We recently moved most of the Crossroad Press audiobook operation onto the Audible ACX system. This is a very cool interface that allows rights holders, narrators, and producers, and authors to collaborate on audiobook projects. It is easy to sign in and be a part of things, but it is also easy to take that ease for granted. Here’s rule #1. No matter which role you sign in to fulfill, you still have to know what you’re doing. Not all books are eligible for ACX. Not just any old Skype microphone plugged into your laptop with a USB cord is going to make you a narrator. There are other considerations…but I’m going to bulletize most of them, and then give a couple of reasons why having your book done through a company like Crossroad Press – even on ACX – might still be a better option than going it alone.
1. Narration is an art. It requires an ability to act. It isn’t the same thing as a live reading at a convention, and it isn’t the same thing as a radio broadcast or a podcast. It has to be learned, and if you go in with the arrogant notion you can just “do it” you probably won’t get many jobs. As a rights holder and publisher you have to be familiar enough with audiobooks to tell the difference, and to choose a voice that will benefit your project.
2. Sound quality is very important. Your book will be competing for sales with professional studios in the market place. If someone spends a membership credit on Audible, or plops down the money to buy your book, and it’s full of background noise, computer fans, humm, or barkind dogs they aren’t coming back, and you’ll end up with some bad reviews.
3. Presentation matters. Cover art, the intro and outro to the book, and the marketing copy are important pieces of the whole project, and should not be ignored.
4. Note to narrators. The audition script isn’t optional. If you run through ACX and drop your professional demo tape in on a thousand jobs, my guess is you’ll get zero. Take the time to scope out projects that are right for you. Study the script provided and submit an audition that is appropriate and that demonstrates how you are right for “that” book.
Specific to ACX is the royalty share option. I’ve seen sides being drawn on this issue recently. Here’s the thing…while it takes a good bit of time to narrate and edit the audio for a book…as an author I can tell you it takes a good deal of time and work to write the book, and some to publish it as well. Authors and publishers have always had to wait for sales and made their money from royalties. In the new publishing paradigm, I can see this shift happening for voice talent as well. Over time, as you develop a body of work, you begin to receive royalties on all of them each pay period, and it develops into a revenue stream. If you are paid up front, it’s also a gamble. Say you do a project for $150-$200 a finished hour, and you sit back to watch the book sell ten thousand copies. A royalty share contract would include you in that success…and honestly, it seems to me it would give you the incentive to do an even better job on the book. On the other hand, if the book is by an unknown author, the up-front payment might be the way to go. It’s always a gamble, but at least in a royalty share it’s a shared gamble.
My last point here, before I link to a few of our ACX titles, is that there is still value in having someone like Crossroad Press handle your book. For one thing, we work with our own established sound engineer. This adds a level of quality control most authors and agents just aren’t qualified to add on their own, unless they happen to be sound engineers on the side. We provide good quality cover art. We have an established market, growing every day, that draws people to our new titles. These are important, but here’s a kicker.
There are two awards important to audiobooks. The Audie, which is issued by the APA … and the golden earphone, which you get through reviews in Audiofile Magazine. WE have an established arrangement to get our titles into the review process at Audiofile. We are members of the APA. The only way to nominate a work for the Audie is to pay the APA for each nomination, and even as a member we pay $100 a title for those that are included. This can be very important step in getting people to listen to your book.
None of this is to say that you can’t sign onto ACX and make your own book…you can, of course, and if you are careful, pay attention, and listen to advice, you can probably make a quality book. On the other hand, if you’re a writer, you can get someone like Crossroad Press to handle it, and get on with writing, because the biggest problem form writers in this new digitized world is that most of the advice tells you to do everything yourself. It can really cut into your writing time if you aren’t a full-time, stay at home writer, and even then it calls for several unique skill-sets Publishers aren’t dead…they just have to change. Crossroad Press has been dedicated from day one to giving most of the money to the people who create the stories. Being an author, that’s important to me.
If you’d like to check out what we’ve been doing through ACX…you can find all of our ACX titles here:
Here are links to a few of our titles: Just click the images.