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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Creating Audio Books

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.

The content is ready! The book is written, the polished manuscript has been to an editor, critique partners, and beta-readers, the tagline and blurbs are written, a contract for cover art has been signed, ISBNs are purchased, and front and back matter are complete. The e-book and print files are ready to upload.

Another publishing option is Creating Audio Books.

Self-published authors can create audio books through ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) at Amazon. The process can take several weeks to several months, so allow for that time when scheduling release dates.

First and foremost, the author must hold the audio rights to create and sell an audiobook. Authors with publisher contracts sometimes retain those rights. Check the contract carefully for details and consult a contract lawyer, if necessary. Self-published authors hold all rights unless some have already been sold, such as movie rights.

1) Set up a profile for your book title on ACX. The Title Profile contains a description of your book, the type of narration desired, and a short excerpt to be used for auditions. The profile is used to advertise the “job” to producers (narrators and studio professionals) and allows them to submit their auditions. An audiobook publisher may also make an offer to buy the audio rights directly from the author.

Casting calls are another option. Listen to narrators’ samples and invite a selected few to audition for the project. ACX facilitates auditions and proposals, allowing the author to screen producers prior to contracting with one.

Besides auditions, the author can opt to self-narrate. This requires a good speaking voice, access to the proper recording equipment, and a studio-type setting to prevent background noise. The question to ask—Will it sound professional?

2) After reviewing auditions, the author then chooses a producer or the author may elect to accept an offer to purchase the audio rights. In either case, if both parties accept the terms of the agreement, a contract is signed. The author and producer may agree to a one-time production fee or shared royalties. Both are commonplace. When audio rights are sold to an outside party, ACX is then no longer a part of the production or distribution process.

3) If the author signs a contract with a producer on ACX, production begins. This process can take about 3-8 weeks. When the first 15 minutes of the audiobook is complete, the producer makes it available to the author to review. Review the narrator’s performance and check for recording quality. Edits and guidance are a crucial part of creating a good audiobook, and the author’s input is vital.

4) Final approval is next. Once edits are completed, listen to the entire book. Although most times the production is then finished, once in a while the author may not be satisfied with the product. Production can be cancelled, but the author may incur a fee for cancellation, depending on the specific problem and/or situation.

5) Once the final product is approved, the author chooses exclusive or non-exclusive ACX distribution rights. The royalty rate for exclusive is higher, but the author is limited to the retail outlets offered by ACX. Prices are set by the retailers, based on the time-length of the book.

6) Promote the audiobook through social media.

7) Authors currently receive a monthly statement and royalty payments from Audible. If royalty sharing was chosen as the producer’s payment option, payments from Audible will reflect that.

The ACX website has lots of detailed information on how to get started and what each step involves. It has samples of contracts and agreements as well as a fairly comprehensive Q&A page.

Check off #7.b. on the To-Do List and take a deep breath. The focus now changes to marketing and promotion!

The To-Do List
1) Finish the book. 
2) Polish and edit the book. 
3) Write taglines and blurbs. 
4) Create or purchase cover art. 
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book). 
6) Create front and back matter. 
7) Format for e-book and/or print. 
7.a.) Add images. 
7.b.) Create audio book. 
8) Update website, blog, and social media.
9) Create metadata list.
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy.
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!

Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

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