This is a guest post by author Elizabeth Meyette
When I first heard my characters’ voices on my audiobook edition of Love’s Courage, I cried. They were so alive! This is my third audiobook, and I still got chills when I heard my story being told.
As a hybrid author, I had to learn the process of publishing my own book. My first two books were traditionally published, so I just had to hand them over to my editor (not as easy to surrender your baby as it sounds) and editing, formatting, cover art, uploading, and some marketing were all taken care of for me. Not so as an indie author. I slogged through blogs, devoured online articles and took copious notes at conferences to learn the process of self-publishing. When I was ready, I released my first indie book, The Cavanaugh House, and it has been very well received.
Then I decided to publish The Cavanaugh House as an audiobook. Because I had gone through the process with it as an ebook and POD (Print on Demand), I felt prepared. But publishing an audiobook follows a very different path. Here is the process:
First you must ensure that you own the rights to your book. Some contracts for traditionally published titles leave audio and film rights with the author and contract only for digital and print rights. This changed in 2017. If you are traditionally published, check your contract carefully before you try this at home.
I used ACX.com which is the audio self-publishing arm of Amazon. I used Amazon’s CreateSpace site to publish my POD and KDP for my ebook of The Cavanaugh House and found both very user friendly. So, I figured I would give audiobooks a try. In the contract on ACX, I am referred to as the Rights Holder and my narrator is referred to as the Producer. I like the way they set up the contract so responsibilities and deadlines are spelled out for both the Producer and the Rights Holder.
Once I confirmed that I was the Rights Holder and created my profile, I selected a short scene about 1-2 pages in length. Selection of this scene is vital because it becomes the audition piece for your potential Producer (narrator). This part of the process was fun because I had so many Producers audition, and it was amazing how differently each interpreted my characters. Once I narrowed the field, I listened carefully to my finalists. One stood out from the others—Amy McFadden. She nailed my protagonist Jesse’s attitude and personality. So I hired her.
The next step was agreeing to deadline dates for Production. We set a date for the First Fifteen Minutes and one for the Final Product. After listening to Amy’s recording of the First Fifteen minutes, I knew I had chosen the perfect narrator. I approved her reading of it, then waited to hear the whole novel. Once she sent that, I listened to the whole book noting any corrections or changes required and the recording time of each. (e.g. Chapter 1 at 7:52). That way, Amy could go back to that section and rerecord it.
There are two ways to pay your narrator: Royalty Share or Pay for Production. With Royalty Share, you don’t pay the producer up front. You split the royalties for the life of the audiobook. This is a great way to go if your funds are limited. The downside is that many producers won’t accept these terms. Pay for Production means that when your book is completed and you’ve approved it, you pay the producer per finished hour. That means if your producer charges $300 and your book is 10 hour long, you would pay $3,000.00. You have to weigh whether or not your ROI is worth it.
If you give Amazon/ACX exclusive distribution rights, you earn 40% royalties. If you select Royalty Share, you get 20% and your producer gets 20%. If you Pay for Production, you get the full 40%. If you choose non-exclusive rights, you earn 25% but you can distribute your book anywhere. There are three levels for purchases for Audible subscribers and non-subscribers, so royalties are difficult to figure out at first. It is explained on your monthly report.
ACX suggests options for marketing your audiobook, and they provide 25 codes to give away free copies of your audiobooks for review. I had trouble finding reviewers on my own. I’ve done a blog tour with Jess at Audiobookworm.com, and she’s amazing. Using some the codes, she sets up an fun tour and offers other marketing options on her site.
If both your audiobook and your ebook are on Amazon, your readers can use Whispersync for Voice. This means they can transition back and forth between devices to read and listen to your book. They also can purchase the audiobook at a discounted price. I noticed an uptick in sales of ebooks once my audiobook was published.
The decision to create an audiobook is both fun and intimidating. ACX provides good step-by-step instructions, but it’s still a pretty steep learning curve. Finding a producer who will accept Royalty Share might be a challenge, but if you can’t pay upfront, could be your best choice.
I used Pay for Production, and my ROI for The Cavanaugh House has been good. My second audiobook, Buried Secrets is coming along well, and I just published the audiobook for Love’s Courage. Amy narrated all three of my books. I think it’s worth it because more and more readers are looking for diverse ways to enjoy good books like yours.