I got permission from the artist. She agreed, but for a fee that was, to be honest, way too expensive for an unproven audiobook.
Still, covers are important and I love my cover art, so I paid it. The dimensions needed to be changed, so my husband spent a few hours massaging the original artwork until we created the cover below. It’s pretty cool, don’t you think?
· Finding the time. My narrator was wonderful to work with. Simply wonderful. She recorded a chapter at a time, then sent it to me for review. I listened to it once or twice, wrote up feedback, and sent it back to her for revision.
|Ana pup waiting for me to stop working and play with her.|
And the unknown.
|Hello, is anybody out there?|
· Where are the listeners? I’ve spent a lot of time building the audience for my series, and I’m learning more about book promotion every day. An audiobook is proving to be a whole different animal, however. I joined groups, arranged blog tours, held launch parties, and offered giveaways.
I’ve definitely sold copies, and I hope to sell more. As I write this, the audiobook has 49 reviews which are generally quite positive. But audiobook promotion has its own unique challenges, and frankly I’ve stumbled up against most of them. Still, I’m learning as I go and am optimistic about the future.
Finally, the question my fellow authors might be asking:
· Would I do it again? The answer is a definite yes. Anne and I are currently working on Book 2 of the series, A Killer Retreat. We don’t have a launch date yet, but hopefully we will soon. Stay tuned!
To enter to win a copy of your choice of my Downward Dog Mysteries, please comment with the answer to one or more of these questions:
1. Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, why? If not, why not?
2. How do you learn about the audiobooks you purchase?
3. If you’ve produced an audiobook, what advice would you give to me and my readers?
Comment with one or more answers by midnight on Sunday, April 2 to be entered in the drawing. Be sure to include your e-mail address (i.e. Tracy(at)WholeLifeYoga(dot)com) so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!
All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!