I am excited to announce the release of “Tell My Dad” audio book in Audible, Amazon and iTunes! It’s narrated by very talented Brian Troxell. Creating an audio book is an expensive proposition for authors, but I wanted to do it because it’s the best way to bring the characters to life. It’s also the best way to connect with the readers.
I used ACX to hire the narrator and to produce the audio book. The process goes like this: You sign up for ACX, post a sample chapter to get audition from interested narrators, short list the auditions and select one narrator. The narrator records your books, then ACX does quality check, then the book is released to the world. In few weeks, everyone will rush to buy your book and… you will become a millionaire.
Well, the process is not that simple. Every step of the way takes a lot of time, effort and hard work. “How it works” page in ACX explain a lot better than I can explain. I will stick to my lessons learned in the process.
When you post a sample chapter, make sure the chapter covers all the main characters. If you post more than few pages, it would discourage narrators to audition for it. Keep the sample script within 3 pages.
Be prepared to be overwhelmed by many fabulous narrators. Expect to spend at least few hours a day for two weeks to listen and short-list the narrators.
Short list the narrators based on the voice, audio quality, hourly fee, and how well the narrator brings your characters to life. When I short-listed the narrators, I was specifically listening for how well the narrator changes the voice to give the life to the characters of Protagonist, FBI agent character, Cops, FBI intern, and Children. It’s not easy for someone to talk like a 40 year old guy, then switch to a 5 year old girl, then switch to a 50 year old FBI agent, then switch to a 70 year old villain. Few people have the gift to narrate like that. Brian is one of them.
After short-listing few narrators, listen to each one of them again, ask for feedback from friends and family, then choose one narrator that is best-suited to your book. Once the selection is made, the narrator has about one week to prepare the first 15 minutes for your approval. If you are happy with first 15 minutes, the narrator goes on to record the entire book. When the entire book is released, the narrator sends that to you, the author. If you approve the audio book and make the payment to the narrator, ACX will take the audio files and run thru its quality process. That could take anywhere from 4 to 5 days. Once the quality is verified, ACX will prepare your title. This is where things get tricky. At this stage, ACX page shows “headed to retail” as the status for your book project. This status will stare at you for the next 4+ days. During this time frame, ACX folks prepare the meta data for each retailer (Audible, Amazon and iTunes) and send the book to retail stores. Once the book is out of ACX’s hand, it has no idea about the status. This is why you would continue to see “headed to retail” until the book is actually released. ACX claims that it has no insights into the internal process of retail stores.
Once the retail stores accept the audio book, it goes live! I submitted my audio book on June 18th. It passed quality check by June 23rd. At this point, the book’s status was changed to “headed to retail”. The book is available today, June 28th, in Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Turnaround is not so bad, but it would have been nice if retail stores and ACX work together to provide frequent updates to the authors rather than keeping them in the dark when the book is “headed to retail”.